Acts 10 (continued)

Acts 10:1-48 (cont)

In the Old Testament clean animals (Lev. 11) could be eaten and used for sacrifices but unclean ones could not. But note that Noah after the flood was not constrained by these ceremonial laws which only were binding from the time of Moses to Christ.

Peter was commanded to kill and eat but he refused believing as he still did, that the law had to be kept. The Lord then in the vision said that he should not call these animals common or unclean and reinforced the message by making it happen thrice which may well have reminded Peter of his denial three times and Christ’s question, “Do you love me.” It is worth remembering that these food laws had stood for 1400 years.

The messengers from Cornelius arrived straight after this which was very providential. We cannot tell how the Spirit spoke to him but we can distinguish between the uncreated inaudible voice that created the worlds by Christ the Word of God and the created voice heard for example at Christ’s baptism and many times in the New Testament e.g. Acts 13:2. Peter needed reassurance he should go and we also need to remember that the Jews had added unbiblical rabbinic tradition to their law even forbidding social association with Gentiles.

By illumination and deduction Peter realised that he ought not to call any man unclean. The messengers came because of Cornelius’ request as he awaited instructions from God’s messenger. When Peter arrived there was a house full of Cornelius’ family, friends, servants and perhaps soldiers showing how influential he was. Note that the message was to show them how they could be saved subjectively by conversion (c.f. Acts 16:31) because we believe both he and the jailor in Philippi were born again prior to their conversion experience.

Cornelius overdid his welcome of Peter and was rebuked because only God must be worshipped (c.f. Rev.19:10). Peter reminded Cornelius that Gentiles were still considered unclean and not God’s people (c.f. Eph. 2:12 and I Peter 2). He surmised that the unclean animals represented people and asked again why he had been sent for, to which Cornelius replied about his vision and his expectation of a message from God.

God does not respect persons, meaning he does not treat any differently because of race, station or anything else (c.f. James 2:1 and I Tim.2:4) men of all kinds are part of the church and this Peter now knew because he speaks of “all nations”. By the way Peter really ought to have known this by the great commission in Mathew 28:18-20 and Christ’s saying in Matthew 21:43 but he did not understand. Peter emphasises his being a witness to underline his apostolic authority and truthfulness.

He states that God’s word sent was the gospel of justification by faith in Christ (Romans 5:1) through which forgiveness comes and this is attested to in the prophets e.g. Isaiah 53.

The Spirit was poured out on these Gentiles just as at Pentecost in a public and obvious way as they spoke in tongues and openly praised God. The Spirit used the word as his power and it is always the case that word and Spirit must work together to accomplish God’s purposes. The Jews looking on were astonished as they still felt they as a nation had a monopoly on God’s kingdom and salvation. Water baptism is the outward sign of inward Spirit baptism. Peter stayed to instruct them because he was commanded to make disciples not just converts!

It is worthwhile reading into Acts 15 to see Peter’s account to the Jerusalem synod of these events.

Confidence

Confidence

We are often told about sportspeople or teams or managers that they are confident of winning. Where is their confidence? Usually it is in themselves and their own ability!
Confidence means to have faith in and rely on yourself or someone else with the assured certainty of your own ability or their help. The middle three letters of the word point to faith (fidei) and because for the Christian our Lord maintains this bond of faith with us, we actively respond trusting him to lead us into victory over the world, flesh and devil. We should be confident people!  We boast in the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23,24). Our faith overcomes the world! Let us always be confident in him-he is our omnipotent, loving Father and we are united to his omnipotent, loving Son. We are united to both and indwelt by his loving omnipotent Spirit. We must never underestimate the power at work in us!
In II Kings 18:19 the blaspheming Rabshekeh of the King of Assyria poured scorn on King Hezekiah for having confidence in his God. But his confidence in God was not misplaced as his angel smote 180,000 of the enemy in one night!
The writer of proverbs encourages his son with these words, “ For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” Proverbs 3:26
“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” Isaiah 30:15.

Our confidence must be in God alone, not ultimately anything we have or own, or any other people.

A Reformed view of Health (4)

A Reformed view of Health

Part 4: Stress, psychosomatic disorders, mental illness, spiritual wholeness and conclusion

 

 

“A mind upset makes a body sick. With every passing year, researchers find more and more ways that the mind (psyche) produces sickness in the body (soma)-hence the term psychosomatic illness. These ailments are not just “in the mind”*. Stress leaves our bodies more susceptible to viruses like the common cold.  Blood flow, secretions, stomach acid and muscle tension are all directly affected by emotions and psychological stress. The list of ailments directly affected by our minds is immense and can involve every system in the body e.g. stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, menstrual disorders, headaches, diabetes, asthma, muscle and joint disorders, viral infections, anorexia and obesity, and even cancers.

Covering the Christian or Reformed view of mental illness is beyond my remit in these short articles but suffices to say that God may inflict mental illness (think of Nebuchadnezzar) and much human angst including phobias can be addressed by psychologists and good Christian counselling, nevertheless serious mental disorders like depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders need proper assessment by a consultant psychiatrist and may be helped by medication–they are not within the remit of a pastor.

Stress raises cholesterol, insulin and blood sugar. In many aspects of life we decide how much stress we’ll live with; we choose our job, how much time to spend with children and others, what we do weekends etc. Yet some stress is inevitable and also needed (Romans 5:3-5) and coping with it develops our character. Anger caused by stress and bearing grudges is not healthy. We read in Colossians 3:8, ” But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”  Sinful anger and harbouring resentment and grudges is unhealthy, hatred makes you its slave. Remember hatred is the same as murder. When sinned against by a fellow believer apply Matthew 18:15-17 and “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 2:12,13).We should cope with stress without anxiety seeking God’s peace (Phil.4:6,7). Stress is caused by perceived loss of control. Faith and casting our cares upon God helps us cope better because we trust our Lord who is in control. Knowledge of God and Scripture ought to help us with:

Direction-God’s goals and prioritiesforour life.

Balance-of activities (work, rest, play).

Rest-Sabbath days, sleep, relaxation. A rest that refreshes must calm the spirit and feed the soul (public worship/Bible study/quiet communion with God).

Hope-positivity, confidence in God.

“Life is a guided tour with a great destination.”**

Re-ead Psalm 23!

McMillen and Stern point out that the lives of most of the rich and famous are two dimensional, all work and play and no worship! Faith in the triune God is strong medicine. In fact Christ used the same word for healing as for salvation (Greek SOZO). Your faith has healed (SOZO) you, he said to Bartimaeus (Mark 10:52) and your faith has saved (SOZO) you to the woman taken in adultery (Luke 7:50). Spiritual healing is what Peter had in mind when he penned these words, “ Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24).

“Dr Benjamin Rush, the father of American psychiatry, stated that faith is as essential to the mind as air is to respiration.” Health requires good nutrition, exercise and de-stressing but to counteract discouragement, doubt, despair and spiritual death the only antidote is faith in Jesus Christ.

Excessive grief is also dangerous and may trigger physical symptoms and disease. God may use the community of faith to ease our loss. We do not sorrow as those who have no hope. Many a deathbed of the wicked is characterised by harrowing, fearful  hopelessness to which our two doctors testify whereas God’s people falling alseep in Jesus die peacefully.

Another thought process that may drive us and harm us is ambition and the desire for personal glory, prestige or power (see Matthew 23:5-12, Phil.2:2-3, Romans 12;3,16). The disciples were like this until rebuked and corrected by their Lord. The inordinate desire to possess, be rich or get to the top precludes love for God (Matthew 6:24), consumes an individual, and will lead them to hell.

Having gone through a catalogue of physical diseases that are avoidable or preventable and touched on the psychological cause of many ailments we return to man’s basic problem which underlies all disease whether of mind or body or spirit and that is sin. Our evil natures are our basic problem and no amout of medication or counselling can correct this. Lurking within us and often surfacing in actions are immorality, shameful passions, greed, gossip, lying, the breaking of God’s law that Paul, speaking as a Christian believer, mentions in Romans 7 and which can only be addressed by the indwelling Christ of the born-again man or woman. If you are not a believer, God’s command to you is repent and believe the gospel. A physician who was anxious about his soul asked a believing patient of his, how he should find peace. His patient replied, “Doctor, I have felt that I could do nothing (regarding my disease), and I have put my case in your hand: I am trusting in you. This is exactly what every poor sinner must do in the Lord Jesus. He saw the simplicity of the way, and soon found peace in Christ.

If you are a believer daily crucifying of the old man is essential-this is the only way to overcome the sinful nature, the spiritual root of all human problems. Christ Jesus  became a man who bore a weakened human nature—a human nature subject to hunger and thirst, to disease and weariness, to sickness and death for the sole purpose of dying and being resurrected for our sin, the guilt, power and presence of it, his aim being the ultimate total eradication of what corrupted his good creation.

 

* Ibid p169

** Ibid p192

A Reformed view of health, sickness and disease prevention (3)

A Reformed view of health, sickness and disease prevention.

Part 3   Sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS

 

Remember our background verse: ” And God said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26). Living according to God’s commandments precludes the diseases or plagues of the Egyptians (representing the godless world) and certainly applies to those outlined in this article.

Circumcision, you might think, is irrelevant but it’s not, because God, in wisdom, gave this rite to his people, the Jews. Circumcision on day eight, when prothrombin (clotting) levels are highest and when the child is young enough to forget the pain, is a ritual cleansing which reduces markedly the incidence of urinary infections in the new-born, penile and cervical cancer in adults, and the spread and incidence of HIV/AIDS. Spiritually it counts for nothing (Colossians 3:11) but for health and hygiene reasons it has much to commend it.

AIDS (Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a modern plague affecting millions around the world and spread mainly by heterosexual intercourse (90%), but also homosexual intercourse and infected blood. Uncircumcised men are up to eight times more likely to become infected. AIDS deaths leads to orphans in huge numbers. Monogamous marriages would eradicate AIDS and all the other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs include syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes, the papilloma virus and warts, and chlamydia. The more sexual partners ─ the greater the risk. “Human sexuality is complex but it certainly is not predetermined at birth. Genes do not cause homosexuality. Homosexuality describes what someone thinks and does.”* God strictly condemns all sex outside monogamous heterosexual marriage (Lev.18:22, Romans 1:24-32, I Cor.6:9-11, Hebrews 13:4, Proverbs 5:15-18). “Women have an inalienable right to keep their virginity until marriage. With this right comes power. Casual selfish sex is certainly not the answer to happiness. God made sex sacred and good (Genesis 2:23-25, I Cor.7:3-5). When sex is part of a loving marriage, both partners don’t need to hold back anything. They are free to enjoy and give themselves completely to each other. In this kind of sex, we can experience blessing in our everyday lives. Thus sex can be a spiritual act of worship. It is the union of body and soul in the blessing of God. We live in his presence even in the sexual act.”* All of the physical creation teaches us about spiritual things and I personally believe the extasy of sexual orgasm reflects in some way the exquisite joy of our final perfect union with Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb when Christ and his bride are finally and perfectly united. By the way, McMillen and Stern view incompatibility as one of the purposes of marriage and a well-known mission leader called marriage “God’s graduate school”. It is through our differences, conflicts and resolutions that we grow spiritually and learn tolerance, love and forgiveness.                                                                                                                     Love says, ”What can I give? How can I adapt to please my spouse?” We are called to love in spite of faults. Love keeps no record of wrongs. This is the love of God. Godly everyday marital life and unselfish love leads to satisfying sex. The so-called sexual revolution did not satisfy and often was a forlorn quest to beat loneliness. Promiscuity among teenagers is a time bomb already exploding and leading to massive increases in STDs and inevitably abortions. Condoms are NOT a failsafe safety feature. They have holes 50 times larger than the HIV and against STDs are only 50% effective.

Click on pic to enlarge.

Just saying “no” works for drug education, and being chaste works for sex education. I have addressed family planning which I see as a matter for each couple to decide (before God if believers) in my booklet “Handle with Care”*.

Sodomites are characteristically promiscuous, insecure, neurotic and often violent in their perverse sexual addiction-it is unnatural, unhealthy and psychologically abnormal. There is help if you know where to look. There are several Christian organisations that have seen much success. Another clear result of promiscuity and co-habiting is rampant abortion and the murder of millions of unborn ─ the worst genocide the world has ever seen and still continuing. Every parent and health care worker who participated in these cruel deeds will have hell to pay literally, unless they repent. Thus I have shown that all STDs, several serious cancers of the sexual organs and murderous abortion could all be avoided if men and women followed the maker’s instructions in the Bible.

  • None of These Diseases (p91)
  • Handle with Care, Dr Julian Kennedy 2017 Wipf p81ff

Health, disease and disease prevention (2)

A Biblical and Reformed view of health, sickness and disease prevention.

Part two: Diet, alcohol, smoking and drugs.

The Bible has a lot to say about eating. Firstly, gluttony is a sin (Proverbs 23:21) and even Christ was wrongly accused of this (Matthew 11:19). As with everything that enters our mouths, no food per se defiles us, but we reap what we sow (Gal.6:7,8). We need a range of foods for energy, replacement and regeneration, healing and growth. Water is also a necessity. Consistently eating more than we should, usually results in obesity and all its attendant diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and osteoarthritis. I am convinced that many people, including Christians, overeat. The simple fact is, that if your energy output for work and exercise, is less than your energy input from food and drink, you will gain weight! There are widely available tables that will show you what you ought to weigh and what your Body Mass Index should be (ratio of your weight in Kg divided by your height in metres squared). Overweight is defined as a BMI of over 25 and obese is BMI of over 30. Here are recent WHO global estimates:

  • In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults (25% world population!) aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these over 650 million adults were obese.
  • The worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.
  • Singapore’s rate of obesity is low (8%) but it is predicted to rise to 15% in next seven years

We know we ought to eat a balanced diet, but do we? A recent Lancet (a UK medical magazine) report (16/1/2019) states we should eat more whole grains and tubers (carrots, potatoes, turnips, parsnips), protein from plants, less red meat, and plenty green vegetables, fruit (five portions of fruit/veg daily) and nuts. We should restrict our sugar and intake of refined foods and eat more low fat products. Regular weighing and participation at the gym or some sport we enjoy, will tell us how we are doing! How quickly do we get breathless and how long does it take for our heart rate to return to normal after exercise?

Regular exercise, especially if quite vigorous, keeps us fit and healthy, raises the basal metabolic rate of burning calories which means that even when not exercising you are burning more. Exercise reduces incidence of type II or acquired diabetes, cardiovascular disease (arteriosclerosis), falls, depression, dementia, joint and back pain and certain cancers. Arteriosclerosis can be mitigated by a low meat-fat diet (note Leviticus 7:22), weight loss*, regular exercise, not smoking and managing stress. Regular exercise contributes to good stewardship of the body, well-being, and often longevity. Adam was a tiller of the ground and in the past most work was physical. God encouraged vigorous work. Medical advice encourages us to be more active (at least three twenty-minute periods of vigorous exercise or an hour and a half of moderate exercise, like walking or swimming, every week).Sit less (many of us have sedentery jobs), build strength (carry things, climb stairs, walk or use a bicycle rather than car). Make regular exercise a part of your life. “Discipline in exercise will help you in other areas, such as discipline in diet, discipline in prayer and disciplining your temper. You will even work more efficiently.”*** It ought also be noted that diabetes, especially type two or acquired diabetes which is closely related to obesity, is increasing at an alarming rate and the prevalence of diabetes (type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes) will increase by 54% to more than 54.9 million Americans between 2015 and 2030; annual deaths attributed to diabetes will climb by 38% to 385,800; and total annual medical and societal costs related to diabetes will increase 53% to more than $622 billion.

Alcohol in the form of wine, spirits or beer is something humans have produced and consumed since earliest times e.g. Noah, and at the same time it is given us by God to cheer our hearts (Psalm 104:15). It is a blessing in moderation, but sadly when taken to excess, becomes addictive, leading to dependence called alcoholism. Alcohol contributes in great measure to road deaths, murders, assaults and other incidents but particularly to alcoholic liver disease, pancreatitis and diabetes. Alcohol poisons and kills nerves, liver, heart and brain and severely disables new-born babies born to alcoholic mothers. The estimated harm caused by alcohol in the UK in 2012 was £25 billion! On top of this it contributes to broken marriages and fatherless children. The simple reason is that intemperance or drunkenness slackens self-control, inhibitions and reasoning power. This is a sin (Eph.5:18). When oft repeated, one becomes alcohol dependent, a sinful self-inflicted state (labelled a disease in medicine) from which it is difficult to be freed, though many who have been converted to Christ are able to kick the habit by the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture warns us in several places of its dangers (Prov.20:1, Is.5:22 and 28:7). It is notable that Christ on the cross refused wine-vinegar because he wanted to be fully aware while suffering for our sins.

 

Tobacco chewed is dangerous, but much more prevalent, tobacco smoking causes bronchitis, chronic lung disease including asthma and emphysema and of course, lung cancer which kills 120,000 Americans annually, it also causes cancer of bladder, pancreas and breast and cardiovascular and heart disease (killing 200,000 Americans annually). It is the major cause of heart attacks and loss of limbs to gangrene. Passive smoking by relatives and the children of smokers is also a major cause of lung illness. All told, cigarettes kill more annually than road crashes, AIDS, alcohol, murder, suicide and drugs combined. Someone rightly stated, “It is both godless and unseemly that the mouth of man which is intended to breathe in fresh air and utter praise to the Most High, should be defiled by the indrawing and expelling of tobacco smoke.” Our chief end is to glorify God and all believers ought to avoid this offensive, injurious and addictive habit. Paul rightly said about indifferent things that he would not be brought under the power of any (I Cor.6:12) how much more does this apply to harmful addictive habits like smoking! What we do with our bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit, matters to God! (I Cor.6:19,20).

Need I say anything about so called “soft” or “hard” drugs? Of course, alcohol and the nicotine in tobacco are addictive drugs themselves but generally when drugs are considered we mean compounds like marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, LSD, heroin etc. Apart from marijuana which may yet prove useful as a medicine, but has recently been associated with paranoia and psychosis, the rest are all extremely addictive, mind bending and dangerous. Marjiuana impairs memory and attention span and impairs judgment e.g. driving, as well as lowering inhibitions against sinful actions (like alcohol).**The personal and social destructiveness of these drugs is well documented and deaths from overdose are happening daily all over the globe. Never even try them! Flee fornication and flee drugs!  As my P.E. teacher used to say about smoking (but also relevant to drugs), “the best way to stop is never start!” Modern medicine has led to the discovery of myriads of useful medicines for almost every illness, and morphine, codeine and the benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam) are very useful under medical supervision (Prov.31:6) in pain relief and epilepsy respectively, but to use them “recreationally” for “fun” to get “high” is always a foolish and dangerous attempt to escape reality with subsequent bad after effects. Whether all or any of these substances are indulged in for personal or social reasons, they reflect depravity in mankind vainly trying to find pleasure and satisfaction apart from God. As the children’s chorus rightly states, “There is no peace, no joy, no thrill, like walking in his will, for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

 

 

 

*“Correction of overweight is probably the most important hygienic measure (aside from avoiding cigarettes) available for the control of cardiovascular disease, “ Dr W.B. Kennel

** Russell Dykstra “Believer’s response to legalised marjiuna” in Beacon Lights, April 2019

*** None of These Diseases p181

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*“Correction of overweight is probably the most important hygienic measure (aside from avoiding cigarettes) available for the control of cardiovascular disease, “ Dr W.B. Kennel

** Russell Dykstra “Believer’s response to legalised marjiuna” in Beacon Lights, April 2019

*** None of These Diseases p181

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health, disease and disease prevention (1)

A Reformed view of health, sickness and disease prevention.

Part One: Introduction, some Biblical principles.

 

The Bible …is a book in which (a person) may learn from his creator the art of healthy living* said Paul Tournier MD.

Paul, in writing to the Romans states,” If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18). Now what relevance has this to health and sickness? Well simply this, we know that however careful we are in relating to others inevitably there will be those who hate and persecute us because of the antithesis created by God when he made enmity between the seed of the woman (Christ and his people) and the seed of the serpent (the wicked). In the same way, however careful you are to maintain health and fitness, inevitably you, and I, will succumb to some disease and die! Nothing makes us immune to either persecution or illness because of the common cause the fall! Death, spiritual and physical, passed upon all men in Adam.

Much of what I write accords with God’s word to the Israelites in Exodus 15:26, the verse used as foundational to the book “None of these diseases“, by McMillen and Stern which I heavily quote and use in this series of articles. “ If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

In the way of obedience to God’s law and stewardship of our bodies God will generally reward us with prolonged good health. “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.” (Proverbs 10:27).The diseases sent upon the Egyptians were by way of God’s curse, something to which God’s people will never be subject, though chastisement may take the form of physical affliction including disease or physical hurt (e.g. Miriam, Gehazi, David, King Uzziah, the Corinthians and the warnings given to Israel for disobedience which included physical plagues in Deuteronomy 28:22,26,35,59-61 and note that both physical and mental illness may come from God’s hand. Thus, this is not a promise of good health to all God’s people as I said, we all degenerate eventually, whether believer or unbeliever, and God may have ordained various illnesses or infirmities for us to magnify his grace and glory in us.

Infirmity was often healed by Christ and the apostles as in the case of the man born blind in John 9, alternatively it may be borne bravely by God’s grace as in Paul’s thorn. In both scenarios it is all for the glory of God and the good of the believer.

Congenital club feet-perhaps the problem with the man at the beautiful gate in Acts 3.

We know for sure that good spiritual health is promised in the way of thankful obedience!

If I was to summarize the Christian’s attitude to his or her body in one word that word would be “stewardship”. Actually, the most precious physical, earthly possession we have, is our body. The fact our Lord took a body and raised it from the dead and that we will one day inhabit a new one like his, just adds to its significance. Respect for the body means most believers bury their dead rather than cremate them. Our body is a precious gift to be cherished (Eph.5:29). We may be really well endowed physically-lean, mean and fit as a fiddle, or we may be born with physical defects (Exod.4:11) or belong to a family with a history of disease like heart disease or diabetes. To whom much is given, much is required! (Luke 12:48). Use what you have to the highest standard and the glory of God. However remember, that if blessed with vigorous health, that the greatest sportsmen and women actually have nothing to glory in, because God has endowed them with all their abilities but how few acknowledge this!

Sadly, many of the ungodly, and not a few Christians, abuse their bodies! Galatians 6:7.8 applies—you reap what you sow! Excess alcohol, illicit drugs, illicit sex, gluttony/bulimia/anorexia, lack of exercise, cigarettes and exposure to unnecessary danger are all abuses of the body, which usually have detrimental consequences. Most of us are well aware of drunkenness and its relationship to violence and incidents^, alcoholic liver disease, pancreatitis and foetal alcohol syndrome. Drugs e.g. heroin, LSD, amphetamines and cocaine are illegal because our governments know how harmful they are in ruining lives, families and society. They ruin body and soul, and drug overdoses and completed suicide are a terrible self-harming, sinful reality. Illicit sex and sexual perversion lead in many cases to sexually transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancies and AIDS. Genetic factors notwithstanding, gluttony and/or lack of exercise, persisted in, over years, lead to obesity, a host of other diseases and premature death. There are too many dangerously overweight believers! It is a bad witness. The opposite, anorexia, can also kill. Since the 1960s we have known what cigarettes do to heart and lungs and yet despite all the evidence, many people including Reformed people still smoke! I find this detestable! Women force their feet, in the name of fashion, into pointed, usually high-heeled shoes, and get bunions and weak, shortened, Achilles tendons! The fleeting pleasures of sin reap a sad harvest. I would say many extreme sports involving free rock climbing, jumping out of planes or off cliffs or bridges are not only extremely dangerous but also sinful. Proof that this is confessional and correctly surmised from Scripture is found in the Heidelberg Catechism LD 40 Q. 105.  What doth God require in the sixth commandment?
A.  That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonour, hate, wound, or kill my neighbour, by myself or by another; but that I lay aside all desire of revenge; also, that I hurt not myself, nor wilfully expose myself to any danger. Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword to prevent murder.) God expects his people to protect themselves according to law and common sense: seat belts, crash helmets, lifejackets, ear defenders, gloves, immunization etc.

There is no doubt that John’s prayer in III John 2 for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of his brethren is a good one and one we can emulate, but we know the “health and wealth” gospel is a false one. God NEVER promised perfect health and plenty money or possessions to those who follow Christ, on the contrary God in his sovereignty often sends illness as chastisement or judgment as mentioned above. Many disciples in all ages are poor!

At this point I want to mention the necessity of the medical, nursing and many paramedical professions. These are all worthy callings and may entail a work of necessity on Sabbath days, and there is no doubt medical missions have been and are used of God as an opening for the gospel into closed or hostile needy lands.

 

I need to remind you at this point that the fall brought death and corruption upon mankind. The cells in all plants and animals die and if they are not replaced or regenerated, eventually the whole creature dies, and that is our future destiny, however hard we try to postpone it! Bodily exercise, a careful diet, weight loss, abstaining from smoking, and measures to reduce stress profit for the short term (this short life!), particularly in the avoidance of arteriosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of arteries that leads to heart attacks, strokes and gangrene). Back in Leviticus 7:22 God prohibited the eating of animal fat which accords with modern guidelines. Exercise invigorates your heart, helps reduce weight and lowers blood cholesterol and reduces risk of diabetes. Regular exercise was part of God’s original plan when he set Adam to tend the garden (Genesis 2:15) and “Six days shalt thou labour “, (Exodus 20:9). God encouraged work and blessed it and if you have a sedentary job you need to PLAN regular exercise into your days. Stress raises blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin.” Stress will come and stress will go; but the peace of God (through prayer) can stay for good—for the good of your heart and the good of your soul**”. God also heals us from trauma like broken bones, exposure to toxins, and many diseases and he has created a powerful immune system to fight infection (see excellent article by Mr. Looyinga in Standard Bearer of RFPA Dec.15th 2018), but despite this, the wages of sin is death and it is appointed for all of us (Heb.7:25).

A few words on vaccination. Vaccination is the deliberate exposure of the body to an invasive antigen, bacterial or viral that causes the body’s own immune system to produce antibodies and thus be rendered immune to infection to the real pathogen (invader bug) in the future. Edward Jenner, a Christian doctor, around 1796, was the first to use vaccination when he used cowpox virus to give immunity to smallpox and thus help towards the eradication of the disease. Today vaccination is in worldwide use against tetanus, measles, mumps, whooping cough, German measles and polio and it is the bound duty of every Christian parent to vaccinate their children, not only for the safety of their own children but for the good of others to prevent outbreaks among the susceptible.

 

Sanitation, hygiene surrounding dead bodies and the quarantine or isolation of certain sick people is solidly Bible based (Deut.23:12,13, 24:8, Numbers 5:2,3), indeed many Biblical chapters are full of instruction concerning ceremonial uncleanness which have a direct bearing on physical sickness and avoiding spread of disease. These public health measures have been one of the most far-reaching improvements in modern life since the industrial revolution.

^ Incidents rather than accidents because most are due to human stupidity, carelessness or negligence.

References

* Paul Tournier-A Doctor’s Casebook in the Light of the Bible

**None of These Diseases by McMillen and Stern Revell Book 2000 p183.

 

Goals

 

Christ our Lord and the great Apostle Paul worked towards goals or targets that gave them purpose for their lives.

Christ’s aim was always to do the will of his Father (John 8:29) and preach and heal everywhere especially among the Jews. Paul in contrast was commissioned especially to preach to the Gentiles, even those never reached (Rom.15:20, II Cor.10:16)

Christ’s aim (cup) was the cross, resurrection and ascension-the ultimate joy set before him and the inheritance of all his redeemed for whom he died (Isaiah 53:10-11, Psalm 2:8, 74:2).

Similarly Paul speaks of his purpose (II Tim.3:10) and aim to know Christ more intimately, the fellowship of his sufferings (Phil.3:10-14) and the upward call (the mark or target he was aiming at, Titus 2:13) with the joy and crown of rejoicing being his many converts in the churches he planted on the last day (I Thess.2:19, II Thess. 1:7, II Tim.4:8) whom he aimed to present perfect or mature (Col.1:28,29).

Surely our aim is to zealously and sincerely praise him, get to know him better through the word, be faithful in our callings in the world and church and lay up treasure in heaven by our love and giving of ourselves and our resources to advance God’s kingdom.

Accounting

This is the short speech gave at my church AGM earlier this week:

CPRC AGM June 12th 2019

Accounting


Last year, you may remember, I spoke regarding a word that has meaning in accounting as well as the spiritual realm and that word was “reconciliation”. This year the word is “account” itself. Accounts make me think of the adjective accountable and accountability, reckoning, calculating etc. Romans 14:12 states, “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” and that on the last day. We will have to account of our stewardship, faithfulness, use of opportunities and it will literally be a “day of reckoning”.
For Christ the day of reckoning was at the cross where he was reckoned with the transgressors (Luke 22:37 quoting Isaiah 53:12) literally “numbered”.
The word account or reckon occurs forty times in the New Testament actually LOGOZOMI in Greek which means take an inventory, count, compute or calculate and because Christ was reckoned with the transgressors we are reckoned as righteous by imputation or credit (same word again) of his perfect righteousness (II Cor.5:19). The great chapter on imputation is Romans 4 especially verses 10 and 11 (also Gal.3:6) regarding Abraham whose imputed righteousness means his justification (by faith). However reckon is also used in relation to sanctification as Romans 6:11 teaches we are to “reckon ourselves dead to sin”-this is the fact that we are no longer enslaved by sin and are freed to live righteously. As a result of our antithetical life we will be persecuted “accounted as sheep to the slaughter” (Rom.8:36).
So there we have some thoughts of accounting/reckoning/imputing in the Bible. The one common factor that unites the work of financial accounting and Biblical reckoning is that they are both exact sciences. They ought to be correct, without mistake and balance out and in God’s economy they do because he is infallible as an accountant, knowing the end from the beginning (having decreed everything) whose work is detailed, accurate and totally dependable, unlike this fallible treasurer giving his accounts!