5 Bullet Points About Death

5 Bullet Points About Death-Tim Challes

 

I know, I know—there’s a certain level of irony when you provide “bullet points” on death. Nevertheless, here are five important things that the Bible tells us about death.

1. Death is the result of sin

Genesis 2:17 — “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.”

Romans 6:23a — ‘For the wages of sin is death”

2. Death is an evil intruder into the world

1 Corinthians 15:26 —“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

3. Death is followed by judgment

Hebrews 9:27 — “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”

Revelation 20:12 — “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.”

4. Death for unbelievers is the entrance into eternal and terrible punishment

Matthew 25:41, 46 — “Then [the Son of Man] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. … And these will go away into eternal punishment …”

Luke 13:28 — “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.”

5. Death for believers is the doorway to eternal life and joy with God

1 Corinthians 15:52, 54-55 — “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. … then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’”

Revelation 21:4 — “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Philippians 1:21, 23 — “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. … My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”

Remembering Memorial Day

Remembering Memorial Day

This piece has appeared on Memorial Day before, but I thought it was worth posting again: Kevin DeYoung

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Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was instituted to honor Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. After World War I, the purpose of the day was expanded to include all men and women who died in U.S. military service. Today, Memorial Day is mainly thought of as the unofficial start of summer-a long weekend with a car race, playoff basketball, and brats and burgers on the grill.

It is always tricky to know how the church should or shouldn’t celebrate patriotic holidays. Certainly, some churches blend church and state in such a way that the kingdom of God morphs into a doctrinally-thin, spiritually nebulous civil religion. But even with this dangers, there are a number of good reasons why Christians should give thanks for Memorial Day.

1. Being a soldier is not a sub-Christian activity. In Luke 3, John the Baptist warns the people to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. The crowds respond favorably to his message and ask him, “What then shall we do?” John tells the rich man to share his tunics, the tax collectors to collect only what belongs to them, and the soldiers to stop their extortion. If ever there was a time to tell the soldiers that true repentance meant resigning from the army, surely this was the time. And yet, John does not tell them that they must give up soldier-work to bear fruit, only that they need to be honest soldiers. The Centurion is even held up by Jesus as the best example of faith he’s seen in Israel (Luke 7:9). Military service, when executed with integrity and in the Spirit of God, is a suitable vocation for the people of God.

2. The life of a soldier can demonstrate the highest Christian virtues. While it’s true that our movies sometimes go too far in glamorizing war, this is only the case because there have been many heroics acts in the history of war suitable for our admiration. Soldiers in battle are called on to show courage, daring, service, shrewdness, endurance, hard work, faith, and obedience. These virtues fall into the “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just” category that deserve our praise (Philippians 4:8).

3. Military service is one of the most common metaphors in the New Testament to describe the Christian life. We are to fight the good fight, put on the armor of God, and serve as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. When we remember the sacrifice, single-minded dedication, and discipline involved in the life of a soldier, we are calling to mind what we are supposed to be like as Christians in service to Christ.

4. Love of country can be a good thing. As Christians we have dual citizenship. Our first and ultimate allegiance must always be to Christ whose heavenly dwelling is our eternal home. But we are also citizens of an earthly country. We will stand before God not as individuals wiped clean of all earthly nationality, but as people with distinct languages, cultural affinities, and homelands. It is not wrong to love our distinct language, culture, or nationality. Whenever I’m at a ball game I still get choked up during the singing of the National Anthem. I think this is good. Love for God does not mean we love nothing else on earth, but rather that we learn to love the things on earth in the right way and with the right proportions and priorities. Love of country is a good thing, and it is right to honor those who defend the principles that make our country good.

5. This may be controversial to some, but I believe the facts of history will demonstrate that on the whole, the United States military has been a force for good in the world. Obviously, as a military power, we have blundered at times, both individually and corporately. But on the whole, the men and women of our armed services have fought and are fighting for causes that promote freedom, defend the rights of human beings, and reject tyranny. War is still hell and a tragic result of the fall. Praise God for his promise to one day end all human conflict. But in a world where people are evil by nature and leaders are not always reasonable and countries do not always have good intentions, war is sometimes the way to peace-at least the best peace we can hope for between peoples and nations this side of heaven.

So thank God for a day to remember God’s common grace to America and his special grace in enlisting us, poor weak soldiers that we are, in service to Christ our Captain and conquering King

Why So Many Men Are Addicted to Internet Porn and Video Games

Fake Love…Fake War…This is an interesting read from Dr. Russell Moore.  Some of the information contained in this post is for mature audiences. Please be advised…

You know the guy I’m talking about. He spends hours into the night playing video games and surfing for pornography. He fears he’s a loser. And he has no idea just how much of a loser he is.  For some time now, studies have shown us that porn and gaming can become compulsive and addicting. What we too often don’t recognize, though, is why.

In a new book, The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, psychologists Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan say we may lose an entire generation of men to pornography and video gaming addictions. Their concern isn’t about morality, but instead about the nature of these addictions in reshaping the patten of desires necessary for community.

If you’re addicted to sugar or tequila or heroin you want more and more of that substance. But porn and video games both are built on novelty, on the quest for newer and different experiences. That’s why you rarely find a man addicted to a single pornographic image. He’s entrapped in an ever-expanding kaleidoscope.

There’s a key difference between porn and gaming. Pornography can’t be consumed in moderation because it is, by definition, immoral. A video game can be a harmless diversion along the lines of a low-stakes athletic competition. But the compulsive form of gaming shares a key element with porn: both are meant to simulate something, something for which men long.

Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy. Video warfare promises adrenaline without danger. The arousal that makes these so attractive is ultimately spiritual to the core.

Satan isn’t a creator but a plagiarist. His power is parasitic, latching on to good impulses and directing them toward his own purpose. God intends a man to feel the wildness of sexuality in the self-giving union with his wife. And a man is meant to, when necessary, fight for his family, his people, for the weak and vulnerable who are being oppressed.

The drive to the ecstasy of just love and to the valor of just war are gospel matters. The sexual union pictures the cosmic mystery of the union of Christ and his church. The call to fight is grounded in a God who protects his people, a Shepherd Christ who grabs his sheep from the jaws of the wolves.

When these drives are directed toward the illusion of ever-expanding novelty, they kill joy. The search for a mate is good, but blessedness isn’t in the parade of novelty before Adam. It is in finding the one who is fitted for him, and living with her in the mission of cultivating the next generation. When necessary, it is right to fight. But God’s warfare isn’t forever novel. It ends in a supper, and in a perpetual peace.

Moreover, these addictions foster the seemingly opposite vices of passivity and hyper-aggression.  The porn addict becomes a lecherous loser, with one-flesh union supplanted by masturbatory isolation. The video game addict becomes a pugilistic coward, with other-protecting courage supplanted by aggression with no chance of losing one’s life. In both cases, one seeks the sensation of being a real lover or a real fighter, but venting one’s reproductive or adrenal glands over pixilated images, not flesh and blood for which one is responsible.

Zimbardo and Duncan are right, this is a generation mired in fake love and fake war, and that is dangerous. A man who learns to be a lover through porn will simultaneously love everyone and no one. A man obsessed with violent gaming can learn to fight everyone and no one.

The answer to both addictions is to fight arousal with arousal. Set forth the gospel vision of a Christ who loves his bride and who fights to save her. And then let’s train our young men to follow Christ by learning to love a real woman, sometimes by fighting his own desires and the spirit beings who would eat him up. Let’s teach our men to make love, and to make war . . . for real.

Something in the Water? Derek Wadsworth

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said,

 ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38

” If he say that he cannot believe on Jesus Christ because of the difficulty of the acting this faith, and that a Divine power is needful to draw it forth, which he finds not, you must tell him that believing in Jesus Christ is no work, but a resting on Jesus Christ. You must tell him that this pretence is as unreasonable as if a man, wearied with a journey and not able to go one step further, should argue, ‘I am so tired, that I am not able to lie down,’ when indeed he can neither stand nor go. The poor wearied sinner can never believe on Jesus Christ till he finds he can do nothing for himself; and in his first believing doth always apply himself to Christ for salvation, as a man hopeless and helpless in himself. And by such reasonings with him from the Gospel, the Lord will (as He hath often done) convey faith and joy and peace by believing.”-Robert Traill’s works, 1696. Vol. I. 266-269.

Wrong Address? Paul Tripp

The Wrong Address

Do you ever think that perhaps you’re at the wrong address? Did you ever wonder or wish that the things you deal with everyday weren’t meant for you? Did you ever look at the blessing of someone else and wish that it had landed at your address?

Do you ever feel lost in the middle of your own story? Do you ever feel as though you don’t have what it takes to deal with what is on your plate? Have you ever felt ill-prepared and ill-equipped to carry the responsibilities that are your daily duty? Does life at times seem too hard? Have you ever wished that you had more control over your own story or a greater ability to deal with all the things that are in your life, but which you did not plan or choose?

Listen to what Paul (in Acts 17:24-27) says about how each of us landed at the place where we now live, relate, and work.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breathe and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the exact times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

Consider what the Apostle Paul is saying about your life and mine:

1. When and where you live is never a mistake. Although many of the things that have shaped your story are out of your control, they are under the careful administration of the God who not only created the world, but is the ultimate definition of everything that is wise, good, loving, and true.

2. Your life has not worked according to your plan because it is part of a bigger plan. There is One who is Lord of heaven and earth. He has written your personal story into his grand redemptive story. He welcomes you out of your own little kingdom of self to be part of his wonderful, big-sky kingdom.

3. God has you just where he wants you. Sometimes it is hard to face, but God really does determine exactly where you live, who you live with, the exact period of time in which you live, and the exact length of your life.

4. God has a wonderful purpose for bringing into your life the things that you now face. Rather than working to deliver to us our personal definition of happiness, satisfaction and contentment, God is working so that so that we would know him in a heart and life transforming way. So he will put us in places that take us beyond the boundaries of our own character, strength, and wisdom. He does this so that in humility and weakness we will reach for the help that only he can give us. He is working to pry open our fingers so that we will let go of the things that we tend to hold to so tightly, not because he wants us to have less, but because he wants us to have so much more. His rule is never separate from his love and grace. It is comforting to know that his rule is an expression of his grace and his grace would not be reliable without his rule.

5. God does all of this so that he will always be near. Paul’s view of God’s rule is tender and encouraging. He does not picture God as the ultimate, impersonal chess player, moving the pieces according to his whim. No, Paul pictures a God who understands our weaknesses, who sympathizes with our struggles, and who rules his world in a manner that makes him near and available. And he welcomes us to reach out and find him.

So, even in moments of confusion, you and I can rest; not because we know exactly why God is doing what he is doing, but because we trust him. Real rest of heart is not the result of understanding everything in my life. That will never happen. Real rest is the result of a relationship, just the kind of relationship that God sent his Son to make possible and now invites you to have with him.

God bless.

Paul David Tripp

Disciple Makers Prayer- Cadre Ministries

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for giving me a disciplemaking way of life in Christ Jesus. As

I go through every part of this day, help me to love you and love the

people who cross my path—starting with my family. Don’t let me miss

the adventures you are sending my way to live and speak the Good

News about Jesus today. Draw my heart to you and to specific

people you want me to engage with Jesus-like disciplemaking. By

your Word and Spirit, transform me into a follower of Jesus who loves

you, loves people, and makes disciples—who make more disciples,

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Same Sex Marriage-Abortion-End of Life Issues…ohhhhhh my!

These words can be seen and heard as buzz words that divide our faith and country. Here is a very thoughtful article written by Michael Horton. Please take a moment and read the entire article before coming to any conclusions.

It made me walk away with the question…Who is at the center of the universe?

 

The media is still buzzing with President Obama’s recent announcement that he personally favors same-sex marriage.  In 1996, he favored it.  In 2004, though, he rejected it (affirming civil unions) on grounds of his Christian convictions that marriage is a “sanctified” union of a man and woman.  Now he has reversed that position, again offering his Christian convictions (loving neighbors and being in a church community that accepts same-sex couples) as a rationale.

Speculations about political motivations aside, the President is hardly alone in his waffling over this controversial issue of significance for American society.  Nor is he alone among those who say that they affirm same-sex marriage—or their own homosexual lifestyle—as something that is affirmed by God and their Christian commitment.

Makes a Lot of Sense?

Both sides trade Bible verses, while often sharing an unbiblical—secularized—theological framework at a deeper level.  If God exists for our happiness and self-fulfillment, validating our sovereign right to choose our identity, then opposition to same-sex marriage (or abortion) is just irrational prejudice.

Given the broader worldview that many Americans (including Christians) embrace—or at least assume, same-sex marriage is a right to which anyone is legally entitled.  After all, traditional marriages in our society are largely treated as contractual rather than covenantal, means of mutual self-fulfillment more than serving a larger purpose ordained by God.  The state of the traditional family is so precarious that one wonders how same-sex marriage can appreciably deprave it.

Same-sex marriage makes sense if you assume that the individual is the center of the universe, that God—if he exists—is there to make us happy, and that our choices are not grounded in a nature created by God but in arbitrary self-construction.  To the extent that this sort of “moralistic-therapeutic-deism” prevails in our churches, can we expect the world to think any differently?  If we treat God as a product we sell to consumers for their self-improvement programs and make personal choice the trigger of salvation itself, then it may come as a big surprise (even contradiction) to the world when we tell them that truth (the way things are) trumps feelings and personal choice (what we want to make things to be).

Plausibility Structures

The secularist mantra, “You can’t legislate morality,” is a shibboleth.  Defenders of same-sex marriage moralize as much as anyone.  They appeal to dogmas like freedom of choice, individualism, love, respect, acceptance (not, tolerance, mind you, but acceptance), and excoriate religiously traditional opponents as hypocritical in failing to follow the loving example of Jesus.  The agenda is plainly as ethical as any other.  Whatever is decided at state and federal levels, a certain version of morality will most certainly be legislated.

What this civic debate—like others, such as abortion and end-of-life ethics—reveals is the significance of worldviews.  Shaped within particular communities, our worldviews constitute what Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann coined as “plausibility structures.”   Some things make sense, and others don’t, because of the tradition that has shaped us.  We don’t just have a belief here and a belief there; our convictions are part of a web.  Furthermore, many of these beliefs are assumptions that we haven’t tested, in part because we’re not even focally aware that we have them.  We use them every day, though, and in spite of some inconsistencies they all hold together pretty firmly—unless a crisis (intellectual, moral, experiential) makes us lose confidence in the whole web.

Every worldview arises from a narrative—a story about who we are, how we got here, the meaning of history and our own lives, expectations for the future.  From this narrative arise certain convictions (doctrines and ethical beliefs) that make that story significant for us.  No longer merely assenting to external facts, we begin to indwell that story; it becomes ours as we respond to it and then live out its implications.

I’ve argued that in Christianity this can be described familiar terms of the drama, doctrine, doxology, and discipleship.  But you see it in every worldview.  Take Friedrich Nietzsche, for example.  The late 19th-century philosopher believed that we came from nowhere meaningful and are going nowhere meaningful, but in the middle of it all we can create meaning for ourselves.  Freed from an external creator, law-giver, redeemer, and consummator, we are finally on our own.  The parents are on holiday (if there is a parent), and it’s party-time.  In Romans, Paul identifies our fallen condition as a pathological inability to be thankful.  After all, if reality is an accidental given of a random and impersonal universe rather than a gift of a purposeful God, then the only meaning we have is that which we design and execute for ourselves.

It’s something like Nietzsche’s narrative—the “Nowhere Man” poised to make something of his own individualism and will to power—that creates the plausibility structure of contemporary living in the West.  Its central dogma is the will to power and its doxology is actually self-congratulatory, like Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”  It yields masters and consumers rather than pilgrims and disciples.

The fact that “moralistic-therapeutic-deism” is the working theology of Americans—whether evangelicals, Catholics, mainline Protestants, or agnostics—demonstrates the pervasiveness of secularization even in our churches.  The old actors may still be invoked: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit.  Bits of the old narrative may still be mentioned: creation, providence, redemption, salvation, heaven.  However, the shift is evident enough.  These old words are mapped onto an essentially human-centered rather than God-centered map.  The map is the autonomous self’s striving to create a sense of meaning, purpose, and significance.  Each individual writes his or her own script or life movie.  “God” may still have a meaningful role as a supporting actor in our self-realization and peace of mind, but we’re the playwright, director, and star.

So when we come to debates about same-sex marriage in civic debates, even professions of deeply held Christian commitments can be invoked without the biblical narrative, doctrines and commands, doxology, and discipleship actually providing the authoritative source and structural integrity to our arguments.

Conservatives often appeal to self-fulfillment: gays are unhappy.  They don’t realize their own potential to mate with the right gender and produce pleasant families like the rest of us.  To be sure, there are other arguments, like referring to the decline of civilizations that accommodated homosexuality.  However, this is just to extend the pragmatic-and-therapeutic-usefulness  presupposition of individual autonomy to a social scale.

On this common ground, same-sex marriage is a no-brainer.  Some people are happier and more fulfilled in committed same-sex relationships.  There’s no use trying to refute other people’s emotional expressions of their own subjective states of consciousness.  Do same-sex couples wrestle with tension, anxiety over a partner losing interest and being attracted to someone else, infidelity, and so forth?  Looking at the state of traditional marriage, how exactly are these couples uniquely dysfunctional? A 2006 Amicus Brief presented to the California Supreme Court by the nation’s leading psychological and psychiatric bodies argued, “Gay men and lesbians form stable, committed relationships that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential respects. The institution of marriage offers social, psychological, and health benefits that are denied to same-sex couples…There is no scientific basis for distinguishing between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples with respect to the legal rights, obligations, benefits, and burdens conferred by civil marriage.”  Well, there you have it.  The new high priests of the national soul have spoken.

How would someone who believes that sin is unhappiness and salvation is having “your best life now” make a good argument against same-sex marriage? There is simply no way of defending traditional marriage within the narrative logic that apparently most Christians—much less non-Christians—presuppose regardless of their position on this issue.