Tag Archives: Culture

Living by What “Seems Right”

There have been certain sins throughout history which have been so wickedly horrific that I’m quite certain the vast majority of people today would not even consider committing them. For instance, can you imagine sacrificing your daughter to an idol by burning her alive? Of course not, and neither could the Israelites when they first entered the Promised Land. And yet, a few hundred years passed, and sure enough…

“When you present your gifts and offer up your children in fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, declares the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you.” Ezekiel 20:31 (ESV)

Such is the shaping power of culture. What was at one time absolutely impossible to imagine…became reality. Sacrificing a child suddenly “seemed the right thing” to do, simply because it was the cultural norm.

God’s Response

What’s fascinating to note in Ezekiel 20 is God’s response to this wickedness. He said they would not be able to “inquire” of Him. In other words, no relationship. And so it was that idolatry, introduced through exposure to a wicked culture, destroyed any meaningful relationship they had with the One True God.

What We Lose by Adopting Cultural Beliefs

Of course, the same thing happens in our culture, only with different issues. The people of God today constantly find themselves under pressure to modify their beliefs and practices toward what “seems right”. But what I have realized recently is that adopting these cultural beliefs and practices has an unintended consequence: the loss of a vital relationship with God. We can no longer inquire of Him. This makes sense considering Israel’s experience under Ezekiel, but also because in order to adopt many cultural beliefs, one must reject Scripture, which is, of course, God’s Word to us. How can I have a vital relationship with someone who does not speak to me?

The Stepford Wives…the Stepford God

The lesson here is clear: while we will all be shaped to some degree by culture, we must be sure to let God’s Word have the final say (Romans 12:2).  Along these lines, one of my favorite Tim Keller illustrations comes from his book, The Reason for God:

“If we let our unexamined beliefs undermine our confidence in the Bible, the cost may be greater than we think.

“If you don’t trust the Bible enough to let it challenge and correct your thinking, how could you ever have a personal relationship with God? In any truly personal relationship, the other person has to be able to contradict you. For example, if a wife is not allowed to contradict her husband, they won’t have an intimate relationship. Remember the (two!) movies The Stepford Wives? The husbands of Stepford, Connecticut, decide to have their wives turned into robots who never cross the wills of their husbands. A Stepford wife was wonderfully compliant and beautiful, but no one would describe such a marriage as intimate or personal.

“Now, what happens if you eliminate anything from the Bible that offends your sensibility and crosses your will? If you pick and choose what you want to believe and reject the rest, how will you ever have a God who can contradict you? You won’t! You’ll have a Stepford God! A God, essentially, of your own making, and not a God with whom you can have a relationship and genuine interaction. Only if your God can say things that outrage you and make you struggle (as in a real friendship or marriage!) will you know that you have gotten hold of a real God and not a figment of your imagination.”

– Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

Therefore, only a real relationship with God can save us from being wrongly shaped by culture and what “seems right”. And not surprisingly, such a relationship with God only comes from a thorough commitment to Scripture as authoritative.

For as the history of the Israelites teaches us, if we abandon God’s Word, the fire is never far away.


Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Uncategorized


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The Blessings of a Trustworthy and True Bible

IMG_0425On a whim last Tuesday I threw a lunchtime party for elders and pastors at my house. Diane and the girls were skiing, so that made the place a veritable bachelor pad, and for the guys who could make it, my plan was munching on Jimmy Johns subs and watching the livestream of the opening message from The Shepherd’s Conference in California. This is the annual conference from John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, and the topic this year was of particular interest: the inerrancy of the Bible.

As it turned out, the conference was having trouble with the live stream that day, so we enjoyed subs and good discussion, and then watched another message from a different conference I had attended last year. It was great fellowship.

Now that the Shepherd’s Conference is over, the videos are available for free viewing, and I’ve been watching and enjoying. If you have a chance, I heartily recommend taking in one or two. Your faith will be built up in God’s inerrant word!

You see, there may be no more important topic for Christians today than the absolute truthfulness of the Bible. As one of the speakers pointed out, there are certain issues that come up in the church that we think about and wrestle through and then don’t need to deal with anymore, but inerrancy is one of those issues that continually comes up again and again and again. And there is a reason for that – Satan knows that he can do no greater harm to Christians than to place doubt in our minds as to the truthfulness of the Word of God. He’s been doing this for a long time…

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’“

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5 (ESV)

So you see, since the beginning of the human race, the enemy has been seeking to cast doubt on the Word of God with questions to this effect: “Did God actually say…?” And notice how along with casting doubt on God’s character of truthfulness, the enemy also casts doubt on his character of goodness (in effect, saying to Eve that God wants to keep her from what is good). This diabolical method is utterly destructive to the Christian, for if we cannot be sure of God’s words (and God’s goodness), we cannot be sure of anything. As the singer Keith Green once said, “…all of the devil’s wicked lies – if you believe them, your faith just dies.”

The Apostle Paul didn’t believe Satan’s lies. Of course, Paul is most famous for telling Timothy that all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16), but in Acts 24, as Paul makes his defense before the Governor Felix, he makes it very clear what he believes:

But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, Acts 24:14 (ESV)

“The Law and the Prophets” was a technical term that really meant all of the Bible (in that day, of course, the Old Testament). Paul was trying to show Felix that he was not as bad as the Jews were making him out to be – he was both a peaceful man (not stirring up riots like they accused him of) and more than that, believing the Bible just like they did.

And just like we should too, for this is not a trifling thing – I think about how lately we’ve been watching our culture take on a new course in the area of morality, declaring good to be evil and evil to be good. In fact, it’s breathtaking how fast it has happened. And apart from the Word of God, there is nothing that will keep us from plunging headlong into such destructive thinking and lifestyle.

But more than that, there is no other book that will light the path to heaven and show us how to redeem a lost culture. To paraphrase Peter’s words to Jesus in John 6: Where else can we go? These are the words of eternal life…and they are trustworthy, and true.


For Monday, March 16: Acts 25


Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


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