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An Historic Look at Protestant Eschatological Thought on the Rise and Fall of Islam
As a longtime Christian bookseller, I figured I'd enjoy a fellow bookseller's ode to browsing, buying, and reading. Here's why it left me feeling conflicted.When the book In Praise of Good Bookstores released earlier this year, I started hearing from bookish friends and customers of Hearts & Minds, the Pennsylvania bookstore my wife and I have run together for almost 40 years. They would send us links to an interview with the author, Jeff Deutsch, a bookstore manager himself.For many, the conversation evoked memories and hopes of one of the great pleasures this side of Eden: browsing a well-stocked and interesting bookstore. Naturally, as a longtime bookseller, I shared the interview and devoured the book. But I’ll admit that Deutsch’s perspectives made me a bit uneasy, and I am still trying to decipher my curious reaction toward a book most friends figured I’d commend unreservedly. This side of Eden, few things are as simple as they seem.Scale and statusIn Praise of Good Bookstores gives a fascinating account of a former Jewish kid who grew up to love books and bookselling, and Deutsch waxes eloquent about the joy of connecting book and reader. He offers an intellectually stimulating essay that will appeal to those who like books about books, the reading life, and publishing-world curiosities.For many CT readers, In Praise of Good Bookstores would no doubt fit seamlessly alongside such titles as Karen Swallow Prior’s On Reading Well, Alan Jacobs’s Breaking Bread with the Dead, Jessica Hooten Wilson’s The Scandal of Holiness, and Claude Atcho’s Reading Black Books. Deutsch is as learned as any of those authors, and his obvious passion for books is contagious.What makes Deutsch’s book stand out (despite an oddly tacky cover) is his status as a bookseller. Like the best of our trade, he is mostly self-taught and exceedingly eclectic ...Continue reading...
Before World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was re-elected without opposition this week at the World Health Assembly, House Freedom Caucus members took the Biden administration to task for not proposing an alternative candidate. What’s worse, as they wrote in their letter, the Biden team is “now attempting to hand him more control.” Tedros first attained the office after heavy lobbying by the Chinese Communist Party, and his ties to China remained strong through the COVID pandemic. The Biden administration has proposed amendments to the World Health Assembly’s international health regulations which would strengthen the Director General’s unilateral authority. So, House Freedom Caucus members demanded the Biden administration “provide the American people with total transparency and respect for our nation’s sovereignty. Under no circumstances should you cede our government’s operational control in a public health emergency to an international body.”The Biden administration’s problems with transparency stretch beyond their proposed amendments to the World Health Assembly to hamstring American sovereignty on public health affairs; they also can’t seem to tell the whole truth on how the COVID pandemic got started to begin with. Once again, China proves a major player.Two professors at Columbia University—hardly voices of the fringe right—wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal, “no independent and transparent scientific scrutiny to date of the full scope of the U.S.-based evidence” has been performed on the origin of COVID-19. Professors Neil Harrison and Jeffrey Sachs explained, “the relevant U.S.-based evidence would include the following information: laboratory notebooks, virus databases, electronic media (emails, other communications), biological samples, viral sequences … and interviews … together with a full record of U.S. agency involvement in funding the research on SARS-like viruses.” They insist the U.S. intelligence community either has not made their investigation into these materials transparent or has simply “fallen far short of conducting a comprehensive investigation.” Basically, they expect the rest of us to take their word for it, something Americans object to strongly.Harrison and Sachs lay out the mounds of evidence suggesting someone in the U.S. should have a notion about what happened in Wuhan. The “active and highly collaborative U.S.-China scientific research program” was “funded by the U.S. government,” they wrote, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Did no American officials consider the government could have been bankrolling the research of a Chinese bioweapons program? Other U.S. agents participating include EcoHealth Alliance (EHA), the Universities of North Carolina and of California at Davis, the NIH, and the USAID. These and “other research partners have failed to disclose their activities,” they complained. “The precise nature of the experiments that were conducted … remains unknown.”“Blanket denials from the NIH are no longer good enough,” Harrison and Sachs continued. “A steady trickle of disquieting information has cast a darkening cloud over the agency.” The NIH “resisted the release of important evidence” and “continued to redact materials released under FOIA [the Freedom of Information Act], including a remarkable 290-page redaction in a recent FOIA release.” Yet FOIA requests and leaked documents have slowly but steadily revealed an unflattering picture, which prompts people to ask, what else are they trying to hide?Among the most suspicious facts uncovered so far, research proposals “make clear that the EHA-WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology]-UNC collaboration was involved in the collection of a large number of so-far undocumented SARS-like viruses [of the same type as COVID] and was engaged in their manipulation.” The insertion of a gene sequence found in COVID, but not other known viruses of the same type, “was a specific goal of work proposed by the EHA-WIV-UNC partnership within a 2018 grant proposal.” That proposal was not funded by the agency from whom it was requested, “but we do not know whether some of the proposed work was subsequently carried out in 2018 or 2019, perhaps using another source of funding.” Harrison and Sachs said there was a “very low possibility” of such a gene sequence occurring naturally. Less scientifically, we know that high-level employees like Dr. Anthony Fauci seemed suspiciously eager to direct public scrutiny away from their publicly funded projects in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.“There’s no doubt that greater transparency on the part of Chinese authorities would be enormously helpful,” the paper argued, but that doesn’t get the U.S. government completely off the hook. “We call on U.S. government scientific agencies, most notably the NIH, to support a full, independent, and transparent investigation of the origins of SARS-CoV-2.” From NIH to WHO, the Biden administration could use more transparency all around. If they would start tackling real problems instead of always aiming at the public relations problem, perhaps they could win back the trust of the American people.
Generations fascinate Americans. Among other things, we study them for clues about who we are becoming as a nation. The recent research report from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, entitled Millennials in America: A Generation in Crisis, reveals new insights into where the nation is heading as the individuals in the youngest adult generation take on a growing number of positions of power and influence.Defining Millennials as those born between 1984 and 2002, keep in mind that this group constitutes the largest generation living in the United States today. Some 80 million strong (and growing, thanks to immigration), they are roughly one-quarter of the nation’s total population and about one-third of the adult population. They currently outnumber Baby Boomers by some eight million people, a gap that is expanding by more than one million people per year. Their influence in the marketplace is already substantial: they are four out of every 10 working-age Americans, three out of every 10 registered voters, and the prime segment of consumers in a nation driven by consumption. They are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in our history.Like every generation before them, they have been shaped by world events and how their nation and family responded to those events. Among the most significant life-shaping events they have experienced during their formative years are the end of the Cold War; the Rodney King beatings and subsequent riots; the introduction and rapid growth of the internet; the mass shooting at Columbine High School; the 9/11 terrorist attacks; the introduction of groundbreaking technology such as the iPod, tablets, digital video game consoles, and smartphones; game-changing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter; the destructive fury of numerous hurricanes, including Katrina and Sandy; the economic crisis of 2008; and the election of Barack Obama.Considering the impact of those life-shaping events helps us to understand some of the life choices and goals that are defining Millennials. For instance, they have been actively redefining and redesigning family through their beliefs about the value of life, marriage, the appeal of raising children, and even their ideas about sexual identity and behavior. They have struggled to experience healthy relationships, at least partly due to their immersion in and reliance upon digital technology.Millennials are known as poster children for the narcissistic lifestyle. That encompasses their pervasive yet uncomfortable materialism; hypersensitivity to criticism; and inconsistent and fluid norms, values, attitudes, and lifestyles. They are seeking to rewrite employment norms by valuing achievements (rather than hours worked) and the social value of the tasks performed. They are leading the “cancel culture” movement. Millennials are redefining religious norms as well, responsible for a long list of faith-related transitions. These include fewer self-professed Christians, less acceptance of the Bible and absolute moral truth, severely diminished interest in organized religion or institutional faith commitments (e.g., church engagement, prayer, Bible reading), strikingly low levels of trust in Christian pastors, common perceptions about Christians being hypocrites, and record levels of biblical illiteracy.The research contained in Millennials in America: New Insights into the Generation of Growing Influence provides specific evidence of these trends. The analysis describes how all those conditions are summarized in four major symptoms of a deeper crisis. Those symptoms are the generation’s lack of a sense of purpose to life (acknowledged by 75 percent); the widespread, constant fear and anxiety they experience (admitted to by 54 percent); the struggle most of them have making, maintaining, and enjoying personal relationships; and the absence of a life-sustaining religious faith alluded to by more than three-quarters of them.But if those are the symptoms, what do they indicate? The data produce an inescapable conclusion: the absence of a biblical worldview.Worldview Is the Root IssueGiven the breadth and depth of the changes characterizing Millennials, some people question how worldview can be the central issue behind those transitions. The explanation, though, is deceptively simple. Worldview is the foundation of every decision made by every person every moment of every day! Understanding what motivates a person to make their choices, no matter what kind of choice it may be, requires an understanding of their worldview. There are numerous worldviews from which people may pick and choose desirable options. Some of the best-known are postmodernism, secular humanism, modern mysticism, biblical theism (i.e., the biblical worldview), and Marxism. Groundbreaking research by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University has shown that almost nine out of 10 American adults select appealing ideas from a variety of worldviews and create a unique, personally appealing worldview that is best known as syncretism. Even four out of every five born-again Christians have syncretism as their guiding philosophy of life.How, then, do we explain the fact that seven out of every 10 American adults claim to be Christian but so few—just six percent of all adults and only nine percent who claim to be Christian—have a biblical worldview? The answer is that families and churches have been neither intentional nor strategic at shaping the worldview of their children; it has largely developed by default, influenced primarily by media, government, and schools.Millennials fit the same pattern as everyone else. Slightly fewer of them claim to be Christian than is true among older adults, and slightly fewer of them (only four percent) possess a biblical worldview.Because one’s worldview drives their choices every minute of every day, why would we expect our nation to reflect biblical behavior when we do not accept biblical principles? After all, we do what we believe. Most Americans do not really believe biblical principles; therefore their behaviors do not reflect those principles. Millennials are simply a more extreme example of these realities in practice.The Millennial WorldviewTo gain insight into Millennials—and the future they will create in America—let’s take a look at a few of the most significant spiritual perspectives of the generation. What we are about to examine are the most common perspectives; millions of Millennials are exceptions to every one of these views, but we are seeking to understand the flow and momentum of the generation’s thinking.Millennials perceive themselves to be “good” people. Sin is not a concept with which they are comfortable, and thus they do not dwell on it. They do not believe that we are born into sin; they believe that every person makes life whatever they choose it to be, and most of them dismiss the idea of having a sinful nature.They believe the purpose of life is to experience as much happiness as possible. They expect such experiences to come from personal accomplishments and material goods. Most Millennials contend that wisdom, insight, and meaning in life are the products of dialogue and voluntary acts of goodwill.The much-discussed Millennial identity crisis is due to their excessive and biblically-unwarranted trust and belief in themselves. As a result of that self-reliance, they define their identity based upon a variety of self-determined attributes: gender, education, wealth, personal accomplishments, titles, and so forth.Their relational challenges are not surprising in light of their worldview. After all, young adults typically harbor intolerance of opposing ideas and a conditional disrespect for the value of life. The Cultural Research Center data even show that most Millennials are indifferent to the “Golden Rule,” instead indicating that their response to other human beings should be driven by their emotions at the moment.We might like to think that if they would just turn to God and understand who He is and how He is involved in their life, things would be better. Unfortunately, the foundations for such insights are missing. Consider the implications of these beliefs:74 percent believe that all religious faiths are of equal value.56 percent reject the existence of absolute moral truth; they list feelings, personal experiences, and advice from family and friends as their most trusted sources of moral guidance.35 percent believe that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, just and perfect Creator of the universe who still rules that universe today.40 percent are “Don’ts”—that is, people who don’t know if God exists, don’t believe that God exists, or don’t care if He exists; they are increasingly inclined to think of themselves as being their own “higher power.”16 percent believe that when they die, they will spend eternity in God’s presence because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.22 percent believe that life is sacred.11 percent define “consistent obedience to God” as the best indicator of a successful life.In essence, then, the Millennial worldview can be summarized in four words: “life is about me.” Consequently, it is not surprising that this is a generation known for doing what is right in their own eyes.See the ConnectionsCan you see the connections between Millennial’s worldviews and their life challenges?No wonder many lack a sense of direction, purpose, and meaning in life. They have closed their eyes, ears, and hearts to their Creator. They have rejected His words. They believe that success is experienced through temporal pursuits driven by their intelligence and abilities.No doubt they are having relational troubles. They have not invested in their relationship with God. They have placed themselves at the center of their reality and expect everyone to serve and care for them. They place the ultimate value upon themselves and little (if any) value upon others.Of course, they are mired in emotional and mental health issues. They embrace wacky ideas from worldly philosophies, such as karma. That philosophy teaches that you get what you deserve. Naturally, a majority of young adults are troubled by anxiety and depression; what else would the notion of karma possibly produce? Our young adults fail to see that one of the beauties of a relationship with Jesus is that through His forgiveness and restoration, we do not get what we deserve! Instead, we get eternal life, forgiveness, hope, a special calling, and the gifts to carry out that calling. What a relief!The anxiety and depression that most Millennials admit to is a natural consequence of a worldview that submits the God of Israel does not exist. Imagine waking up every morning thinking that it all depends on you, that there is no higher power to control evil or supply truth and guidance; you’re it! How could anyone possibly come to such an inane conclusion? Ask the millions of young adults who freely entertain the principles of Marxism, postmodernism, secular humanism, or nihilism, because those popular worldviews propose such foolishness. These fundamentally-flawed philosophies shape the decisions of Millennials and cause debilitating outcomes such as mental illness and emotional dissonance.It is no surprise that young adults are feeling spiritually bankrupt. They have rejected the God of all creation. They have rejected the Savior of humankind. They have denied the existence of the Holy Spirit whom God has graciously sent to help us from moment to moment. They see themselves as good and ignore their sin and its implications.They have bought into the notion of love as a feeling. They do not realize that God helps us understand that love is a commitment made real by doing what is best for others. Millennial love is narcissistic; Christian love is sacrificial.Millennials are self-centered enough to think that because they choose a sexual identity based on emotion and desire, that is their identity. They fail to recognize the One who created them defines every element of their being, based on His perfect wisdom and purposes. As created subjects of the Master, we have no authority, competence, or capacity to determine our sexual identity.How heartbreaking it is to watch a large majority of an entire generation so completely and unknowingly miss the truth of life and eternity. Contrary to their grand conclusion—“life is about me”—nothing could be further from the truth. Life is about God. We simply have the privilege of taking part in His universe, for His purposes, to enjoy and serve and glorify Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Anything else is just wasting time and opportunity.Can They Become Disciples of Jesus?Those with eyes to see and ears to hear understand Jesus is the only hope for deliverance from the devastating lies of the world. But most Millennials—24 out of every 25 of them, according to the research—do not have the eyes and ears to perceive truth. Can we do anything to help them see God’s truth?Of course we can. There is a remnant of believers in America— you are likely among them—who are called to be the salt and light so desperately needed by these young adults.Here are four ideas for you to consider as you pray and prepare for your role in renewing the heart and soul of America, especially through your interactions with Millennials.1.
April 24 through 30 is Infertility Awareness Week, a time to become informed about a struggle that some couples face when seeking to grow their family and how we can respond to their experiences with love, encouragement, and compassion. An estimated 15 percent of couples will have trouble conceiving or experience infertility. Having a reservoir of helpful words to share with those facing infertility is an essential component of loving those particular neighbors well. Knowing which words are unhelpful to say is equally important.5 Compassionate Things to Say1. “I am praying for you.”One helpful response to hearing about someone’s struggle with infertility is letting them know that you are talking to God about their pain and asking for His intervention. Prayers should not only be that the couple would be able to conceive but also that they will find peace and contentment with the path to parenthood that God desires for them—even if that looks like pursuing adoption instead of having biological children.2. “I am here to listen if you want to vent.”Many times, keeping silent and listening is the best way to show compassion to someone who is struggling with infertility. If someone has chosen to confide in you about their infertility struggles, honor that trust by patiently listening to them and allowing that conversation to occupy your time together.3. “You will be wonderful parents, even if your path to parenthood looks different than you expected.”Some couples facing infertility may greatly desire children but feel intimidated by the adoption process or have a stigmatized view of adoption. Encourage them that adoption is a beautiful form of growing a family if they feel led to pursue it.4. “I know that today may be extra hard for you. Do you need anything?”When someone is facing infertility, specific events or celebrations can lose their joy or become a source of pain. Sensitively reaching out on days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, or after events like baby showers or gender reveal parties for other people, can help your loved ones feel seen and understood.5. “Seeking professional support and counseling is healthy, not shameful.”Nearly 40 percent of women who experience infertility develop symptoms of depression. While lending a listening ear as a friend is always helpful, it may also be necessary to encourage a loved one struggling with depression as a result of infertility to seek further counseling.5 Things Not to Say1. “When are you going to have a baby?”Unless a married couple shares with you that they are open to discussing their plans to become parents, it is not appropriate to ask; you never know who may be struggling with infertility or miscarriage. Respect the privacy of married couples in their fertility journey by allowing them to make announcements at their own pace about having a baby.2. “At least…”A compassionate response to hearing that a loved one is facing infertility does not include making them feel guilty or ungrateful by pointing out the ways they are blessed. Phrases such as “At least you have each other” or “At least you will save money without kids” are not the encouragement that couples need to hear.3. “Not everyone is meant to be a parent.”Just because a couple is struggling or unable to conceive biologically does not mean that they are not cut out to be parents. Infertility may be an indication that they should pursue adoption, not that they should abandon parenthood entirely.4. “Here’s what worked for us when we were trying to conceive.”Many couples facing infertility have already consulted with a doctor or fertility specialist about their dilemma. Unless the couple specifically requests your advice about conception, it is not your place to offer unsolicited solutions or home remedies.5. “Just have faith, and God will allow you to conceive.”Although doubtlessly tragic, it is a biological reality of living in a fallen world that some couples will never be able to conceive naturally. Compassionate encouragement to couples facing infertility should not include false promises or making them believe that a lack of faith is the reason why they cannot conceive. Couples should certainly seek God in their heartache, but infertility is not a punishment for a lack of faith and should not be treated as such. Examples in Scripture of God opening or closing a woman’s womb for a specific purpose can be distinguished from the everyday experience of infertility as a result of the fall, in which case God is not punishing a woman individually through infertility.
Today begins the Jewish Feast of Unleavened Bread, more commonly known as Passover. For Christians, today is observed as Good Friday, a less conspicuous counterpart to Resurrection Sunday which follows. However, while Christians don’t celebrate Passover, the chief festival of the Old Covenant is rich with symbolism of Christ. Why else would Paul, “A Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phil. 3:5), proclaim, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7)?To understand the significance of Passover for Christians, let’s look back to Exodus 12, where God ordained the first Passover. In nine plagues, God has devastated Egypt, displaying his power over the Pharoah and all the nation’s idols, but the Israelites were still in slavery. God had promised that a tenth and final plague would kill every firstborn in Egypt and compel Pharoah to finally let them go. To prepare for the tenth plague and the exodus, God gave the people instructions to observe the Feast of Passover—a strange setting for a feast. They were to “eat it in haste” (Ex. 12:11), ready to begin their journey at any moment. They were to eat unleavened bread, and even purge all leaven out of their houses (Ex. 12:15). And they were to kill a yearling lamb to eat and sprinkle its blood on their doorframes (Ex 12:6-8).The command to sprinkle a lamb’s blood may initially seem strange, but it was not without a purpose. God explained, “The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:13). When God’s angel saw the blood, he literally passed over those Israelite houses, sparing them from judgment. They were to stay inside all night (Ex. 12:22), so that the blood-marked doorway would stand literally between them and death. It was an act of obedience and faith; they stained their doors not because the blood had magical properties, but because God had commanded it. They had to believe God’s word that he would pass over houses sprinkled with blood.Significantly, the sign of the blood was for the people of Israel, not for God. God knows everything, including the hearts who trust in him. He needs no physical symbols to guide him. No, this sign visibly represented for the people the distinction God was making between those who believed and obeyed him, and those who did not. The form of this sign was the blood of a sacrificial lamb.The blood also served to teach the people of Israel that God did not spare them because of their inherent goodness. Abraham had asked God, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Gen. 18:23). The answer to the rhetorical question is, of course not, because “God is a righteous judge” (Ps. 7:11). If the Israelites were righteous, they would not have needed blood to protect them from God’s judgment.In fact, “none is righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). We, too, are guilty of sin against a holy God. We, like the Israelites, need forgiveness, and “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22). So, like them, we need the blood of another to stand between us and God’s just wrath. The Bible teaches clearly and repeatedly (because we are naturally inclined to deny) that we are helpless to atone for our own sins.But there is good news! “God will provide for himself the lamb,” said Abraham (Gen. 22:8)—and God provided a lamb, both for Abraham (Gen. 22:13-14) and for us. God sent John the Baptist to testify to his Lamb. When John saw Jesus, he proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29).The inspired writers of the Bible leave no doubt concerning how Jesus is like the Passover lamb. Just as the blood of a lamb “without blemish” (Ex. 12:5) stood between the Israelites and death, so Christians are “ransomed… with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Jesus was crucified on “the day of Preparation of the Passover” (Jn. 19:14), the very day the Passover lamb was killed. Even Jesus’ silence before his accusers (Mat 26:63, 27:14) fulfilled the type of the Passover lamb, as Isaiah prophesied, “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7). This is the passage the Ethiopian eunuch was studying when the Holy Spirit providentially guided Philip to his chariot, where we read, “Beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). Jesus’ meekness, his perfection, and even the day of his death prove that he really is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”Jesus fulfilled the type of the Passover lamb in his death (Mat. 5:17), but, before he died, he transformed the Passover into something new. At his last supper with his disciples, which was a Passover meal (Lk. 22:15), Jesus “took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’” (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Just as the Passover served as a perpetual memorial of God delivering his people from Egypt (Ex. 12:14,17), so the Lord’s Supper is a perpetual remembrance for Christians of Jesus Christ delivering us from sin.Thus, for Christians, the Lord’s Supper has replaced the Passover; the substance has replaced the symbol; the reality has replaced the shadow (Heb. 10:1). Jesus did away with the yearly calendar of sacrifices when he “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:12). Through God’s deliverance, the people of Israel left their bondage in Egypt and sojourned in the wilderness on their way to the promised land of rest. Through’s Christ’s deliverance, the people of God now leave their bondage to sin (Rom 6:18) and live in the world as sojourners (1 Pet. 2:11) until they reach God’s promised, final rest (Heb. 4:6-10).This is our hope: to see our precious Lord Jesus with uncorrupted eyes, and to rejoice in his glorious presence for all eternity. There he is in heaven, “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6). Although a Lamb, he is also “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David,” who “has conquered” (Rev. 5:5). Our hope in him is sure, without any tinge of wavering. He will be victorious over all his enemies. As Paul reminds us, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)?How does seeing Christ in Passover apply to a Christian’s daily life? You may remember that one feature of the Passover meal was removing leaven from the house and eating unleavened bread. The reason Moses gives for this instruction is the urgency of their exodus, “because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait” (Ex. 12:39). To this reason Paul adds another, lasting one:Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor. 5:7-8).In the passage’s context, Paul is rebuking the Corinthian church for tolerating incestual adultery in the church and not expelling the unrepentant sinner. Now that we are bought with the blood of Christ, we belong to him and ought to be holy as he is holy. The “old leaven” is our old sinful passions and habits, which can work through all our life, spoiling our witness. Throwing out the old leaven represents making a clean break with our old nature and living to God alone. Quoting from the Levitical law, Paul exhorts the Corinthian congregation to “purge the evil person from among you” (1 Cor. 5:13). And purge the evil from your heart, too.Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. Christ rose from the dead as the “firstfruits” (1 Cor. 15:20), God’s guarantee that those who trust in him will also rise when Christ returns and live with him forever. Because that is certain, we must all consider this question: is there anything in your life that you would be ashamed to do in the presence of a holy God? Now is the time to repent. Those who harden their hearts (like Pharoah) will mourn when Christ returns. Those who repent now will rejoice when Christ returns. Risen Lord Jesus, come quickly!
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