On Scriptures’ Sufficiency

How can it be said that the Bible is sufficient, yet it does not address every conceivable scenario that will ever confront even one person, let alone that of the nearly 7 billion people on the face of the planet at the moment or even the billions more that have passed into eternity since the world was created?

How can something be sufficient but not exhaustive in the information it provides?

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Well there are people who may say that it must cover every issue for it to be considered sufficient, and since it doesn’t it can’t be sufficient and so they conclude that we need something else, “a voice in our head” (aka “God told me”),

There are others who never even ponder the question and therefore never seriously weigh the challenge a lack of understanding of, and confidence in, the sufficiency of Scriptures poses for their ability to properly and accurately understand the Bible.

Others still attempt to solve this problem by creating the concept of ‘hidden meaning” that there is “the letter of the word” (which kills) (also referred to as logos) and “there is the spirit of the word” (which gives life) (also referred to as rhema).

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They create this false dichotomy and they seek out these “hidden meanings” as the solution to their everyday issues. Such issues as “what course should I read, where should I live, whom should I marry, what church should i be a part of etc.”

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Some see the flaw in the approach of dichotomizing scriptures and therefore rather they dichotomize life into the “sacred” and the “secular”. They now think of “everyday decisions” as secular and those they think have to deal with the faith as “spiritual”

Bottom line is, everybody who says they are Christian, whether they know it or not, have to at one point or another deal with the issue of the sufficiency of Scriptures and whatever conclusion they come to on the matter will affect their view of life.

But is the bible truly sufficient?
Does it have an answer to every single issue we face as humans?
Can the Bible be sufficient but not exhaustive in the information it provides?

I will deal with the surprisingly simple answers to these questions in a subsequent post; but for now, think about which side of the argument you are.

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Mark 3:28-29: The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

The Biblical Christ Research Institute

What is the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” (3:28-29)? Can it still be committed today, or was it limited to Jesus’ time?

The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is, as stated in Mark 3:28-29, to identify the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and by implication the Holy Spirit, as the work of satan.

One interpretive option is that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is general, habitual rejection of the work of God in Jesus Christ (Brooks, NAC-Mark, 76). Specifically, labeling the work of Christ as a demonic work. Another view would be the historical view. This view proposes that Christ had appeared to the Jews in the clearest, revelatory way. In this case, His first advent is an unparalleled time in which His ministry deeds and testimony about Himself was inescapably clear. The Pharisees rejected the incarnate Word, while He walked among them. The last view is…

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The false “little gods” doctrine

The term “exegesis” is mostly used in reference to a critical examination of biblical text in order to determine exactly what the text means. It is by no means flippant or casual. It does not just take another person’s word for it. It seeks, it probes, it searches and it uses the appropriate tools of interpretation to arrive at its conclusion.

So, imagine what my excitement would be if someone walked up to me and assured me that I can be like God, in fact, that I can exercise godlike authority on earth over my circumstances. I mean, if you know my “wahalas” (as a father of 3 kids with one of them about to start secondary school in september) I could really do with some godlike powers. Wow! Such powers could help with my mounting electricity bills, I could get my wife her new car, and save up enough for a holiday.

But, because of the seriousness of these persons’ claims, I would not just take their word for it.
I would ask them to show me EXACTLY where God promised us these godlike powers, and I would critically examine the text (particularly since the person has made the claim that God Himself has promised us that). Because I claim to fear and love God, I would want to “see” this for myself so that it can begin to shape the tenor of my life. Afterall, I am what I think about God. So, off to Psalm 82; but I will not just read verses 5-7 but all the other verses so as to have a proper context for such a great promise (if it is a promise)

Why would I do that?

Well imagine if you had a person who was stalking you and writing romantic letters to you. You were able to ignore him (I am assuming you are female) for a while, but after some time you were no longer willing to stand the harassment. So, one day you decided to write “A LETTER TO END ALL LETTERS” to this pest. You go ahead and write a very lengthy letter, the summary of which was “Look, stop stalking me, I DO NOT LOVE YOU NOW OR FOREVER”. But this stalker decided to remove the “DO NOT” so that the letter now meant, “I LOVE YOU, NOW AND FOREVER” and chose that to be his reality? Imagine how pathetic that would be?

So, it is always important to read things in their context. Especially those things that have both temporal and eternal consequences;

Like Psalm 82:1-8 ESV

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

One thing that should not escape our notice is that this psalm was written by an Israelite and if there is one thing there is to know about a Jew, is the Shema. What is the Shema?

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Immediately, this helps me understand that whatever was meant in Psalm 82, cannot in anyway contradict the Shema. So, lets follow the text and see whether it has something else to say. The text opens with God accusing “gods” for judging unjustly; this ought to supply us with a clue to whom he has in mind. Judge unjustly? Partiality to the wicked? All this judicial language, widows, fatherless, etc. must be referring to men. But what sort of men? This question should cause me, to search the scriptures for instances where men were referred to by God as gods. And those instances would necessarily predate Psalm 82 (for the obvious reason that it is used as a starting point by the psalmist, so that it must have been an acceptable terminology)

The first instance in Scripture where God alluded to man being “as God” (that is apart from the sad episode of the fall, which by the way should be a caution to those seekers of Godlike powers/influence) is in Exodus 4:16 and the text yields the very obvious intention of that statement:
Exodus 4:10-16 ESV

But Moses said to the Lord , “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord ? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.

The text above is self explaining.

Also, Deuteronomy 17:1-13 gives a clear explanation of those leaders in Israel whom the Lord had appointed as judges and whose words “in office” were final as though they were the very words of God. It would therefore make sense for the Psalmist in Psalm 82 to refer to these representatives of God (in respect to judicial matters only) as gods. Since they acted on God’s behalf before his people.

So you see, a careful examination of the text starts to dim my prospects of godlike status.

The Psalm itself is broken into clearly discernible parts:

1. The Problem is identified and brought to Heaven’s council.
God’s judicial representatives are perverting justice!
They are perverting Justice against the defenseless and taking up the cause of wicked men.

A double tragedy if you ask me. But God isn’t going to sit back and let justice remain perverted for ever…Oh no! He is going to do something about it.

2. So God declares his righteous standard for justice in verses 3 and 4

3. But these “gods” fell woefully short of the standard and the consequences of their perversion of justice are of cosmic proportions (verse 5).

4. Now, God passes his Sentence on these Judges; these unjust judges, in verse 6 and 7; they would not only lose their privileged positions, they will die like uncelebrated and ordinary men..

5. And because they were no longer fit to Judge, the Psalmist (or some other unspecified third party) pleads for God himself to judge in the place of these unjust men.

The text is not an allusion to humans attaining godlike rights or powers. The only promiser of such an illusion was Satan in Genesis 3. And Adam and Eve found out soon enough how much of a liar the devil was: They never became gods.

The truth is, becoming a god is an appealing proposal. Especially when we are convinced that the only reason we have to deal with all the stuff we deal with is because we are just mere humans. But nothing is further from the truth than that. Our biggest problem isn’t that we are just human, our biggest problem is that we are sinful. And what we need is not to shed our humanity, but to have our sins forgiven.

You see, God is good and we are not! This creates a huge problem for us as the Almighty God who is the righteous judge must needs judge sinful humanity. We are sinners who dwell in a sinful world. And even when the issue of our sin has been dealt with, we still have to dwell in a world affected by the sin of others. Remember Psalm 82:5? The sins of a few judges affect the entire earth to its foundations.

So, we are best served by being made to realize that as long as we are in this world, we would have tribulations but our hope should not dim, nor our resolve fail because Christ has overcome the world. It may not look that way, as we go through tough times, but we can trust the one who not only gave up his life as a ransom for many, but was raised from the dead, as infallible proof of mission accomplished!

I will not bother with the other scripture references because I trust that if this one thing is clear, then the others cannot piece together coherently; as all of them depend on the misreading of Psalm 82:5-7

On False Teachers

False teachers pervert the gospel.
If anything, this alone damns them (as Galatians 1:6-8 clearly indicates).

I strongly believe that for some of them, their mouths MUST be stopped for the damnable heresies and lying doctrines which they persistently and insistently disperse. So many strange doctrines of devils being conceived in earthly minds and contrived by sensual thoughts, that speak such ridiculous falsehood in intentionally twisting Scriptures through deceptive worldly philosophies and mysticism. I am so pained by the lot of it that I weep in anger sometimes. Said the Preacher: “Lying lips are an abomination to God, but they which deal truthfully are His delight.” (Proverbs 12:22).

These mendacious professors of a counterfeit Christ and false gospel are a real menace to causing true believers to stumble and also to leading many astray (2Peter 3:17). They twist the word and make salvation to seem all about material gain (1 Timothy 6:5) and they lay heavy emphasis on trivial and incidental trifles supposing these things to be what godliness is (1 Timothy 1:4-6; 2Timothy 3:5) whilst de-emphasizing the fundamental truths of the Scriptures pertaining to godliness. And it is becoming so much easier for them to do all this now. Why? 2Timothy 4:2 tells us why and Jeremiah 5:31 also.

Now, I am compelled to write this to you; for those of you who have no desire to be children being tossed and carried about by every wind of doctrine promulgated by these wolves disguised as sheep (and for those of you who already earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to all the saints), I hope to encourage and enjoin you in taking heed to such as these things and dangerous people as every Christian ought.

So here are a  few ways you can handle false teachers/witnesses:
– Identify them by name and warn others of their error (2 Timothy 2:17-18).
– Mark and avoid them (Romans 16:17,18).
– Be on your guard to avoid being carried away by their error (2 Peter 3:17).
– Separate yourself from among them (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
– Reject their vain babblings (2 Timothy 2:16,17).
– Turn away from them (2 Timothy 3:5).
– Reject them after unsuccessful admonitions (Titus 3:10).
– Do not receive them nor bid them God speed (2 John 10-11).
– Expose their evil deeds (Ephesians 5:11)
– Pray that God may stop their mouths (Titus 1:11) and grant those ensnared in their falsehoods, repentance unto the acknowledging of God’s truth (2 Timothy 2:25)
– Test the veracity of every man’s teaching using Scripture as your supreme authority. (Acts 17:11)
– Test the spirits because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).

I don’t suppose that everyone who reads this will be bold and courageous enough as enjoined in all the above, maybe some will be thoroughly exasperated with me on this particular matter/issue as it pertains to the church, but I implore you to be steadfast in the faith and humbly trust the Lord to look beyond “me” and and at least start somewhere. It is not a call to be contentious but to contend for the purity and integrity of the word of the Lord. It is a call to be conscientious in exercising biblical discernment and in delighting in the law of the Lord.

A dear friend said these words to me years ago: “Being a Christian requires constant watching. Tripping over so-called innocent “misrepresentations” of truth is totally unacceptable to God! He has gone to great lengths to teach us of Himself and did not leave it to men. We have no excuse if we allow ourselves to be deceived!”.

God’s truth is always under attack.

May we all become more like the apostles who were strong, bold, fearless, dogmatic, unaccommodating of error, courageous, intolerant of sin, inflexible concerning the Gospel, controversial, willing to die for the truth and fully devoted to Christ. During these times of great deception the Body of Christ must respond with a theological, biblical worldview that defends the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We must protect the purity of His Gospel for the sake of His elect.
And all this ought be done in true Christian charity!

Amen.

Musings from a Beloved Hymn

“O teach me what it meaneth,
That Cross uplifted high,
With one the Man of sorrows, Condemned to bleed and die!
O teach me what it cost Thee To make a sinner whole;
And teach me, Saviour teach me, The value of a soul!
Lucy Ann Bennett

What is the value of a man’s soul? Is there some intrinsic quality that makes his soul valuable? Ah! Yes, he was created in the image and likeness of God. But is that sufficient to make his soul of any value? Is man not a fallen creature, who is dead in sins and trespasses; a child of wrath and son of disobedience, whose throat is an open sepulchre? What possible value could such a soul have? I venture to say NONE! The value lies not in man but the One who gave Himself for him. The price that was paid for the redemption of man is not proof of his worth but proof of the astounding magnificence of God’s great grace and mercy in redeeming vile sinners and making them joint heirs with Christ! There aren’t words lofty and weighty enough to describe it.

This hymn writer I believe, sought to know the depth of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge in the display of his grace. He who declares that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, has redeemed her from His wrath to come, and so she must sing. And I must as well.

The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, said upon the restoration of his senses that ‘all inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing.’ Those are the submissions of a man who by the gracious workings of God, ceased to be a rebel. He once thought himself mighty, but now knows he is but a creature.

Are those your submissions as well? Then there must be a persistent seeking of the One who has saved us with so great a salvation. There must be a never-ending giving of praise to the Saviour who shed his precious blood for the remission of our sins and who made us new creatures. There must be constant contemplations on and admiration of the great truths of Scripture. There must also be love for all the redeemed who make up the church that the Saviour has undertaken to nourish and preserve to the very end. And lastly, there must be a compelling compassion for all those presently sold under sin, who lack any consciousness of their miserable estate. These ones must need be told of the Cross uplifted high, and the Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief who hung on it.

Lord teach us indeed what these things means……

Might the Lord grant that we understand these deep things so often taken for granted, and that in our understanding, we may grow in our knowledge and love for Him. To Him alone be glory now and forever. Amen.

On Boko Haram – How I see things as a Christian

I have largely stayed away from commenting on the kidnap saga that is currently the buzz in Nigeria, due mainly to the fact that there have been conflicting details regarding the whole episode and a lot of controversy has generated due to the sketchiness of the information which until recently came in trickles.

It had also become clear that we as a people were beginning to lose our sense of shock, not only at the brazen violence inflicted on Nigerians by the Boko Haram sect, but also at the total inability of the government to arrest the situation and stopping it from assuming the dangerous dimension that it has now taken. I guess this is borne out of the fact that week after week of news of bombings, killings and kidnappings had begun to take its toll on all of us and we were all beginning to accept it as normal.

As shameful as that may sound, it pretty much sums up our “collective response” to the happenings in the North due to Boko Haram, until now.

It is however not my intention to “psychoanalyze” Nigerians or presume to speak for over 160 million people. My desire is to examine the issues on hand, not only as a Nigerian, but especially as a Christian who lives in a Nigerian context.

So then, what do I, as a Christian, make of all of this?

God is Sovereign (Psalm 115:3; Daniel 4:35 NASB):

God is Sovereign

Well, what did you expect?

This is my basic starting point and it is at the heart of all that helps me to make sense of everything.

But what has that got to do with Boko Haram?

God, the Scriptures say, “HAS MADE EVERYTHING FOR ITS PURPOSE, EVEN THE WICKED FOR THE DAY OF TROUBLE.” – Proverbs 16:4 This clearly shows that God is in fact in control of the situation, as troubling and out of control it may seem, and that Boko Haram, with all its murderous rage, will not (because it cannot) take one life more than has been decreed by God. The truth about God’s sovereignty also means Boko Haram’s days are numbered. That there will be an end to all this. Despite the gross evil perpetrated by this group or its seeming invincibility, despite all the cache of weapons the group may claim to possess (or in fact possess) and despite all its intention to establish its agenda through bloodletting and wanton killings, it will pass from the scene at the appointed time. “YET A LITTLE WHILE AND THE WICKED MAN WILL BE NO MORE; AND YOU WILL LOOK CAREFULLY FOR HIS PLACE AND HE WILL NOT BE THERE.”Psalm 37:10

 

God is Just (Deuteronomy 32:3-4 NASB):

Justice

A caller on a call-in program I was listening to on the local radio station, expressed very cautious optimism about the latest news by the DSS (Directorate of State Security) on the capture of those behind the Nyanya bombings. He said something to the effect that, “I hope they don’t go ahead and release them after they have publicly paraded them”. Now that may sound a bit far fetched, but one thing is clear; Nigerians do not exactly have great confidence in our Justice system. I can imagine the frustrations of those who have lost loved ones since this insurgency began, either at the hands of Boko Haram or at the hands of the authorities, in the case of mistaken identity. I can also imagine the frustration of those who have hoped for speedy justice against the killers of their relatives but instead have to endure the very slow grind of the “wheels of justice” in our nation. All this coming together makes one wonder whether these murderers will ever face justice. Well, as a Christian, I am comforted by the fact that God is not only sovereign, God is also just. The Scriptures affirm, in 2 Chronicles 19:7 “NOW THEN, LET THE FEAR OF THE LORD BE UPON YOU. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU DO, FOR THERE IS NO INJUSTICE WITH THE LORD OUR GOD, OR PARTIALITY OR TAKING BRIBES.” I therefore know that not one of the perpetrators nor their collaborators, will escape God’s righteous judgment. It is rumored that these terrorists have support from people in government and this means some of them may escape justice. But as a Christian I rest in the knowledge that NO ONE will escape what they justly deserve from God. “ASSUREDLY, THE EVIL MAN WILL NOT GO UNPUNISHED…” – Proverbs 11:21

 

God is good (Psalm 100:5, 145:9 NASB):

God is Good

In January of 1971, Idi Amin, the then commander of the Ugandan Army overthrew the government of his boss, Milton Obote in a military coup; about 8 years later, between 300,000 to 500,000 Ugandans had been killed, murdered at the hands of their own government. In April 1975, the Communist Party of Kampuchea, led by Saloth Sar (later known as Pol Pot) came to power in Cambodia; in just 4 years of his rule, an estimated 1 to 3 million of his own people lost their lives due to the policies of his government. Need I speak about Adolf Hitler, who saw to the annihilation of nearly 6 million Jews within a period or 4 years or Josef Stalin who also murdered many of his countrymen. All these murders were carried out by governments that were “ordained by God” for the purpose safeguarding their citizens. (Romans 13: 1-7) As humans, our starting point in nearly every calamity is that we are recipients of what we do not deserve and that if God was truly good, He should not have let this or that evil befall us.  We have become so used to God’s mercy, so used to being spared the consequences of our individual and collective rebellion such that whenever the Lord sees it fit to refrain his hand and allow us reap the fruit of our actions, we are quick to point the finger at the Divine. In spite of how deserving we are of a government akin to the ones described above, in spite of how utterly devoid of the fear of God our rulers have proved to be, the Lord has been pleased to spare us the pain of being led by a murderous government. God is indeed good. Furthermore, God has spared this nation from the calamities that a government unprepared to fight terrorism could impose on its people. “OH GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD, FOR HE IS GOOD, FOR HIS LOVINGKINDNESS IS EVERLASTING.”- Psalm 107:1

 

 Governments are ordained by God (Romans 13:1-7 NASB)

government

Not only does the Bible make this very startling assertion, it goes on ahead to state exactly what purpose any government is ordained by God for. In verse 4 of Romans 13 it says, “…FOR IT IS A MINISTER OF GOD, AN AVENGER WHO BRINGS WRATH ON THE ONE WHO PRACTICES EVIL.” The Bible also does not state any further task for governments beyond this task of punishing the practitioners of evil and thus, by implication, commending those who are law abiding. This singularity of purpose is also clearly implied in verse 6 of Romans 13, “FOR BECAUSE OF THIS YOU ALSO PAY TAXES, FOR RULERS ARE SERVANTS OF GOD; DEVOTING THEMSELVES TO THIS VERY THING.” It is therefore amusing to see governments attempting to do everything except the singular purpose for which it exists, while it fails woefully at its reason for being, “punishing evil doers”. I am therefore often amazed when I read or listen to people attempting to “sell” administration after administration as successful on the basis of its “economic policies.” Imagine commending a government for staying out of what it has no business doing in the first place and ignoring the ONE THING for which the Lord God Almighty ordained it. Of course this means that men who are in authority and yet fail at their duty will be judged by the righteous Judge.

 

Governments fail because they are peopled by men who at their very core are rebellious against God (Romans 1:18-32, Romans 3:9-16 NASB)

failed

There is no other reason why governments fail apart from the fact that there is no fear of God in the hearts of those who govern. While I don’t believe that a person must be “a Christian” to rule a local government, a state or the nation; I believe that a fundamental criterion of some modicum of morality is required for anyone to successfully rule a nation. Now, the bible does not give the qualifications required for holding political office the same way it does for those who would seek to either lead a family or shepherd God’s people (I guess the reason is that the mandate for rulers is quite simple – punish evil doers); that is why I am not particularly interested in where a man comes from or what he professes as his faith as long as he has a track record of making morally sound decisions and he has enough fear of God in him to confront evil.

 

As a Christian, I speak against all this (Ephesians 5:11-12 NASB),

Light shining through Especially against the lack of will on the part of government to confront evil, not because I think they will listen, but as a witness against them so that they have no excuse. I have nothing to say to the Boko Haram sect, because the Boko Haram sect has been appointed for destruction; and the instrument of God, with the duty to bring about that destruction is the government (Romans 13:4). So, if government does not rise to its responsibility, as a Christian, I have the duty to point it to its complacency as a witness against it.

 

 

 

 

Reflections on Current Events

I have been musing over the recent happenings (particularly the Chibok abduction) in our beloved country, and wondering what my response should be as a Christian. I have asked myself what Apostles Paul and John would have done if they lived in our day? How would they react as servants of Christ and leaders in the church? Would they have joined in the protests and demand that the government do their job?
Well, I don’t know, I do know that their day was as riddled with unjust acts by political leaders and the citizenry as ours is. Indeed, I think we fair far better than they did. I seriously doubt that the citizens of the Roman empire would have thronged to the streets in protest if such an occurence had taken place. So we can be thankful to God for some of the level of freedom that we have today. Whether we have put that freedom to proper use is another discussion entirely.

Back to the issue at hand, it is important that Christians understand clearly how they live their lives before an onlooking world. And the present crisis (there has always and there will always be crisis in this cursed world) affords us the opportunity to publish the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. While the situation is a tragic one, we must be careful not to drop our Biblical worldviews as if such abductions and bombings are novel. The reality of the matter is that the abductors, the abducted, the bombers, the protesters and all at the helm of affairs who continue to harden their hearts against the Gospel will suffer God’s wrath. Those who died in the Nyanya bomb blast are not greater sinners than other Nigerians.

I don’t know the fate of these girls and I confess I try not to think about what they are going through right now. I know the parents of these are in grief beyond what I can imagine, but actually do not know the effect this grief must have had on them. I can only bear their burdens by pleading with the Lord to be merciful and use this to bring those among them who are lost to a knowledge of His Son and His mighty saving work on the cross on behalf of sinners. And for those who are His, O, that they might know that He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. That’s all the hope there is in this world. God may or may not bring the girls back (whatever the government does), but we may be rest assured that His purposes are perfect.

As I end this piece, let me say that I am not telling those who want to protest not to (I personally do not see the point), or that Christians shouldn’t hold the government to account. What I am trying to do is urge Christians in this country to be discerning and not go with the flow because it feels right, but judge all their responses and actions from a Biblical standpoint with an eye to the glory of our great God.

Grace and Peace…