Homosexuality evaluated in the light of Scripture

Gay-Marriage

Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female.

Homosexuality and samesex marriages is one of the biggest issues debated today in secular society and among evangelicals. As prominent world leaders and Christian leaders endorse homosexuality and same-sex unions, it is causing uncertainty among Christians what the Bible teach about these issues. Many Christians are struggling to reconcile the clear teaching of Scripture with a desire to be in step with the culture. Just a few centuries ago, homosexuality was a criminal offence in many countries, but today, people who oppose homosexuality and make a stand on the Bible’s teaching are often characterised as homophobic or fundamentalists.

Throughout the history of the evangelical church, it was always understood that the Bible clearly teach sexual relations outside of marriage between one woman and one man, as an abomination in the sight of God. In the last few decades, the church, under the influence of liberalism, has seen many liberal theologians teaching that Scripture does not address homosexuality and same-sex marriages per se as sin. In other words a stable loving relationship between people of the same sex can be viewed as a Biblical relationship as long as they remain in union like heterosexual relationships. It is also argued that in ancient Biblical times the Jews did not know the word or concept homosexuality, so the Bible could not have spoken about homosexuality as we know it today. It is therefore argued that the meaning we give to the words used in Old Testament and New Testament could not mean homosexuality.

There are then a variety of explanations what the Bible really mean when it speaks of homosexuality and same sex-marriage. Many of these arguments are very cleverly put together. Because we live in an era where human rights and equality is emphasized, many Christians become uncertain. Many arguments are based on the fact that the Biblical writers was influenced by culture and because humanity has moved on, it cannot mean the same today. This implies that the Bible is a book written by humans from their own perspective as they were influenced by the culture of their time. This undermines what the Bible declares about itself; as the inerrant and infallible Word of God. The authority of Scripture and the interpretation thereof plays a big role in many ethical issues of today.

Purpose of the study

In this study, we will examine what the Bible says about marriage, the fall, homosexuality, and the authority of Scripture. I will endeavour to answer the following questions. What does the Bible define as a marriage? Where does homosexual desires come from? Does the Bible condemn homosexuality as sin? What was God’s purpose in creating marriage?

Problem Statement

Homosexual advocates claim that people who have homosexual desires are born like that. They are people who God created and their desires for people of the same sex is given by Him. They claim it is thus not sin to have a stable loving relationship with someone of the same sexual orientation as long as it is kept in union with one partner in the same way as heterosexual relationships. They claim marriage is the union between two people of any sexual orientation and not necessarily between one man and one woman.

The Authority of Scripture and homosexuality

How will evangelicals respond to the challenge of the homosexual movement? How will the evangelical church respond to those persons struggling with homosexuality? Our only authority for addressing this issue is that God has revealed His truth in Scripture. We can only speak because we are confident that the one and only Sovereign God has revealed Himself and His will in His inerrant and authoritative Word, the Bible. Those who argue for the acceptance of homosexual behaviour and relationships have to deal with the fact that the Bible straightforward condemns homosexual behaviour. In light of this, some attempt to undermine the authority of Scripture by arguing that these texts have actually been horribly misunderstood for over two thousand years. Others argue that these texts were written within a specific culture and is not relevant to our culture. Some even argue that the texts dealing with homosexuality is later additions to Scripture.

The affirmation of biblical authority is thus central to this debate. If the Bible is not word for word God’s Word, we cannot base our arguments on specific words, because they are human words. Moreover, they might be wrong or influenced by the authors background and culture at the time of writing and not breathed out by the Holy Spirit as the Bible claims. It is thus important to make a point right at the beginning of our study what the Bible is and that it has the final authority in all matters for all time, because it is the Word of God.

The Bible is relevant within all cultures and over all times of the history of the world. The Bible is the Word of God in written form, inerrant and infallible, inspired by the Holy Spirit “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). God gave His Word through human agents under the power and control of the Holy Spirit. Culture and background did not determine what they wrote. God chose specific people and their background and personality was Sovereignly used by Him to say exactly what He wants to reveal. They would not have written anything else if they had exposure to any other cultural background. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired them to write word for word what God intended. “Scripture did not come from someone’s own interpretation” neither was it “produced by the will of man.” “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21). The end result of what they wrote was: “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). What they wrote was God breathing out His own words. Therefore we can conclude that the Bible is word for word God’s word and every word matter. The purpose was that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). Not some, but every aspect of our lives.

Albert Mohler (2009) said that “only in recent years have some biblical scholars come forward to claim that the Bible presents a mixed message – or a very different message – on homosexuality.” Christians who reject the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, will eventually succumb to cultural pressure and accommodate their understanding of homosexuality to the spirit of the age. The homosexual agenda is pushed by activists who are totally committed to the cause of homosexuality as a recognized form of sexual orientation and a legitimate family relationship. Scripture stands as the most formidable obstacle in the way of progress to this agenda. Those Christians who affirm, confess and acknowledge the authority of the Bible have no choice in this matter. We must speak a word of truth in love and compassion (Ephesians 4:15). We must proclaim the Biblical gospel as a message of hope and deliverance from the slavery of sin of homosexuality.

Marriage is God ordained and purposefully created

The most effective way in addressing any error is by teaching the truth. Jesus said “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The light of Scripture will dispel the lie of darkness. The Word is alive and active, penetrating our hearts and revealing the intentions of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). The Holy Spirit convicts us of the truth of Scripture and compels us to obedience to Christ. Therefore, one of the most effective ways of addressing homosexuality is by explaining what Scripture teach about the purpose and beauty of marriage. That will stand as a monument of truth against the deception of homosexuality.

The foundation of marriage and sexuality is found in Genesis chapter 1 and 2. When Jesus was questioned about marriage, He referred to these two chapters (Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12). Homosexual advocates often claims Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. Jesus said a lot about sexuality. Jesus was teaching what marriage and purity was, which stands as a monument against impurity. Jesus taught that marriage is regarded as a holy institution by God. That it is even sin to separate a man and a woman who God has joined together as one flesh (Matthew 19:6). Genesis teaches us that God created humans “male and female” to complement each other emotionally, physically and spiritually (Genesis 1:27). Genesis also teaches that God instituted and designed marriage between a man and a woman, not between people of the same sexes (Genesis 2:18-25). The definition about marriage from the Bible is: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). A man would be united to a woman to form the unity of marriage. This sexual, emotional and psychological unity will be so close that it is called one flesh. Jesus confirmed this unity between a man and a woman by quoting the Genesis text (Matthew 19:6). There is a number of reasons why God did this.

Firstly, the human body was created to complement each other for the normal male and female relationship. The clear design of the human biology supports heterosexuality and contradicts homosexuality. Secondly, the combination of male and female enables man to procreate as commanded by God (Genesis 1:28). This command is repeated to Noah after the flood (Genesis 8:15-17). This is not the only reason God created man as male and female. Sexual intimacy between husband and wife is good for emotional bonding, pleasure and procreation. Thirdly, God gave man and woman complementary roles in order to strengthen the family unit. Woman was to be the helper that man needed (Genesis 2:18). Woman’s role was not inferior but a godly woman who feared God was someone to be admired (Proverbs 31:10-31).

The New Testament gives a further exposition on God’s purpose with marriage. Marriage had a prophetic message about Christ and His bride the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Paul use the same phrase as in Genesis. “Man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh (Ephesians 5:31). Then he said there is a deep mystery in this unity between husband and wife. The mystery is that marriage is a picture of the love between Christ and His bride the Church. Marriage was created by God right from the beginning with doxological purposes to reflect Christ and His bride. It was a picture of redemption. The sacrificing love of a husband for his wife is an image of Christ’s sacrifice for His bride. The submission of the wife to the love of her husband is a picture of the submission of the Christ’s bride to His love. Indeed, Paul was correct, this mystery is profound (Ephesians 5:32). Therefore, marriages was designed and created by God right from the beginning with this prophetic message. The fall destroyed the marriage between husband and wife. All impure desires only originated after the fall (Genesis 6:5-6). The man and woman became aware they are naked and they were ashamed of each other. Before the fall they were not aware of this and the male and female sexuality was not an object of shame (Genesis 3:7). The fall marred marriage and human sexuality like everything else, and polygamy, divorce, prostitution and homosexuality entered the world (Bates & Cosner, 2013:9). After the fall, the Bible is littered with all sorts of sexual impurity, including homosexuality (Genesis 19:1-38; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Judges 19:22). This was not God’s design. Christ came and restored marriage through His redemption to the wonderful and beautiful prophetic picture of Him and His bride the Church .

How does a male-male or woman-woman relationship ever reflect this unique union, designed by God, to reflect the relationship between Christ and His bride. There is no place for impurity in this wonderful institution of God. The message is unequivocal. Man is to be united to woman because she came from man. Man did not come from man and is not to be united to man; woman did not come from woman and is not to be united to woman. Therefore, male is to be united to female. Heterosexual marriage, then, is a creation ordinance. (Statham, 2014).

What does the Bible say about Homosexuality?

As with all other issues, when we address homosexuality, it should be from the foundation of what Scripture says about it. We can trace the origins of marriage and human sexuality back to the Garden of Eden, and the positive teaching of God’s will for marriage is itself a strong condemnation of all other non-normative arrangements, both heterosexual and homosexual, that deviate from and fall short of that standard (Bates & Cosner, 2013: 10). But there are specific condemnations of homosexual behaviour.

Noah and Ham – Genesis 9:20-27: In this passage the story is told of an incident between Noah and his sons, Ham, Shem and Japheth. Was Canaan cursed because his grandfather Ham saw his grandfather Noah’s nakedness? According to Botha (2014:38), the language of uncovering and seeing the nakedness of corresponds with similar phrases of sexual intercourse. In Leviticus these phrases is used to denote incest (Leviticus 18:6-18; 20:11, 17-21). According to Leviticus 18:24-30; 20:22-26, incest and homosexuality were the reasons why God decided to curse the Canaanites. Botha (2014:39) noted that Gagnon summarises the situation as follows when he says: “The Canaanites deserve to be dispossessed of the land and made slaves because they are, and always have been, avid practitioners of immoral activity. In the new post-diluvian world, it was their ancestor who committed the most heinous act imaginable – not rape but incest; not just incestuous rape, but rape of one’s own father, to whom supreme honour and obedience is owed.”

Sodom and Gomorrah – Genesis 19:4-11: “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” The term to know someone was used in the Bible in reference to sexual intercourse. Advocates of homosexuality says this passage speaks only on inhospitality and rape. The passage, according to this interpretation, condemns rape and not relationships of mutual consent (Botha, 2014:39). There is no doubt that the Sodomites wanted sex with the visitors. The immediate context presuppose a sexual interpretation, because a few verses later Lot offers his daughters to the men of Sodom. The perversion of homosexuality appears to be an integral part of the story. According to Botha (2014:39), that is why the name Sodom became a byword for inhumanity to visiting outsiders in later Jewish and Christian context. Sodomise is to partake in homosexual activity.

The Levite’s concubine – Judges 19:22-25: “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” Again the term “to know” in reference to sexual intercourse is used. In this story the Levite’s concubine closely correlates with the incident at Sodom and Gomorrah. There are a few things in this passage which are immoral in intention and action, like the intended homosexual rape of the man, the rape of the woman and the inhospitably and wickedness of the men at Gibeah. The vile nature of the possible homosexual rape has motivated the old man to give up his daughter and concubine to the mob. The author of Judges describe the evil acts of homosexual and heterosexual rape as violations of God’s standards for human sexual expression.

Homosexual cult prostitution – Deuteronomy 23:17-18: Homosexual cult prostitution existed in the period of the divided kingdom of Israel. Many passages relate to the existence of male temple prostitutes (Deut.23:17-18; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings .23:7; Job.36:14). The command of God against this detestable practise clearly reveals God’s hate against the sin of homosexuality. “The Lord your God detest them both.” There are other passages that show the rejection of male prostitutes (Job 36:14). The reforms of Josiah was a direct result of finding the book of the law in the temple (2 Kings 23:7). According to Botha (2014:41), this might be a direct result of Deut. 23:17-18. When the Bible was rejecting homosexual cult prostitution, it was rejecting the whole phenomenon of homosexual practise.

Commands against homosexuality – Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13: In Leviticus we do not find stories from which we can conclude that the Bible condemn homosexual practices, but we find clear commands. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (Lev. 18:22). “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Lev. 20:13). Advocates of homosexuality says these prohibitions are not valid anymore, because the Gospel released believers from their part of the law. These prohibitions forbid incest (Lev. 18:6-18), adultery (Lev. 18:20), child sacrifice (Lev. 18:21) and bestiality (Lev. 18:23). These prohibitions continue to have validity in contemporary society. If one do away with homosexuality, why then keep the rest? On what basis is the one rejected and the rest universally applied? The command against homosexuality is unqualified and absolute. Homosexuality violates God’s established boundaries set against godlessness. Botha (2014:41) explained that all the other practices are collectively renounced as abominations (Lev. 18:24-30), but homosexuality is singled out in particular as an abomination in the list of specific commands. Also in Leviticus 20:13 the word abomination is specifically applied to sexual intercourse between males. Botha (2014:41) says in the whole Tetra teach the word abomination is only used in connection with homosexuality.

The relevance of these prohibitions for today is further established by being carried over into the New Testament. The same God who gave these prohibitions, continues to relegate conduct through His Spirit in believers. A substantial case must be made to do away with an Old Testament law, which was regarded with such revulsion and which was affirmed in the New Testament.

The New Testament and Leviticus – 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 Timothy 1:9–10: “Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality [arsenokoitai], nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9,10). “The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality [arsenokoitai], enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:9–10).

Some argue the restrictions of Leviticus only relate to the purity rules of the Jewish ceremonial law and therefore do not apply to Christians. According to Statham (2014), this cannot be as the New Testament refers to these Levitical passages when it denounces homosexual practices. According to Statham (2014), the word “arsenokoitai” is derived from the Greek words used in the Septuagint translation of Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13 (arsēn: male and koitē: lying). Paul have had Leviticus in mind when he wrote these passages. The New Testament uphold these prohibitions of homosexual practices.

Homosexual desires – Romans 1:18-32: Some people claim homosexual behaviour was only condemned because it was associated with idolatry (1 Kings 14:24). However, it was condemned apart from idolatry as well (Lev. 18:22). In the New Testament it is even described as an unnatural and immoral perversion. “For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Rom. 1:18 – 27). In Romans 1, Paul teaches that homosexuality is God’s judgement upon those who have suppressed the truth how nature reveal His glory and power. They exchanged the truth for a lie and therefore God has given them over to their own perverted hearts. The end result is that they burn in homosexual lusts for each other. This shows that homosexual desires is a fruit of the sinful nature. Many homosexuals say they are born like that. They are in fact correct. We are all born naturally slaves to all kinds of sin. Homosexuality is just one of many.

The order of progression in Romans 1:19-27 highlight the root cause of homosexuality as rebellion against God from a sinful heart. Firstly, knowledge about God is revealed in nature. Secondly, they willingly reject this knowledge about God and exchange it for a lie that there is no Creator. Thirdly, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity. Lastly, the end result is a person who is enslaved in homosexual lusts.

Conclusion

The Bible is the Word of God and came from Him. Human authors wrote under control of the Holy Spirit as they were carried along to write word for word what God wanted. They were not influenced by their culture, but rather wrote what God intended. Therefore, the Bible is the rule for life as God desires for His creatures. The Bible is completely against homosexual behaviour because the Bible is completely against all sorts of sin and everything that fall short of what God intends for His creatures. The entire Gospel is about how we are set free from the power of sin and made new through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. It would therefore be totally inconsistent with the gospel for the Bible to allow any form of sin sexual sin.

The fall of Adam and Eve resulted in all forms of sinful desires including homosexuality. Marriage is a created institution by God with a prophetic and doxological purpose which was destroyed by the fall. Jesus Christ came to heal and restore what the first Adam destroyed by taking sin upon Himself and brought healing through His death and resurrection. In Him marriage and can be restored to God’s intended purpose. Marriage between a man and a woman is a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church. Homosexual relationships do not do not have the same message.

Bibliography

Mohler, A. 2009. The Compassion of Truth: Homosexuality in Biblical Perspective. http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/07/16/the-compassion-of-truth-homosexuality-in-biblical-perspective-2/ Date of access: 27 October 2014.

Bates, G., & Cosner, L. 2013. Gay marriage: right or wrong? Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Publishers.

Statham, D. 2014. Does the Bible really forbid homosexual relationships? Eight Mile Plains, Qld: Creation Ministries International. http://creation.com/bible-forbid-homosex Date of access: 27 October 2014.

Botha, P.H. 2014. The Bible and Homosex: Sexual truths for a modern society [kindle ed.]. Available: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00MDZ5V7C

De Bruyn, P.J. 2013. The Ten Commandments. Potchefstroom: Potchefstroom Theological Publications.

Abortion: An Evaluation in the Light of Scripture

Wonderfully Made

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Introduction

The postmodern world we are living in is characterized by humanism. Ethical values are dominated by human preference in contradistinction to the Bible as the only authority. Even the Church has been influenced by this to such an extend that liberal theology dominates many ethical issues in the Church. Everyone has the right to make his own choices as he sees fit. Individuals make decisions based on their own feelings, thoughts and background.

Between a hundred and two hundred years ago, the effect of Christianity on society was still visible as human behaviour and laws was reflecting Biblical moral values. The sixties saw a rebellion against everything they regard as limiting their freedom of choice and preference. This was noted in the hippy era together with the sex revolution. The sixties also saw the rise of militant feminism. The result is a postmodern society which is liberal and selfish, which makes ethical laws around the self.

This has led to an era where people live in sexual promiscuity and unwanted pregnancies are the order of the day. A materialistic society which is driven by greed and money has no room for a woman to be pregnant and to take time out to give birth and raise her child. Even parents who do have children, do not focus on raising their children, according to Biblical ethical values, but rather are driven by selfish greed to make money. Abortion is one of the ethical issues which was legalized by the selfish postmodern society and which the evangelical Church and Christians should address.

In order to discover what the Bible says about abortion, this study will attempt to answer the following questions: When does life begin? Is abortion a form of murder? What does the Bible say about the sanctity of life?

1. What is abortion?

Abortion is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 20 weeks. The pregnancy is terminated by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy (Wikipedia, 2014).

Here are some statistics about abortion to highlight the magnitude of this issue.

An estimated 44 million abortions are performed globally each year, with slightly under half of those performed unsafely. Unsafe abortions, however, result in approximately 47,000 maternal deaths and 5 million hospital admissions per year globally. Approximately 205 million pregnancies occur each year worldwide. Over a third are unintended and about a fifth end in induced abortion. Most abortions result from unintended pregnancies. In the United Kingdom, 1 to 2% of abortions are done due to genetic problems in the fetus. (Wikipedia, 2014).

2. When does life begins?

The medical world acknowledges that life begin at conception. John MacArthur (1992) quoted Dr Jerome Lejeune as follows:

“Life has a very long history, but each individual has a very neat beginning, the moment of its conception. The material link is the molecular thread of DNA. In each reproductive cell this ribbon roughly one meter long is cut into 23 pieces, or chromosomes. As soon as the 23 paternally derived chromosomes are united through fertilization to the 23 maternal ones, the full genetic meeting necessary to express all the inborn qualities of the new individual is gathered, i.e., personal constitution.”

To indicate that everything is present with the unborn baby, which constitute a human being, John MacArthur (1992) quote Dr Jerome Lejeune as follows:

“At two months of age, the human being is less than one thumb-length from the head to the rump, he would fit at ease in a nutshell but everything is there…hands, feet, head, organs, brains. In the fourth week is consciousness. All are in place. His heart has been beating for a month already and fingerprints can be detected. His heart is beating at two months at 150 to 170 beats a minute. To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion.”

Dr. Robert P. George wrote a book in 2008 called: “Embryo: A Defence of Human Life.” He said the following about the beginning of life:

“That is, in human reproduction, when the sperm joins the ovum, these two individual cells cease to be, and their union generates a new and distinct organism. This organism is a whole, though in the beginning developmentally immature, member of the human species. Human embryos, whether they are formed by fertilization (natural or in vitro) or by successful somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT — i.e., cloning), do have the internal resources and active disposition to develop themselves to the mature stage of a human organism. Thus, human embryos are what the embryology textbooks say they are, namely, human organisms – living individuals of the human species – at the earliest developmental stage.”

According to Gilbert (2010), there exist two popular views when life begins.

Firstly, there is the metabolic view:
According to this view, there is no single development moment marking the beginning of human life. Both the sperm and egg cells should individually be considered to be units of life in the same respect as any other single or multicellular organism. Thus, neither the union of two gametes nor any developmental point thereafter should be designated as the beginning of new life.

Secondly, there is the Genetic view:
The genetic view takes the position that the creation of a genetically unique individual is
the moment at which life begins. This event is often described as taking place at fertilization, thus fertilization marks the beginning of human life. During this developmental event, the genes originating from two sources combine to form a single individual with a different and unique set of genes.

From the above, it can be seen that the medical world does acknowledge that life begins at conception, although there are those who hold to the metabolic view. The metabolic view is in support of abortion. Of utmost importance to us as Christians is what does the Bible say about conception.

According to R.C. Sproul (2010:46), Scripture assumes a continuity of life before the time of birth to after the time of birth. The same language and the same pronouns are used for both stages. God’s involvement in the life of a person extends back before conception. In Psalm 139:13-16, David said “You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” In this passage, Scripture clearly states that the forming of the embryo in the mother’s womb, is a work of God. David refers to himself as “me” before he was born, and said that all his days was accounted for before birth (verse 16). This means God’s view of human life extends back before conception. According to Sproul (2010), the Hebrew word in this passage for “unformed substance” is “embryo.”

Another passage that proves God’s involvement with life in the womb is Isaiah 49:1-5. From this passage the following quotes show that the unborn baby is distinct from the mother and was treated with a unique personal identity. “The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother, he named my name” (verse 1). “He said to me, ‘You are my servant’” (verse 3). From this passage we can see that God knew Jeremiah before he was born. He was known by God in a personal manner and as a personal being before birth. The unborn embryo is viewed by God as a person.

An important question is whether personhood starts at birth. Scripture regards personhood as beginning prior to birth. David says: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5). David recognizes two important things in this passage. David links his personhood and state of sinfulness to both conception and birth. He recognizes his personhood at birth and conception which indicates that there is continuity between a child that is conceived and a child that is born. An impersonal being, a “blob of protoplasm,” cannot be a moral agent (Sproul, 2010:49). If David’s moral history extends back to conception, then his personal history must also extend back to conception.

Another fascinating passage that tells us how God view the fetus in the womb is Luke 1:40-44. This passage describes the meeting between Mary, the mother of Jesus and her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth said: “Behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy” (verse 44). Firstly, Elizabeth called the unborn fetus in her womb a baby and not just a lifeless or impersonal fetus. Secondly, the personhood of the fetus is shown with the attributes of joy. This shows that before John was born, he manifested mental comprehension and emotions which is attributes of personhood.

3. Conception is an act of God.

So far we have seen that life and personhood extends back before conception. The Bible also shows that conception is an act of God. Conception is controlled by God under His sovereignty. It is God who makes conception possible and it is also God who prevents conception if He so wills. We will explore this further from Scripture.

In Psalm 127:3, the Bible says: “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Children are a gift from God and He personally creates every life. Even in the negative sense, God prevents conception. Sarai said: “The Lord has prevented me from bearing children” (Gen. 16:2). In Genesis 20:18 we read: “The Lord had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech.” In the positive sense it is God who gives conception. “Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son” (Ruth 4:13). From this passage it is clear the Lord enable people to conceive. Conception is a Sovereign act of God to grant life. Even the timing is in His control. “Sarah conceived and bore a son, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.” (Gen. 21:2). These passages illustrate that God is the power behind barrenness and God is the power behind conception (MacArthur, 1992).

Paul said: “Who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace” (Gal. 1:15). God said to Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer. 1:5). The implications of these verses is that God foreordained people before they were even conceived and then He was solely responsible for their conception.

What about deformed babies? Is God the creator of those? “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Ex. 4:11). Sometimes it is the purposes of God to make people dumb and deaf and seeing and blind (MacArthur, 1992). Why does God allow this to happen? The disciples asked Jesus the same question. “‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:2-3). Babies are born deformed to display the glory of God in their parents’ lives and in their lives. It is only the power of the Spirit of grace that enable parents of a deformed baby to raise him or her and give God all the honour and glory in that circumstance. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). Likewise, when such a child grew up and in his humble disabled state, serve Christ, it is a testimony of God’s grace to even the mentally handicapped. “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27).

4. God is sovereign over all things.

God is sovereign over all things. Over life and death and over good and evil. God directly does the good and He allows the evil to happen without Him being the author of sin. After the death of his children, Job said: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). The Lord said by the mouth of Isaiah: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (Is. 45:7). “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be” (Is. 66:2). After everything played out in Joseph’s life when he was sold into slavery by an evil plan of his brothers, he said: “You (his brothers) meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). Everything works out according to the purposes of God for His good (Rom. 8:28). Even the bad and evil in the world. This means that even a baby who was conceived during a rape, is not exempt from the Sovereignty of God. We can therefore not conclude that any conception is an unwanted pregnancy and can be terminated. God allowed that conception to take place, even through an evil act of rape.

The Bible clearly indicates that unborn babies are considered living human beings before they are born. The Biblical evidence shows that life begins at conception. The Bible further shows that conception is a Sovereign act of God. God grants the life that starts in the womb of a woman. Who are we to intervene and stop that process? Who are we to interrupt the process, which God granted for a new life to begin? It is a violation of the sixth commandment to take a person’s life into ones own hand and deliberately terminate it.

5. Is abortion murder?

One of the core issues with abortion is whether it is murder to deliberately abort a fetus? Is the fetus potential life and is abortion the termination of potential life? Is abortion a violation of the sixth commandment of God, not to commit murder?

In order to answer these questions, we have to look at the sanctity of life. How does God view human life? Who has the right over life and death? We already saw that Scripture shows that life extends back before conception. We also saw that God is Sovereign over conception and that he grants it or prevents it. God is even Sovereign over evil and everything falls within His decrees; good or bad. If this is true, then we are busy with human life, which God views as a person, which He willed to be conceived in the womb of a woman. Do we then have the right to terminate that life? What is the Biblical view of the termination of life of another person and in this case, the unborn baby who is regarded by God as a person?

Helmut Thielicke said: “Once a man ceases to recognize the infinite value of the human soul… then all he can recognize is that man is something to be used. But then he will also have to go further and recognize that some men can no longer be utilized and he arrives at the concept that there are some lives that have no value at all” (Sproul, 2010:17).

What do we mean when we say life is sacred? In Biblical terms, the sanctity of life is rooted and grounded in creation. Mankind is not viewed by the Bible as a cosmic accident, but a product of carefully executed creation by an eternal God (Sproul, 2010:21). Man is the crown of God’s creation and is assigned high value by his Creator. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female…God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:26-31). The creation account provides the framework for human dignity. Creation in the image of God sets humans apart from all other creatures. The image and likeness of God by which mankind was created, connects God and mankind uniquely. In creation, man was given the ability to mirror and reflect the holy character of God (Sproul, 2010:22). When man fell into sin, the image of God was greatly affected by sin. To such an extend that man lost his sense of God and the ability to see the beauty of God’s creation in man. This caused man to have a low view of human life and that is why Cain killed Abel. This also affects people today and is the main reason abortion is practiced. Humanity is in slavery to sin and their minds darkened by the fall. They have a low view of the unborn baby as the image bearer of God and therefore they can easily discard it.

In James 3:9, speaking about the tongue, James says: “ With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God.” James acknowledges that with the tongue we curse that which was made in the image of God. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” (Gen. 9:6). In this verse murder of another person is directly linked to the destroying of the image of God. The Biblical ethic is that because man is endowed with the image of God, his life is so sacred that any malicious destruction of it must be punished by execution (Sproul, 2010:24). This verse implies that assault against human life is considered by God as an assault against Him.

The sanctity of life is also reinforced by the Ten Commandments. “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death” (Ex. 21:12). Jesus expounded the Ten Commandments even further. “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell” (Matt. 5:21-25). Jesus explained that the anger intend in the heart against another image bearer of God, is viewed by God as potential murder. This is clearest when Jesus spoke about lust as enough reason to commit adultery and not just the physical act (Matt. 5:28). If a fetus cannot be proven as an actual living human person, there is no doubt that it is a potential living human person. In other words, a fetus is a developing person. Without interference or unforeseen calamity, it will become a living human person. Any act to deliberately destroy a fetus, is an act to deliberately destroy potential life, which may be viewed as potential murder.

According to R.C. Sproul (2010:29-30), Jesus sees the law against murder as including not only the act of actual murder, but also actions of potential murder. He further notes that the Biblical law against adultery also requires purity. Thus, when a law prohibited negative actions, it implies the opposite positive actions as well. Therefore, a negative prohibition against actual murder implicitly involves a positive mandate to work for the protection and sustenance of life. Abortion does not promote the protection and sustenance of the unborn child, neither does it promote the sanctity of life.

6. Conclusion.

Man is the crown of God’s creation. Even more so, man is created in the image of God. Human life is sacred in God’s eyes. Speaking with slander against an image bearer of God, falls into the category of murder. Humankind is endowed with the ability to make choices and to reason and think about things. He is also endowed with a conscience as a moral compass. God has commanded explicitly that the deliberate termination of another person’s life is murder (Ex. 20:13). Because of his ability to choose between right and wrong, God will judge any person who end another persons life with eternal death unless he repent and receive God’s forgiving grace in Christ.

Life and personhood extend back before conception. God has decreed all life and He is sovereign over it. God is even sovereign over all good and evil. God gives the power and energy by which people commit evil deeds. Therefore, to regard any pregnancy, even those which result from rape, as unwanted and terminate it, is to deny God’s sovereignty over life and death. It is only God who can allow the termination of life by allowing it under his sovereign decree. We as human beings have no right to deliberately interrupt or terminate the process of life which was started at conception by God. There are difficult cases where the life of the mother is, for example threatened by a dangerous birth. In those cases the preservation of life still gets priority in the preserving of the mother’s life for the sake of the unborn fetus.

The ultimate conclusion is thus: abortion at any stage of the developing embryo or fetus is murder and God hates it. People who engage in the deliberate abortion of unborn babies, is under the wrath of God and must repent and seek God’s forgiving grace. This article does not present all the answers about abortion, but rather deals mostly with the normal cases of abortion due to unwanted pregnancies. That said, the principles discussed, relate directly to the difficult cases of abortion and must be prayerfully considered before termination of life by abortion. The principle of sanctity of life must always be maintained. We must always realize that we are dealing with the gift of life, created in the Holy presence of God, under His mercy and love, according to His sovereign decree.

7. Bibliography

Sproul, R.C. 2010. Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue. Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust.

De Bruyn, P.J. 2013. The Ten Commandments. Potchefstroom: Potchefstroom Theological Publications.

MacArthur, J. What is Abortion? http://www.gty.org/resources/sermon-series/2 Date of access: 15 September 2014.

Gilbert, S.F. 2010. When does life begin? http://science.jburroughs.org/mbahe/BioEthics/Articles/Whendoeshumanlifebegin.pdf Date of access: 28 September 2014.

Wikipedia. 2014. Abortion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion Date of access: 28 September 2014.

Scriptural evaluation of the New Age Movement

new-ageIntroduction

The objective of this study is to briefly define the history, main beliefs and practices of the New Age Movement and evaluate it in the light of Scripture. Paul wrote in Hebrews 5:14 that by training and practice we will become skilled to discern between good and evil. When we study Scripture and evaluate other religions and movements according to Scripture, we are busy training and practicing our discernment skills. Jesus said in John 3:20-21 that everyone who practices the truth are willing to come to the light to see whether his deeds are done in God. The opposite is also true that those who love darkness, avoid the light, because it will expose their deeds as lies. The purpose of this study is thus to shine the light of Scripture on the New Age Movement to see whether it is from God and thus equip believers to grow in knowledge and discernment.

To achieve this goal, I will embark on this study by answering three questions about the movement. Firstly, What is it and where does it come from? Secondly, What do they believe and practice? Thirdly, How do we answer them? Finally, I will wrap everything up in a concluding statement in what Scripture says about this movement.

A word of caution is important here. We can sometimes get so focused on exposing lies that we lose sight of the truth. Our focus should be primarily on Christ and let His light shines on us. The light of Christ came into the world and the darkness could not overcome it. A healthy balance is important when we deal with discernment. As we continue to focus on Christ, we can see clearly what is not of the truth. When we lose sight of Christ, we are in danger of drifting into some form of imbalance, like practising the truth without love. The Bible teaches that we must speak the truth in love. This can only be achieved by keeping our eyes on Christ, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

1. Overview of the New Age Movement

The NAM can be described as a Westernised form of Eastern religions and beliefs combined with occultic practices, self-help, holistic medicines and forms of astrology. The term New Age Movement refers to a large number of autonomous groups and individuals. There are hundreds of groups and religious leaders in the world that can be described as New Age (Gordon, 2014). The NAM can be seen as a “spiritual house” or umbrella that house all these mystical and spiritual beliefs, practices and teachings which enable people to come to a new enlightenment which bring them into oneness with God. The NAM’s purpose is to discover the inner self which is then a self realisation of the god in me. These mystical and spiritual practices are supposed to help people get an enlightenment of who they really are, which in turn brings oneness with God. The NAM is the dawn of a new mystical and spiritual era of world peace, restoration and humanity where people and the world become one with God. For all practical purposes, the NAM is a transplant of the Theosophical Society of the Hindu philosophy of the East to the West. It is especially a transplant of Eastern occultism to the West (De Bruyn, 2013:45). Due to secularisation, the West has lost contact with Christianity and as a result an emptiness have grown in many people. A modernised version of Hindu philosophy and occultism (New Age philosophy) has penetrated the West and filled this emptiness. Traditionally the West emphasised intellectualism instead of the emotional and people have built up a resistance against intellectualism. This has caused people to be drawn to the non-intellectual and emotional experiences of the New Age Movement.

According to De Bruyn (2013:45), the New Age Movement (NAM) is not an organisation of individuals or groups, but a movement where a special mystical and spiritual bond exist between various individuals, organisations and groups. They all want to create a new culture as well as a new society. It can also be seen as a trend or a way of thinking. Although they differ on secondary matters, the spirit, direction, vision and values are the same. There are no clear boundaries within the movement, but several common themes unify the movement.

The Theosophical Society was mostly responsible for bringing the NAM to the West. One of the characteristics of the NAM is its feministic nature. Strange enough, it is three women who played the biggest role in the Theosophical Society. Russian-born Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891) can be regarded as the founder of this school of thought (De Bruyn, 2013:46). Annie Besant (1847-1933) and Alice Bailey (1880-1949) built on her foundations (De Bruyn, 2013:46). The Theosophical Society is regarded as the forerunner of the New Age Movement. The goal of the Theosophical Society was to form a universal brotherhood of world religions, sciences and philosophy to enable people to discover the latent psychic and spiritual powers within them.

The expression New Age came into existence in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was promoted by the New Age Journal and by a book by Mark Satin called “New Age Politics.” (Houdmann, 2014). Marlyn Ferguson’s best selling book “Aquarian Conspiracy” (1980) was the presentation of the social agenda and philosophical vision of the New Age. Ferguson’s writings attained status as the unofficial scripture of the movement (Houdmann, 2014). Russell Chandler, a writer for the Los Angeles Times, wrote that Shirley MacLaine can be considered the high priestess of the NAM. In her book, “Out on a Limb”, she describes her conversion to New Age, out of body experiences, contact with extraterrestrial beings, trance channeling and a guided tour of the unseen world. Her second book, “Dancing in the Light”, tells about her experiences in the world of yoga, reincarnation, crystal power, Hindu mantras, and recall of past life experiences mediated through acupuncture. She claims her spirit guides informed her that each person is God and a person’s’ wisdom is unlimited. One only has to realise it. Neil Anderson in his book, “Walking Through the Darkness”, writes: “The New Age movement is not seen as a religion but a new way to think and understand reality. It’s very attractive to the natural man who has become disillusioned with organized religion and Western rationalism. He desires a spiritual reality, but doesn’t want to give up materialism, deal with his moral problems, or come under authority” (Houdmann, 2014). From this quote one can see why the NAM is so popular in our postmodern society.

2. What Characterises the New Age Movement?

The NAM is by nature a mystic, occult and feministic movement. The movement is characterised by a few important characteristics.

2.1. Mystic Character

Mysticism may be understood as the belief that union with or absorption into the Deity (God), or spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender. The NAM tries to achieve union with God by removing physical barriers through yoga, meditation and visualisation (De Bruyn, 2013:47).

Scriptural Evaluation: Mysticism is not the experience of a Christian. The Christian doctrine maintains that Christ dwells in us through the Holy Spirit and that we can experience God directly through faith in Christ, through His Word. Mysticism tries to get spiritual knowledge through emotional experiences, like meditation or transcendental ecstatic experiences. Knowledge of Christ comes through a revelation by the Holy Spirit through the mind and is then experienced in the heart of the believer. Faith is reasonable and has content. It is not an empty experience, disconnected from the revelation of truth. Spiritual truth is discerned through the intellect as guided by the indwelling Holy Spirit, who lives in all believers (John 16:13). Unbelievers cannot correctly comprehend such things. The Bible tells us why: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

2.2. Occult Character

In the NAM aim is to get control of the forces outside of the physical realm, secret forces in a person and nature, and to activate it. NAM is called esoteric, because it is only those who were enlightened (initiated) who know how to contact and control these forces. Crystals play a big role in the way they practice mysticism. They believe crystals have strong healing powers. The powers of crystals are strengthened through meditation. New Age doctors use crystals for healing, but also ordinary people decorate their homes with crystals due to the good powers it brings (De Bruyn, 2013:47).

Scriptural Evaluation: The Bible makes it clear that we should have nothing to do with spirits, witches and the occult (Deut. 18:9-12). The Bible says we must not worship spirits, goddesses or any other god. (Ex. 20:3). Divination, sorcery, witchcraft, and spiritism are abominations to the Lord.

2.3. Feminist Character

New Agers believe that the New Age of Aquarius will feature equality of the genders and an end to patriarchy, which they identify as the hallmark of the ending of the Age of Pisces. The Age of Pisces is seen as the Christian Age, which is now making way for the Age of Aquarius. A second current in the NAM look at the Aquarian Age as one defined by the feminine spirit of the Piscean Age, which is inverting the patriarchy and power of men (Zeller, 2014). Feminism is one of the most important and influential aspects of the NAM. The NAM wants everything soft, loving and good and the feminine idea just brings that. The NAM coincide with the rise of the feminist movement (De Bruyn, 2013:48). The NAM has run chronologically to the feminist movement (Crowley, 2011:150). Cowley (2011:156) said that Scholar, Elayne Rapping, suggests that parts of the NAM stems from feminism. Feminism also resides within New Age practices. They prefer a religion with a God-Mother and God-Daughter. That is why the NAM calls their God GAIA, because she is the mother-goddess and the goddess of the earth in Greek mythology (De Bruyn, 2013:48). The NAM and the feminist movement has a joint objective and that is a human being with equal psychic parts of masculinity and femininity.

Scriptural Evaluation: Scripture contains approximately 170 references to God as the “Father.” (Houdmann, 2014) One cannot be a father unless one is male. If God had chosen to be revealed to man in a female form, then the word “mother” would have occurred in these places, not “father.” In the Old and New Testaments, masculine pronouns are used over and over again in reference to God.

Jesus Christ referred to God as the Father several times and in other cases used masculine pronouns in reference to God. In the Gospels alone, Christ uses the term “Father” in direct reference to God nearly 160 times (Houdmann, 2014). Of particular interest is Christ’s statement in John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.” Obviously, Jesus Christ came in the form of a human man to die on the cross as payment for the sins of the world. Like God the Father, Jesus was revealed to humanity in a male form.

In terms of feminism: God created humanity, male and female with the man as the head of his house and woman in submission to her own husband. Woman was created as a help to man. The role of the husband as head and wife in submission to him is a creation order and has nothing to do with the culture at the time of writing of the Bible (Gen. 2:22; 1 Cor. 11:9). The Bible also says that a woman should not rule over a man in the church (1 Tim. 2:12). The picture the New Testament gives is that Christ is the head of the man as he is the head of the woman. This order was created by God as a picture of Jesus as the bridegroom and the Church as His bride. The Bible says a man should love his wife as Christ loved the Church and gave His life for her (Eph. 5:25). The woman should respect her husband and submit to him as the Church submit to Christ (Eph. 5:22-33). God’s plan was a plan of love and not abuse. It is sin in man that cause abuse and disrespect from both sides. We should respect God’s creation order of husband and wife.

2.4. Monistic Worldview

One of the spokespersons for the NAM is Fritjof Capra. He speaks of the monistic worldview as the approach to everything. Monism is a worldview that everything in and on the earth is essentially one (De Bruyn, 2013:48). It is the belief that all is one and one is all. From this the belief arises that God is in everything and everything is in God. This unity is a mystical and spiritual unity between nature, humanity, all material things and God. Therefore man cannot distance himself from nature, God and other human beings. The problem arises when man disturbs this central unity and harmony. The NAM belief we should all aim to wholeness and holism, because life is linked to the cosmos on all sides (De Bruyn, 2013:48). Man has to develop a consciousness of feeling part of the whole. The whole is in constant flux and the change is evolutionary to give different groups and people a chance to better themselves. According to the movement the history of humanity is not the fall into sin and the restoration by the saving grace of God. Rather, it is humanity’s fall into ignorance of its godly nature and then restoration through gradual ascent into enlightenment (Houdmann, 2014).

Scriptural Evaluation: Monism is the underlying worldview of those who hold to a form of Pantheism. The Scripture proof and arguments against Monism is thus similar as for Pantheism. I have dealt with it in the next section under New Age beliefs and practices.

2.5. Astrological Nature

According to the New Dawn Magazine (Jeffrey, 2003), mankind today stands on the threshold of a new era commonly referred to as the Age of Aquarius. The previous age of Pisces has come to an end and a New Age of possibilities for physical, spiritual and political development is emerging. The cycle of these ages traces the spiritual development of humanity’s consciousness. They are based on the astrological circle of the Zodiac and hence the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius. According to them the first rays of the age of Aquarius have been hitting the Earth at least 200 years ago when the seeds of the Aquarian age were sown with the discovery of Uranus (1781) (Jeffrey, 2003). During the 70’s and 80’s the sun entered the sign of Aquarius (De Bruyn, 2013:49). By this astrological focus, the NAM creates the impression that it is factual and scientific. This New Age will bring harmony, peace, goodwill and international co-operation. While the Age of Pisces emphasised intellectualism and science, the New Aquarian Age will emphasise mysticism, spirituality, occultism and peace. They claim the past 2000 years of the Piscean Age was the age of Christianity, which was marked by darkness, conflict, struggle and division. They claim Christianity failed and was not able to make the world a better place.

Scriptural Evaluation: Astrology is the “interpretation” of an assumed influence the stars (and planets) exert on human destiny. This is a false belief. The royal astrologers of the Babylonian court were put to shame by God’s prophet Daniel (Daniel 1:20) and were powerless to interpret the king’s dream (Daniel 2:27). God specifies astrologers as among those who will be burned as stubble in God’s judgment (Isaiah 47:13-14). Astrology as a form of divination is expressly forbidden in Scripture (Deut. 18:10-14). God forbade the children of Israel to worship or serve the “host of heaven” (Deut. 4:19). Several times in their history, however, Israel fell into that very sin (2 Kings 17:16). Their worship of the stars brought God’s judgment each time (Houdmann, 2014).

3. New Age Practices and Beliefs

New Age groups and practices rarely identify themselves as new age. Their occult practices and beliefs identify them. The problem one encounter is that there is no official document of doctrines. Based on the writings of groups and individuals who share the common New Age philosophy, the following can be regarded as their primary doctrines. This section examines the New Age beliefs and offers a Biblical response.

3.1. Pantheism – God is all and all is God

Everything is God and God is everything. Everything that exists is God. One New Ager puts it like this: “For God is the All, and the Goddess is everything, and there is nothing else that is.”(Gordon, 2014). This belief is known as pantheism. The word pantheism comes from the Greek word “pan” (all) and “theos” (god). Everything is a single, living organism: the god Gaia (De Bruyn, 2013:50). Since everything is God, you are also God. While they talk about God as personal, for most New Agers God is impersonal. God is often referred to as the force of energy. Two important quotes from New Age thinkers are (De Bruyn, 2013:50): “God is all and all is God” and “All is one and all is God; we are God.” According to the NAM everything that exist participates in God to such an extend that every human, animal, plant and thing could be regarded as God (De Bruyn, 2013:50). This is also a popular notion among Eastern religions and one of the main reasons why they worship basic anything. In Hinduism, animals and animal like gods are worshipped because they are regarded as sacred. Actress Shirley MacLaine says that she and anyone else is God (De Bruyn, 2013:50).

Scriptural Evaluation: New Age pantheism denies the Biblical view of creation in Genesis (Gen. 1:1). Although the world is an organic unity, it is made up of many distinct and separate creatures, and those creatures are separate from God. In Genesis 1:1 we read “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” In the beginning before there was a creation, God existed and He then created everything in the universe in six days. In Romans 1:15 the creatures are clearly distinguished from the Creator. From Genesis 1-2 it is clear that God created everything from nothing in His omnipotence and that nothing emanated from God and is still linked to Him (De Bruyn, 2013;57).

To understand the relationship of God and His creation, we must understand two theological concepts. Firstly, God is immanent. He is not far away from His creation, but very near. He is everywhere in creation. He is omnipresent (Ps. 139:7-12). He is intimately involved in all the affairs of this world. He providentially upholds and governs all things according to His eternal purposes (Acts 17:25, 28; Eph. 1:11). Secondly, God is transcendent means that He is in Himself and infinitely exalted above the world. He is absolutely different from the world. The Bible says God is the “Most High” (Ps. 47:2) and “Above all nations and His glory above the heavens.” (Ps. 113:4). The Bible declares: “before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me” (Is. 43:10). God is near to every one of us, but He is near as the infinite God, Creator, Governor and Redeemer (Houck, 1989).

3.2. God is not a Person

From the above it follows that God cannot be a person, but an impersonal, eternal, consciousness, force or a form of energy which penetrates everything and is present in everything (De Bruyn, 2013:50). That is why God is conscious of the sparrow falling on the ground, because He himself is the sparrow (De Bruyn, 2013:50, cf. Martin, 1990:28). The God of the New Age is an impersonal presence, not a Person with intellect, emotions and a will as the Bible present God.

Scriptural Evaluation: God is not an impersonal force, energy or consciousness. God is a personal God (Ex. 3:6, 14; 20:2). This can be seen by the names of God. His name is Jehovah, which means “I AM.” God revealed Himself as a Person to Moses and spoke to him. God said: “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.” (Ex. 3:14). Every Time the Bible calls God by name, Jehovah, it declares that He is a Person. He speaks to His children (Gen. 17:1); He listens to their prayers (Ps. 50:15); He knows them by their names (Is. 43:1); He lives in heaven and rules everything (Ps. 103:19; Ecc. 5:1; Isa. 66:1). The incarnation of Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us, is the greatest proof that God is a Person. He has revealed Himself to humanity in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5; Heb. 1; 1 John 1). Even after His resurrection, Jesus appears in bodily form to the disciples (Luke 24:42-43; John 20:27). They worshipped Him as God while appearing to them in Person (Matt. 28:9).

3.3. All religions are equal

According to De Bruyn (51), for the NAM, there is no difference between all different religions. They say: “Not one way, but anyway.” (De Bruyn, 2013:51). From their Pantheistic view, it follows that there is not one God or one way to God. Everything is God. So whether you worship a cow or an image representing some deity, all religions worship the same God. They even regard Jesus as a form of God, but they deconstruct Him to just another deity and not the only God and Redeemer of the universe. All religions can be compared to different rivers all running to the same ocean. In the same way all religions reach the sam supreme god. This is the same philosophy of Hinduism.

Scriptural Evaluation: New Age is idolatry. They promote the worship of multiple gods, while the Bible teaches there is only one God (Is. 44:10-20). The Bible declares there is no other God apart from Jehovah (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29; Rom. 1:23). God the Creator of the universe said that He alone must be worshipped and loved (Ex. 20:3; Deut. 6:5; Luke 10:27). The Bible says we are not allowed to make any representation of that which is in heaven and on earth and worship it (Ex. 20:4). Jesus declared that He is the only way and the truth and there’s no way by which man can reach God besides Him (John 14:6).

3.4. Creation and the fall of man

According to the NAM, God did not create everything otherwise He would be distinct from creation. That is why they believe everything come by way of emanation (De Bruyn, 2013:52). They try to connect with the idea of the Bible that God is light (1 John1:5), by saying that everything emanating from God is different forms of light. The fall occurred when one of the great angels revolted against God and caused distortions in the vibrations of light. These vibrations occurred over a long period of time and the material world came into existence. Light vibrates slower on earth and higher in heaven. Vibrations are the highest when a man is completely united with God. Man reaches this point by way of evolution and reincarnation after a long time of existence as different beings. The final state is nirvana when man is dissolved in God and reaches a final state of rest and unending peace (De Bruyn, 2013:52).

Man was not created. He emanated from God. Man is not a sinner. Sin is just a lack of knowledge where a person is not enlightened yet. Sin is just the energy used in a wrong way or at the wrong time. There is no distance between God and man due to sin, because man is in God and God is in man. When man becomes estranged from himself, he also becomes estranged from God (De Bruyn, 2013:52). Redemption of man has nothing to do with the atonement of sin, but rather an enlightenment needed of the divine inner potential in himself. This redemption can be obtained by becoming more and more one with God. This transforming experience, also called enlightenment, can be achieved by mystic occult rituals, meditation, yoga, exotic dances, etc (De Bruyn, 2013:53). For true liberation, man should not look for it outside of himself to God, but by discovering the divine potential within himself.

Scriptural Evaluation: Even though God created man in His image as righteous, holy and full of the knowledge of God, we all sinned in Adam and lost that image (Rom. 3:9-18). The image of God was turned into the image of satan through the sinful nature. The Bible also declares that the heart of man is evil above all things and who can understand it (Jer. 17:9). The Bible also declares that there is no one righteous and everyone is unclean (Is. 64:6; Rom. 3:11). Jesus also said that out of the evil in man’s heart sprung all evil thoughts, desires and deeds (Matt. 12:35). The Bible is thus clear that man is evil at heart and thinks and does evil all the time (Gen. 6:5). Without the outside intervention of God, man has no hope of any redemption from within his own heart. The Biblical narrative of creation and the fall makes it clear that man was created perfect and very good. That he violated God’s law by being tempted by a personal being satan to disobey God (Gen. 6). It is this act of disobedience which caused humanity to fall into sin. God said that man would die spiritually and so become corrupt if they disobey His law (Gen 2:17). God by His grace paved the way of salvation by sending His Son into the world to become a sin offering, so that those who put their trust in Jesus would be saved (John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:21; John 14:6). The New Age movement is nothing else than the deception of satan, the age old snake from the garden of Eden, to mislead humanity to desire to be gods (Gen. 3:5).

3.5. Reincarnation

An almost universal belief among New Agers is an adaptation of the Hindu concept of reincarnation, which teaches that after death the soul or essence come back in another form to continue spiritual evolvement. New Agers misrepresents the doctrines of Christianity and often twist Scripture to support the idea that original Christianity taught reincarnation. For them resurrection and being born again is the same as reincarnation. Reincarnation is seen as a step in the progression towards Godhood. This is determined by Karma; the law of cause and effect. What you are now is determined by what you did in your previous existence. Self-realization or total enlightenment, where the soul enters the endless freedom from the demanding control of karma, is the ultimate goal. From there on there is no rebirth, because a person has reached Nirvana, the place of passionless peace when he is absorbed into God. On this way of evolution by means of reincarnation, man can be his own redeemer. In contrast to Hinduism, none of the New Age books emphasize clean living as a way to clear bad karma. Instead, there is an emphasis on global unity.

Scriptural Evaluation: The idea of reincarnation is foreign to the Bible. According to the Bible every person is born with his own soul and will give an account to God for the deeds he did in his body on this earth (Rom. 14:12; Matt. 12:36-37). The Bible teaches we live once and then die, after which all of us will face judgement as a di-unity of body and soul (Heb. 9:27; Ps. 139;13-15; Jer. 1:4-5; John 9:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:12, 15). The Bible teaches the resurrection of the dead not reincarnation (1 Cor. 15:2–23; John 5:28-29). The only way to get saved is through God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-10). Reincarnation is also a form of works to earn a better life. The Bible rejects salvation through works in any form (Rom. 11:6; Eph 2:8-9).

Rebirth is also not a form of reincarnation. The phrase “born again” literally means “born from above.” Jesus said to born again means to be born from the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-7). Every person is born spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1-4), without the life (Holy Spirit) of God in them. There is no spiritual connection with God. Through a miraculous work of God, a person is spiritually resurrected and the Holy Spirit has placed in a person’s heart (Eph. 2:4). This process of being spiritually resurrected by the Holy Spirit when a person is united with the death and resurrection of Jesus is called rebirth or being born again. This is also not the same as being taken up into God, but as a unique separate person we have a relationship with God as a Person through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

3.6. Taoism

Taoism comes from the Tao, which means the way or Universal Path. This belief teaches that the Tao is the ultimate reality and the origin of all things. Taoism means man has to live in harmony with nature. (De Bruyn, 2013:54). Tao is the manifestation of two polar forces, known as yang and yin. These two forces are found everywhere in the form of opposite forces. Yang is the principle of activity, maleness, light, dry, & heat while Yin is the principle of receptivity, stillness, femaleness, darkness, moistness & cold (Montenegro, 2012). The way to harmony and peace is to balance the Yin and Yang forces. When one life according to the Tao, the process of evolution will be such that yang and yin are always in equilibrium. Man should always try to keep the two in equilibrium, because problems arise when they are not (De Bruyn, 2013:55)

Scriptural Evaluation: Although the word Tao means the way, it is not the true way. There are many religions who claim they are one of the ways to God, like the NAM through Taoism. Jesus Christ said the He is the only way and that no one will come to God except through Him (John 14:6). The apostle Peter said there is salvation in no other name under heaven by which man can be saved, but by the God-man Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Paul wrote to Timothy that there is one God and one Mediator between God and man and that is the man Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). The Bible made it clear that man is evil at heart and in sin and that Jesus is the only Savior of humanity by His atoning sacrifice on the cross. Everyone who trusts in Him alone will be saved.

3.7. The New Age Jesus

According to the NAM, Jesus was not the Christ from birth. He was a person who, by way of reincarnation developed through several stages until He became Christ. Jesus the Redeemer does not mean the same thing in the NAM. It only means He was one of the periodic manifestations of the divine. They teach Jesus is not a person. On the one hand He is the evolutionary divine principle in all people. That part of Jesus, which is in all people is called the Christ consciousness. On the other hand Christ is an office in the divine hierarchy which everyone can aim to achieve by mystical practices such as meditation and yoga. The current holder of that office is Maitreya, a name connected to Buddhism. Maitreya is the expected redeemer and prophets of all religions. He is regarded as the Jesus of the Christians, the Jewish Messiah, the fifth reincarnation of Buddha, the great Imam Mahdi of Islam, and the Krishna of Hinduism.. He will solve all the world’s political, economic and religious problems. (De Bruyn, 2013:56).

According to the “Center for Christ Consciousness” the human mind has spiritual currents running its thought streams. These streams contain vital information from the “Spirit” that is highly valuable to humans. The “Spirit” is the source of everything true, beautiful and good. In human life, spiritual growth is achieved by aligning with these spiritual currents that come from both the personality and mind of the “Spirit” through intellectual assent and emotional devotion. Christ Consciousness is the growing human recognition and the blending of the human evolutionary (or ego) mind with the Divine Mind, and the Divine Personality that is the source of human happiness and fulfilment. This awareness accrues over time within the consciousness of human thinking when intention, attention, and openness is focused on knowing who and what is that “christed” state of higher mindedness of enlightenment. The highest state of intellectual development and emotional maturity is sometimes termed the “christed” state because of the sacredness and purity of the individual who has achieved it. Jesus achieved this in his human life, and was given this term before his name as the recognition of his achievement of this spiritual status. This path is open to anyone, regardless of their religious tradition if and when he or she is open to become a living vessel of love and truth on the planet and actively strives to attain it (D’Ingillo, 2010).

Scriptural Evaluation: The New Age use the term Christ to refer to a divine consciousness or spirit. This concept is not found in the Bible. Christ is a Greek term which means anointed one. The New Testament uses the term to refer to Christ as the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. Jesus was and is a Person. The Old Testament predicted through the prophets that a Son will be born to us through a virgin (Is. 7:14). The angel which appeared to Mary said that she will be pregnant through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18). Jesus was a man, but also God (John 1:1-5; Heb. 1). Jesus was not a spirit or a consciousness. Jesus is also not the redeemer of all religions, but rather the only Redeemer of humanity (1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus warned us to be on guard against false teachers who would proclaim a false Christs (Matt. 24:24-25). The New Age view of the Christ Consciousness is one of these false Christs. The Jesus of the Bible is unique. He is God’s one and only Son (John 3:16; Matt. 3:17).

4. The influence of New Age thinking on the Church

Today, various research polls are consistently demonstrating that a significant shift has been occurring in the West and that millions of adults have embraced a worldview that is totally at odds with the faith they profess. According to surveys, 86% of Americans claim to be Christian, yet 72% reject the notion of absolute truth, 40% believe a New Age (pantheistic) view of God, 30% believe in reincarnation, and 36% believe that astrology is scientific (Branch, 2014).

In South Africa practices like the power of positive thinking is very popular among charismatic and pentecostal churches. A preacher like Joyce Meyer, which is very popular in South Africa with her book “The Battlefield of the mind” is in my opinion a lite version of mind over matter. She claims you can change your life by changing your thinking. Paul wrote there is no value in restraining the body, because it cannot remove the sinful nature, which can only be done through rebirth (Col. 2:11). The word of faith, which is a form of mind over matter, is a popular teaching among many churches. By vizilizaion techniques, many professing Christians will create their own reality of spiritual things. They claim if they visualize something and believe it, it will come to pass.

In many churches it is popular to see visions and dreams. In my opinion, this stems from the new age practice of visualization. In many charismatic churches, visual messages, play a big role. They claim the Lord is speaking to them often through visions and pictures. Prophecies are many times in some form of a picture which carry a message. Charismatic churches are also full of ecstatic experiences which are not linked to the preaching of Biblical truth. In New Age it is popular to get knowledge through emotional or ecstatic experiences like trances and kundalini. Charismatic churches also practice slain in the spirit, which is a form of kundalini. There are also many charismatic churches today, which has anointing oils for different diseases or holy water. This is also new age practices, which blew over to the church.

5. Conclusion

The New Age Movement is a combination of seemingly unrelated groups, techniques, and beliefs that keep influencing each other and constantly create new mixtures. Its characteristic is not a homogeneous doctrine, but practices that are based on a modern version of Satan’s original lie (Genesis 3:1-6). Although no leader can be made out, one can clearly observe how Satan himself orchestrates the whole movement, spreading his lies wherever he can find people open to deception.

Even though some try to harmonise aspects of the New Age Movement with Christianity, the basic beliefs and practices of the movement are contrary to the faith of the Scriptures. The god of the New Age Movement is not the God of Christianity. The Christ of the New Age Movement is not the Christ of the Bible. The mankind of the New Age Movement is not the mankind described in the Scriptures. The salvation of the New Age Movement is not the salvation of the true God.

The fundamental error of the New Age Movement is what Paul refers to in Romans 1:23, 25. “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator. They 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 and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.” They have taken the incorruptible God and made him man, birds, beasts, and creeping things. They have made the creation, God. Instead of worshiping the true God, they worship the creation. The New Age Movement is nothing but idolatry.

 


 

 

6. Bibliography

De Bruyn, P.J. 2013. The Ten Commandments. Potchefstroom: Potchefstroom Theological Publications.

Gordon, B. 2014. New Age. http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbworld.aspx?pageid=8589952991 Date of access: 28 Aug. 2014.

Houdmann, S.M. 2014. What is the New Age Movement. http://www.gotquestions.org/new-age-movement.html Date of access: 1 Sept. 2014.

Zeller, B.E. 2014. New Age: Gender and Sexuality. http://www.patheos.com/Library/New-Age/Ethics-Morality-Community/Gender-and-Sexuality.html Date of access: 1 Sept. 2014.

Crowley, K. 2011. Feminism’s New Age: Gender, Appropriation, and the Afterlife of Essentialism. http://books.google.co.za/books?id=_NE1kxKz_lUC Date of access: 3 Sept. 2014.

Houdmann, S.M. 2014. Is God male or Female. http://www.gotquestions.org/God-male-female.html Date of access: 3 Sept. 2014.

Jeffrey, J. 2003. Aquarius Rising; A New Age Dawning. http://www.newdawnmagazine.com/Article/Aquarius_Rising_A_New_Age_Dawning.html Date of access: 3 Sept. 2014.

Houdmann, S.M. 2014. What does the Bible say about astrology or zodiac. http://www.gotquestions.org/astrology-Bible.html Date of access: 3 Sept. 2014.

Houdmann, S.M. 2014. What is Christian Mysticism. http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-mysticism.html Date of access: 4 Sept. 2014.

Houck, S.R. 1989. Reformed look at the New Age Movement. http://standardbearer.rfpa.org/articles/reformed-look-new-age-movement-2 Date of access: 28 Aug. 2014.

Montenegro, M. 2012. Eastern Roots of the New Age. http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_EasternRoots.html Date of access: 3 Sept. 2014.

D’Ingillo, D. 2010. What is Christ Consciousness. http://www.ctrforchristcon.org/christ-consciousness.asp Date of access: 3 Sept. 2014.

Branch, C. 2014. Conversations with the Counterfeit. http://www.watchman.org/articles/new-age/conversations-with-the-counterfeit/ Date of access: 3 Sept. 2014.

The Lord’s Table: How do we approach?

The Lord's Supper

The Lord’s Supper

Read: 1 Cor. 11:17-34

1. How do we come to the table?

How do we come to the table? Are we coming clinging to Christ or crucifying Christ? There can only be two ways: worthy or unworthy manner. The manner of our approach is very important. It is not in the external rituals, but in the attitude of our heart. How we come and not who we are is important. We are unworthy, only Christ is righteous. We do not deserve anything and must approach the table as sinners who need grace. As people who completely trust in the righteousness of Christ. We are unworthy, but He is worthy. He became our worthiness. He became wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption on our behalf. “Because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” [1 Cor 1:30-31]. Our hearts must proclaim with the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders: “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” [Rev 5:9] But there is an unworthy manner. It is coming not clinging to Christ. “Nothing in my hands, I bring.” To approach in a unworthy manner is the opposite. Disjointed from the people of God. Holding to sin. Coming from self. To eat unworthily is to make a negative declaration. His life means nothing to me. It is to look at Jesus on the cross in an unworthy manner. Without piety and love in repentance to Him. It is to approach the table in an un-repented heart. Although we are born again people of God, we are constantly looking and relying on Christ and not on our own flesh or worthiness. The Corinthians were approaching the table from sin and division. They made a mockery of the table by ignoring whom it speaks about. By using it as a normal meal and not as a worship and remembrance of Christ.

2. What must I be doing when I partake in the Lord supper?

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail to meet the test! [2 Cor. 13:5] Do I live more than my words? Do I live by the affections of my heart? It is an ongoing examination. Does my life show grace? Do I peruse holiness and peace with all men? Do I live in sin? Do I trust completely in Christ and abandoned myself. Unbelievers must not eat and drink of the cup. We must be careful with our children. Can they take part? Test them. Make sure. Test their deepness. Probe to see if their confession is an honest one. Look at their live to see if their is buds of new live. How can they drink and testify when they do not have a new heart. On a positive note, we may use the table to teach them about Christ. Teach them about self-examination.

Self-examination may bring guilt. The purpose is not to resurrect old sin and guilt. It is not to be driven from the table or that you may become worthy. We cannot be worthy in ourselves. Self-examination is not a morbid introspective which leads to depression. The table is for those who are longing for the righteousness of God. It is for those who are aware of their sin. The table is for those who are poor and humble in spirit before our great God. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [Matt. 5:3]. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. [Matt. 5:6]. These are the ones who are welcome at the table. It is not those who can say I am worthy to sit at the table. It is for those who know they need a Savior. The key in self-examination is: But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. [1 Cor. 11:31]

3. What will be the outcome if we partake in an unworthy manner?

God will not to be mocked. There is a limit to His patience. Look at verse 29: For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. [1 Cor. 11:29]. Older translations use the word damnation. This is not hell. A true believer cannot be lost. The judgment in these verses is to save a person. Verse 30: weakness, sickness and death. They failed to discern the body of Christ. Is it the body of Jesus or the church? It is the body of Jesus. To participate in communion without any thought of Jesus and the body is to shun Jesus and His sacrifice. It is to treat Jesus and the sacrifice of His body in an unworthy manner. It is to trample under foot the body of Christ. It is to treat Him as a common thing. To partake without humble worship, is to treat Jesus’ sacrifice as a common thing, which I can abandon if I want too. Do we get sick? Do we die? Yes. Not because of personal sin. Do not think it is because we fail to live up to the law. But we cannot tone down the warning of this passage. Remember the background of Corinthians. They lived in sexual immorality, pride and self-righteousness. The Lord’s Supper may be a time of covenantal judgment. Look what Paul said to the Corinthians when they meet together: It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. [1 Cor. 5:1-5]. The essence of what Paul was saying is that a person who lives in sin must be removed from the church, which resembles God’s grace and protection. Excommunication of a believer might lead to severe physical discipline and even death, but in the end his soul will be saved. In Hebrews 12 God says He disciplines legitimate children (Heb. 12:7-8). If this does not happen, you sit with a liberal and a death hollow church.

4. What other instructions might Paul have given?

Verse 34 shows that the Corinthians came to the table not thinking of Christ but rather as if coming to a normal table. It was about the attitude of the heart. The instructions were not in the outward rituals, which made it worth, but in the attitude of heart. God does not tell us to use unleavened bread. If Christ is the true bread of life, does it matter? How often? There are no instructions. It can be too often or too less. Leading to over familiarization or forgetfulness. The Bible does not prescribe although there was ample time here in 1 Corinthians. We must guard that it becomes a religious rite. There is no instruction about the cup. There are no instructions about a certain way, which make it unworthy. It is in the simplicity of it. Eat, drink and do it in remembrance of me. Keep it simple. Nothing more. The next time we partake, take God’s instructions into consideration. Come repentant. Come thoughtfully. Come remember the One whose blood was shed for you. Come looking at the Savior and not in the bread and juice.

References:

1. The Lords Supper – Dare We Eat: 1 Cor. 11:17-34.  (Link to source)

The Lord’s Supper: A New Covenant

The Lord's Supper

The Lord’s Supper

1. A cup that speak: “I have a new heart?”

What is the new covenant?
What is the old covenant?
What is a covenant?

It is an agreement between two parties. Like marriage or church membership. God also made covenants with man. Like the law. Obey and I will bless you or disobey and I will punish you. The Sabbath is a sign of that covenant. No one could obey that covenant. We ought to bring worship to God. We ought to love God with our heart, soul, mind, will and all our strength by showing our love in obedience to His law. Our hearts are evil and from it sprung all our sin. Evil are inside us, not outside. From the abundance of the heart, we do and speak evil. People bring forth evil from their evil heart and good from a good heart. It is no use, telling people to be good or to be moral. You can paint a tomb white, on the inside remains death. What needs to happen, the inside need to be made alive. New holy life need to enter the soul. The 10 commandments show me how dead I am. I am unable to produce the piety and love the law require. Jer 31:31-34: God said He would make a new covenant. The new covenant is one where God will change our hearts. He will forgive us. Put His laws on our inside. His divine life will come and live in us. His laws will no longer be a distant experience to us. It will affectionately be part of us. It will live inside me as the Holy Spirit come and take up residence in me. God in a monergistic act, independent of me, change my heart. Brought me into a new covenant with Him. Ezek. 36:25-27: God will remove the hard heart who feels nothing for Him. A cutting and removal of the evil heart. He will cut out and remove the old heart, which were unable to feel remorse for sin. Unable to love Him. Unable to understand Him. Unable to seek Him. Unable to fear Him. Unable to understand His Word. He will give us a new heart which can love Him with all my soul, mind, will and all my strength. The Lord’s Supper is a recognition and remembrance of my death and resurrection in Christ. The removal of my old heart and the giving of a new heart. The giving of a new life.

2. A cup that cries: “His blood was shed for me”

What does the cup speak to me? What about my sin? Is it right that people get away with breaking the law? If someone commit a murder, is it right that they get away? Do we not want to see justice? God’s justice is right. The world and many churches deny God the right to be angry at sin. God is holy and hate sin. He cannot look and stand it. Look at the flood, Sodom, and Gomorrah. Look at the cross and see God’s wrath on sin and lawlessness. God is not a weak and apologetic about punishing sin. He execute His righteous judgement on sin. However, justice was done at the cross. The law was upheld in the Son. God’s wrath was upheld on the cross. Jesus was made sin. God the Father treated Him as sin on the behalf of those He will save. God poured out His wrath for our sin on Jesus on the cross. The cup is a symbol of the blood that was spilled on the cross. It is a symbol that God will not remember the Christian’s sin. The wrath of God was satisfied on the cross and everyone who trust in Christ, the wrath of God over their sin, was removed by the blood of the Lamb. The blood of the Lamb was smeared on the door-post of every believer’s heart and the angel of death has passed by. Every time we celebrate the Lord’s supper, we remember the blood of Jesus which was shed for my sin. His blood washed my sins away. I can approach the throne of God through the blood of Jesus with confidence. In Him I am holy.

3. A cup that exclaims: ‘He is coming again”

1 Cor. 11:16 says, every time we partake in this cup, we proclaim His death until He come again. If He is coming again, it implies He is not dead any more. He is alive. If He is coming again, it means He is in heaven with the Father. He has risen and He is coming again. What is He doing in heaven now? He is interceding for us. Pleading on our behalf. His blood, death and resurrection is before the Father every day as He pleads for our pardon. Without His pardon and interceding, nothing would be enough to satisfy the Father. Only the Son, because of His death and resurrection, is good enough. The cup is also a Holy anticipation for His coming. The Lord’s Supper proclaim this reality until the Son returns. The Lords supper is a proclamation of the gospel to the world and to us. We need the gospel every day. We need to see and head it daily. The Lord’s Supper proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus to the world and us until He come. Do I tremble at the Holy anticipation of my sins forgiven?

References:

1. The Lord’s Supper: Do I tremble: 1 Cor. 11:25-26  (Link to source)