Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
In the wider Christian world you will find varied views on Creation ranging from an historic six day creation to theistic evolution and everything in between. Certainly God as creator, creation ex nilo (out of nothing), the existence of Adam and Eve, a Fall, etc, are all primary views. “I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth” the Apostles Creed says. However, is the how as important? How did God create the world? This—in my view, strictly speaking—is a secondary matter; yet nevertheless so indispensable to the Gospel that it borders on being a primary matter and hence worthy of our attention.
The absence of an historic six-day creation has at least 5 implications for the Gospel:
1. Is it reliable?
Many treat Gen 1–11 as if it were pre-history, somehow in a different category to the rest of Genesis and in this way able to reckon Genesis with science. (Even though literarily those chapters are written in the same Hebrew narrative style; it’s all meant to be viewed as history).
When Jesus spoke about creation in relation to His teaching on divorce He (the Creator) cited it as if the narrative were true, “He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female…” (Mt 19:4). If we want people to believe the rest of the Bible, including the Gospel, we must remain committed to the trustworthiness of its foundation.
2. The basis of the Gospel’s backbone (a biblical worldview).
Every story stands or falls upon the story that came before it. Genesis answers questions of origins and lays the foundation for biblical doctrines. If you remove the story’s foundation you jeopardize the story itself.
For example the 9 Cs have often been used to simplify the overarching story of the Bible:
However if Gen 1–11 (even 12) are not real events in some meaningful way then this is all you are left with:
The Gospel story then stands on shaking ground.
3. The impact on other fundamental beliefs.
The Creation account, as we’re seeing more and more in our culture, matters for other fundamental Christian beliefs, most notably gender and sexuality. Both Jesus and Paul root their theology of gender and sexuality in Genesis. Churches most impacted by cultural views on these subjects also tend to have the most fluidity when it comes to their views of Genesis.
4. The origin of death.
This is crucial. The Bible clearly says in multiple places that death came as a result of sin (e.g. Ro 6:23a). That can only be true if the narrative in Genesis is true. The moment you allow for an old earth you admit death before the Fall. The whole Gospel revolves around Jesus being the solution to death that resulted from the Fall that didn’t exist beforehand.
5. The first and second Adam.
There are other theories as to how Adam was really the first man, however, how is Paul to be taken at His word that Adam was the father of all peoples (Acts 17:26) if in fact he wasn’t. Add to this Christ as the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45, c.f. v. 21–22) who through faith becomes our federal head so we no longer suffer from the effects of the first Adam.
So questions of Creation are not simply a peripheral issue to be avoided because in our culture it happens to be controversial; with gentleness and respect we must insist upon its great Gospel significance.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.
(Matthew 5:17, Sermon on the Mount)
What did Jesus mean here? How did Christ fulfil the Law? What does that mean for the Law itself?
Christ Fulfilled the Law
The Law can mean: a) God’s decrees, b) Scripture, c) a Covenant, d) the Mosaic Covenant (or Covenant with Israel at Sinai), or e) God’s moral law. Given the context in the Sermon on the Mount it is almost certainly “d,” the Mosaic Law; yet with a twist.
To abolish means to unyoke, as in unyoking an animal from a cart. As such it means to break or destroy what was.
To fulfil means is to be full or to meet.
The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day feared He was a religious revolutionary who would upset their cherished possession, or rather their misinterpretations and additions (Mt 23:4; Mk 7:7), for Jesus, being perfect, never broke God’s Law. He would be much more radical and still more conservative than they thought.
Christ fulfilled the Law by doing what Adam, doing what the descendants of Abraham, and of Israel and the Kings could not do—be that perfect covenant partner. No human can by their works “fulfil the Laws demands” (“Rock of Ages”).
Christ could fulfil the Law, as Matthew is keen to point out, because He was the lawgiver greater than Moses.
The New Covenant
In fulfilling, or meeting, the demands of previous covenants, Jesus inaugurated the promised New Covenant (Jer 31:31; Ezk 36; Heb 8 et al).Jesus’ life and ministry marked a watershed or transition period between the covenants (it was inter-covenantal). When He died the veil was torn. After He ascended the Spirit was given. There is a newness in the New Covenant. New (kainos) means something new in kind, like a new invention; it isn’t new (neos) as in a new type of car but a new form of travel like a teleporter. (The NC doesn’t abolish, replace or succeed the Old, it fulfils the promises of the Law and Prophets. It is the direct continuation of God’s plans).
According to Gal 3:15–29 the Law of Moses was temporary and served the purpose of exposing our sin and making the promise to Abraham essential. It also has a guiding quality.
As such certain aspects of the Law of Moses were no longer necessary. Since Christ was the sacrifice for sin and the Holy Spirit now made believers the living temple of His presence the Temple was obsolete and hence the ceremonial system. The dietary laws (an external sign of holiness) were no longer necessary for Christ taught that holiness flowed from Christ’s imputation and through a new heart cleansed from within by the Spirit. (Scripture emphatically declares this in Mk 7:19b, “Thus He declared all foods clean,” c.f. Acts 10). Circumcision as the covenant sign gave way to baptism, the Passover to the Lord’s Supper (Lk 22:20), and so the list could go on.
A Law Remains (The Law of Christ or Moral Law)
How then could Jesus say in Mt 5:18, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Likewise, how could he commend the “scribes and Pharisees” pursuit of righteousness, or holiness, (v. 19), and state this legal righteousness was needed to enter the Kingdom? (Truly, Christ is our righteousness and the Spirit enables us to live righteously, thus guaranteeing our place in the Kingdom, both present and eternal).
In saying that He would fulfil the Law of Moses and yet the law would never pass away Jesus is commending to us the Law of Christ, or the Moral Law (Gal 5:14, 6:2). While the Law of Moses as a whole has been fulfilled in Christ, a law remains which is the moral law found within it (see 2nd London Baptist Confession, ch. 19, for the classic Christian understanding of the threefold division of the Law). This is binding upon all believers to follow as our guide to holiness by the Spirit.
Being a Christian I’ve always been a Creationist in a general sense. Without very robust discipleship when I was young I was exposed to everything from Young Earth Creationism to forms of Old Earth Creationism and everything that exists in between within contemporary Christian culture. I grew up in an age where evolution was mildly present in the education system and so felt a tension between the Bible and prevailing beliefs. By default I affirmed some basics of Creation but also was willing to settle upon aspects of an older earth viewpoint. However, I had other more pressing questions in my discipleship and so this question was left for another day.
Fast forward to 2017–2018 and this still described my position, though I was continually bumping up against the subject and knew—not in any way avoiding it—that it was a subject I really needed to get a more decided view of. Then I became what I like to call a Classic, or Younger Earth, Creationist (Classic because some forms of Young Earth Creationism can still bear some peculiarities). As I’m not a scientist, though certainly scientific, most of the arguments that unhinged my view were biblical-philosophical, etc, rather than science based.
Here are the key points that led to me becoming a Creationist:
*Since then other blocks have been laid that have reinforced my view (such as the distinction between observational science and speculative science- science is not history or religion, there are questions it cannot answer).
As we see the negative fallout of evolutionary thought in our world (e.g. hopelessness and immorality) I hope many Christians who aren’t Creationists in the strict sense will see the value of reconsidering these matters and that this testimony has given you cause for consideration (or encouragement if I’ve been preaching to the choir).
On a recent visit of our area nursing home a thoughtful resident said to me after the chapel service, “I can tell that your church isn’t a slack church. There are too many slack churches these days!” I perceived this lady had attended a mainline church in her day and witnessed it, and others like it, steadily decline due to slackness. (The tragedy is they had not always been slack). By slackness she meant faithful, true, devoted, committed to the Faith.
Many dying (and dead) churches are:
Healthy churches are:
A devotional on Ps 23:5-6.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We can over and under shoot in sports, hunting and when driving. All of these can be detrimental. What is more detrimental is when we over or undershoot in the presentation of the Gospel. What I mean is when we diminish the Gospel by limiting it or when we embellish it by enlarging it; when we bring the question of the extent of the atonement into its proclamation.
When this happens, I confess, my neck twitches, my skin crawls and my head shakes because of the biblical and theological imprecision both over and undershooting the Gospel reveals. (It is also insensitive to those Christians who hold a different view; rather let us be united in the Gospel).
I have met and heard (both historically and present day) of those who only preach the Gospel to God’s elect, or refrain from offering the Gospel or calling sinner’s to repent for fear of preaching to the unelect. (Yet we show we are among the elect by believing the Gospel!).
This paralyzes hearers from believing the Gospel because they are left wondering…
Though the Bible speaks about election, NO WHERE does it tie it to the Gospel in its proclamation.
I have met and heard (both historically and present day) of those who preach the Gospel and insist, even base it solely or rest it heavily upon, the claim that Christ died for everyone (in a specific sense) or that Christ died for you (in a specific sense, and that all you need to do to be saved is to realize this). (Certainly there is universal value in Christ’s death and the Gospel is to be published to everyone).
This immunizes hearers from truly believing the Gospel because they think they’re ok because of Christ’s death or because they passively accept this message.
Though the Bible speaks about the extent of the atonement, NO WHERE does it tie it to the Gospel in its proclamation.
What then is the Gospel? It is a message of repentance and faith rooted in the person and finished work of Jesus that offers forgiveness and eternal life. It, in itself, does not touch on the extent of the atonement. To do so is to overshoot and undershoot the biblical Gospel.
What is the difference between these two sins?
A variety of Greek words are rendered in English translations as gossip or slander. Two examples can both be conveniently found in one location: 2 Cor 12:20:
“For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarrelling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.”
Slander: to speak down to in a hostile way, to speak evil, defaming talk (here); or abusive language, slow in calling good good, litt. blasphemy (here). To make a false or damaging statement about someone. If from the pulpit I spoke militantly and poorly of someone then that is slander.
Gossip: secret whisperings (like a snake charmer) (here); or sometimes foolish talk (literally bubbling talk (here). Sharing casual or unconstrained reports about someone, without their consent, which may or may not be confirmed as true. If in my visitation I shared titbits about someone that was private knowledge that would be gossip.
Both may be true or false, however, slander tends to be more open/public whereas gossip tends to be private/covert. Hence why they are easily confused.
Each sin flows from our heart, or our nature (Mt 15:19); and speech sin is no small matter for through it our world is set ablaze (Ja 3:6).
If we persist in our sinfulness then speech sin is included in the list of sins that will prevent us from entering heaven (1 Cor 6:10, revilers, litt. verbal abusers). This is not because of the sin itself but because persistent sin shows that the Holy Spirit does not indwell us and that means we’ve never repented of our sin and received forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.
Oh may we repent of slander and gossip and so receive forgiveness to walk in freedom and the Spirit to help us to do so.
A sermon from a recent pulpit swap with Strathaven Baptist Church. Eccl 3:11b
Woke means ‘awake.’ It is taken from the Civil Rights Movement where is spoke of being awake to racial injustices.
What should we be awake to: perceived injustices, the oppressed and the oppressor(s).
Traditionally this language was used by Marx in Communism to speak of class. With its epic failure in the 20th C, where did all of those Western communists go? They rebranded and found refuge in the humanities departments of our universities. As they reflected upon their loss they had to rebrand communism to make it more palatable. As such they expanded the list of oppression from class to a whole host of perceived social injustices. Hence they are known as Social Marxists.
Central to their belief is that all people operate on the basis of power. We all are trying to oppress each other. As such we must liberate people from the oppressors. When this has been accomplished there will be utopia. Their idea of oppression is called intersectionality (think intersection). The more roads of oppression are at your intersection the more power/privilege you have in society as the victim to rise up and liberate yourself/group (like the voice of the worker in communism). For example, if you are a woman you are obviously oppressed. But if you are a woman of an ethnic minority, who is poor, who is disabled, who is lesbian, etc, then your intersectionality has grown exponentially and you have power as the victim to speak against oppression. You have the right to be liberated and live in accordance with your identity.
If you remember or have studied the ills of communism the parallels are eerily uncanny:
Ironically in both instances the oppressed end up becoming the oppressors.
Lies and control really do place Wokeism in the category of the Satanic; who is the father of lies and oppressor of the world.
This spiritual battle is also why Marxism is hostile to religion generally and Christianity specifically. Christianity stands for truth and freedom, humility vs. pride, for the individual and responsibility, for accountability to a higher power, Jesus Christ. All of this stands against the ethos of Marxism. There is a reason communism failed in the West, Christianity. There is a reason the Woke have targets Christianity and Christian morals through the decades, it is the obstacle to securing power.
What does Wokeism produce?
Wokeism produces people who are angry (because they are taught they are the victim; people who are irresponsible/entitled (because their situation is someone else’s fault); and people who are anxious and depressed (because in a world of power no one can be trusted). This sounds just like our culture.
Little Common ground between Christianity and Wokeism
While Christianity has and does stand against real injustices there is much that separates it from the Woke. Specifically a different view on human nature (good/bad) and liberation (from perceived oppression or from sin). Really the difference comes down to pride and humility.
A Christian Response
It is easy to use descend to Woke tactics, but we must resist. Jesus teaches us a better way. We must courageously stand for truth in grace. We must have compassion upon the lost and focus on love, joy and hope.
The Woke and the Gospel
The truth is, like Communists, the Woke need Jesus. They need the Gospel.
Jesus enabled our liberation from the power of sin, by becoming a real victim. Through His death and Resurrection the victim became the victor for all who believe.
, …The Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16)
Who did Paul have in view in his benediction? After all the Galatians were comprised of both believing ethnic Jews and believing ethnic Gentiles.
The NLT says, “May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.”
The NIV says, “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.”
The ESV says, “And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and [which can translate ‘even’] upon the Israel of God.”
It is clear from the context of Galatians that Paul is referring to the Galatian believers as “the Israel of God.” The term Israel can mean a number of things in the Bible: a definition (one who struggled with God), a man (Jacob), a nation, the Old Covenant community, a political entity or generally God’s people. Here it is in the last sense that Paul is using “Israel.”
In fact, this is a great sub-theme of Galatians, especially, chs. 3–4. Contrary to the Judaizer’s false gospel, one doesn’t have to become Jewish (i.e. the Old Covenant community, which ethnic Israel had embodied) to be saved or be part of God’s family. God’s people are those who relate to God through faith in Christ/Gospel/NC. There is a newness in the NC. It is not merely a reforming of the OC. Christ had fulfilled the Old Covenant and ushered in the New Covenant governed by His 12 Apostles (think 12 tribes of Israel). We become Abraham’s offspring through faith (3:7) and there is no saving or meritorious distinction between “Jew and Gentile” (3:28), we are all “one in Christ Jesus.” Together we form God’s “new creation.” (Gal 6:15). Just as the word ‘church’ was used in the Greek Old Testament to speak of Israel (OC people of God) so today we can speak of Israel as referring to the Church (NC people God). From a NC perspective these are interchangeable words. Throughout Galatians Paul has been arguing that the Gospel produces a new multi-ethnic people of God who are justified by faith in the Messiah/Christ and live in accordance with the Law of Christ (moral law) by His Spirit. To enjoy the benefits of this Covenant one did not have to go backward in salvation history but forward. (Yet understandably transitions are not always the easiest to perceive when we are in the midst of them, Lk 5:3739, Acts 15).
This isn’t replacement or supersessionist theology but fulfilment and continuationist theology. Jesus was Jewish. The earliest New Covenant believers (until Acts 11:19) were Jewish. Though many Gentiles believed and joined Israel under the OC under the NC this became a fuller ingathering (c.f. Isa 49). Since Abraham/Moses there had always been a mixture of ethnic Jews and Gentiles in the OC community (Israel), because God’s plan of salvation had always been to redeem a people for Himself from every tribe and tongue and nation (Gen 12; classic view 1689.26.1). This he did progressively through Covenants, of which the New Covenant is most expansive.
What then of ethnic Israel? Paul addressed this in Romans 9–11 (Romans very much being an expansion of Galatians). You can see a brief visual depiction of this here. In short, the faithful remnant of ethnic Israel under the OC believed in the NC (the early Jewish believers, Acts 1–9). While some ethnic Jews presently believe many do not. Yet at the end of the age Paul envisions a great revival of ethnic Jews and their ingathering into the Body.
Cheque made payable to:
Markdale Baptist Church
E-transfer sent to: