“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."--Matthew 5:13

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Acquire Knowledge: Obey the Lord

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction."
-Proverbs 1:7 

Since the creation of the United States Department of Education in 1979, more and more money has been invested in both public and private education with little to no results. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of college tuition has increased $10,000 from 1980 through 2011 (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76). From 1992-2003, the adult literacy rate showed less than a one-percent improvement, and even declined in one of three categories (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=69). Another study showed that reading scores in 4th and 8th graders have shown only minimal increases in the last ten years, while the reading scores of 12th graders has actually decreased (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=147). Is there a correlation between more government spending on education and the little to no results to show for it? If money is not the answer to education, what is?
True knowledge is not acquired from college degrees, teachers, or textbooks. True knowledge cannot be found in a high school classroom or a college lecture hall. True knowledge is given by the Lord through an understanding of His word. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction”.

What good will it do if a person has a PhD, but refuses to fear the Lord? Earthly knowledge is fleeting, but spiritual understanding is eternal. Those who are truly wise will honor and obey the Lord as revealed through His word. 

We tend to think of fools as those who are ignorant, but the Lord says that a fool is one who despises the wisdom and instruction that only His word can bring. Furthermore, a fool is one who denies the existence of the God of Scripture (Psalm 14:1). The foolish despise spiritual knowledge because they do not like what God has to say. They do not like the fact that Christ is the only way to salvation (John 14:6). Fools do not like to be confronted with or convicted of their sin. They would rather live in the passing pleasures of this world, than learn true and eternal knowledge. 

Strive to honor and obey the Lord, and understand that striving for knowledge and education is pointless if not grounded in faith through Christ alone. Only He, not government funds, can bring the knowledge and understanding that mankind so desperately desires.

Can Christians Support the Death Penalty?

“Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death."
-Leviticus 24:17 

How can Christians can be so adamantly against abortion, but yet so fervently in support of the death penalty? Isn’t there a conflict of interest here? How can someone support the sanctity of life, but advocate the death penalty? It is not impossible to be in support of both because the sanctity of life includes all human life.

Human life, more than any other created life, is very sacred to God because He has created human beings in His own image (Genesis 1:27). God has specifically crafted man to represent both His image and likeness. The image of God in man does not necessarily mean that God looks like us, because God is spirit (John 4:24). But there are some physical similarities. Christ, the second figure of the Godhead, looks exactly like us. He came to earth from heaven, taking the form of man and the sin of His people so that they may have salvation and eternal life. The attributes of God in man are also spiritual and relational in that man has a soul that is able to have a relationship with God. This relational aspect also includes emotions, which God has given man to represent Himself.

Since we have been created in His image, God values human life more than anything He has created. Therefore, the penalty for the destruction of human life must be death. Since God has created life, only God has the right to take human life (Romans 12:19). However, God uses human beings to execute His sovereign will on evil doers. God gave His people Israel the right to legally execute those who had taken innocent life, although this person had to be judicially declared guilty by at least two witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15).
So how can a person stand against abortion but for capital punishment? The answer is simple. That person believes in the sanctity of human life. Christians should advocate a quality life for all people, even if that person is engaged in heinous sin. However, since human life is sacred, the only fitting penalty for the intentional destruction of human life is death.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Repentance Brings Restoration

“But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land."
Leviticus 26:40-42 

Before arriving in the Promised Land, the Lord gave His covenant people Israel the law. The book of Leviticus specifically describes the laws that the Lord expected His Israel to follow at present and upon arrival in Canaan. All of these laws were enacted in order to reflect the coming of the promised Messiah, who would lead the people out of bondage from the law.

After enacting laws about everything from proper offerings to handling the poor, the Lord then told the people what would happen if they refuse to follow His law. The Lord warned the people that if they disobey Him, He would strike the people with great physical and mental illnesses (26:14-16), attacks from enemies and animals (17-19, 21-22), great plagues, droughts (20), and hunger (23-26). 

But the Lord gave a hopeful promise in Leviticus 26:40-42. The remnant of the Lord’s people would have to repent in exile, turning their backs against false gods and the evil culture of their conquerors, and turning toward the Lord in order to experience true restoration. The Lord would also continue to hold to the covenant that He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, promising to make them a great nation, through which all the people of the world would be blessed forever.

It was only a several hundred years after the writing of Leviticus that the people, which had been continually living in sin, were sent into exile by conquering powers. 

The warnings, lessons, and hope for restoration of the people of Israel apply spiritually to New Covenant believers today. Those who are recklessly living in sin, ignoring the law of the Lord, can experience true and lasting spiritual restoration only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If our sin is confessed, He has promised to forgive and to cleanse His people from all unrighteousness, restoring us into a right and proper standing before the King. Thanks be to the Lord for His forgiveness and restoration.