Lessons from Genesis: The Innate Value of Human Life and Abortion

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26).

This verse should cause the reader of Genesis to pause and reflect on the innate, God-given value of human life. Genesis records God speaking multiple things into existence. The atmosphere, the earth, oceans, land, animals, vegetation – all of springs into existence as a result of God’s Word. Yet when He creates mankind He pauses and reflects amid the Holy Trinity, “Let Us make man in Our Image.

Mankind are fashioned in God’s image. Genesis 2 details the artistry that God employed when He made us:

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being’ (Genesis 2:7).

The word formed in this verse is likened to a potter who us sculpting his are out of clay. Like an artist, God fashioned mankind from the dust with loving care. The prophet Isaiah put it this way, “But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). 

life
from wikipedia

There is innate value in human life simply because of the One who created us. The same God that created everything in existence (read John 1:1-5) paused and made human life extra special. We are distinct amongst all His creation as being made in His image. We are His image bearers. When God gave us the authority to rule over the earth (Genesis 1:28) He intended for us to be His image bearers in the world. Human life is special.

But as we all know, sin entered the world and mankind drifted out of relationship with God. In the 4th chapter of Genesis Cain murdered Abel and displayed a terrifying lack of respect for life. I would argue that all sin has at its root a disrespect for life. When you steal from someone you are disrespecting the life they have worked to build. If you are violent, angry, hateful, lustful, bitter, or unforgiving toward another human doesn’t it all simply boil down to a lack of respect for their life? Perhaps nothing in our culture displays this lack of respect for life more so than the practice of abortion on demand. Almost 60 million babies have been aborted since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973. Cain took one life and it was significant enough to be recorded in God’s Word yet we have stood by and allowed 60 million lives to be taken in the last 42 years.

It is time Christians took a stand for human life. It is time we stopped and repented for allowing the practice of abortion to continue. God paused and put special care in the creation of humans yet we abort babies without so much of an afterthought. And that’s why the hidden camera videos recording Planned Parenthood staffers are so troubling. They force us to stop and consider just how disrespectful and immoral the practice of abortion is.

Abortion on demand is morally indefensible. Christ’s followers in the United States need to rise up and vote for candidates who will defund Planned Parenthood and work to reverse Roe v. Wade. We can no longer stand by and allow the practice of abortion to continue uncontested.

I’ve heard the arguments from the left. Hidden camera footage is unfair. The tapes are edited. Planned Parenthood provides valuable heath services to women apart from abortion.

Really?

No argument the left can trumpet surpasses the value of 60 million lives that have been lost. None. If you’re worried about healthcare for women, work to find a new way to provide those services apart from condoning abortion, but don’t pretend your arguments are more valuable than saved lives.

Doing so disrespects the God who breathed into us the breath of life.

Related Posts: What really Bugs Me About the Planned Parenthood Videos

 

Do Christians Have to Read the Bible?

bible1If the numbers are to be trusted, Christians, by and large, do not read the book they claim is the divine and inspired Word of God. A recent study suggests only 45 percent of those who attend church regularly read the Bible more than once a week. Overall, four out of five self-described Christians read their Bibles only occasionally or not at all.

Four out of five Christians read the inspired Word of their God only occasionally if at all. 

This statistic is earth shattering. And it seems we are full of excuses:

  • “I’m not much of a reader.”
  • “If you only saw my schedule, you’d understand.”
  • “The Bible doesn’t seem relevant to my life.”

Let’s get real for just a moment. It’s because Christians don’t read their Bible that that they don’t know their Bible; and because they don’t know their Bible there is often a disconnect between what they profess to believe and how they live their lives.

As a Church, we need to tackle the epidemic of Biblical illiteracy head on. Jesus Himself said that not everyone who declares “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven because they never knew Him (Matthew 7:21-23). King Solomon wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7), yet many of us walk through this life neglecting the very Word of God which is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). 

The great challenge before our preachers and teachers to inspire their congregations to fall in love with the Word of God. If the Church in the United States were to fall in love with the Word of God we would experience a revival like no other! Yet many of our churches (and even whole denominations) are moving away from being Scripture-focused and becoming more secular in their appearance. As a result, the Church is losing influence and is no longer distinct from the culture that surrounds it.

Our Church leaders need to continually confront their members with the Word of God. We need to preach it, teach it, sing it, and encourage and exhort our members to study it in their own quiet times at home:

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

We need to destroy the excuses that separate Christians from the Word of their God. Not much of a reader? No problem, their are countless reading plans and daily devotionals that will allow you to encounter the Word of God in just a few minutes each day. Have a busy schedule? You will make time for what is important to you. The Bible doesn’t seem relevant? Really? Did you encounter any stress, problems, jerks, sin, people, pain, obstacles in your day today? The Bible can help with all of that.

Does a Christian have to read the Bible? Make no mistake, Jesus died for your sins and is your one and only path into an eternal relationship with God. But a hunger for God’s Word is a clear sign that you have entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter urged his readers to “[put] aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, [and] long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it [they] may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2). And our churches must do the same. 

If the Church wants to stand as a beacon in this world, it must reclaim the power, beauty, and mystery of God’s Word and pass it along to His people. That is the challenge that stands before us.

What Makes the Prayers of a Christian Different?

prayerhands
image found on xeon24.com

This subject came up in a class I was teaching at my church last night and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I’m convinced that, given the right incentive, everyone prays. You could put the staunchest of atheists in a foxhole and they will call out for help once the bullets start whizzing. The Bible says that God has set eternity in the hearts of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We all know there’s something, we just don’t always know what that Something is. So when the chips are down, we have a tendency to pray … even if we’re not Christians.

So I asked this question, “What makes the prayers of a Christian different?

The most striking characteristic of a Christian’s prayers is the One to whom we pray to. We are praying to the God that has been revealed to us in the pages of Scripture. He is a God that we can know. When a non-believer prays, it’s like throwing stuff at a wall to see what sticks. Because their prayers aren’t specifically addressed to our Living God, they aren’t heard. A Christian’s prayers are voiced to a specific, living God that has made Himself known to us. Scripture says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). In fact, it is through Jesus that we are allowed access into God’s presence. God is holy, and mankind isn’t (Romans 3:23). Christ accepted our fate on the cross (Romans 6:23) … we deserved death and He took our punishment. It was that sacrifice that tore the veil between sinful man and a Holy God (Matthew 27:50-51). Adam and Eve were expelled from God’s presence because of their sin (Genesis 3:23) and Christ’s sacrifice on cross allows us to step back into His presence.

When a Christian falls on bended knee, they are in the presence of God Almighty. And that makes their prayers different from those of the unbeliever.

Scripture commands the believer to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). An ongoing conversation with God, along with a familiarity with His Word, allows a believer to discern His Will through prayer. So our prayers become less about us and more about Him. When we approach God in prayer we are to ask for His will to be done with confidence (Matthew 6:10), because His will is always what’s best our lives.

The prayers of a believer are sincere, earnest, specific, obedient and unselfish. These characteristics should set the believer’s prayers apart from the prayers of a non-believer. A Christian can approach God in prayer through faith … and that makes all the difference. Hebrews 11:6 seems an appropriate place to end this post:

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Thank you Jesus for allowing my prayers to be heard.

Never Stop Praising Him!

Mankind was designed to worship God. Isaiah 43:7 says we were created to give God glory. That is the meaning of our lives, to give glory to the One who created us. In Revelation chapter 4 John is given a glimpse into the throne room of God Almighty. In verse 8, he details four heavenly creatures who praise God:

“… day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come'” (Revelation 4:8).

These heavenly creatures never stop praising God Almighty. John continues to write that whenever they whenever these creatures give God glory, the twenty-four elders seated around the throne fall down before Him in worship, cast their crowns at His feet, and say:

“Worthy are you, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

Can you imagine this scene of never-ending glory being given to God Almighty? Like these heavenly creatures, we were created to give Him glory. Why? Because He deserves it. He is the creator of all things! He is worthy to receive glory, honor, and power! God and God alone is worthy of our praise and we should never stop praising Him!

It occurred to me today that when I find myself struggling with all those familiar sins that seem to nip at my heels, it is during moments when I have stopped praising Him. It is in moments when I have taken my eyes off of God’s glory and placed them elsewhere. In 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul instructs us to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:16-18). I think we can safely add to this, praise without ceasing. I should live my life in a manner that is constantly heaping praise and glory on My Creator for He is worthy of that praise!

As I go about my business this week, I will be reciting Revelation 4:8 and 11 in my mind often to remind me who God is and why He deserves continual and never-ending praise … will you join me?

My Date of Salvation and An Unexpected Gift From My Mom

Save-the-date-stamp-2Occasionally, my Pastor or another speaker in church, or even random Christians in conversation will reference their salvation date (or date of rebirth) and I always get a little jealous. There’s a little part of me that admires them for remembering such an important and momentous date and there’s a huge part of me that is envious of them – because their salvation seems so clean and flawless. So clean and flawless, in fact, that they can remember the exact date it occurred – heck, I’ve met some people that can remember the exact hour!

That always astounds me because my own salvation experience has always seemed so murky and blurred in my memory. I can remember going to church with a friend when I was in high school. On that day, I responded to an altar call. I can still remember the sensation. It was as if my legs were moving under a power outside myself. I couldn’t have resisted and stayed in my seat had I wanted to! When I reached the altar my friend and another church member led me in prayer. I confessed to God that I was a sinner and accepted the salvation afforded me through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It was a big moment in my young life. I came home that evening and shared with my mom what had happened. She was the only person I told that day outside of the church.

But I’ve always wondered if that was actually my day of salvation. My life and actions following that day seem to suggest otherwise. I quickly grew distressed and dissatisfied with the hypocrisy I saw in my school peers who also went to my church. I would see them behave one way on Sunday and then completely different during the week at school and quickly ascertained that wasn’t what I wanted for myself. So I quit going. I also grew pretty bold in my rhetoric against the church and Christians. In looking back on that time in my life I’ve referred to myself as an agnostic at best and an atheist at worst. I wanted nothing to do with God and often said that if I wasn’t good enough to get into heaven based on my own merits I didn’t want to be there.

Eventually, at the age of 30, I was baptized into the Church as a believer in Jesus Christ. I was called to attend school and study the Scriptures and have become a teacher and staff member in my local church. As my understanding of doctrine and Scripture has grown I’ve come to realize that I really was saved back in high school. Salvation is based purely on the Grace of God rather than my actions. I’ve come to realize that once I accepted Christ on that day nothing could overpower Him:

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30 

Once God had a hold on me there was nothing I could do to escape. It just took me about 15 years to quit trying to wrestle out of His grasp. But that understanding didn’t help me where my jealousy was concerned. Whenever another Christian exclaims their date of salvation I feel little pangs of envy deep in my chest. I’ve learned to deal with that.

But I recently received a little gift from my wonderful mother who passed away sixteen years ago. Years ago, when I told her about that altar call, she made my dad go out and buy me a Bible. Because it came from my parents, that old King James Bible is now one of my most prized possessions. I was flipping through its pages earlier today when I noticed something scrawled inside the cover in my mom’s familiar handwriting. it was a date – May 7, 1985. The date of my salvation! In her wisdom, my mom knew that date was an important one and preserved it for me. When I realized what she had done I couldn’t hold back the tears of joy that flooded my eyes. My mother passed from this world into the presence of Christ many years ago, yet still found a way to give me an important gift.

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Thanks Mom! I will see your beautiful face again someday! I can’t help but praise God for His faithfulness and Grace.

 

Ezekiel's Vision

bibleScripture Reading: Ezekiel 1

“As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking” (Ezekiel 1:28, NASB).

The vision Ezekiel experiences in the first chapter of the book that bears his name is incredible. It’s not hard to see the prophet struggling to put it all into words. It all begins with a storm cloud coming out of the north. The cloud comes complete with fire flashing from it, bright lights, and something that appears like glowing metal from the midst of the fire (v. 4). God’s abode was often described as coming from the north (see Psalm 48:2, Isaiah 14:13) and the implication was God was staging an invasion from the north just as the Babylonians had done.

Within the cloud were four beings – each with four wings and four faces – named Cherubim (see Ezekiel 10:15). The creatures had four sides, each with a wing, a human hand, and a face. This allowed for maximum mobility and awareness. They could move in any direction without turning. Their faces represented what were traditionally the four most impressive of God’s creations; man – chief over all, lion – chief over wild animals, bull – chief over domesticated animals, and the eagle – chief over all the birds. These faces may have been meant to demonstrate the strength, intelligence, majesty, and speed of the Cherubim along with the notion that God is the Lord over all creation.

These Cherubim were led by the Holy Spirit (v. 12) and beside each of them, Ezekiel saw a wheel of sorts (v. 15). These wheels were skillfully made and each had another wheel inside of them (v. 16) and they could move in any of the four directions without turning (v. 17) like spherical casters. All four of the wheels had eyes all the way around their rim (v. 18) and they moved in sequence with the Cherubim (v. 19). It is possible the eyes represent God’s omniscience for He “sees anything” while the ease of motion represented God’s omnipresence. Meanwhile the elevated presence of the Cherubim represent God’s omnipotence.

Over the heads of the Cherubim and supported by their wings was a large platform or expanse (v. 22). Many scholars believe that Ezekiel was describing God’s chariot because above the platform was a throne made of precious materials. And sitting on the throne was a “figure with the appearance of a man” who radiated like hot metal (v. 26-27).

Ezekiel was seeing firsthand the “likeness of the glory of the Lord” (v. 28)! His immediate response was to fall on his face. He was seeing a representation of God Almighty and what I believe was the preincarnate Christ and “all the prophet could do to show his awe was to fall on his face in the dust before his God[1]”.

How has God demonstrated Himself in your life? How did you respond? Today’s reading suggests there is one appropriate response to being in God’s presence … falling prostrate before Him in awe of His glory! We should be humbled and awed when God reveals Himself to us. Too often, however, I fear we ignore His majesty … may we all gain a sense of the emotion Ezekiel must have felt!

[1] From John B. Taylor’s commentary.

To Teach and Admonish: Colossians 3:16

Yesterday’s post concerned our responsibility to our fellow Christians. Today’s post takes a look at what the Apostle Paul has to say concerning the subject. In Colossians 3:16, he writes:

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16, NASB).

There’s a great deal to unpack in this verse! Paul writes that we should, with all wisdom, teach and admonish one another. The word “teach” means to communicate and impart truth while the word “admonish” means to caution and warn away from error. Stop and consider these words for just a moment. We are to teach truth while warning against error. The world will teach us that it’s okay to believe whatever we want provided we are sincere. The Apostle Paul seems to have directly addressed this notion with just two words; truth and admonish. We have a responsibility in our churches to teach truth and to warn others away from error!

Skeptics will warn us that no one knows what the truth actually is and scoff at the notion we can be sure we’re teaching what is true. Fortunately, the Apostle Paul tells us in this verse how to accomplish such a task. We are to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within us” and teach with all “wisdom.” Paul isn’t instructing us to teach our subjective notions of what truth may be, rather, he is instructing us to teach the objective Word of God! We are to allow the Word of God to dwell in our hearts! Warren Weirsbe writes, “Many saved people cannot honestly say they that God’s Word dwells in their hearts richly because they do not take the time to read, study, and memorize it.” Teaching the Word of God isn’t something to be taken lightly. We can be sure we are teaching God’s Truth but first we must be sure to consider His Word carefully and prayerfully. We have a responsibility to our fellow Christians to take the Word of God seriously and to teach and preach the truth while warning against error. This is an undertaking that should not be taken lightly. This is why James wrote, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgement” (James 3:1, NASB).

The Apostle Paul says we are to do this joyfully, “singing with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God.” Studying the Word, teaching it, and warning others against error is an act of worship. God’s Word should be at the heart of our worship, our Bible studies, and our sermons. Failing to impart God’s truth is failing to meet our responsibilities to one other.

 

Tending to the Vertical and the Horizontal: A Study of Hebrews 10:23-25

Occasionally, a Scripture verse or passage will hit me over the head with the force of a baseball bat. I experienced such today as I set out to mull over Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (NASB). However, it wasn’t this verse that gave me a concussion; rather, it was the following verse:

“… and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24, NASB).

The author of Hebrews is writing most likely to Jewish Christians who, under much oppression, were tempted to turn from Christ and return to their pagan ways. His advice translates well to modern Christians who are tempted to adhere to the ways of the world and live selfish lives. Consider, how different the Church would look of we all followed the directions found in this verse. How would things change if we all actually took the time to consider the practical ways we could encourage and love one another? This verse doesn’t suggest we should simply love one another when the opportunity presents itself – it suggests we should be contemplating carefully how we can show love to one another! This changes everything! We should wake up in the morning mulling over our plans to intentionally love others. We should strategically love bomb people!

Dr. Thomas Constable writes that Hebrews 10:23 advises us to tend to our vertical relationship with God while verse 24 advises us to tend to our horizontal relationships with others:

“… (v.24) moves us from the vertical to the horizontal dimension of Christian living. This admonition to love one another, our social obligation, [is] necessary since some [tend] to wander from the faith” (Constable).

We’ve all known people who have strayed from the Church and stepped out of God’s will. If I’m being honest, there have been moments in my life when I didn’t tend to my faith as closely as it deserved. In these moments, it is crucial that Christians step in and take their responsibility to love one another seriously. This commitment to our “horizontal” relationships should directly flow from our vertical relationship with God.

The author of Hebrews didn’t stop there. In Hebrews 10:25 we are instructed to “not forsake our assembling together, as is the habit of some.” Tending to our Vertical and Horizontal relationships is best accomplished in the local church. Attending church faithfully and becoming invested in the local church helps keep us focused on the vertical while providing ample opportunity for the horizontal.

Dr. Charles Stanley writes, “God did not design us to ‘go it alone’ in our Christian faith … our participation in a local church not only protects our personal fellowship with the Lord, but it is a vital aspect to how He matures us and transforms us into His image.”

Let’s face it folks, if we want to be more like Christ, we need to tend to both our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationships with others.

Why I Teach Eternal Security

I serve as an adult Bible study teacher in a Southern Baptist Church that preaches and teaches eternal security. I often get the impression that people think I teach eternal security simply because it is the doctrine my denomination supports when, in fact, it is the other way around; I am a Southern Baptist, due in no small part, to the fact that the SBC endorses a Biblical view of salvation. Here is an excerpt from the Baptist Faith and Message …

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and
sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to
the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve
the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and
temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through
faith unto salvation.

The first three words of the above passage from the Baptist Faith and Message are of vast importance, “All true believers …” It is important to understand the implications of these words. We are not talking about people who shallowly recited a particular prayer, people who attend church, or people who were raised in Christian homes. We are talking about true believers. In other words, we are not talking about people who simply exhibit some of the qualities of being a Christian; rather, we are talking about people who have had a genuine, life-saving encounter with Jesus Christ. Who are these people? The Word describes them as those who believe in Jesus Christ:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB).

“They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household'” (Acts 16:31, NASB).

It is important to understand that salvation isn’t about the outward behaviors a person may exhibit. Rather, it is about an earth-shattering, life-changing belief in Jesus Christ:

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In fact, this change in our lives is so earth-shattering and dramatic it is impossible for us to manufacture on our own. It can only be received as a gift from God:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB).

Salvation is based on an earth-shattering, life-changing faith in Jesus Christ that only comes to us as a gift from God. No amount of works will achieve it and when God gifts us with salvation it should humble us. This is the context in which we approach the doctrine of eternal security. The Baptist Faith and Message then explains that those people who have been gifted with salvation will be sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Wayne Grudem defines sanctification as “the progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.” Sanctification is the means by which God separates a true believer from the world and makes them Christ-like. It begins at salvation (Titus 3:5), should continue throughout our lives (Romans 6:19, 2 Cor. 3:18), and is completed upon our death as our souls go to be with the Lord (Hebrews 12:23). Believers enjoy sanctification as a process that God works on us and also bear responsibility to participate in the process through obedience.

The Baptist Faith and Message teaches that those who have been truly saved and thus sanctified by the Spirit will never fall away from a state of grace and will persevere to the end. This is a position that is demonstrated in Scripture:

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39, NASB).

“… and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29, NASB).

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25, NASB).

Simply put, if God gifts a person with genuine, earth-shattering, life-changing salvation in Christ Jesus, nothing will be able to undue it. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that God does not have the power, nor the ability, to save a person once and for all. Christ’s work on the cross can not be undone. He has died for our salvation and his sacrifice was completely sufficient to accomplish the task! A true believer can have complete confidence that they are saved from hell. This confidence enables us to live the abundant life that Christ speaks of in John 10:10.

Two Common Objections to Eternal Security

There are two common objections to the notion of eternal security and Scripture addresses both.

Objection 1: Christians are free to keep on sinning because of our eternal security. 

Anyone who teaches or believes this is guilty of a heresy known as antinomianism. Scripture clearly teaches that believers have a responsibility to leave their sinful life behind. In fact, the Bible suggests that those who continue to willfully and habitually sin may not be Christians to begin with:

“No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him” (1 John 3:6, NASB).

Objection 2: What if someone becomes a Christians and then later denounces their faith and rejects Christ? 

While a true believer may have doubts at times, if they genuinely and permanently denounce their faith and reject Christ, Scripture teaches they were not Christians to begin with:

“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19, NASB).

Conclusion

The Baptist Faith and Message is right on target. Can a true believer step out of the will of God and refuse to participate in the sanctification process? Certainly. Can a true believer have doubts and periods of disobedience in their lives? Certainly. One thing remains certain, however, a true believer can never be separated from the grace of God and the salvation found in Jesus Christ. This certainty provides the believer with a joy in this lifetime like none other! It is a joy we can’t earn or work for, rather, it is a joy that is gifted to us by God … and it all hinges on one point … are you a true believer in Christ and have you had a genuine, life-changing, earth-shattering encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ?

 

Lessons from Habakkuk: Part 4 (Habakkuk 2:6-8) – The Woe of Exploitation

habakkuk1God responds to Habakkuk’s queries by pronouncing five woes of judgement on the Babylonians. These woes are presented in five stanzas of three verses each. Collectively, they form a song of mockery and judgement. The woes paint a complete picture of the Babylonian’s sin and the judgement that awaits them. It is scary, however, how much the five woes apply to our modern culture. The reader of these passages doesn’t have to stretch too far to recognize these sins in our world today. The first woe is a prime example.  The First Woe: The Woe of Exploitation (Habakkuk 2:6-8)

6 Won’t all of these take up a taunt against him, with mockery and riddles about him? They will say: Woe to him who amasses what is not his — how much longer?— and loads himself with goods taken in pledge. 7 Won’t your creditors suddenly arise, and those who disturb you wake up? Then you will become spoil for them. 8 Since you have plundered many nations all the peoples who remain will plunder you — because of human bloodshed and violence against lands, cities, and all who live in them. (Habakkuk 2:6-8, NASB)

This first woe targets those who have become rich on the backs of others. It is important to recognize that the sin in this case isn’t being wealthy, but rather the method the Babylonians used to amass wealth. The passage says they amassed what was not theirs. They plundered their neighboring nations through bloodshed, violence, and dishonest practices. Because of their actions, the righteous will mock them (v.6). Verses seven and eight promise that their victims would eventually rise up and turn the tables on the Babylonians by plundering and pillaging their lands. History records that this woe came to pass in 539 BC when the Persian King Cyrus conquered Babylon.

How does this woe translate into our modern culture? It should be obvious to most of us. Today there are people, governments, and corporations who amass wealth on the backs of others. People steal, extort, and charge excessive interest for loans offered to the little guy. The financial systems of the world tend to be crooked and those who amass their wealth in unrighteous ways would be wise to pay attention to this passage. Again, it is important to understand the sin isn’t being wealthy, rather, the sin is to accumulate wealth by taking advantage of others. I believe the warnings present in this passage still apply today. Those who take advantage of others will be mocked by the righteous. They most certainly run the risk of their victims rising up against them. There is no doubt that they will eventually have to face judgment for their actions.

Pastor Mark Driscoll offerer this chilling warning in a sermon, “In the world who are the rich people? Response: We are. You are. You’re the rich people. You are. There are 90 countries in the world where the average citizen spends less on all of their goods, food, housing, transportation, everything, 90 countries where the average person spends less on those things than you as the average American citizen spend on garbage bags to throw out your junk. You’re the rich people.” It is often tempting to become egocentric and to forget how wealthy most of us are in this country as compared to the rest of the world. And I am certainly not suggesting we should feel guilty in someway because of the wealth we are blessed with. I am suggesting, however, that we need to understand that the way we handle our finances and accumulate wealth (both corporately and individually) is important to God. If we are not careful, we will follow the way of Babylon.

Sources
Mark Driscoll. Five Weighty Woes. http://marshill.com/media/habakkuk/five-weighty-woes Dr. Constable. Notes on Habakkuk. http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/habakkuk.pdf