Abortion and the Failure of the Church

Abortion and the Failure of the Church

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I read a telling tale of a young girl who grew up in a Christian home, went to a Christian school, and attended church on a regular basis and yet when she had to face the most fearful time in her life, everyone failed her.  Yes she made a huge mistake, at the age of 16 she was pregnant, and then again at 17.  However; that would not be the worst of what she would have to deal with.  She was in great fear.  We really cannot blame her.  Grown adults, even those who have good finances, and secure lifestyles who have planned for a pregnancy get fearful.  Question swell up inside.  What will my friends think?  How will the father react?  How will I care for the child?  At her young age these questions are magnified by the prospect of addressing her parents, and friends.  What will happen with her schooling, college, and church life?  What about all of the stares, and whispers?  How could she ever care for a baby?  So many unknowns.  Advice is far from accessible because of the fear of shame and rejection.

With all of the Christian influences and church people around her she felt that they failed her.  “At the time, my church, my pastor, my school, and community never told me there were resources out there to help me—with adoption, abstinence, finances, or help caring for a child.” (Anonimous) The only ones who would be available to give her advice was Planned Parenthood.  What was the advice she received?  You can probably guess it.  She was advised that she did not have to keep the “embryo”.  No one asked if she wanted to talk about alternatives to abortion.  No other focus was given except to proceed with the abortion.

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She paid $300.00 for the abortion.  She described the event as horrible, and painful.  She and other ladies that were awaiting the procedure shared how sad they were at the need for the procedure and regretted their decisions.  She learned quick to harden her heart and to lie to herself and her family and everyone else she knew.  She became depressed and withdrawn, driven by more guilt and shame.  She abuse alcohol and herself.  Eventually the Lord led her to a group called Embrace.  Embrace helps people with abortion and abortion alternatives.  She became active in their prayer groups and ministry.  Eventually she began sharing her story. Telling the truth is the only way to rid the shame.  Her message? “Abortion is NOT freedom! Abortion is making “peace” with death and that is an absolute lie and brings so much destruction to a person’s live that goes beyond the mother.”

Her Christian community around her had failed her.  They failed her in educating her on the importance of abstinence and the holiness of the temple of God, her body.  The environment that she grew up in was more concerned with condemning her sin then helping her to recover from her sin.  In fact they did not help her to recover at all.  So how can we change that so that others do not have to go through this shameful behavior from the church?  We are to educate, listen, remind, and assist; oh then repeat seven times seven.

It starts from the top down.  Pastors, Deacons, Teachers, and other elders of the church need to educate at all levels on the sanctity of marriage, abstinence, and how important each life is to God. (Psalm 139:1-24; Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 127:3; Galatians 1:15; Psalm 22:9-10; Isaiah 48:1)  However; we cannot stop there, we need a culture of love and truth in the church.  Peter tells us, “And above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves:  for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)  To many times when a brother or sister falls into sin, we are quick to condemn and not forgive.  We should condemn the sin, however; we do not need to continue with the same failed anti-abortion rantings that drive the repentant away. We are commanded to forgive one another.  Specifically, we are called to confess, repent, and forgive; in that order.  (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13) So then this is the first part in combating fear and shame and allows the truth to be shared.  Confidence given to the brother or sister who sins, that if they confess, they will be forgiven and will receive love and acceptance.

We must also educate our staff and members on a routine basis on alternatives to abortion, should the pregnancy be unavoidable.  Having a list of alternative pregnancy and women’s health clinics that support the woman’s choice to both live and the child to live.  Planned Parenthood spent allot of money making themselves the only voice on women’s health available.  This is not the truth, there are plenty of other alternatives to Planned Parenthood.  There are plenty of alternatives to abortion.  They may include adoption, guardianship of another family member, and single mother housing assistance or missions.  The church can use volunteers that can serve as a daycare for needy mothers so that the mother can continue in school, collage, and work.  Volunteers from the church can be incorporated into a babysitter program.  The church can even host an abortion survivors group.  Time, equipment, furniture, clothes, food, can all be donated by members of the church.  Professional skills can be donated that may include carpentry, mechanical, legal, financial, and even medical can be donated to the church for use in these programs.  Heck someone can even help clean the home, do laundry, mentor child raising, and cut the grass.

If your church does not have this kind of thing going on, then start it.  The Lord can use you to start this group.  In the church I attend a young lady felt a burden for the community after a school shooting, and started a community wide service that the members of the community , churches, and civil authorities could meet under to build up the community and get people in contact with the resources they need.  All it took one person saying, “here I am” to the Lord.

Get informed of local ministries that assist in pro-life assistance to expecting mothers and fathers.  We must always, as much as possible include the other silent victims, the fathers.  There are a many number of men who have these same feelings of guilt and shame, feelings of failure and inadequacy because of abortion.  Sadly, many men who would have rather taken the child into their own homes are not consulted by the mother prior to the abortion.  The biggest thing we can do that is included in all of these suggestions is to talk about it.  We need to bring the truth to the front.  People sin, if we didn’t we wouldn’t have needed a savior.

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Now that we do have a savior, Jesus Christ, who has already paid the price for our sin, and has forgiven us, we should forgive one another of sin.  We need to bring the truth the front.  Abortion is murder of an innocent life.  Murder is a sin, and a violation of the law of the land.  There should be no reason to accept the selfish taking of another life.  Murder of an innocent can never be justified by man. There are alternatives to abortion, even if the mother does not want the child.  The people affected by the sins of sexual immorality and abortion are people that we love.  We need to unashamedly reach out to and assist these victims (mother, father, and child) to find alternatives that will not destroy their lives and will encourage them to return to the Lord Jesus Christ who loves them and desires their love.  We cannot abandon our loved ones, nor allow them to abandon their loved ones out of fear and mis-education.

 

Bibliography

Anonimous. abort73.com. 31 Jan 2020. Loxafamosity Ministries Inc . Internet. 10 Mar 2020. <https://www.abort73.com/testimony/2674/&gt;.

 

Matthew 7:6 Judgement and Spiritual Discernment

Matthew 7:6 Judgement and Spiritual Discernment

Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your perls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Jesus starts this chapter off by saying that we should not judge one another.  Then he gives the reason why.  He says that we do not have proper understanding to judge one another and therefor put ourselves in danger of judgement.  Instead, Jesus says that we should concentrate on our own faults and seek to correct ourselves.  To assume that you have no faults is to lie to yourself.  But more directly Jesus says that you who judge others of hypocrisy would do well to make sure that you are not being hypocritical yourself.  This then would mean that we should use wisdom in judgement because there is a terrible responsibility and consequence for not using righteous judgement.  In addition, this set of verses is not talking about judging if something is right and wrong.  Instead it is a discussion on the weight of the judgment.  Remember in this discourse, Jesus has drawn several contrasts and comparisons between the religious and the ones who would seek the Kingdom of God. He corrected misconceptions, in what true sanctification is verses what it was perceived as. He addressed matters of the heart, clarified the Law of Moses and the Law of Reconciliation.  Jesus gave us an understanding that God sees what a man is like in his heart and not in his appearance. He also said that love should be the primary motivation in everything we do. In judgement then, we should not judge harshly or put undue burdens of punishment.  In these verses in Matthew, it also does not say that we should not judge the brother with a “mote” in his eye. It does say that we should be more concerned with our own sinfulness than someone else’s.  Paul says that we should work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. In Matthew 7:1-5 we receive a warning that our judgement is subject to review by God who is the rightful judge, so be aware. It does not say that we cannot be discerning.  The whole of Proverbs is concerned with us seeking wisdom and making correct decisions in order that we may be prosperous in the will of the Lord. So it is a discussion of judging with a good heart, in love, and in accordance with scripture. So what does scripture say about this?

Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your perls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Romans 14:4 it tells us, “who art thou that judgest another man’ servant?  To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand”.  We are all at different levels of spiritual maturity in Christ, but it is the Spirit that instills knowledge and understanding.  To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  This is a point where we all have to start at.  We have to recognize that God exists and is the Creator and source of all existence.  Without God nothing can exist.  He is the supreme authority over all the Creation.  It is God who then establishes all kingdoms, and all their rulers.  He established all powers, principalities, and dominions.  This includes Pastors, teachers, musicians, church counsels, deacons, and other ministers of the Word.  Each God has given authority fit to their position and function.  This is established and blessed by God. We also then can trust that God knows what he is doing and that he established these for our benefit.  He gives according to his will.  He is the master who will ultimately judge the work of his servant.  For you to judge his servant is to assume the place of God and thereby expose yourself to judgement from God.  We are then forbidden to make judgements of condemnation.

We are warned several times in scripture that there will be those agents from the enemy who will try to infiltrate our churches in order to lead astray the flock with misleading doctrines and smooth talking sentiments of partial doctrines.  Those who feed us what we want to hear instead of the truth.  The most dangerous lie is one half-based in truth. (Matthew 7:15;24:24; 1 Timothy 4; Ezekiel 13:9; Jeremiah 23:6; Luke 6:26; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 1 John 4:1-6; Matthew 7:15-20)

That being understood; in our verse, Jesus reveals that we are still to use discernment. Because although we are not to judge hypocritically, we are to discern with scripture and hate evil and the deeds of the wicked.  Our opinion is not the standard by which we make decisions judgement of others.  Because our opinion is inherently flawed.  However, scripture has definite ideas on what sin is, its effects, and how it should be dealt with.  Just to note, our opinion of someone should never be used as a basis for judgment either.  Bias distorts discernment. Instead we should be looking to be a loving family member, seeking to help our brother or sister in Christ. We should make sound decisions based on the things we have learned and been taught in sound doctrine.  The Apostle Paul wrote Timothy concerning this very issue when advising him on ordaining elders in the church and what their responsibilities are.  Take a quick look:

For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:7-9)

So a Bishop (Pastor, Elder) is to hold fast (depend on in obedience) the faithful word (the scriptures and teachings of the faithful) that he was taught (the elder is instructed) so that he will have the ability to teach others and convert the lost by the use of sound (proper, complete) doctrine. Why? Well in verse 11 it tells us so that the mouths of the unruly, vain talkers, and deceivers may be stopped from subverting the teachings.  They are to be rebuked sharply (Titus 1:13) Discernment of the believer is an absolute necessity. Even though we love, love does not dictate that we turn our eyes from correcting sin in the church. Just to clarify, correcting sin in the church is not everyone talking about it behind someone’s back. That is gossip and gossip is a sin.  I hope also you understand that this is not a lofty gaze on someone who is being the “police” of the church.  We should do all things in love and humility.

Romans 12:9 “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” We all like the first part of this verse, Love without hypocrisy, be sincere.  However; we also see that a part of loving with sincerity is to hate evil and to cling to goodness.  This is a choosing between good and evil.  We should choose to be good, not evil. This is a part or our sanctification. “I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.” (Psalm 26:5) We should love those around us, and especially in our church to care enough to confront sin issues.  While a loved one is in sin they are out of communion with God, the church, and their family.  This is easily seen in cases that involve extreme behavioral sins.

Everyone who sees signs of drug dependency, alcoholism, or spousal or child abuse, knows that there is a sin issue that needs to be confronted.  I mention these issue specifically because most everyone understands that these typically require internal and external intervention.  These will most often require the removal of the offender for a limited time.  This is in order to allow repentance, forgiveness, and healing to take effect.  When these are done in love, restoration is always the goal.  The separation or removal of the offender is done for love and is best for all parties involved.  To allow such behaviors to go on would actually indicate a lack of love and concern for family and church members involved.

Jesus in Matthew 7:6 tells us to be discriminating. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your perls before swine, …“.

The Apostle Paul give us an example of this in his correspondence with the Corinthians. In 1st Corinthians Paul has to address the issue of sin in the church.  In chapter five, Paul is confronting an issue of incest among members of the church.  The matter was no small or private thing.  It had affected the church on many levels, so much that people outside of the church were talking about it.  Paul told the church that they should be ashamed of what was being allowed to happen in the membership of the local church.  He accused them of having a false doctrine of love.  He said they were puffed up, proud, of their tolerance of the sin, when they should have executed church discipline and confronted the sin.  This is what love does.  Love confronts sin, it does not turn a blind eye, or become an excuse for acceptance of sin.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. (1 Corinthians 5:1-3). 

Now Paul says that they should be taken away from among you.  We must understand that in the verses following this Paul talks about the need for personal sanctification and the detrimental effects that willful sin has on the individual and the church.  It takes over the whole of the host that allows it to remain. Paul is saying, for the good of the individual and the church, the sin must be identified and removed. A patient suffering from Cancer has to have the cancer physically removed and follow up medical procedures initiated in order to have any hope of recovery. This is the drastic measure of church discipline.  It is never entered into lightly, and should always be done with the end result focused on reunification of the believer in fellowship with God first, and the church second.  Christ himself give us the process of moving from individual confrontation of sin to ultimate church discipline.

  • Have a conversation (Matthew 18:15)
  • Take a witness to confront again (Matthew 18:6)
  • If the individual will no listen – Involve elders of the church (
  • If they still do not listen – bring the matter before the whole of the church (Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:4)
  • If they are unrepentant- Remove them from membership/ fellowship (Matthew 18:17)

This is an unfortunate step that is sometimes necessary.  No one likes to have to take this step.  We are in the business of the spread of the gospel.  However as our verse in Matthew 7.6 tells us, not everyone will receive criticism well.  Let’s face it, no one likes to be corrected, especially if they already know what they are doing is wrong. Some will even become violent.  In our efforts to reach out to the community in love and care for their needs, we will expose ourselves to some who would take the generosity, but reject the love of Christ.

Unfortunately some will pretend to believe, in fear that if they do not act like a church person, the church will stop helping them.  When the church asks them to conform to what they confess, instead of doing what is good, they return the good for evil.  They do this because they were never really a believer.  Now we must also see that Paul is not calling for condemnation of the rebellious believer.  Instead, he says “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that they spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5) Paul is saying that if they desire to live in the flesh, then return them to the world.

There are many benefits to being in fellowship in the church.  Those benefits could keep someone living comfortable in sin by absorbing some of the consequences that sin brings.  Paul is saying let them go out into the world and suffer the consequences of their actions.  This suffering of consequences of sin, may bring them to true repentance, and the allow them to be restored into fellowship with the Lord and the church. This drastic measure does not apply to the majority of believers who sincerely seek to walk in the Spirit and are seeking to grow closer to the Lord, but have a besetting sin, that they are struggling to overcome.

Some believe, but have difficulty in their walk and need close discipleship in order to grow.  We must be wise to the difference in trying but failing and not trying but lying. We are called to be discerning.  In 1st Corinthians, Paul says “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” Paul later tells them that it is shameful that they are so ignorant that they cannot be discerning among themselves to use proper church authority and discipline. This all being said, Jesus gives his own warning. He said, “lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

They will disregard your sharing of that which is holy, or sanctified (gospel, truth) and treat it like rubbish to be trampled on.  Then they will rend you.  Rend means to violently tear apart.   This is where you hear phrases like: “who are you to judge me?”; “you think you’re not a sinner?”; “they think they are better than me”.  Then they spread lies, and even become physically confrontational, and violent.   James tell us, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” (James 3:14)  James therefore says, if you have contentions in your heart, then stop lying to yourself.  If you are filled with hatred and anger then you are not filled with the love of Christ.  So then someone who says they are a believer, but responds with arrogance and returns condemnation or violence against someone who loved them enough to tell them of their error before God, instead of repentance is not walking in the Spirit of Christ. They have not clear judgement.  This is a point of understanding raised in Proverbs 9:7.

He that reporveth a scorner getteth to himself shame:  and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. – Proverbs 9-7

  • One who corrects a scorner or a wicked man will be turned on by the one they are trying to help.
  • The wicked man will lash out against the one trying to help them.
  • Like a dog who bites the one who feeds them.

Interestingly, this verse does not tell us, “don’t reprove a scorner, nor rebuke a wicked man”.  The, verses 6-9, of this text draw a comparison and contrast between the wise and the wicked in their response to correction.  The correction, or how it was managed, or by whom it was directed is irrelevant to the response. In other words, it would be great if the correction was delivered in a very tactful way, which was discrete and sensitive to the receiver’s feelings and privacy.  However; the delivery method does not change the reaction of the rebellious hearted man or woman.  Especially in light of the Politically Correct attitude so prevalent today. This generation looks for a reason to be offended where there would otherwise not be one, except that it was invented in the ever self-absorbed, mind of the spoiled child.

What good is this discernment and correction then?  Well believe it or not, it is a sort of “leave no man behind” focus of discipleship.  We should be concerned with our fellow believers, and their needs, physical and spiritual.

  • Ephesians 4:26–27 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
  • Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
  • 1 Peter 3:8–9 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

The whole reason for discernment and church discipline is based on forgiveness and restoration.

Galatians 6:1–2 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

We should walk in Sprit not in the flesh (Galatians 5:16).   So then focus on yourself and encourage others to be vigilant, rejoice in the hope of the Kingdom of Heaven, being patient in tribulation, and in continuous prayer.

There will always be differences in opinion in a church and feelings will get stepped on from time to time.  Clergy are human also and will make errors in judgement.  Church members will take offence to the preacher and hurt the preacher’s feelings.  But we must always keep in mind that we are all part of the same body.  When one part of the body is hurt, the whole body suffers.  Sin hurts the individual, and it hurts the whole body of Christ.  Sin must be dealt with directly and swiftly.  In being dealt with we mean that it should be addressed out of love for the benefit of the believer and the church.

1st Corinthians 7:10,11 – Paul’s Underlying Theology on Marriage and Divorce 

1st Corinthians 7:10,11 – Paul’s Underlying Theology on Marriage and Divorce 

This chapter is so important because it teaches us principles in dealing with intimate relationships. It addresses such issues as celibacy, marriage and separation, mixed marriages, and social and economic relationships. All of these are still issues that we struggle with every day. Let’s take a closer look now at what the Lord tells us through his Apostle to the Gentiles, and the underling theology behind his answer to marriage and divorce.

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

Here Paul makes an important distinction.  What he is about to say is not his opinion, rather it is the commandment he received from the Lord in scripture. The commandment is that we should not deal treacherously with our spouse. The putting away of a wife for no just cause, and to marry another is one such treachery. It is a violation of the marriage covenant and profanes God himself. (Malachi 2:14-17)  Now if he were writing to only Jews, they would likely know this.  However, the gentiles may not have been as familiar with the Law or the Commandments.  So Paul informs them that it is the will of God that he now speaks. Since they are all now servants of the Lord, compliance with his will is an expectation not an option based on opinion.  Interestingly, Paul does not quote scripture or Jesus, this would lead to believe that they were well aware of God’s view of divorce and were seeking a way to justify divorce for certain circumstances that were not written in the law originally.  Possibly verse 12 has the underlying reason.  Better yet we should look at all of the questions that were asked concerning marriage and how the relationship was affected by the new birth in Christ.  Since we are new creatures in Christ and all sin is done away with, and our previous manner of living is to be left behind, does this include our marriages? This is a good question.  What of the marriage we had prior to salvation?  Are we bound by that contract? If we were married in a relationship that now would be considered sinful, how do we deal with that marriage relationship now? Paul will address these questions in detail later in the letter. What is important at this point is that Paul gives a stern reminder that God does not sanction divorce.  For us we can take a look at Mark 10:2-12.

Here in Mark we see that Jesus trains his disciples in the very same way that Paul is teaching his disciples in Corinth.  Jesus give the answer to the Pharisees.  Jesus tells us that God created a man and a woman to be together, for life.  This is the reason that a man should leave his family.  They should cleave to one another. The usage of cleave here is to stick to one another.  The husband and wife should be stuck with one another because they are stuck on one another.  Nothing should separate them.  Jesus says that this cleaving is so sealing that they become intertwined.  God sees them no longer as individuals, but at one flesh.  This is a picture of the triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit = 1 God). So a husband and wife are one person.  A couple should not be treated as individuals.  They should be viewed, treated, and act like one person.  Individuality is lost in the relationship.  The Jesus utters those famous words, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:9)

Later to his disciples Jesus gives them a deeper explanation.  If a man divorces a woman, and marries another wife, then he is guilty of committing adultery against his first wife, and makes the second wife commit adultery.    The same is true for the woman who divorces her husband and marries another. (Jeremiah 3:1; Luke 16:18; Mark 10:11-12)  This is such a spiritual principle that Paul uses it in the letter to the Romans to illustrate the far reaching implications of the Law.

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. –Romans 7:2-3)

This is the will of God; that once a man and a woman have joined together, they should live in that relationship and treat one another as if their spouse were themselves.  Anything less is sin. Now this is the truth, if we were to do this simple thing in marriage then we would not have to worry about abuse, infidelity, or simple irritations that grow into a mountains that could never be climbed. If we consider our spouse in the love that God gives us and apply it to one another there would be no need to look elsewhere for gratification, empathy, or compassion and forgiveness.  Loving God first and then loving our spouse, as we love ourselves, would not allow us ill feelings towards one another. (Ephesians 5:33)  This is very important to understand. This is the principle with which Paul basis the rest of his answer concerning marital issues on.

Astonishingly, if you were to ask Christians if divorce is wrong, they will immediately start defending reasons why it might be legitimate under certain circumstances.  They would start the “what if” game, and try to get you to consent to their reasoning.  They would totally avoid the simple answer. They will never admit the truth in God’s word, it is not the will of God, but a product of sin in full rebellion against the scriptures. Knowing the truth, Christians still move to divorce rather than repentance and forgiveness.

Keeping in mind the spiritual principle of oneness in God, we should understand that a husband and wife should never sin against one another, and should never have a reason for divorce or separation. Divorce and separation of a married couple is then spiritually unnatural. If such an occurrence should happen then the relationship should be restored as soon as possible. Because of the spiritual principle of reconciliation, neither should they marry someone else as long as the other ex-spouse lives. Christians then and now did not want to hear this. This is why Paul had to make a clear point to this.

If you separate or divorce, do not marry another. Notice also, this enforced celibacy is done so that the husband has no reason to divorce her for sexual immorality. This also infers that the husband does not commit sexual immortality either.(Matthew 19:8-9; Hebrews 13:4; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Jeremiah 3:1; 1 Corinthians 7:39)  We must keep in mind that not all couples separate or divorce for reasons of sexual immorality. Some divorce over issues of finances, work stresses, emotional or psychological issues, drug and alcohol abuse, and some just want a change in their partner out of selfish desires. In scripture, any separation of covenant parties is always meant as a means to allow repentance and reconciliation.

This spiritual principle of reconciliation is seen throughout scripture. It is the basis of our faith. That God so loves us that he gave his only Son that if we should believe on Jesus, then we would be reconciled to God in Jesus Christ. (John 3:16). It is also included in Christs and Paul’s instructions of healing of relationships and restoring fallen brothers and sisters.
Scriptures on Reconciliation:
• Ephesians 4:32 – And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
• 2 Corinthians 5:18 – And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
• Matthew 18:15-17 – Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. …
• Romans 5:10 – For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
• Matthew 5:23-26 – Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
• Colossians 1:20 – And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven..
• Luke 17:3 – Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
This spirit of reconciliation is the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How is it that we who profess to being recipients of the love of Jesus Christ, who endured so much for us, cannot forgive one another.  We who have had our sinful past removed should see a way to dismiss the past and look forward to the future with hope? The marriage relationship is the most important relationship in life outside of our relationship with Christ. It is so important that God himself uses it as an example of our relationship to him.

God even forgave our adultery against him, and in doing so made a way for us to be reconciled. He did not give up on mankind and just decide to turn his affections to some other creation. Make no mistake, God had every right to divorce us and put us away. Yet his love for us prevented his anger. We should have the same kind of love for our spouse.   Love demands reconciliation.  Love accepts repentance.  Love hopes.

The Importance of Baptism

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38 (King James Version)

Baptism, a tradition in our common faith, that a number of us do without full knowledge of how important this act is. Quite often, we are baptized at a young age before we know the importance and the meaning of the act of baptism. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing, plenty of people in the Bible as we will discuss we simply told be baptized and so they got baptized. Though as you mature in your faith, it becomes important to understand just how import this symbolic act is.

The act of Baptism was so important to God, that Christ Himself got baptized and is one of 8 events that is recorded in each of the gospels (the others being: call of the first disciples, Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the agony at Gethsemane, Judas’ betrayal of Christ, Peter’s denial of Christ, Christ before Pilot, then the death, burial, and resurrection). You can read the story in John 1:29-34, Luke 3:21-22, Matthew 3:13-17, and Mark 1:1-11. Mark 1:1-8 reads as this:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the            prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and   unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. (KJV)

And Matthew 3:13-17 gives us a better completion of the story:

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all  righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the  Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven,   saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (KJV)

Christ felt it to be so important to be baptized that He led the way with His own example. Then God, the Father said He was well pleased with His Son for the act of righteousness and faithfulness. So, if God almighty humbles Himself to be baptized, that should speak to the level of levity that this act has.

So, what is the big deal??? Well, Paul writes on that subject in Romans 6:4-11:

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)

It is the marking of our new life as believer’s. Used to be the circumcision, but now our mark which also serves as an outward symbol and metaphor for the death, and resurrection of Christ. To show the world that we are no longer who we used to be. That from that day forward we are Christians, followers of Christ renewed by the Spirit of God. The act of being fully submerged is the dying to our former selves as Christ died on the cross to take away our sins, and then the reemergence from the water a parallel to the resurrection of Christ in that a promise was fulfilled and our sins are no more. When we are baptized it is our symbol of dedication and a public testimony that Christ has begun this work of Salvation in us that will be completed on Christ’s return (Phil 1:6).

It marks the beginning of the relationship that you have with God. Like getting a friend request on Facebook or other social media, God has sent the request to everyone. And when you repent and accept Jesus as Lord, and Savior, that is you accepting the friend request. But, what makes a friend special on Facebook? It is the one you tag in everything, and the one that you talk about how proud you are to know them! Think of baptism as your first tagging of God in your life! That is the first moment that you acknowledge and profess Him before all of man! That is what is so important about baptism. What is the point of accepting Christ if you are ashamed of Him? There is no point, baptism is merely the completion of your old life and marks the beginning of your new one.

We can see this in the life of Paul, formerly known as Saul. In Acts 9, we read of Saul’s redemptive encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, but his new life did not begin until he was baptized by Ananias (Acts 9:10-19). After his baptism Saul became one of the greatest apostles of Christ and went on to author the majority of the New Testament. Another great way to think about it is this: A brother in Christ once told me about this riddle. There are 7 birds on the wire, and all 7 decide to fly away. How many flew away? The answer might surprise you, but the answer is 0. None flew away, all 7 are still sitting on the wire. Just because you decide to do something, does not mean you have actually done it. This is the same with repentance and acceptance of Christ. If you never take the first step of Baptism, then have you truly dedicated your life to God?

In the Great Commission given to us in Mark 16:15-17 we are commanded to go all over the world and preach the gospel and “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16, KJV). We are actually commanded to believe and be baptized! The book of Acts contains another great example, in Acts 8:26-39 we have the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch. Now, eunuch was a man that was devoted to purity of not only himself but of generally a lady he protected or some position that he held. In other words, they were men of righteousness and were beyond reproach. In this story, we can tell he clearly believed the word of God, he just did not quite understand it. Phillip was directed to go and preach to this Eunuch that he might understand the word of God. The eunuch, having it been placed on his heart, was full of conviction and asked Phillip to baptize him then and there on the middle of the road, in the middle of nowhere. That is how important baptism should be to us as believers!

The act of baptism should so important to us that when we confess our belief in Christ that we should straightway seek to act on that belief and be baptized! Even Christ did not begin His ministry until He was baptized! If nothing else is gained out of this, then remember that the Lord, your God, decided it was so important to Him that we should be baptized when we come to Him that He set the example and began His earthly ministry by being baptized. Now, yes Christ had performed miracles and even preached before then, but He did not set out to complete His Father’s work until after being baptized.

All of that to say this, baptism; is it important to your belief? Yes, we are all called to be baptized. If you are still having doubts about this whole Jesus is Lord talk, then I would encourage you to check out the other posts on this site and really read into the Bible for yourself and put to test the things you read in it! God is still in the miracle business, let the next one He works be in the transforming of your life! Repent of your sins, believe in your heart, and confess that Jesus is Lord and follow it up with baptism, and be saved! A future without worry of what comes after death is just a prayer away! If you have questions, please feel free to email us at twocministries@gmail.com . God Bless You, and have a Wonderfully Blessed Day!

Fasting: More than a Trend

Fasting, for most of us this word means little more than just not eating or some trendy diet to try. Yet, when we look into the purpose and ideology behind fasting, we get a much deeper image and a truer sense of what it is to truly fast. The practice in the Hebrew tongue is read as ta’anit (pronounced ta’anith) and it holds a deep root in their traditions in remembrance for God delivering them.

The practice of fasting originates with Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) as we can read in Leviticus 23:26-32

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Also, on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.  And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an     atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. (King James Version)

The word says we are to afflict our souls… the word afflict is defined as to cause pain or suffering. We are to atone or repay for our sin by afflicting our souls with how we live for the day, and if you did not follow you were cut out from the people. This affliction is done by not eating or drinking (to include water), not wearing shoes, no bathing, no wearing or perfumes or oils and additionally not working as on the sabbath. And this day was always followed by the observance of the sabbath day, so it would be 2 full days before anything was done. This was done as a direct commandment from God to honor Him and remember His will for His people, and as to make ourselves a living sacrifice for our own sins as this was done under the Law still.

The next earnest and voluntary example of fasting we find comes from David in 2 Samuel 12:15-21

And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the  child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child,    while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. (KJV)

Here David has multiple reasons as to why he fasts. At first it is to plead for his son’s life, but then he begins to mature spiritually and he begins to seek God’s will in it all. He mourns for his son, but becomes obsessed with atoning for his sin that caused this situation in the first place (2 Samuel 12:13). Upon receiving news of his son’s death, the first thing he does before eating is clean himself and go praise the Lord in open worship before eating. David’s fast was again an atonement for his sins and in seeking of the will of God as was the purpose of the day of atonement that was set out in Leviticus.

Now, the way Christ fasted was on the complete next level… in the book of Matthew we see Christ venture into the woods for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-4)

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (KJV)

Christ denied himself any contact with others and prayed to strengthen His spirit for the things to come (not just the devil’s temptations). This is the first thing Christ does as part of His ministry. He got baptized by John and then goes straight way to the wilderness to fast, to prepare His spirit to meet the will of God for the ministry that His Father had ordained for Him. Christ later talks about fasting, and reminds us for whom we should be fasting. Reading Matthew 6:16-18 we see we aren’t to fast for others to know that our pride might grow, but rather that we might humble ourselves to God.

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you,      They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:16-18,KJV)

So, what is the big deal with people coming out and saying I am doing the Daniel ‘fast’ and coming out trying to lose weight through intermittent fasting? Well, none, however it is not truly fasting as is described biblically. For one, the Daniel fast is based off of Daniel abstaining from delicacies to express his mournful state (Daniel 10:1-3) in addition to living out the Proverb 23:6, where it is said we should not eat even the bread of a miser (defined as someone who holds much wealth). When you do not eat because of a diet, you are not fasting, rather you are regimenting your diet or food intake to help lose weight, not abstaining from the world to seek God first. That is what a fast is all about. Giving God glory by truly denying oneself.

Let us look at what each example of fasting has in common, first and foremost, they were each done in response to, or in seeking God’s will. Yom Kippur was a commandment, while David and Jesus were preparing to accept the will of God. When you fast, you should seek God’s will first, no matter what it is that you are giving up, or abstaining from, your purpose should be to seek God’s perfect will and to put Him first with denial of yourself. When you fast you should truly live out as Christ said we are to do, deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him (Luke 9:23-24).  The entire fast should be focused on reminding yourself of who God is, what He has done, is doing, and will do for you. God is an awesome, and powerful being, there is no one like Him, when you fast, your spiritual eyes should open up and take in just how awesome our God is! Your days of fasting should be filled with His praise and worship, also spent studying His word and perfect ways. A huge part of fasting is just pondering the endless aspects of God.

Secondly, it should be a true denial of yourself. When you fast, you aim to build dependency on God. Not eating or drinking is the baseline for a fast, not the be all or end all of a fast. With Yom Kippur, they did not even bathe or wear shoes! They were humbled to the point where they took no pride in their appearance, smell, and they even endured walking without protection for their feet. And its not like they had sidewalks or paved roads to walk on, they had the desert (they were still wondering the desert with Moses at this point), so often this meant great pain from the sand and rocks drying, cutting, and cracking their feet.

Which brings me to the final part of fasting, it should not be easy. When you fast, it should be a great burden on you. A large part of fasting is enduring by reliance on God. You cannot rely on when it is something that is within your normal capabilities. For example, as a soldier I am used to traveling and being alone, so isolating myself is not a good way to increase reliance on God, however giving up video games, social media, exercise and other things that would strain myself and increase my dependence on him. Remember, all of those are done in addition to the not eating or drinking, not just the other activities being abstained from.

In short, your fast is about God, not you. You should fast in order to prepare yourself for the will of God, not to seek the favor of God. Fasting is done in direct submission to God and His will for you. A fast is not some light hearted diet or trend, it is a lifestyle of worship to God. It is worshiping through sacrificing your self and honoring God with the true recognition He deserves and that is with everything you are.

Luke 15:11-32 – What About My Child?

Ref: Luke 15:11-32

I spoke with a friend a day or two ago.  She was concerned because her son was getting old enough to leave the fold now.  She was concerned with the usual things that we as parents get concerned about.  If you have lived through this, or are currently going through this situation, then you know what I am talking about.  This is a heart wrenching time for a parent.  It has been 18 years where the mom and dad have been caring for the needs of their child.  They have tried hard to prepare them for this inevitable day.  All their hopes and aspirations are tied up in the fruition of the life of labor and love they have poured into their little baby, who is now a young adult.  Have they been good parents?

What if their young one fails?  How will they be able to help?  Will their child ask for help?  Did I prepare them enough for them to be successful? But probably the most heart wrenching question for a Christian parent is, “Will they continue in their faith?” Will they walk away from God and never return?

In a study done by Lifeway Research, author Ed Stetzer, relays that 70 percent of high school students who attended church on a regular basis, for at least one year, will stop going to church during their years of higher education.  There are allot of reasons for this, but most do not intentionally stop going to church.  That is, it is not that they could not wait to get away from their oppressive Christian parents so that they could leave their archaic religion.  Most just get caught up in their new busy life.  Juggling of study, school, work, and the development of new friendships distract them from their previous priorities.  Some will get distracted for a while, maybe some for several years, but most will eventually return.  Probably when they start their own families.  There are a few who will get distracted far beyond measure.  Some will forsake their childhood upbringing in favor of some college professor’s views, or do the world views on life, sex, and politics that permeate the college campuses. We can find throughout scripture examples to prove that the Lord does not abandon his children.

In Luke chapter 15 we find the story of the prodigal son.  In this story the youngest son makes a plea for his half of the inheritance and leaves home.  This rebellious son then squanders his fortunes in a foreign land and winds up being homeless and penniless.  After much soul searching he decides to return home and beg forgiveness in hopes that he can work on the family estate as a hired hand.  When he returns his father is overjoyed.  The father’s love overflows from deep in his heart and he rejoices over the return of his son with a great feast and a party.  The oldest son, who remained obedient is put off with this forgiveness his younger sibling received.  He is caught up in his own selfish interests to see the miracle that has happened.

This story has many different points at which we can tear it apart and find some universal truth or a great life application.  I have many times used this parable as a part of my testimony, because I was also a wayward son who had returned.  If you are not familiar with this story it can be found in Luke 15:11-32.

Here in this passage we see a man that did everything right.  He raised his kids in a God-fearing home.  He taught them the value of good hard work. He taught them about the Lord.  He taught him the customs of their people, and how to be good men.  He instructed them in the way of their faith.  Yet one of his children fell away.  This is the case for many of us parents. 

We can teach, and discipline, and hold our breath till we are blue in the face, but some of our children will go away form their faith.  We can do everything right.  Still our loved one abandons the truth and rebels against God.  I should also mention that we can do everything wrong, and yet our child finds God.  The point here is that faith is a personal decision.  Our job is to pray for them, teach them, and reinforce the instructions of life and hope in Christ.  Teach them the wisdom of knowing God and the advantages of living a godly lifestyle.  We are to give them an understanding of God that they can use in life’s decisions.  But the decision is up to them.  Each man (woman) is responsible to God for themselves.  This is why the father rejoiced. 

The father in Luke 15 knew when his son asked for his share of the inheritance and left that he was already lost before his feet his the road.  He also knew that he could not stop him.  He knew that while his son was in rebellion that he was already dead spiritually.  I am sure that his heart was broken.  Something that we cannot miss though.  The father knew his son had to make the decisions. 

When his youngest son asked for the money his father did not argue with him.  His father could have told him, that money is not yours yet, you do not have a right to it.  His father could have drilled him with all kinds of questions, he could told him how foolish he was, and what a bad son he is.  He could have struck out in anger.  The father had all of the authority and right to do any or all of these things.  Instead he listened.  He gave his son an opportunity to learn a life lesson that his son needed. 

This father also trusted God to return his son to his faith. The father knew that the son in his heart did believe in God and that this little light of faith would be used by God to steer him home.  I am sure he held onto Proverbs 22:6.  The father had hope.  He knew that God loved his son also, just as much as he did.  He knew that God would not abandon his son.

This hope is evident in verse 20 of Luke 15.  It says, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.” This father was looking for the return of his son.  He expected the Lord to deliver his son.  He rose up and looked for him every day!  We don’t know how long the timeframe is of the story, but it was long enough for the son to lose his inheritance, take a slum job, deal with starvation, and finally repent.  The son swallowed his pride and came with full intention of making things write with his father no matter what the consequences. 

This story can tell us so much about the love of God.  When the son returned the father did not care where he had been, or what he had done.  He only say his son.  His baby was coming home.  I think about this and I think about my own son.  He is a grown man, but every time I look at him, I still see the little infant that I held for the first time at his birth.  I know the heart of God by this memory.  With all that I love my son and no matter what he has done or where he has been, I still see this little baby in my hands.  That I like to think is the way that God sees each of us.  This father in our story just saw his baby, crying and beaten up by life, returning home.  This father who loved his son, put his arms around him.  Nothing else mattered. 

This is what Jesus made possible.  No matter how far we go.  No matter what we have done. No matter how rebellious we have been.  Jesus made a path home for us, for our children.  Have hope in the Lord.  Your heavenly Father has not abandoned you, and will not abandon your son or daughter.  Yes there are some hard lessons in life to learn.  No we cannot shelter our children from consequences of their own decisions.  However; we can have confidence that the Lord will never leave or forsake them.