Reviving Tithing & Feasting

Reviving Tithing & Feasting

Harvest has been upon us for some little time. The rich hues of autumn creep slowly into the vivid lush greens of summer about now and fill our senses. Almost unconsciously our expectation builds. The gathering in, the long waited for culmination, the final reaping.

Even the pagans of antiquity recognized this in their confused way. Most of them tragically counted up the works of their own hands and built altars of their own imaginations to the gods of their own depraved minds.

Even more tragically, though, most of us have lost the Christian cultural heritage; the brilliant tie between the Word of God and his nature; self evident in creation. This is the time for feasting and thanksgiving and tithing. Our fathers knew it, and so should we. But thanksgiving to them was not a non-descript emotion; the vague impression of fullness or satisfaction one feels watching an abundant field ripen or sitting before a groaning table of food. In all the symbology, we, their children, may have lost the heart of the matter. Yes, it is the time of thanksgiving and tithing, the time when we gather in and prepare; but we haven’t the first idea of what thanksgiving or tithing look like. Every generation is responsible. We are responsible to look back and look forward. And we are responsible to obey.

Our family is a new one, a frail little bark in the sea of our culture. The following thoughts on feasting and tithing are the results of our searching and clinging to the life line every man has in God’s Word. We know we are commanded to do more than survive. We are commanded to build. So here’s to the rebuilding of the Christian notion of habitual feasting and tithing.

As we gather for a feast, Scripture commands us to do so, first, in the spirit of joy, thanksgiving, and remembrance of the Lord’s provision to us as respective families. For the Christian today, unlike our old covenant fathers,this gathering is not by a special decree or precept but out of conviction that the gathering of believers in the New Testament for a communal meal testifies to a principle of feasting that is common and basic to the Scriptural depiction of Christian fellowship, community, and covenant. Examples of feasting are replete throughout Scripture as familial celebrations, ecclesiastical mandates, and civil/national obligations. The concept of feasting is basic to the Christian life.

Our gathering is in no way an implementation of particular feasts found in the Commonwealth of Israel. There are various mandated feasts in the Old Testament: the Passover, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Booths, etc. All of these feasts pointed to, and have their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. No Christian is under any obligation to maintain or perpetuate these feasts as they are set forth in Scripture. I would argue that to practice these feasts would be a denial of their specific fulfillments in Christ, and thus a denial of the sufficiency of his work.

Nevertheless, because the Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness, these Old Testament feasts do prove helpful in understanding how we ought to consider our feastings in the New Covenant. Leviticus 23:1-3 establish the Sabbath as the basic and most common feast:

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.
—Leviticus 23:1-3

We affirm that the Lord’s day and many other days ought to be remembered regularly as a day of feasting to the best of our abilities in the spirit of thanksgiving we are commanded to have in both covenants. Basic to feasting is an offering of food as set forth in Deuteronomy 16:10, 16-17:

… the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, … [you] shall give as the LORD your god blesses you.

“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you.

The unassailable conclusion of the aforementioned feasts is as follows: “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.” The amount and quantity of the feast is set forth as an economic statement. 1Gary North, Inheritance and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Deuteronomy, 2nd ed. (Dallas, Georgia, Point Five Press, 2012), pg. 462 First, the word “tribute” means “sufficient” or “a proportionate offering.” According to C. H. Waller, this means “a free will offering, proportioned to a man’s means and prosperity.” 2C. H. Waller, M.A., The Fifth Book of Moses, Called Deuteronomy (Cassell & Company, 1885) pg. 97-98 Second, God blesses individuals with more or less, and stipulates that empty hands from those who have been blessed are unacceptable. The head of the family is responsible to apportion as he is able for the provision of the feast. It is an issue of self-government that the man must give what he can, and he is prohibited from appearing empty handed.

It must be recognized that the “blessing of the Lord” is the determiner of the quantity of the offering. This is key to understanding the command in the Feast of Weeks that “you shall rejoice before the Lord your God” (Deut 16:11). Rejoicing is a necessary and required element of this feast as Rushdoony recognizes:

“…Although the feast of weeks was celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, it was to be a time of joy throughout. Instead of any concern or wailing over the lightness of the harvest, there was to be joy that there was a harvest. Anxiety was to give way to gratitude.

“It must be stressed that gratitude should not be confused with self-satisfaction.” 3R.J. Rushdoony, Commentary on the Pentateuch: Deuteronomy , (Vallecito, California: Chalcedon / Ross House Books, 2008) pg. 243

Man’s position before the Lord is paramount, regardless to the quantity of his offering. Man is to feast because God has blessed him. Man must declare the praise and glory of his maker and exult the work that he has done in bringing forth a harvest. The fact that there is a harvest is reason alone to celebrate the blessing and provision of God.

To view feasts in light of the ingredients themselves is to raise the works or satisfaction of the man over the purpose of the feast. The word feast can be wrongly understood to imply a certain amount or quality of food. Again, while this may be looked for in the light of God’s gracious blessings to his people when they are faithful, it is neither the point of feasting before the Lord, nor should it be expected, and certainly not mandated. R. J. Rushdoony observes:

“… tithing meant proportionate giving. The tenth of a poor man is as pleasing to God as the tenth of the rich. The principle of the tithe is stated clearly in the law: “Every man shall give as he is able” (Deut. 16:17). This same principle is restated by St. Paul in II Corinthians 8:12 as the essence of Christian giving. St. Paul wrote with respect to the collection for the poor, and he cited the principle of the tithe to collect the poor tithe from Christians. By means of proportionate giving, no undue burden was placed on anyone: the rich were not expected to do all the giving, nor was the burden left to the willing. 4R.J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, (Vallecito, California: Chalcedon / Ross House Books, 1973) pg. 54

Here the wisdom of Scripture protects the man who can give no more from the man who is not willing to give. All covenanting men are required to participate without exception. Also, provision is made for the sojourner, widow, fatherless, levite, and poor (Deut 14:29). By the participation of covenanting men, those of lesser stature are able to participate and partake in the feasts of God. Here we see the very principle asserted by the Apostle Paul; namely that our lot is fixed by God alone:

For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? —1 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV)

In conclusion we believe that feasting is more than something we do for fun or because it is the thing done. We propose that it is the habit of the Christian home, the expression of the Christian heart. The food which every man brings to the feast is governed by God alone, and it is inextricably linked to freewill giving and the tithe. The principle that heads of households must bring as they are able must be affirmed, and seen as sufficient for God’s blessing upon them.

The Christian man recognizes feasting and thanksgiving, not as a result of the harvest, but because God gave a harvest. He sees all things as the work of the Lord: The harvest comes in for God has worked. We bring our offerings to the table for God has worked. We rejoice in the provision that we have for God has worked. We set aside our time to rest and fellowship for God has worked. We rest our souls in the work of Jesus Christ our Savior for God has worked. God has worked in our fields, in our homes, at our tables, and in our hearts. The beauty of holiness, the glory in thanksgiving, the rejoicing in tithing, these are the things we cannot provide or create for ourselves. Let the mortal man turn to the hands that made him and bless the Lord.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Gary North, Inheritance and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Deuteronomy, 2nd ed. (Dallas, Georgia, Point Five Press, 2012), pg. 462
2. C. H. Waller, M.A., The Fifth Book of Moses, Called Deuteronomy (Cassell & Company, 1885) pg. 97-98
3. R.J. Rushdoony, Commentary on the Pentateuch: Deuteronomy , (Vallecito, California: Chalcedon / Ross House Books, 2008) pg. 243
4. R.J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, (Vallecito, California: Chalcedon / Ross House Books, 1973) pg. 54

“Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the axe of justice, so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures, so adverse to God that they cannot turn to Him, so blind that they cannot see Him, so deaf that they cannot hear Him, and so dead that He Himself must open their graves and lift them to resurrection.”

– George Sayles Bishop, ‘Grace In Galatians’ –

For centuries the Church has stood solidly against worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was: a device for wasting time … a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability. … But of late she has become tired of the abuse, and has given up the struggle. … The average church member lives a life so worldly and careless, that it is difficult to distinguish him from the unconverted man!

– A.W. Tozer –
Holiness & Reverence

Holiness & Reverence

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
—Exodus 20:7

In the understanding of this text, the modern Christian often takes the words amiss. The command is commonly regarded as a simple prohibition regarding the misuse of God’s name. It is generally applied to the usage of the name of God and Christ in reprehensible or undesirable situations. Modern translations render the commandment as :

“You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God” —NIV

“Never use the name of the LORD your God carelessly.” —GOD’S WORD®

“No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter” —MSG

Some paraphrase the command as simplistically as “No Bad Words”.

However, while there is truth in understanding that certain usages of God’s name are forbidden, at least three broader and more comprehensive  conclusions are imperative to recognize. First, it must be asserted that the reference to God’s “name” does not merely refer to the formal titles of God, but it is inclusive of the various titles, attributes, ordinances, word and works.1Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 54 Second, the inverse of what is forbidden is thereby required. Namely that man must revere the name of the Lord. Third, this command does not only restrict cursing and vulgar language, but requires that the man of God swear by God’s name in faith.

In understanding and defining “name” the Christian must look to scripture.  In Psalm 29 and Matthew 6, man is called to ascribe glory to the name of the Lord.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
—Psalm 29:2

Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
—Matthew 6:9

The Christian specifically is required to ascribe this glory as an act of worshiping the Lord. Nothing less than full credit, complete recognition and total praise are fitting for the glory that is due to God’s name. He is the great “I AM.” Because of this man must humble himself and hallow the very name of God.

The common titles and attributes of God throughout the Scriptures are those pertaining to his authority and sovereignty.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
—Revelation 15:3-4

The very title of Lord is one that affirms  that God is the highest authority, absolute ruler and ultimate potentate. Yet while his character is continually compared to weapons of warfare and dominion, God does not domineer over his creation as the common and base human despot or a tyrant. God is characterized by titles and attributes pertaining to salvation and redemption. Christ indeed is the Lamb of Glory, a title of humility that has been conferred upon Christ the King of Kings. Herein we witness the nature of God’s character, at once humanly incomprehensible and comprehensively  simple.

In Malachi  the law of God is set forth authoritatively and viewed in relation to the Great King and Lord of hosts.

Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.
—Malachi 1:14

As the manifest declaration of his nature, the statutes, rules and ordinances of God that must be spoken of  with respect and kept in fear with  reverence and holiness. The law of God ought always to be exalted just as David lauded it, proclaiming in Psalm 119:97 “Oh how I love your law!” The law of God should never be denigrated as though it were backward, barbaric or contemptible by the lawless, let alone the Christian. James calls this law the “perfect law, the law of liberty.” The Law, which is one of God’s manifold demonstrations of grace to redeemed man, should be considered in no less manner than any of his other works.

The Word of God is the very expression of God’s character and will. It relates to man who God is, and it teaches man what is pleasing to God.

I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
—Psalm 138:2

The Word of God is the all sufficient rule of faith and practice. It sets forth what man is to believe about God, and it sets forth how man must act in terms of that belief. Hence man must approach the Word of God with reverence and humility. He must recognize that without the work of redemption and the power of the Spirit of God, he is incapable of  true knowledge.

God has commanded that his works are to be made known to all men. Psalm 107 reflects this well:

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
—Psalm 107:21-22

This presupposes that all of God’s works are holy and wonderous. Thus it is the duty of all men to recount these deeds and works of God to future generations. These works must be proclaimed with thanksgiving and in songs of joy to all men and all nations at all times.

A proper understanding of the prohibition of the third commandment will yield a recognition of its implied requirements.  In this knowledge, the Christian will  embrace and observe all the right uses of God’s name, and consequently the comprehensive facets of his character. This observance is of necessity rendered in a true spirit of humility with an attitude of holiness and reverence that works itself out in the faith and life of the believer. Holiness and reverence both define and emphasize  the importance of righteous character that results in righteous action.

Holiness is the attitude that recognizes the exalted nature of God, rightly viewing God as distinct from his creation, not a part of it. Holiness also affirms God’s perfect standard of justice. Holiness in the saint causes him to recognize that justice proceeds from God’s decrees and he consequently see God as the source of law.  Holiness, which also has an aesthetic character,  produces in the righteous a delight in, and affection for that law and justice, perceiving its beauty as it manifests the character of its Author.

R. J. Rushdoony aptly describes holiness in the following excerpt from a recorded lecture:

Holiness has to do with our everyday life. Leviticus, which most stresses holiness, gives us laws concerning sexuality and marriage, debt, diet, weights and measures and much, much, more. Too many protestants have a medieval view of holiness as a withdrawal from the world into a convent or a monastic establishment. And they really have turned the churches into monasteries and convents. And they separate themselves from the world and don’t want to be involved in bringing everything into captivity to Christ. … Holiness is not retreat but the application of God’s law word of every area of life and thought. … Holiness is a very wonderful and very practical thing. It is life in faithfulness to the lord Jesus Christ. And to the law word of God.2

Thus holiness is not an abstract existential spirituality detached from the physical world. God created a complete world, comprised of both spiritual and physical elements. It is a heretical, gnostic, and Platonistic view of the world that sees a dichotomy between spiritual and physical. Instead holiness is the very spiritually practical act of obedience to God’s law. Holiness is the heart of obedience in man  made evident by real works of righteousness prepared for him to walk in by faith.

In reverence, as with holiness, man is seen as the inferior to God, so  by an attitude of reverence man willingly submits himself to God’s rule and standard of justice. Man sees God for the true Almighty Lord and King. Because the Christian has been redeemed from sin he stands before the Lord with “joyous song.” It is improper to view reverence as simply a stern faced sobriety. While sobriety is one aspect of the virtue, it is tempered with the oil of gladness by the command of God. The people of God, because of the work of God’s grace, act reverentially in thanksgiving with joy and exuberant praise.

Man must apply these attitudes of holiness and reverence in every area of life and thought. He cannot relegate the reverence and holiness of God to the narrow confines of his own dim imaginings or his  rituals or ceremonies which in themselves are lifeless. Instead, man is required to demonstrate practical humility and a reverential attitude toward all of God’s names,  and all they represent  through the daily conforming of every thought and action into the image of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The third commandment is stated as a prohibitive command. It has set a limiting factor that restricts how man must regard the name of the LORD. The full implication of this commandment has been established by recognizing that the inverse of what is forbidden is thereby required. Namely that the third commandment sets forth a solemn injunction as to how man must regard God’s name with holiness and reverence.

Even further than this, the Christian man is required to take god’s name without vanity. That is, he must take upon himself and bear the name of God in faith. He must take or swear by God’s name. Deuteronomy 6:13 declares the right manner of swearing by God’s name:

It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
—Deuteronomy 6:13

This is an injunction from the Lord himself  to swear by his name.  This is because the very foundation of society and every aspect of life is fundamentally religious. Dr. Joel McDurmon writes:

“ … at the bottom of every way of life, of every religion and every society, stands an ultimate oath. You have to serve somebody. Somebody is your god and you have sworn allegiance to him (or her) already whether you know it or not. You cannot escape worship, authority, or oaths. If you zip-your-lips, and lock the door and swallow the key, and refuse to take any oath whatsoever, you just took one. The question is not “oath or no oath.” The question is Whose name did you take it under? Here we must follow the example of God Himself, “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since he could swear by no one greater, He swore by himself” (Heb. 6:13). No wonder He commands us to swear by that name, too.”3

It is clearly evident that the third commandment requires that man comprehensively  live in terms of his faith. The apostle Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 when he says “the righteous shall live by faith” (Rom 1:17).  Our Lord Jesus Christ echoed the words of Moses from Deuteronomy 8:3 when he declared that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” As the very Word of God, the expression of his Father’s name, Christ perfectly demonstrated for us the keeping of this commandment. Ephesians clearly sets forth the manner of life that identifies Christ, and those who are taught in him:

But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
—Ephesians 4:20-24

The implications of the third commandment are far reaching—far more than the sunday school bible told us when it said “No Bad Words.” God’s Word, being one with his nature, never returns to him void. It effectually conquers and commands dominion over every element of his created universe, including the territory of the mind and heart of man. The Christian man, called out of his own darkness into the light of God by the wonderful grace of this law, must live antithetically to his former self, i.e. fallen man. Being a new creation, he thus takes upon himself the creed of Christ and is re-created after the likeness of God. This likeness is one of righteousness and holiness. It is a moral imperative that the Christian man swears by God and is thereby bound to fulfill what he swears. As God’s nature is constancy itself, so the Christian life must be a life of constancy in faith wherein redeemed man is held to the standard of God’s righteousness by the Spirit and so lives faithfully in thought and deed. As the true standard of obedience to the third commandment, this kind of universal holiness and reverence for the name of God is paramount to the advance of Christendom.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 54
The Forbidden Manner of Worship

The Forbidden Manner of Worship

Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. —Deuteronomy 4:15-19

The larger context of Deuteronomy chapter 4 outlines the careful diligence that must be shown in the keeping of God’s law, especially charging parents to teach God’s acts of providence in history to subsequent generations. Parents are commanded to “[M]ake them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deut 4:9).

The passage  sets forth two principles to be considered and obeyed. First there is the responsibility of self-government. Verse 15 of Deuteronomy chapter 4 clearly establishes that man must live in the fear of God, mindful of his actions in light of God’s righteous standard. The Christian is only able to judge what is right or wrong by the authority of God’s Word in the power of the Spirit and so be conformed to the image of Christ.  Self-government is basic to biblical law.

The second principle to recognize is that man is responsible to communicate the truth about God to others. There is an emphasis put upon family discipleship because the family is the basic social unit. Through the family, subsequent generations are discipled in the faith.  But discipleship is not prescribed for the family alone. The family is equipped by the shepherds and teachers of the church “for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” So as members of the body of Christ, we as Christians are to keep watch over ourselves and admonish one another in the faith.

Immediately following the charge to “watch yourselves very carefully” (Deut 4:15) the passage  gives examples of ways in which we might act corruptly or err in the practice of right and holy worship. Man is warned to check himself, guarding against his propensity to form a view of God that is not found in his all sufficient testimony about himself, the Scriptures. The charge, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it” (Deut 4:2), was uttered in the immediately preceding verses, and is followed by the command, “take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life” (Deut 4:9).

We must remember first that God is spirit and has “no form” (Deut 4:15). If we ascribe any form of our invention to God, or identify God “in the form of any figure” (Deut 4:15) we have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Rom 1:25), and created a false representation of Almighty God. “[H]e is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17). Christ alone is “the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3), being the second person of the triune Godhead.

As the first warning identified man’s presumptuous nature and his tendency to create a god after his own image, so the second warning concerns man’s tenacious rebellion in rendering worship to something other than God himself. The basic faith of so many who identify themselves with Christianity is actually the tragic doctrine of humanism. Humanism as a belief system is one which can captivate any Christian who seeks to distance himself from the full implications of this commandment. A Christian is properly identified as a humanist when, while he denies that he is party to any form of external physical idolatry, he yet refuses to yield his mind on even the smallest issue of life to the law of God. This was aptly noted by R. J. Rushdoony when he wrote: “Humanism is the second oldest religion known to man. It goes back to the Garden of Eden and to the tempter’s creed as set forth in Genesis 3:1-5.”1

The basic duty of the Christian faith is to live obediently in terms of God’s Word by faith in Jesus Christ. Habakkuk 2:4 declares that “the righteous [man] shall live by his faith.” To live in terms of any other faith than that faith which professes and performs obedience to Christ’s commandments is to live in opposition to God, and to embrace the very oldest of lies; that man can “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5). This is something that each one of us does in self-deceit. We make excuses, identify something as unfair, or harbor notions of self-justification for our lawless actions in order to relieve the guilt of our conscience. The Christian must of necessity abhor the vileness of sin. He must wage war with the false concept of peace with any other faith, and he must discharge his obligation to advance Christ’s everlasting Kingdom.

As with all issues of life, the comprehensive sufficiency of scripture must by necessity be assumed in order to consistently apply these principles of worship.  God’s Word alone is the final measure by which any and all forms of worship must be examined and applied.  The eminent importance of this issue cannot be overemphasized.  Deuteronomy 12:31-32 demonstrates this:

When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. —Deuteronomy 12:31-32

Two themes in this passage are crucial to recognize. First there is the antithesis of the Christian faith and the humanistic faith. The humanistic faith was the faith of those nations which served other gods and disobeyed the commandments of the one true God.  They were to be deposed and destroyed by Israel, the saints of God. This was a concrete enactment of the proverb that says “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil” (Prov 8:13). By consequence of regeneration, “the law of the Spirit of life” (Rom 8:2) has set the mind of the Christian “on the things of the Spirit” (Rom 8:5) “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled” (Rom 8:4).  The redeemed man who has been converted by the Spirit of God unto saving faith in Christ cannot dwell peaceably with evil, either in the world or within himself. The natural man runs towards humanism. The Christian must be at war with him.

What the natural man perceives as good and right worship can never be faithfully performed toward God and it is imperative that the Christian submit himself to the command of God who declares: “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way” (Deut 12:31). The Christian is forbidden to worship God in a manner that is derived from man’s mind. It was by the mind of man that “every abominable thing that the LORD hates” (Deut 12:31) was “done for their gods” (Deut 12:31).  History is replete with the detestable horrors fallen man has stooped to in worshiping his gods, such as what is recorded here; “for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods” (Deut 12:31).

The governing authority of God’s Word over the manner that we worship God is stated thus: “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it” (Deut 12:32). Here is the ultimate standard that we as Christians must adhere to; namely that God himself has prescribed the manner of worship that is pleasing to him, and we are thereby forbidden from worshipping God in any manner other than he has revealed to us in his Word.

The Word of God is set forth as the only infallible source of God’s revealed will to man. If man turns to any other source to determine how he ought to worship God, whether through the examples of other religions, personal experience, or witty invention and the cleverness of his own mind, his worship will be regarded by God as abominable. It will have no merit whatsoever, and will incur the judgement and wrath of God, instead of his blessing and favor. May God give us grace that we might abstain from all things that are forbidden in the second commandment.

Behold, Your King

Behold, Your King

For 2,000 years the historic Christian church has remembered the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in human flesh. This event celebrated around the world declares the advance of Christ’s Kingdom; of the increase of His government there shall be no end! No expression of man has described this work of our Messiah so well as Handel’s oratorio. His is a singular work that vividly sets to song the prophecies and fulfillment of the advent, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, kingdom advance, final victory, and accomplished salvation of our Lord. I’ve used his masterpiece as a springboard for an outline of Scriptural texts that proclaim the promise and fulfillment of the gospel of the kingdom.

His Promise

Decreed from the foundations of the world and foretold immediately after the Fall, God promised salvation through the seed of the woman in the person of Jesus Christ. The following verses reveal the promise of our Messiah, Emmanuel, God with us.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

(Isaiah 40:1–5)

For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.

(Haggai 2:6–7)

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.

(Malachi 3:1–3)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

(Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23)

To a venerable and reverend brother, connected with him by ties of spiritual kinship, Boniface, lowly servant or the servants of God, greetings of love in Christ.

With humblest entreaty we beg thee of thy brotherly mercy to be mindful of our weakness and to make intercession for us since by reason of our sins we are buffeted from all sides by the storms of a dangerous sea: asking Him who dwelleth on high and looketh down on the low things and pardoneth our faults to put the word into our mouths so that the gospel of Christ’s glory may have free course and be glorified among the nations.

– St. Boniface (735 A.D.) –
New Ethics Against Virtue

New Ethics Against Virtue


How to Cowardly Abandon All Resolve and Condemn the Teaching of Those Who Fall from Favor and Lose Popularity

After the manner of Erasmus

When the sands of time have shifted, the winds of change have altered course, and the status quo yields so that his principles are no longer held in vogue, the time has come for the Christian to compromise his beliefs, concede his standards, and abandon the ship of faith in cowardly despair.

Clearly this is the only tactful course of action to take. Can he justify continuing to adhere to an orthopraxy which the sin of prominent men have tarnished? Surely the sin of such men has tarnished their message enough to justify condemning all they taught. How would he answer his critics if he were to continue to practice a lifestyle which has now been brought under such intense scrutiny? How could he easily defend such a course of action?

When prominent figures fall from favor in the eyes of their fellow Christians, all reasonable men are responsible to renounce those teachings and separate themselves as far from the danger of association as possible. He must forget that their teachings are from the Scriptures and that the Scriptures use terms and explicitly state the principles that he formerly held to.

Some Christians may argue that the Scriptures are sufficient for governing all that relates to faith and practice — But with their singular loss of popularity who wouldn’t abandon such opinions? A Christian can’t hold to principles taught by men who have fallen from favor — he may be said to be associated with sinners! What would that do to his “testimony” and “influence”? A Christian can’t be condemned by the world. He should seek the world’s approval.

While many Christians may have at one time agreed with the theology taught by these prominent figures — some may have even quoted their teaching from the pulpit! — such scandalous association can no longer be drawn between them. They must feign ignorance of the true scope of the teaching — they must convince others that they were duped into believing such ideas — any benefits they had claimed stemmed from such doctrines must be generalized or explained away. If a Christian previously voiced assent to the teaching, or gave prestigious awards to such teachers,1 he must denounce them, and run to the safety of the next wind of doctrine2Ephesians 4:14 that blows from the Christian left.

This is only fitting. How else would a Christian save face in a culture that is already apathetic to his values and beliefs? The only valid option is obvious: look at the teachings from a new perspective — one that is antithetical to his previous viewpoint. A new viewpoint that has an autonomous standard of morality and seeks to interpret the commands of God from the cultural bias of antinomianism.

With a new standard of interpretation, anything is fair game. A Christian can berate his former friends and allies in the faith; those whom he labored hard with for the work of Christ’s Kingdom. He can now neglect kindness toward his friends and forsake the fear of God3Job 6:14 for political expediency and cultural influence.

Betrayal is the next logical step — and why not? If one can’t associate himself with the philosophies of men who have sinned, he should also publicly discredit them, preferably by claiming that he “knew” there were warning signs all along.

If logical arguments and scriptural principles of interaction with others fail, he must appeal to sympathy and emotions in a manner as culturally relevant as possible; applying the world’s parameters for arguments and discussion. The ridicule he may take for adherence to the Scriptures comes at too great a cost.

Satire aside, consider God’s response: “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.”4Psalm 2:4 ESV This is not a new phenomena; it has been the struggle of men throughout history to hold fast to the truth. For instance, the denial of Peter:

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. 5Matthew 26:69–75 ESV

Peter denied having known Jesus and of following his teachings — teachings which he knew were trustworthy because they were taught in the Scriptures. Later he proves that he knew they were true by his own instruction to others of these teachings. Sadly, many are like Peter and waiver when their ideologies are questioned because of their association with what is quickly becoming unpopular.

We’ve grown so accustomed to playing follow-the-leader that when prominent proponents of our ideology fail, and we’re left standing without a spokesman, we shrink at the thought of responsibly standing up for what we believe in. Our actions demonstrate that we don’t know the Scriptures well enough to give a defense for our beliefs. We have not been ardent students of the Word, and therefore can’t own the sentiments ourselves. In our depraved nature we will do anything to escape the embarrassment of our own stupidity — even abandoning all of our principles for temporal safety. Without resolve, we run like cowards.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, … their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. 6Revelation 21:8 ESV And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.71 Corinthians 6:11 ESV So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.82 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV

The Denial of Saint Peter” (1625) by Nicolas Tournier. Public Domain.

Footnotes   [ + ]

2. Ephesians 4:14
3. Job 6:14
4. Psalm 2:4 ESV
5. Matthew 26:69–75 ESV
6. Revelation 21:8 ESV
7. 1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV
8. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV

“Entire civilizations rest on the simple foundation of family. One of the great lessons of history is that when the family collapses, the civilization crumbles with it. A people will not long survive without strong families.”

– John MacArthur –

In the progress of the city of God through the ages, therefore, David first reigned in the earthly Jerusalem as a shadow of that which was to come.  Now David was a man skilled in songs, who dearly loved musical harmony, not with a vulgar delight, but with a believing disposition, and by it served his God, who is the true God, by the mystical representation of a great thing.  For the rational and well-ordered concord of diverse sounds in harmonious variety suggests the compact unity of the well-ordered city.

– St. Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (426) –
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