Sincere and Pure Devotion to Christ
How many of you are taking your eyes off Christ to see if there are any other cute alternatives in the room? Paul says that he is jealous to make sure that he presents Christ’s bride to him not as a roving-eyed adulteress but as a single-minded, pure bride. Paul means for all of us not to be roving-eyed adulteresses but to be single-minded in our devotion to Christ. We never take our eyes off the prize, and the prize is Christ.
For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. –2 Corinthians 11:2-3
The law of Moses implies that it is the father’s responsibility to present a pure bride to her betrothed husband (Deut. 22:13-21). Paul says that he plays the father of the bride in Christ’s “betrothal” to his church. His goal is to present God’s people to Christ a as pure virgin at the wedding ceremony.
Even in our own modern wedding ceremonies, we at least symbolically portray the same thing. A bride wears white to symbolize purity. A father walks the bride down the aisle to present her for marriage to her fiancé and to say that the responsibility of care and protection now belongs to the groom.
One of the best parts of a wedding ceremony is watching the faces of the bride and groom when they first see each other as she comes down the aisle. Their eyes lock, they are looking at one another, and everything and everyone in the room fall away from their attention. All of us watching are craning our neck to see the beautiful bride. Then we are leaning and looking to make sure we see the look on the groom’s face as his eyes meet hers. We want to witness the mutual delight reflected on their faces.
But imagine for a moment what it would be like if while walking down the aisle, their eyes don’t meet.
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Understanding DeathBy Gary Bates — 2 years ago
Jesus said that God causes the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). Both believers and non-believers all share this same sin-cursed planet, and there is nothing we can do of ourselves to save ourselves from the effects of it.
Most of us came to a harsh realization of our mortality, even as children. It’s a very gloomy prospect to comprehend that we will all eventually die. And I know from crushing personal experience that this sometimes happens to our loved ones sooner rather than later.
None of us like death. Whether someone has lived a full life or dies ‘too young’, we grieve at their passing. The pain of loss causes us to ponder probably the most asked question—‘Why?’ ‘Why are we here if it is just to become nothing more than dust?’ And, ‘Why me?’ or perhaps, ‘Why us?’ In my experience, most Christians also struggle with this question. We might wonder why our loving and all-powerful Creator God would allow any of His precious children to suffer, sometimes in agony, before the end eventually comes.
Indeed, it is not a pretty picture, and there is tragic evidence that many have turned their backs on God because of the death of a loved one, or seeing a horrific international disaster that just did not make sense to them. But this struggle with the meaning of death is made far worse when people, including Christians, buy into an evolutionary understanding of death—often without even realizing it! If we do this, we can unwittingly accept some of its spurious concepts, including the idea that death is natural. As such, we might not provide satisfactory answers to others.
A straightforward answer is found in Genesis. It provides a correct biblical understanding of history, rather than the false evolutionary one. Moreover, we can find great joy in realizing that our Creator God knows our plight, and actually has done something about it.
Evolution: Death is “Just Natural”
Almost everybody has been subjected to an evolutionary/long-age view of the world at some stage. That is, all organisms have danced to the tune of death and struggle over millions of years. This story constantly invades our lives in our education, the news, and even in children’s literature. This ‘deep-time death’ theme is a form of indoctrination; hence its widespread acceptance. For example, evolutionary astronomer Carl Sagan said in one episode of his immensely popular TV science series, Cosmos: “The secrets of evolution are time and death. There’s an unbroken thread that stretches from those first cells to us.”1
His view, like most scientists today, merely echoed what Charles Darwin popularized in his famous book On the Origin of Species. Darwin wrote, “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”2
There has been much written about Darwin’s motivation for his theory. He struggled with the premature death of three of his children. And many commentators say that the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie, finally destroyed any vestiges of Christian faith he had. He stopped attending church—something that I have seen many Christians do after losing loved ones. Darwin concluded that the world was ages old and concluded that death had been here since the beginning. In this view, ‘God’ becomes the author of death and suffering and a cruel ogre. Death became king to Darwin, rather than the One who has the power over life and death (Rev. 1:18).
We see this ‘death is king’ theme even in popular movies. The hugely influential science fiction author H.G. Wells (1866–1946) was a rabid evolutionist who trained under ‘Darwin’s bulldog’ Thomas Huxley.3 The 2005 Stephen Spielberg remake of H.G. Wells’ classic science fiction tale, The War of the Worlds, stays true to its evolutionary precepts of death and struggle. But I wonder how many could see Wells’ anti-Christian ideas coming through? It employs the idea of older (on the evolutionary scale), and therefore more technologically advanced, Martians attacking the earth with the aim of exterminating mankind. Wells wrote how these ‘superior aliens’ viewed humans: “No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.” (emphasis mine).
The Wizard of Oz is FakeBy Larry Ball — 1 year ago
The church in America has taken a major hit. In the PCA, homosexuals stand in some pulpits every Sunday as teaching elders. The church’s response to Covid-19 was pathetic. After the original panic period, most churches in America continued to close their doors and prevented the people of God from worshiping together as a congregation.
Christianity was once the dominant religion in America, and Christian morals had a major impact on all of our cultural institutions. Americans had faith in the integrity of these systems. That time has ended. As Christians slept, most of these institutions were secularized over a period of years. However, many Christians appear to be clinging to these institutions and have made idols out of them. But the idols are falling down one by one. The Wizard of Oz is fake. Consider the following.
Democracy – The idea of America as a Constitutional Republic has inherent in it an element of democracy (rule by the people). The people still elect representatives. We were told that democracy makes life safe for the people and guarantees freedom. This became the American gospel. However, this idol is quickly falling down.
First, we can no longer trust in the voting system that puts people into office, no more than we can trust in people to vote for godly men to serve in these offices. The federal government is mostly ruled by bureaucrats who are not elected. Wokism has taken over the White House and old white men like me are declared to be racists – enemies of the State. The Supreme Court has no law higher than itself, and it finds in the Constitution the legitimacy of both abortion and homosexual marriage. The Wizard of Oz is fake.
Public Schools – I was raised in the public schools in the 50s and 60s of the last century. As a covenant child, my parents could send me off to school with confidence that their Christian world-and-life-view would not be contradicted by my teachers. The principal of my high school was an elder in my local church. Today, Critical Race Theory has become the underlying curriculum of the public schools. Teachers are under the dominion of hegemonic unions such as the National Education Association (NEA). Parents who protest before school boards are now put on a potential domestic terrorist list by the FBI at the direction of the Department of Justice. The Wizard of Oz is fake.
Military – A calling to serve this country in the Armed Forces has always been considered an honor. After the debacle in Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the legitimacy of that honor went on trial. Now the military is on a witch-hunt to purge its ranks by expelling anyone who voted for Donald Trump. We must never forget that when the people become the enemy of tyrants, that the military becomes the most powerful weapon of tyrants against the people. The Wizard of Oz is fake.
Media – The days of Walter Cronkite are gone, even though probably behind the scenes, all was not well in those days either. The media has become a ministry of the State. Disinformation must be censored. Fake News is real.
Even Fox News is disappointing. Recently, I watched political conservative Tammy Bruce, who is a self-declared lesbian, critique the plight of NCAA sports where men who identify as women are taking over women’s sports. She herself identifies as a man in the boudoir, but it’s wrong for a male to identify as a female in a college swim meet. Incongruity has become significant even on the political right. The Wizard of Oz is fake.
Corporations – Intersectionality has taken over the universities in America. Free speech is dead. Label a man who identifies as a woman by the pronoun “him,” and you will be fired rather quickly. Most corporate boards are filled with graduates from these universities. Americans used to respect the success of corporations who were founded by men who risked so much. Neo-Marxist equality is now the religion that rules Big Corp. Free-enterprise America is now taken up the mantle of this new righteousness. The Wizard of Oz is not real.
Church – Finally, the church in America has taken a major hit. In the PCA, homosexuals stand in some pulpits every Sunday as teaching elders. The church’s response to Covid-19 was pathetic. After the original panic period, most churches in America continued to close their doors and prevented the people of God from worshiping together as a congregation. Attendance in most churches is down at least 20% from pre-covid days. This appears to be permanent. In conservative denominations, wokism is gaining ground every day. I know people who have quit the church and who will never go back. They believe that The Wizard of Oz is fake.
I’m sure much more could be said. I guess that most readers would expect me to say that all we can do is trust in Christ, for he is not an idol, and he will never leave us nor forsake us. Well, this is true! However, Christians are in for the fight of their lives, and what we need to do is begin preaching the Lordship of Christ over all things. We must be ruled by Christ alone and not by Caesar. We must believe that God’s kingdom will come, and we must have confidence that we will see his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. As long as the Holy Spirit is on this earth, cultural transformation is possible. As the American idols fall, a Christ who rules over all must be our message to those who have put their hope in false gods. The Wizard of Oz is fake, but the Kingdom of God is real.
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tenn.
From Silence to Complexification to CapitulationBy Kevin DeYoung — 8 months ago
…the movement is unmistakable, and it is unidirectional. Evangelicals who set down the path toward LGBTQ acceptance rarely turn around and head back in the other direction. And once the revisionist jump—that really wasn’t a jump—is complete, the tolerance and inclusion don’t usually last long. Sex is too powerful a thing to allow for competing visions. And so Neuhaus’ Law almost always proves true: Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be outlawed.
I don’t often agree with David Gushee, the liberal Christian ethicist whose “battles,” by his own description, have included “issues like climate change, torture, LGBTQ inclusion, and white supremacism.” But he spoke the uncomfortable truth when he observed years ago that when it comes to LGBTQ issues, there is no middle ground: “Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.”
I thought of those words, written way back in 2016, in recent weeks as I read of Michael Gerson’s tacit approval of gay marriage and of Dr. Bradley Nassif’s claims that he was expunged from North Park University because he upholds traditional views of sex, sexuality, and marriage. These aren’t the first cases of a self-described evangelical or evangelical institution moving into the revisionist camp, nor will it be the last. I hope I’m wrong, but I have my mental list of writers, thinkers, schools, and organizations that eventually will make the same move.
I almost wrote “jump” in the last sentence instead of “move,” but “jump” is not really the right word. Rarely do evangelical leaders and institutions leap all at once from the open celebration and defense of orthodoxy to the open celebration and defense of (what they once believed was) heterodoxy. In fact, when evangelical capitulation on LGBTQ issues makes the news it is rarely a surprise. There are almost always a series of familiar steps.