Subscribe to receive each blog post via email:

Bookmark and Share

August 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Books for the Journey:

« February 28th readings | Main | March 2nd readings »

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Re Mike's question on Leviticus 24:17 and it's relevance today:

Well, I am finding it very valuable going through the OT and all this Law of Moses, and I have been trying to understand what it should mean to us today. I think it provides and context for the New Testament. Jesus was taking the Law and the Prophets as a starting point for His teaching. The OT provides many of the images and symbols of the NT.

But I think both Jesus and Paul are very explicit that with the coming of Jesus everything changes. Jesus was consistently down on the Pharisees and Scribes for the burden of law, regulations and traditions which they put on the people. God is looking at our heart, the motivation at the core of our being and what is coming out of there. For example, we had this last Friday in Mark 7:14-23.

Some of the OT Law provides good basic principles (e.g. the Ten Commandments) but some was specifically given for the circumstances of the Israelites and their problems. Jesus gave an example of that in the Law Moses gave on Divorce. See Mark 10:3-5


"What did Moses command you?" he replied.
They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."
"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. (NIV)


But, I think we are now in a different universe. For example, part of our inheritance as believers in Jesus is the same power of God which raised Jesus from the dead and put Him at the right hand of God the Father. See Ephesians 1:17-20


"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms," (NIV)


So I believe we should not be killing people for any reason. It may be a sensitive issue in the USA, but it is rather clear cut in a lot of other places. If you look at the list of countries who still allow the courts to declare a penalty of death, it is very sad to see the USA in that list. See http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGACT500052004

Looking forward to your thoughts on this,

Blessings,
Andrew B

good morning everyone,
May i ask a favour please..there are a lot of us who post and read the comments each day and you get to know the people ..well a lot of you have probably read comments from beryl and know she has cancer..shes going into hospital this morning and they are operating straight away and hoping to remove it all..may i ask you to pray for her please?thank you..God bless, Stef.

I recently heard a pastor who long ago while preaching on the street was spat on by a drug addict,continued preaching,was spat on again by the same person(he was led to turn the other cheek),the 3rd time the drug addict came,he knelt down and received Christ.I believe life imprisonment gives the person a chance to repent,or at least pay for the crime he commited by losing his freedom.Killing the person on the other hand means condemning him to eternal fire....I think the Pope's Paul forgiveness of the man who shot him years ago created an impact that unforgiveness wouldn't have had.The world is so used to revenge that a painful act of mercy by the family of one who lost a loved one preaches Jesus more than words ever could.
It's so much easier said than done...I know,may God help us all carry our crosses gracefully to his glory.
God bless you all

Thanks so much Steff for letting us know,I pray God holds her hand through the whole procedure and guides the hand of the surgeon,I pray God gives her a powerful testimony and that her beautiful smile will continue to encourage others battling with cancer.Please can you keep us posted about her?God bless you all

my chief worry has always been that if you take a persons life you are also removing them from a life in which they may still have come to know JESUS so i would be in favour of life imprisonment rather but i have to see that God just and that He has promised that all will hear the gospel and be given a chance to repent and if that person were meant to come to Jesus God would not let his life be taken until that had happened..but then again someone might say you bump into an equally sticky topic of predestination

Hi Steff,
I will pray for Beryl too. Thank you for letting us know about her surgery and please keep us updated.

Nicole

Well, Mike brought up a good question. I don't believe in the death penalty because I am not sure if it results in anything good. And Stef, you made a great point to say that if they are prison for life, they may turn to God and be saved. I have a friend volunteers in the prison ministry and he tells great stories of people that are saved in prison and minister to others in prison too! I think that is so encouraging!

You guys are a bunch of liberals and secular humanists. Let me ask you a question: Did God change? Did peoples hearts change? What is the difference between those times and these times? I do not see any besides technology. What you are trying to prove? That you love sinners more than God does? If God wanted them in prison, He would have said so, don't you think? He could command in Levit. " put them in prison and preach to them My word". But instead He commanded to execute them.Did God make a mistake? Or may be contemporary murderers are better than those in Lev. and deserve better treatment? Yes, some of them do repent in prisons,but the instances when rapists and murderers repented do not remove the commandment, as the instances of bad parents do not remove "you should honor your mother and father".

Regarding the death penalty, just remember this: The command that the
Holy Spirit gave through the
Lord Jesus to "turn the other cheek" only applies to INDIVIDUALS. How do I know that?

Because later the same Spirit of Christ through the Apostle Paul clearly specified the role God has always designed for the government in Romans 13 (NKJV):

CHAPTER HEADING IN MY BIBLE: Submit to Government
1
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
2
Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3
FOR RULERS ARE NOT A TERROR TO GOOD WORKS, BUT TO EVIL.
Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4
FOR HE IS GOD’S MINISTER TO YOU FOR GOOD. BUT IF YOU DO EVIL, BE AFRAID; FOR HE DOES NOT BEAR THE SWORD IN VAIN; FOR HE IS GOD’S MINISTER, AN AVENGER TO EXECUTE WRATH ON HIM WHO PRACTICES EVIL.
5
THEREFORE YOU MUST BE SUBJECT, NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF WRATH BUT ALSO FOR CONSCIENCE’ SAKE.

~~~

Obviously, we cannot oppose what the Lord says and be surrendered to Him at the same time.

Yet, honest questions arise about Romans 13 in the minds of many people-- including mine-- especially about the second verse in this chapter:
2
Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

~~~

One only has to think of Idi Amin. According to Wikipedia: Idi Amin (May 17, 1928 – August 16, 2003) was an army officer and President of Uganda (1971 to 1979) whose regime was notorious for its brutality.

Or one only has to think of Sadam Hussein, the deposed dictator, on trial in Iraq.

Or think of the white Southern authorities who regularly hosed down the black people who resisted the government. These government officials probably used this verse as a pretext as they told the blacks to submit.

Or think of all of the communist or Muslim governments that persecute Christians. These are our brothers and sisters in the Lord-- are they called by God to simply accept this as the will of God? Many Muslims would say that Christians are to submit to ALLAH, and that is God's will. If this does not happen, then (according to them), Christians deserve to be treated like second class citizens or persecuted in more severe ways.

~~~
OF COURSE, one does not have to look far at all to see the abuses of government power. AND, LIKE THE APOSTLES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND LIKE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. IN OUR AGE-- we need to resist the government in a nonviolent way that shows the character of Christ and highlights the Gospel.

Of course, this is not the easy way. The Spirit of Christ gives us an example of how to properly resist government abuse through the Apostle Peter in Acts chapters 4 and 5 (NKJV):

ACTS 4
18
So they [I.E., authorities]called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19
But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.
20
For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

ACTS 5
29
BUT PETER AND THE OTHER APOSTLES ANSWERED AND SAID: “WE OUGHT TO OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN.

~~~ *** ~~~

Obviously, government ruled by men-- even good and godly men -- can make mistakes and needs to know it is accountable to God and to people.

~~~ *** ~~~

Having said all of that, THIS DOES NOT CHANGE THE ROLE FOR WHICH GOD ANOINTS GOVERNMENT which the Spirit of the Lord Jesus clearly specified in Romans 13. Look especially at verses 4 and 5:
4
FOR HE IS GOD’S MINISTER TO YOU FOR GOOD. BUT IF YOU DO EVIL, BE AFRAID; FOR HE DOES NOT BEAR THE SWORD IN VAIN; FOR HE IS GOD’S MINISTER, AN AVENGER TO EXECUTE WRATH ON HIM WHO PRACTICES EVIL.
5
THEREFORE YOU MUST BE SUBJECT, NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF WRATH BUT ALSO FOR CONSCIENCE’ SAKE.

~~~

MY FINAL COMMENT: Keep government accountable and oppose government in a righteous manner when government is doing the wrong thing.

Yet, recognize that if a crime has been committed and if a person has not been unlawfully convicted, then the government has the calling and right given by God Himself to punish the evildoers.

We as individual Christians cannot punish evildoers-- because of God. Government can and must-- because of God.

"...FOR HE IS GOD’S MINISTER, AN AVENGER TO EXECUTE WRATH ON HIM WHO PRACTICES EVIL."

~~~

So, when the government is doing what is right, then we are commanded by the Spirit of Christ to "obey for conscience's sake" (out of love for the Lord) and to avoid being punished. This punishment can include the death penalty if it is warranted.

~~~

AND THIS IN NO WAY DIMINISHES THE ROLE OF CHAPLAINS OR OTHER MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST sharing the Love and Presence of Christ with those in prison.

Hope you all still love me in the Lord now!

*********

In reference to how to interpret Mark 10, notice
how the Lord Jesus Himself interpreted this event when the rich young ruler went away sad because he could not give up all he had.

23
Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”

Then notice how the Lord Jesus clarified this even more in the next verse:
24
...But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!

*** NOTE ***
I know that not all versions have the phrase in verse 24: "for those who trust in riches".

However, I find that this little phrase brings wonderful clarification and understanding. This shows me that the LORD JESUS IS NOT AGAINST US HAVING MONEY-- but HE IS AGAINST MONEY HAVING US.

The apostles were completely shocked and amazed by all of this.

Notice finally how the Lord Jesus completely clarified what He meant in response to Peter's question:
28
Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.”
29
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,
30
who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
31
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

~~~

Compare and contrast the rich young ruler with Peter. The young ruler went away sad while Peter gladly gave away everything to the Lord Jesus. Notice the word of blessing to those who fully obey. HEAVEN AND EARTH WILL CEASE TO EXIST BEFORE ANY WORD OF JESUS WILL FAIL. Jesus said that we will receive 100-fold in this life with persecutions, and in the next life eternal life.

One can see that this overflowing blessing of being provided for in this life is not so we can "do our own thing" and watch all the TV we want.

Are we really yielded to the Lord? How we use our money is a real indicator of how we worship God.

~~~
FINALLY, note the wonderful meditation of John Wesley on the following verse.

"I say unto you, Make unto yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into the everlasting habitations." Luke 16:9

I. We ought to gain all we can gain but this it is certain we ought not to do; we ought not to gain money at the expense of life, nor at the expense of our health.

II. Do not throw the precious talent into the sea.

III. Having, First, gained all you can, and, Secondly saved all you can, Then "give all you can."

Vance

Forgiven,

You completely missed the point about Christ talking about a higher law---the law of love, compassion and forgiveness instead of the law of retaliation.

And please let's not call one another labels. What good does it do us to kill someone as punishment? I would be deeply concerned
if that's what makes you feel good or right to see someone's life end through lethal injection.

Forgiven,

Let's look at what not only the book of Leviticus says but what we see in the Old Testament being done. Adultery and Murder are grounds for being put to death in Leviticus, as well as being disrespectful to one's parents.

Saying that, Israel’s greatest king should have been put to death as well as many of his son's. Adultery, murder, disrespecting of parents. God forgave David back then why not NOW? I know the Son of Sam, David Burkowitz (spelling?) is ministering in prison and is not a "whiner" asking to be let out, although every time he has been up for parole, there are folks emotionally outraged; however, he accepts graciously and expects to never be let out.

“The wages of sin is death …” Note it doesn’t say some kinds of sin or multiple sins, but sin singular. If you break one of the Laws, you have broken them ALL

The entire Roman passage is this:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)

And by the way Forgiven, what deadly sin were you “Forgiven” for since all sin requires the death penalty? We all deserve the Death Penalty.” You can’t apply part of the Levitical law on the things that are most egregious to you because Capital Punishment is Capital Punishment so it needs to be applied in ALL THINGS. This is NOT A NEW COVENANT issue. Mercy and Grace can be found in the Old.

P.S. and regard to murderers, the writer of the majority of the New would, by many people, not have been able to write it because he would have been “put to death.”

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Forgiven,

Do you read the bible? Why do you think there is a "Old Testament" and a " New Testament"? Time as well as people do CHANGE!

This is my first time to post and these are one of those topics that always get people to get worked up. And you either agree with the issue of capital punishment or you don’t. So I am going to give my take on it.

I am a Christian and I am for the death penalty. If someone came in my house and killed my wife and kids I would want them to get punished justly for the wrong they did. Putting them in prison for the rest of his life is not justly in my opinion. Now some say if we leave them in prison for the rest of their life instead of executing them then they will have a chance to give their life to God. They have that same chance when they are on death row. They don't immediately go get executed they are there for a number of years. In that time they have a chance to make things right with God and still go to heaven. Now my fleshly mind says they don't deserve to go to heaven because they should rot in hell for what they have done but God says no sin is bigger than another sin. If I tell a small lie one day I have sinned. If someone murders someone then that is a sin as well and they are both the same in God's eyes. A sin is a sin. So if you kill someone you should be punished justly for it. You will have plenty of chances to get redeemed through Christ even if you are on death row. Anyway that is my take on it. People have their opinions and this is mine. Love in Christ. Jason

My first problem with the death penalty is that roughly half of all inmates (including death row) are innocent. The country’s largest law enforcement investigation done when 51% of Illinois death row inmates were able to demonstrate their innocence a few years ago blamed “embarrassingly incompetent” DAs and “overtly corrupt” law enforcement. The Lexow investigation of 1894 had long ago showed $300.00 to be the acceptable cost for an appointment as a police officer (“thugs with badges”) – in Boston, they called it the “union wage.” A hundred years later the Mollen Commission showed that our country had yet to resolve such issues and observed, “The modern corrupt officer is paid not only to turn a ‘blind eye’ to criminal activity but to work hand-in-hand with the criminal to actively facilitate criminal activities. In New York City, the officers became drug dealers and helped to operate large drug rings.” Mollen Commissioner Harold Baer, in reference to the chronicle of investigations into New York law enforcement (Lexow, 1895; Curran, 1913; Seabury, 1932; Hefland, 1954; Knapp, 1972; and Mollen, 1994), noted that over “the past hundred years, New York City has experienced a twenty-year cycle of corruption, scandal, reform, backslide and fresh scandal in the New York City Police Department.” Since the days of Tom Dewey, investigators have routinely been shown to have just as many connections with criminal elements as any other aspect of law enforcement.

The recent LA Rampart investigation even concluded that city and federal law enforcement was no longer capable of supporting any facsimile of an honest investigation into the use of force by the police (officers being interviewed, for example, routinely had their rights intentionally violated so that their testimony could not be used). The investigation was started when it became clear that numerous LAPD divisions regularly stole and sold drugs, extorted drug dealers, and even shot and then framed citizens in connection with these crimes, leaving up to 30,000 convictions needing to be reviewed. “While crime declined in LA during the 1990’s (for example, from 2.9 in 1990 to 1.0 in 1998 homicides per 10,000 in LA and NY) virtually no one has seriously suggested that local law enforcement deserves the credit.” (Katz, 2001) Alas, all efforts to clean up law enforcement (starting with those of Teddy Roosevelt as NYC Police Commissioner) have always been wholly unproductive due to corruption being too widespread and acceptable, the public too apathetic, and witnesses too reluctant to testify. Even the suggestion by the Illinois report that officers found overtly lying during felony murder trails be immediately suspended has been wholly ignored.

Then, my primary problem with people that say, “We should not be killing people for any reason,” is that I’ve never met one that actually meant it. For example, go to a Quaker’s web site and they use the phrase “sanctity of life” when talking about war but never when discussing abortion while the Salvation Army uses that same phrase when talking about abortion but never when talking about war. It seemed to me as a small child the only difference in moral perspectives was the political affiliation of a person – and I still feel I’ve never heard a moral discussion on the value of life but only political ones. It troubles me when people suggest that the life of a known serial killer might be more valuable that an unborn child. We live in a world with Jews, however, only because we were willing to kill the Germans that wanted them all dead. Thus, it also troubles me when people living in a free country suggest that we could somehow live in a world with justice without killing people (it is an insult to police officers and soldiers to imply their profession to be unethical). I would assume such people would have opposed the American Revolution and wished they now lived in Canada.

If I stand with a gun in one hand and Danish in the other while my child is being raped before me, which hand should I offer. Many of the Quakers I’ve known would honestly only present the Danish, but they wouldn’t say that killing was a sin but only a sin for them. I would personally use the gun while believing it was also a sin and so while I was killing the person I would be saying, “I am sorry that I don’t know what else to do but I promise I will study other options in hopes to have another choice if this situation occurs again.” On the other hand, if I kill without it being necessary (as with capital punishment), then I am equally guilty of murder (if not more so than a person who kills, say, to survive gang membership). Native Americans considered it a sin to kill even in order to live and so it was sacred to use every part of a killed animal. I might even be able to live with abortion if we would just call it murder and work to reduce its occurrence (there’s sadly not a single industrialized country with a positive growth rate due to the massive killing of the unborn, which is putting a huge drain on the world’s economy and is the real problem for Social Security).

But, none of this is a theological discussion of Leviticus. The “eye for an eye” reference can be tied to “Judge not that you be not judged” while Jesus suggested that loving our neighbors as ourselves was no longer enough as we must now love as Christ loves. Jewish law similarly required a father and mother to bring a stubborn and rebellious son to the town elders at the gate to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), although it was never done. Parents may have been required to bring their children to the town elders for potential stoning so that their parenting in actuality would be put on trail in the same way to focus on internal change with the use of external checks for a personal desire for higher standards. I don’t believe such an interpretation identifies a person as a liberal (America has no real liberals or conservatives since we are the only nation without a viable Socialist or Conservative Tory parties) or a secular humanist. The Prophet Obadiah even warned of great punishment for failing to question God as Abraham had done earlier. Jesus told the disciples in Luke 22 that they could take cloaks and even weapons while they had previously been clearly told not to take anything with them. The disciples proudly admitted to carrying multiple swords failing to be embarrassed that they were doing so in complete violation of his orders. We often fail to understand God’s message because we don’t want to see it’s about change in ourselves first - then others will be changed. I assume that Forgiven has sinned at some point and yet still has both hands and eyes in clear violation of God’s suggestion that it is better to enter heaven without such things. If God can give Cain to even Satan second chances, who are we to not do the same? But, I would disagree with Douglas. People and God haven’t changed – our relationship with God has changed (as per Martin Luther’s dialogue on the “priesthood of all believers”). Paul’s suggestion that he fails to do everything he knows is right and vice versa is still true for all real Christians.

Dear Jason, 1 Peter 3:18 says Christ preached in spirit form to the prisoned souls who had disobeyed God in the time of Noah. Why would He do this if they were going to burn for eternity (just to run it in their faces)? Christ says in Matthew 10:15, “it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” If that city was to burn, wouldn’t that mean that those sexual deviants from Sodom and Gomorrah were to have a more tolerable experience? BTW, everyone deserves to be destroyed in the fires of Hell, so isn’t it great that life is not fair? I’ve heard it said that only “blameless” men should be church leaders, but the greatest men of God that I have ever met have been converted Christians in my local state prison (all being former serial killers and child molesters). One famous Atheist took two decades to convert and then wrote the greatest book (second only to Bibles) for the number of people converted after reading (being C S Lewis and Mere Christianity). Good thing he had more than a few years to convert.

Trust, it is said, must be “earned.” If I hit a rabid dog repeatedly with a stick, however, and then give him my hand, should I talk disparagingly of it when it bites me? Or, of a rattle snake that bites me when I reach to pet it (as is true in most cases, believe it or not)? Was not the dog and snake completely trustworthy and true to their nature and me the one who needed to earn an improvement in the relationship? If I gain enough understanding, I can learn to trust all. Does not love operate in the same way, in that there is nothing we can do to improve our worthiness to be loved, only in our capacity to love others? “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

P.S. I’m old enough to have visited the Liberty Bell when it resided at Independence Hall.

Well....it's not worth getting upset over. People will have there opinions & no matter how much you try to convince some, they will not be open to a different view. That's just the way it is. Most people if they read the Bible know what it has to say on this topic from the old to the new. I was raised a Pastor's kid. I've heard it all. Am I for the death penalty. Wholeheartedly yes...but, It won't do any good for me to sit hear and debate with you over it. It's not going to edify anyone now is it? It's ok to state what you believe, but to debate over it....usually accomplishes nothing. In the end...whether a person get's life or the death sentence, they will someday stand before God and give an account. God is just....and if one does not repent in this life he will be judged in the next. So whether one recieves the death penalty or not...he was given enough time on this earth to repent and except Christ. We are without excuse either way. So don't get so heated over it. God knows..and sees and will be the ultimate Judge of one's soul. In The Truth,
Nathan

Forgiven:

Perhaps you could exercise a modicum of the grace imparted to you, at least insofar as your chosen moniker is concerned. Godly people can disagree about such matters - or does grace not extend that far?

I find your generalization as the commenters here as "liberal" and "secular humanists" incredibly ironic, since should you read my post, you would likely come to the same conclusion about me - one of the most fundamental, conservative participants in this journey.

I won't even attempt to address the content of your comment, since I see absolutely nothing fruitful in engaging you.

In the future, please remember the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:29 when contributing to this community.

I believe there are two issues here. First, if one willfully takes the life of one made in God's image, then it seems Scripture teaches that the killer's own life is forfeit. On this point, I do believe the death penalty is biblical. Further, because the punishment is based in humanity's being in the image of God and not merely on the Mosaic law and because governments--not Christian individuals--mete out this punishment, turning the other cheek does not apply. Governments have no right to turn the other cheek; only individuals can do that.

Second, there is the question of whether this punishment is being applied with justice. A good case can be made that it is not being applied with justice in many (most?) instances.

Balancing these two issues is difficult, but it must be done.

I believe if a person commits a crime he must pay the price. I have heard someone on death row has found God and ask to be forgiven and I know God has forgiven him and he will go to heaven, but I still believe he has to pay for his crime. If he took another person's life he is acting as God and you can not do that. This is just my belief.

Re 'Did God change?':

Well, it is hard for us to tell. We cannot look on His glory. We cannot know His mind. We have been taught that He is the same from beginning of everything to the end. But, I believe He did change His approach. Instead of sending Law, He sent His Son. And His Son said:


"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' (Lev. 24:20) But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."


And instead of us having to endlessly sacrifice animals to atone for our sins, Jesus allowed Himself to be offered and accepted as the ultimate sacrifice. So, as I said this morning: "I think we are now in a different universe". By that I meant that when the Son of the Creator comes and lives among us like one of us, and goes through that sacrifice, the whole basis of our relationship with God changes.


Re killing Germans:

My father was in the British army from 1939 to 1946. I am British, but now live in The Netherlands about half an hour's drive from the border with Germany. In our village, just down by the crossroads, there is a monument to the soldiers who died here when the Allies came through in their tanks to liberate this country from German occupation. (I get tears in my eyes just writing this). So I have some idea what happened in the Second World War.

I think Europe learned something after the two wars in the 20th century. Last week I went to Germany on a business trip. I drove across the border on the highway at 80 kilometres per hour. There is no passport control. I use the same bank notes on both sides of the border. We are all part of the European Union. The only things that change as you cross the border are the language and the cell network provider! It seems we learned in Europe that the killing had to stop. Sure we still have lots of problems. Most people are pagans (secular humanists). Soft drugs are tolerated (liberals?). There are some abortions (murders?).

The universe did not change again, but at least here the armies from one country have stopped killing soldiers and citizens of the next country. And governments have stopped killing their own citizens.


Re killing as punishment:

Making the punishment fit the crime needs the wisdom of Solomon. Killing seems to me more like revenge than justice and mercy. Killing diminishes the government and the government officials who carry it out.


Re killing as defining being human:

Last weekend we watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica. There was a tense chaotic scene where Crashdown was shot dead by Gaius. Gaius was in shock. He could hardly believe what had happened, but Six affirmed him by saying, "Now you're a man." My mind balked at that. Is that really what defines humanity, the ability to kill our own kind? Or is it possible that we can be defined by the power of love and mercy?

Friends: I must say that today Mike chose a very HOT TOPIC indeed but before I get into that, I would like to say to stef that yes I will pray for beryl for healing of cancer and the surgery. Also for Luch whose wife is going through cancer treatment. My heart goes out to you folks.

Now back to todays topic, Andrew said it quite well "Can we be defined by the power of love and mercy" It seems difficult in a world so caught up in seeking revenge. I believe that man is a harsher judge than God. This topic today has stirred up a lot of emotion for many. Some of the folks visiting this site could very well be death row inmates and some could be victims of crime or have lost loved ones from violence. I could not speak for any of those folks because I am not in their shoes. I would not want to judge their feelings. All we can do is pray for God's healing. He is our ultimate judge.

I like Anka's quote about Pope Paul which dealt with the topic of forgiveness. She said "May God help us to carry our crosses gracefully" Very well said.

Forgiven: I am going to handle your comment with gloves and tongs my friend. Without knowing your background and not trying to come off as judgemental myself, I feel that C.B. addressed you well.

Footsteps for God: I say that you made a good stab at the question today, a little long winded perhaps and it seemed you were trying to address all angles of the topic. My problem was in trying to summarize what you said and get to the real point of what you were saying.

I feel personally that Nathan the paster son made a comment that seemed to sum up what I was feeling and that was "Regardless of what happens here we will all have to stand before God to give an account" We need to think about repenting in this life time or face judgement in the next. Amen, I couldn't of said that better myself. Our primary focus should be on repenting and reconciling ourselves to God.

Death Penalty

I believe the government has the authority to invoke the death penalty based on the previously cited passages in Romans. The main problem with the death penalty lies in the argument: is it a "fair" and "just" process? It is probably reasonable to say that it is not a universally "fair" and "just" process.

I am not smart enough to be able to resolve those issues across the board. If a case is clear cut with the defendant guilty of pre-meditated vicious murder of another, I would have no problem with that person being executed.

A couple of links that discuss this issue:

F. CHRISTIANITY AND THE DEATH PENALTY
http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/DP.html

And bible.org discusses it here in a Q&A
http://www.bible.org/qa.asp?topic_id=71&qa_id=107

God does not want us to take personal vengence. Before Governments were established, Cain was spared of cold blooded murder with a mark to protect so no INDIVIDUAL would kill him. Later when governments (or nations)were developed, the death penalty was authorized. The links address the aspect of a govt's authority to execute.

I do not believe the basic nature of man in the "universe" has changed. The same sins that were committed back in Old Testament are being commited today.

God has not changed. His characteristics are immutable. His plan was meant to be what it is: first the Law, and then Christ. The Law pointed out sin, and man's inability to live up to God's Holiness. Christ came to fulfill the Law by providing "cleansing" that we are incabable of achieving on our own. The first link cites New Testamant references that would support the government's authority to invoke the Death Penalty.

As far as someone who has more time to come to Christ on a life sentence, I might suggest that a sense of urgency on Death Row would cause an inmate to consider Christ sooner rather than later. (But I have no proof of that in fact happening).

In the end: God is soverign, and none of us will be here one minute longer than we are supposed to be on earth.

It helps in this hotly contested issue if one believes in the doctrine of election (as I do). God will choose those who He wants whether on Death Row or Main Street. He will draw them to him and give them the gifts of Grace and faith so that they come to Christ.

If they are guilty of the crime of murder but are saved before execution, then they will be with God in heaven.

If they are not guilty but executed anyway after being saved, then they will still be in heaven. As far as injustice in this instance, no example is more unjust than Christ's execution - the killing of one who NEVER sinned.

Whatever happens here is temporal and spans a "blink" of the eye in eternity. The important thing is what happens to us eternally, and completely over-rides any justice or injustice that occurs here on earth. It all works out to God's Glory - even if we can't see that or it makes no sense.

If people here have a problem with predestination and election (as I am sure some do)- I fall back on what I have said before:

WHOMSOEVER WILL


I am for death penalty but also must stress that it must be used very sparingly. Life imprisonment and long term jail sentences are the right answer. We must execute terrorists and twisted ideologues because at any given moment they can be back to wreak heavoc on civil society.

But otherwise, we should not kill people in the name of ''justice'. Those who feel so bitter against a criminal and want to see him or her dead must remember that Lord has said in the Bible, ''Vengeance is mine. I will repay.''

stef/beryl,
Prayers offered.

In the future, I hope we can stay on track and dig into God's Word in a more constructive way. Is the question of capital punishment relevant to Christians today? Absolutely. Should Christians be engaged in the political process? Absolutely. Is this the forum in which a topic such as this should be debated? Absolutely not.

Not because it is not an important issue and not because we can't express differing opinions with grace and love. But this type of forum does not lend itself to an honest exchange of ideas. People can hide behide anonymity. People will use words they would never utter in a face-to-face convservation (most of the time). And it is far too easy to be misunderstood or to misunderstand a point that someone is trying to make. Comments that may be laden with compassion and sincere sentiments in a face-to-face conversation sound arrogant, harsh and mean in a thread such as this.

There were much richer passages in today's reading that we could have mulled over and weighed in on. I hate to think that this topic was thrown out to simply "stir the pot." While I appreciate everyone's effort to make their case for or against the death penalty, this feels like a wasted day of Bible study and more like a reading of the morning's Op Ed page and letters to the editor.

You bunch of hypocrites - how can you accuse me in not forgiving and at the same time doing the same thing? When Jesus stopped the execution of a woman He said - go and sin no more. Do the same! Do not put the murderers, rapists etc in prison - forgive them completely and let them go free! But you are not willing to go that far. You know why? Because it is only up to God to forgive sins. And it is only up to God to appoint punishment. Which He did, plain and simple, in Lev. but you do not want to obey. Liars and pharisees, how can you say that you love God and do not want to do what He commanded?

To Roslyn :
(Quote)" What good does it do us to kill someone as punishment? "(END of the quote)
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Straight to the point. How about asking God the same question? Did He make a mistake when He gave this commandment? Like :OOps, Oh, well I'll send Jesus to correct my mistake.

To C.B.
You sent me to Eph 4:29
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
What corrupt communication? If I called somebody liberal and you know for sure you are not, why get offended? You are beating the air.

And now my pass to you:

Same chapter 14. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
or 25. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

And this is a good one :

22. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

To Footsteps of God:

You wrote: "Native Americans considered it a sin to kill even in order to live and so it was sacred to use every part of a killed animal."

Thats what I am talking about - Jehova God fought those pagan views on nature through the whole Old Testament and here we are - pagan Native Americans are all of a sudden experts. Congratulations. We arrived.

One more quot. : "People and God haven’t changed – our relationship with God has changed"

In what way, let me ask you? How does a true belivers relationship to God differ from the one of Job, for instance? Or Abraham?

To stef: hows beryl? Say hello to her - may the Lord give her strength and loving people around her.

No, there's never a wasted day of Bible study. Nor is it a waste of time to try to understand where other brothers and sisters are coming from. As we ourselves write, are we not trying to work on these weighty issues for ourselves? Most search the scriptures to give a reference point to their ideas. That takes time and effort. It is not like a conversation where someone just says whatever floats to the top of their mind and 70% of what they communicate is by body language or expression or tone. This is a flat medium, so we learn to communicate in writing, an art that is almost forgotten in our world. As we share, we are also opening up to the viewpoints of this worldwide network of believers and seekers. This kind of discussion is very appropriate here. For if it is not expressed here, then where? The supermarket line, or the gas station, or at the water cooler at work? Not likely. As for the Op Ed pages, those articles are chosen and slanted to appeal to the newspaper's readership. But here is a place where we can gather in an environment with keyboard and Bible coexisting together. We post at will and express ourselves in an unedited environment. And yes, here is a place where we might write some of those very important thoughts that can only really be expressed anonymously. I want to thank you all for a very interesting day. And may God bless you all. May we continue to walk this Bible walk together and learn to appreciate each other. I have specially prayed for you, stef, and beryl. PS 91

Forgiven,why are you so angry?Why do you use such harsh words...nobody's perfect and I think to become mature we should all welcome correction but when you come on so strongly it seems there's something deeper you're not saying.
I was brought up to believe christians are hypocrites but I learnt that none of us will ever be perfect...I will pray that God meets you at the point where you're at right now.
God bless you

Forgiven,

Where do you perform your guilt/atonement/fellowship/etc. offerings?

Were you stoned to death the last time you talked back to your parents?

How's your kosher diet going?

Hypocrite? Absolutely. I set a standard for myself, and fail it - everyday. Yet not but for the GRACE OF GOD go I.

If this were my house, I'd ask you to check your attitude, or leave. It's not my house, so I'll just request that you exercise more respect and grace.

TypeKey edited out my " / sarcasm " right before "Hypocrite?" in that last comment.

Anne,

I like discussions on scripture as much as anybody. When I write my thoughts things coalesce, and reading the thoughts of others can provide added insight, or be dismissed based on the merit of post.

Death penalty topic was going to come up in Romans anyway, some people cited Scripture in their response, others linked it with their view of God.

Interestingly enough death penalty and pastoral compensation have drawn the most posts as a topic. Apparently people are more comfortable discussing application of scriptures to these issues than looking at Scriptures and digging for understanding on a day to day basis. Otherwise we would be having many more posts each day with an exchange of ideas regarding scripture passages. I am not sure if this is a good or bad thing???

The above certainly does not include everybody that posts here, just a comment based on the number of posts.

I guess I will go with the flow (discussion path) :)

Anka, if you think those are harsh words, read what God said about His chosen people through the prophets.
To CB: My offering to my heavenly Father is my faith in Christ the Lord and I perform it every day, sometimes several times a day.
Stoning to death by parents is an option given to my parents not to me. My six year old knows what belt means, though.
As for standards - we are not supposed to set standards for ourselves, they already are set in the Word of God.
To Mike: The interpretation of Lev.19-20 you gave looks very attractive
How about this senario:
you caught somebody in act of malesting your little child. You have a gun and can use it to stop it. Will you? Option 1. You do not use it. The reason why you do not is that you will kill a person who might repent later ( lets say in prison after being preached to) and thus you saved a soul. Option 2.You not only let them kill your child , but also offer yourself as the left cheek (.Matthew chapter 5 verse 38 & 39 - ""“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." )Option 3.
You kill the son of the devil.

Mike, what are your thoughts about it?

Everyone - thank you for the comments. I have a friend who suggests we read the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in another - I think Billy Graham even says this. So, yes, on occasion I may post up a modern day topic or two, and ask how we should look at this topic in light of the Bible.

I realize this next statement is a total copout, but it is true - I am time starved and have a tough enough time getting up a daily post each evening - so I don't tend to dive into the Comments on the blog. Though, I appreciate the invitation.

My goal of the blog is to just keep it going at this point to 1. encourage people to read the Bible every day 2. study it, and 3. think about how it applies to their life. So, each of your comments are helpful in this mission. Please don't see my not engaging in the Comments as lack of interest. It's simply a lack of time.

Blessings and Grace to each of you! Thank you for participating in this ministry.

Mike

The comments to this entry are closed.