Song of the Drunkards


JESUS FACED A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF OPPOSITION FOR HIS HARD WORDS AND UNFLINCHING DEVOTION TO YAHWEH. NO SURPRISE THEN IF WE FIND OUR NAME FESTOONED IN BARROOM BALLADS (CF. PS 69:12).


For the Life of the World

November 7, 2021 in Bible - OT - Nehemiah, Meditations

Nehemiah 4:14

14And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” 

Last week our exhortation was derived from a talk I gave at the CREC Council in Monroe, Louisiana. The Presiding Minister of Council Virgil Hurt asked various men to speak on the theme Fight the Good Fight from Paul’s command to Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith…” (1 Tim 6:12). As God’s people we are called to fight against the enemies of God and of His people – the world, the flesh, and the devil – throughout our lives. 

I was asked to speak on the topic, “Why to fight?” I derived the heart of my answer from Nehemiah’s exhortation to the people of Israel in our text today. Nehemiah declared, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Nehemiah’s exhortation helps us answer the question, “Why to fight?” by directing us to the greatest commandment in the law. And what is the greatest commandment? It is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and the second is like it, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Nehemiah exhorts us to fight the good fight for  love of God and love of neighbor.

So today let us consider what it means to fight for love of neighbor. Nehemiah urged our fathers to “fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” We fight because those around us are worth defending – they are oursour brethren, our sons, our daughters, our wives, our houses. But in fighting for ours, we also ultimately fight for others. 

Perhaps some of you are aware of the Acton Institute, a think-tank devoted to mere Christianity and to the free market. You may recall that some years ago we went through a video series they published entitled, For the Life of the World, which answers the question, “What is our salvation for?” And the answer is, of course, for the life of the world. We fight for the love of neighbor; hence, we fight for the life of the world. The world is lost, enslaved to sin, blinded by Satan. And so, apart from Christ, the world is a dark and doleful place. And “we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Tit 3:3). But God, in His kindness, saved us from our lost estate. When we were His enemies, Christ died for us and gave Himself for us so that He might reconcile us to God. And so “we are now ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). 

Why do we fight? We fight that our neighbors may escape the snare of the devil having been held captive by him to do his will. We fight that we may demonstrate to our neighbors the beauty of the Gospel and the glory of self-sacrifice, the glory of our God who sent His only begotten Son into the world to destroy the works of the devil in order that He might rescue all the nations from sin and death and fear. And we fight because we know that we shall ultimately win. God has promised Jesus the nations as His inheritance and the ends of the earth as His possession. 

So what of you? When you speak truthfully, live uprightly, give generously, pray openly, weep compassionately, work thankfully are you remembering to do it all for love of neighbor and not promotion of self or love of self? Have you remembered what your salvation is for – that God has saved you that you might shine like stars in the world, displaying the glory of our God even as our Lord Jesus did? Reminded of our call to fight the good fight of faith for love of our neighbors, let us confess that we have often failed to love them and have loved ourselves instead. And as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

For Love of God

October 31, 2021 in Bible - OT - Nehemiah, Meditations

Nehemiah 4:14 

14And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” 

This past week Chase and I had the privilege of attending the stated meetings for Knox Presbytery and for the CREC Council in Monroe, Louisiana. It was a joy to see old friends and to make new ones. Among the other business, the Presiding Minister of Council Virgil Hurt asked various men to speak on the theme Fight the Good Fight from Paul’s command to Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith…” (1 Tim 6:12). As God’s people we are called to fight against the enemies of God and of His people – the world, the flesh, and the devil – throughout our lives. All the talks are available online for those interested. 

I was asked to speak on the topic, “Why to fight?” I derived the heart of my answer from Nehemiah’s exhortation to the people of Israel in our text today. Nehemiah declared, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Nehemiah’s exhortation helps us answer the question, “Why to fight?” by directing us to the greatest commandment in the law. What is the greatest commandment? It is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and the second is like it, to love our neighbor as ourselves. And Nehemiah exhorts us to fight the good fight for love of God and love of neighbor.

So today let us consider what it means to fight for love of God. “Remember the Lord,” Nehemiah urges us, “great and awesome.” Biblical fighting glories in God, not in self; serves God, not self; extols the greatness of God, not self.

23Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. (Jer 9:23-24)

So why fight? Well, we do not fight to show how great and awesome we are; how brave we are; we do not fight to extol our own greatness. No! We fight to extol the greatness of our God; a God who created heaven and earth by the Word of His mouth in the space of six days and all very good; a God who gave His Son for us to rescue us from sin and death when we were yet His enemies. We fight to extol the greatness of our Savior, who went to the Cross, despising the shame, for us. He is worthy and so we fight. As Paul reminded the Corinthians:

14For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Cor 5:14–15)

We do not live for ourselves but for the Lord who died for us and rose again; and we do not fight for ourselves, but for the Lord who died for us and rose again. Why should we be willing to stand for truth in an age of compromise? To defend the innocent from being murdered in their mothers’ wombs? To protect the guiltless from the cancel culture mob? To speak against government overreach and intrusion into our historic rights and liberties? To preach Christ and the necessity of faith in Him for peace with God? To walk in the light of sexual faithfulness when our broader culture wallows in filth? To be generous and open-handed with all that which God has given us? To be examples of loyalty in an age of betrayal? Patterns of kindness in the face of cruelty? Why fight in these ways and others? Because we are such good people? No! Because the Lord is such a great God.

So what of you? Have you remembered the Lord, great and awesome? Meditated on the greatness of His love for us and so fought the good fight of faith? Or have you been afraid of God’s enemies, cowered in the face of persecution or death or shame or humiliation or defeat? To ask these questions is to answer them. Many a time we have failed to fight the good fight of faith. So let us turn to the Lord, seek His forgiveness, and ask of Him strength and power to fight the good fight of faith that we may display His glory in the world. And as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Fear of Persecution

October 10, 2021 in Bible - NT - Philippians, Fear, Meditations

Philippians 1:27–28 

27Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 

Jesus warns in Revelation 20 that “the cowardly” will not inherit the kingdom of God but will instead be cast into the lake that burns with fire. As we meditated on His warning, we said that cowardice is shown whenever we turn away from a good purpose in the face of opposition because of fear. And we have begun to explore the different types of fear that make us cowardly. Today let us consider the fear of persecution.

The Philippian church was facing opposition and threats from adversaries. The word that Paul uses to describe these people is the same word that Peter uses elsewhere to describe Satan himself: “Be sober, be vigilant;” Peter writes, “because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8). So these folks who raged against the church in Philippi were acting like Satan himself, seeking to devour and destroy God’s lambs.

But though these adversaries endeavored to intimidate and threaten the Christians in Philippi, Paul commands them to be “not in any way terrified.” First, they are not to be terrified. The word means “to be fearful as the result of being intimidated—‘to be afraid, to be scared, to be intimidated’ (Louw-Nida, 1:316). Our natural response to intimidation, especially to intimidation by those who have power or influence, is fear. But Paul instructs them not to be terrified. Rather, they are to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…” They were to serve the Lord together with unity of heart and mind and action; to stand strong and not cower in the face of this intimidation. 

Second, they are not to be terrified in any way. In nothing, not in anything. Nullo. Don’t be terrified when they drag your name through the mud. Don’t be terrified when they threaten your family. Don’t be terrified when they burn your home. Don’t be terrified when they arrest you. Don’t be terrified when they sentence you to death. Don’t be terrified in any way. 

So why shouldn’t we be terrified in any way by our adversaries? Paul writes, “which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.” When we refuse to be intimidated by opposition, when we refuse to be terrified in any way by our adversaries, we testify that our adversaries are doomed to be judged by God and that we shall be saved by Him. We notify the world, “God is on our side so we are not afraid.”

So Peter wrote to other Christians who were suffering persecution:

13And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 

We are not to be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. God promises to bless all those who suffer for righteousness’ sake. Hence, it is far better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

So what of you? Are you afraid of your adversaries? Or you afraid of those who rage against God and against His Christ? Is your fear causing you to distance yourself from Jesus and from His people? To be ashamed of the Gospel? To be silent when you need to speak? To speak when you need to be silent? Mine often is. And so reminded that we are not to be terrified in any way by Christ’s adversaries, let us confess that we are often terrified in many ways. And, as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our fear to the Lord.