CTT | Train Up a Child in Gender Roles

With all of the craziness in the news and crawling across social media, it is tough to keep steady and steadfast without getting completely frustrated. Maranatha! Today, we will be addressing a relatively new cultural phenomenon and how Christian parents need to respond to the culture in a way that we haven’t had to in a long time. We need to teach our children, in plain language, Biblical gender roles and Biblical sexual identity. God created us male and female. The gender binary is Biblical, it is God’s design, and man cannot change it.

Let us begin by looking at Proverbs 22.

Proverbs 22 (ESV)

22 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
    and favor is better than silver or gold.
The rich and the poor meet together;
    the Lord is the maker of them all.
The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
    but the simple go on and suffer for it.
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
    is riches and honor and life.
Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
    whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The rich rules over the poor,
    and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
    and the rod of his fury will fail.
Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
    for he shares his bread with the poor.
10 Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,
    and quarreling and abuse will cease.
11 He who loves purity of heart,
    and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he overthrows the words of the traitor.
13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
    I shall be killed in the streets!”
14 The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit;
    he with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
    or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Words of the Wise

17 Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
    and apply your heart to my knowledge,
18 for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
    if all of them are ready on your lips.
19 That your trust may be in the Lord,
    I have made them known to you today, even to you.
20 Have I not written for you thirty sayings
    of counsel and knowledge,
21 to make you know what is right and true,
    that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?

22 Do not rob the poor, because he is poor,
    or crush the afflicted at the gate,
23 for the Lord will plead their cause
    and rob of life those who rob them.
24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
    nor go with a wrathful man,
25 lest you learn his ways
    and entangle yourself in a snare.
26 Be not one of those who give pledges,
    who put up security for debts.
27 If you have nothing with which to pay,
    why should your bed be taken from under you?
28 Do not move the ancient landmark
    that your fathers have set.
29 Do you see a man skillful in his work?
    He will stand before kings;
    he will not stand before obscure men.

Society Used to Promote Gender Roles

American Society used to promote gender roles as healthy and desirable qualities in men and women. Though the picture of a “man’s man” or a “fine lady” have gone through trends and fads, they were always there. Since WWII, however, things started changing on that front, and several progressives have pushed throughout the past 3 decades an agenda of dissolving gender roles, to the point where society is even unwilling to accept biological limitations on gender. The goal is (and always has been) to dissolve the family unit, so that there is only the State and a collective of individuals who obey it. The currency for this obedience from the individual is “empowerment” to do “what feels right for the individual”. Scholarly dissertations could be written mapping out the progressive movement’s assault on the family throughout the 20th century, but for our purposes we need only acknowledge society’s current state.

When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have to go out of their way to teach gender roles. Society accepted (at least in general) the fundamental differences between men and women. Our clothing was distinct (except for women’s jackets getting shoulder pads in the 80s… that, was odd) and for the most part men were expected to be a certain way and women another, and it was what we looked for in the opposite sex. Now, that is not to say that the gender roles within the family were right… culturally we had abandoned the notion of a single-income family, and latch-key kids were being raised by the public school system and television. The visible church was in the televangelist boom with Oral Roberts and the like promoting egalitarian views to keep in step with the feminist movement, and it was during this time also that Rick Warren and Bill Hybels were starting their movements. The family was on shifting sands at this point, but the fruit of such compromise wouldn’t manifest until the mid 90s. One such bad fruit would become apparent in the Columbine massacre. Society had abandoned teaching its kids right from wrong, had put down the rod of discipline in favor of more self-esteem psycho-babble, and we left our children to be brought up by the world. Fast forward a couple of decades and we have large swaths of evangelicalism abandoning the inerrancy of Scripture, the Biblically prescribed gender roles within the church, and even on the applicability of sexual immorality as sin. We are left with full-on rebellion against God’s design in cases like Bruce Jenner and Stephonknee Walschtt (Warning: both links are NSFL or Not Safe For Lunch) being tolerated and even celebrated.

Romans 1:22-32 (ESV)

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Christian Parents Now Must Teach Gender Roles Properly

I can remember a time while growing up when the cool fads in accessories for men were considered feminine in nature, such as bracelets and earrings. My parents didn’t need to point to any scripture to enforce the gender distinction, they simply had to hold the line at “those are for women, not men”. Whenever we bought a button-down shirt, we needed to know which side the buttons were on so that we wouldn’t be wearing a “woman’s shirt”. My point being that my parents’ role regarding training us up in gender roles was one of discipline and reinforcement of societal norms. Was this right? No, because we ended up allowing the world to push us into an egalitarian mindset, but it was the norm, and that’s what is new for our day as parents… it is no longer the norm. Insanity is the norm. Full-on post-modern, post-christian, delusion is now the norm. We now have to teach explicitly what most of us never thought would ever have been questioned. We have to teach our kids that their gender is bound to their biology and that it was all carefully and wonderfully made by God before they were even born. Sin has corrupted our flesh, and allowed death to enter into the Earth, but God’s design for sex, procreation, gender roles, sexual purity, and marriage remain. We now have to teach these things to our children plainly and without relying on society to enforce it. In fact, we must accept the truth that the world seeks to destroy our children’s minds and teach them to hate God’s plan for the family and even hate their own bodies that were given to them by God.

Ephesians 6:1-4 (ESV) | Children and Parents

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Matthew 19:3-6 (ESV)

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Genesis 5:1-2 (ESV) | Adam’s Descendants to Noah

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.

I decided to walk this progression backwards, from Paul’s writing, to a quote of Jesus’ response to the Pharisees all the way back to Genesis. God created man, and He did so with a binary gender, not a fluid one. Our gender is bound to our bodies, and designed to become one flesh in marriage. That is by design, and man cannot simply annul a marriage covenant much less is he qualified to redefine gender or sexuality. Teach your kids to love their gender, their God-appointed gender, a gender that is bound to their biology and cannot be changed by man. Remember what we saw in Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Children must be taught in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 

Titus 2 (ESV)

Teach Sound Doctrine

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Conclusion

My children are still very young… and we already have to teach God’s plan for men and women. We’ve taken the homeschooling route, and I’ve been working through Luther’s small catechism with them. We’ve not yet explained procreation, but we’ve already had to address cross-dressers, and the fact that my son will always be a boy and my daughter will always be a girl and that their differences will always be there, and that those differences are a good thing even if they don’t see it yet. We have to teach what is appropriate conduct for boys and girls, and my wife and I weep when we think of how much malice the world harbors for our children and their innocence. While in our flesh we are troubled, and we worry, and we so desperately want to protect them from the hate of the world, we are comforted knowing that we serve a Living God who is not unfamiliar with our struggles. We find rest in Him, and we pray the same for you.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 19

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 18.

Last week’s look at Matthew 18 ended with the parable of the unforgiving servant. In this parable, Our Lord Jesus Christ is demonstrating the proper framework or perspective from which we should view the call to forgive our brothers who have sinned against us. That framework being of one who is fully aware (by faith) of the insurmountable debt of sin of which we have been forgiven by God for the sake of His Son, Jesus. In light of what we have been forgiven, we have no right to withhold forgiveness from our fellow sinful man. I think it is extremely important that we maintain this proper perspective, since the very next topic that presents itself in the Gospel According to Matthew is that of divorce and marriage.

Matthew 19 (ESV)

Matthew 19:1-12 (ESV) | Teaching About Divorce

Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

There is a common teaching that takes verse 9 to indicate that Divorce is allowed in cases of adultery, but not in anything else. I think that is a poor reading of this text. The Pharisees had their own laws regarding divorce, and some had gone so far as to make the slightest infraction (burned dinner) capable of warranting a divorce. They sought to draw Jesus into their dispute, to get Him to weigh in on their laws with their initial question, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”. That is the opening question. The question is open for a fully open “yes” meaning that any cause is lawful or a limited answer of “yes” in which they would debate to establish the left and right limits of lawful divorce. I don’t think they were expecting Jesus’ answer, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate”. His answer was “no”, there is no lawful case for divorce. What does that answer mean? It means that in all cases, divorce is a sin. The Pharisees were white-washed tombs, on the outside they were clean… this is an “on the outside” question. They wanted to establish a way to divorce their wife while still coming out the “good guy”, the “clean” guy… or in our modern-day language, the “innocent victim”. According to the Law, the punishment for adultery is death. Death ends the marriage covenant. A widow or widower is free to remarry without incurring the sin of adultery (provided the new spouse is free from adultery).

The Pharisees then attempted to refute Jesus’s answer by pointing to Moses and the certificate of divorce. Jesus points out that it was a concession made as a result of their hardness of heart, from their sin. Jesus is directing the Pharisees beyond Moses and the Mosaic covenant… this is an important distinction, one that the author of Hebrews conveys wonderfully in chapter 10:

Hebrews 10:1-10 (ESV) | Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All
1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

That Moses granted a certificate of divorce does not indicate that God was in any way pleased by divorce in any circumstance. King David rightly understood that it wasn’t the sacrifices that pleased God; rather a broken and contrite spirit were pleasing sacrifices to Him (Psalm 51, specifically vs 16-17).

So, by the time we get to verse 9, Jesus isn’t presenting a get-out-of-marriage-lawfully card, He is saying that every case of divorce and remarriage is the sin of adultery. The case of adultery is a different case under the Law because the adulterer is put to death. Under the Law, there is no lawful case for divorce, because even if there was no adultery and both divorcees lived, if they remarry they are committing adultery. What does this all mean? Sin. Those who are under the New Covenant must repent of their sin and be forgiven… the sin of divorce is the sin of adultery (as is the sin of adultery). Does this mean we are to place the burden of the Law on the necks of Christians and deny them remarriage after having repented of the sin of divorce? I don’t think so. In fact, I believe we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven and extend Grace. God is not mocked, He disciplines His own. All cases of divorce is sin… Christ’s Finished Work on the cross is sufficient for all sin. This takes discipline, discernment, rebuke, repentance, grace, and forgiveness. This is the role of the church, to build up one another in the faith that was once-for-all delivered to the saints. Marriage is not to be taken lightly, neither dare we take sin lightly. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

The permanence of marriage is so strongly conveyed here by Jesus, that the disciples decide it’s better not to marry at all, then. Jesus doesn’t disagree… but He does make clear to them that not everyone can live that way, for such a life is a call to celibacy, since sex is only lawful within the covenant of marriage. I find it very interesting that Jesus (through Whom everything was created) declares that some are born eunuchs. Some people are born without a driving sexual desire, and that is by design. Now, the world perverts this idea by insisting that everyone has sexual desires that need to be satisfied, so those who God designed to be born a eunuch are tempted to seek gratification in sinful ways. The world is all to eager to push us into sexual immorality, even those for whom sex isn’t as strongly wired as others. Just a thought that has no bearing on what is sin and what is righteous but the church should remember that Jesus plainly taught that some are born eunuchs… by design. Then there are those individuals who are made eunuchs (castration) and still others who choose celibacy for the sake of the ministry of the Kingdom. Not all can accept this life, so as Paul will teach later, better to marry than to be burned up with passion.

Matthew 19:13-15 (ESV) |  Let the Children Come to Me

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

This was a major theme in last week’s posts, and here I think it is important to remind parents that their children are their first ministry. We are called to bring our children (even infants as we see in the language used by Luke) to Christ… for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 19:16-30 (ESV) | The Rich Young Man

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments. 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

What a passage. In the first part, we see a man seeking to be commended for his good deeds. He was prepared to demonstrate his righteousness and was awaiting the approval of Jesus. Jesus crushes that notion with His first comment, there is only One who is good. His actual answer to the question of what goo deed, is keep the commandments. God is the only One who is good, and Jesus (the God-Man) is good for He is the only One who kept all of the commandments. God is One. The next question from the man is diagnostic question… leading to the “what do I still lack?” Jesus’ response is a picture of repentance, dying to self, and following Christ. This lesson is further given to His disciples. We generally refer to this notion by quoting a different passage:

Luke 9:23-26 (ESV) | Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

How wonderful it is to see the Gospel message remains the same across writers and circumstances. Eternal Life is found in none other than Jesus Christ.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through chapter 20. We’ll see a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven, and we’ll see Jesus give a third warning of His death. I look forward to continuing our trek through the Gospel According to Matthew. Until then, continue walking in faith and growing in knowledge of Christ through the reading of His Word.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 18

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 17.

Last week’s look at Matthew 17 ended with a short demonstration of God’s provision for His people. I debated stopping short of that portion so that it could serve as the introduction into today’s, but decided against it since chapter 17 is such a short chapter already. Today, we’ll start with what today would seem to be a deep theological question of who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 18 (ESV)

Matthew 18:1-6 (ESV) | Who Is the Greatest?

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Notice how Jesus addresses the question… He didn’t answer “who is the greatest” He instead charged them to focus on who will even enter. That should be a sobering thought for each of us. Now, usually when I read this passage, my thoughts go to exploring what it means to have a child-like faith, and what I need to do to cultivate such a faith (notice how the flesh is so bent in on itself always looking for works to perform to gain faith)… but this time around, my thoughts focus more on verse 6. When we talk about the dangers of false teachers and wolves in the church, maybe we should start emphasizing the need to protect the children first and foremost. My kids are 5 and 3, and right now nothing scares my wife and me more than the idea of allowing our kids to falsely indoctrinated in a public (pagan) school system… or in a Sunday School class that mishandles Scripture for the sake of entertainment.

This is a bible study, but I hope you’ll allow me to share some personal application. Last night at dinner, my 3-yr-old daughter prayed for the blessing on the food. Immediately after the Amen, she said, “Daddy… you wanna know something about God? He never sins. You wanna know what God has? A Holy Spirit. And God is Jesus.” So at dinner, my wife and I discussed with our 5-yr-old and 3-yr-old the definition of sin, the nature of God, and the Trinity all while gobbling up some delicious arroz con pollo (chicken and rice). Now sure, I had to say several times, “I know it can be hard to understand, so for now we say that God is One in three persons, God the Father, God the Son Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit.” I was so moved by the experience, and the weight of the responsibility as their father and the priest of the home is heavy, particularly with what Jesus said in verse 6 above. Thankfully, it is not by my will or intellect… but by grace through faith that I can walk humbly and faithfully in my responsibility to the children God has placed in my care. This is why we don’t entertain fantasies such as santa, the tooth fairy, or the easter bunny. We refuse to bear false witness to our children about these lies and we fear causing the little ones who believe in Christ to stumble.

Matthew 18:7-9 (ESV) | Temptations to Sin

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

Temptation will come… and it is necessary. It was necessary for Jesus to be tempted, we know this because the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness for that express purpose. But woe to the one by whom it comes. There is really poor argumentation out there that suggests that the ends justify the means. Christians should know better, but we are weak. The ends are in God’s hands… He allows the means, but He is the only Judge over all. God doesn’t tempt, but He allows it for our good and His Glory.

James 1:12-14 (ESV) 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

Part of remaining steadfast, is knowing when to flee temptation. Knowing that we are sinful creatures for sin yet remains in our flesh even though we have the Spirit of God working within us, Paul was clear in his writing of the war that rages within between our sinful flesh and the Spirit. Jesus graphically depicts the need to avoid temptation by any means necessary. Resist the devil, yes, and that includes fleeing youthful lusts. But we don’t blindly run away, James tells us to draw near to God and He will draw near to us (James 4).

Matthew 18:10-14 (ESV) | The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

This parable should be held in close connection with Jesus’ charge in verses 5 and 6. The Father takes special notice of the little ones who have gone astray. Remember the millstone. He actively seeks out the one who is lost. Woe to the one by whom temptation comes! The Father rejoices over the lost that was found more than over the 99 who never went astray.

Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV) | If Your Brother Sins Against You

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

This is how we are to deal with fellow members of the Body of Christ. This is how Church Discipline is to be administered. Sadly, steps 1&2 are often skipped and people jump straight to shunning and excommunication. What follows is a parable that reinforces what Jesus was teaching above, but from a different perspective… one of stewardship of God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy.

Matthew 18:21-35 (ESV) | The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him,“I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Fellow Christians… be good and faithful stewards of God’s grace and mercy and extend forgiveness in Jesus’ Name. This isn’t a matter remedied by mere lip service… for God looks at the heart. We are to forgive our brothers from the heart… and repent of the sin of falling short of that standard.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through some tough topics such as marriage, divorce, celibacy, works-righteousness and idolatry. I look forward to continuing our trek through the Gospel According to Matthew. Until then, continue walking in faith and growing in knowledge of Christ through the reading of His Word.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | Alistair Begg – Friendship Matters (2 Timothy 4:11-13)

2011-alistair-begg

Today, we’ll visit TruthforLife.org for a sermon by Alistair Begg.

Sermon link: Friendship Matters

The Apostle Paul faced his approaching death with confidence in God, but also with real vulnerability. In this message from the concluding verses of 2 Timothy, Alistair Begg directs our attention to the important roles that Luke, Mark, and Tychicus played in the life and ministry of Paul. By their loyalty and usefulness, these men illustrate the practical value of faithful ministry to Christ and the providence of God in ordering even missteps and failures for His glory.

Sermon Text

2 Timothy 4:11-13 (ESV)

11 Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12 Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.

John called Mark

Now, for a little background (some of which Alistair Begg will provide), let’s take a walk through Acts, noting where John called Mark interacted with the Apostle Paul. In chapter 12 of Acts, James killed and Peter imprisoned. God sends and Angel to free Peter from the inner jail, though Peter initially thinks it is a vision or a dream. Let’s pick up with the story in verse 11:

Acts 12:11-25 (ESV)

11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate.15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” 16 But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and tothe brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.

18 Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there.

The Death of Herod

20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain,they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.

So we see here introduced this John whose other name was Mark in the heart of what is going on among the brethren in Jerusalem. He is witness to the miracle of Peter’s release and probably to a great deal more. The Word of God increased and multiplied. Upon leaving Jerusalem, Saul and Barnabas brought along John-Mark as they returned to Antioch.

Acts 13:1-14 (ESV) | Barnabas and Saul Sent Off

13 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Barnabas and Saul on Cyprus

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Paul and Barnabas at Antioch in Pisidia

13 Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.

The Holy Spirit sends Paul and Barnabas out on a missionary journey, and John-Mark goes with them to assist. We aren’t given much detail on the matter, but for whatever reason, John-Mark leaves the mission at Perga in Pamphylia to return home to Jerusalem. There could have been some majorly compelling reasons for why John-Mark chose to return to Jerusalem, or it could simply have been fear or immaturity. Whatever it was, the Holy Spirit did not include it in Scripture. Suffice it to say that it left a mark on Paul. Paul and Barnabas travel throughout the region preaching the Word of Christ. Meanwhile, the council of Jerusalem regarding the matter of Gentile Believers and the Mosaic Covenant convened. Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem to testify of the Holy Spirit’s work among the Gentiles, and the council came to an agreement and drafted a letter to be sent out to those outside of Jerusalem. We pick up in Acts 15:22.

Acts 15:22-41 (ESV) | The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers

22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia,greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Paul and Barnabas Separate

36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Barnabas chose to mentor John-Mark while Paul chose another to travel with him to do the work of the ministry. Too often, this becomes a matter of friendships being broken or family discord, but this was about the work of the ministry. Paul sought to encourage and strengthen the planted churches and John-Mark was not up for the task. Barnabas, on the other hand, felt led to pour into John-Mark’s life, to nurture him, to equip him for the ministry. Luke goes on to follow Paul’s ministry rather than that of Barnabas, but in Paul’s letter to Timothy, we see that John-Mark becomes a particularly useful brother in the faith. Despite all that has taken place, most of it not recorded, when Paul was at the end of his race, he wanted the company of friends… of whom John-Mark was mentioned by name.

May God bless you and keep you,
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

3 Things We Need to Hear

daughterToday, I just want to share something that has been on my heart for about a week now. As a husband of one wife and the father of two little ones, a boy of 5 and a girl of 3, my primary concern is my family and their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Our children have really begun to express their individuality in many ways, and at times it can be tough to adjust to their changing attitudes, questions, and responses such that they can continue to grow as individuals while remaining submitted to authority. I fail daily. One thing I’ve tried to model for my family is confession and repentance. I try to make it a point to apologize to my wife and kids when I lose my temper or wrongly dismiss them or their concerns. Over the past weekend, I noticed something about my relationships (particularly with my daughter of), about some of the things we need to hear for comfort, for relief, and for rest. This isn’t a scientific study, nor is it going to be anything deeply theological, these are just my observations.

3 Things We Need to Hear

#3 | I love you

Many will argue that this statement is the most important thing we need to hear. I would have argued the same until recently. If you will bear with me a bit, I hope to make the case for the 2 things we need to hear even more than “I love you”; however, those things will be meaningless outside of the context of love. My wife and I make sure to tell each other “I love you”, and we strive to make it known to our children, “I love you… no matter what”. The other day, after having to discipline my daughter for some bad behavior (time out), I went to my daughter to give her a hug and remind her that I loved her. Her response melted me, “I love you, too, daddy… even when you’re mad at me”. We need to hear “I love you” as a reminder, for encouragement, and for comfort. We need to know that we are loved.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Romans 5:6-8 (ESV)

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

#2 | I Forgive You

Once a loving relationship has been established, the most loving thing you can say to someone you love is, “I forgive you”, when they repent. I believe that this is something we’ve lost sight of here in the West, even in the Church. This past weekend was a long weekend, and my wife and I really wanted to spend the time together, so I got a lot of personal time with my kids. Which means that Daddy had to be the disciplinarian for an extra day. On one occasion, my daughter had done something she knew full well she wasn’t supposed to do, and tried to hide it. When I caught the infraction, I expressed my disappointment, issued a reprimand, and charged her not to repeat the infraction. Well, it happened again a few hours later. I was tired, so I just sat on the couch collecting my thoughts. My daughter came to me… slowly… and said, “daddy, I’m sorry for [doing what was wrong]…” and then the bottom lip started to puff out. I responded with, “thank you for apologizing… I love you honey” and I gave her a hug… but her bottom lip was still out, and it started to shake a bit. I was confused. She was still troubled and looked like she was going to start crying… “are you still mad at me?” That’s when it hit me. “Honey… I forgive you, sweetie… I forgive you”. At the sound of those words, my beautiful little daughter relaxed… shoulders dropped, as did the single tear that had welled up in her eye, and she let out a sigh and smiled. And then Daddy got a big sqeezy hug, which he returned with equal enthusiasm. She didn’t doubt my love, not for a second, but she still needed to hear me say, “I forgive you”.

In less dramatic fashion, I was in a meeting yesterday for a charity organization. Several senior officials were there, and one of them jokingly commented on an odd word I had used. I thought nothing of it but later caught myself using a synonym as a replacement for the initial word and jokingly referred back to the senior official. Several hours later, I got a phone call from that individual, and in that conversation he apologized for poking fun at my word choice, given that we were not close friends and it was in a meeting. I did the typical thing of dismissing the apology by asserting “no harm done, I thought it was funny”. He graciously accepted my explanation, but insisted that what he had done was inappropriate despite my claim of “no harm, no foul”. Again, it hit me, I need to plainly, simply, and humbly accept his apology and tell him, “I forgive you”. So I did, and it lightened up the conversation so much. I was then able to encourage him to be comfortable with me in the future and that such comments would be fine… he was now free to accept such encouragement, because the burden of guilt was lifted. Please, don’t dismiss repentance… don’t bat it away… it isn’t always about YOU. Forgive the one who is repenting, for the sake of his/her conscience.

2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (ESV) | Forgive the Sinner

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

#3 | You Are Forgiven

If the western Church has lost sight of personal forgiveness… I believe it is largely due to having lost sight of the importance of the Gospel being preached to the Believer. Evangelicalism has allowed the Gospel to become “something that the lost need to hear to be saved”, but for some reason those who are saved are expected to just remember what the Gospel is while they get beaten down by principles to living more holy and acceptable lives (the Law) from week to week, month to month, year to year. We need to change the way we do “altar calls” and get back to preaching the Truth of the Gospel with conviction and regularity. To the unbeliever and believer alike, we preach “repent and be forgiven”… but to the believer, we include “You are Forgiven, in Jesus’ Name” by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone.

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (ESV)

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 John 1:5-10 (ESV) | Walking in the Light

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Through Christ’s once-and-for-all finished work on the Cross, this forgiveness, reconciliation, and cleansing is not merely a one-time thing for us… but daily occurrence.

Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

Amen. It is my sincere prayer that you attend a church that preaches Gospel to believers. We need to hear “you are forgiven” often. We need to hear it, even those who are of the faith.

Conclusion

Let us not grow weary in doing good, love the Lord, love your neighbor, repent and be forgiven. In as much as you have been forgiven, forgive others. Let them hear your forgiveness, even if you don’t yet fully understand the sin.

I pray that my children may grow in the knowledge of Christ, assured of their salvation in Christ Jesus. I pray that my wife might find rest and comfort in the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I pray that each time I fail, that I remain humble enough to repent and seek forgiveness, as well as to grant forgiveness to others.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) | Prayer for Spiritual Strength

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Related blogs:

Church History | Gospel for those who have been hurt by the Church