The crowd, the media, pressures people to abandoned independent thought, and through fear, make them conform to their program. That is what lies behind virtue signalling.
Virtue signalling, a buzz word these days, is when you go along with the flow, not believing it to be true, but accepting or giving lip service to it, so that you do not face its wrath or intimidation.
But this is so very dangerous, to go along with something you don’t believe in simply out of the fear of public reprisal. This is how Nazi Germany developed, with too many Germans fearing taking a stand and so becoming virtue signallers for the safety of their families, economic benefit or continued social standing.
An old county song I recall from my youth had this poignant line, “you’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”
Biblically, that something ought to be what God has said is true. In grace, we need to pray that as Christians we would have the boldness to speak the truth; that He would give us the courage to stand with the Lord in faith and not go along with the world in fear.
So many men of women of the faith from the Bible and history come to mind when I think of this, however, one verse strikes me, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor 16:13)
May we be radiant signals pointing people away from the world and to Christ!
Names being changed, statues being toppled, all a result of Cancel Culture. What is this?
Cancel Culture is the belief that anything that does not align with “modern sensibilities” or your view or ideology generally, must be cancelled, gotten rid of, purged, forgotten, if we are to liberate ourselves and create the world we desire to live in.
If he/she/they were slave owners, traditionalists, “homophobes,” etc, etc, they have no place in the remembrance of society, they must be cancelled.
From a historical perspective, Cancel Culture is troubling because it seeks to erase history and tell a different tale rather than recognize it, learn from it, understand it as part of your story and move on to new chapters of that story.
Politically it is disconcerting because this is the same strategy employed by Authoritarian and Communist countries. Identify the story that stands against your story and power, and cancel it. Those who used to be traditional liberals and moderates are more and more embracing what their very movement used to stand against.
Spiritually, however, Cancel Culture is most distressing for it foolishly believes that people are perfect. Reality check: if you look hard enough into any past or present figure—and even figures from your own group—you are going to find something nasty you could dig up. Why? Because no one is perfect (Ps 14:1a, Ro 3:10), we’re all sinners (Ro 3:23), even amongst the righteous we will not find one example of someone who never sins (Eccl 7:20).
Seeking to cancel our sin doesn’t change the reality. Instead we ought to recognize it and learn from it; to learn the chief lesson that if we want to become the person God desires us to be we need to ask him to cancel (to forgive) our sin—the shadiness of our past and present—and give us new life by His Spirit.
There was ever only perfect man, Jesus, and He was hated and killed for being perfect, yet He couldn’t be cancelled. He rose from the dead, is ascended into Heaven and calls on people to look ahead, look up, look to Him, if they desire a better life and future.
Black lives matter.
Of course they do! Though Christians may hold a patriotic view of their ethno-culture there is no room for nationalistic racism on two grounds: a) all humans have been made in God’s image and so are therefore worthy of respect and value, and b) in relation to slavery, which because of 16th–19th century slavery Africans became linked to, there is likewise no place as Rev 18:13 says that when Babylon (a picture of the corrupt powers of this world) is overthrown, there will be no more slaves, thus Christianity should not support slavery of any form.
All that said, what of BLM, a movement begun in 2016 and now an international network (though not a group that is the voice of all Black people and thus not a homogenous)? You can find out more about them on their website. As trendy as BLM has become in society and amongst the media—you can even buy their merch!—there are a number of concerning elements in BLM that should cause Christians to be warry of it, indeed to take no part in it (instead finding other ways to promote anti-racist causes of justice and to fight modern slavery).
Just a few include:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit [or new and popular movement], but test the spirits to see whether they are from [or of] God… (1 Jn 4:1a)
When anyone asks me to marry them I will always agree to have at least one meeting, to learn about the couple, see where they are spiritually, get to know one another and see if we (officiant and couple) are a good fit. It’s a no-strings attached informal info session. At the very least it is an opportunity to share of the Christian vision of marriage and most importantly the Gospel. If we decide to proceed the couple commits to biblical premarital counselling.
Sometimes, sadly, because of sin and an unwillingness to do things God’s way on the part of the couple, I, by conscience and conviction, cannot proceed beyond this first conversation. This is of course done respectfully and charitably but must nevertheless be done. For example, I cannot marry same-sex or trans-gendered couples. Adultery, fornication, divorce and remarriage are also things that must be seriously explored. If the couple are not Christians I ask why a Christian marriage and will invest in a couple seriously interested in the ways of the Lord versus those interested in a Christian wedding simply because the Church has a centre aisle. I believe holy matrimony to be a sacred institution and so I am quite comfortable stepping outside of the common lens of seeing it as a form of evangelism (it is primarily an opportunity to disciple and not to evangelize, though in some cases this may be a positive side benefit). As someone who is lawfully allowed to officiate over wedding ceremonies I take the opportunity with all seriousness likening the responsibility to James 3:1, not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
You may have noticed that I left out one sort of couple, the blended couple, or a Christian seeking to marry a non-Christian. Should a Christian even entertain marrying a non-Christian? Should a Christian officiant preside over a mixed-wedding? Though some would argue it is a great opportunity to convert the non-believer, a work the Christian spouse can finish up, the classic evangelical response and consensus has been, and still is, “no.” The remainder of this blog will unpack “why.”
The why centres around what the Bible clearly says. This is not an ambiguous area where there is some degree of flexibility, the Scriptures are quite clear on the matter. Let’s build from the less clear to the clear passages:
Whether you are considering marriage for the first time or are in a situation of remarriage, resolve today to be obedient to the Lord and only “marry in the Lord.” This should be the number one criterion you have in finding a spouse.
If you find yourself in a mixed-marriage, confess and ask the Lord to strengthen your faith and save your spouse. Surround yourself with a good church and strong Christian fellowship and may your brothers and sisters in Christ prayerfully support you.
As always, would love to chat if this or any blog generates an biblical or situational questions. These are difficult matters, let us wrestle with them before the Lord and with His help.
 If you cannot find a Christian spouse it is better to wait upon the Lord than settle for something less. He will honour your patience.
 Though I have met a select few upon whom the Lord had mercy and the spouse was converted, this shouldn’t fuel disobedience nor foster wishful thinking.
No I’m not referring to some sexual sin, or any other matter Christians can sometimes be silent on, but the sin of spiritual laziness or slothfulness, historically known as acedia, a sin which is rampant and largely unaddressed in contemporary Church culture.
In Cover to Cover we’re in the period of the Kings, which is characterized by this roller coaster of spirituality, sometimes a nearness to the Lord and the associated blessings and sometimes a departure from him and the related consequences.
As a pastor, zealous for the honour of the Lord, desirous that His people would glorify and enjoy Him, and that others would be led to do the same, it pains and even deeply grieves my heart when I see the sin of acedia in the world, but especially when it creeps into the visible church.
A past sermon on the ant in Proverbs 6:6–11 (July 27) taught us the vital spiritual lesson of Christian industry. The ant is our teacher on industry, initiative, purpose, and ultimate satisfaction or reward in our work. Like our Creator we were created to create. Like our God who is Spirit, we too are designed to be spiritual. Are we busy about our souls and winning and nurturing the souls of others? Do we have to be told, prompted or reminded to seek the Lord? Is He the sole purpose of our life? Are we storing up treasure in heaven? If we are like the ant—spiritually speaking—we will answer a hearty, “Yes.”
Do we take advantage of the spiritual means of grace that He has provided His people and Church?
Acedia is quite possibly the greatest sin of our age, yet its unspokeness makes it all the more dangerous.
If the seeking or worship of the Lord is our great call then not to be zealous in that pursuit, to not love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is indeed criminal and injurious to our soul.
Oh the joy that Christ has in store for His people if they would but, in faith, be spiritually industrious! Acedia breaks my heart every time I see an instance of it; yet to the contrary, when I see spiritual industry my joy is made complete for the joy the other knows through their obedience to Christ's promises and commands.
If you are zealous for the Lord would you please join me in making the Psalmist’s prayer your prayer:
Will you not revive us again, that your people may delight in you? (Ps 85:6)
 From the Greek, an inert state without pain or care.
 A means of grace is a way that God has appointed through which, when trusted in faith, the believer derives His unmerited favour, or untold spiritual benefits.
One of the undesirable consequences of Covid-19 for many churches and Christians has been the infrequency of which Communion, the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist has been remembered, celebrated, observed or taken.
How regularly should I taken Communion and why?
Some Christians take it weekly, others monthly (like us—the first a.m. service and third p.m. service), some quarterly and some even yearly.
What was the practice of the early Church?
Sadly, both ordinances of Baptism and Communion can be undervalued, however, below are 9 reasons why we ought to observe the Lord’s Supper and do so regularly:
It is hard to believe that August 19th marked one year since we arrived back in Ontario from the UK and August 30 will mark one year as residents of Grey County.
On Thursday I went on a retreat to reflect upon the past year as pastoral-elder of MBC—a great privilege—and also to pray about the way forward as Jennie (our border collie) and I hiked 20 km of the Bruce Trail around the Beaver Valley.
2019–20 represented a positive challenge: reintegrating into Ontario culture, saying farewell to our Chapel family but gaining a new one; preaching (including Cover to Cover); restarting weekly Life Groups, beginning an evening service; and, very importantly, getting to know the congregation through visitation. We also accomplished many property projects, some of which had been in view for a while and some of which were new initiatives.
We also navigated through Covid-19, one of the few churches in our area to livestream and keep the “doors” of the church open.
Added to all this teaching at Toronto Baptist Seminary, renovating an old farm house and raising a little boy, I can positively say this was all only possible with the help that comes from abiding in Christ, and from His people working together.
I pray that as we live out the Great Commandment and seek to fulfil the Great Commission over the next year we will be led mightily by the Holy Spirit, that He would make us know the way we should go, and that we will stand ready to do every good work that He calls us to.
What is forgiveness?
Many people have some very confused views on what forgiveness is and is not. For example, many think it is simply treating something as “water under the bridge” or “letting go.” These, and many other false notions, are not what forgiveness is. What then is forgiveness? Biblically, it must be understood in at least 4 different ways, but first we’ll consider its broad definition:
Forgiveness: If you asked Mr. Oxford it would say: “to stop feeling angry with somebody who has done something to harm, annoy or upset you.” I suppose the reason why so many people struggle to truly forgive someone in the world today is because on what basis can you do that? Forgiveness is very difficult. Older dictionaries have much more robust definitions: to grant, remit, pardon a debt, give up. In fact the old English word for forgive is a compound word that combines “completely” & “give.” As such older dictionaries defined the word as “to give up desire or power to punish.” This definition is at least heading in the right direction (and similar to the Greek- to send away, release, permit to depart, remit, etc), but again, upon what basis?
To build a definition of Biblical forgiveness, one must see the different contexts in which forgiveness is spoken of, along with the acts which it is based upon.
Seeking God’s forgiveness
Because we have offended God, dishonoured Him, profaned His holy Law, each human being stands in need of God’s forgiveness. Indeed, in light of this reality (Ro 3:23) we ought to actively pursue it. Though speaking of Christians sinning 1 Jn 1:9 stands as a faithful promise for all who would repent and seek God’s forgiveness—His promise to forgive.
If anyone sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn 1:9).
Long before we speak about forgiveness amongst humans we need to recognize the forgiveness we stand in need of before God. This begins with repentance. No repentance no forgiveness.
Seeking other’s forgiveness
Scripture also makes clear our obligation to seek the forgiveness of others. Mt 5:23–24 says:
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Reconciliation involves forgiveness, both the seeking and extending. We’re a hypocrite if we think we’re ok with God but aren’t ok with our neighbour (so far as it depends on us, Ro 12:18). If we know we’ve sinned we’re called to own up to it both to God and to others. In fact, in Mt 6:14–15 Jesus goes so far as to say not to do this will become an impediment to God forgiving us:
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
If we have been forgiven of our sins by God we will naturally forgive others, much.
(Still on what basis can we or God forgive?)
God’s forgiveness of sinners
Here we finally answer the question on what basis God can forgive a sinner. Eph 1:7 says:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
God cannot wishfully pretend our sins away. Sin is real. For justice to be done sin must be atoned for. So for God to let go of the believer’s sins someone had to pay the price and that someone was Jesus (atonement means an act that enables us to become at one with God). Jesus needed to die the perfect death, His righteous blood needed to be shed so we might know life instead of death. He did this all out of sheer unmerited favour. Our need of forgiveness is so great no human work can suffice, only a work of God is capable of removing the sin of the penitent believer (and indeed in bringing us to that place).
Our forgiveness of others
This final exploration is perhaps most interesting. Upon what basis must I, as a believer, forgive someone else? After all we’re commanded to forgive our brothers and sisters on the basis of Christ’s forgiveness of our sins (Eph 4:32), and indeed others (see above).
Yet our forgiveness cannot absolve them of their sin, what good is it? Our forgiveness is not on the basis of the Cross, for one must appeal to Christ directly for that. So what use is my forgiveness and on what basis? Here Romans 12:14–21 is most helpful. It reads:
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Our call to forgive and love our enemies and those who have done us harm (even forgiving those who do not ask for forgiveness) is not based upon our ability to forgive but in trust and obedience to Christ’s command and that He alone is judge and will execute justice upon the guilty. It is a call to stop playing Judge. Therefore, by entrusting the situation to Him—itself a work of the Spirit— we are enabled to have peace from anger, being liberated to live our lives and love others. It is in letting justice for the situation go to God, a giving of it away to His justice, that we see a glimpse of some of the older definitions of what forgiveness means and the benefit it brings to the one forgiving.
Through our withholding of forgiveness we often think we can inflict deserved harm upon those who’ve harmed us, yet ironically, it is only by forgiving that we can “heap burning coals upon their head.” Our higher road of faith in the Lord is the very thing that sinners will detest most, and we pray will be the thing that brings them to the repentance they so desperately need.
The radical nature of this forgiveness is vividly portrayed in the film The End of the Spear, which recounts the wives of slain missionaries continuing in their mission to reach the very tribe who murdered their husbands.
May the Lord help us seek His forgiveness, that of others, and also to extend forgiveness too.
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.
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