Thursday, January 19, 2023

My Take On Revelation 1.5

Rev 1.5  "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," 

1.   “And from Jesus Christ 

The Lord Jesus Christ is also the source of grace and peace. John 14.27 records the words of the Lord just before His crucifixion: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” 

2.   If God, the Father, is the source of grace and peace, and if the Holy Spirit is the source of grace and peace, and if the Lord Jesus Christ is the source of grace and peace ... is not that evidence to support the tri-unity of God? Of course, it is. The source of grace and peace is God, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. 

 Description of Christ as prophet, king, and priest  

3.   “Who is the faithful witness 

Jesus is the faithful witness Who always spoke those things that are true. He never compromised or slighted the truth in any way. Is not this the function of a prophet, to give forth truth from God to man? Did not our Lord Jesus do that? Who would step forward and truthfully accuse Him of compromising or slighting the truth in any way? No one. Since that is so, why do not people believe that He is Who He said He is? The problem, you see, lies not with the One Who speaks the truth, but with those who hear the truth and who refuse to believe it or act upon it. 

4.   “And the first begotten from the dead 

This phrase tells us that there will be others who will follow the Lord Jesus in the resurrection, though being first He will always be preeminent. In addition, do you know what will happen when those who are Christ’s are resurrected? In part, we will get new bodies, suited for heaven and eternity. 

5.   “And the prince of the kings of the earth 

Jesus Christ is the ruler over all the kings of the earth. This word “prince” translates the Greek word, ἄrcw, for “ruler.”[1] He has not yet come back to earth to exercise that rule, but it is His right to do so. In addition, someday He will come back to rule. Oh, what an interesting event that will be. 

6.   “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His Own blood 

a.  This book of the Revelation has much to say about God’s wrath falling on a wicked and gainsaying world. Because of that, the reader of the Revelation might lose track of a great and comforting truth ... “Him that loved us.” In English, it appears that the verb “loved” is past tense. In the Greek text, however, it is a present active participle, ἀgapnti, indicating He does continually and ever-presently love us.[2] 

b.  How does our Lord demonstrate His ever-present love? By washing our sins away in His precious blood, which was shed for the remission of our sins. Let me ask you a question. Who is it that offers sacrifices unto God for the remission of sins? Is it a priest? Jesus Christ is our Great High priest Who cleanses our sins away in His Own blood. Therefore, we see the glorified Christ here as our prophet, as our king, and as our great high priest. 

c.  This portion of verse 5 is very timely in light of the assertion made by John Mac Arthur that when the Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross His blood ran down into the dirt and decayed. Hebrews 9.12: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” 

1)  In The MacArthur Study Bible we find this statement in the notes for Hebrews 9.12: “Nothing is said which would indicate that Christ carried His actual physical blood with Him into the heavenly sanctuary.”[3] 

2)  MacArthur’s note is consistent with his belief that while He was on the cross the blood of Jesus Christ ran down into the dirt and was corrupted. It is also consistent with MacArthur’s frequently stated position that the blood of Christ is a metonymy for the death of Christ. That is, what Christ wrought He wrought by His death rather than with His blood. 

3)  In his commentary on Hebrews we find this paragraph: “It is possible to become morbid about Christ’s sacrificial death and preoccupied with His suffering and shedding of blood. It is especially possible to become unbiblically preoccupied with the physical aspects of His death. It was not Jesus’s physical blood that saves us, but His dying on our behalf, which is symbolized by the shedding of His physical blood. If we could be saved by blood without death, the animals would have been bled, not killed, and it would have been the same with Jesus.”[4] 

4) I am a bit taken aback by this remark considering the writer to the Hebrews mentioned blood twenty-one times in chapters 9-13, and twelves times in chapter 9 alone. For this reason, morbid is not a term that am persuaded is appropriate for such an emphasis on blood, whether in Scripture or by a devout Christian. 

5)  Why do I bring these points out in our study of Revelation 1.5? Look at Revelation 1.5 again and you will see the Apostle John made a declaration about the blood of Jesus Christ approximately 60 years after the crucifixion. How are we to understand this verse if the blood of Jesus Christ ran into the ground as He hung between heaven and earth and then dried and rotted? 

6) Let us carefully look at the word “washed” and then proceed from there. The Greek word is low, which refers to using water to cleanse a body from a physical impurity.[5] Therefore, the word is obviously used in this verse to refer to the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing sinners from their sins. 

7) If the blood of Jesus Christ ran to the ground while He hung on the cross, and if it later dried up and disintegrated, and if no blood was left in His body, how are my sins cleansed some 2000+ years later? In addition, how are sins continually cleansed, as First John 1.7 declares, if there is no more blood of Jesus Christ? These questions cannot be satisfactorily answered if the blood of Christ ran into the ground and is no more. 

8) Additionally, would not Christ’s resurrection include one of the largest organs of His human body, His blood? Although the Lord Jesus Christ’s blood was shed, He did not die from exsanguination. [6] The blood and water from His side resulting from the Roman soldier’s spear thrust establishes that.[7] Rather than exsanguination, the Lord Jesus Christ gave up the ghost, John 19.30.[8] 

9)  If John MacArthur is mistaken about the blood of Christ, if the blood of Christ and the death of Christ are not precisely the same thing, and if the blood of Christ is in heaven as I speak, then there are no tough questions which cannot be answered. I am persuaded the blood of Jesus Christ was resurrected along with the rest of His physical body, and that both His glorified body and His precious blood are now in heaven. 

10) What is the basis for my asserting this? There are several bases: First, I assert that the death of Christ and the blood of Christ are not the same, that the blood of Christ is more than a symbolic representation of the death of Christ, based upon the fact that the communion of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated with two elements, not one. We serve both wine and bread, wine commemorating His shed blood, and bread commemorating His sacrificed body. If blood was supposed to represent Christ’s body, why are there two elements in the communion of the Lord’s Supper? Clearly, the blood and the body of Christ are not the same thing and should not be understood to be the same thing. 

11) Second, I believe the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead without His body seeing corruption. This requirement is stated in Psalm 16.10 and was referred to by Simon Peter in his Pentecostal sermon in Acts 2.27: “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” However, if Christ’s blood ran into the ground and rotted was this prediction fulfilled? In addition, would anyone assert that Christ’s blood was not a vital and integral part of His physical body? Therefore, if Christ’s blood was not raised incorruptible with the rest of His body then the prediction of Psalm 16.10 was not fully realized. 

12) For the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse away sins, for the blood of Christ to wash us, there must be blood. The blood must continue to exist. Moreover, the only possible way the blood of Christ continues in its existence and continues in its efficacy is if it was raised up after three days and three nights with the rest of our Savior’s human body, glorified. 

In summation, this verse tells us, 

a)   With the word “and” at the beginning of the verse, John connects the Lord Jesus Christ with God the Father and the Holy Spirit as the source of grace and peace. That is evidence, which supports the Biblical doctrine of the tri-unity of God. 

b)   The verse goes on to illustrate the Lord Jesus Christ functioning in His prophetic office, His kingly office, and His priestly office. Being the One Who is at the same time prophet, priest, and king, this same Jesus must be, of necessity, the Messiah of Israel. 

c)   Oh, how glorious it is that the eternal Son of the living God has loved us and has washed us from our sins in His Own blood. What advantage does the believer in Jesus Christ have. What deliverance the believer in Jesus Christ has. What blessings the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has.


[1] Rogers, Jr., Cleon L. and Rogers III, Cleon L., The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: ZondervanPublishingHouse, 1998), page 611.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Footnote on Hebrews 9.12, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1910.

[4] John F. MacArthur, Hebrews: An Expository Commentary, (The Moody Bible Institute Of Chicago, 1983), page 237.

[5] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 603.

[6] https://www.epainassist.com/blood-diseases/exsanguination

[7] John 19.34

[8] https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/exsanguination

Saturday, January 7, 2023

This installment is titled “Casual Profanity. Why Do So Many People Drop F-Bombs?”

It has always been the practice of the uncouth, the peripheral, the uneducated, and the impoverished to swear and use profanity. Their rough language arose from their limited vocabulary and inability to express themselves except in simple ways.

I grew up on Indian reservations in North Dakota, South Dakota, Florida, and Oregon, with many of my friends speaking English as their 2nd language and being unfamiliar with ways to describe bodily functions except by using the crudest terms. I remember my first day in first grade on the Fort Totten Indian Reservation in North Dakota.

My teacher, Miss Daggs, spent the day rehearsing with my classmates the importance of expressing their needs by saying, “I need to go number one,” or “I need to go number two.” How they had been raised to express themselves was incredible. However, English was their second language.

My own use of profanity was so extensive that I remember walking home from school one day when I was in 2nd grade and erupting to a group of classmates with a stream of profanity that likely would have surprised a drill instructor. Moments later, the thought ran through my mind, “I am 7 years old, and I cuss like that. I am surely going to Hell.” How I came to understand how wrong I was to swear as I did, I did not know because my mother and father spoke like that all the time.

My vile profanity continued through grade school, into junior high school, and into high school, and was far more natural for me at University than I remember. I was even ordered to leave saloons because of objections to my profanity. That was not a time in my life that I look back on with fondness. This is the first time since my conversion in 1974 that I have mentioned it.

My shame for the way I so casually spoke was profound. It was wrong. It was vile. It was disgusting. It was offputting to so many people, which was likely my reason for talking that way. Then came the night when God the Father drew me to His beloved Son so graciously.

The first indication of my new life in Christ was my different manner of speaking. Gone was the profanity. Absent were the crudities and vulgarisms. The long list of nasty words never again passed over my tongue or between my lips. I am so grateful that God washed out my mouth for all the other difficulties and challenges I have faced in my Christian life (which have been many).

That said, in the years since my conversion, I have increasingly wondered how common the vilest of speech patterns has become. Yes, I was profane. Yet, since my conversion almost a half-century ago, I have observed far worse patterns of speech coming from women and children. I find it astonishing, but I never sought an explanation for the phenomenon.

Then I watched a YouTube video interview of a famous Grove City College professor, known to many Christians, conservatives, and libertarians as 2nd only to Hillsdale College. This remarkable higher education center has never received government subsidies. His name is Carl R. Trueman, and he is English. 

He teaches biblical and religious studies and is a historian. While reading his book, The Rise And Triumph of the Modern Self, I noted his explanation of the rise in profanity and why so many people sprinkle F-bombs throughout their conversations. I think he is onto something.

Although I am not yet halfway through the book, more than 400 pages long, I am convinced it will be one of the best books I have ever read. This man is a student, and he is more than a student of the Bible. He is also a student of history and is familiar with the writings of notable historical figures, from Thomas Aquinas to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from C. S. Lewis to Marlon Brando. His breadth of learning has given him a great perspective, and I think he is onto something concerning swearing, profanity, and vulgar talk.

Referring to the nasty culture that is overwhelming the Western culture, he writes, “crudity becomes the norm because the general interdict against such is seen as a tyrannical hangover from an outdated way of viewing the world. The casual use of expletives (profanity) by public figures such as politicians as a means of demonstrating their authenticity provides a good example.”[1]

The author does not suggest that profane talkers and F-bomb droppers are sophisticated thinkers. I am sure he would agree that those who talk that way are, in the main, people with a limited vocabulary who are incapable of expressing themselves better than they do. But people who speak that way are caught up in a tidal wave of cultural change that arrogantly seeks to overthrow what already exists, what was established centuries ago in the Protestant Reformation, and significant spiritual events that have occurred since then.

The profane may not be conscious of their opposition to the plan and purpose of God, however clear it may be to us. Sadly, people who talk that way (as I used to speak) are men, women, and children overwhelmed by the current that carries them along. The living fish in the stream always swim against the current. Only the dead fish are swept along by the current, tide, or swell.

They will arrive at their final destination without consciously going there. That is sad. That is why we must reach them with the Gospel.



[1] Carl E. Trueman, The Rise And Triumph of the Modern Self, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2020), page 89.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

This installment is titled “The History & Theology of Calvinism” by Curt Daniel, Chapter 47, The Relation of Election and Reprobation.

The chapter is divided into five parts; Are the Elect and Reprobate in Any Way Related Now?, Could They Have Been Reversed?, Are There More Elect or Reprobate?, Equal Ultimacy, and Conclusion. 

This chapter is interesting in two respects. First, the author acknowledges that the chapter deals with less essential questions. Next, the author raises issues I had not contemplated in my almost 50 years of pastoral ministry. 

I am reminded of a pastor who once told me of the deterioration of his relationship with the pastor of his youth when, as a young adult, he asked, “What is election?” He said his pastor responded, “I don’t want to talk about it,” and their relationship immediately began to cool and has never recovered. That is not unlike my relationship with my first pastor, who never responded directly to a question about the meaning of a Bible text or doctrinal topic. 

I just finished breakfast with a Church member who indicated that his previous Church experience convinced him heartfelt questions were not welcomed nor encouraged. I asked if he felt that way now, and he said, “No.” 

Pastor, even if you do not ponder such issues as are raised by this author, it may very well be that your Church members consider these issues. My recommendation is that you prepare yourself to address such matters. 

Are the Elect and Reprobate in Any Way Related Now? Seven paragraphs. “The elect are the family of God. The reprobate are the family of the Devil (John 8:44) … Jacob and Esau were twins; one was elect, and one was reprobate. The same was true with Abel and Cain, Isaac and Ishmael, Solomon and Absalom, and other brothers. God was not pleased to put the elect in separate biological families from the reprobate.” “If there has been no ‘elect race,’ there has also been no reprobate race. The curse on Canaan (Genesis 9:25) was not placed on Africans but on Canaanites. But even so, there were some Canaanites such as Rahab and Uriah that proved their election by faith in the one true God. So, since God has mingled the elect in all races, we should preach the gospel to all people everywhere (Matthew 28:19 – 20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8).” 

Could They Have Been Reversed? Six paragraphs. “God chose some,  not all. Why? 

Are There More Elect or Reprobate? Twelve paragraphs. Charles Hodge, William G. T. Shedd, Robert Lewis Dabney, J. C. Ryle, B. B. Warfield, John Calvin, Johann Heinrich Heidegger, John Gill, Thomas Doolittle, Jeremiah Burroughs, and the 2nd Helvetic Confession are referred to. 

Equal Ultimacy. Six paragraphs. Gordon Clark, Cornelius Van Til, Alvin Baker, G. C. Berkouwer, D. A. Carson, Klaas Dijk, Herman Hoeksema, John Gill, Steve Lawson, and the Talmud referred to. 

Conclusion. “Jacob and Esau were types of the elect and the non-elect. They were eventually reconciled (Genesis 33:1–16). But the elect and reprobate will never be reconciled in eternity, any more than heaven and hell will be one. But they will both continue forever to display the one ultimate glory of God.”

Saturday, October 15, 2022

This installment is titled “The History & Theology of Calvinism” by Curt Daniel, Chapter 46, The Destiny of the Reprobate.

 The chapter is divided into eight parts; Hell is Real, Hell is Eternal, Hell is Forever, The Last Link in the Black Chain, How the Reprobate Glorify God in Hell, The Glory of God’s Wrath, The Echo of Glory, and Conclusion. 

This chapter will be particularly challenging for some, not so much because of the doctrinal position of the author but because of the terminology that he uses that frequently evokes visceral responses from some readers. 

In the chapter’s opening paragraph, the author equates the phrase “the Lake of Fire” and the word “Hell.” I would disagree with that understanding, being convinced that Hell is presently being experienced by the departed who are damned, with the Lake of Fire being the ultimate destination of all who die estranged from God following their judgment at the Great White Throne. 

Hell is Real:

Three paragraphs. The author correctly declares that Hell “is not a myth. It is not a fable nor superstition nor a deceitful ruse to scare sinners into believing in Christ.” Souls of the lost are now suffering there.

Hell is Eternal

Three paragraphs. Other than the author’s use of the word Hell, where I would use the phrase the Lake of Fire, the eternity of God’s torment of the damned is appropriately asserted.

Hell is Forever

Six paragraphs. Seven biblical proofs are listed and explained. Additionally, the author refutes the Arminian free will dilemma relating to eternal damnation.

The Last Link in the Black Chain:

Five paragraphs. “The last link is not only damnation of the reprobate but the glory of God. It coincides with the last link in the Golden chain. Both show the glory of God, for God foreordained everything for the display of his own glory (Romans 11:36). Hereby is introduced the often neglected concept of God being glorified with the damnation of the reprobate as well as the glorification of the saved. 

How the Reprobate Glorify God in Hell

Six paragraphs. In addition to several Scripture references, John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards are cited.

The Glory of God’s Wrath

Five paragraphs. This section deals with objections. The section ends, “The elect enjoy the beatific vision – the vision of God that brings exquisite bliss – while the reprobate suffer the agonizing vision that brings torment. The final links of the two chains of predestination, then, are not merely the happiness of the elect or the torment of the reprobate. The final goal is the glory of God revealed and reflected back. In this sense, Psalm 145:10 says, “All your works shall praise You, O Lord.”

The Echo of Glory

Seven paragraphs. Using some Old Testament parallels and a recent historical parallel, the author includes Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs’ remarks in his anticipation of the saints in heaven unreservedly siding with God regarding the torment of the damned.

Conclusion:

Three paragraphs. The author concludes by appealing to the reader in several ways to embrace the Bible’s truth concerning the destiny of the damned. “Our attitude toward these things should be God’s attitude.” “We should humbly confess that God does all things well.”

Monday, August 29, 2022

This installment is titled “The History & Theology of Calvinism” by Curt Daniel, Chapter 45, The Hardening of the Reprobate.


The doctrine of reprobation provokes a knee-jerk reaction with many in the Gospel ministry. A friend of mine related with sadness the cooling off of his relationship with his pastor because he brought up his desire to discuss these topics. He had not formulated a personal position but was interested in exploring what the word of God taught. Rather than discuss the issue his pastor, for all intents and purposes, ended their intimate relationship. This saddens me because I have observed it so many times myself. Yet here we are, providing an overview of yet another chapter the author has courageously written. I commend the chapter to you whether you agree with the author’s position or not. It will not harm you to discover what great men of the past believed. 

The chapter is divided into then parts, with a single paragraph opening the chapter and a quote from the Westminster Confession of Faith. 

God Blinds Their Minds. Five paragraphs. I know of no one who believes the Bible denies the reality that God blinds sinner’s minds. It is worthwhile to crystallize in your mind Bible truth regarding blindness. 

Blinded Reprobates. Four paragraphs. The author offers an explanation why some do not believe even after hearing many accurate Bible expositions. 

Blinded Minds and Hearts. Three paragraphs. 

God Hardens the Hearts of the Reprobate. Two paragraphs. The fact that God hardens hearts cannot be disputed. Scripture is clear. The author discusses the reasons why God hardens the heart. 

The Case of Pharaoh. Eight paragraphs. “Romans 9 is the clearest chapter in the entire Bible on the doctrine of reprobation. It is also the clearest chapter on the hardening of the reprobate. Paul uses the case of Pharaoh to illustrate what God does to all non-elect.” 

God Gives the Reprobate Over. Two paragraphs. 

God Withholds Grace from Them. Four paragraphs. In addition to several passages from the Old and New Testaments, the author cites Augustine, Jerome Zanchius, Jonathan Edwards, and William Lyford. 

God Turns Their Hearts. Three paragraphs. Proverbs 21:1 is but the first of the verses referred to establishing this truth. 

God Uses Satan and Demons. Four paragraphs. Though not all hardening is demon possession, Judges 9:23–24, First Samuel 16:14, First Kings 22:19–23, Second Chronicles 18:18-22, and Second Corinthians 11:14–15, show this does happen. 

Conclusion. Three paragraphs. The author discusses the reasons why God hardens hearts. He connects the hardening of the hearts of some to the working of all things for good to them that love Him. He then challenges His readers to examine their hearts.

Monday, August 22, 2022

My Response To The Covid Lockdown Order


     "...The rampant Covid fraud is an indictment of Congress and the executive agencies, which tossed aside controls in the rush to get money out the door during the pandemic." - Jonathan Turley, legal scholar and Fox contributor.
     Is it time for an after action analysis? I think it would be helpful to review my actions as a Baptist pastor in response to what legal scholars admit was the illegal and unconstitutional response to the Covid pandemic, and what is increasingly recognized to have been an unscientific reaction to the pandemic by people who claim they "trust the science."
     I have repeatedly asked myself and others, Since when do pastors have the Scriptural authority to cancel worship services? Consider this matter of authority, a subject thoroughly dealt with in God's Word. Of course, there is legitimate authority, derived authority, and illegitimate authority. God is the recognized Source of all authority, and He is shown to have delegated authority to others, authority to do and not to do. 
     Then, of course, there is illegitimate authority. Sometimes illegitimate authority is wielded by someone initially granted authority by God, delegated authority, but when an overreach occurs the legitimate delegated authority becomes illegitimate authority by the improper way it is exercised. I believe this to have occurred throughout the United States when pastors overreached the delegated authority granted to them by God by presuming to exercise illegitimate authority as tools of the illegal and unjustified overreach of government mandates to impose a lockdown. 
     I also wrestled with the question, Since when did compliance to government edicts take precedence over Biblical mandate?  In God's Word we are expressly directed to gather for worship. It is God's will for every Christian's life. Yet across our land men pretending to be spiritual overseers took their marching orders from politicians at the national, state, and local level while ignoring God's Word. Was it because the politicians were advised by men and women wearing white smocks with stethoscopes draped around their necks? Does a white smock and stethoscope grant authority? During my growing up years a medical practitioner was an advisor, not an authority figure.
     Then I was provoked to ask of myself, Since when did spiritual leaders not weigh the cost of incarceration as integral to serving God? Two decades ago my mother called me to ask if I would someday be arrested as a Gospel minister. I indicate to her that was likely. She then asked if such an arrest would be for doing right or for doing wrong. I told her that my intention was, should such a day come, that my arrest would result from doing right and not for doing wrong. The possibility of being arrested for Christ's sake has always figured in my personal calculus of the cost of the ministry.
     I wonder from a historical perspective, Since when did going to a Christian assembly not endanger those who are not believers. At the beginning of the lockdown several pastors were outraged by our Church's refusal to comply with the illegal and unconstitutional requirement to lockdown without due process. They claimed I was endangering the health and safety of others, especially the aged. My reaction was to reflect upon the history of Christian persecution since the first century after Christ. Hs it not always been dangerous to gather for worship? Have believers not always been charged by friends, neighbors, and relatives of endangering them by our commitment to gather for worship?  The Covid lockdown in nothing new.
     I could not have articulated my conviction well two years ago, but since I have read Matthew J. Trewhella's fine work, "The Doctrine Of The Lesser Magistrates" I have benefitted from the clarity his 2013 book provides, and recommend it for every pastor to read. The subtitle tells you all you need to know: "A Proper Resistance to Tyranny and a Repudiation of Unlimited Obedience to Civil Government."

Sadly, all across the United States we have seen too many illustrations of those occupying positions of spiritual leadership who have not properly resisted tyranny but have bowed in cowardly fashion with unlimited obedience to civil government.
     My I bring to your remembrance a few names? John Bunyan, Bedford, England, endured twelve years of incarceration rather than affix his signature to a form to become a government licensed Gospel preacher. Obadiah Holmes, whose bare back was mercilessly lashed in 1651 in Boston, Massachusetts. The reason? He and two others gathered for worship in manner not prescribed by law. Patrick Henry, though he was an Anglican attorney, defended numerous Baptists who preached without a government issued license and gathered people for worship without authorization. In our day it has mostly been forgotten that Baptists have historically been conscientious objectors to unjust, illegal, and unscriptural restrictions of Christian liberties.
     I was thirteen years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama and sent to a number of his supporters what have come to be known as "Letters from a Birmingham jail." I suggest you read them. http://abacus.bates.edu/admin/offices/dos/mlk/letter.html 
     MLK, Jr. had been urged by most of his New England liberal supporters to comply with the demands of the governor of Alabama, the county Sheriff, and the mayor of Birmingham not to conduct a march there. Little did anyone realize that he would for all intents and purposes win the civil rights movement war by going, by being arrested, and by sending his previously prepared letters stating his position so effectively. It was a stroke of political genius  that sealed his place in the pantheon of civil rights leaders.
     Sadly, the prominent Christian leaders of America occupying positions of influence proved that they learned nothing from MLK when the Supreme Court handed down the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Or perhaps they were not so brave as MLK.
     Consider the spiritual leaders who were silent in the face of Roe v. Wade in 1973. What did he hear from Billy Graham, W. A. Criswell, Adrian Rogers, Lee Roberson, Bob Jones, Jr., Jack MacArthur, D. James Kennedy, Jack Hyles, Jerry Falwell, J. Vernon Magee, Carl McIntyre, Norman Vincent Peale, Cardinal Timothy Manning, Cardinal Roger Mahoney? Only the chirping of crickets. Those men were unwilling to risk arrest to block any abortion clinics. Why not? Ignorance? Cowardice? A misunderstanding of the responsibility of God's men to resist illegal and unjust overreaches of authority?
     Perhaps you remember the Terri Schiavo case in Florida, ending when she died in 2005. Hers was a tragic case in which her husband wanted her life support to be discontinued and her parents wanted her kept alive. I remember her parent's attorney, David Gibbs III standing aside after a judge ruled in favor of her husband and against his clients, her parents. He claimed there was nothing he could do, so medical professionals removed her from life support and she eventually died.
     The attorney, who claims to be a Christian attorney, was thought by many to be helpless in the face of a judicial ruling. But was he? Notorious leftist civil rights attorney William Kunstler routinely defied court orders when he felt judges ruled unjustly and illegally.
     We have so many examples of failure by omission, failure because of fear, failure because of an unwillingness to risk all to gain all, to be subject to arrest and imprisonment. I, for one, grow weary of pastors who are unwilling to go to jail for insisting on doing the right thing.
     What about Giorgi Vins in Russia? What about Richard Wurmbrand in Romania? What about Chinese house Church leaders? What about Vietnamese pastors, Lebanese pastors? What about several Canadian pastors arrested for doing right during pandemic lockdown.
     Some months ago I went to another county to attend a small meeting of pastors. I chose to drive up early and spend the night at an AirBnB place, learning only after it was too late to make other plans that the home in which I was staying was owned by a Lesbian couple. I wondered what the Lord had in mind for me.
     To my surprise, they asked me what my response to the Covid lockdown was. I replied, "What lockdown?" They smiled. They told me that they were so enraged by the illegality of the lockdown order and their disgust for pastors who had cancelled worship services that they began looking for a place to worship, to show support for a pastor who, they said, "Read the Constitution with understanding." They had become regular attenders of a Gospel-preaching Church that defied the California lockdown order. Needless to say, I was thrilled.
     Let me also include a text sent to a pastor that has come into my possession from a very new Christian:
"Good morning safe travels to and from where you are going . I don't think I had the chance to mention to you how important it was for me in choosing a church not only sound doctrine but the fact that you were open during covid . I recall seeing John McArthur say they could arrest him if they wanted because he was not going to shut down church . To me that was so significant because I thought to myself if you don't stand for something you fall for anything and I see that same boldness in you . That made me know that hell or high water you would stand up for what is right when it comes to serving God and aside from the sound doctrine I knew I wanted to be in a church like this one with a bold pastor who is willing to go to jail for the gospel . I have a kind of hard headed attitude when it comes to Gods word and I should ,and I know being here I would be sitting under the preaching of someone who does too . So please let those pastors know that what they did was a huge mistake because people who are looking at churches look at things that pastors wouldn't even have the slightest idea about . I knew I need to be in church and the fact that you were open and stayed open is what let me know also that you fear God more than man and its easy to say it but you were put to that test and I am grateful you stayed open because it made my decision to go there easier . True believers want to be lead by true believers . Cowards want to be led by cowards . Thank you for your service and boldness I don't think we tell you enough how important you are to this church."
What a great text!
     I concluded when first confronted by the statewide lockdown order that I did not possess the authority to instruct believers not to gather for worship, or to make health risk decisions for anyone else, or to comply with any government directive to abstain from gathered worship and ministry.
     Further, since I suspect government will again do what has been done, I will resist, and I will go to jail if need be. Early Christians, colonial Baptists, Chinese house Church Christians, and many others are willing. How can I do less?
     Pastor, I recognize that some with health issues are well-advised to be cautious and to stay at home. However, that is a personal decision and not a corporate decision or a pastoral decision, imo. If you complied with the government lockdown mandate you owe your congregation an apology. Chalk it up to a learning experience and commit yourself to reflecting Baptist (which is to say Biblical) prnciples from this day forward.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

My Second Amendment Anecdote

 

I survived a life-changing event approximately 30 years ago. Late one night, my wife, daughter, and I heard a knocking at the front door. I answered the door, stepped out, and began talking to 2 friendly young men. Despite the lateness of the hour the 3 of us had not yet retired for the evening, and I was dressed in an ancient reversible T-shirt from my engineering school days at Oregon State University, and almost as old a pair of gray sweatpants, and shower thongs.

They had the name of a fellow written down on a small piece of paper and asked if he lived at my address. I assured them I did not know him and that he did not live with me. They appeared to be a bit confused and were emphatic that the address was correct. I did not realize until the next day that the person they were looking for had recently moved into the apartment next to ours.

Chatting with those fellows, I suggested that because of the lateness of the hour, they go home and come back the next day, and I would gladly help them locate the fellow they were looking for. For some reason, my suggestion to help them enraged them. The pair’s leader got up in my face and defiantly insisted that I had no right to tell him what to do. When he was a ¼ inch from my nose, I detected that he was intoxicated. While he was yelling at me, his friend began circling behind me.

This was not my first rodeo. Having reached the age of 40 after growing up on Indian reservations and being the only white kid in the school, I had passable skills. When the two-on-one skirmish began my next-door neighbor, Linda, could be heard screaming into her phone to the 911 operator to get the police over here as quickly as possible, “Two big guys have jumped my neighbor!”

I survived. The two guys who jumped me survived, barely. And one of them would never again have the same profile. Despite the lateness of the hour, two police officers showed up in a patrol car 40 minutes later. Note that. 40 minutes later!

While Ofc. Galvan was interviewing me for his incident report; he remarked that it was good that those two guys were white, or they would almost certainly have been armed with knives or pistols.

That episode was a life-changing event for me. I did not know those guys. I did not know what they wanted. However, I was the only person between those two men and my wife and little girl. The police did arrive on the scene, but they came 40 minutes after the 911 dispatcher told them I was under attack. They arrived 40 minutes after the incident had concluded.

As nearly as I can conclude, I survived as an approximately 40-year-old man while being attacked by two young men who were in their 20s only because I had learned things in the school of hard knocks growing up on Indian reservations. To that point in my life, I owned no firearms. But what if my assailants had been armed? Or what if those same two men were to attack me now? My present age is 72?

According to economist Thomas Sowell, I am what is called an intellectual. He roughly describes an intellectual as a person whose profession involves thoughts and ideas rather than producing a physically tangible work product. Having been a gospel minister for almost 50 years, I suppose Thomas Sowell is correct.

However, I was a spacecraft design engineer before my almost half-century in the gospel ministry. Before I was a spacecraft design engineer, I was a construction worker. Before I was a construction worker, I was a United States Air Force Academy cadet. And before I was a United States Air Force Academy cadet, I lived on Indian reservations throughout the United States, spending a significant amount of time demographically outnumbered several hundred to one in school.

I know what it is like to be in the minority. I know what it is like to be in the majority. I know what it is like to be in physical conflict while unarmed and incapable of defending yourself except with your fists. I also know what it is like to be an old man who can no longer protect myself with my fists.

Add to that the fact that I am a husband. Further, add to the fact that I am the father of a daughter. As well, consider that the only time in my life I needed the police to be on hand immediately to guarantee the personal safety of my daughter, my wife, and me, they arrived on the scene 40 minutes after they were informed of my danger. The police station was only one mile away!

As an intellectual, I am very comfortable considering theories, hypotheses, and abstracts. I would be delighted to discuss the Second Amendment with anyone with the moral courage to sit down with me over a cup of coffee for a discussion about the absolute right of every human being to defend his life and the lives of his loved ones.

However, I suspect that a discussion of principles will not sway anyone. What will persuade someone is a personal experience that you survive. Another of my Hoover Institute heroes besides Thomas Sowell is Victor Davis Hanson, the classicist, historian, author of more than 25 books, and fifth-generation farmer in the San Joaquin Valley of California. While I cannot remember the specific topic that gave rise to the conversation, his response to someone who inquired about his passionate involvement with an issue was, “It is obvious you have not woken up in the morning to find a dead body in your front yard.”

It really does take something like that to persuade most people. If you have not yet had such an experience as mine, I would be delighted to advocate the Second Amendment to you. However, if you have already survived the situation in which you were the only person standing between a threat and your wife, or a threat and your defenseless child, and you do not yet understand the importance of having immediate access to a firearm equalizer to scare off the threat or to defeat the threat, then I have no use for you. You are already a victim.


     While I do not suggest anyone regularly watch Bill Maher, the following YouTube clip shows that depending upon law enforcement can prove to be problematic. And if law enforcement cannot be depended on to arrive until after the threat has passed, who is left but the armed citizen?

https://youtu.be/hey_GizvWyQ