Is it a sin to drink alcohol?

 

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It is common for fundamentalist groups, like Seventh Day Adventists, to teach that it is a sin to drink alcohol in any context.  I remember when I was baptized SDA I had to sign an agreement that I would never drink it.  This is pretty standard so if you were also baptized in the SDA church then it’s likely you signed off on a similar pledge as well.

Let’s take a look at the Bible and see what it condemns and what it does not condemn with regards to alcohol.

 

Drinking Alcohol

 

Is it a sin in and of itself to drink alcohol?  I’ve checked each of these proof-texts below to ensure I’m not taking them out of context.  Links are provided so that you can easily verify for yourself.  This question answers itself pretty quickly take a look:

 

“Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” Ecclesiastes 9:7

“He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine which makes man’s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man’s heart.” Psalms 104:14-15

“No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” 1 Timothy 5:23

You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. Deuteronomy 14:26

 

 

In the first two we can see that it is spoken of positively in such a manner that ones heart becomes glad or cheerful.  In the last one we have a direction for Timothy to use it to help him with his stomach issues.  I think that is enough to prove that simply allowing alcohol to touch your lips is not in and of itself a sin.  If it were we would not see the Bible telling us to use it for recreational and medicinal purposes.

The last verse is helpful for proving that the alcohol being referenced isn’t grape juice.  Notice he references both wine and “strong drink”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a mean glass of grape juice but I would never refer to it as a “strong drink”.  Additionally, the process for keeping wine in an unfermented state didn’t exist until the 19th century,  so I would argue that asserting grape juice here would be an anachronism.

 

Jesus Drank Wine

 

If Jesus drank wine that would be a good argument against it being a sin.  This one is pretty easy too.

 

‘The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ‘ Luke 7:34

‘The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” ‘ Matthew 11:19

 

Both passages reference the same comment but they also make the same point.  Notice that Jesus was being accused of doing in excess what he freely admits to actually doing.  He states he was eating and is accused of gluttony.  He states he was drinking and is accused of drunkenness.  All I am saying is that it would be twisting the text to say that Jesus is only admitting to drinking water.  The plainest reading is that he was drinking alcohol and was accused of getting drunk on it.

 

Later in this post I am going to argue that drunkenness is in fact a sin, but let’s at least concede that the mere act of drinking quantities that don’t equal drunkenness is not a sin.

 

Communion Wine

 

If drinking in any context is a sin then why did Jesus use wine in the last supper?  The Church has also used wine exclusively for the first 1900 or so years every time she has had communion.  Grape juice in communion is actually recent development, and one I don’t agree with.

Notice below that Paul was chastising the Corinthians for getting drunk on communion wine.  While getting drunk on it is certainly wrong to do, this text does show that the wine they were using had alcohol in it.

 

“for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper,” 1 Corinthians 11:20-21

“And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying,”Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”” Matthew 26:27-29

 

Since we see wine used in communion that would be further evidence that simply drinking alcohol isn’t a sin.  In my research I found that the belief that you can never drink at all comes to us from the american puritan tradition, specifically the temperance movement.  In the 19th century the Church in America was responding to problems of drunkenness and went a bit too far.

The culmination of this was of course the prohibition which made drinking illegal for everyone.  That didn’t work out too well and society in general has been moving the complete opposite direction since.  Logically some would have tried to look for Biblical reasons to support the temperance movement, and some of the bad theology and historical anachronisms they employed persist to this day.

As an aside, some do argue that since leaven was forbidden during the passover that means wine was non-alcoholic.  This is actually a creative argument but it is an anachronism nevertheless.  Ancient Jews only recognized the leaven in the bread regarding passover, not in the wine.  Below is a quote from my Jewish source on this fact:

“Of the hundreds of species of yeast, the Passover prohibition only applies to yeast which is a product of one of the following five grains: wheat, barley, oat, spelt, or rye. Yeast which is the product of grapes, or its sugars, is not considered chametz (leavened food).” – Rabbi Dovid Zaklikowski

 

The Sin of Drunkenness

 

While drinking in and of itself is not a sin, as is in fact encouraged in scripture, this isn’t true for drunkenness.  It is actually a sin to be a drunkard, this is just as easily demonstrated as the arguments above.

 

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18

“Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.” Romans 13:13

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

“For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.” 1 Peter 4:3

 

Putting it bluntly, drinking is not a sin but getting drunk is.  Some try to argue that only alcoholism is a sin but getting drunk from time to time is not.  This is an anachronistic argument because it’s not a distinction apparent in the text.  Passages like the first one I posted above though (Eph 5:18 ) are clear that you shouldn’t get drunk at all.  So let’s leave it at that.

How much drinking meets the Biblical definition of “drunk” though?  Where is the line?  It has to be somewhere.  This asks a question that we all kind of know the answer to anyways.  While you can never get a clinical answer out of the Bible on this one you can draw some helpful lines in the sand.  First I will post the definition from the 1828 KJV dictionary and then a few passages to make my point.

 

DRUNKENNESS, n.

1. Intoxication; inebriation; a state in which a person is overwhelmed or overpowered with spirituous liquors, so that his reason is disordered, and he reels or staggers in walking. Drunkenness renders some persons stupid, others gay, others sullen, others furious.

Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness.

2. Habitually ebriety or intoxication.

3. Disorder of the faculties resembling intoxication by liquors; inflammation; frenzy; rage.

 

I realize there are newer dictionaries out there.  I happen to like this one because it is free and has more theologically relevant definitions than a modern dictionary does.  What stands out to me is a loss of control of ones faculties.  The line in the sand so to speak is the loss of your inhibitions.  This actually mirrors the biblical narratives where drinking is condemned.  Here are some examples that stand out nicely.

 

“Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.” Genesis 9:20-24

 

Noah is regarded as a man of righteousness in scripture (Gen 6:9), yet above we see an example of him failing in that regard.  Even though his story was used as type and shadow of Christ saving the world from sin, he could only be a type and shadow.  He wasn’t perfect, we needed someone who was.

For the purposes of my point in this blog post we can see that when you’re so drunk that you’re stripping naked… yeah that’s a line in the sand on what we would call drunk.  Not saying it has to get to that point before we are going to call it “drunk” in a Biblical sense, but this is a pretty good indicator of the degree of inebriation the Bible writers consider drunkenness to include.

 

“So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.” Genesis 19:32-33

 

In the story above Lot becomes so drunk that he loses all inhibitions and sleeps with his own daughters, which is committing the sin of incest.

Putting it all together I would argue that a good Biblical definition of drunkenness is a state in which you have voluntarily surrendered your inhibitions against sin over to either the devil or to your own depravity.  I wouldn’t limit it to alcohol either, I would include any substance that elicits the same effect.

 

Conclusion

 

How much alcohol does it take before you lose your judgment and start to commit sins that you otherwise would not do?  It’s going to be a little bit different for everyone, but I am assuming that you probably know where that line is for you.  Don’t cross it, doing so is a sin.  When you fail in this or anything also know that in the Bible it says that Jesus died for you and forgives you of your sins, so on account of your gratefulness try harder next time.

 

Does this mean you have to drink?  of course not.  Just as you can’t Biblically impose a law that forbids drinking you also can’t impose a law that forces it.  Responsible drinking is one of those things that exists in Christian freedom.  Getting drunk though is not.

 

 

 

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In Christ Alone: Keith Getty, Stuart Townsend

 

This song in particular is very popular with former SDA.  Why?  As an SDA you believe that you are sealed by the Sabbath day in the end times.  So leaving an SDA church can be very difficult.  You no longer have the Sabbath to cling to for your salvation, so you end up having to look to Christ instead.  He is the only thing you can latch onto because without him you know you got nothing else.

Instead of using CCLI I am pulling the lyrics from the older version that still has wrath in it.  You can find my source HERE.

 

 

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

 

Here are some of the passages that come to mind when I read the first verse.

“Jesus said to him,”I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 NASB

“The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.” Psalms 118:22 NASB

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.'” Numbers 6:24-26 NASB

 

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live

 

So in this verse get get the incarnation not only confessed but carefully so.  Notice the author says “took on flesh” rather than “became” or something.  The word choice shows nuance and care in their Christology.

Top it off with a confession of penal substitutionary atonement for our sins, well that’s just wonderful.  It’s important to include the wrath of God too.  Without a full confession of God’s wrath and what that means his love loses meaning too.  God is Holy, and his righteous wrath burns against sin eternally and infinitely.  Only by his love can such a wrath be satisfied.  Nothing man can provide comes close enough to even matter.

 

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

 

Notice how we are free from the curse of sin standing in the resurrection of Christ.  Wonderful, the song works great for good Friday and for Easter Sunday.  We got the whole thing in three small verses.

 

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

 

Oh look hell is a thing in this song too!  No wonder the liberals keep rewording this song.  It has all those little words that bug them to no end.

 

I will stand
I will stand, all other ground is sinking sand
All other ground, all other ground
Is sinking sand, is sinking sand
So I’ll stand

 

THUMBS UP

 

Was there any doubt?  Maybe I am biased with this song because of how much it means to me personally.  Feel free to wax critical in the comments if you feel I’ve missed something on account of that.

 

Theology Scorecard

Yes

No

Is this song confessing Biblical theology?  X  
Is this song centered on God instead of yourself?  X  
Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable?  X  
Is there Biblical Gospel in this song?  X  
Is there Biblical Law in this song?  X  
Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all?  X

 

 

 

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Christian Music Reviews | Tagged | 1 Comment

Does God Control the Weather?

from-fear-to-faith

 

This is an important question that gets asked frequently.  I believe based on scripture that he does.  In this post I will present the passages that have convinced me of this.

 

The Omnipotence of God

 

The power of God is infinite, to deny this is actually a heresy.  Just like his power is infinite so to is in knowledge.  You can find older posts presenting these doctrines from scripture HERE and HERE.  So you can reason fairly simply that God does control the weather for to say he does not would place limits on either his power or his knowledge.  Even still though there are clear passages that do positively teach that God controls the weather.

 

“Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning. It changes direction, turning around by His guidance, That it may do whatever He commands it On the face of the inhabited earth. Whether for correction, or for His world, Or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen.” Job 37:11-13 NASB

 

“Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, Which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, And were at their wits’ end.  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!” Psalms 107:28-31 NASB

 

“”I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.” Isaiah 45:5-7 NASB

 

“And He said to them,”Where is your faith?”They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” Luke 8:25 NASB

 

The answer is an obvious yes, God does in fact control the weather.  To deny this would be to deny the very nature of God, which would be the sin of idolatry.

 

Final Thoughts

 

While it is true that God does in fact control the weather, I would advise against trying to speak on his behalf when he does so.  Best case scenario you will probably just be wrong, worst case scenario it would be the sin of using God’s name in vain.  Aside from some specific events in the Bible we don’t get a blow by blow detail of God’s reasoning.

The truth is that every city on this planet deserves far greater judgement than any man or woman has ever seen in this life.  It is a great mercy that he doesn’t send us all to hell right now.  In my opinion, the worst judgement God sends is false teaching.  When heresy is allowed to proliferate mans heart is hardened and damned to hell.  A storm that calls many to humility and repentance, though tragic, can also be viewed as a mercy in this respect.

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Lord ‘Tis Not That I Did Choose Thee: Josiah Conder 1836

 

I did not grow up a Lutheran and would have never considered it to be honest.  In some ways I was converted against my own will.  No matter how hard I tried to prove them wrong I kept failing and then eventually just took the plunge.  If you did grow up a Lutheran then this song will be old hat for you.  But for me it’s one of those gems I got to discover for the first time late in life.  I will be just as hard on it though as I am on the contemporary songs.  Let’s see if it has sound theology or not.  You can find my source on this hymn HERE.

 

1

Lord, ’tis not that I did choose Thee;
That, I know, could never be;
For this heart would still refuse Thee
Had Thy grace not chosen me.
Thou hast from the sin that stained me
Washed and cleansed and set me free
And unto this end ordained me,
That I ever live to Thee.

 

This first verse is teaching that God has chosen us, not the other way around.  How cool is that?  It also has baptism imagery tied in with predestination.  The following passages come to my mind.

 

“because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,” Romans 8:7 NASB

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” Romans 8:29 NASB

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 NASB

 

2

‘Twas Thy grace in Christ that called me,
Taught my darkened heart and mind;
Else the world had yet enthralled me,
To Thy heavenly glories blind.
Now my heart owns none above Thee;
For Thy grace alone I thirst,
Knowing well that, if I love Thee,
Thou, O Lord, didst love me first.

 

Notice above that we are being taught it is God’s action of Grace that wipes away original sin and changes us into new creations.  Even in the song this is centered on God’s actions not on mans.  Very different from what you would get out of an arminian song, where your salvation centers in and around your actions rather than on God’s.

 

3

Praise the God of all creation;
Praise the Father’s boundless love.
Praise the Lamb, our Expiation,
Priest and King enthroned above.
Praise the Spirit of salvation,
Him by whom our spirits live.
Undivided adoration
To the great Jehovah give.

 

In the final verse we also have an exposition of the Trinity.  Way to go, no questions about who this song is addressed to.  If you have followed my older posts on christian music you know that I don’t believe all of the orthodoxy should come from the context.  It needs to be in the song.

 

Thumbs Up

 

This song is a true christian treasure.  It is God that chooses us, with his free will.  If you experience a decision moment that’s fine.  That’s not what I am getting at.  But it is important to point out that those moments happen after you have faith not before.  To flip that you end up preaching the same false gospel that Rome does, the only difference is that you have put the bar for works salvation a little lower.

 

Theology Scorecard

Yes

No

Is this song confessing Biblical theology?

X

Is this song centered on God instead of yourself?

X

Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable?

X

Is there Biblical Gospel in this song?

X

Is there Biblical Law in this song?

X

Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all?

X

 

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Meme Theology: Monergistic Salvation

 

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Today I would like to review the above Meme that has recently come across my feed.  For those who don’t know, Seventh-Day Adventists are about as Arminian as you can get.  To my knowledge all of the christian cults are which should tell you something right there.

Usually when people debate free will they do so in a broad philosophical sense.  Since God knows everything and chose to create the universe with said knowledge, then logically he knew every decision that would ever be made, so did you really choose which color socks to wear this morning anyways?

While such questions are entertaining to ponder we should keep philosophy in it’s proper place, in service to the word, not interpreting it.  Scripture doesn’t address such things.  What is addressed though is matters of will as it pertains to salvation, and that is what is relevant.  Honestly, when it comes to theology it doesn’t matter who ultimately decided which socks you were going to wear this morning.  What matters is whether or not you are going to heaven or hell when you die.

Another Armchair Theologian author by the name of Baptized1985 wrote an excellent post on original sin which you can find HERE.   To summarize though, because of Adam’s sin you cannot do anything spiritually good.  This includes making decisions for Jesus.

 

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” Psalms 51:5 NASB

 

“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3 NASB

 

“because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,” Romans 8:7 NASB

 

Notice above that in an unregenerate state your flesh is “not even able” to be anything less than hostile to God.  This is what you are dealing with when you are speaking to an unbeliever.  You don’t have the power to overcome this depravity, only God does.  These people need to hear the Word of God (Rom 10:17) and be given faith (Eph 2:8).  Decision moments may come later as a “good work” if you want to call it that.

I have reviewed Arminian proof-texts carefully.  It’s not like they don’t have Bibles too.  The error they make though is they tend to use narrative verses that are being spoken to people that have already received faith as a gift from God, and are thus irrelevant to the issue entirely.  I’ll write a post specifically on this one of these days.

Growing up in Adventism I have been to my fair share of altar calls.  I also have been a part of them when visiting other churches with friends or family, or when attending a harvest festival down at angels stadium.  They even had one at my  public high school once.  I remember each time I would try to work up the courage to be the first one to walk down, I could never seem to do it.  Because of this I always doubted whether or not my decision for Jesus was real or just a result of peer pressure.

That may not be the problem for everyone, but at the core of decision theology that is the real issue.  On some level your salvation is up to you.  God comes a certain distance and you have to cross the rest.  Some may preach that shorter than others but in a decision paradigm everyone presents something that the hearer must do to help Jesus save them.

If these are new concepts for you check out my older posts on the Gospel and Justification.  Notice that it is Jesus who comes to us and saves us.  We look to him for our assurance not to ourselves.  This is what Lutherans call a “Christ Centered” approach to salvation theology.  So obviously, I think the meme is spot on.  Two thumbs up!

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Meme Theology | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Biblical Gender Roles

baby-jesus-mary-joseph-by-dewey

 

To be clear, I do not mean gender in the same sense that the world does.  I am referring to men and women in a biblical sense.  The reason I am using the word is because of what the term “gender role” typically means today.  Does the Bible teach that men have to do certain things and women have to do other things?  I have assembled a collection of very clear passages on this topic below.

 

What God expects of Men

 

“But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:24-33 NASB

 

The passage above is very clear, men have a God given duty to Love their wives.  It defines this with the manner in which Christ loves his Church.  He died for us, so to we should love our wives beyond the point of death as well.  This assumes other things, for example men are not allowed to abuse their wives, cheat on them, use porn, etc.  Does Christ abuse or cheat on his bride the Church?  No he doesn’t, men should love their wives in the same manner.

 

“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7 NASB

 

I see the above passage as very similar to the first one that I posted.  Men must honor, love, and serve their wives.  This isn’t rocket science and it shouldn’t be controversial.  We live in a wicked age where virtues such as these are considered vices.  Never the less we should be salt and light to this world and do them anyways.

 

“But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife,” 1 Corinthians 7:32-33 NASB

 

Above we see that unmarried men have a directive as well.  Your concern should be on the things of the Lord and how you may please him.  Whether married or unmarried a mans focus is not himself.  Your life is not for you or about you.  Life is not some theme park where you move from one ride to the next.  A mans mandate is to serve God and to serve his wife.

 

“Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1-2 NASB

 

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2 NASB

 

Putting it simply, men are to treat each other with respect and teach each other as well in matters of the faith.  That’s a good thing, let’s not leave that out.

 

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8 NASB

 

Above  we see that men have an obligation to provide for their families as well.  When you’re unmarried and just getting started in life, it should be in a man’s mind that the reason he is pursuing a career is to provide for the family he doesn’t have yet.  Somehow we have lost this idea in our culture altogether.  Your single life is just the phase of life that you’re single and you live it for you.  Then you get married and start concerning yourself with family.

 

I would submit that God’s vocation for men starts as a child obeying their parents, and continues into adulthood with the focus on either serving God or serving his wife and family.  This is our responsibility that we answer to God for, a deliberate departure from this vocation is a sin.

 

 

What God expects of Women

 

The Bible has equally strong prescriptions for women as it does for men.  Nobody gets off the hook.

 

“…The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:34 NASB

 

The command above is a mirror of the same verse the precedes it.  An unmarried woman focuses herself on God, when she is married her focus is her husband.  This is God’s command for her to do.  I like this passage in 1 Corinthians as it demonstrates that there is a place for single people in the Church.

 

We often miss this because we think it is a failing on the part of the Church to provide a place for them.  It is actually their place to serve God, and I guarantee you there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer your time in at any local Church.  We just don’t think this way because in our fallen society narcissism is some kind of virtue, and our first focus is “what is the Church doing for me”?

 

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 2:3-5 NASB

 

Just like how there are commands for how men are to teach and treat each other, the Bible also has mirroring commands for women.  Notice there is a focus here for caring for children and tending to matters of the home.  Are these teachings anti-feminist?  Yes they are.  Feminism and the Bible are not compatible, you can’t have both.

 

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24 NASB

 

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” 1 Peter 3:1-6 NASB

 

The Church is the bride of Christ and is directed in scripture to submit to him.  Notice that this same relationship is how submission between a man and wife is also defined.  I know that it is tempting to twist this because this teaching is not popular today.  But it says what it says.

This is as much a mandate on men as it is on women.  Just as she is commanded to submit to her husband he is supposed to be leading her.  Let’s put it this way, a man’s wife shouldn’t be the one dragging him to church.

The buck has to stop somewhere and God has placed that responsibility on men, we are held accountable to that just as a wife is called to submit to her husband.  Not a popular thing to say these days.  The secular world would actually consider what I am typing here to be immoral, which just goes to show how far apart a biblical and secular worldview are.

 

“”But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”  1 Timothy 2:15

 

I’ve written an older post on just this passage above which you can find HERE.  Basically the point I believe Paul is making is that bearing children is a good work and that it is something faithful women are commanded to do.  It should be obvious that only women are physically capable of bearing children.  If they don’t we are all gonna die.

 

Conclusion

 

The truth is we are all guilty in some fashion or another for failing to meet God’s standards.  Men have failed and so have Women.  The answer is to repent and be forgiven.  Try harder next time, and when you fail know that there is forgiveness for you at the cross.

 

I would not recommend defining your gender roles by combining a worldly view with a biblical one as some have tried to do.  It’s easier just to delete the worldly one from your brain and replace it with biblical teachings instead.  As long as you try to carry both you will always be contradicting yourself.

 

Does God have a plan for your life?  What are we supposed to do?  The answer is to be a good father or mother.  A good husband or wife.  A good son or daughter.  We are supposed to have and raise children, provide for our families, and love each other.  These are biblical gender roles.

 

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I Have Decided to Follow Jesus: by Nokseng

 

 

The story of this song is pretty amazing, please don’t consider my critical commentary on it’s theology as a commentary on the faith of the martyr that wrote it.  You can find that story and the lyrics HERE.

If you have been following my posts you may have noticed that the hymns have been scoring better overall than the contemporary songs.  With this one I want to point out that even though there is an obvious trend, contemporary songs don’t have exclusive rights to false doctrine.  Also, good luck finding this song in the LCMS hymnal.

 

1

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

According to scripture you cannot decide to follow Jesus.  A lost soul is dead in trespasses and sins.  They cannot make a decision for Jesus, which means that any decision experiences you may have had are actually irrelevant when it comes to your salvation.

 

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Romans 8:7 ESV

 

Just to be clear, I am interpreting the word “cannot” as meaning “cannot”.  If you want to do back-flips around this text knock yourself out on your own, I won’t be joining you.  In original sin we are by nature children of wrath.

 

“among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:3 ESV

 

There is no making a decision for Jesus.  He comes to you in word and sacrament and saves you.  You need God the Holy Spirit to come to you and change your heart so that you can see the things that are spiritually discerned.  Any decisions you make after that point are irrelevant, they fall into the category of good works.  Jesus is not sitting there reaching out 99% of the distance between you and heaven waiting for you to reach the extra on your own.  He does it all for you and to you.

 

2

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

I like the imagery in the second verse but since it is based on a foundation of decision theology that takes it all away for me.  In this song the only reason the world is behind you and the cross is before you is because you did something to help Jesus save you.  It’s works righteousness.  That’s Popery and I’m not in agreement with it.

 

3

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

Christianity is not a lonely thing.  You may lose the family  you were raised with that’s for sure.  But you gain much more.

 

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29 ESV

 

Not just that too, when you take the sacrament you are one body with all believers past, present, and future.  I know there can be hard times, maybe there are not a lot of Christians in your neck of the woods, but you are never alone.  So at the very least I am going to say that this verse just doesn’t resonate with me theologically or personally.

 

This is even more evident by the events that transpired after the author of the song was martyred as his entire region converted to Christianity shortly after he was killed.  Many did come with him, praise God for that.

 

4

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

Jesus does tell us to pick up our cross and follow him.  And I do like the imagery so I am not going to be too hard on this verse.  If you look at it in a third use of the law sense it’s beautiful, and to me it does read that way so nothing but love here.

 

“Then Jesus told his disciples,”If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 ESV

 

5

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back.

 

Yeah so I reject this verse for the same reason that I reject those above.  Peter didn’t call out to the heathen to make a decision.  He didn’t play sappy music to tug on their heart strings and have people raise hands with their eyes closed.  There were no Finney altar calls or any of that garbage.  He called them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins, fully trusting in God the Holy Spirit to do his saving work on their hearts.

 

“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”” Acts 2:38-39 ESV

 

THUMBS DOWN

 

The overall confession in this song is that you’re saved because you made a decision for Jesus and you are appealing for others to do the same.  That is a false gospel.  Why would we want to praise God with something that Paul says is anathema (Gal 1:8)?  The theology in this song is just as bad as the worst of the contemporary songs I have reviewed and for the same reasons.

 

Theology Scorecard

Yes

No

Is this song confessing Biblical theology?

X

Is this song centered on God instead of yourself?

X

Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable?

X

Is there Biblical Gospel in this song?

X

Is there Biblical Law in this song?

X

Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all?  X

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

I hope that those who have followed all my posts on music reviews are starting to notice a theme.  It doesn’t matter how old a song is, it doesn’t matter what language it was first written in, it doesn’t matter what style it’s sung with.  Unfortunately these are the things most churches tend to debate when it comes to traditional vs contemporary.  The most important thing we should be looking for is whether or not the gospel is preached in it.  Does the song lift the cross high and place ourselves low?  Is Christ crucified and risen for us in it?

 

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for style issues.  Just like one typically doesn’t want to wear socks with sandals or suite pants with a t-shirt there are good reasons why we may want the music style to match the liturgy.  We want the whole message to be coherent, convey the gospel effectively, and in good order.  If a contemporary service is to be done it should also be in service to the gospel, not the main event.  There are challenges to this of course, most contemporary songs don’t undergo any formal doctrinal review, and to my knowledge gospel centered liturgies have not been written to match them.  Not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying it should be a concern.

 

Those are my thoughts on this, I am going to keep doing the music reviews because I think it is a good platform for proclaiming the gospel to people.  Also I just love most of these songs and enjoy reflecting on them.

 

 

 

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Breathe: Marie Barnett

 

If you went to a single youth group in the late 90’s or early 2000’s you know this song by heart.  In fact, just by reading the title of this blog I bet you’re already humming it to yourself.  This is another one that is going to be tough for me to review because it’s such a part of my childhood.  If you have kept up with the standards I am using then you already know how this is going to fare.

 

Verse 1

This is the air I breathe, this is the air I breathe

Your holy presence living in me

 

Verse 2

This is my daily bread, this is my daily bread

Your very word spoken to me

 

The first problem is that the lyrics are simply incoherent.  Even if it is sung in a Christian context that isn’t going to help.  The context would have to be supplying the meaning of every single word in this song.  Furthermore, the way it’s worded can lead easily to mysticism.

 

When the author says “holy presence living in me” do they mean in the sense that they have received word and sacrament and are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit?  Or do they mean a subjective fuzzy mystical feeling?

 

When they say “daily bread” that is “spoken to me” do they mean when the pastor is preaching the Word?  or are they claiming a direct revelation from God?  All I am saying is that this is too easily read either way, and to be honest, it reads easier with the mystical option than it does the orthodox.

 

Chorus 1

And I

I’m desperate for You

And I

I’m lost without You

I’m lost without You

 

Chorus 2

And I

I’m desperate for You

And I

I’m lost without You

I’m lost without You

 

Notice that the focus in this song is ourselves.  This is all about how I feel at the moment as I croon for a lost lover.  Here is the thing, I don’t have to reach out or up to God, he reaches down to me in word and sacrament.  I simply receive, I’m not lost looking for this.  I do look forward to it but I know he is there for me.

 

 
Tag
This is the air I breathe, this is the air I breathe

 

At the end of the day what is this song confessing anyways?  The only thing I can see is an abstract feeling, there is no substance of any kind to this at all.  Even though it lends itself very easily to the charismatic heterodoxy even that isn’t entirely clear.  The important question is, if you believe there is nothing wrong with this song, why would you want to confess nothing and call it worship?  Are we to say that worship should have no confessional substance?  If so why?

I would see that as a self defeating argument anyways.  You would have to confess a belief that worship can have no confession of truth.  Thus, in doing so you would be forced to break your own rule!

I’m not trying to be snarky, I actually think that’s a valid paradigm to point out and interact with.

 

THUMBS DOWN

 

At the very least a good praise song should praise God.  Except for the reference to “daily bread” it’s kinda hard to nail this down as even being a Christian song in the first place.  But if I allow that much leverage then I would have to read “air I breath” as prince and power of the air (Eph 2:1).  I hope that’s not what they meant!

 

I think the idea here is for the song to sound pretty and get you in the mood or something.  And if that was my criteria the score would be different.  The song is focused on yourself and your feelings and doesn’t praise God in any capacity.  No law, no gospel, and no Christ in this song.

 

Theology Scorecard

Yes

No

Is this song confessing Biblical theology?

X

Is this song centered on God instead of yourself?

X

Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable?

X

Is there Biblical Gospel in this song?

X

Is there Biblical Law in this song?

X

Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all? X

 

 

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Does 1 Peter 3:1 teach that women have to stay with a wife beating husband….???

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A passage of the Bible frequently twisted by Liberals and Fundamentalists alike is 1 Peter 3:1.  Fundamentalists will usually twist this to teach that a woman must stay with a husband who is abusing them.  Liberals will agree with them but use it as evidence for why we should ignore the Bible anyways.  Both are wrong.  Here is the passage in question.

 

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,” 1 Peter 3:1 NASB

 

Notice that Peter is telling women to stay with their husbands who are disobedient to the word.  I understand this as a direction for a woman who is a believer, to stay with her unbelieving husband.  Hopefully he will repent and become a believer as well.  I think that’s a fair way to read the passage that is consistent with other scripture.  Can it be proven that wife beaters are excluded from this text altogether though?  I think it can and I will make my case below.

I am going to include the full context of this passage for your review so you know I’m not hiding anything.

 

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” 1 Peter 3:1-6 NASB

 

The context really isn’t all that helpful here to be honest.  Peter doesn’t define the term “disobedient to the word” here.  Based on principle that should limit the objective reader to interpretations that are consistent with the rest of scripture, like the one I presented above.  However, it is possible to demonstrate by cross referencing this with Jesus teachings on divorce that wife beating is not a category Peter is working with in 1 Peter 3.

 

“And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”” Matthew 19:9 NASB

 

Some translations say infidelity rather than immorality.  The meaning is effectively the same.  My point is that Jesus does give grounds for divorce.  Not for the petty reasons many do it today, but for matters of immorality or infidelity that break the bonds of marriage one can seek a divorce.  Wife beating is certainly one of those, in doing so a man breaks his oath to love his wife as Christ has loved the Church.

 

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” Ephesians 5:25 NASB

 

However, we don’t see Peter interacting with this teaching of Christ that he would have been aware of.  Thus it’s logical to assume he did not intend divorce-able offenses to be included in “disobedient to the word”.  To insert that category here would be to twist the word.  He logically had other sins in mind, like being an unbeliever as I postulated above.  You’re actually free to speculate as to what that disobedience might entail, you just can’t define it as sins that would be grounds for a biblical divorce.

 

Conclusion

 

At the end of the day just don’t twist the word.  Don’t use a text with a broad term as license to sin, or use examples of those who have done so to disregard the Bible altogether.  Both of these approaches to scripture are a grave sin.  The former traps women in abusive relationships and the latter sends people to hell.

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Lord Keep us Steadfast in Thy Word: Martin Luther 1483 – 1546

 

 

This hymn can be found in the Lutheran Service Book on pg 655.  It is another one of those classics I had never heard until I became a Lutheran.  I am guessing that like the last one it might only a classic amongst Lutherans.  Something that is easy to pick up on is the Trinitarian format.  There are three verses to the song.  The first verse is to the Father, the second to the Son, and the third to God the Holy Spirit.  As such, this probably isn’t one of those songs you want to skip verses in.

 

1

Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word;
Curb those who by deceit and sword
Would wrest the kingdom from Your Son
And bring to naught all He has done.

 

Something my pastor pointed out the last time we sang this is that this verse has actually been changed.  Instead of “curb those by who deceit and sword” it used to say “Restrain the murderous Pope and Turk” (Und steur des Papst und Türken Mord).  For those who don’t know, Turk in this context is Islam.

 

Historically there would be good cause to pray such a prayer back then.  You had Islam on one side poised to conquer Germany and the Pope on the other with kings submitting to him fixing to do the same.  Praise God that this is a prayer he has already answered:

 

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18 NASB

 

2

Lord Jesus Christ, Your pow’r make known,
For You are Lord of lords alone;
Defend Your holy Church that we
May sing your praise eternally.

 

Notice the author makes it clear that he is speaking to Jesus.  That’s a nice improvement over the last song I reviewed.  This passage comes to mind as I read verse 2:

 

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NASB

 

In this verse of the song I see Luther claiming the promises of scripture that God will not let his church be wiped away.

 

3

O Comforter of priceless worth,
Send peace and unity on earth;
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death to life.

 

Above we have a plead to God the Holy Spirit to do what he has already promised to do in scripture.

 

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 NASB

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 NASB

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 NASB

 

THUMBS UP

 

The theology in this song is great, with or without Turks and Popes.  It should be commended for uplifting the Trinity and for claiming the promises of scripture.

 

Theology Scorecard

Yes No
Is this song confessing Biblical theology? X
Is this song centered on God instead of yourself? X
Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable? X
Is there Biblical Gospel in this song? X
Is there Biblical Law in this song? X
Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all? X

 

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