Once Not But Now Are
When Jews and Gentiles confess Jesus as Lord, they do so as people who had now received mercy, whereas previously they were the No Mercy group. When Jews and Gentiles confess Jesus as Lord, they do so as God’s people, though formerly they were the Not My People people.
While there are many quotations of the Old Testament in the New, there are far more allusions to the Old Testament in the New. The New Testament authors wrote with a worldview drenched in the ancient Scriptures of Israel. An example of this is the language in 1 Peter 2:10.
In 1 Peter 2:10, the apostle tells his readers, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” A rhythm is created with these words. Look at them like this:
- Once you were not a people but now you are God’s people
- Once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy
The “once…but now” language captures the readers’ former and present situation. Before conversion, the readers were not God’s people. Before conversion, the readers stood under God’s condemnation and had not received mercy.
With the language in 1 Peter 2:10, the apostle is connecting us to Hosea 1. In Hosea 1, the prophet was to marry a woman of unfaithfulness, and the names of their children would signal the theological situation of Israel. When Hosea’s daughter was born, God said, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all” (Hos. 1:6).
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A Plea to Missouri Presbytery From A Fellow PresbyterBy Jim Shaw — 11 months ago
I trust that you are men driven by Christian character who will not countenance watching a sound church of Jesus Christ – your church – be torn asunder, especially by a small minority. If this is true, then give no support, encouragement or succor to any man who would refuse now to submit wholeheartedly to the will of the brethren.
Pondering the dangerous and seemingly unquenchable division in our nation right now the thought has occurred to me that sometimes men just have to “slug it out.” Boxers, pre-fight, stare at each other with absolute malice in their eyes and the visceral desire to kill or seriously wound the other. Honestly, there is no way that this aggression is going to be defused without a fight. However, after the match the combatants usually hug and congratulate each other as reconciled enemies. The hostilities have abated, and the two stand with a unique and very strong bond as brothers in arms.
Around 160 years ago our nation was torn apart by a bloody civil war. Young men chomped at the bit to move onto the field of battle and unleash lethal force upon their neighbor.
However, after four years of bloodshed men on both sides had had enough and were ready to be at peace. General Robert E. Lee did much to help bring about that peace.
It is reported that President Jefferson Davis desired to continue to fight a guerrilla war against the U.S. However, knowing the costs of dividing a nation and the price of war, Lee said, “No.” Instead, he went on an extensive campaign throughout the South to help heal the rift that had formed. He encouraged Southerners to forget the past, to lay aside revenge and not to engage in continued warfare against the Union. Did Lee suddenly think that his reasons for fighting were wrong? No, however, what he saw was the greater good of peace and unity that stood before a nation torn apart by a four-year war.
Interestingly, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), our denomination, has been at civil war for the same number of years. It was in 2018 that a member church of your presbytery stunned the denomination by hosting Revoice, a Side-B gay affirming conference. Letters and articles were written addressing genuine concerns. Greg Johnson went on a speaking campaign via podcasts, magazines, twitter and finally a book.
The Heart of the People
Brothers, the rollout of Side-B was orchestrated in your presbytery. I am not going to get into all of the evidence of this in this letter, but suffice it to say, the evidence is clear. Now, I do not think that you all planned to “take down” the PCA. I simply believe that you misread the heart and mind of the denomination; a heart and mind that has been clearly demonstrated over the past two General Assemblies.
At GA 2021, the GA voted to pass overture 23 by well over 2/3 of the body. The overture clearly expressed the will of the denomination that a man not be allowed to serve as a church officer who professes to be a “gay Christian,” “same-sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like terms. Many in the PCA wanted their feelings expressed and did so.
Those on the other side were successful in scuttling the overture by seeing that it did not reach the high threshold for ratification by 2/3 of presbyteries. Nonetheless, the vote was very close to the two-thirds of presbyteries needed.
So, the elders of the denomination came back together in 2022 and passed yet two more overtures dealing with the matter. Overture 29 only had 200 votes against it. Overture 15, with specific language referring to those claiming to be homosexuals, and despite arguments that it wouldn’t be able to pass the 2/3 threshold, still passed GA by nearly 55% of the body. The point in all of this is that the denomination has spoken. It does not agree with Side -B-gay-but-celibate ideology. The sentiment is overwhelming. The war is over.
Back in the early ‘70s Dolly Parton sang a song about a woman who came from a position of admitted weakness, begging her antagonist, who was beautiful and seductive, to have a heart and not take away her only love, just because she could.
Our denomination finds itself coming to you in a position of weakness. Those who support Side B could wage a guerilla war within our denomination. 1) They could work to scuttle the overtures again, frustrating the will of the members, and we could debate them again at GA after GA. Or 2), they could allow the overtures to pass, but simply not obey their spirit while hiding within sympathetic presbyteries and an effete Standing Judicial Commission. Certainly, PCA members would be very frustrated. Or 3), they could even engage in a tactical retreat in order to hide out and replan, only to spring another surprise on the Church in a few years. In short, those supporting Side B ideology could do much to sow discord and in so doing destroy the peace and health of the PCA, something they swore not to do in their ordination vows.
The reality is it is time for those who support Side B-gay-but-celibate ideology to submit to the will of their brethren, also a part of their ordination vows and bring an end to the lost-cause campaign.
This is where you step in to be the Robert E. Lee of our age. The denomination needs you to say, “Enough. It is time for peace and submission.” Many of those who support the other side of this issue look up to you all – particularly certain members of your court who perhaps have served them at the seminary.
Fool Me Thrice
There is an old proverb: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Even though I have had my trust abused on numerous occasions by fellow PCA presbyters and ought to know better, I am just a sucker. I trust that you are men driven by Christian character who will not countenance watching a sound church of Jesus Christ – your church – be torn asunder, especially by a small minority. If this is true, then give no support, encouragement or succor to any man who would refuse now to submit wholeheartedly to the will of the brethren. Make every effort to root out rebellion, and counsel men of the need to uphold their vows.
It is understood that some will conscientiously be unable to submit to the will of the brethren in this matter. They must be encouraged to exit the denomination for one that suits them better.
The fight has been long, tiresome and costly. We have slugged it out, so to speak. It is time to shake hands, come together and be one church with the same heart and mind. It is incumbent upon you to rally together to restore peace and unity in the PCA, to strengthen the PCA for the good of Christ’s Church.
Sincerely in Christ,
Jim Shaw is a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America serving Redeemer Presbyterian in Brunswick, GA.
Why Woke “Christians” Support AbortionBy Samuel Sey — 11 months ago
Woke “Christians” who support abortion have become friends with the world and enemies with Christ. They’ve become enemies with vulnerable pre-born babies, enemies with the pro-life movement, enemies with real Christians—and especially, enemies with Christ.
If you’re surprised that the most outspoken Christians on social media for “justice” are not rejoicing over the most important Supreme Court ruling in our lifetime—you shouldn’t be.
If you’re surprised that many woke “Christians” are angry that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—you shouldn’t be.
You shouldn’t be surprised many woke “Christians” support abortion.
As a pro-life advocate and a critic of woke ideology within the Church—I’ve been warning about Woke Christians’ implicit support for abortion for many years.
Three years ago, I said:
“One of the biggest indictments against the social justice movement within evangelicalism today is that it hasn’t produced a greater passion against the biggest human rights violation of our time—abortion. In fact, it’s producing more apathy and support for abortion.”
Woke “Christians” were implicitly supporting abortion years before they revealed their explicit support last week.
For years they claimed they were “holistically pro-life” to conceal their pro-abortion views. In fact, I know woke “Christians” who say they’re “holistically pro-life” on social media, but privately—they’ve told me they’re pro-abortion.
For that reason one of the best things about Roe v. Wade being overturned—other than hundreds of thousands of babies being rescued from murder—is that it’s exposing what many woke “Christians” really think about abortion and justice.
As the Bible says, “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” (Proverbs 21:15)
With that in mind, some of the woke “Christians” who’ve revealed some level of support for abortion are people like Dante Stewart (a regular writer at Christianity Today), The Truth’s Table podcast hosts ( Ekemini Uwan, Christina Edmondson, Michelle Higgins), and Mika Edmondson ( a pastor and a regular contributor at The Gospel Coalition).
In reaction to Roe v. Wade being overturned, Dante Stewart said:
“What makes me most sick is that Christians will celebrate and believe that God made it so. No, this is not God. It is years of Christians waging religious war. It is not about protection, love, or morality. All of this is about one thing only: power. White power.”
Ekemini Uwan said: “America is a failed state.”
Michelle Higgins said:
“Dear Black Christians who support reproductive justice and believe that abortion is healthcare, it is time to be more vocal in the places where we have been shamed, even if those places are the ones we call home.”
And Mika Edmondson said:
Does it Matter What I Do with My Hands in Worship?By Gracilynn Hanson — 1 month ago
Taylor argues we’re commanded to worship, designed to worship, and should delight to worship God with our bodies (5). The remainder of the book supports these three claims from historical, biblical, theological, scientific, artistic, and ethical angles. Taylor then addresses both prescriptive and spontaneous applications for the body in congregational worship.
As a Christian, have you ever considered how your body participates in—even facilitates—your worship?
W. David O. Taylor’s new book A Body of Praise: Understanding the Role of Our Physical Bodies in Worship thoroughly analyzes the importance of the physical body for corporate worship. Embodied worship isn’t strictly a spiritual experience—the physical body is required to praise God rightly and fully. We don’t need our bodies out of the way to truly worship; we need our bodies to lead the way.
I’ve been a believer nearly all of my life, and the question still nags me in corporate worship: What do I do with my hands? Maybe it’s fear of man, or maybe I’m too hesitant to be vulnerable, but I’m always conscious of my physical movements. Taylor’s book helps us consider what to do with our bodies when we gather for worship.
Do our physical bodies really matter in corporate worship? Isn’t our soul the most important part of us? Aren’t our bodies, at best, negligible to worship and, at worst, a hindrance? The answer to this last question is categorically no, as Christians have attested throughout history and across the global church. The purpose of the body instead is to offer to God in worship what only it can offer—and what must be offered to God.
What we do with our postures, gestures, and movements in worship matters. How our senses of sight, scent, sound, taste, and touch are involved in worship matters. How our spontaneous and prescriptive activities form us in worship matters. All of it matters to faithful and fulsome worship for the sake of a body that is fully alive in the praise of God.
Intentionality of the Body
Taylor’s thesis is twofold. First, he argues there’s “nothing neutral whatsoever about the bodies we bring to worship” (4). He focuses his argument on organized corporate gatherings—your Sunday church service. (He’s not referring to worship as an attitude, lifestyle, or personal experience.) On Sunday, we bring bodies with particularities, limitations, and five senses that ought to be engaged. Since our bodies fundamentally shape our experience in the world, Taylor hopes readers will embrace their bodies as the wonderful means of “communion with God in the praises and prayers of the people of God” (27).
Second, Taylor argues we’re commanded to worship, designed to worship, and should delight to worship God with our bodies (5).