Monthly Archives: January 2015

Women and Work

There is a poster that confirms the fact that nurturing children, our very successors in this world, is a #1 priority for parents, especially the mothers, who are fitted providentially not just in a physical way, but psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually for that all-important task.  The old story of Corenlia’s “jewels” is eternally true.

The virtue of [Women’s Bible Study Groups] is that basically they agree; they are not “fulfilling” themselves by stuffing envelopes or grocery checking-out, etc.  More, while their own children may be grown, they are doubly influential in the lives of their married kids and grandchildren, plus creating a climate in church and society.

Before leaving that important subject, isn’t it ironic that many of the people who get exercised about the sin of abortion bring children into the world (with immortal souls) only to throw them to the wolves via nurturing neglect.  Sin of omission!  Is comparable to the people who insist that the Bible is indeed the Word of God, and then ignore its obvious precepts.  I have said in many a mother’s day sermon, “Is better not to have children at all than to raise them in a non-Christian environment (as do the unbelievers),” but a Christian mother can be guilty of non-Christian nurture as well; cf the frightening prospect of government day-care centers.

As regards our daily work, which for many is just for extra income:  Our entire present life is a training, preparation for endless life hereafter in the same fashion as gestation (for less than a year) is preliminary to “real” life (expectancy 70-80 years!) outside the womb.  Most people, if they think about it at all, think that the hereafter (which is endless!) bears very little relation to this life on earth.  But, just as in the case of gestation, our sex will not change (i.e. men won’t become women, nor both become sexless, anymore than failure to marry or to have children de-sexes a man or a woman on earth).  Ergo: What we are basically doing in our few fleeting years on earth is building the basis, foundation, for endless life.  That basis determines the form, structure, of our endless life, just as a round house cannot be built on a square foundation, nor a big house on a small one.

This is exactly what Paul is getting at in I Cor. 3:10-17, great scripture reading!  The Judgement Day has nothing to do with a person’s salvation, as though that is just another higher court after a lower one has already condemned or acquitted a person.  It has nothing to do with sin and sins per se, as though all of one’s life is reviewed like a drowning person’s last moments.  For the Christian the judgment Day is what Jesus describes in the parables of the talents and the pounds; an award assembly in which each person “reaps what he (she) has sown.”  That is what Rev. 14:13 means, and 22:10, the “last words” in the Bible.

If that concept would grip all and each of us, it would do far more to change our life-style, our choice of “calling” and the way we discharge our daily duties, than the higher concept of “serving the Lord” instead of others and even self.  By being what God made us for and by simply following his simple and plain directions for our lives, we not only please him, (naturally), but best serve our fellows (through the unique gifts as generic women and individual women) but EVEN OURSELVES AND OWN HAPPINESS – which happens to be the approach of the Heidelberg Catechism itself as to what salvation and Christian service is all about.

I think any of my “work” (Labor Day) sermons would have less relevance for women (assuming we could still lay our hands on such a recording) than some Mother’s Day sermons which I have preached, but much of the contents of those are results of our combined conversations and looking at life through your very own life.

One final thought regarding heaven; some people think we will all be like uniform clones, when some will be spiritual “pygmies”, dwarfs.  Who wants to get into heaven by the skin of their teeth, which is what Paul means by “being saved as though by fire”.  Lot’s wife got out of Sodom, but Sodom didn’t get out of her.  Think how her daughters, after her death, turned out!

The Book of Job

By way of introduction, Job lived about the same time as Abraham, in similar circumstances, moving about in tents.  Writing was “invented” long after people were talking, memorizing; handing on simple traditions orally.  (It is amazing how exact; constant repetition)  It helped to chant, “poetry”, repeat idea in different word.  Made for beautiful language.  We do not know who wrote the book itself.  It is significant that the first book of the Bible to be written (because Abraham and Lot lived 500 years before Moses) had to do with the perennial problem of evil (the book that made CS Lewis popular was “The Problem of Pain”).  The big argument of atheists is that God is neither all-powerful (hence not divine or more than we are) or all-loving, that allows so much evil, pain in the world.  (The Christian reassurance is the plain promise of God that he never allows Satan to send more evil – for he is the author of all that is bad – than we can sustain, all of which makes us better, bigger, more God-like, which is God’s purpose in making man in the first place.)

One big value of the book of Job is that it moves the veil between the world that we know (with pain, etc.) and the invisible world, full of good and bad spirits, especially Satan and his myriad followers, helpers.  The reason why Satan had an audience with God in the Old Testament is that until Jesus atoned for the sins of the world, the Accuser always had a case against us.  After the atonement was made, he was thrown out of court.

In arriving at something of the correct answer to suffering, the Bible outlines all the usual explanations, by way of eliminating them; none applied to Job.  For example, a sufferer sins and deserves what he gets. But too many innocent people suffer.  Bear in mind, then, in reading Job, that everything that is offered by way of Job’s friends is not correct, or inspired.

Another big lesson in the book of Job is that trouble often comes to the person who is the least “guilty”, in order to reach somebody else who is more so.  Job’s friends learned a lot by this whole experience.  In the last chapter God tells Job to pray for his friends so that they could be blessed.  And so a person sometimes lands in the hospital in order to be an influence for good to a roommate, a nurse, or whatever.

Even though the exact meaning of all of the book of Job is not clear, it is beautiful poetry, descriptions of nature and man’s thinking/experiences; in other words, it is a high form of human wisdom that does not have God’s explanation.  And the book contains some great statements, such as the words of the solo, “I know that my Redeemer (vindicator) lives, and at the last day he will appear upon the earth; and in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25)  God’s answers in Chapters 38-41 are especially beautiful.

The story ends almost like a fairy tale, too good to be true; Job comes out of his troubles to become richer than ever, with a larger family.  Those of us who are not too troubled with the problems of sin and suffering could almost jump from the first 2 or 3 chapters and go directly to the last five.

It is always important for us to remember that when we are suffering (in whatever many forms it takes) God is not jumping for joy, but himself is sad, just as Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus, even though he knew that the death was necessary and that  Lazarus would come out of the grave.

Sin and the New You

Christianity is not a “head trip”.  Satan knows more about God and the Bible than any living creature.  The Christian faith is a way of life.  A person can be very religious and not be saved.  Worship is an important part of our faith, but only a part.  And our best worship is in love and service of others; it is easy to sing and  pray, “God, I love you”, etc.

We know these things from the Bible.  If we did not have the Bible we would not know right from wrong, truth from error.  For example, even Abraham had more than one wife.

Doctrine (theology, catechism) is a summary or digest of the Bible, to help understand and apply, practice what the Bible says.  But doctrines are not inspired; they don’t all agree (such as, who should be baptized, and how?) and have to be improved, added to, as the Holy Spirit (invisible Jesus) keeps on teaching us; the Holy Spirit is the one who inspired the Bible.  For example, in the part of Catechism we are studying, the word “we” is used sometimes to describe us as human beings (who all descended form Adam and Eve) and then again, as Christians, who are new people, changed, day-and-night different from non-Christians, unbelievers.

That is why many people have the impression – and say so- that every human being is a sinner.  That is simply not so. I may be able to sing, but that does not mean I am a “singer”; to fix little things on my car, but not call myself a “mechanic”.  The Bible tells us – though nobody has to be told; we all have a conscience – that everybody sins; some much, some little,  But the Bible nowhere calls a Christian a “sinner’, even a “forgiven sinner”, such as you find on bumper stickers, many hymns, etc.  We are saints. Because Christ lives in our hearts (think of the song, “I serve a risen Savior….”) we are new people, perfect people.  (Can Christ be half-perfect?) We have been born twice, a second time.

And that doesn’t mean that we are Siamese twins, schizophrenics, Jekyl-Hydes.  Our natural self, our “old” nature, the person that we were before we were born again, was replaced, substituted, actually died when we became a Christian.  (When a sub goes into a game, one of the former players has to come out, stop playing.)

That new “you”, which is Christ-in-you, does not have to sin.  Some people think we just have to sin constantly, that we can’t help it.  That is a cop-out.  The Bible says we do not have to. (I Cor. 10:13  Also many verses in I John.)  That new you will never die;  Hebrews says that Christ died just once, and can never die again.  It will never face a judgement; if he or she is perfect, as the new you is, what can it be judged for?

But what about the times we do sin? (And “sin” includes mistakes we make in school as well as failing to do good things that we ought to.  A person sins if he stays in bed all day, without doing a single “bad” thing, because he OUGHT to be doing this or that for good.)  Well, when a chicken has its head off, it can still do a lot of “damage”; an auto that is going down the highway may run out of gas and the motor be “dead”, but it keeps on going a while, even able to kill somebody.  And after we become a Christian, (a new person; somebody been been buried), it can “coast” or keep on kicking for the rest of our life (tho’ less and less), in habits that we do without thinking, etc.  But that is not “you”; they are like knee-jerks on a doctor’s table.  (Romans 7:17,20)

And where did we get those old habits?  We inherited them from our parents, just as we got our skin-color, specific sex, musical ability or math skill from our folks or grand-parents, and they, of course, got theirs from previous ancestors.  And it all, of course, started with Adam.  That is what we mean by “original” sin – how it started, originated.

But there is a simple way to repudiate all that.  Conscientious objectors to fighting in Vietnam, just because the President “declares war” on a country, can escape killing (and being killed), by going to another country.  And we can reject Adam, refuse to have anything to do with him, by uniting with Jesus, the Second Adam, who started a new race, a new humanity, of perfect people.  Faith is an acrostic for:  Forsaking Adam, I Take Him (Jesus).  Then you an say with Paul, Who cares what Adam did? Look at what Christ did!  For me, and in me.

That’s what Romans 5 is all about (and Paul keeps on explaining until he says in Romans 8:1 – Now, therefore, there is NO condemnation – for Adam’s sin or any of our own – for those who are IN Christ Jesus).  The only reason the Bible explains how we and Adam are connected is to give us a poor picture of how much better and closer we are connected to Christ.  Who wants to keep looking at a poor picture of a person when you have the “real thing” right beside you?