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Archive for January, 2012

In a previous post I had mentioned some of the ways we are 0r may be sacrificing our children to the gods of this world.  One of those ways was potentially through the use of reproductive technologies.  Daniel McConchie provides some helpful counsel for those considering the use of reproductive technologies in a blog post here.

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Sacrificing children to false gods in the Old Testament

In Leviticus 18:21, God forbids Israel from offering their children to Molech.  In Leviticus 20:1-5, God warns that those who offer their children to Molech will be put to death by stoning, while those who close their eyes to such abominations will be cut off from the people.

Molech was believed to be a deity of the Ammonites (1 Kings 11:7).  The likely practice was that parents would kill their children first, then toss them into the fire pit (Topheth) as a sacrifice to Molech.  This abomination may be traced throughout Israel’s (1 Kings 11:1-8) and Judah’s (2 Kings 23:1-20) history.  In fact, Jeremiah records that abominations such as the sacrifices of Israel’s children to Molech is one of the reasons God handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 32:26-35; cf. 7:30-34; 19:4-9).

Sacrificing children to false gods in our day

Lest we think we have advanced beyond this barbarism, we sacrifice our children to the gods of this world:

1. Abortion: the sacrifice of unborn children to the gods of this world.  The Christian worldview of humanity is such that all life bears God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27) and that human life begins at conception (Ps. 139:13-16).  Because the conceptus (fertilized egg) is an unborn child bearing God’s image, ending that life is murder (Genesis 9:6).

When the reasons for ending the life of unborn children are given, they largely expose our personal idols: self, career, work, relationship, fame, etc.

See, U. S. Abortion Statistics (from abort73 website)

2. Reproductive technologies: It is possible that the use of some reproductive techonologies cause us to sacrifice many unborn children in order to have some children.  Notice I say it is possible.  It is possible to pursue fertility technologies with a pure heart and faithful financial stewardship.  It is also possible that the false god of “biological” children may push some couples to compromise their Christian worldview (fertilized egg = human life) by fertilizing more eggs than will be used.  For these reasons, it is imperative that any Christian couple seek the counsel of physicians who themselves are committed to a pro-life, Christian worldview of humanity.

Further, idolatries may be exposed in the amount of financial resources a couple may be willing to commit to such procedures.  The issue of financial stewardship raises the question of whether or not it may be wiser to adopt.

3.  Birth Control:  There is debate within the pro-life, Christian medical community as to whether or not hormone contraceptives (oral, injectables, implants) may function as abortifacients.  Some methods of birth control are clearly abortive (IUD’s; RU486).  Some are true contraceptives – they prohibit conception.  The debate is such that Christians should be willing to do the necessary research in order to proceed with a clear conscience.  See the opposing arguments below by pro-life, Christian Ob-Gyns:

Birth Control Pill: Abortifacient and Contraceptive (takes position that birth control pills are abortifacient)

Hormone Contraceptives Controversies and Clarifications (takes position that the data is not conclusive)

Regardless, the issue of contraception (avoiding conception – including natural family planning) raises the question of how one views children – are they a gift from God or an inconvenience; are they a blessing to be received or are they hurdles to our plans (read idols): education, career goals, relationship, financial goals, fame, etc.?

The best talk I have heard on these matters from a theological perspective was an address by R. Albert Mohler, titled Reproductive Technologies and Contraception, delivered at a Carl F. H. Henry Forum at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

The One who sacrificed His Son so that we idolaters and child sacrificers might be forgiven and receive life

What of those who have sacrificed their children to the gods of this world?  Is there any hope?  Will they be forever cast out of God’s presence?  The good news that is the gospel reminds us that God the Father sacrificed His own Son Jesus, so that all who have sacrificed their own children may not die/perish/be eternally separated from His presence but instead receive forgiveness of sin and everlasting life in the very presence of God.

1. The Father called Jesus to be the faithful Israel/Son who obeyed His every command (Matthew 2:15).  The context of this call was Herod’s killing of the Jewish children (Matthew 2:16-18).

2. The Father was pleased with Jesus’ obedience: “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17); “Listen to him” (Matt 17:5).

3. Jesus willingly obeyed the Father even to the point of death on a cross – “Not my will be done but your will be done” (Matthew 26:39, 42, 43).

4. At the cross, the crowds mocked Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (27:38-39).

5.  At the cross, some observers had to confess, “Truly, Jesus was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:51-54).

Jesus is God’s Son through whom idolaters and murderers may receive forgiveness of sins.  Let us confess our idolatries and murders; let us repent (renew our thinking); and let us trust in Christ alone, for He is all sufficient and worthy of all our worship.

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From John Piper at the Desiring God blog:

Bloodlines is one of the most autobiographical books I have written. It tells my story from racism to the path of redemption. I preached on the theme of Bloodlines yesterday to mark Martin Luther King weekend. The title of the message was “From Bloodlines to Bloodline.” I argued that God is calling his people to move from the alienation of many bloodlines to the reconciliation of the single bloodline that began on the cross of Christ.

I urged my people to read the book. Not because I care about selling books, but because I want them to know my story, to be aware to the global relevance of the issue, and to feel the hope that comes from the power of the gospel.

In making the book available in a PDF version online for free we are trying to remove every obstacle that might keep you from that experience.

Chapter six is the one I tried to unpack in this week’s message. It is close to the center of the Gospel’s relevance for perseverance in the cause of Christ-exalting ethnic diversity.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  Now it’s available for free in pdf.  Please download it and read it.

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As I am preaching through Leviticus, I find myself in Leviticus 18 this week.  My wife and I have already had multiple discussions as to how I will deal with the topic in the context of a multi-ethnic (lots of traditions and tabus), multi-generational (lots of kiddos-including my own- and some senior adults) congregation.

I’ve asked our pastoral team to be in prayer with me as I prepare and to help me as I consider the language to use in preaching this sermon.  In the midst of all the conversations, I was reminded of preaching through 1 Corinthians 7 in the fall of 2009.  At that time I wrote the following piece, and I thought it would be a good place to start our thinking:

How should Christians view sex?

Any conversations about sex have to take into consideration the cultural influences of the sexual revolution of the 60’s and its impact on present views on sex in our society.  Along with the present reality of rampant sexual sin now being reaped as a result of the seeds of the sexual revolution, there is also the reality of distorted sex as a result of being used, abused and misused sexually.  What will the church say to these?

The sexual revolution also provided false pictures of sexuality (see Hollywood) which promote what I would call frustrated sex – it’s not all that.  But there are also other forms of frustrated sex.  What of those who cannot enjoy sex because of physical limitations or medical conditions?   What will the church say to these?

Like most things, the church has tended to respond with either legalism or license.  Augustine’s pre-conversion immoral life led him to adopt a strong stance against sex which influenced the Catholic church to adopt a celibate priesthood.  The church has generally followed this pattern of legalism by telling teenagers and singles that “True Love Waits” – the Christian version of “Just Say No!”

Ironically it has become popular today to talk about sex in church and invite congregants to enjoy sex often-perhaps a “40 Days of Sex” Campaign is lurking in our evangelical future?  So, how is the church to view sex?

The Corinthians’ Response: Legalism

The Corinthians opted for the legalistic approach- “It is right for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1).  Paul responds by urging them to remain in whatever condition they were called to Christ because of a present distress unknown to us (7:17, 25-27).  If at all possible, though, Paul urged a celibate life which allowed for undistracted devotion to Christ (7:7-8, 32-35).  However, Paul recognized that not everyone has the gift of celibacy (7:7).  Those who don’t have the gift of celibacy have been granted another gift – marriage and the joy of sex within marriage.

The Biblical Picture

Sex is a gift given by God by which we may know Him more intimately and glorify Him more fully.  Here is my fourfold argument:

1.  We glorify God when we fulfill our God-given roles which include maleness/femaleness (Gen. 1:27). We were not created to be alone (Gen. 2:18); we were created to reflect the tri-une fellowship of the living God in our own relationships.  God’s answer to the “badness” of being alone was marriage (Gen. 2:18-25).  Here we see that sexual attraction is good and God-glorifying but only within the marriage covenant.

2.  We cannot talk about sex without talking about marriage (Gen. 2:24-25). In marriage there is intimacy: real, physical, interpersonal knowledge between husband and wife.  Sex is a one-flesh, no-shame union in which husband & wife know one another intimately (Gen. 4:1).

3.  But we cannot talk about marriage without talking about the God who reveals Himself as the ever-faithful husband of His bride. The Lord betrothed Himself to Israel (Ezekiel 16:8-14).  Yet, Israel was continually adulterous, so in 722 BC, the Lord judged Israel for her adultery and removed her from the North (Hosea 1:2-2:13).  The Lord was patient with Judah, but eventually in 586 BC the Lord judged her for adultery and removed her from Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16:15, 30).

Even so, God proved to be the ever-faithful husband who wins back His bride (Hosea 2:14-18) through a new covenant by which He would be intimately known (Ezekiel 16:59-63).  The New Testament reveals that Jesus is the one who mediates this new covenant (Hebrews 8:8-12).  As our faithful husband, Jesus is preparing us (Eph. 5:25ff) for His wedding day, the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9).  It is by faith that we are betrothed to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2).

4.  Conclusion for Marrieds: So, sex is a divine gift by which we may know God more intimately and glorify Him more fully – because our faithfulness as husband and wife in the earthly marriage covenant and our delighting in one another as husband and wife point to the intimate knowledge between God and His bride and the joys of covenant faithfulness-both His and ours.  We bring God great glory when we are fully satisfied with Him in this covenant relationship.

So, let the married persons delight in the covenant of marriage and delight in one another as a reflection of God’s covenant love for and delight in His bride.

5.  Conclusion for Singles: The faithfulness of a single, celibate Christian man or woman points to the church patiently awaiting the return of the bridegroom for His bride on the wedding day.

So, let the singles wait on the Lord and serve Him now with undistracted devotion until our bridegroom returns or until Christ provides a temporary spouse on this earth in which you can reflect His covenant love and faithfulness.

Such delighting in God for the single and the married, frees us from the bondage of sexual temptation and sin (2 Peter 1:3-4).

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