Is It God’s Goodness that Leads to Repentance?

by Cameron Buettel Friday, July 12, 2019

In the lead-up to the Truth Matters conference in October, we will be focusing our attention on the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture. Of our previous blog series, none better embodies that emphasis than Frequently Abused Verses. The following entry from that series originally appeared on September 30, 2015. -ed.

We live in an age that demands short bursts of rapid-fire information. The day is fast approaching—perhaps it’s already here—when the number of Twitter followers will hold the preeminent place on a pastor’s resume. Sermon lengths are going the way of our shrinking attention spans. Modern pastors are tempted to replace exegesis and exposition with sound bite sermons and slogan theology.

But Bible verses are not slogans or sound bites. They are eternal truths that find their meaning within the overall story God is telling. Uprooting a verse, or even a biblical phrase, from its native habitat can lead to all kinds of mayhem. That is especially the case when, independent of their proper context, verses are enlisted as the supporting cast for someone’s opinion or agenda. Romans 2:4 is one verse that is regularly misused that way—carelessly sprinkled into sermons, interviews, and social media.

For example, in January 2013, Rick Warren explained to his legions of Facebook followers how the verse factored in his evangelistic methods:

In that particular case, Warren was quoting Romans 2:4 (actually only about half of it) as justification for downplaying sin and soft-peddling the threat of judgment. But is that what Romans 2:4 is really all about? Was Paul telling his Roman readers to jettison the parts of gospel preaching that lack curb appeal?

Joel Osteen is even more explicit in his use of Romans 2:4 to defend his feel-good messages:

Listen, don’t dangle people over the fires of hell. . . . Listen, that doesn’t draw people to God. They know what kind of life they live. They know how bad they’ve lived. What you’ve got to do is talk about the goodness of God. Listen, it’s the goodness of God that brings people to repentance. [1]

Joel Osteen may think that people know they are sinners and that we therefore don’t need to warn them or preach about it, but does Romans 2:4 really back up his point?

Moreover, is his point biblical at all? Just as prisons are full of convicts who will proclaim their innocence, Scripture is clear that sinners reject the guilt of their sin. As Solomon explained, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2). And even those who do acknowledge their sin have little grasp of the depth of their wretchedness, or the eternal cost of their transgressions.

In fact, it’s ironic that Osteen and Warren would use Romans 2:4 to excuse themselves from discussing sin and the need for repentance, since that verse is plucked from Scripture’s most profound discourse on man’s depravity.

Romans 1–3 is undeniable proof that Paul began his exposition of the gospel by first addressing the universality of sin and the justness of God’s wrath against sin. John MacArthur points this out:

The biblical order in any gospel presentation is always first the warning of danger and then the way of escape, first the judgment on sin and then the means of pardon, first the message of condemnation and then the offer of forgiveness, first the bad news of guilt and then the good news of grace. The whole message and purpose of the loving, redeeming grace of God offering eternal life through Jesus Christ rests upon the reality of man’s universal guilt of abandoning God and thereby being under His sentence of eternal condemnation and death. Consistent with that approach, the main body of Romans begins with 1:18, a clear affirmation of God’s wrath “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” [2]

It is actually our guilt and the justness of God’s wrath that provide the all-important context for Romans 2:4:

And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. (Romans 2:2-5)

Now you can see why Romans 2:4 is so frequently divorced from its context, and why it’s usually paraphrased instead of quoted. In the full context of Paul’s writing we see clearly what he means by God’s goodness—it is “the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience.” And Romans 2:2-3 explains how God demonstrates that tolerance and patience—by withholding the wrath we deserve. God’s goodness is the reality that we have not yet experienced His judgment. MacArthur adds:

Forbearance [tolerance] comes from anochē, which means “to hold back,” as of judgment. It was sometimes used to designate a truce, which involves cessation of hostilities between warring parties. God’s forbearance with mankind is a kind of temporary divine truce He has graciously proclaimed. Patience translates makrothumia, which was sometimes used of a powerful ruler who voluntarily withheld vengeance on an enemy or punishment of a criminal. Until the inevitable moment of judgment, God’s kindness and forbearance and patience are extended to all mankind. [3]

It is impossible to preach the goodness of God without talking about sin and judgment because its very meaning is bound up in those terms. When we see our sinfulness and rebellion against God, and when we see our hypocrisy in condemning others for committing the same wrath-deserving sins, then we can also marvel at God’s goodness in patiently and tolerantly withholding the wrath that we deserve.

That is what leads us to repentance. And it is entirely consistent with what Paul taught elsewhere in Scripture:

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B150930

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The Jonas Brothers, “The Bachelor,” and Our Culture’s Rejection of Sexual Purity

Perhaps the culture’s aversion to the Christian sexual ethic is actually a rejection of its source.
GABRIELLA SIEFERT

The Jonas Brothers, “The Bachelor,” and Our Culture’s Rejection of Sexual Purity

Women across the country are celebrating the news: the Jonas Brothers are back together. Their latest album—which came out on June 7th—was preceded by the release of the trio’s Amazon documentary, “Chasing Happiness.” The film tells the story of the band’s ascent to stardom as they quickly went from playing in malls and at school assemblies to packing the house at Madison Square Gardern.

The documentary captures a moving testimony. Viewers witness Nick, Joe, and Kevin experience a dynamic range of highs and lows as they relive their rise to fame and explore its impact on their lives as men today.

At a particularly vulnerable moment, the three open up about consequences born on their careers due to the impact of some rings they wore on their fingers in the early days.

Purity rings. The Jonas Brothers wore purity rings.

A symbol of sexual abstinence in Christian communities, most associate purity rings with a person’s decision to save sex for marriage.

But from the moment these three clean-cut pastor’s kids stepped on their first Disney stage, it was clear the media could not wait to pounce.

As Nick later came to realize, the rings quickly became “a defining factor of who [they] were as a band.” The brothers, from an early age, were well aware of the mockery being made of them across the country.

Russell Brand, as quoted in “Chasing Happiness” once publicly referred to the group as “God’s favorite virgins.” On her show “Chelsea Lately,” Chelsea Handler joked about the boys’ need for a six-bedroom home asking:, “Why do three virgins need six bedrooms?”

As if that wasn’t enough for three teenage boys to stomach, the makers of “South Park” later dedicated an entire episode to the notion that the Jonas Brothers were somehow using Christianity and its association with sexual purity to sell music to kids.

Fast forward a decade later, and national media attitudes towards sexual abstinence haven’t changed much. Colton Underwood, ABC’s most recent “Bachelor,” also became the butt of many a joke after opening up about his own virginity. The network—especially the female contestants—couldn’t resist any opportunities to make digs on Colton’s virgin status. It got so bad that former “Bachelor” star Astrid Loch even argued, “If I had $1 for every time Colton’s virginity was mentioned I wouldn’t have to do ads.”

Problems with purity

It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to see that the media—from the early Jonas days and onward—seems to have taken real issue with the notion of sexual purity.

For Christians compelled by a biblical sexual ethic—that is, believers who strive for pure hearts, minds, and bodies but trust in God’s grace on the (many) occasions when things go wrong—there’s a lot to unpack here.

Some of us have already felt this tension in our own personal lives. We’ve noticed the ways friends, co-workers, and even family members look at us with wide, troubled eyes when they catch wind of our commitment to honor God with our bodies. We may not have had our romantic lives spread across the front pages of CosmopolitanPeople, and the like, but we know what it’s like to be questioned, teased, or mocked as a result of our sexual inexperience.

And for many, this has been a hurtful experience. Being misunderstood always is.

But many of us would still like to know the truth: What is really at the heart of our culture’s rejection of sexual purity?

There seem to be several ways to answer this question; realistically, there’s more than one contributor at the crux of any one person’s objection.

Many reject the notion that one’s innate desires could ever be wrong in the first place. Saying “no” to the body’s whims and wishes might look to some like an attempt to go against nature; hence, they prefer to explore rather than “silence” a longing for sex.

Others find this whole ‘innocence’ routine completely unattractive. Sexual inexperience, through this lens, isn’t something to value but something to quickly get past. Nick Jonas himself in several interviews spoke of his life after sex claiming, “Now I’m happy, I’m a man, and I do what men do.”

Real men (and women, even) by this standard aren’t waiting around to be old enough, or in love enough, or married enough to have sex. They’re doing it outside of the realm of Scripture’s teachings because of a secular culture that threatens to shame them should they say no.

But perhaps there’s another angle here. In all the commentary directed towards Underwood, the Jonas Brothers, and others like them who have at one point or another confessed virginity, there appears to be a common thread.

The attacks weren’t friendly. In many cases, they were actually quite personal—almost as if Russell, Chelsea, and others like them harbored grievances against something more than just a handful of teen heartthrobs.

It seems that perhaps our culture is rejecting the notion of sexual purity because they’ve rejected its source: the church itself.

People have rejected the church and Scripture’s teachings for many reasons. Some find it fanciful. Others think it’s wise but perhaps not entirely true. Many more still reject it because they’ve rejected organized religion altogether.

But then, there are also those who’ve been hurt by the church—especially its teachings on purity—and feel judged or rejected for one reason or another. These individuals especially deserve our care and empathy.

Regardless of any one person’s reasoning, it is clear that our culture as a whole isn’t on board with Biblical sexuality and will not be for the foreseeable future. We cannot prevent being exposed to people’s jokes or veiled criticisms here and there—but, we can hope to create for ourselves a better framework for engaging with our culture on this topic.

Being a stranger

It seems that one of the most powerful innate desire we humans have is for belonging. No one—neither a kid on the playground nor a ground adult in a work environment—wants to feel like they’re out on the fringe.

Many believers feel this way too and have for centuries. We live in a world that’s rejecting something (many things, in fact) that we hold dear and it’s hard feeling at home here amidst this growing tension.

But perhaps our discomfort only grows when we try to create harmony between church and culture where there isn’t any.

The truth is: God’s will for human sexuality is uncomfortable. It is inconvenient. And it most certainly isn’t what our culture will favor at the present moment or in the future.

For believers caught in the in-between, some thoughts from the Apostle Paul: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

Our minds won’t be renewed by heeding the advice of Hollywood or its followers on matters of sexuality. As a matter of fact, feel free to tune all that out. Instead, be at peace knowing that cultural engagement on this topic (and many others) was never meant to be comfy or easy. We were never supposed to feel affirmed by this world for the choices we make with our bodies.

When we come to terms with this, we will, in the words of Russell Moore, “hardly be ‘normal ’” but, then again, “we should have never tried to be.”

Gabriella Siefert serves as an Editorial Assistant for The Exchange. She is a recent graduate of Wheaton College where she studied Political Science, Spanish, and Biblical and Theological Studies. Outside of her work as a writer and communicator, Gabriella enjoys volunteering with Juvenile Justice Ministry.

 

Original here

VIDEO Surviving the Death of a Loved One

By: Redeemed on Purpose

Surviving the Death of a Loved One

I am sorry for the loss of your loved one. Losing someone is a pain completely unimaginable. Surviving the death of a loved one can even seem impossible. My hope is that as you continue reading, you will see a light at the end of this dark tunnel and that light is Jesus. That may not be something you want to hear, but I can tell you first hand that it is the best thing to hear.

Several years ago on June 10th, my first husband died after having a motorcycle accident. Our marriage had just been restored 1 year prior from a 9 month separation. Life was perfect as I knew it. I was now left alone to raise our little boy. I didn’t know how I was going to manage paying all of the bills and taking care of our son, maintaining our house and yard, and working full-time.

Bitterness with God could’ve set in but instead I pressed into Him. I also witnessed how different members of the family grieved, how some had peace who sought comfort in the Lord, and others no hope who tried to do it on their own. I would like to help you walk through this healing journey. It is possible to live a happy life again.

  1. Why can’t God end all of the pain and suffering in this world?

The answer is… He can, and He will. Jesus did not create this world to have pain and suffering. In the Garden of Eden, there was no death or suffering. Since the fall, pain and evil has been allowed into this world by mankind. The good news is Jesus is coming back to restore everything. He loves us and does not want to see us suffering.

There have been times when I was grieving that I would wish Jesus would come back right now, so all of the suffering in the world could end. The Holy Spirit convicted me quickly. If Jesus comes back now, there is no hope left for those who do not believe in Him to go to heaven. The more time we have here, the more time we have to minister and help save as many souls as possible. He is graceful and will come back at the perfect time.

Apologist Ravi Zacharias answers tough questions about God and Christianity. For more on this question, please watch this video of Ravi Zacharias. You can also view it at the end of this post.  

2. How do I find peace while I am suffering the loss of a family member?

It is possible to find peace in the pain. I would spend my nights crying in pain from not having my husband, but I would cling onto God. In the flesh, I would try to stay up all night cleaning to wear myself out and be tired, but that didn’t help me. I would play worship music as I tried to sleep and just cry, and cry, and cry again to Jesus. There was a supernatural comfort that would come over me. Many nights I would have TBN playing on the TV. When I would wake up in the middle of the night, I would hear a word from God that would settle my spirit. As I worshipped Him in tears, I could literally feel His love and peace upon me.

3. What can I do now?

surviving the death of a loved oneI recommend gathering with a group of believers who can love and support you. Having a church family to encourage you, uplift you, and give you a shoulder to cry on is healing in itself. You can also join a support group such a GriefShare.

Do not hold in your feelings. Focus on God’s promises. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LordAs the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

Your family member would want you to continue living life to the fullest, not to survive but to thrive, to love others, to truly know the love of Jesus.

Fast forward years later, God absolutely provided for me. I became a Registered Nurse with all of my tuition paid for. God used family, friends, and even random people to bless my son and I. My relationship with God and faith grew even deeper. I am now married to the most amazing man that I have always dreamed of, and my son has the dad he had always prayed for. My life is better than I could have even imagined or planned. God is so faithful. 

Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

My husband’s books are also great resources to help you see God in all of your trials, and that there is purpose in the pain. Please comment below with any other encouraging tips for someone else who is also walking through this journey. 

 

https://redeemedonpurpose.com/2019/06/10/surviving-the-death-of-a-loved-one/

VIDEO Choose Whom You will Serve

As For Me

April 19, 2019

 

Immersed in the routine of everyday life, most do not notice that the world is changing. Moreover, it is changing rapidly, irreversibly and radically. The world, as we knew it, is disappearing before our eyes. The world is changing rapidly, and the rules of the game are changing with it. There are also many events that illustrate these changes in a symbolic way. But many of them pass unnoticed by the majority because the information agenda is formed from other, noisier, but less influential events.

I have been fortunate for a time to leave and return to the United States every so often, and every time I returned, our country, although with familiar surroundings, irreversibly and radically was different. Today, there are many events that signify these changes in a symbolic way. The threat to modern society is fraught with not only terrorism and crime but also many other negative phenomena. These include the activities of sects and cults, the promotion of different justice movements and much more. The world is changing, and not always for the better. There are new threats that most of us are not prepared to meet.

Our country became like the following statement from Romans 1: 21-25, 27-31:

“Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator… likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful..

The world is a madhouse!

Furthermore, the Bible displays that wars on a large scale, famine, pestilences, or epidemics (terrible diseases), natural cataclysms, increase in crime and destruction of the earth.  Likewise, widespread apathy and even ridicule toward the evidence of the approaching end, the scripture and disbelief of the word.

But people, Jesus tells us that when we see such things, to not fear, but lift up our eyes, as he is approaching fast. While in Daniel, there is a promise: Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. People, those who are wise…remember, the beginning of the wisdom is fear of God. Not just fear of trembling, but fear to disrespect, disobey, to not know him. We need to know him! To humble ourselves before him! Our Father says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land.”

People… choose today to humble yourself as pray for our nation and our world to repent! Stop playing the role of god and judging people… stop snubbing your nose at God… Stop playing with fire and pray for our people. Be passionate, obedient and filled with faith… stand in the gap and let people choose to follow the lord. The day of the Lord is near, let us not watch as the nation goes to hell. We are all that is left… we are the remnant! If not… be the remnant! The only hope for America, the west and the rest of the world is to wake up and repent. Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, and lead by example if you so choose to serve the Lord.

Although the 120 Day Prayer Campaign is over. Use the videos playlist to be the echo of the campaign.

Choose Whom You will Serve

Living the Great Eight

BY DAVID JEREMIAH

“Good is the enemy of great.” Those are the words of Stanford-educated consultant, lecturer, and author Jim Collins. His six books on leadership and corporate growth have sold more than ten million copies around the world and have been translated into scores of languages.

Perhaps his most well-known book was published in 2001: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t. In this book, Collins and his researchers spent five years evaluating the performance of 1,435 companies to find the few that outperformed all the rest. That is, they were seeking to answer one critical question: “Can a good company become a great company—and, if so, how?”

Their conclusion? “Greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance but largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” In fact, Collins co-authored a subsequent book on that very theme: Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.

I confess I love Collins’ two ideas: “good to great” and “great by choice.” In fact, the idea of “choice” has roots that go deep into biblical soil. Remember Deuteronomy 30:19: “Choose life”? And Joshua 24:15: “Choose for yourselves this day, whom you will serve”?

Combining all of the above threads, in this issue of Turning Points I’m going to challenge you to choose to move your Christian life from good to great. (And challenge myself at the same time.)

Why do we need such a challenge? I’ll borrow Jim Collins’ words again: “Good is the enemy of great.” Let me put it this way: When I think of “good,” I think of average; it suggests doing just enough to get by. And by “getting by,” I mean becoming a Christian and inheriting God’s promise of eternal life. Yes, that’s where we start in the Christian life. We make a conscious choice to ask God for forgiveness and place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. That’s a wise and excellent choice—but that represents only the beginning of the Christian life, not the end. To be a fruitful and flourishing Christian for the rest of our life, we need to keep making choices that help us to go deeper and further with God.

As Collins and his team found in their research, only a small number of companies will make the conscious decisions necessary to take them “from good to great.” The inertia of being good enough to get by—being average—is too great for many to overcome. And if we are not careful, the calendar can turn from year to year without us realizing that we are not making the kind of spiritual progress we should be.

So our challenge this month is to climb out of the rut, to jumpstart our growth engines, and to set our sights on moving from good to great in our walk with God. And just to forewarn you: This is a life-long challenge. There is no definition of “great” that tells us when we’ve arrived. Because God is always doing more and more for us, we want to incorporate that same perspective in our lives (Ephesians 3:20). We want to continually grow more effective, more faithful, and more fruitful for Him. But we have to make that choice!

So, where do we start? We can’t focus on all the ways in which we could become more like Christ. But we can look at eight areas of our walk with Him where we can make measurable progress in the days ahead. In fact, we’re calling them the “Great Eight”—fundamental areas of our spirituality that are the bedrocks of belief, the foundations for faithfulness, and the crossroads of our commitment.

Here are the “Great Eight” disciplines we’ll examine in this month’s magazine: discipleship, love, stewardship, service, holiness, trust, surrender, and boldness. You and I can both think of additional areas of the Christian life to add to this list. But trust me—these eight will keep our knees calloused and our hearts and hands occupied for months to come!

Consider the “Great Eight.” Make a mental list now of the ones in which you’d like to move from good to great for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom. And remember, there is no ceiling. If you’re already doing great in some areas, then set your sights on greater—from “good to great” to greater still!

 

Original here

Ruth: The Widow Who Found Redemption

By Ben Godwin – May 26, 2019

Ruth and Esther are the two Bible books named after women. Benjamin Franklin was so fond of Ruth he pulled a prank on his cronies in Paris as the Ambassador to France. He often attended the “Infidel’s Club,” a group of intellectuals who read literary masterpieces but spurned the Bible. He told them he found a piece of ancient literature worthy of their consideration. Then he read them the Book of Ruth but changed the names and locations so they wouldn’t recognize it. When he finished, they raved that it was one of the most touching stories they’d ever heard and begged him to print it so the public could read it. He grinned and said:

“It is already in print, it is a part of the Bible you ridicule.”

Ruth opens in a dire situation. Elimelech and Naomi fled from Bethlehem to Moab due to a fierce famine. It was only about 30 miles away, but distance in the Bible isn’t measured in miles, but by how far it takes someone from God. Bethlehem means “house of bread,” and is a fitting type of the church which should nourish the needs of hungry humanity. There they worshipped the one, true God—Yahweh. Moab, however, served the false idol Chemosh, to which human sacrifices were burned along with other pagan practices. (Moab was the son of drunken Lot by incest with his daughter when they fled the fire of Sodom—Gen. 19:30-37). Moab, an enemy of Israel, represented all that was evil. We see a picture of people backsliding, leaving the church (Bethlehem) for the world (Moab).

Ten years out of God’s will took a terrible toll. Their two sons married Moabite women and disaster struck. Elimelech died first, then his two sons also died, leaving three destitute widows in a quandary about what to do next. When tragedy strikes, we all have the same three options of how we can react:

    1. Naomi—the grieving widow: We can be like Naomi who became so bitter in her grief that she blamed God for her misfortunes and insisted that her friends call her Mara (“bitter”) instead of Naomi (“pleasant”—Ruth 1:19-21). She complained how she went out full, but God brought her home empty. Her perspective was distorted by her pain.
    1. Orpah—the leaving widow: Or, we can be like Orpah who kissed her mother-in-law goodbye and went “back to her people and to her gods” (idols), thinking that changing her situation would somehow remove her problems. Running from our problems never solves them.
    1. Ruth—the cleaving widow: The third option is to cling to all we know is right and good even when life isn’t fair or doesn’t make sense. Naomi told Ruth to turn back to Moab like her sister, but she clung to her instead. Then she spoke the most inspiring lyrics of love and loyalty that are still used in weddings as vows, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17, NKJV).

Back in Bethlehem, Naomi and Ruth began to rebuild their broken lives by gleaning in the fields of a rich landowner named Boaz. This was no mere coincidence. Albert Einstein said:

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

This was the obvious hand of Providence, because Boaz was a kinsman of Naomi’s late husband, Elimelech. Boaz’ name means “in him is strength” and he is a fitting type of Christ, our heavenly bridegroom and strong Redeemer. In eight of the nine times the word “kinsmen” occurs in Ruth (KJV), it is translated from the Hebrew word gaal which is rendered “redeem” or “redeemer” in other places. It means “to redeem (according to the Oriental law of kinship), to be the next of kin (and as such to buy back a relative’s property, or marry his widow), avenger, deliver, (perform the part of near, next kin), kinsfolk, purchase, ransom, revenger.” Under Mosaic law, it was the duty of a near kinsman to marry his relative’s widow, to protect and support her and raise children with her so his relative’s name would live on in posterity.

Boaz feared God and favored Ruth and gave her the protection and provision of his reapers.

“And when she rose up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, ‘Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. Also let grain from the bundles fall purposely for her; leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her’” (Ruth 2:15-16, NKJV).

When Ruth made overtures toward marriage, Boaz hesitated because there was another closer kinsman who had to be considered. When he waived his rights to Elimelech’s estate, Boaz was free to marry Ruth. He rescued her from a lonely life of poverty and elevated her to the status of a treasured spouse, mirroring what Christ has done for His bride—the Church. So, what kind of man was Boaz before he got married? RUTHless! (Sorry, I can’t resist a good pun.)

Perhaps the reason Boaz was so sympathetic to Ruth’s plight as a poor, Gentile widow was the fact that his mom had a similar story. You see, Boaz’ mother was Rahab, yes—the Gentile harlot who was spared the judgment of Jericho and then married one of the spies she hid named Salmon (Mt. 1:5). Amazingly, their son wed Ruth who conceived and birthed a son named Obed, who later had a son named Jesse, who sired a son named . . . you guessed it—David! So, in a series of miracles, a childless, destitute, Moabite, heathen widow, became a worshipper of Yahweh, the wealthy wife of Boaz, the esteemed great grandmother of King David and one of only four Gentile women (along with Tamar, Bathsheba and Rahab) to be an honored ancestor of Jesus Christ (Ruth 4:21-22, Mt. 1:5). No wonder the women of Bethlehem said:

“Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel!” (Ruth 4:14, NASB).

Only God could turn such a terrible tragedy into such a tremendous triumph. Ruth could declare like Job:

“I know that my Redeemer lives!” (Job 19:25, NIV)

Now, if God did all that for Ruth, what will He do for you?

Goodsprings Full Gospel Church
P.O. Box 3161
Jasper, Alabama 35502
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Ben Godwin is the author of four books and pastors the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church. To read more articles, visit his website at bengodwin.org and take advantage of his 4-book bundle for $25.00.

 

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Abortion Hurts Men Too

 

April 29, 2019 by Dr Michael Brown

 

 

When we talk about abortion, our focus is first and foremost on the baby in the womb, rightly so. We also realize the destructive impact abortion can have on the mother. But what we often forget, is how devastating abortion can be to the fathers as well.

In my forthcoming book Jezebel’s War Against America, I draw attention to the emasculating effect that abortion can have on men.

As Allen West stated when speaking to a conservative women’s group in 2011:

“We need you to come in and lock shields, and strengthen up the men who are going to the fight for you. To let these other women know on the other side — these Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women that have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness — to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient.”

Not surprisingly, he was ridiculed for these comments by the left, especially by radical feminists.

But the point he was making was simple: Men who have sex but do not father children are not men at all.

As I explain in the Jezebel book:

“Men are being neutered by the baby-killing culture, and when they are complicit in aborting a child they have helped produced, they degenerate from fathers to copulaters. . . . A man who will have intimate sexual relationships with a woman and not take responsibility for the consequences of his actions is not acting like a man.”

But that’s not the only way that abortion has a negative effect on men.

Men have consciences too.

They sometimes grieve deeply over the life they have taken. They feel regret because of the pressure they exerted on their girlfriend (or wife) to abort their child. They chastise themselves for failing to take responsibility, failing to oppose the abortion, failing to be faithful dads.

Some of these men have called my radio show and wept as they told their story, even if the abortion took place more than 30 years ago.

They still felt the shame. They were still embarrassed. They still felt stung by their failure to be responsible men.

Last month, we received an email from a man named Greg. He wanted to tell his story about the destructive impact abortion had on his life. And he titled his story “Murderer Redeemed.”

As he wrote:

“By God’s grace I have been redeemed from the guilt of being an accomplice to murder—three of them in all.”

Those are strong words.

He explained that he had been “the complicit father in three separate abortions,” even though he had been raised “in the ways of Christianity.”

But as he got older, he fell into the lifestyle of “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll,” resulting in “three pregnancies with two different women [which] were terminated with my consent.”

His life continued to spiral downward, until, around 30, he hit bottom and sought help, starting with a Twelve Step program. He confessed his sins to God and man, but it didn’t dawn on him to confess the sin of participating in three abortions.

Somehow, it was off his radar, until one day, while in prayerful meditation:

“out of nowhere the recollection of the abortions I had been a part of entered my consciousness.  My chest began to heave.”

He continues:

“Tears streamed down my face yet my mind had no comprehension as to why these physical manifestations were taking place.  It wasn’t until after I had composed myself that I had come to realize that his was my spirit grieving the loss of my unborn children.  The truth of the matter was laid bare.  What I had convinced myself as being just a glob of cellular tissue was in fact precious God-given life.”

It took some time for him, with the help of professional Christian counselors, to deal with his guilt, to get healed on the inside, and to move ahead with his life.

But note this carefully: It wasn’t the promiscuity and drug use that so wounded his spirit. It wasn’t his rebellion that was so hard to address. It was his role in three abortions.

That’s what left such lasting scars, and that’s what required so much prayer and ministry.

How many men like Greg are out there today, still wounded and conflicted? How many others have lost their dignity and manhood?

Yes, abortion affects men too.

But let me leave you with some good news. Greg closed with this testimony:

“My heavenly Dad has blessed me with a wonderful wife and five beautiful children (one of which we were propositioned with to abort because he was diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome).  I am blessed.”

Our God is a redeemer.

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