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Friday, May 30, 2008

Human Rights For Chimps?

This story is amazing in the scope of its absurdity!

Is it really that hard to declare that monkeys are not human?? This is just proof positive to me that educated people are not necessarily smart people.

Romans 1:20-22 - For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, . . . .

Fools sometimes profess themselves to be wise. This is a great example. They are vain in their imaginations. Their foolish heart is darkened.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Twenty Six Years And Counting



There was a time when I thought that being married twenty-six years was a long time. This is no longer my assessment. Why, you ask? Because I have been married twenty-six years and it has not been a long time. Today my wife and I are remembering our wedding day twenty-six years ago (we will celebrate next week, Lord willing). I was nineteen and she was twenty-two.



We are now both much closer to 50 than 20. The years have been short but as I look back they have been full and there is no one with whom I would have rather spent them. In a day when multiple marriages or common law marriages is the norm I count it a blessing that God has preserved us in the covenant we made over two and half decades ago. The word divorce or separation has never been uttered in our home and by God's grace never will be. We come from diverse backgrounds. My wife was a Kansas girl; she is now a full blown Texan. I was born and raised in Texas. She was raised in a home that did not know the Lord; I was raised in an Independent Baptist home. She was saved at the age of, I believe 19. I repented and believed the gospel at the age of 7. When she was a senior in high school I was in eighth grade. She was raised around drinking, cursing, and smoking. I was not. Yet with such diverse backgrounds it becomes increasingly obvious that God brought us together to raise up a godly seed. From such diverse backgrounds we have and are becoming one. The process has been challenging at times but always worth the effort. My wife is my best friend.


The value of this woman to which I have been married for these last twenty six years can not be calculated. She stands head and shoulders above any other woman I know. She is not perfect she is just mostly perfect. She is becoming more perfect!

She has submitted even at times to very hard things
She does not speak evil of me
She has faithfully educated our six children
She has been willing to accept any sacrifice in order for me to pursue my calling
She does not disrespect me in public or private
She is a woman of immense strength
She is a woman of truth
She is a spiritual woman
She is a genuinely separated woman
She has been a steadfast and sound counselor to me and our children
She has a great sense of humor
She is diligent in the management of her time
She is a multi-talented craftswoman
She is a great conversationalist
She is mine!

At twenty six years we are experiencing another transition, the transition from raising children to being grandparents. It is a transition that has been in progress for several years now and from this point forward will probably accelerate. It is a transition that I am happy to be making with the woman I call Michele and introduce to others as my wife.

I am persuaded that with each passing anniversary we have more and more to celebrate. When the day comes in a few years and our last child has left the nest and I sit and look across the table at my wife I will be happier than ever that I said "will you" and she said "yes". I will then ask her what you want to do. And she will say, "Let's go to Salvation Army", and I will say "let's go."

Her Husband,

One who has obtained favor from the Lord

Monday, May 26, 2008

Eternal Security Of The Believer

I was browsing through some letters that I had written over the years and came accross one that I had forgotten about. About five years ago I engaged in a short exchange with a local Church of Christ preacher concerning the eternal security of the believer. We sent a couple of letters to each other. I believe he moved out of the area. I do not recall receiving a response to this letter. Becuase there is nothing of a personal nature in the correspondence I thought I would post it hear as an open letter. If you choose to read you will of course miss out on the opportunity of reading the letter to which I was responding. Nevertheless I think you will be able to discern some of the arguments that he raised and more importantly for my purposes it provides an opportunity to present my view of the eternal security of the believer in the light of several passages that he brings to the table. The letter follows:

Let me begin by thanking you for responding to my brief correspondence. I had almost forgotten that I had written. When I received your letter the holidays were upon us so I determined to wait till the first of the year so I could give your correspondence the attention it deserved. I do appreciate the time you spent in composing the letter. I am sure it will come as no surprise to you that there are aspects of your letter with which I do not agree and other aspects that leave me with more questions.

We would disagree over the interpretation of certain passages that you cited. My position as well as that of most Baptists that I know, is not properly understood. I realize there is a good chance we will never agree on the issues that have been raised but I am thankful for the opportunity to be engaged in the defense of the truth. I am also thankful that we live in a country where we can disagree on issues of religion with neither of us having the power to coerce the other into accepting things that are against our consciences.

I must say that your letter captured my attention in the third paragraph when you sounded much like a Baptist. I was surprised to hear you provide such a ringing endorsement for the eternal security of the believer. But, by the fifth paragraph I realized that you were not endorsing what I believe to be the Biblical doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. You espouse a conditional eternal security. I have been trying to understand how something that is conditional can be eternal or secure? Conditional means subject to or dependent upon a condition. To be secure means to be free from danger, free from risk or loss. Eternal means to have infinite duration. Because of the qualification you place on eternal security there can be no absolute certainty until we pass from this life. For we cannot know for sure if we will continue to live faithfully for Christ. If our security is based on our behavior then there is always an element of insecurity not knowing what will befall us tomorrow. Because our security is based upon behavior, as you explain it, then it cannot be eternal until we have entered the eternal realm, because we could be guilty of any number of things that could cause us to lose it. If it can be lost then it cannot be secure and it is not necessarily eternal. Conditional eternal security is a religious oxymoron.

If a believer stops believing was he ever really a believer? The verse you cite in Hebrews 3:12 is simply one of several places in the New Testament where those who profess belief in Christ are encouraged to examine themselves whether they be in the faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 - Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? Verse 14 of Hebrews 3 makes this clear when it is written, For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end. It is the height of self-deception for one to believe he is saved and not be holding his confidence steadfast unto the end. Holding the confidence steadfast is not done to secure salvation but because of salvation. Holding the confidence steadfast unto the end does not merit salvation but it provides evidence of salvation.

You cite John 5:29, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, . . . and those that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation. The question that must be asked here is why did these people do good? In order to be saved or because they were saved? You would apparently contend for the former while I would opt for the latter. Their goodness did not secure their salvation it provided evidence of their salvation. In order for goodness to secure salvation one must live without sin! There is no one that is capable of accomplishing this.

You cite Romans 8:1. The evidence of one being in Christ is that they walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh. They do not walk after the Spirit in order that they might be in Christ. Walking in the Spirit and not after the flesh is the result of salvation not the cause of it. Having said that would you contend that believers never do anything after the flesh and always walk after the spirit? I can only speak for myself but I know that I do not walk after the Spirit like I want to and I too often walk after the flesh. The believer in Christ Jesus is not delivered from the presence of sin but the power of sin. Salvation creates an intense spiritual warfare in the heart of the one who has trusted Christ. They still have the old nature but have been made partakers of the divine nature. In Galatians 6:16 we are instructed to, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Your presentation of Romans 8:1 would seem to render useless the instruction of Galatians 6:16. Does the believer walk in the Spirit? Yes he does. Does he struggle to do so? Yes he does. Is he always successful? No he is not. Paul identifies the intensity of the struggle in a passage I am certain you are familiar with, Romans 7:18-25,
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. The desire was there because he had been made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) but he was still contending with the desires of the flesh. He even admits that he did not always do what he should and at times did what he should not do. But as you mentioned in your letter we do agree that the Apostle was saved. Saved men struggle with the flesh and at times do not walk after the Spirit but in fact quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19) and grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Does this place them in violation of the principle that we find in Romans 8:1?

I call Romans 6 the Believer's Emancipation Proclamation. The chapter instructs us concerning our new relationship to sin (vs. 1-12) and proceeds to give very practical application as to how best to benefit from our new relationship (vs. 13-23). The premise of the whole chapter is that even as believers we still have to deal with the flesh. I feel that I do not thoroughly understand your position on this point.

You mention the passage in 1 Corinthians 9 where Paul expresses the concern, lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. You brought to my attention Paul's striving for an "incorruptible crown" and proceed to draw the conclusion that, "his concern in this passage was disciplining himself so that he would not be disqualified from salvation." Upon what basis do you determine that he is speaking of salvation? The context simply does not allow it. There is nothing in the chapter nine, eight, or ten which would justify such an interpretation. The immediate context is in relationship to Christian service. The first part of the chapter Paul defends the principle that those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel (vs. 1-14). In verses 15-18 he speaks of his service in preaching the gospel. In verses 19-23 he speaks of his ministry to others and the lengths to which he went to reach them with the gospel. The conclusion of the chapter must be understood in light of the things that immediately precede it. It is a difficult jump for me to believe he has been dealing with service in the first 23 verses and then without warning switches to salvation in the last four verses. Paul says in verse 26, I therefore so run, . . . For what was he running? What had he been dealing with? Christian service. You contend that the imperishable crown is a reference to salvation. What is the basis for doing so?

You cite John 15:3-6. Here again, I believe the context dictates the meaning. Is he talking about salvation? You apparently believe that he is but what is the basis for believing so? The passage is clearly dealing with fruitfulness. He is instructing his disciples in the principles of fruitfulness. You focus on the verse how they are gathered and thrown into the fire. But you miss an important element. They are still branches. Here again the principle is the same as with Paul in 1 Corinthians 9. The context is plainly set forth and it is the issue of fruitfulness and not their salvation.

You cite John 10:27-29. You state that when the Lord says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish." That he is setting the condition for the enjoyment of eternal security. I would contend that he is establishing the evidence of those who belong to him. " . . .. they follow me." This is not a condition but an evidence of those who have been saved. But again I must ask do you believe that a person must follow in absolute obedience without any failure. You seem to be implying that but unwilling to come out and say it. I desire clarification. We do agree that the passage is dealing with the security of the believer.

You state, "I am in whole-hearted agreement with the fact that no one can overpower Jesus or God." Then at the beginning of the next paragraph you write, "However, a believer, of his own accord, can leave the eternal security of Jesus' hand." This appears to be a contradiction. You clearly are not in whole-hearted agreement with the first premise. I am in whole-hearted agreement with it and I am in disagreement with your latter statement.

You reference James 1:14,15. You indicate that when a person is drawn away of his own lust and enticed and the result is sin that he dies spiritually. Are you never drawn away of your own lusts? Are you never enticed? Do you never sin? Do you die spiritually every time? I am not seeking to be facetious but I genuinely do not understand the premise you are seeking to set forth. It seems that you are saying that when a believer sins he dies spiritually? This would seem to be a most untenable position. It could be that I have misunderstood your position. Does the believer take himself out of the hand of the Father and Christ every time he sins? If so, I fail to see anything secure much less eternal in such an arrangement.

You write, "Apparently you believe that when a person is saved, their salvation is eternally secure, but you do not believe that the same individual can turn around and live however they want and still be saved." Actually the afore mentioned statement is both true and false. Let me explain. I do believe a person that is saved can live however they want to and still be saved. But let me hasten to add when a person is saved they will want to live differently. 2 Cor. 5:17 declares, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Can a person be truly saved and become a partaker of the divine nature and not be changed in his behavior? That does not mean that I believe Christians are perfect. It does not mean that I believe that Christians never have attitudes that are not Christ-like. It does not mean that I believe that Christians never engage in behavior that is not Christ-like. What about the man of 1 Corinthians 5 that was having a relationship with his father's wife? Paul instructed the church at Corinth to put him out of the church but his salvation was never in question. In fact in verse 5 Paul wrote, To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." If believers cannot be guilty of some fairly serious offences why does Paul write in verse 11, But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one not not to eat. It would seem that embracing your view of things would not be sufficient motivation to live righteously. Any time I wanted to go have a fling, I could and then I would just get saved again. Would it not be that simple?

Your attempt to force me into a corner when you write, "Either a saved person cannot be lost, regardless of how they spend the rest of their time on earth, or they can be lost because they live how they want, not how God wants. You must accept one or the other." The truth is I need not accept one or the other. There is another alternative for which you have not allowed. They never were converted. I have seen people a plenty that after having made a profession of faith in Christ and progressing well for some time go back into the world. My conclusion about those folks is that they were probably never saved to begin with. If a person can go back to the world and live comfortably engaged in vice and sin then why should we think they were ever saved? They didn't lose anything. They never had it. The parable of the sower sets forth this reality in striking terms. The seed that was sown by the wayside is people that hear the gospel but the wicked one comes and snatches the seed away. Both the seed that was sown on stony ground and among thorns represents those that received the word but did not endure. They initially looked like they were saved but they were not. They had the appearance of conversion but not the reality. It was only the seed that was sown on good ground that brought forth fruit. It is to be noted that they brought forth different amounts of fruit as well. Not all Christians have the same success walking in the Spirit. Not because they cannot but because they will not. None of us have the success that we could.

You asked, "if one who has been saved can never be lost, then all God needed to put in the Bible was the fundamental principles of salvation . . .. However there is more in the Bible than that. Why?" The answer is quite simple. The Christian life is not a natural tendency of fallen man. Being saved is one thing, becoming Christ-like is another thing all together. The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote in Galatians 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. Paul said that he was travailing in birth again. He had done so once in order to bring them to faith in Christ. He was doing so again in order to have Christ formed in them. There is so much in the Bible because there is much encouragement and instruction that is needed in order to achieve Christ likeness.

You attempt to answer my final question, "What sin must one commit to lose their salvation?" I still do not understand. You raise the passage 1 John 1:5-2:6. The last part of chapter one is a fellowship passage. It says nothing about salvation. My understanding of salvation is that it is the commencement of a relationship with God through which we have fellowship with God. John told Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again." Salvation is a birth, a new birth. Birth establishes a relationship. According to your understanding one could be unbirthed, and could need to be born again on several occasions. Our fellowship with God is determined by walking in the light as he is in the light. If we choose to walk in darkness then we cannot have fellowship with the Father. In salvation the relationship is the great invariable. It stays the same. It is not dependent upon my behavior. The fellowship is the great variable. It does not stay the same but fluctuates just like in any relationship. The fellowship is directly dependent upon my behavior. I have six children. They were born to my wife and me. They will always be my children nothing can ever change that. They are mine by birth. My two sons will always be my sons. My four daughters will always be my daughters. There have been times when my children have disobeyed and the fellowship with their father has been hindered. Because the fellowship was hindered did not mean that they ceased to be my son or daughter. It seems you would have me believe that because fellowship is broken that the relationship is likewise terminated.

1 John 2:3 states, Now by this we know that we know Him, If we keep His commandments. If we keep his commandments what does this verse say is accomplished? It is in obeying God that I KNOW I know him. It seems therefore that I could know him and have doubts because my life was not matching my profession. Keeping his commandments does not secure salvation it provides the evidence of salvation.

I do not see how any of this answers my question about what sin one must commit to lose their salvation. From what you wrote at the end of page 5 I am left to conclude that you believe a person can lose their salvation by stealing a "dollar or a donut." So does any act of theft preclude us from keeping our salvation? If I rob a man of his reputation by spreading rumors about him do I lose my salvation? If I cheat on my taxes do I lose my salvation? It seems you are saying that proud boasting, being disobedient to parents, and lying causes us to lose our salvation? Does one act of disobedience toward a parent cause a child to lose their salvation? What if they simply harbor an attitude of rebellion but do not act upon it? I must admit that if you believe you can lose your salvation then it would seem to be only consistent to believe that any single act of sin would separate "us from God and consequently, from our chances at salvation." Are you willing to say that any sin no matter how insignificant in the eyes of man will cause a believer to lose their salvation? I am really interested in the answer to this question. If so, then every time you sin you must be saved again, and according to your formula for salvation be baptized again. It seems this is what you are saying but I want to be sure and not formulate your positions for you. You do write, " . . .. sin, regardless of which one, makes us worthy of death and will cause us to be lost." This seems to imply that the individual once saved cannot sin afterwards or he will be lost again and in need of salvation including baptism.

In conclusion let me say that our disagreement is really about the atoning work of Christ on the cross. I believe that Christ did everything that was necessary to reconcile the sinner to God. I believe that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is alone sufficient for the sinners reconciliation. You do not believe this. By your own testimony it is dependent upon faith in Christ, repenting of sins, being baptized (which is an altogether different, albeit related issue) and then living righteously. If I do not live righteously then the sacrifice of Christ, according to you view, will not be sufficient to secure eternal salvation on the behalf of sinners. According to your perspective it is the gospel plus human effort. I trust you will not deny this because your letter is replete with instances of what a man must do in order to secure his salvation. It ultimately comes down to the place that if I do not live right I can have no hope of salvation, thus I, in some degree provide salvation for myself. The Scripture simply does not agree with such a premise.

Ephesians 2:8,9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. I am sure that I need not explain to you the nature of a gift. If I must do anything in order to acquire the desired object it ceases to be a gift. The Bible says it is not of works you say it is of works. The Bible says it is by grace you say it is by human effort and merit.

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. Once works and human effort enters the picture it ceases to be of grace. Grace and works are two principles that cannot tolerate mixture.

Jesus said on the cross, "It is finished." You seem to indicate that it is not finished but must be completed by the good works of man.

Isaiah 53:11 – He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: . . . The Bible says that God saw the travail, the sacrifice of his son and was satisfied. You indicated that He is not satisfied but that our good behavior has to be added to His substitutionary death.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: The Bible says that Christ brings us to God. You say that Christ plus our obedience brings us to God.

Romans 3:19-31 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.


The law was given to convict not to save. Justification is not brought about through the law. There is the opportunity to have the righteousness of God without the law. The law and the prophets witnessed this opportunity. There is a righteousness of God that is available by the faith of Jesus Christ. This righteousness is offered to all but it is only upon those that believe. We have all sinned, we have all come short. We are justified freely by his grace. This opportunity is because of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, not good works. Our good works would never be sufficient to redeem us. God has set forth Christ to appease his own wrath through faith in his blood. Two times it says that it is a matter of declaring his righteousness. Not self-righteousness. Not his righteousness plus our righteousness, but his righteousness. We are justified by believing in Jesus. Where is boasting then. It is excluded. Under what formula? Is it excluded by a system of works? No it can only be excluded by a system characterized by grace. The conclusion is that we are justified without the works of the law. Do we get to live how we want to since Christ work on the cross was sufficient to provide eternal salvation for the sinner? No! Those who come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and trust him and him alone are so radically changed in the heart and soul that they establish the law.

I am resting secure in the finished work of Christ. I have no confidence in the flesh. I know that I am nothing but a vile worm and in a practical sense farther away from God than what I can ever understand. The fallen nature rages within me and I am desperate to be released from the presence of sin. "O, wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from the body of this death." What joy springs from my heart to know that in spite of my failures, shortcomings, sins, transgressions, I can have complete confidence that God sees me robed in the righteousness of Christ and that he paid my sin debt in full. There was nothing left for me to do but look and live.

Mr. Stevens, I do so appreciate your responding to my letter and would be interested in a further explanation of the areas where I may be unclear as to your positions. I have attempted to present my position in a concise and yet sufficient manner. I readily admit the attempt has been feeble at best. I trust the Lord will give you understanding of my perspective and that you might find it to be a blessing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book Review – The Triumph Of Nationalism

I ran across this book at a used book store in Humble, Texas. The title caught my attention and when I pulled the book out to examine it more closely the subtitle (State Sovereignty, The Founding Fathers, and the Making of the Constitution) really aroused my curiosity. I bought the book for $10.00 believing I would have an interest in the content. Although it was not exactly what I expected it was a very interesting book and I found it to be very informative. The book was copyrighted in 1967 and was written by William P. Murphy. My copy is 417 pages.

My first hint that it was not going to be what I expected is when I read the preface where the author described his experiences. He was a Professor at the University of Mississippi and inherited the course on Constitutional law. This was in 1953. Professor Murphy supported several decisions by the court that seemed to be dismissive of state's rights and ultimately he was removed from his position at the University of Mississippi. He ended up teaching at the University of Missouri. Mr. Murphy is very systematic in his presentation of the material. The first three chapters deal with the issue of State sovereignty before the Constitution. The next 14 chapters address the political philosophy of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The next nine chapters deal with the drafting of the Constitution. The final eight chapters address the ratification process in the states. I think the book would be informative for anyone who has an interest in this important aspect of American history.

Mr. Murphy is arguing for the fact that the ratifying of the Constitution settled the issue of nationalism and that it triumphed when the Constitution was ratified. I would disagree and would argue that nationalism triumphed not through the Constitution in 1787 but by the taking up of arms in 1861. For that matter there is a sense in which it still remains in dispute. Murphy goes to great lengths to give us the actual words of the founders which do us a great service. I was never convinced that his arguments were conclusively proved even from many of the quotes that he provided. One of the things that struck me over and over again was that many of the quotes he used to prove a point at times seem to prove the opposite point. He would give several quotes and then suggest that it was obvious that a certain conclusion should be drawn. I often found myself thinking that it was not obvious to me.

One of his main arguments is that the States surrendered their sovereignty in ratifying the Constitution and that they realized they were doing so. He made a compelling and technically correct argument that it was impossible that both the National government and the State governments could be sovereign. The very concept of sovereignty does not allow for plurality. Either the national government or the State governments were sovereign, they could not both be. While this is to be admitted the many quotes that he provides throughout the book reveals that the Founders believed that they both could be. While it may not have been a technically precise use of the term "sovereign" the Founders did use it in relation to both the National and the State governments. It could lead one to believe that neither the National nor the State governments were intended to be sovereign but the people. The Founders seemed to argue that both levels of governments would be sovereign in their designated spheres as outlined by the Constitution.

While it does seem to be clear that most thought the Articles of Confederation were inadequate to the needs of the nation most also seemed to be very sensitive to the need of preserving State authority. No doubt some were more sensitive to this perceived need than others. The government as it existed under the Articles of Confederation consisted of a single-bodied Congress in which each State delegation had one vote. So the delegation from each state would take a vote among themselves concerning any issue brought before them and the majority of the delegation would determine the vote cast by that State. The effect is that there were only 13 votes cast on every issue. One nay vote scrapped the whole measure. Consequently it was very difficult to get things done. Some might argue this would be a good thing, and in many cases it probably would be, but there were no doubt some things that were more effectively done on a national level. Part of the difficulty in waging the Revolutionary War was the absence of a strong National government. Of course even when this congress did agree it had no means of enforcing it decisions on the thirteen State Legislatures. Admittedly it was a bad system.

Throughout the Constitutional Convention and the ratifying process in the States the relationship between the National government and State governments was a key point of controversy. The arguments centering on this issue are interesting to say the least. In my opinion Mr. Murphy does not advance his argument when one considers how the point was argued. The group that become known as anti-federalists argued that the Constitution was too vague and provided too many opportunities for the usurpation of power. They argued incessantly that the National government would ultimately make the State governments unnecessary. The group that become known as the Federalists countered that the National government would not render the State governments unnecessary but would actually be dependent upon them for its continued existence.

Nearly every point of contention could be traced back to the fundamental reality that they were altering the relationship that existed between the National government and the State governments and many people were uneasy and uncomfortable with this trend. They saw it as endangering their liberties. There was a great deal of contention over the concepts of giving the National government the power to tax and to raise and support armies. One part of the Constitution which really raised alarm was at the end of Article I, Section 8, where congress is given power "to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing powers, and all other Power vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

The anti-federalists saw a Congress that was being empowered to pass any law it felt needed. They believed there was great potential for abuse and tyranny to make inroads here. The Federalist countered the concern by arguing two things. The paragraph simply states what would be implied and understood in the ratifying of the Constitution. And, they only would have authority to pass laws relating to the expressed powers in the Constitution itself. The anti-federalists were not appeased. Again this remained a major point of contention throughout the ratifying process.

In most States the vote for ratification was hotly debated and narrowly ratified. In fact several of the States ratified with a recommendation that the new Congress consider the addition of a list of secured liberties. Rhode Island was the last of the 13 states to ratify, they did so on May 29, 1790. A little over a year and a half later the first ten amendments were ratified on December 15, 1791. The tenth amendment receives very little attention because it has largely been ignored. "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment has been used to completely bury the tenth amendment. Our national Executive, Congress, and Judiciary have certainly assumed powers and extended their reach far beyond the limits clearly imposed by the Constitution.

I actually enjoyed this book very much and so glad I ran across it. I do not think the author proved his primary assertion and in my opinion in many respects disproved it. It was a book that allowed me to be exposed to quite a bit of new material and therefore was educational. For those who have an interest in Political philosophy, or the history of our Founding, or the Constitution, etc. I would highly recommend it.

Rating ****

The Triumph Of Nationalism by William P. Murphy

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why Do You Live Like You Do?

Some one asked one of our children recently, "Why do you live the way you do?" This is a question we have been asked numerous times over the years. As I was thinking about this question once again, I was caused to think what a great question. Why do we live the way we do? Why go to the trouble? Why not just give in, go along, and not be so worked up about things.

Here is my answer. Because . . . . I want to stay happily married to the same woman and not just living in the same house, because…..I want my wife and I to be best friends, because ……… I don't want to end up in divorce court, because……I want to grow old together, because……..I don't want to be responsible for raising perverts, drug addicts, drunkards, and blasphemers, because………I don't want to raise kids that can't hold a marriage together, kids that can't or won't make their kids mind, because……I don't want to raise hypocrites, because I don't want to raise self-centered pleasure seekers, because……….I don't want to raise lazy, irresponsible, rebellious, arrogant, flesh-pleasers, because……..I don't want to raise well-to-do, spiritually bankrupt, worldlings.

Because…….I don't want to add to the problems but want to staunch the cultural blood-letting!

That is why I live like I do!

Why do you live like you do?!

Discipleship: The Communicating Of Holiness


 

In some respects this will be the simplest message of the whole series. It will not be deeply theological nor will there be much in it that would likely be very controversial. Nevertheless, it may be one of the most important messages of the series.


 

This message strikes at the core of passing on a godly heritage. Having lived long enough to see a couple of generations as it relates to families and ministries I am fully convinced that principles of holiness are often times not adequately communicated.


 

Every family is just one generation from assimilating back into the world. Every church is just one generation from assimilating back into the world. When one considers the historical transition that took place in our culture from the late 1940's to the late 1960's we should shudder. Judge Robert Bork referred to the phenomena in the title to his excellent book, Slouching Toward Gomorrah. The fact is, living in Sodom takes its toll. Often times the one we attempt to drag out turn and look longingly and are turned at least spiritually into a pillar of salt. "Remember Lot's wife" were the words of admonition from our Lord.


 

If we have strong convictions and fail to communicate them effectively to those around us we will find the very convictions that we held dear discarded on the trash heap of fleshly lusts and carnal desire. The attractions of Vanity Fair will have claimed another victim and in a couple of generations we will find our family and friends living in the City of Destruction that we once fled with great fear of the wrath to come.


 

The sad reality according to my own experience and observation, and I would love to think that it is not statistically accurate, is that churches tend to go from separated to worldly, hardly ever the other direction. Families tend to go from separated to worldly, hardly ever the other direction. Thank God there are a few exceptions and I hope and pray there will be more.


 

Would to God we could raise children that were more spiritually devoted than we are. Would to God we could leave our church more spiritually zealous than when we found it.


 

These things cannot happen unless we learn to effectively communicate holiness. We likely will not live long enough to see the full consequences of having failed to do so.


 

So, may God give us the grace to step it up a notch and communicate with holy zeal and passion the importance of doing so.


 


 

  • THE RESPONSIBILITY TO COMMUNICATE
    • Matt. 28:16-20 – Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
      • Observe - To guard from loss or injury by keeping the eye upon.
      • People must be taught the entire counsel of God's word.
      • As we have clearly seen separation from the world is not a topic where the Scripture is silent.
      • We have a solemn obligation to communicate all of God's truth and equip people to guard it from all loss or injury.
    • Acts 20:27 - For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
      • All of God's counsel must be communicated even if some of it is unpalatable to the flesh.
      • It would be unreasonable to expect that we could seek to declare all the counsel of God and everyone always be comfortable with it.
    • Acts 20:20 - And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
      • Paul sets the example here in relation to our responsibility to communicate.
      • He kept back nothing that was profitable to them.
      • Again he did not say palatable but profitable.
      • Some things that are profitable may not be palatable.
      • Not all medicine taste good but we take it because it is profitable.
      • Parents, at times, have to become very inventive to get their children to take medicine that is profitable for them.
      • We don't say, "Well, the medicine does not taste good and little Johnny does not like to take it, so I am not going to make him." To the contrary we find a way to get it down him because it is profitable.
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:1 - Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
      • Paul instructed people concerning their walk, that is their Christian life (the practical areas) so that they might please God.
      • It was Paul's desire that the church at Thessalonica would abound more and more in the teaching he had given them concerning their walk.
    • 2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
      • This is a very familiar verse for most of us.
      • It tells us that the Scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness.
      • This implies that we need to be instructed in righteousness.
      • It states that the Scripture is the instruction book.
      • And again we find that it is profitable, profitable to be instructed in righteousness from the Holy Bible.
    • 2 Timothy 2:1,2 – The things which thou has heard, commit to faithful men who shall be able to teach others.
      • We are to be taking the things that we have heard and be the instrument of their perpetuity.
      • We are to teach them to other men who will teach others.
      • We have a solemn obligation to communicate all of God's truth.
      • Rather than letting it slip, we are to be passing it on.
    • 2 Timothy 4:2 - Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.


 


 

  • THE COMMITMENT TO COMMUNICATE – 2 Timothy 3:10 - But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, . . . .
    • Sound doctrine.
      • Communicating principles of separation should not simply be the ranting of an ill-informed, arrogant, separatist.
      • Rather it should be the logical, systematic presentation of Bible teaching in the area of God's people coming out from among them and being separate.
      • I would recommend my own approach to the subject over the course of this series.
        • I could have come to this blog and lifted up a my voice like a trumpet against sin and the emotional energy and rhetoric would have been evident and you would have left here knowing where I stood but having little idea as to the doctrinal supports to my conclusions.
        • Instead of taking up all this space we would have had a couple of short blogs and left the issue only partly addressed.
        • For too many years this has been done in Baptist pulpits and when the culture was more influenced by Christianity than paganism a preacher could get by without building a doctrinal foundation.
        • We are no longer afforded this luxury if we want people to be able to stand against the subtle inroads of the world.
        • It is not longer enough to have a strong personality in the pulpit we need to be communicating strong convictions rooted in an understanding of doctrine.
        • When all is said and done I will have presented 15 messages most of them taking up a good deal of space by blog standards.
        • Of those 15 messages only three actually were designed to address specific areas of concern for a believer who desires to be perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
        • Most of the series has been devoted to the doctrinal superstructure upon which principles of separation are well-founded.
          • God – The Origin of Holiness
          • Justification – Imputed Holiness
          • Sanctification – Growth In Holiness
          • The Word of God – The Standard Of Holiness
          • The World – The Antipathy Of Holiness
          • The Flesh – The Difficulty Of Holiness
          • The Heart – The Focus Of Holiness
          • The Behavior – The Manifestation Of Holiness
          • Separation – The Effect Of Holiness
        • Only then did I spend several weeks addressing our entertainment choices, our appearance, and our speech.
        • Then we finished with three more messages designed to help with a defense for and having the right attitude about separation.
          • Our Confidence – Answer The Assault Against Holiness
          • Joy and Grace – The Adorning Of Holiness
          • Discipleship – The Communicating Of Holiness
      • Separation as with everything else is a matter of being rooted in the Scripture.
        • 1 Peter 3:8-15 –Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
          • This is whole passage is about living right and being ill treated for doing so. We should be able to give a scriptural answer for why we live like we do.
          • We should not be surprised when many do not see it our way.
          • When a man asks we should have an answer.
          • The answer should be given in a spirit of meekness and fear.
          • And lastly what is most important is not that people agree with us but that we have a good conscience.
        • Colossians 4:6 - Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
          • It is the assurance that our conclusions are rooted in sound doctrine that prepares us to be able to answer with grace.
          • Uncertainty about out positions create frustration and results in a lack of grace in our responses.
        • 2 Timothy 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
          • It is the assurance that our conclusions are rooted in sound doctrine that prepares us to be able to instruct in meekness.
        • Titus 1:9 - Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
          • I believe it was Matthew Henry that said, "By sound doctrine, not loud arguments".
          • If we hope to effectively communicate principles of holiness there has to be willingness to ground people in sound doctrine.
          • Something is wrong when people will vehemently scour women who wear pants, people who watch "R" rated movies, boys who wear their hair long and girls who wear their hair short, folks who unashamedly swim with little clothes on, and frown at the use of the slightest euphemism and yet;
          • Are at a loss of words if the discussion turns to the holiness of God, the glories of justification, the implications of sanctification, the reasonableness of Scripture establishing standards of behavior for us, the relationship between law and grace, the essential nature of the heart, and the dangers of the world.
          • People who fit this description are shallow!
          • They are not well grounded they are simply well-rehearsed.
          • And, when show time arrives under the glaring lights they melt and dissolve away, usually under protest. Why? Because they did not know the Scripture.
          • They were not grounded and rooted.
          • I have been determined that if this were true of anyone who sat under my ministry of the word it would be because they have not paid attention and applied themselves and not because I was unwilling to go to the time and trouble to communicate and build a foundation.
    • Holy Example
      • 1 Thessalonians 2:10 - Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
      • 2 Corinthians 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
      • 2 Cor. 6:3-10 – Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
      • 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
      • 1 Timothy 4:12 - Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
      • Titus 2:7,8 - In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
      • 1 Peter 5:3 - Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
      • 1 Thessalonians 1:5 - For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
      • Philippians 3:17 - Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.'
      • Philippians 4:9 - Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
      • 1 Corinthians 4:16 - Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
      • 1 Corinthians 11:1- Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
      • 1 Thessalonians 1:6 - And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
      • Hebrews 13:7 - Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
      • Psalms 37:37 - Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
        • It has been said concerning children that "more is caught than taught". There is certainly some truth in this little proverb. I think the principle could be expanded to all those over who we exert influence.
        • What we are not communicating with our lives we will never effectively communicate with our tongues.
        • People tend to, over the long haul, be influenced more by a strong example rather than a powerful message.
        • It is often easier to show people how to be separated than tell them how.
        • It is more productive to lead people to separation than drive them to it.


 

Let me close the series where we have started every evening in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.