Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15

About Me

I am a young man who is following God's call into pastoral ministry. I have been so blessed with the privileges which the Lord has granted me. I am blessed to serve the Mt. Joy congregation in Mt. Pleasant, PA. I am constantly humbled and amazed at what the Lord is doing in my life.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Which Jesus?

             A lot of people talk about Jesus these days as He is a popular fixture in our culture. References to Him as well as portrayals of Him can be found in movies, TV shows, advertisements, and books. It is hard to find someone who hasn’t heard about Him or at least doesn’t have their own conception of Him. However, with all that said, we need to be cautious not to assume that everyone who is talking about Jesus is speaking of the same Jesus whom we trust and follow. Rather than just blindly accepting that someone who speaks of Jesus or claims to believe in Him has the right understanding of Who He is, we need to further ask the question, “which Jesus?” It very well may be a false perspective of Him which does not correspond to the truth of who He is as He has been revealed in God’s Word, the Bible.

             For instance, Muslims have a Jesus that they believe in but they view him as being a prophet just like Muhammad and that of a lesser status than him. The Koran emphatically states that Jesus cannot be said to be God’s Son and that he did not actually die on the cross but merely appeared to. The idea is that he swooned from all the suffering and became unconscious, being mistaken to have died. The Mormons view Jesus as being one of a multitude of gods and the spirit brother of Satan who did not make full atonement for people’s sins, leaving them with sins they need to atone for themselves. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus is not the eternal God but a created being, equivalent with Michael the Archangel. He is “a” god but not “the” God. There is also the Thomas Jefferson Jesus that some people believe in today. Our third president picked up scissors and literally went through the gospels and cut out anything supernatural that occurred in it. He believed that anything that could not be explained scientifically or naturally must not have happened. What this left him with was Jesus being only a good moral teacher. Not the sinless Son of God. And perhaps the most popular picture of Jesus out there today is what I would call “the tolerant inclusive Jesus.” A Jesus who is accepting of everyone as they are and being okay with whatever they want to do. This Jesus does not call people to follow him exclusively or to repent. According to him, we all are fine and don’t need saving. Just a little bit of guidance and encouragement to feel better about ourselves.

            All of these contradict the Jesus we encounter in the pages of Scripture who is the sinless Son of God, God in the flesh, both truly God and truly man, miraculously virgin born, really dying to atone for all of the sins of His people serving as their substitute sacrifice, and victoriously rising from the dead three days later to conquer death itself. And, as such, these groups mentioned above all wind up believing and following a false Jesus who, of course, does not exist.

            Now, you may be thinking, “While I realize that there are all these differences among these false religions and cults when it comes to Jesus, certainly you can’t be saying that it’s not the same Jesus in which they are referring to. They just got some of the details about him wrong. In the cases where he is presented on the screen or in some other book or advertisement and it doesn’t fully agree with the Bible, someone could still be introduced to Jesus even with these faulty descriptions of him.” Well, let me use an illustration to further communicate that these details in where they differ are so major that it actually doesn’t make sense for us to say that they are still talking about the same Jesus whom we know, love, worship, and follow. Suppose someone came up to you and asked if you were familiar with the man, “Lee Smith”. You more likely would probably say “yes” because you were thinking of your pastor who is writing this very article right now. Yet, as the person goes on and begins to talk about his pitching average and how they followed his career all the way from the Chicago Cubs up to his retirement with the Montreal Expos, and have all of his baseball cards, you would have to conclude that he is talking about a completely different “Lee Smith” than the one that you actually know. (The athletic ability or lack thereof of that one is nothing remotely comparable!) Why? Because the details are so very different and contradictory to the “Lee Smith” in which you are familiar that certainly you both cannot have the same person in mind, even though it is the same name. Such is the case with any portrayal or teaching of Christ which does not match up to what Scripture says about Him. They are so vastly different that we cannot say that they are talking about the same Jesus but have to recognize that it is another Jesus altogether.

            The reason this all matters is because the only Jesus who is able to save is the real Jesus we read about in the Bible. The “no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” is His name and not one of the same name with different characteristics. Jesus even says in John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” The “I am” ultimately is a reference to God’s divine name “Yahweh” revealed to Moses back in Exodus 3:14. So, if someone does not believe that Jesus is God as He claims to be with all the characteristics of Him, they will perish in their sins. They cannot be saved. Salvation is found nowhere else outside of the biblical Christ. Any so-called Jesus different than Him will leave someone damned in their sin with no hope of redemption. Hence, why it is essential that someone not only believes in Jesus but that they are believing in the correct Jesus.

            So, the next time that you hear someone talking about Jesus, or He is mentioned in an advertisement, or is portrayed on your TV screen, be sure to ask the question, “which Jesus?” and check to see if He matches up to the true Jesus described in Scripture who alone can save. Don’t just assume that it must be the correct Jesus. Watch and read with an open Bible in front of you to evaluate it. And only receive the One found in those pages.

With my love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

What God Thinks of Abortion

With the recent rightful overturning of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, the debate over abortion has only escalated. Everyone from the President to local lawmakers, to your brother-in-law or neighbor down the street currently expresses an opinion regarding this dreadful practice. What matters though is not what any governor might think, how any president may view it, what any of those in Congress may say about it, or even how a judge might rule concerning it, but how the God of the universe views abortion. And He doesn't leave us guessing as to His perspective on it. He lays it out clearly in His Word (contrary to an article that I read over the weekend wrongfully claiming that the Bible basically says nothing about abortion).

Part of the debate concerning abortion centers around whether or not a fetus can be described as a person. Is it just a glob of cells or is s/he a living human being? The answer to this question often will determine one's view on abortion. All of the evidence that we are provided with in Scripture would lead us to conclude that the fetus is nothing less than an actual human being created by God with a purpose that He has designed for him or her. In Psalm 139:13 for instance, David acknowledged that he was knit together in his mother's womb. The “me” in that verse shows us that David understood himself to be a distinct person from that very moment. God declared to Jeremiah that He had a purpose for the prophet before He formed him in the womb (Jeremiah 1:9). Speaking of the sparing between Jacob and Esau while in Rebekah’s womb, the author says that “the CHILDREN struggled together within her” (Genesis 25:22). “Children” (literally “sons”) is plural of the same term used to speak of a child which has been born as seen with us being told that Eve “gave birth to a SON and named him Seth” (4:25). Those two warring brothers are presented as being persons in conflict, not merely cells bumping into each other. The unborn infant John the Baptist who jumped for joy at the coming of Mary in light of the news that she was bearing the Lord is referred to as being a "baby" (Luke 1:41) just as Jesus is described as being after His birth (2:12, 16). This indicates that no distinction is made between the child in the womb and one outside the womb. Both are identified as being a “baby.” These show us that, according to God, the location and stage of develop of a child doesn’t make a difference. And I think what takes the cake in this whole argument is that according to the Old Testament law, if a pregnant woman is hit and it harms the unborn baby inside her, the situation is treated like it was the harm of a person (Exodus 21:22-25). The same law of retaliation ("life for a life," "eye for an eye," "tooth for a tooth," etc.) applies to the baby injured or killed who was inside the womb when his or her mother has been hit as it does to those outside the womb. God seems quite clear that a fetus is certainly much more than a "glob of cells." 

With this being the case, when it comes to abortion, God clearly sees it as a violation of the sixth commandment, "thou shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13); the intentional, deliberate taking of a human life. In each of the Ten Commandments, we find that every negative has a positive side to it. So, if the expressed negative here is not to take a life, the implied positive part of the command would be to preserve life. And since an unborn infant is a human life, this command calls for the preservation and protection of that life rather than its premature death by abortion. As God's law reveals a lot about Himself to us, this specific command shows us the value that God places on each individual human life.

As I pointed out in my newsletter article last month, all human life is so valuable and precious to God that He instituted the death penalty for those who take it. "And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image" (Genesis 9:5-6). God didn't say that man's blood should be required if he sheds the blood of any animal but if his sheds the blood of another man. In fact, He even requires a reckoning from "every beast" that would kill a man. As His specific creation and a bearer of His image, God values the life of man so much that any man who takes another man's life actually forfeits his own. To God, it is no small thing to take the life of any human being, regardless of the person’s size, location, or ability. He or she is an image bearer of His and therefore has such value and worth that it is a grievous crime to murder them. A crime so horrendous that it deserves the most severe punishment possible.

And God has a special place in His heart for those who are vulnerable and defenseless. This is seen in regards to His continual care of widows and orphans; those who could not care for themselves in ancient times and were left often without any earthly support and protection (Exodus 22:21-24; Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 68:5; 146:9; Jeremiah 49:11). He also commanded His people to look after such and chastised them for neglecting them (Psalm 82:3; Ezekiel 22:7; Zechariah 7:10; James 1:27). Surely the unborn also fit the category of being vulnerable and unable to defend themselves.

For further evidence of what God thinks about abortion, we only need to read His commentary on an ancient similar practice of the pagans. They would literally sacrifice their children in the fire to their false god known as Molech (Leviticus 18:21). We are told that this is an "abominable thing that the LORD hates" (Deuteronomy 12:31). When you come down to it, abortion is basically the sacrifice of a child to the god of "choice" or "self." Isn't that exactly what those who justify the murder of tiny babies in the womb claim to be the reason why it should be permitted? That a woman has a "choice" of what to do with what (in this case "who) is in her body. That she is in charge of this living separate organism that is being housed inside of her and therefore she has the right to decide whether to carry him or her full term. It is all about her ("self") and what she wants depending on the circumstances that she faces. That trumps any rights that the child could be said to have. It really is not that much different when you think about it.

 

            In addition to that, Proverbs 6:17 points out that “hands that shed innocent blood” are part of “six things which the LORD hates, even seven which are an abomination to Him” (v. 16). You can’t get much more innocent than a precious little child in his or her mother’s womb who hasn’t had the opportunity yet to commit any crime. With abortion, it is as if the unborn child is receiving the death penalty for things that he or she did not do. So, what then does God think about abortion? In connection to the ancient practice of infant sacrifice and being the shedding of innocent blood, we can conclude that God views such a practice as being an abomination to Him.

While politicians, courts, and others may debate the issue of abortion, God is clear where He stands. And with Him being the Judge of the universe, His view is the only one that actually matters. Unless the President and these lawmakers and government leaders repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation that He offers, they will face this Judge and have to answer for the blood on their hands. Oh, may they heed the call of the gospel and experience the change that only Jesus can bring in their lives before they have to meet this Judge and give an account! And may those mothers who have aborted their precious little babies find forgiveness in the One who graciously died for every sin of those who come to Him in repentance and place their faith alone in Him.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Responses to Common Arguments for Abortion

The recent Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs case which rightfully struck down the Court's previous ruling in Roe v. Wade has exacerbated the debate over abortion in our country. I continue to hear the arguments being made to justify abortion and find them all unconvincing. The reasons for which follow in my responses to five of the most common of the arguments typically made for the killing of tiny babies in the comfort of their mother's womb.

Argument #1: A Woman Has the Right to Choose What She Wants to Do with Her Body

Response: The problem with this line of thinking when it comes to the issue of abortion is that the child in her womb is not a part of her body. He or she is not an appendage to the woman like an arm or a leg. In fact, the baby has his or her own life and body with a separate DNA and heartbeat. The baby may not even have the same blood type as the mother or be the same gender for that matter. I heard somewhere that the woman's body should recognize the baby as a foreign object but a hormone or something prevents the body from rejecting him or her and the T-cells (the immune cells which attack and destroy anything foreign) from attacking the baby. The child, being a separate being him or herself, just takes up residence in his or her mother's womb until the time of delivery.

In a real sense, with abortion, a woman is not choosing what she does with her body but that of another's. She in essence is taking away any choice the child inside of her could ever have. Perhaps, it should be questioned then just how "pro-choice" such a position actually is since one person's choice trumps another person's choice. In each and ever abortion, there is a boy or girl who has all of their choices taken away. 

Argument #2: In the Case of Pregnancies Due to Rape and Incest, a Woman Should Have the Right to Choose to End the Pregnancy (i. e. Kill the Child Who Has Been Conceived) Because She Did Not Choose To Become Pregnant in the First Place and It Would Be Too Much to Expect Her Emotionally to Bear and Raise Such a Child, Knowing Who the Father is and How the Child was Produced.

Response: One evil act does not justify another one. While the rape and incest were clearly wrong and sinful, it is also wrong and sinful to murder. Both violate God's clear commandments. And just as it would be wrong to punish the woman for what has been done to her, the child should not be punished by death for crimes which he or she did not commit. It wasn't the child's fault for what had tragically happened to his or her mother. Now, you may say this is not viewed as a punishment for the child and really has nothing to do with the child at all. It is all about the mother and what she will have to go through if she continues with the pregnancy. However, like it or not, there is now another individual affected by what the mother does as a result of what has happened to her. She cannot choose to make a decision that has no effect on the child who has already formed and begun to develop in her womb. The child will be impacted by whether she goes through with the pregnancy or seeks to terminate it, destroying the life inside her.

While it very well may be difficult emotionally for a woman in such a situation, she can choose life for her child. Abortion does not, and should not, be an option for her. There are so many couples out there who would love to have a child and be glad to take care of him or her as their very own and several pregnancy centers and churches available to minister and help such a woman through a difficult pregnancy. And there are a number of times where a woman winds up falling in love with her child when she lays her eyes on him or her the first time and discovers that life to be a blessing, regardless of how it came about.

We need to keep in mind as well that, in the midst of the inexcusable evil that had been done, God still permitted the conception to occur and had begun to knit together a child in the womb (Psalm 139:13-14). And God, praise Him, specializes in bringing the greatest good from the worst of evils. As I previously mentioned, that child could wind up turning into a wonderful blessing for that mother or serve as the answer to the prayers for a couple who has been longing to have children but are unable to conceive.

Argument #3: In Situations Where a Child May Not Have the Most Ideal Conditions to Be Raised or Where He or She Will Face Difficulties Without the Greatest Quality of Life, An Abortion Could Spare Them From Such.

Response: We really have no idea what kind of life a child will wind up having and how he or she will turn out as a result of it. There is no crystal ball that we can look through to show us. Not knowing the future with any certainty, wouldn't it be best to allow the child the opportunity and right to live regardless of the circumstances which he or she may face? Shouldn't they at least be given a chance? How can such justify murdering them? Wouldn't it be better for us to focus on how we can work for them to have better conditions to grow and develop in rather than take their life with no opportunity to see what may happen? 

I see this also as being no reason to kill someone. The same can be said for the elderly person who doesn't have what we may deem the best quality of life. Who are we to determine that? The giving of life and taking away of it is God's prerogative, not ours (Job 1:21; 12:10; 33:4; Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6). And that is true of the child in the womb as well as grandma fast in bed in the nursing home.

Argument #4: A Woman's Life May Be in Danger With the Pregnancy and She Might Not Survive. An Abortion Could Save the Mother's Life.

Response: First, the aim of doctors and medical professionals are to do all that they can do to save BOTH the mother and the child in the case of something which may be life threatening to either one of them. And we live in a day and age now of such advance technology and knowledge that it is very rare where a child would have to be killed in order to save the mother from death. It is not a common occurrence at all and should not be used as an argument for the practice of abortion any more than the fact that some few children are born without clear genitalia would mean that someone can mutilate his or her body due to issues he or she has with the way that God created him or her. The occasional exceptions do not set the rule but prove it. Former U. S. Surgeon General Everett Koop once testified that "In my 36 years in pediatric surgery I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother's life."

 I have seen some women speak in favor of getting an abortion because they do not even want to risk their own life in the pregnancy. To put it bluntly, that is selfish and unloving. It is to place the concern of oneself over that of another. The very model for love that we have been given is that of the Lord Jesus Christ who willingly gave of His own life so that His people may have life in Him. Parents ought to be willing to lay down their own lives for their children, both figuratively and literally if necessary. In so doing, we demonstrate the love that Christ has for His church. In fact, abortion has even been referred to as the "evil reverse image of the gospel." "Instead of 'I'll die for you,' it says, 'You die for me.'"

And ectopic pregnancies, D and C where the baby has already died, and procedures for natural miscarriages where a heartbeat is not found are not considered to be abortions so they should stop being used as talking points in support of it. The outlawing of abortion has no bearing whatsoever for these procedures.

Argument #5: A Woman Should Not Have to Deal With An Unwanted Pregnancy

Response: Probably one of the most popular reasons for an abortion is due to the pregnancy being unwanted or unplanned. It is a convenient way to seek to undo what has been done. And while some may try to claim that abortion does not serve as a form of birth control, the very fact that so many men are seeking to have vasectomies right now and young women their tubes tied as a result of the Supreme Court's recent decision reveals otherwise. It often is a case of not wanting to take responsibility for one's actions.

A pregnancy of course can be prevented where a child who has been conceived does not have to be killed. And things always go best when one follows God's good and wise prescription to practice abstinence until marriage where the sexual relationship is designed to be a loving expression and symbol of the love and unity of a husband and wife. Furthermore, I think that every married couple ought to be open to the possibility of children and view them as a gracious gift from God to be embraced and loved rather than a burden to be avoided. As Psalm 127:3-5 puts it, "Behold, children are an inheritance of Yahweh, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with enemies in the gate." As a father of two boys currently, I can attest to the blessing they are to me and I would not trade them in for anything. I cannot imagine my life without them at the moment and they are definitely worth any sacrifice required. Personally, I say to you that you will be missing out if you choose not to have children or want to label them as an inconvenience.

And if every unwanted and unplanned pregnancy were ended, we would certainly be hurting as a society since it would have robbed us of a number of important figures who have made a difference in our history. Thankfully, due to moms who wisely choose life, we have been blessed by God's common grace by a number of men and women who the ramifications of their lives still can be felt today. Abortion not only robs a child of his or her life but also of the potential of what could be done in their life.

We also need to remember that with God, there really is no such thing as an "unplanned" pregnancy. (Please stop sharing that meme speaking of the one "unplanned" pregnancy that saved the world in reference to Jesus' birth. That birth was planned and orchestrated from before the very foundation of the world!) In God's sovereignty, He allows every conception to occur and so there must be a purpose for it. The question for us is whether we will accept His plan with the child or reject it. An unwanted or unplanned pregnancy according to us is never a reason to kill a child.

Try as someone may, there is no argument that can justify the murder of a small little child. God has not given anyone the right to murder the very one which He has fashioned and designed in the womb and which bears His image. There are no "ifs," "ands," or "buts" to this point either. Every life is a precious gift from God and should be received such. We are called to do all that we can to protect and preserve life, not destroy and end it. May God open up blind eyes to see the precious value and worth of every life that God has given.

Love in Christ,

Lee