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This sermon was preached at Christ Covenant Church, Nov. 7, 2010

Our text this morning is taken from the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, the 10th through the 12th verse. Later today we will be baptizing one from our own fellowship, and so I want to take this occasion to present to us all a few of the many aspects of this practice of baptism, some background to its significance, and what it is to represent to every Christian that has ever submitted themselves to Jesus’ command to be baptized.

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” – Col. 2:10-12

Notice with me first from this passage the comfort Paul offers the believer; you are complete in Christ. He is your all in all. His life, His death, and His resurrection are sufficient for our salvation. In theological terms, Jesus has justified you, He is sanctifying you through the power of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus is the firstfruits of those who will one day be glorified in the Resurrection. So, as we consider our text today, know first, if you are a disciple of Christ, you are complete in Him, He is your Alpha and Omega, your beginning and your end, your all in all.

Now, notice with me though, before Paul leads us in a discussion about baptism, he first takes us through a few comments about the matter of circumcision. As so, I want to consider the issue before us because, as Paul lays it out here, a right understanding of circumcision will lead us into a right understanding of the significance of baptism. Paul here appears to contrast two different kinds or types of circumcision; he says we, as believers, are circumcised, but in contrast to a circumcision made with hands, as would be normally understood, he here states that we are of a circumcision ‘made without hands’. What then is the meaning of Paul’s words here?

First consider the circumcision made with hands. God instituted this rite with the patriarch Abraham to be a physical covenant sign between Himself, Abraham and Abraham’s posterity. We read of the institution of this practice in the 17th chapter of Genesis, “10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.”

Circumcision then was to be this national badge, this mark of consecration, setting apart a people, a nation, covenanted together with God, and who was distinguished by this sign showing their status as members of the covenant. Even physical circumcision held some rich significance – the cutting that was required demonstrated God’s carving out for Himself a people. It was painful, reminding the man of the cost of being in covenant with God and his need to forsake the carnal nature and serve the Lord. It was permanent; once circumcised, you might apostatize, and you might forsake God, but with you is the constant token that would you would always carry, reminding you of your duty to the one true God. So this circumcision, made WITH hands, served for a season that that emblem which denoted the people of God.

But Paul goes on to speak of another circumcision, one made, not by physical hands. not wrought upon our physical body, but of a circumcision ‘made without hands’. To what is he speaking of here? First of all, even under the administration of the old circumcision, the one made with hands, we find hints and clues that it was not sufficient, that it didn’t go far enough in marking out who does and who does not truly belong to the Lord. It was an approximation, it gave a general view of the covenant, but it was not refined, it was not concise, and therefore it was not sufficient. We find evidence of the need for a more refined circumcision, a more clearly defined line of demarcation even in the pages of the Old Testament. For example, in Deut. 30:6, Moses states that God is not satisfied with only a physical circumcision but that as we read, “the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” You see? The covenant cuts much deeper than that originally thought. It is more than skin deep. Even under the old administration we begin to see the need for a much deeper significance, and a fuller purpose behind the pratice of circumcision. In fact, we read of a circumcision, made without hands upon the heart of man.

Again in Jeremiah 4:4, we read the command for men, not to surrender to circumcision of the flesh, but to surrender their hearts, their souls to God. Listen; “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” Now listen beloved, the only truly circumcised persons; and they are such who have been pricked to the heart, and thoroughly convinced of sin; who have had the hardness of their hearts removed, and the impurity of it laid open to them; which they have beheld with shame and loathing, and have felt an inward pain on account of it; and who have been enabled to deny themselves, to renounce their own righteousness, and put off the body of the sins of the flesh have truly been circumcised.

Paul, in the New Testament even clearly states for us that the physical circumcision of the Old Covenant, that instituted by God with Abraham and to his posterity finds its ultimate fulfillment in the circumcision of the heart of the faithful. Turn with me to Romans chapter 2, read verses 28-29. Circumcision as found in the former covenant finds fulfillment in the New Covenant as God circumcises our hearts unto Himself. This is the circumcision made not with hands, it is made by the Spirit in our heart, and in Christ. What was Stephens’s accusation against those who circumcised Jews, including Saul, who were persecuting him? What rebuke did he have for them? In Acts 7:51 we read Stephens words saying, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” It is not circumcision of the flesh that mattered. It had been replaced. It had been fulfilled by the circumcision that is of the heart.

This is what Paul is getting at in our passage in Colossians. “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ“. This is imperative to understand for a couple of reasons. First, there are those who would have us believe that it is baptism in the New Testament that replaces circumcision of the Old. But nowhere in the pages of sacred Writ is that analogy ever written. As both Testaments bear witness to, physical circumcision points us towards the greater need, the desperate need every person has to be circumcised of the heard by almighty God. What God accepted at one time outwardly, He now requires inwardly. What once marked His people outwardly, now marks them as His covenant people inwardly. The cutting off is no longer of flesh, but works of the flesh, sin, iniquity, a rebellion against God. As Paul says elsewhere, the old things have passed away, behold now all things are made new.

Now what does this have to do with baptism? Since this was to be a sermon about baptism, I ought to at least mention it in a few closing comments. Paul concludes our passage today saying those circumcised of the heart have been “buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead”. You know, and this is why baptism is significant, circumcision can be messy. In the Old Testament it was bloody. But it’s really no less bloody today. Because we come to God by the blood of Christ. As He was cut off from the Father for our sakes, we now are commanded to cut off our old self and live in the regeneration of the Spirit. And baptism points us towards the cleansing that comes AFTER cutting has been made. After we have been circumcised of the heart and the old self is cast off, we surrender to Christ, and He commands us to be baptized to show the regenerating power of the Spirit, to cleanse us, purify us, and wash our sin stained hearts. You don’t take a bath before you get dirty, you get a bath after you make the mess. Likewise, as we approach baptism, may it be with the attitude that we have been cut to quick, circumcised in our heart, leaving us in need to cleansing; and that baptism symbolizes the washing Jesus gave us to make us clean, to make us holy unto Himself.

So as we consider the significance of baptism, may it be with a view towards the purifying work of the Holy Spirit upon our circumcised hearts. Physical circumcision pointed God’s people towards the need, not only to be set apart outwardly, but that the more pressing need, the most vital aspects of circumcision take place when God cuts us out for Himself and replaces that heart of stone with a heart of flesh. First we’re cut, then were cleaned. First we’re circumcised, not of the flesh, but of the Spirit, and them we’re to be baptized, burying our sin and our guilt in the grave, and we rise in newness of life, that cleanness being represented by the waters of our baptism.

But as Paul says, we are raised through faith. Faith is the key. It was by faith that Abraham was justified, and it is by faith we are justified. It isn’t circumcision that saved the Jew, and it isn’t baptism that saves you or me. It is in and by faith in Christ Jesus. Have you been circumcised in your heart? Have you been rendered unto God’s service by the cutting off of the old man, and raised in newness of life? Then come, be baptized, and live as one who have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. I want to close with one last verse. Philippians 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Amen.

Depart From Evil

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” – Proverbs 3:7
 
I’m one of those kind of guys who always tears into a new project, quickly finding the instruction, only to wistfully toss them aside, all the while thinking to myself, “Aww, this can’t be that hard to figure out”. Yet, after several minutes of frustratingly struggling with the project, I will begrudgingly, even feeling defeated, finally pick up the instructions and learn how to do the project correctly.
 
The Bible cautions against being wise in our own eyes. The fallen nature of man often has too high opinion of itself. We come to believe we can handle just about anything on our own. We can see this attitude in very young children. They will sometimes pull and jerk away from the offer of assistance from a parent or adult – thinking they’ve got it all figured out.
 
Our passage today suggest that such an attitude is evil. One might interpret this verse this way; “Don’t think you know it all, get rid of your arrogance, trust in God, for to do otherwise is to abide in evil thought.” In other words, to continue to dwell in your own wisdom is evil; we are to fear God, His knowledge, His wisdom, and depart from the wickedness that is ourselves.
 
Allow me to end this week with a quote from the great Puritan commentator, Matthew Henry,
 
“There is not a greater enemy to the power of religion, and the fear of God in the heart, than conceitedness of our own wisdom. Those that have an opinion of their own sufficiency think it below them, and a disparagement to them, to take their measures from, much more to hamper themselves with, religion’s rules…To fear the Lord, so as to depart from evil, is true wisdom and understanding; those that have it are truly wise, but self-denyingly so, and not wise in their own eyes. For our encouragement thus to live in the fear of God”.
 
And to that I only add, AMEN!

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This sermon was preached at Christ Covenant Church, Oct. 31, 2010

That in all things [Christ] might have the preeminence.” – Col. 1:18b

We are concluding our short series on ‘Building A Biblical Worldview” this morning. And as we do, I want to bring this series of messages to a climax, a culmination today. And in spite the danger of being repetitious, I do want to once more summarize our last few messages in building a Biblical worldview.

Our first message emphasized the need to use God’s Word as our rule and guide, as it informs us as to the perfect will of God, and is sufficient for our faith and practice. Remember, it is our ‘lens’ to bring light and clarity to the believer that he might think, act and speak only those things approved of by our Lord.

Secondly, we consider the framework of the family. We mentioned the family as not only one of the ‘walls’ under the authority of God, but as the principle foundation upon which God is pleased to deal with mankind through. From the beginning, the family has been the building block of society. So each person, husband, wife, father, mother, and children all have roles and responsibilities to fulfill in God’s purposes and plans.

Third, we looked at the function, nature and commission of the church of the Lord Jesus. In the Great Commission we saw that the Church is called to evangelize, baptize and disciple. Oddly enough, in that order. The Church is to preach the Gospel, bring people to repentance and faith, baptize them, or more broadly, bring the worship of God to them, and finally begin the lifelong process of discipling them in the things of God. This is the church’s calling.

And finally, last week we examined the Scriptures to find that Christians do have a place in the civil realm, promoting righteousness and engaging the prevailing culture for Christ. But we also noted those in places of authority in the civil realm have responsibilities to us for good – good defined by God. They are to promote God’s standard of righteousness, and promote the general welfare of the citizenry by implimenting Biblical principles in the laws of our land.

In our text today, the Word tells us in all things [Christ] is to have preeminence. So let me ask, what does that mean? What does it mean for Jesus Christ to have preeminence in all things? Preeminence in the Greek is the word “proteus” meaning ‘to have first place, priority, to be before all else’. And again we’ve already considered in earlier messages how Christ is to have preeminence in or marriage, in our church, and in society and how this is vital to a Biblical Worldview. And all that is important.

But what I want to discuss today is the fact that a Biblical Worldview doesn’t start from outside us. It doesn’t start in the abstract. It isn’t simply a set of good ideas or morals we are to follow. It doesn’t begin with implementing Biblical principles in our homes, in our marriages, in our church or in our civil government. The conquering work of God over all things doesn’t begin outside ourselves. In fact, it begins in us. Before God can use us to conquer the world, He must first conquer us. If we truly believe Christ is to have preeminence in all things, the ‘all things’ mentioned in the Bible includes our heart, our lives being surrended unto the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Before God takes dominion over outer space, He first takes dominion over inner space. Before we are in a position to be used of the Lord to spread His Word, live out His Gospel, and take the power, authority, and message of salvation to a lost and dying world, we first must be reborn unto life in Christ Jesus. We must first come out from among the spiritually dead ourselves, raised in newness of life, and reborn by the power of the Word and Spirit. Eph. 4:22-24 tells us; “put off concerning the former conversation [life] of the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Before any great reformation of the family, church or state occurs, God takes hold of a people,and brings reformation to their souls. He has called us as followers of Christ to a reformation of our heart, mind and soul. In other words dear friends, God deals with you and with me, transforming us from objects of wrath into objects of grace; from people of darkness into a people of the glorious light and illumination of the Holy Spirit first. He places the preeminence of Christ before us first before He calls us to take it unto the world. So that in a very real sense, the fundamental work of creating a Biblical Worldview begins and ends with the life-changing work of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, first in us, and then through us in the world.

Not only is the preeminence of Christ in the life of the believer preferable, it is essential. If we are not dealing seriously with the sin in our own lives, if we are not praying for God to bring to our hearts and minds the reality of the depth of our own depravity, the need for the confession and repentance of sin in our own lives, and the glorious truth of God’s forgiveness for sin within us; we are not prepared to take that worldview out and share it with others. We will have no desire, we will not be motivated to do so. Until the grace of God has pierced your own heart, brought you to the the foot of the Cross, and to see Jesus as the only hope you have to be cleansed from sins dark stain, until you have come to that place, you aren’t going to see the need to carry it to others.

Turn with me to Romans 6:22-23. In Christ there is freedom from sin. Freedom from it’s guilt. Sin condemns. It stifles the work of God through Christ. But beloved, if you have repented of your sin, if the conquering work of the Holy Spirit has brought salvation to your soul, Paul tells us here in Romans, you have become a servant of God, you have been called to holiness of life and to everlasting life.

He goes on to warn that the price of our sin, the wages of our sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life. God brings the preeminence of Christ to His people so that they in turn, can apply His preeminence into every aspect of their life. Christ must conquer the sin of our heart, before He can work out our salvation and His preeminence in His Lordship over every inch of our lives.

Again, we are concluding our series on Building a Biblical Worldview. And in doing so, I want to convey the idea that it is not sufficient to have our families in order. It is not sufficient to simply have our church in order. It is not sufficient to have our society running along in some kind of moral righteousness. Those are all good things, and they are important. But if these outer works of righteousness are not rooted and grounded in inner work of the Holy Spirit of God applying the work of the Lord Jesus Christ to us, then the source of the reformation of our marriage, our church, or our society has not begun with God. It has a false foundation and will eventually crumble under it’s own weight.

The history of man is not without stories and accomplishments of man in building moral and ordered societies. We could menton the Babylonians, the Greeks or the Romans. But even the greatest of these are but a fleeting thing. Only the works of almighty God will prevail, and the Bible tells us that one day the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This is Reformation Day. We want to recognize the great men, and their works that have gone before us reforming the church, and doing many good things in the name of God. Yet, we have gathered in this place to celebrate the Greatest Reformer of all; the Lord Jesus Christ. His reformation begins when He takes our sin stained hearts of stone and turns them into pure hearts of flesh. Jesus reforms our lives through bringing a spirit of repentance into our lives, converting our souls and turning us with the gift of faith towards Him. Jesus is our Great Reformer.

But my question for you today is, Is Jesus your Great Reformer? Have you know the power of this Reformer to transform you? Apart from Him there will be no Biblical Worldview, no applying the Word in your home, no applying the Word in your church. and certainly no application of the Word in our culture around us. If you have not know deliverance from sin, if you are convicted by God over the condition of your soul, and are seeking refuge for your spirit, come to Christ. He beckons you, to repent and believe on Him today.

He alone can make you free from sin. He alone can make you a servant in the household of God, and bring forth the fruits of holiness in you, and in everlasting life. Are you hungry and thirsty for righteousness, God’s righteousness? Turn to Christ. The wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life. Jesus Christ is to have preeminence in all things. All things in us, you and me. Does Christ have preeminence in you? If so, He is your Great Reformer. If not, turn to Him today that He might have preeminence in you and in all things. Amen.

Pass It On!

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” – 2 Cor. 1:3-4
 
We have a local news program that runs a segment each week called “Pass It On”. In this segment, a random person off the street is given an one hour opportunity to pass along $300.00 to anyone they want to. The only criteria is it can’t be a family member and it has to be done in an hour. Each week, we watch as people surprise their friends, co-workers, and others with $300.00 those friends, who usually need to money badly, never expected to get.
 
In our passage today, Paul also admonishes Christians to pass along something else to others. He says that God is a God of all comfort. We can come to rest and trust in Him and His faithfulness in our life. Notice Paul doesn’t say that we, as believers, will be delivered from trials and tribulations. That isn’t what he says. But that the God of all comfort grants His beloved comfort, a peace that surpasses understanding, through our difficulties.
 
But notice with me the underlying purpose to our comfort – “that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble”. We are to “Pass It Along”. We are comforted, granted a certain peace and calmness of spirit, that we might in turn share our experience with fellow believers who, at that moment, God has placed in your life to pass that comfort along to. By this, the wisdom of God is displayed in how He brings His blessings on us.
 
How has God ministered to you in the last few days, weeks, or months? Have you acknowledged the hand of God in your life, nurturing you, comforting you, etc? And have you in turn seen God’s mercy as a mandate to, in turn, do the same unto others? Let us pray God makes us sensitive to the needs of others, that we might comfort others by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. Amen.

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A Right Rendering

(This sermon was preached at Christ Covenant Church Oct. 24th, 2010)

“A Right Rendering”

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Mark 12:17

It is amazing how God works. A couple of weeks ago a new survey of the religious condition of our country came out at the same time I was preparing a sermon on the need to consider our deficiencies in the church today. Well, as I was preparing this weeks message on building a Biblical Worldview, and the function, or role the civil government has in this, another perfectly timed piece made it’s way into the news. Quoting from the news piece this week:

“Germany’s attempt to create a multi-cultural society has failed completely, Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the weekend, calling on the country’s immigrants to learn German and adopt Christian values…”Multikulti”, the concept that “we are now living side by side and are happy about it,” does not work, Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party… “This approach has failed, totally,” she said, adding that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany’s culture and values. “We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don’t accept them don’t have a place here,” said the chancellor.”

In case you are not aware, in our politically correct society, this is a bombshell! For anyone to have the audacity to suggest people ought to be, in some sense, compelled to embrace a certain worldview (usually Christianity) flys in the face of our globlistic pluralism. But these comments by the Chancellor raise a whole host of other ethical questions. Should people have a right, in any given society, for those who come into that society to embrace the morals, principles and laws of that land? Does tolerance of differing views equate to acceptance of those views? Merkel’s admission of the utter failure at their attempt to blend into a multicultural society I think speaks volumes to our vision in building a Biblical Worldview, and shows the strong antithesis between Christianity applied, and other worldviews.

So, the two questions I want to ask and answer this morning are; What is our responsibilities towards the civil government, and, maybe more importantly, what are the civil government’s responsibilities towards us?

In building a Biblical Worldview, and just like within the family, and the church, a right rendering of the purpose and function of civil government within the plan of God is essential to our understanding. With these few preliminary words, let us then turn our attention towards our passage today.

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Mark 12:17

The context of this verse finds our beloved Savior once more under the wiles, and snares of His opponents. They were trying to pit one of two groups against Jesus, undermining His authority, and possibly getting Him arrested, or more to their liking, stoned to death. There were certain Jews who did not believe they should pay taxes to a pagan nation. That be doing so, they were conceding the authority of God over to a ruler, or king. So they refused to acknowledge anyone’s authority over them. If Jesus said to pay taxes, this group would oppose him. Yet to suggest they should not pay taxes to Rome would make Jesus guilty of sedition, and was an arrestably offense. So our passage today was Jesus’ brilliant response to their trap, and has left men baffled since He first uttered it.

There are two responses to the question, ‘what are our duties towards the civil magistrate’ that are both wrong-headed. First is the approach of the ‘political savior’ mentality. Some have come to equate Christianity with a political party or movement. Christians should neither be liberal nor conservative, Democrat or Republican. They’re Christian. Movements such as the ‘moral majority’ of the 70’s and 80’s did just that – they began looking for that political savior that was going to redeem our nation, and they took their eyes off of God and His Savior. Theirs in many ways is a glorified statism. This is not a Biblical Worldview.

Yet on the other side, there are those who I sometimes say are ‘too heavenly minded to do any earthly good’. There are some Christians who so remove themselves from the public fray as to lose their saltiness. We are to be involved in the public arena, in the political realm, seeking justice and righteousness in the name of God and for His sake. So whether you’ve turned Christianity into a political system entirely, or have so removed yourself from those things as to have no opinion, no input. I believe both views miss the mark. The truth is found somewhere in the middle.

Look at our verse, we are to render unto Caesar. Even as Christians, Jesus’ words suggest we have obligations towards the civil realm. We cannot simply hide under a rock. We must be willing to engage the civil and political realm. Back in the day, people understood that their taxes, gave them a say in government, and even placed upon them a strong obligation to be engaged in the public square. But also note, Jesus spoke in a time where tyranny ran much deeper than today. As Christians, we must be willing to suffer under bad government. There are few exceptions to how much we ought to tolerate under civil rule. Historically, Christians have proven to be some of the most patient, and faithful citizens in the societies in which they were found. So yes, we are to render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s.

But now look with me at the other part of this verse. We are to also render unto God that which is His. So Jesus doesn’t give carte blanche to the civil authority. He doesn’t teach His disciples to simply lie down and take whatever comes down the pipe from the “FEDS”, if you will. Rather, we might say our rendering unto Caesar must come in the context, or could we say the worldview, of rendering unto God all which is His due? In this Jesus appears to limit the ability of the civil government to demand from their citizenry. Be it a pontiff, or a president, Jesus requires us to only render unto them in view of what we are obliged to render unto God. So while yes, we ought to be good, faithful citizens, engaged in the cares and concerns of our nation, the Word clearly sets limitations on what they can require of us, and the ultimate responsibilities we have towards God.

We have considered then our responsibilities in the civil realm, but I want to spend the next little bit looking at the other side; I want to answer the question, what is the civil government’s duty towards us? We seldom here a question posed in such a way. Turn with me to Romans 13:4. The civil government has been designed and established as a minister of God, Paul says here, for our “good”. And as a minister of God, it is under the authority of God. It is to be guided and informed by God. The civil magistrate was designed by God for our good, not good define by the government, but good as designed and created by God. Only God is Good (Matt. 19:17). Therefore, our definition of what is good must come from Him. Those in positions of authority then, have been given the moral obligation to promote goodness as described and defined by God, and not the whimsical nature of man.

Now follow me here, if only God is good, and the civil magistrate is to promote goodness for our sake, only God’s standard of goodness will do. We cannot substitute what we think good is (our own morality) for what God has revealed to us. It is righteousness, God’s righteousness that exalts a nation, and none other. God has revealed to us what goodness is through His Word, through the principles, precepts and law found in the Scripture. Again like with the family and the church, the purpose, and function of the civil realm must be viewed through  ‘lens’ of God’s Word. Whenever man tries to replace or supplant God’s standard of righteousness and morality with their own, it always ends up in anarchy or tyranny. It always fails.

Application

By way of application, allow me to touch on one subject pervading our society today; the notion of the separation of church and state. We have seen how every sphere of authority whether it is parental authority and responsibility in the home, the sphere of the church, where elders should be leading and teaching God’s people, or in the civil realm where princes, presidents and kings rule, ALL areas of human authority belong under God.

So yes, there is a separation of church and state in that both function in differing realms, but both still fall under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and both are still to promote righteousness as defined by God. What has happened culturally is, the phrase “separation of church and state” has become a crowbar to be used to get out from under the authority of God in the civil realm and promote humanistic tyranny, usually in the form of despotism, communism, fascism or socialism. All of those being various flavors of the godless humanism that pervades modern almost every aspect of our culture and society today. From education, to economics; from politics to environment preservation, we have adopted a fundamentally humanistic approach to the world.

Merkel therefore was, in a sense, correct. If Germany truly wants to be a Christian nation, then they have the moral obligation to promote truth, law, and morality based upon God’s principles, God’s Law.

A complete Biblical Worldview understands that Christians have responsibilities towards the civil government, and that they have responsibilities towards us. But that both come under the authority of God. Jesus is not just a personal Savior; He is a public Savior. He is Lord of heaven and earth. He is the Savior of the world. His Word should guide every heart of every civil leader. Like a parent of a family, or an elder in the church, a civil leader is a minister of God, and ought to serve in his capacity with a fear of the Lord. The Bible is as much a ‘lens’ for him as it is for you or me. Let us then render unto Caesar even more than he bargained for – let’s give them the Gospel of our Lord! – and let us also, in turn, render unto God, all that which is His due. Amen.

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Robbing God

No man will ever voluntarily neglect to make himself acquainted with the contents of a message sent to him by one whom he acknowledges as his superior, or on whom he feels himself to be dependent. Let a subject receive a communication from his acknowledged sovereign, and as it claims, so it will receive his immediate attention. Nor will he, especially if it contains various and important instructions, think a hasty perusal of it sufficient. No, he will study it till he feels confident that he is acquainted with its contents, and understands their import. At least equally certain, and equally evident is it, that every man whose heart acknowledges God to be his rightful Sovereign, and who believes that the Scriptures contain a revelation from him, will study them attentively, study them till he feels confident that he understands their contents, and that they have made him wise unto salvation. The man who does not thus study them, who negligently suffers them to lie, for days and weeks, unopened, says, more explicitly than any words can say, I am Lord; God is not my Sovereign; I am not his subject, nor do I consider it important to know what he requires of me. Carry his messages to those who are subject to him, and they will, perhaps, pay them some attention.

- Edward Payson

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Check Your Sources

Wednesday Witness – Check Your Sources
 
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” – Proverbs 2:6
 
It has once been succinctly noted, “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” And as we travel through this life, we will come to be known for the questions we ask, the answers we give, and the decisions we make.
 
Notice that this world is always prepared to offer you it’s version of wisdom. Many philosophical approaches have been employed down through time trying to capture men’s minds with worldly wisdom. The apostle Paul dealt with the Epicurean and Stoic thinkers of his day. Both groups believed they possessed the key to true wisdom and the answers to the human condition.
 
We face a similar challenge today. Men and the opinions of men are continually trying to supplant the wisdom of God. In the world of instant communication, and a vast wealth of information, we are often tempted to seek the counsel and wisdom of others, over and against that of the Lord.
 
So our Proverb this week reminds us of the true source of all wisdom. Why do we accept the cheap substitute of man’s wisdom, when we have access to the heart and mind of almighty God? This should be all the more pressing upon us as we consider the fact that, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (I Cor. 1:25).
 
The Lord gives wisdom – and gives it abundantly. All we have to do is ask for it (James 1:5). Out of the Word of God, the Christian can find knowledge and understanding. Out of the Word of God comes the richest and deepest wisdom available to mankind. The Lord God is the source of all these glorious things. Man’s wisdom pales in comparison. Therefore dear Christian, check your sources. Amen.

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