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On 1 Corinthians 7:14 “as it is they [the children] are holy”

For the unbelieving husband is set apart for God by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is set apart for God by the husband. Otherwise your children would be corrupt, but now they are set apart for God. (1 Corinthians 7:14 HCSB)

Most Bible versions translate hagios here to “holy” which is correct, except that it results in some interpreting the word in some salvific or new-covenant-inclusive sense by some paedobaptists, but I think the HCSB’s rendering of “set apart” alludes to the correct understanding. The reason is this: The children are not made holy in the sense of being saved from the wrath to come. They are not justified. The only way that a child could be holy in a justified sense is according to the Scriptures, which is by their own faith, not because of the faith of their believing parent(s). So it follows that “holy” here means something other than faith. One common understanding shared by some, including John Calvin, is that “holy” here is in the context of a lawful marriage.

This understanding is further buttressed by the fact that the unbelieving husband is also made holy. There are at least two points to be gleaned here. First, if “holy” here means justification, then it follows that one may be justified without believing, or to put it more plainly, that there is such a thing as a justified unbeliever. We know from other perspicuous passages that this is not the case. The second point is that if Paul means that unbelievers are made holy/justified by their believing spouses, then a Christian marrying an unbeliever should be accepted, because the unbeliever would become a believer by virtue of their marriage. But we know this is not the case. In verse 16, Paul says plainly that the husband is not saved. Additionally, Paul teaches that unbelievers are not saved through marriage when he asks “what fellowship has light with darkness?” So an unbeliever married to a Christian is still an unbeliever, though Paul says that in some way he is “holy.” It follows then that the unbeliever is not holy in a justified sense, but rather in some other way. The conclusion then is this: just as an unbelieving spouse is not made “holy” in the sense of justification or membership in Christ’s covenant, neither are unbelieving children. Calvin’s commentary on the passage is a more feasible solution.

For further support, again we see Paul using the term “holy” in a similar manner a few verses later when he writes,

There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:34)

Again, Paul is contrasting someone who is “holy” and someone who is not. But in this case both persons are believers, so Paul cannot mean “holy” in the sense of justified, but rather he means “set apart,” as I believe he also meant in 7:14.

The late Greek scholar A.T. Robertson also offers a helpful interpretation in agreement with Calvin,

7:14 Is sanctified in the wife [hēgiastai en tēi gunaiki]. Perfect passive indicative of [hagiazō], to set apart, to hallow, to sanctify. Paul does not, of course, mean that the unbelieving husband is saved by the faith of the believing wife, though Hodge actually so interprets him. Clearly he only means that the marriage relation is sanctified so that there is no need of a divorce. If either husband or wife is a believer and the other agrees to remain, the marriage is holy and need not be set aside. This is so simple that one wonders at the ability of men to get confused over Paul’s language. Else were your children unclean [epei ara ta tekna akatharta]. The common ellipse of the condition with [epei]: “since, accordingly, if it is otherwise, your children are illegitimate [akatharta].” If the relations of the parents be holy, the child’s birth must be holy also (not illegitimate). “He is not assuming that the child of a Christian parent would be baptized; that would spoil rather than help his argument, for it would imply that the child was not [hagios] till it was baptized. The verse throws no light on the question of infant baptism” (Robertson and Plummer).

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Can a Christian man be a stay-at-home husband or a SAHH?

In this post I offer some arguments to consider the topic of stay at home husbands and attempt to answer one objection I encountered.

The objection is this: Isn’t it true that there are other means of husbands providing for their families? Why then is financial support necessarily a function the husband should fulfill? Can’t the husband provide for his household as a stay-at-home husband and father?

It is certainly true that there are many ways to provide for one’s family, but I think the question we are dealing with here is, is it biblical for the wife to function as the primary financial support, while the husband stays at home and functions as the primary manager of the household? Another way of asking this is, Does the financial support role carry more weight than other roles, such that it should be assigned primarily to the husband, the head of the household? I think the answer to the first question is no and second yes. Let me offer some arguments to consider.

The first argument I have is this: That in our culture, financial support is the primary means by which a family is provided its most basic needs. I think we can all agree that without monetary resources, a family cannot survive. Every necessary provision, including clothing, food, and shelter require money to acquire these needs.

Other contributory functions such as teaching or food preparation are also critical for a family’s well-being, but these tasks are not essential for providing basic life needs. While very important, a family could survive without them. A family cannot, however, survive without food or clothing or shelter. Teaching and food preparation do little good if the family is struggling with starvation or exposure. Biblically speaking, I think we see this illustrated in Proverbs. For example:

The one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty. Proverbs 28:18-20

Here Solomon acknowledges that it is only by working that the basic need of food is provided. No work. No eat. Reading this in tandem with the understanding that the husband is primarily responsible for well-being of his family, I would argue that biblically the task of working to eat falls primarily to the husband.

Consider also this as a supportive passage,

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:28-31 ESV)

Here the argument is that if the husband, not the wife, is to love and nourish his spouse as part of his own body, the husband is responsible for provision, not the wife. The head, the husband, provides for the body, of which the wife is part. The body does not provide for the head, but rather the head for the body, while providing nourishment and delegating responsibility to the other parts, provides protection of the whole of the body. How can the head nourish the body by asking the body to nourish both itself and the head? Likewise, how can the husband nourish his wife by asking her to function in the primary role of protector and provider of basic needs? I would argue that in the latter scenario, the roles are unnaturally reversed.

So to me the question then is this, should the head of the household, the husband, the stronger vessel, put this heavier and more critical responsibility on the shoulders of the helpmeet, the wife, who is the weaker vessel? If God charges the husband as the protector/superintendent (proistēmi in 1 Timothy 3) of his family, does he fulfill his God-given calling to require of his wife the primary role which most protects and provides for his family’s basic needs? In this role the wife, not the husband, becomes the primary protector and caregiver of her family. If she loses her job, the family’s survival, at its most basic level, is at stake. To me it is clear then, that in these roles, the husband is no longer serving as the primary protector and caregiver of his family, because the survival of his family at its most basic level is primarily dependent upon the wife.

Consider also the instructions given in 1 Timothy 3 and 5:

In 1 Timothy 3 husbands are charged to proistēmi their households. In 1 Timothy 5 women are charged to oikodespoteō. These are two different words and two different meanings. The first means “rule, protect, care for, and superintend.” The second means more “to rule or manage the family affairs.” One role is subject to the other. Both share aspects of management, but only one superintends. The husband is specifically charged in chapter 3 with the superintendence, protection, and care of his family. The wife is charged with the management of family affairs, under the superintendence of her husband. How can a husband function as the primary protector and caregiver if his family’s protection is dependent upon his wife’s employment? If then the protection of one’s family is dependent on the wife and not the husband, then I would argue that it is the wife that is primarily protecting the family, not the husband.

A few thoughts on 1 Timothy 5:3-8:

To me it seems that the primary charge to provide for the widow is to the children or grandchildren. This verse does not seem to be specifically addressing the idea of a husband supporting his family financially. Rather, it speaks of children or grandchildren providing for their widowed mothers, and it also seems to teach that members of a household must provide for one another as they are able. But then Paul shifts a bit to talk in the context of households, which in the context of other Scriptures, we know are to be ordered in a specific way. Who is primarily responsible for household provisions? It cannot be the children of the household, nor the wife, who are the weaker vessels. The overall responsibility then falls to the husband, the stronger vessel. The head of the household. Others can help out as necessary, but this too is done under the guidance and leadership of the household’s head. The primary responsibility and accountability falls to him.

Another clue we find here is with regard to Paul’s instructions for widow care. All references to the unmarried in need are always specific to women without a husband. There is no instruction in Scripture for the care of widowers. Why is this? I believe this is because the responsibility of care and provision primarily falls on the man, the head of the household, and if a man is a widower, he is still the head of his household. A man is expected to work if he is able, as Paul explained to the brothers at Thessalonica when he wrote, “For even when we were with you [brothers], we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 ESV)

Again, Paul charges the men, not the women, with the responsibility of working quietly and earning their own living. This does not mean that a woman is in sin if she conducts business in the household, or even if there is a temporary season where the circumstances require the woman to be the primary provider of income. This may be necessary for the family’s survival when the husband is injured or temporarily unemployed. But the husband, as the head, protector, and stronger vessel should feel the weight of that responsibility on him, to get better or find a new job as soon as possible, because God has charged him with the role of protector and caregiver of his wife, who is to be cared for and nourished as part of his own body.

Again, this does not mean that a wife cannot do business or help make ends meet. In some cases, she might even bring in more money than her husband. Proverbs 31 clearly provides an example of a noble and virtuous woman who does a great deal of business and earns income for her family, but notice that the passage does not teach that she is the primary caregiver and protector. Even with women of exceptional entrepreneurial talents, the wife should be able to fall back on the husband should her endeavors fail. If the wife cannot fall back on her husband, then I believe that the husband is not biblically fulfilling his charge to protect and provide for his family’s basic needs.

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Aquinas: Should a Christian answer back to a reviler or mocker?

Whether one ought to suffer oneself to be reviled?

Objection 1: It would seem that one ought not to suffer oneself to be reviled. For he that suffers himself to be reviled, encourages the reviler. But one ought not to do this. Therefore one ought not to suffer oneself to be reviled, but rather reply to the reviler.

Objection 2: Further, one ought to love oneself more than another. Now one ought not to suffer another to be reviled, wherefore it is written (Prov. 26:10): “He that putteth a fool to silence appeaseth anger.” Therefore neither should one suffer oneself to be reviled.

Objection 3: Further, a man is not allowed to revenge himself, for it is said: “Vengeance belongeth to Me, I will repay” [*Heb. 10:30]. Now by submitting to be reviled a man revenges himself, according to Chrysostom (Hom. xxii, in Ep. ad Rom.): “If thou wilt be revenged, be silent; thou hast dealt him a fatal blow.” Therefore one ought not by silence to submit to reviling words, but rather answer back.

On the contrary, It is written (Ps. 37:13): “They that sought evils to me spoke vain things,” and afterwards (Ps. 37:14) he says: “But I as a deaf man, heard not; and as a dumb man not opening his mouth.”

I answer that, Just as we need patience in things done against us, so do we need it in those said against us. Now the precepts of patience in those things done against us refer to the preparedness of the mind, according to Augustine’s (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 19) exposition on our Lord’s precept, “If one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other” [*The words as quoted by St. Thomas are a blending of Mat. 5:39 and Lk. 6:29]: that is to say, a man ought to be prepared to do so if necessary. But he is not always bound to do this actually: since not even did our Lord do so, for when He received a blow, He said: “Why strikest thou Me?” (Jn. 18:23). Consequently the same applies to the reviling words that are said against us. For we are bound to hold our minds prepared to submit to be reviled, if it should be expedient. Nevertheless it sometimes behooves us to withstand against being reviled, and this chiefly for two reasons. First, for the good of the reviler; namely, that his daring may be checked, and that he may not repeat the attempt, according to Prov. 26:5, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he imagine himself to be wise.” Secondly, for the good of many who would be prevented from progressing in virtue on account of our being reviled. Hence Gregory says (Hom. ix, Super Ezech.): “Those who are so placed that their life should be an example to others, ought, if possible, to silence their detractors, lest their preaching be not heard by those who could have heard it, and they continue their evil conduct through contempt of a good life.”

Reply to Objection 1: The daring of the railing reviler should be checked with moderation, i.e. as a duty of charity, and not through lust for one’s own honor. Hence it is written (Prov. 26:4): “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be like him.”

Reply to Objection 2: When one man prevents another from being reviled there is not the danger of lust for one’s own honor as there is when a man defends himself from being reviled: indeed rather would it seem to proceed from a sense of charity.

Reply to Objection 3: It would be an act of revenge to keep silence with the intention of provoking the reviler to anger, but it would be praiseworthy to be silent, in order to give place to anger. Hence it is written (Ecclus. 8:4): “Strive not with a man that is full of tongue, and heap not wood upon his fire.”

Source: Aquinas, Summa Theologica

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A helpful rebuttal to the paedobaptist argument that Luke uses “brephe” (often translated “infant”) in chapter 18.

The Greek for infants, or babes, is usually brephe ; but even this word is sometimes applied to children that are not infants. Thus, Luke, in his narrative of this transaction, once uses the term (v. 15) in the same way as paidia, —rendered in our Version by “infants”. Here, however, the fact that Luke, in all other places in the passage, employs the word paidia, as is done in every case in Matthew and Mark, shows that children older than infants are meant; just as, in 2 Tim. 3:15, we read of Timothy, that ” from a child” (apo brephous) he was ” acquainted with the Scriptures” ; where brephos quite clearly does not mean a babe, or infant.

The manner in which the Evangelists narrate this transaction, proves beyond question, that the children spoken of were not infants but young growing children, capable, not only of walking, but of understanding speech. All three of the Evangelists represent our Lord as saying “forbid them not to come” elthein, erchesthai, —not, to be brought which idea would have been expressed by prosenecthenai, — evidently implying that the children could walk. And even more than this is said ; for Luke,—the very Evangelist who uses brephein one place, as we have seen,—says expressly, “Jesus called* [proskalesamenos having called ; showing that the children are addressed in person] them unto him.”

The word brephos is applied in a number of places in the Greek Classics to children capable of intelligent action. Theocritus (who nourished 272 B. C.) uses it of a boy who was old enough to understand what his mother was saying about his father (Idyl 15,1.14). Moschus (fl. 154 B. C.) applies it to the (“runaway” Cupid (Idyl 1, 1. 11). Anacreon (fl. 559 B. C.) does the same, several times, in his Ode to Eros (Ode 4). Bee also Lucian, Toxaris, 26; and the Palatine Anthology, 7, 632. Other examples might he cited. For those here given, the Author is indebted to the research of his friend, Geo. Wyndham, Esq., of New Orleans. Source: History of the Early Baptists From The Beginning of the Gospel To the Rise of Affusion As Baptism, And Of Infant Baptism by William Cecil Duncan – January 1, 1857 (p. 145)

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Luther’s Disputation Against Scholastic Theology

1. To say that Augustine exaggerates in speaking against heretics is to say that Augustine tells lies almost everywhere. This is contrary to common knowledge.

2. This is the same as permitting Pelagians and all heretics to triumph, indeed, the same as conceding victory to them.

3. It is the same as making sport of the authority of all doctors of theology.

4. It is therefore true that man, being a bad tree, can only will and do evil [cf. Matt 7,17-18].

5. It is false to state that man’s inclination is free to choose between either of two opposites. Indeed, the inclination is not free, but captive. This is said in opposition to common opinion.

6. It is false to state that the will can by nature conform to correct precept. This is said in opposition to [Duns] Scotus and Gabriel [Biel].

7. As a matter of fact, without the grace of God the will produces an act that is perverse and evil.

8. It does not, however, follow that the will is by nature evil, that is, essentially evil, as the Manicheans maintain.

9. It is nevertheless innately and inevitably evil and corrupt.

10. One must concede that the will is not free to strive toward whatever is declared good. This is in opposition to Scotus and Gabriel.

11. Nor is it able to will or not to will whatever is prescribed.

12. Nor does one contradict St. Augustine when one says that nothing is so much in the power of the will as the will itself.

13. It is absurd to conclude that erring man can love the creature above all things, therefore also God. This is in opposition to Scotus and Gabriel.

14. Nor is it surprising that the will can conform to erroneous and not to correct precept.

15. Indeed, it is peculiar to it that it can only conform to erroneous and not to correct precept.

16. One ought rather to conclude: since erring man is able to love the creature it is impossible for him to love God.

17. Man is by nature unable to want God to be God. Indeed, he himself wants to be God, and does not want God to be God.

18. To love God above all things by nature is a fictitious term, a chimera, as it were. This is contrary to common teaching.

19. Nor can we apply the reasoning of Scotus concerning the brave citizen who loves his country more than himself.

20. An act of friendship is done, not according to nature, but according to prevenient grace. This is in opposition to Gabriel.

21. No act is done according to nature that is not an act of concupiscence against God.

22. Every act of concupiscence against God is evil and a fornication of the spirit.

23. Nor is it true that an act of concupiscence can be set aright by the virtue of hope. This is in opposition to Gabriel.

24. For hope is not contrary to charity, which seeks and desires only that which is of God.

25. Hope does not grow out of merits, but out of suffering which destroys merits. This is in opposition to the opinion of many.

26. An act of friendship is not the most perfect means for accomplishing that which is in one. Nor is it the most perfect means for obtaining the grace of God or turning toward and approaching God.

27. But it is an act of conversion already perfected, following grace both in time and by nature.

28. If it is said of the Scripture passages, “Return to me, . . . and I will return to you” [Zech 1,3], “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” [Jas 4,8], “Seek and you will find” [Matt 7,7], “You will seek me and find me” [Jer 29,13], and the like, that one is by nature, the other by grace, this is no different from asserting what the Pelagians have said.

29. The best and infallible preparation for grace and the sole disposition toward grace is the eternal election and predestination of God.

30. On the part of man, however, nothing precedes grace except indisposition and even rebellion against grace.

31. It is said with the idlest demonstrations that the predestined can be damned individually but not collectively. This is in opposition to the scholastics.

32. Moreover, nothing is acheived by the following saying: Predestination is necessary by virtue of the consequence of God’s willing, but not of what actually followed, namely, that God had to elect a certain person.

33. And this is false, that doing all that one is able to do can remove the obstacles to grace. This is in opposition to several authorities.

34. In brief, man by nature has neither correct precept nor good will.

35. It is not true that an invincible ignorance excuses one completely (all scholastics notwithstanding);

36. For ignorance of God and oneself and good work is always invincible to nature.

37. Nature, moreover, inwardly and necessarily glories and takes pride in every work which is apparently and outwardly good.

38. There is no moral virtue without either pride or sorrow, that is, without sin.

39. We are not masters of our actions, from beginning to end, but servants. This is in opposition to the philosophers.

40. We do not become righteous by doing righteous deeds but, having been made rightous, we do righteous deeds. This in opposition to the philosophers.

41. Virtually the entire Ethics of Aristotle is the worst enemy of grace. This is in opposition to the scholastics.

42. It is an error to maintain that Aristotle’s statement concerning happiness does not contradict Catholic doctrine. This is in opposition to the doctrine on morals.

43. It is an error to say that no man can become a theologian without Aristotle. This is in opposition to common opinion.

44. Indeed, no one can become a theologian unless he becomes one without Aristotle.

45. To state that a theologian who is not a logician is a monstruous heretic–this is a monstruous and heretical statement. This is in opposition to common opinion.

46. In vain does one fashion a logic of faith, a substitution brought about without regard for limit and measure. This is in opposition to the the new dialecticians.

47. No syllogistic form is valid when applied to divine terms. This is in opposition to the Cardinal [Peter of Ailly].

48. Nevertheless it does not for that reason follow that the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity contradicts syllogistic forms. This is in opposition to the same new dialecticians and to the Cardinal.

49. If a syllogistic form of reasoning holds in divine matters, then a doctrine of the trinity is demonstrable and not the object of faith.

50. Briefly, the whole Aristotle is to theology as darkness is to light. This is in opposition to the scholastics.

51. It is very doubtful whether the Latins comprehended the correct meaning of Aristotle.

52. It would have been better for the church if Porphyry with his universals had not been born for the use of theologians.

53. Even the more useful definitions of Aristotle seem to beg the question.

54. For an act to be meritorious, either the presence of grace is sufficient, or its presence means nothing. This is in opposition to Gabriel.

55. The grace of God is never present in such a way that it is inactive, but it is a living, active and operative spirit; nor can it happen that through the absolute power of God an act of friendship may be present without the presence of the grace of God. This is in opposition to Gabriel.

56. It is not true that God can accept man without his justifying grace. This is in opposition to Ockham.

57. It is dangerous to say that the law commands that an act of obeying the commandment be done in the grace of God. This in opposition to the Cardinal and Gabriel.

58. From this it would follow that “to have the grace of God” is actually a new demand going beyond the law.

59. It would also follow that fulfilling the law can take place without the grace of God.

60. Likewise it follows that the grace of God would be more hateful than the law itself.

61. It does not follow that the law should be complied with and fulfilled in the grace of God. This is in opposition to Gabriel.

62. And that therefore he who is outside the grace of God sins incessantly, even when he does not kill, commit adultery, or become angry.

63. But it follows that he sins because he does not spiritually fulfill the law.

64. Spiritually that person does not kill, does not do evil, does not become enraged when he neither becomes angry nor lusts.

65. Outside the grace of God it is indeed impossible not to become angry or lust, so that not even in grace is it possible to fulfill the law perfectly.

66. It is the righteousness of the hypocrit actually and outwardly not to kill, do evil, etc.

67. It is by the grace of God that one does not lust or become enraged.

68. Therefore it is impossible to fulfill the law in any way without the grace of God.

69. As a matter of fact, it is more accurate to say that the law is destroyed by nature without the grace of God.

70. A good law will of necessity be bad for the natural will.

71. Law and will are two implacable foes without the grace of God.

72. What the law wants, the will never wants, unless it pretends to want it out of fear or love.

73. The law, as taskmaster of the will, will not be overcome except by the “child, who has been born to us” [Isa. 9,6].

74. The law makes sin abound because it irritates and repels the will [Rom 7,13].

75. The grace of God, however, makes justice abound through Jesus Christ because it causes one to be pleased with the law.

76. Every deed of the law without the grace of God appears good outwardly, but inwardly it is sin. This is in opposition to the scholastics.

77. The will is always averse to, and the hands inclined toward, the law of the Lord without the grace of God.

78. The will which is inlined toward the law without the grace of God is so inclined by reason of its own advantage.

79. Condemned are all those who do the works of the law.

80. Blessed are all those who do the works of the grace of God.

81. Chapter Falsas concerning penance, dist. 5, confirms the fact that works outside the realm of grace are not good, if this is not understood falsely.

82. Not only are the religious ceremonials not the good law and the precepts in which one does not live (in opposition to many teachers);

83. But even the Decalogue itself and all that can be taught and prescribed inwardly and outwardly is not good law either.

84. The good law and that in which one lives is the love of God, spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

85. Anyone’s will would prefer, if it were possible, that there would be no law and to be entirely free.

86. Anyone’s will hates it that the law should be imposed upon it; if, however, the will desires the imposition of the law it does so out of love of self.

87. Since law is good, the will, which is hostile to it, cannot be good.

88. And from this it is clear that everyone’s natural will is iniquitous and bad.

89. Grace as a mediator is necessary to reconcile the law with the will.

90. The grace of God is given for the purpose of directing the will, lest it err even in loving God. In opposition to Gabriel.

91. It is not given so that good deeds might be induced more frequently and readily, but because without it no act of love is performed. In opposition to Gabriel.

92. It cannot be denied love is superfluous if man is by nature able to do an act of friendship. In opposition to Gabriel.

93. There is a kind of subtle evil in teh argument that an act is at the same time the fruit and the use of the fruit. In opposition to Ockham, the Cardinal, Gabriel.

94. This holds true also of the saying that the love of God may continue alongside an intense love of the creature.

95. To love God is at the same time to hate oneself and to know nothing but God.

96. We must make our will conform in every respect to the will of God (in opposition to the Cardinal).

97. So that we not only will what God wills, but also ought to will whatever God wills.

In these statements we wanted to say and believe we have said anything [presumably translator means “nothing”] that that is not in agreement with the Catholic church and the teachers of the church.

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Fruit Of The Spirit: Peace

  • By peace it is only meant the peace that comes from God, that reconciles one with God. Righteousness. Sin and peace are opposites, just as sin and righteousness are opposites. Sin results in disharmony. The peace of righteousness results in harmony.
  • Peace that comes through the righteousness of God and living righteously. What happens when we live righteously?

    • We put a way the corrupting sins of the body and the mind.

      • Be not wise in your own eyes;
        fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
        It will be healing to your flesh
        and refreshment to your bones.
        (Proverbs 3:7-8 ESV)
      • A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
        but envy makes the bones rot.
        (Proverbs 14:30 ESV)

    • We are confidently at peace with God, knowing that we stand before Him righteous in Christ, seeing the work and presence of the Spirit  in us.

      • Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)

    • Our peace with God gives us a great calmness about our future and purpose.

      • You keep him in perfect peace
        whose mind is stayed on you,
        because he trusts in you.
        (Isaiah 26:3 ESV)

    • Our peace with God leads us to live peacefully with others. We seek peace with everyone. Avoid arguing, fighting. Seek harmony. Music.

      • Opposite is strife, rivalry, fits of anger, etc. (see earlier context of passage)

        • Their feet run to evil,
          and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
          their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
          desolation and destruction are in their highways.
          The way of peace they do not know,
          and there is no justice in their paths;
          they have made their roads crooked;
          no one who treads on them knows peace.
          (Isaiah 59:7-8 ESV)

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Christian Character Not Of the World

Why as a Christian I stopped caring (so much) about politics

There was a time not long ago when I cared a great deal about politics and government, but as I read the Scriptures and became more shaped by them, my understanding began to change. What I saw in Scripture was that Christians can influence governments peacefully, and in special cases, sometimes God places Christians in positions to influence their governments directly (Daniel, Joseph, and Esther come to mind). But I also saw that we are called not to strive or labor against earthly governments. Rather we are to labor solely for the kingdom of heaven, a spiritual kingdom of hearts. (Luke 17:20-21; Romans 14:17)

I began to ask myself, why would I strive to improve a world that is passing away? (1 John 2:17) Why would I strive to improve a world that hates me? (John 15:19) Why would I strive to improve a world in which I am not its citizen? (Philippians 3:20) Why would I set my mind on an earthly goal, when God commands me to set my mind on things above? (Colossians 3:1-2) Why would I fight in an earthly war, when I am enlisted by a heavenly king? (2 Timothy 2:4) As salt and light in the world, Christians can lawfully participate in government, (Romans 13:7) but this involvement should not consume or control, because such work is for a nation in which we are not citizens. Indeed, we are citizens of a greater nation, an unshakable nation that can never be defeated, a nation of heaven itself that will never pass away. The apostle Peter said, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10) God does not call us to toil and vigorously labor for a kingdom that is temporal and passing away. Rather, we labor as a holy nation for an eternal kingdom that will never end!

I began to realize that even if every single law were made perfectly just and fair, we would all still be sinners in need of a Savior, (Romans 3:23) and this world and its rulers would still pass away. (1 Corinthians 2:6) Even the most perfect government would still result in everyone outside of Christ incurring the judgment of God in hell. That is why Christians are called to something so much higher and greater than the improvement of worldly governments. Yes, we should promote justice and mercy within our government peacefully and without being vengeful, hateful, or idolatrous, but we must understand that this is not the primary calling of Christians. We are called to be a holy nation, a royal priesthood,  (1 Peter 2:9-10) set in vivid contrast to the worldly governments that God Himself has established. Why then would we strive with such vigor to change these governments, when God Himself is glorified by the contrast of His own design between the people of God and the lovers of this world? (Romans 9:21-23)

I have concluded then that all Christians should seek to influence their respective governments for good as a loving neighbor of those made in God’s image. We should do so wherever God grants a peaceful and lawful way to do so. Voting would be one example of this. However, as Scripture states, we are not to do this through resistance. We obey our government under all circumstances unless it asks us to do something that is against God’s law, because God’s law is above all governments.

Daniel is a good example of this. It is remarkable that God raised up Daniel with such powerful influence in the Babylonian government, yet Daniel did not strive to radically change the government. Why? Because Daniel himself understood that God was the one who set up the Babylonian government:

He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding; (Daniel 2:21)

Joseph and others recognized this as well, and they all sought to honor God by influencing others and promoting justice and mercy within their appointed roles. But they did so with a correct theology; a correct understanding that God Himself set up the governments in which they were employed. They did not strive against what God had ordained. They did not seek to Judaize their governments.

Likewise, Christians are not called to change earthly governments by might and force. Scripture teaches that Christians are to live in submission to the governments in which they are placed, because God Himself is the one who has set up those governments. (Romans 13:1ff.) I am reminded of the words of Christ when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36) Jesus says that we are not to fight for the kingdom of this world–not with guns, swords, or political parties. The kingdom of Jesus, the kingdom that Christians would claim to be a part of, is not from the world, says Jesus. Why then would we fight for a kingdom that not even Jesus is part of?

Our influence of government, then, I believe should happen as a byproduct of our obedience to God’s command to love our neighbors in every area of life, (Matthew 22:39) but it is not to be our chief objective, even momentarily. It should never control us or direct our thoughts and desires. We wrestle not with flesh and blood, (Ephesians 6:12) but we are fighting a spiritual battle within the hearts of men that are changed by the Spirit through the preaching of the gospel. (Romans 10:14-15, 17) Jesus instructs us to render to Caesar what is his, (Mark 12:17) and through Paul, God instructed us to pray for our leaders, (1 Timothy 1:1-2) not resist them, (Romans 13:2) so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives, minding our own business as foreigners in this life, (1 Peter 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) while we eagerly await our citizenship in the life to come. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Philippians 3:20-21)

As the author of Hebrews so perspicuously explains,

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

As those great people of faith have come before me, I am a stranger and exile on this earth. I have come out from the world in which I once lived. I do not wish to reform this land, because I am not from it. I am not from this world, but I am seeking a better one, my true homeland, with which the world has no part. I will never return to the land from which God graciously brought me out. It is a dying land, a land prepared for judgment and destruction. Rather I look forward to a better country, a heavenly one, a great city that God has prepared for all those who love Him, in which I will live forever and ever. That is the land for which I will labor.

Categories
Christian Character Holiness

Why Christians Should Pray For The Military

Recently I contacted a longtime friend and brother in the Lord who is currently a chaplain in the U.S. military. At the end of our conversation, I inquired about specific things I could be praying about. The first thing he said was, “Pray for the military leadership, that God would move their hearts like rivers of water to ensure that, as Chaplains, we may continue to minister the Gospel.” My brother fears that the end of evangelical military chaplains draws near.

In fact, Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote several days ago about about the increasing pressures that military chaplains face as homosexuality becomes normalized within society. Tom Carpenter, a PCUSA elder and co-chair of the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, believes that Southern Baptist chaplains have no choice but to resign from their stations if they are not able to follow in accordance with the homosexual-friendly policies of the U.S. military. His reason? Because military chaplains “have a duty not only to God, but also country” and also because “they are not salaried by the NAMB but by the American taxpayer.”

The sobering part of this story is this: Carpenter believes that if a chaplain views homosexuality as a sin, then he cannot serve his country. And this is one reason why Christians should pray, because I think as Mohler rightly points out, this mentality will seek to spread outside the military, especially since the broader context of government leadership is moving ever closer to classifying anti-homosexual speech as a hate crime.

But there is still hope, if the children of God in this country will pray for their leaders to do what is right and good. Christians should model the example given in Paul’s letter to Timothy,

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV)

The primary reason we are to pray for our leaders is this: That we as followers of Christ might follow our Savior in peacefulness and quietness, living godly and dignified lives. We are to pray on behalf of all people, both for the righteous and the unrighteous, including those who are in high positions. This is pleasing to God. There are several reasons for this:

First, praying for our leaders acknowledges trust in God as the ultimate Ruler of our country. Praying in such a way acknowledges that God, not men, sets up rulers of nations, both righteous and wicked. God is in control. God is sovereign. He rules over all the nations in His own perfect timing. Praying for our leaders confesses trust in God, rather than men. This pleases God greatly.

Second, praying for our leaders is an opportunity to love our enemies, even corrupt leaders who may not fear God. Remember that the Lord Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) Notice how Jesus put together both the practices of loving and praying for our enemies? This is important. In Romans 12, Paul elaborates further on loving one’s enemies,

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21 ESV)

Praying for our leaders is difficult at times, especially when they make foolish or selfish decisions. But it is important to realize that at the heart of grumbling about our leaders is often the sin of vengeance in the heart. When we set our hearts to love our enemies, we learn to trust and hope in God, but when we resist acknowledging God’s control, we can become selfish, bitter, or cynical. Lamenting over the deeds of the wicked is a righteous act, but it is only righteous if that lamentation causes us to cry out to God for help. We would do well to learn from David who hopefully prayed, “But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision. O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.” (Psalm 59:8-9 ESV)

Third, praying for our enemies actually results in change! Remember the words that God spoke to Moses,

Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings…
(Exodus 3:7 ESV)

And also the words of David,

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalm 9:9-10 ESV)

The prayers of God’s people are divinely intertwined with His sovereign will. Time and time again God acts in response to the cries of His people. Remember the words of Paul that God is pleased by our prayers to Him for salvation from those who oppress us. The Lord wants us to come to Him. He wants us to hope in Him. He wants us to wait on Him. This is worship to Him. That is why He redeemed us in Christ, so that we should live for Him and not ourselves! (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Remember the words of James,

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:16-18 ESV)

Be encouraged. Follow God. Pray!

Categories
Christian Character Holiness Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, Part 2: No Spirit No Church

The Holy Spirit, not an inspirational speaker, preacher, or writer, is the One Who stirs up the hardened conscience (1 Corinthians 2:13). The Spirit is the one Who softens the heart to recognize the need for repentance and bear good fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit illuminates the mind to desire the truth of God’s Word in faith concerning the hope and salvation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:6). It is not by the words, methods, cleverness, or intelligence of men. God has ordained one method only to change the heart of stone–the hearing of the Word of God by faith. (Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:2). In fact, the Church itself could not exist without the Holy Spirit, as John Owen writes,

In this promise he founded the Church itself, and by it he [built] it up. And this is the hinge on which the whole weight of it turns to this day. Take this away; suppose it to cease, as to actual accomplishment, and there is an end of the Church of Christ in this world. No dispensation of the Spirit, no Church. He that would utterly separate the Spirit from the word, had as good burn his Bible. The bare letter of the New Testament will no more produce faith and obedience in the souls of men, than the letter of the Old Testament does among the Jews, 2 Cor. 3:6, 8., p. 93, A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit

Owen here says that without the Holy Spirit there is no Church. In the letter to the Corinthians Paul teaches this when he writes, “…who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6 ESV). The Spirit is the One Who gives life through faith in God’s Word, not the outward methods of men. Owen writes,

The kingdom of Christ is spiritual, and in the animating principles of it, invisible. If we fix our minds only on outward order, we lose the rise and power of the whole. It is not an outward visible ordination by men (though that be necessary by rule and precept,) but Christ’s communication of his Spirit, that gives being, life, usefulness, and success to the ministry…, p. 109-110, A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit

And upon this act of faith, when the Holy Spirit gives this life by entering the new believer, He dwells within him permanently (1 Corinthians 6:19), supernaturally sealing him and sanctifying Him until the day of redemption when Christ returns (Ephesians 4:30), building Him up into greater and greater degrees of holiness in the peace of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).

How unbelievable a thing it is to imagine that the very Spirit of God might condescend to dwell within sinful flesh! But this is the overflowing generosity of God toward sinners, who otherwise seek a joy from from a source that gives no joy, a hope from a place that gives no hope, and a peace from a place that gives no peace. Without the work of the Spirit, a person knows only to seek happiness in serving himself and his interests. For all we like sheep have gone astray, says Isaiah. Each one has turned to his own way, but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

But through the Lord Jesus, He sets us free by the Holy Spirit so that the believer no longer lives for himself, but rather for Jesus Christ Who lives even today (2 Corinthians 5:15), and although every day the believer will have struggles in the flesh both great and small, as he endures and perseveres through his trials, his joy will be greater than his struggles. All of this is possible only through the supernatural work of God the Spirit.

Categories
Against Federal Vision Grace and Law

Machen on differences between Christianity and Judaizers

As a matter of fact, however, Paul did nothing of the kind; and only because he (and others) did nothing of the kind does the Christian Church exist today. Paul saw very clearly that the differences between the Judaizers and himself was the differences between two entirely distinct types of religion; it was the differences between a religion of merit and a religion of grace. If Christ provides only a part of our salvation, leaving us to provide the rest, then we are still hopeless under the load of sin. For no matter how small the gap which must be bridged before salvation can be attained, the awakened conscience sees clearly that our wretched attempt at goodness is insufficient even to bridge that gap. The guilty soul enters again into the hopeless reckoning with God, to determine whether we have really done our part. And thus we groan again under the old bondage of the law. Such an attempt to piece out the work of Christ by our own merit, Paul saw clearly, is the very essence of unbelief; Christ will do everything or nothing, and the only hope is to throw ourselves unreservedly on His mercy and trust Him for all.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism