The Role of Government – From the Constitution and the Bible

Americans are blessed by God to live in a free republic with a government structured upon democratic principles at multiple levels, including local, state, and federal government bodies. We are privileged to be able to vote, elect our government representatives, and influence our decision-makers and lawmakers. Still, many Americans disagree on various public policies, so how can we discern when government should be involved, especially the federal government? For Christians, the ideal government would base its laws and policies upon God’s laws, and fortunately for Americans, history teaches that our founding fathers indeed structured our government upon biblical principles. However, have we strayed from God’s ideals as our government has evolved? Let’s examine the role of government, primarily the federal government, from a biblical and historical perspective.

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Basic Bible Doctrine in 94 Lessons

Learn the fundamentals of basic Bible doctrine in  94 lessons.  You can choose to view the lessons in your browser, download them to Word, or download the MP3 files to listen to them on your PC or audio device.  Each of the 94 lessons is approximately 45 minutes long and is a part of one of the following categories:  salvation; pastors; believers; grace; spiritual gifts; giving; or, the Bible itself.

 Salvation Web Page  Word Document  Audio MP3
  1) Intro-01 How to Go to Heaven Intro-01 Word Intro-01 MP3
  2) BD01-01 Redemption (Purchase) BD01-01 Word BD01-01 MP3
  3) BD01-02 Expiation (Atonement) BD01-02 Word BD01-02 MP3
  4) BD02-01 Regeneration (New Birth) BD02-01 Word BD02-01 MP3
  5) BD02-02 Propitiation (Appeasement) BD02-02 Word BD02-02 MP3
  6) BD03-01 Imputation & Justification BD03-01 Word BD03-01 MP3
  7) BD03-02 Position in Christ BD03-02 Word BD03-02 MP3
Pastors
  8) BD06-01 The Role of the Pastor-Teacher BD06-01 Word BD06-01 MP3
  9) BD06-02 The Ministry of the Pastor-Teacher BD06-02 Word BD06-02 MP3
10) BD07-01 The Purpose of the Pastor-Teacher Gift, #1 BD07-01 Word BD07-01 MP3 
11) BD07-02 The Purpose of the Pastor-Teacher Gift, #2 BD07-02 Word BD07-02 MP3
12) BD08-01 The Purpose of the Pastor-Teacher Gift, #3 BD08-01 Word BD08-01 MP3
13) BD08-02 The Purpose of the Pastor-Teacher Gift, #4 BD08-02 Word BD08-02 MP3
Believers
14) Intro-02 The Christian Life Intro-02 Word Intro-02 MP3
15) BD04-01 The Old Sin Nature in Salvation BD04-01 Word BD04-01 MP3
16) BD04-02 Forgiveness Through Confession of Sin BD04-02 Word BD04-02 MP3
17) BD05-01 The Neutralization of Confessed Sin BD05-01 Word BD05-01 MP3
18) BD05-02 Frustrating the Grace of God BD05-02 Word BD05-02 MP3
19) BD09-01 The Spiritual Maturity Structure BD09-01 Word BD09-01 MP3
Grace
20) BD09-02 Grace Orientation, #1 BD09-02 Word BD09-02 MP3
21) BD10-01 Grace Orientation, #2 BD10-01 Word BD10-01 MP3
22) BD10-02 Mastery of the Details of Life, #1 BD10-02 Word BD10-02 MP3
23) BD11-01 Mastery of the Details of Life, #2 BD11-01 Word BD11-01 MP3
24) BD11-02 Relaxed Mental Attitude, #1 BD11-02 Word BD11-02 MP3
25) BD12-01 Relaxed Mental Attitude, #2 BD12-01 Word BD12-01 MP3
26) BD12-02 Relaxed Mental Attitude, #3 BD12-02 Word BD12-02 MP3
27) BD13-01 Relaxed Mental Attitude, #4 BD13-01 Word BD13-01 MP3
28) BD13-02 Relaxed Mental Attitude, #5 BD13-02 Word BD13-02 MP3
Love
29) BD14-01 The Capacity to Love, #1 BD14-01 Word BD14-01 MP3
30) BD14-02 The Capacity to Love, #2 BD14-02 Word BD14-02 MP3
31) BD15-01 The Capacity to Love, #3 BD15-01 Word BD15-01 MP3
32) BD15-02 The Capacity to Love, #4 BD15-02 Word BD15-02 MP3
33) BD16-01 Inner Happiness, #1 BD16-01 Word BD16-01 MP3
34) BD16-02 Inner Happiness, #2 BD16-02 Word BD16-02 MP3
35) BD17-01 Satan, the Enemy of Our Souls BD17-01 Word BD17-01 MP3
36) BD17-02 The Attack on the Woman BD17-02 Word BD17-02 MP3
37) BD18-01 The Fall Into Sin BD18-01 Word BD18-01 MP3
38) BD18-02 The Results of the Fall BD18-02 Word BD18-02 MP3
39) BD19-01 Pronouncement of Judgment, #1 BD19-01 Word BD19-01 MP3
40) BD19-02 Pronouncement of Judgment, #2 BD19-02 Word BD19-02 MP3
41) BD20-01 Pronouncement of Judgment, #3 BD20-01 Word BD20-01 MP3
42) BD20-02 Project Footstool BD20-02 Word BD20-02 MP3
43) BD21-01 The Demonic World BD21-01 Word BD21-01 MP3
44) BD21-02 Demonic Possession, #1 – Idolatry BD21-02 Word BD21-02 MP3
45) BD22-01 Demonic Possession, #2 – Sex BD22-01 Word BD22-01 MP3
46) BD22-02 Demonic Possession, #3 – Drugs BD22-02 Word BD22-02 MP3
47) BD23-01 Speaking With the Dead, #1 BD23-01 Word BD23-01 MP3
48) BD23-02 Speaking With the Dead, #2 BD23-02 Word BD23-02 MP3
49) BD24-01 Satan Tempts the God-Man BD24-01 Word BD24-01 MP3
Spiritual Gifts
50) BD24-02 The Background of Christian Service BD24-02 Word BD24-02 MP3
51) BD25-01 Spiritual Gifts – Preparation for Christian Service BD25-01 Word BD25-01 MP3
52) BD25-02 Spiritual Gifts and the Trinity BD25-02 Word BD25-02 MP3
53) BD26-01 The Permanent Spiritual Gifts BD26-01 Word BD26-01 MP3
54) BD26-02 Identifying and Using Spiritual Gifts BD26-02 Word BD26-02 MP3
55) BD27-01 Introduction to Temporary Spiritual Gifts BD27-01 Word BD27-01 MP3
56) BD27-02 The Gift of Miracles BD27-02 Word BD27-02 MP3
57) BD28-01 The Gift of Healing BD28-01 Word BD28-01 MP3
58) BD28-02 The Gift of Tongues, #1 BD28-02 Word BD28-02 MP3
59) BD29-01 The Gift of Tongues, #2 BD29-01 Word BD29-01 MP3
60) BD29-02 The Gift of Tongues, #3 BD29-02 Word BD29-02 MP3
61) BD30-01 The Gift of Tongues, #4 BD30-01 Word BD30-01 MP3
62) BD30-02 The Gift of Tongues, #5 BD30-02 Word BD30-02 MP3
63) BD31-01 The Gift of Tongues, #6 BD31-01 Word BD31-01 MP3
64) BD31-02 The Gift of Tongues, #7 BD31-02 Word BD31-02 MP3
65) BD32-01 The Gift of Tongues, #8 BD32-01 Word BD32-01 MP3
66) BD32-02 The Gift of Tongues, #9 BD32-02 Word BD32-02 MP3
Giving
67) BD33-01 The Grace Way of Giving, #1 BD33-01 Word BD33-01 MP3
68) BD33-02 The Grace Way of Giving, #2 BD33-02 Word BD33-02 MP3
69) BD34-01 The Grace Way of Giving, #3 BD34-01 Word BD34-01 MP3
70) BD34-02 The Grace Way of Giving, #4 BD34-02 Word BD34-02 MP3
71) BD35-01 The Grace Way of Giving, #5 BD35-01 Word BD35-01 MP3
72) BD35-02 The Grace Way of Giving, #6 BD35-02 Word BD35-02 MP3
73) BD36-01 The Grace Way of Giving, #7 BD36-01 Word BD36-01 MP3
74) BD36-02 The Grace Way of Giving, #8 BD36-02 Word BD36-02 MP3
75) BD37-01 The Grace Way of Giving, #9 BD37-01 Word BD37-01 MP3
76) BD37-02 The Grace Way of Giving, #10 BD37-02 Word BD37-02 MP3
The Bible Itself
77) BD38-01 The Origin of the Bible, #1 BD38-01 Word BD38-01 MP3
78) BD38-02 The Origin of the Bible, #2 BD38-02 Word BD38-02 MP3
79) BD39-01 The Bible into English BD39-01 Word BD39-01 MP3
80) BD39-02 The Bible and Higher Criticism BD39-02 Word BD39-02 MP3
81) BD40-01 The Basis of the Liberal View of the Bible BD40-01 Word BD40-01 MP3
82) BD40-02 The Bible and the Modern Mind BD40-02 Word BD40-02 MP3
83) BD41-01 Today’s New Theology and the Bible BD41-01 Word BD41-01 MP3
84) BD41-02 The Inspiration of the Bible, No. 1 BD41-02 Word BD41-02 MP3
85) BD42-01 The Inspiration of the Bible, No. 2 BD42-01 Word BD42-01 MP3
86) BD42-02 The Inerrancy of the Bible, #1 BD42-02 Word BD42-02 MP3
87) BD43-01 The Inerrancy of the Bible (Bible “Errors”,) #2 BD43-01 Word BD43-01 MP3
88) BD45-01 The Inerrancy of the Bible, #3 BD45-01 Word BD45-01 MP3
89) BD45-02 The Inerrancy of the Bible, #4 BD45-02 Word BD45-02 MP3
90) BD46-01 The Inerrancy of the Bible, #5 BD46-01 Word BD46-01 MP3
91) BD46-02 The Inerrancy of the Bible, #6 BD46-02 Word BD46-02 MP3
92) BD43-02 The Canon of Scripture, #1 BD43-02 Word BD43-02 MP3
93) BD44-01 The Canon of Scripture, #2 BD44-01 Word BD44-01 MP3
94) BD44-02 The Canon of Scripture, #3 BD44-02 Word BD44-02 MP3
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Unborn Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter–All black lives.  As a result of this fact, we can also conclude that “Unborn Black Lives Matter.”

Abort73.com says, “According to 2010 census data, African-Americans make up 12.6% of the U.S. population but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that black women accounted for 35.4% of all abortions in 2009.”

The Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion.  An average of 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States.

BlackGenocide.org says, “This incidence of abortion has resulted in a tremendous loss of life. It has been estimated that since 1973 Black women have had about 16 million abortions. Michael Novak had calculated “Since the number of current living Blacks (in the U.S.) is 36 million, the missing 16 million represents an enormous loss, for without abortion, America’s Black community would now number 52 million persons. It would be 36 percent larger than it is. Abortion has swept through the Black community like a scythe, cutting down every fourth member.”

Erma Clardy Craven (deceased), Social Worker and Civil Rights Leader said, “Several years ago, when 17,000 aborted babies were found in a dumpster outside a pathology laboratory in Los, Angeles, California, some 12-15,000 were observed to be black.”

africanamericanabortions

Since 1973, for every African-American that has died due to violent crimes, 42 totally innocent African-Americans have died from abortion.  The African-American community, and everyone else, should be revolted by this latest civil rights issue.

Alveda C. King, daughter of slain civil-rights leader A.D. King and niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., writes:  “[Martin Luther King, Jr.] once said, ‘The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.’ How can the ‘Dream’ survive if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate.”

Why do Unborn Black Lives Matter?  Because we have killed 30% of the African-American population through legalized abortion.

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Does God Forgive Having an Abortion?

A reader asked:  I am a sinner, will god ever forgive me?  I don’t know where to begin and ask god for forgiveness and I’m not sure whether to ask for forgiveness or not, I am a lost soul, the holy spirit has left me, I pray but it seems like my prayer doesn’t go anywhere and that god doesn’t hear me nor my prayer. I had an abortion.

Yes, God will forgive you.  You need only to confess your sin to him as indicated in 1 John 1:9.

We become Christians by believing in Jesus Christ as Savior, knowing that His death on the cross saved us from all sin (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, John 3:16).  God then forgives us in our ETERNAL state.  Then, in our daily walk as Christians, when we continue to sin, we confess those sins to God, and he forgives us in our TEMPORAL state.

I too have felt like you do from time to time.  I continue to sin, and I know that I have failed God.  I also sometimes feel like God is not hearing my prayers.  However, His word teaches that we simply need to confess our sins.  He forgives us and we can start anew.  He forgives and FORGETS those sins that we have confessed, and we don’t ever need to confess that occurrence of that sin again.  No matter what we have done, we simply  confess it to God.  We then know that He has forgiven us, and since He will never look back upon that sin again, neither should we.  I sometimes even pray that God will help me to forget things, and I believe that He does.

Once we become Christians, the Holy Spirit never leaves us, although we can still feel a loneliness due to our sin.  The Bible teaches the doctrine of eternal security.  In Philippians 2:14, the reference to becoming “children of God” suggests the type of relationship that Christians have with God.  They are His children–his sons and daughters. Furthermore, just as we are naturally born as a product of our human fathers, we are spiritually born as a product of God the Father and His grace. In both cases, the birth establishes a relationship which can never be altered. One cannot undo a physical birth, so neither can he undo a spiritual birth. The eternal security of the believer is thus demonstrated by this analogy of children. Furthermore, Hebrews 13:5 says, “… Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

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Does the Bible Forbid Drinking?

Drinking

A reader asked:  Where in the Bible does it say not to drink alcohol? 

It’s an interesting question.  I’ve addressed it in my article Is Drinking a Sin? and here are the highlights:

There are three passages in the Bible that suggest abstinence from all alcoholic beverages. The first is in Proverbs 31:4-5 where “kings” are forbidden to drink because their judgment would be impaired. In those days of monarchies, kings were the ultimate court judges, like one-man supreme courts. The Bible said that they shouldn’t drink because of the important decisions they were expected to make. In the same way, who among us today is not responsible for decision-making to some degree, and unsure when he might have to make a decision?

The second reference suggesting abstinence is 1 Peter 4:7 which tells us that, since the end is near, we should stay sober and clear-minded so that we can pray. How many drinks does it take to distort one’s thinking? Isn’t the mind-altering effect of alcohol one of the major motivations for most drinking?

The third reference is Romans 14:21 where we are charged not to drink if it offends someone else or bruises their spiritual confidence. Even if a Christian has personally searched the Scriptures and decided that he is not violating God’s Word by drinking, he may still choose to abstain to keep a fellow Christian from stumbling; who may not have the same level of understanding. This is where one must be accountable for what he believes and how he interprets scripture. This is one reason why daily Bible study is so important.

Furthermore, the Bible explicitly forbids drunkenness in Ephesians 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 6:10.

However, on the other hand, Jesus partook of wine (Luke 22:20), and He even miraculously turned water into wine (John 2:1-11).  We also know that Jesus never sinned, so how could it be wrong to drink?  One could argue that none of the above passages explicitly says that Christians must not drink. In fact, some passages even appear to be imperatives to indulge. Consider the following examples:

Proverbs 31:6-7 is directed toward the distraught: “Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”

1 Timothy 5:23 is a comment by Paul to Timothy: “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”

In 1 Corinthians 11:22, Paul tells the believers at Corinth that if they choose to drink, they should do it at home rather than at a church service, implying that this would be acceptable.

Conclusions

Of the six passages referenced above, the former three lean toward abstinence, especially for leaders, and the latter three lean toward indulgence, especially for the distraught. Either way, drunkenness is forbidden. If you’re a Christian drinker, you probably emphasize Proverbs 31:6-7 and 1 Timothy 5:23. If you’re a Christian abstainer, you probably prefer Proverbs 31:4-5 and 1 Peter 4:7.

The deciding factors, however, are the mind-altering effects and the long-term health risks of alcohol (Romans 12:1). If one drinks in moderation without altering his thinking capability to the extent that it affects his decision making, and his drinking doesn’t present a long-term health risk in his particular case, then he has not violated the Scriptures. If he experiences mind-altering effects when he drinks, so that his decision making rationale is impaired, he has violated Scripture.

Regardless, we are each accountable for ourselves. In general, a person’s drinking is between him and God. Of course, there can be extenuating circumstances when intervention is required and / or if that person is doing harm to others. However, in most cases, it is nobody else’s business unless that person seek help (1 Timothy 4:11). To be sure, there are many who place too much emphasis on this issue simply because they’re not minding their own business. Too often, the pious abstainer may be displeasing to God by his Pharisaic pride than the indulger is by his drinking.

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Debating Mormonism

A reader asked:  My boss, who is LDS (Mormon), and I have frequent discussions about Biblical matters.  I was saved by God’s grace out of Mormonism so we’ve had some very interesting conversations (to say the least).  Today, my boss asked me this question:  “Luke is quite emphatic that Stephen saw God with Jesus.  If God is without substance, what did Stephen see?”  Then, he followed with this statement:  “Further, if Stephen didn’t see God with Jesus, then Luke’s account is incorrect.  Luke is advocating false doctrine, and the Bible is far from inerrant.  I would presume that Luke was sincere in his belief that Stephen saw God.”  I know in Whom I believe and I trust the Bible completely.  However, my boss is a retired attorney and he asks questions and make statements like the above for which I’m unable to give a succinct reply.  I’m just not able to put what I believe into words of explanation.  Can you, PLEASE, help me with a reply that will make sense to my employer?

I believe that one of the best translations to study for this passage is the New American Standard,  which describes what Stephen saw as:

“… the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55b)

An even more accurate translation is:  “… the glory of God, even Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

Yes, Stephen was given the unique privilege of seeing God.  However, technically, this passage does not say that he “saw God;” i.e., it doesn’t say that he saw God, the Father (the first person of the Godhead).  It says that he saw “the glory of God,” and he saw this glory of God through Jesus Christ.  In other words, by seeing Jesus Christ, he saw the glory of God, because Jesus is God; i.e., He is the second person of the Godhead (although your Mormon friends may have trouble with this interpretation).

Your boss’s assumption, “… if God is without substance…” may need closer examination as well.  John 4:24 does indeed say that, ” God is spirit.”  If this does mean that God is without substance, then the above explanation still holds, since Stephen saw “the glory of God.”  Still, we must be careful with this assumption.  For example, Jesus is God, and Jesus has a body, so technically, God (i.e., Jesus, the second person of the Godhead) does indeed have a body (even if God the Father, the first person of the Godhead) does not have a body.  Even by this, the above explanation still stands.

Furthermore, we must be careful with any assumptions of what it is like to see things in eternity.  In our mortal bodies, we simply cannot understand the eternal things of God which are beyond time and space.  Perhaps it was difficult for Luke to describe exactly what Stephen saw.  Luke, in his physical body, may not have understood the things that Stephen saw in his unique opportunity, just before death (i.e., entering into the very presence of God).

Still, with any of these reasonable explanations, it is still a fact that Luke is not advocating false doctrine, and that the Bible (in its original manuscripts) is indeed inerrant.  God, for whatever reason, has given you the challenge of defending your faith to a Mormon who is intelligent and articulate, and an experienced debater–one who is probably capable of twisting his opponents words and thoughts for the purpose of confusion.  I can only encourage you in this awesome task.

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What is God’s Purpose, and Ours?

Our Purpose

A reader asked:  I researched the ‘first cause’ by Thomas Aquinas, and found it to be wanting of a very important nature, purpose.  We are all taught that God created us for only one purpose… to worship him… to do his bidding and his will… and if we don’t we get punished for all eternity.  God is a dictator… not a loving creator.  Because even though we have free will, God doesn’t say that’s O.K. He says that if we don’t conduct our behavior according to his will, we will be punished.  The bible also says that God loves us more than our parents do. That is not true.  If we go against our parents’ wishes, they do not punish us for all eternity. Good parents tell their children that they should do as their hearts tell them to. That is real love.  Everything that God created, he created for a purpose.  Yet what purpose did God have before he created the angels?

My perspective is somewhat different than yours, but I hope that I can shed some light on these issues, and maybe we can learn from each other.

I believe that our purpose is to glorify God.  We are a part of His Creation, so everything we do must please Him and bring Him glory–our obedience, our trust, our conduct, etc.  (Romans 15:6, 2 Corinthians 5:9).  Please see my article on Pleasing God.

We all have the sinful nature of the flesh.  We each have sinned, both by committing personal sins and by the imputation of sin from Adam (Romans 5:14-10):  Imputation.  Yet, since God cannot coexist with sin, there’s nothing that we can do to deserve eternal life in God’s presence, so we have a dilemma.  Only God can do anything about this, and He would have been perfectly justified to let us all die in our sins and to separate Himself from us for all of eternity.  However, in His love, He instituted a system of grace to solve this problem for us.  All we have to do is to believe and trust Him for eternal salvation (John 3:16).

If God is a dictator, then He is a benevolent one.  I must simply disagree with you because I believe that God is a loving creator (1 John 4:8, 16).  Yes, we have free will, but it is a limited free will (Predestination).  God loves us so much that it is only by His plan of grace that there is a solution to our problem.  Ephesians 2:4-6 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

God does indeed love us more than our parents love us.  He loved us so much that He sacrificed His own son Jesus Christ for us (John 3:16, Romans 5:5), so that all we have to do is to believe Him for our eternal salvation.  (Who among us would be willing to sacrifice our own child for others?)  God imputes all of our sin onto Jesus Christ who died for our sins and was resurrected for our eternal life.  Christ took the punishment for our sin, if we only believe in Him, so God can now look at each of us believers as being sinless.

Again I disagree where you said, “Good parents tell their children that they should do as their hearts tell them to.”  Good parents tell their children that they should glorify and obey God; and, that until they’re old enough to thoroughly understand this, they should obey their parents.

Unfortunately, the Bible does not tell us about God’s purpose before He created the angels.  Remember that God is an eternal being, so He is not limited by words such as “before” and “after.”  Eternity transcends time and space, so these are not boundaries for God, although we (in our physical being) cannot fully understand these concepts.  We can simply be assured that since God created everything, then the purpose of everything including us and the angels) has always been to glorify Him, and this will always be so.

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Killing During War

A reader asked:  My step-father is now in his early 80s. He has served in both WWII and the Korean War.  During the Korean War, he was in a rice patty where a young Korean boy suddenly popped up in front of him.  In a split-second, he had to decide… kill a young boy or be killed.  He shot. 

To this day, he can not forgive himself for this in particular, above all of the other horrors of war that he has seen and experienced.  And, he does not feel that he is worthy of forgiveness by God and Christ for this act.  Are there any Scriptures that you can point to help him gain any sense of peace and comfort? 

Many people have misunderstood the Bible on the subject of killing, often because of an incorrect translation in the old King James version of the Bible.  The sixth commandment, in Exodus 20:13, does not actually say, “Thou shalt not kill” as translated in the old King James.  A more accurate translation is provided in many of the modern versions, such as the NIV, which says, “You shall not murder.”  The Bible forbids the act of murder, which means the unjustified taking of a person’s life (including suicide, abortion, and euthanasia), but it doesn’t forbid all killing.  In fact, it is sometimes very adamant that killing is the right thing to do, but it must be justified in God’s eyes.

The Bible tells us quite clearly that killing is not only justified in warfare, but it’s also necessary.  It offers many examples where God commands His people to kill their enemy aggressors in warfare.  In Genesis 10 through 12 (specifically 10:5 and 11:9), God created the institution of nations, and determined that people would be divided according to national entities.  God condemned aggression from one nation against another, and he sanctioned warfare as a means of protection from aggressors.  The Old Testament is filled with commands from God to Moses, Joshua, David, and many others, to kill their enemy aggressors.  Deuteronomy 20:1 says, “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.”

Sometimes God even commanded the unmerciful annihilation of evil nations. Deuteronomy 2:33-34 says, “The LORD our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed them–men, women and children. We left no survivors.”

In your step-father’s experience in Korea, the nations of North Korea and China were the aggressors.  They invaded South Korea which was our ally, so we helped them in their defense against those aggressors.  Your step-father explicitly obeyed the Scripture above that says, “… do not be afraid of them, …”  He had been trained to obey orders, and that he did.  He bravely fulfilled his duty in killing the aggressors, even when he had some moral questions about it.

Remember also that our armed forces work as a team in defeating our enemies.  Consider a particular service man whose sole responsibility was to load the proper coordinates for a 90MM anti-aircraft cannon, perhaps under a cloudy nighttime sky.  After the coordinates were loaded, another man positioned and aimed the gun.  Another man loaded a mortar shell, and yet another man fired the weapon.  If the artillery (hopefully) hit its target aircraft, it likely killed all of the enemy onboard.  In many cases, none of these men even saw the far away explosion, but each was (proudly) a part of the killing of the enemy.

The unfortunate thing in your step-father’s incident is that it took place in such close physical proximity to the aggressor.  Even if this is a recurring nightmare for him, he should be proud of the part he played in defense of freedom.  In fact, the enemy soldier that he killed may have been destined to kill him, or another American soldier, if he had not done the right thing as he did.

Your story reminded me of the movie, Saving Private Ryan.  I love the scene with the American sniper, whose job it was to hide, take careful aim with his rifle, and kill German soldiers.  Each time, just before pulling the trigger, he would quote a Scripture from the Bible.  In other words, He was demonstrating his obedience to God and to his commanding officers by killing the enemy.  Such a man, so learned in the Scriptures, probably also said a prayer for his enemies (Matthew 5:44), while he also thanked God for the opportunity for obedience to Him.

Now, regarding forgiveness, Acts 13:38 says,  “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”  Forgiveness of sin is a matter of believing in Christ.  If your step-father is a believer (John 3:16), then, like the rest of us believers, he can simply claim his eternal forgiveness (Romans 4:7), and use the technique of confession (1 John 1:9) to receive temporal forgiveness.  However, regarding his specific actions during war, I believe that there is no need for forgiveness in this situation.  His was not an act of sin, but of obedience.

For more information on this, please see my article Is Killing Ever Right?

Please be sure to thank your step-father for the freedom that he provided to me for his faithful service in fulfilling the (sometimes awful) call of duty from God and from our country, in not just one, but two wars.  I was never in the military, and, much less, never in his shoes.  Because of this, I truly believe that I’ll never be half the man he is.  My simple and easy duty is to simply admire and thank him, and it’s my privilege to do so.

Thanks for your thoughtful response Owen.  I think the primary struggle is looking the young boy in the face and needing to decide will it be him or me?  Shoot a young boy or be killed.  Should he have let the young boy live?

I certainly have an appreciation for the fact your step-father is haunted by that moment when he had to look the young boy in the face and decide what to do.  I may not have addressed this issue directly enough.  I have never had such a difficult decision, but I’ll try to better explain my view from a biblical and moral perspective.

During those wars, and in all of our wars since then, our enemies have often been terrorists who have been willing to sacrifice the lives of their own women and children by using them as decoys, traps, human shields, and suicide bombers.  They quickly learned that American soldiers have compassion for innocent women and children.  Unfortunately, our soldiers also quickly learned that they had to be cautious and untrusting in all engagements with enemy civilians.  Too often an American soldier came to the aid of such a child only to discover that it was a trap to set off an explosion and kill as many Americans as possible.

Your step-father suddenly faced a situation where he had to make a split-second decision, and his instincts and military training kicked in.  Yes, if he had more time, he might have made a different decision.  However, he didn’t have more time.  Our enemies intentionally try to cause our soldiers to hesitate by exploiting their compassion and sensitivity as weaknesses.  There have been many similar situations where American soldiers tried to help an innocent child, then the slightest move by the child set off an explosion, or a trigger from a nearby enemy sniper.  For all your step-father knew, he was saving American lives by sacrificing the life of a child.

I know it had to be terrible for your step-father to look the young boy in the face and decide whether to shoot him or be killed.  I still adamantly believe that your step-father did the right thing.  I believe that this is obvious by the mere fact that this was the decision at hand–to shoot or be killed.  In such (horrendous) moments of battle, our soldiers are taught to do the right thing.  They must shoot.  They would not further our cause to allow themselves to be killed in such a situation.  They are still needed for future battles, and to return home safely.

Note that this does not excuse the war-time murder of civilians such as what some American soldiers did during the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War.  Killing the enemy in warfare is justified, but intentional murder is an unjustified sin.  Unfortunately, sometimes this is a fine line, requiring an instant decision by our soldiers.  War is an ugly, but necessary, thing, and part of the ugliness is having to make quick life-threatening decisions.

So, should your step-father have let the young boy live?  I don’t believe so.  He demonstrated strength during wartime, making some quick decisions and acting on those decisions.  If his training, battle conditions, and momentary decision-making were similar to what I described, then he can take solace in the Scriptures that I have offered.  If, for some reason, a sin was committed, then he simply needs to take solace in confession to God (1 John 1:9), as the rest of us do, in order to receive temporal forgiveness.

I hope this helps.  Please feel free to reply again if I can be of any further assistance.  Meanwhile, I am praying for your step-father’s peace and comfort in God (Philippians 4:7).

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What Judgment Will Christians Face?

Judgment

A reader asked:  I know the Bible says we will all be judged. And I know the Bible says Jesus has wiped away all our sins. (For Christians).  My question then is if Jesus has wiped away all our sins, what will Christians stand in judgment for on judgment day?

I’ve included an excerpt from my True Christianity link below, and I think this should answer your question.

A discussion of the doctrine of the judgment of God requires an understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of all men (John 3:16, Hebrews 12:2).  All of our sins are forgiven via this single sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27), and we’ll never be judged for the individual sins that we commit.  In eternity, our sins are forgiven and forgotten by God.  Jesus supplied our eternal sacrifice, and through confession (1 John 1:9), we can have God’s temporal forgiveness in this life.  If so, then what judgment does 1 Peter 1:17 address?  “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”  Furthermore, Romans 2:6 says that God will judge every man according to his deeds.  Indeed, all men will be judged, but there are two specific categories of judgment based upon the determining factor of believing in Jesus Christ as personal savior.

Remember that upon accepting Christ as savior, God imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to each believer.  Without this divine power, man can do no good (Romans 3:10, 12, Psalms 53:3).  He may do some humanly good deeds, which have as their source the flesh, but unless the Holy Spirit indwells a person and God sees that person through the righteousness of His son, he can’t perform any divinely good works.  In the first category of judgment then, believers will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10), and in the second category, unbelievers will be judged at the Great White Throne of God (Revelation 20:11-15).

The Judgment Seat of Christ

The judgment of all believers will occur at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10), but the Bible doesn’t clearly specify when this judgment will occur.  I tend to side with those who believe that our day of judgment will occur after the rapture and during the tribulation period, but it’s probably a moot point since time can’t be set in an eternal state.  Nevertheless, we’re assured of both the rapture and this judgment which introduce what the Bible calls “. . . the day of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:8), and we’re charged to be prepared for it and remain blameless in this life until that day.

In 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, we see that in that day, “. . . his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.”  Christ will test the quality of our works with fire, which will burn up the wood, hay, and straw, but leave the pure gold, silver, and precious stones.  God will repay us for our deeds in the body, according to what we’ve done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).  Christ will reveal whether our good works were only humanly good works produced by the flesh like the wood, hay, and straw similar to that of “good” unbelievers, or whether our good works came from the divine power of the Holy Spirit in the form of gold, silver, and precious stones.

For the divine good works that survive the test of fire, Jesus will credit our account (Philippians 4:17).  For our human good works, we’ll suffer loss of rewards, but we’ll keep our eternal life (1 Corinthians 3:15).  We’re promised that God will repay us for our service to Him (Ephesians 6:8), and we’ll receive “. . . an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” (Colossians 3:24).

Rewards

We’re not told the details of these rewards, but any reward from God must be wonderful and worthy of our service.  Our rewards may be personal commendations from Jesus, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23).  They may be in the form of crowns (1 Corinthians 9:25, Revelation 3:11).  In 1 Peter 5:4, a special “crown of glory” is specified for leaders who serve well.  In 2 Timothy 4:8, we see a crown of righteousness for those who live Godly lives and long for Christ’s return.  James 1:12 references a crown of life for those who persevered by God’s grace, while under trial for their faith. Philippians 4:1 speaks of a crown of joy for those who stand firm in their service to God.

Our rewards may be positions of authority or leadership as we reign with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 20:6, 22:5).  By 1 Corinthians 6:3, we’ll even be given authority to judge the angels.  No matter what our rewards are, Christians in this life must have faith that God will make all our service to Him worthwhile.  We should understand that the name of the game after salvation while we remain on the earth is service to God and rewards from Jesus Christ.

Works

This system of judgment and rewards for Christians in return for divinely good works doesn’t at first sound like a grace system, does it?  However, God established this system of works within His all-encompassing system of Grace, similar to the way he had a system of works to govern the daily lives of the Jews in the Old Testament, although the two are completely mutually exclusive.  When not properly oriented toward God’s grace and sovereignty, a Christian can feel guilty for trying to earn eternal rewards.  Of course our works should be motivated from our love for Christ, but Matthew 6:19-20 says not to seek earthly treasures (coveting), but to seek heavenly treasures (rewards) with fervor.

The Great White Throne

The judgment of unbelievers will occur after the Millennium as all unbelievers stand before the Great White Throne of God (Revelation 20:11).  God will judge all their deeds (Romans 2:6) and find that they’re all lacking the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22), and God will cast them all into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:15).  The Bible doesn’t specify how the judgment of their individual human good works will affect their eternal doom in the lake of fire.  Perhaps there will be degrees of punishment in hell, although we can’t perceive a punishment worse than hell itself. Romans 1:18-27 tells us that they deserve their punishment, and they have no excuse for their unbelief, since God has revealed Himself to all men.

Conclusions

We’ll all face God’s judgment, whether we’re believers or unbelievers. Believers will be rewarded for their divinely good works, and they’ll spend eternity in paradise, either as wealthy recipients of many rewards, or as paupers in comparison to what they could have had.  At the Great White Throne of God, unbelievers will be found to lack the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and they’ll be sentenced to the lake of fire forever.  Our concern in this life is that of pleasing God as Christians through our faith, our obedience, and our earning of heavenly rewards.

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Will we Know Each Other in Heaven?

A reader asked:  Will we know one another in heaven? 

The Bible is not definitive about what our relationships with others will be like in heaven.  The best passage that we have on this is probably Matthew 22:23-33 where Christ is answering a question from the Pharisees concerning the afterlife for a woman who had multiple husbands on earth.  In verse 30, Jesus says, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”  This implies that people in heaven will know each other, but they won’t have the same relationships, such as marriage.

I believe that our existence in heaven will be overpowered by God’s glory (Revelation 4:9-11).  We will be so awe-struck by being in the very presence of God, that we will somehow not even be too concerned with others.

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