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Posted by Matt Postiff April 30, 2019 under Theology  Death 

In my seminar on death and dying, section 8 is about cremation. Because the question about cremation comes up frequently, I reproduce the section below.

Introduction: He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab.

Deut. 34:6 records the burial of Moses. It tells us that Moses was buried by God in the valley in the land of Moab. His grave was concealed so that no one knew where it was. We can speculate this was done purposely to avoid future generations turning Moses’ grave into an idolatrous stumbling block. But for this lesson, the point is that God buried Moses. So is burial the biblical way to dispose of a dead body, or are there other ways, particularly cremation?

This lesson will argue in favor of burial as the best way to dispose of a corpse. I will not say that cremation is an outright sin, for there are a few instances in the Bible where it is used, but it should not be the general practice. Furthermore, you may have had a relative cremated while not understanding all the principles that may be raised in this lesson. Do not think you are being condemned in these notes for doing that.

In preparation for this lesson, I found very helpful a paper delivered in 2006 at the Rice Lectures at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. The paper is entitled “Is it Better to Bury or to Burn? A Biblical Perspective on Cremation and Christianity in Western Culture” by Dr. Rodney J. Decker, who was at the time Professor of Greek and New Testament at Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. This esteemed servant of God is now with the Lord.

The Question

In the whole issue of death and dying, a very common question is this one: “Is it OK to cremate?” But not much is written on the subject from a conservative Christian perspective. Decker reports that very few books on ethics even address the topic. Davis’s book Evangelical Ethics which I happen to have on my shelf does not have the subject listed in the index.

One importance of Deuteronomy 34:6 is that it shows how God preferred to dispose of a dead body. This would immediately seem to give priority to burial, but the question is somewhat more complicated than that. Let’s look at a few issues to clarify how we as Christians should think about burial and cremation.

The Culture and Cremation

Generally cremation is practiced when there is less knowledge of and belief in the Bible. Consider cremation in other religions: Hinduism and Indian belief as well as Buddhism all practice cremation. In these eastern religions, the burning is supposed to release the spirit of the person and prepare it for reincarnation. Buddha was cremated and his example is followed down to today. Confucianism initially did not allow cremation but later forms did allow it. Cremation is associated generally with non-Christian spirituality.

Burial was a cultural practice for Jews and early Christians, whether Jew or Gentile. That does not make it right or wrong per se. Furthermore, the Christian sub-culture with burial developed in various places around the world in the face of the pagan systems that it lived within, including the use of cremation. Christians lived—and died—differently than the pagans around them.

The first phase of the history of cremation in America is connected to liberal Christian belief, Masons, Unitarians, and atheists. A second phase was a pragmatic phase, including the building of many crematories and perfecting methods. The cremation rate was about 5% by the late 1960s. Funeral directors had the upper hand in the market of disposing dead bodies, because bodies were cosmetically altered to make them look more natural.

The third phase of cremation in America is from the 1960s until now, and it has been affected by the counter-culture movement (which often did the opposite of what was traditional), Vatican II (which allowed cremation in 1963 for Catholics), and the exposure of funeral industry practices. Cremation became an economic and commodity issue instead of just a religious one. Environmentalism also plays a role in the recent history of cremation (it is claimed to be better for the environment). The cremation rate today in the United States (2010) is about 30%. By 2025, it is projected to be about 43%.

Cremation and burial are contrasted and promoted by the popular books and movies Star Wars (cremation of the Jedi heroes) and Lord of the Rings (burial for the good guys and cremation for the bad guys).

The Bible and Cremation

Does the Bible encourage cremation? No. There are no passages that encourage cremation.

Does the Bible allow for cremation? Yes, but only in extreme circumstances. Thus cremation cannot be called a sin in every case, but in some cases it is. 1 Samuel 31:8-13 tells of the burning of Saul and his sons after their bodies were recovered from the Philistines. They were probably terribly decomposed and mutilated. This is a war-situation and not a normal civilian situation with regard to handling of dead bodies. Furthermore, 2 Samuel 2:5 shows that this was considered a kindness to treat the bodies the way they did—perhaps to avoid further desecration by the enemy. Finally, note that after the burning, the bones were buried, so burial was still done. 2 Samuel 21:14 shows that the bones were re-buried much later. Amos 2:1-3 and 6:8-10 also mention cremation—the first one as an atrocity and the second as a necessary way to dispose of a massive quantity of bodies. These are the only references to disposal of a body by cremation in the Bible.

There are some other references to murder or attempted murder by burning. See, for instance, Judges 15:6 and Daniel 3.

There are three passages where people are burned in judgment, so the primary emphasis is not on disposal of a body but rather on judgment. Leviticus 10:1-2 is the first, where Nadab and Abihu were killed by fire for offering “strange” or unauthorized or profane fire. Evidently they were drunk when performing tabernacle service and did not follow the proper procedures (Lev. 10:9). Numbers 16, particularly verse 35, recounts how fire came out from the LORD and consumed Korah and his co-conspirators. Joshua 7:25 is the third passage, which tells of the stoning and subsequent burning of Achan for his sin of covetousness and not obeying the “ban” put on the spoils of Jericho. In Joshua 6:24 the city was burned after killing of its inhabitants. This burning was used to implement the ban of 6:17. Achan was burned, in a sense, to complete this destruction of the city and all its inhabitants and spoils. In a sense, all these objects of judgment were cremated.

The other times that bodies were burned was in human sacrifice (2 Kings 17:17; Jer. 7:30-31; 2 Chron. 28:3; forbidden in Deut. 12:31; Lev. 18:21). There is obviously no connection to cremation with these examples.

So, the practice of cremation is not endorsed by the Scriptures.

The Bible and Burial

Many clear examples show that the normal Biblical practice is burial. Jesus was buried, and it was prophesied to be so (Psalm 16:10, Isa 53:9). Lazarus was buried (John 11:39). Sarah was buried (Gen. 23:19). Abraham likewise was interred (Gen. 25:10). Jacob was buried (Gen. 49:29). Many of the kings were buried too (e.g., 2 Kings 23:30 regarding Josiah).

Do the Bible and Biblical example encourage burial? Yes. This is a pattern in the narration of what happened, but does not explicitly teach that burial is the only method allowed to dispose of a body. To solidify our understanding, we have to examine the Bible’s teaching on subjects related to the body and human nature and future.

Biblical Theology and Cremation

This category is called out separately from the previous category because these are ideas put together from systematic theology and not directly from texts in the Bible.

The Connection with the Image of God

We believe it is important to treat the human body with dignity and respect because it is part of God’s creation of man in the image of God. We do not honor the body by itself, but we show respect for the whole person and the person’s memory, of which the body is a part.

Note that the burning of bodies, such as in the trash dump in the Valley of Hinnom (Isaiah 30:33, 66:24, Mark 9:48), is a sign of reproach and shame. Bodies left out for the dogs and vultures (2 Kings 9:36-37, Jer. 34:20), or even hung on a tree, indicated a curse on such people (Deut. 21:23, Joshua 8:29; cf. Acts 5:30, 10:39, Gal. 3:13). Such were not dignified or proper treatment of the body. Additionally, the symbolism of fire is not usually good. It is sometimes connected with purification, but more often it is connected with contempt, with judgment, and with Hades or Hell.

If you are a materialist or believe in nihilism, then cremation is natural. That is because a materialist believes all of life is just matter and there is no “image of God.” The mind and spirit are just molecules and chemicals and electricity and so forth. When we die, we just cease to exist. The natural thing for such a person would be to elect to be cremated.

If you view the spirit as the “real person,” then you will be more likely to accept cremation because the body is not relevant after death. If you believe that the body is a part of the image of God, then burial will be the acceptable way to dispose of the corpse.

What method of disposal is most dignified? Does active burning and destruction best honor the image of God in man? Or does allowing the natural process to decompose the body seem a better method?

The Unity of the Human Body and Spirit

A person is not just his spiritual part, nor is he just his material part. Both together make a human being according to Genesis 2:7. Furthermore, the natural state of human existence in this life and in Heaven or Hell is an embodied existence. All will be resurrected at one time or another (1 Cor. 15:22, Rev. 20:12). The state of the spirit being “naked” at death (2 Cor. 5:3-4) is not normal, and it is only temporary. Because both are part of the human, the body should not be treated as irrelevant.

At a funeral, I almost always say that the old tent (2 Peter 1:14) is not being put away forever, but will be resurrected according to 1 Cor. 15 and 1 Thess. 4:13-18 and many other passages. It is common to hear the phrase that “Grandma so-and-so is not here at the funeral, she is in heaven.” But the reality is, a part of her is down here, and her spirit is in heaven. Obviously, her conscious existence is not down here; it is in heaven. But that body is her body. It belongs to her.

If instead you believe that a person possesses a body instead of the body being an integral part of the person, then cremation will not be a problem for you.

The Connection with Resurrection

Does the Christian’s future hope have anything to do with how to dispose of the body? Yes. Just like baptism by immersion in water symbolizes death and resurrection with Christ, so burial follows the teaching of Paul in 1 Cor. 15 about being planted and raised. Burning and grinding up a body does not seem coordinate with planting and the hope of a future imminent resurrection.

The question arises as to how God will resurrect a cremated or otherwise destroyed body. This is no problem for the omnipotent God, who will resurrect our bodies so they have a substantial identity with our bodies before we died. As to the question of the precise molecules he uses, we do not need to concern ourselves with that. Our bodies are always changing with old cells dying and new ones being formed. And, our resurrected bodies are like plants compared to the seeds that were planted in death. Seeds and plants obviously have differences, but they are inextricably linked. We cannot object to cremation on the basis that it will somehow prevent us from being resurrected because that is just not the case. Our objection has to come from other reasons, which we have discussed already.

Summary of Theological Issues

When the many burial narratives are connected to theological issues of the image of God, the unity of the human personality, and resurrection, the narrative is strengthened so that it gives direction about what we should do—burial.

Other Issues

Organ donation is not a sin and is up to the discretion of the person before they die, or family of the person who has just died. It does not prevent the rapture or resurrection in any way.

Someone may be inclined to donate their body to science. This is a noble goal, since the person probably wishes to help their fellow humans have less pain and suffering. I could not say that it would be a sinful decision. From what I have heard, bodies that are donated are treated with a certain dignity, though whatever is done to the body in terms of anatomy or other studies may be less than dignified. For instance, at the University of Michigan Medical School, there is a memorial service for families after the bodies are "used."

Conclusion

What is the best way to display our Christian convictions about honoring the image of God, about following the Biblical example, and about picturing a future resurrection hope? Cremation seems to fall short in all these areas. A more wise approach is to follow the example of burial.

Decisions should not be reduced only to economics. Otherwise, cremation would win every time since it is cheaper. We should decide things based on the Bible and on the glory of God.


Posted by Matt Postiff April 9, 2019 under Society 

For sake of clarity, let me state up front that I am very strongly opposed to abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Consequently, I am not personally tolerant to the practice of abortion, and I don't look favorably upon those who practice it or promote it. I'm concerned for their eternal souls, for they too will be raised from the dead and face the judgment of God. Therefore, although I can't find abortion tolerable, I have a compassion for those who think it is OK, and those who promote it as a positive good, because their thoughts are darkened. They are not thinking right, and I hope they won't find that out at the judgment seat of God—when it is too late.

But putting that all aside for the moment, let us think about our society. It is, on the whole, tolerant of abortion. It allows babies to be killed, and increasingly so, even up to the moment of birth, or even after birth, as recent news has shown.

I would argue that since the society is tolerant of abortion, which has the irreversible effect of stopping the beating heart of a creature of the homo sapiens species, that logically our society should be willing to tolerate a number of other things. The most liberal among our society, since they tolerate the ending of the life of a baby, should be able to easily tolerate lesser things like:

  • Christians preaching the gospel;
  • Christians refusing to support gay marriage;
  • Christians refusing to support transgender practice;
  • Christians refusing to use state-mandated language such as certain pronouns, lest they face jailtime;
  • So-called victimless crimes like drug possession and use;
  • Churches and other religious organizations refusing to hire those who don't agree with them;
  • Constitutional carry of guns;
  • Harvesting of sea turtle eggs;
  • Killing of deer to reduce herd population;
  • Having a Bible in the public school library;
  • Inviting a Christian pastor to talk about his job and beliefs in a public school;
  • Public schools sending children to the Ark Encounter in and Creation Museum in Kentucky;
  • Unlicensed hairdressers;
  • Home schooling;
  • Circumcision;
  • Families who want to live in a patriarchal arrangement;
  • Skepticism about vaccinations or refusal to do some vaccinations (what's the worst that can happen?);
  • Racist speech;
  • Preaching against other religions and sexual sins (such as homosexuality, heterosexual or homosexual lust, fornication, pornography, pedophilia, and bestiality).

I could go through this list and tell you some things I'm for and other things I'm very much against, and yet others that I'm a little on the fence about. My views on these issues flow from a different presuppositional foundation than that of the liberal--a high degree of respect for life, among other things. But that's not my point here. The point is that someone who supports abortion should be fine with all the the above things which have far lesser consequences than the ending of a human life. Otherwise, he (or she!) is morally and logically inconsistent.


Posted by Matt Postiff April 9, 2019 under Bible Texts 

Here is today's question:

I’m reading through first Kings, and am clear in the first half of the chapter but am starting to get lost in chapter 20. Why did King Ahab make a pact with the evil king Ben-Hadad. And why did a prophet ask to be stricken?

The implication of 1 Kings 20:13, 22, and 28 is that God promised the king of Israel (Ahab) to defeat the entire Syrian army, including their leader Ben-Hadad. God had appointed this troubler of Israel, Ben-Hadad, to destruction, much like Jericho was devoted to total destruction in Joshua 6-7. The Hebrew term for such a "ban" or destruction is herem.

Why did Ahab make a treaty with Ben-Hadad instead of destroying him? Sin. More specifically, the sin of pride. He wanted to continue to be known as merciful (v. 31). What Ahab did was not worth what Israel got in return--they got cities taken by Ben-Hadad's father returned, and a marketplace in Damascus. To get that stuff, Ahab disobeyed God's instructions to him. He was told God would give the army into his hand; he was told to make plans to fight against the army in the coming spring season; and he was to be God's agent to defeat the arrogant Syrians who thought God was a God of the hills only, not the valleys. But he refused to finish the job. Without punishing the Syrian king, he was basically letting the nation go (even though many foot soldiers died).

Ahab's sin is like that of Jehoshaphat of Judah (1 Kings 22). The latter got himself mixed up with wicked Ahab when he should not have. All too often, the people of Israel "went down to Egypt" for help instead of just following the Lord their God (see Isaiah 30:1-5).

The prophet asked to be stricken to make his "costume" as a soldier more realistic. He was disguised because otherwise the king would have recognized him as a well-known prophet, and would immediately have suspected something before the prophet could make his point. His point was made by way of a fictional story, to show the king that someone who is entrusted to do something as important as he was (with Ben-Hadad) was not going to avoid consequences for his failure to carry out his duty. The only punishment fit for such a sin was a punishment that was commensurate with the crime--the life of the king and the people of Israel in place of the life of Ben-Hadad.

Somewhat parenthetically, 1 Kings 20:35-36 show that obedience to a man of God was required even if it meant doing something fairly strange, such as inflicting a wound upon him. Because the neighbor would not obey, there was a penalty for that too. The severity of the penalty was probably due to the fact that the neighbor knew the man was a prophet and that he should obey him as one who was giving the word of God. It is unlikely he walked up to a random stranger and interacted with him this way.


Posted by Matt Postiff February 27, 2019 under Theology  Cults, Etc. 

Part 4.

The fifth and final reason, for now at least, that I do not subscribe to SDA teachings, is that the writings of Ellen G. White are not equal to Scripture.

Ellen G. White (1827–1915) was a key figure in the formation of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Her writings hold enormous influence in the church, approaching the influence of Scripture, if not equal to it. The attention given to a single human author is typical of a cult or cult-like religious institution and should cause immediate skepticism among those who are evaluating the movement.

Furthermore, her writings were based on many hundreds of dreams and visions that she claimed were from God. For instance: “I am instructed that I am the Lord's messenger; that He called me in my youth to be His messenger, to receive His word, and to give a clear and decided message in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Although she says she never laid claim to be a prophet, this is the meaning of what she believed about herself and what she told others.

White wrote that "old Jerusalem never would be built up." This was understood, among other things, to mean that there would be no rebuilt Jerusalem in the millennial period of history. This is clearly a false teaching, as we know from Ezekiel and other prophecies that Jerusalem will be a focal point of the future kingdom of Christ on earth.

It is impossible for those who hold to the cessation of prophetic and other revelatory gifts to agree with her on the matter of her revelations. According to 1 Corinthians 13:8 revelatory gifts were soon to cease around the time of the Apostle Paul. The gifts have not reappeared, and will not do so until around the time of the return of Christ. In other words, whatever Mrs. White received was not from God above. It was from her own imagination, or from below. It certainly is not be a valid addition to Scripture, for anything more added to Scripture brings the curse of Revelation 22:18. And if the material of her writing is in complete agreement with Scripture, then it is superfluous and not in fact new revelation at all.

In conclusion, I agree that the principle of resting one day in seven is important. But Christians are not bound by law to keep a Saturday Sabbath.

Commemorating the resurrection of Christ is also important. But neither day is a matter of judgment or condemnation among God’s people.


Posted by Matt Postiff February 26, 2019 under Theology  Cults, Etc. 

Part 3.

A fourth reason that I am not an SDA is that historic Christian practice has been to worship on the first day of the week.

Traditionally, the church has always worshipped on Sunday, following the New Testament example. This was always a clear point of distinction between the Christians and the Jews.

Sunday worship can be demonstrated as the practice of the first, second, and third centuries A.D. Clearly, as we have shown in the earlier posts, there was Sunday worship in the middle of the first century. This easily predates the claim that Sunday worship started in Rome in the third century.

Early on, some Christian groups began to interpret Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath” that replaced the Jewish Saturday Sabbath. We do not agree with this approach, as it invalidly mixes two categories—Law and Church—that should be kept separate. Some churches observed the Saturday Sabbath, though this practice has waned. But in practice, this Saturday and Sunday sabbath carries over in the "weekend" of western cultures. We treat both Saturday and Sunday as special days...the normal work-week is from Monday through Friday, and Saturday and Sunday are off days so that Jews and Christians can worship unfettered by the normal weekly schedule. Secularists simply take them as days off to do what they want, which is a form of rest from their normal work pattern.

On March 3, 321 AD, Roman Emperor Constantine I decreed that Sunday would be the day of rest. For Bible Christians, however, this is irrelevant. We take our direction from Scripture, not from secular sources.

Some Christians in history worshipped on Saturday night, following the Jewish pattern that the day opens with the evening prior.

Part 5.


Posted by Matt Postiff February 25, 2019 under Theology  Cults, Etc. 

Part 2.

The third reason that I am not an SDA is that the Bible's teaching is that the Mosaic Law has been fulfilled.

The Law was given through Moses to the people of Israel. It was not given to Gentiles. Still, the Law is an expression of the holiness of God. But when Christ came, He came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17). And that He did, so that those who are in Christ also fulfill the Law by virtue of being in Him (Gal. 6:2).

As a result, the Christian is not under the Law of Moses. All Christians know this intuitively because we do not keep kosher, or offer sacrifices at the (non-existent) Jerusalem temple. Christ set aside the food laws (Mark 7:19) and became the one final sacrifice for sins for all time (Hebrews 10:10). We do not travel to Jerusalem three times annually to worship God (John 4:21). The “perpetual statutes” of the offerings, priesthood, and showbread are not operational today, showing that they were not meant forever, but only for as long as God is working with the nation of Israel (Exodus 29:9; Lev. 3:17, 24:9; Numbers 19:21). Presently, the nation is under divine chastisement and will be until the millennial kingdom, when some of these rituals will be reinstituted, although in modified form.

This includes the Sabbath law. It is no longer in force and is not a matter over which one Christian is allowed to judge another. Three texts justify this conclusion. The first is Colossians 1:16 which says, “So let no one judge you…regarding…sabbaths.” I am not permitted to view myself as condemned by someone who disagrees about the proper practice of the Sabbath. In fact, I take the text to indicate that I can push back against such a judgment. The second text is Romans 14:4-5. There, the apostle teaches us that we are not to judge other servants of God. They will stand or fall before their own master, not before us. A Seventh-Day Adventist is stepping out of bounds to adjudicate a non-Sabbatarian believer to be a sinner because he does not worship on Saturday. Some people regard one day more sacred than another, and others every day alike. Each has to be fully convinced in his own mind. The third text is Galatians 5:18, which explicitly says that we are not under the law, but instead are guided by the Holy Spirit. The present age, which some call the church age or the age of the Spirit, is characterized by a new regime of the Holy Spirit, instead of a regime of a written and burdensome code that no one successfully kept or could keep, except for Jesus.

As circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, so the Sabbath was a sign of the Mosaic covenant. We are not under that covenant now (1 Cor. 9:20; Romans 6:14-15) and therefore keeping the sign is not necessary for us.

Finally, to put yourself or others under the Law is to transgress the principle of Galatians 3:10. If you wish to keep the law in one point, you must keep the entire law, lest you bring upon yourself the curse mentioned in that verse. Relying upon the works of the law is a losing proposition, for by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified (Rom. 3:20).

Part 4.


Posted by Matt Postiff February 25, 2019 under Theology  Cults, Etc. 

Part 1.

The second reason that I do not adhere to the SDA interpretation of the faith is the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus to the Christian faith.

The apostles led the early church to worship on the first day of the week because the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred on that day. As shown above, that one-time event happened on the first day of the week after the Passover holy days. This great event is the lynch-pin of the Christian faith. Without it, there is no Christianity (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). It is entirely fitting, therefore, to worship Christ on that day each week, and thus to give Christ the first part of our week.

The original creation took six days and God rested on the seventh. The new creation began on the eighth day, so to speak, that is, the first day of the following week. Christians faithfully commemorate “Easter” each and every week they worship on the first day.

Part 3.


Posted by Matt Postiff February 25, 2019 under Theology  Cults, Etc. 

I read a tract some time ago as to why a Seventh Day Adventist worships on Saturday. My first response to this is the Apostolic example of worshipping on the first day of the week.

1. The resurrection of Christ occurred on the first day of the week. All of the gospels are careful to note this timing: Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, 19.

2. The disciples’ practice was to come together to break bread on the first day of the week. This was in the city of Troas in approximately 56 A.D. This was nearly a quarter century (25 years) after Jesus died and rose. Church practice had some time to settle by this point, and they were worshipping on the first day. Note that breaking bread together likely refers to the Lord’s Table service, which is worship. In any case, they met in the evening to hear preaching of the Word.

3. Around the same year, the church in Corinth evidently met on the first day of the week. This was when the apostle Paul instructed them to set aside money so that there would be money saved up for Paul’s arrival (1 Corinthians 16:2).

4. This first day of the week was also known as the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10). This was as late as 95 A.D., or more than 60 years (two generations) after the resurrection of Christ. The apostle John noted this day by the name of the Lord.

Part 2.


Posted by Matt Postiff February 12, 2019 under Bible Texts 

There is a fascinating little passage in Acts 16:6-10 that mentions the Spirit of God prohibiting Paul and his team from ministering the gospel in certain areas. Prior to this, Paul and Silas had been visiting churches planted during their first missionary tour though southern Asia Minor. They were joined by Timothy as they ministered in Derbe, Lystra, and surrounding cities. The team then wished to head west toward what was known as Asia (the region where Ephesus is), but the text says the Holy Spirit forbade them from going there. Then they turned their sights northeast toward Bithynia, but the Spirit also prevented them from going there.

So the question posted to me was this: why not minister in those locations? The people there needed Christ just as much as the others, right? The prohibition/lack of permission doesn't seem in accord with the Great Commission, which directs believers to preach the gospel to every nation.

The fact is that the text does does not tell us. So, was it:

  • not the right time?
  • too dangerous?
  • like the Lord's command to the 12 not to minister in Samaria or in Gentile places, but only to Israelites (Matthew 10:5)?
  • less urgent than something else?

Since the text doesn't tell us explicitly, we need not speculate further. But the text does tell us that there was an urgent need in another place. That was made known via special revelation (a dream/vision). The team concluded that the Lord was using the vision to guide them to cross over into Europe and preach the gospel there. We know from later in the chapter that a business-woman and a corrections official needed to hear the gospel and be saved. A church had to be started in that place, the city of Philippi. A slave girl who was being trafficked because of her demon possession had to be rescued from her oppressors. The Lord was readying the people there and was about to open their hearts to the message of Christ.

As I read the passage again this morning, I pondered the notion that in ministry, timing is important. This doesn't mean we are in a rush, but sometimes the "iron is hot" and work needs to be done about it. Sometimes there are people who are in a needy state "right now" and need our attention. For those needs, the time is now.

It also illustrates a point that life and ministry is not something that is always going to present open doors. This should not discourage us. We must keep on going, and pressing into new areas and new directions, and we must stay keen about the circumstances and facts of what is going on around us. Since we don't have special revelation today, we must rely on godly wisdom gained from Scripture, and godly counsel from others who have gained such wisdom, so that we can ascertain which direction to move.

There is another entire question, and that is how did the Spirit communicate this prohibition to Paul and the missionary team? It seems to be special revelation, but did it have a providential component as well? We will leave that for another post sometime.

Listen to the sermon where I covered this passage.


Posted by Matt Postiff February 7, 2019 under Theology  Music 

A couple of weeks back, I asked the congregation if anyone would like to search our hymnal to find as many "Triune" hymns as they could find. That is, hymns that refer to all three members of the Trinity. This was timely because we have been going through a series on Sunday evenings on the Christian teaching of the Trinity. One of our members came up with this list (page number in Rejoice Hymns):

  • I will Praise Him (5)
  • Father, I Adore You (repetitive, 6)
  • Come Thou, Almighty King (9)
  • Doxology (14)
  • Glorify Thy Name (repetitive, 16)
  • Holy God, we Praise Thy Name (37)
  • Be Thou Exalted (57)
  • Praise Ye the Triune God (66)
  • God is Holy (83)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy (85)
  • Holy is the Lord (89)
  • Saved by the Blood (375)
  • Eternal Father, Strong to Save (518)
  • Glory Be to the Father (572, 573)
  • The Church's One Foundation (575)

Enjoy these hymns as you praise our great God!


Posted by Matt Postiff January 24, 2019 under Society 

You may have read in history how various cultures have handled "unwanted" babies. One common technique was to use exposure in the elements to kill a baby. Cold, dehydration, or hunger were used to kill the baby, probably out of sight and the sound of the cries of the little one. How cruel and barbaric such murder was.

Human society has not progressed at all over the centuries. I woke up this morning to learn that the New York State Senate passed the so-called reproductive health act that provides for abortion up to the last minute of a pregnancy, abortion by lethal injection, abortion by non-physicians, adding abortion to the NY constitution, and repeal of protection for babies who survive abortions. Murderers cannot be punished by lethal injection in New York, but babies can be?!

The representatives in the senate were clapping after passage of the bill in celebration. Governor Cuomo had the World Trade Center spire lit in pink color to celebrate this abomination. Wasn't that building built after the previous version was destroyed and thousands died on 9/11/2001? So now it is used as a monument to celebrate more death? My fellow Christians, the heart of man is desperately wicked. We knew that, of course, but it is not encouraging to see how brazen they are in their evil.

Once the left started glorifying abortion as a sacred right there was only one place this could end up. Now everyone can see how dark hearted and twisted their thinking is. People who hold back in condemning this to avoid conflict or discomfort are copping out. There’s no excuse. —David Limbaugh, January 23, 2019 Tweet

Yes, Christians condemn infanticide. We condemn abortion. If that condemnation brings conflict, so be it.

In better news, new Ohio governor Mike DeWine said that he would sign the heartbeat bill, which will prohibit abortions from about 6 weeks after conception. That's still not perfect, but much better.


Posted by Matt Postiff January 6, 2019 under Theology 

Occasionally I see folks searching for a chart of the dispensations and Google refers them to an old document that was on our site. Here is that document:

Dispensation Chart PDF

Dispensation Chart Word document

A more helpful document that is the fruit of more of my study on the topic is also available:

Dispensation Chart PDF

Dispensation Chart Libre Office format

This one does not focus on the seven dispensations or the relationship to the covenants, but rather gives attention to the essential elements or sine qua non of the dispensational approach to Scripture.

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