Sunday, August 29, 2010

Jesus and Divorce Law

Jesus raised the standard on granting divorce from the standard that was given under Old Covenant Law. Under the Old Covenant that applied to national Israel a man could divorce his wife by giving her a certificate of divorce and sending her away.
Deut. 24:1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount gave a new and higher standard.
Mt. 5:31-32 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
This is one of several statements by Jesus where he changes Old Covenant law with the phrase, “But I say to you”. Some doctrinal interpretations hold that Jesus was simply correcting the misapplication of the law by the religious leaders. However, in this case and also with adultery and murder Jesus quotes exactly what the law and the Ten Commandments stated in the Old Testament. Therefore, Jesus is not just correcting a wrong interpretation; he is raising the requirements for divorce to a higher standard with the “But I say to you” statements. He is giving the Christian standard for true believers, whereas the Old Covenant was given to an entire nation most of whom were unredeemed. Jesus explained this more fully when he said:
Mt. 19:3-9 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Jesus says what both the Old Testament and the New Testament says in many places and that is Israel was not a spiritually redeemed people. When Jesus told the Pharisees that the law allowed divorce because of their hardness of heart, he was verifying they were NOT spiritually redeemed. Contrast this statement with the beatitudes where Jesus describes the characteristics of spiritually redeemed Christians. The Old Covenant even allowed polygamy [Deut. 21:15]. If Jesus had not raised these standards, Christian marriage and the details concerning adultery in the New Covenant would be very different. The Old Testament pointed to the new standards that Jesus would implement and told us to listen to him, just as God the Father said at the Mt. of Transfiguration.
Deut. 18:15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Cremation of Sam McGee

by Robert W. Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.

He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that he’d “sooner live in hell.”

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! Through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan,
“It’s the cursed cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ’taint being dead - it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! He looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate these last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows - O God! How I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the Alice May.
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum!”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared - such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near:
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”... then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm -
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Law of Christ

Jesus fulfilled and made the Old Covenant obsolete.
Hebrews 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete.
2 Cor. 3:7-8 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?
The ministry of death carved in letters on stone is a reference to the Ten Commandments. The Old Covenant was brought to an end and replaced by the ministry of the Spirit. This ministry of the Spirit is revealed in the New Covenant that was promised by Jeremiah [Jer. 31:31-34] and fulfilled as Hebrews 8 describes. The Old Covenant was a ministry of death given to the physical nation of Israel and most of them died in unbelief [Rom. 9:27]. The New Covenant is a ministry of life given to regenerated believers and one hundred percent of them are saved. New Covenant believers are NOT under the Old Covenant or its contract the Ten Commandments [Rom. 6:14, Rom. 7:6, Rom. 8:2, Eph. 2:15 Gal. 5:18]. While believers are not under the Ten Commandments as a unit, we are under the precepts and ethical standards of these commandments as they are expressed in the New Covenant revelation of the New Testament. Jesus raised several of these commandments to a higher standard such as the ones on murder and adultery [Mt. 5:27-28, 31-32]. In pointing to his freedom from Old Covenant law, Paul said the following:
1 Cor. 9:20-21 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.
Therefore, Paul stated plainly that he was not under the Old Covenant law, but was under the Law of Christ, which is expressed through New Covenant revelation contained in the New Testament. In explaining that Old Covenant law was not permanent but merely a guardian until the coming of faith Paul said:
Galatians 3:25-26 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
What does this mean to be in Christ Jesus rather than be under the Law as a guardian? I believe Paul said it best in Romans 8:2:
Rom. 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
If you are looking to the Ten Commandments to be sanctified, you are looking to the ministry of death and are not free. This is the wrong place to look. Look to Jesus Christ, grace, and the Holy Spirit for your sanctification and the Spirit will lead you in the ways of righteousness that are expressed through Christ and his New Covenant teachings [Mt. 17:5, 28:20, Heb. 1:2].

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Greatest Poem Ever

Casey at the Bat

By Ernest Thayer

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at that–
We'd put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Johnnie safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped–
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted some one on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the sphereoid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville –mighty Casey has struck out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Totally Different: Old Covenant and New Covenant

A covenant consists of an agreement between two or more parties. The terms of the covenant are the requirements the parties are obligated to perform. There are many distinct historical covenants described in the Holy Bible that are between God and men. A historic covenant is one that the Bible describes during the historic flow of redemptive history. Most of them, such as the covenant with Noah, do not require anything from man. The two major Biblical covenants are the Old Covenant made at Mount Sinai when God gave Moses the terms required of the Israelites, and The New Covenant that was established by the person, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A close look at these two historical covenants reveals they are distinct and different in the people groups covered, required obligations and time duration. How can these two covenants be considered one covenant when they have different terms and cover different people groups? They are both part of God’s plan of redemption and both are part of the gospel of God that Paul mentions in Romans 1:1, but they had distinctly different purposes. I will focus on the differences in the Old and New Covenant in this discussion.

The Old Covenant:

1) Parties of the Old Covenant

The Old Covenant was made with the Hebrew people that God brought out of Egypt and formed into the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai.

Exodus 34:27-28 And the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

The Old Covenant was NOT made with the forefathers of the people that God delivered from Egypt. This means it was NOT made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Joseph.

Deuteronomy 5:2-3 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 Not with our fathers did the LORD make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.

Therefore, the Old Covenant was a covenant between God and the physical nation of Israel that was formed at Mt. Sinai after being delivered from Egypt. Paul confirms this in Galatians 3:17.

2) Terms of the Old Covenant

The Old Covenant required that the Israelites keep the covenant as expressed in God’s LAW. The Ten Commandments were the contract for the Old Covenant. Therefore, the Ten Commandments were the terms of the covenant that Israel were obligated to keep.

Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

God gave Moses and the people the terms of the covenant and the Israelites agreed to these terms.

Exodus 19:7-8 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD.

Exodus 34:28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.


The reality that the Israelites did not have the ability to fulfill this covenant does not change the fact that it was legal conditional covenant requiring their obedience. It also served the purpose of leading some to Christ and a remnant was saved by grace through looking forward to the promised redeemer, Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets [Matthew 5:17] and provided atonement for sin [Hebrews 9:11-28] for this very reason.

The New Covenant:

The nation of Israel failed to keep the conditions of the Old Covenant so God made another better covenant with them and expanded the blessings to gentiles as well [Ephesians 2:11-22 through 3:12].

Hebrews 8:8-9 For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant,

1) Parties of the New Covenant

The New Covenant was made with the elect. It was and is made with people whom God regenerates through the gift of a new heart. Therefore, regenerated believers are the only people in a New Covenant relationship with God. Neither church membership nor parental status places a person in this New Covenant relationship with God. Without God’s regenerating work of the Holy Spirit a person is not in the New Covenant no matter what they may profess.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Since God’s work of sovereign regeneration is required and there are no regenerated unbelievers, there are no unbelievers in the New Covenant.

Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

God says, “I WILL” instead of “IF YOU WILL” as was stated in the Old Covenant. This is grace.

2) Terms of the New Covenant

All of the requirements of the New Covenant are given by God and the reality of what was promised in the Old Covenant [Exodus 19:5-6] through obedience to the LAW have been freely fulfilled in the New Covenant as Hebrews 8:10 and 1 Peter 2:9 shows.

1 Peter 2:9 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.

The language in the Exodus 19:5-6 passage is almost identical to the 1 Peter 2:9 passage in that both speak of being people for God’s possession, a holy nation, and kingdom of priests/royal priesthood. THE DIFFERENCE: In the Old Covenant it was “IF” and in the New Covenant it is “YOU ARE”. Therefore the holy nation is the body of Christ made possible by our surety Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Old Covenant and suffered the penalty for our disobedience [sin].


God made the Old Covenant with the physical nation of Israel that came into existence at Mount Sinai. They were physically redeemed from Egypt, but they were not all spiritually redeemed. In fact, most of them were NOT saved [Rom. 9:27, Heb. 3:16-19]. God made a New Covenant through Jesus Christ that fulfilled and replaced the Old Covenant. The New Covenant is with the spiritually redeemed body of Christ [the elect]. All who are in the New Covenant are spiritually saved [1 Peter 2:9, Hebrews 8:10-12]. So you have a covenant made with a physical ethnic nation that was mostly unredeemed spiritually, and it was replaced by a covenant made with spiritually redeemed people from every tribe and nation on earth. The Old Covenant had requirements that had to be met in order to receive God’s blessing; whereas, the New Covenant freely gives all that is required to receive the blessing of eternal life. The Old Covenant was time limited and has ended, but the New Covenant will not end. The Old Covenant was a covenant of works even though it had a gracious purpose of pointing to Christ and offering mercy through faith in the redemption that Jesus would provide. The New Covenant is a covenant of grace that provides the Holy Spirit to bring the elect to faith and to lead them in their sanctification. Under the Old Covenant everyone, including the remnant, was under LAW. In the New Covenant believers are under GRACE and not under law. This grace transforms Christians into being more and more conformed to the image of Christ through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The old covenant is of the letter and the new covenant is of the Spirit. The old is from Mt. Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves [Gal. 4:24] and the new is the “Jerusalem above” who is free.

It is reasonable to consider both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant as being part of one gospel of grace. However, how can they both be considered to be different administrations of the same covenant of grace when they have the crucial differences of people groups covered and terms? How can one covenant that includes believers and one that doesn’t be considered different administrations of the same covenant? They can’t and the Bible nowhere mentions a covenant of grace or labels historic covenants as being but administrations of a single covenant of grace.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Who are the true people of God?

The true people of God are defined by the following Biblical passage. Physical national Israel was never the holy nation referred to in Exodus 19:5-6. The true people of God and holy nation is described in this passage and they were never national ethnic Israel. Israel was a physical picture of the people of God, but they were not the real thing. The true people of God and holy nation and how they became the true people of God is clearly defined by Peter:

1 Peter 2:4-10 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 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. 10 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.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

High Flight by Gillespie Magee

There is zone of awareness and simply being alive in a state of joy that comes from being solo in a high performance aircraft that I think the following sonnet captures. To do aileron rolls, loops, split S's and other maneuvers in complete sync with the aircraft is an experience that takes a human being to a state that is probably as close to being with God that a mortal can achieve. The LORD knows I miss that feeling and look forward to the day when that feeling will be dwarfed by being in the presence of GOD.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Social Justice Defined

Many today, including some in conservative churches, have bought into the social justice movement that claims to support “social justice” but actually favors things that violate social justice. They are really in favor of statist and Marxist solutions to poverty and other perceived ills in the world. They have hijacked the word justice to make Marxism and big government seem to be the just and right thing to do. But is what they advocate actually just? Many of them support the following list of things that violate justice and oppose the list of things that uphold justice. Don’t be fooled by their deception and remember that social mercy and social compassion are totally different concepts that all conservatives and Christians can support. Justice and mercy have totally different meanings.

Social justice is violated by:

1) Killing unborn babies through abortion. 
2) Spreading the wealth around by taking from some through taxes to give to others.
3) Discriminating against people based on their race or sex.
4) Discriminating in favor of people based on their race or sex.
5) Discriminating and persecuting people who do not conform to the current politically correct liberal world-view.
6) Intolerance of politically incorrect opinions.

Social justice is upheld by:
1) Liberty and freedom.
2) Tolerance for all including conservative and Christian opinions and values.
3) Minimal government interference with people’s lives and activities.
4) Strong law enforcement and national defense.
5) Fair and impartial judicial system.
6) Economic freedom through free enterprise system.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My purpose

(1) Affirm and proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ as summarized by the five sola’s of the reformation. While I agree with much doctrine that is contained in confessions and creeds, my only authority for doctrine is my understanding of the Holy Bible [sola Scriptura].  I have also benefited and learned much from great theologians and preachers and I am grateful to all of them, but Scripture alone is my final authority. 

(2) To unashamedly stand up for the liberty, freedom, and traditional values associated with America that are under assault by the liberal folly of our day. I peacefully but aggressively defend conservative principles.

(3) Display photographs and computer art.

(4) Attempt to always use as much humor as possible in everything other than the serious discussion of religion.

(5) Invite anyone to debate and discuss anything on this blog as neither my religious or political beliefs are set in stone.  However, they do rest on the solid foundation of the WORD.