When we begin to go through the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth commandments are we going to find ourselves devoted to what they teach or are we going to make excuses and find loopholes for our feigned obedience to this portion of God’s law? It’s a question every person who names the name of Christ needs to ask of themselves. Do I love the Lord as He presents Himself in His word, or do I seek a god of my own making who can be molded and shaped as circumstances allow? If we confess that Jesus is our Savior we cannot do that unless we hope and desire that He be our King as well.
As we move into the second table of the law in our walk through the Ten Commandments as they are laid out in the Westminster Larger Catechism our Divines are going to want to take a breath and ask a question about what we are doing. It is always helpful to take stock of where things are going and how things are at the moment. Doing both helps assist in making the way clear for positive growth in the future. As we heard of the dangers of atheism, idolatry, blasphemy, and Sabbath breaking the Love Thy Neighbor part of the Law will of course have its do’s and don’ts as well. However, we need to be careful not to spend all our time on the negatives. For Christians the keeping of the statutes of God is always a blessing to us.
We should always be desiring to be conformed to the image of the Son.
The Bible knows nothing about a stagnant believer. The Pharisees were keen on thinking they had arrived at a perfect knowledge of the truth, and then sought to impose that man-made standard on everyone who encountered them. That is one of the reasons why those born again by the Spirit and by the blood are self-effacing in their consideration of their own walk with Christ. Humility is part and parcel of faith in the risen Lord. As we look at the Catechism question today I want you to take a moment and listen to what the writers of the WLC have to say about how not only we should be using the law daily to put to death sin and live to life eternal, but why our attitude towards obedience should always be one grounded in thanksgiving for the grace granted to sinners such as us. Here is this week’s Q/A:
Q. 122. What is the sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man?
A. The sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man, is, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to do to others what we would have them to do to us.
Now, the build up to that one short question may seem to have been overdone. It doesn’t read like a call to meditation or introspection. All it looks to be communicating is a short statement about what the contents of the rest of the commandments are. Yet, it is vital to understand that when God established the division of the two tables He was intimating something that Jesus explains to the fellow who asked Him what the most important part of the law was for man.
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By Alistair Begg — 9 months ago
Jesus came into the world to transform us by leading us out of the darkness of self-serving falsehood and into the light of God’s true purpose. And this demands a personal and life-transforming response: Trust Jesus Christ to secure your forgiveness with God and lead you in righteousness for His glory. Divest yourself of control over your own life, and make Him your Lord. Jesus’ death on the cross has made forgiveness possible.
In his 1939 Christmas broadcast to the British nation, King George VI read from a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”1
While those words were obviously meaningful to George VI and his subjects amid an escalating war with Germany, they still find an echo in the hearts and minds of men and women today. We live in a time of great uncertainty and anxiety. Whether the context is geopolitics, the national economy, clashing worldviews, or even our own family lives, people today are treading into the darkness, looking for some light that will show them the way.
In John 3:19, in His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus shared the good news that we celebrate during the Christmas season: “The light has come into the world.” And the nature of the light is not a philosophy. It’s not a political ideology. It’s not a sentiment or a concept. The light is a person: Jesus Christ. God, in His love, sent Jesus into the world to light our way forward, leading us out of a world of death and into life with Him.
Jesus is the light by which we can see. Or, to use Haskins’s metaphor, He is the hand of God extended to us—better than any would-be light this world might offer. How, then, can we reflect His light in a world of darkness? Let’s consider the answer Jesus Himself gives.
People Love the Darkness
“The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:19–20)
Before we can understand the beauty and power of the light of Christ, we first must understand what separates His light from the darkness all around it.
It’s not normal for burglars to call out from the darkness of the yard, “Excuse me, could you turn the spotlights on? I’m trying to steal from your house!” They’re burglars. They do their work in the dark. The worst thing that can happen to them is for the lights to come on and reveal them. Similarly, the Bible says that apart from Christ, we live our lives in darkness (Eph. 5:8; 1 Peter 2:9).
The darkness of our time is revealed in many different ways, and certainly in intellectual confusion and moral perversion. When people hear Jesus say, “The light has come into the world,” many respond, “That’s very interesting, but I have my own views. I have another light that I look to, and that light is as good as any.” Some have the notion today that beliefs are valid as long as they mean something to somebody.
By Marcia Montenegro — 1 year ago
Since the Enneagram is a spiritual tool from the occult and men who received their understanding of it through spirit contact and from the New Age, it should not be surprising that the true nature of God and Jesus is being distorted by it.
The distortions of God continue unchecked in the culture of the Enneagram celebrities. A recent example is Rev. Michael John Cusick, M.A., L.P.C., founder and CEO of Restoring the Soul, an organization in Colorado. IAN CRON recently promoted Michael John Cusick on his Typology podcast. In doing a bit of research on Cusick and his organization, I came across his podcast, “Episode 100 – Kelley Gray, ‘5 Ways the Enneagram Can Strengthen Your Marriage, Part II: Understanding How Your Partner Handles Conflict’” on Luminary.
We see this quote in the description by “Intensive Clinical Soul Care Specialist” Kelley Gray, M.A., L.P.C. at Restoring the Soul.
The Enneagram is the Face of God and the Body of Christ
According to the podcast description, Kelley Gray is their “resident expert on the Enneagram.” As the resident expert, she would know how the god promoted by their organization should be depicted. Apparently, it is the Enneagram.
Ian Cron is the co-author of the Enneagram book The Road Back to You and has had a parade of Christians on his Enneagram program advocating the Enneagram. The statement above is not an anomaly but one of many invading the church. It reveals the Enneagram’s effect of altering the biblical view of God and Jesus Christ with the churches that have embraced its use:
The Enneagram is “the face of God” (Richard Rohr, Suzanne Stabile, Ian Cron)
In “Seven Benefits of the Enneagram that Most People Miss” under point one, “Appreciating God’s Presence,” minister Bill Gaultiere of Soul Shepherding mentions one of the talks they give is “The Nine Faces of Christ in the Enneagram.”
In “Seven Benefits of the Enneagram that Most People Miss,” Bill Gaultiere explains that Jesus is the “center” of the Enneagram and the “perfection” of all the Types.
Are you feeling disconnected from God? No problem; in “Seven Benefits of the Enneagram that Most People Miss” Bill Gaultiere offers hope. The “Spirit of Jesus” can be found via the Enneagram: “By relying on the Spirit of Jesus through the ancient wisdom of the Enneagram, we can grow in God’s grace.”
We allegedly see the “face of Christ” in other Types: “The Enneagram also recommends a path of growth for you by identifying another type’s ‘face of Christ’ that you especially need to learn from” (Bill Gaultiere “Seven Benefits of the Enneagram that Most People Miss”)
Cartoonish and irreverent depictions of Jesus, showing him acting out each type on the webpage of Belton Church of Christ, Belton, TX. Scroll down the page to “Bonus: here’s a picture of Jesus as each Enneagram type!”
In “Introducing the Enneagram with Chris Heuertz,” one of Heueretz’s oft-repeated refrains is that the Enneagram is “nine paths to God.”
According to Enneagram teacher and author Beth McCord (Your Enneagram Coach), being baptized into the Enneagram puts your “Core Weaknesses” “to death” and brings your “heart’s Core Longing” “to Life. Two examples are Type 7 & Type 8 on Your Enneagram Coach Facebook page. (Screenshots on file)
By Larry Ball — 10 months ago
Ultimately, evangelism is our only hope. A Christian nation must come from the bottom up (the hearts of a converted people), not from the top down (political legislation). Neither will it come from heavy-weight books. America must be discipled again with the gospel before we can begin to think about being a Christian nation. Jesus commanded us to disciple the nations (and not just a few elect from among the nations), and that includes America. Here is where we must begin.
The debate is hot as I predicted (Christian Nationalism – Dump the Term While We Still Can). Dr. Steven Wolfe has led the way with his book titled The Case for Christian Nationalism. Most critical reviews of his book have been hard-hitting (The Rise of Right-Wing Wokeism by Kevin DeYoung). I do not think the popularity of the book will survive. I hope Dr. Wolfe does.
The phrase Christian Nationalism sounds like a political movement. I suppose this is one reason I do not use the term. I prefer the term Christian Nation which is much more rooted in the Bible. The title “A Case for a Christian Nation” would have been more to my liking.
As I view the landscape of the culture behind the book, and the cultures behind the critical reviews, it appears to me that there are some fundamental issues missing in the whole discussion. Maybe it is my training in mathematics, but from all that I have read, I do not think those on either side are asking the right questions.
Let us deal with two main issues that are missing in this whole discussion.
The Definition of a Nation
Before the rise of modern America, defining a nation was not a difficult task. I think we have made things too complex. Maybe, because we live in America, we have become unable to define a traditional nation. The Bible assumes that we know what a nation is because it commands us to disciple them. Biblically, a nation was defined by four components – language, borders, religion, and common ancestry.
First, In Acts 2:6, on the day of Pentecost, each nation could be identified by a distinct language. Secondly, in Acts 17:26, Paul tells those on Mars Hill that God has determined the “times and boundaries” of the nations.
Thirdly, all nations have a god or a religion that determines their civil laws and culture. As Rushdoony said years ago, the source of law in any nation is the god of that nation. National customs and traditions are often the application of the religion of a particular nation. For example, Christmas is still a national holiday in secular America. In a post-Christian society, I suppose it is a holiday just too good to give up. My wife and I are the only ones on our street that go to church, but nearly everyone has their house decorated for Christmas.
Lastly, the word “nation” is derived from the same word from which we get the word “nativity.” It is the root word for birth. Nations or countries in history, before America was born, were formed from people with common ancestors like the nation of Edom, the nation of Ammon, or the nation of Moab; or from a common region of people who shared common traits, like the land of the giants (Anakim). In the time of Christ, Rome was an empire, but Israel was a nation. The recent world wars were fought by nations mostly defined by these four markers, perhaps except for America. Sadly, the mere historical recognition of this attribute today harbors the risk being called a racist.
Although originally the United States consisted of white Europeans, we have decided that we can dispense with the ancestor marker and create a land mixed with different ethnicities and nationalities. This is often justified by an appeal to the universality of the gospel. The universality of the gospel may be ideal for the church community, but in my opinion, the universality of the gospel cannot hold together a multi-ethic nation unless that nation is first a Christian nation.
America is still an experiment in process, and the last chapter of our history has yet to be written. We are becoming an Empire that holds subservient nations (ethnic groups) together by the force of law. Today, we define our nation by an idea (democracy will keep us together) rather than by the four attributes previously mentioned. Whether we can defy these four historical makers, we will see. Right now, with the rise of CRT, BLM, Wokism, and open borders, our future looks dim.
Was America Ever Christian?
To answer this question, we must go back and define some concepts (my mathematics background again). There are three markers in the United States that could be used to consider whether we were ever a Christian nation. I call them social, command, and legal.
First, socially America was indeed a Christian nation at her beginnings. Christian values permeated our people and our institutions. This is generally considered beyond debate. We do not need a new book pleading for something we want to be (a Christian nation), when we have plenty of history of what we once were (a Christian nation).
I remember not long ago when marriage was only between a man and a woman, abortion was illegal, and locally owned businesses were closed on Sunday and Wednesday evenings (for church prayer meetings). Church steeples still cover the landscape of our nation. These were a just a few of the many attributes that made us a Christian nation. Thus, from a social perspective America was originally a Christian nation. With the rise of Neo-Marxism coming out of our universities and the decline of the church, the Christian social fabric of our nation is dying.
Secondly, I use the word command to describe the structure of the American governmental system. Most state constitutions originally had a religious test in order to hold office which included oaths to the Triune God or to the Bible. When America was defined as a confederation of states with civil power posited in those states, America was a Christian nation.
The States were the loci of power. The States could command their people in accordance with their own constitutions and Christian principles. It is interesting to note that the State of Tennessee today codifies in its Constitution that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. However, in essence, this is null and void because state constitutions are basically irrelevant in the present system of civil government where the power of command is now lodged at the federal level.
As a result of the Civil War, the pivot point of the command component shifted from the States to Washington, D.C. With this shift, America ceased to be a Christian Nation. Thus, if we use the command component as a baseline, and the fact that at one time America consisted of nation-states, we can conclude that America was originally a Christian nation. With this change in the command component, we are no longer a Christian nation.
Thirdly, from a legal perspective, since the loci of command has shifted to the federal government, the United States Constitution is now the dominant legal document. It is the final reference point for all legal matters, as it is interpreted by the Supreme Court. Originally, from a legal perspective, America as a confederation of states was a Christian nation. Not so now.
It is my view that the United States Constitution was never a Christian document. We must realize that our founding forefathers had clay feet just like us. I believe George Washington (who presided over the Constitutional Convention) was a Christian man, but I think his commitment to the Masonic Lodge (with its unitarian god) was greater than his commitment to the Church. Ben Franklin, a prominent presence at the Convention, was a deist in addition to being a Mason.
James Madison (not a Mason) studied under Rev. John Witherspoon at what is now Princeton University, but he graduated with a commitment to the perspective of Scottish Realism and Natural Law (learned from Witherspoon). Religion was good for civil order, but Christian denominations served America best by fighting with each other. In his mind, this would keep them from establishing a national church.
Christianity so permeated society in early America that our founders could not foresee what would be happening in a little over 200 years. In predicting the long-term consequences of present actions, we all have our blind spots.
I believe this decision to become legally a secular nation on the federal level during the Constitution Convention was deliberate. There was a real disconnect between the lawyers at the Convention and the clergy in their pulpits. There was no reference to the Triune God of the Bible or his law in the Constitution. No religious test was allowed on the national level as it was required on the state level in most states.
Luther Martin, a delegate to the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention from the State of Maryland, said of the debate on this issue:
“The part of the system, which provides that no religious tests shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States, was adopted by a great majority of the Convention, and without much debate. However, there were some members so unfashionable (like Mr. Martin) as to think that a belief of the existence of a Deity, and of a state of future rewards and punishments, would be welcome security for the good conduct of our rulers, and that in a Christian country, it would be at least decent to hold out some distinction between the professors of Christianity and downright infidelity or paganism.”
Some argue that a religious test was not needed because the Constitution was intended as a procedural manual only (Rushdoony). Others argue that since the states had religious tests then none was needed in the U. S. Constitution (DeMar). Some, like myself, reject both these arguments. I think those who authored the Constitution knew exactly what they were doing. They were creating a secular national government based on what they conceived as Natural Law. Thus, welcome to modern America, the product of a secular United States Constitution.
A religious test in the United States Constitution would have made America legally a Christian nation on a national level, but our forefathers chose a different structure. With the rise of power in the hands of the federal government supplanting the state governments, America legally forfeited its status as a Christian nation. Legally, the God of the Bible no longer exists, and if he does exist, he is no longer relevant.
One Christian clergyman saw it all very clearly in his own day. In 1788 the Rev. Henry Abbot was a member of the North Carolina State Convention which was called to ratify the proposed United States Constitution. Representing his constituents, he spoke to the body of delegates and prophetically said:
“The exclusion of religious tests is by many thought dangerous and impolitic. They suppose that if there is no religious test required, pagans, deists, and Mahometans might obtain offices among us, and that the senators and representatives might all be pagans.”
His constituents saw the issues very clearly. Prophets indeed! The United States Congress in our own time has members who are homosexuals, transgenders, and Muslims. They are voting on laws to regulate Christian thought and action. Since there is no religious test, the concept of positive law (the law is what I say it is) has replaced biblical law in both judicial and legislative processes. This does not bode well for our nation.
Foundational definitions matter. This is what is missing in the current discussion on topics like Christian Nationalism. One thing is for certain, from what I call the social, command, and legal perspectives, America is no longer a Christian nation. The alarm is now being heard very clearly. Christians are dealing with grief, and are scrambling to do something about it. Some like Dr. Wolfe are writing books. Some, reluctantly, are adopting his terms. Others are attacking the writers of such books without offering foundational definitions.
Yes, ultimately, evangelism is our only hope. A Christian nation must come from the bottom up (the hearts of a converted people), not from the top down (political legislation). Neither will it come from heavy-weight books. America must be discipled again with the gospel before we can begin to think about being a Christian nation. Jesus commanded us to disciple the nations (and not just a few elect from among the nations), and that includes America. Here is where we must begin.
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tenn.