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Why bother coming to a political rally?

A friend asked about the effectiveness of political rallies and why we should spend our time going to them. This was specifically addressing a rally in Austin, TX on Feb. 25, 2017 for the total abolition of abortion. The following was my answer. It was later published by Abolish Abortion Texas. The principles apply to other issues as well.


For those that are not politically involved, the question of why going through the trouble of loading up your family, sometime very large families, and driving several hundred miles to attend a political rally is a legitimate one. There are several reasons why a rally can be an effective tool to positively influence your culture. This, of course, assumes a) the rally is properly run and b) the cause you believe in is, in fact, positive. While the list could be much longer here are a few reasons why it worth the effort, if those two criteria are met.

texas-capitol-rally-imageFirst, a rally is a visible sign of the support for any issue or bill. Any issue can be widely supported, but if there are no visible signs of that support it becomes much easier to deny that such support exists. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” comes to mind. Phone calls are great, but an image leaves an impression. This truth is applied both in the positive and negative. If we claim there is wide support for an issue, and a large crowd shows up for a rally it confirms the claim. It also confirms credibility to the one making the claim. If on the other hand, we claim the support is wide, but only a few dozen people can be bothered with showing their support, the image of a few lone rangers will also be a lasting one. It then becomes much harder to be believed when making such a claim in the future. This brings us to my next reason and general rule for understanding politicians.

Modern politicians are much better at counting than reading. The details of a bill matter far less than the voting public’s support for it. If there is one thing politicians love, it is staying a politician. This means the greatest fear for most of them is a group of angry, in-district voters. Nothing communicates an angry group like images of an angry mob demanding action. The thoughts of this angry mob coming from their district is enough to keep them up at night. An important point to remember is that we need be angry and not sin (Eph 4:26). Our anger should be directed to the evil that is being allowed.

Another principle of winning at politics is controlling the public conversation. A successful rally should draw media attention. What they say about us is less relevant than that they mention us. An insignificant rally will be easy to ignore. A large, diverse group all coming together for the sake of a cause is a story. A successful rally doesn’t guarantee media coverage, but an unsuccessful one guarantees the media won’t cover it. If people aren’t talking about our issue, we aren’t winning.

Read the rest of the article here

 

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Biblical Voting in the Age of Trump

There are several things fascinating about this Presidential election. As someone who has virtually given up on National politics, for me to say that is not an easy statement. The effect of the Donald Trump phenomenon has influenced far more than just his candidacy for the highest office in our nation. The most important aspect that I have noticed is that Christians, who have traditionally voted Republican, have been forced to deal with an identity crisis. Can they vote for a man like Donald Trump who barely pretends to hold to the true faith?[1]  On the heels of this dilemma, they are questioning the basis for voting and the role their faith has in that decision.  wtrump_0425There is no doubt that Trump has said and done things that are too depraved to be repeated here, but so has Hillary Clinton, his opponent in this race for the White House. Isn’t she the greater evil and therefore Trump would be the better choice, the lesser evil?   Is it acceptable for a Christian to vote for a man like Trump for President? This brings up the case of voting for the lesser of two evils.  I have yet to meet anyone that actually believes Trump is an upstanding man of character. As for me personally, I have never been forced to wrestle with the ethical implications of my vote in any previous elections like I have in this one. This is in large part due to my role as being elected as a Republican Presidential Elector in the State of Texas. I have had to weigh what are the obligations of my personal vote in the ballot box and how do they differ from my representative vote as an Elector for the Electoral College.

Before answering these questions we must first agree on the standard we appeal to, to decide such matters. I firmly believe that the Christian must always turn to the Bible as the revealed Word of God. If the Bible says we ought not to do something, then we ought not to do it. If it commands us to do something, then we had better well do it. This should seem like an obvious statement that doesn’t need to be written, but in the world of politics the obvious sometimes isn’t. The Bible has a lot to say about civil rulers and the standard He holds both them and us to.

Qualifications

What are the qualifications for someone who desires to serve in civil office in the Bible?  There are many passages in scripture that have shaped my understanding of the biblical qualifications for civil office. Here is a brief glance at a few of them.[2]

The God of Israel said,

The Rock of Israel spoke to me:

He who rules over men must be just,

Ruling in the fear of God. ~ 2 Sam 23:3

These are the parting words of King David to the children of Israel. He gives them the minimum requirements, as evident by the must, for civil rulers.  Dr. Phillip Kayser summarizes this passage well, “it appears that the absolute minimum is that he be male (‘he”), that he be subject to God’s law (“just”), and that he be a believer who rules in the fear of God. The ‘must’ indicates to me that this is God’s minimum standard.” God spoke through King David, a civil ruler, and gave an authoritative command (imperative) about what type of man a ruler must be. He must fear God and be just according to God’s law. We can also look to the qualifications Moses was given by Jethro for selecting judges that would help him rule on smaller cases.

Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. ~ Exodus 18:21

These are the same quality of men we see described in 2 Samuel. They are men who fear God and will rule justly according to God’s law.  Moses repeats similar instructions to the Israelites before they are to enter the Promised Land,

Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you. ~ Deut 1:13

Since to be wise starts with fearing the Lord (Prov 1:7), it becomes clear that these are consistent qualifications throughout the Bible. God has given us a standard for our civil rulers.  They are to be men that fear Him and are to rule justly according His law. This has implications for both the rulers and those choosing them.

Interpretative Objections

For those that disagree with this interpretation of scripture these are some common objections I hear most often.  First, “doesn’t that only apply to Old Testament (theocratic) Israel?”  It is a reasonable objection, but there are other passages that make it clear that this was not a one-time standard that only applied to one nation.  Psalm 2 address all nations and kings of the earth.

Why do the nations rage,

And the people plot a vain thing?

The kings of the earth set themselves,

And the rulers take counsel together,

Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,

“Let us break Their bonds in pieces

And cast away Their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;

The Lord shall hold them in derision.

Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,

And distress them in His deep displeasure:

“Yet I have set My King

On My holy hill of Zion.”

“I will declare the decree:

The Lord has said to Me,

‘You are My Son,

Today I have begotten You.

Ask of Me, and I will give You

The nations for Your inheritance,

And the ends of the earth for Your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron;

You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

Now therefore, be wise, O kings;

Be instructed, you judges of the earth.

Serve the Lord with fear,

And rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,

And you perish in the way,

When His wrath is kindled but a little.

Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

It is obvious with references to “nations, kings of the earth, and judges of the earth” that the plain reading of this text is the calling of ALL civil leaders to submit to Christ’s law, rule justly, and serve Him or suffer the consequences. Again Dr. Kayser writes “Psalm 2 confirms this view. It prophesies concerning the New Testament era that any Gentile ruler that casts off God’s laws (v. 3), who rejects Christ’s Lordship (vv. 1-9), who fails to serve the Lord with fear (v. 11), and who refuses to ‘kiss the Son’ will have God angry with him and Christ will dash him with His rod of iron (judgment).” Christ has absolute authority over every person, church and nation. All government is upon His shoulders (Isa 9:6) and all civil authority is delegated by and from Him (John 19:11).  Consider all of the pagan nations that God judged for their disobedience and it is evident that God holds all nations and their rulers to His standard of righteousness.

A second objection is to reject that it applies to voting. The basic assumption in this objection is that Israel didn’t vote for their civil leaders therefore 2 Samuel can’t be an absolute binding standard upon voters. I believe the Bible presents a different picture, but before we turn to some examples we must first understand what exactly a vote is. We tend to think of voting only in terms of our personal experiences. However, a vote is simply the expression of who we desire to represent us in any elected position. To vote doesn’t require any set number of candidates or political parties. It only requires one person making a choice and expressing it in some recognizable action (Ex. ballot, raised hand, or voice).  With that in mind, we find several examples of voting for civil office in the Bible. Here are a few.[3]

We already looked at the passages relevant to Israel’s selection of judges under Moses. “Moreover you shall select from all the people, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens” (Exod 18:21) and “Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men…” (Deut 1:13).  E.C. Wines writes, “No fact can be plainer, or more certain, than that the judges, instituted at the suggestion of Jethro, were chosen by the suffrages (voting) of all Israel. The direction of Moses to the people, upon that occasion, is very explicit.”[4]

The people clearly voted verbally for Jephthan in the book of Judges:

It came to pass after a time that the people of Ammon made war against Israel. And so it was, when the people of Ammon made war against Israel, that the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. Then they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our commander, that we may fight against the people of Ammon.” So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me, and expel me from my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?” And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we have turned again to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the people of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the Lord delivers them to me, shall I be your head?” And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will be a witness between us, if we do not do according to your words.” Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord in Mizpah. ~ Judges 11:4-11

Then there is the story of Israel choosing Saul to be their king as recorded from 1 Samuel in chapters 8-11. It concludes with this:

So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. ~ 1 Samuel 11:15

The most famous of kings in the biblical record, David, is another example of a civil ruler being elected. It is noteworthy that David had been anointed by Samuel to be king years before he was willing to take the throne. He refused to take it himself. He waited until the men of Judah came to him. He waited until he was chosen by the people.

So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. And David brought up the men who were with him, every man with his household. So they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. 2 Samuel 2:2-3

The last example we will look at of the people choosing their leader is King Solomon.

Then David said to all the assembly, “Now bless the Lord your God.” So all the assembly blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the Lord and the king. And they made sacrifices to the Lord and offered burnt offerings to the Lord on the next day: a thousand bulls, a thousand rams, a thousand lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. So they ate and drank before the Lord with great gladness on that day. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and anointed him before the Lord to be the leader, and Zadok to be priest. ~ 1 Chronicles 29:20-22

In each of these examples the people chose their leaders in some form or fashion. While the kings of Israel had certainly been anointed by God to serve in those positions that in no way discounts the role the people had in the selection process. For Daniel makes it clear that God always “removes and raises up kings.”[5] The biblical example is that the people are to choose, that is vote, for their civil leaders.

5-saul-attacking-david-guercinoThe third objection to the application of these biblical qualifications for voting is that several of the kings already mentioned did not rule according this standard. In others words, they would say “we can’t look for perfectionism in our candidates because if that is the case Saul, David, and Solomon all failed the test. They were not men who feared God and ruled justly according to His law. If God raised them up to be kings than either a) God broke His own standard or b) the standard isn’t applicable.”

First we have to understand the difference between the revealed will and secret will of God.[6]  God can command His people to vote one way (revealed will) and hold them accountable for that vote. He can also at the same time use their disobedience to raise up an evil king according to His (secret) will.  The fact that God uses people’s voting to bring both good and bad kings to power according to His will is not a contradiction and is perfectly consistent with His nature.  Having said that, I do not think that Israel disobeyed these qualifications in these examples. To fear God and rule justly does not mean to be perfect. If we look at each of these men at the time they were put into office it appears they were all qualified. Saul is said to have “the Spirit of the Lord depart”[7] from him which necessarily means he had the Spirit early on in his administration. David was a “man after God’s own heart, who would do His will.”[8] When Solomon came to power it was said of him that “the Lord his God was with him and exalted him exceedingly.”[9] Each of these men sinned greatly against the Lord during their administration, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t qualified at the time they were chosen.  The qualifications of being godly men who fear the Lord and are able to rule justly does not require perfection.  It only requires what it states. They must have a discernable fear of God and appear to rule in light of that fear.

Pragmatic Objections

I now want to address the three objections to these qualifications that I consider more pragmatic in nature than interpretive.  The first objection is that we don’t have anyone biblically qualified by this standard in the race for President.  “If we are commanded to choose, then we must choose the least evil candidate.”  There is a case to be made that we must do all that we can to stop the greatest evil. However, in that process we must still vote for qualified candidates.  Remember “must” was the term scripture used. We can not use a means that God disapproves of to bring about an end that will please Him.  He doesn’t honor rebellion.  Furthermore, it is just not true that we don’t have anyone qualified.  There are hundreds of people running for President in 2016, many of which meet these qualifications. What people generally mean when they offer this objection is that there isn’t anyone in the Republican or Democratic Parties, and therefore anyone that “has a chance at winning”, that meet these qualifications.  This is absolutely correct that there isn’t anyone in either of those parties that are biblically qualified.  However, I have yet to find anywhere in God’s Word a command for us to only choose men that have a path to victory.

The second objection is that a 3rd party vote is a vote for the Democratic candidate. The presumption in this objection is that Republican candidate deserves our vote and therefore if we do not vote for him, we have essentially withdrawn a vote that belongs to him. If we recall that a vote is simply the expression of who we desire to represent us in any elected position, then this becomes an illogical statement.  If my choice is candidate X, then my choice doesn’t magically become candidate D by virtue of the fact that I didn’t chose candidate R. If I choose candidate X, then candidate X is my choice and only candidate X.

The third objection is that the righteous thing to do is to stop the greater evil.  First, this assumes that the Democratic Party is the greater evil therefore we must do everything we can to stop Hillary Clinton from winning. I can understand this position for there is no doubt that Hillary Clinton would be an evil President, but would she really be more evil than Trump in policy?  Rather than going to the talking points of the political parties and inside operatives let’s look at the biggest issues that actually matter. If we look at where they stand on the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve, murdering of unborn children, undeclared wars, the complete disregard for private property, or our national debt; the only difference between the two is in style and rhetoric.  Where it matters most, they will both pursue the same wicked policies.  Even if I am wrong about their policies, and one is slightly better than the other, it still would not make it an ethically righteous decision to suddenly throw off the qualifications in hope of possibly having a slightly less evil government. Theologians and philosophers refer to this as situational ethics.  Situational ethics says the morally right and wrong thing to do change based on the situation.  The Bible knows nothing of situational ethics, God and His Word do not change. If God tells us we must choose (vote for) a righteous man that fears Him, we are not free to attach an “unless” to the end of that command.  May we boldly proclaim that “God be true and every man a liar” (Rom 3:4). We must fear God, not man… or woman!

Conclusion

If civil leaders are expected to rule according this standard and they are judged when they do not (Psalm 2), then what can we expect as voters when we dismiss these qualifications that God has given us? My biggest concern as a Christian is what God expects of me as revealed in the Bible. I have yet to have anyone address these passages in satisfactory way that convinces me otherwise.  It seems clear to me that God both calls me to vote and directs me to only vote for men who fear Him and are just according to God’s law.  He doesn’t expect or allow me to add to his qualifications and seek for perfection. He also doesn’t hold me accountable for all the sins that these qualified men commit once in office.  He does, however, give me clear commands for who is qualified and expects me to be obedient with my calling as a voter.  Therefore, I can not in good conscience vote for Donald Trump for President. The lingering question that remains is: what does that mean for my role as Republican Presidential Elector?  That is the topic for another article.

Art Sisneros


[1] I acknowledge he claims to be a person of faith, but his denial of basic Christian tenets like the need for forgiveness make his claim laughable and believed by nobody.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=80&v=A3l0e6nS9oI

[2] For a more comprehensive list see http://fortifyingthekingdom.com/scriptural-qualifications-for-civic-office/

[3] For a more complete study on this subject I recommend Roots of the American Republic by E.C. Wines

[4] E.C. Wines, Roots of the American Republic, P18

[5] Daniel 2:21

[6] Theologians refer to the revealed/prescriptive will vs. the secret/descriptive will of God. For more information see Appendix I in The Sovereignty of God by Arthur Pink.  https://books.google.com/books?id=p3OOU3wL9YIC&pg=PA152&lpg=PA152&dq=god%27s+secret+will+vs.+revealed+will&source=bl&ots=l7WglX2zw6&sig=7lTlmHAZurEUeTT5cpU_dEYvMig&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi6jLnrsZPQAhVpslQKHS–Dqo4ChDoAQhEMAc#v=onepage&q=god’s%20secret%20will%20vs.%20revealed%20will&f=false

[7] 1 Samuel 16:14

[8] 1 Samuel 13:14, Act 13:22

[9] 2 Chronicles 1:1

The Light from Asia

While most Americans have their political thoughts focused on the Presidential campaigns, or are trying to forget them by pretending to care about sports they otherwise didn’t know existed before the Olympics, something very big happened over thAhoke weekend. Some 10,000 miles away in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, a Christian church held a conference on politics.  The Christian Faith, Democracy and Prosperous Nation conference was significant for multiple reasons, but the biggest was one of the guest speakers they hosted and the speech that he gave.  Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, affectionately known as Ahok, is the Governor of Jakarta.  What makes Ahok unique is that he is the first ever Christian governor serving in Indonesia.  While there is a lot of background information that is fascinating in how he reached this position, the short version is: God has had favor on him. God has clearly honored the 20+ years of fasting and prayer that the Christian church in Indonesia has been dedicated to.  Not only is Ahok bold in his testimony, but he has proven to govern Jakarta with the wisdom and integrity that prove his faith is what guides him in governing.  He has earned a reputation for being unrelenting in fighting corruption and practical when dealing with the problems facing Jakarta.  I share this as both an encouragement and admonition.  May we rejoice and pray for our brothers in Asia.  May we be prepared for decades of fasting while being ruled by wicked. Below is an excerpt of his speech from an attendee of the event.

Speech given by Ahok:

In being in politics, my Reformed Christian faith is what influenced me. At first I did not know who Calvin was, I only knew about Pastor Stephen Tong. When I was serving as a Representative in the House Parliament in Belitung, I had plenty of opportunity to watch Stephen Tong’s sermons. I also participated in a seminar by him, there, Pastor Tong always said, “After you complete this seminar, you must all return to your own church, ok?”_ I am also not a member of the GRII church.

I read a book by Calvin in 2009, and I compared Calvin’s teachings to Pastor Tong’s, to see if pastor Tong is making stuff up or not. According to Calvin it is most difficult to serve as a public official (civil magistrate), because they are supposed to be a model in the public eye.

Initially, in my heart I did not feel encouraged to go into politics because I am a Chinese descendant in a large Chinese church that the congregation do not like and do not want to be involved in politics.

There is one Bible verse that I hold in governing:

Proverbs 29:4  (NKJV) “The king establishes the land by justice,
But he who receives bribes overthrows it.”

As a human being, I can falter, and that is why I need God at my side.

In the past, I was offered to be Governor of Babylon by way of bribes, but then my wife said “It’s up to you, do you want to be a disciple of Jesus or a disciple of Barabas?”
At the end, I did not become governor of Babylon, but I did become the Governor of Jakarta.

In 2012, actually, I wanted to return to Babylon. But God showed me His will, I felt several times God strongly showing me what I should do.   One of them when I read the book by Calvin it says, our duty is to become a showcase, showing the transformation of reformation of God to the society, showing the glory of God through our actions and Jakarta is a good showcase in Indonesia, as the capital, Jakarta is a big city, the city is right for God to display His work.

The Bible also speaks about the official task of the civil magistrate is to provide social justice for the people and not social assistance.

I agree when Pastor Tong said that the foundation of a democratic government that is true, is what John Calvin speaks about. Real democracy is applied with the foundation of the law of love and justice from God’s Word.

In the Book by Calvin, when beggars beg for money to the church, they are not given money, but they are sent to work. That is social justice, not social assistance. Social justice means self-responsibility.  People who are lacking must be helped, but we also have to remain firm.

I also once said _ “You who are poor need to realize your position” _. In the “Rusun case” (where Ahok provided government apartment housing to homeless so they don’t live in the streets – a program to clean up the city), if you are caught selling your housing to someone else, it will definitely upset me and you will be expelled from the program, we must be firm. It does not mean that if you are poor and you do not know your place, you demand and blackmail the State for assistance in the name of human rights. Point number 5 of “Pancasila” (the Indonesian Ideology) speaks about social justice, not social assistance. Social assistance will only damage people and make them unproductive.

Paul (in the Bible) also said, “He who does not work, does not eat.”
Democracy without True faith, will be anarchist and chauvinist.

There is this story about my son who was going to face an exam in high school.

I asked, “What subject is the exam tomorrow?”

My son answered, “Bahasa Indonesia” language.

“Then now, you should study Physics instead of Language,” I said.

“Papa, the exam on language, how is it you tell me to study physics?”

“If your teacher did not tell you what subject is the exam tomorrow, what would you study?”

“I will learn everything, language, physics, mathematics, etc. to be ready.”_

“If in school, we always know what the exam is tomorrow so we can prepare and can learn. You can be smart in school, yes. But because we already know what we will face during the exam. Then how can we be smart in life? Life is like an exam, the difference is, we do not know what exam God gives us tomorrow, we do not know what problems we face. Every moment of our life is a test, without knowing what subject. That is why we should be thankful we have the Bible. The Bible is what we have to hold on to prepare for “exams” in life.  That is why I read my Bible every morning, to prepare for life exams.”

Many times God has made it clear His will to me through God’s Word. Spiritual experiences can be in various forms, and each person is different. I used to struggle when finished my bachelor’s degree,  I wanted to be a pastor and further into theological school. But my dad in Belitung was very broke, I am the oldest son . I wrestled and asked the Lord if I should become a minister or a businessman. One day, while at a church youth event, on the event handout, there is a verse written:

1 Timothy 5: 8 (NKJV) “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

After reading it I felt that rhema of God, I immediately decided to return to Belitung to be a businessman. I want to be a businessman whose characteristics is just like a pastor.

*Question and answer session*
Q: Why did you choose the path of political party and not the independent path?

A: I want to mention, I believe in God’s providence.

Through the independent path, if I win, I will immediately become a superhero in Indonesia. If I win this way then I will destroy all political parties. I’ll be the first man in Indonesia who could win an election without political parties. I will be a great man.  Wiranto and Surya Paloh, said to me, “If no party support you, and you win, it is  finished for all political parties.”

Politics is perception. If Ahok can not go forward because of KPU (the election committee), people would say _ “Too bad, if Ahok move forward,  we will have an advanced Jakarta.”  Pillar of our democracy is the political parties. We should correct the way of the political parties and not do away with the political parties.

My vision is in accordance with my Christian faith: my goal is the building up of people (reconstruction of society). I was struggling for this, and this time the Lord answered through President Jokowi. Mr.Jokowi really know me. When I met with him, he asked, “Have you understood the risk of not being selected if you are going through an independent path?”  I answered, “My wife and I believe, if I do not selected, it means this is the end , our task of our service to the community, we end our service honorably.” Then Mr.Jokowi answered with a very smooth, very meaningful way, “Mr. Governor,  my wife had four months of stress when I wanted to be president.”  More or less, what he is saying is, “Don’t listen to your wife in this case.”

Finally I decided to take the path of political parties, and many people were disappointed, they judge I am inconsistent. I also wrestled, like David in the Psalms, I also pray to God in my quiet times.  I said to God, “I’m embarrassed God, just yesterday I confidently said in front of the crowd that I will progress to go through independent path, but now I actually joined a political party.  People are saying I am inconsistent.” And the Lord spoke to me, God answered when I read Isaiah 60. I feel the verses were addressed to me,

Isiah 60:1-4 (NKJV)

“Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.

“Lift up your eyes all around, and see:
They all gather together, they come to you;
Your sons shall come from afar,
And your daughters shall be nursed at your side.

I told God, “I feel like I’m buying rice and is exchanged with a potato, Lord ”

But the Lord answered me Isaiah 60:17-22

“Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
Instead of iron I will bring silver,
Instead of wood, bronze,
And instead of stones, iron.
I will also make your officers peace,
And your magistrates righteousness.
18 Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise.

19 “The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light,
And your God your glory.
20 Your sun shall no longer go down,
Nor shall your moon withdraw itself;
For the Lord will be your everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning shall be ended.
21 Also your people shall all be righteous;
They shall inherit the land forever,
The branch of My planting,
The work of My hands,
That I may be glorified.
22 A little one shall become a thousand,
And a small one a strong nation.
I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time.”

I am even more firmly that it is the right thing to go through political party path. Political parties have been willing to support me with my condition and little money etc. By using this path, I just finished a peacemaker. If I use an independent path, going feud between political parties, others will blame other political parties who supported me. God also reminded me to be humble. If I go forward as a candidate by an independent path, then I have a higher position in the public eye compared to other candidates who weresubmitted from political parties. But now, if I go ahead with a political party, then my position is equal to candidates of other political parties, it is fair. God wants to remind me not to rely on my own ability. Now I do not care about people trying to tell me I was being inconsistent, etc., which I believe my purpose of running is according to my Christian faith.  God is the one guiding me.

<End of Ahok speech>


I hope you were encouraged as I  was by these words from Ahok.

Art Sisneros

Faux Resistance from Texas

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court rulings, I have noticed a lot of buzz about the government leaders in Texas, Governor Abbot and Attorney General Paxton.  I have heard of their courage for standing up in defiance of our overlords in Washington.  As one who has been paying attentioresistance to kingn to what happens in Austin, I do not believe this is the case, at least not yet.  Their language has changed a little (not nearly enough), but their policy has not.  The courage to defend the people of Texas against the wicked tyrant known as the Supreme Court apparently didn’t get the memo that now is the time.  Paxton’s own words right after the Court’s ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, the same sex “marriage” case, betray the rumors about Texas.  In his opinion (found here) he wrote,

The United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the Court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law..” and

“​Pursuant to the Court’s flawed ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued an injunction against the enforcement of Texas marriage laws that define marriage as one man and one woman and therefore those laws currently are enjoined from being enforced by county clerks and justices of the peace. There is not, however, a court order in place in Texas to issue any particular license whatsoever – only the flawed direction by the U.S. Supreme Court on Constitutionality and applicable state laws.”

​It is clear the Attorney General believes the Court has stepped outside of the confines of the law in this case.  That should be enough for him to defy their ruling.  He doesn’t though.  The best he can do is to recommend those that may be forced to issue licenses or perform weddings to refuse on the basis of personal religious conviction.  That and get a good lawyer.

“It is important to note that any clerk who wishes to defend their religious objections and who chooses not to issue licenses may well face litigation and/or a fine. But, numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious belief.”​

The proper action would have been for him to employ interposition as defined in the “lesser magistrate doctrine.”  For those unfamiliar with this doctrine I recommend Matt Trewhella’s article.  He explains,

“The lesser magistrate doctrine states that when a higher-ranking civil authority makes unjust or immoral laws, policies, or court opinions, the lower or lesser-ranking civil authority has the God-given right and duty not to obey the higher authority. If necessary, the lower authority may even actively resist the superior authority.

The interposition of the lower magistrates is not subjective or lawless. There are only three reasons for open defiance to the higher civil authority. First, they are to oppose and resist any laws or edicts from the higher authority that contravene — violate, oppose, or contradict — the law or Word of God. Second, they are to protect the person and property of those who reside within their jurisdiction from any unjust or immoral laws or actions by the higher authority. Third, they are not to implement any laws or decrees made by the higher authority that violate the U.S. Constitution or their state constitution–and if necessary, resist them.”

The recent ruling of the Supreme Court in this particular case violate every one of these principles.  The lower magistrates in Texas know it.  They are not prepared or willing to do what they ought.  As Matt plainly stated they should “refuse to implement any federal court opinion that tramples the state’s constitution and imposes homosexual marriage upon the people. Unfortunately, all of the governors who have had their state’s constitutions trampled have hidden behind the common lie of the lower authorities, namely: ‘A federal court has ruled; we must obey.”  

So where does this all leave us?  We live in a unique time in our country.  Many of the issues that the progressives and “conservative” statists have been cooperatively working on for decades are finally coming to fruition.   This has culminated into an obnoxious amount of influence that a handful of people hold over the rest of this nation.  All of this leads us to ask, how long will the people take it?  When will the people rise up?  And, what exactly can they do about it?  To be able to accurately identify when the people have reached their maximum level of allowable tyranny, we need to understand the first thing they do when they are upset.  We need to look for a marker.  They will first turn to the politicians they elected.  Some will call, some will write, and the serious ones make their way to the offices of their magistrates.  They demand to be heard and expect their rulers to change things.  We can know that enough people are starting to do this, when the language of the politicians change.  If he thinks enough people are upset enough to change politicians, his actions will match his new found language.  He will rise up with the people.

When the government leaders in Texas become lesser magistrates standing up to National Government, then we will know they mean business.  When they defiantly stand up to the rulings of the SCOTUS and nullifying laws that contradict the Texas Constitution, then all the buzz will be newsworthy.  When they start interposing on behalf of their lower magistrates and citizens, then we can know the people and their officials have had enough.  Until then it is all sound bites, press releases, and meaningless bills intended to quiet the noise.  In other words, business as usual.

Criminalization of the Creation

Monday and Tuesday of this week some friends and I went to Austin to visit the Texas Legislature while they were in session.  We had the opportunity to meet with some of the best State Representatives in Texas, get a glimpse of the behind the scenes of the Texas Supreme Court, and visit House Committee hearings.  We purposed to testify before the Public Health committee to speak on behalf of decriminalization of medical marijuana.  Unfortunately, the bill we were testifying for was bumped and didn’t get a hearing until late Tuesday evening long after we were headed home.  It was a great experience I plan to repeat often.  Below is my testimony that I never got speak.  It is intentionally short because of the 2 minutes time limit.
___MARIJUANA_2_LA-600x427_________
My name is Art Sisneros and I am speaking in favor of Texas House Bill HB837.  First I would to thank you all for allowing us the time to come and testify before this  committee.  As a citizen of this state, I appreciate the  opportunity to be a part of this process.  As I Christian, I  firmly believe that God ordains all things that happen  including allowing each of you to serve currently as state representatives in the great state of TX and particularly as members of this committee.  Being that He is the one that has put you in office, I ask you to consider the possibility that you will be held accountable to Him, even more than your constituency, for the work that you do here.
As one who bears the name of Christ, I believe we are to turn to the Bible to decide what is right and wrong, what is sinful and what is criminal.  Regarding marijuana, the Bible is clear in the creation account found in Genesis 1:12, “And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” As the Creator, He made everything for a reason and to serve a purpose.  While many people may take something that God has made declared as good and misuse it in a harmful way.  This doesn’t mean that it suddenly becomes a bad thing.  Marijuana is often used in harmful and sinful ways, but that doesn’t cancel God’s purpose for it.  It doesn’t make it bad.  To the contrary we live in a time when we have evidence of many good and proper uses for it today.  We have this plant that God has put here for us to use to help sick and hurting people, often children, but unfortunately the law prevents us from using it without taking great legal risks.  I ask, why?  What have we become that our fears drive us to setting policy that literally prevents hurting people from finding relief in a natural plant?  This doesn’t make any sense. Do we really want to be a society that makes criminals out of those that are seeking relief for themselves or their children?

 

It is in this light, that I ask you to vote in favor of moving this legislation out of this committee and to the House floor.  I ask you to do the right thing so you can stand with a clean conscience knowing that you have set aside political posturing in order allow those citizens that in this state to find relief in that which God has created for our good.  Thank you!

Preserving Life, Obeying Law

It was several months when I first ventured out into one of the most hostile places in the country.  I had no idea what I was in for.  I generally do not go seek after confrontation.  It was, however, inevitable at this place.  It was only a matter of time before I would be challenged on everything I believe.  I knew it would not be easy.  I knew there would be some opposition to my presence.  I had no clue as to how much… or by whom.  To be honest, the only reason I was even there was due to some mixture of obligation and peer pressure.  That would change very soon. This is an issue that until recently, I confess, I hadn’t thought much about.  I am speaking of the ever polemic discussion on abortion.  There can be no better example of how one’s worldview matters than at the doors of an abortion center. (I refuse to call them clinics.)

It is to be expected in a culture that hates God for there to be a great chasm between how the unbelievers and Christians will respond to this topic.  This is no surprise.  We would expect those that have no respect for the Author of life to have very little respect for life itself.  There are plenty of these people that frequent the abortuaries around the country.  Many hate God.  They will tell you so with an evil smirk on their face.  They are not the focus of this post.  Ours is an examination of the Christian culture.  It is introspective.  How are we, as Christians, to think about this issue?  What are we to do?  More importantly, how does the Bible present the issue of abortion?  I suspect most Christians are like I was, and think very little about this issue.  Now having been involved in this ministry and discussing my experience with many professed Christians, I have noticed some common attitudes towards abortion.  Most would agree with me, in principle, that abortion is wrong.  They might even agree that abortion is murder.  However after I press the issue a bit, I am likely to get a response that will fall into one of two categories.

Exceptions

The first, and most common, response I noticed was the need to allow for exceptions.  They would always preface this with an agreement that abortion was wrong.  That would be quickly followed by a plea that “we can’t be so firm in all cases.”  It is always in the name of compassion.  The most common reason for allowing an exception is the case of rape.  It seems so uncompassionate and cold to force a rape victim to have her assailant’s child.  We, rightly, look at these women who have gone through some traumatic experience with sympathy.  We want them to heal quickly.  We want them to move past this violation that has been forced upon them.  We can’t understand how they can heal with the constant reminder of a child.  We feel compassion as to how these children will be raised.  This leads us to another common reason for allowing exceptions.  We think it is compassionate and wise to consider what kind of childhood the baby would have.  We assume that if a mother is considering an abortion, she isn’t ready to be a parent.  If she isn’t ready, what kind of mother would she make if she did have the baby? It isn’t fair for the child to grow up in a family that doesn’t want him, is it?  We think of all the cases of physical abuse, emotional abuse, poverty, etc.  We don’t want to see children live that kind of life, so we allow for exceptions in our own heart.  It is the compassionate thing to do, we think.  There is one argument for exceptions that doesn’t even have a hint of compassion.  It is the case that we should allow for exceptions because the children will probably end up dependant on the state.  Since the state can’t afford many more dependants, we need to allow for abortions to save the state and those funding it.  This is by far the most offensive reason I have heard.  Sadly, I have heard it though.

Excuses

The second type of response is generally an excuse from being involved.  These are the people that agree abortion is murder.  They know it is wrong.  This is a large majority of the Christian culture.  They know it is wrong, but it remains distant.  They remain silent.  There is no reason for them to get involved because they personally would never have an abortion.  They are against it, but it doesn’t really affect them.  They think they have done their duty when they voted for a “pro-life” candidate for political office.  They stand in support of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  Perhaps they even send them a nice donation once a year.  They fool themselves into thinking that they are involved in the fight.  I can sympathize with this position.  Whatever the reason may be, we provide excuses from being personally involved in any significant way.  We vote Republican and assume our duty is over.  We may rationalize why we aren’t doing more, but the truth is we don’t want to do any more.

This is the sad state of our Christian culture.  We have come to a point where we are so self-centered that we just don’t care about an issue unless it invades our personal life.  We stand ready to be bold and make a statement to the world in defense of Chick-fil-A, but too busy to be bothered by the slaughtering of innocent babies.  I think it is safe to say, we have blindly wandered down the path to destruction.  We have allowed our friends, our culture and, yes, even our pastors to determine what is and what isn’t worth fighting for.  They ignore abortion and we don’t mind.  If we want to live a life blessed by God, we MUST return to the Bible.  We must return to the Law of God.  We must examine what God’s Law has to say about abortion.

Law

As it turns out, the Bible has much to say about the issue of abortion.  We will only look at four principles that can help guide us.  They should help us to start thinking more Biblically.  The 1st principle can be found in the Ten Commandments.  In Exodus 20:13, we find the sixth commandment,. “You shall not murder.”  It seems clear enough.  God is against murder.  It is wrong to murder according to His standard of righteousness and justice.  No Christian I know would advocate in favor of murder, but this only begs the question.  Is abortion murder?  Thankfully, God gives us examples on how to apply the Sixth Commandment.

 “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.  But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”[1]

Here God gives a law covering the case of accidental abortion (murder).  A pregnant mother and her baby are unintentionally harmed by a man, who was in the midst of a fight.  He is held liable.  RJ Rushdoony points out several important implications of this text.  “First….the text cites, not a case of deliberate abortion but a case of accidental abortion.  If the penalty for even an accidental case is so severe, it is obvious that a deliberately induced abortion is very strongly forbidden.  Second, the penalty for even an accidental abortion is death.  If a man…unintentionally bumps a pregnant woman and causes her to abort, must suffer the death penalty, how much more so any person who intentionally induces an abortion?  Third, even if no injury results to either the mother or the fetus, the man in the case is liable to a fine and, in fact, must be fined.  Clearly, the law strongly protects the pregnant woman and her fetus.  Fourth, since even a mother bird with eggs or young is covered by law (Deut. 22:6-7), clearly any tampering with the fact of birth is a serious matter: to destroy life is forbidden except where required or permitted by God’s law.”[2]  This law makes it clear that to harm an unborn baby is an assault on the baby.  Anyone who inflicts such harm is guilty of a crime.  They must be punished in proportion to their crime.  The Bible is clear that abortion is indeed murder, for the same penalty is required for a case of accidental abortion as that for intentional murder.  Both are capital crimes.  This is the 2nd principle: abortion is murder.

Application

The first, and most obvious, application of this law is that God’s forbids us to participate in the practice of abortion.  He condemns all forms of abortion, even the accident.  The Christian who goes to get an abortion does so in rebellion to God and His Word.

The second application is that God expects His people to actively oppose abortion in their midst.  In order to understand the full weight and duty of this second application, we must understand a crucial principle for applying God’s Law.  It is the two-fold nature of the law.  “The proper meaning of the law involves both the negative and the positive application.”[3]  Where a sinful act is forbidden, the opposite righteous act is required.  For example, God not only gave laws of restriction between the Israelites, but He gave laws requiring an innocent bystander to get involved when he could render aid, even when it meant helping his enemy.

 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him.  If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.”[4]

It was a sin for the Israelite to pretend he didn’t see.  He wasn’t given the authority to ignore it. God required that he actively pursue righteousness.  In short, he was obligated to help.  Jesus reiterated this with the parable of the Good Samaritan.  God’s law commands that we not only “not do the negative”, but we must also “do the opposing positive.”  This is an important truth that has been lost in our day.  Men in the past understood this.  Calvin once said that we aren’t “satisfying God’s Law by merely abstaining for doing injury to others.  The opposite affirmation is also to be understood; else it would not be… consistent.”[5]  Or as the Westminster divines put it in the Westminster Larger Catechism;

 “That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded…”[6]

It is not enough to avoid the sin of abortion.  The duty to preserve and defend life is also commanded.  This is the 4th principle.  We haven’t fulfilled our obligation to the law if haven’t done all that is in our power to protect innocent life.  Solomon in the book of Proverbs puts it this way:

 “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.  If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to his work?”[7]

As one pastor notes, “We are commanded to do what is necessary and what is Biblical to “rescue” and “deliver” them from their oppressors.  If the civil government or we as citizens, stand by in apathy or fear when the defenseless are being harmed and do nothing, when we can do something, we too are guilty of breaking the 6th Commandment, being accomplices to their oppression and violence.  He Who weighs the heart and Who will render to all what is due them on Judgement Day accepts no excuses.”[8]

An understanding of these 4 principles should be enough for us to examine our hearts and see if we are closer to the culture than we are to Biblical law.

1. You shall not murder.

2. Abortion is murder.

3. The Law requires a 2-fold application, forbid the negative and commanded positive.

4. The 6th Commandment requires that we preserve life.

If we want to walk down the blessed path of obedience to God’s law, then we have to ask ourselves some tough questions.  What have we personally done to preserve life?  Why are we so silent on this issue?  Why don’t we care more about this?  How are we going to change?  I’ll close with one suggestion.  Pray about how God wants to use you to preserve life.  He does want to.  He has commanded it of us.  If we are to be blessed we must obey, even if it means being uncomfortable.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” Psalm 119:1


[1] Exodus 21:22-25, ESV

[2] RJ Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. 1, p263-264

[3] Ibid,

[4] Exodus 23:4,5 ESV

[5] Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. 1, p219

[6] Westminster Larger Catechism, Q99, principle 4

[7] Proverb 24:11-12, ESV

[8] Morecraft, Authentic Christianity Vol. 4, p640-641

A Case for God’s Law

In my first post (here), I made the claim that the majority of Christians today make most of their decisions without any serious regard for what God’s Word has to say about it.  I pointed out that most decisions are made on the basis of “community consensus” or “vague principles” that never enter the realm of the specific.  These decisions are made on this basis because the basic ethics and view of the average Christian is flawed.  They are out walking aimlessly about.  They will end up on the path to destruction.  I concluded with the claim that the problem that plagues the average Christian is a neglect of God’s Law.  I suggested that the only solution is the return of obedience to the Law.  This is not what most pastors in this country would suggest.  They might agree with the problem.  I suspect that if you polled 100 different church leaders, you would get 90 different answers to what the solution is.  They would all have one thing in common.  None would utter the word “law” as a part of the solution.  So how can I make such a claim?  Why do I suggest a return to the law as the solution?

First and foremost, it is not I that is making such a claim.  I am only attempting to discover and communicate what God has already revealed to us in His Word.  [Disclaimer: I confess that I have much to learn in this area.  In many ways, this blog is a reflection of my continuing efforts to live the simple life of faithfulness and devotion.  I am by no means an expert.]  That aside, I do not write or claim this on my own authority.  My claim that Biblical Law is the solution to our careless ways of decision-making is based on the authority of my Lord and His infallible Word.  It is reinforced by many heroes of the faith that were far removed from our time and culture.  If we desire to walk on the path that the Lord blesses, then we would be wise to listen to both.  I humbly present to you three reasons why God’s Law still has validity over your life as a Christian.

Duty

First, it is our duty to obey God and his Law.  He is the creator and ultimate authority over all things.  He makes the rules.  As created beings, we are subject to Him and His rules.  We are to obey them simply because they are His rules.  Psalm 95:6 expresses worship for God that is rooted in this Creator-creature relationship.  “Let us worship and bow down; and kneel before the LORD, our Maker!”  We are to obey Him, and all that He has commanded, as a consequence of the nature of this relationship.  He is our Creator.  We are the created.  This is reason enough for us obey all His commands.  A good example of this can be found in the very beginning of time in the garden of Eden.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”[1]  

God gave Adam a command.  He gave Adam a law.   He also gave Adam a punishment for disobedience.  Adam had a duty to obey God’s command.  God didn’t make a deal with Adam.  He didn’t give Adam the option to opt out of this arrangement.  Adam had to accept and obey the terms presented because God commanded it.  It was an act of grace and love that God even offered a reward for obedience.  Adam was obligated to obey because of the nature of this Creator-creature relationship with God.  It was his duty to obey.  Of course, we know the outcome of this testing of Adam.  Let’s just say, Adam hasn’t been invited to come speak at any of our Christian conferences.  He didn’t get the opportunity to make the tour telling of his “garden experience.”  Why???  He died.  “He surely died!”  Adam had a duty to obey.  He had an obligation to obedience.

Lest you think that was a one time requirement, this point is made plain in the book of Deuteronomy.  Repeatedly throughout this book echo the warnings of Chapter 8:19-20,

“And if you forget the LORD your GOD and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.  Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.”  

God had made Israel His special people.  He loved them.  He brought them out of slavery from the land of Egypt.  He led them to their promised land.  He gave them food (manna) for their journey in the wilderness.  He gave them promised victory in conquering.  He gave them specific instructions on how they were to live.  He gave them His Law.   He also gave them a promise.  If they didn’t obey His commands, they would “surely perish.”  Again there is a duty to obey His Law.   

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God…”[2]

Yes, but that’s the Old Testament right?  Well as Pastor Joseph Morecraft wrote, “Our obligation to obey God is rooted in our creaturehood before our Creator.  However, our obligation is intensified, not lessened, by virtue of our redemption in Christ by grace Having been bought with the price of Christ’s precious blood, we are not our own, therefore we are now to glorify God in the entirety of our lives”[3]  In other words, now that you have been freed from the penalty of God’s judgment, you are not excused from obeying God’s law.  Quite the opposite is true.  You are now expected to obey it, though not perfectly, because you have been bought with a price.  Let us not forget the words of Jesus, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”[4] It is our duty as Christians to obey the commands of God’s Law.  Although most modern “pastors” may deny this, consider the words of Reformer John Calvin, “Because there is only one Lord and Master who has dominion over our consciences, and because his will is the only principle of all justice, we confess all our life ought to be ruled in accordance with the commandments of his holy law in which contained all perfection of justice and that we ought to have no other rule of good and just living..”[5]  The obligation to obey remains.  Jesus said,

“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”[6]

Direction

Secondly, the Law of God is a direct reflection of the character of God.  It defines for us what is right vs. wrong, righteous vs. evil, justice vs. injustice, etc.  It gives us some specifics on how to act in a way that honors Him.  It is tells us what is good and what is bad.  It provides us with direction.  “Biblical Law guides our sanctification.  God’s Law offers positive, infallible, and specific directions for Christian living.  He has not left us to our own subjective feelings to determine right and wrong.  The Law is the ‘tracks’ on which sanctification and spiritual growth run.  Do railroad tracks hinder or help a train to reach its destination?  What if a locomotive said, ‘I want to be free to roam as I please.  I want to be free from these tracks for they limit my freedom?’  Without the railroad tracks, a train has no freedom, no movement, no progress.  So it is with the relation between the Law and the Christian.”[7]  Or as Calvin wrote, “The law is the best instrument for enabling believers daily to learn what that will of God is which they are to follow.”[8]  Consider the fact that, God’s law will actually have a role in eternity.  There are different levels of punishment in hell (Luke 12:45-48).  It is determined by the level of rebellion to the Law of God.  Whether we walk in his direction or not has real consequences.  It matters now and forever.

Delight

Lastly, it should be our delight to obey the commandments of the LORD.  David in Psalm 119 gives us insights into how we should feel about God’s Law when he writes,

“Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.  Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.” [9]

In this Psalm alone, David uses the term “delight” ten times in reference to God’s law or commands.  It is his joy to know, to understand, to keep and to share God’s law.  David cherished it.  He longed for it.  “Oh how I love you law! It is my meditation all the day”[10] was his heart’s cry.  David’s heart was inclined to God’s law because this is the natural effect of receiving the Holy Spirit.  As the prophet Ezekiel explains, God will put His Spirit within us and cause us to walk in His statutes.[11]  The Holy Spirit had come upon David[12] and wrote the law on his heart.[13]  He delighted in it.  As Greg Bahnsen writes, “The Holy Spirit works in the believer to bring about conformity to the inspired law of God.”[14]  It “does not oppose that law to the slightest degree but, instead, empowers obedience to it.”[15]  The Spirit makes obedience a joyful task.  It turns a duty into a delight.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:2-3   

Another work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a believer is that it should drive him into heartfelt gratitude for his salvation.  A “believer’s awareness that salvation is by sheer grace and not by the works of the Law and that they are eternally secure in Christ not only provokes intense gratitude in them, but that gratitude stirs them to greater care, greater determination, diligence and perseverance in conforming themselves-inside and outside- to God’s Law as their rule for obedience, for when Christ became their Savior He did not cease to be their Sovereign.”[16]

In other words, the Holy Spirit uses the Law of God to drive us to Christ.  This need of grace then produces gratitude in the believer.  This gratitude then drives the believer to greater obedience to the Law.  It is an amazing ministry of the Spirit that is rarely taught in our churches.  The Holy Spirit can stir in us obedience from the heart that is joyful obedience.  He gives in us new hearts that long to comply with His commands and by so doing He turns the Law of God from a burden into a delight.

Conclusion

It is out of a duty to obedience, a direction for holiness, and a delight within our soul that should drive us to understand and appreciate the Law of God.  If a Christian community has a disregard or apathy for God’s Law, it says more about them then it does about His Law.  I close with a warning for those that consider themselves Christians.  If when you read of the Law of God, you immediately begin to “check out” or dismiss it, you need to honestly re-evaluate the state of your soul before God.  One who does not concern himself with God’s Law is defined in the Bible as a fool.  “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but the babbling fool will come to ruin.”[17]  It is the sign of a rebellious heart and you are fooling no one but yourself.  If, however, you have a heart that longs to please the LORD, but you know you have neglected this area of your life, you are not alone.  Repent and purpose yourself to change.  Pray.  Ask God to help you love His Law.  Read God’s Law.  Connect with fellow Christians who love the Law.  Next post we will begin to examine and apply God’s Law.

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” Psalm 119:1


[1] Genesis 2:16, 17

[2] Deuteronomy 11:26-28

[3] Joe Morecraft, Authentic Christianity Vol.3, p517

[4] John 14:15

[5] RKS Reid, Calvin: Theological Treatises, p26

[6] Matthew 5:19

[7] Morecraft, Authentic Christianity Vol.3, p625-626

[8] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion,2.7.12

[9] Psalm 119:34,35

[10] Psalm 119:97

[11] Ezekiel 36:27

[12] See 1 Samuel 16:13, Psalm 51:11

[13] Jeremiah 31:33

[14] Greg Bahnsen, By This Standard, p47

[15] Bahnsen, By This Standard, p50

[16] Morecraft, Authentic Christianity Vol.3, p621

[17] Proverbs, 10:8