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Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Queen Athaliah Orders The King’s Children to be Killed by Harmen Jansz Muller, Hadrianus Junius, and Gerard De Jode.

And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.

  • II Kings 11:1

Today we continue our look at how Christians are to conduct themselves when they find themselves living, as we are here in America in 2022, under an evil and hostile government. 

For most of us in America and in the West generally, the idea that we ever would find ourselves living under a government that actively hates us and seeks to harm us has seemed like a paranoid fantasy.  Yet with the growing power of globalist organizations such as the Vatican, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, and the Bilderbergers, as well as individuals such as Bill Gates and George Soros, Americans, and citizens of other once free Western nations have found themselves living under governments that are actively and openly hostile to their political and economic liberties and even their very lives. 

This state of affairs raises a number of questions for Christians. How is a Christian to respond when living under a hostile government? Does a Christian have a right to resist an evil government, or does he simply have to put up with whatever laws a rogue government enacts, however evil and destructive they are?  If resistance is an option, who does the resisting?  What actions constitute proper resistance if resistance can ever be considered proper? 

Last week we considered the actions of a private citizen to resist the actions of evil, usurping Queen Athaliah by looking at Jehosheba, who took it upon herself to rescue the only remaining heir of the Davidic throne from the murderous queen, thus preserving the David dynasty.  Had Jehosheba not stepped up and saved the infant Joash, there would have been no continuing line of David to sit on the throne of Judah and God’s promise would have been made void.  One lesson we can take from this is that private citizens may resist the commands or the actions of a ruler when those actions are evil. 

The basis for private citizens is clearly seen in Romans 13.  There, we read that the civil magistrate is, “God’s minister to you for good.” If the civil magistrate is “God’s minister,” it is God who is sovereign, not the magistrate.  This means that the magistrate’s power is delegated to him by God and does not originate with himself.  As such, the civil magistrate is bound by the law of God just as is the private citizen.  Rulers do not have a license to lie, cheat, steal, or murder any more than a private citizen does.  But if this is the case, who can call the civil magistrate to account?  Or to put the question slightly differently, is it ever appropriate to rebel against and forcibly remove from power an evil ruler?  And if it is, who can rightfully do this?      

The Scriptures rule out the idea of private citizens taking matters into their own hands.  Christians are enjoined to pray for rulers so that they may live peaceable lives.  Christians can rebuke evil rules for their evil deeds.  Take for example John the Baptist’s rebuke of Philip for taking his brother’s wife.  But leading a violent rebellion is not something Christians as private citizens are called to do.  As further proof of this, we see examples in the Scriptures of men who assassinated evil kings – for example, those men who assassinated King Joash when he went rogue later in life – being treated like murderers.

So, is it ever appropriate for Christians to use physical violence to rebel against an evil ruler?  Not for Christian private citizens.  But it is appropriate for Christians who wield civil power to do so.  In Protestant circles, this idea has historically been known as the doctrine of the lesser magistrate.  In his book The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates: A Proper Resistance to Tyranny and a Repudiation of Unlimited Obedience to Civil Government, Matthew Trewhella defines the doctrine of the lesser magistrate thus,

The lesser magistrate doctrine declares that when the superior or higher civil authority makes unjust/immoral laws or decrees, the lesser or lower ranking civil authority has both a right and duty to refuse obedience to that superior authority.  If necessary, the lesser authorities even have the right and obligation to actively resist the superior authority (1).

Note well, as Trewhella has defined it, the doctrine of the lesser magistrate states that lower ranking civil authorities not only have the right to actively resist superior authorities, but when those superior authorities make unjust or immoral laws or decrees, they even have the duty to do so.

Let us now turn to the example of the faithful High Priest Jehoiada to see how his interposition helped to remove a wicked government and restore the God-ordained Davidic monarchy to Judah. 

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Queen Athaliah Orders The King’s Children to be Killed by Harmen Jansz Muller, Hadrianus Junius, and Gerard De Jode.

And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.

“If their princes exceed their bounds, Madam, no doubt they may be resisted, even by power.”  Those were John Knox’s words in response to Queen Mary when she queried him about the rights of subjects to resist their princes. 

Was Knox right?  I contend that he was.  It is my contention that not only may an evil government be resisted, but it is in fact the duty of Christians to resist civil authorities when they, in Knox’s words, “exceed their bounds.”

Last week, we began our look at Christian resistance to an evil, usurping civil magistrate.  Part of the answer given was what Christians should not do:  engage in private rebellion.  One example of sinful rebellion we looked at in the Word of God is found in II Kings 12:20 where we read that King Joash was murdered by two of his servants.  When Joash’s son, Amaziah, came to power, he had the men responsible for the assassination of Joash put to death, and rightfully so.

But what is the positive duty of the Christian?  If Christians are not to engage in private rebellion by assassinating a ruler, even if the ruler is unjust as was Joash in his later years as king, what are believers to do?  We also explored that question last week in our discussion about the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate (DLM).  The DLM tells us that when a higher authority becomes corrupt, it is the right, indeed it is the duty, for lesser civil authorities to interpose between the corrupt higher authority and the people. And not only do lesser magistrates have the right and duty to resist, but that right and duty extends up to and includes removing from office and, if the situation calls for it, executing the offending higher authority.

This week I’d like to look at one very clear example of this found in the books of II Kings and II Chronicles concerning the evil, usurping Queen Athaliah.   

Although it is not the main purpose of this essay, it’s worth mentioning that the account of Queen Athaliah is an important text also for refuting feminism.  Many today, including many Christians, have had their minds so twisted by 200-plus years of feminist dogma that they find it strange that anyone would oppose women serving as rulers of cities and nations.  In fact, there a probably few ideas that can incite people to anger than to suggest that God has denied women the right to political leadership. But the thundering Scot John Knox was not so blinded and rightly argued against women rulers in his “First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women,” a work which this author considers among the greatest essays ever written by a Christian.

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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

  • Ephesians 6:10

Commenting on Ephesians 6:10, Gordon Clark said of this verse, “Here begins the peroration of the epistle.” 

“Peroration” is not a term most of us commonly use.  It means the concluding part of a discourse, especially the concluding part of an oration.  A second meaning of “peroration” is highly rhetorical speech.  In light of this definition, Clark’s calling verse 10 the beginning of the epistle’s peroration certainly seems appropriate.  Verses 10-18 of Ephesians chapter 6 are memorable, not only for the message itself but also for the rhetoric Paul uses to make his point.

In this passage, Paul uses the figure of a Christian soldier armed to do battle against the wiles of the devil

Now this passage on Christian spiritual warfare has many applications.  But the focus of my comments today will be concerning Christians and the present battle against Covid tyranny. 

For nearly two years, Christians the world over have been subjected to a remarkably intense political, economic, and psychological assault by the political, academic, religious, and business elite of the world.  This assault, whether in the form of unprecedented lockdowns, vaccine mandates, or restrictions on movement, ultimately is not a political battle, although it involves political oppression.  Neither is it fundamentally economic in nature, even though the pushers of the Covid narrative have certainly attacked ordinary people economically while at the same time vastly enriching many billionaires who benefited from the lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

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“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God concerning you.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I’ve always been thankful for the Thanksgiving holiday.  From its Christian origin in the early history of America to its central message of giving thanks to God for his providential blessings, to the food and family, it serves as an annual and much-needed reminder to God’s people to consider the many blessings he brings to our lives and express our gratitude for them.

In thinking about my own sinful tendency to see the worst in things, I would add that setting apart a day to give thanks to God for his many blessings is of no small importance. 

The verse from 1 Thessalonians quoted above is remarkable for the extent of its application.  Paul didn’t tell the Christians in Thessalonica to give thanks in some things, or to give thanks in many things, or to give thanks when things went well for them.  He told them, “In everything give thanks,” that is, Christians are to give thanks in all circumstances.

Does anyone else find that a bit challenging and convicting? 

Giving thanks can be hard, even when things turn out as we like.  Perhaps we get caught up in the moment and forget the Lord.  Or maybe we, as did Nebuchadnezzar when overlooking the glory of Babylon, want to attribute some great achievement to our own wisdom or goodness or skill rather than to God who is the giver of all good gifts.   

But if it can be a challenge to give thanks when things go well, much more is this the case when events are not to our liking.  Whether it’s illness, or economic loss, or the suffering of some injustice, it can be hard to see the good in any of those things, let alone give thanks. 

To the natural mind, the thought of giving thanks to God for life’s disappointments and tragedies likely seems not only foolish but even madness. 

Yet the plain language of this passage is a command by the Apostle Paul to give thanks in everything, leaving nothing for which we are not to give thanks.

But how is it that Christians can make the case for giving thanks in all things without sounding like madmen? 

The key is understanding God’s sovereign purposes, both for his own glory and for the good of his people.  In Romans 8, Paul provides an explanation of his broad statement “In everything give thanks.”  There, he writes, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Note here that while Paul speaks of “all things” working together for good, he qualifies “all things” by limiting the scope of this promise “to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The promise of all things working together for good is true, but it applies only to those who are the called in Christ Jesus.  Those who are outside of Christ have no basis to claim this promise.  Indeed, if all things work together for good – even those things we would call disasters – for those who love God, it follows that nothing ultimately works together for good to those whose minds are enmity against God – even those things we would commonly call blessings.

Whether the events in our lives are blessings or curses depends not on the events themselves but on God who works all things according to his own purpose, for his own glory, and for the good of his people.

Commenting on 1 Thessalonians 5:18, John Calvin noted,

For this is the will of God — that is, according to Chrysostom’s opinion — that we give thanks. As for myself, I am of opinion that a more ample meaning is included under these terms — that God has such a disposition towards us in Christ, that even in our afflictions we have large occasion of thanksgiving. For what is fitter or more suitable for pacifying us, than when we learn that God embraces us in Christ so tenderly, that he turns to our advantage and welfare everything that befalls us? Let us, therefore, bear in mind, that this is a special remedy for correcting our impatience — to turn away our eyes from beholding present evils that torment us, and to direct our views to a consideration of a different nature — how God stands affected towards us in Christ.

Did you catch that?  “For what is fitter or more suitable for pacifying us, than when we learn that God embraces us in Christ so tenderly, that he turns to our advantage and welfare everything that befalls us?”

Many in our own decadent time, some of whom claim to be Christian theologians, will argue that knowledge, if indeed we are able to have knowledge at all, is of little value.  But what could be a greater practical value for dealing with the difficulties that life throws at us than understanding God’s sovereignty and his goodness to his people is such that all things without exception work to their good and not to their harm?

To such a God and Savior how can we, his people, not give thanks? 

Wishing you and your family a happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day 2021,

Steve       

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I’m really glad I’m not one of those people,” I thought to myself. The year was, I think, 1978 and I was 12 years old and in the 6th grade.

So what was it I was glad I wasn’t? Just who were those people?

Calvinists. Yes, the dreaded Calvinists

You see, I was reading my history textbook. You know, the kind of big, thick general history textbooks we used to have. The ones that started out talking about the Sumerians and ended somewhere around WWII.

This particular textbook had managed to find room for a paragraph or two on the Protestant Reformation. Part of me is tempted to blast the textbook writers for devoting one or two lousy paragraphs to the greatest Christian movement since the days of the apostles. But when I think about it, I shouldn’t be too harsh on them. After all, at least they mentioned the Reformation. I’m not sure if textbooks today would do even that. Further, the textbook writers managed to get at least one important detail right: the importance the Calvinists laid on of the doctrine of election.

It was the doctrine of election that offended me. It struck me as insufferable arrogant. To me, it sounded as if the Calvinists thought they were God’s chosen people because they were innately better than everyone else. Of course, that’s not what Calvinists taught then or teach now. But that was my assumption. Calvinists believed then and believe now that no one is worthy of God’s grace. That’s why it’s called grace! If sinners were in some way worthy of God’s grace, then grace would no longer be grace.

But I didn’t understand that then and wouldn’t until many years later.

I was a church kid growing up. Looking back on it, I believed many true things about God, but I didn’t know the Gospel of Justification by Faith (Belief) Alone.

One of the points I was confused on, and it’s a very common point of confusion in American evangelicalism, is the relationship between regeneration and faith.

In my 12-year-old self’s understanding, I thought that I first had to believe before I could be regenerated.

I’ll come back to this thought later, but for now, let’s leave it at that.

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Take heed that you not be deceived.

  • Luke 21:8

There are in Scripture numbers commands directed to Christians not to be deceived.  Take, for example, Christ’s warning to his disciples at the beginning of his discourse about the end times.  “Take heed that you not be deceived,” he told them. 

My Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines “deceive” thus: the imposing of a false idea or belief that causes bewilderment or helplessness or furthers the agent’s purpose.”  On that definition, there are certainly a lot of Americans who have failed to heed Jesus’s injunction. 

Our being deceived is no light matter.  Speaking of Eve, the Apostle Paul noted that she was “deceived” by the serpent in the garden and that by her deception she “fell into transgression.” 

In Deuteronomy, we read, “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and you turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the LORD’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.”  In this case, one’s being deceived would result in death and dispossession. 

In 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” Here we have a list of sins common, no doubt, in Paul’s day as well as in ours.  It would be easy enough to excuse them as they were common practice.  It might have even seemed strange to people in the first century if one did not practice such things.  Perhaps the Corinthian Christians were tempted to pass over such behavior as customary and not worth mentioning.  Maybe they were afraid of challenging those who were involved in them out of misplaced fear of men.  Yet Paul says no one who practices such things “will inherit the kingdom of God.”   

Many other examples of deception and the Scriptures telling us to avoid it can be found.

I bring up the matter of deception because we live in a world that is working to deceive us 24/7 and doing so with tools that are more sophisticated than at any time in history.   

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“Ye are the salt of the earth…Ye are the light of the world.”

  • Matthew 5:13, 14

“That’s the job description of a Christian,” said my Sunday school teacher many years ago.  By this, he meant that Christians are called to be salt and light in a lost and dying world. 

Salt in the sense Jesus spoke of here meant “savory” or “flavorful.”  As John Gill put it,

This is to be understood of the disciples and apostles of Christ; who might be compared to “salt”, because of the savoury doctrines they preached; as all such are, which are agreeable to the Scriptures, and are of the evangelistic kind, which are full of Christ, serve to exalt him, and to magnify the grace of God; and are suitable to the experiences of the saints, and are according to godliness, and tend to promote it:  also because of their savoury lives and conversations; whereby they recommended, and gave sanction to the doctrines they preached, were examples to the saints, and checks upon wicked men.

In the Scriptures, “light” is often a reference to knowledge of the truth.  And that is the sense in which Jesus used it here.  Again, John Gill,

What the luminaries, the sun and moon, are in the heavens, with respect to corporal light, that the apostles were in the world with regard to spiritual light; carrying and spreading the light of the Gospel not only in Judea, but all over the world, which was in great darkness of ignorance and error; and through a divine blessing attending their ministry, many were turned from the darkness of Judaism and Gentilism, of sin and infidelity, to the marvellous light of divine grace. 

As Christians, are words out actions, even our thoughts, are to show Christ to our neighbor in a lost, dying and hopeless world. 

Doubtless, most Christians would agree with this assessment.  But how hard it can be to put into practice!

If I’m honest with myself and with you, I have to say that I don’t always do a very good job at this.  Perhaps you’re a bit like me, and look around you at the mess, the perfect babel of confusion our civilization has become and despair.  The forces of evil are overwhelming, and I cannot overcome them.  They have power, money, influence, and prestige in abundance.  What are my puny efforts in comparison to that?  And you can probably guess at some of the great discouragers I’m talking about.

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Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

“Is there any good news?” That was a text a friend sent me a few months back.  My answer to him was something like, “not really.”

As a Christian, I know full well that there is good news in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that all who believe in him are justified and accepted as righteous in the sight of God.  That promise never changes no matter what the headlines say.

But if we look strictly at the headlines concerning the events of the day, there has been very little good news at all for nearly a year and a half.  In truth, the bad news has been pouring in for a long time, but it seems to have gone next level since early 2020. 

The Covid hoax – I say hoax not in the sense that no one died of Covid-19, but in the sense that the wildly overstated danger of this disease was used to crush political, economic and religious liberty in what appears to be a world-wide orchestrated event to centralize power among the globalist elite – the BLM hoax – we’ve been lectured for what seems like forever that America is hopelessly racist and that racist police unfairly target black Americans, but there is little evidence to support these statements and much to contradict them; yes, black Americans have higher rates of incarceration than other groups but that is because of the uncomfortable fact that they commit a wildly disproportionate amount of violent crime – and the 2020 election hoax – we were told in no uncertain terms that the 2020 presidential election was the most secure in history, while at the same time anyone who pointed out glaring irregularities in the election was dismisses as a QAnon conspiracy theorist and deplatformed from social media – all worked together to make 2020 a uniquely depressing year for those of us who lover liberty and truth. 

And the knock-on effects of those hoaxes are still with us in 2021 and likely will continue to be with us in the foreseeable future. 

At the very least, these hoaxes are examples of false witness bearing, a violation of the ninth commandment.  Which law, although not formally committed to writing at the time of the events in Genesis 1-11, was nevertheless in effect. 

The three hoaxes listed above are certainly not the only hoaxes Americans are subjected to daily.  We must not omit the transgender hoax in which we taught to accept that men really can become women and women really can become men.  And if you don’t believe it, well, very bad things are in store for you.

And we’re not yet done with hoaxes.  As if all the above weren’t enough, now the major news networks are pushing UFO’s. It’s almost as if a there’s a concerted effort to distract people.

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Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

Smash the patriarchy.

That’s a common turn of phrase these days.  And those who use it fell fully justified in their doing so.

After all, it’s self-evident that patriarchy is an evil social construct from the benighted past that cannot be removed from society fast enough. For those slow to embrace the revolution, opprobrium, exclusion and possibly even violence await.    

Patriarchy, in the eyes of a doctrinaire feminist, is merely a social construct.  Feminists view man – a feminist likely would prefer a less “sexist” term such as humanity – as a blank slate whose thinking can be shaped in one way just as easily as in another.  In feminist thought, a matriarchy is just as natural as a patriarchy.  Traditional sex roles – man as primary breadwinner, wife as keeper at home – could be changed to a 50/50 partnership in all things, or even flipped on its head. 

Put another way, the historic relationship between men and women is merely a convention such as deciding which side of the road to drive on.  In America, we drive on the right side of the road.  In Great Britain, Australia, and Japan, they drive on the left side of the road.  It really doesn’t matter which side of the road you drive on.  The important thing is that every agrees which side. 

But in feminist thought, it’s not enough to say that patriarchy is a convention.  In feminist thought, patriarchy is oppression, a system designed by men to unfairly keep women from achieving their full potential.  Such an unjust system must be smashed. 

According to the article “Smash The Patriarchy: 8 Ways To Do It With Love And Compassion,” smashing the patriarchy, “refers to challenging the dominant social, political, cultural, and economic thoughts that value the idea of hegemonic, toxic masculinity over everything.” 

Feminists, it seems, have made a Baal out of smashing the patriarchy together with all it supposed toxic masculinity.  While King Jehu feigned to serve Baal much, the feminists have actually done so and reaped the rewards of their choice.

It’s not unusual to find articles talking about how much more unhappy and stressed out women are today compared with their mothers and grandmothers.  Unable to account for this phenomenon, the simultaneous success of women smashing the patriarchy and their increasing unhappiness, secular writers have taken to calling it “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.”   

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Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

In an article titled “Pope Francis Calls for Giving United Nations Organization ‘Real Teeth,’” the current occupant of the seat of Antichrist says that, “The twenty-first century is witnessing a weakening of the power of nation states, chiefly because the economic and financial sectors, being transnational, tend to prevail over the political.” 

That economic and financial sectors have throughout history have operated across national borders, and that the Bible in no way prohibits international trade, these things the Pope does not want you to think about.  These forces, the Pope tells us, in some undefined way “prevail over the political,” and this, we are to take on the Pope’s word, is a very bad thing that can be fixed only by ushering in an even bigger government, a world government run by the UN. 

So what does the Pope mean by “economic and financial sectors” prevailing over the political?  Given his authoritarian dislike of economic and political liberty, he likely means that, despite the best efforts of regulators to stamp out economic and political liberty, people, ordinary people, are still free to make voluntary economic decisions in their perceived best interests.  Liberty of this sort is deeply disturbing to globalist tyrants of all sorts, whether we’re talking about religious globalists such as the Popes of Rome – all of them, Francis included, are Antichrists who hate, loathe and despise Christ and his people whom he freed spiritually, politically and economically – or secular tyrants of the sort who run the UN, the World Economic Forum or any number of other globalist busybody organizations. 

There’s an old saying, if it doesn’t fit, get a bigger hammer.  The drive for world government is all about elite globalists such as the Pope getting a bigger hammer to beat the nations and peoples of the world into their mold, imposing on them by force the choices and behaviors the elite want them to exhibit, but which if left to themselves the people would not choose. “There’s just too much liberty out there,” is ever the cry of the tyrant. 

In times past, those who warned about a plot to impose world government on the nations of the earth were viewed as kooks.  “That’s conspiracy theory!” people would cry. 

But the push for world government, while it is a conspiracy in the proper sense of the term, is certainly no unsubstantiated rumor spread by fact challenged individuals.  It’s an open secret, possibly one of the worst kept secrets ever.  The Pope’s of Rome and other Vatican officials simply cannot stop themselves from openly longing for world government and constantly take the opportunity to tell everyone how wonderful their brave new world will be.

As Christians, we cannot endorse world government.  But how can I say this?  As Christians, we must always ground our ideas about politics and economics in the Scriptures.  So where in the Bible does is the matter of world government and individual nations ever brought up?  Is it brought up at all?  In short, yes.  The Bible has a stance on world government.  God opposes it.  Further, God endorses the idea of a system of nation states of the sort that came about as a result of the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which concluded the Thirty Years War.     

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