Fidel Castro and the Gospel of Grace


‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!’ – Ezekiel 33:11 (NASB)

Fidel Castro is dead.

Depending on who you talk to, news of the Cuban dictator’s demise is either being celebrated or lamented.

The atrocities committed by Fidel Castro during his lifetime are well-documented; but if Castro is in hell – as many surmise – it may surprise you to know that it is not his atrocities that put him there.

Whatever evil this notorious despot was responsible for during the 90 years he spent in this mortal coil, it was the expected fruit of an unrepentant and unregenerate heart (Romans 2:4-5). In other words, the crimes Fidel Castro exacted against the Cuban people were the evidence of a life that was not born-again (John 3:3; Matthew 3:8).

I say this because of 1 John 3:9:

No one who is born of God practices sin, because His [God’s] seed abides in him; and he cannot [practice] sin, because he is born of God (Cf. John 1:12-13).”

Contrary to popular belief, even among many Christians, it is not a person’s sinful deeds that condemns his or her soul to hell, but unbelief in the One who came into this world to rescue us from the penalty of our sins, namely, Jesus Christ.

It is a doctrine that is clearly established in John 3:18:

“He who believes in Him [Jesus] is not judged; he who does not believe [in Jesus] has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Just as our good deeds are not salvific in themselves, likewise, our evil deeds are not in and of themselves condemning.

Though how we live our lives definitely matters to God (1 Peter 4:1-6), what ultimately condemns a person to hell is not how “bad” they were during their life on earth, but their unbelief in Jesus Christ, the result of which is separation from God in eternity.

We see this in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 where the apostle Paul, speaking of the second coming of Jesus, writes that upon Christ’s return He will be:

“…dealing out retribution to those who do not know God [unbelief] and to those who do not obey [deeds] the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

This incredibly sobering text in the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians provides us with a clear and concise biblical theology of hell.

In short, hell is a state of perpetual and conscious hopelessness.

It is a place where unimaginable anguish is eternally and tangibly experienced, such as that which is depicted in Luke 16:24 and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, wherein the rich man bemoans:

“Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.”

Though it is true that our good and bad deeds do have a bearing on our eternal rewards (Romans 2:6-8Revelation 22:12), those deeds are in no way effectual with regard to our salvation.

The apostle Paul underscores this truth in Romans 10:9:

“…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

To further Paul’s point, consider the two thieves who were crucified along with Jesus who were condemned to death because of the evil deeds they committed (Matthew 27:38-44; Mark 15:27; Luke 23:32, 39-43).

That one thief went to heaven and the other did not, is only because the one thief confessed belief in Christ whereas the other did not (Acts 4:12; Romans 10:13).

“So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”Romans 14:12

Had the unrepentant thief made the same confession from his heart, then, despite his sinful deeds he, too, would have been assured of the same glorious promise of spending eternity in heaven with Jesus.

It is a reality that would have been just as true for a murderer like Fidel Castro on the day of his death, as it was to the thief on the cross more than 2,000 years ago.

Conclusion

I was complelled to write this blog post because the death of well-known individuals like Fidel Castro serve as a reminder that there are countless millions of people – Christians and non-Christians alike – who are living under the misconception that their works, for better or worse, play a role in God’s sovereign act of salvation.

This is not what the Bible teaches.

God’s Word is unambiguous that His elect are saved by faith alone, by grace alone, through Christ alone:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).”

It is only belief in Jesus that saves us.

It is only unbelief in Jesus that condemns us.

“Morality may keep you out of jail, but it takes the blood of Jesus Christ to keep you out of hell.” – Charles Spurgeon

Despite his many sins, had Fidel Castro only believed on Jesus Christ he would be in heaven today (Romans 6:23).

For the same gospel of grace that applies to “whoever believes” would also have applied to him (John 3:16).

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Related:
What Is the Gospel? – Dr. R.C. Sproul (Ligonier Ministries)
The Final Divide: Eternal Life or Eternal Wrath – John Piper (Desiring God)
What Faith Must Believe – Ligonier Ministries
How Salvation Brings Freedom – Jen Wilkin (The Gospel Coalition)
The Five Solas – Reformed Forum

Image credit: huffingtonpost.com

How Support for Donald Trump by the Right Exposed the Racism of the Left


The question is a simple one.

Does an American citizen who is legally registered to vote have the right to cast that vote for the candidate of his or her choice?

Simple enough, right?

Apparently not, as it depends on who you ask.

The post-election lamenting of the Left continues to garner headlines.

More than a week after Donald Trump became this nation’s 45th President-elect, their collective petulance remains on full display for all to see.

As a conservative who is black, it has been interesting to observe liberals direct their anti-Trump vitriol exclusively at the 81 percent of white evangelical Christians who voted for him.

But in the midst of their targeted rage, they completely disregard the fact that 13 percent of black males also voted for Trump.

Are these voters not equally deserving of their derision and contempt?

As confounding as it may seem to liberals, their willingness to ignore the fact that Donald Trump garnered double-digit support from black voters is a serious commentary on the extent to which they are helping to perpetuate the decades-old stereotype that the so-called “black vote” is monolithic.

Needless to say, it is not.

I, for one, am proof of that.

In the wake of what was unarguably a devastating and, by many accounts, unfathomable political defeat, liberals are blaming everyone but themselves.

But that liberals view the election of Donald Trump as tantamount to an eschatological catastrophe of biblical proportions is not entirely the fault of white evangelical voters.

In fact, it is not the fault of any one particular ethno-religious voting bloc.

Though 81 percent support from white evangelicals is nothing to sneeze at, even more significant is the 8 percent of black voters who backed Donald Trump.

Because although it was widely expected and accepted that white evangelicals – particularly white male evangelicals – would galvanize behind Trump, being motivated in large part by Clinton’s unbiblical positions on abortion and same-sex marriage, no one gave him a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of making even the most infinitesimal strides with black voters.

After all, blacks are monolithic, you know?

We don’t think for ourselves.

We simply do as we’re told.

https://i0.wp.com/media4.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2016_30/1637401/gettyimages-510875866_6b89731f747a0b429950dcfda378338a.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpg

That black voters traditionally have been held to a lower standard of political autonomy than any other voting bloc in America, is clearly evidenced by a Salon.com article I recently came across entitled, The Real Reason Black Voters Didn’t Turn Out For Hillary – and How to Fix It.

The title alone is enough to give pause.

That black voter turnout turned out (no pun intended) to be less salvific than Hillary Clinton and the Democrats hoped – as opposed to blacks voting their individual consciences or, perhaps, not voting at all, which is also their right – is apparently a problem that needs to be “fixed” according to many on the Left.

It is a philosophy that warrants translating.

“Fixed” is liberal code for developing targeted strategies to ensure black voters continue to tow the line, and stick to the nearly 60-year old script of voting for only Democrat candidates for president.

“Fixed” is the plantation mentality which holds that black votes belong to Democrats in much the same way that black people once belonged to them.

“Fixed” – as far as liberals are concerned – is the perpetual political servitude of black voters to the Democrat party.

“My father joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote. The Republicans did.” – Condoleezza Rice

It is interesting, if not ironic, that liberals will tout the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for its prohibitions against racial discrimination in voting, particularly with regard to their seemingly incessant claims of voter suppression on the part of Republicans, while tacitly endorsing ideological discrimination in assuming that Hillary Clinton receiving “only” 92 percent of the black vote instead of the anticipated 95 percent is something that needs “fixing”.

The hypocrisy of liberals is that their acceptance of white evangelicals exercising their right to vote as individuals, albeit against their preferred candidate, is offset by their belief that blacks should cast their votes solely on the basis of the interests of the collective “black community”.

Which begs the question to what end was the Civil Rights Movement, especially with respect to black Americans being granted the right to vote as equal citizens, if not the freedom to exercise that right as individuals in voting for the political candidate of their choice?

That liberals appear to believe this ethos applies to every ethnic voting bloc except black voters is telling to say the least.

Ultimately, it is not black voter turnout that needs to be “fixed”.

What needs “fixing” is the stereotypical mindset that black voters are joined together, as if by umbilical cord, to an electoral process rooted in political tribalism rather than ideological individualism.

Which brings us full circle to the original question, doesn’t it?

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Related:
The Myth of Black Community
The Truth About Jim Crow (Free PDF booklet from the American Civil Rights Union)

Image Credits:
Top image: npr.org
Center image: nbcnews.com
Bottom image: commdiginews.com

 

Why a Hillary Clinton Victory ‘Might’ Have Been Better For The Evangelical Church

Image credit: thedailybeast.com


I was hoping Hillary Clinton would win.

Before you jump to conclusions, allow me to explain.

Creatures of Habit

From the standpoint of our respective socio-political worldviews, the former Secretary of State and I could not be more diametrically opposed to one another.

Hillary Clinton’s self-professed admiration for eugenicist Margaret Sanger, founder of The Negro Project – the precursor to what is today Planned Parenthood – augmented with her unabashed support of same-sex marriage, or what progressives like Clinton prefer to call “marriage equality”, are but two examples of where she and I part ideological ways.

Nevertheless, that Donald Trump is now President-elect of the United States has left me feeling somewhat disappointed.

I say this not because of what a Trump presidency might portend for America in terms of domestic and foreign policy, but because of what it might mean in terms of the spiritual mindset and mission of the evangelical church.

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” – Psalm 118:8 (NASB)

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, it has been widely reported that President-elect Trump received upwards of 81 percent support from evangelicals, whereas Hillary Clinton received only 16 percent.

That President-elect Trump can boast that 8 out of every 10 professing evangelicals voted for him may be good news for Trump, however, I would caution against Christians presuming that the same can be said for the Church.

I say this because, historically, we evangelicals have exhibited a rather unique penchant for letting our political guard down, particularly when a supposed “conservative Christian” is occupying the White House.

Taking comfort in this we tend to morph into what I call “La-Z-Boy mode”, assuming that because “our” candidate won that “our work here is done” (as the saying goes).

Accordingly, as if by rote, we assume the position.

We lean back, put our spiritual feet up, and rest in the “blessed assurance” that because the person we voted for is “one of us”, there is no real need for vigilance on our part in holding them accountable to any degree.

“Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” – Psalm 146:3 (NASB)

None of this is to infer or imply that the future of the Church in America, or Christianity in general for that matter, rests in the hands of either President-elect Trump or ours as individual evangelicals.

Nor is it to suggest that President-elect Trump is anti-Church, anti-Christian, or anti-religious freedom.

Not at all.

Waiting to Exhale? 

As followers of Christ, we serve a sovereign God who has promised to build His church despite any worldly or other-worldly forces that might endeavor to oppose it (Psalm 135:6; Daniel 4:35Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 6:12).

In other words, it is an eternally settled issue that the church of God will continue to grow and flourish, as it has for over 2,000 years, regardless who is in power whether nationally or globally.

Nonetheless, after eight years of an administration which, by any objective measure, has not been a friend of Christians, I am somewhat concerned that many evangelicals will view the election of Donald Trump as their “waiting to exhale” moment, if you will, believing we can finally relax now that Barack Obama will soon be out of office.

It is this concern that makes me wonder if it would not have been better for the evangelical Church if Hillary Clinton had won and not Donald Trump.

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” – Ecclesiastes 7:20 (NASB)

With all due respect, for evangelicals to assume simply by virtue that Donald Trump was elected president and not Hillary Clinton, that the political climate will automatically be more favorable for Christians is to be spiritually naive.

Because although a Clinton administration would undoubtedly have been just as adversarial to the evangelical church as has been the Obama administration, if not more so, it nonetheless might have served as impetus to keep Christians on their toes, or better, on their knees.

“Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?” – Isaiah 2:22 (NASB)

The nature of politics is that it has a way of subtly convincing people that a promise made is tantamount to a promise kept.

A very tangible example of this is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare, and the boastful assurances made by President Obama, among other prominent Democrats, that it would save American households of dollars in healthcare costs but, in reality, has resulted in financial hardship for millions of families who find themselves unable to afford the skyrocketing premiums.

At first glance, the election of Donald Trump as our nation’s 45th president may seem a cause for rejoicing to many evangelicals; a long-awaited answer to prayer after nearly a decade of overt hostility from an administration whose view of Christianity, to say the least, has been less than favorable.

But that is no excuse for Christians to view Trump’s election as some political laurel upon which we can now rest.

“Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.” – John Adams

If nothing else, what should keep evangelicals grounded against being overly exuberant that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton is that, biblically speaking, he is no less a sinner than she is (Romans 3:23).

Though a multi-billionaire with a track record as a deal making power-broker, as President-elect, Donald Trump now has access to more power than even he could ever have imagined.

With this in mind, President-elect Trump will need our prayers perhaps more than even he realizes (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

Conclusion

That a Trump victory might result in many evangelicals becoming passive about matters of significance to the Church is why I had hoped Hillary Clinton would win.

For perhaps then, with an ideological antagonist in the White House instead of an ally, Christians might be more attentive to how those who attain to such positions of power are susceptible to the the temptations and attractions awaiting them, not to mention the potential impacts to the Church when those allurements are yielded to in an ungodly way.

“O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” – Psalm 60:11 (NASB)

If you have read this far, I trust by now you realize that this blog post is not a post-election endorsement of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Quite the contrary.

It is a loving yet cautionary admonition to my fellow evangelical brothers and sisters that now is not the time to relax simply because “our” candidate won.

Evangelicals have been in this position before, you know, with “our people” in charge at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

The next four years will prove whether we have learned from the lessons of the past, not the least of which is to never look to the one who occupies the Oval Office above the One who put him – or her – there.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

So, You Want ‘Social Justice’? Be Careful What You Ask For


When it comes to the matter of social justice context is key.

I say this because when one examines closely the current national discourse on this issue, it becomes abundantly clear that significantly more emphasis is placed on the justice aspect than on the social.

This kind of partitioned accentuation, I believe, is the result of our acceptance of a collective assumption that a community wherein justice is consistently and indiscriminately applied to each individual is the ideal societal construct.

It is an ethos that is especially evident relative to the biblical principle of reaping and sowing (Galatians 6:7), particularly with regard to one’s actions and decisions that might prove harmful or detrimental to others.

But this mindset, in my estimation, raises a fundamental question:

What is justice?

The Definition of Justice

In his book The Gospel for Real Life, the late Jerry Bridges defines justice as: “rendering to everyone according to one’s due. Justice means we get exactly what we deserve – nothing more, nothing less (p.43).”

I consider Bridges’ definition of justice to be a very good one, as it is applicable regardless if the issue of social justice is being deliberated within the context of sociology or theology.

Even so, I am also of the opinion that this definition raises a sobering conundrum, one which, perhaps, not many of us have seriously considered.

The Nature of Justice

When we think of justice, and its broader applications and implications to society as a whole (social justice), we must understand that what we are dealing with is not merely a matter of description (as in Bridge’s definition) but of prescription as well.

Justice is innately retributive.

Its primary purpose is to chasten not to correct, to reprove not to reform, to be a voice for righteousness where unrighteousness is present.

Justice makes absolute demands that must be complied with absolutely.

To fall short of these rigid and inflexible standards, even to the most infinitesimal degree, is to bring into question the integrity of the individual or entity being relied upon to satiate that which justice demands.

Namely, as Bridges stated, that “we get exactly what we deserve – nothing more, nothing less.”

The Duality of Justice

It is this punitory aspect of justice that serves as the impetus for why people who are convicted of crimes, particularly those that warrant significant time in prison, and worse, endeavor to seek out the most competent legal counsel they can find in an effort to ameliorate the exacting discipline they know awaits them.

They comprehend fully that justice, by its very nature, is inherently unmerciful, and that it is uncompromising in its insistence that they – the guilty – pay the “due” penalty for offenses committed against their fellow human beings.

This awareness highlights an almost paradoxical duality in that it is because justice is so fixed and unyielding that those who are victimized zealously pursue its retaliatory remedies, while those who victimize try just as resolutely to avoid them.

The Divine Origins of Justice

The concept that recompense be made when a law is transgressed originated not with mankind but with God.

We are first introduced to this divine dogma in the Garden of Eden where the relationship between precept and penalty, the two fundamental elements of any just and equitable law, are presented by God to Adam in the most unambiguous of terms:

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat [precept], for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die [penalty].” – Genesis 2:16-17 (NASB)

Contrary to what many in today’s pluralistic and universalistic society believe, the truth is we are not innately predisposed to do good to one another but just the opposite (Genesis 8:21b; Jeremiah 17:9).

It is because of our congenital predisposition to sin against one another that we have laws to begin with, the insistent penalties of which are designed to influence decisions we make to act or not on the innately sinful inclinations that arise in our hearts toward each other.

And therein lies the rub for you and me as it relates to the concept of social justice.

The Demands of Justice

In his exceptional work The Existence and Attributes of God, Puritan theologian Stephen Charnock declares that, “the justice of God is so essential to Him, as that sin could not be pardoned without satisfaction (p. 517).

Charnock’s theology of God is important to note, for to understand that justice is so inexorable to the nature and character of God is the beginning of understanding why justice matters to us who are created in His image (Genesis 1:27).

Justice is as indivisible an attribute of a society composed of those who bear the image of God as it is of God Himself.

Nevertheless, in our search for justice, the universal problem you and I face is that though, even in our fallenness, we reflect the image of God, we are not God.

“When the human mind is focused upon the ineffable purity of God and His unchanging righteousness, it appears to fallen creatures that He no longer smiles—but frowns upon His works. That easy, peaceable disposition—so pleasing to our hearts, so soothing when we feel the stirrings of conscience—in which we contemplate God while considering His goodness alone, gives place to far sterner aspects, and we are made to tremble when He is also seen as an offended Ruler and Judge.” – A.W. Pink, The Justice of God

In our insistence that justice be exacted against those who offend us, we often want to exempt ourselves from that same standard.

When it is we who are facing the rigid and inflexible demands of justice, whether it be for a traffic violation or murder, what we want in that moment is not justice but mercy. But justice is necessitated by an innately holy and righteous God who requires that sin be atoned for.

All sin.

You see, social justice, by definition, is a standard of precept and penalty that is applied equally and absolutely to every person within a given society.

Every person.

In every situation.

Without exception.

Regardless of circumstances.

That truly is social justice.

Be Careful What You Ask For

Justice that is not indiscriminately and objectively applied to everyone is not justice.

If our personal definition of social justice is one that is influenced to any extent by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic standing, or any other conceivable variable, then, what we really desire is not social justice but selective justice.

Remember, social (or societal) justice is that standard of justice that is equally and absolutely applicable to all, so that everyone – without exception or regard to circumstances – receives “exactly what he or she deserves”.

With this in mind, the question we must ask ourselves is:

Is this the kind of social justice we really want?

Conclusion

What I have said in this post is neither to suggest nor imply that lawlessness, regardless the offender, should go unpunished.

Quite the contrary.

I have gone to great lengths in an attempt to exposit biblically on why the concept of justice is essential to any civilized society, namely, because we all are sinners by nature (Romans 3:23).

Nevertheless, that we, as professed followers of Jesus Christ, would be so biased in our hearts as to have our thirst for justice ignited by anything other than that one who, like ourselves, bears the image of God has been unjustly treated, is to commit as egregious a sin as the one who carried out the injustice in the first place.

“All of us have failed miserably to obey God’s Law. We disobeyed in Adam, and we have every day of our lives disobeyed in our own persons. Therefore all of us stand condemned before God’s Law, fully liable to its curse and punishment. But just as Jesus fully obeyed God’s Law in our place, so He suffered its full penalty in our place. In the same way that Adam was our representative in the garden, so Christ was our representative on the cross. He bore the full brunt of God’s justice that we should have borne. He received the full punishment we should have received. Through His representative union with us, Jesus assumed our obligation to perfectly obey the Law of God and obeyed it to the letter. Through that same union Jesus assumed our liability for not obeying the Law and paid that liability to the utmost. He fully and completely satisfied the justice of God on our behalf as our substitute.” – Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life: Justice Satisfied, pp. 44-45

Social justice is unbiased justice.

It is justice that is grounded in the equitable application of God’s objective standard of how we are to live with and relate to one another (Genesis 1:27; Romans 1:19; Romans 3:23).

If the justice we demand is tainted in any way by such characteristics as race or ethnicity, then, I exhort you, my brother and sister in Christ, to search our heart because it is not justice we want but vengeance.

The danger of harboring such an ungodly heart-attitude, is that the standard of justice we apply to others will likewise be applied to us (Matthew 7:1-5).

Call to Action

In our efforts to advance the cause of social justice, we must be ever-mindful that the idea of justice is rooted first and foremost in a holy and righteous God in whom justice is an essential aspect of His nature and character.

Our pursuit of justice should be based solely in the truth that each of us is created in His image and not on the basis of any external attribute or characteristic – such as race or ethnicity – which, by His sovereign will, He determined to bestow upon us (Acts 17:26).

When we truly understand the justice of God, the satisfaction of which mandated the death of His own Son (John 3:16), we might think twice before demanding justice for offenses committed against us by others.

For it is in the atoning death of Christ on the cross that God demonstrates Himself to be the ultimate Social Justice Warrior, by exacting upon His sinless Son the justice that you and I rightfully deserve.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

On Black Lives Matter and the Question No One Seems to be Asking (But Should Be)


Many questions have been raised – and continue to be – about the movement known as Black Lives Matter and its pursuit of social justice.

But the question no one seems to be asking is one which, in my humble opinion, is the most fundamental of all:

What does it actually mean that black lives “matter” and why should it matter to me?

It is a question that is important to consider because to assert that “black lives matter” (or “all lives matter” if you prefer), is to apply the universal assumption that human life in general is inherently valuable if for no other reason than that it is human life.

But what is it about human life that elevates it to this particular level of appreciation and esteem?

Against whose standard of measure is valuable defined? Is that standard objective or subjective? If objective, then, by what authority are we obligated to acknowledge said standard? And if subjective, who then determines when, if, or how this standard of worth changes and to what degree?

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!” – Psalm 8:3-5 (NASB)

As mantras go, “blacklivesmatter” might make for a good hashtag on social media, but there is more to it than that.

Much more.

For to declare that a thing “matters” – whether it be a human life or a set of collection of antique jewelry – is to ascribe to that thing a degree of significance or worth that is grounded in a preconceived idea of what it means for something to “matter”.

“Man is an exception, whatever else he is. If he is not the image of God, then he is a disease of the dust.” – G.K. Chesterton

Ask anyone you know if a certain person or thing is of any importance to them and not only will you receive a definitive answer but, more than likely, they will give you the reason why as well (whether the answer is yes or no).

And it is the why of this proposition that “black lives matter” that no one seems to be talking about.

I live in a suburb of Atlanta where it is not unusual to see deer roaming about this time of year. Mornings are dark longer now, so I’m more alert than usual when driving into work, as deer have a tendency to dart into the road as if out of nowhere.

Every now and then, not often, I’ll notice a deer carcass lying on the side of the road. In that moment, I may spend a second or two in compassionate contemplation about the events that ultimately led to the animal’s demise.

Questions such as: How was it killed? Did it endure much suffering before it died? What was it doing so close to the road in the first place?

You know, thoughts like that.

But what I do not spend time contemplating is whether I should pull my car over to see if the deer can be revived by performing CPR. I do not think to dial 911 to request an ambulance so that the remnants of the deer can be transported to the county morgue and autopsied. Nor do I bother to contact the animal’s next of kin so that funeral arrangements can be made.

No, the most attention that poor deer will get from me is a passing glance as I continue on my way into the office.

Why?

It’s simple, really.

The deer didn’t “matter” to me.

Not because it wasn’t my deer, mind you, but because it was a deer.

Now, before you go reporting me to PETA or accusing me of being some insensitive, animal-hating conservative nut job, please understand that the previous illustration is neither to suggest, infer, nor imply that animals do not matter.

They do.

In fact, you may be surprised to learn just how much Scripture has to say about how we are to treat animals as the creations of God they are.

For example:

“Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest…” – Exodus 23:12a (NASB)

There are other texts that come to mind as well (Deuteronomy 25:4; Proverbs 12:10; Luke 12:6).

But though it is true that animals are created by God, they are not created in the image of God (imago Dei). Among the myriad creations formed by the hand of God, only human beings can lay claim to this unique distinction (Genesis 1:27).

Which brings us back to the original question, doesn’t it?

“If we ever deny our unique status in creation as God’s only image-bearers, we will soon begin to depreciate the value of human life, will tend to see humans as merely a higher form of animal, and will begin to treat others as such. We will also lose much of our sense of meaning in life.” – Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, p. 450

You see, the truth, when all is said and done, is that you cannot arbitrarily assert that black lives matter without also offering an apologetic as to why. For to declare, as if in a vacuum, that black lives have significance is of no real profit unless the argument is posited within the context of objective truth.

Otherwise, the discourse is reduced to nothing more than subjective opinions and ad hominem conjecture, the result of which is tantamount to running on a philosophical treadmill as the dialogue becomes so circular and unproductive, that it just goes on and on and on getting no one anywhere.

“Christianity is a philosophy – though not a rationalistic one because we have not worked it out beginning from ourselves. Rather, God has told us the answers. In this sense it is the true philosophy, for it gives right answers to man’s philosophic and intellectual questions.” – Francis Schaeffer (as cited in Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended by Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen, pp. 241-242)

Any conversation about the value of human life, whether it be with regard to social injustice, abortion, or child slavery, must start with God and with His objective construct of why human life matters.

That the issue of the significance of human life is deemed by many to be worthy of protest in its various and sundry forms, is only because God, who is the Author of all life, has attributed significance to it.

“Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” – Psalm 100:3a (NASB)

It is the same today as it was thousands of years ago, when God declared holy the ground on which Moses stood as he encountered the glory of God at the burning bush (Exodus 3:5).

Only God could declare sacred and hallowed [קֹדֶשׁ] something as useless and expendable as the dirt that Moses’ worn out sandals had come in contact with in that one extraordinary moment.

Conclusion

Human life matters because, in our humanity, we bear the image of the One who gives life to each of us (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

That we, as human beings, are of a particular race, ethnicity, or nationality is of no significance given that even those aspects of our earthly existence are sovereignly ordained by God, so neither you nor I have anything to boast of in ourselves (Acts 17:26).

Not our race.

Not our ethnicity.

Not our individual socio-cultural experiences.

Nothing.

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” – Galatians 6:14 (NASB)

The question of why black lives matter is indivisible from the annunciation that black lives matter.

It is an attestation that demands an apologetic because, at its core, it is an existential inquiry that invariably points us to God and to His righteous standard of how mankind should relate both to Himself and to one another (Exodus 20:1-17; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Matthew 5:38-48John 13:34-35).

With this in mind, as followers of the God of all life, we must be prepared to respond to subjective philosophical hashtags with the objective biblical hermeneutic that mankind is not, as Chesterton stated, merely a “disease of the dust”.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

On conservatives and race: do black lives really matter to the right?

Please consider this thoughtful commentary from my sister in the Lord, Lisa Robinson.

Lisa Robinson

black-lives-matter-super-169In my last post, I addressed an issue of priorities that drives politically conservative Christians to not only be drawn to the GOP but also feel compelled to endorse it’s candidate to uphold priorities. Specifically, I noted issues of life and traditional values and expressed the following.

These concerns are quite legitimate. We care about the rights of the unborn. And we care about the liberties granted us under the founding principles of this nation, that are to ensure freedom of worship. And so the typical response at elections is who will align with these values.

I confess that I had a particular audience in mind when penning that post, those who insist that the GOP platform is the most compatible with Christian values regardless of who their spokesperson is. For this crowd, these are concerns that are most directly linked to issues of life and morality. It is not…

View original post 1,384 more words

Elections Are Ultimately About Voting the Right Sinner Into Office

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Do me a favor.

Stop whatever it is you’re doing and take a few moments to think back to the very first promise someone made to you.

What thoughts immediately come to your mind? Who made the promise? Was it fulfilled as-promised or is it yet to be realized? If the latter, how does it make you feel today? Disappointed? Unimportant? Perhaps even unloved?

Now, think ahead to November 8, 2016.

What thoughts come to your mind now? What expectations do you have of the person for whom you’re planning to cast your vote for president (assuming you are planning to vote)? Are you more hopeful in their promises than in the ones made to you at other times in your life?

Why or why not?

“Everyone has commitments to a certain way of seeing life. Some people call this a worldview. Whatever the label, it is a vision about life, what it is, and how it works. This vision of life may be wise or foolish. People may or may not be self-conscious about their vision of life. But everyone possesses such a vision.” – Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry, p. 16

At the risk of making you feel as if you’re being interrogated under a heat lamp from a fast-food restaurant, the reason I posed the aforementioned questions is because, if nothing else, elections are about promises…

…and hopes…

…and expectations.

And why do we hope?

Why do we believe?

We hope because something inside of us longs for righteousness in our political leaders. We know it is right that those who are in authority over us should exercise the power granted them with integrity, humility, and equity.

We believe because, as Christians, we trust in the veracity of a God who has so purposed that worldly governments operate and function “as a minister of God for our good” (Romans 13:4a).

Nevertheless, we must not be naive to the fact that underneath all the pomp and circumstance of presidential politics is the universal truth that, like each of us, politicians are sinners by nature (Romans 3:23). That any man or woman should, by God’s sovereign will (Romans 13:1b), attain to the highest office in the land – or any office for that matter – won’t change that.

The Lord is my portion,” says my soul. Therefore I have hope in Him. – Lamentations 7:24 (NASB)

My pointing out the fallen nature of politicians is not to suggest that Christians should hold such a thing against those who seek political office. Such logic would be both misguided and hypocritical, as no human being could then even run for any office let alone be elected to one.

Which is why spiritual discernment is so critical.

Consider the counsel given to Moses by his father-in-law, Jethro, concerning the governance of the people of Israel during the Exodus from Egypt:

Now listen to me: I will give you counsel and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.” – Exodus 18:19-21 (NASB)

Then there is David, whom God ordained to be king over the nation of Israel while he was but a shepherd boy, looking not at his external attributes as qualification for the office, but at something far more important:

When they entered, he [Samuel] looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinidab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either. Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him here; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” – 1 Samuel 16:6-12 (NASB)

Whether we realize it or not, the reason so many people – Christians and non-Christians alike – are so concerned about this presidential election is because it is fundamentally a matter of biblical theology not political ideology.

Regardless of one’s political persuasion or party affiliation, each of us has an innate awareness of our capacity as human beings to commit evil.

It is this shared but unacknowledged awareness of our penchant to sin against one another that is causing such an unprecedented level of angst among voters across the nation. Our problem is we simply refuse to treat it as the spiritual issue it is.

It has been said that the elections of 2016 are the most crucial in our nation’s 240-year history.

I can’t say that I disagree.

Given what is at stake in this election, particularly as it relates to potential implications to the church and our ability as Christians to continue to freely practice our beliefs, as followers of Christ we must ask ourselves:

  • Have I attempted to see these presidential candidates as God sees them; looking past the external to fruit of who he or she is on the inside?
  • What biblical evidence is there that either of these candidates is endeavoring to live a righteous life before the God who created them in His image?
  • Am I viewing this election as a spiritual matter with spiritual implications to our nation or do I see it merely as my civic duty to perform?
  • To what degree, if any, does my professed Christian worldview shape my political ideology?
  • Do I compartmentalize my Christianity so that it applies only to certain areas of my life and not to others?
  • Have I spent time alone with God, seeking His divine wisdom as to how I should cast my vote?

Righteousness exalts a nation. But sin is a disgrace to any people.” – Proverbs 14:34 (NASB)

Needless to say, there is no “perfect” political candidate.

There has never been nor will there ever be.

Whether president or dog catcher – all are sinners alike.

But, you see, perfection is not the standard.

God’s standard of perfection was met in His Son Jesus Christ. It is in Him alone that perfect righteousness can be found (2 Corinthians 5:21).

But though God does not require perfection of us, He does require holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16). And if God requires holiness in the lives of we who profess to believe in Him, how then can we discount or disregard it in the lives of those we choose to govern us (Proverbs 29:2; 2 Corinthians 6:14)?

“Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing with God’s judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man.” – J.C. Ryle, Holiness

When we consider that the very concept of government was established by God (Romans 13:1), then, to the Christian at least, voting is seen as not just a civic duty but a spiritual discipline.

Yes, all politicians are sinners.

That much is true.

And yet, we can still pray that God will have mercy on our nation so that the right sinner is elected to office in November.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell