"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Jesus or Jezebel and the Just Sentence of Death

As Jesus was dying on the cross, He bled in four places: Atop His skull where the Romans had placed a crown of thorns, in the middle of His two palms where the soldiers hammered nails into His outstretched hands, and at his feet where a giant nail was driven through His feet, one foot aligned on top of the other.

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)  bled in fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17).

1500 years before the death of Jesus, the first Passover lambs were slain by the Hebrews at God's command (see Exodus 12).

The blood of the original Passover lambs was placed on the door of the Hebrew homes in four places: Atop the door (i.e. 'the crown'), on both sides of the door (i.e. 'the outstretched palms'), and at the threshold  (i.e. 'the feet').

The Passover lamb died as the means through which God delivered His people from their slavery in Egypt.

As the Hebrews ate the Passover lamb inside their blood covered homes, the angel of death came to visit Egypt. The angel "passed over" every home where the blood had been applied. Thus, from that first Passover until today, the Hebrews commemorate that night with a meal they call Passover.

The Egyptian people, however,  did not appropriate the Passover lamb, and so they did not escape the judgment of death. In every Egyptian family, the firstborn child died.

As the Egyptians mourned the deaths of their firstborn, the Hebrews left their bondage in Egypt and made their way to the Promised Land (Exodus 12:29-30).

The judgment of death that first Passover came upon the Egyptians at the midnight hour.

You can watch actor Charleston Heston play Moses in The 10 Commandments, a 1956 film which reenacts the first Hebrew Passover and is broadcast on American national television every Easter.

But the real-life fulfillment of Passover occurred 2,000 years ago - 1500 years after Moses' original Passover - when Jesus the Messiah came to die as God's Passover Lamb for the world.


Jesus As God's Passover Lamb


Why did Jesus die?

That simple question will get you some very complex answers from people who study theology. I'm going to simplify it.

1. Jesus died as a demonstration of Divine love.
2. Jesus died as a substitution for human death.
3. Jesus died as a propitiation of Divine wrath.

The first reason Jesus died was to demonstrate God's love for us.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son..." (John 3:16).
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life..." (John 15:13).
The second reason Jesus died was to take our place bearing the judgment of death as our Substitute.
"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us" (II Corinthians 5:21).
"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." (Romans 5:6-9)
The third reason Jesus died was to make sinners 'at-one' with God forever through Him.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
"We also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation with God" (Romans 5:11).
It's this third and last reason which causes so much confusion for people. When the Bible speaks of the "wrath of God" (see Romans 1:18) we often wrongly think of the anger of a drunk, abusive earthly father, or the tirades of an unjust and uncivil boss, or the brooding silence of an angry spouse.

Rarely do we see God's righteous anger in human form.

I've seen it a few times in my work as a police chaplain. I once saw righteous anger in a judge who pronounced the death sentence for a killer who coldly and brutally murdered four victims (I did the funeral for one of the murderer's victims).

Righteous anger is rarely seen today because we're not often around judges who justly pronounce a sentence of death on the wicked. Usually, the anger we see or experience comes from peers who unjustly take vengeance.

God is the Supreme Judge. As Christians, we are to wait for Him to execute righteous judgment on the wicked:
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge: I will repay," says the Lord. (Romans 5:19).
On the cross, Jesus bore God's righteous sentence for sin.

God, in His love for sinners, sent His Son to be the Substitute for sinners, bearing death - the just punishment from God for sin, so that sinners "covered by Christ's death" will live forever and not forever die.

Christ's death is the reconciliation - or an "at-one-moment" - between a holy God and lawbreakers who deserve death.


Death As the Righteous Punishment for Sin


When God demonstrates His wrath, He does it right. That's why it is called "right-eous" wrath. No one is able to question the justness of it.

The display of God's wrath will always be proven right.

Through death, God eradicates evil.
"The Lord will destroy the wicked" (Psalm 145:20).
"But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked." (Psalm 37:28).
"He shall punish the wicked with everlasting destruction" (II Thessalonians 1:9).
The final and full display of God's wrath toward sin - and His full and His free gift of eternal life for sinners who have trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior - is still to come.
"For a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear My voice and come out" (John 5:28)
The apostle Paul said it like this:
"And I have the same hope in God...that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." (Acts 24:15).
At that final judgment after the resurrection, called "the wrath to come" - the wrath from which Jesus, as God's Passover Lamb, rescues His people (see I Thessalonians 1:10) - the wicked will be judged for their sins in this life and die a "second time."

But this "second death" (Revelation 20:14), unlike the first death, is called everlasting because there will be no reversal, no hope of deliverance, no future resurrection.

Contrary to the unbiblical view that God tortures sinners in hell forever, the Bible teaches that the wicked die everlastingly as a just punishment for their sins.

We can be sure that "the wicked will not go unpunished" (Proverbs 11:21).
"The wicked will perish for their sins" (Psalm 37:20).
However, there is some Good News.

The immortal God - in love for sinners - took upon Himself mortal flesh - in order to die as a Substitute for sinners - giving everlasting life to those who are in Christ because a holy God is "at-one" with sinners through the work of Jesus Christ.
"Be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Savior" (Acts 2:36).
In this life, the assurance you have that Jesus is your Saviour is Jesus is your Lord.

He either becomes King of your life during this present life or He is not your Savior from death and Giver of everlasting life.

Jesus died that you might live.

But not all sinners want Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives.


Jezebel's Death Pictures God's Final and Righteous Judgment toward Sinners

Jezebel is a picture of the wicked who die outside of Christ.

The name Jezebel means "chaste or pure," but like every person created by God to be free from evil, Jezebel is one who turns from God and lives licentiously, immorally, and selfishly.

Jezebel is a picture of one who lives independent of God (see Revelation 2:20).

The way God's judgment fell on Jezebel at her first death is a type or picture of God's righteous judgment on all who are turned over to everlasting death on the day of judgment.

You can read how Jezebel died in II Kings 9:30-37.
"But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet, and her hands."
The only thing left after the dogs had consumed Jezebel's body in the streets were the crown of her head, her two hands, and her feet.

The very places that Jesus bled on the cross.

A sinner experiences death as the righteous judgment from God, or a sinner will find that the judgment of death "passes over" because the Lamb has given His life (eg 'bled') in place of the sinner (e.g. "as the sinner's Substitute').

Or to put it succinctly:
The everlasting Messiah dies in the place of sinners or sinners die an everlasting death themselves.
The difference between the two potential destinies of sinners - everlasting life or everlasting death - is determined by the sinner's embrace of the Lamb of God.
"Kiss His Son, or God will be angry and your way will lead to destruction" (Psalm 2:12).
"And into the eternal city will be brought...only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 2:27).

The Wicked Will Be Erased from Memory

After Jezebel died, the Bible says "No one was able to say, 'This is Jezebel" (II Kings 9:37).

There was no memory of her. There was no memorial to her. There were no remnants of her except those pieces that are a reminder of the death of Jesus (e.g. "the skull, the hands, the feet").

Jezebel was gone.

So too, very soon, the wicked will go the way of Jezebel.
"A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found" (Psalm 37:10).
Jesus or Jezebel.

Both deaths represent the two different and ultimate ends for sinners.

One death brings life; the other death brings shame, contempt, and the loss of identity.
"For God so loved this world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). 

Al Mohler's Unbiblical Belief that New Testament Gender Equality Means Affirming Homosexuality

Recently Dr. Al Mohler released an article entitled All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand: A Portrait of Theological Disaster.

Dr. Mohler, President of Southern Theological Seminary, writes that he believes the numerical decline of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is due to that denomination's affirmation of homosexual behavior. Mohler believes that the CBF leadership is caught in the trap of being forced to affirm homosexuality by "millennials" in the CBF while at the same time attempting to prevent "the loss of support from (CBF) churches outraged by any policy condoning homosexuality."

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship broke off from the Southern Baptist Convention in 1991. Interestingly, many of the conservative/moderate churches in the CBF are opposed to any affirmation of homosexuality, believing homosexual behavior is categorized as sin in Scripture.

The CBF has recently released a report entitled Honoring Autonomy and Reflecting the Fellowship which has, according to Mohler, "infuriated LGBT proponents and alienated more conservative CBF churches."

Mohler's thesis in his article is that the problems in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are "the inevitable result of the abandonment of the full truthfulness and authority of Scripture."

I happen to agree with Mohler that those of us who believe the Bible to be truthful, inspired, and authoritative also believe that homosexual behavior is a sin against God.

However, Al Mohler goes on to make this statement:
"This (eg. 'affirming homosexuality') is also the logical consequence of adopting a hermeneutic that allows for the service of women as pastors — for many Cooperative Baptist Fellowship congregations, the key issue of outrage at the Southern Baptist Convention. The same negotiation and “reinterpretation” of the biblical text that allows for the service of women pastors will logically lead to the acceptance of the LGBT revolution. How can it not? Individuals and congregations may refuse to take this next step, but they have surrendered the only binding argument that would offer an objective truth claim. Eventually, the revolutionaries will win, and they know it. Clearly, some appear unwilling to wait."
Sorry, Dr. Mohler.

You don't get a pass on this one.

Many Bible-believing, Christ-honoring people, pastors, and denominations see the New Testament Scriptures to teach that followers of Christ serve according to their giftedness, not their gender.

And these same Christians believe the New Covenant Scriptures also portray homosexuality - as well as other sexual acts outside of a marriage between one man and one woman - as sin.

Catherine Clark Kroeger has written an insightful article entitled Does Belief in Women's Equality Lead to an Acceptance of Homosexual Practice?

No Bible-believing, Christ-honoring follower of Jesus can read Catherine's article and arrive at Mohler's illogical and unbiblical conclusion that affirmation of New Testament gender equality - with distinctions of service based on giftedness - ever equates to an affirmation of homosexuality.

I would encourage Dr. Mohler and others like him to be careful of painting theological constructs with such a broad brush.

Valentine's Day - The Lost Art of Ascending in Love

Falling in love.

The phrase is an oxymoron. It's a figure of speech that is contradictory.

It's like saying "I'm falling to the summit of Everest" or "I'm falling to the office of CEO."

You may fall in lust, but you can't fall in love.

Love requires effort.

The creation didn't fall into place by accident. The Sistine Chapel isn't great artistry because Michelangelo did nothing. Transcendent greatness requires a creator who cares.

Love is an art. Love takes knowledge, effort, and perseverance. Love is something you ascend to, not something you fall in.

Since one falls into lust and ascends into love, the greatest artists of love are those who understand the differences between love and lust.

Lust is a feeling of pleasure that attaches to me like a virus. I'm not sure where it comes from, I only know I have it by the symptoms it brings, it usually ends in some form of pain, and I need help from others to identify it and get rid of it.

On the other hand...
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, it does not boast, and is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, and it is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (I Corinthians 13:4-8). 
Therefore, love is an art and lust is an appetite. Love is selfless and lust is self-absorbed. Love is of God and lust is of myself.

Love takes work because it's not a natural attribute of the naturally self-absorbed.

Valentine's Day 

Americans will spend nearly $12 billion dollars on flowers, candies, and cards that say "I Love You." 

The ancient Romans gave Americans this holy day called Valentine's.  The Romans celebrated an annual festival in February called Lupercalia,  Roman men stripped naked, sacrificed a goat and a dog, and then whipped naked women in the marketplace with the hides of the animals they just killed.

Young women would actually line up for the Roman men to hit them, believing participation in the festival would make them fertile and the festival would be the means for the ladies to find strong, handsome, virile men to whom they could mate.

The Romans were kings and queens of lust.

On February 14, during a Lupercalia festival in the 3rd century, Roman emperor Claudius II executed two men on  - both named Valentine - for their rebellion against the emperor. Both Valentines followed another King they called Jesus.

After the fall of Rome, the Roman Catholic Church took to calling February 14 Valentine's Day in honor of the two Christian martyrs who died during Lupercalia.

Though the name has changed from Lupercalia to Valentine's, the spirit behind both holidays remains the same.

Even Christians tend to forget that love is an art which you ascend and attain and not an aura into which you fall and remain

If I say, "I love my church," but I'm looking for what I can get from my church rather than what I give to the people who make up the church, then I'm infected with lust.

If I say, "I love my spouse,"  but I'm looking to receive something from my spouse rather than to give patience, kindness, forgiveness, hope, protection, truth, honor, and perseverance to my spouse, then I may need a fresh reminder of the difference between love and lust.

Love is an art.

And the only way to learn how to love is to take a class from the Master Artist.
"Love one another. As I have loved you," Jesus said.

Paige and Dorothy Patterson’s Retirement Home Built on the Property of Southwestern Seminary

The Patterson Retirement Home
Dr. Paige Patterson and his wife Dorothy, nearing retirement as President and First Lady of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, are having their retirement home built on the seminary property.

The decision by the Executive Committee of Southwestern Theological Seminary's trustees to allow the Pattersons to live out their retirement years on the grounds of SWBTS needs to be questioned by the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention for many reasons.

Before articulating these reasons, let me state that I personally like Paige and Dorothy Patterson. I've found them to be hospital hosts, zealous for evangelism, and filled with humor. It's no secret that I have challenged Dr. Patterson on several fronts, including allowing a practicing Muslim entrance to the Seminary in violation of both the seminary's charter and purpose, firing the finest Hebrew professor in the Southern Baptist Convention "because she was female," and various other issues over the years.

Differing on principles does not equate to disliking the persons.

On many occasions, there have been professors, trustees, students, and graduates of Southwestern Theological Seminary who have contacted me with concerns. I have declined to say or write anything about several issues brought to my attention. This post is written not because I do not wish the Pattersons to live out their golden years in comfort, but rather,  I and many others believe the decision to allow them to live on school property is troublesome on several fronts.

1. The controversial decision to allow the Pattersons to live on SWBTS's campus after retirement has been driven by Dr. Patterson and voted on in secret by the Executive Committee of the seminary's trustees, not during open plenary sessions of all trustees. 

A former chairman of the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary let it be known that “The retirement home for the Pattersons will not be built on school property during my watch.”

Dr. Patterson waited until that man’s watch ticked out.

Kevin Ueckert, SWBTS Trustee Chairman
Whether the current trustee chairman,  Dr. Kevin Ueckert of FBC Georgetown, Texas, is in favor of the Patterson retirement home being built on school property under his watch,  is a matter open for discussion. However, if the decision was made during an Executive Session by the Executive Committee of the SWBTS trustees, then one would assume the chairman voted "Yes."

On January 31, 2018, I contacted Dr. Ueckert via Messenger and asked him several questions. To date, I've not received any responses to my questions.  The current chairman is a young pastor, a graduate of Southwestern Theological Seminary, and he has a long pastoral career in front of him.

Interestingly, on February 6, 2018, one week after my queries, the Southern Baptist Texan, the Southern Baptists in Texas conservative newsletter, led by Jim Richards, friend to Paige Patterson, posted a long interview with Dr. Paige Patterson where a handful of my questions were answered, raising even more concerns.

The article states that "this vision was planted a long while back by an idea a trustee (had) at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where Patterson was president."

Notice the directional change. The idea began at Southeastern and finds fruition at Southwestern.

What idea was planted at Southeastern? The article continues:
"Phillip Mercer and his wife wanted to build the Pattersons a retirement home – anywhere."
The Patterson retirement home at SWBTS, Ft. Worth, Texas
That retirement home is being built on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Unfortunately, when the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary voted on building the retirement home over a year ago, the seminary trustees gave the impression that they were approving a $2.5 million dollar Baptist Heritage Center to archive materials, libraries, and collections of famous Southern Baptists, and possibly have rooms to temporarily house a few missionaries on furlough or who were visiting SWBTS. At the time, the trustees either intentionally refused to address and vote on whether the Pattersons should live in the Baptist Heritage Center during open session, or even worse, were never made aware of the true use of the proposed building.

There is no public record of the trustees approving this building as the Patterson's retirement home. The trustees are obligated to report such actions made during their plenary sessions to the Southern Baptist Convention. There has never been a report to the Southern Baptist Convention that this decision to build a retirement home for the Pattersons on school property was made by the trustees.

Interestingly, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, SBC This Week published an article entitled "Patterson Discusses Retirement Plans" and made this incredible statement (emphasis mine):
"While not announced in the trustee meeting recap, the Southwestern executive committee of the trustee board officially extended an invitation in September 2017 for the Pattersons to reside in the Baptist Heritage Center as its first theologians-in-residence at a time to be determined later."
Let that sink in. Behind closed doors. In Executive Session. No reporting of the decision to the Southern Baptist Convention. Trustee boards are supposed to be transparent.

Someone has rightly said, "We are only as sick as our secrets." Our convention will never be healthy and Kingdom-minded as long as we allow a decision like this to be made behind closed doors. 

Yesterday (February 7, 2018), Baptist Press issued a statement from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary entitled "Conservative Resurgence Archives To Be Housed at New SWBTS Center." 

It seems that since I have begun privately asking questions of leadership, SWBTS is now making public that, indeed, Dr. and Mrs. Patterson will be living out their retirement years on the property of Southwestern Theological Seminary. However, in finally making public this decision which the seminary trustee executive committee made in private, the seminary's public relations department is emphasizing "This will be a Baptist Heritage Center."

No, it's not. It's a retirement home.

If it is truly a Baptist Heritage Center, then the Pattersons would not be living in it.

2. The decision to construct the Patterson retirement home on the property of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary property must be addressed by the Southern Baptist Convention. 

A healthy minority of SWBTS trustees are embarrassed - borderline angry - that the Pattersons have been granted by the trustee executive committee the right to live out their retirement years among facilities paid for by over $372,000,000 Cooperative Program dollars. That's correct. The Southern Baptist Convention has forwarded to Southwestern Theological Seminary over $372 million Cooperative Program dollars since the founding of the seminary. 

The Southern Baptist Convention should have a say whether or not a retirement home for a former president should be built on institutional grounds.  The trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are accountable to the SBC, not the President of the institution they serve. The President is supposed to work for them; not the other way around.

Can the seminary's trustees make these kinds of decisions without approval of the Southern Baptist Convention? Of course. But as stated above, this decision should have been debated during open forum plenary trustee sessions, should have been voted upon and votes recorded in the minutes, and those minutes should have been reported out to the Southern Baptist Convention in the recap of the trustee plenary sessions.

Institutional trustees answer to the Southern Baptist Convention. When there is transparency and accountability like there is supposed to be at our convention, the process actually works.

This matter should be addressed by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention this June in Dallas, Texas. The secrecy of the decision is troublesome enough, but in the long run, the precedent set by this decision may cause even more, unexpected problems in the future.

3.  Having a former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on the property during the tenure of a new president is unhealthy for the institution on several fronts. 
a. Ask any new pastor if he wants the former pastor officing next door to him?
b. Ask Paige Patterson if he would have wanted Ken Hemphill living on school property when he took over?  There may be some real irony here in that Dr. Ken Hemphill is running for President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and will be voted on this June in Dallas, Texas.
c. Ask any church if they think it would be wise to build a second parsonage for their retiring pastor, next door to the current parsonage which will house the "yet to be named" new pastor?
d. Ask any newly married woman if it's wise for her husband to build a home for his ex-girlfriend next door to the couples' home?
Dr. Patterson's friend told him he would build him a retirement home anywhere. 

Anywhere. Last time I checked, anywhere meant anywhere.

Why in the name of the Southern Baptist Convention is it being built on the property of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary? 

4. If a court finds Paige Patterson guilty of conspiring to cover-up a sexual assault, are the Pattersons asked to leave, and are stained glass windows removed?

The Cover Page of the Lawsuit
Last December 27, 2017, Paul Pressler was accused in a lawsuit, filed in Harris County court, of sexually assaulting Gareld Duane Rollins, Jr., beginning in 1979 when Rollins was 14-years-old. The suit alleges decades of molestation and sexual abuse

The suit also names Paige Patterson in the lawsuit. Rollins alleges that Paige was knowledgeable of the abuse and helped cover it up. The victim is seeking over $1 million dollars in damages. 

On at least one mission trip overseas, Dr. Patterson and Dorothy Patterson were present with Paul Pressler and young Gareld Rollins. The Texas Monitor is reporting on this case with regularity. 

I have no knowledge of whether or not the claims in the lawsuit have merit, but reading the actual papers filed makes one's stomach turn. 

Suppose that a jury or a judge finds Dr. and Mrs. Patterson guilty of conspiring to cover-up sexual molestation of a minor. Will the Southern Baptist Convention or Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary like having the Pattersons living in their retirement house on school property? 

Again, whether or not the Pattersons are guilty is not the issue. 

One should always be careful before placing stained glass windows of living people in places of worship.

Stains come other ways than just in glass. 

5. The Southern Baptist Convention is constitutionally controlled by the people.

If this home is brought to completion in the fall of 2018, and if the Pattersons move into that home, the Southern Baptist Convention will have nobody to blame but ourselves. 

The trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are accountable to the convention, which means us.

I want the Patterson's to have their retirement home. I am appreciative of generous, kind Southern Baptist benefactors who desire the Patterson's to have a home of their own during retirement.

That home should not be on the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary school property.

You may contact the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to obtain the names, address, and contact information for the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.



Trembling at God's Judgment and the Day of Wrath

John Battaglia and his daughters, Liberty and Faith
A man died today. 

Executed by the state. 

His name was John Battaglia, and he died by lethal injection. 

Asked by the executioner if he had any last words, John Battaglia said "No." But then he changed his mind, looked at his ex-wife Mary Jean, and smiled broadly. Then he said, "Well, hi, Mary Jean. I'll see you later." 

Facing imminent death, John Battaglia continued to taunt his ex-wife, the mother of the two small girls he'd shot and killed in cold blood in 2001; a crime John Battaglia celebrated and embraced until the end. 

The executioner injected Battaglia with the drug pentobarbital. 

Battaglia closed his eyes, but a few seconds later opened them, lifted his head, and mockingly asked, "Am I still alive?"

Within minutes the lethal drug took effect. John Battaglia fell asleep and began snoring. Seconds later he stopped breathing. 

John Battaglia died. 

Mr. Battaglia seemed to hold to a view of the afterlife that included two things:

1. He'd see people again.
2. He welcomed his death.

John Battaglia should have trembled.

The Sins of John Battaglia

In 2001, the man executed today was a successful Dallas accountant. However, he was estranged from his wife, Mary Jean. In an attempt to "get back" at his estranged wife, John Battaglia shot and killed their 9-year old and 6-year old daughters, while on the speaker phone with his wife.

According to prosecutors, Battaglia had become angry that Mary Jean had notified police about his harassment of her. John Battaglia used a planned visit with their daughters to act on his anger against his estranged wife.

Mary Jean returned a call from one of her daughters and heard 9-year-old Faith pleading with her father. John Battaglia then put the call on speakerphone so his estranged wife could hear what he was doing to Faith and Liberty, their two little girls.

"No, daddy, please don't, don't do it!" Faith begged.

Mary Jean yelled into the phone for her girls to run, then she heard gunshots.

"Merry ... Christmas," Battaglia told Mary Jean, the words of the holiday greeting derisively divided by an obscenity.

There were more gunshots. Mary Jean called 911.

Faith was shot three times, Liberty five. Hours later, Battaglia was arrested outside at a tattoo shop where he had two large red roses inked on his left arm to commemorate his daughters. It took four officers to subdue him. A fully loaded revolver was found in his truck, and more than a dozen firearms were recovered from his apartment.

The Fear of the Lord for His Wrath against Sin

Today the biblical understanding of God's wrath has fallen on hard times. It's like it is impossible for  God to ever experience righteous anger in the minds of modern millennials. 

While writing this piece I saw on the television monitor the father of a girl that had been sexually abused by Larry Nassar jump over the courtroom railing and charge the sexual predator in anger

I understood the father's feelings. 

If you touch my little girl the way Nassar touched over nearly 200 girls, then I might feel the very same emotion that led this father to go after Nassar in anger.

Listen to Jesus:  
"And everyone who commits an offense against one of these little ones who believe in Me, it would be profitable for him that a donkey's millstone would be hung around his neck and he be sunk in the depths of the sea." (Matthew 18:6 Aramaic Translation). 
That sounds like an angry Father to me.

It is a common theme for many to argue that God can't be angry because God is love. I like the way my earthly father puts it. "God defines love, but love doesn't define God."

God is more than just love. 

He is just. 

The Just Wrath of God

The apostle Paul writes:
 “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5). 
We understand from Paul's words that

1. God’s wrath is proportional to a person's sinfulness (e.g., "you are storing up wrath").
2. God's righteous judgment against sin will be revealed in "a day of wrath."

A wise man named Solomon wrote these words;
“If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”  (Proverbs 24:12). 
J.I. Packer gives a clear and concise summary of God's wrath:
“God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil” (Knowing God, p. 151).
An Unrepentant Sinner Should Tremble Thinking of God's Wrath
"Behold the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked" (Jeremiah 30:23)
"The Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. (Nahum 1:2)
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth"  (Romans 1:18)
"From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty" (Revelation 19:15).
"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord" (Romans 12:19).
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
The Wicked Will Be Raised from the Dead to Face God's Judgment

Jesus taught that the wicked will be raised from death by the power of God: 
“Marvel not at this: for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment [damnation—KJV]” (John 5:28-29).
The Apostle Paul taught the same thing:
“But this I confess unto you, that after the Way which they call a sect, so serve I the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets; having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:14-15).
The Apostle John taught the same thing:
“The sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (Rev. 20:13).
Jesus was very clear about what unrepentant sinners were to fear:
“And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
Again, 
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
The term “resurrection” is translated from the Greek word anastasis. It is derived from two roots — ana, “up,” and histemi, “to cause to stand.”

Resurrection is the rising up of that which has been laid down. The body that dies and is laid to rest (or burned, drowned, etc.) will be caused to stand up again.

The Bible teaches that the resurrected body will be a different essence (1 Corinthians 15:42) of the individual's presence.

The seed (e.g., "body") is planted in the ground. The plant that rises (e.g. "the resurrected body") is from the seed, but different than the seed. 
Two points are important to keep in mind.

1. First, each body will retain its own individuality (“each seed a body of its own” 1 Cor. 15:38).
2. There will be an identity continuum between the old body and the new body and the individual's surroundings. In other words, in the resurrection, there will be a continuation of physical life. Resurrected people aren't angels or demons. Resurrected people are people
The Resurrection of the Wicked To Judgment Is Something To Be Feared

Back to John Battaglia and his execution.

He shouldn't have been smiling. He should have been trembling.

He shouldn't have welcomed death. He should have feared it deeply.
"For it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
I believe the Bible clearly teaches that the wicked do not live forever. I also believe the Bible clearly teaches that at the end of God's judgment against the wicked there is death again (e.g., "The second death.").

However, I believe the Bible teaches that the wicked should tremble...tremble...tremble... at the coming Judgement.

Why do I not tremble?

Because I trust in God's amazing love for sinners who repent and come to faith in Jesus the Anointed One

This is the Good News:
 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
 Charles Wesley speaks for me:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain!
For me, who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

You should have trembled, John Battaglia. You should have trembled.

The Life and Legacy of Enid's Marvella Belle Bayh

Marvella Belle Bayh
"It came to me - even if we were to live to be a hundred years old - that life is really short. Therefore, it is important to enjoy life and not rush so fast. Take time to smell the roses." Marvella Bayh

President Jimmy Carter and Vice-President Walter Mondale walked slowly out the front doors of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  President Carter had just finished his eulogy of 46-year-old Marvella Bayh of Enid, Oklahoma, the first Presidential eulogy ever given in the National Cathedral.

Marvella's widowed husband, Indiana Senator Birch Bayh,  remained inside with the couple's only son, 23-year-old Evan Bayh while the other funeral guests filed out of the service.

Across the street photographers and cameramen aimed their lenses at the cathedral's doors to catch a glimpse of the dignitaries who had honored Marvella with their tributes at the funeral memorial.

Behind the President and Vice-President walked Lady Bird Johnson,  The former First Lady's tribute to Marvella moved many to tears. President Johnson had died suddenly of a massive heart attack just six years earlier, and Lady Bird spoke knowingly and emotionally of the pain involved in losing a loved one from premature death. The Bayh family had been frequent dinner guests of President Johnson and Lady Bird during the Johnsons' tenure in the White House.

Next out the doors came  Senator Ted Kennedy. The Senator from Massachusetts had often told people that Evan and Marvella Bayh had saved his life. The Bayhs were the Senator's guests in a small plane that crashed while flying to a political fundraiser on June 19, 1964. Senator Bayh was the keynote speaker for the fundraiser on behalf of Senator Kennedy. The plane crash killed the pilot and an aide and had it not been for the heroic actions of the Bayhs, the crash would most likely have killed Senator Kennedy too.  Senator Bayh and Marvella were also injured in the crash, but Senator Bayh dragged an unconscious Kennedy from the burning plane while Marvella sought help from a nearby farmhouse.

Dozens of U.S. senators and representatives, federal judges, and Carter administration employees filed out next. Many, from both sides of the aisle, were personal friends with the Bayhs. Following the politicians walked evangelist Oral Roberts who had brought the message from Scripture. Next to Mr. Roberts was Pat Boone, who had sung Marvella's favorite gospel hymn "Where Could I Go But to the Lord" during the service.

After about 10 minutes, Senator Birch Baye and his son Evan Baye came out of the cathedral, holding red roses.

The date was Friday, April 27, 1979.

Nine Years Earlier

Scene of the homicide/suicide in Enid, Oklahoma
The Enid police officer policeman opened the front door of the little home at 2024 West Oklahoma in Enid, Oklahoma on a cool Wednesday morning, April 1, 1970.

The officer discovered what he'd been told he would find. Delbert Hern, 60, was reclining in his chair, dead, with a 32-caliber gun still lodged in his hand.

On the floor lay Mr. Hern's 35-year-old deceased wife. She'd been shot once in the head.  Police would later say she'd been shot and killed while lighting a cigarette.

The Enid police had been called to the home by Kermit Wood, a man who rented the apartment behind the Hern home. Mr. Wood had stopped by the Hern house to pay his rent. That's when he discovered the bodies and called the police.

Garfield County Assistant District Attorney Norman A. Lamb would later tell reporters that the deaths were "an apparent murder and suicide."

Mr. Delbert Hern was the father of Marvella Belle (née Hern) Bayh, the wife of Indiana Senator Birch Bayh, the man many considered to be the frontrunner for the 1972 Democratic Presidential nomination to challenge Republican President Richard Nixon. Delbert Hern had remarried after Marvella's mother, Bernetta, died in April 1964, her death the culmination of years fighting debilitating physical illnesses. Those in the Enid community who knew Mr. Hern, saw him begin to struggle with alcohol after the death of Bernetta. The woman he'd shot and killed before turning the gun on himself was twenty-five years younger than he, and they'd not been married long.

Senator Bayh and Marvella were in Monte Carlo, Monaco when news of the tragic deaths reached them. Marvella flew from Europe to Oklahoma to take care of her father's and step-mother's funeral arrangements.

One week later, Marvella Belle Bayh gave the eulogy for her father. Those present at the service remarked at the poise and eloquence of the only child of Delbert Hern. Marvella, full of emotion, shared the love she had for her alcoholic father, encouraging people to remember who Delbert was, not who the abuse of alcohol had led him to become.

Long-time Enid newspaper writer and historian Phil Brown once remarked to me, "Marvella's words at her father's funeral composed the most moving funeral eulogy I've ever heard."

Less than nine years later, Marvella Belle Bayh would die after a courageous battle with breast cancer, leading to many more eloquent words spoken by others at her funeral.

Marvella Bayh may be the most famous woman from Enid, Oklahoma that a younger generation of Oklahomans has never heard about. I hope to change that in this post.

In my opinion, Oklahomans, especially people from Enid, should remember and honor this remarkable woman.

The Early Years

Marvella Hern was born February 14, 1933, in Enid, Oklahoma to Delbert Hern and Bernett E. (née Monson) Hern. Marvella's mom had complications during pregnancy and delivery, and after she gave birth to her daughter that she named Marvella Belle Hern, Bernett Hern suffered complications that led to years of physical disability, and the inability to bear any additional children.

Marvella Hern at Girl's State (Oklahoma)
But Marvella Belle thrived as an only child.

Her father, Delbert Hern, was a successful farmer near Lahoma, Oklahoma, a little town just southwest of Enid. He chaired the Garfield County Democratic party, raised cattle and wheat, and doted on his only daughter.

After the family relocated to a home in Enid when Marvella was a teenager, she attended Enid High School, becoming the first female to be elected President of the Enid High School student body.

In 1949, the fall of her junior year at EHS, Marvella Hern was elected Girls' Nation President. Marvella met with President Harry Truman in Washington, D.C.  and she traveled to many different states, representing Girls' Nation.

Marvella returned to Enid in time for her senior year of high school, graduating in the spring of 1950.

In 1951, during her spring freshman semester at Oklahoma State University,  Marvella Hern entered the Oklahoma Farm Bureau's extemporaneous speaking championship.

Marvella swept through state competition and found herself in the Farm Bureau national championship speaking finals against an older college student from Purdue University, a boxing champion named Birch Bayh (pronounced "bye"). Bayh, a farmer’s son and Ag major in his senior year at Purdue, first met the OSU freshman beauty during the national speech contest's finals. Birch offered Marvella a seat, and she would later tell people he gave her the corny line, “Oklahoma, come on over and join Indiana.”

Birch Bayh always said,  "It was just plain old love at first sight.”

Marvella won the national championship after a head-to-head challenge against Birch, who would go home after the contest and tell his parents:
"I didn't win, but I do expect to win the girl who did." 
He did.

Marriage and Politics

After a brief courtship, Birch Baye and the Enid, Oklahoma girl married on August 24. 1952.

Birch and Marvella moved to the Bayh family farm near Terre Haute, Indiana, and Birch tried his hand at farming. Marvella transferred her credits and began attending Indiana State University part-time while supporting her husband's farming venture.

Marvella was the guiding force in her husband's life.

It was Marvella who urged Birch to run for the Indiana Legislature in 1954, to go to law school at Indiana University and to run for the Senate in 1962. In the Senate race, Birch Bayh defeated the longtime incumbent, Homer Capehart, in what was termed a political upset. Many credited Marvella for the victory. She often was the main speaker on the stump trail, and people were giving her standing ovations after making the case why Indiana voters should vote for her husband. 

Speaking didn't come as easily for Marvella as it did in college.

Marvella Bayh suffered traumatic injuries in a car accident in 1954 while the couple traveled to Enid, Oklahoma, to visit Marvella's parents. The Terre Haute Tribune reported on the crash:
Birch E. Bayh Jr., 26 years old, and his wife, Marvella, 21 years old, are patients at a Lebanon, Missouri hospital as the result of a two-car crash near that city Thursday night (February 18, 1954). Bayh is reported to have suffered cuts and bruises and Mrs Bayh serious chest and head injuries. Bayh was said to have been driving over the top of a hill when the two cars collided. He and his wife were on their way to Enid, Oklahoma, to visit Mrs. Bayh's parents.
Marvella would suffer from double-vision for the rest of her life because of the accident, but through perseverance, she managed to graduate from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1960 with a degree in education. 

Senator Birch Bayh, Marvella Bayh, and son Evan Bayh
After Birch Bayh won his Senate race in 1962 and moved to Washington, D.C., Marvella Baye became a sensation in the nation's capital. She was called "The Jackie of Indiana." The Bayhs enjoyed company with President Kennedy and First Lady Jackie, and the social columns of the newspapers identified Marvella as "the most intelligent and most beautiful woman in Washington."

Katherine Graham the first female publisher of  a major American newspaper, the Washington Postwould write in her memoirs:
"There is a great deal that I liked about Marvella Bayh. Marvella, who was more than ten years younger than I, came to Washington at the beginning of 1963, just after her young husband, Birch Bayh, was first elected to the Senate as a Democrat from Indiana. She experienced Washington in the 1960's as 'a wife of...', just as I did before Phil's death and my own going to work. Marvella worked just as hard as Birch to settle in -- doing everything from buying and furnishing a house, making a home for their son, Evan, while her husband flew back and forth to his home state nearly every weekend, and keeping up with all of the issues that it was so necessary to understand."
On June 19, 1964, Senator and Mrs. Bayh were in the aforementioned plane crash with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. 

In late 1964, Marvella was named "Indiana Woman of the Year" by the Indianapolis chapter of Theta Sigma Xi. A year later, she was chosen one of the "Outstanding Young Women of the Nation."

The citizens of Enid, Oklahoma recognized Marvella with the "Pride of the Plainsmen Award" in 1967.

Marvella's husband, Senator Birch Bayh, became Chairman of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. In that role, Birch Bayh authored two constitutional amendments, the only person other than a Founding Father to author two amendments to the United States Constitution. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment establishes procedures for an orderly transition of power in the case of the death, disability, or resignation of the President of the United States. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 throughout the United States.

Tragedy Strikes

In 1971, just six months after speaking at the her father's funeral, Marvella Bayh was diagnosed with breast cancer. Birch Bayh dropped his campaign for the 1972 Democratic Presidential nomination to be with his wife during her recovery from breast surgery.

After a successful surgery and treatment, Marvella's cancer went into remission. Marvella Bayh became the nation's spokesperson for the American Cancer Society

People Magazine would write in 1979:
"Until 1971 Marvella Bayh was known principally as Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh’s wife, a blond beauty and connoisseur of politics with intense ambitions—for her husband. After the removal of a cancerous breast that year, she turned away from politics and devoted the rest of her life to traveling around the country for the Cancer Society. As medical philanthropist Mary Lasker observed: “Of all the women who are public figures and have had cancer, Marvella was the only one who went out and campaigned against it.”
Marvella Bayh and Birch Bayh
From 1972 through 1978, Marvella Bayh gave nearly 200 speeches across the nation, countless interviews, and stood before Americans as the face of courage in the fight against cancer.

In late 1978, her cancer came back.

Marvella Bayh told an interviewer for the Washington Post about her reactions to receiving the news that she had cancer again and that this time that cancer would take her life:
"When they told me there was treatment but no cure at this time, I dropped to my knees. Two things from out of my past, when I went to church as a child, came back to me. Number one, 'Where can I go but to the Lord?' and Number two, 'I am weak but He is strong." 
"When life comes down to basics, really how little control we all have over our own lives.' And it also came to me how, even if we live to be 100, how really short life here is. And therefore, it's important to enjoy it and not rush so fast and take time to smell the roses . . ."
Marvella son, Evan Bayh,  would go on to become Governor of Indiana and U.S. Senator from Indiana. Like his father Birch, Evan would run for the Democratic nomination of President of the United States.

The petite, blond girl from Enid who could move audiences with her eloquent speeches must not be forgotten, especially by those of us who live in Enid, Oklahoma.

I don't know if Evan Bayh will ever read this post. But if he, his father Birch, or his kids ever do, I want them to know that at least one current Enid resident understands what the Bayh family has known for decades about Marvella Belle (née Hern) Bayh.

She was one remarkable Okie.

Postscript: If you would like more information about Marvella's life, you can purchase her autobiography called Marvella: A Personal Journey

"So Will I (100 Billion X)" - An Amazing Acoustic Version by the Worship Team of Emmanuel Enid


I am blessed to work and worship with some talented volunteers and staff at Emmanuel Enid, Oklahoma. This song, an acoustic version of Hillsong United's "So Will I," is a powerful example of the gifts and talents of the people at Emmanuel Enid. This is from our third Sunday morning REFUGE service on January 21, 2018.

Christ Fulfilled the Law, So Stop Trusting In Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20).


The Law and the Prophets.

Everything in the Old Testament is either called Law (the Pentateuch) or the Prophets (the rest of the writings of the Old Testament). 

If you have a hard time understanding how the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures are called by Jesus "the Law and the Prophets," I point out what the premiere Hebrew writer of the New Testament declared in his writing to the Hebrews: 
"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, has in these last days spoken to us in His Son" (Hebrews 1:1-2 NAS). 
The last days referred to by the writer of Hebrews are the last days of Hebrew Temple worship (AD 30 to AD 70) and not the last days of the world.

"Christ is the end of the law for everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4).

The brilliant beauty of the Person and work of Jesus Christ is seen more clearly through understanding Jesus' - and our - proper relation to the Old Testament.

Jesus is called the Word of God incarnate (John 1:14), which means "God's Word took on flesh."

Acoute auton! (Greek: "Hear Him!")

Listen to Jesus. Hear God.

This is why the writer of Hebrews states that Jesus is the sum and consummated substance - God's final Word -  to this world.

That means, if you look to the Law or the Prophets (eg. "the Old Testament") for your view of how to operate and run your church, your family, your business, or your life, then you will find yourself with the same problem the scribes and the Pharisees had in Jesus' day. They made their living based on following the Law, but they miserably failed in life, covering it all up by their self-righteousness and judgmental attitude toward others.

Jesus Christ and obeying HIS WORDS are your only hope of living a fulfilling life.

Here's why.

1. All the Old Testament writings - not some, but all - are about the Person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, "Moses wrote of Me" (John 5:46)

"If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46)

If you are going to believe the writings of Moses, then you are must believe in Christ and listen to Him. You begin by trusting Him for your righteousness before God, and not your obedience to any Law (Philippians 3:7-11). 

Then you read and do what Jesus said (Matthew 7:24). 

2. The Old Testament Scriptures are only understood correctly when the believer looks to Jesus Christ and the work that HE has accomplished in FULFILLING the Law.

“The meaning of all the Scriptures is unlocked by the death and resurrection of Jesus” (Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, 54).

3. When Jesus taught others the Old Testament, He taught them of Himself.

"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17–18)

4. "Heaven and earth" is the Old Testament way of describing the conditional covenant God made with Israel, choosing Israel out of all the nations of the world through whom God would reveal His Word.

When God called the Hebrews as His own people He said, "I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say, 'You are My people'" (Isaiah 51:16). Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is called "heaven and earth."

God gave Israel the Law and He "shook the earth," that is He shook the people of Israel.The writer of Hebrews says, "His voice shook the earth then (Mt. Sinai) ..." (Hebrews 12:26). The Hebrews heard God speak at Sinai and they trembled. His voice (the Law) was holiness and pure justice.

God spoke to Israel in the Old Testament and He spoke to heaven and earth. "Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; let the earth hear the words of my mouth" (Deuteronomy 32:1). "Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the Lord speaks, 'Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me'" (Isaiah 1:2). 

5. The Law and the Prophets are perfectly fulfilled in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, so "the heavens and earth" have passed away, but the words of Christ remain. 

The Old has gone. The New has come. 

Throughout the Old Testament, the Prophets said that God's covenant with Israel would one day be replaced with God's new agreement with all the nations of the world.  God's covenant with Israel (found in the Law and the Prophets) revolved around the Temple, the Temple rituals, the Temple sacrifices, and the Temple priesthood. 

This Temple of the Covenant was in Jerusalem. Do you remember how Jesus prophesied the Temple's destruction? (Look at Matthew 24:1-3). Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in a generation. The prophecy of Jesus came to pass in A.D. 70.

Heaven and earth passed away. God's covenant with Israel came to an end. 

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away," said Christ (Matthew 24:35).

The great theologian John Owen (AD 1616-1683) writes in his commentary on II Peter 3:13 about the "new heavens and earth" that God creates after the destruction of the old "heavens and earth"
 "I affirm that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state."
The reasons Owen gives that the destruction of the Old Covenant Temple worship is the destruction of "heavens and earth" and the gospel age is the age of the "new heavens in earth" are then given:
    1. Because whatever is here mentioned was to have its peculiar influence on the men of that generation, and
    2. Peter tells them, that after the destruction and judgment that he speaks of (vers. 7-13), ” We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,’ etc. They had this expectation. But what is that promise? Where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isa. lxv. 17. Now, when shall this be that God shall create these new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness? Saith Peter, ” It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell.” But now it is evident from this place of Isaiah 66:21-22 that this is a prophecy of Gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of Gospel ordinances to endure forever. The same thing is so expressed Hebrews 12:26-28.
6. The Person of Moses was the Lawgiver of the Old Covenant, but Christ is the ultimate and Supreme Lawgiver, far superior to Moses. 

The Royal Law Jesus gives is "Love one another as I have loved you." (John 13:34). 

If it is objected that the Royal Law is "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" (James 2:8), I respond: 

"You can't love yourself until you comprehend God's love for you in Jesus Christ; for self-love is only eternal when based on the acceptance and comprehension of the eternal love of God (Jeremiah 31:3). Only when you comprehend His love can you love others in the manner He loves you and in the fullness of the love you have for yourself."

I find it an axiom of human behavior that self-love without the love of God is self-destructive. 

But the love of God transforms.

You can't murder if you don't hate your enemies.
You can't steal if you're only interested in giving.
You can't slander others when you speak words of grace.
You can't commit adultery when you love your wife like Christ loves you.

And on, and on, and on.

There's no 'relaxing'  of any moral code in the New Agreement. The righteousness of Christ's people far exceeds that of the Pharisees. 

Yet, no believer in Jesus Christ is looking to his or her obedience to any law for God's blessings. 

No. We look to Christ, who fulfilled the Law in our stead. 

"For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory" (2 Corinthians 1:20).

"Yes," says God, "to everything that is good for you."  No conditions. Or rather, all the conditions of God's mercies, benevolent providence, and daily grace are met in Christ. 

7. The establishment of state government is never the Kingdom of God; for God's Kingdom is seen through His reign (the King's dominion) in the hearts of His people.

Christ's Kingdom transcends national, political, and geographical boundaries. 

Yes, we are called to obey government authorities, but state government is not the Kingdom of Christ. 
The state is grounded in God, but it is never expressive of Christ's immediate rule. 

Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

John 18:36, “My [Jesus’s] kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.”

Application:

1. If you look to Old Testament Law for your righteousness, you will never rest in the gift of Christ's righteousness which God gives you by faith in Jesus Christ.
2. The Old Testament Law and Prophets focused on external obedience, but faith in Christ during this Kingdom gospel age will circumcise (cut and change) the heart of a sinner. 
3. The believer in Christ won't murder because the believer doesn't hate his enemies, slander his friends, or live in an attitude of contempt. Likewise, every moral commandment in the Old Testament is far superceded by the internal work of Christ's grace in His people during this Kingdom age.
 4. Since "the last days" mentioned in Scripture are the last days of Temple worship, all external forms of worship that miss what it means to worship Christ "in spirit and in truth" will lead you back to bondage to the law, be it Mosaic law, church law, or priestly law.
5. You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.

Postscript: Ladies, if you are kept in bondage by the teaching of "the inherent authority of males," or if you are stifled in serving the Kingdom through your Spirit-giftings by church leaders who focus on Law, then I would suggest you find a place where Christ is held supreme, and the only authority for the church is His final and ultimate Word which endures forever. 

Hear Him!

An "Audacious and Astounding" Traditional Trap

I have spent the last few days researching three various topics of interest for Christians. My research has delved into the nature of hell, the dating of the book of Revelation, and the equality of men and women.

You might be thinking to yourself, "What? Do those topics even matter?"

Yes; they do. I'll tell you why. In reverse order, your marriage, your hope for a better world, and your concept of the nature of God are all affected by your take on these three topics.

Christians who believe the Bible disagree on all three issues.

I personally see the Bible teaching that only those "in Christ" receive the gift of immortality (not every person),  only those "in Christ" are the people of God (Jews or Gentiles), and that everyone "in Christ" is a spiritual equal under the authority of Jesus Christ (there is no inherent spiritual authority of males over females).

But the purpose of this post is not to convince you of my position on any of these three biblical issues. I'd just like to make an observation after listening to hours of Christian debate.

When you hear another person say...
"The church for 20 centuries has taught (such and such).... and for you to claim that the Bible teaches something else is audacious (to me), astounding (to me), and arrogant (of you)."
.... you can expect a weak argument is forthcoming from that person.

Traditional views on difficult biblical doctrines are never necessarily wrong because they are traditional.

But traditionalists who've accepted traditional views are often surprised by other Christians who can articulate from Scripture a differing viewpoint.

As a result, traditionalists may be unprepared to defend from Scripture what they've been taught to believe.

In such situations, a traditionalist will often resort to a sudden expression of incredible surprise rather than a sound exegesis of inspired Scripture. 

You should be very unimpressed what then happens.

Our commitment is to the inspired word of God, not to the traditions of men.

We must never waiver from what we see the Scriptures to teach; even when we come under the verbal assaults of recognized church traditionalists and scholars.

"Moses wrote of Me," Jesus said in John 5:46.

Our concern should be to speak and write in such a way that people are pointed to Jesus Christ through our faithful declarations of inspired Scripture.

When the "audacious and astounding" traditional trap is sprung, know that the Truth is very possibly beginning to prevail.