Dave Jenkins – The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up (John 12:27-34)
Tim Challies – Why Are We So Distracted?
Tony Reinke – Smartphone Smart
My sophomore year in high school, I was approached by a number of people who told me that no matter what I wanted, whether it was drugs or pornography, I could have it whenever I wanted. At this time, I was a youth leader not only at church but also at my high school leading a bible study. Even though I became a believer when I was four and started to sense God’s call to pastoral ministry as early as age six, I was still very immature in my faith at this time and not very knowledgeable about Christianity. As time wore on, I became very depressed as I witnessed the painful divorce of my parents, and I caved into pornography. It was a slow slide into pornography for me, but once it began, it was incredibly addictive. While no one knew of my struggle in high school, I hid in shame as I regularly watched pornography and lived a double life. It was not until my freshmen year in college, when I was asked to be on staff at a church, that I confessed my sin of pornography to the pastor. He responded by saying that I should step down immediately from all leadership responsibilities.
While this event transpired over ten years ago, I have often reflected on how God has led me by the Spirit in the process of progressive sanctification and on what He has taught me. This reflection leads me to write this article on what purity looks like in the home, in the church,
in the workplace, and on the internet. As we go through this topic, I want you to understand that I am not just giving you steps on how to move past this on your own, but rather grounding everything I am saying in the Word of God. I believe the only way to overcome an addiction to pornography is to recognize that it is idolatry, and as such, needs to be repented of. Once you have repented of this addiction, you need to recalibrate your heart and mind with the gospel by reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God both individually and corporately.
Sometimes I enjoy reflecting on how my life has changed from high school to the present. As I do this semi-infrequently, I’m often encouraged by how I’ve grown. Sometimes as I do this, I feel a twinge of regret. During such times, memories of carelessness, ungodly attitudes, and behavior come rushing back at me.
In this article, I want to come alongside you and give you advice that will hopefully help you as you grow in your teenage years and beyond.
Be Yourself by God’s Grace
As a teenager today, you are faced with an incredible amount of peer pressure at your school. As a Christian, you have an incredible opportunity to stand up and make a difference by God’s grace.
As a Christian, the Lord has taken your heart of stone, and replaced it with a new heart, with new desires, and affections for Himself. The Christian life is a life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
All around you are people who want you to slip up and use foul language. It may even seem to be “cool” by some, but it’s really not. As a Christian young man or young woman, you must resist this urge. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” The words we use matter, and they can never be taken back, only apologized for. Ultimately we will be held accountable for every idle word we speak.
Matthew 5:27-30, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Jesus continues to unmask the self-righteous externalism typified by the scribes and Pharisees by showing that the only righteousness acceptable to God is purity of heart. Without that purity, the outward life makes no difference. God’s divine evaluation takes place in the heart. He judges the source and origin of sin, not its manifestation or lack of manifestation. 1st Samuel 16:7, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Jesus’ second illustration of heart righteousness has to do with adultery and sexual sin in general. In verses 27-30 He focuses on the deed of adultery, the desire behind it, and the deliverance from it.
Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Friedrich Schleiermacher was born November 21, 1768 and died February 12, 1834. Mr. Schleiermacher was considered the father of liberal theology. Schleimacher’s began not with the Bible, a creed, or revelation, but with personal experiences that happen to the individual and the community. The influence of Schleiermacher is felt today among those who deny inerrancy by placing their opinions about science over the truth of Scripture.
Liberalism, the Church and Inerrancy
At the end of the day what theological liberalism and what biblical Christianity offer are in conflict. Friedrich Schleiermacher is a perfect example of this as he believed that the stories that Moses wrote in Genesis were myths. Schleiermacher was known to place a high emphasis on how he felt rather than on what the Bible teaches. At the heart of this argument by theological liberals is the belief that the Bible is a book full of errors.
Theological liberalism follows in the pattern of Schleiermacher today by placing an emphasis on what they feel rather than on what the Bible teaches. Such errors according to them are either stated or implied by those who deny inerrancy and for many of them the conviction that there are some actual errors in Scripture is a major factor in persuading them against the doctrine of inerrancy. In response to this Christians should challenge this position by asking, “What specific verse or verses do these errors occur?” Asking this question will help to understand whether the person has little or no biblical literacy, but believes there are errors in the Scriptures, because others have told them so.
Father’s Day on June 17, 2012 marked six and a half years since I’ve seen my father. The last time I saw my father was in his physical therapy office. That day I waited four hours to talk to my father and all I remember was that the conversation didn’t end well. The sad thing about this meeting was around Father’s Day my junior year in 1999 my father and I were reconciled as the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin while reading the Word of God the day before. The next day, after getting convicted of anger, bitterness and resentment, my father and I went on a walk and I told him that I forgave him for all the hurt and pain he had caused me.
While I truthfully don’t give much thought about my father these days, this past Father’s Day was particular hard on me as I started thinking and then dwelling on memories I had of my father. Normally I enjoy watching golf tournaments after church on Sunday (and throughout the week) but I found it so hard to watch the US Open that my wife told me to turn off the TV and had to give me a hug. The reason this was hard is my father and I spent considerable time together playing and talking about golf. Before I left for church, I had already cried, and when I got to church Sunday morning I went into the associate Pastor’s office and asked him to pray for me which he gladly did.
Since I’ve been in ministry for some time, I know I’m not the only one who has experienced the pain of a father who has abandoned his family. I also know I’m not the only Christian who has reconciled with his father only to have his father turn his back on his family. While I’m still processing and healing from what happened on Father’s Day, I thought it would be helpful to share and discuss why the “father wound” is so prevalent in our day.
While my family has no explanation for why my father left, and we’ve tried to find out where he is. I do know that my father’s father (my grandfather) left his sons (my uncle and my father) the same way my dad did. As a child I heard this story of my grandfather leaving his family from my mom. After hearing that story I committed as a child at an early age that when I got married I would never leave my family.
The other day, Chris Broussard, a sports commenter on ESPN, stated he believed homosexuality was sinful. The fact that on national TV a well-known sports commentator stated this is surprising in a good way. Chris says he is a Christian and believes pre-marital sex and homosexuality are wrong and I commend him in this. The attack he is under right now from the very media he is a part of to include the pushback from popular culture isn’t surprising. Given the Supreme Court is set to weigh in with its opinion on the issue of gay marriage, all of this has me thinking, “How should Christians handle the homosexual issue?
On the surface of it as Christians we believe homosexuality is wrong because God created marriage between one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve) (Genesis 2). God created Adam to be the leader in the home and Eve to be his helpmate (Genesis 2-3). God also says homosexuality is an abomination (Lev. 18:22) and He gives people over to their passions (Romans 1). All of that is pretty clear from Scripture, namely what God thinks of homosexuality and gay marriage. With that said, here is where it gets much more complicated.
Our culture wants us to believe that it is tolerant and yet is it really? It’s okay for someone to “come out of the closet” but it’s not okay for a Christian (Broussard or others) to come out and voice their opinion even if it’s done pleasantly and not pointed at the person. To me, this seems like a double standard. For one person it’s okay to say what they believe, but for the other it’s not okay. It’s this double-speak and the direction our country is going that concerns and alarms me.
Christians are called to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15). We are called to speak the Truth in love (1 Peter 3:15). When Christians act in accordance with what the Bible teaches they are acting consistently in relation to what they believe. Yet, here’s the rub with our popular culture. Christians are often accused of being hypocrites, bigoted, and more and yet when we act consistently with what we believe and speak out against certain hot-button issues, it is we who are “intolerant”, misguided and religious fanatics. If a child misbehaves what happens? They get sent to their room, told why they did something wrong, and so on. If an adult acts like a child what happens? Nothing, they just look like a fool. I honestly believe many adults act more like children. We don’t allow for other people to speak and when they do speak we “censor” what they say to make it more palatable for ourselves to bear. Is it any wonder why many in our culture look to Oprah, TV preachers, and pop culture for sources of Truth instead of looking to what the Bible or those who actually believe and preach what the Word of God has to say?
John 1:16-17, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
In these verses it is not the Baptist but the Evangelist who is speaking. To understand what is being stated, it is necessary to note the message of verse 14 is being elaborated on by John, namely the declaration of the fullness of Christ. John expounds on and substantiates this truth by adding that he and all other believers with him had experienced the blessed fruits of this fullness. Specifically, they had received grace upon grace from that infinite fullness. The meaning of verse 16 is that believers are constantly receiving grace in the place of grace. Our manifestation of the unmerited favor of God in Christ is hardly gone when another one arrives, hence grace upon grace.
Verse 14 points out that the only begotten One is characterized by a fullness of grace and truth, a concept repeated in verse 17, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
There was nothing wrong with the law, moral or ceremonial. It had been given by God through Moses. It was preparatory in character, it revealed man’s lost condition, and it foreshadowed his deliverance from sin through Christ. But there were two things which the law did not nor was intended to supply: 1) grace so that transgressors could be pardoned and helped in time of need and 2) truth, i.e., the reality to which all the types pointed such as the sacrificial system contained in the Mosaic Law. Christ, by His atoning work, furnished what the Law could not. He merited grace and he fulfilled the types. Interesting to note is that while the Law “was given,” grace and truth “came” through the Person and work of Him, who is here for the first time in the Fourth Gospel, called by His full name, Jesus Christ.
One of the most difficult things about the Christian life and particularly about apologetics is the balance of authority and gentleness necessary to actually do apologetics in the manner Scripture requires. It is easy to move too far to one side or the other. We can become so excited about the authority that we have in the truth that God has given to us that our only goal is to speak unwisely. Such zeal may be anything but meek and gentle. It can communicate that the truth that we have is ours because of who we are, rather than because of what Christ has done on our behalf.