A Godly Woman

October 28, 2018 in Bible - OT - Genesis, Covenantal Living, Creation, Homosexuality, Human Condition, Image of God, Marriage, Meditations, Sexuality

Genesis 2:18 (NKJV)
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

The Scriptures insist that male and female together bear the image of God. God made males to be male and females to be female. This was his design, his intention, his plan. He saw that the man was alone and declared it wasn’t good. So He decided to make a helper comparable to the man. This morning let us consider what it means, therefore, for a woman to honor and glorify her Creator, the very Creator who also sent His Son Jesus as woman’s Redeemer.

First, because God is your Creator, His Word is to govern and rule your life. The first woman, Eve, sinned by questioning God’s Word and deciding for herself whether God’s Word or the serpent’s word was to be believed. She set herself up as the judge. But none of us were designed to live that way – and it is the choice to live that way that has wrought calamity and destruction in the world – and that continues to do so. The so-called “battle of the sexes” has arisen precisely because men and women have refused to live according to God’s Word and have instead lived according to their own.

Second, God’s Word declares that men and women were created to complement one another. God’s judgment that it is not good that man be alone reveals not only the relationship that God designed for marriage but also for broader society. Whether the number of men and women would have been perfectly balanced in an unfallen world we are not told – but we are told that God designed man as male and female to glorify His Name and be for the benefit of all. Men as male and women as female were designed by God to complement one another, not compete with one another.

Third, God’s design for women, revealed here in the creation story, is that women were created to help men fulfill their creational tasks. God declares, “I will make him a helper suitable to him.” If you are a woman, God created you to help the men in your life become better men. While this will look different in different situations, a woman’s basic calling is to serve as a pillar of strength and support that enables the men in her life to be all that they can be. As John Piper has written, “At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.” So, ladies, how are you doing? Are you affirming, receiving and nurturing the strength and leadership of your husbands? Your fathers? Your elders? Are you encouraging the men about you to be men and to be masculine? This is your calling.

And what of you men? Remember Piper’s words: “At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.” There are plenty of unworthy men in the world, men who abuse women or men who abdicate their responsibilities. So what of you? Are you weak and irresponsible, overbearing and tyrannical? Or are you stepping up to the plate and providing godly strength, leadership, and protection to the women in your life? This is your calling.

Reminded that rather than submit to God’s design for us as men and women, we frequently develop our own visions for what is good and right, let us confess our sins to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the public confession found in your bulletin. As you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins to the Lord.

Man as Male and Female – Repost

January 2, 2018 in Bible - OT - Genesis, Greek Gods, Homosexuality, Human Condition, Image of God, Truth

Genesis 1:27 (NKJV)
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Some of you may recall studying Plato’s doctrine of the forms when you were a student. For Plato the world we see about us, the world that we can see, touch, taste, hear, and smell is only a dim reflection of the truly significant world, the world of the forms. For example, corresponding to the imperfect circles that we draw in this world is an ideal circle in the world of the forms. The closer our circles get to that form, the nearer perfection they also get.

The ways in which Plato’s idea of the forms impacted Greek civilization are myriad, some good and some bad. In the bad category is the way in which it impacted the Greek perception of humanity. For you see, there is only one perfect form for the myriad objects in the world. There is one perfect circle to which all our circles approximate. There is one perfect chair, one perfect triangle, one perfect human. And it is this latter observation that got things going the wrong way. For the Greeks almost uniformly insisted that the human form was male – and the closer one gets to the form, the closer one gets to perfection.

The implications of this for Greek practice were many. First, the Greek acceptance of the perversion of sodomy and homosexuality was born out of this mistaken notion. After all, if the perfect form is male then why shouldn’t one male be attracted to the perfect form of another?

Second, women were degraded and viewed as a lesser form of human since they were further from the form. And the more like men women became the more human they became. So the legends of the Amazonians were spread by men who wanted women to be more like men.

Notice the contrast between this ancient Greek fable, with its exaltation of perversion and denigration of women, and the revelation of God in Genesis. Here in Genesis we are told that God made man in His image, according to His likeness. But lest we start traveling down the Platonic sewer pipe, Moses informs us that by man he means male and female together. God created man, male and female, in His image after His likeness. It is not the male who is the image of God; nor is it the female who is the image of God; rather it is male and female together – unity and diversity in harmony – who bear the image of God.

So what does this mean? First, men, it means that the women whom God has placed in our lives – wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, etc. – have been put there to teach us about Him. They, in company with us, bear the image of God and so are to be not simply tolerated, not simply endured, but treasured, respected, honored, and listened to as women. God created them to be women and He intends to teach us about Himself through the women in our lives. So are you listening to the lessons God is intending to teach?

Second, women, it means that the men whom God has placed in your lives – husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, friends, etc. – have been put there to teach you about Him. They, in company with you, bear the image of God and so are to be not simply tolerated, not simply endured, but treasured, respected, honored, and listened to as men. God created us to be men and He intends to teach you about Himself through the men in your lives. So are you listening to the lessons God is intending to teach?

Reminded that we often fail to learn the lessons that we are supposed to learn from the opposite sex, let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

We are far too easily pleased

November 2, 2016 in Glorification, Human Condition, Quotations, Sanctification, Sin

“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

          C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

There are no ‘ordinary’ people

November 2, 2016 in Human Condition, Quotations, Sanctification

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”

          C.S. Lewis

Why Manners Don’t Matter

March 15, 2015 in Bible - NT - 1 Corinthians, Bible - OT - Proverbs, Human Condition, Justification, King Jesus, Meditations
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.
Once upon a time there were two pirates, Gordy and Plunk. Gordy was an uncouth, rude, and despicable character. He had stringy hair that he hadn’t washed in years; his teeth were yellow; his breath smelled like garlic and onions; and he had tatoos of skulls, ravens, and cutlasses on most of his body. He slobbered on himself when he ate and had food matted in his beard that he occasionally picked out and ate. He swore at friend and foe alike, was drunk most every evening, and regularly stole things from his fellow pirates. He leered at the women in the cove and couldn’t fathom why even the prostitutes shunned him and his money.
Then there was Plunk. Plunk was as cultured and debonair as Gordy was rude and uncouth. He prided himself on his cleanliness: his hair was well kempt, his teeth were brushed, and his breath smelled like mint. He ate with fork and knife, used a napkin to dab the occasional crumb from his face, was moderate in his consumption of alcohol, and never stole from his fellow pirates; he even had a reputation for sparing the lives of soldiers he took captive. He seldom lost his temper, was a smooth talker with the ladies, and rarely had to use his money to conquer them. It is said that he even bathed regularly and kept rose petals in his pockets to perfume his path.
But as different as Gordy and Plunk were they shared one thing in common: they had no interest in serving the king. They were happy to be pirates. They had even refused the king’s offers of amnesty for all who would give up their piracy. They preferred their life of rebellion – serving with Redbeard was the life for them, as different as their lives were.
It came to pass that the king, though he had been patient, grew tired of the pirates’ raids on his ships and settlements. He sent his most experienced captain to bring them to justice. Redbeard’s ship was captured and Gordy and Plunk found themselves facing the captain of the King’s ship. He examined the men carefully, being sure to pinch his nose as Gordy came closer, and gave orders to hang them both from the yardarm. The seargant at arms collected a length of rope, placed the nooses around their necks, and hung them without further ado. Beneath Gordy’s body were crumbs from the breakfast he’d eaten that day; beneath Plunk some of the rose petals that had been in his pockets.
Our story reminds us that whether our manners be uncouth or cultured, if we are found on the day of judgment refusing obedience to King Jesus, the Creator and Redeemer of all, then we shall be judged. Solomon exhorts his son in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Our chief problem as human beings is not so much in what we dobut in who we are, in what we desire, in whom we serve. All men, Paul tells us, are born pirates in the world: we are rebels against the lawful King – God Himself. Some of us are uncouth; some are cultured; but by nature we all share this in common: we have no interest in serving the King. This King invites us to turn from our life of piracy, to seek His forgiveness, and to begin serving under His banner. But many refuse His offer – they prefer their life of rebellion to submission to Him. So what of you? One day the king will grow tired of your rebellion and call you before Him; will you end up with Gordy and Plunk hanging from the yardarm? Or will you turn now and seek the King’s amnesty before it’s too late?

This morning as we enter into His presence, let us acknowledge our piracy, seeking forgiveness through His Son Jesus. And let us kneel as we seek His mercy.

Justice and the Image of God

May 20, 2014 in Bible - OT - Genesis, Book Reviews, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Human Condition, Law and Gospel, Mosaic Law, Politics

On Sunday, I preached on the Image of God. One of the observations I made, building on Genesis 9:6, is that because human beings are made in the Image of God, we respect them by taking their choices seriously. The man who murders his neighbor, who rapes a woman, who kidnaps a child is still himself made in the image of God and worthy of respect – the respect that says, “You are a human being who chose to commit a criminal act. We will treat you in accordance with your decision. We will not excuse your action by claiming that you were the victim of your childhood or your mistreatment or your biological composition. We will show you respect and execute you.”

C.S. Lewis with his typical genius develops this observation in his essay “The Humanitarian Theory of Human Punishment.” This essay is available in the book God in the Dock or online here. Lewis demonstrates the inhumanity of the supposed “humanitarian” theory of punishment which objects to capital punishment in particular and the concept of a person’s “just due” in general; he effectively obliterates the foundation of the entire penitentiary system.

What was God to do?

May 14, 2014 in Atheism, Book Reviews, Church History, Creation, Cross of Christ, Eschatology, Human Condition, King Jesus, Quotations, Trinity, Word of God

I’m doing sermon prep on the Image of God and recalled this glorious passage from Athanasius:

     What was God to do in the face of this dehumanising of mankind, this universal hiding of the knowledge of Himself by the wiles of evil spirits? Was He to keep silence before so great a wrong and let men go on being thus deceived and kept in ignorance of Himself? If so, what was the use of having made them in His own image originally? It would surely have been better for them always to have been brutes, rather than to revert to that condition when once they had shared the nature of the Word. Again, things being as they were, what was the use of their ever having had the knowledge of God? Surely it would have been better for God never to have bestowed it, than that men should subsequently be found unworthy to receive it. Similarly, what possible profit could it be to God Himself, who made men, if when made they did not worship Him, but regarded others as their makers? This would be tantamount to His having made them for others and not for Himself. Even an earthly king, though he is only a man, does not allow lands that he has colonised to pass into other hands or to desert to other rules, but sends letters and friends and even visits them himself to recall them to their allegiance, rather than allow his work to be undone. How much more, then, will God be patient and painstaking with His creatures, that they be not led astray from Him to the service of those that are not, and that all the more because such error means for them sheer ruin, and because it is not right that those who had once shared His Image should be destroyed.
     What, then, was God to do? What else could He possibly do, being God, but renew His image in mankind, so that through it men might once more come to know Him? And how could this be done save by the coming of the very Image Himself, our Saviour Jesus Christ? Men could not have done it, for they are only made after the Image; nor could angels have done it, for they are not the images of God. The Word of God came in His own Person, because it was He alone, the Image of the Father, Who could recreate man made after the Image.
     In order to effect this re-creation, however, He had first to do away with death and corruption. Therefore He assumed a human body, in order that in it death might once for all be destroyed, and that men might be renewed according to the Image. The Image of the Father only was sufficient for this need.

Athanasius, On the Incarnation, Trans. Anonymous. (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1977) 40-41.

What is Reformed Theology?

March 17, 2014 in Church History, Human Condition, John Calvin, Reformation, Sovereignty of God, Word of God

One of my friends sent me the following summary of Reformed Theology that was written by B.B. Warfield in the late 1800s. It is an excellent summary of some of the central themes of Reformation teaching.

1. The Bible I believe that my one aim in life and death should be to glorify God and enjoy Him forever; and that God teaches me how to glorify and enjoy Him in His Holy Word, that is, the Bible, which He has given by the infallible inspiration of His Holy Spirit in order that I may certainly know what I am to believe concerning Him and what duty He requires of me. 

2. God I believe that God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and incomparable in all that He is; one God but three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, my Creator, my Redeemer, and my Sanctifier; in whose power and wisdom, righteousness, goodness and truth I may safely put my trust.

3. The Creation I believe that the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them, are the work of God’s hands; and that all that He has made He directs and governs in all their actions; so that they fulfill the end for which they were created, and I who trust in Him shall not be put to shame but may rest securely in the protection of His almighty love.

4. Man I believe that God created man after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, and entered into a covenant of life with him upon the sole condition of the obedience that was His due: so that it was by willfully sinning against God that man fell into the sin and misery in which I have been born.

5. The Fall I believe that, being fallen in Adam, my first father, I am by nature a child of wrath, under the condemnation of God and corrupted in body and soul, prone to evil and liable to eternal death; from which dreadful state I cannot be delivered save through the unmerited grace of God my Savior.

6. Grace I believe that God has not left the world to perish in its sin, but out of the great love wherewith He has loved it, has from all eternity graciously chosen unto Himself a multitude which no man can number, to deliver them out of their sin and misery, and of them to build up again in the world His kingdom of righteousness: in which kingdom I may be assured I have my part, if I hold fast to Christ the Lord. 

7. Christ I believe that God has redeemed His people unto Himself through Jesus Christ our Lord; who, though He was and ever continues to be the eternal Son of God, yet was born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them that are under the law: I believe that He bore the penalty due to my sins in His own body on the tree, and fulfilled in His own person the obedience I owe to the righteousness of God, and now presents me to His Father as His purchased possession, to the praise of the glory of grace forever: wherefore renouncing all merit of my own, I put all my trust only in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ my Redeemer.

8. The Lord I believe that Jesus Christ my Redeemer, who died for my offenses was raised again for my justification, and ascended into the heavens, where He sits at the right hand of the Father Almighty, continually making intercession for His people, and governing the whole world as head over all things for His church: so that I need fear no evil and may surely know that nothing can snatch me out of His hands and nothing can separate me from His love.

9. The Holy Spirit I believe that the redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ is effectually applied to all His people by the Holy Spirit, who works faith in me and thereby unites me to Christ, renews me in the whole man after the image of God, and enables me more and more to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness; until, this gracious work having been completed in me, I shall be received into glory: in which great hope abiding, I must ever strive to perfect holiness in the fear of God.

10. The Gospel I believe that God requires of me, under the gospel, first of all, that, out of a true sense of my sin and misery and apprehension of His mercy in Christ, I should turn with grief and hatred away from sin and receive and rest upon Jesus Christ alone for salvation: that, so being united to Him, I may receive pardon for my sins and be accepted as righteous in God’s sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to me and received by faith alone: and thus only do I believe I may be received into the number and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.

11. Good Works I believe that, having been pardoned and accepted for Christ’s sake, it is further required of me that I walk in the Spirit whom He has purchased for me, and by whom love is shed abroad in my heart; fulfilling the obedience I owe to Christ my King; faithfully performing all the duties laid upon me by the holy law of God my heavenly Father; and ever reflecting in my life and conduct, the perfect example that has been set me by Christ Jesus my Leader, who has died for me and granted to me His Holy Spirit just that I may do the good works which God has before prepared that I should walk in them.

12. The Church I believe that God has established His church in the world and endowed it with the ministry of the Word and the holy ordinances of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Prayer; in order that through these as means, the riches of His grace in the gospel may be made known to the world, and, by the blessing of Christ and the working of His Spirit in them that by faith receive them, the benefits of redemption may be communicated to His people: wherefore also it is required of me that I attend on these means of grace with diligence, preparation, and prayer, so that through them I may be instructed and strengthened in faith, and in holiness of life and in love; and that I use my best endeavors to carry this gospel and convey these means of grace to the whole world.

13. The Future I believe that as Jesus Christ has once come in grace, so also is He to come a second time in glory, to judge the world in righteousness and assign to each His eternal award: and I believe that if I die in Christ, my soul shall be at death made perfect in holiness and go home to the Lord; and when He shall return in His majesty I shall be raised in glory and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity: encouraged by which blessed hope it is required of me willingly to take my part in suffering hardship here as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, being assured that if I die with Him I shall also live with Him, if I endure, I shall also reign with Him. And to Him, my Redeemer, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, three Persons, one God, be glory forever, world without end. Amen, and amen.

*B. B. Warfield, “A Brief and Untechnical Statement of the Reformed Faith”. Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield v. 1. John E. Meeter, ed. Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1970, pp. 407-410.

We are Humans not Animals

March 10, 2014 in Bible - OT - Exodus, Homosexuality, Human Condition, Law and Gospel, Meditations, Mosaic Law, Sexuality, Ten Commandments
Exodus 20:14 (NKJV)
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
The law of God repeatedly reminds us that we are not, as human beings, mere animals driven by our instincts and impulses. Though Darwinism insists that we are descendants of primates and not fundamentally different from other animals, the Word of God insists that we have been made in the image of God and are responsible for the choices we make, responsible for the actions we take.
Because this is the case, because we are humans and not animals, our actions can be classified as noble or ignoble; as good or evil; as praiseworthy or reprehensible. We are not controlled by our impulses but often choose to follow those impulses to our sorrow and shame.
Nowhere is this more true than in our sexuality. The sexual revolution has made full use of the Darwinian myth to justify sexual licentiousness. We are no more than animals; hence, there is no such thing as nobility or honor in the arena of sexuality; how dare you tell me what to do?
But God does tell us what to do. He created us, not we ourselves. Hence, he governs us, not we ourselves. And God commands us in the 7th commandment to govern our sexual impulses, powerful as they are. We are to govern our sexuality so that we not conduct ourselves shamefully, as mere beasts, but so that we conduct ourselves nobly as men.
So what does this mean? It means that we are to treat our sexuality as a gift that is intended to be enjoyed in the context of a marriage covenant. The physical union of husband and wife is a noble and glorious thing, a gift from God. Outside that marriage covenant, however, sexual fantasies and actions are shameful and ignoble; indeed, some of them are criminal.
So lusting in our hearts after another is shameful; viewing pornography is shameful; fornication is shameful; adultery is shameful; homosexuality is shameful; bestiality is shameful; incest is shameful; rape is shameful. There is a distinct reason that our consciences weigh us down when we practice such things; a reason that we experience feelings of shame – for these things are shameful in themselves. They degrade us as human beings and they dishonor our Creator.

As we come into the presence of God, therefore, the God who has made us and fashioned us as men and women not as beasts, who has fashioned us for nobility not dishonor, let us confess that we have often fallen short and acted dishonorably. Let us kneel as we confess our sin to the Lord.