Blooming Where You’re (Trans) Planted

Outside of choosing a spouse, there may be no more snarled intersection than that place where we seek to understand our calling, and the sovereign will of God. We know that we are called to exercise dominion. We know that we have been equipped with a certain set of skills or gifts. We know, if we are the head of a household, that we have an obligation to meet the needs of our family.  We know also that in the grand economy of things, God controls the economy.  We know that His sovereign will will come to pass. What we don’t often know if just what that sovereign will is.

We want to know whether we should take this job, or move to that town. We want to know whether we should acquire certification in this field, or train for that industry. God knows all these things, and wouldn’t it be just grand if He told us? The future is a cake walk when we know what it is. We grow frustrated in our desire to know His will for us, what He would have us do.

It is all too easy for us to confuse the revealed will of God and the sovereign, efficacious will of God. God’s revealed will is simple enough- it is His law, what He commands that we are to do. His sovereign, efficacious will might also be called His hidden will. It is that will by which He brings to pass all things.  God commands Joseph’s brothers that they do unto him what they would have him do, that they not sell him into slavery. But God ordained from all eternity that they would do just that. Why, you might ask, would He then still find fault with the brothers? Who, after all, could resist His will? Paul addresses just that issue in Romans 9. Take a look.

Our more immediate problem is that we want to know what God has determined not to reveal, the future. What we ought to want is to be busy about the business of what He has revealed to us. He has told us that whatever we do we ought to work heartily, as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23.  Wherever we are, whatever work we are doing, whatever hopes and dreams we might have, we can be within God’s will not by probing the secret things, but by obeying the revealed things, by being diligent and faithful in our work.

It is not strictly true that God’s sovereign, efficacious will is hidden. We can know God’s will in this sense. All it takes is a bit of patience. You can know what God ordained with utter certainty– after it happens. We cannot know His sovereign will looking forward (save what He has in fact told us- We know that every knee will bow, that every enemy will be conquered, that we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is) but we can surely know it backward.  It was, for instance, God’s will that I would move my family to Virginia to plant a church and start Highlands Ministries. The return of my family toOrlandoisn’t evidence that we were “outside God’s will” when we left. Nor is the fact that we miss being there evidence that we are outside His will now.

David tells us that we ought not concern ourselves with lofty things (Psalm 131). His son tells us to eat our bread with joy because God has already approved what we do (Ecclesiastes 9:7). Here then is how our work and His will intersect. It ought to be our will to work. It is His work to will.

Ask RC: Is a failure to vote for Romney a vote for Obama?

This little nugget of wisdom tends to get trotted out every four years, with different names of course, but the same principle, along with assurances that this one election is the very hinge of history.  Those of us more conservative than both the Democrat and the Republican are told that if we don’t vote for the Republican then we will be responsible for what the Democrat does, if he is elected.  Oddly, however, those who vote for the Republican never seem to take responsibility for what he does when he is elected. Nor do they take responsibility for picking a loser when he loses.  Is it true that a failure to vote for Romney is a vote for Obama? Of course not.

Consider this. Imagine Candidate X from the We Haven’t Yet Had Anyone Elected Party. Both the Candidate and the Party are committed to using every power at their disposal to protect every unborn child. He, and they, are committed to honoring their pledge to protect and defend the Constitution of these United States. He and they are committed to balanced budgets, sound money. He and they are committed to honoring the Bible in terms of just war, and he and they affirm the Lordship of Christ over all things. Clear enough? This is not the perfect Candidate, but he at least depends on the Perfect Candidate for the forgiveness of his sins.

Now would it be fair of me to say to everyone who votes for Romney, “By not voting for Candidate X you are giving the election to Obama”? Why not? After all, both Romney and the President believe the federal government ought to protect some mothers’ “right” to murder their unborn babies. They both agree that the governments can and should force citizens to buy insurance. They both agree that the federal government should fight wars against countries that have not attacked ours.  In short, whatever differences they have, they are differences of degree, not principle. When, however, I vote for Candidate X, I am voting against the principles of bloated, immoral government. And if everyone who votes for Romney would instead vote for Candidate X, he could defeat the President. Therefore, to not vote for Candidate X is to vote for President Obama.

Neither the Republican Party, nor Mr. Romney are due my vote. I don’t owe it to them, or the country. Therefore to not give them my vote is not giving my vote to the President. I am against everything the President stands for politically. Which is why I can’t vote for someone like him, only less so. My policy is clear- no candidate will receive my vote unless he is committed to using every power of his office to protect every unborn child. Those who won’t make the same commitment, one could argue, are the ones responsible for nearly forty years of Roe v. Wade.

I understand the incrementalist approach. I believe godly men can and do embrace that perspective. I don’t begrudge them doing so. What I don’t appreciate is the notion that I must follow suit. My conscience is captive to the Word of God, not the Republican Party. Here I stand.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Recently I had the opportunity to talk about this promise from Jesus given in the Sermon on the Mount. The week prior, our first in this series, Blessed Are, Studies in the Beatitudes, I argued that here Jesus, just as His Father did before on Mount Sinai, is not laying burdens on us, but instructing us in how we can lead a good life. He is telling us the pathway to blessing. Tuesday night I asked, “Who would ever think of suggesting that the way to have a good life is to mourn?” My answer? Jesus would, and did.

We are a woefully woe-less people. That is, we are set on walking not the via dolorosa, but the via media, on staying steady, on avoiding looking too deeply into that which causes sorrow. This, however, will not lead us to the good life. It will instead lead us to the banal life, a useless life, a life that suffers from the unbearable lightness of being. Instead we are called to enter into mourning.

For what should we mourn? Not that our favorite football team has been eliminated from the playoffs. Not that our name is being dragged through the mud. Not that our outgo is outpacing our income. Instead I argued that we ought to mourning over two hard truths. First, we ought to be mourning over our own sin. We ought to enter into our sin, facing it squarely. I reminded the assembled that when Jesus told us that a man loves more who has been forgiven more isn’t an invitation to sin more. Instead it is an invitation to see our sin more. We need to know our sin. We can rest assured that however far we chase it, we will never catch up. No matter how deeply we enter into our repentance, we will never hit bottom.

The second thing we ought to mourn over is the collective power of our sin. That is, not only are you a sinner, but you live in a planet full of sinners. Not only are you destructive to the Eden God created for us, but so is everyone else. Here is my proof that we do not mourn as we ought. Today, in strip malls and medical centers across this land, more than 3500 mothers hired doctors to murder their babies. Today more than 3500 hundred babies were intentionally burned, vacuumed or torn to pieces. Each of us went about our business, measuring our happiness for the day on the basis of whether we liked the weather, whether our work was rewarding, whether our spouse spoke kindly to us, whether our side played well in some blog war, whether the traffic was light. All is not right with the world.

The end result of entering into this woe, Jesus promises, isn’t a life of misery. Instead He promises that we will be comforted. It is fair to suggest that a corollary to this promise is this- cursed are the blasé, for they shall be afflicted. Ignoring the evil, whether it be in the world, or in our own hearts, won’t make it go away. It won’t allow us to live in a fool’s paradise. Instead it drives us into a fool’s hell. Only entering into the mourning will bring us toward dancing. God forgives the contrite. God humbles the proud. Look away, and be scourged. Enter in, and be comforted.

Black and White and Red All Over

What would you do, my father once wisely asked, if Jesus Christ Himself were to speak to you and make this promise- “I promise that nothing bad will ever happen to you again?” Can you imagine? What would that do for your love for Him? What would it do to your joy? How established would your peace, your patience be if you heard Jesus promise this to you? How might the fruit of the Spirit flourish and bloom all about you? As much as I would like to dig more deeply into this promise (you can read more about it in my new book Believing God) my point in this brief piece is that He has indeed so promised. Jesus tells you this in His letter to the church atRome.

What, you don’t remember what Jesus said in that letter? This might help. Jesus also said, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel by God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures…” Jesus finished this particular epistle this way, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret since the world began but now has made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith—to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever, Amen.” In between, of course, He promised that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose.

In our defense of the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture we are careful, as we should be, to guard against crass forms of inspiration. We deny that Moses, David, Jeremiah, Luke, Paul, that all the writers of the Bible left their personalities, convictions and styles at the door when recording holy writ. They were no mere human recording mechanisms taking dictation. We speak well when we say David wrote this Psalm, or Isaiah spoke this prophecy. We then rightly hedge in the other side when we affirm that God is the author of all of His Word, that the Bible is the very vox Dei. All well and good.

That doesn’t mean, however, that we have escaped the subtle temptation to treat the red letters in our Bibles as the really important stuff. We would never consciously think such a thought, let alone speak such a sentiment. We would, however, because we are fools, fall into such a trap. How do we escape? We remember that the Bible is Jesus’ Word twice over, that every bit of black on white is red twice.

First, of course, the apostles who wrote for us the New Testament (and those who wrote the Old, though that is a rather longer walk to cover) were sent forth by Christ as His spokesmen, as His emissaries, as His apostles. The one who is sent speaks with all the authority of the one who sends him. If Paul says that all things work together for good, then Jesus says all things work together for good. It’s that simple.

The second point, however, ought to clinch the deal. This Jesus who sent Paul to speak to us, also sent the Spirit to speak through him. The Holy Spirit, who is of course with the first and second person of the Trinity, the same in substance, equal in power and glory, nevertheless proceeds from the Father and from the Son. God the Spirit, in breathing out all the Bible, is joyfully doing so at the command of Jesus. Jesus sent them both.

By all means, hear the voice of Paul. By all means hear the whisper of the Spirit. But, by necessity, hear the gentle words of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is all His Word, and it is all for you. As such our Bibles should be black and white and read all over, hearing the voice of the Master.

Ask RC: What do you think about Young Life / Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other para-church youth ministries?

Those are some big name ministries. I’m not an expert on either one, though I briefly participated in both when I was in high school. I do know of a much smaller youth ministry that concerns me. This group spends more time eating than in group study. They play a great deal of sports and games and they’ve been known to giggle a lot. Two of the older girls are constantly vying for the attention of one of the younger boys. This particular group is led by a fellow who suffers from pride, is not as attentive to the young people as he ought to be, nor as attentive to the Word of God. Rumor has it that he is sleeping with his female assistant. Despite all this, I am confident that God is using this ministry in a powerful way. I am that leader, my wife my co-laborer and my children constitute this group.

I highlight this to make two interconnected points. First, praise God, God makes straight lines with crooked sticks. Though I will soon raise some serious concerns about sundry para-church youth ministries, I want to be clear that I well know that those involved have the best of intentions, and that God can and has done great things through these groups. Just as He can and does use a sinner like me, so He can and does use sundry para-church ministries for His purposes.

The second point is this- the Bible clearly and unambiguously calls upon parents, principally fathers, to raise up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I’m afraid that too often, despite the best of intentions, youth ministry encourages and enables fathers to fall down in their calling, and in the end hurts those they seek to help. Again, the motives are good. There are countless families that are failing their children. What child wouldn’t want to have a dependable, loving adult teach them the things of God, if that child’s parents are not doing the job? Trouble is, the Bible doesn’t give us the freedom to ask one institution to pick up the slack when another institution fails. If, for instance, the state fails to exercise the sword in punishing evil-doers, such does not make vigilante justice just. If husbands fail in their conjugal obligations to their wives, we don’t construct a church program to make sure those needs are met. In both instances the church is called to call and encourage those who are failing to fulfill their own calling.

I suspect that if all the time, energy and money that went into the best youth programs instead went into teaching and encouraging parents to fulfill their God given callings, we would experience both revival and multi-generational faithfulness. I suspect that if all the time, energy and money that went into the worst youth programs went instead into stamp collecting, we’d come out ahead.

For further study on the issue, let me commend to your reading a brief booklet by my friend Chris Schlect, entitled, A Critique of Modern Youth Ministry. It is published by Canon Press. Also, my friends at Vision Forum Ministries have some outstanding lectures and one or two ordinary ones by me, on the importance of family integrated churches.

Beam Me Up

Jesus knew of what He spoke when He warned us to look out for the beam in our own eyes before getting too concerned about the speck in the eye of our brother. Our problem, having been forewarned by Jesus, is that we seek, through the diabolical art of simultaneous translation, to shrink this warning down to size. That is, we escape the far reaching implications of this command by turning it into a mere warning against hypocrisy. We fail to meet this standard, we seem to reason, only in those instances wherein the mote and the speck are of exactly the same genus, species and phylum. We think Jesus is telling us only that we should not remove the speck of sin a in our neighbor if we are more guilty of a more egregious form of sin a.  Certainly a failure here carries with it a special flavor of hypocrisy that must be sweet to the lips of the serpent. But we ought to realize that the issue is the relative size of the sins, not the relative ontological closeness of the sins.

If my friend, for instance, misused his computer as is the manner of too many men, and I, on the other hand, availed myself of the services of “working women” I would certainly run afoul of this warning if I got in his face about the computer. The same is true, however, if my friend is a touch stingy, and I confront him on it while I am up to my eyeballs in the fear of men. The warning hits home corporately if his tradition has not sufficiently entered into the necessary implications of the sovereignty of God, and my tradition is given to profound intellectual pride. Truth be told, my tradition is given to profound intellectual pride. All those who are persuaded that their minds are the cat’s meow will, at least for a time, visit the world of the Reformed. And they will feel right at home. There together we will use our great intellects to catalog the theological errors of our neighbors. We will look down our noses at the poor benighted fools who use canned and inaccurate spiels to bring in the lost, while we do nothing to bring in the lost. We will show our impiety by mocking the Gnostic tinged piety of those with tender consciences in our midst, while our robust consciences throw genuine guilt off like so much dandruff.

We will focus more clearly on the sin in our own lives, those beams that so blind us, as we seek to better tend our own gardens. We will do that when we begin all our intellectual exercises, even all our spiritual exercises by asking this question first- where is my sin in all this? Here, though, is the glorious promise. The upside down economy of the Lord Jesus applies here as well. That is, even as we must be last to be first, we must die to live, so we must turn inward, looking to our own sins and our own weaknesses if we really want to change the world. Removing beams in our own eyes will have far greater global impact than going in a speck hunt in the eyes of our neighbors. I want to change the world. It must, however, begin with me.

Ask RC: Did Jesus suffer the wrath of the Father for all sinners, or just for the elect?

Just for the elect.  This truth is hard for some people for a what seems like a good reason- It shows God treating people unequally. If Christ’s atoning work covers only some people, doesn’t this somehow make God unfair, treating one group of people one way, and another group of people another way? If people end up in different places, some in heaven and some in hell, then we can either attribute the difference to how God acts in our lives, or in how we act in ourselves. The latter choice has a great deal going for it. It absolves God of the charge of treating people differently. And no one in hell, of course, can complain about being there. They are there by their own doing.

The first choice, however, has three things going better for it. First, it means some people will actually go to heaven. Given the scope of our sinfulness, were God merely to make our salvation possible, (which is itself a limitation of the atonement) and then dependent upon our natural obedience to His call, none would come. Dead people do not respond to the call to repentance, unless they are first made alive.

The second advantage is that this is what the Bible teaches. Consider, for instance, Jesus’ High Priestly prayer. If it is incumbent upon God to treat all men the same, would it not be incumbent on Jesus to pray for all men the same way? What, then, are we to make of this-  “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours” (John 17:9). Here Jesus explicitly denies praying for those who are not His, while affirming that He prays for those who are His. Now if Jesus is unwilling to pray for those who were not chosen, on what grounds can we claim that He suffered the wrath of the Father for the sins of those for whom He would not pray? Remember that God explicitly affirms His liberty to treat some people differently than others- “For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion’” (Romans 9:15). What we try to free God from, the accusation that He treats some people one way and others another God proudly affirms.

There is a third serious problem with the notion that Jesus died for all sins of all people. Hell. If Jesus atoned for all sins, just for what are the sinners in hell suffering? Those who seek to “protect” God’s integrity by arguing He must treat us all the same end up, accidentally, affirming that God punishes the same sins twice, once on Calvary and again in hell. Some might object in turn that the sinners in hell are being punished for their unbelief. But that too is a sin, and thus would have already been punished. If all sins have been atoned for, they can’t be punished.

God owes man nothing save damnation. What He chooses to give, outside of damnation, is all of grace. Which means in turn that He treats His elect one way, and the reprobate another. All to the everlasting praise of His glory.

Be Reasonable

In the great war launched in Genesis 3 between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent there are two other great battles. On one side of the battlefield stands the enemy. The seed of the serpent hate God, would kill Him if they could. They hate His people, and all that they stand for. But they have a battle waging inside themselves because, for all their sin, all their fallenness and depravity they still bear the remains of the image of God. Their great dilemma is that because they are made in God’s image they want to live in a world that makes sense, that is understandable, and coherent. Because, however, the objective reality is that they are under God’s wrath, they must construct a world with no God, or at least, no judgment.  It is impossible, irrational.

The other great battle is the mirror of this one. We are the seed of the woman, reborn, remade, reflecting the image of the Son, the express image of His glory. But we still sin.  We have an old man with which to do battle. We want to serve God, to manifest His reign, to become like Jesus. But, we also want to be loved, to be respected, and, perhaps most dangerous of all, to be normal. Which weakness the devil is rather adept at exploiting.

Consider, as an example, politics.  Because Jesus is our King, because He has set us free, we don’t, generally speaking, want bloated government. Because we aspire to honesty, we want a government of law, that will stay within its Constitutional bounds. Because we honor our fathers in the faith who labored through such issues with great care, we understand that just war is defensive war. Trouble is, the broader culture has veered so far from these basic ideals that to espouse them is not to be considered wrong, but to be considered unsophisticated, ignorant, crazy, unreasonable.

And so we retreat. We back down. We begin to scout out a new line of defense. We move leftward. Oh we’re careful to steer clear of the convictions of the seed of the serpent. We don’t go over to the dark side. We just get close enough that they won’t laugh at us.  We do all that we can to maintain loyalty to Christ, while looking sane to the world. And we fail.

Entitlement programs, all of them, even the ones we like, are unconstitutional, unbiblical and indefensible.  We cannot defend stealing from our neighbors and burdening our children with crushing debt for these programs, while politely arguing that we shouldn’t for those programs.  Preventative assassinations, bombings and wars are also unconstitutional, unbiblical and indefensible. We cannot defend spending billions of dollars and thousands of lives for this strategic objective, but object to doing the same for that strategic objective. Abortions, all of them, even the ones that hide our shame, keep the numbers down among the underprivileged, or take down the human result of rape or incest are unconstitutional, unbiblical and indefensible. We cannot support candidates or legislation that seek to slow, limit, regulate murder.

My point, ultimately, isn’t about politics, but about our unbelief, our fear. We are willing to confess Christ before men, as long as the Christ we confess is palatable, normal, reasonable. We are willing to be Abraham’s kin, as long as we can pitch our tents close toSodom. I fear, however, that while we think we are Lots, the truth is we are Lost.

We live in a post-Christian west. It will become Christian again not when we can gently reason the world back home, but when we are again willing to be fed to the beasts in their stadia.  Our faith is eminently rational. It is not in the least reasonable.

Five Reasons You Should Go to Your Local Abortion Mill

I know it is a scary thought. I know it is outside our comfort zone. And so at best we pray for those who go, those spiritual super-heroes that are better than we are. At worst we get angry at them for making us feel guilty. Going to the mill, however, will not save your soul, will not assuage your guilt. Jesus did that. If you will go, however, you will no longer fear, but will know that He is with you, wherever you go. Here then are five reasons you should go, pray, speak.
First, you should go to feel the power of repentance. There is no place, outside the Lord’s Table, more powerful in demonstrating the depth of our sin. Though I am actively pro-life I go and repent for these things. First, for my country. I am a part of this country and so share in its guilt. While we should always and everywhere be grateful for all the blessings we receive, going to a mill cures my head-in-the-sand, proud-to-be-an-American folly. Instead I am rightly ashamed. I am a citizen of a nation that over the last forty years has murdered fifty million babies. Second, for His church. I am a part of His church and so share in its guilt.  We are like the Christians of Germany during the Holocaust, except these victims are murdered in plain sight. Again, though I am to be grateful for how the grace of God is manifest in and through His church, being at the mill cures me of the foolish notion that the church is innocent, that the battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is an “out there” thing rather than an “in here” thing. Third, I repent for myself. Being there never cleanses me from my guilt. I cannot stand there and pray, “I thank you God that I am not like other men. I preach at mills and adopt babies.” Instead I weep for my forgetting, and for my not doing enough.
Second, you should go to experience the power of the devil. Non-charismatic evangelicals are unhealthily skittish about the reality of spiritual warfare. We are practical modernists, believing the invisible realm doesn’t touch this realm. You cannot make that mistake at a killing center. The sense of demonic presence is oppressive, weighty.  Never is that power greater than when proclaiming Jesus to those leading their little ones to death. The devil doesn’t take well to our kneeling before His gates.
Third, you should go to experience the power of conviction. The devil has persuaded Christians and non-Christians that this “procedure” is normal, no big deal. When you are there, without even a spoken word, you are communicating to yourself and others these great truths- that what they are about to do is wicked; that what they are about to do is noticed; that what they are about to do is not normal; that what they are about to do they will regret. When Christians especially show up to murder their babies, they see Jesus in you and often they turn around, repenting.
Fourth, you should go to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, evangelicals, especially Reformed evangelicals, are skittish about the Holy Spirit. We are willing to speak of Him in the abstract, but we don’t expect to witness Him at work. He does work, and nowhere more visibly than at the very gates of hell. The Spirit does great things when we follow Him into great battles.  He tears down strongholds before our very eyes.
Fifth, you should go to experience the power of family. When you are there to watch fathers and mothers murder their babies you cannot help but give thanks that He spared your children, to rejoice that they survived the battle of the womb. When you are there together with your family, you enjoy the blessings of all of the above, together. You will go home united, tearful, and grateful.
You need to go. You don’t need to preach, though you may. You don’t need to carry a sign, though you may. You don’t need to hand out tracts, though you may. But you must go. I have met many who regret not going. I know no one who has ever regretted going. Show them Jesus, and you will see Jesus at work.

Back on the Road to Serfdom

It’s déjà vu all over again, as the evangelical church lurches toward big government. I’m old enough to remember the heyday of evangelical lefties like Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo and Ron Sider back in the early 1980’s. Sider wrote a book that caught the church’s eye entitled Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, wherein he argued that more socialism is a good and biblical goal. To say that it suffered from bad exegesis is to unfairly stain the word exegesis. Dr. Gary North then encouraged a very young and wooly David Chilton to respond in print. Chilton’s book, Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators, point by point sliced and diced Sider’s work with all the precision of the sword of the Lord. Chilton not only dusted off the spot on which Sider had stood, he dusted off the dust as well.

Chilton’s book was a life-changer for me. When it was released I had a nascent interest in Reformed theology, and a budding fascination with free-market economics. This one book combined both together with a rhetorical panache that would inspire a young man who would one day write sentences containing the phrase rhetorical panache.

The Christian socialist argues this sloppily. Premise A is the Bible encourages us to care for the poor. True enough. Premise B is that transfer programs, wherein the government taxes some people so as to be able to write checks or provide non-sword bearing services, is caring for poor people. This premise, tragically, is false. One ought to reject the welfare state in the end not because it takes money of our pockets, but because in writing the checks the state is actually hurting those it pretends to help. But, just for the sake of the argument, let’s grant this premise. The conclusion then is that Christians ought to support government transfer programs.

To find the mistake, let’s make a substitution or two in our premises and see if it still adds up. Premise A encourages us to forgive one another, to exercise grace toward each other. Anyone what to dispute that? Premise B is that setting prisoners free, or better yet, never locking them up is forgiving and gracious. The conclusion then is that the government ought to forgive criminals, and send none of them to prison. Right? Right?

Christians fall into socialism because they are unable or unwilling to note the simple distinction between the calling of the state with the calling of the individual, or the calling of the church. Let’s try some more. Premise A is that it is good for the Christian to evangelize the lost. Premise B is that Program EE, wherein the state sends paid employees from door to door asking people what they would say to God if they were to die tonight and God were to ask them why He should let them into heaven is evangelizing the lost. The conclusion is then that the state ought to be running an evangelism program. Or another. Premise A is that husbands have conjugal responsibilities to their wives. Premise B is that some husbands fail to fulfill those responsibilities. The conclusion is that the government ought to establish the Department of Conjugal Responsibilities and put men on the payroll to do the job.

The state is not the individual. Nor is it the church. It is organized force. This concept isn’t an extremist libertarian one. It is a Pauline one. God gave the state the calling of the sword, to punish evildoers. He did not give them the power of the butter knife, whereby it might hand out peanut butter and cheese to the less fortunate. It is foolish and wrong for the government to be about the business of helping the poor. It is foolish and wrong to support candidates who promise to do so.

Stand on the Word. Walk by the Way. Run to the Battle. Rest in the Son.
Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. teaches at Reformation Bible College and Ligonier Ministries in Sanford, Florida.
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