C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Playing Judas: Suicide

In my recent book entitled Playing Judas, I cover the biblical story of Judas in light of examining ourselves as Professing Christians. With the news of Robin Williams passing, causing many to ponder thoughts surrounding depression and suicide, I thought I'd share my chapter on suicide (specifically Judas Iscariot's suicide). In no way is this meant to be directed toward Robin Williams, or to be used as a means to say he went to hell.



It is estimated about one million people commit suicide each year, with depression (specifically, untreated depression) believed to be the number one cause. Although, it is assessed that approximately 30,000 die from suicide each year in America, there is evidence that suggest nearly 750,000 souls attempt to take their own lives every year. So, what would be the number of attempts worldwide? And, what of the ones we do not know about? How many souls are leaving this world each day – each second – which may not be ready to meet God?

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: [Hebrews 9:27]

Even if someone does not believe in God, heaven or hell, or even an afterlife, surely one would agree that suicide is the end of one person’s life but affects more people than just themselves. What of those left behind? What message are we sending them in taking our own life? Would we not be selfish in our thoughts and actions? Should we not consider others?

Perhaps we leave our parents feeling guilty they could not protect us from it. Maybe our children or siblings will do the same, merely following in the footsteps of one they looked up to. What of our spouses and friends, left with broken and meaningless relationships we once shared? How does a church cope with the loss of one who preached or taught faith over unbelief, hope instead of doubt, endurance through trials and tribulations, and living for Christ, only to give up hope at the end of their rope?
We do not live or die unto ourselves. How we live and die affects people and society around us, whether we realize how great or small it may be. If it merely affects one person, we should consider how the impact may change them – and perhaps for the worse, rather than the better. And, to claim to be a Professing Christian within the Professing Church, we have sworn allegiance to no more live unto ourselves. We are the Lord’s!

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. [Romans 14:7-9]

For this portion of the book I want to be sensitive, because of the emotions which can surround this topic (especially if one has considered or lost someone to suicide), but I also want to be realistic and scriptural at the same time. Sometimes how we feel does not always line up with truth, but truth often times needs to be laced with grace so our emotions will be able to listen. So, hopefully I can share this with enough grace to allow the reader to at least consider it. Please remember my purpose of this writing is to help people by learning from Judas, not hurt them by calling them Judas. I would rather none of us be found Playing Judas.

To begin, let’s define a few terms:

  • suicide – to take one’s life intentionally
  • depression – a state of sadness, gloom, dejection
    • sadness – unhappy, grief, sorrow, mournful
    • gloom – full or partial darkness, dim
    • dejection – lowness of spirits

Now, I am not an expert in relation to suicide, all of its causes, or how to resolve one’s thoughts or tendencies toward taking their own life. I would strongly suggest one pray to God and read scripture, but I would also encourage one to seek out all the help they could possibly get from family, friends, church, co-workers, groups, doctors, therapists, etc. The more support we can get during any difficult time in our lives the better the outcome will most likely be. But, not only do we need to seek out wise council, we have to be willing to accept and follow sound advice.

So, let’s take a look at suicide and depression in the case of Judas Iscariot, and see how his sad example might help us and others both in the physical and spiritual realm.

Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. [Matthew 27:3-8]
What are some possible things which may have led Judas to suicide?

  • Confronted with sin (his embarrassment, humiliation)
  • Left the other Eleven apostles (his friends)
  • Handed over Jesus Christ (his master, teacher, spiritual leader)
  • Turned away by the Religious (his church)

Who was left for Judas to turn to? In his mind, possibly no one. He had forsaken his church (for good reason) to follow Jesus, yet now had forsaken his friends and Jesus for personal gain (thirty pieces of silver). When he tried to return to his church (religious leaders) they rejected him, and he could no longer find friendship with the world (those who opposed Christ), the flesh (himself), or the devil (Satan having previously possessed him). We do not know of his parents, siblings, or possible friends at this time in his life, but most likely he left all to follow Jesus.

Surely, Judas experienced:

sadness – unhappy, grief, sorrow, mournful

Judas was truly mournful when he realized he had “betrayed the innocent blood” (Jesus Christ). Grief had to have overshadowed him greatly when the religious crowd refused to allow him to return the blood money. His sorrows must have been great, feeling as though he could turn neither to the apostles nor the religious leaders, nor any longer even unto Jesus Christ.

Sadness can come upon us in the blink of an eye, and sometimes it can be very grievous and seem unbearable; especially if we have created it ourselves and we see no quick way out of it. Hope can be lost, replaced with depression.

gloom – full or partial darkness, dim

There were those in England, such as George Cheyne in 1733, who believed the gloomy weather caused a “melancholy disposition” over people which was partial to blame for the suicides of that time. Perhaps some still consider this to be the case for certain persons even today. Do you feel differently in gloomy weather?

In the emotional sense, we can feel as though we are likewise in a storm, with darkness all around us, and no way to escape. Though we might see light – a glimpse of hope – we may be afraid to take the leap, so we stay in the shadows of fear and doubt. Till we lose all hope, and the pain overcomes us so great we would even choose death to escape it.

In the spiritual sense, scripture contrast the light and the darkness; whereas even partial darkness is full in condition. The darkness blinds us to the hope in Christ, and we are left believing death is our only escape.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. [Matthew 6:22-24]

dejection – lowness of spirits

There can be no doubt that Judas indeed had lowness of spirit when his conscience confronted him with the realization of what he had done, and being unable to undo it or make any penance by returning the money.

But, are these justifiable reasons for one to take their own life? Jesus saith, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11:28] Is not turning to suicide then turning away from Jesus and his call to find rest in him? For, how can one truly say they are trusting in Christ if they allow the things of this world and in their life to bring them to the point of suicide? Are we not told to deny ourselves, take up our cross (daily), and follow Jesus Christ? [Luke 9:23] To end one’s on life is denying God who made us and Christ who gave himself for us; especially, if it truly be so that we are Professing Christians.

So, what does God say about suicide? At first glance, there may be some who believe the bible is silent on the subject. It is true the word “suicide” is not present within scripture, but that does not mean it is permissible or condoned by holy God. Is it truly prudent to presume something is acceptable or excused merely because we do not see or understand a direct command against it? Would we teach our children such? Does “I didn’t know” or “You didn’t tell me” remove guilt or make one innocent? We are not justified by ignorance.

If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering. [Leviticus 5:15]

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. [Acts 17:29-31]

The term “suicide” was conceived by Sir Thomas Browne in his work Religio Medici; whereby he appears to praise it. Before this time, suicide was known as self-murder or self-assassination, with two schools of thought being:

The individual was stealing from God, and leaving themselves no time or means to repent before dying. It is the opposite of perseverance and hope.

The act “takes away all reason and virtue and all the noble trial and satisfaction of them; so that on Principles of Nature itself, it must be deemed utterly unlawful.” [John Henley]

In Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 we are given the law of God, with one being “Thou shalt not kill.” So, can suicide be defined as self-killing? Is it not depriving one of life “in any manner”, to bring about death? Does not suicide make the individual a murderer? By all accounts it does.

By acknowledging suicide as what it truly is – the murdering of oneself – it separates those of suicide and those who are martyrs by definition. A martyr is one who willingly suffers torment or even death, but not by their own hand – nor by their own hand bringing it about, as in the cases of suicidal-murder. Some may see a fine line between the two – at least in some cases – but the line is definitively there nonetheless. One may claim that those who refuse to escape martyrdom are likewise committing suicide, but such is not the case if their life is taken by another. The murderer is the one who kills life, not the one from whom it is taken.

What does scripture say of murder?

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom
of God. [Galatians 5:19-20]

1 John 3:15 tells us even one who “hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” This is not to say that everyone who commits suicide hates themselves, but to show the severity of hate and murder Christ brought about this point. Both can have eternal consequences! For who is the “eternal life”? Jesus Christ [John 14:6]. And murder brings forth death (the enemy of life).

“Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” [Romans 8:9b] To be “none of his” is to remain in one’s sin; a murderer. If we be his, we are to “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:6-7] We have help in Christ. Do not turn from it!

Here is what makes suicide the greater sin, or disservice – if one wishes to define sin in levels of severity against humanity. The killing of oneself is murder, and the very act removes the opportunity for the individual to seek repentance of the sin and reconciliation with God before meeting him face-to-face at either the Judgment Seat of Christ [Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10] or the Great White Throne Judgment [Revelation 20:11-15]. We will not discuss the topic of these two judgments here, but we do know that after death is “the judgment”. [Hebrews 9:27] That is our standing before the Judge; for “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” [Romans 14:12]

Now, I realize there are numerous reasons why persons may commit suicide, and some may legitimately be due to mental illness or other causes outside the scope of our study here. There is no way to answer every question about suicide satisfactory, nor would it be fair for me to condemn all souls to hell who have taken their own lives. Neither has been my purpose.

Even so, before one quotes “Judge not, that ye be not judged” [Matthew 7:1], let us remember scripture also declares “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” [John 7:24]; for “he that is spiritual judgeth all things” [1 Corinthians 2:15]. Who then is spiritual? Those who have the “the Spirit of God” and “the mind of Christ”. [1 Corinthians 2]

For this reason, I would ask the reader (even one who has been hurt by a loss or wishes to study suicide further) to strive to consider any discussion or study of suicide objectively in light of truth and not merely by emotion or justification for oneself or one’s family or friends who may have taken their life. We cannot simply wish someone into heaven, nor can we merely believe that God may not judge one for taking their own life because we care about them, we believe they are a good person, or would rather blame someone or something else. We must be honest with ourselves and with each individual situation.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. [Philippians 4:8]

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; [2 Corinthians 10:5]

There have been those who have sought to condone or even praise suicide for the sake of love (being unable to live without someone) and honor (or the restoration thereof). Do these not yet then become idols? A person, thing, or purpose which does supersede God in our heart, soul, mind, or strength? Are we not commanded to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”? [Mark 12:30]

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. [Luke 14:26]

We understand this (that is “hate” in this context) to not mean “murder” (whether in deed or motive) which Christ did teach against, but rather likened unto all things must be secondary in our lives to our love for God and Jesus Christ. Do we love someone more than Christ, and only live for them; whereby we would desire death over living life without them? What of honor in the eyes of man? Does it yet precede our obedience to Christ and sacred honor before holy God? Shall we slay ourselves in seeking to gain the honor of men and risk the curse of God?

Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. [Matthew 10:28]

Do we yet become lovers of our own selves, desiring death over the loss of any pleasures of this life? Do we have a form of godliness which helps our outward image, yet leaves those around us at a loss when those things which we lived for no longer provide us with a reason to live? Do the perilous times have us embracing death rather than life?

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [2 Timothy 3:1-5]

Or have we become self-haters as we look at ourselves in light of what we perceive to be reality (both physical and spiritual)? Michel Montaigne believed “it is against nature for one to despise oneself – a sickness peculiar to man and not seen in any other creature” – and considered “self-hatred as a kind of vanity and writes that it is by a similar vanity that we wish to become something other than we are.” [Jennifer M. Hecht] Are we double minded? [James 1:8]

Within the Professing Church (that is within the religious institutions rather than the world, as some would say), there may be found what has been called “Religious Melancholy”; namely the idea that spiritual leaders have caused many to think there is no hope for them. Robert Burton (The Anatomy of Melancholy) claims ministers (though, surely not all) go about “making every small fault and thing indifferent an irremissible offence, they so rent, tear, and wound men’s consciences that they are almost mad and at their wit’s ends.”

Do we lower salvation so low that it is merely trampled by every man’s foot, or raise it so high that it is impossible for any man to obtain it even through grace? Do we discard the fallen brethren or seek to restore them? Do we love because God loved us? Do we forgive because God forgave us? Or, do we “beholdest thou the mote that is in [our] brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in [our] own eye”? [Matthew 7:3]

Some (to promote martyrdom, yet not all) have even determined to liken the self-murder of persons with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary, claiming he actually committed suicide himself; for he did say, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” [John 10:15] But, perhaps not all of the story is being observed:

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. [John 10:16-18]

Jesus says a couple of interesting things here:
  • Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
  • This commandment have I received of my Father.

How many persons who have committed suicide claim:
  • I was commanded by God.
  • I lay down my life – why? That I might take it again.

People do not commit suicide (at least, not that I know of or have read about) that they might take back up their life yet again. Sadly, most are due to them no longer wanting anything to do with their life; whether due to love (or the loss thereof), honor (or the restoration thereof), depression, or mental illness. Death is seen as an end, as an escape from that which plagues one spiritually, emotionally, or physically. There is no man (or woman) who has the “power to take it (their life) again”.

John records Jesus’ words, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” [John 15:13]

He goes on to say:

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.” [John 14:14-17]

Death was not the reason for Christ laying down his life. Death is not the reason why one is to lay down their life for their friends. Love is the reason. Jesus Christ chose to suffer the cross because he loved God the Father in obedience, and because he loves mankind in giving us forgiveness of sin and entrance into eternity with him by his sacrifice. When you hear stories of soldiers giving themselves (laying down their lives) for fellow soldiers, it is not because they want to die (to take their own lives) but rather desire to save their friends (that they may live!). Neither our life nor our death can pay our sin debt. Jesus did that which we could not so that we may live!

Judas did not commit self-murder (lay down his life) for his friends or Christ, nor because of love for either. Neither did he do so to take up his life yet again. It appears more so for a love of himself. A final act of selfishness. I realize some may discount this, but one must consider it.

Love: to have a strong liking or devotion for.
  • [compare also Latin libēre (originally lubēre) to please]

Selfish: to be more concerned with one’s own welfare, etc. than another’s.
Judas did not show love toward the other Eleven (or the many other disciples) or for Christ in his betrayal, but rather in regards to his own greed or personal purpose. He did not lay down his life that his fellow believers or Christ would live, but instead to escape his current predicament and/or feelings. Is that not likewise why many (I will not say all) suicides occur? Because they no longer want to feel the pain (or what it is they are feeling) or be exposed to what is going on within or around them (whether people, circumstances, or consequences past, present, or future)? Is it not more about self than others?

Some press that suicide restores (or brings about) honor to one (or one’s family) who has disgraced themselves (or their family), but do we see such honor restored in Judas’ hanging himself? Would it have not been more honorable (moral) to confess, repent, and make restitution by living the rest of his life as a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Was not Paul forgiven for persecuting Jesus [Acts 9:5; 26:14] (while yet religious) in the sense that he did persecute the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12], yet did repent and go forth as an apostle of Jesus Christ for the rest of his days? How many were persuaded to trust in the Messiah, the Savior, because of the life and witness of Paul?

Could not Judas Iscariot have possibly been given this honor had he lived, even as Peter who did yet deny the Lord thrice? Sadly, we shall never know. Just as we shall never know the positive, honorable impact (both great and small) so many souls could have had on individuals and society had they lived to tell their story instead of taking their own lives.  

What will your story tell? Surely more than your suicide would.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Heterosexual and Homosexual Equality

Defining of Terms
Heterosexual – one who is sexually attracted to the opposite sex
Homosexual – one who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex
Equality – the state of being equal

Homo is defined as “same”. Therefore all of mankind is known as Homo sapiens, and those (whether male or female) “who are sexually attracted to members of the same sex” are known as Homosexual.

Hetero is defined as “other or different”; thus all (whether male or female) “who are sexually attracted to the opposite sex” are known as Heterosexual.

[1] Heterosexuals and Homosexuals are equal, in that, they are both Homo sapiens.

[2] Heterosexuals and Homosexuals are equal, in that, they are both sexually attracted to other Homo sapiens.

Old Testament
Homo sapiens who commit adultery in sexual, Heterosexual relationships are worthy of death.
And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. [Leviticus 20:10]

Homo sapiens who have sexual, Homosexual relationships are worthy of death.
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. [Leviticus 20:13]

[3] Heterosexuals and Homosexuals are equal, in that, they are both worthy of death if they partake in unlawful sexual relationships.

New Testament
And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. [Mark 7:20-23]

Fornication – sexual immorality

[5] Heterosexuals and Homosexuals are equal, in that, they are both capable of allowing the evil within their hearts to defile them through fornication [sexual immorality; that which is unbiblical].

[6] Heterosexuals and Homosexuals are equal, in that, they are both worthy of death and can be given over to a reprobate mind by the wrath of God against the sin of their unbiblical, sexual relationships.

[Romans 1:16-32]
But there is no direction by Christ (the foundation of the New Testament Church) during His life to show that physical death should be carried out upon the Heterosexuals or Homosexuals guilty of sexual impurity. He does not display acceptance or dismissal of sin, but rather calls unto them to repent.

[7] Heterosexuals and Homosexuals are equal, in that, they are both born with a sin nature (though the besetting sins may vary), having a desire to do the lusts of the flesh rather than the commands of God.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. [Romans 3:23]

[8] Heterosexuals and Homosexuals are equal, in that, they are only guilty of sin when they partake in sinful acts of adultery and fornication; not simply having the desire or inclination to.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. [1 Corinthians 6:9-10]

[9] Heterosexuals and Homosexuals are equal, in that, they can be forgiven by God for committing such immoral acts of adultery and fornication.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. [1 Corinthians 6: 11]

[10] Heterosexuals and Homosexuals are equal, in that, they must all repent and put faith in Jesus Christ to receive salvation and be forgiven of sin.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:9]

So, what we learn about God and the Bible is not that God is merely against Homosexuals, but rather equally against Heterosexuals and Homosexuals who take part in sexual sin. What is the difference? It is the giving in to the sin of the flesh (whatever that may be for any Homo sapiens), versus denying the flesh to partake in any sinful, sexual desire.

Homosexuals become transgressors when they take part in the sinful lust and act of sexual relationships outside of God’s determined counsel; likewise, do Heterosexuals become equally sinners when they entertain the thoughts and actions of sexual relationships outside of God’s Word.

By falsely attributing God as a respecter of persons, one will miss the equality of God’s wrath upon sin and His grace upon repentance; thus succumbing to the foolishness of the world, the snare of the devil, and the deadly desires of the flesh; whereby they shall die in their sins, rather than be born again through Jesus Christ.

A redefining of marriage will not nullify the Word of God nor justify the Homosexual, no more than a redefining of the terms adultery and fornication could cleanse the Heterosexual of such sins.

Heterosexual and Homosexual Equality can be found in God, whether by His wrath upon unconfessed sin or by His grace upon the repentant heart through Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Having An Issue With Someone or Their Sin

Recently I have seen a swarm of communication across Facebook in reference to a pastor of Baptist Church and his apparent inappropriate behavior. Who the pastor is and his sin (or alleged sin) is not important enough to the lesson to mention, but the message we can take from the situation is, in my opinion. I would like us to step back away from that current situation, and see how we can apply scripture to our own lives.

Since it was a pastor (elder, bishop, etc.), we will begin with:

1 Timothy 5:1-2
Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

Now, does this mean that a pastor can never be corrected; even if they are living in sin?

1 Timothy 5:17-20
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

We see that if a pastor rules [and by rule, we do not mean as a dictator – Mark 10:42-44] then they are worthy of “double honour”. We are to support them appropriately financially, and not try to tell them what they can and cannot say in their preaching. The Holy Spirit can and will direct their minds and sermons.

We are not to quickly judge and rebuke an elder – BUT if there is undeniable proof by way of multiple witnesses, then they are to be rebuked before all.

Notice it says “rebuke BEFORE all” and not “rebuked BY all”.

Who was this written to? Timothy – another bishop (elder, pastor)

Why should they be rebuked? What is the purpose? “that others also may fear”

Is that so others will fear certain people, the deacons, the accusers, or the church – meaning that those would have power over the pastors to have them fear them? No.

It is for the purpose of bringing to remembrance to everyone their sins may also be brought forth for the whole congregation (or the whole world in our modern day) to see.

1 Timothy 5:24
Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.

Just because your sin remains secret while another’s is broadcasted does not mean [1] theirs is worse than yours, [2] you are okay with God, [3] or that yours too will not be shown before men likewise.

The fear of seeing ones sin exposed should cause us all to confess and repent of our own sins to God, and ensure our fellowship with Him is right.

We must also notice these verses fall on the heels of Paul telling Timothy:

1 Timothy 4:12-16
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

To those of us who would like to rebuke the elder, do we likewise give “attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine”? Why? So we can spiritually discern a matter BEFORE we talk about it. When we are told or read of something about someone, we need to think before we instantly cast judgment and start spreading it on Facebook and elsewhere.

Proverbs 18:13
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

And “heareth it” doesn’t just mean you have heard ABOUT it.

Do we also “continue” or walk in the doctrine we learn from scripture? If we don’t, then what gives us the right to speak of someone else not living right? We are to live right to be a testimony of Christ to others. Going around telling everyone else they are wrong does not make us right.

When we spread the news of another’s sin, are we doing it “in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity”?

Paul also tells Timothy:

1 Timothy 5:21
I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

We are not supposed to show partiality. So, if you want to spread the sin of a pastor across every avenue available to you, then you should likewise share the sins of your spouse, family, and friends – and even your own. Most of the time our problem is we want some person’s sins exposed, while wishing to hide those of others. That’s hypocrisy.

So, we’ve just glanced at the idea of rebuking an elder – which may not have actually committed any sin directly against us – but what about when we have issues with fellow believers?

What do we do about that?

Do we likewise display our issue with them across the avenues of social media, and through gossip in our church family?

Matthew 18:15
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Scripture says we should go to that person – not to Facebook or other church members. But, before we can go to that person, we need to go to God.

Why? To ensure we go to that person in the right spirit [in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity], praying the Holy Spirit may have them in the right spirit as well.

If we go in the flesh, we will just have a mess which will lead to more hurt, anger, and bitterness.

So, what if they don’t want to resolve the issue?

Matthew 18:16
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

We are to bring witnesses. This could be witnesses to the facts, but these will be witnesses to what all is being said between the two parties: gossip control.

What if they still do not wish to resolve the issue?

Matthew 18:17
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

If a person refuses to get right with God and fellow man, the church is supposed to treat them as a lost person.

Why? To hopefully draw them back into humble repentance, to restore their fellowship with God and man.

Just as with elders, although those who live in sin should be rebuked, that does not mean they are to be rebuked by everyone and through every outlet available to shout out their sin.

If you have an issue with someone or they have sinned against you, you are to first try to resolve the issue in private, then with spiritual witnesses, and then the church. If you haven’t gone to them, why are you going to everyone else?

If someone has not personally sinned against you, why are you spreading it around in circles and social media?

Romans 14:12
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

We will be judged by the way we react to one’s sin, just as they will be judged by their sin.

And if you have spread one's sin, will you also spread their repentance and reconciliation to God and man with the same amount of enthusiasm? I pray so.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Can I Divorce

A friend of mind recently asked me two questions, and I figured I would share my responses here. Please do share your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree.

The second question was:

Can I divorce [in reference to fighting or abuse]

Now, concerning divorce, I likewise find the answer both simple and complex. It is simple in the idea that I believe Scripture gives two reasons when divorce [can] occur, but are never spoken of in terms of [reasons to] divorce. [1] reason is because of fornication, as written in Matthew 5:32. The [2] reason seems to be in the unbelieving departs, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 7:15. Although, does “the unbelieving” pertain to them professing they are lost, or they claim to be saved but their actions proclaim they are lost? Now, Scripture clearly teaches [Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. - Matthew 19:6] Scripture also compares marriage to the relationship of Christ and the Church [Ephesians 5] which teaches security of the believer, in that Christ will never forsake the Church. When a man leaves his wife or a woman her husband, they are breaking that picture. Once saved, Christ cannot separate Himself from His sheep, nor can the sheep totally separate themselves from Christ [even if they try, for He will go get them – Matthew 18:12-14] Such is why a saved person is considered to be committing spiritual adultery when they choose to disobey God.

When it comes to questions like “two people fighting all the time” and “physical and/or emotional abuse”, I don’t find anywhere in Scripture that says it is okay to divorce. I know this goes against man’s nature and our initial knee-jerk reaction, but it simply isn’t in the Bible [at least not straight forward] as justifiable means to leave your spouse. Remember Christ said [Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. - Matthew 19:8] Sin is what causes two persons to always fight [or sometimes it could possibly be just one as the “main” cause over time] or to abuse one another [which can sometimes be the woman over the man]. We must remember that two persons choose to get married, and sometimes their choices were not soaked in the knowledge and wisdom of God but in fleshly appeal and desire. Then divorce is merely adding sin to the initial sin of getting married without God in the first place [even if held in a church]. So, a lot of factors play into the actual finalization of seeking divorce, which is why it is a hard question to answer when it comes to what may be permissible and what is not; at least to us, because God clearly knows.

With that said, I think there is wisdom we can glean from Scripture regarding the abuse [at least the physical type]. Scripture is clear to talk about how we are to treat people as we want to be treated, and for those who abuse people [whether physically, or steal from, murder, etc.] we have law enforcement, etc. [1 Timothy 2] So, I believe a person is biblically justified in calling the police and filing charges against their spouse if they are truly being abused. I also believe they would be justified no longer living with that person until there was a guarantee [by whatever means necessary] that it would be safe. Though, the question still remains: where in Scripture does it say they can divorce? Possibly, the Scripture about the unbelieving departing could be used, but I see no other references.

Same holds true with spouse who seems to fight all the time. We would like to say “God doesn’t want us to be alone” or “God doesn’t want us to be unhappy”, but that is not biblical teaching. That is man’s emotions.

Paul said, [Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you. - 1 Corinthians 7:27] Once we have chosen to marry [regardless as to why or what transpires due to our sin or that of our spouse] we are commanded to stay married. Even fornication is not a reason [to] divorce, as there are many marriages when have been dealt that blow yet survived through forgiveness and reconciliation to God and each other. Nor is the unbelieving departing a [necessary to divorce], for it also says [Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. - 1 Peter 3:1-2]

I once had a friend of mine ask if it was okay for them to get a divorce, and I told them they had two options to consider:

[1] They could forget God and the Bible, and do whatever you want to do.


[2] They could [a] examine their own hearts in light of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, [b] confess and repent of any sin in their own life [regardless of what the other person is or isn’t doing], [c] obey God by submitting to or loving the other person [because God says so in Scripture, not because the other person deserves it], [d] choose to forgive the other person [whether they deserve it or not], [e] and beg God to help change them and that other person to renew their marriage.

They [easy] thing to do in our minds is to just leave, because we think we will be leaving the entire problem behind; but that’s not the case. We will [1] have our own issues of sin [because we are not perfect] even in another relationship, [2] if we have kids we will always have contact with the other person, [3] the kids will suffer and not understand, and [4] surely there will be financial, emotional, possibly other family and friend issues for many years to come [if not for as long as we live].

The first question we need to ask ourselves is: Why do I want a divorce?

That will expose our hearts.

Am I Forgiven

A friend of mind recently asked me two questions, and I figured I would share my responses here. Please do share your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree.

The first question was:

“How do I know that God has truly forgiven me when I ask Him too?”

I agree that Christ does forgive, but I also believe that with sin comes chastisement (especially when not confessed) and consequences (with some sins more than others). I think in man’s mind we have little sins and big sins, but in God’s view every sin leads to the same judgment.

“How do I know that God has truly forgiven me when I ask Him too?” can be both a simple and complex question, in my opinion. It can be simple, because Scripture promises [If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9] However, this is only for the saved person – as one must first acknowledge they are a sinner, repent, and put faith in Christ for salvation. What if someone believes they are saved, but aren’t really saved? God isn’t [nor can] forgive a lost person for a sin, because they have not been covered by the blood of Christ – since [without shedding of blood is no remission. - Hebrews 9:22] Also, this is when one seeks true repentance, and not merely says “I’m sorry” because they have been caught. It is a heart issue, and the [The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? - Jeremiah 17:9] So, I think they only way to know if you are forgiven, is to daily [1] fellowship with God through prayer, [2] communicate with God through reading and meditating on the Bible, [3] walk with God in our lifestyle, and [4] repent of sin as soon as we are convicted by the Holy Spirit or confronted with it by ourselves or other persons. Because – most often – our “knowing we are forgiven” is to “feel like we have been forgiven”, and if we aren’t in touch with God daily we will surely [1] not confess and repent of sin and [2] will doubt His promise to forgive us when we do.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What’s Marriage to a Chicken?

I guess I am still somewhat naive when it comes to some things, as I had never really considered the possibility of a restaurant being forbidden to come to a city or state based on its view of marriage. I’ve witnessed some establishments being pressed against due to alcohol and those of indecent attire (or lack thereof) – but I figure those things have brought more heartache to the families, cities, and states in our country than marriage between a man and a woman. Perhaps I’ve been wrong.

I honestly don’t know much about Chick-fil-A – but that they are closed on Sundays and do hold to some personal religious convictions – although I do eat there occasionally. From what I have read, Mayor Rahm Emanuel apparently said “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values.” He further adds, “If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don’t want you in the First Ward.”

It appears the mayor clearly states that the values of Chick-fil-A are not only in opposition to the values of Chicago, but are also discriminating against a segment of persons. So, what exactly are the values of Chick-fil-A brought into question here?

“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” Cathy said. “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”

Looking at the above, the expressed values of Chick-fil-A are: Marriage is between a man and a woman. And that God would have mercy on those who try to redefine it.

So, the mayor has stated that Chicago neither limits the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, nor does he ask for mercy upon those who agree with his (and all of Chicago) values.

As for as, “discriminating” against anyone, I don’t believe I have read where Chick-fil-A has said they would not sell their food to those whose beliefs were in opposition to theirs.

I can’t help but see the hypocrisy in the idea where Boston Mayor Tom Menino claims (proudly, I’m sure), “We’re an open city. We’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.” How interesting, they are ONLY “open” and “inclusive” to those they wish to be; for they are neither being “open” or “inclusive” to Chick-fil-A. And, don’t give me the “well, Chick-fil-A isn’t being open and inclusive either”, because it is the mayor who is claiming they are the proud persons of an “open” and “inclusive” city. Does this mean that they currently agree with ALL the convictions of ALL other businesses (and those within them) currently in Boston? Why do I somehow doubt so?

Furthermore, we have “Alderman Moreno call[ing] Cathy’s comments “bigoted” and “homophobic,”” according to the article. Why do we still have the overuse of the words “bigot” and “homophobic”? The very ones who claim one is bigoted [prejudice, extremist] because they believe the biblical and formal definition of marriage are equally prejudice and extremist against those who do not agree to their trying to redefine marriage. This Chick-fil-A fiasco is case and point. And just because a person does not agree with homosexuality does not mean they are "scared of" or "hate" homosexuals. [i.e. homophobic]

City Councilman Jim Kenney joined in the “intolerance” speech, and promotes a resolution to “condemn this anti-American attitude of trying to deny civil liberties that every American enjoys.” How far have we come where standing firmly on the principle definition of marriage (that being between a man and a woman) is now “anti-American”? Every single American has the liberty to join in marriage. I don’t believe any Christian is standing against persons wishing to get married. The stance is against the REDEFINING of a scared institution (called marriage) by those who would wish to embrace what it was never intended to include (namely homosexuality).

Instead of using the name calling of bigot and homophobe through intolerance and the pressure to withdraw person’s freedom of speech, perhaps the homosexual should consider their ideals and create their own defining terms not already taken. Or, better yet, plead for the “mercy” Chick-fil-A has graciously asked God to grant them on their behalf, and refrain from the hate speech toward those who do not hold to their view.

Regardless of Chick-fil-A’s stance on marriage, I do not find any articles whereby they have denied chicken to a homosexual or even those who choose to work on Sundays.

What is marriage to a chicken?
It’s the only way to get those good sandwiches and nuggets at Chick-fil-A. ;o)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Church League Approves Softball and Denies Bisexaulity

Reading FoxNews.com today, I came across an article entitled: Pastor's sexuality splits Missouri church softball league. James Semmelroth Darnell is apparently the current pastor of St. John United Church of Christ in Saint Clair, and feels that persons having issue with his confession of being bisexual is something that “shouldn’t be happening in this day and age.” I ask the question: Why?

Although I can understand the Baptists churches reasoning, in this post I am concerned less about the apparent issue of whether or not other churches would participate in a softball league with his church and more so about his position of pastor – one who professes they have repented of sin, put faith in Christ, lives by the bible, and preaches the gospel – all the while taking no issue with having a scripturally condemned lifestyle or vocalized ideals.

The article declares, “Darnell, for his part, said his sexuality will not affect his ability to lead his congregation off the field.” Do they not read or study the bible? Perhaps the gender neutral versions pervert the nature of scripture against such perversion, but I have never read them so have no true knowledge of where they stand on such matters as sexual orientation. How can sexuality not affect a pastor’s ability to lead his congregation? Either the sexuality of a pastor (whether in private or public) is in line with scripture, or out of sync with scripture and literally God himself.

I know people who are also Church of Christ and would equally agree that scripture condemns any relationship outside of a man and a woman, and there are numerous examples of where persons are and will be punished (by God) for their rejection of such truth. The only true “alternate lifestyle” is if one so chooses not to marry at all.

I am not advocating the mistreatment of those who refuse to obey scripture (even while they claim to believe and preach it), but do believe we should stand firm on the authority and foundational truths of scripture and not the modern man’s perversion of it – and not merely in secret. I will not recount the many references one can find in scripture – as you may take time to read past posts concerning such a topic here – but would find it interesting how a pastor who actually uses the bible can proclaim our holy God is okay with the joining of a man-man or woman-woman in holy matrimony or relationship.

The issue is clearly less about softball, and more about what is truly a biblical lifestyle.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Being Granted the Right to Marry Gives One the Liberty to Divorce

For some time now, there has been much debate over giving homosexuals the right to marry, but what about the liberty to divorce?

Yes, I am a Christian.
Yes, we believe the Bible.
Yes, the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman.
Yes, the Bible says divorce is sin.
Yes, Christian people divorce.
** I am fully aware scripture gives some grounds (if you will) for divorce, though it does not state one must divorce or that one should look for reasons to divorce.

Now that we’ve gotten past that argument, let’s proceed with the ideals of those who do not believe what the Bible teaches but demand homosexuals be given equal rights within the already defined term: marriage.

I found this article today which talks about a lesbian couple who were married in 2008. They were apparently “among 14 same-sex couples who originally challenged California's gay marriage ban in 2008.” In 2010 one of them said, "Marriage is so important it's the most important relationship that you can have as an adult when you get older." Presently, they are seeking a divorce.

What happened?

How can two persons having a relationship for 18 years + fight so hard for 7 years for what they claimed to be equal rights + believe God must have wanted it for them = even consider the possibility of ending such a liberty after a mere 3 years on the basis “"We're human and we went through difficult times," Tyler said. The marriage ran its course, she said.”?

Why can’t persons (or rather, why do persons choose not to) fight for their marriage as much as they fight for the right to marry in the first place? If God wanted them to marry, does He now want them to divorce? How scripturally based is this? If one is going to use God’s name, then they need to acknowledge and obey His word. And this goes for the heterosexual marriage just as much as the homosexual unions. How many times is God/rights used to justify both the marriage and the divorce?

My point is this: What purpose did it serve for these persons to fight 7 years for a right they were only committed to for 3 years? Same holds true for those who live together for years, only to divorce shortly after marriage. Why are we so prone to leave, rather than to cleave?

When we see marriage as a right, then we view divorce as a liberty.

Marriage is a privilege: A sacred opportunity instituted by God between a man and a woman, giving the couple the honor of sharing their lives together in a committed relationship.

It’s interesting (and rather sad) how something worth fighting for to obtain as a right can be easily dismissed as worthless by liberty. May God help us!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Courageous Motivation

So, I went this weekend to see the movie Courageous with some people from our church. I thought the movie was pretty good, possibly even better than Fireproof. Of course you can’t really compare the two completely, as they focus on different aspects of the home. Fireproof speaks to the husband, as Courageous speaks to the father.

Courageous was filled with an emotional roller coaster, holding different principles that most likely every father in the theater could easily grasp hold of as something presently in their lives. Shifting from laughter to sorrow, self examination and the reality of what others may be going through, it helps expose the many different things we may actually not even take notice of though they are going on in our very own lives around us every day.

As I walked out of the theater I couldn’t help but feel motivated to be a better father. But, then I thought, if that is all there was, then surely it would be short lived. I mean, what am I going to do – wait till the movie hits DVD and watch it again? Then in a couple of months watch it again? And so on…

As much as I enjoyed the movie, I realize that if we really want to become better fathers, we need to do more than merely watch a movie about being better fathers. We’ve got to actually do what ‘Adam’ did in the movie. I’m not talking about signing the ‘Resolution’ from the movie – I’m talking about the actual seeking God and studying the Scriptures he was doing to arrive at the Resolution.

We can’t simply ride the coattails of someone else’s convictions. We have got to purpose in our own hearts and in our own lives to be better (1) Christians and then we can become better (2) husbands and (3) fathers. Sometimes – well, a lot of times – it seems we fall very short in our potential of being better. Not because the Holy Spirit is not moving us to do so, but because we simply have a ‘fleshly’ motivated time period (whether a movie, song, sermon, etc.) and merely fizzle out when it comes time to actually put our ‘motivation’ into action.

So, what am I saying? I’m saying that Courageous and movies like it can be great motivators that hit home in our hearts, maybe even at times we wouldn’t listen to the message they present any other way – BUT – if that motivation stops at the credits, then what good has it done us? If we fail to actually make a change in our lives – and not merely acknowledge or think about changing – we are no better off than before we saw it.

It all goes back to the Bible and fellowship with God through Christ. Like me, if you saw Courageous – or a movie, program, sermon, etc. – and felt the emotion, wisdom, and Spirit of God exposing parts of your lives that need repentance and growth, then pray, read, study, and mediate on Scripture to allow it to change your life (as a husband, a father, a Christian) forever – and not merely 120 minutes.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.