Comparisons by G.K. Chesterton

February 2, 2017 in Creation, Quotations

If I set the sun beside the moon,
And if I set the land beside the sea,
And if I set the town beside the country,
And if I set the man beside the woman,
I suppose some fool would talk about one being better.

All Creation is Ours

April 18, 2016 in Bible - NT - 2 Corinthians, Creation, Easter, Meditations, Postmillennialism, Resurrection
2 Corinthians 4:14–15 (NKJV)
14 … He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
As we continue celebrating the season of Eastertide, it is fitting to meditate deeply on the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. In our passage today, Paul repeats one of his frequent maxims: He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus… The resurrection of the dead is our hope – not that we will die and be spirits in the sky; not that we will perish and lose all consciousness; but that even as Jesus rose from the dead, we too shall rise. In Paul’s words to the Philippians, Jesus will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body… This mortal body shall become immortal; this corruptible body shall become incorruptible; this weak body shall become strong. Glory be to God!
What this means is that the trajectory of all history is to the resurrection. It is the consummation of all world history: the day when Christ shall return again in glory to judge both the living and the dead; the day when the dead shall arise from their graves – those who have done good in the fear of God and faith in Jesus Christ to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil in continuing to ignore or rebel against God to the resurrection of death. It is this moment, the resurrection of the dead and the glorification of God’s children, that creation itself awaits. When we rise from the dead, when our bodies are made new, all creation will share in our glorification. Even as all creation was plunged into death and decay through the rebellion of our first father Adam, so all creation will be renewed into life and glory through the obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And what this means, therefore, is that all creation is ours. We shall inherit all things. The sun, moon, stars, and planets are ours; the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and streams are ours; the mountains and plains are ours; the forests, grassland, and deserts are ours; all creation is ours. Blessed are the meek, our Lord Jesus reminds us, for they shall inherit the earth. You are heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. All things are yours since Christ has risen from the dead and you too shall rise. It is all this that lies behind Paul’s statement here in Corinthians. Listen again:
… He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
All things are for your sakes – all things: birds, beasts, fruit trees and all cedars, the honey bee and the crocus, the lily and the rose.
Now if all this is true – and through Christ’s resurrection it is – what kind of people ought we to be? Our sermon today highlights the destructive power of envy. Envy is poison to the soul. And the way we fight envy is through the promises of God. How does Jesus’ resurrection break the power of envy? It makes us thankful.
For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. God has made us heir of all things – need we envy the gifts that He has given to others? Ought we not to be the most content, the most thankful, the most grateful of people? Jesus rose from the dead in order that you might escape envy and abound in thanksgiving to the glory of God.

So reminded that God has made us heirs of all things and that we ought to be the most thankful of people, let us confess that we are often unthankful and envious. And as we confess our sin, let us kneel together.

What is Worldliness?

February 28, 2016 in Bible - NT - 1 Timothy, Bible - NT - 2 Corinthians, Bible - NT - Ephesians, Confession, Creation, Holy Spirit, Meditations, Sanctification
Ephesians 2:1–3 (NKJV)
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
For these first three Sundays in Lent, we are addressing our three chief enemies as Christians: the world, the flesh, and the devil. When we are outside of Christ, these forces dominate our lives and compel us to sin. Consequently, God must act to deliver us from their hold. And it is this that He has done in Christ. Listen again to Paul’s words: And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh… The world, the flesh, and the devil are a deadly trio. So what is meant by “the world”?
Unfortunately many Christians throughout history have misconstrued this warning against “the world” as a repudiation of creation itself. Worldliness, in this view, is any attachment to the created order or physical things: marriage, food, beauty, drink, sexuality, technology, etc. To be “heavenly-minded”, therefore, to escape worldliness, is to reject created things. But this is to misconstrue Paul’s understanding of worldliness. After all, Paul reminds Timothy, that “every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim 4:4-5). The created order is not the problem.
So what is worldliness, then? “Worldliness is,” David Wells has written, “anything that makes righteousness look strange and sin look normal.” It is anything that makes righteousness look strange and sin look normal. The “world”, therefore, is not the created order or mere physicality; the “world” is the collection of assumptions, practices, and desires embraced by our broader community or culture that run contrary to the Word of God. It is the assortment of unbiblical values that strive to have preeminence over God’s values. It consists of ideas, institutions, and vocations that marginalize God and His law.
It is from this “world” that we have been delivered by God’s grace; and it is against this “world” that we are to do battle through the preaching of the Gospel. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds [institutions of the world], casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God [ideas of the world], bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” We are to do battle against “the world.”
But in order to do battle against the “world” out there, we must first do battle against the world “in here.” We must root out unbiblical manners of thinking and acting that characterize us individually and that characterize us as a congregation. We must strive to resemble not the kingdoms of this world but the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And one of the first characteristics of the kingdom of God is humility – a willingness to confess our worldliness. There are many who would come here today and be asked to kneel and confess their sin and worldliness and recoil. “That is strange,” they would say. But in God’s kingdom, kneeling to confess sin is not strange, it is normal. “Worldliness is anything that makes righteousness look strange [like kneeling to confess sin] and sin look normal.” So reminded of our calling to fight against the world, let us kneel and confess that we often fail to do so.

The Sin of Theft

May 10, 2015 in Bible - NT - 1 Corinthians, Creation, Meditations, Politics, Ten Commandments
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Jesus has risen from the dead; and because Jesus is the firstfruits of those who believe, we know that we too shall rise from the dead. This mortal shall put on immortality – death has lost its sting. But not only does the resurrection give us hope for the future, it also gives us hope in the present. Jesus’ resurrection has broken not only the power of death but also the power of sin. For those who look to Christ in faith, He grants us, by the Spirit, His resurrection power so that we can overcome the sins that enslave us.
Today we consider theft. Paul tells us that thieves will not inherit the kingdom of God. A thief is someone who takes as his own that which belongs to another – whether possessions or ideas or relationships or credit. God is the Sovereign Lord – He is the Owner of all things. Everything in heaven and earth belongs to Him. Consequently, we are all stewards of what we possess. This has a number of implications.
First, because we are stewards, we will all give account to our Creator for how we use our possessions. We are to use that which He gives us – whether great or small – to the honor of His Name and the advancement of His kingdom. And we are to imitate His generosity with our own – being open-handed and generous, freely sharing with others. One day we will give account of our stewardship.
Consequently, second, we are called to pay tribute to God with our possesions. God claims the tithe as that which is His own – and to withhold the tithe is to steal from God. It is to act the thief – to take as our own that which belongs to God.

Finally, because God is the Owner of all things, He has the right to give things to whom He chooses. And when someone has lawfully obtained something by God’s gift, it is absolutely his own. He may give it away; he may use it to purchase something else; but it may not be taken from him without his consent. God commands, “You shall not steal.”
With this command, God establishes the glory and integrity of private property. God has given you and your neighbor the things you possess. And God wants each of us to look at the things that our neighbor has and to rejoice with him. But thieves don’t rejoice; thieves envy. Thieves think that what their neighbor has managed to acquire just isn’t fair. “He shouldn’t have that car, I should. He shouldn’t have that house, I should. He shouldn’t have that job, I should. He shouldn’t have that fame, I should.” This envy then gives rise to the act of theft.
So what of you? Do you rejoice with those who rejoice? Kids, do you rejoice when your sibling or your friend get a really neat toy? Or are you envious? Adults, do you rejoice with those who through ingenuity or hard work or frugality or inheritance have come to have more than you or something better than you? Or are you envious?

Reminded of our propensity to envy others and to steal from them  rather than to rejoice and share with them, let us confess our sin to the Lord; and let us kneel as we confess our sins together.

The Sins of Homosexuality and Sodomy

May 3, 2015 in Bible - NT - 1 Corinthians, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Creation, Homosexuality, Meditations, Politics, Sexuality
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
We find ourselves in Eastertide, the time of year that we celebrate the way the resurrection of Jesus has transformed the world and our individual lives. Hope has arrived: forgiveness has been achieved and new life has entered into the world. In our text, Paul catalogues a number of sins from which Jesus’ resurrection power frees His people.
Today we consider homosexuality and sodomy. These two terms express both the active and passive partners in homosexual liaisons. Unlike many of the other sins listed in Paul’s catalogue, homosexuality is being lauded and praised in our culture. While adultery and theft and drunkenness are still viewed as social ills, homosexuality is being celebrated as a social good. It is being used as the point of the spear in an attempt to refashion our societal norms. Even now the Supreme Court of the United States is considering whether homosexual unions should be considered a constitutional right.
But homosexuality is a perverse, unnatural and destructive practice that incurs the wrath of God both in this life and in the next. Today in our sermon text we enter the narrative of God’s judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah for their perverse sexuality. A thorough analysis of homosexuality reveals that it is a deeply religious practice. It is a refusal to listen to God speaking both in His Word and in the natural order. It is a rejection of the most basic distinction between male and female, a vigorous attempt to silence the voice of God revealed in the image of God – man as male and female. Peter Jones writes in his book The God of Sex: How Spirituality Defines Your Sexuality:
The pagan gospel preaches that redemption is liberation from the Creator and repudiation of creation’s structures. It offers the “liberation” of sex from its heterosexual complementary essence. The Christian gospel proclaims that redemption is reconciliation with the Creator and the honoring of creation’s goodness. This gospel celebrates the goodness of sex within its rightful, heterosexual limits.
Jesus took on human flesh, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose again bodily from the grave and ascended to the right hand of God so that we might learn to honor God with our sexuality. And the way we honor God with our sexuality is by remaining chaste until we, in God’s good Providence, find a spouse of the opposite gender with whom to enjoy sex.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6 that “the body is not for sexual immorality” – sexual immorality, including homosexuality, is not in the design plan. It produces emotional, physical, and spiritual breakdowns. While a married couple can make love to one another for decades and never contract an STD, a single encounter outside the marriage bed can leave one suffering for life. “The body,” Paul continues, “is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord and the Lord is for the body.” The body, including our sexuality, is to be used to the glory and honor of God, in harmony with His design. And His design is for our good, not for our hurt.

God is the Creator of all and He has designed our sexuality to flourish in a monogamous heterosexual covenanted union. Reminded of this and that we as a culture are seeking to silence God’s voice, let us confess our sin to the Lord. And as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sin.

God’s Holiness and Ours

March 1, 2015 in Bible - NT - 1 Corinthians, Bible - OT - Isaiah, Creation, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Meditations, Sanctification, Sovereignty of God
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Paul reminds us that the One who claims to love God and does not keep God’s commandments is a liar. Though the world would claim that such an idea is harsh and judgmental, the Scriptures make it quite plain: the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Why is this? The Bible grounds its answer in the holiness of God: the one who serves the Holy God must himself be holy. Why? Well what does it mean that God is holy?
The word “holy” conveys the idea of “separate, distinct, or different.” Theologians note that God’s holiness is both metaphysical(referring to God’s being) and ethical (referring to His character). First, God is holy metaphysically – He is the Creator and everything else is created. He is holy – fundamentally different from His creation. There are two basic realities: God and non-God. God, in other words, is transcendent: He is not part of the created order but distinct from it. As Paul says, “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath and all things.”
Not only is God holy metaphysically, He is also holy ethically. God’s ethical holiness is His love for all that is good, righteous, just, and pure – it is His love of that which reflects His own character. As a result of our rebellion against God and our attempt to defy the metaphysical holiness of God, to breach the distance between Creator and creature, to become “like God” – as a result of this rebellion, we became morally corrupt / unholy. Hence, not only do we stand before God as creature before our Creator, we also stand before Him as sinner before our Judge.

And it is this twofold reality of God’s “otherness” as our Creator and His “righteousness” as our Judge explains why we must be holy ourselves. God’s eyes are too pure to look upon evil. He cannot just wink at sin and overlook our rebellion.
Consequently, when the prophet Isaiah saw God lofty and exalted and heard the angels crying aloud to one another, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! The whole earth is full of His glory!” – when Isaiah beheld this holy God, all He could do was cry out, “Woe is me! For I am undone! For I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Glory!” God’s holiness leaves us feeling not only small but also unclean for He is Holy – He is our Creator and our Judge.
So have you reckoned with this God? Have you considered that you live your life ever before His eyes? That He created you and has given you life, breath, and all things? That He evaluates you and speaks to you regularly in the world, in your conscience, and in His Word? And what’s more, have you reckoned that you know you have not done all He would have you do? That you have unclean lips and that you dwell among a people of unclean lips?

For if we reckon with God’s holiness, with our Creator and our Judge, then our only possible response will be to bow before Him and to seek His mercy and forgiveness. And the good news is that God has provided a way in which He can remain holy and yet restore unclean sinners to fellowship with Himself. How so? By sending His Son to live a holy life on our behalf and then to endure the punishment which our sin deserved; so for all those who seek God’s mercy and forgiveness through Jesus, He promises to forgive us, to receive us into His presence, and to give us His Spirit that we might become holy. But for those who reject Jesus there is no forgiveness but only a fearful expectation of judgment. So this morning as we enter into the worship of the Holy God, let us seek His forgiveness through our Lord Jesus Christ – and let us kneel as we do so.

Ordinary Time

January 8, 2015 in Bible - NT - Matthew, Bible - OT - Psalms, Church Calendar, Creation, Newsletter, Providence

Greetings and blessings as we enter into Ordinary Time. There are two sessions of Ordinary Time in the Church Year. The first is this that we have entered which spans from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday. The second follows Trinity Sunday in the Spring and continues until Advent. The majority of the year, therefore, is Ordinary Time – it is the time of slow and steady growth at the hands of our wise and loving God.

Jesus reminds us in His parables that the kingdom of God is like planting and harvesting a crop – it grows slowly, sometimes imperceptibly, but always persistently. God is at work. Consequently, the color for Ordinary Time is green – the color of plant-like growth.
Appropriately this Sunday we recite the 11th question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

Q: What are God’s works of providence?
A: God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.


The Living God is the Lord of all; He is sovereign. Not only did He create all things in the beginning, He continues to sustain them by His Almighty Hand. Providence is what separates us from Deists. Deists want a god who created but who is no longer involved in the history of the world and creation. But the Living God is not like this. It is He who causes the earth to rotate on its axis; He who supplies the birds of the air with food; He who directs the molecular structures of every created thing. “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps 115:3).

Because our Lord is Sovereign and in control of all, all those who have Him as our Father through faith in His Son Jesus, can have great confidence. We can rid ourselves of worry and anxiety – God is in control. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29–31) Praise God!

God’s Delight in His Work

December 7, 2014 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Christmas, Church Calendar, Creation, Quotations
Proverbs 8:30–32 (NKJV)
30 Then I [Wisdom] was beside [the Creator] as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, 31 Rejoicing in His inhabited world, And my delight was with the sons of men. 32 “Now therefore, listen to me, my children, For blessed are those who keep my ways.
As we continue in Advent to anticipate the arrival of Christmas and the birth of the Christ Child, I would remind you that children love times of celebration like Christmas. While adults often grow tired, kids never tire and long for the celebration. “When are we going to get the tree? When are we going to put up the lights? When are we going to open presents?”
We see in our text from Proverbs today that the delight and energy and joy of children reveals God’s own delight in all His work. God never tires of causing the earth to spin like a top; never tires of flapping the wings of a bird; never tires of causing the grass to sprout from the earth; never tires of sucking water out of the earth through the roots of a tree and turning the nutrients into apples that people can eat. All these works of the Lord reveal His untiring joy and laughter, reveal His delight in all His work, His faithfulness and uprightness. Chesterton explains in his book Orthodoxy:
“A man [typically] varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into a [bus] because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the [river] goes to [the sea]. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. it may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

And so reminded that we have sinned and grown old, that we have become bored and complacent with the marvelous world that God has made and in which He has placed us, that we have complained rather than overflowed with thanksgiving, let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord.

Existentialism and the Transgendered Movement

June 10, 2014 in Bible - OT - Genesis, Church History, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Creation, Homosexuality, Politics, Quotations, Sanctification, Sexuality

Below are notes from my sermon on Sunday endeavoring to highlight the connection between Existentialism and the transgendered movement and the way in which this deviates from the special creation described in Genesis 1-2; we might also add how demeaning the transgendered movement is to folks caught in its snare. May God have mercy upon us.

In the 20th century there emerged an incredibly influential philosophical movement known as Existentialism. This movement is the driving force behind much of the political and moral disarray occurring today – though most people are unaware of these philosophical underpinnings. Existentialism grew out of the teachings of the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre explains existentialism thus:
Atheistic existentialism, which I represent…states that if god does not exist, there is at least one being [man] in whom existence precedes essence… This means that, first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards defines himself. If man, as the existentialist conceives, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be. Thus, there is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it. Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is only what he wills himself to be after this thrust toward existence. Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.      Jean-Paul Sartre
And, Sartre would go on to declare, you can make of yourself whatever you want – the important thing is to do, to will, to make of yourself something, anything. You define; you decide; existence precedes essence. Existentialism! You popped on the scene and now you have to figure out who you are and what you are going to be.
Notice the way this philosophy drives our current cultural debates – even in our local government school system and the push to make the schools endorse transgenderedism: Are you born male? It matters not – you can choose to be female. Are you born female? It matters not – you can choose to be male. Choose. It’s all in the choosing. There is no god who defines us; no higher standard that bounds us. You exist – you were born this way. But that doesn’t define who you are. Your essence is something you choose – and all that matters is the choosing.
But let me suggest that this is the very thing symbolized by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Sartre is the serpent of the 20thcentury. He has tempted us to be “like god” – to define good and evil for ourselves; to say what is and what is not good and noble and right; to live autonomously as a law unto ourselves. But in the end, this will lead to death – indeed it already has: the deaths of millions of children still in the womb.
You see, Sartre and Peter Singer (Utilitarian Philosopher at Princeton) are of a piece. “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself,” Sartre pronounces. Or as Singer would have it: “Once the religious mumbo-jumbo surrounding the term “human” has been stripped away, we may continue to see normalmembers of our species as possessing greater capacities of rationality, self-consciousness, communication, and so on, than members of any other species; but we will not regard as sacrosanct the life of each and every member of our species, no matter how limited its capacity for intelligent or even conscious life may be.” For they must be able to choose; they must be able to make something of themselves.
So what are we to think of a human being who cannot articulate that choice? What are we to think of those who are suffering from dementia or cerebral palsy or madness – or perhaps even religious mumbo-jumbo? After all the Soviets determined that religious belief was a mental abnormality that needed to be cured; and Richard Dawkins has said much the same. So what are we to think of such human beings? They are expendable – for they lack the features that we (the elite like Peter Singer) have determined are meaningful for life.
But this is absolutely foreign to the Word of God. God defines us. We enter into the world pre-defined. Essence precedes existence. We have some form of essentialism not existentialism! God defines you – you are a human being, made in God’s image, invested with dignity and honor not because of what you have done but because of what you are. God has made you and crafted you and breathed into you the breath of life.
If you are male, God made you male and gives you a distinct calling to be a man. If you are female, God made you female and gives you a distinct calling to be a woman. You cannot redefine these things. The definition has already been established. So receive who you are; receive it as a gift from God and rejoice in it. God made you a man; made you a woman. Rejoice, give thanks, and sing! You bear the very image of God, an image that cannot be taken away.

You can’t redefine but you can rebel like Adam and Eve. But the result of rebellion is death, destruction, judgment. There is no third option.