What Is Happening in Our Culture? Fear (part 2)

(Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, ThD)
(No Copyright)

Lately, I’ve had friends and relatives express great fear over what is happening to the culture of our country, the USA. They take a very pessimistic view of events, especially in the last few years. They betray great fear that we are doomed, and seem to have given up hope. I hope, by the Triune God’s grace, to dispel much of this fear. Most people don’t know what it means to be really, really fearful. I do. There were times in Vietnam that I expected to die, immediately, or soon. I told the Lord on several occasions something like this: “Lord, if my Seargent tells me to expose myself by running in the open from one fox hole to another, I have to do it. It is Your job to direct the outcome, whether life, death, or maimed, preferably not maimed.” At times, I was so scared that if I had had anything in my stomach, it would have come out. In other words, there is a natural fear we all have of dire circumstances. This is not what the Lord Jesus meant when He told His disciples not to fear. Indeed,

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28 NKJ).

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7 NKJ). (One who is not fearful of God Almighty is not brave; he is a fool.)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10 NKJ).

5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid” (Matt. 17:5-7 NKJ)

This is the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain top. When He shown with the brightness of the sun, they were naturally fearful—as you and I would be! Indeed, after the resurrection whenever the Lord Jesus appeared to people, their natural response was fear! One great problem (among a hundred more) I have with the Word-Faith movement is the cavalier relationship they claim to have with Jesus after His resurrection. For example, Kenneth Hagin claims that he was watching TV when there was a knock at his house door. When he went to the door, Jesus was standing there asking to come in. He did, and they watched TV for a while and had a discussion about miracles. Jesus allegedly said, “I’m going to give you a formula that whatever anyone wants (not “needs”) from me, if he’ll do these five things (or four, memory getting old), he will ALWAYS get what he wants.” If I may be blunt: That is a lot of crap. When people saw Jesus after His resurrection, they were filled with fear, raw, unadulterated, knee-knocking fear.

Recall the Apostle Paul on the Damascus road when Jesus appeared to him as pure light (Acts 9:4-9; 22:6-15; 26:12-16), and Paul was blinded for several days. Likewise, when heavenly angels appeared to those in Holy Scripture, they were very fearful (Luke 1:10-13), and when Jesus did appear to His disciples in the enclosed room He immediately said “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). I could go on, but the point I’m making is that we are to fear God, not humans, and not even Satan or demons.

Put yourself in the upper room. Jesus suddenly appears. Will you give Him a high-five, shake His hand, or fall at His feet and call Him Lord? Fear and respect go together. The way to eliminate fear is by perfect love:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 Jn. 4:18 ESV). If you’ve had a divorce, you know the truth of this verse. Broken love smothers one with fear, fear of the future, fear of one’s ability to love, fear in raising kids, fear of pursuing another relationship, and so on.

And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified” (Matt. 28:4 NKJ).

But what I’m driving at indirectly is that the One we fear is God, not so much humans. Recall David who went out to meet Goliah. He did not express fear but confidence in the LORD His God. That is what we need in times like these. We have ungodly fear of God’s and our enemies. Who do these uncircumcised reprobates think they are in challenging the Most High God the Father and the Most High God the Son and the Most High God the Holy Spirit, one God eternally existing in three equal persons, the same in substance and glory. Now for some encouragement.

Recall what Jesus said about the Church and the kingdom of God.

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:14 NKJ)

“Hades” is the kingdom of darkness. “Gates” are the defensive structure to keep the Church out. The image is one where the Church is assaulting Satan’s kingdom, and he is trying to keep us out, which is the fulfillment of Israel attacking the city of Jericho. In both cases, the gates fall, and the Church, under the authority and Crown rights of His sovereign majesty the King of kings, kicks in the gates and takes over by the power of His gospel to change the hearts of people. Do you recall the heretic Rev. Ike? He had a saying he often used in his radio broadcasts: “You can’t lose with the stuff I use, and the stuff I use is mind-power.” Well, we can’t lose with the power of the Gospel. Our problem is not power or weapons or lack of peace; rather, it is fear. But  “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7 NKJ). What can stop this from happening? Christ is omnipotent. Christ is omnipresent. Christ is omniscient. Who can conquer that? Who can resist Him? Thus, we see that it is infallibly impossible to stop the Church. We have basically two problems: lack of faith and the presence of fear.

Our pessimistic eschatology has frozen us in fear. I don’t suggest you try this, but I live in the country. The closest neighbors are 300 yards behind us, and are very nice people. They love animals and have goats, guineas, turkeys, big dogs, horses, and other mouths to feed. The big dogs came up to the fence and barked like they would eat us alive. One day I tested them by running straight at them. Guess what? They tucked their tails and ran. Likewise, consider the devil:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7 NKJ)

I don’t want to underestimate our enemy the devil, but Paul gives us the most detail about confronting the devil and the antichrist than anyone else. Now, have you ever seen a demon? I have, sort of, at least I’ve seen them through humans who were possessed, and I can assure you that it is not a pleasant experience. The last thing I want to do is present myself as an exorcist; that is scary work. But to make a long story short, I was stationed at Ft. Stewart, GA 1969 to finish my last six months in the Army after Vietnam. I got to be very good friends with a man who married a Ruth (like I did) about three months after I did, and he spent most of his life as a missionary to Japan. (I won’t mention names.) We had Bible study one night a week at the chapel on base, and a young man who was going to kill himself came. He said virtually nothing at the weekly Bible study when we got on the topic of demons. Then the following Sunday, after the liberal chaplain preached, my friend and I hung around the chapel talking about the Lord Jesus. Then this young man walked into the chapel, which gave us three people in the chapel. He said: “I was going to kill myself when I came to your Bible study as sort of a last resort because I’ve been talking to someone inside me.” When we began to pray, invoking the name of Jesus, he was thrown on the floor, his eyes rolled back in his head, and a deep voice said, “I’m going to kill you,” saying it several times. After a few minutes, he sat up, his eyes cleared, and he said: “What happened?” I said, “Buddy, you’re in big trouble. You better believe in Jesus quick.” He did, and from that moment he was not only delivered, but his whole countenance radiated Jesus. He led more people to the Lord than all the rest of us combined. “He who is forgiven much loves much.” So what is the point: We need not fear the dark side for Jesus is Lord, right now. Yet there is a scary part of the dark side that is too detailed for a short article like this.

Recall Ephesians 1: (1) The Father chose us before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-6); (2) the Son redeemed us 2,000 years ago (Eph. 1:7-12); and (3) the Holy Spirit sealed us and continues to apply the merits of Christ to us (Eph. 1:13-14). The Father’s work is completed, and He gave the elect to the Son (John 17:6-10) who redeemed them and in turn His work was completed (John 17:6-10; Heb. 1:1-4; 7:25-27; 10:10-14), and now the Holy Spirit sanctifies us by applying the merits of Jesus to us (Phil. 2:12-13; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Rom. 8:31-39).

Now let us consider the Lord Jesus’ response in His crucifixion. Was He given over to fear, or did He trust the Father? In His high priestly prayer in John 17, we see one who is in control, serene, majestic. When He stands before Pilate, do we see one who is overwhelmed by fear, or terrified to the point that He could not function? Hardly.

 

 

 

What Is Happening in Our Culture? (part 1, random questions)

I have been asked several questions lately (June 2020).

First question: What do I think of the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. I read it several years ago. I thought it was very encouraging to see How King Jesus draws His elect to Himself, and other Moslems have been converted by the book. There is a huge movement of the Holy Spirit in Muslim lands bringing people to Jesus. There are powerful and unusual miracles taking place in those lands. I’m usually skeptical of what we often call sensationalism, but then these are different times. Seeking Allah is an easy read and definitely will increase your faith. Moreover, Seeking Allah demonstrates that King Jesus is the one in charge, and one’s life can have love and peace if he/she bows before Jesus as Lord and asks Him to forgive his/her sins.

Second question: What do I think of disbanding the police. Disbanding the police is insane. Just refresh your memory with Romans 13:1-7:

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. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (Rom. 13:1-7 NKJ)

 

Paul does not say that the ruling authority has to be perfect. One day I’m going to write a short treatise titled The Heresy of Perfectionism. The policemen who did the dastardly deed should be tried in a court of law to see if they are guilty. If so, then they should suffer the same penalty as any other murderer. There should not be a privileged class who either escapes prosecution or receives a light sentence. That is not justice but manipulation, favoritism. I detest that this policeman has already been tried and found guilty in the media because there is a video of what was done. Biblical law, as R. J. Rushdoony was forever reminding us, embraces the process as well as the conclusion. Both are equally righteous. Remember Rodney King who was beaten by the LA cops, and there was also a video. It seemed to be an open and shut case until the broader context was brought in. The COPS were tried and found guilty in the media; and when the not guilty verdicts came out, riots took place. People were not interested in the process, only in the outcome; and when it did not meet their desires, the fed government had to devise a reason to try them again on the federal level. Double jeopardy is not righteous but lynching.

Someone may object: “But suppose a criminal gets away with a crime?” That is infallibly impossible. The sovereign Triune God does not settle all His accounts here and now. That is the reason for the Last Day. Patience is the order of the day. His judgment will be totally just, never favoritism, He has been the eyewitness of all evil, and there is no appeal from His justice. By the way, there is an unpardonable sin: failure to believe in Jesus Christ God’s only Son. If one dies with that sin on his soul, he will perish forever, no exceptions, no excuses. When one closes his eyelids in death with that sin, there is no hope, no possibility to escape, no other humans to fellowship with but solitary confinement as far as one can see. And when one has worn out many ages, he has no less time to suffer under the just wrath of the Almighty Jesus. I’m almost daily reminded—and especially when someone dies—of Matthew 16:26: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26 NKJ)

To disband the police is rebellion against God because it is rebellion against His constituted authority. When Rushdoony heard that we [actually Jesus won] had won our church-state trial in Memphis over the feds, he said, “Well praise the Lord. There is still justice even if against all odds.” (Or something like that). We were the underdogs by a huge margin through the trial (4 ½ months, Monday thru Thursday), but on the last day (! rather symbolic), ALL defendants were found NOT guilty on ALL charges. How sweet it was to beat them at their own game, and despite their lying witnesses, false evidence, and the judge trying the case along with the prosecution, we won EVERYTHING so that all defendants on all charges exonerated forever!

Third question: As for the USA suffering “mass delusion,” absolutely! And it is self-imposed as in self-deception! We are one of the most self-deceived nations on earth and not one in a thousand gets it. Rushdoony got it big time, and he taught us. Sean Hannity not so self-deceived but worse than Limbaugh, and recently Limbaugh is waking up. He is as scared as I’ve ever seen him (Prov 1:7). Of course with his advanced cancer, he is fearing death and fearing the Lord. That is enough to scare anyone, as well as comfort us. Bill O’Reilly is his same arrogant self with his new TV program, over-confident. Glenn Beck is lost as a golf ball in high weeds. He doesn’t get anything. He does not usually see the spiritual forces behind movements, and his Mormonism keeps him from seeing the Gospel. Sometimes he is good at analysis but seldom any good in solutions.

Worse yet are Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro, both insightful, conservative Jews, and both have no time for the self-diluted Jew called Jesus who convinced Himself that He was something when He was nothing. He led His followers to defeat, and the Church today is not the same as the first-century one but has morphed into something weird, they allege. My heart goes out to them, for they think, like Charles Krauthammer the conservative atheist, that politics is the answer. It is not. Politics are the symptom of the problem. Krauthammer was brilliant and was on Fox News every evening as a regular contributor, but was completely blind to the Triune God and His gospel. I heard Krauthammer say several times something like this: “I don’t believe in God, but I’m terrified of Him.” He was the most transparent and honest atheist whom I have observed over the years. I along with the whole Fox network grieved when he died about two years ago. He also wrote a book with short chapters on various topics that is well worth reading. The title is Things That Matter.

The problem today is idolatry and rebellion against His commandments, especially as summarized in the Ten Commandments. We are terrible sinners, beginning with me (and I’m not just saying that to be humble). Jesus, as the second person of the Holy Trinity, became incarnate to live a life of perfect obedience, then died on the Cross for our sins, taking our penalty and raised Himself from the dead. All those who trust in Him receive forgiveness of sins as a free gift. This is the solution and nothing else. Those who trust in Jesus become salt for the culture to preserve it from judgment. Salvation is free. By definition, it cannot be earned, for the one who tries to earn it commits the sins of arrogance and self-righteousness. It is the wicked hearts of rebellious human creatures that is the problem. The solution is in the Nicene Creed that we say each Lord’s Day. Until the hearts of people are changed from the inside out, there is no hope for our culture. The Nicene Creed points to the Triune God, the Holy Trinity: The Father created us, the Son redeemed us, and the Holy Spirit applies the merits of Christ to our souls.

There are other so-called conservative atheists. Tammy Bruce, as late as several nights ago (11 June 2020), who is a Fox News contributor, reminded the viewing audience that she is a lesbian and atheist and lives with her “partner.” I’ve read her book The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s assault on Our Culture and Values, where she laments that her lesbian movement has given up any consistent ethics. Talk about being self-deceived!

Then there is S. E. Cupp, Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity. She is married with children but is also an atheist. Both Cupp and Bruce are Fox News contributors. Both Bruce’s and Cupp’s books are well worth reading, but the only way they can critique those with similar world views as themselves (atheistic) is by assuming the truth of Christianity. She may have been reared in a Christian home because her initials stand for S(arah) E(lizabeth). Sarah is in the Old Testament and the New Testament while Elizabeth is only in the New Testament. But the point is that they are both biblical names.

Fourth question: What about finding an island somewhere? This question was asked in jest, but we can say that it did not do Jeffrey Epstein any good. We need to stay in the fight. Epstein tried to hide from his sins, but the slow train of judgment caught up with him.

We must proclaim the light of the gospel, for light dispels darkness. As Plato once said: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Why do you think that the radical left becomes so angry when confronted with their sins? It is because they are left naked, and their sins are exposed. The kingdom of darkness thrives on deception, not on transparency. My grandfather used to say, “If you’re honest, you don’t have to remember anything.” I wonder how some of our politicians can keep all their lies organized. Often they don’t. Did you notice recently when Trump’s appointed Chief Justice Roberts to the Supreme Court indicated he might be willing to revisit Roe v. Wade that Chuck Schumer went into a screaming rage? He shouted that Chief Justice Roberts must watch his back! That is a felony, surely. Something may be done about it yet. This is the left’s most sacred sacrament to their god; it is passing their children through the fire to Molech, offering them as a living sacrifice that results in a dead baby. Schumer threatened Roberts with violence. Bet you did not hear that on the news, did you? AMEN.

 

 

Death Row

(Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, ThD)
(June 2020)

We are all on DEATH ROW from the moment we are born. Recently I saw a documentary of those on death row who had committed capital crimes. The anticipation of their deaths was horrific, yet biblical law requires the death of murderers (and others): “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6 NKJ). The reason given for DEATH ROW is that mankind is made in God’s image. So valuable is God’s image that anyone who would strike out at it is actually striking out at God Himself.

Our death is certain yet we live as if it were not so. We live only for this life, ignoring the future and ignoring our time to fulfill our own death row obligations before we leave this world. Such obligations are restitution to God for capital crimes. (All sins are capital crimes to the Holy Trinity.) In the case of murder, the only restitution possible is for the murderer to offer his own life. Of course, no restitution is possible, to kill God’s image requires an infinite payment to the infinite God. Thus the only restitution possible is for there to be payment to the Triune God, which we as finite humans cannot make. The only One who can make such payment is the infinite Son who makes infinite payment to the infinite Father, and He offers it in the power of the infinite Holy Spirit (see Heb. 9:14). The Atonement is intra-Trinitarian.

But we tend to live for trinkets, toys, and if we get to the end of our lives and have much money, we consider ourselves “lucky” and perhaps better than others because we’ve made it (whatever that means). The few who make it could lose everything in a few minutes if the Lord Christ so willed it such as a bank collapse, tsunami, earthquake, relative leaves all his money to someone else, we are swindled, etc.

We go to seminars to find out how to achieve financial independence, but we do not go to seminars to find out how to live for Jesus. Indeed, we need to attend a “seminar” every week, called “Church” to learn more about how to please Him.

Suppose someone dies with 100 billion dollars left behind. My paternal grandmother worked all her life for rich ladies as one who gave massages in Memphis. She drove to their homes. One of the ladies died, and someone asked my grandmother how much she left behind. My grandmother said, “All of it.”

My wife and I chose Matthew 6:33 as our theme verse for life when we married in July 1969: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [food, clothes, etc] shall be added to you.” The idea is found in the first verse my mom and grandmother had me memorize: “Those who honor Me, I will honor” (1 Sam. 2:30). Actually, that is only part of the verse.

If you put your hopes in this world’s “things,” they will suddenly be gone because you will be gone. Then what? Don’t run past this last sentence. You MUST answer what will happen to you after death so what is your answer? Two nanoseconds after death where will you be? What will you be doing? You’ll leave all your trinkets behind for others to fight over and abuse after it took you a lifetime to accumulate them. My maternal grandmother, uncle, and mother were not rich (my mother is still hanging on to life). About the only thing I received from my maternal grandmother was a marked Bible, which I would not take a million dollars for. In essence, she, my mother (95 and counting), and my Uncle left me a fortune that cannot be stolen or worn out by use: knowledge of the Triune God, faith in Him, which cannot be stolen:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith– the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 NKJ)

Now that is true wealth!

 

I have an image permanently imprinted in my mind of my great-grandfather sitting in his room, his back to the screened porch, in his rocking chair with white hair majestically perched on his head, reading the old KJV Bible out loud to himself. He was not very educated. He was unaware that my mother and I had walked onto his porch. Then we greeted one another with hugs and kisses. A short time later he visited mom and me at our home, and he gave me a big hug and said: “Well, boy, I don’t guess I’ll see you again until we meet around the throne.” He was right.

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26 NKJ)

 AMEN.

 

 

The Church Is for Sinners

(The Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw, Th.D.)
(10 July 2018)

In my first pastorate, a man said to me that he would not go to church because there were too many hypocrites there. I had enough rapport with the man to say: “You’re right so join us—we need another one.” Sometimes we have the idea that Church is just for those who have no problems, for those whose life is always rosy, who never have rebellious children, whose spouses are models of virtue, whose bosses love everything they do, who never have an impure thought. If that is who you think you are, you don’t need the Church; but then, you don’t need the Triune God either, or so you think.

And we Christians should be willing to admit that we have a long way to go in our growth in holiness. Pretending to be something we are not is hypocrisy, but that does not mean that we should tell everyone all our problems. Yes, we have been forgiven by God through the merits of the death and resurrection of Christ, but we are still growing. We have been adopted into God’s family, but like legal adoption today, that does not automatically make the child instantly and perfectly like his father. It does make the child an heir to our estate, and if we are rich so is the child. But it takes a lifetime to train a child and for the child to grow into the kind of person we as parents desire him to be. Likewise, God the Father adopts us into His family based on the legal attorney Jesus Christ, who puts up the bond, the surety, who is Himself our pledge, our guarantee of the adoption. This gives us a change of legal status, but inwardly we are the same as before the adoption. But the Father and the Son gave us the Holy Spirit to make us different over time—but that is the key word—TIME.

Consider that our heavenly Father is seeking to “rear” us in the faith over all our lives, that He brings about problems so that we can learn to be mature, to respond in faith and love to one another and to His providence, that His priorities are not money, farms, cars, bank accounts, though there is nothing wrong with these in themselves.

And this heavenly Father has adopted us into His family, in His Church, the bride of His Son, so that we can care for one another. And consider further that our sibling Jesus has already been through all the trials we have and knows what they are like, but also as God He gives us the grace we need to grow in the midst of those trials. We are in a family that is supposed to love its own as the badge of our relationship with God: “By this shall all know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). What do you do when loved ones are sick? You care for them.

We are called to live by a different set of priorities from the world, to consider the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to be the highest priority and church and family second. (Church and family actually go together.) Have you seen the bumper sticker that reads: “He who dies with the most toys wins”? That is the philosophy of the world, but our riches belong to another family—the Church. Our estate and inheritance are from Christ, not in pursuing more and more schemes to make money. Our security is in the Lord, not in our bank accounts that can quickly evaporate. But here is the true wealth:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5 NKJ)

The world does not expect Christians to be perfect, but it does expect us to be genuine, which means we must be willing to confess mistakes when we make them and then seek to make things right. Remember the case of the televangelist caught with a prostitute? At first he was contrite, submitted to the discipline of his brethren, and agreed to the time suspension from the ministry that they placed on him. This was a good start, but then he rebelled, rejecting their authority, and put himself back in the ministry under a new church. It was a great testimony to the world to see the Christian Church at work, helping a fellow brother to grow in grace, exercising the authority of Christ, saying to everyone: “Yes, we are sinners, but we are willing to forgive when a brother repents.” Who could have faulted that? But the preacher rebelled and neutralized the great testimony.

In the early 1970s, Ruth (my wife) and I were living in Dallas while I attended seminary. W. A. Criswell was a great Baptist preacher in Dallas, TX, who loved the Lord, preached great Gospel sermons, and had a large congregation in downtown Dallas. He was highly respected in the community. Dr Criswell was interviewed on a local TV station on one occasion when I was watching. The interviewer was very caustic, and assuming all the self-righteousness she could muster, she forcefully demanded to know why it had only been in the recent past that his church had opened their doors to African American Christians. I’ll never forget Criswell’s answer, for it stopped her cold, and she stuttered for a comeback. His answer was something like this: “We sinned, and we’ve asked the Lord to forgive us. Now we are glad to have our black brothers and sisters worship with us.” That was genuineness! The interviewer changed the subject! We are not perfect but sinners, so let us recognize that! But let us be confessing sinners, not arrogant or rebellious ones. Pride will destroy us, but humility will lift us up in great favor with God and man. AMEN.

Angry Letter About My Same Sex Comments

© November 2019 Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw, ThD
[This Article is longer than usual, and my Sermons on this blog are longer also.]

[This blog is in the form of a response to someone who took issue with my comments made some years ago about same-sex unions. My initials are CC, and for the writer’s initials, who is from Duke University, are OB. My letter was dated 5/7/13. I have not tried to clean up my grammar in this post, but I’ve still made it available.]

CC: Thank you for the reply. Sorry for my delay, but as dean of a seminary and pastor of a church, it is difficult to find the time. I will make some short replies. I’ll number my paragraphs the same as yours.

1. Whether people are happy or not with their transgender sexual operation is irrelevant. The question is whether it is holy, the right thing to do. In my article, I submitted that it was not right.

2. CC: I would like to see the research on some people being one gender in chromosomes and another gender in their genitals. I remain skeptical. As for being prejudiced in not wanting to attend a college where said college is justifying same-sex unions with transgender operations, that is moral discernment. I would not want my kids attending such. Conversely, why aren’t you in a Christian Bible college? You equivocated on my definitional of “prejudice.” I made it clear that prejudice, as used in our society, refers to discrimination based on color, not based on morality. Many black ministers, some of whom were in the Civil Rights movement with Martin Luther King, have reacted strongly against those they say are “high-jacking” (their word) the Civil Rights movement and applying it to LGBT. A large group of black ministers in Memphis, TN took out a full-page ad several times in the local paper in reaction to gays, condemning in clear terms same-gender relationships, saying that did NOT represent the Civil Rights movement.

3. CC: In this paragraph, you said (OB): “Yes having children is impossible at the moment for male to female [transformation]. Yes, they can adopt. To be fair I guess everyone has their own standards on who should be able to adopt a child. I guess I am just silly and weird to want someone who would love the child as if it was their own and bring the child up to be a loving and caring individual who accepts everyone for who they are…. regardless if the person doing the raising of the child is transgender or not.” Continue reading

Did Christ Function as God While on Earth?

© by the Very Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th. D. (Oct 2009)

In a former blog, I spoke of a Christology from above, by which we meant that it was the Second Person of the Holy Trinity who was Incarnate, and that He remained God. Sometimes we don’t draw the obvious conclusion from who God is—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—to the Incarnation, that God the Son cannot change. Even those who consider themselves conservative today have forgotten the Church’s teaching that Chalcedon in 451 clearly stated about the Son did not give up His deity in the incarnation. Moreover, we must not fall prey to the maneuver of allegedly believing in His deity while affirming that He did not use His deity in the Incarnation. Notice what Chalcedon stated in A. D. 451:

In agreement with the holy fathers we all unanimously teach that we should confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is one and the same Son; the same perfect in Godhead and the same perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, the same of a rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father in Godhead and the same consubstantial with us in manhood; like us in all things except sin; begotten of the Father before all ages as regards his Godhead and in the last days the same, for us and for our salvation, begotten of the Virgin Mary the Theotokos as regards his manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, made known in two natures without confusion [the two natures did not merge in some way to form a third nature], without change [each nature remained fully what it was before the joining], without division [the two natures did not constitute two persons], without separation [the two natures were in union with the Person]; the differences of the natures being by no means removed because of the union but the property of each nature being preserved and coalescing in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis [another word for person], not parted or divided into two persons but one and the same Son, only-begotten, divine Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets of old and Jesus Christ himself have taught us about him, and the creed of our fathers has handed down.[1]

Amidst this wonderful theology, one point the fathers were making is that in the Incarnation, the deity of the Son did not change in essence or in function. Incarnation was by addition, not by subtraction. Continue reading

Preaching Jesus vs. Pleasing People

(c) 2008, The Very Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.
(This pamphlet is free, but please look at our web
site for other publications: www.ftstl.com)

Luther Preaching the Gospel

“For the message of the cross is foolishness
to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved
it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

 

(This pamphlet is free, but please do not sell it. For other free items, go to my blog at https://curtiscrenshaw.wordpress.com/. To purchase some items go to www.ftstl.com. We also have items with www.Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble (www.bn.com). At either place type in “Curtis Crenshaw” without the quotes at both places for regular books and then type in my name for kindle books (Amazon) and for Nook Books (Barnes and Noble).

Suppose you visit a church.  The sermon is about how to succeed in life.  Point one is to be kind to yourself, for Jesus said that we must love our neighbors “as ourselves.”  It is negative not to love ourselves.  Point two is to think of positive thoughts, for how can you achieve success with negativism?  Thus, believe in yourself.  Point three is to follow three easy steps to financial success.[1] After all, God wants to bless His children, doesn’t He?

If someone who knew nothing about Christianity were to visit this church a dozen times, hearing basically the same things, would he understand what Christianity is all about? Does this sort of teaching help us to know Christ?

Now suppose you enter a Mosque.  You hear: “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.”  You attend a dozen times, and always hear that creed and the Koran explained.  Would you know what Islam is about?

What is wrong with this picture?  Can we win spiritual battles with materialistic mantras while Islam teaches their people the essence of their faith?

At the so-called Christian church mentioned above, there is no mention of sin, no mention of the Triune God, no mention of the Incarnation, no mention of the death of Christ on the Cross for our sins, no mention of His bodily resurrection or ascension, no mention of the Bible as the Triune God’s infallible revelation of Himself, indeed, no mention of anything that is distinctively Christian.  At too many local churches, the Bible has been turned into a popular psychological manual, and Christ-centered preaching has been traded for motivational pep-talks designed for self-improvement.  God may not be glorified, but worshipers go home happy, and that seems to be all that matters.

We are told that people do not want to hear about sin, judgment, and the crucifixion, but are the congregation’s preferences relevant?  Has the Church in the past taken its message from the people’s desires or from God’s infallible Word, the Bible?  Is the pulpit determined by the pew or the pew by the pulpit?  Let us consider a few reasons why preaching must be focused on the message of the Church and of God’s Gospel as revealed in the Bible. Continue reading

Rescuing Verses . . . “Train up a child according to his own way” . . .

PROVERBS 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6 NKJ)

This is the translation that most versions give, and it has history on its side. Here is my challenge: “Train up a child according to his own way, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Now it is a warning. I have no doubt that the principle of the old translation is correct, that if we rear our children in the Lord, they will love Him. My challenge is whether this particular verse actually says that. So how did I arrive at my translation and do others support it?

I was translating Hebrew full time in the summer of 1976, and we were working on a Hebrew interlinear, putting one English word under its Hebrew equivalent. I had been working many hours on Proverbs, and when I came to that verse I instinctively translated it the way I had all the other times in Proverbs. I double checked myself, and triple checked myself. I don’t recall if my translation was allowed to stand or not, but I maintained my position. Then years later, while teaching Hebrew in seminary (over 20 years), I came across a grammar that confirmed my position: Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew, 2001. On pages 284-285, they go into the Hebrew grammar, stating that the construction in Prov. 22:6 is very similar to other places in Proverbs, which had been my position for many years.  Here are some other verses they cited along with Prov. 22:6 that give warnings about rearing children by letting them have their own way:

Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction. (Prov. 19:18 NKJ)

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him. (Prov. 22:15 NKJ)

The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother (Prov. 29:15 NKJ)

Regardless of the translation of Proverbs 22:6, we definitely have confirmation from the other verses sited that we have reared a generation of brats who want their own way. In the end, unless they repent, they will perish. AMEN. Ω

Who is Lord?

31 July 2018
( by Jim Williams ©)

In 1970, a musical called “Jesus Christ, Superstar” was released. It took the country by storm, bringing in a lot of money and praise from believers and non-believers alike. Most people were really taken with its music and its pseudo-theology. Some believers saw it differently, calling it blasphemy. I’ve kept that thought in mind through the years, wondering what was blasphemous, and what made that call a good one.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice concocted a musical masterpiece, the music still sticks with me. Sounding mostly like Webber’s style, it has some memorable melodies in it, for sure. But there is this question, the asking of which explains itself: “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, who are you, what have you sacrificed?” Good question! Jesus polled his disciples the very same first question in a conversation with his disciples: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13-17).

Peter answers the question correctly, and Jesus commends him, adding that Peter knew that because the Holy Spirit had told him so, not people. People didn’t know! Many years after the play was released, there was an interview with Tim Rice, one of the collaborators.

He explained that the piece was written from Judas Iscariot’s perspective. THAT EXPLAINS THE QUESTION! Judas had been the treasurer among the disciples, removing him from suspicion as being the betrayer, even at the Upper Room discourse. Jesus made him treasurer, so he was never thought of as not having Jesus’ best interests at heart. The disciples would have prevented him from betraying Jesus at the slightest thought of it, but as Jesus himself said, he did it “so Scripture could be fulfilled.”

We hear Yvonne Elliman singing the lyric “he’s just a man” in her song. THAT was the thought about him among people in His day, except those who had been forgiven and healed. The world refused Him as He presented himself, as Lord. To this day, the TV networks forbid the mention of His name in reference to God in their programming, because they go along with the idea.

Jesus being Healer is an easy concept to grasp, but healer BECAUSE he is God? That takes the Holy Spirit to say in a heart. It only happens when the heart is willing to accept it. The world never will, count on it. Peter, the character in this play, sings a whole litany of reasons and insights why Jesus as God didn’t make any sense, in that time, or this. “Israel in 4BC had no mass communication” is one line that sticks in memory. His manner and methods were madness to the world. The character and chorus sing out the question out of pure exasperation, coming from their logic as they do—”Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, who are you? What have you sacrificed?” They call him Superstar, because Lord was not a term they would accept for him. It rendered them accountable to give Him his due, and they knew it. Despite His miracles and His claims, they still would not go there.

Jesus Christ Superstar is a magnificent expression of worldly acclaim, because he was only a superstar to them. So, who is HE to you?

Rescuing Verses . . . Woman Caught in Adultery

© Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw (3 September 2018)

After 40 years of ministry in various churches, I have often heard people say that Jesus changed the law regarding the penalty for adultery. Here is the passage:

3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:3-11 ESV)

The passage is not in the earliest manuscripts. There are over 5,700 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, though most of them are short and do not include the whole New Testament, and 900 of those manuscripts include these verses.

If the woman was caught in the act, so was the man. How could the woman be judged and not the man? Of course, that did not mean the woman was innocent. We hear constantly on the news that Hazel Woman or Jack Man was caught doing something but only one was charged. The conclusion often is that if both are not changed then both go free. But that is illogical to the core. If three men murder someone, but only two have sufficient evidence to be charged, does that mean the two should go free also? Should we let the two go free because we cannot find enough evidence to convict the third one? If we cannot convict all, does that mean we must not convict any? That is ridiculous on the face of it.

Others say that Jesus relaxed His Old Testament law. The Old Testament required execution for adultery in some cases: “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 20:10 NKJ).

Moreover, the Old Testament law is a revelation of the character of God and cannot change: “You shall be holy; for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:16; NKJ). It is clear, therefore, that if God is unchangeable, and the law is a revelation of His holy character, then His law cannot change. But that did not mean that every case of sex outside marriage required the death penalty (see Deut. 22:13-30).

Notice that Jesus did not challenge Moses’ law, its holiness, or the penalty for adultery; rather, He supported it. He instituted formal proceedings against her when He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Here is one passage He probably had in mind: “The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you” (Deut. 17:7 NKJ; see also Lev. 24:24; Deut. 19:18-19; 22:22). We see that Jesus, in keeping with the law given above, required the witnesses to cast the first stone. This would make them back up their testimonies to death. Being a witness was a very serious matter.

Again, the witnesses were required to be innocent of the sin they were accusing someone else of committing. It was not any sin that someone must be guilty of but the sin in question, in this case, adultery. If being sinful of any sin whatsoever disqualified anyone from being a witness, no one would ever be such, for all humans are sinful.

When Jesus carefully applied the law, He saw that all the accusers had gone. Since there were no witnesses innocent of the same crime, the formal procedure had to stop. Jesus said,

9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:9-11 ESV)

There could be no formal accusation and no conviction if the witnesses were gone! The sin she was not to commit anymore was adultery.

 

Conclusion

Assuming John 7:53-8:11 is genuine (and I do), we see that Jesus followed the law. He could not compromise His own holy character by saying, in effect, stoning for adultery was too harsh in My law; therefore, I’ll lower the standard. There shall be no more stoning for adultery. He required the witnesses to be innocent of the same crime and to demonstrate their innocence by throwing the first stones. Let us NEVER put a division between the Old Testament and the New Testament as if there were two gods, an Old Testament one who was harsh and a New Testament one who was loving and kind. That would be idolatry. AMEN. Ω