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Christian Mass-Murderers?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

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The recent heinous terrorist attack carried out in Norway by the maniac Anders Behring Breivik has once more brought Christians into disrepute with many news outlets erroneously identifying this murderer as a Christian.i Putting aside this man’s personal case for a moment, it is all too common for people to be described by themselves or others as “Christian” without any legitimacy to their usage of the term. Christians themselves are in part to blame, for they frequently accept shallow professions by the famous and notorious merely in a misguided effort at publicity, legitimization in society’s eyes, or for increasing statistics of converts. The Lord Jesus Himself was quite stringent with those who wanted to follow Him. One’s bare declaration of faith was not sufficient; their profession had to be real, and He could read hearts (John 2:23-25.) His apostles also looked for true conversion and its subsequent fruits in the lives of those who professed to be Christians. Appreciating Jesus’ ethics, opposing His secular and religious enemies, and desiring the benefits of the kingdom were not sufficient grounds for really becoming a believer. For one to really be a Christian, they must receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior (John 1:12; John 3:16; John 5:24.). The Scripture puts it starkly: “He that has the Son has life, he that does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12.)

 

Words Have Meaning

 

One would scoff at a professing Marxist who had never read The Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital; his profession would be still less credible if he took up a career as a stock broker on Wall Street. Likewise, one could affirm themselves a member of a political party, but if they disagreed with the majority of that party’s platforms, disliked their candidates, and lived in a manner that thwarted that party’s agenda, one would surely be justified in rejecting their claimed adherence to that political party. Or what about a Vegan who owned a chain of burger joints and daily feasted on ¼ pound cheeseburgers?

 

Of course, the issue is complicated by the fact that often people declare that they are Christians but then do things that are diametrically opposed to the character and word of the Lord Jesus Christ. One thinks of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and in the more modern scene, the twisted theologies of certain white supremacist groups. Yet for all of these egregious abuses of the term “Christian” the standard remains the same: does their behavior agree with what the Lord taught in the Scriptures? As Christ said: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32.)

 

Imperfectly Reflecting Our Lord

 

It is true that a genuine Christian will not always accurately represent their Lord. Believers are the first to point to their own failings and their ongoing struggle with sin. As the Bible describes this ongoing conflict: the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh” (Gal 5:17.) Having said that, the overall course of a Christians’ life ought to exhibit the fact that they are “new creatures in Christ Jesus” (2 Cor. 5:17.) If they do not exhibit fruits of righteousness then they and others might well question the reality of their profession. ii

 

The Lord Jesus taught that His followers would eschew violence in the advancement of His kingdom. He commanded them to love their enemies, to do good to their persecutors, and to patiently bear suffering without retaliation. In all of these things, He is the great exemplar, as 1 Pet. 2:21-23 says:

 

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

 

This recent Norwegian terrorist deserves the term Christian about as much as Attila the Hun deserves the designation of a pacifist. Terminology is important. Only those who possess a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus have the right to call themselves Christians; they demonstrate a life that is consistent with His will and teachings (2 Tim. 2:19.) To non-believers I say: read the gospels to see what a real Christian is; to believers: let us walk with our Lord in humility in such a way that men will see our good deeds and glorify our Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16.)

i Tim Challies has a worthwhile post on this topic, see here: http://www.challies.com/articles/pondering-norways-darkest-hour

ii To consider evidence for the reality of one’s possession of eternal life, the author recommends the reader read 1 John.

Classic Expositions From The Past: “Come; Take; Learn” by Hamilton Smith

Monday, April 4th, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD THE ARTICLE IN PDF., CLICK HERE:  Come, Take, Learn – H. Smith

“Come”; “Take”; “Learn”
Matthew 11: 25-30

There are certain passages in the Word of God that are especially endeared to the hearts of all
that love our Lord Jesus, inasmuch as they very definitely set forth the loveliness of Christ.
Among such portions we may well include the six closing verses of Matthew 11, for in these
verses we see the perfection of Christ shining out in one of the darkest moments of His earthly
pathway.
The passage opens with the words, “At that time.” We may well pause to enquire, what was
“that time”? The preceding chapters bring before us the Lord’s ministry in the midst of Israel. He
had presented Himself in all the glory of His Person as Emmanuel — God with us — cleansing
the leper with a touch, healing the centurion’s servant with a word, and commanding the demons
to depart (8). He had revealed the grace of His heart in forgiving sins, in sitting down to eat with
sinners, in raising the dead, opening the eyes of the blind, and in making the dumb to speak. He
had revealed the tender love of His heart by suffering in His spirit the sorrows that He took away
by His power, and had expressed His compassions for those who were scattered abroad as sheep
having no shepherd. He had shown the lowly grace of His heart by entering the humble home of
a fisherman, by preaching the gospel to the poor, and by becoming so poor that He had nowhere
to lay His head.
What response did the nation give to the One who expressed His grace by becoming poor in
order to show forth His love and power on behalf of sinful men in relieving them of every sorrow
and pressure, even of death itself?
Alas! Some besought Him to depart; others said “This man blasphemeth.” Again there were
those who laughed Him to scorn; others said He was a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber. The
leaders said “He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” They insulted Him, defamed
Him, and thus speaking and acting against Him, they fulfilled His own touching words, “They
have rewarded Me evil for good, and hatred for my love” (Ps. 109: 5). It thus becomes clear that
“that time” was the time of His utter rejection by the nation of Israel.
This then was the answer the nation gave to all His love and grace. But what answer did the
Lord give to all the insults and scorn that men heaped upon Him? Did He assert His sovereign
rights, and fall back upon His royal power by which He could have silenced every opposer and
crushed every foe? He had, indeed, warned the nation of the judgment that would overtake them,
but He utters no word of resentment, He uses no threats, He is not moved to any act of revenge.
In like spirit, a little later, in the last closing scenes, in the presence of false witnesses, “Jesus
held His peace.” Before Pilate, when accused by the chief priests, “He answered him to never a
word”; and yet again, before the mocking Herod, “He answered him nothing.”
If then He was silent, if He took no revenge upon His enemies, was it that He had no resource?
Far from it; but His resource was not to vilify His enemies and turn upon His foes, but to turn to
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the Father in prayer. As He can say, “For my love they are my adversaries; but I give myself
unto prayer” (Ps. 109: 4). So Peter can write of the Lord, in his Epistle, “Who when He was
reviled, reviled not again: when He suffered He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him
that judgeth righteously.” The answer then to all the insults men heaped upon Him is seen in the
threefold perfection that it called forth from the Lord.
First, “that time” brought to light His perfect and unshaken confidence in the Father’s love. He
finds His resource in turning in prayer to the Father — the One who loves Him, and who has all
power as the Lord of heaven and earth. No circumstances, however terrible, are allowed for one
moment to call in question the Father’s love, or the power of the Lord of heaven and earth. Nor
does the Lord turn to the Father, calling for revenge upon His enemies, but with thanks that, in
spite of all the hatred and opposition of men and devils, divine love and divine power are
carrying out the Father’s purposes. These counsels of love pass by those who by their wisdom
know not God, and proclaim the gospel to the poor who have no resources, and make known the
Father to the babes who make no pretension.
Moreover, a second great perfection comes to light. With perfect confidence in the Father’s love
and power, the Lord perfectly submits to the Father’s will. Thus He can say, “Even so Father: for
so it seemed good in Thy sight.” If carrying out the Father’s will entails the hatred and scorn of
men, He will submit. A little later, Peter, in his fleshly zeal, may draw a sword to resist those
who oppose His Master; but, the Lord, Himself, can say, “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the
cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it”? (John 18: 11).
Furthermore, the sorrowful circumstances bring into prominence a third perfection of the Lord,
for He can say, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” In perfect meekness He gave way rather than
assert His rights, and in perfect lowliness He refused to exalt Himself. As He passed through this
world he ignored self in order to serve others in love.
Thus the darkest moment of His pathway becomes the occasion of bringing into display the
moral excellencies of Christ, as seen in His perfect confidence in the Father’s love; His perfect
submission to the Father’s will, and the meekness and lowliness of heart that could think of
everything, and everyone but self.
Thus, in a threefold way the loveliness of Christ shines forth. If, however, we are to profit by
Christ as our perfect pattern it will not be enough to admire His excellencies, we must also give
heed to His three exhortations: First, “Come unto Me”; Secondly, “Take my yoke,” and, Thirdly,
“Learn of Me.”
“Come unto Me.” Israel’s rejection of Christ cannot stay the grace of God: indeed, it becomes
the occasion for that grace to flow out to all, Jew and Gentile alike. Therefore the Lord can say,
“Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden.” However great the burden of sins we are
welcome to come, even as the woman who was a sinner found in the house of Simon, and as a
poor thief found when nailed on a cross. As another has written, it is as if the Lord said, “If you
are a poor woman, not fit to face any of your fellow creatures, come to Me; I will have you, trust
Me: if you are hanging on a cross for your crimes, you shall go up today with Me to paradise.
My blood is enough to put your crimes away: my heart is open to receive you.” Weary with our
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vain efforts to meet our condition, and burdened with our sins, how good to hear His words of
love, “Come unto Me,” and, in His presence, discover that He knows the worst about us, and yet
He loves us. Then to learn that loving us He has died for us, and that the holy God is so satisfied
with what Christ has done that He has raised Him from the dead and seated Him in the glory, and
that the one that believes in Him is justified from all things, and is as clear of the judgment that
his sins deserve as Christ, Himself, in the glory. Thus it is He brings peace to the conscience, and
we realise the truth of His words, “I will give you rest.”
“Take My yoke.” The yoke implies service taken up in submission to the will of another. With
our natural tendency to self-importance we may seek to be among the Lord’s people as those that
rule and exercise lordship, but He could say, “1 am among you as He that serveth.” Moreover, it
is not service according to our own wills, or doing what we think best; but service according to
His thoughts and in obedience to His will. It is not simply “a yoke” that we are asked to take, but
“His yoke.” Coming to Him as needy sinners He will give us rest; taking His yoke as believers
we shall find rest. Martha, who served the Lord according to her thoughts was distracted and
“cumbered about much serving.”
“Learn of Me.” If, then, our service is to be according to His will and pleasure we shall need to
remember the Lord’s third great exhortation, “Learn of Me.” This involves, not only that we
learn the service He would have us to take up, but that we learn His blessed character, so that we
not only do the right thing, but we do it in the right spirit. Therefore the Lord’s desire is first, that
we should take up His service in submitting to His yoke; secondly, that we should exhibit His
character as the One Who is “meek and lowly in heart.”
We can learn of one another; we can learn by the prayerful study of the word; but to learn of
Him implies that we are in His presence and keep His company. As the Lord could say a little
later, “If any man serve Me, let him follow Me” (John 12: 26). It is not, indeed, that He will give
us any fresh revelation beyond that which is made known to us in the word; but, in His presence
we learn the blessed reality of all that the word reveals. Paul can write to Timothy, “Consider
what 1 say: and the Lord will give thee understanding” (2 Tim. 2: 7). An Apostle may be used to
reveal the truth, but the Lord alone can give understanding of the truth revealed. It is good indeed
to have the doctrine set forth with all the authority of God’s written word; but good, also, when
the written word turns us to the living Word to see the truth set forth in all its perfection in HIM.
In His Person there is brought before us, in a way that must deeply affect us, all the moral
excellencies and spiritual graces that marked every step of His path of devoted service. We look
up to Him in the glory as our object and our hope, but we look back to His perfect pathway to
learn in Him the spirit that should mark His people as they pass through this world. In Him we
see our perfect example, for He was “meek and lowly in heart.” It is still possible, like Mary of
old, to sit at His feet and hear His word, and learning of Him we shall catch something of His
spirit and express something of His lovely character. It has been truly said, “There is so much
Christian service in the world which lacks true strength and beauty, because it stands too little
connected with the source of all service, with Christ Himself, and is too little founded on the
word of God. There are so many believers who like Martha, are busied about many things, but
alas! have neither the desire, nor quietness enough, to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His
precious word. To spend an hour alone with the Lord would be to them far more difficult than to
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labour the whole day about all sorts of things. And whence comes this? It demands a far more
spiritual mind to tarry in His presence than to be occupied with service. In the latter even nature
can find some satisfaction, while in His presence it must be entirely set aside.”
Furthermore, if we learn of Him, we shall not only take up His service in His spirit, but, in the
presence of all the sorrows and trials of life, the desertions and disappointments, the insults and
malice we may have to meet, we shall act as He acted. We shall not allow any of these things to
call in question the Father’s love, but, like Christ, we shall make them the occasion of turning to
the Father in prayer, of confiding in the Father’s love, and submitting to the Father’s will. In the
spirit of meekness we shall be quiet in the presence of every insult. With the lowly mind we shall
refuse to exalt self and seek, rather, to ignore self while seeking to serve others in love. Thus
acting like the Master we shall find rest to our souls.
Then seek to please Him, whatsoever He bids thee,
Whether to do, to suffer, or be still;
‘Twill matter little by what path He leads us,
If in it all we sought to do His will.
Taken from: http://stempublishing.com/magazines/OSW/51-60/osw52e.html Accessed on
4/1/11.

 

Guest Post by Rebekah Tidball: A Conversation Between Christian & Tolerance

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

An allegory.

Conversation Between Tolerance and Christian
Christian: Tolerance, I have some questions for you.
Tolerance: Dear Christian, I have been expecting you.
Christian: You have?
Tolerance: Of course. I knew you would come around sometime.
Christian: Well Tolerance, can you tell me why so many think us Christians are intolerant?
Tolerance: I’d be happy to. They think that because you are.
Christian: How can I become more tolerant then?
Tolerance: It’s quite simple really. And you will be accepted and loved by others if you just follow a few simple guidelines.
Christian: That doesn’t sound so bad.
Tolerance: Christian, it is wonderful. First of all, no more saying there is only one way to do things. People don’t like that. It’s offensive and intolerant.
Christian: But the Bible says…
Tolerance: Wait. That’s another thing right there. No more talk about the Bible. We’ve done well with our tolerance movement and have even convinced some Christians to get rid of their Bible’s and no longer read them even in church. The Bible is offensive, Christian, and it is not tolerant.
Christian: I see.
Tolerance: Yes. See my master has made sure that we have been successful in whispering in the ears of top leaders and politicians to make sure people are more tolerant overall. It’s the only right way.
Christian: And who is your master?
Tolerance: We’ll get into that later. To be more tolerant you need to stop telling people about sin and that they are wrong. It’s a chosen lifestyle. Not sin. Sin is way too harsh of a word. Christian, I only want the best for you. And using words like sin and wrong will not make you any friends.
Christian: I think…
Tolerance: Hold it. See, you need to stop with all the thinking. That’s where you get into trouble. Don’t think. As a matter of fact we have made sure that people are starting to stop thinking for themselves. Do you know there are even directions on how to eat a marshmallow? Look at the back of the bag. We will tell you what is o.k. and what is not o.k. A lifestyle choice is all right. What you want to believe and what you want to think is right and wrong and what works for you is officially in.
Christian: Seems broad.
Tolerance: Exactly. See, now you are getting it. Broaden your world views and be more open instead of being intolerant.
Christian: I think I understand.
Tolerance: Good. It doesn’t have to be major changes. Not at first. Take things slow and compromise little by little. You will feel enlightened and at peace.
Christian: I have a question, Tolerance. Why is it that we have to be tolerant of all beliefs and all people but no one wants to be tolerant of Christians?
Tolerance: See, there you go thinking again. The problem with Christians is they are intolerant. They think they know what is right and wrong and everyone is incorrect. Sad really.
Christian: But the Bible says…
Tolerance: Remember Christian, the Bible is not at all tolerant. You should get rid of yours. Quickly.
Christian: I’m getting this. I understand.
Tolerance: Good. I knew you would. People will like you and you will be accepted the more tolerant you become.
Christian: So to be more tolerant I need to accept all beliefs and stop thinking there is such a thing as right and wrong. I need to believe that everyone chooses for themselves what is right. How’s that?
Tolerance: My master would be pleased.
Christian: Who is this master you are talking about?
Tolerance: He has many names. Don’t worry about it.
Christian: O.k. so in addition to accepting all things I need to stop believing my Bible?
Tolerance: Absolutely. That Jesus character was above all people intolerant and look what happened to Him! You don’t want to be hated like he was do you? You don’t want to be killed or even jailed for intolerance, do you, dear Christian?
Christian: Hmm.
Tolerance: Seems like an easy answer to me.
Christian: So to be more tolerant I need to forget about Jesus and all He stood for. Forget right and wrong. And I need to compromise.
Tolerance: Compromise. Yes. I love that word.
Christian: I need to compromise my faith, my beliefs, and above all compromise on the Word of God?
Tolerance: Yes.
Christian: Seems to me, Tolerance, that telling me what I believe is wrong, by telling me the Bible is intolerant and offensive, by telling me I can’t say others are wrong and sinful and by telling me I must compromise; is well….intolerant.
Tolerance: Poor Christian, so deceived.
Christian: You never told me who your master is.
Tolerance: Let’s just say he is very powerful, he has the ear of many politicians and world leaders and thankfully even church leaders.
Christian: I think we are at a standstill, Tolerance, because I am just not willing to compromise here. You see I believe the Bible is the true Word of God. I believe being right doesn’t mean you’ll be liked or popular. I believe there is a right way and a wrong way.
Tolerance: You are intolerant, Christian. It’s displeasing.
Christian: Displeasing? To whom? Your master? I think I know who your master is, Tolerance, and I would be more than happy not to please him. In fact if being tolerant means pleasing him then I want to be the opposite.
Tolerance: People will not like you, Christian. We are working hard to make laws against you and your intolerance and we are working very hard to make these laws applicable even in your churches. We are watching what you do and what you say. Be assured, being intolerant will get you in hot water.
Christian: The more I talk to you the more I am o.k. with that.
Tolerance: You will be left to stand alone in your hard and intolerant beliefs…….…Christian, why are you smiling?
Christian: Because I know the uncompromised truth.
Tolerance: And what is that?
Christian: I never have to stand alone. If all the world forsakes me and decides I am too intolerant then I know I will not stand alone because God will always be with me.
Tolerance: So you say. I think it’s time for me to go. I have a busy schedule ahead. My master and I are always hard at work.
Christian: I have to go too. I have something important to do.
Tolerance: An appointment or something, Christian?
Christian: I need no appointment for where I am going. If what you say is true Tolerance then I am going to my knees.
Tolerance: Prayer you mean?
Christian: Yes.
Tolerance: Oh brother. That won’t do much. If you disagree with me that much then get out there and protest and make a fuss. Make a big spectacle of yourself and defend yourself!
Christian: No thanks. I don’t have to. When the time comes to defend myself, and it may come, then I trust that the Lord will speak through me.
Tolerance: I’m out of here. I have business to do.
Christian: Thank you, Tolerance, for your time. I’m going to my knees now.
Rebekah Tidball
March 16, 2010

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF., CLICK ON THIS LINK: Christian & Tolerance