We must never forget that the first part of the gospel is not “Accept Christ as Savior,” but, “God is there.” – Francis Schaeffer
This past Sunday I preached from 1 Peter 2.13-25. In the text Peter addresses servants/slaves. Because the sermon was not primarily about the Bible’s stance on slavery I didn’t take much time to explain a Biblical theology of slavery. The following are links to videos and articles I’ve found helpful:
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:18 (ESV)
Jesus understood himself, and indeed proclaimed himself to be God incarnate. Every Christian should know that Jesus, himself, made these kinds of claims. The deity of Christ wasn’t invented by the church after Jesus, the man, died. The deity of Christ was recognized by the church after Jesus emerged from the grave three days after being crucified.
The Jewish authorities didn’t crucify Jesus for working a miracle, teaching in the synagogue, or politically dividing the people. They perpetrated to have Jesus arrested, and sought the death penalty because they rejected his claims to deity.
In the skeptical culture we live in it’s crucial that we establish the fact that Jesus understood himself to be the Son of God incarnate. If Jesus is just a miracle worker you can be thankful for those who received miracles. If he is only a good teacher you can listen and apply his ethic of love. In both of those circumstances you can hear what Jesus has to say and walk away and never feel guilty for forgetting his name.
If, however, Jesus claims to be divine, then you must linger and decide whether or not you believe him. If you look closer and come to the conclusion that he’s a fake, then by all means, go on with your life how you see fit. On the other hand, if Jesus is God in the flesh there is only one appropriate response: submission and obedience. If he’s God, then the words he speaks are absolute.
When you hear someone say, “I like Jesus. He was a good teacher,” you should respond by asking, “What do you think about his claims to being God?” Verses like John 5:18 become an incredible witnessing tool in this inclusive world.
Yesterday we engaged a tough topic in our Sunday morning worship at Christ Community. Specifically, I addressed the conquest of Canaan commanded in Deuteronomy 20 and recorded in the book of Joshua. With bestselling books written by popular atheists decrying the God of the Old Testament it’s an issue the church can’t avoid.
Is the God of Joshua a Monster?
Understanding the Canaanite Conquest
- God was patient with the Canaanites. (Genesis 15.16) God held his own people in Egypt for over 400 hundred years allowing the Canaanites time to repent.
- The Canaanites weren’t innocent. Archaeological study of the inhabitants of Canaan reveal they were engaged in human sacrifice, temple prostitution etc.
- God didn’t fight for Israel. He fought for himself. And when Israel disobeyed, God used other nations to judge Israel in war. (Exile into Babylon)
- The commands in Deuteronomy and the record of the conquest in Joshua are hyperbolic. In ANE (ancient near east) writings we see the same language used of Israel. We see God speak the same words against Israel in Jeremiah 25.8-10. Another reason we know this is hyperbolic language is because Judges 1 tells us the conquest was never completed.
- God’s commands to destroy are primarily directed towards Canaanite idolatry, not Canaanite people. (Deuteronomy 20.16-18) Rahab is an example of someone who received mercy because she recognized Israel’s God and abandoned her idolatry.
- Israel had no blank check to wage warfare with whomever they chose. God severely punished Israel for warring against those God had not authorized. (1 Samuel 4-6)
- Yahweh War was specifically and exclusively for the people of Israel as both the people of God and a theocratic state. Yahweh War isn’t for NT church because the church isn’t a theocratic state. Jesus adamantly rejected physical violence as a means to advance his cause. (Matthew 26.52) This means any Christian using violence in the name of God is in sin.
- The teaching of Jesus and the Apostles is that while Christians are heavenly citizens living in and looking forward to the Kingdom of God, they are also resident aliens who are called to enter into the culture of their earthly exile. This means we can serve and protect the culture in which we live. (Romans 13.1-4)
- God has declared a future time of final judgement when all evil will be destroyed from the earth. If the image of a God who commanded the killing of people in the Old Testament offends you then you won’t like the Jesus of Revelation 19 (Revelation 19.11-21). This includes all those outside of Christ. For this reason, CCC will always be a missionary sending church.
- Instead of asking, “Why did God destroy the Canaanites?” a better question is, “Why doesn’t God destroy all humanity?” (Romans 3.23)
- If God was willing to pour out wrath for sin on his Son, Jesus, who was innocent, what do you think he’s willing to do to guilty people?
I ended the sermon by calling the people to consider the patience of God, to profess Christ as savior, and to be witnesses of God’s mercy and patience.