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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I continue to run across people today that say that ‘tithing’ is not to be practiced in our day and time.  They claim that tithing is not mentioned in the New Testament and that it has passed away with the old covenant.  Is this true?  These well meaning people emphasize that giving is a matter of the heart and that God blesses a cheerful giver.  They claim that when giving is done in the church it ought to be out of a love for the Lord and not simply a duty that must be obeyed.  They claim that to encourage tithing is to fall into legalism.  The people who claim tithing to be a form of legalism are usually the same people who do not think that the 4th commandment is still valid.  If we put both of these thoughts together we end up with a group of people who rebel against the Sabbath and rob the local church of the necessary funds to do the work that God has called the church to do. 
First, I would like to say that I agree with God blessing a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).  In many ways the teaching of the NT should compel one to give far and above the 10 percent mark.  According to the NT it would be good to sell all one has and give it to the poor.  If all the saints would give with a full and joyful heart the things that could be done for missions would greatly increase overnight.  However, does the truth of a cheerful heart negate the reality that the saints ought to tithe 10 percent?  Second, if there is one thing I know about the people of the 21st century it is that most people are undisciplined.  In order for a person to tithe 10 percent each and every paycheck, they will need discipline, faith, and a resolve towards the things of God.  God gave us such a discipline to guard our hearts against materialism, selfishness, and forgetfulness.  When people do not tithe they readily spend money upon the material.  When people do not tithe they immediately begin to believe that all the money they possess belongs to them.  Thus, if they feel like it they will give a bit of it to the church.  When people do not tithe they forget to trust God and be dependent upon Him for all things.  
When Jesus is pronouncing judgment upon the Pharisees we find that He acknowledges the necessity ἀποδεκατόω (to tithe, collect a tithe).  In Matthew 23:23 Jesus once again calls the Pharisees ὑποκριτής (hypocrites, actors, pretenders).  They are acting one way and then doing another.  They are saying one thing and doing the opposite.  They get one side right and the other side wrong.  The side that they get right is that they ἀποδεκατόω (to tithe, collect a tithe).  The side that they get wrong is that they ἀφίημι (to leave, depart, neglect) matters that carry more weight than tithing.  They have neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  They should have done these last three as well if not more so than the tithing that they were doing.  Notice what Jesus is saying in the last sentence of verse 23.  The English phrase from the ESV is “These you ought to have done.”  In Greek He uses δεῖ which means, “To be under necessity of happening, it is necessary, one must, one has to.”  Jesus is saying, “It is absolutely necessary for you to practice justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”  However, you should not ἀφίημι (to leave, depart, neglect) the tithing mint, dill, and cumin.  
In one verse Jesus has shown that tithing is valid and should be practiced and at the same time shown the importance of justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  Notice, Jesus did not say, “You do not need to tithe anymore since we are in a new covenant.”  He simply says that Christians must practice justice, mercy, and faithfulness without neglecting tithing. 

I am sure that there are those who will not be convinced about tithing by my very short article, but do not tell me tithing is not in the NT.  For those who have the audacity to say that it is only one verse, I would reply and say that one verse is certainly enough.  I would also let you know that this is not the only verse on tithing in the NT, but I will let you try to find the others.   

Thursday, February 20, 2014


ἀναγιγνώσκω - "To read something that is written or inscribed, read" (BDAG).  This word is used 32 times in the New Testament.  7 times in the gospel of Matthew Jesus is asking, "Have you not read?" in reference to the Old Testament.  Out of the 7 times this word is used in Acts, 5 of them are in reference to reading in the Old Testament.  In Thessalonians and Revelation the word is used in reference to public reading in the church.  

In the book of revelation this word is used under the heading of those who would be blessed by God.  Those who are blessed are those who "continually read," "continually hear," and "continually keep" what is written in the book.  

Reading seems to be a lost art in our world today in light of TV, movies, and electronic fascination.  There is a tremendous loss for those who do not read on a regular basis and it cannot be recovered by any other means.  Reading is one of those things that cannot be duplicated by some other technique.  Reading is one of the greatest blessings that a person can engage in.  Reading exposes people to the gospel, to the beauty of Christ, the wonder of the atonement, the history of the church, the future of the church, the immanent return of Christ, etc.  Reading allows people to sit at the feet of Owen, Watson, Bunyan, Swinnock, Spurgeon, Edwards, Morris, Beale, Carson, MacArthur, and a host of others.  

Reading is a discipline.  Reading is a reward.  Reading is an adventure.  Reading is an exposure.  Reading is one of the greatest privileges of the Christian faith.  

I ran across the following quote and pass it on for you to READ:

Keep on Reading

Even if I don’t read as many books as others, I still read. If I’m not reading, I’m relying on my memory which seems to be decreasing daily. So I read. I once heard someone say that books don’t change people--sentences do. If I glean two or three sentences from a book that affect the way I think and the way I live, that’s time well invested. So I read. Books give me the opportunity to learn from and about godly, bright, insightful people I’ll never meet. So I read. What I know will always be dwarfed by what I don’t know. So I read. Books help me become more effective at what I do. So I read.

- Bob Kauflin

Have you READ lately?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

10 Commandments Revisited

10 Commandments Revisited
Let me start my theological reflection by saying that the use of the law in the conversion of sinners is necessary for our day.  It is the law of God that slays the pride of the human heart and exposes one to the need of the Savior.  We live in a world in which the idea of good works, good character, and good intentions seem to rule the day.  It is the law of God that will destroy those three categories.  As the apostle would say, “sin lies dead until the law comes and revives it.”  It is the law that shows men that they are liars, thieves, adulterers, and idolaters.  I am thankful for those who have helped us return to the use of the law in the conversion of sinners.  We have enough watered-down easy believism in the modern church of America and it is refreshing to know that people are using the law for the right purpose.
Over the years there have been discussions about which part of the Old Testament was still applicable in our day.  We understand as we read the Old Testament that we no longer have to bring a bull, turtle dove, or a grain offering to atone for our sins.  We agree that if a woman is caught in adultery today we cannot take her to the edge of town and stone her to death.  It seems that there has been a consensus that we hold to the moral law (10 commandments), but not the laws that were specifically for the nation of Israel and their government at that time.  These things seem clear in the New Testament as well and we can readily see the 10 commandments used and applied by the apostles and by Jesus.  
At this point you may be wonder where the word ‘but’ is going to appear.  You may be wondering where I am going with this theological reflection.  Well here it is.  In the use of the 10 commandments it appears that we have erased one of the commandments and many who are using the law in the conversion of sinners should have gospel tracts that refer to the 9 commandments.  Let me list the commandments for you:
  • You shall have no other gods besides me
  • You shall not make for yourself a carved image
  • You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain
  • Honor your father and mother 
  • You shall not murder
  • You shall not commit adultery
  • You shall not steal
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (do not lie)
  • You shall not covet
You can read through the list and you can check them in Exodus chapter 20.  Do you see that one that is missing?  Do you find your favorite command in the list?  Which commandments do you use on your children?  Which commandment do you use on your lost friends?  Which commandments do you use when you preach on the streets (while skipping worship at a local church)?  Which commandment do parents use on their children while they casually stroll off to work, shopping, and the ball game on Sunday?  Are you catching on yet?  There is very little if any talk about commandment number four.  Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy!
How are we supposed to regard the Sabbath?  God says, “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.  On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter . . . why?  For in six days the LORD made all creation and rested the seventh day.  Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”  It would be refreshing to hear some people begin to practice and use the fourth commandment.  After all, if the other nine are valid applications for the use of evangelism then what justification does one have to erase number four.  
Let us look at the law sir.  Let us look at the law madam.  Let us look at the law sports fans.  Let us look at the law fisherman, hunter, and discount shoppers of America.  Have you ever disregarded the Sabbath day in order to live life for yourself?  What does that make you?  Uh, I am not sure.  It makes you a disobedient rebellious Sabbath breaker.  The crowd of church skipping street preachers, Sunday working Baptist, and most of religious America says, “Hey, do not judge me! I like the other 9 commandments, but do not use number 4 on me because that was a different time and culture.”  
I have been counseling teenagers, wives and husbands for 14 years to not take that job and have just received word that I had one person listen.  That one person was my son and I am so proud of him.  He moved to Illinois, found a house, and started looking for a job.  He was given an interview and practically guaranteed the job.  The only problem is that it was a job that included Sunday.  The employer was a Catholic businessman and my son looked him in the eye and told him he would work hard, be honest, and show up to work on time, but not on Sunday.  What happened?  He did not get the job.  
However, the Catholic businessman was so impressed that he called the Baptist deacon who owns another business in town and told him he ought to hire my son.  Conclusion, my son did not get a part-time job that was on Sunday, but rather he got a full-time job that does not work on Sunday.  I am one proud dad today.  It is wonderful to see someone who would be obedient to God and see God take care of His own.  God can be trusted.  

What about you?  Are you a disobedient rebellious Sabbath breaker or are you one of those who sets aside the time and place to be with God’s people and worship the living God?     

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Abortion/Civil Disobedience/Blessing

Murder/Civil Disobedience/Blessing
The issue of murdering babies has been around for over 5,000 years and has always been a serious matter before God.  Murder by definition is, “deliberately killing a person”.  In Exodus 1:15-16 the king of Egypt commands the murder of Hebrew male children.  He says, “If it is a son, you shall kill him”.  The Hebrew midwives who were named Shiphrah and Puah clearly and adamantly defied the king.  The action of the midwives (we should say, “lack of action” – they did not do what he said) was clearly a case of civil disobedience.  Pharaoh gave a direct order and the midwives disobeyed.  This decision by the midwives is the same decision that Christians of all generations have made.  When the policies, decrees, and public opinions of the day go directly against the Word of God, it is then that the people of God stand in agreement with the Word of God.  It is similar to Peter and the apostles when they said, “We must obey God rather than men!”  
It is in times like these that Christians not only have the right, but the responsibility to resist.  These two ladies in Exodus started a revolution, a slave revolt, which ultimately led to Israel being delivered out of Egypt.  Shiphrah and Puah became the first pro-life heroines and the course they took gives an example for all Christians to follow.  Murder is wrong, even if commanded by the king of the land.   What would cause two women to have the courage to defy a king and actually put their own lives at risk (Pharaoh could have executed them for their disobedience)?  Exodus 1:21 tells us plainly that the actions of the midwives was motivated by the ‘fear of God’.  They understood that obeying God is always a safer path than disobeying God.  Shiphrah and Puah knew that murder was wrong even before the 10 commandments were given.  The law was written upon their hearts and they knew murder was wrong.  They knew that Pharaoh could kill them physically for their action, but they knew that their souls must give an account to God.  
What was the result for Shiphrah and Puah standing boldly for God and denying Pharaoh?  Exodus 1:20-21 says, “God dealt well with the midwives . . . and God gave them families”.  What action did God take against Pharaoh and those who would support the murder of innocent children?  God sent plague after plague upon the Egyptians until they let His people go.  God in absolute and perfect justice overthrew the entire Egyptian nation and drowned their entire army in the Red Sea.  The Hebrews multiplied to a number in the millions and were ultimately led into the promise land.  
Here we are in 2014 living in a country that has murdered millions of innocent babies.  We live in a country that condones, promotes, encourages, and pushes the agenda of the murdering of innocent babies.  Our country has so taken this position that abortion is seen as a normal and correct action for women of our day.  The president and government leadership of our country have yet to decree murder as a law, but it does not seem all that far away.  In our country it appears in public opinion that murder is correct and any person who would speak against the murder of innocent children is a radical extremist.  Our country has become so blind that they are offended that the word ‘murder’ is used in regards to the subject of abortion.  Wow!  A person would have to be absolutely blind to not be able to see that when a baby in the womb is killed that that is murder.  The woman having the abortion pays the physician to pull the trigger and execute the baby.  In any other scenario everyone understands what this means.  If a woman pays a man to shoot her boss, it is understood that both will be brought before the judge on murder charges.  When a woman on her on or with the assistance of others pays a physician to kill her baby it ought to be clear what the issue is. 

I want to conclude this short article by asking, “Where are the Shiphrah’s and Puah’s of the day?”  Will anyone stand up for the life of the innocent?  What will happen to our country in the end?  Who is God going to bless?  Jesus should have the last word on this matter: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). 

*Please check out the documentary, Babies Are Murdered Here, that our church plant, Christ is King Baptist Church (Syracuse, NY) has produced with Crown Rights Media.  It features Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr. and has been endorsed by Dr. Larry Bray of The North American Reformed Seminary and Greg Gordon of Sermon Index