Leviticus is a book of hope, not in running from God but in running to Him, where He redemptively points us to the unblemished Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. By His stripes we are healed.
For it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
Leviticus 17:11, NKJV
Whenever I read the opening chapters of Leviticus I am taken aback by all the different sacrificial offerings (burnt, peace, grain, guilt, sin), the frequency with which they are to be made, and the detail in which they are presented. I am much relieved to be ministering on this side of the cross.
Leviticus gives us an idea of the insidiousness and pervasiveness of sin. No one is untouched by it. Sin is a stain to life, our awareness brought to the fore in the presence of the holy God. As with Isaiah, the closer we draw near to God the more acutely aware we become of our sin and sinfulness, and of our abject helplessness to do anything about it (Isa. 6:5).
What particularly strikes me in the descriptions of these sacrifices is all the attention given to unintentional sins (Lev. 4-5), those sins of which we are unaware and may commit inadvertently or by omission. It brings to mind the expression that ignorance of the law is no excuse.
When it comes to sin in our lives, we tend to think of willful sins, those sins we commit or omit with intention. The psalmist has this in mind when he says, “Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression” (Psa. 19:13).
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The PCA Presbytery of The Ascension Receives Report On “Still Time To Care”By Ascension Presbytery — 7 months ago
At its July 30, 2022 stated meeting, The Ascension Presbytery voted unanimously to receive the Report of their Ad Interim Committee to Study “Still Time To Care,” by Greg Johnson. In its conclusion the Study Committee stated: “Our careful interaction with this work has demonstrated to us that there are several areas of agreement with Johnson’s thought. At the same time, our study has uncovered fundamental and foundational problems with both the biblical and confessional fidelity of Johnson’s underlying thesis and the clarity and coherence of the demonstration of that thesis.
At the January 2022 meeting, the Presbytery of the Ascension gave the following assignment to an ad-interim committee: “To study and report on “Still Time to Care” by Greg Johnson, making recommendations on its compatibility with our Standards, the AIC Report on Human Sexuality, the commended RPCNA report and the Nashville statement, advising as to the book’s implications for the church, such as counseling and Candidates and Credentials exams, and, if appropriate, recommending further action in the courts of the church.”
The members of the committee, after ensuring the book and materials were read, discussed the areas of agreement and affirmation, areas of disagreement or concern, and the practical implications of those disagreements (in counseling and other areas). We then settled on various areas to explore in a report: Sanctification, Identity in Christ, Orientation Change, the heinousness and various aggravations of different sins, and the gift of continence.
Before exploring the substance of the book and areas of concern, we first wanted to state our thankfulness for the testified work of God in the life of the author, Greg Johnson. We do not intend, nor desire, to offer pastoral care or counseling in the area of his personal battle against sin and temptation. Such would be inadvisable to attempt from many miles and many presbyteries away. Indeed, the appropriate manner of addressing sin struggles is with a trusted pastor, in close and frequent contact with the believer, and in diligent use of the means of grace.
Our concern in the report is the content of the book and the implications for ministry offered by the book and its approach, along with his call to repentance and change in our ministries, especially in light of the actions of the courts of the Presbyterian Church in America.
The reading and review of any book is no simple matter. Serious engagement requires that the reader wrestle with a work’s content, context, and purpose. Even where disagreement emerges, few books are utterly and extensively flawed – and Greg Johnson’s book is no different. Indeed, our careful interaction with this work has demonstrated to us that there are several areas of agreement with Johnson’s thought.
At the same time, our study has uncovered fundamental and foundational problems with both the biblical and confessional fidelity of Johnson’s underlying thesis and the clarity and coherence of the demonstration of that thesis. While by no means limited to that which we highlighted, we were particularly concerned with his handling of the biblical and confessional doctrine of sanctification, his misuse of identity in Christ, his aberrant views on sexual orientation, his disregard of the confessional teaching on the heinousness and various aggravations of different sins, and his lack of interaction with the confessional understanding of the gift of continence.
The church desperately needs clear, careful, biblical, and confessional interactions with these issues. Still Time to Care, however, is not these things – for that reason, this AIC cannot recommend it as a general resource for our churches. Rather, we encourage our Ruling and Teaching Elders to carefully engage with Johnson’s work – both through the lens of this report and their own critical interaction with it – such that the serious deficiencies and errors contained therein can be counteracted through the preaching and teaching within our churches.
The entire Report can be read here.
Following Jesus’ Teaching on the Importance of MosesBy Ari Takku — 1 year ago
Creation arguments can also be used to soften the ‘hard soil’ of evolutionary dogma—or to hold helpful discussions with a fellow Christian whose thoughts might be affected by (unnecessary and potentially faith-damaging) compromise with secular science. In either case, it is very important that we do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
An atheist once declared: “I will believe in God if He turns my red house into a blue one”. He went to sleep that night as usual, but the next morning when he went outside, he noticed that the red paint on the outside of his house was now a deep blue colour.
In such an imagined scenario, what do you think would most likely happen next? I believe (and will seek to justify it from the Bible) that the atheist would probably not shout ‘Hallelujah!’ in newfound faith. Instead, he would most likely declare how amazing it was to see how the environment, cosmic radiation, chemical pollutants in the atmosphere, and perhaps some unknown natural process had effected this transformation in the chemistry of the paint.
If it achieved wide publicity, a multidisciplinary research team might even be assembled to study this unusual situation, perhaps leading to the publishing of scientific papers proposing a number of alternative theories. All of these, of course, would be restricted to purely naturalistic explanations.
The Rich Man and Abraham
Compare this with Jesus’ lesson about the rich man who after death finds himself facing the terrible torments of the underworld (Luke 16:19–31). He sees Abraham who is in the place of bliss, at the other side of an insurmountable gap separating these two very different regions. He asks Abraham to send someone from the dead to warn his brothers so that they can avoid that dreadful destination.
However, Abraham responds, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” But the rich man counters, saying that “if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!” Abraham replies, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”
There Must be FactionsBy Carter Skeel — 5 months ago
By reinforcing that true unity will only come as we adhere more and more closely to God’s truth—and, realistically, not fully on this side of glory—a church encourages discussion of what that truth entails for faithful civic engagement, rather than silencing such discussion in the name of unity and thereby enabling moral relativism. This approach encourages the church to speak boldly on issues where God’s truth is clear, or clearly applies.
Lord, please help our church not be divided over politics…
This seems to be a common prayer and sentiment in Protestant churches. It’s a noble aspiration, but if taken to its logical conclusion, it can discourage civic engagement on behalf of God’s truth.
Consider two different interpretations of this exhortation. One: that our congregations would adhere more and more closely to God’s truth, knowing that this is the only path to true unity. Two: that congregants would come to understand and accept that fellow members may vote and think differently on political and cultural matters and place unity above these disagreements.
To the extent that this second meaning is intended or presumed, we are playing with relativistic fire, despite how seemingly obvious and biblical this language might seem on the surface. It is easily construed as implying that one’s political affiliations and beliefs resemble one’s favorite ice cream flavor, that there is no higher, objective truth against which they can be evaluated, or that a church should never be in the business of endorsing moral positions. What follows from this is moral equivalency: who’s to say which party or system of belief has a greater claim to upholding biblical justice? An additional subtext is often that it’s more important that we all get along anyway.
This is fundamentally a Positive World message. When a culture holds a generally positive view of faith, faith-informed perspectives are prevalent and prominent in the public square. As a result, such views tend to be marbled into the platforms of different political parties and worldviews, as the Overton Window is generally favorable to these views. (Consider the once robust cohort of pro-life Democrats.) In this context, it is still dangerous to maintain the fiction of an absolute moral equivalency, but intelligent people can at least debate the merits of various political allegiances. But this is clearly not our present context.
This “unity over division” perspective also evinces a deeper category error. I will take great pains not to relitigate the Great Keller Debate of 2022, but the kind of moral equivalency this perspective fosters is manifested in calls for a biblical justice that transcend Team Red and Team Blue. The category error of this “biblical justice” perspective lies in placing it alongside Team Red Justice and Team Blue Justice as a third, better alternative. Consider what this presupposes: First, that “biblical justice” is not what faithful Christians have been seeking in developing conceptions of justice all along; and second (as a corollary), that “biblical justice” has been epistemically unavailable to these Christians but has somehow now been revealed to this select group of contemporary evangelicals.