Another Take on Judging

I believe the conversation of judging that is so prevalent today is terribly misguided.  In reading today’s scheduled passages we find in Mark 6:18 “For John had been saying to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’” (NASU)  If we were to ask individuals if John the Baptist was a man of God and was conducting his life consistent with God’s word and His will, we would likely hear that he was.  In fact, many today are attendees of a particular denomination claiming affiliation with this man.  Now let’s look at what he did in this passage.  He spoke out against the relationship King Herod was in with Herodias, the wife of Philip, his brother.  John clearly stated that it was not lawful (approved of God) to have her as his wife.  Was he judging?  I say yes, in that using God’s word he discerned that this was unacceptable behavior (sin), but he certainly did not judge (condemn personally) with respect to Herod’s eternal punishment, for that is God’s place to determine.  I believe this to be consistent with the Word of God.  Yet today, when behavior is identified as blatantly out of step with God’s Word, we are accused of being judgmental, when in reality it is more likely an effort to make individuals aware of activity that may be in ignorance to God’s standard.  If we stand by without a word of warning or admonition we become guilty of failing to comply with other passages that tell us to intervene.  After all, if we truly love one another, won’t we respond when it is apparent that an individual is foundering in sin?  This is but one passage that refutes the notion that it is right to ignore people’s sin.  “He with ears to hear let him hear…”    God bless!

Copyright © 2014, Nolan P. Rutter (Inspired by notes of K. Carmichael)

Seek an Illuminated Walk

As a true fan of baseball’s Cincinnati Reds, I appreciate the many firsts associated with ‘the first professional baseball’ team.  One key first would have to be the first night game in Major League Baseball history, occurring on May 24, 1935 at Crosley Field.  Now, I would be remiss in failing to acknowledge that night events occur on a daily basis in the sporting world with very few exceptions. 

So, what does it take to pull off such a feat?  If you are driving at night, it is nearly impossible to miss a sporting event underway because of the huge banks of lights needed to illuminate the playing field.  These light banks are necessary for the efficient and safe play for the athletes.  There is also the need for officials to be able to see clearly enough to be able to ensure the rules of the game are being adhered to by the participants. 

This morning, a ridiculous thought occurred to me.  What would happen if a baseball team attempted a night game, with the limited illumination they could provide for themselves (i.e. flashlights, lighters, cell phones, what have you).  How silly would it be for a batter to attempt to hit an 80+ mph pitch with a miner’s light on his batting helmet… or an outfielder trying to track down a fly ball from the crack of the bat with only a flashlight?  Imagine similar efforts during the snap of a football in the shotgun formation or a receiver trying to track down that downfield pass after shaking a defensive back.  We haven’t even spoken of the missed calls by officials simply because they could not see what was happening on the field!! 

Sadly, today, many try that same approach in their spiritual walk through life.  King David wrote in Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  The word of God is the illumination that opens our eyes to every aspect of life and yet there are those today trying to get by with as little of it as they can.  A few passages here and there committed to memory, are a noble beginning of knowing God and His way, yet this practice is equivalent to walking in a world with a candle, lamp or flashlight, when the overwhelming bank of lights that can light every aspect of our lives is waiting to be accessed!!  Of all listed in the cloud of witnesses found in Hebrews chapter eleven, a cursory mention is made of David (v. 32) and should not be overlooked.  Here is a man known by God to be ‘after His own heart’ and it is this man who understood the value of God’s word in lighting his path.  In the life of David, we are made aware that he clearly pondered, meditated and reflected on God to a large extent.  Would it not benefit us today, following his example as we ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’, the Word made flesh?

Copyright © 2013, Nolan P. Rutter

Road Map to God

A message that is sometimes seen on church signs reads, “Will the road you’re on lead to me?  – God.”  It is inconceivable for us to expect to arrive somewhere when given insufficient information, yet this is what many face with regard to their salvation.  Paul spoke to the church in Corinth about the Gospel he had preached to them (1 Cor 15:11) that included three elements; Christ’s death, His burial, and His resurrection.  In verses one and two of chapter fifteen Paul says this Gospel he preached is the one they received, is the one the in which they stood is also the one by which they have been saved.  Clearly, we see that Christ died for our sins (vs. 3) and there was a burial (vs. 4) and He was raised.  Without that burial there could not be a resurrection.

The same writer, Paul, spoke of a distortion of the Gospel in his letter to churches in Galatia (1:6).  That can be said of removing burial from the Gospel, making it in fact it is no gospel at all.  In the following verses Paul tells us that doing so has dire consequences to include confusion and perverting the gospel, a gospel that is from a Divine source (Jesus Christ) and was not made up by men (vs. 11-12).  No human has right or authority to change the message, and is called on by Paul to be accursed as a result of presenting a ‘different gospel’.

Again in his letter to the Romans, chapter six, Paul speaks of the Gospel as it relates to man’s salvation.  If we are to “walk in newness of life”, there is a burial called for.  The words of Romans 6:4 tell us “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (NAS)  If we desire to be united with Christ (vs. 5), we know from Paul that it happens in a burial and from this burial we ‘rise to walk in newness of life.”  Both 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 6 clearly indicate that without a burial there is no resurrection.  The reason that we still have the same divisions today as there were in Christendom five hundred years ago, is that men choose tradition and the ‘wisdom of men’ over simple Bible truth.  It takes real courage to lay our own beliefs beside the ‘holy word of God’ examining them in the light of truth.

Friends, don’t get me wrong.  There isn’t anything wrong with ending up at Sonic, that is, unless you were expecting to arrive at the public library.  Will the road you’re on lead to God?  It will, if you use the directions He has provided.  Are you willing to follow them?

Copyright © 2013, Nolan P. Rutter

The Value of the Bible

It happened 30 years ago, yet many are likely to be as oblivious to this event as I was.  On February 3, 1983, then President Ronald Reagan designated 1983 as the national “Year of the Bible” at the National Prayer Breakfast.  Not since the founding of this nation has anything of this magnitude been requested by our Congress!  Public Law 97-280, approved October 4, 1982, cited that the Bible “has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed people” and even quoted President Andrew Jackson’s words that the Bible is “the rock on which our Republic rests.”  This public law also acknowledged a “national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures!”  Sadly, in May, 2009, a similar attempt to make 2010 “The National Year of the Bible” failed to make it out of committee.  What a difference 28 years makes!

My interest in this major event prompted me to determine if it had any effect on our nation.  In research it was discovered that the annual average number of crimes reported from 1980-82 was 13.2 million.  In 1983 this number dropped to 12.1 million and in 1984 it dropped even lower to 11.8 million.  Murder alone dropped by 20% over this time period.  In 1985, crime statistics began to climb back to pre-1983 numbers (UCR Crime Statistics).  Is this connected to the increased emphasis on the Bible at our national leadership level?  Only God knows.  I prefer to think that “as the leadership goes, so goes the nation.”

Those who spend time in the Scriptures know their tremendous value.  Nothing endures like God’s word (Isaiah 40:8), in that it “endures forever”… Jesus speaks of this when He said that heaven and earth will pass away but my word will never pass away (Mark 13:31).  King David, a man after God’s own heart stated that God’s word was a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  (Psalm 119:105)  This same Godly man knew that hiding God’s word in his heart would help him refrain from sinning against Him (Psalm 119-11).  There are many who hold a sense of uncertainty as to what basis we are to be judged by when standing before the Judgment Seat of God.  These would benefit greatly in knowing that the word which Jesus spoke would be used to judge us (John 12:28).  Knowing this should bring a greater appreciation for the true value of the Bible! 

My friend, the Bible is priceless and I’m convinced that if more of our leaders at the state and national levels embraced the true value of the Bible we would regain much, if not all, of what we’ve lost in the past 60-plus years.  God will only bless America, when America blesses God!

Copyright © 2013, Nolan P. Rutter

Mourn Over Sin…

A question I’m compelled to ask is, “Do we take sin seriously or do we take it too lightly?  I wonder if we truly know just how much devastation comes from allowing sin into our lives.  Why would I think this way?  Perhaps the paint job on a truck that declared “Hell Bound” makes me wonder.  It could also be the suggested sermon topic “Sin and why we’re good at it…”  Or, it may well be recent events involving Chick-Fil-A, and the varied response to Dan Cathy’s support of traditional marriage.  Rejecting the sin of immoral relationships had some responding in support while others responded in protest.  There was one reported encouraging response, when a local radio DJ reported on an encounter at a Kansas City area Chick-Fil-A restaurant.  When an exchange took place between individuals with opposing views, one of the individual’s took the opportunity to pray with the other.  I don’t know which one initiated the prayer, but I would like to think that the Biblical view of marriage set the example in appealing to God for guidance and forgiveness.

As Jesus’ ministry began to unfold He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Mourning is the response to something that greatly distresses us in life.  Isn’t sin something to be distressed over?  Rom 3:23 tells us that all have sinned, while Rom 6:23 tells us that sin brings us death.  That’s distressing, is it not!?  If we would only acknowledge that death results from sin we would respond both quickly and decisively.  I tell you that we ought to mourn over sin, both ours and others.  While this position is unpopular and called judgmental today, the word of God clearly tells us to respond.  James 5:19-20 tells us turning a sinner from the error of his way ‘will save his soul from death’.  Mourning offers us motivation to do just this…  Galatians 6:1 clearly states that ‘spiritual ones’ are to restore one who is ‘caught in a trespass.’  Again, mourning over others sin will give us desire to reach out to those caught in it.  Today, when we reach out to sinners we are addressed as ‘haters’, which couldn’t be further from the truth, unless you are referring to the sin.  We mourn over those who we love, and when you love someone you put what they need over what you need.  Parents experience this when addressing child behavior issues at the expense of their ‘friendship’ with their child.  That shouldn’t stop parenting, though, and it shouldn’t stop Christians from mourning and ministering.  It’s time to mourn over sin!

Copyright © 2012, Nolan P. Rutter