I hope you have heard a good sermon lately. If not, you might want to watch Alistair Begg’s message from Sunday.
Parkside Church is in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and their service is aired weekly on the YouTube channel above.
There are many other good options for those who, for whatever reason, would like to hear a sermon of a different man of God.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London for almost 30 years during the late 20th century. People of all ages came to hear his sermons. Thankfully, his studies of God’s Word were recorded in numerous sermons that can be found HERE.
Occasionally, I find myself hungering for one of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was pastor of the congregation of the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London for 38 years in the later half of the 19th century. We do not have any recordings of his voice but almost every sermon he spoke was written down. His mining of God’s Word for gold can be found HERE.
Besides reading your Bible, it is always a blessing to hear a man of God give a good sermon. This video definitely fits that description.
“Two things I don’t talk about are politics and religion.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this and I don’t know how many times I’ve wondered if anyone could get through a week without talking about something in either area. If they can, they are much more creative than I. This post was born from recent reading in Jeremiah, Wikipedia sources on Christians who hold certain conspiracy theories, and thoughts about the current war in the Ukraine.
My thoughts concerning the title of this article continue to change as life rolls along but I want to share with you where I am right now. Just how does a Christian view the contrasting effects of politics and their beliefs about God in their daily lives? It is a question that could fill an entire book but I’ll attempt to make it short and sweet here using only a few realities in our world.
The first reality is the war in Ukraine. If a Christian wants to hold a position or opinion about a war, they should do what anyone else would do, and that’s to attempt to find out the facts. One would think that, with all of the communication we have these days, this would be an easy task. It is not always the case. Propaganda abounds as each side tries to make its case. In Ukraine’s case, a country has invaded another country and has killed innocent civilians who had no interest in politics except that they wanted to live a free and undisturbed life. Their country has been torn apart by bombs sent by a leader with odd ambitions and have been dropped by those who are willing to follow his orders.
As a Christian, I look at the words of a godly prophet who preceded Jeremiah who said:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Anyone can make the situation in Ukraine as complicated as they wish but, in light of this Bible passage, a Christian’s support for justice for the innocent is warranted.
A definition of “politics” can easily be found online:
“the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.”
It is obvious to me that justice must play a role in a definition like the one above. Thus, Christians need to be involved in certain aspects of politics.
Jesus was very clear about the civic duty of paying one’s taxes. He was not saying that all having government powers are righteous or just. He knew the book of Jeremiah well, having inspired it, where we find these words against Babylon, no question a political entity, written at the height of its power:
“cut it off, so that there will be nothing dwelling in it, whether man or beast, but it will be a perpetual desolation.”
Jesus knew that the picture of Babylon above would eventually be a reality and, from reading Jeremiah 51, it is obvious that the ruins of Babylon are a result of rebellion against God and His people, a second reality.
God’s people rebelled against Him so he allowed a political solution to help them learn a lesson; Nebuchadnezzar would grow strong and take Israel into captivity. Eventually, the evil in the Babylonian empire would cause them to be destroyed to the degree seen in the photo here at the top. It is a picture of God’s justice. The sovereignty of God is at play here but that is a deep subject for another day.
There are always two sides to a coin. Jesus was very clear on paying taxes but he was silent when asked to defend himself, a third reality. From a human standpoint, it seems that Jesus had every right to defend himself against false accusations of any political nature (which are hard to separate from accusations of a personal nature if one reads the definition of politics above). But, he didn’t. I would submit that we should generally defend ourselves from false accusations because they do neither us nor our accusers any good. In Jesus’ case, his silence was the best thing for all involved including all of humanity. It displays how God’s position as King of King and Lord of Lords is cemented forever. The reason for his silence is explained in Hebrews 2:
“But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.“
Thus, God’s pronouncement that:
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts”
The Christian must accept that his/her understanding is limited so his/her wisdom regarding politics and religion and how they should interrelate is limited as well. At the same time, the Christian makes an effort to understand and make the best decisions he/she can in light of God’s Word.
Christians, or anyone else for that matter, will never figure out complete justice in politics or religion. In the end, complete justice will be decided by God. It is something we should ponder seriously but we should never put ourselves in the eventual role of God.
Just go out there and do the best you can, asking for the help of God, of course.
Abiogenesis definition – the origin of life from nonliving matter; specifically : a theory in the evolution of early life on earth: organic molecules and subsequent simple life forms first originated from inorganic substances. – Merriam-Webster
For anyone who is not familiar with the term abiogenesis, the definition above should help. Abiogenesis is the theory that life came from things that weren’t alive.
This morning, near the top of the stories featured on Google was one from COSMOS entitled:
The article is almost a year old but it is very similar to many articles written by those studying how life could have possibly come from non-living things. It is written for people like me who have no authority to speak on such an issue but who think, like one of the young scientists featured in the article, that:
“The origin of life is part of humanity’s narrative.”
“Learning more about it isn’t only beneficial for science, it’s helping us develop our understanding of who we are and our place in the universe.”
After reading the article, two things are clear:
1) These scientists aren’t kidding around. They are serious about their work and seem to be trying to find answers.
2) It certainly seems possible that they are looking in the right places and that they may be getting close to discovering how life came form non-living things.
Thankfully, the recent series by Dr. James Tour has been a help to me in this area of understanding. The series covers many items including topics that the layman (like me) would not understand. Dr. Tour discusses “the building blocks for life, including amino acids, nucleobases and lipids,” the exact same things mentioned in the Cosmos article.
The main difference between the COSMOS article (which is a pretty good representation of many scientific articles presented for layman) and the series by Dr. Tour is the explanation of how difficult it would have been for life to have appeared “spontaneously.” (It seems that the world spontaneously is a word frequently used to describe how non-living things became living things; the problem is that no one has ever explained how this happened.)
Dr. Tour’s credentials speak for themselves. You can read about them HERE. Not only is he one of the best synthetic chemists in the world, he is a Christian. In his series about Abiogenesis, he only speaks about the science of the subject according to his understanding. He does not mention the Bible. He is well versed in the scriptures but his career has been in the field of synthetic chemistry where: “Based on the impact of his published work, in 2019 Tour was ranked in the top 0.004% of the 7 million scientists who have published at least 5 papers in their careers. He was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2015.” (Click HERE for more information about Dr. Tour.)
I have been following Dr. Tour’s work for years now. I know “appeals to authority” are often looked upon with disdain but let’s face it, everyone does it. Personally, I don’t see any problem with it whatsoever. The question in every area of life becomes: “Who do I trust to tell me the truth about this subject? ”
I am thankful that someone of Dr. Tour’s stature is speaking out on this subject. He is being ignored by many scientists in the origin of life field. He is also being treated as someone who doesn’t know what he is talking about, which is only one of the reasons he has made this presentation. Much of the course is Dr. Tour’s comments on a video that was made criticizing his own past comments. Dr. Tour handles the criticism well but is clearly frustrated by the lack of clarity that he feels is presented not only by the video discussed but by many articles in the scientific literature. One of his stated goals in this course is to provide clarity to those seeking answers about the possible origin of life.
The episodes are anywhere from twenty-five minutes to 1 hour and twenty-five minutes. You may want to pick out one of the sessions which looks interesting or you may want to start at the beginning and go from there.
A Course on Abiogenesis by Dr. James Tour
Larry P. Arnn
President, Hillsdale College
The following is adapted from a speech delivered at a Hillsdale College reception in Rogers, Arkansas, on November 17, 2020.
On September 17, Constitution Day, I chaired a panel organized by the White House. It was an extraordinary thing. The panel’s purpose was to identify what has gone wrong in the teaching of American history and to lay forth a plan for recovering the truth. It took place in the National Archives—we were sitting in front of the originals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—a very beautiful place. When we were done, President Trump came and gave a speech about the beauty of the American Founding and the importance of teaching American history to the preservation of freedom.
This remarkable event reminded me of an essay by a teacher of mine, Harry Jaffa, called “On the Necessity of a Scholarship of the Politics of Freedom.” Its point was that a certain kind of scholarship is needed to support the principles of a nation such as ours. America is the most deliberate nation in history—it was built for reasons that are stated in the legal documents that form its founding. The reasons are given in abstract and universal terms, and without good scholarship they can be turned astray. I was reminded of that essay because this event was the greatest exhibition in my experience of the combination of the scholarship and the politics of freedom.
My thoughts on President Arnn’s article:
I think it is a very good article. Included is part of Ronald Reagan’s Farewell Address as president in January 1989. In his life, Reagan had seen enough of a change in American society to make this comment:
“Younger parents aren’t sure that an ambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children.”
Then, Mr. Reagan issued a warning. (You’ll have to click on the link to the article above to see it.)
President Arnn goes on to discuss a few unknown facts about Thomas Jefferson. Before his well written short conclusion, he writes:
“To present young people with a full and honest account of our nation’s history is to invest them with the spirit of freedom. It is to teach them something more than why our country deserves their love, although that is a good in itself. It is to teach them that the people in the past, even the great ones, were human and had to struggle. And by teaching them that, we prepare them to struggle with the problems and evils in and around them. Teaching them instead that the past was simply wicked and that now they are able to see so perfectly the right, we do them a disservice and fit them to be slavish, incapable of developing sympathy for others or undergoing trials on their own.”
Having read some of what our forefather’s wrote, I cannot help but think of how much better prepared they seemed to be to handle what lay ahead. Like Mr. Reagan, I think we have gone backwards in many ways. In spite of technological, medical, and other amazing advances, Americans seem more divided and less content than ever. The rough, unkind, and unwise rhetoric that spills from many different sources fuels a fire that seems like it will be long lived.
Anyone who has read much of this blog at any length knows that I believe our problems lay in our disobedience to the authority of God’s Holy Word, the Bible. It is the greatest history book, one of the most owned and least read. One cannot read it and not see the importance of adhering to the protections God gave us in the Ten Commandments alone. The results of ignoring such valuable protections have proved devastating to many peoples of the past. Americans today are no more special in the eyes of God than those who have come before us. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. To think otherwise is to put too much faith in human strength and ability.
The Words of Jesus put life in prospective:
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
“My people shall dwell in quiet resting places.”
Peace and rest belong not to the unregenerate, they are the peculiar possession of the Lord’s people, and of them only. The God of Peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are stayed upon him. When man was unfallen, his God gave him the flowery bowers of Eden as his quiet resting places; alas! how soon sin blighted the fair abode of innocence. In the day of universal wrath when the flood swept away a guilty race, the chosen family were quietly secured in the resting-place of the ark, which floated them from the old condemned world into the new earth of the rainbow and the covenant, herein typifying Jesus, the ark of our salvation. Israel rested safely beneath the blood-besprinkled habitations of Egypt when the destroying angel smote the first-born; and in the wilderness the shadow of the pillar of cloud, and the flowing rock, gave the weary pilgrims sweet repose. At this hour we rest in the promises of our faithful God, knowing that his words are full of truth and power; we rest in the doctrines of his word, which are consolation itself; we rest in the covenant of his grace, which is a haven of delight. More highly favoured are we than David in Adullam, or Jonah beneath his gourd, for none can invade or destroy our shelter. The person of Jesus is the quiet resting-place of his people, and when we draw near to him in the breaking of the bread, in the hearing of the word, the searching of the Scriptures, prayer, or praise, we find any form of approach to him to be the return of peace to our spirits.
“I hear the words of love, I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice, and I have peace with God.
‘Tis everlasting peace, sure as Jehovah’s name,
‘Tis stable as his steadfast throne, for evermore the same:
The clouds may go and come, and storms may sweep my sky,
This blood-sealed friendship changes not, the cross is ever nigh.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
(Mr. Spurgeon finished this devotion with a portion of the Hymn “I Hear the Words of Love” by Horatius Bonar.)
My favorite contemporary scientist for years has been Dr. Robert Gentry. He went into the presence of the Lord in January. I respect him greatly because of the personal sacrifices he made to follow where the scientific evidence led him.
Now, among living scientists, I would have to put Dr. James Tour as my favorite. His resume far exceeds that of Dr. Gentry which in no way lessens the greatness of Mr. Gentry in my mind.
This is a very interesting discussion between two Scientists who happen to be Christians. (Or should I say “Christians who happen to be scientists?”)
In education, “why” is generally the highest level question that one can ask. Teachers are encouraged to use Bloom’s Taxonomy to create high-level questions. For example, instead of asking, “Which U.S. President, authorized by the U.S. Congress, sent the American military into the Iraqi conflict in 2003?” a teacher could ask, “Was President Bush justified in sending U.S. soldiers to Iraq and why do you think that?”
Here are several articles that I have read that relate to the title above and a few of my thoughts on each:
Whenever someone comes up with 10 reasons to think the coronavirus is a judgment of God, like Peter Leithart does here, I’m curious to see what he thinks. I am not only curious about his thoughts, I always try to find out a bit about him. I have done both.
Mr. Leithart asks the question “Why?” and his 10 reasons represent his thoughts about his home country, the U.S.
Each one of his reasons is a possible answer for “Why?” and “Why now?”
In answering the first of the two questions in his article, Dr. Land states:
So, when people ask, “Did God cause this to happen?” the answer has to be, “No, He did not.” Why? The Bible tells us that “no one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18). The Psalmist tells us that “the works of his hands are faithful and just” (Psalm 111:7) and “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
I particularly like Dr. Land’s reliance on scripture. I also liked it that he started the article with:
Whenever we seek to answer such questions, we must first express our humility, remembering the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (Rom. 8:23-24 CSB).
Dr. Land has impressive educational achievements and yet he says we need to remember our position in relation to God.
Did God allow the coronavirus? Dr. Land gives an interesting illustration using the Rose Bowl of 2006 (U.S.C. vs. Texas) to explain how God views human history. (It is an article worth your time.)
Dr. Land’s opinion:
“Did God cause the Coronavirus pandemic?” No. “Did God allow the pandemic to happen?” Yes.
Also, he states this:
Can God ultimately redeem the pandemic for good? That depends entirely on how we as Christians and as a nation respond to this terrible tragedy.
This is the title of N.T. Wright’s article that appeared in Time magazine.
No doubt the usual silly suspects will tell us why God is doing this to us. A punishment? A warning? A sign? These are knee-jerk would-be Christian reactions in a culture which, generations back, embraced rationalism: everything must have an explanation. But supposing it doesn’t? Supposing real human wisdom doesn’t mean being able to string together some dodgy speculations and say, “So that’s all right then?” What if, after all, there are moments such as T. S. Eliot recognized in the early 1940s, when the only advice is to wait without hope, because we’d be hoping for the wrong thing?
Since Mr. Wright calls certain reactions to the virus silly and “would-be Christian,” what is his view?
Rationalists (including Christian rationalists) want explanations; Romantics (including Christian romantics) want to be given a sigh of relief. But perhaps what we need more than either is to recover the biblical tradition of lament. Lament is what happens when people ask, “Why?” and don’t get an answer.
Is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow what happens when people don’t get an answer? I would agree that the answer is sometimes “yes.” But Christians I know don’t get answers and still call faith “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I’ve never heard one quote the T.S. Elliot version of hope Mr. Wright uses:
What if, after all, there are moments such as T. S. Eliot recognized in the early 1940s, when the only advice is to wait without hope, because we’d be hoping for the wrong thing?
Christians know the hope that they have. It is a blessed hope.
They are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus…”
I’m always concerned when someone thinks they have all of the answers, which is the tone of Mr. Wright here. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. He did use the term “perhaps.”
The article ends with:
As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell. And out of that there can emerge new possibilities, new acts of kindness, new scientific understanding, new hope. New wisdom for our leaders? Now there’s a thought.
We become small shrines? What is that supposed to mean? I’m all for new acts of kindness and I’m all for new scientific understanding, but Mr. Wright seems to clash with himself when he criticizes “Rationalism” at least twice in this endeavor.
I understand lamenting and I verily understand groaning. I don’t understand Mr. Wright.
John Lennox has written a book named “Where is God in a Coronavirus World?” Mr. Lennox is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford University. I have not read his book, but I have watched this video:
I have always appreciated the views of Mr. Lennox and had no different experience here. John is asked, “Why have viruses at all?” I’d recommend you watch the video.
I could continue to share opinions and make my own speculations but the truth is, I do not know why the Corona virus has hit our world now and I do not know why. I do think three of the four gentlemen above have given good possibilities for these questions. The fourth view (that of N.T. Wright) is also a possibility.
I do know one thing. If I understand the tribulation as Christ describes it in Matthew 24 (along with other passages in the Bible), COVID-19, at least to this point, is like a mosquito bite compared to what is eventually coming. Many people I talk to think that we are living in the days of “birth pangs” described in Matthew 24:8. I think this is very possible. Whether we are closing in on or are in the last days or not, here is a passage that we all should keep in mind:
1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, 4 but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. 11 Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ 12 But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
This parable is stated directly after the chapter about the Tribulation. It is found in Matthew 25.
If I see any other interesting views on “Why?” and “Why now?” I may add them as time allows.
Alistair Begg’s Easter Sermon 2020
“Thou art my hope in the day of evil.”
The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. True, it is written in God’s Word, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;” and it is a great truth, that religion is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above; but experience tells us that if the course of the just be “As the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” yet sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light. There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the earlier stages of their Christian career; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters,” but suddenly they find the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the Land of Goshen they have to tread the sandy desert; in the place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Oh! say not so, thou who art walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the wormwood; the dearest of his children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows. Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid. He tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.
Charles H. Spurgeon
When I read this today, the verse seemed to fit our day in other ways as well. The deity of Christ is under attack perhaps more today than ever. Just this week, I’ve stumbled across several different religious leaders who do not give Jesus his full position as God as the Bible teaches. (30 “I and the Father are one.” – John 10)
Add to that the many false prophets, prosperity teachers, New Apostolic Reformation leaders, New Age thought, Unitarian positions, cults, etc. (I’m not even including other religions here) and we have a time where Bible verses are twisted to make Jesus someone to fit personal wishes instead of the true Jesus found in scripture (Tota Scriptura).
We need to be familiar with the entire Word of God so that we are not fooled by these impostors. I think it’s time for all of us to go back to the basics and study why we believe the things we do believe. I think this because basic Christian Orthodoxy which has spanned the ages is in question (i.e. the diety of Christ).
Just like my church (and yours) Parkside Church is full of empty seats until further notice. Pastor Begg gives a sermon to his congregation through his church’s website. It is relevant to our times. The message starts at 16:45. May God bless you by His Holy Spirit through this recent lesson.
It may be of great service to us, before we fall asleep, to remember this mournful fact, for it may lead us to set loose by earthly things. There is nothing very pleasant in the recollection that we are not above the shafts of adversity, but it may humble us and prevent our boasting like the Psalmist in our morning’s portion. “My mountain standeth firm: I shall never be moved.” (Psalm 30:6) It may stay us from taking too deep root in this soil from which we are so soon to be transplanted into the heavenly garden. Let us recollect the frail tenure upon which we hold our temporal mercies. If we would remember that all the trees of earth are marked for the woodman’s axe, we should not be so ready to build our nests in them. We should love, but we should love with the love which expects death, and which reckons upon separations. Our dear relations are but loaned to us, and the hour when we must return them to the lender’s hand may be even at the door. The like is certainly true of our worldly goods. Do not riches take to themselves wings and fly away? Our health is equally precarious. Frail flowers of the field, we must not reckon upon blooming forever. There is a time appointed for weakness and sickness, when we shall have to glorify God by suffering, and not by earnest activity. There is no single point in which we can hope to escape from the sharp arrows of affliction; out of our few days there is not one secure from sorrow. Man’s life is a cask full of bitter wine; he who looks for joy in it had better seek for honey in an ocean of brine. Beloved reader, set not your affections upon things of earth: but seek those things which are above, for here the moth devoureth, and the thief breaketh through, but there all joys are perpetual and eternal. The path of trouble is the way home. Lord, make this thought a pillow for many a weary head!
Charles H. Spurgeon
Morning and Evening Devotional