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Sex And The Christian

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“I am the light of the world,” said Jesus. “I have come into this world so that the blind will see” (John 9:5, 39). And to demonstrate it, he healed a man who had been born blind. He came to help people see, to help them understand something about God’s love for them.

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A MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR

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rom time to time certain topics jump out at me when it comes to determining the themes for issues of Northern Light. This particular theme came out of a comment one visitor made when attending our Alpha Course in my home congregation. Among some other issues he had with our church and Christianity in general, he said, “The Church just doesn’t talk about sex enough!” I thought, “Where did that one come from?” The more I thought about it, the more I could see he may have a point. Whether we like it or not, society around us is, for lack of a better expression, “obsessed with sex.” Just turn on the television or go to a movie and it seems you can’t go 10 minutes without some allusion to sex being made.Most popular music is filled with either direct sexual references or at least some euphemism for the sex act.

Une lumière aveuglante

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Jésus a dit : « Je suis la lumière du monde […]. Je suis venu dans ce monde pour qu’un jugement ait lieu, pour que ceux qui ne voient pas voient » (Jean 9.5,39). Et pour le prouver, il a guéri un homme qui était né aveugle. Il est venu pour aider les gens à voir, pour qu’ils comprennent quelque chose sur l’amour de Dieu pour eux.

A Very Special Love Song

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n a world awash with the debris of broken homes, crushed spirits and fractured dreams, God’s people need the message of The Song of Solomon as never before.

The Struggle Against Pornography

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A teenager, excited about the unlimited resources available on the Internet, has been surfing the Net for quite some time when one day a window opens up on a seemingly innocent website.

Personal Director’s Desk Pastor’s Corner Commentary Focus On Grace The Journey Theme Articles Children’s Corner Bible Study National News Announcements

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The modern press is enamored with who is sleeping with whom, or tries to list the latest ways to please your partner. People are now even classified at what type of sexual relationships they practice, be they heterosexual, homosexual or what-have-you. Powerful lobby groups now exist to promote their particular life-style. Christians would have to live on another planet or in some sort of vacuum not to be affected by this whole issue. The Bible affirms that we were created as sexual beings. As I joked with one of the copy editors this past week, “Perhaps we should have titled this issue, ‘and it was very good!’” Many of our writers picked up on these words from Genesis 1:31. This was the Creator’s comment after creating man and woman followed by command to be fruitful and multiply. I am thankful to those who have taken time to take pen in hand to provide some very helpful and thought provoking articles on this subject. I am also grateful that we are a worldwide fellowship which allows us to to share articles betrween various sister publications. In this issue we feature articles from members in Malaysia and Africa. As the world continues to shrink our concerns as Christians are shared thoughout our global family. NL

Bill Hall

FRONT COVER: The late Canadian Prime Minister once said that he wasn’t concerned with what went on in the bedrooms of the nation. But what about Christians? Cover Photo: © Designpics Back Cover: © Designpics Additional photos and illustrations: JupiterImages © 2000 - 2005 unless otherwise noted

Northern Light magazine is the official magazine of the Worldwide Church of God, Canada. It exists to share the stories of our members and congregations on their Christian journey. Northern Light does this by featuring articles that encourage, nurture and inform.

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P E R S O N A L By Joseph Tkach

A Blinding Light

Pastor General

“I

am the light of the world,” said Jesus. “I have come into this world so that the blind will see” (John 9:5, 39). And to demonstrate it, he healed a man who had been born blind. He came to help people see, to help them understand something about God’s love for them. But Jesus also said that he came to bring blindness: “I have come into this world so that … those who see will become blind” (John 9:39). This is a hard saying—it is easy to understand a physician who came to heal the sick, but it is hard to understand a physician who came to make healthy people sick. Whose fault is it? Let’s review the story in John 9. As Jesus and the disciples walked through Jerusalem, they saw a blind man. Somehow they knew that the man had been blind from birth, and the disciples used the opportunity to ask Jesus a theological question that had puzzled them: Whose fault is this, they asked. Did the man sin before he was born, or is he being punished because his parents sinned? Problems like this, they assumed, are the result of sin. But who sinned? Neither answer seemed right, and Jesus agreed. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus said, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (v. 3). Did God cause the man to be blind just so that Jesus could do a miracle? I don’t think that is what Jesus is driving at. Jesus seems to be talking about the result rather than the purpose or cause. The man was born blind, and it doesn’t do him or anyone else any good for us to speculate about whose sin caused it. The man does not need a discussion about the causes of evil—he needs his sight, and Jesus said that the result of his condition is that “the work of God” would be seen in him. And by that, I think that Jesus was talking about more than a miracle.

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“As long as it is day,” Jesus said, “we must do the work of him who sent me.” A modern proverb that is roughly equivalent is, “Make hay while the sun shines”— or work while you can, because, as Jesus warns, a time will come when you can’t: “Night is coming, when no one can work.” When will that be, we might wonder. When will it not be possible to do the work of God? Jesus continued, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (v. 5). As long as he is here, it is daytime—but a time would come when he would go away and the work would stop. Fortunately for us, that “night” did not last long, for Jesus was raised from the dead and now works in and through his people. (We also need to work while we can, because a time will come for each of us when we can do no more.) Blind obedience To illustrate what he meant by being a light to the world, Jesus spit on the ground, made a little mud, put it on the eyes of the blind man and told him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. It’s hard to know from this account how much the man knew about Jesus. He knew his name, but may not have known much more than that. But he went to the Pool of Siloam anyway, and he was healed. It would have been interesting to see his reaction, but all we are told is that he went home (v. 7). Now, why did Jesus heal the man in such an unusual way? If he just wanted to display a miracle, he would have healed him instantly. He could have said to his disciples, I can give spiritual sight just like this: snap! But the disciples did not see a miracle—all they saw was that

Jesus put mud on somebody’s face and then told him to go wash it off. John never does tell us how they reacted when they eventually found out. So the story that John is telling here is not so much about the miracle—it is about how the man learns who Jesus is, and how he reacts when he does. This is the far more important work of God that is being demonstrated in this man’s life. The news got around, and the man told people that “the man they call Jesus” had healed him (v. 11). Then the Pharisees, the self-appointed judges of all spiritual truth, started to investigate this supernatural event. Some of them had already concluded that Jesus couldn’t be from God because he worked on the Sabbath. (Even God himself had to keep their rules, apparently.) Others were more open-minded, saying that sinners (at least the sinners they knew) couldn’t do miracles like that (v. NORTHERN LIGHT


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16). So they asked the formerly blind man what he thought. “He is a prophet,” the man replied. He is like Elijah, sent by God with a message. The Jews, or at least some of them, didn’t seem to like that answer, so they searched for a way to discredit the miracle. They asked his parents about it, and the parents verified the facts: He was born blind, but now he can see, but we don’t know who did it. They didn’t offer an opinion on whether Jesus was from God, because they were afraid of being expelled from the synagogue (v. 22). I feel sorry for the parents. They had probably lived for years with the accusation that their son was blind because they had sinned. They needed the synagogue because faithful attendance was the only way they could show they were good people after all. Even though their son could now see, they were not willing to risk expulsion—and John probably includes this because it was precisely the situation that some of his readers faced. After Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70, the Jewish leaders regrouped and began demanding more conformity; they did not allow people to attend synagogue if they had any forbidden beliefs about a messiah. John has set before us several types of people: 1) Some who have already made up their minds that Jesus is ungodly. 2) Some who are puzzled by Jesus but still try to discredit him. 3) Some who refuse to say, and probably don’t even want to find out because they are afraid of the consequences. 4) The man who viewed Jesus as good, and was willing to learn more. Growing in faith The Jewish leaders went back to the healed man and asked him again, and he told them again. “We know this man is a sinner,” they said (v. 24). I’m not sure about that, the man replied, but I know for sure that I’ve been healed. He must have been a little exasperated with S E P T E M B E R



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their attitude, for he asked, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” (v. 27). The leaders were offended by this idea, so they responded with insults, drawing a line in the sand: “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses!”— and you can’t be a disciple of both. John knew his readers needed to hear that, too. Don’t worry about getting kicked out of the synagogue, he seems to say. You should have left it long ago, anyway. The man became bolder, saying, You don’t even know whether this man is from God, but he opened my eyes, and God doesn’t listen to sinners! “He listens to the godly man who does his will” (v. 31). In other words, Jesus is a godly man who is doing the will of God. “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” That’s the central question that runs throughout the Gospel of John: Is Jesus from God? The man declared that Jesus is from God. The Jewish leaders became angry at this layman who tried to teach them theology, and they expelled him from the synagogue. They didn’t want him telling his story to more people. Jesus heard about it and went looking for the man. “When he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ “ (v. 35). Here Jesus seems to be using the “Son of Man” as a messianic title, perhaps derived from Daniel’s vision of “one like a son of man” who was given supreme authority (Dan. 7:13-14). “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” If you say I am supposed to believe in somebody, then I will. Jesus revealed himself to be the Son of Man, and the man worshipped him (v. 38). Just as he could see physically, he could also see spiritually, and in this way he displayed the work of God in his life.

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Judgment Jesus now gives another theological lesson: “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Jesus is the category by which all humanity will be judged. If people accept him, then God accepts them. But if they reject him, they are rejected. In other words, when a person refuses light, they have only darkness. Jesus is claiming to be the way, the truth and the life. Here he says he is the light, the one who enables people to see. Some people refuse to see. Some are afraid, because Jesus nullifies their badges of righteousness. And when they turn away from Jesus, from the only true Light, they go further into darkness. In this story, the leaders of the synagogue would rather be blind than to admit that they had been wrong. Some Pharisees asked, “Are we blind too?” And Jesus explained his parable: “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (v. 41). When he said, “Those who see will become blind,” he was not talking about people who really had spiritual insight. Rather, he was talking about people who only thought their insight was spiritual light, when it really was only darkness. They claimed to know spiritual truth, but when the Truth was right in front of them, they would not see it. Jesus did not make them blind, but he showed that they were blind. People are judged by the way they respond to Jesus. If they admit their ignorance and are willing to be taught, they are not counted guilty. But if they claim to see, yet reject the only true Light, then they are guilty. When you look at Jesus, what do you see? NL

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ÉDITORIAL de Joseph Tkach pasteur général

Une lumière aveuglante

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ésus a dit : « Je suis la lumière du monde […]. Je suis venu dans ce monde pour qu’un jugement ait lieu, pour que ceux qui ne voient pas voient » (Jean 9.5,39). Et pour le prouver, il a guéri un homme qui était né aveugle. Il est venu pour aider les gens à voir, pour qu’ils comprennent quelque chose sur l’amour de Dieu pour eux.

tant qu’il fait jour » (v. 4). Un proverbe moderne qui lui ressemble dit : « Battre le fer pendant qu’il est chaud », autrement dit, travaillez pendant que vous le pouvez parce que, comme Jésus a averti, le temps viendra où vous ne le pourrez pas. « […] la nuit vient où plus personne ne pourra travailler » (v. 4). Quand cela arrivera-t-il, nous demandons-nous peut-être. Quand sera-t-il impossible d’accomplir les œuvres de Dieu ?

Mais Jésus a aussi dit qu’il est venu pour apporter la cécité : « Je suis venu dans ce monde pour […] que ceux qui voient deviennent aveugles » (Jean 9.39). C’est une parole dure ; il est facile de comprendre qu’un médecin soit venu pour guérir des malades, mais il est difficile de comprendre qu’un médecin soit venu pour rendre malades des gens en santé. À qui est la faute ? Revoyons l’histoire racontée en Jean 9. En traversant Jérusalem, Jésus et les disciples ont vu un homme aveugle. D’une façon ou d’une autre, ils savaient que l’homme était aveugle depuis sa naissance, et les disciples ont saisi l’occasion pour poser à Jésus une question théologique qui les intriguait : « Disnous, Maître, pourquoi cet homme est-il né aveugle ? Est-ce à cause de son propre péché ou de celui de ses parents ? » (v. 2) Ils ont présumé qu’un tel problème était le résultat du péché, mais du péché de qui au juste ? Aucune des deux suggestions ne semblait exacte, et Jésus a acquiescé. « Jésus répondit : Cela n’a pas de rapport avec son péché, ni avec celui de ses parents ; c’est pour qu’en lui tous puissent voir ce que Dieu est capable de faire » (v. 3). Dieu a-t-il permis que l’homme soit aveugle seulement pour que Jésus opère un miracle ? Je ne

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crois pas que c’est là où Jésus voulait en venir. Jésus semble parler du résultat plutôt que du but ou de la cause. L’homme était né aveugle, et il ne sert à rien, ni pour l’homme ni pour nous, de spéculer pour savoir qui, par son péché, est responsable de la cécité de l’homme. L’aveugle-né n’a nul besoin d’une discussion sur les causes du péché, mais il a besoin de voir, et Jésus précise que le résultat de sa condition sera que les gens verront l’œuvre de Dieu en lui. Par ces paroles, je crois que Jésus parlait bien plus que d’un miracle. Jésus a ajouté : « Il nous faut accomplir les œuvres de celui qui m’a envoyé

Jésus poursuit : « Aussi longtemps que je suis encore dans le monde, je suis la lumière du monde » (v. 5). Tant qu’il est ici, c’est le jour, mais un temps viendra où il s’en ira et que le travail s’arrêtera. Heureusement pour nous, cette « nuit » n’a pas duré longtemps, car Jésus est ressuscité d’entre les morts et il agit maintenant dans son peuple et à travers lui. (Nous aussi devons travailler pendant que nous le pouvons, parce qu’un temps viendra où ne nous pourrons plus rien faire.) L’obéissance aveugle Pour illustrer ce qu’il voulait dire par être une lumière du monde, Jésus a craché par terre, a fait un peu de boue avec sa salive, l’a appliquée sur les yeux de l’aveugle et lui a dit d’aller se laver dans le réservoir de Siloé. À partir de ce récit, il est difficile de savoir combien de NORTHERN LIGHT


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choses l’homme savait sur Jésus. Il connaissait son nom, mais il pouvait bien ne pas en savoir davantage à son sujet. Il est tout de même allé au réservoir de Siloé, et il a été guéri. Il aurait été intéressant de voir sa réaction, mais tout ce que l’histoire raconte est qu’il est allé chez lui (v. 7). Pourquoi Jésus a-t-il guéri l’homme d’une façon si inhabituelle ? S’il avait voulu seulement opérer un miracle, il aurait guéri l’aveugle-né instantanément. Il aurait pu dire à ses disciples qu’il pouvait donner la vue spirituelle en claquant simplement des doigts. Mais les disciples n’ont pas été témoins d’un miracle : tout ce qu’ils ont vu est Jésus mettre de la boue sur le visage de quelqu’un et lui dire ensuite d’aller se laver. Jean ne nous dit jamais comment les disciples ont réagi lorsqu’ils se sont finalement rendu compte de la guérison. L’histoire que Jean nous raconte n’est donc pas tellement à propos du miracle, mais de la manière dont l’homme a appris qui était Jésus, et quelle a été sa réaction lorsqu’il l’a su. C’est l’œuvre de Dieu de loin la plus importante qui s’est manifestée dans la vie de cet homme. La nouvelle s’est répandue, et l’aveuglené a dit aux gens que « l’homme qui s’appelle Jésus » l’avait guéri (v. 11). Puis les pharisiens, ceux qui se disent juges de toute vérité spirituelle, ont commencé à enquêter sur l’événement surnaturel. Certains d’entre eux avaient déjà conclu que Jésus ne pouvait pas venir de Dieu, parce qu’il avait travaillé le jour du sabbat. (Même Dieu devait apparemment garder leurs lois.) D’autres avaient un esprit plus ouvert et disaient que des pécheurs (du moins les pécheurs qu’ils connaissaient) ne pouvaient pas opérer un tel signe miraculeux (v. 16). Ils ont alors demandé à l’homme qui avait été aveugle ce qu’il en pensait. « Il est un prophète », a répondu l’homme. Il est comme Élie, envoyé par Dieu avec un message. S E P T E M B E R



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Les Juifs, ou du moins certains d’entre eux, ne semblant pas apprécié cette réponse, ont donc cherché un moyen de discréditer le miracle. Ils ont questionné les parents de l’aveugle-né, et ceux-ci ont attesté les faits : leur fils était bel et bien né aveugle, mais maintenant il voyait ; cependant, ils ignoraient qui l’avait guéri. Ils ne voulaient pas donner une opinion quant à savoir si Jésus venait ou non de Dieu, parce qu’ils craignaient d’être exclus de la synagogue (v. 22). Je plains les parents. Ils avaient probablement vécu pendant des années avec l’accusation que leur fils était aveugle à cause de leurs péchés. Ils avaient besoin de la synagogue, parce que fréquenter ce lieu était leur seul moyen de prouver qu’ils étaient après tout de bonnes personnes. Même si leur fils pouvait maintenant voir, eux ne voulaient pas prendre le risque d’être expulsés. Jean inclut probablement ce détail parce que c’était précisément la situation que vivaient certains de ses lecteurs. Après la destruction de Jérusalem en l’an 70 apr. J.-C., les chefs religieux se sont réunis et ont commencé à exiger plus de conformité ; ils ne permettaient pas aux gens de fréquenter la synagogue s’ils avaient des croyances défendues à propos d’un Messie. Jean nous présente plusieurs types de personnes : 1. ceux qui se sont déjà fait une idée que Jésus n’est pas de Dieu ; 2. ceux qui sont intrigués par Jésus, mais qui essaient toujours de le discréditer ; 3. ceux qui refusent de se prononcer et qui probablement ne veulent rien savoir parce qu’ils ont peur des conséquences ; et 4. ceux qui considéraient Jésus comme bon et qui voulaient en apprendre davantage sur lui.

rétorqué : « Cet homme [Jésus] est un pécheur, nous le savons » (v. 24). L’homme guéri a répondu : « S’il est pécheur ou non […] je ne n’en sais rien. Mais il y a une chose que je sais : j’étais aveugle et maintenant, je vois » (v. 25). Il devait être un peu exaspéré de leur attitude, car il a demandé : « Je vous l’ai déjà dit […], et vous ne m’avez pas écouté. Pourquoi tenez-vous à me le faire répéter ? Est-ce que, par hasard, vous avez l’intention de devenir vous aussi ses disciples ? » (v. 27). Les chefs religieux offensés par cette idée ont donc répliqué par des insultes, en tirant des conclusions catégoriques : « C’est toi qui es son disciple ; nous, nous sommes les disciples de Moïse » (v. 28) – et on ne peut pas être un disciple des deux. Jean savait que ses lecteurs avaient aussi besoin d’entendre cela. Ne vous inquiétez pas d’être expulsés de la synagogue, semble-t-il dire. Vous auriez dû la quitter, il y a bien longtemps, de toute façon. L’homme est devenu plus audacieux en disant aux chefs religieux qu’ils ne savaient même pas si Jésus était de Dieu, mais qu’il lui avait ouvert les yeux, et que Dieu n’écoute pas les pécheurs. « […] mais si quelqu’un est attaché à Dieu et fait sa volonté, il l’exauce » (v. 31). Autrement dit, Jésus est un homme de Dieu qui fait la volonté de Dieu. « Si cet homme-là ne venait pas de Dieu, il n’aurait rien pu faire » (v. 33). C’est la question centrale qui résume tout l’évangile de Jean : Jésus vient-il de Dieu ? L’homme guéri a déclaré que Jésus est de Dieu. Les chefs religieux se sont fâchés contre cet homme profane qui essayait de leur enseigner la théologie, et ils l’ont expulsé de la synagogue. Ils ne voulaient pas qu’il raconte son histoire à plus de gens.

Croître dans la foi Les chefs religieux, étant retournés voir l’homme guéri, lui ont posé de nouveau la même question, mais l’homme leur a donné la même réponse. Les chefs ont

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Jésus ayant entendu ce qui se passait est allé à la recherche de l’homme qu’il avait guéri. « […] Il alla le trouver et lui demanda : Crois-tu au Fils de l’homme ? » (v. 35). Dans ce passage, Jésus semble

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se servir du terme « Fils de l’homme » comme d’un titre messianique peut-être dérivé de la vision de Daniel où il parle de « quelqu’un semblable à un fils d’homme » à qui a été donnée la souveraineté (Daniel 7.13,14). L’homme guéri a demandé à Jésus : « Qui est-ce ? Dis-le moi, Seigneur, pour que je puisse croire en lui » (v. 36). Il semblait dire à Jésus que, s’il était censé croire en quelqu’un, alors il le ferait. Jésus s’est révélé comme le Fils de l’homme, et l’homme guéri s’est prosterné devant lui (v. 38). Tout comme il pouvait voir physiquement, il pouvait aussi voir spirituellement, et c’est ainsi que l’œuvre de Dieu a été manifestée dans sa vie. Le jugement Jésus enseigne ensuite une autre leçon théologique : « Je suis venu dans ce monde pour qu’un jugement ait lieu, pour que ceux qui ne voient pas voient, et que ceux qui voient deviennent aveugles » (v. 39). Jésus est la norme d’après laquelle toute l’humanité sera jugée. Si les gens l’acceptent, alors Dieu les accepte, mais s’ils le rejettent, ils sont rejetés. En d’autres termes, lorsqu’une personne refuse la lumière, elle n’a que l’obscurité. Jésus déclare être le chemin, la vérité et la vie. Il affirme aussi être la lumière, celui qui permet aux gens de voir. Certains refusent de voir et ont peur, parce que Jésus invalide leur insigne de justice. Et lorsqu’ils se détournent de Jésus, de la seule vraie lumière, ils s’enfoncent encore plus dans l’obscurité. Dans ce récit de l’aveugle-né, les chefs religieux de la synagogue préféraient être aveugles qu’admettre leur tort. Quelques pharisiens ont demandé : « Serions-nous, par hasard, nous aussi des aveugles ? » Et Jésus a expliqué sa parabole : « Si vous étiez de vrais aveugles […] vous ne seriez pas coupables. Mais voilà : vous prétendez que vous voyez ; aussi votre culpabilité

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Certains refusent de voir et ont peur, parce que Jésus invalide leur insigne de justice. Et lorsqu’ils se détournent de Jésus, de la seule vraie lumière, ils s’enfoncent encore plus dans l’obscurité. Dans ce récit de l’aveugle-né, les chefs religieux de la synagogue préféraient être aveugles qu’admettre leur tort. reste entière » (v. 41). Lorsqu’il a dit : « ceux qui voient deviennent aveugles », il ne parlait pas des gens qui voyaient vraiment spirituellement, mais il parlait de ceux qui croyaient détenir la vérité spirituelle, alors que ce n’était que ténèbres. Ils prétendaient connaître la vérité spirituelle, mais lorsque la Vérité était là devant eux, ils ne la voyaient pas. Jésus ne les a pas rendus aveugles, mais il leur a montré qu’ils étaient aveugles. Les gens sont jugés d’après leur réponse à Jésus. S’ils admettent leur ignorance et leur désir d’être instruits, ils ne sont pas considérés comme coupables, mais s’ils prétendent voir et qu’ils rejettent la seule vraie lumière, ils sont alors coupables. Lorsque vous regardez Jésus, que voyez-vous ? NL

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D I R E C T O R ’ S

It Was Very Good!

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f you want to figure things out, it often pays to go back to the beginning of a story. That is true about the story of humanity contained in the Bible—the book God inspired for us. Our story begins in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. The early chapters of this book were designed to give us a theological perspective—God’s perspective—on the origin and design of our world. Though much of it is written as Hebrew poetry, certain key truths are clearly communicated. First, God is revealed as the creator of the Universe which had a specific beginning (Genesis 1:1). Second, the human race was given dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26). Unlike the animistic religions so extant amongst ancient peoples, that can still be found in many places today, the Bible tells us the world is subject to humanity. This revealed fact formed the context for the development of science. Rather than fearing to touch a mountain because it is owned by “the gods,” we see that we can climb the mountain, or even cut a tunnel through it. We can measure the earth, manipulate it, and mould it. Unfortunately, since humans chose to live apart from God, we have not exercised our stewardship over this earth as lovingly as we should have. We have polluted and degraded many parts of this planet, rather than “dressing and keeping it” (Genesis 2:15). Third, and most importantly, it is revealed to us that humanity—both male and female—is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26,27). This final truth has a great deal of significance. It tells us that both sexes have an inherent equality in terms of spiritual value. While each sex may focus somewhat differently, the spiritual value and worth is the same. We find this more fully developed in the New Testament, where the spiritual equality of both sexes is underscored (Galatians 3:28).

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D E S K

By Gary Moore National Director

A further insight is that the image of God spans both genders. There are aspects of both maleness and femaleness that are a limited reflection of the image of God. This is one reason why many studies over the years have shown that children ideally benefit from having both a father and a mother. Together, the male and female reflect the image of God in a way that would not occur separately. Marriage was designed from the very beginning as a joining of male and female. It is the forming of a new unity that is greater than either one would be separately (Genesis 2:24-25). Further, the Bible advocates sexual expression in marriage, with no shame involved (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Sexuality was part of the original design at creation, and is described as “…very good” (Genesis 1:31). It is intended to help bond a man and woman together in marriage within the context of a loving, caring, deeply committed relationship. While sex within marriage is acceptable and positive, the Bible from cover to cover describes sexual acts outside the marriage as sin. It isn’t that God is against sexual pleasure—he created it and called his creation “good.” It just that its function is tied to the institution of marriage.

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We all live in a fallen world. It is a world that has drifted far from God and his purpose, design, and plan. We need to be merciful and respectful of all people. As rescued people we, of all people, realize that we have been scarred by sin. Nevertheless, as Christians we need to hold high the ideal of God’s design. We are to seek to live our lives according to this design, and teach and encourage others to do so as well. After all, God knew what he was doing! NL

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CHRONIQUE de Gary Moore directeur national

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i vous voulez arriver à comprendre les choses, il est souvent nécessaire de retourner au début d’une histoire. Et c’est ce qu’il faut faire pour connaître l’histoire de l’humanité que l’on trouve dans la Bible : le livre que Dieu a inspiré pour nous. Notre histoire commence dans la Genèse, le premier livre de la Bible. Les premiers chapitres de ce livre ont été écrits pour nous donner un point de vue théologique – celui de Dieu – sur l’origine et la création de notre monde. Bien que la plupart du livre ait été écrit en poésie hébraïque, certaines vérités clés y sont clairement communiquées. Premièrement, Dieu est révélé comme le créateur de l’univers, lequel a eu un commencement spécifique (Ge 1.1). Deuxièmement, Dieu a donné à la race humaine la responsabilité de dominer sur la terre (Ge 1.26). Contrairement aux religions animistes si répandues parmi les peuples anciens, et qui se retrouvent

Cela était très bon ! encore de nos jours dans beaucoup d’endroits, la Bible dit que le monde est soumis à l’humanité. Ce fait révélé a servi de contexte pour le développement de la science : au lieu d’avoir peur de toucher une montagne parce qu’elle appartiendrait à des « dieux », nous voyons que nous pouvons escalader la montagne ou même y creuser un tunnel. Nous pouvons mesurer la terre, la manipuler et la façonner. Malheureusement, étant donné que les êtres humains ont choisi de vivre séparés de Dieu, nous n’avons pas exercé notre fonction d’intendant sur cette terre aussi bien que nous aurions dû le faire. Nous avons pollué et dégradé un grand nombre d’endroits du jardin de notre planète plutôt que de « le cultiver et le garder » (Ge 2.15). Troisièmement, et le plus important de tout, la Genèse nous révèle que l’humanité – autant l’homme que la femme – a été créée à l’image de Dieu (Ge 1.26, 27). La vérité finale a une portée très significative. Elle nous dit que les deux sexes ont une égalité inhérente en ce qui a trait à la valeur spirituelle. Bien que chacun des sexes puisse penser quelque peu différemment, la valeur spirituelle est la même. Nous trouvons ce concept p l e i n e m e n t développé dans le N o u v e a u Testament, où l’égalité spirituelle des deux sexes est s o u l i g n é e (Ga 3.28). Une affirmation supplémentaire est que l’image de Dieu embrasse les deux genres. Nous retrouvons, chez

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l’homme comme chez la femme, des aspects qui reflètent l’image de Dieu. C’est une des raisons pour laquelle plusieurs études ont montré au fil des ans qu’il est idéal et avantageux pour des enfants d’avoir à la fois un père et une mère. Ensemble, l’homme et la femme reflètent l’image de Dieu d’une manière qu’ils ne le pourraient pas séparément. Le mariage a été conçu depuis le tout début pour être une union entre l’homme et la femme. C’est la formation d’une nouvelle unité, laquelle est plus grande que l’un ou l’autre pris séparément (Ge 2.24,25). En outre, la Bible préconise l’expression sexuelle dans le mariage, et cela, sans impliquer aucune honte (Hé 13.4 ; 1 Co 7.3-5). La sexualité faisait partie du plan original de Dieu à la création, et il décrit cela comme « très bon » (Ge 1.31). Elle a été prévue pour aider à unir un homme et une femme dans le mariage dans le contexte d’une relation d’amour basée sur un engagement profond. Tandis que la sexualité dans le mariage est acceptable et positive, la Bible, de la première page à la dernière, décrit les relations sexuelles en dehors du mariage comme péché. Ce n’est pas que Dieu soit contre le plaisir sexuel, puisqu’il l’a créé et qu’il a qualifié sa création de « bon », mais son usage est lié à l’institution du mariage. Nous vivons tous dans un monde déchu, un monde qui s’est éloigné de Dieu, de son but, de son dessein et de son plan. Nous devons user de miséricorde et de respect envers tous. En tant que rachetés, nous réalisons que nous avons tous été marqués par le péché. Néanmoins, comme chrétiens, nous devons tenir en haute estime l’idéal du plan de Dieu. Nous devons chercher à vivre selon son plan et encourager les autres à faire de même. Après tout, Dieu savait ce qu’il faisait ! NL

NORTHERN LIGHT


P A S T O R ’ S

Exclusive Or Inclusive... What Are We?

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f you read my last article, “Living At Peace,” (July/August Northern Light) and found yourself thinking: Have we now switched from being exclusive to inclusive? —please read on.

Being “inclusive” means believing God saves people through other religions, not just through Christ and Christianity, and is that what I meant when I wrote, “Because of Jesus, people of all religions are saved?” No, because God is anything but inclusive when it comes to the source of our salvation. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12),” and “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him (John 3:36).” Salvation and eternity depend exclusively on Jesus. Scratch out inclusivism, then.

Very few people believe in Jesus, though, which prompted Calvin to assume “only a small number, out of an incalculable multitude, should obtain salvation.” The rest, he wrote, are sentenced to eternal death. “Whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:18).” But if “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him (John 6:44),” how can anyone stand condemned for not believing in Jesus if God hasn’t given him that belief yet? Good point. So, does the Father only give belief to an exclusive few, as Calvin suggests? No, God extends his mercy to S E P T E M B E R



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all people (Romans 11:32) and he doesn’t want anyone missing out on salvation (2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:3-4). So, scratch out exclusivism, too. Yet, some Christians take these scriptures and become ardent universalists, believing God will ultimately save everyone—including Satan and the demons. God’s beloved Israel is a case in point. Despite their chronic history of rejecting him, God never rejects them and promises they will be saved (Romans 11:26). Well, if God can save the likes of Israel, why not everyone else?

C O R N E R By Jonathan Buck

Pastor Barrie, Huntsville, North Bay, Peterborough, and Sudbury congregations itself one day when Jesus lifts us into eternity—was opened up to all humanity from the moment Jesus died. It’s there to be discovered and accepted by every individual, “each in his own turn (1 Corinthians 15:23).”

It was thoughts like these that also plonked me firmly in the universalist camp—for a while. But then I began to wonder why God would want us out there preaching the Gospel if no one is going to fail. Why bother saving the lost if the lost will be saved anyway? And why would a Judgment Day be necessary (2 Corinthians 5:10) —if no one needs judging? However, Jesus did speak about some who would deny him (Matthew 10:3233). They turn their backs on him and he can do nothing more for them (Matthew 25:41-46, Hebrews 10:26-27). The possibility exists, then, that some may reject salvation. So scratch out universalism, too! So, what are we, if we’re not universalist, inclusivist or as exclusivist as Calvin? Well, we believe everyone gets a shot at salvation because Jesus died for all (John 3:17). That’s why I wrote, “Because of Jesus, people of all religions are saved.” I didn’t mean God saves people through other religions (inclusivism) or that everyone is guaranteed eternal life already (universalism), I meant there isn’t a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Jew that Jesus didn’t die for. Salvation in all its fullness—from the penalty of sin by Jesus’ death, from the power of sin by Jesus’ life and from sin

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We are very much inclusive, then, in the sense that God gives everyone the opportunity to experience salvation, but still very much exclusive in our belief that God only saves through Jesus Christ. Does that mean God ignores people in other religions? No, he’s fully aware of their devotion and service to others, as he was of Cornelius’ prayers and charity work (Acts 10:31). But right now God is calling people to put all their hopes for salvation in Christ alone, to pave the way for the rest of the universe later (Ephesians 1:10-12 and 3:8-11). Jesus Christ is the source of salvation, and hopefully that message gets through to all in the end—so that none stand condemned.NL

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COMMENTARY John Geerlings Member St. Catherines congregation

Set Free!

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I believed and acted out of the imprint left on me by others. I developed beliefs and feelings based on how others viewed, and behaved towards me, whether good or evil. The particular circumstance of the abuse I experienced is not important, what is and should be noted are the results in my life. For many years I lived a life that was dead to God, others and myself. I realize that everyone’s experience is different and I don’t want to diminish the great horror and evil some have gone through. As for me, my feelings and beliefs took on a sense of inadequacy and of worthlessness. The panic disorder, impulsiveness, withdrawal, immature thoughts, anxiety, loneliness, and self-pity that I lived through were selfprotective actions that prevented me from revealing the true person within. On the outside I appeared strong, selfreliant, a perfectionist and resilient. On the inside I had anger, guilt and shame. My problem could not be solved by anything others suggested. Yes, I could be bandaged and sutured, but results of my abuse still surfaced in different ways. Instead, I came to realize that I needed

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© Design Pics Inc.

ow many have experienced sexual abuse, whether verbal or physical, and still find themselves imprisoned to its deadening blows. We behave and respond to feelings that continue to enchain us from a past so long ago. We believe that we are polluted and stamped for life. Perhaps we don’t even know why we behave the way we do! Yet, others may cover it up and hide and run from it, coping the best way possible. Who really understands? I was one of those!

spiritual renewal and a spiritual heart transplant. For many years as a Christian I did not understand my true identity and the relationship I could have in Jesus Christ. Rather, I believed that changing my behavior would give me victory. Yet, it led to further confusion, condemnation and conflict. I thought that changing my feelings through behavior and circumstance would set me free.

1:4, 1 John 5:20). I no longer need to live by my feelings or the deceptive lies that Satan would have me believe. This is what is now relevant in my life: not some debilitating thought, or feelings from the past. I can now display the Christ life which is based on truth and not on feelings. This is true freedom (Galatians 5:1), and is available to all those who believe what Jesus Christ has already done and accomplished.NL

I was wrong! I have come to realize that only one thing can set me free and that is the person of Jesus Christ (John 8:32, 36). I now know that God not only bought me with a price, but I am one spirit with the triune God and he now dwells in me by inhabiting my new heart (1 Corinthians 6:17, Ephesians 3:16,17). What does this mean in the here and now? My old nature has been crucified (Galatians 2:20). It is dead and buried. I have a new nature and can live out of the eternal life of Jesus Christ (2 Peter NORTHERN LIGHT


F O C U S

Good News Grace:

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G R A C E By David Sheridan

Pastor, Grace and Truth Fellowship, Red Deer, and Lethbridge congregations

Sharing The Gospel Of Grace With Others

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ale and female, God created them”

Sex is either the male division or the female division into which living things are placed on the basis of their reproductive functions. God created humanity male and female in the image and likeness of God. He lavished his grace on Adam and Eve telling them to multiply and fill the planet with children. In love, the Lord gave the first man and woman the power as stewards to subdue the earth and rule its creatures. In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve are the garland of his creation. After their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, these parents shared with their children the good news of their early relationship with their Creator. God’s grace is the free, unmerited favor God has chosen to bestow on his entire creation. Jesus, the second Adam, commissions the church to preach the gospel. The Church looks continually to Jesus Christ, its living head adorned with a garland of grace. The gospel of grace is the good news of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. In the apostle Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian elders he writes, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). Paul’s life mission was to share the good news. Sharing grace with all peoples God’s grace is expressed in every act of his self-disclosure. The supreme act of grace was the crucifixion of Jesus and his death on the cross for our salvation. During an important Council meeting in Jerusalem, the apostle Peter concluded, “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they (Gentiles) are” (Acts 15:11). There is to be no difference between Jew and Gentile, rather a spiritual unity among all believers. The apostle John explained it S E P T E M B E R



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this way; “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16). Later the apostle Paul expanded this concept when he wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Unity in the Church transcends ethnic, social and sexual distinctions. This good news is to be shared with all nations as an integral part of the gospel of grace. When Paul and Barnabas set out on missionary trips to share the gospel, the church members commended them to the grace of God. In difficult times, the early Christians knew what was needed – “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord” (Acts 15:39-40). How should we respond to the grace of God? By showing grace and being gracious even in agreeing to disagree! By not just “returning a favor” but giving favors as often as possible. If we value grace, we will give grace to others. Evangelism is central to the mission of the church. Jesus commands his followers to make disciples of all nations. Christians are to be good examples in their communities and faithful witnesses telling others the good news of what God has done for all humanity. Sharing the gospel of grace is our response to God’s love and stems from knowing and loving Jesus. God’s grace is outrageous, glorious, indescribable, radical, amazing, scandalous and above all, good news! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is extended to all.NL

A Garland of Grace A garland is a wreath of flowers or leaves worn on the head or hung as a decoration. It is often a prize for winning a competition. In the past garlands were worn at joyous occasions such as weddings and festivals. Because a garland adds beauty and honor, the verbs to adorn or to crown are associated with it. “She (wisdom) will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor” (Proverbs 4:9). Parents prepare their children for life in a harsh world. “Listen my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (Proverbs 1:9). Gracious winners are humble in victory and share their reward with others. Editor’s Note: The article from the grace series in the July/August issue was given the wrong title. It should have been entitled, “Scandalous Grace: Entering the Joy of Eternal Salvation.”

This is the final article of an introductory series on the topic of God’s grace. Readers are invited to write and share their own experiences and the impact of grace on their lives.

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T H E

J O U R N E Y

By Phil Gale Member, Victoria congregation

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complained that I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet” (The Gulistan of Sa’Di by Sheikh Muslihuddin Sa'di Shirazi).

A couple of weeks ago I sustained a back injury at work, and not for the first time. Next week I’m moving house, for the fourth time in two years, and twice in as many months. When I moved in July, my back was fairly healthy which allowed me to get a lot of work done prior to the move. This time however, I am incapacitated and cannot even walk properly without painkillers.

Rejoice In The Lord Am I thankful for the hot water that cleanses me every morning and the private shower I have in my home? Am I always aware that the clothes hanging in my closet are a gift from God? Do I acknowledge that it is God who has enabled me to own a computer, a car, eight pairs of shoes (can you believe it, eight!) and blessed me with the joy of producing music.

How easy it is to take a simple task like walking for granted, until you can’t walk anymore. How simple it is to sink into a Lazyboy without a thought for the Creator who provided it.

And yet a verse from Paul’s writings says “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Can I say thank you to my heavenly Father for my back problems? Not exactly, but what I can say amounts to the same thing. I can walk, which makes me a blessed person. I am moving to another apartment, which gives me privilege over the homeless. At some point in my life, I began saying grace before eating my supper, and many other people today do exactly the same thing. “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful.” I can remember at my school, we all said those lines before we ate our school dinner. Today, the words have changed significantly, and so has the understanding and the attitude. For some, we thank God for the food, and ask his blessing upon it. But in giving God thanks for the meal which provides sustenance, does that profession of gratitude follow us into the day ahead?

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water in your glass, to the socks you’re wearing, God makes it possible. When you wake up tomorrow morning and step out into the day, look up at the sky, and look down at the ground. It’s only there because God created it. When you’re standing in the shower, massaging conditioner into your scalp, basking in hot running water, ask the question of yourself: where did all this come from and why me?

No—I can’t always thank God for strained muscles, arthritis or pain, but I can thank him for the things he has provided: friends, support, daily needs, and the opportunity to worship and praise him. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). We can rejoice in the blessings God has given. A small bar of bath soap is a blessing; and also the oregano on your pizza. Not to mention your ability to taste it.

I discovered how easy it is to take God for granted. The sun rises; the sun sets; the sky beams with a stunning blue countenance; white clouds produce vapor which feeds the crops that keep us alive.

I once complained that my apartment was too small, until I met a man with no home. Can we ever take God for granted again? I pray that I never will.NL

“So what?” some may ask. For those who are able to answer that question positively with conviction from the heart, you are blessed. God causes it to rain; God made the sky blue; our heavenly majestic Father provides our every little comfort and need. From the NORTHERN LIGHT


T H E M E By Own Visagie

Love Is...

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here was a time when we were most influenced by our network of relationships, but now it’s the electronic media—television, movies, music, advertising and the printed media. Clearly, character is no longer primarily influenced by relationships, but by images and the lives of other people that we watch, read about or hear about.” (Quote from The Narrative Approach To Evangelism, by Mark Tittley). The falling in love and breaking up stages of love dominate the screen. A major theme in pop music is sex. Love equals sex, is the message our young people learn in today’s society. What is love? Let’s see what God, who is love, has to say. An expert in the law asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, and got exactly the reply he might have expected: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Interestingly, we are to love God with our minds. Love is not just a feeling, though deep feelings almost always accompany love. How we feel does not change God’s command. If we don’t love our brother, whom we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? (1 John 4:20, 21). With regard to love, what does God require of us? We are to bless (say good words), do good things, and pray for others (Matthew 5:43, 44). Jesus did not say “Greater love has no man than this, that he should have warm feelings for others.” Sacrificial love is the ultimate in doing good. To die for others, is to truly live for them. Putting aside our desires and giving time to others is showing love in a practical manner. We know God loved us because he did the ultimate good (John 3:16). Live as Jesus lived. Follow his commands. In the deepest sense, love is the S E P T E M B E R



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only commandment, and satisfies all of God’s requirements (Romans 13:8). Love is a commitment, a personal choice (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). There are three Greek words meaning love. Philia is an emotion or feeling, a tender affection, a strong attraction. Young people naturally experience this. It’s a preparation for a mature relationship later on in life. Often some prominent figure such as an actor or pop star will say, “I’m married, but I’ve fallen in love with a third party.” This is not love, it’s just plain philia. Eros is sexual desire. It is what society thinks is love. God commands that there be a sexual relationship only in a marriage. (However, where anyone has erred, God forgives and forgets upon genuine repentance). The motivation must be to please, otherwise it is not love, just sex.

Contributor: African Worldwide News

a matter of sin. The absence of love indicates the presence of sin. God’s royal law of love is broken. John MacArthur writes about the famous jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong who was once asked to explain jazz. “Man,” he replied, “if I’ve got to explain it, you ain’t got it.” Love cannot be understood until it is experienced. We cannot say we don’t have love. We do have it—we have God’s Holy Spirit. We are commanded to love because we are given love. We need to ask God to help us express it. Love is indeed a many splendoured thing. It never fails. For us it is the bottom line! NL

Agape is God’s love (1 John 4: 816). This love is a matter of mind, not a matter of just feeling. Philia can and should lead to agape. This is God’s way. Love is not an option, it is a command. The more Christ is at home in our hearts, the more we will experience love, the more we will dispense it. People cannot “fall out of” agape love. Strained relationships are always

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T H E M E

C O N T I N U E D

By Roy Page Pastor Vancouver and Prince George congregations

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ex was God’s idea! And his response after creating the “sexiest” beings on the planet was that it was very good!

Most men would agree, but not as many women. Female circumcision, sexual abuse, rape and perpetual pregnancy have not made sexual intimacy the most desirable experience for millions of women throughout history. God’s purpose for sexual intimacy was that it occur only within a relationship where the man had committed himself to leaving others, cleaving to his wife and becoming one flesh with her and her alone. God intended that every woman and man would agree with him that “sex is very good!” Yet, due to human selfishness things have not worked out that way. Even in our so-called “liberated” and morally “progressive” society, Oprah Winfrey was shocked to discover how many tens of million of women in North America didn’t desire or engage in sex after they had become married or engaged in a committed relationship. Lack of energy was certainly partly to blame in many cases—due to women trying to maintain both business and domestic careers. However, attitude of mind remains a potent reason for lack of libido in so many women, both Christian and nonChristian. It seems that most men desire to consummate their relationship far more frequently than their female partners. Part of the reason is hormonal, which is God created (men are not about to suddenly change—unless some cosmic crisis radiates male testosterone production out of existence!). But a far greater reason for the disparity and resulting ten-

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Sex, Men And God sion among so many couples is relationships, as Dr. Doug Weiss points out in a couple of his books on the subject.

But there are solutions. As Dr. Weiss writes: “God’s gift to men is our sexuality. It is a divine gift that we have from birth to death. Yet, as men, we are misunderstood many times because of our Godgiven desire to consummate our marriage regularly…The ability to connect with your spouse in three God-given dimensions—spirit, soul and body—can satisfy you so profoundly that you do not even desire sex the next day. Imagine being that sexually satiated on a regular basis; that is sexual success!”(Sex, Men and God, page 1).

The fact is many married couples are engaged in an unspoken “cat and mouse” game of manipulation: the male desiring more physical intimacy and trying to manipulate the female into granting him his desires, while the female—feeling manipulated—is put off by such approaches and plays avoidance. Often this is done without those involved facing up to and discussing what is actually happening. Eventually tension and dissatisfaction begin to build which leads to various other marital problems that actually camouflage the real problem. This seems to be the one area that couples are not willing or able to deal with in a mature manner. There is a lack of open communication about each other’s desires to ensure that each other’s real needs are met. The resulting increase in pornographic addiction among men is symptomatic of a problem within the home. Men feel sexually unsatisfied and unfulfilled, women feel inadequate and betrayed and everybody—including the children—suffers.

What man doesn’t desire that kind of success! Pornography wouldn’t be a billion-dollar industry if that were the case for most married couples. Women’s sense of inadequacy is cemented by the impossibly beautiful, air-brushed-to-perfection female images that we are constantly bombarded with daily in our multimedia, technicolor, consumer-driven society. But if women understood how God “put men together” and men were faithful to God’s instructions, women would not have to feel sexually inadequate or inferior in beauty in their husband’s eyes whatever their physical appearance or age: “Isn’t it just like God to design something that would make you totally happy with the wife He designed for you? This is the original thought God had in mind with this process—that as a man you would obey his word and not have sex until marriage. Then after marriage you would start having sexual releases, just with her. And when you look at her during a sexual experience (he advocates ‘lights-on sex!’), wham! You are glued to her. Over a short period of time she becomes your only chemical reinforceNORTHERN LIGHT


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ment for your sexual experience, and you are totally happy with her regardless of her height, weight or proportions” (Sex, Men and God, page 16). I have directed this article towards men, although hopefully women will also read it, because of what we men are told by the apostle Peter: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7). Part of the problem with the scenarios I’ve described are identified in this instruction from Peter, namely lack of due respect and consideration of male/female differences, especially in the arena of sexual intimacy. I have found two books by Dr. Doug Weiss, Intimacy—A 100-day guide to lasting relationships and Sex, Men and God. Dr. Weiss admits being a previous sex addict who now enjoys a successful, monogamous marriage. He is the director of the Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs (www.intimatematters.com). If the only outcome of reading this article is to go and obtain those two books, and you and your spouse sit down and read them and begin to apply the principles outlined, then the purpose for this article has been fulfilled.

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believes should be part of every married couple’s relationship: praying together, feeling together and nurturing together. It is from these that the “very good sex” that God intend for us to enjoy will grow.

If you and your spouse are not enjoying your relationship the way that it was intended to be enjoyed, my suggestion to you is to buy these two books, beginning with the book on intimacy. Then sit down and read them together. As you begin to live out the principles in your lives, may God’s blessing enrich you, and then you too can echo God’s sentiments when he “came up” with the idea of human sexual intimacy: “That’s very good.”NL

The “very good sex” that God wishes all married couples to enjoy throughout their married lives is the outcome or product of a growing intimate relationship that needs to be being built consistently over the years. In Intimacy, Doug Weiss requires three daily exercises he calls “The Three Dailies,” which he S E P T E M B E R



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T H E M E

C O N T I N U E D

By Neil Earle

A Very Speci

Pastor, Glendora, California congregation

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n a world awash with the debris of broken homes, crushed spirits and fractured dreams, God’s people need the message of The Song of Solomon as never before. The Song is a righteous antidote to a licentious society that has prostituted the sacred nature of human love. Hope exudes from its pages…My prayer is that this brief commentary will encourage expository preachers everywhere to do the unimaginable— preach through the Song of Solomon” (Paige Patterson, Everyman’s Bible Commentary, page 9). Now there’s a challenge. Trouble is, as Patterson goes on to say, the symbols, metaphors, allusions and geography behind the Song are all very foreign to us today. If Shakespeare needs decoding, how much more a compacted piece of poetry from Iron Age Israel? Fortunately there are learned Christians who have put together enough background to this delightful jewel of Hebrew literature that we can begin to probe its very helpful, timeless message. I’m not alone in thinking Craig Glickman’s A Song For Lovers is the best popular attempt at this. Glickman realizes that much of the Song is sheer poetry and he is not afraid to allow for lots of “poetic license” in his rendering of the message. This approach is essential. Take Song 4:1, for example, “Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead.” Wow! What could that mean? Would you advise a young man to use that line today? Probably not. Glickman uses this as an example of textual difficulty calling for a translator’s imaginative ingenuity. So he explains it this way: “It is perhaps the end of a long day, so the goats are descending from the mountain. Across the valley is seen an entire flock moving together down the mountains. The individual members of the flock blend in to form a dark stream flowing smoothly to the valley. The peacefulness of the evening, the flowing movement of the flock tell us that the long flowing hair of the bride is very attractive, almost hypnotic to the king” (page 14).

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A seven-act drama Bravo, Glickman. With his aid, and with the help of Paige Patterson and the insights of John Balchim’s chapter on “Song of Solomon” in The New Bible Commentary (NBC) it is possible to unlock this most relevant piece of Scripture. I’ll borrow a page from Glickman and try to turn Solomon’s eight chapters into a seven-act play, livening things up a little by illustrating each chapter with classic love songs from popular culture of the 20th century. For purposes of this article the seven acts can be described as:

Act One: Dating Snapshots From the Royal Album/ Theme: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (Song 1:1-2:3) Act Two: Heavy Date/ Theme: “I Only Wanna Be With You” (Song 2:4-2:17) Act Three: Pre-Marital Jitters and The Wedding/ Theme: “One Hand, One Heart” (3:1-11) Act Four: The Wedding Night/Theme: “The Way You Look Tonight” (4:1-5:1) Act Five: First Fight and Kiss and Make Up: “I Will Always Love You” Act Six: Escape Weekend/ Theme: “So Happy Together” (7:11-8:5) Act Seven: Flashback Reflections/Theme: “I Must Have Done Something Good” (8:8-14) This is one way to organize the material. Each interpreter will do it a little differently. It’s fun to make up your own favorite songs that might fit each thought. If teaching this book to young people it’s helpful to ask them to suggest some themes of their own. In the day and age of the I-Pod they will have plenty. Anything that can break down the barriers to interpretation is a boon because the high-toned message of this book resonates across time. The thought of seeing this Song as a sequence of events in the lives of two young people, very much in love, very much infatuated, very much interested in the physical aspect of their relationship yet not doing anything improper makes this “a text for the times.” Some time back Paul McCartney and Wings had a song titled “Silly Love Songs” wherein the vocalist wondered why “some NORTHERN LIGHT


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ial Love Song people want to fill the world with silly love songs?” A good question. Let’s face it: some 90 percent of our pop songs today revolve around love and romance (songs such as “Who Let The Dogs Out?” obviously being part of the other 10 percent). McCartney, however, pauses, musically, to pose a coy question: “What’s wrong with that/ I’d like to know ’Cause here I go, again…I love you (repeat, repeat, repeat)”

This is the same benign being who pronounced the male and female anatomy and all that goes with it as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Note: not just good…very good. At our church summer camp (SEP) in the 1990s, while teaching Christian Living classes, I found that most young people have no problem agreeing with that verse. And that’s why the richly imbedded message of this Song needs

“stretch” for us moderns. The Song of Songs opening scene is probably best explained as two young people at a banquet or the royal table totally “twitterpated” (remember the movie Bambi?) with each other and longing for physical closeness. Or it could capture the young girl out on the terrace of an evening drinking in the moon, the mood and the moment. Guess what she’s thinking about? The opening lines are frankly sexual. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is better than wine.”

Sex: God’s invention

Jimmy Rodgers made a mint The lovers in singing “Kisses Song of Solomon sweeter than would agree with wine” in the that sentiment. 1950s and it is a So, for openers, direct steal from let’s set some this Song. (Wish bearings. This I’d thought of it special song of first!) The lesson two young peohere is that she, ple in the throes the girl, highly of romance and regards the guy courtship was as the leader. not inspired by a She desires him prudish God, to initiate affecmuch less a mortion. Not that he bid deity whose will. He’s got his only advice to hormones flying young people is: in formation. He “Don’t, don’t, SEP 1990: Neil Earle expounds basic life principles to the girls of Dorm 2G at Orr, Minnesota clearly began the don’t and again relationship. He don’t.” Without compromising the highbrought her to the big city, to the royal to reach them. “Well begun is half done” est standards of biblical morality the two palace so they could get to know each and if our youth can be inspired by the young lovers portrayed in this Song other better. Wise move. She admires healthy yet godly approach contained show how wonderful romantic attraction his leadership but is also clearly intoxiherein everyone benefits—parents and can be. A generous Creator knew it was cated with him. “Young and in love”— youth leaders especially. It takes work. needed to draw young folks together hard to believe but this is encouraged in The principles have to be drawn out both to make life more exquisite and to the Bible! Being in a lovesick mood skillfully and that means we need help. keep new life marching on. means it is wise to have other people Okay. Ready for Act One? around. Chaperones? The group? Thus It’s hard for those of us of a certain age our first encounter with the “daughters of Act One: dating snapshots to always remember when interacting Jerusalem” in Song 1:4. This relationwith young people about their sexuality ship is public and above board. Good Remember that poetry, as the the healthy and longstanding WCG idea. They are not tempting each other Elizabethans said, is “right royal,” i.e. insight that sex is God’s creation, that he by always being paired off, alone. Their can be thrilling, high-toned, richly ornate, invented it. He set in motion the dynamrelationship, while ecstatic, is not obseson a higher emotional register than ordiic stimuli that attract us to each other. sive or exclusive. A good sign. nary speech. This can also make it a S E P T E M B E R



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The intervention of the Daughters of Jerusalem—perhaps ladies of the court who function as a sort of Greek chorus (or backup group if you want to redo this as an opera)—brings her back to reality. Note verse 3—his “name” is like strong perfume. “Name” here equals reputation. He has character. He has a good track record. That fits. The first question parents ask: “What kind of boy is he?” As Glickman says: “She should not be so infatuated that she imagines a scoundrel or a knave to be her knight in shining armor (page 31). “No wonder the maidens love you.” Yes, her guy, her beau is well known, not some reclusive “moody blues” fellow with no fixed address who drops in from who knows where. He’s a hit. That’s why the girl has a right to feel that: “There’s nothing you can say can tear me away from my guy, Nothing you can do ’cause I’m stuck like glue to my guy.” Silly love talk. But we need more of it, especially as we grow older in marriage. This is why this Song, this book, speaks to lovers of all ages. It’s a treatise on dating as well as romance.

ing. “I liken you my darling to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh” (verse 9). What is he saying: “You look like a horse?” No. As Patterson says, for the ancients well-bred horses symbolized grandeur, beauty, stateliness. Even the fabled Helen of Troy was compared to a “Thessalian steed.” Glickman notes that the lead horse in Pharaoh’s famous chariot squadrons was always the prize of the lot—“uniquely noble and beautiful.” She returns the compliment—her beau is like myrrh and henna (verses 13-14) which was the Chanel No. Five or the Max Factor of its day. “Night and day I think of you” by Cole Porter comes close to expressing the emotional tone here. She clearly desires physical union but knows that everything will happen in its time—in other words, healthy drives, under control. As John Balchin comments in NBC: “The world says, any time, any place. God says, my time, my place.” This explains the references scattered throughout to “the little foxes that can devour the vine.” The hormones need to be there but they have to be flying in formation. Restraint over passion

She continues to praise him (verse 5-7). She reveals herself as somewhat shy and that innocent virginal quality is part of her appeal to him. Another thing: She has had a generally strict upbringing and…it wasn’t the worst thing, really. She says: “My mother’s sons (her older brothers) were angry with me.” That’s the way it feels to a young person when they’re surrounded by authority figures—hopefully, caring authority figures—but at the end of the Song she reveals that they had her best interest at heart (Song 8:8-10). Verse 7 and 8 reiterate how much she wants to be with him—a natural desire for an engaged couple. The feeling is mutual. When he sees her coming he has a physical-emotional reaction. Her presence stimulates his ardent love talk and here the poetry needs some decod-

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From 1:15 to 2:3 the love talk is very intense. Infatuation is anything but logical so it is difficult to interpret it all, especially 3,000 or 2,500 years later. Glickman explains the sexual tension that is building, something most engaged couples know about: “As they come closer to marriage, restraint becomes more necessary (the little foxes)…nothing is wrong with suppression—the conscious restraint of natural impulses. For example, you may have an impulse to punch someone in the nose, but it is good to suppress that impulse and restrain yourself” (page 44). One thing to note: no one can offer a flawless blueprint in how to carry out a godly courtship. There is no such manual on the market. But already from Act

One of this splendid Song we see some very useful principles at work. They revolve around encouraging wise restraint in the face of passion. This mature reaction under her fiancé’s steady direction is the reason the Shulammite (the heroine) grows in selfconfidence and self-esteem. As Balchin explains, moving into the spiritual lessons: “She sees herself as a beautiful flower (the Rose of Sharon). It is a very beautiful thing how being truly loved can bring about a transformation in the view you have of yourself. As believers we are the object of Christ’s unfailing love, and we are beautiful in his eyes” (NBC, page 621). Act Two: heavy date The motif of exhilarating fun takes over here. She remembers his last, lingering romantic embrace. She remembers having to heed the wise advice: “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (2:7). Song 2:8 evokes memories of the many love songs about the fellow calling for his girl in whatever mode is used at the time. In “Oklahoma,” a musical about young love, Rodgers and Hammerstein set Curly and Laurey in a “surrey with the fringe on top.” Later we hear of “My Merry Oldsmobile” or “Little Deuce Coupe.” However you got there, the main thing was to have fun: “Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learnin’ how, come on a safari with me.” The technology changes but the unabashed excitement of a fun date with the one you love never changes. In the Song, he exemplifies male vigor—“like a gazelle or a young stag” (2:9). Maybe today he’d drive a Ford Mustang. But it doesn’t matter. It’s springtime, time for courting, as another poet sang: “In the spring a young man’s fancy, lightly turns to thoughts of love.” NORTHERN LIGHT


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His voice thrills her, and that’s a sure mark of love. The voice is a move away from the explicitly sexual overtones. “Arise, come my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” He responds in kind: “Let me hear your voice.” This is one reason 33 percent of cell phone users are young people. They can’t get enough of each other’s voice. May they feel that way when married! Then the athletic image returns—a guy with a motorcycle or a cool set of smooth wheels is hard to resist—“Turn my lover and be like a gazelle or like a young stage on the rugged hills.” It’s been a good date. Ah, to be young again. Act Three: premarital jitters “I will search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but did not find him” (Songs 3:1). A note of longing and “I won’t last a day without you” enters here. There’s an old saying, “True love never runs smoothly” and it applies here. Before every great blessing there seems to be a test or trial to endure and many commentators bring out the aspect of strangeness here—a young girl prowling the streets alone seems out of context. Right. This passage is usually considered a dreamscape, a nightmare, John Balchin calls it. It is possibly a dream about losing the beloved, the worst thing imaginable at this stage of the relationship. But who has not had such frightful fantasies? This is what spiritual seekers call the “dark night of the soul,” which every pilgrim must navigate. Four times she describes her lover poignantly as “the one my heart loves.” In the literature of love and longing there are many street songs that have to do with wandering and loss and longing. “Midnight, not a sound from the pavement.” Or the rhythmically beautiful “On My Own” from Les Misérables:

“On my own, pretending you’re beside me, All along I walk with you till morning; Without you, I feel your arms around me And when I lose my way I close my eyes and you have found me.”

tion. Things get a little more complex and need time to work themselves out. Something happens after the initial excitement, even for newlyweds. She is being somehow unresponsive to her husband’s advances or need for communion:

This ghostly, jarring note is important. It grounds the Song in reality. True love is not all airy-fairy romance. There are rivers to cross, mountains to climb. Who doesn’t get cold feet? Who isn’t nervous or at least exceptionally keyed up before a wedding?

He: “Open to me my sister, my darling.” She: “I have washed my feet, must I soil them again?”

But it works out. Song 3:6-11 describes the Wedding itself. And it is a very posh affair. Solomon’s carriage escorted by sixty warriors in full public view expresses something important about the biblical marriage ethic. How often do false charmers say, “Why wait for marriage? If you loved me you would indulge now. Who needs a piece of paper, the ink stains that have dried upon some line, to tell of our love?” Sounds clever but…Christians reply: “Not so fast. If you really loved me you’d declare your love publicly ‘in the face of God and these witnesses.’ Why not, if you are a real man, sign your name on the state-approved certificate to show God and man just how committed you are?” Gotcha! Once again, the standards here are of the highest. Act Four (4:1-5:1) seems to be the Wedding Night and this scene is better read individually—after all, we don’t want to have Northern Light lose its family rating, do we? The love talk here is pretty intense—a good reminder for all longtime marrieds to never stop expressing the way we feel about each other. First fight/ Kiss and make up More realism. Rose bushes do have thorns. Song 5:2 to 7:10 is a long sec-

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You always hurt the one you love and the new husband feels rejected and rebuffed by his overly fastidious wife. He thinks, She cares more about her appearance (who for, pray tell?) than the fact that I need her. He strides off. She begins to realize her mistake: “I opened for my lover, but my lover had left; he was gone. My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer” (Song 5:6). She sets out after him. Things go from bad to worse. Possibly the city guards mistake her for a loose woman prowling the streets late at night. She is roughed up a little (Song 5:7). Things look bleak indeed. The only hope is to find her true love. She pines deeply for him now. The mood here is “Hopelessly devoted to you.” Yes, even the best marriages have spats and misunderstandings, crossed purposes and misjudgments. People taunt her—“Come on, just who is this guy you’re looking for” (Song 5:9)? In describing her young husband she praises him extravagantly (5:10-16). The crisis makes her realize how much she needs him, misses him. Then she remembers his favorite haunt, where he can usually be found to ride out his troubles—his favorite garden (6:2). She skips along with eager anticipation, her mind and heart fully set on reconciliation. Then—he sees her coming! There’s no way he can stay mad at her: “You are beautiful my darling as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, majestic as troops with banners. Turn your eyes from me; they overwhelm me” (Song

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6:4). Tirzah was the original capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, a wellsituated, lush agricultural city (1 Kings 12:25). Jerusalem’s fame needs no comment. A wise man once said, “Sex appeal is 90 percent from the neck up” and there is something about the beloved’s eyes that melts the toughest hearts. Note his expressiveness here: “My dove, my perfect one, is unique…The queens and concubines praised her” (Song 6:9). Doesn’t get much better than that. His mood might be:

“[T]rue love is as strong as death in that both are irresistible. So too, the love of Christ is all-conquering. Paul found that the love of Christ compelled him irresistibly (2 Corinthians 5:14)…True love has its source in God for God is love. So such love has a supernatural power that no human efforts can extinguish. Humankind tried to quench such love at Calvary, but their efforts were futile. The waters of sin, death, Sheol, Satan, and all the rebellion of humankind cannot put out the love of Christ for the world” (page 627).

“Can’t get used to losing you/ No matter what I try to do Gonna spend my whole life through/ Loving you”

“Love comes from God” as 1 John 4:7 affirms. Song 8:7 reaffirms that true love can’t be bought or, as the Beatles reminded us:

And the new bride? She might be thinking along the lines of what Whitney Houston sang so powerfully: “I…will…always…love…you.” Physical intimacy heals over this incident, as it is partly designed to do (7:1-9). An escape weekend “Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside” (Song 7:11) captures the new mood of maturity after reconciliation. This Song, of course, is one of the great adverts for marital dating ever. After early marriage both have to set aside time to be with each other. We have to be intentional about dating, may even have to be business-like about planning time together or it just won’t happen. The little foxes will squeeze it out. But not for this happily reconciled couple. She leans on him as they drive his new chariot around town (8:3). Some things never change, eh? Everyone can tell they’re happy together. Who said it wouldn’t last! Song 8:6 is one of the strongest faith declarations in the entire Old Testament. It powerfully asserts that “love is as strong as death,” an unusual image but one that hits home. The NBC explains it well:

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What a Song! What a high-toned primer for the right attitudes and approaches in courtship and marriage. Patterson summarized it well when he wrote of “the difference between the tenderness of the godly holy love expressed through this book and the rather brutal roughness of many of the intimacies advocated in modern society.” So true! As the French would say, the difference is vast and “vive la différence.” NL

“Can’t Buy Me Love!” Flashback reflections Act Seven (8:8-14) is like the opening, a bit mysterious and jumbled. It can be compared to a tumbled collection of verbal snapshots and reminiscences from their early lives together complete with flashbacks of her early upbringing. They encouraged her as a young girl to stay pure, to strive for the true values in courtship and romance (8:8-9). It worked. To win such love, she can say, with Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music: “Somewhere in my youth or childhood/ I must have done something good.” Still more realism—the man has his work, his job, to go to but at the end of the day he comes home to his sweetheart, his friend, his one and only (8:1012). “This love is here to stay” (Cole Porter). The garden imagery and the protective male symbolism that ends the Song doesn’t obscure the telling fact that the young girl both opens and closes this poem—she gets the last word! Not a bad insight for the Iron Age.

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By Devaraj Ramoo

The Struggle Against Pornography

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teenager, excited about the unlimited resources available on the Internet, has been surfing the Net for quite some time when one day a window opens up on a seemingly innocent website. The graphics are tantalizing, but what grabs his attention is the open invitation to tour some exciting pleasures which lie awaiting for him. All he has to do is click on a certain button and he would be rewarded with unimaginable sights. Curiosity overwhelms him, besides what harm could a little exploration possibly do? As he takes the tour, his eyes open wide as he is exposed to sexual images and sexual behaviour that he has never seen or heard of before. Pornography has just reached out and grabbed him! The scene just mentioned is happening every day and is leading to the rise of an uncontrollable flood of pornography into millions of households worldwide.

perverse sexual gratification. We can never underestimate the influence of pornography on people especially youths as it is a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.

What is pornography? Pornography to many people is sexually explicit material. But it is in reality far more than that. It is one of the vilest portrayals of deviant human behaviour that mocks the purpose of God for humanity created in his own image. Feminist groups have often condemned pornography as sexual violence, subordination and sexual objectification of women. They are right but it is also one of the worst forms of degradation of the role of men. The word ‘pornography’ has its roots in the Greek words ‘porne’or ‘porneia’ which relates to the treatment of women as whores or prostitutes. Pornography in modern terms is the visual depiction of women and men as objects for the purpose of S E P T E M B E R



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Member in Malaysia and contributor to The Plain Truth-Asia

This lays the groundwork for failed marriages, abuse, violence, rapes and other sexual crimes. It goes against all the pure and wonderful purpose of the malefemale relationship as ordained by God for humanity(Genesis 2:18). The message put forth instead is that violating and debasing women is a pleasurable experience! Unfortunately, measures to effectively counter the threat of pornography have not been successful. Many youths seek to obtain pornography to ‘learn’ what it takes to be a ‘man’. Furthermore, the easy availability of pornographic video discs has made it all the more difficult to eradicate this problem. The Internet has also aided in the spread of pornography with millions of surfers visiting porn sites every day. Research has shown that continual exposure to pornography leads to desensitisation in individuals. People feel less abhorrent to sexual violence. The end result of this is a collapse of strong moral values so needed in society.

What does the Bible say?

The effects of pornography The most devastating effect of pornography is the warped attitudes which emerge as one continues viewing it. Youths, especially males develop an underlying disrespect for women. They get a false notion that the role of women is primarily for sexual gratification and that oppressive treatment of women as depicted in pornography is acceptable.

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The Bible does not specifically deal with pornography per se since visual sex through movies and the Internet are modern day phenomena. The core principle which forms the basis of pornography, however, is clearly addressed in Scripture. Lust is the driving force which fuels pornography. Jesus states in no uncertain terms that “If a man looks on a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). The problem begins when lust grows within the individual. For many people pornography is where this lust can easily be ful-

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filled. What Jesus said is absolutely clear! There is no room for pornography if we want to live a fulfilling life. This is further emphasized in the sanctity of the marriage institution as “marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Perhaps some would argue that there is nothing wrong with looking. After all it doesn’t mean that anyone who sees sexually explicit material is destined to be a rapist or pervert. Let’s not underestimate the dangers of “just looking.” King David is described in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Yet for all his greatness there was an occasion when what he saw led him to commit adultery and murder as well. The account given in scripture depicts David arising from bed and while walking around on the roof of his house he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was beautiful to look at. He could not turn his eyes away and his lust led him to have sexual relations with her. The fact that she was another man’s wife did not deter him (2 Samuel 11:2-5). How much greater is the effect of pornography when one has opportunities to view it countless times in the privacy of one’s home. There is also a strong correlation between the viewing of pornography and the rise in sexual crimes in society today. Gang rapes, incest, sodomy, multiple sex partners and other unmentionable forms of sexually deviant behaviour are portrayed as enjoyable and perfectly acceptable in pornographic materials. Today, the perversion has grown to such an enormous extent that there is even the exploitation of children in pornogra-

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phy. As such the distinction between what is right and wrong is blurred for teenagers and youths who are exposed to all this. It is interesting to note that many of the sexual behaviours depicted in pornographic materials received severe penalty during the time of the prophet Moses. In some cases the death

sentence was meted out (Leviticus 20:15-16). Though people today may consider this brutal, God certainly makes it clear how he views these sins. Sadly, the widespread availability of pornography in today’s society has also led to a new scourge, that is, pornography addiction. Pornography addiction Few realise the underlying danger of viewing pornography. There is a very real danger of developing an almost unbreakable addiction to it. Some researchers have even labelled it more severe than addiction to drugs! Just like addiction to drugs, an addiction to pornography develops in stages. The first signs of a problem are when the individual doesn’t feel satisfied and needs to view such material again and

again. The frequency increases, often taking precedence over responsibilities such as school work, studies and, in the case of adults, even family and job responsibilities. There arises an uncontrollable craving to satisfy sexual fantasies. Soon this craving leads to the viewing of more explicit or severe and shocking material. “Normal” s e x u a l depictions are not satisfying any more. At this point the individual requires a higher dosage of perverted material to satisfy his or her needs. This leads to the need to search for more brutal and unimaginable forms of sexual behaviour which would be totally repulsive to a normal person. The addict no longer feels shocked at what he sees. In fact, it has become pleasurable and entertaining for him. The individual now spends hours each day viewing pornography and purchasing such material. It begins to affect his work and family life. Pornography has become an all encompassing need that surpasses all other things in life. At this point the addict is totally unable to get out of his slavery to his addiction. For some there develops a need to carry out their sexual fantasies in real life. The addict knows how ‘unclean’ he has become but is powerless to do anything to overcome his predicament. This kind of addiction has affected many youths and even people of respectable standing in society. But NORTHERN LIGHT


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there is hope! No one needs to be enslaved to this scourge. That hope is in Christ. Overcoming pornography addiction As pornography addiction begins in the mind, the first step sincerely is to want to be cleansed of it. Reach out to God in sincere prayer. Tell God your exact problem and believe that Jesus can free you from this captivity, “for he has called us out of darkness and into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Tell God that you want to be free of this madness and show a sincere commitment to follow his lead. Have the resolve that “I will set no unclean thing before my eyes!”(Psalm 101:3). Next, believe that Jesus took upon himself all our sins and paid the penalty in our stead (John 3:16). Jesus frees every individual no matter what the sin. No one walks in darkness any further when Christ fills their lives (John 8:12). Get rid of all pornographic material around you and tell God how easily those things affect you so that he will give you the strength to refrain from obtaining them again. Never become discouraged when you fail along the way. Confess your failure and seek forgiveness from God and try again. God knows our frailties. God knows when a person is sincerely trying and putting his trust in him. He will intervene at the point the individual is totally unable to overcome by himself. Soon the addict will realise that he is getting stronger with God’s help. The overcoming does not occur overnight. It takes concentrated effort over a long period of time. For some the process is on-going together with regular counselling from a trained counsellor specifically for this problem. They also have to be on guard always as the addiction can return if they lose sight of God. Such is the danger of pornography. They literally need to flee from the things that can tempt them. The mindset needed is that depicted by Joseph when the wife of his master invitS E P T E M B E R



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ed him to have an affair with him. He refused to do the evil deed and sin against God. Later when caught in a difficult situation, he fled from her(Genesis 39:7-12). Parents and teachers need to play an effective role in protecting young minds from exposure to sexually explicit materials from all sources. This is because the primary target of those dealing in these materials is young people. Their industry thrives on getting as many individuals as possible hooked and yearning for their products. Judging from the massive expansion of the porn industry, the danger to our teenagers and youths is very real. The role of parents

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their children about matters pertaining to sex but the feelers of pornography are reaching into every nation and culture. The danger is just too pervasive. The best defence therefore is to have the spiritual and emotional maturity to refuse to give in to sexual temptation via pornography. In the meantime we should fully support all government efforts to eradicate this menace from reaching our youth. The moral integrity of our society must remain the highest priority. NL Editors Note: This article first appeared in the July/August 2005 issue of The Plain Truth Asia and is used here by permission.

It would be naïve to think that teenagers would never be exposed to sexually explicit material no matter how careful are parents in protecting their children. The best protection is for parents and even teachers to teach children the importance of respect for the opposite sex. Boys need to be taught that girls and women are to be respected as individuals made in the image of God with unique talents and abilities which are just as important as theirs. Mutual respect for the opposite sex is the most important guard against the perverted message advertised by pornography. Parents should take an active interest in the affairs of their children and relate to them with love and care. Children, teenagers and youths need guidance. There is much wisdom in the Bible and admonition to train a child in the way he should go in life (Proverbs 22:6). Children should be taught that the human body is not a tool to be abused through drugs or pornography. The Bible teaches that the human body is the temple of God’s Holy Spirit and serves as an avenue to glorify him (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Pornography is a direct violation of God’s intended purpose for human beings. As such parents should take time to explain to their children the dangers of pornography. Cultural reservations may hinder some from talking to

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By Jonathan Buck Pastor Barrie, Huntsville, North Bay, Peterborough, and Sudbury congregations

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omosexuality and same-sex marriage aren’t going away. Quite the opposite, in fact; they’ve already been established as legal rights. Now the pressure is on to also have them socially validated as acceptable practices throughout the culture. Meanwhile, Christians, flop all over the spectrum as far as their response goes. A case in point was a meeting of ministers from several denominations in my hometown that convened to discuss the pros and cons of same-sex marriage. Half of those present condemned samesex marriages on moral grounds and the other half condoned it on compassionate grounds. There was no meeting of minds, it was either condone or condemn. But Jesus neither condoned nor condemned when faced with a woman caught in adultery. I wonder, then, if his verdict would have been any different if the woman had instead been caught in a homosexual act. All he said was, “I don’t condemn you, but go and sin no more.” At no point did he condemn the woman to the fires of Hell, but neither was he soft on sin. However in that meeting I mentioned, it was like hearing one half of Jesus’ statement, “I don’t condemn you,” from one half of the room, and the other half of Jesus’ statement, “go and sin no more,” from the other half of the room. No one put both Jesus’ statements together. This is a pity because instead of witnessing to Jesus’ perfect balance between compassion and a call for repentance, the Christian Church’s witness on homosexuality and same-sex marriage is divided into two separate camps. Each camp has a point in its favor, but to preach only one half of Jesus’ statement is like preaching only half a witness to him. It’s also raising serious questions in the minds of those observing the Christian

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Homosexuality, Same-Sex Marriage, And Jesus Church in action, because on the one hand the Church appears to have no feeling and on the other, no guts. Jesus, however, had both. “I don’t condemn you,” he said, showing his enormous compassion for the predicaments we humans get ourselves into, but he also said, “go and sin no more,” because he wasn’t backing down for one moment in telling the lady that her sin must be stopped. He didn’t condemn, but he didn’t condone, either. So, is that how Jesus would’ve dealt with homosexuality and same-sex marriage today? Well, why not? The scriptures tell us that homosexuality is still as much a sin as adultery, so why should it be dealt with any differently? But that’s the big question, isn’t it? Right now the Church is divided in its answer. If a homosexual or a same-sex couple approached a church (any church) today, then, what response would they get? Or to put it another way, what response should they get, for that church to be an effective witness to Christ? The Church is a witness to the power and desire of Jesus to heal a broken world. It’s in the business, just like he was, of healing and restoration. So, how does one do that job effectively? Well, we have one of Jesus’ case histories, the woman caught in adultery, to give us a clue. It was a delicate balancing act between heartfelt feeling for her human weakness and strong admonition to change her life for the better. He didn’t say, “I don’t condemn you, please carry on sinning,” like some Christian churches today who allow people to continue in their sin in church. Yet, neither did he say, “You’re going to Hell, because of your sin,” like other Christian churches who don’t allow some types of sinner to enter the church at all. Jesus did neither; he neither condoned nor condemned.

sion and a call to repentance—of not condemning and not condoning. In combination they work wonderfully. Tip the balance too far either way, however, and problems result. Leaning too much toward compassion, for instance, can cause a church to become soft on sin. That’s no help to people when sin lies at the root of humanity’s problems. However, leaning too much toward morality can cause a church to become hard on sinners. That’s no help either, when love lies at the root of humanity’s solutions. I imagine, then, that if Jesus was the minister in a church and he was approached by a homosexual or a same-sex couple, his first response would be compassion, because they are hurting people who’ve been messed up by sin—just like everyone else. He would also let them know they are entering the church to recover from sin, not continue in it. Why? Because the Church exists to heal a broken world, and to heal a broken world needs both compassion and a gutsy call to repentance. It’s both, not one or the other. NL

For me this is a perfect illustration of how broken human beings are healed and restored. It’s through a combination of compasNORTHERN LIGHT


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C O R N E R By Maria Sinkler

Your Debt Is Cancelled

“M

om, do I have to repay the money I owe you?” asked Colby.

row, he’s going to sell my scooter!” said Samantha. “He can’t do that. Let’s go find him,” said Mom.

“That’s the deal you made. When you borrow money, you have to pay it back,” said Mom.

Children’s Corner Feature Editor

“Samantha said you’re planning to sell her scooter,” said Mom. “Well, she owes me money and she can’t pay it back,” said Colby. “How much does she owe you?” asked Mom.

“But Mom, I’ve been paying you back for six months. I really want to save for a new game, but it’s going to take forever!” said Colby.

“Five dollars,” said Colby. “Don’t you think it’s a bit harsh to sell your sister’s scooter when her debt is only five dollars?” asked Mom.

“You should have thought about how long it would take to pay back your loan before you borrowed the money,” said Mom.

“I’m broke and I need to start saving for my game,” said Colby.

“I know. Mom, could you cancel the rest of my loan?” asked Colby.

“Colby, yesterday you came to me and asked me to forgive your loan and it was for a lot more than five dollars. Why aren’t you able to forgive a small loan?” asked Mom.

“Does that mean I get your Game Cube? I’ve wanted one since you showed me how much fun it was,” said Mom with a big grin on her face.

Colby looked down at the ground. “I guess I got greedy,” said Colby. “Jesus told a story about a man who owed the king millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay the debt so the king gave the order to sell the man’s wife, children and everything he had to pay the debt,” said Mom.

“Mom, quit joking around. Please,” said Colby. “All right. Your allowance this month will be your last payment. Then, no more loans,” said Mom. “Thanks Mom. You’re the best,” said Colby and he gave her a big hug. The next day, Samantha came bursting into the house crying.

“He’s in the fort,” said Samantha. Samantha and Mom walked quickly to the back yard. They saw Colby trying to sneak out the back gate.

“Did the king really sell his family?” asked Samantha. “No. The man begged the king for forgiveness,” said Mom.

“Colby, we need to have a family meeting right now,” said Mom.

“Did he forgive him?” asked Colby.

“What’s up?” asked Colby trying to look innocent.

“Yes, he felt sorry for him and forgave the whole debt,” said Mom.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” asked Mom. “Colby told me that if I didn’t pay him back the money I owe him by tomorS E P T E M B E R



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“Wow, I bet he was happy,” said Colby. “Yes, just like you were yesterday. However, he also had a short memory. He went to a man who owed him a few thousand dollars and grabbed him by the throat and demanded his money,” said Mom.

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aul’s letter to the Romans has three major parts: a presentation of the gospel (chapters 18), the place of Israel in God’s plan (chapters 9-11) and exhortations for Christian living (chapters 12-15). The chapter of our study this month comes at the end of Paul’s explanation of the gospel. It is the climax, and the truths that Paul discusses are truly astonishing.

“Did the man forgive him?” asked Samantha.

No condemnation!

“No. The second man asked for mercy but he was thrown into jail. When the king heard about what happened, he was angry and sent the first man to jail to be tortured until his debt was paid,” said Mom.

The chapter begins with an astonishing statement: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death (vs. 1-2, TNIV throughout).

“Does that mean Colby is going to jail to be tortured?” asked Samantha. “Very funny,” said Colby. “Samantha, don’t forget, both people went to jail,” said Mom. “Oh, I forgot. Sorry Colby,” said Samantha. “The lesson is that when we have been forgiven a big debt, we should show mercy and forgive others too. Colby, do you have something to say?” asked Mom. “Sorry Mom. Sorry Sam. Mom cancelled my debt, so guess what? Your debt is cancelled!” said Colby. “Thanks,” said Samantha. “Sam, do you want to play a game on the Game Cube?” asked Colby. “Sure, let’s go!” said Samantha.NL

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Because of what Christ has done, believers are not counted guilty and will not be punished on the day of judgment. We sin, but there is no condemnation. If we didn’t sin, the question of condemnation wouldn’t even come up. Paul knows that we sin, so he is saying, there is no eternal punishment for Christians even though they sin. Hard to believe? Yes, for we know that sin deserves to be punished. Paul agrees, but the gospel announces that Christ has taken our punishment on himself. Because he paid the penalty in full, we do not need to pay it again. Christ has already received all the condemnation that we deserve, so there is no further condemnation waiting for us. If we have faith in him, if our lives are in him, we do not need to be afraid. Sin has physical penalties in this life, but for those who are in Christ, it has no ultimate penalty for us. Why? Because Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death, set us free from the only law that could possibly condemn us. The law that says, “Those who sin shall die,” no longer applies to us, because it has been taken care of—

completely. We died with Christ, and it is no longer we who sin, but the sinful nature inside of us that does it (7:17). It will die, and we who are in Christ will live eternally. God does not want us to sin, but even if we sin, we will not be condemned if we believe in his Son (John 3:18). The law could not give us eternal life, but God could, and he did it through the death of Christ. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in human flesh (Rom. 8:3). Jesus did not come to condemn sinners—he came to condemn sin. He came to punish sin, to take away its power to control us and kill us. He came to give us life, and to do it in such a way that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us (v. 4). In his life and in his death, Jesus satisfied all the demands of the law. It cannot demand anything more. Life in the Spirit Paul then tells us that Christians do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit (v. 4). We do not set our minds on what the sinful nature wants, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires (v. 5). We are not perfect, but as we are led by the Spirit, we think and do the things of God. Before we came to believe, our minds were headed for death. The unconverted mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. It is rebellious and disobedient. Paul concludes, Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (vv. 6-8). But now, we are not controlled by the sinful nature but are in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have NORTHERN LIGHT


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Sharing In The Life Of Christ A Study Of Romans 8:1-17 the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ (v. 9). The Holy Spirit lives in and guides everyone who belongs to Christ, and the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace (v. 6). If we don’t even want to live right, we do not belong to Christ.

in obedience to God will be of eternal value. The more we kill sin and the more we obey God, the more we are really alive. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God (v. 14). If we are in Christ, we are guided by the Spirit into a life that pleases God.

Our old bodies are dead because of sin, and they received their wages on the cross (6:2-6). In Christ, though, we have new life—But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness (8:10). Because Christ is righteous, and we are in him, the Spirit gives us life.

The Spirit does not enslave us or frighten us with threats of condemnation, but gives us a secure membership in God’s family: The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (vv. 15-16).

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit, who lives in you (v. 11). God, who raised Jesus from the dead, will also raise us, if his Spirit is living in us. Our bodies will be raised like his—immortal, incorruptible and full of glory. The Holy Spirit is essential for our salvation. Our obligation “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation,” Paul says (v. 12). It is not to live according to the sinful nature, for if we do that, we will die (v. 13). Paul does not directly say what our obligation is, but his contrast implies that we are obliged to live according to the Spirit of God. There is no ultimate penalty for failure, Paul says in verse 1, but the obligation still remains: if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (v. 13). We are called to serve the Spirit, not the flesh. We are commanded to serve God, not self. We are commanded to resist sin.

Questions for discussion If there is no condemnation for believers (v.1), should we ever have feelings of guilt? Why? In what way does the Spirit “control” our minds? (v.6) How do we get the ability to put our misdeeds to death? (v.13) When we call God “Father,” do we feel fear, or privilege? (v.16).

Since the Spirit lives in us, we can confidently call God our Father—and this has important implications. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ… (v.17). This means an assurance of salvation and an assurance of glory—but it also means that we suffer in this age, as Jesus did …if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. When our lives are placed in Christ, then we share in his life, both the good and the bad. We share in his sufferings, in his death, in his righteousness and in his resurrection. As God’s children, we are co-heirs with Christ, sharing in who he is and what he has done. We are united with him—forever in glory! NL

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Partager la vie de Christ : une étude en Romains 8. 1-17

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a lettre de Paul aux Romains se divise en trois parties principales : une présentation de l’Évangile (chapitres 1 à 8), la place d’Israël dans le plan de Dieu (chapitres 9 à 11) et des exhortations pour la vie chrétienne (chapitre 12 à 15). Le chapitre de notre étude de ce mois-ci clôture l’explication de Paul sur l’Évangile. C’est le climax, et les vérités dont Paul discute sont réellement étonnantes. Aucune condamnation ! Le chapitre commence par un énoncé saisissant : « Maintenant donc, il n’y a plus de condamnation pour ceux qui sont unis à Jésus-Christ. Car la loi de l’Esprit qui nous donne la vie dans l’union avec Jésus-Christ t’a libéré de la loi du péché et de la mort » (v. 1,2). À cause de l’œuvre de Christ, les croyants ne sont pas reconnus coupables et ne subiront pas de châtiment le jour du jugement. Nous péchons, mais il n’y a aucune condamnation. Si nous ne péchions pas, la question de la condamnation ne serait même pas soulevée. Paul sait que nous péchons, alors il dit qu’il n’y a aucune punition éternelle pour les chrétiens, même s’ils pèchent. Difficile à croire ? Oui, car nous savons que le péché mérite d’être puni. Paul est d’accord, mais l’Évangile annonce que Christ a pris notre châtiment sur luimême. Parce qu’il a payé complètement le salaire de notre péché, nous n’avons pas à le payer une autre fois. Christ a déjà reçu toute la condamnation que nous méritons ; il n’y a donc pas d’autre condamnation qui nous attend. Si nous croyons en lui, si notre vie est en lui, nous n’avons rien à craindre. Le péché porte des conséquences physiques dans cette vie, mais pour ceux qui sont en Christ, il n’existe pas de châtiment ultérieur pour eux. Pourquoi ? Parce que Jésus nous a libérés de la loi du péché et de la mort, il

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nous a libérés de la seule loi qui pouvait nous condamner. La loi qui dit : « Ceux qui pèchent doivent mourir », ne s’applique plus à nous, parce que quelqu’un s’en est déjà occupé – totalement. Nous sommes morts avec Christ, et ce n’est plus nous qui péchons, mais c’est la nature pécheresse habitant en nous qui pèche (Ro 7.17). Cette nature mourra, et nous qui sommes en Christ vivrons éternellement. Dieu ne veut pas que nous péchions, mais si nous péchons, nous ne serons pas condamnés si nous croyons en son Fils (Jn 3.18). La loi ne pouvait pas nous accorder la vie éternelle, mais Dieu le pouvait, et il l’a fait par la mort de Christ. « Car ce que la Loi était incapable de faire, parce que l’état de l’homme la rendait impuissante, Dieu l’a fait : il a envoyé son propre Fils avec une nature semblable à celle des hommes pécheurs et, pour régler le problème du péché, il a exécuté sur cet homme la sanction qu’encourt le péché » (Ro 8.3). Jésus n’est pas venu pour condamner les pécheurs, mais pour condamner le péché. Il est venu pour punir le péché, pour le rendre impuissant à nous contrôler et à nous donner la mort. Il est venu pour nous donner la vie de manière telle que « la juste exigence de la Loi soit pleinement satisfaite en nous qui vivons » (v. 4). Dans sa vie et dans sa mort, Jésus a satisfait toutes les exigences de la loi ; elle ne peut exiger davantage. La vie dans l’Esprit Paul écrit ensuite que les chrétiens ne vivent pas à la manière de l’homme livré à lui-même, mais dans la dépendance de l’Esprit (v. 4). Nous ne nous concentrons pas sur ce que désire la nature charnelle, car « ceux qui ont l’Esprit tendent vers ce qui est conforme à l’Esprit » (v. 5). Nous ne sommes pas parfaits, mais lorsque l’Esprit nous conduit, nous pensons et agissons selon Dieu.

Avant de venir à la foi, notre esprit était livré à la mort. L’esprit non converti est hostile à Dieu ; il ne se soumet pas à sa loi, ni ne le peut. Il est rebelle et désobéissant. Paul conclut : « Vous, au contraire, vous n’êtes pas livrés à vousmêmes, mais vous dépendez de l’Esprit, puisque l’Esprit de Dieu habite en vous. Si quelqu’un n’a pas l’Esprit du Christ, il ne lui appartient pas » (v. 9). Le SaintEsprit vit dans tous ceux qui appartiennent à Christ et il les dirige, et celui qui est conduit par l’Esprit a la vie et la paix (v. 6). Si nous ne désirons même pas vivre pieusement, nous n’appartenons pas à Christ. Notre ancienne nature est morte à cause du péché, et elle a reçu son salaire sur la croix (6.2-6). En Christ, cependant, nous avons une nouvelle vie. « Or, si le Christ est en vous, votre corps reste mortel à cause du péché, mais l’Esprit est source de vie, parce que vous avez été déclarés justes » (8.10). Parce que Christ est juste et que nous sommes en lui, l’Esprit nous donne la vie. « Et si l’Esprit de celui qui a ressuscité Jésus d’entre les morts habite en vous, celui qui a ressuscité le Christ d’entre les morts rendra aussi la vie à vos corps mortels par son Esprit qui habite en vous » (v. 11). Dieu, qui a ressuscité Jésus d’entre les morts, nous ressuscitera aussi, si son Esprit habite en nous. Notre corps ressuscitera comme le sien : immortel, incorruptible et rempli de gloire. Le Saint-Esprit est essentiel à notre salut. Nos obligations Paul écrit : « Ainsi donc, frères, si nous avons des obligations […]. Car, si vous vivez à la manière de l’homme livré à luimême, vous allez mourir » (v. 12, 13). Paul ne dit pas directement quelles sont nos obligations, mais son opposition implique que nous devons vivre selon l’Esprit de Dieu. Il n’y a plus de condamnation pour ceux qui sont en JésusChrist, écrit Paul au verset 1, mais les NORTHERN LIGHT


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obligations demeurent : « […] mais si, par l’Esprit, vous faites mourir les actes mauvais que vous accomplissez dans votre corps, vous vivrez » (v. 13). Dieu nous demande de servir l’Esprit et non la chair, de servir Dieu et non nousmêmes. Il nous commande de résister au péché.

Lorsque notre vie est en Christ, nous partageons sa vie, les bonnes choses ainsi que les mauvaises. Nous partageons ses souffrances, sa mort, sa justice et sa résurrection. En tant qu’enfants de Dieu, nous sommes cohéritiers avec Christ, partageant qui il est et ce qu’il a fait. Nous sommes unis avec lui, pour toujours dans la gloire ! NL

L’ancienne créature est condamnée mais la nouvelle ne l’est pas. Nous voulons donc passer le plus de temps possible dans la nouvelle. Tout ce que nous faisons selon la nature pécheresse mourra, mais tout ce que nous faisons dans l’obéissance à Dieu aura une valeur éternelle. Plus nous faisons mourir le péché et plus nous obéissons à Dieu, plus nous sommes réellement vivants. « Car ceux qui sont conduits par l’Esprit de Dieu sont fils de Dieu » (v. 14). Si nous sommes en Christ, nous sommes guidés par l’Esprit dans une vie qui plaît à Dieu.

Questions pour discuter S’il n’y a aucune condamnation pour les croyants (v. 1), devrions-nous ressentir de la culpabilité ? Pourquoi ? De quelle façon l’Esprit dirige-t-il notre pensée ? (v. 6) Comment pouvons-nous faire mourir nos mauvaises actions ? (v. 13) Lorsque nous appelons Dieu « Père », avons-nous peur ou nous sentons-nous privilégiés ? (v. 16)

L’Esprit ne nous asservit pas, ni ne nous effraie au moyen de menaces de condamnation, mais il nous permet de devenir membres de la famille de Dieu : « En effet, vous n’avez pas reçu un Esprit qui fait de vous des esclaves et vous ramène à la crainte : non, vous avec reçu l’Esprit qui fait de vous des fils adoptifs de Dieu. Car c’est par cet Esprit que nous crions : Abba, c’est-à-dire Père ! L’Esprit Saint lui-même et notre esprit nous témoignent ensemble que nous sommes enfants de Dieu » (v. 15,16). Étant donné que l’Esprit vit en nous, nous pouvons avec confiance appeler Dieu notre Père, et cela comporte des conséquences importantes. « Et puisque nous sommes enfants, nous sommes aussi héritiers : héritiers de Dieu, et donc cohéritiers du Christ […] (v. 17). Cela veut dire une assurance du salut et une assurance de gloire, mais aussi une assurance que nous souffrons dans ce siècle comme Jésus a souffert « puisque nous souffrons avec lui pour avoir part à sa gloire » (v. 17). S E P T E M B E R



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NATIONAL NEWS

Central BC Women’s Retreat Eighteen women gathered together for our first women’s retreat held in central BC, beginning Friday, April 18. The location was Eagle Rock Ranch near the city of Vernon. The ranch is owned and operated by a Christian couple, Paul and Susan Case. The remote 630-acre property allows its visitors to experience much peace and serenity.

served as an opportunity to request prayers for those having trials and difficulties. During free time we explored trails around the ranch and enjoyed the beauty and serenity of the area. The highlight of Saturday evening was a hayride, minus the hay—we now know why they called them “buckboards”—some said certain parts would never feel the same again! On Sunday a communion service was conducted by Norma Thibault and Vicky Zacharias. The women left the retreat feeling encouraged and uplifted. Our hosts were very hospitable and the meals were great. There was a lot of giving and sharing and as we left for home the most common comment was, “I hope we can do this again.”

Women’s Retreat participants

The theme of the retreat was “Fired up for Jesus” with guest speakers from Edmonton Dorothy Nordstrom and Maria Sinkler. Dorothy gave two presentations, entitled “Fragments of the Knowledge of God” and “The Dreaded Word” (which is evangelism). She told us that we are “the hands and the feet of Christ.” She said we can’t be the salt of the earth if we don’t get out of the “shaker.” Maria performed a skit depicting the woman at the well. On Sunday her presentation was based on Jeremiah 17:58 and she used the surroundings of the ranch to help us understand the relationship between the scrub brush, the tree and the water. Before the retreat each woman was asked to submit her favorite hymn. Each song was included in our worship services led by Pat Studer and the Kelowna worship team and accompanied on the piano by Dorothy Palmer. An open forum led by Betty Rowley allowed the ladies to discuss various topics and also

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Norma Thibault

Prince George Friendship Barbecue The Prince George congregation invited 30 of their friends and relatives to the annual Friendship Barbecue on June 26 under the big tent on the rural property of Arnold and Helen Schwartz. We all kept dry despite the occasional shower. The message, “The Hope Within Us,” was given by Canadian director Gary Moore. Worship singing and intercessory prayer were also part of the service. The church served a potluck meal after the message. Games of horseshoes, bocce and frisbee were available for the energetic. It was a fun, casual and enjoyable time to renew acquaintances with former church members and those who don’t attend services regularly. Lister Chen

Relational Evangelism at Brandon’s 30th Local Elder Pat Stelmack and wife, Faye, welcomed forty-five people to the thirtieth anniversary of the Brandon, Manitoba church congregation held at the Church of the Nazarene here on May 28. On hand were people from Washington State in the United States and guests from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and sister churches from Yorkton and Moosomin, Saskatchewan. The Moosomin congregation has been teamed with Brandon since the church began here in 1975. Before introducing founding minister Neil and Susan Earle (1975-78) visiting from Glendora, California for the occasion, Brandon pastor Trevor Cherry presented a special plaque honoring the Stelmacks for their outstanding service for almost two decades. “We just couldn’t have done it over the years without Pat and Faye,” Trevor Cherry commented. Music was provided by a Country Gospel Band put together for the occasion made up of friends from the city of Brandon and a piano solo by Roy Bortolotto, an elder from Moosomin, SK. “It was great to see how the Stelmacks took advantage of the occasion to invite past members including some presently worshipping in other fellowships for the service,” said Neil Earle, “This is what relational evangelism is all about.” Pastor O’Brien of the Church of the Nazarene joined the celebration after services. Neil Earle presented him with a copy of WCG President Joseph Tkach’s book Transformed by Truth which was warmly received. In his sermon, “A Church for the Twentieth Century,” Neil Earle played off the two seemingly contradictory proverbs, “The only thing permanent is change” versus “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” The commitment to preach the NORTHERN LIGHT


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Saskatchewan, referring to the New Covenant experience as well as the anniversary. “It always helps to get outside perspectives to enlarge our vision,” said Murray Munro, a founding member. Neil Earle Cornwall Gets A New Home

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resources available. While the selling price was about the same the previous owners had made substantial improvements to that church since they first purchased it at the end of 2000. The Cornwall congregation purchased the building at the end of February and we took occupancy on March 31st. On April 2, 2005, the Cornwall congregation had its first worship service in our new home. We have a beautiful environment, which can seat 90, a children’s room, meeting room, kitchen, and two office spaces—all in a neat 2980 square

In the mid-1990s, the Cornwall, Ontario Worldwide Church of God received an inheritance that was designated for this particular Brandon’s 30th Anniversary: Trevor Cherry(left) with congregation. Since that time, the congregation Pat and Faye Stelmack worked to add to that Gospel and the Great Commission donation for a time when it could never changes, he said. He alluded to be most useful for the Kingdom Paul’s tribute to the Philippians wherein work in the area. At the same he thanked the church for their “partnertime, the local church Council ship in the Gospel” (Philippians 1: 5). developed a purpose statement Where the WCG formerly used expenand discussed different possibilsive media outreach and a huge centralities for the use of these funds in ized effort today we use individual evanthis community of 42,000. Cornwall congregation’s new home. gelism and good works partnerships with allies we have made in the wider The Cornwall congregation had been in feet. We have some growing to fill our body of Christ. He cited such valuable a rented hall owned by a local service building but we anticipate that happenmissionary projects as the Bengali organization which was put up for sale in ing. We have ideas for reaching into the Evangelical Association (BEA) which is mid-2000. However, the price was simcommunity, and, now having a place an active ally of WCG overseas. ply too high for the congregation to from which to operate, feel the light of afford. the community shining on us. It’s like “With Christ in us we can stay productive we’ve come into the light, having been in the mission.” Change is an inevitable On January 6, 2001, the congregation hidden in other locations, as renters, for part of the Christian experience, Mr. moved to the Wesleyan Community over 30 years, here. We have no idea Earle emphasized, explaining that the Church. This location afforded us the what opportunities lie ahead, but know Scripture in Malachi 3: 6, “I the Lord do opportunity to improve our worship serthe road will provide some interesting not change” read in context is a refervice, as the church’s sanctuary was one and exciting possibilities that we feel we ence to God’s merciful nature not a statthat encouraged worship. We came, can only, now, begin to seriously considic, one-dimensional approach to the quickly, to rejoice at being in an environer, having our own church “home.” Christian life. How we present the ment created for worship, rather than March 31, 2005, possession day for the Gospel is always changing, he added, learning, and we began to experiment Cornwall Worldwide Church of God’s as illustrated by the fact that the apostle with a range of worship music and music own church building, stands as a tribute Paul’s “synagogue strategy” of using styles, which we came to feel helped to the dreams, prayers, and diligent Jewish communities as his base would strengthen the congregation. financial care on the part of many, who backfire today. Hence the need to stay have been active in both the congregaup to date. “Thank you for your loyalty to Then in January of this year, the church tion and the Council over the past the Great Commission,” he concluded. that had purchased our former meeting decade. We all look forward, with anticilocation, put it up for sale as they had pation, to where Jesus intends to lead us “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” grown out of that facility. Our Council in the next decade! said long-time member Janet Wood, visdecided to look seriously at purchasing iting from 120 miles away in Whitewood, this facility as we had more financial Dennis Lawrence S E P T E M B E R



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Montreal Family Retreat, Camp Vendee, June 30- July 2, 2005 Participants in this annual weekend began to arrive on Thursday evening, in order to enjoy a super-long Canada Day weekend together. With the theme of “Focusing on God” integrated into activities and messages for children and adults alike, both the spiritual and physical aspects of the weekend were outstanding. Most arrived on Friday, when we enjoyed a special time for worship, led by our pastor, Dennis Lawrence. On Saturday morning, Joe Jaszberenyi prepared a Scavenger Hunt for the children, which was a real ‘hit’. We had our main worship service on Saturday afternoon, with a very helpful message by Tony Rigatuso. Surrounding all worship opportunities were many games of bocci, various card games, walks in the beauty of the location, and swimming in Lac Windigo. Many participated in the several opportunities for intercessory prayer led by Ken Brady, who leads prayer ministry in our church. The weekend concluded on Sunday with a message surrounding the Communion, which we enjoyed together. Following lunch and cleanup, we returned to our homes in the city, renewed by time with God in such a beautiful environment.

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT We’ d like to let readers know about your new baby as soon as he or she arrives. Just fill out this coupon and send it to the address given below. Baby announcements should be no more than six months old. BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT THE WCG Today BOX 111 PASADENA, CALIF., 91129, U.S.A. Please write the number from your magazine mailing label here:

P Last Name

Father’ s first name

Mother’ s first name

Mother’ s maiden name

Church area of city of residence/Province/Country

Baby’ s first and middle names

Number of children you have including newborn

Baby’ s sex Boy  Girl  Date of Birth Month:

Boys:

Girls:

Day:

 Check box if this is your first child

BIRTHS

Maureen Whitelaw

Jael Gabriella Viktoria Gordon GORDON, Peter and Christina (Hleboff) of Dallas, Texas, girl, Jael Gabriella Viktoria, Mar. 6, now 2 girls and 1 boy.

Carley Linnea Spellman SPELLMAN, Colin and Lydia (Czuprys) of Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, girl, Carley Linnea, Nov. 30, now 1 boy, 1 girl.

BACON, David and Alice (Santiago) of Vancouver, British Columbia, girl, Hannah Patricia Santiago, May 7, first child. Our coupon baby is Hannah Bacon

CARTWRIGHT, Evan and Kathryn (Damianides) of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, girl, Julia Carol Ann, Feb. 24, first child.

Send your announcements to: The WCG Today, Announcements, Box 111, Pasadena, CA, 91123, or by electronic mail to: tom.hanson@wcg.org

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Sex and the Christian