Statement Prepared for South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives Regarding the Personhood Constitutional Amendment (S.719 / H.4093)…

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Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man (Genesis 9:6).

The above verse from the book of Genesis is the basis for Western society’s condemnation and prosecution of the sin and crime of murder. Scripture makes it clear—as did the laws of our land until 1973—that persons born and preborn are to be protected. The personhood legislation that you are considering would bring a resolution to the moral conundrum we’ve been trying to resolve since the US Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade opinion denied the wisdom found in God’s Word and the hundreds of years of legal precedents derived from it.

Each time personhood for the preborn is debated in the SC legislative assemblies—as it has been for far too long now—those who speak in opposition mention several “difficult situations” that would arise if such legislation became law. Ectopic pregnancies, modern reproductive technologies (such as in vitro fertilization), accessibility to certain abortifacient contraceptives are mentioned as reasons that personhood should not be granted to the preborn.

On the other side, those who support personhood for the preborn—as I do—speak of the humanity, dignity, and inalienable rights of those children peacefully floating around in the amniotic fluid of the wombs of their mothers. Continue reading

Obama’s attack on the Gospel…

At the core of God’s Word is this truth: man is sinful. From Adam—the first man—sin spread to all mankind: “…through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). We are born sinners who sin. Therefore, when the Son of God took on flesh and lived among men there came an announcement appropriate to the context of the sinfulness of mankind: “He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). When Jesus began preaching he contextualized perfectly: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

That the One who came to save His people from their sins was a preacher of repentance should not be lost on us. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). That Jesus came preaching repentance was God’s tolerance toward you and me. He said what you are is not good, therefore, repent. To the sexual immoral, Jesus says repent. To the thief, Jesus says repent. To the covetous, Jesus says repent. To the drunkard, Jesus says repent. To the fornicator, Jesus says repent. To the idolater, Jesus says repent. To the blasphemer, Jesus says repent. To the self-righteous, Jesus says repent. To me, Jesus says repent. To you, Jesus says repent.

At every point where the unchanging Law of God reveals a knowledge of sin, you and I are called to repent.

Why? Because “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb 9:27). There is a judgment to come where the repentant will meet their Savior and the unrepentant will meet their uncovenanted Judge.

This is the Christian faith. God’s Word teaches these truths for the good of our own sinful souls, and we announce them for the good of every sinful soul in the world. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Praise God there is that one way…open only to those who repent and believe.

To not announce such glories would be the worst kind of cruelty. To allow someone to persist in his sin until he dies is unkind and merciless. To not call for all men everywhere to repent is to denounce the tolerance of God.

Someone once told me I was a blasphemer and a foul-mouthed jerk…using the words of James 3. I repented by the grace of God. And Scripture has continued the same annihilation of my sinful nature, inherited from Adam. Everywhere proud, everywhere lusting, everywhere envious, everywhere unkind. And I, by the grace of God, hope to continue in repentance until the day I die…and then inherit my reward.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

In hellish contrast, watch this video released by the Obama administration:

Contrast the worldview of this video with what I laid out above from the Scriptures. Repentance—the kindness of God, remember—is the enemy. The gospel of “such were some of you” is intolerable. In its place—all dressed up in the language of affirmation and love—is bondage to sin and the damnable weight of an ever-changing law.

So devastatingly sad. But Christians will continue to preach the gospel of such were some of you until our governing officials make us shut-up. This video makes clear such silence is the desire of our President. In the meantime, we will preach repentance because we love our Savior, the friend of sinners, and because we love sinners.

It is those who reject repentance that hate souls.

Another brick in the wall…

Yesterday President Obama announced that he will push to make it illegal to call homosexuals to repentance. Once the transition from man to “woman” or woman to “man” is complete, there will be no help for the conscience of the man or woman who discovers the disaster of sin and the glory of God’s design. Transitioning is a one-way street, they say, though they assert that gender is a choice, a social construct, a choose-your-own-adventure tale. Such moral clarity…

Christian, are you ready for Biblical sexuality itself to be outlawed? Are you ready for fertility to be restricted? Are you preparing yourself and your children to obey God rather than man?

Gay mirage in SC…

The recent SCOTUS silence has given courage to state judges bending over backwards for sodomy. Charleston County (SC) Probate Judge Irvin Condon issued a marriage license to a relative—Charleston County Councilwoman, Colleen Condon— and her lover. Despite a constitutional amendment passed by 78% of the voters of SC in 2006 defining marriage as marriage, Judge Condon issued this license. We’ll now see whether SC Attorney General Alan Wilson stays true to his word to uphold the will of the people of SC.

Meanwhile, let’s not forget that judges can be impeached. In SC there are three ways:

  • The commission on judicial conduct is authorized to investigate complaints of judicial misconduct and incapacity. Disciplinary counsel appointed by the supreme court evaluates each complaint and either dismisses the complaint or conducts a preliminary investigation. If evidence supports the complaint, a full investigation is authorized. If the investigation supports the filing of formal charges, a hearing is conducted, after which a recommendation is made to the supreme court for sanctions, dismissal, transfer to inactive status, retirement, or removal.
  • Judges may be impeached by a two-thirds vote of the house of representatives and convicted by a two-thirds vote of the senate.
  • Judges may be removed by the governor upon the address of two thirds of each house of the general assembly.

So, write to your state representative, asking him to begin the impeachment process against Judge Condon, and then pray that God would make him courageous enough to stand in the gap. And pray that Alan Wilson will have courage, too.

Update 10/9/14: Attorney General Wilson has petitioned the SC Supreme Court for an injunction: “…a public official may not refuse to follow State law because ‘he thought the law unconstitutional.'”

Update 2 10/9/14: The SC Supreme Court has issued the injunction petitioned for by the AG.

Judged according to our works?

2Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Rev. 22:12   “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

A question came up in our Sunday school class a few weeks back about whether or not we are judged according to our works. The question arose as we were talking about the Athanasian Creed. Near the end of the creed, we read these statements:

40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

42. and shall give account of their own works.

43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

So, is that final statement (#43) Biblical? Perhaps taken alone it is a bit too stark.

2 Corinthians 5:10 and Revelation 22:12 make it clear that our final judgment is according to our works. Ephesian 2:8-9 makes it clear that our salvation (justification) is by grace apart from works. During the class, I said that every man faces a judgment according to his works and he who receives condemnation receives what he has earned by his evil works. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

But what of those on the other side of the divide ? How do the good works of the righteous relate to their final judgment?

Here’s some help from Calvin in his commentary on 2 Corinthians:

As the passage relates to the recompensing of deeds, we must notice briefly, that, as evil deeds are punished by God, so also good deeds are rewarded, but for a different reason; for evil deeds are requited with the punishment that they deserve, but God in rewarding good deeds does not look to merit or worthiness. For no work is so full and complete in all its parts as to be deservedly well-pleasing to him, and farther, there is no one whose works are in themselves well-pleasing to God, unless he render satisfaction to the whole law. Now no one is found to be thus perfect. Hence the only resource is in his accepting us through unmerited goodness, and justifying us, by not imputing to us our sins. After he has received us into favor, he receives our works also by a gracious acceptance. It is on this that the reward hinges. There is, therefore, no inconsistency in saying, that he rewards good works, provided we understand that mankind, nevertheless, obtains eternal life gratuitously.

Notice that he says the good works of the justified sinner does not earn him merit or salvation–that is the work of Christ alone. Those good works, though, do factor into the judgment in that God rewards those who do good. Those rewards are by God’s gracious acceptance of our works done by faith in His Son (Eph. 2:10).

But can we say more than that? Are those good works necessary for salvation? In what sense are they necessary? Continue reading

Call SC Senator Peeler…

senatesealIf you live in SC–particularly in Harvey Peeler’s district–please call State Senator Harvey Peeler’s office and let his staff know that you would like to see Senate Bill 204 make it out of his Medical Affairs committee for a floor vote. Here’s the text of the bill:

A BILL

TO AMEND SECTION 44-41-10 OF THE 1976 CODE, RELATING TO DEFINITIONS CONCERNING ABORTIONS, TO PROVIDE THAT A LICENSED PHYSICIAN WHO PERFORMS AN ABORTION MUST ALSO BE BOARD CERTIFIED IN OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY; AND TO AMEND CHAPTER 41, TITLE 44, BY ADDING SECTION 44-41-25 TO PROVIDE THAT A PHYSICIAN PERFORMING AN ABORTION OUTSIDE OF A HOSPITAL MUST HAVE ADMITTING AND STAFF PRIVILEGES AT A LOCAL CERTIFIED HOSPITAL.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION    1.    Section 44-41-10(b) of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

“(b)    ‘Physician’ means a person licensed to practice medicine in this State who is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology.”

SECTION    2.    Chapter 41, Title 44 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 44-41-25.    Any abortion not performed in a certified hospital may only be performed by the pregnant woman’s attending physician who must have admitting privileges at a local certified hospital and staff privileges to replace on-staff physicians at the certified hospital.”

SECTION    3.    If any section, subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, sentence, clause, phrase, or word of this act is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such holding shall not affect the constitutionality or validity of the remaining portions of this act, the General Assembly hereby declaring that it would have passed this act, and each and every section, subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, sentence, clause, phrase, and word thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more other sections, subsections, paragraphs, subparagraphs, sentences, clauses, phrases, or words hereof may be declared to be unconstitutional, invalid, or otherwise ineffective.

SECTION    4.    This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

The purpose of the bill is to define who can perform abortions in the state. If the bill passes, those who are paid by women to kill their children would have to be board certified in OBGYN and have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Yes, it is a half-measure but one we hope will lead to the closing of the three abortuaries in SC.

Peeler’s office number is 803-212-6430. You may also send him a message here.

The other members of the committee are here. Check to see if your Senator is on the committee and give him a call.

 

You know you are an antinomian if…

Mark Jones, pastor of Faith Vancouver (PCA), has written a timely book exploring the history and tenets of the heresy of antinomianism. Antinomianism has many different flavors but all of them end up diminishing or entirely dismissing the utility of God’s law in the life of the believer. Jones explains antinomianism by going back to the beginning:

Adam was the first antinomian (Rom. 5). In the garden, he was against (anti) God’s law (nomos) when he transgressed by failing to guard the garden and to forbid his wife to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (1)

When Adam decided to reject the continuing validity of God’s law in his and his wife’s life, he became the first antinomian.

Early in Jones’ book, he makes a helpful correction to our view of legalists. When defining legalism we have a tendency to think of it as the opposite of antinomianism; the legalists fight for law and the antinomians fight for not-law. Jones rightly points out that legalism is a form of antinomianism:

The Pharisees did not actually keep the law (Mark 7:8); their Talmudic legalism actually made them practical antinomians insofar as they “neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.” (2)

Why is this understanding important? Because the cheap-grace antinomians of our day accuse Christians who pursue obedience to God’s law of being works-salvation Pharisees. But the law-keeping of the Pharisees and the Law-keeping of the Christian are radically different. The Pharisees, who replaced God’s Law with little man-made laws, were deeply antinomian:

In reality, legalists are not much different from antinomians, if indeed they are different at all. Pharisaic selective obedience is disobedience. Oliver O’Donovan perceptively notes that legalism and antinomianism are in fact two sides of the same coin because they are “fleshly” ways of living life. (2)

In other words, cheap-gracers are the Pharisees because they replace God’s commands with tiny little commands. Actually, they have only one command:

…the common assertion, ‘You just need to believe the gospel more,’ essentially undermines the position of the antinomian, not least because it devolves into a sometimes oppressive and monotonous mantra that take the place of the multifaceted exhortations one finds in the Scriptures. (28)

The fearful antinomian exhorts those tempted to commit adultery, to break the Sabbath, to trust in money, to gossip, to lie, to worship a block of wood with that one law and that one law alone: “believe the gospel more.” To say “Thou shalt not…” is a betrayal of the gospel of grace to the antinomian. The Apostle Paul is half-good, half-tainted.

Now to return to the title of this post… Continue reading

A few verses for today's antinomian…

1Th. 4:1   Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.

Tuesday Thomas Watson…

How many ways is murder committed?

1) With the hand; as Joab killed Abner and Amasa.
2) With the mind. Malice is mental murder.
3) With the tongue, by speaking to the prejudice of another, and causing him to be put to death.
4) With the pen. Thus David killed Uriah by writing to Joab…
5) By plotting another’s death.
6) By putting poison into cups.
7) By witchcraft and sorcery—which were forbidden under the law.
8) By having intention to kill another; as Herod, under pretense of worshipping Christ, would have killed him.
9) By consenting to another’s death; as Saul to the death of Stephen.
10) By not hindering the death of another when in our power.
11) By unmercifulness. By taking away that which is necessary for the support of life…
12) By not executing the law upon capital offenders.

-Thomas Watson on the sixth commandment in The Ten Commandments (1692)

Trusting God's Spirit to bring our children through to salvation…

This morning I cracked open my copy of Out of My Mind: The Best of Joe Bayly and happened upon an article titled “The Teaching We Have Neglected.” I found Joe Bayly’s thoughts an encouragement in the shepherding work I do with my own children. I also sent a copy to a few of our excellent Sunday school teachers to encourage them in their work of teaching all of Scripture…not just that one singular message. Here’s an extended excerpt (and after you are done reading it, you’d do well to buy the whole book):

Why have children grown up in the Church and in Christian homes without a solid foundation in the biblical doctrines of law and sin?

At the risk of being misunderstood, may I suggest that it has been because of our obsession during the past thirty or forty years with the immediacy of salvation. We have had one continual message for children: “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Every Sunday school lesson has been turned into a salvation lesson; decisions have been the response constantly sought.

We have not taught the Bible with integrity: John’s Gospel as John’s Gospel; Proverbs as Proverbs; Judges as Judges; Exodus 20 as Exodus 20. Instead we have taught John’s Gospel as John’s Gospel; Proverbs as John’s Gospel; Judges as John’s Gospel; Exodus 20 as John’s Gospel…if we have taught the latter at all.

Recently I had a letter from a woman who related her experience teaching Ruth to junior highs the Sunday before. “Suddenly it came to me that what my girls needed wasn’t that they should love Christ as Ruth loved Naomi, but that they should be the sort of women when they grow up that Naomi was to stir such a response of love in her daughter-in-law. Ruth was profitable as Scripture itself, not just as a type of Christ—valid though that might be.”

What our children (and we ourselves) need is exposure to the whole Bible in its integrity, “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).

In the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the Presbyterian Church taught children those doctrines it considered necessary to glorify and enjoy God. The doctrines were arranged according to the pattern of biblical revelation. Thus the sweep and scope of God’s revelation in history became the sweep and scope of God’s revelation to the child.

A few year’s ago, Dr. J. C. Macaulay, president of London (Ontario) Bible College, told of an incident when he visited the Scottish islands of the Hebrides, where revival had been endemic for some time. Dr. Macaulay was on his way to a church service and heard a low wailing noise from a cottage.

In response to the visitor’s question, a man with whom he was walking replied, “That’s William, finding his way to God. He’ll come through.”

If we trust God’s Spirit to bring our children through to salvation…in His time…we will with patience teach law and depravity and sin and providence and all the other doctrines of Scripture, as the foundation of salvation that means something in moral living, and of an exalted view of Christ.

If, on the other hand, we seek above all else the security of knowing that our children have made a decision, on the basis of which we can reassure them of their salvation from a very early age, we shall probably continue to have spiritual mediocrity and a-nomianism (if not antinomianism) in the Church.

I believe that some children will be saved early in life. But others—even in the same family—will come later. In God’s providence, all fruit does not ripen at the same time.