Know Your Enemies

We Americans have enemies: ISIS, the Taliban, North Korea, and so on.  The Israelites had enemies, too: the Philistines, the Romans, the Samaritans, and so on.  Jesus came along, however, and included in the enemies list the members of one’s own family.  How can this be?  First, let’s read what He said, noticing that He quotes the prophet Micah in the process:

Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.  Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I came to

SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER,
AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER,
AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW;
and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.  –  Micah 7:6

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
–  Matthew 10:32-39

An enemy is someone who opposes you.  Jesus knew that whoever followed Him would encounter opposition – even in his own family.  Yes, even our own family members can be against us when we seek to follow the living God.  Remember, though, that Jesus said we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  In time, our perseverance will win them over.

Do not be surprised when your efforts to please God encounter resistance.  This is the fermentation that is part of leavening the lump of family.

Leavening the Lump of Family

Leaven – yeast being the most common example – is a substance added to a lump of dough, which causes the dough – and the resulting loaf of bread – to ferment and rise.  Just a little leaven is enough to accomplish the purpose because, over time, its effect spreads throughout the lump of dough.  That is, the ultimate effect of a little bit of leaven is pervasive on the whole lump.  This is just the way leaven and dough interact.  It’s the way things worked in ancient times and it’s still the way things work today.  This process is not hypothetical; it’s reality.

I said yesterday that just one member of a family – whether father, mother, son, or daughter – devoting himself to Christ, and persevering in Christ, was enough to save a family.  This is because the kingdom of God (that is, devotion to Christ) in one person will be like a little leaven in the dough.  Eventually the whole family will rise.

The resurrection of family is its redemption from corruption – its blessing by God.  Every family is either in the process of being saved or it is in the process of being corrupted.   Every family is either ruled by Christ or ruled by Satan.  Every family is either bearing the sweet fruit of godliness or bearing the bitter fruit of ungodliness.  A saved family is not a family without troubles; it is a family that survives and overcomes troubles.  As Christ saves you, so His influence on your life will have its effect on the other members of your family.

Therefore, never think that your submission to Christ will be of no effect.  It is no more possible for you to live for Christ and have your family be unaffected than it is for leaven to be added to a lump of dough and the lump not rise.  It’s just the way things work.

And, by the way, don’t worry about the fermentation that leads to the rising; rather, keep focused on the rising that will come.  That is, forgive the offenses that your family members may initially take at your quest for godliness in Christ.  Persevere in your personal devotion to Him, and keep growing in piety.  This is the only critical success factor.

What Is a Family?

If the way to save the world is to save the family – and it is – then what constitutes a family?  I raise this question because society today seems to believe that a family is whatever people want it to be.  Yet we can no more design a family than we can design a human being. As God created human beings, so He created family.

God designed family to be the result of a man and a woman coming together in lifelong commitment.  A human being comes into the world incredibly dependent, taking roughly two decades to achieve full independence.  God’s design for managing this extended process of maturation – from complete dependence to complete independence – is a man and woman completely committed to each other and their offspring.

In the design of family, there is no substitute for the father; neither is there a substitute for the mother.  To suggest that a family can be headed by two fathers or two mothers or “a village” is a denial of reality.  Just as God’s has designed it so that no human being can come into existence without the activity of a father and mother, so He has designed it so that each human being should achieve maturity by the care and guidance of that same father and mother.

Can human beings survive departures from this model?  Yes,  but only by God’s grace.  Willful defiance of this model is asking for trouble.

Rejecting our Creator’s guidance about family and replacing it with the advice of social scientists and their “studies” is a form of moral insanity.

The main difference between America at its founding and America today is that most Americans in 1776 believed that they had been created by God whereas most Americans today believe that they evolved by unguided processes.  That one difference accounts for more of our problems than you can count.

What God Has Done, Let No Man Disrespect

You have probably heard the expression, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”  Most likely, you heard it recited in a wedding ceremony.  It is the King James phrasing of something Jesus said.  Here’s His statement in a modern Bible with some preceding verses included to give it context:

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?”  And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
–  Matthew 19:3-6 [quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in the all caps section]

If Jesus did not think it was acceptable to undo the union of a man and a woman, how could He think it was acceptable to turn a man into a woman?

There are indeed some people today who are confused about their gender, and we should, with compassion, do all we can to help them.  However, there is nothing compassionate about lying to them; there is nothing compassionate about accepting and affirming the delusion of a deluded person.  On the contrary, it is cruel to give false hope to a confused person.

“Transgenderism” is a lie; and it is defiance against the order established by a loving Creator.  It’s a rebellion against reality; and for this reason it can never succeed.  The nation that encourages this resistance to reality is adding torment to the confused, and the wrath of God to itself.  The number of people believing in a lie can never make a lie into the truth.

God creates each person either male or female.  Our job is not to choose a gender or attempt to change it,  but simply to recognize what God has done and appreciate it.  Our lives will be filled with far less trouble if we do.

Yes, everyone is going to heaven, but sin makes the journey there unnecessarily painful and the arrival there less glorious than it could be.  The less regret you have in heaven, the happier you will be there.

What God has done, let no man disrespect.

WT041 – Review of Matthew Vines Video: Part 1

This is my weekly Bible teaching. Even if you don’t listen to my daily audio-only podcast, this weekly video teaching can still be valuable to you. In fact, you only have time to listen to one of my teachings each week, make it this one.

(Of course, I still write blog posts as well.)

Having just finished writing the book The Honor of Marriage, I wanted to review the viral video put out by Matthew Vines in 2012, titled “The Bible and Homosexuality,” which has become the book God and the Gay Christian.

You can see Matthew’s full video here:  Matthew Vines video (1:07:18)

It will take me several weeks to cover all I want to cover in Matthew’s video (though I will not be trying to cover it all in detail).  Today I introduced the study and only got to review the opening lines of his presentation (0:00:00 – 0:01:28).

It was because of the arguments like this one put forward by Matthew Vines that led me to write The Honor of Marriage.  The biblical truth is being lost to a biblically illiterate generation.  I hope my book can help fight the tide that has been going against us.

(If you want my book The Honor of Marriage, or any of my other books, click on the link that says “Books” in the menu bar across the top of this page or here.)

New Book Announcement: The Honor of Marriage

I’ve just completed another book.  Here’s its description:

This book is for those who want to understand marriage as God has designed it – which is to say family as God designed it.  Modern American culture has lost sight of true marriage and thus no longer supports it, even turning hostile to it.  Christians must show the way to repentance by restoring honor to marriage – fulfilling its responsibilities, enjoying its benefits, and defending its unique character and central importance to human well-being.  Approximately 50,000 words.

To either download this book to a digital reader or to read it online through your browser click on the link in the menu bar above “Books” or click here.  Be aware that it is not yet available at all of the seven outlets that stock my other digital books.  It is, however,  currently available at the main ones:  iBooks and Barnes&Noble (nook).  Also, if you want a mobi file for a Kindle device, that is available now, too.  You can find your way to all these at the link.

The Tie That Binds…the Family

…and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.  –  Genesis 12:3

This promise to Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Make sure that He is the third strand of your marriage so that your children will be blessed:

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.  Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
–  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Family, Family, Family

Having lived over sixty-four years, I can say that family is the most important human institution of all.  Of course, I could have said this at age twenty, but not with the clarity, conviction, and emphasis that I can now, after living over forty years as an adult and a husband and a father.

When I say “family,” I mean the term exactly as God described it:

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
–  Genesis 2:24

Modern American society rejects this godly definition and instead insists that individuals are like Lego pieces that can be assembled, disassembled, and reassembled into any family configuration desired – number and gender of the parents as well as duration of the assembly all options to be selected.  On this point, society is deeply and massively wrong.  It is breathtakingly wrong.

God designed the family just as He designed each of us as individuals: one man and one woman committed to each other for life, providing the protective and nurturing environment necessary for any children that might come forth from the union.  God’s design is specific and intentional…and it is good.  We ignore His design at our peril.

If you want to get life right, get family right.  To get family right, do it God’s way.

This is what all my years have taught me.  If you care at all what I think, do not take lightly what I am saying.  This issue is simple, but it is also much deeper and much more important than most people realize.

…and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.  –  Genesis 12:3

This promise to Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

How will God bless my family?

How can God bring His blessings to your family?  This passage from the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament tells us how.  The words are being spoken by the apostle Peter and the part in all caps is his quoting of Genesis 12:3:

“It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’  For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
–  Acts 3:25-26

You see how it works?  God blesses us by turning us from our wicked ways and He is able to do this as we trust and obey the One who was raised from the dead:  Jesus.

Jesus is the “seed” that was planted in the earth through death and who sprang up to become the Savior of the world – starting with your family.

To maintain His blessing on your family, maintain your faithfulness to Him.

God and Family

Early in the Bible, we find God making this promise to Abraham:

“…in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
–  Genesis 12:3

That promise was fulfilled in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  Every family that acknowledges Him as Lord, living according to His commandments, receives that promised blessing.

Late in Old Testament times, we hear the prophet Malachi evoking this same theme of family when he speaks of what will happen when the day of the Lord comes:

“And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…”
–  Malachi 4:6

Thus the Messiah of Israel – the Lord of “the day of the Lord” – would be the instrument for fulfilling the promise originally made to Abraham.

Continue to trust and obey Jesus that His blessing may come upon and remain upon your family.  This blessing carries more riches than you can count.