Archive for February, 2012

Is There Anything Wrong With Using Birth Control?

February 17, 2012

Title: Is There Anything Wrong With Using Birth Control?

Text: Romans 14:1, 5; Genesis 38:8-10

Time: February 12th, 2012

 

A couple of stories in the news lately deal with the issue of birth control. The first is that President Obama recently enacted a policy that would force religious institutions to provide birth control coverage even if these religious institutions oppose it on moral grounds. Because of the hue and cry Obama reversed himself, although not completely. Now he says the religious institutions that oppose birth control don’t have to provide health coverage for it, but their insurance companies must provide it free of cost to anyone seeking it. The obvious problem is that this still doesn’t solve the problem, because the insurance companies will probably pass the cost of the birth control coverage back to the religious institution through higher costs. So the solution may not really be a true solution. We’ll have to see. Also, another news story related to birth control is that presidential candidate Rick Santorum is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, which is strongly against birth control. How would this affect his policy-making if he’s elected president? So we see the issue of birth control is once again the topic of discussion among Americans today. This raises a more general question for Christians living in the modern world – is there anything wrong with using birth control? But really, for committed Christians, the question is more specific – is there anything wrong with married couples using birth control? That question is more relevant for serious Christians, rather than the more general question of birth control use, because there are instances where birth control is clearly wrong to use. For example, for singles participating in pre-marital sex, it is a sin, it’s wrong. The Bible is clear about that. So then, using birth control to prevent pregnancy while engaging in premarital sex would be wrong. There should be no need for singles to use birth control, because there should be no pre-marital sex taking place, because it’s sin. By providing birth control to singles you’re encouraging them to have sex, something that is sinful.  So for Christians, we should never be tempting singles – usually teenagers and young adults – to sin by making birth control available to them. Like Jesus said, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin!” Matthew 18:6-7. Also, for Christians, any form of birth control that uses abortion as a means is clearly wrong and sinful. “Thou shall not murder,” says the sixth of Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20:13. And that command against murder applies also to children, even the smallest, preborns. So abortion as a form of birth control is wrong. But what about the typical and most common form of birth control, the pill; is that wrong? Let’s examine this question from a biblical standpoint. (more…)

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Is God Blessing Tim Tebow?

February 17, 2012

Title: Is God Blessing Tim Tebow?

Text: Genesis 39:2-5, 20-23, 6-10; 45:5, 7

Time: February 2nd, 2012

 

A strange development occurred in the world of football last year, in the NFL in 2011 – Denver Bronco’s quarterback Tim Tebow caused quite a stir by seemingly winning football games by the power of God. Yes, sports commentators were all talking about what happened to the Denver Broncos after professing Christian Tim Tebow became their full-time quarterback mid-season – they won almost all their games with him leading. And since Tebow is an outspoken, unapologetic, articulate evangelical Christian, people started wondering if perhaps the Almighty was helping him win football games for Denver. Really. Sportscasters were discussing among themselves and with fans whether or not divine intervention had anything to do with Denver’s turn-around season. The Broncos and Tebow made it into the post-season playoffs, and the question on everyone’s mind was – is God helping Tebow or the Broncos or both? Which raises an even larger question about the ways of God and his willingness to intervene on earth. Is it possible that God Almighty really was blessing Tim Tebow? If so, why would God bless him, and not, say, Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions – or any other NFL player or football team? Now most sports writers covering NFL football raised the question of Tebow and divine intervention half joking, but there was enough strangeness and uncertainty about what was happening with the Broncos under Tebow that the question was taken half seriously also. But as Christians we need to think about the questions being asked about Tim Tebow and his Christian faith, and we need to try to answer them, not only for ourselves, but for others who might ask us. Does God really bless certain people, for example, like Tim Tebow? And if so, why does God bless certain people? Is it possible to get God’s blessing, and if so, how? Some of the things said about Tebow were either exaggerated or untrue. For example, there were some reports that he prays for his team to win football games. But Tebow has never said that himself. From all indications, he prays that he and his team play the best football possible, and for God’s protection. So the question really isn’t, “Is God answering Tebow’s prayer for victory on the football field?” Football is a game, it’s a pastime, it’s entertainment – and while some fans begin taking the game too seriously, we can be sure that God Almighty doesn’t lose track of his priorities. But as I see it, it all boils down to this simple question – Is God blessing Tim Tebow? I’d like to attempt to answer this question by dealing with three related topics: one, does God bless individuals at all?; two, what makes us think God is blessing Tim Tebow?; and three, if God is blessing individuals, like Tim Tebow, how can we get God’s blessing on our life also? Let’s look at a few Bible passages that help us understand these questions. (more…)

Is Atheist Hitchens In Hell?

February 12, 2012

Title: Is Atheist Hitchens in Hell?

Text: John 14:6, Hebrews 9:27, 10:31, Matthew 25:41, 46,

Time: February 11th, 2012

 

At the end of last year the world famous atheist Christopher Hitchens died of esophageal cancer. There were news reports about his death; there was much talk about his passing. In the aftermath of his death, someone asked me as a Christian pastor whether I thought this atheist was in hell now, because of his rejection of the Christian gospel message. At first, I tried to avoid answering the question out of politeness, but my questioner wouldn’t let up and kept on asking me to give a yes or no answer. I told him I didn’t like it when people spoke ill of a person immediately after they died – like Hitchens did of Mother Theresa after she passed away. Even during the televised funeral on ABC, as Mother Theresa’s casket was on display, ABC’s Peter Jennings was interviewing Christopher Hitchens about his critical book on the world’s most famous nun – and the awful and disrespectful things that were said forced Jennings to end the interview early! Even though Hitchens deserved it, it wasn’t my intention to bad-mouth him so soon after his death. But the questioner kept asking me to give a straightforward answer, even accusing me of fudging or waffling in my response. I kept saying that I wasn’t interested in speaking ill of anybody after their passing, even if they had it coming. But still that didn’t satisfy my challenger. Finally, after repeated requests I gave this answer in reply to the question, “Is atheist Hitchens now in hell?” I said, “If the biblical Christian gospel message is true, and if Christopher Hitchens never repented of what he said and did in opposition to God and the gospel, then he’s in now in hell forever. My interlocutor then used my answer to criticize me for being unloving and irrational in my traditional, biblical beliefs. I think he labeled it “hate speech,” that I was guilty of. All because I answered a straightforward question with a straightforward answer. But as I thought about it, I guess my answer deserved an explanation, because it’s easy to make over simplistic comments – and I don’t want to be guilty of that because of the seriousness of the issues. It’s a pretty serious thing to conclude that a soul that has perished is now in hell. That’s why I couched my answer in a hypothetical – If,  . . . thus and so; Then,  . . . and so on. “If” Christianity is true, and “If” Hitchens didn’t repent, “Then” he’s in hell. I put it that way because at the end of the day, only God can judge a soul, in life or death. Who am I to make that judgment for God? But because I was forced to give an answer, I answered the way I did. But let me explain why I believe I answered correctly. (more…)

Was God Warning Japan Through the Tsunami to Turn to Him?

February 7, 2012

Title: Was God Warning Japan Through the Tsunami to Turn to Him?

Text: Amos 3:7, Romans 1: 18-20, Mark 1:14

Time: January 9th, 2012

 

Last year the pastor of the world’s largest church, the Yoido Full Gospel Church, Pastor Yonggi Cho, commented in a newspaper interview that the Tsunami that struck Japan last year could be a warning from God for all Japan to turn to the Christian Gospel. Here’s part of that interview, “The Rev. David Yonggi Cho, senior pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church, the world’s largest church, came under fire for calling the recent Japanese quake and tsunami ‘God’s warning’ in a Sunday interview published in an online newspaper. ‘Japan sees a lot of earthquakes, and I think it is regrettable that there has been such an enormous loss of property and life due to the earthquake,’ Cho had said in the News Mission interview. ‘Because the Japanese people shun God in terms of their faith and follow idol worship, atheism, and materialism, it makes me wonder if this was not God’s warning to them.’ There are only around 2 million Christians in Japan out of a population of 127.5 million. The South Korean minister added that he hoped the ‘catastrophe can be turned into a blessing’ and that the Japanese would ‘take this opportunity to return to the Lord.’” You can imagine how these comments would be taken in a modern, godless and secular world – they were laughed at, mocked and violently denounced. But even before I read Cho’s comments I thought basically the same thing to myself as I tried to understand what happened in Japan. The problem our world has in interpreting events like this is it doesn’t think in terms of the sovereignty of God. There was once a time when people thought in terms of God and his providential hand working in the world, but since the rise of the modern age less and less people think that way. Is it wrong to think in term of the sovereign hand of God moving in world events? To listen to modern commentators – and a sizable segment of the population – it’s not only wrong, it’s deplorable. Why? Because without a clear conviction that God rules in heaven and earth, without a knowledge of God’s past divine providential activity in the world, and without the resolve to stand against the current status quo, party-line, default perspective, nobody in their right mind would make such a statement. Besides, today, for anyone making such a statement, people will automatically psychoanalyze you and suspect that you really harbor hate for the people of Japan; why else would one believe that they in any way deserved the trouble that was brought upon them? In the absence of any kind of sustained Christian thinking on this and most any other subjects these days, is it any wonder why anyone trying to think like a biblical Christian would be criticized and ridiculed for doing so. Pastor Cho was only voicing a concern that millions of Christians around the world might wonder themselves. And it’s a valid question, despite the secular referees calling foul. Well, I’d like to question and discuss this topic from a Christian perspective today. I’d like to explore the possibility that Pastor Cho is correct – that God is using the Tsunami disaster to shake Japanese to awake to his true spiritual reality. We shouldn’t be bullied by the secular establishment for asking the question; what do they know, anyway? We should explore the implications of any and all events that happen in our world and not just follow the secular party line. God just may be trying to start a mighty spiritual revival in Japan, and we should be aware of what he might be doing. Let’s consider a few points. (more…)