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For some of us, Sunday could’ve shocked the system.  Being peacemakers and advancing the gospel through peace rather than stirring conflict might’ve been hard to hear.  But that’s what we see in the Bible and Abraham’s treatment of Abimelech.  

There are a few things that I need to add to that sermon, and there are a couple of things that I didn’t have time to cover.  

License to Sin?

When we hear that our standing before God is based on his righteous declaration, not our actions, we can think that this gives us a license to sin.  I’ve heard well-meaning Christians say this. They’re concerned about “easy grace” and worried that we might give the impression that Christians can just sin whenever and however they want.  

The truth is, when God declares us righteous, He will go to work making us righteous.  He started the work and will complete it.  Therefore, if God declares us righteous, we do not have a license to sin because we won’t want to sin.  His Spirit will work within us to change us into the image of Jesus.  So, rather than having a license to sin, God’s declaration means He puts a governor on our sins and gives us the power to overcome them.  

Much like we have seen with Abraham, we will grow in our understanding of God and put off sin. 

When to Fight or Create Conflict

I’m a warrior at heart.  I like competition, and I don’t mind getting in the fray. However, I have learned through the years that living a “peaceful and quiet life” has afforded more opportunities for the gospel than being loud and aggressive. I have learned through the years when to fight and when to create conflict (even though I don’t believe that’s what happened).  

Paul makes it very clear that when heresy and false teaching arise in the church, the approved men should stand up (1 Corinthians 11:6).  

We’re told to reject a divisive person after a warning (Titus 3:10).  

We see examples when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees (religious leaders leading people astray). Jesus dealt with people differently.  With the false teachers who were the religious leaders, He rebuked them.  With wolves among His flock, He dealt strongly with them (Matthew 10:16-17).  When He dealt with broken people who were His, He had compassion. One way to say this is that we care for sheep, rebuke swine, and shoot wolves.  I am sometimes concerned that we care for wolves, rebuke sheep, and shoot swine.  Or something like that.  Far too often, we’re fighting the wrong battle. 

So, you will never find Christians in the New Testament taking the fight to the world.  I think the case could be made that New Testament Christians were called to deal more strongly with rebellious, sinning “so-called brothers” than they were with the world.  They were to be gentle, peaceful, and respectful in the world.   

References About Being Peaceful

James 3:17-18

17 But the wisdom from above is pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. 

Hebrews 12:14

14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Worshipping in the Land of the Philistines

You’ll notice in Genesis 21:34 that Abraham lived in the land of the Philistines. If you know your Bible, the Philistines are where the giant Goliath of Gath came from.  They were enemies of Israel in the time of their kings until David, who killed Goliath, became king.  The children of Israel, who read this story of Moses, would not see the land of the Philistines as a place of worship.  Yet Abraham was free to worship there because of his peace treaty with Abimelech.  

This made me wonder:  aren’t we worshipping the land of the metaphorical Philistines?  It’s not a peaceful place.  At times, we’re at war.  Yet, we sojourn here, and we worship here.  It’s here that we call upon the Everlasting God.  How is this possible?  Because of God’s covenant of grace, we can sojourn near the gates of hell and worship.  Isn’t that good?  

 Overcoming Sin

Several years ago, I read The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, a sermon by Thomas Chalmers, a Scottish pastor in the early 19th century.  His premise was that the more we love God, the less we love sin.  I highly recommend it to you.  Here’s the link to the sermon: https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/ExpulsivePoweDiscourseIX.pdf 

Looking Ahead

This Sunday, we will look at Genesis 22.  In this passage, Abraham will have the greatest test of his faith:  sacrificing his son, Isaac.  

From the Cheap Seats

  • Oregon State has opened the baseball season with some thump.  That offense looks explosive.  Big tests this weekend in Dallas.  
  • Just for fun, watch what the Texas A&M baseball fans do when an opposing pitcher is struggling:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bn6LzerzfJ0. It’ll start at about 1:15.   
  • Chelsea has played much better of late.  It must’ve been my comments from a few weeks ago.  
  • The English Premier League race is one for the ages.  Liverpool and Arsenal are playing amazingly right now, and Man City is getting healthy.  
  • And yes…Spring Training has started.  “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  

To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.

Have a great week! Christ is King!

In Christ, 

Dave York

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Unraveling the Unconventional

When you read this prophecy in Genesis 25:23, it’s essential to see this correctly.  In the stories of Isaac/Ishmael and Jacob/Esau, the older will serve the younger.  But we could also say the first will serve the last.  Just because something comes first in order does not mean it’s first in prominence.  

Think of Adam.  Adam is called the first Adam.  Jesus is called the last Adam.  See?  

The world’s system values the order of things: first in class, firstborn, and first in position.  God values something else.


Thoughts on Genesis 25

Genesis 25 is a bit of a bear.  There’s the death of Abraham and Ishmael—the transition to Isaac, and the introduction to Jacob and Esau.  As I stated in my post last week, Genesis 25 was on the docket for this past Sunday.  However, once I started looking at it more closely, I had no idea how to cover it. I broke into separate sermons.  We will cover Genesis 25:12-34 this coming Sunday.  

But there are two things from this Sunday’s sermon that I’d like to expound on a bit more in this post.

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