Scott, Winston, and Daisy join Barry to chat about glow-in-the-dark sidewalks, online reviews, and a letter from a sexual assault victim.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CWC-2016_06_24.mp3
I am glad to hear that your next line of research is targeting the atonement. I have also been looking into this subject and am trying to find some answers concerning one aspect of the substitution theory, namely, Christ taking on our punishment or God's wrath. I have to believe this entails more than just physical death since our punishment without the covering of Jesus' righteousness is an eternity in the lake of fire.
Does this mean that while Jesus suffered a horrific physical death on the cross that he also suffered this same eternity of God's wrath for each person that has ever lived or ever will live?
Otherwise, there have been many martyrs that have suffered horrific deaths, so what would make Christ's death any more harder to handle than theirs, regarding God's wrath, if only the physical aspect was meant? ...
Dr. Jeff Campbell drops by to talk us through Ephesians chapter 5, as he describes Marriage by the Book.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CWC-2016_06_23.mp3
Author’s note: To help our congregation think biblically about the world in which we live, I often write biblical-theological “explainers” to apply the Bible to life for our church. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, I sensed a need to help our congregation carefully and biblically about the intersection of the Bible, the teachings of Islam, and the LGBT community. Because the events in Orlando, along with the subsequent social commentary, brought these divided communities together and laid (partial) blame at the feet of Christians, our summer intern (Timothy Cox) and I drew up a biblical-theological response for our church.
In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre, where 49 people were killed and over 50 injured at a gay night club, Christians weep for the loss of life and are left wondering what to say or do. On social media, trending topics have included gun control, terrorism, homophobia, and Islamic extremism. In light of the terrorist’s professed allegiance to ISIS and other radical Islamic groups, it is especially important for Christians to distinguish between the Quran’s teaching on homosexuality and the Bible’s. Now, more than ever, it is important we convey gospel-centered compassion, even as we hold firm to biblical truth.
In order to do that, we must look at Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death.”
Read by itself, this passage may seem to catch Bible-believing Christians red-handed with a verse that proves their Bible needs to be updated or abandoned. However, because the Bible is not a collection of individual sayings; Leviticus 20:13 must be read in light of its historical and covenantal context. Indeed, only a whole-Bible theology of sexual ethics and capital punishment can rightly explain this verse.“Only a whole-Bible theology of sexual ethics and capital punishment can rightly explain Leviticus 20:13.”
With this in mind, we will show why this verse does not permit violence against homosexuals, and why the Bible is fundamentally different than the Quran and Islam’s other holy books, which do endorse violence towards the LGBT community. In actuality, the command for capital punishment in Leviticus 20:13 becomes a pathway to Christ’s substitutionary death, not a harbinger of hate.
What does Islam teach about homosexuality?
The Quran speaks of homosexuality in several passages (e.g., Surahs 7:80–84; 26:165–166; 27:54–58; 29:28–29). These Surahs provide a paraphrase of the biblical account of Lot and his family fleeing Sodom. Similar to the biblical account, homosexuality is condemned as a wicked transgression and the inhabitants of Sodom are judged with a shower of brimstone. In addition to the Quran, Islamic teaching incorporates hadiths (i.e., sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) which decry homosexual practice and condemn homosexuals to death.
For example, two hadiths compiled by the revered Abu Dawud read: “If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it and the one to whom it is done” Abu Dawud (4462). And, “If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death” Abu Dawud (4463) (and see Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 7, Book 72, #774).
Additionally, a 2014 fatwa (i.e., an official edict from a recognized Islamic authority) proclaimed that homosexuality is “abnormal” and “abhorrent” and confirmed that gays should be killed: “The punishment for men or women who are unwilling to give up homosexuality and who therefore reject the guidance of Allah Most High is in fact death according to Islam.” An imam invited to speak at a Florida mosque in 2016 said that killing gays was an “act of compassion.”
These extreme teachings by Muslims have led some to draw comparisons to Christians or simply to blame Christians outright. Passages such as Leviticus 20:13 seem to add fuel to claims that all religions are the same and hateful towards homosexuals. Yet, unlike Islam and the Quran, New Testament Christianity reads the laws of Moses through the completed work of Jesus Christ and the establishment of a new covenant (i.e., a new relationship between God and man). In order to understand the biblical position on homosexuality, one must draw from the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), recognizing the way in which commands like Leviticus 20:13 fit into the progress of revelation and the ethical norms of biblical Christianity.
What follows is an attempt to help Christians (and others) understand and explain the fundamental difference between the Quran and the Bible as it relates to homosexuality and why only the Christian gospel offers abiding mercy and truth.
Three truths regarding capital punishment and Christianity
When read in isolation, Leviticus 20:13 might lead some to believe that because God commanded the execution of homosexuals in one culture at one time, the Bible teaches Christians everywhere at all times to act with violence towards homosexuals. Such a reading, however, misunderstands the original context of this verse and the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality, capital punishment, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Simultaneously, it misconstrues the holy love of God which perfectly judges sinners and provides a way of escape from judgment for all who trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. To get a handle on these delicate subjects, we need to consider capital punishment at three levels—for all humanity, in the church, and in the state. From there, we are ready to see how the bad news of Leviticus 20:13 leads us to the good news of the gospel.
All sinners deserve capital punishment
First, Leviticus does not condemn homosexuality alone; God’s Word condemns all forms of human sexuality that deviate from God’s design for marriage (cf. Gen 2:18–25). In Leviticus, a book re-instituting God’s holy design for his covenant people, chapter 18 lists numerous sexual perversions; homosexuality is but one (v. 22). In this way, Leviticus 18 and 20 (like Jesus’ words in Matt 5:27–30) condemn all of us. No one escapes, no one is sexually pure; all have fallen short of God’s perfect holiness (Rom 3:23). Therefore, while biblical Christianity teaches homosexuality is sin; it always does so in the context of other sins (see the vice lists of Rom 1:18–32; 1 Cor 6:9–11; 1 Tim 1:9–10).“Leviticus 18 and 20 condemn all of us. No one escapes, no one is sexually pure; all have fallen short of God’s perfect holiness.”
The contemporary application from Leviticus 18 and 20 is not to attack the LGBT community. Rather, it gives a prophetic warning to all sinners. By nature (Eph 2:1–3), by family relation (Rom 5:12, 18–19), and by choice (Ezek 18:4, 20), mankind stands under God’s righteous wrath — a capital punishment far greater than anything experienced in Old Testament Israel. In this way, the Bible speaks to all humanity to flee sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:18) and to find refuge in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.
Capital punishment becomes excommunication in the church
Second, only by reading Leviticus 20:13 in its covenantal and historical context will we be able to see how this commands fits into the whole canon of Scripture. Unlike the Quran, whose books are largely arranged by size and written without a unified storyline, the Bible is a historical book bound together by God’s eternal plan to unite all things in Christ (Eph 1:10). At many times and in many ways, the Bible reveals the saving purposes of God. Accordingly, we must not directly apply Moses’s words to ourselves without understanding how they fit into God’s progressive revelation.“We must not directly apply Moses’s words to ourselves without understanding how they fit into God’s progressive revelation.”
More specifically, the New Testament authors, following Jesus, teach us to read the Old Testament commands through the new covenant mediation of Christ. In this way, we neither deny the words of Leviticus 20:13 (as progressives do), nor do we apply them the way that Muslims do the Quran or hadiths. Instead, with eyes affixed to the interpretative principles of Jesus and his apostles, we learn how to read the Law of Moses.
From them, at least three things should be said.
- Leviticus 20:13 spoke to God’s one and only theocracy—the nation of Old Testament Israel. The commands for capital punishment can only be applied literally to a people of God who are living in a physical land (see Lev 20:22–24), where Yahweh is present, and where God’s anointed king is reigning over the nation. Today, there is no such geo-political entity (Israel included) who carries out the legislative purposes of God on earth, and there won’t be until Christ comes back. Therefore, churches who have enforced such punishment in the past or pastors who celebrate the death of 49 people in Orlando are not being faithful to God’s Law, but are co-opting God’s Word to create a “righteous nation” after their own image and likeness.
- Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it. In Matthew 5 and 19, Jesus affirmed the teaching of Moses on marriage by returning to the original design in creation (see Gen 2:18–25). Jesus endorsed all of the Old Testament when he said, “I have not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it” (Matt 5:17; cf. 7:12). Likewise, Paul, Christ’s chosen messenger, said in Romans 7:12, “the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, righteous, and good.” There is nothing, then, in the Law which Christ or his followers deny, but the question is how to apply it to the church.
- In the church, capital punishment has been translated into excommunication from the church. As evidenced in 1 Corinthians 5, when a man committed incest — a sexual sin punishable by death (Lev 20:11) — Paul instructed the church to remove him from fellowship. He did not call for his death, even though he observed how pagan society looked down on incest (1 Cor 5:1). Instead, Paul quoted from the Law: “Purge the evil from among you” (v. 13). This catchphrase picks up the Old Testament command to execute sinners in Israel (see Deut 13:5; 17:7, 12; 21:21; 22:21, 22, 24) and it makes deadly law a call for excommunication from the church. Through Paul’s inspired application, churches are taught that unrepentant sin is grounds for excommunication (i.e., removal from membership), not capital punishment. Christians, therefore, are never within their rights to act with violence towards homosexuals (or anyone else). Instead, they are called to love their neighbor, pray for their enemies, share the good news of Jesus Christ, and entrust the state’s rule of law and their right to exercise capital punishment.
Capital punishment is given to the state
The Bible does teach capital punishment. In Genesis 9:6, God told Noah, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” This command is given to uphold the value of mankind and to warn would-be murderers that they forfeit their own life if they kill another. Later, the Decalogue reiterates, “Thou shall not murder” (Exod 20:13) and reveals that anyone who sheds blood will themselves lose their life. Leviticus 20, then, lists at least seven reasons for capital punishment.
Against this backdrop, the New Testament teaches that God says that governors and governments do not hold the sword in vain. Romans 13:1–7 explains why: God has granted authority to the state to be his ministers of justice (cf. 1 Pet 2:13–17). To protect the innocent and establish the rule of law, God has given the state a right to punish evil-doers (Rom 13:4–5). This means, God condemns all self-asserted forms of violence—vigilante justice, jihad, or hatred that leads men to strike down God’s image (Rom 12:17–21). Individuals never have the right to kill another, and only those under oath may act as officers of the state.
Therefore, Christians must weep over the loss of life in Orlando (and everywhere else). We pray for God’s mercy to comfort those who are grieving, and we stand to defend the lives of those being threatened—even if we hold different theological or ethical views. Compassion is always right and Christ’s love compels us to serve and protect the poor and oppressed.
Death drives us to the gospel
Ultimately, the purpose of God’s Law is to drive us to the gospel (see 1 Tim 1:8–11). Only Jesus, God’s sinless Son, was undeserving of death. Only Jesus stood before God as innocent, righteous, and sexually pure. Yet, in his great love he volunteered to endure his Father’s wrath and the Law’s sentence of execution. And he did this to receive in his body the judgment due to man.
Leviticus 20:13 is one verse among many which points to the common plight of humanity. As Paul writes in Romans 3:23–25:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
In truth, this “bad news” discomforts us, but it also has the power to deliver us — for any who has ears to hear. Unlike Islam, which has no mediator to reconcile persons to Allah, the triune God makes salvation possible when the Father sends his Son to die in the place of sinners. Therefore, every part of the Old Testament, Leviticus included, is written so that we might look away from ourselves—away from our law-keeping and away from our libido—to find life in the Lord who died and rose again.“Unlike Islam, which has no mediator to reconcile persons to Allah, the triune God makes salvation possible when the Father sends his Son to die in the place of sinners.”
In this way, Leviticus 20:13 is neither an invitation for Christians to take up arms against the LGBT community, nor is it the final word against gays, lesbians, adulterers, and sex traffickers. Rather, it is a word that invites everyone to humble themselves before a holy God, confess their sin and find salvation in Jesus Christ—the son of God who died for sexual sinners. This is radically different from the teachings of Islam, and it proves once again that holiness and love can only be held together in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Barry discusses various characters highlighted in the book of Acts: pre-believers, believers, and enemies of the gospel.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CWC-2016_06_22.mp3
In my last post, I listed my top five popular books on the Bible and homosexuality. This post is designed for those who want to go deeper and explore the academic sources firsthand ...
Barry is joined by Winston, Daisy, and Joe to chat about home care, millennial roommates, and the release of a wrongfully convicted man.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CWC-2016_06_21.mp3
Just inside the door of Sandie Weaver’s office in the lower level of Metzger Hall hangs a framed quotation from Oswald Chambers. Sandie is the Senior Director of Financial Planning & Operations at Biola University, which means that she is on a mission to make sure Biola University carefully plans for its financial future and lives within the constraints of whatever funds God brings into the university. I love walking into her office and immediately encountering this quote from Oswald Chambers. Sandie has had these words hanging on the wall of her office for more than 30 years to remind her that she labors to do what she does—not merely because it is wise and necessary—but because God called her to do it ...
It seems an event gets our attention these days only if it offers something new. A dozen people could be killed in cold blood, but if it is not in some way unique or there is not some added intrigue, then it hardly gets a slice of our consciousness.
Something new has happened, and it’s all over the news. A gunman, Omar Mateen, claiming allegiance with the Islamic State, has killed 49 people and injured 53 others in an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Fla. It is, of course, grabbing our attention since it is a mind blowing amount of carnage. Forty-nine people dead and 53 injured! This is the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States (for perspective, the second worst death toll was the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, where 32 were killed and 17 injured). The Orlando shooting is also unique since it happened in an LGBT club. A further intrigue is that the shooter was an American citizen, born in New York, who was apparently radicalized and acting in the name of Islam. This last fact is, of course, not so unique, but it does add to the narrative, especially given the strong condemnation and prescribed treatment of homosexuals in Islamic theology and law. Putting two and two together, it appears as if this was an act of terror targeting the LGBT, driven by Islamic ideology.
I won’t here attempt a deep analysis of this chaos, but I do wish to make a few observations.
First, this is an obvious moral evil. Omar Mateen chose to commit a horrific evil. Full stop. There should be no qualifying, no softening, no putting a human face on what he did. He committed an unbelievable act of moral evil, and the repercussions of this will be felt for generations in the families affected.
Second, the politicization of these events is simply nauseating. The event played out, we blinked, and the discussion turned to gun control, Muslim immigration, LGBT rights, etc. I get it. We have a 24-hour news cycle, and these guys get paid to create angles. However, given that this is virtually all we hear, my concern is that this seems to suggest the solution to our problems is government action.
But please hear this. Government and more (or less or just different) regulation is not the answer, or at least not any kind of significant answer.
One group says the government should ban all Muslims immigrants. Will this work? Well, it wouldn’t have directly prevented the Orlando shooting since Mateen didn’t immigrate. Should we ban all Islamic immigration and intern all Muslims that currently live in our country? There you go, problem solved. No more domestic Islamic terrorism because they are all locked up. The only chink in this plan is that the solution will clearly and obviously be far worse than the problem it solves!
How about we push for stricter gun control? Another group thinks the major problem here is that there are just too many high capacity guns out there and they are too easy to get. If Mateen could not have obtained an AR-15, would this have prevented the event? It’s really doubtful. Maybe it would have slowed him down, and, who knows, perhaps sanity would have carried the day. But he seemed to have moved methodically, and my sense, at this point, is he would have found what he needed. I am not a gun expert, but the fact is many handguns are just as effective as the AR-15. Other handguns are only slightly less effective. Moreover, a majority of the shootings in the U.S. have not involved these sorts of rifles at all (e.g., the Virginia Tech shooter used two handguns). So it’s not clear banning the AR-15 and other rifles like this is going to do much at all. Maybe the government could seize all the guns. That would probably cut down on shootings, but, again, it would bring plenty of adverse effects. It would take the guns out of the hands of at least some would-be shooters, but it would also take the guns out of the hands of the millions of law-abiding citizens who have and will use guns to defend innocent life. Call me crazy, but I think it is a terrible idea for only the government and the criminals to have all the guns.
All of these propositions are attempting to solve extremely complex problems with clumsy solutions. But this, it seems, is just what you get with government, and this is all we’ll ever get with government. I’m not a complete skeptic. I have to think that smart legislation is possible, but it’s difficult to resist feeling like most legislation these days trades problems for problems.
At the end of the day, these things happen because we are fallen. We are all fallen. We all fall short all the time. The reality is that, in the grips of false ideology, fallen humans are capable of horrific evil. This, by the way, cuts across all worldviews. There are atheistic versions of this and theistic versions. Today the headlines are often about radical Muslims. In the 20th century, the major offenders were primarily atheists (Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, etc.). Christians, too, have had their fair share of moral evil. The point is that no amount of legislation is going to change this fact of human nature.
But there is hope, and it’s amazing! I’m convinced that the only hope is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As carefully as I can, I’ve considered each of the major religions, as well as many of the big ideas in the history of thought and, in my view, there is nothing like the beauty and brilliance of the Gospel. It doesn’t tell us to just try harder to be good. It tells us that this sort of religious effort is hopeless! It is all about what Jesus has done on our behalf. It is this forgiveness and redemption that drives our moral behavior. We will, of course, still sin, but we will be transformed as we press in to the life of Jesus. This should, in turn, result in a life that mirrors Jesus’ own life, a very moral life indeed (this includes, by the way, deep compassion for the victims of horrific acts of evil even if we are critical of the lifestyles of those affected).
As I said, Christians have done their fair share of moral evil along the way. This is, in part, because Christians, too, are fallen and fully capable of moral evil. Christians, at times, do nasty things. However, sometimes people who claim Christianity are caught in the grips of false (explicitly unchristian) ideology too. Many so-called Christians, who have not even attempted to mirror the life of Jesus or anything remotely close to it, have done terrible things. These acts simply do not square with the life and person of Jesus Christ.
Our call is to be like Him. As a moral exemplar, I’m convinced that Jesus is peerless.
In sum, the Gospel is the only force on the planet that can set us right for a simple reason: the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to those who believe (Romans 1:16).
Editorial Note: The Southern Baptist Convention recently passed resolution “On The Orlando Tragedy“. Feel free to check out other SBC resolutions at www.sbc.net/resolutions
One of the most helpful assets to a pastor in the local church in regard to caring for elderly widows is a stay-at-home mom. Here are five practical ways a pastor can train young moms in his church to take their children and visit elderly widows. First, the church should create a list of widows and make that list available, then:
1.Pray and contact
A great place to start is to take that list of widows that the pastors have put together and set a goal to pray and write a hand-written card to each widow on that list in one month. This allows a young mom who may be a bit apprehensive to go visit to make the first contact and allow God to stir affections for these widows through praying for them.
2. Organize a scheduled visit
Take the list and begin systematically to work your way down the list, setting a goal to maybe visit one or two widows a week. Once you complete the list it will be time to start the list over again.
3. Bake or make something to take as a gift
Widows love to receive any gift that you might bring with you. Whether you bake cookies, make something, or have your children color a picture, never underestimate the value of bringing something for this woman that she can look at, eat, or admire days after you have left.
4. Make a list of prayer requests
At some point in the visit, pull out a pad and pen and ask, “What are some things you would like the pastors and the whole church body to be praying on your behalf?” This is helpful to the pastors and a wonderful way to communicate a desire to care for her needs.
5. Write a brief report of the visit for the pastors
After you leave, write a brief email to one of the pastors by the end of the week of how the visit went and the prayer requests you gathered from her. This allows the pastors to pray more specifically for this widow and more accurately inform the congregation of their needs.
Frequently asked questions
Let me address two of the most common questions asked. “How long should we stay and what should we talk about?” Anywhere from 15–45 minutes is a good template (barring comfort level, kids meltdown, etc.). Topics like how she is feeling, family members caring for her, a typical day, history about her life, testimony of conversion, marriage and child rearing advice, and ways to pray for her are all great ways to carry a conversation.
Pastors, be training young moms in your congregation. Young moms are capable of having a very meaningful ministry in this area if you encourage them to step out in faith believing God will give the words and compassion needed to care for these ladies.
Brian Croft serves as senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville. He is also senior fellow for < class=”s3″>the Mathena Center for Church Revitalization at Southern Seminary. A veteran pastor and author of numerous books on practical aspects of pastoral ministry, Brian oversees Practical Shepherding, a gospel-driven resource center for pastors and church leaders to equip them in the practical matters of pastoral ministry.
Daisy and Barry talk about the roles of men and women in church life.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CWC-2016_06_20.mp3
Images of extreme poverty motivate those with financial resources to donate their money to help alleviate poverty; or that is what the producers of the images hope occurs. However, reducing the terrible and often deadly ramifications of poverty is not as simple as signing the ONE petition or buying RED products (both of which I have done). The problem is also not as straightforward as the global 1% of wealth (the “haves”) giving of their means as handouts to the “have-nots.” The position of wealth in the Global West often leads to a mentality that says we know what is best for the Global Rest – we assume that if they just do what we did then they will get the same results. However, this classification of foreign aid ignores the resources of the Global Poor and their local churches, and instead creates an unhealthy dependency on handouts undermining the dignity of the materially poor, while “their poverty is actually deepened by the very churches and organizations that are trying to help them” (Fikkert & Mask, From Dependence to Dignity, 2015, p. 20) ...
Scott, Kirk, and Daisy join Barry to discuss transgender athletes, human existence, and a surprising, announcement from a Christian artist.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CWC-2016_06_17.mp3
First of all I would like to say thanks for the great job you are doing and for the big influence you have upon people's lives both spiritually and intellectually.
My question isn't really mine, actually I found it in one of the reasonable faith forums, and I think it's a very good question that intrigues me since it was raised in your debate with Kevin Scharp. I would like to look at your take on the divine psychology objection proposed by Scharp more closely. Here's the question as it was presented in the forum:
“Dr. Craig recently debated Dr. Kevin Scharp on the Veritas Forum. One very interesting objection that Dr. Scharp raised to the fine tuning argument is that it appeals to divine psychology to support the premise that design is more probable than chance and necessity ...
Barry takes some time to discuss his position on the upcoming presidential election. To read more, click here.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CWC-2016_06_16.mp3
The young paratrooper stood in the open door of the C-47 transport plane. Angry wind currents battered his army fatigues with the ferocity of a category five hurricane. He paused momentarily, double-checked his static line, and leaped into the darkness below. Instantly, the darkness wasn’t dark any more. As he plummeted toward the earth, shells from anti-aircraft canons whizzed near him, burning up like a thousand falling stars slithering across the nighttime sky, shells that German soldiers propelled into the atmosphere with deadly intent. Explosions illumined the approaching earth below. Drifting intentionally toward the hostilities defied common sense, and he was deeply fearful, but the young soldier was on a mission far greater than even he understood in that moment of moments.
That soldier was my father. It was approximately 2 a.m., June 6, 1944, and he was in harm’s way, big-time. The hedge-infested landscape of northern France, flooded with water by Germany’s paranoid Fuhrer, waited below as dad and his colleagues in the 101st Airborne descended to join the cataclysmic battle known to posterity as “D-Day.”
My father, who died 25 years ago when a leaky blood vessel burst in his chest, would tell you God’s mercy alone carried him through D-Day alive. Sovereign grace saw him through the Allies’ Operation Market Garden (not the Allies’ proudest moment). It preserved him through the Battle of the Bulge, where American troops won despite being grossly outnumbered, completely surrounded (it is the Airborne’s job to be surrounded, my father once told me) and deep-frozen in one of the coldest European winters on record. Divine mercy, dad said, preserved him to V-J Day and spirited him back to Georgia to marry my mother. And it was mercy all, immense and free, that converted my dad to Christ shortly after they exchanged nuptials. Charles M. Robinson the soldier became an excellent husband and father, tirelessly raising three boys to be faithful husbands, fathers, and churchmen. Dad taught me how to throw a curve ball, how to read a box score.
Over the years as I have read God’s Word and reflected back upon his quiet testimony to God’s grace in our home, I have been increasingly thankful for the Godward values he instilled in us. Unfortunately, godly, committed fathers are the exception in today’s culture rather than the rule, but I was blessed by God’s mercy to be raised by one. Though he was far from a perfect man, my father exemplified biblical manhood in many respects and taught me many lessons by example. Here are 10 things that my father’s example taught me about biblical manhood:
The right thing is not always the easy thing. Ask any of my father’s friends and they will tell you that humble courage, above all other attributes, typified him. If he feared anything other than the Lord, our family never knew it. Dad was particularly adamant about doing the right thing, even, or perhaps especially, when it was a difficult thing. But courage should always display itself in a manner befitting the humility of Christ, I think he would be quick to say. My father did not believe he was courageous. When I asked him if he was scared the night he jumped into Normandy, his replay was an incredulous “Of course.” So what made you do it? “Because there was something at stake that was far larger and far more important than my safety,” he said. That’s humility wed to courage. Read his prayers in Gethsemane beside the cross and you see those things in Christ. I want to be like that.“Courage should always display itself in a manner befitting the humility of Christ.”
The right thing is not always the popular thing. Like following Christ, making the right decisions will not always win the applause of others, even some who profess undying devotion to you and to Christ. You will often be criticized, opposed, even rejected for doing the right thing.
Greatness is found in humility, not in touting one’s own greatness. I will never forget my father, in the context of teaching me how to play the great game of baseball, said, “When you make a great play, hit a home run (I was a singles hitter, so this particular play wasn’t much applicable) or do something to help your team in an obvious way, act like you’ve been there before.” My father wanted God, not me, to be glorified, even in sports. Dad was appalled at the strutting of professional athletes and was always put off by those who strutted in life, particularly in the church. “There’s nothing worse than a preacher who acts like he’s done something,” dad told me once. Lord, guard me from ministerial strutting, especially when it takes a subtle form like social media.
Men are called to do hard things. Men are called to make difficult decisions in the home, workplace, and church. Men are called to do hard things like taking a wife and raising children. My father saw a tendency among young men toward delayed adolescence in my generation and was deeply concerned. That God made men a bit rough around the edges is suggestive, he believed. God has designed them to fly into the flak.
Husbands are called to protect their wives. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, a man must be willing to lay down his life for his wife.
Fathers are called to protect their children. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, a man must be willing to lay down his life for his children.
Be good at what you do. That 1 Corinthians 10:31 is quoted regularly in my home is probably attributable to my father. Whether you are a plumber, professor, athlete, student, doctor, pastor or custodian, you must never stop striving to grow in your craft. You should seek to do your vocation with great skill, integrity and a sense of stewardship. My father was a master builder and approached every project as if it were his last. Every sphere of life belongs to God and all must be done to His glory. I am grateful he taught me this from a young age.“Whether you are a plumber, student, doctor, pastor, or custodian, you must never stop striving to grow in your craft.”
There is no substitute for being there.” My dad never used such words as “quality time” and “quantity time.” I do not recall a single baseball game (and I played in hundreds), important church or school event without my dad (and mom) in the audience. Often, dad coached or led the activities themselves. We went to church Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night as a family, no questions asked. That we were being raised as churchmen was an assumption. At home we spent hours talking about everything from God’s Word to sports, the news, good books, and the merits/demerits of country/rock/pop/gospel music. In short, his was a huge presence on the landscape of my life, and my time with him continues to bear fruit, even as I cross the borders of middle age.
Treasuring Christ, not material things, will give you ultimate satisfaction. The Lord blessed my father with material means, but I have no doubt they were never an idol. Whatever earthly wealth he had, it never had him. One of my fondest memories growing up in our household was watching my parents, under his leadership, providing food, Christmas toys, rent/mortgage money and thousands of dollars in other provisions for the poor of our community, which were numerous. And absolutely no one but our family ever knew. “God has blessed us to be a blessing to others,” he once told me. “We must lay up treasure in heaven, not here.” That’s the biblical prosperity gospel.“Whatever earthly wealth my father had, it never had him.”
Authentic manhood is proven in courageously serving others, not in deploying bare knuckles. In the mountains of North Georgia where I grew up, a rite of passage into manhood seemed to be participating in and winning at least one fist fight. This was a huge problem for a runty, lightweight like me, who barely tip the scales at 100 pounds in ninth grade. I always deflected this need for a well-publicized TKO by telling friends, “I’m a lover, not a fighter.” My father, who was as physically strong a man as I have ever met, warned me against confusing real manhood with such boorishness. Real manhood is found in sacrificing your needs, wants and desires in service of others as Christ did on Calvary. The real man is the Christ-picturing servant, not the Rocky Balboa wanna-be. He exhibited both lion-like courage and lamb-like humility. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 summarizes authentic biblical manhood well: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
I am following in giant footsteps and I pray that the Lord will give me grace to set an example that points my children to Christ and his gospel in a compelling and fruitful way. Happy Father’s Day.
Jeff Robinson (M.Div. and Ph.D., SBTS) is editor of the Southern Seminary blog. He is pastor of New City Church in Louisville, serves as senior editor for The Gospel Coalition and is also adjunct professor of church history and senior research and teaching associate for the Andrew Fuller Center at SBTS. He is co-author with Michael A. G. Haykin of To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin’s Missional Vision and Legacy (Crossway, 2014). Jeff and his wife Lisa have four children.
Barry points out a few repeating motifs through out the story of the early church in the book of Acts.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CWC-2016_06_15.mp3
For the past few days I have been trying to think of the top ten verses that would be most helpful to apologists and evangelists. I have reflected on my own experience and also gotten feedback from many of you on Facebook and Twitter. So, here are my top ten verses to defend your faith (in no particular order) ...
Barry is joined by Winston, Daisy, and Steve to chat about 3D printers, J. K. Rawlings, and the psychology of road rage.http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CWC-2016_06_14.mp3
What, really, is worship? Most discussions focus on its meaning or the elements of a worship service. Certainly, these are important, yet Psalm 15 insists that there is something else involved. This psalm focuses on a significant but rarely discussed issue in the practice of worship: personal integrity. Psalm 15 asserts that the one who can enter God’s presence to worship Him is the one who practices integrity as a way of life.
Psalm 15 begins with the worshipper asking about the requirements to enter the sanctuary to worship God (v. 1): “O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill?” The words “abide” and “dwell” are fairly synonymous, and they indicate a settling down to rest, in this case, in God’s presence. God’s “tent” refers to the tabernacle that David set up for the ark (2 Samuel 6:17). The “holy hill” is Mt. Zion. Both statements refer to the earthly place of God’s dwelling with Israel. The request is to be in God’s presence. Entering God’s presence is not taken lightly; God is not to be trifled with. So, who can enter God’s presence to worship Him properly?
The answer is somewhat unexpected. Nothing is said about sacrifices, gifts or offerings. Instead, the focus is entirely on the character of the worshipper. Several character traits are mentioned; it will be helpful to look at these virtues under three main categories.
The first set of virtues concern loyalty to the Lord as a basis for true worship. The true worshipper “walks with integrity” (v. 2). Integrity “implies what is whole, or whole-hearted, and sound.” A major idea of integrity involves completeness, which results from having nothing lacking, a character unmixed with error or deception. This is a single-minded person, not one with divided loyalties; one who seeks to love the Lord with the whole of his being (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37). Next, the true worshipper “works righteousness” (v. 2). His life is conformed to the will of God; to perform righteous works means “to match one’s deeds to God’s will.” Finally, the one seeking to dwell in God’s presence will stand loyally with whoever honors the Lord (v. 4). He rejects behavior that dishonors God. True worship does not divorce outward actions from inward character, for outward actions reflect the reality of one’s inner devotion to Christ. Worshipping God with integrity involves the whole person, resulting in whole-hearted loyalty to Jesus Christ.
The second category of virtues for properly worshipping God involves the tongue; indeed, half of the virtues mentioned have to do with speech. The main virtue seen here is that of honesty. On the positive side, the true worshipper “speaks truth in his heart” (v. 2). It is not simply that this man speaks what is correct; he speaks with sincerity and peace, which reflects a character conforming to God’s will and whole-hearted love for God. Consequently, this person “swears to his own hurt and does not change” (v. 4). He is a man faithful to his word who will do everything in his power to honor his promise. Stating things in negative terms, the one truly seeking to worship God refuses to slander (v. 3). Derek Kidner describes “slander” as going about to spy in order to spread scandalous information. The one who seeks to enter God’s presence does not speak scandalously against another; he will do no evil or damage of any kind to his neighbor. Also, he will refuse to take up “a reproach against his friend” (v. 3). A reproach is a taunt that “carries a sense of social shame and rejection that is highly odious.” Last, he will not “take a bribe against the innocent” (v. 5). Taking a bribe against the innocent would entail speaking falsely against one’s neighbor. The one seeking to abide in God’s presence refuses to work to the disadvantage of a brother or stranger; rather, his concern is for their welfare. In summary, the man who rightly wants to worship God will speak truth, honor his word, and refuse to use his words to damage others in any way.
A third virtue for the worshipper of God involves the treatment of others. All that was said about the use of the tongue could be repeated here, but the psalmist highlights the virtue of kindness (v. 5). Out of concern for a person in need, the worshipper of Christ will not practice usury against his neighbor, making the neighbor’s struggle even more difficult. The man or woman who seeks to dwell in God’s presence is one who treats friends and neighbors with kindness and concern for their welfare.
For the man whose life is one of integrity, the promise is made that he will “never be shaken” (v. 5). This does not mean that such a life will be free of difficulty, sickness or opposition. It does mean that such a person is stable and will not be moved off of his foundation. Christ, our foundation, can and does turn lament into comfort and victory.
We are faced with a haunting question. Is our worship of God genuine? Does God’s presence seem to be real in our worship? Is there evidence of spiritual growth? If the answer to these questions is “No,” then we may need to check our character. Attempting to worship God without integrity is not worshipping God.
 All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.
 For the slight difference between these two words, see C. F. Keil and F. Delitsch, Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, vol. 5, transl. James Martin (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, reprint 1984), 212.
 Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, vol. 14a (Downers Grove: IVP, 1973), 81.
 Nancy deClaissé-Walford, Rolf A. Jacobson, and Beth LaNeel Tanner, The Book of Psalms, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 173.
 Kidner, 81.
 de-Claissé, Jacobson, and Tanner, 174.