Friday, May 29, 2009

Thought of the Day

“Run, run and do, the law commands
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
Better news the Gospel brings,
It bids me fly and gives me wings.”

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tattoos and Christians

Let me start by saying I'm NOT for tattoos. However, there are bigger issues here.

People who oppose tattoos frequently quote Lev. 19:28: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” If we have to obey Leviticus 19:28, which prohibits tattoos, then we have to obey Leviticus 19:27, which prohibits haircuts. Furthermore, we are obligated to abstain from pork (Deut. 14:8), to abstain from all work between sundown on Friday and sundown on Saturday (Lev. 23:3), and if anyone does work on the Sabbath, we are required by law to stone him to death (Lev. 15:32-36). We are required to be circumcised (Ge. 17:10-14; Lev. 12:3), and any male who is not is to be cut off from God's people.

I could go on and on. If a Christian wants to use Mosaic Law to make a case against tattoos, then he is obligated to obey the entire law, along with everyone who agrees with him.

Christians constantly stumble over this. What is the place of Mosaic Law in the life of a believer? What about the 10 Commandments? Is the Old Testament still valid? Why do we eat pork and work on Saturdays but oppose murder, homosexuality, adultery, and coveting? Isn't that being selectively obedient?

Read Galatians! (And throw Romans 1-11 in for good measure!)

The Law points to God because it defines sin and reveals the character of God, but it also points us to Christ because it points out our complete inability to conform to the character of God and thus the need for a savior.

Josh McDowell put it best: Every law (precept) is based on an overarching principle, and every principle is based on the person (character) of God Himself. God wants us to conform to His character, and so the logic of the Law.

But as the Bible points out repeatedly, no one is capable of obeying the Law. So what to do?

Christ obeyed the Law perfectly. Christ fulfilled the Law (Mt. 5:17). Christ is the end of the Law (Romans 10:4) and through the New Covenant, made the Old Covenant OBSOLETE (Heb. 8:13).

When a person becomes born again, they are placed in Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). All that is Christ's becomes reckoned to the believer: His death, His burial, His resurrection, His righteousness, His sonship, AND his standing in regards to the Law! If I am in Christ, I am regarded as having obeyed the Law - I am JUSTIFIED! Declared RIGHTEOUS!

So why do we obey some laws and ignore others? It's really simpler than it sounds.

Principles never change. They are eternal and based on the character of God. How they are expressed CAN change – significantly. Precepts (laws) are expressions of principles. The principle behind "no tattoos" was separation from the Pagans, since the pagan nations around Israel ritually tattooed themselves. Same principle behind not cutting the hair at the sides of the head (which is why Orthodox Jews have LONG sideburns!). That principle still stands today. God's people are not to imitate the world (!!). If the Pagans were all cutting their sideburns as an expression of their devotion to Baal (or Krom or color TV or whatever) then God's people should not do it. We are to be separate in this sense.

We are still obligated to every principle expressed in the Bible, but not to Mosaic Law. We don't murder because people are created in God's image. That still stands. Homosexuality is wrong because it violates God’s essential design for human sexuality (Ge. 1:27) AND it mars God's picture through marriage of His relationship to the Church. We are still obligated to rest, and to set aside time sacred to God, but it does not have to be restricted to a single day or a specific form of activity. Hebrews tells us that our Salvation is a fulfillment of Sabbath rest! (So when I'm asked which day I celebrate the Sabbath, I respond 'Every day! I'm saved!')

Am I for tattoos? Absolutely not!

They arguably do mar and dishonor the body, though that is up for debate.
They are often a sign of impulsiveness and immaturity.
They are expensive, permanent, and a poor stewardship all the way around (think of how far that money would go in Africa or India).
It would be hard to convince me that a Christian would get one and not be in imitation of the pagans.
I also think they are most often an expression of REBELLION.
If my kid ever gets one I'll kill him!

But you cannot convince me that they are sinful in and of themselves (any more than trimming your sideburns is!) and you CANNOT appeal to Mosaic Law to make your case! (Unless you appeal to it on the basis of the principle it expresses: Separation)

If we're going to argue this stuff, let's argue on sound biblical thought rather than yanking verses out of the air (proof-texting). I could justify almost anything by doing that! There are plenty of good reasons not to get a tattoo without becoming legalists.

Remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free! (Galatians 5:1)

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Friday, May 15, 2009

The State of the Church

While this focuses more on the white, Evangelical church, its implications touch all of American Christianity. It's especially a must view for youthworkers!

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Violence: An Approach

Here's something that holds promise to address the root of the violence problem, and evidence that God is working...

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