Volume 37 April - May - June, 2006 Number 2
Separation of Faith and Law - Andy Diestelkamp
Daughters: From Whence Come Their Godly Husbands? - Keith Clayton
The Lesser of Two Evils - Al Diestelkamp
Denying God Secretly - Rick Liggin
Is the Church of Christ a Cult? - David Diestelkamp
The Choice Seats - Al Diestelkamp
Separation of Faith and Law
By Andy Diestelkamp
As a citizen of the United States, I am thankful for the freedoms that I have. I appreciate the freedom of the press which allows me to write without fear of reprisals from my government. I am grateful that I can freely assemble with my brethren and openly worship God. I am glad that our founding fathers created a government that is not beholden to any particular religious creed, church, or denomination; but that all are free to seek God as directed by Him and their consciences.
There has been great political debate over Jefferson's reference to a "wall of separation" between church and state. In so far as "separation" has been enforced to keep the government from running churches and churches from running the government, I am thrilled. However, with increasing frequency we are seeing the courts extrapolating the separation of church and state into a separation of faith and law. In other words, if the courts suspect that faith in God has at all motivated or influenced state-sponsored activity, school board decisions, or legislative action in any way, then they are declared unconstitutional.
Last year a Colorado court overturned the decision of a jury to sentence a man to death because the jury considered what the Bible might have to say on the matter of capital punishment. The jury had an obligation to make every effort to arrive at a just and moral conclusion. In an effort to do this the jury referenced a widely-accepted moral guide. The judge had not turned sentencing over to a church but to twelve individuals who came from different backgrounds. A juror was just as free to reject the references to Scripture as to accept them. No government or church forced the jurors to give consideration to the Bible.
That the jury's consideration of the Bible constituted no breach in Jefferson's wall of separation is made especially clear by the fact that individuals and churches which use the Bible as their moral guide have come to different conclusions on the morality of capital punishment. What if the ones who had brought in the Bible had done so to plead for mercy in sparing the convicted man's life? What if the jury had rejected the testimony of Scripture as not being relevant to their case and therefore decided against capital punishment? Would the courts have ordered him executed? Certainly not!
Honestly, I found it refreshing...
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There is something special about daughters. Dads can become a piece of putty in their hands if they aren't careful, and make them forget their sobering and awesome duty to the man who will become her husband.
What kind of wife will our daughter make? What kind of mother will she become for our grandchildren? Will she be a daughter of Sarah, with a meek and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of God? Will she love, honor and reverence her husband as God designed her to do? Will she be a good keeper of the home? Will she love God enough to serve Him by serving her husband and children with all that she is? Will she love God's word, and serve Him faithfully in His one true church? Will she be truth-centered and hold God's infallible word in her heart? (1 Pet. 3:1-6).
Boys are different. We rear them differently, to be godly leaders. We train boys to love God, His word, His true church, their familiessome of the same things we strive to teach our daughters, as human beings and people of God. Yet, boys are really different. They will be the heads of their future families. They will be responsible to God for how they lead. They, and their families, will reap the consequences of their decisions, whether those choices are godly or ungodly, true or false. Though we continue to be concerned that our sons make right and godly choices, we know that those are their choices to make as heads of their own families.
That's the big difference between our sons and daughters, and it is the reason for the consternation, and even trepidation, about dad's "giving away" their daughters in marriage. A faithful brother in Christ recently expressed some concern about his four daughters--from whence will come godly men for them to marry? His daughters have a way to go before they are of age to marry; but, this dad is looking ahead, and looking aroundand not much liking what he sees even among the churches of Christ!
I'm talking godly men, not just those that show up to the assemblies of Christ's church. I'm referring to holy men who are not friends of the world, those who have their senses trained to discern--by use of God's word--between good and evil, between truth and error. I'm speaking about real men who are unafraid of controversy with the world.
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When it comes to behavior, one should never allow himself to be put into positions where he chooses between two evils. There may be situations wherein we think we must make such choices, but in reality there are always other options which we ignore because they may include discomfort, or even hardship.
We're dwelling in an ungodly world that excuses some sins, either because they are commonplace, or because they are viewed as harmless. The so-called "white lie" has long been considered acceptable in society. In recent times the world has developed a long list of what is called "victimless" crimes and sins.
Most Christians recognize this as a trap laid by Satan, and understand that we cannot afford to fall into it by excusing any sin. The Bible clearly reveals that one will not enter into eternal life with any unforgiven sin, be it murder or that "little white lie" (Rev. 21:27).
Having said that, let me challenge a claim frequently made in Bible classes and sermons that "sin is sin, so one sin is as great as another." The Bible doesn't teach that. In fact, it teaches just the opposite.
When God was about to bring a flood on the earth, it was because "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth" (Gen. 6:5). Every man that had lived up to that point had sinned, but the sin became so great that God decided to start over, saving eight sinners whose sins were evidently not as grievous as the rest of mankind.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah, shows that God considers some sins worse than others. In explaining His reason for destroying those cities God told Abraham it was "because their sin is very grave" (Gen. 18:20). He spared other cities populated with sinners, but whose sins were not as grave.
Whenever I hear someone say that there are no degrees of sin, or all sins are the same, I wonder if they realize they are contradicting Jesus who said to Pilate, "the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin" (Jn. 19:11). Obviously, Jesus was not excusing Pilate's sin, but He clearly placed greater blame on others.
Though I think I've made it pretty clear that the "lesser" sins cannot be ignored just because they are not as "great" as others, let me make it even clearer. Any sin, great or small, has the potential of destroying one's soul. Conversely, any sin, great or small, can be remitted by the blood of Christ if the sinner will comply with the gospel of the grace of God.
P.O. Box 891, Cortland, Illinois 60112
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"If I have put my confidence in gold, and called fine gold my trust, if I have gloated because my wealth was great, and because my hand had secured so much; if I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon going in splendor, and my heart became secretly enticed, and my hand threw a kiss from my mouth, that too would have been an iniquity calling for judgment, for I would have denied God above." (Job 31:24-28).
Recently, when I once again came across these words of Job, I was struck by how serious he was about avoiding every form of sin and even the slightest of transgressions. In this text, Job is asserting his integrity before God and trying to argue his absolute faithfulness to God. Job recognized, and bluntly declares here, that any paganism at all--even in the smallest of forms--would constitute an utter denial of God.
When Job speaks in this text of looking at the sun or the moon in their splendor, he's not talking about simply admiring these great heavenly bodies as God created them. All of us, from time to time, stand in awe of God's creation and admire its beautyand rightly so! We should admire what God has made.
But this isn't what Job is talking about in this text. He's talking about looking at the sun or moon with the intent of worshiping these created things. Job is saying that if somehow he felt a desire to worship the sun or the moon by throwing a kiss at them--if he only entertained these thoughts secretly in his own heart--even that would be an outright denial of the true God of heaven.
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damaging. Deciding what is a cult and what isn't can be difficult because there is not one, all encompassing, definition which can be applied in every situation. While using care to avoid unsafe religious groups, we also need to resist the temptation to label as a cult any group we aren't familiar with or which seems different from what we are used to. Because some people are unfamiliar with the church of Christ they have wondered if we are a cult.
One man jokingly wrote that a cult was any group he didn't like. He was pointing out the tendency to use prejudicial or inflammatory language to describe those with whom we disagree. People sometimes throw the word cult around out of fear of the unknown and as a way to avoid open-minded investigation.
Of course, there are religious cults that are spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes physically dangerous and
"According to cult expert David Halperin, most cults are groups organized for the purpose of venerating an authoritarian, usually self-proclaimed leader. This leader claims to have a special relationship with God or with some other supernatural force, a relationship that imbues him or her with special powers."
- A Parents Guide to Teens and Cults, by Larry Dumont and Richard Altesman, The PIA Press, 1989, page 12.
Here are some reasons why we do not fit the cult description:
We do not have a human leader. Christ is the head of the church (Eph.1:22)
We do not claim to have special revelation (knowledge) which others do not have we believe the Bible is our sole authority (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Reason from Scripture is used in teaching, not pressure, manipulation, or control tactics (Isa. 1:18)
Every member is to study and understand God's word, not following any man or group ideology (1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:15)
We do not isolate ourselves, but are to be in the world while not being of the world (Jn. 17:14-15; Matt. 5:13-14)
We are not closed minded, but are willing to "test all things" (1 Thess. 5:21)
We are not antagonistic, but believe, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Rom. 12:18)
Zeal is expressed in ways controlled by God in the Scriptures (Rom. 10:2)
Without exception, we are committed to God's high standard of morality, refusing to compromise anything revealed in the New Testament.
Being a follower of Christ has always been about faith based on personal study and investigation. True faith and its expression may seem strange, even extreme, to those who are unfamiliar with faith as revealed in the New Testament. Different or devoted does not mean cultic.
Our desire to do what is right in the sight of God must drive us to search for and find His true will as revealed in the Bible. These are the people you will find in God's true church. A cult tries to decide for you God's people want you to look to God in His word to decide for you!
940 N. Elmwood Drive, Aurora, Illinois 60506
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Why is it that at sporting events, musical concerts and dramatic performances, the choice seats are near the front, but at worship people (even many Christians) actually prefer to sit as far back as possible?
At secular events people are quite willing to cheer and applaud along with strangers seated right next to them, while at worship many Christians do all they can to put as much space as possible between themselves and their brothers and sisters in Christ.
I fear the answer to my question is that many Christians do not want to get highly involved in worship, and find comfort in being away from "the action."
P.O. Box 891, Cortland, Illinois 60112
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