A Living Sacrifice


“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1 (KJV)

Romans Twelve verse one is a verse well known by many in Christian circles. Some that I have spoken to have sought to use this verse to refute the Regulative Principle of Worship. However, I believe this verse addresses our everyday life. This text is an interesting, and somewhat difficult text to understand. In order to truly grasp this passage we must ask; what is a “living sacrifice”? There is one example in Scripture of a living sacrifice. Amazing, I know! It is found in Numbers chapter eight beginning in verse three. The eighth chapter of Numbers records the cleansing and setting apart of the Levites for work in the tabernacle. This is important because it is the only instance of a living sacrifice and thus it gives a better understanding of what Paul was driving at.

The Levites were offered before the Lord “that they may execute the service of the Lord.” So we can see that a living sacrifice is a setting apart for the Lord. Since Paul essentially had a PhD in Old Testament, we can be rather certain that he was alluding to this passage as he wrote Romans 12. Paul is not arguing that we are free to worship God however we want. Rather, Paul is telling us that we, as Christians are to live our lives as ones set apart by God. We are to live mindful of what He requires of us (Jn. 14:15), and mindful of the work that He has accomplished for us. We must never think that ourselves to be better than someone, especially an unbeliever for it was not of any good in us that we have been brought to the Light, but only due to God extending His mercy and grace to us.

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An Explanatory Declaration


UPDATE: I am a Reformed Presbyterian (RP). Reformed Presbyterians have held many distinct doctrines and practices. One such distinction has been that of the Constitution of the United States failure to acknowledge Christ’s supremacy over the nations. Given the Constitution does not proclaim Christ as King and also rejects Scripture as the law of the land. As a means of addressing the dilemma of swearing to the Constitution, the RP’s came up with an Explanatory Declaration that allows one to swear to the Constitution insofar as it is in accordance with God’s Law. One RP Pastor once told me that it would be best for Christians not to swear an oath to the Constitution, and I agree. That being said, for those who are interested, below is the Explanatory Declaration. At the end is a PDF copy if you want to download it. 

 

“An Explanatory Declaration (To be used in connection with the oath to the Constitution of the United States) “I take this oath, pledging my loyalty to my country: but declaring my supreme allegiance to Jesus Christ Whom God Almighty has appointed Ruler of the nations, and expressing my dissent from the Constitution’s failure to recognize and acknowledge the Divine Institutions of civil government.” Those who view this declaration for the first time, may wonder if there is any need for an “Explanatory Declaration” when taking the oath to the Constitution to the United States. It will come as a surprise to many people that there are Christians who have any objection to taking an oath to the Constitution without an explanation. This difficulty does not arise from any disloyalty to our government, nor for a lack of appreciation for the many fine features of our Constitution and form of government. It is due to one vital defect which Christians cannot approve, and which leads to a conflict between the laws of God and the laws of man. Our Constitution fails to acknowledge any authority higher than “we the people” and does not acknowledge that a nation must submit to the laws of God. The Bible tells us that all power is of God, and that rulers are to be God’s ministers. Romans 13:1,4. The atheists are capitalizing on this deficiency to spark a drive to remove all recognition of God from our government. Due to this deficiency the Supreme Court is ruling that our government should be neutral as far as God is concerned. A high government official writes, “this (oath) is a most sensitive area of citizen responsibility, and one that is replete with unanswered questions.” Because an oath is a solemn promise it is only just and right that all should know what is being promised. Oaths are to be understood in the plain commonsense [sic] meaning of the words used. The oath of office prescribed by the Constitution for the President is,

“I do Solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the  best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The Constitution requires other officers to take “an oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution”. The dictionary gives as one of the meanings for defend “to justify, vindicate, to plead the reasonableness;” and it gives as a meaning for support “to give help, sanction, approval”. Since I do not want anyone to think that I approve the Constitution’s failure to acknowledge God and His law, I explain how far I am willing to go in defending and supporting the Constitution. A larger problem arises when one takes the oath to the  Constitution in order to hold an office in our government. We find that the office holder is in a dilemma for he finds that some of the laws of the United States are in conflict with the laws of God. There is no question but what the purpose of the oath is to bind office-holders to enforce all the laws of the United States, for the Constitutions says,

“This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all the treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every states shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” The Constitution, Article VI paragraph 2.

The Bible tells us that where there is a conflict between the laws of God and the laws of men we are to obey God. In keeping with this Bible teaching we ask to be given the freedom to obey God rather than men. If the oath is interpreted to require that the laws of man must be placed above the laws of God then I will not hold office nor vote for others to hold office if they are required to put the laws of men above the laws of God. We are conscious that the “Explanatory Declaration” presents problems. We realize there is no easy solution for this dilemma. We do not present this issue to embarrass our government, we present this issue because we feel it is vital and must be met for great issues are at stake. At stake are:

1.   The issue of peace – There can be no peace in a world in which nations acknowledge no higher law than the will of the people, and who claim the right to make any law, or pursue any policy the people choose without any respect to the laws of God. 2.   Secularization of the nation – If our nation has no obligation to God, then our nation in time will be completely secularized; when this happens the foundation for morality and integrity will disappear. 3.   The judgement of God – If we continue to neglect our obligation to God the time will come when He will “speak to us in wrath, and vex us in His sore displeasure. Psalm 2:5.

We hope that many who are required to take the oath to the Constitution will take it with this Explanatory Declaration. By doing this they will bear testimony to their belief that this nation should acknowledge God and His law, and that when there is conflict between the laws of God and man that they should obey God. There may be times when the oath will not be administered with this explanation, in that case would it not be better to refuse to take the oath, than to perjure ourselves with an oath that may be interpreted to mean we approve the failure of this Constitution to Acknowledge God and which binds us to obey men rather than God? The only real solution of our problem must be the adoption of a constitutional amendment that would acknowledge God and His law. Such an Amendment is before Congress and reads:

1.  This nation devoutly recognized the authority and law of Jesus Christ, Savior and Ruler of nations, through Whom are bestowed the blessings of Almighty God. 2. This Amendment shall not be interpreted so as to result in the establishment of any particular ecclesiastical organization, or in the abridgement of the rights of religious freedom, or freedom of speech and press, or of peaceful assemblage. 3. Congress shall have power, in such cases as it may deem proper, to provide a suitable oath or affirmation for citizens whose religious scruples prevent them from giving unqualified allegiance to the Constitution as herein amended.

This would put our nation squarely in line with Bible teaching. Then the Christian would have no difficulty in saying we approve the Constitution, and no conflict would arise between the laws of God and the laws of the land. Under such an Amendment the laws of the land would be made in pursuance to the Constitution that recognizes that the laws of God are binding upon our government. We trust that many Christians will join us in the use of the “Explanatory Declaration” and focus attention upon this vital defect of our Constitution. The recognition of the rights of God are long overdue and the acknowledgement of those rights will be added glory and lasting stability to our great nation.”

Download: An Explanatory Declaration

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My Stance on Christmas, More Appropriately Called “Christ Mass”


My household does not celebrate Christmas, more appropriately called “Christ Mass” or “the Mass of Christ”. We used to but have stopped for the simple reason that it is not commanded in Scripture. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded to observe certain feasts (Feast of Booths and Passover are some examples). These feasts found their fulfillment in Christ. That is why we only find the command in the New Testament to observe the Lord’s Supper. Another reason why we no longer observe Christmas is because it is not a Christian holiday, but a pagan one. Christmas came about as an attempt to convert the pagan Romans to Christianity by telling them they could still celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.  This is, of course, a direct violation of the second commandment where God has commanded us not to worship Him as the Heathen worship their gods. So here is a question that I was pondering prior to coming to this position; Can one celebrate a pagan holy day, or even a Christianized version of it which God has not commanded, and not be found guilty of idolatry? We concluded that it is not possible. So rather than be found guilty of rebelling against God and doing that which He has not commanded, we have stopped celebrating Christmas.

My sister Bethany has asked me several questions, and in case their answers could be helpful to you, I have included them below with my answers. Some of these questions are specific to my family, and thus may not apply to others.

1. Why? We believe that The Lord’s Day (aka Sunday, or the Christian Sabbath) is the only day that we, as followers of Christ, are to observe.

2. What lead you to this decision? Mainly the study of Scripture. In the Old Testament, we do find many feast days/holy days that God commanded them to observe, the Feast of Passover and Feast of Booths (or Feast of Tabernacles) are examples of such days. We believe that all of the Old Testament holy days found their fulfillment in Christ, either in His work on the cross (Passover, etc) or in His resurrection from the dead (changing of the Sabbath to the Lord’s Day as the day of our weekly public worship). Also, in the New Testament, we are only commanded to observe the Lord’s Day. Christmas (aka Christ Mass) was an attempt to convert pagans by Christianizing their holy days. 

3. Why Christmas and Easter and not Thanksgiving? We are commanded to give thanks to God. This happens each Lord’s Day when we gather for public worship, and also all throughout the week as we engage in private worship and as we go about our daily lives. Due to family living in various parts of the country, it is not possible for us to gather with all the family more than once per year. Therefore, we will seek to do so around Thanksgiving and will give thanks for God for our family. Christmas and Easter, on the other hand, both find their origins in pagan holidays that celebrated pagan gods, and thus came about by attempts to convert pagans allthewhile telling them that they could still celebrate those holidays. Also, nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to set apart days for the celebration of our Saviour’s birth and resurrection. Rather we are to celebrate the entire work of Christ on The Lord’s Day. 

4. Are you trying to avoid family? No. Avoiding family is the last thing on our mind. Our desire is to be conformed to Christ, and to demonstrate our love for Him. Christ said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15, KJV). 

5. Can we send you presents? We would rather you not. However, we cannot stop you from sending gifts. If you decide to send any please know that we will not wait until December 25th to open them since we do not observe the day. Also, we will not be sending any gifts out. 

6. Do you hate Christmas? Yes. Though we did not used to. Our recent findings on what Scripture teaches and the idolatrous origin of christmas has led us to hate it. 

7. How can your family support you? One of the biggest ways of supporting us would be to acknowledge our view on such holidays and realize that our goal is to follow Christ. 

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Helpful Resourses

[1] This is a sermon series on Christmas, highly recommend it.

[2]  This is a helpful article that documents the pagan origin of Christmas and corresponding customs. Beware, there is an image of Christ at the end. I apologize for this.

[3] This sermon is also helpful

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Paradoxes, Relative Christianity, and 2 Timothy 1:13


Paradox  –  a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true (New Oxford American Dictionary)

Many professing Christians have embraced what I call Relative Christianity. Relative in the sense that they hold to a “relative truth” idea of Scripture. The common phrase that goes with this is “that’s just your interpretation”. This seems to be done due to paradoxes that are found in Scripture. Add to this that most people in America really don’t know how to think through seemingly difficult problems. An example of one of these Scriptural paradoxes is John 3:16 & 2 Peter 3:9 compared to Romans 9:13-16.

John 3:16 (KJV): For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

2 Peter 3:9 (KJV): The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 

Romans 9:13-16 (KJV): As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

These passages are difficult because at first glance it seems that God is telling us first that He loves the world and isn’t willing that any perish. However, God has in His providence provided us modern Christians with means through which we can learn how to study His Word and thus gain a better understanding of His Word and ways. The Westminster Divines are exceedingly helpful in this regard. In the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 1 paragraph 9, they said this on studying Scripture; “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” So when we approach difficult passages with this mindset, I believe many of those paradoxes, those seemingly contradictory passages will become easier to understand. Example, one question that helps to resolve the paradox found in the above passages is to ask; Who is the “all” that these Scriptures speak of? John 6:37-39 tells us, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”  According to this passage the “all” isn’t meaning every single person in the world, but rather those whom the Father has given to the Son.

God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). To say that God is the Author of Scripture and that Scripture teaches doctrines that are opposite of each other goes against the law of non-contradiction (and is calling God a liar). This is why I am so strong on what I believe. This is why I do not accept teachings that are contrary to Scripture. I have told my family many times that I would change my beliefs only if I was proven to have a wrong understanding of what Scripture teaches. I am dogmatic about what I believe because the Holy Spirit has commanded us to be so; “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” – 2 Tim. 1:13

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Jesus on Every Page by Dr. David Murray


Over the last couple weeks, the primary book that I have been reading is a new book by Dr. David Murray titled Jesus on Every Page. This book has one goal for its reader, namely, to help them see Jesus on every page of Scripture. Now, it is easy for us to see Jesus in the New Testament, but not as easy for us to understand how Jesus appears in the Old Testament. Dr. Murray has sought in this book to help every Christian be able to see Jesus in the Old Testament. And he has done an extraordinary job on taking us down the Emmaus Road. What he has done with this book is seek to demonstrate how Jesus can be found through the Old Testament without over spiritualizing things. He has essentially taken the same approach that the author to the Hebrews took where he demonstrated Jesus to be  superior to all those shadows found in the Old Testament. The book is divided into two parts. Part one (chapters 1-6) contains Dr. Murray’s personal Road to Emmaus journey. Part two (chapters 7-16) is the real meat of the book. It is in part two that Dr. Murray takes us on a refreshing journey through the Old Testament showing us how we can find Christ.

Jesus On Every Page was written and intended for the average Christian. I believe that this book could very well be helpful for pastors, seminarians, professors, however, we must realize that these are not the target audience for the book. To further illustrate this to be the case, the following was taken from the preface.

Jesus on Every Page is an accessible guide to the increasingly

popular subject of Jesus in the Old Testament. Although much

has been written to help pastors with preaching Jesus from the

Old Testament, there is little that provides sound principles and

practical help for the average Christian who wants to explore this

important way of knowing Jesus through His Word.”

It is will this audience, us average Christians, that Dr. Murray has written this book. I am fully convinced that he has written a wonderful book to help the average Christian gain a better understanding of Christ in the Old Testament. If you desire a deeper understanding of God’s Word and specifically how Jesus fits in the various aspects of the Old Testament such as the Law, Prophets, History, Poetry and so on, this book is for you. If you read the book and take it to heart, I am certain that you will not be disappointed and that you will be able to read Scripture and better grasp how Jesus fits into the Old Testament.

Check out the website for the book and be sure to purchase a copy for yourself here

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All Lying is Immoral


I used to believe that there were some cases of lying that were lawful and would refer to the example of Rahab. Recently, When talking with a friend about this, I was challenged to consider Dr. Francis Turretin on lying. It took me a little while to read the article posted on Treasure Jesus‘ website, but I finally did. After looking at Turretin, I then looked at the duties required by the ninth commandment and also the sins forbidden according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC). What I found was that there was a central theme in promoting TRUTH both in Turretin’s writing and in the WSC. Thus I have changed my stance.

Westminster Shorter Catechism on the Ninth Commandment

Question 76

Which is the ninth commandment?

The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. (Exod. 20:16)

 

Question 77

What is required in the ninth commandment?

The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, (Zech. 8:16) and of our own and our neighbour’ s good name, (3 John 12) especially in witness-bearing. (Prov. 14:5,25)

 

Question 78

What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?

The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbour’ s good name. (1 Sam. 17:28, Lev. 19:16, Ps. 15:3)

 

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Instruments in Worship


“1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. 3 And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 4 And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee. 5 When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. 6 When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. 7 But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. 8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations. 9 And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. 10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.” – Numbers 10:1-10

God, as the Almighty Sovereign over all His creation, has commanded us to worship Him exclusively. This command is found clearly stated in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. However, God didn’t stop there. He went on to command us to worship Him as He commands. There are two principles of worship; 1) the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW). The idea behind this principle is that only those things which God has expressly commanded are permitted in worship. The second is the Normative Principle of Worship (NPW). This principle says that only those things which are expressly forbidden are prohibited. Nadab and Abihu worked according to this principle and it cost them their life (see Leviticus 10:1-2). Thus we can see from this example that God takes his worship very seriously. For those who think that God is more lax in the New Testament consider these words from Hebrew 12:28, 29; “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.”  

All this has been said by way of introduction. For we need to be aware that God not only commands us to worship, but also how we are to worship. With that being said I am lead to my main question and topic for this post. What is the place of musical instruments in worship? In Scripture, we read that what God desires concerning His worship, he laid down at Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:40, Hebrews 8:5). So where do instruments come into the picture? Numbers 10:1-10  is where the Lord instructed Moses to make silver trumpets and what those trumpets were supposed to be used for. Below I have bolded the uses of the trumpets.

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. 3 And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 4 And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee. 5 When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. 6 When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. 7 But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. 8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations. 9 And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. 10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.

Now, you can see a little more clearly the four purposes given for the trumpets. 1) Calling of the assembly, 2) journeying of the camps, 3) Going to war against an oppressor, and 4) over burnt offerings and peace offerings. Those who argue for the use of instruments are essentially returning to shadows. Instruments were instituted to be blown over burnt and peace offerings but not to be played during the singing of God’s people in worship of Him. This is further evident by those passages in 1 Chronicles 23:5; 25:1 and 2 Chronicles 8:14; 29:25-26 which show that only the priests and the levites played instruments before the Lord and even then during the sacrifices. Thus with the passing away of the temple ceremonies the use of instruments in worship have also passed away.

I know that this has not been exhaustive on the subject, indeed it hasn’t been my intention to do so. Rather just to give you some food for thought as to why the use of instruments is in fact a violation of the Regulative Principle of Worship.

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