Categories
Life

Abortion and Artemis: The Damning Desire of Lust for Wealth

FoxNews reports that a Planned Parenthood worker in Texas quit after seeing an ultrasound of a baby being aborted.  Here’s a snippet:

Abby Johnson, 29, used to escort women from their cars to the clinic in the eight years she volunteered and worked for Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas. But she says she knew it was time to leave after she watched a fetus “crumple” as it was vacuumed out of a patient’s uterus in September.

The most intriguing part of this article was when Johnson described the driving force behind the clinic’s abortions:

“Every meeting that we had was, ‘We don’t have enough money, we don’t have enough money — we’ve got to keep these abortions coming’…It’s a very lucrative business and that’s why they want to increase numbers.”

Immediately, Acts 19:21-41 came to my mind.  Paul had been preaching the gospel in Ephesus, and he was preaching against the goddess Artemis, the Greek deity of hunting and fertility, who later became associated with wealth and prosperity.

Some Ephesians were angry at Paul, who “persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not god” (v. 26).  What was the driving force of their anger at Paul and zeal for this goddess?  Verses 24-25 tell us the answer:

For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen.  These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth.”

Just like the Ephesian silversmiths, the Planned Parenthood workers acquired their wealth from a god (i.e. abortion) they made with their own hands.  In a word, they were greedy. Greed and abortion, like Artemis, are idols.  And when the idol of greed is threatened, the result is either repentance  toward Jesus or rage, chaos, hatred, and only more idolatry and greed.

The lust for wealth is a damning desire.  Truly “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim. 6:9).

Categories
Ministry

Are missions and the doctrine of election at odds? I don’t think so.

Some missionaries have said that if the doctrine of election were true, they would never have become a missionary. Well, I say, “I am a missionary because the doctrine of election is true.”

Where do I find this in the Bible?  In Acts 18, Paul is in Corinth.  You would not have found a more pagan city on the planet than Corinth in the first century.  Yet Jesus appeared to Paul in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people” (vv. 9-10).

Paul’s preaching didn’t elect people to salvation.  God elected them and the true sheep responded to the gospel message.  Remember Jesus’ words: “I have other sheep that are not of this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice” (John 10:16).

Jesus does the bringing.  You do the preaching.  People will respond.

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Categories
Theology

A Linguistic Approach to Tongues

I found these two articles by Robert Zerhusen very helpful on the study of speaking in tongues.  He gives compelling arguments to believe that tongues are known human languages in both Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14, and not ecstatic utterances.  They were published by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals:

Perhaps a great question to ask before and while you read is, “Who ever said that tongues has to be a miraculous gift?”  The Bible certainly say that, or really even imply it.

At the end of the day, this debate doesn’t make a lot of difference, as it’s not an essential thing.  However, we are called to know the Scriptures and study them.  Wherever you are at on this issue, I hope these articles are beneficial to you.

Categories
Ministry

Heroin Addicts, White Shoes, and the Gospel

My friend Tom and I, were walking with some friends to the Johannesburg Art Museum during our summer project last month.  Instead of going in, we stayed in the park where hundreds of South Africans and Zimbabweans were laying around on the grass.  We walked up to a guy who waved to us.  As we approached him, another man came to us and said, “I’m not even going to make up a story for you.  Give me your money.”

Now this was the first time that I’ve been in South Africa that I have been threatened to some degree.  I was a bit nervous.  A young kid started yelling to us, “Come over here.”  The man raised his voice.  He pointed to Tom’s shoes, “Your shoes are white.  Look at my dirty ones.  You have money.  Give it to me.”  It wasn’t hard to tell that this man was flying higher than a Boeing traveling over the Atlantic.  We took the kid’s advice and went over with him to talk with some others.  Later, we found out that the area we were hanging out in is a high-traffic heroin area.

Tom and I talked with heroin addicts about drugs, Jesus, and life in downtown Joburg for the next hour.  Talking with heroin addicts isn’t always the easiest thing to do.  There was a lot of drifting off and repetitious statements.  It was a circular conversation to say the least.

Thinking back on that interaction with the guy who wanted money, a Scripture comes to mind.  It’s Acts 3:6.  A beggar asks Peter for money.  Peter says, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

I don’t know what kind of outreach is happening in Hillbrow from the local churches (I don’ t live in Joburg).  But I pray that there are Christians who go there to say, “We don’t have anything to give you.  But what we do have will satisfy your deepest longings the way money and heroin can’t.  His name is Jesus and he has the power to forgive sin and heal your broken life.”

Categories
Life

Pentecost, the Jews, and Salvation

God’s Big Story: View Series
Continued from Part 5

At his ascension, Jesus looked at his disciples and said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8).  The whole world — literally “all the peoples,” according to Matthew 28:19 — will hear the gospel because of these apostles.  They will receive power from God to make it happen.

On the day of Pentecost, the disciples were gathered together, and suddenly the Holy Spirit fell on them.  They were filled with the Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.  This would be a great time, you would think, for God to start this world-wide revolution and reach all the Gentile nations with the gospel.  After all, the language barrier is now gone.

After this happens, Peter preaches a short, yet amazing, sermon to thousands of people in Acts 2.  He preaches the gospel — that Christ was delivered and was crucified according to God’s plan and that whoever believes in him will receive the Spirit.  He calls  everyone who’s listening to repentance.  That day, verse 41 says, 3,000 souls received the word and were saved and baptized.

And here’s the crazy part: every single one of those 3,000 people was Jewish.  Not one Gentile was saved.

How do we know this?  Acts 2:5 says, “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.”  Peter was in Jerusalem preaching to Jews.  When he began preaching, “the multitude” approached him because they heard Peter in their own language (or “dialect”).  These were Jewish pilgrims from various parts of the world (vv. 9-11).  The pilgrims had come back to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost, which is historically related to a Jewish harvest festival.

Furthermore, when Peter began his sermon, he lifted up his voice and said, “Men of Judea!” (v. 14).  Again, in verse 22, he called their attention and said, “Men of Israel.”  He quotes the prophet Joel (vv. 17-21).  He quotes King David twice (vv. 25-28, 34).  There is no doubt he is speaking to Jews.

Then in verse 36, his grand conclusion, he pronounces the dismal, yet glorious indictment on Israel: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”  It is dismal because they murdered one of their own — the only One who could save them.  It is glorious because if they turn to him — even after crucifying him — they will be saved and set free from sin.

The gospel hasn’t gone to all peoples yet.  Though the whole Bible up to this point has made it clear that this is God’s plan, the plan keeps getting delayed.  In God’s perfect time, however, this spiritual revolution of the Gentiles will come.