Sermon Sunday – J.C. Ryle – The Fallibility of Ministers

October 2, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in Sermon Sunday | Leave a comment
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Warning #6 to the Church

The Fallibility of Ministers

by

J. C. Ryle

(1816-1900)

When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.  Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.  But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.

The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their  hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.  When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I  said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you  live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.  How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”

We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners” know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.  So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.  (Galatians 2:11-16)

Have we ever considered what the Apostle Peter did at Antioch?  It is a question that deserves serious consideration.

What the Apostle Peter did at Rome we are often told, although we have hardly a jot of authentic information about it.  Legends, traditions, and fables abound on the subject.  But unhappily for these writers, Scripture is utterly silent upon the point.  There is nothing in Scripture to show that the Apostle Peter ever was at Rome at all!

But what did the Apostle Peter do at Antioch?  This is the point to which I want to direct attention.  This is the subject from the passage from the Epistle to the Galatians, which heads this paper.  On this point, at any rate, the Scripture speaks clearly and unmistakably.

The six verses of the passages before us are striking on many accounts.  They are striking, if we consider the event which they describe: here is one Apostle rebuking another!  They are striking, when we consider who the two men are: Paul, the younger, rebukes Peter the elder!  They are striking, when we remark the occasion: this was no glaring fault, no flagrant sin, at first sight, that Peter had committed!  Yet the Apostle Paul says, “I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.”  He does more than this–he reproves Peter publicly for his error before all the Church at Antioch.  He goes even further–he writes an account of the matter, which is now read in two hundred languages all over the world.

It is my firm conviction that the Holy Spirit wants us to take particular notice of this passage of Scripture.  If Christianity had been an invention of man, these things would never have been recorded.  An impostor would have hushed up the difference between two Apostles.  The Spirit of truth has caused these verses to be written for our learning, and we shall do well to take heed to their contents.

There are three great lessons from Antioch, which I think we ought to learn from this passage.

I. The first lesson is, “That great ministers may make great mistakes.”

II. The second is, “That to keep the truth of Christ in His Church is even more important than to keep peace.”

III. The third is, “That there is no doctrine about which we ought to be so protective about as justification by faith without the deeds of the law.”

I. The first great lesson we learn from Antioch is, “That great ministers may make great mistakes.”

What clearer proof can we have than that which is set before us in this place?  Peter, without doubt, was one of the greatest in the company of the Apostles.  He was an old disciple.  He was a disciple who had had peculiar advantages and privileges.  He had been a constant companion of the Lord Jesus.  He had heard the Lord preach, seen the Lord work miracles, enjoyed the benefit of the Lord’s private teaching, been numbered among the Lord’s intimate friends, and gone out and come in with Him all the time He ministered upon earth.  He was the Apostle to whom the keys of the kingdom of heaven were given, and by whose hand those keys were first used.  He was the first who opened the door of faith to the Jews, by preaching to them on the day of Pentecost.  He was the first who opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, by going to the house of Cornelius, and receiving him into the Church.  He was the first to rise up in the Council of the fifteenth of Acts, and say, “Why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?”  And yet here this very Peter, this same Apostle, plainly falls into a great mistake.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “I opposed him to his face.”  He tells us “because he was clearly in the wrong.”  He says “he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.”  He says of him and his companions, that “they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel.”  He speaks of their “hypocrisy.”  He tells us that by this hypocrisy even Barnabas, his old companion in missionary labors, “was led astray.”  What a striking fact this is.  This is Simon Peter!  This is the third great error of his, which the Holy Spirit has thought fit to record!  Once we find him trying to keep back our Lord, as far as he could, from the great work of the cross, and severely rebuked Him.  Then we find him denying the Lord three times, and with an oath.  Here again we find him endangering the leading truth of Christ’s Gospel.  Surely we may say, “Lord, what is man?”  Let us note, that of all the Apostles there is not one, excepting, of course, Judas Iscariot, of whom we have so many proofs that he was a fallible man.

(Note: It is curious to observe the shifts to which some writers have been reduced, in order to explain away the plain meaning of the verses which head this paper.  Some have maintained that Paul did not really rebuke Peter, but only faked it, for show and appearance sake!  Others have maintained that it was not Peter the Apostle who was rebuked, but another Peter, one of the seventy!  Such interpretations need no remark.  They are simply absurd.  The truth is that the plain honest meaning of the verses strikes a heavy blow at the favorite Roman Catholic doctrine of the primacy and superiority of Peter over the rest of the Apostles.)

But it is all meant to teach us that even the Apostles themselves, when not writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were at times liable to err.  It is meant to teach us that the best men are weak and fallible so long as they are in the body.  Unless the grace of God holds them up, any one of them may go astray at any time.  It is very humbling, but it is very true.  True Christians are converted, justified, and sanctified.  They are living members of Christ, beloved children of God, and heirs of eternal life.  They are elect, chosen, called, and kept unto salvation.  They have the Spirit.  But they are not infallible.

Will not rank and dignity confer infallibility?  No, they will not!  It matters nothing what a man is called.  He may be a Czar, an Emperor, a King, a Prince.  He may be a Preacher, Minister, or Deacon.  He is still a fallible man.  Neither the crown, nor the anointing oil, nor the laying on of hands, can prevent a man making mistakes.

Will not numbers confer infallibility?  No, they will not!  You may gather together princes by the score, and ministers by the hundred; but, when gathered together, they are still liable to err.  You may call them a council, or an assembly, or a conference, or what you please.  It matters nothing.  Their conclusions are still the conclusions of fallible men.  Their collective wisdom is still capable of making enormous mistakes.

The example of the Apostle Peter at Antioch is one that does not stand alone.  It is only a parallel of many a case that we find written for our learning in Holy Scripture.  Do we not remember Abraham, the father of the faithful, following the advice of Sarah, and taking Hagar for a wife? Do we not remember Aaron, the first high priest, listening to the children of Israel, and making a golden calf?  Do we not remember Solomon, the wisest of men, allowing his wives to build their high places of false worship?  Do we not remember Jehosaphat, the good king, going down to help wicked Ahab?  Do we not remember Hezekiah, the good king, receiving the ambassadors of Babylon?  Do we not remember Josiah, the last of Judah’s good kings, going forth to fight with Pharaoh?  Do we not remember James and John, wanting fire to come down from heaven?  These things deserve to be remembered.  They were not written without cause.  They cry aloud, “No infallibility!”

And who does not see, when he reads the history of the Church of Christ, repeated proofs that the best of men can err?  The early fathers were zealous according to their knowledge, and ready to die for Christ.  But many of them advocated ritualism, and nearly all sowed the seeds of many superstitions.  The Reformers were honored instruments in the hand of God for reviving the cause of truth on earth.  Yet hardly one of them can be named who did not make some great mistake.  Martin Luther held tightly to the doctrine of consubstantiation [believing that during communion the bread and the wine became the actual body and blood of Christ].

Melancthon was often timid and undecided.  Calvin permitted Servetus to be burned.  Cranmer recanted and fell away for a time from his first faith.  Jewell subscribed to Roman Catholic Church doctrines for fear of death.  Hooper disturbed the Church of England by demanding the need to wear ceremonial vestments [priestly type garments] when ministering.  The Puritans, in later times, denounced Christian liberty and freedoms as doctrines from the pit of Hell.  Wesley and Toplady, last century, abused each other in most shameful language.  Irving, in our own day, gave way to the delusion of speaking in unknown tongues [babble].  All these things speak with a loud voice.  They all lift up a beacon to the Church of Christ.  They all say, “Do not trust man; call no man master; call no man father [spiritually] on earth; let no man glory in man; He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.”  They all cry, “No infallibility!”

The lesson is one that we all need.  We are all naturally inclined to lean upon man whom we can see, rather than upon God whom we cannot see.  We naturally love to lean upon the ministers of the visible Church, rather than upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd and High Priest, who is invisible.  We need to be continually warned and set on our guard.

I see this tendency to lean on man everywhere.  I know no branch of the Protestant Church of Christ which does not require to be cautioned upon the point.  It is a snare to the Scottish Christians to pin their faith on John Knox.  It is a snare to the Methodists in our day to worship the memory of John Wesley.  All these are snares, and into these snares how many fall!

We all naturally love to have a pope of our own.  We are far too ready to think, that because some great minister or some learned man says a thing,  or because our own minister, whom we love, says a thing, it must be right, without examining whether it is in Scripture or not.  Most men dislike the trouble of thinking for themselves.  They like following a leader.  They are like sheep, when one goes over the hill all the rest follow.  Here at Antioch even Barnabas was carried away.  We can well fancy that good man saying, “An old Apostle, like Peter, surely cannot be wrong.  Following him, I cannot err.”

And now let us see what practical lessons we may learn from this part of our subject.

(a) For one thing, let us learn not to put implicit confidence in any man’s opinion, merely because he lived many hundred years ago.  Peter was a man who lived in the time of Christ Himself, and yet he could err.  There are many who talk much in the present day about the voice of the early Church.  They would have us believe that those who lived nearest the time of the Apostles, must of course know more about truth than we can.  There is no foundation for any such opinion.  It is a fact, that the most ancient writers in the true Church of Christ are often at variance with one another.  It is a fact that they often changed their own minds, and retracted their own former opinions.  It is a fact that they often wrote foolish and weak things, and often showed great ignorance in their explanations of Scripture.  It is vain to expect to find them free from mistakes.  Infallibility is not to be found in the early fathers, but in the Bible.

(b) For another thing, let us learn not to put implicit confidence in any man’s opinion, merely because of his office as a minister.  Peter was one of the very chief Apostles, and yet he could err.

This is a point on which men have continually gone astray.  It is the rock on which the early Church struck.  Men soon took up the saying, “Do nothing contrary to the mind of the minister.”  But what are ministers, preachers, and deacons?  What are the best of ministers but men–dust, ashes, and clay–men of like passions with ourselves, men exposed to temptations, men liable to weaknesses and infirmities?  What does the Scripture say?  “What, after all, is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task” (1 Corinthians 3:5).

Ministers have often driven the truth into the wilderness, and decreed that to be true which was false.  The greatest errors have been begun by ministers.  Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of the high-priest, made religion to be abhorred by the children of Israel.  Annas and Caiaphas, though in the direct line of descent from Aaron, crucified the Lord.  It is absurd to suppose that ordained men cannot go wrong.  We should follow them so far as they teach according to the Bible, but no further.  We should believe them so long as they can say, “Thus it is written, thus says the Lord,” but further than this we are not to go.  Infallibility is not to be found in ordained men, but in the Bible.

(c)  For another thing, let us learn not to place implicit confidence in any man’s opinion, merely because of his learning.  Peter was a man who had miraculous gifts, and could speak with the (then valid) gift of tongues, and yet he could err.

This is a point again on which many go wrong.  This is the rock on which men struck in the middle ages.  Men looked on Thomas Aquinas, and Peter Lombard, and many of their companions, as almost inspired.  They gave epithets to some of them in token of their admiration.  They talked of “the indisputable” preacher, “the angelic” minister, “the incomparable” pastor, and seemed to think that whatever these ministers said must be true!  But what is the most learned of men, if he is not taught by the Holy Spirit?  What is the most learned of all divines but a mere fallible child of Adam at his very best?  Vast knowledge of books and great ignorance of God’s truth may go side by side.  They have done so, they may do so, and they will do so in all times.  I will engage to say that the two volumes of Robert McCheyne’s Memoirs and Sermons, have done more positive good to the souls of men, than any one folio that Origen or Cyprian ever wrote.

I do not doubt that the one volume of Pilgrim’s Progress, written by a man who knew hardly any book but his Bible, and was ignorant of Greek and Latin, will prove in the last day to have done more for the benefit of the world, than all the works of the schoolmen put together.  Learning is a gift that ought not to be despised.  It is an evil day when books are not valued in the Church.  But it is amazing to observe how vast a man’s intellectual attainments may be, and yet how little he may know of the grace of God.  I have no doubt the Authorities of Oxford in the last century, knew more of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, than Wesley or Whitefield.  But they knew little of the Gospel of Christ.  Infallibility is not to be found among learned men, but in the Bible.

(d) For another thing, let us take care that we do not place implicit confidence on our own minister’s opinion, however godly he may be.  Peter was a man of mighty grace, and yet he could err.

Your minister may be a man of God indeed, and worthy of all honor for his preaching and example; but do not make a pope of him.  Do not place his word side by side with the Word of God.  Do not spoil him by flattery.  Do not let him suppose he can make no mistakes.  Do not lean your whole weight on his opinion, or you may find to your cost that he can err.

It is written of Joash, King of Judah, that he “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chronicles 24:2).  Jehoiada died, and then died the religion of Joash.  Just so your minister may die, and then your religion may die too.  He may change, and your religion may change.  He may go away, and your religion may go.

Oh, do not be satisfied with a religion built on man!  Do not be content with saying, “I have hope, because my own minister has told me such and such things.”  Seek to be able to say, “I have hope, because I find it thus and thus written in the Word of God.”  If your peace is to be solid, you must go yourself to the fountain of all truth.  If your comforts are to be lasting, you must visit the well of life yourself, and draw fresh water for your own soul.  Ministers may depart from the faith.  The visible Church may be broken up.  But he who has the Word of God written in his heart, has a foundation beneath his feet which will never fail him.  Honor your minister as a faithful ambassador of Christ.  Esteem him very highly in love for his work’s sake.  But never forget that infallibility is not to be found in godly ministers, but in the Bible.

The things I have mentioned are worth remembering.  Let us bear them in mind, and we shall have learned one lesson from Antioch.

II. I now pass on to the second lesson that we learn from Antioch.  That lesson is, “That to keep Gospel truth in the Church is of even greater importance than to keep peace.”

I suppose no man knew better the value of peace and unity than the Apostle Paul.  He was the Apostle who wrote to the Corinthians about love.  He was the Apostle who said, “Live in harmony with one another; live in peace with each other; the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”  He was the Apostle who said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (Romans 12:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; Philemon 3:16; Ephesians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 9:22).  Yet see how he acts here!  He withstands Peter to the face.  He publicly rebukes him.  He runs the risk of all the consequences that might follow.  He takes the chance of everything that might be said by the enemies of the Church at Antioch.  Above all, he writes it down for a perpetual memorial, that it never might be forgotten, that, wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the world, this public rebuke of an erring Apostle might be known and read of all men.

Now, why did he do this?  Because he dreaded false doctrine; because he knew that a little leaven leavens the whole lump, because he would teach us that we ought to contend for the truth jealously, and to fear the loss of truth more than the loss of peace.

Paul’s example is one we shall do well to remember in the present day.  Many people will put up with anything in religion, if they may only have a quiet life.  They have a morbid dread of what they call “controversy.” They are filled with a morbid fear of what they style, in a vague way, “party spirit,” though they never define clearly what party spirit is.  They are possessed with a morbid desire to keep the peace, and make all things smooth and pleasant, even though it be at the expense of truth.  So long as they have outward calm, smoothness, stillness, and order, they seem content to give up everything else.  I believe they would have thought with Ahab that Elijah was a troubler of Israel, and would have helped the princes of Judah when they put Jeremiah in prison, to stop his mouth.  I have no doubt that many of these men of whom I speak, would have thought that Paul at Antioch was a very imprudent man, and that he went too far!

I believe this is all wrong.  We have no right to expect anything but the pure Gospel of Christ, unmixed and unadulterated; the same Gospel that was taught by the Apostles; to do good to the souls of men.  I believe that to maintain this pure truth in the Church men should be ready to make any sacrifice, to hazard peace, to risk dissension, and run the chance of division.  They should no more tolerate false doctrine than they would tolerate sin.  They should withstand any adding to or taking away from the simple message of the Gospel of Christ.

For the truth’s sake, our Lord Jesus Christ denounced the Pharisees, though they sat in Moses’ seat, and were the appointed and authorized teachers of men.  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites,” He says, eight times over, in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew.  And who shall dare to breathe a suspicion that our Lord was wrong?

For the truth’s sake, Paul withstood and blamed Peter, though a brother. Where was the use of unity when pure doctrine was gone?  And who shall dare to say he was wrong?

For the truth’s sake, Athanasius stood out against the world to maintain the pure doctrine about the divinity of Christ, and waged a controversy with the great majority of the professing Church.  And who shall dare to say he was wrong?

For the truth’s sake, Luther broke the unity of the Church in which he was born, denounced the Pope and all his ways, and laid the foundation of a new teaching.  And who shall dare to say that Luther was wrong?

For the truth’s sake, Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, the English Reformers, counseled Henry VIII and Edward VI to separate from Rome, and to risk the consequences of division.  And who shall dare to say that they were wrong?

For the truth’s sake, Whitefield and Wesley, a hundred years ago, denounced the mere barren moral preaching of the clergy of their day, and went out into the highways and byways to save souls, knowing well that they would be cast out from the Church’s communion.  And who shall dare to say that they were wrong?

Yes! Peace without truth is a false peace; it is the very peace of the devil.  Unity without the Gospel is a worthless unity; it is the very unity of hell.  Let us never be ensnared by those who speak kindly of it.  Let us remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34)  Let us remember the praise He gives to one of the Churches in Revelation, “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false” (Revelation 2:2).  Let us remember the blame He casts on another, “You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess” (Revelation 2:20).  Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace.  Let us rather be like the Jews, who, if they found any manuscript copy of the Old Testament Scriptures incorrect in a single letter, burned the whole copy, rather than run the risk of losing one jot or tittle of the Word of God.  Let us be content with nothing short of the whole Gospel of Christ.

In what way are we to make practical use of the general principles which I have just laid down?  I will give my readers one simple piece of advice.  I believe it is advice which deserves serious consideration.

I warn then every one who loves his soul, to be very selective as to the preaching he regularly hears, and the place of worship he regularly attends.  He who deliberately settles down under any ministry which is positively unsound is a very unwise man.  I will never hesitate to speak my mind on this point.  I know well that many think it a shocking thing for a man to forsake his local church.  I cannot see with the eyes of such people.  I draw a wide distinction between teaching which is defective and teaching which is thoroughly false; between teaching which errs on the negative side and teaching which is positively unscriptural.  But I do believe, if false doctrine is unmistakably preached in a local church, a Christian who loves his soul is quite right in not going to that local church.  To hear unscriptural teaching fifty-two Sundays in every year is a serious thing.  It is a continual dropping of slow poison into the mind.  I think it almost impossible for a man willfully to submit himself to it, and not be harmed.

I see in the New Testament we are plainly told to “Test everything” and “Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  I see in the Book of Proverbs that we are commanded to “Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27).  If these words do not justify a man in ceasing to worship at a church, if positively false doctrine is preached in it, I do not know what words can.

–Does any one mean to tell us that to attend your local denominational church is absolutely needful to a person’s salvation?  If there is such a one, let him speak out, and give us his name.

–Does any one mean to tell us that going to the denominational church will save any man’s soul, if he dies unconverted and ignorant of Christ?  If there is such a one, let him speak out, and give us his name.

–Does any one mean to tell us that going to the denominational church will teach a man anything about Christ, or conversion, or faith, or repentance, if these subjects are hardly ever named in the denomination church, and never properly explained?  If there is such a one, let him speak out, and give us his name.

–Does any one mean to say that a man who repents, believes in Christ, is converted and holy, will lose his soul, because he has forsaken his denomination and learned his religion elsewhere?  If there is such a one, let him speak out, and give us his name.

For my part I abhor such monstrous and extravagant ideas.  I do not see a speck of foundation for them in the Word of God.  I trust that the number of those who deliberately hold them is exceedingly small.

There are many churches where the religious teaching is little better than Roman Catholicism.  Ought the congregation of such churches to sit still, be content, and take it quietly?  They ought not.  And why? Because, like Paul, they ought to prefer truth to peace.

There are many churches where the religious teaching is little better than morality.  The distinctive doctrines of Christianity are never clearly proclaimed.  Plato, or Seneca, or Confucius, could have taught almost as much.  Ought the congregation in such churches to sit still, be content, and take it quietly?  They ought not.  And why? Because, like Paul, they ought to prefer truth to peace.

–I am using strong language in dealing with this part of my subject: I know it.

–I am trenching on delicate ground: I know it.

–I am handling matters which are generally let alone, and passed over in silence: I know it.

I say what I say from a sense of duty to the Church of which I am a minister.  I believe the state of the times, and the position of the congregation require plain speaking.  Souls are perishing, in many churches, in ignorance.  Honest members of the church are disgusted and perplexed.  This is no time for smooth words.  I am not ignorant of those magic expressions, “order, division, schism, unity, controversy,” and the like.  I know the cramping, silencing influence which they seem to exercise on some minds.  I too have considered those expressions calmly and deliberately, and on each of them I am prepared to speak my mind.

(a) The denominational church is an admirable thing in theory.  Let it only be well administered, and worked by truly spiritual ministers, and it is calculated to confer the greatest blessings on the nation.  But it is useless to expect attachment to the denomination, when the minister of the denominational church is ignorant of the Gospel or a lover of the world.  In such a case we must never be surprised if men forsake their denomination, and seek truth wherever truth is to be found.  If the denominational minister does not preach the Gospel and live the Gospel, the conditions on which he claims the attention of his congregation are virtually violated, and his claim to be heard is at an end.  It is absurd to expect the head of a family to endanger the souls of his children, as well as his own, for the sake of “the denomination.”  There is no mention of denominations in the Bible, and we have no right to require men to live and die in ignorance, in order that they may be able to say at last, “I always attended my local denominational church.”

(b)  Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion.  They weaken the cause of true Christianity.  They give occasion to the enemies of all godliness to blaspheme.  But before we blame people for them, we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved.  False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism.  If people separate themselves from teaching which is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved.  In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin.  It is easy to make sneering remarks about “itching ears,” and “love of excitement;” but it is not so easy to convince a plain reader of the Bible that it is his duty to hear false doctrine every Sunday, when by a little exertion he can hear truth.

(c)  Unity, quiet, and order among professing Christians are mighty blessings.  They give strength, beauty, and efficiency to the cause of Christ.  But even gold may be bought too dear.  Unity which is obtained by the sacrifice of truth is worth nothing.  It is not the unity which pleases God.  The Church of Rome boasts loudly of a unity which does not deserve the name.  It is unity which is obtained by taking away the Bible from the people, by gagging private judgment, by encouraging ignorance, by forbidding men to think for themselves.  Like the exterminating warriors of old, the Catholic Church of Rome makes a solitude and calls it peace.  There is quiet and stillness enough in the grave, but it is not the quiet of health, but of death.  It was the false prophets who cried “Peace,” when there was no peace.

(d) Controversy in religion is a hateful thing, It is hard enough to fight the devil, the world and the flesh, without private differences in our own camp.  But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation.  It was controversy that won the battle of Protestant Reformation.  If the views that some men hold were correct, it is plain we never ought to have had any Reformation at all!  For the sake of peace, we ought to have gone on worshipping the Virgin, and bowing down to images and relics to this very day! Away with such trifling!  There are times when controversy is not only a duty but a benefit.  Give me the mighty thunderstorm rather than the deadly malaria.  The one walks in darkness and poisons us in silence, and we are never safe.  The other frightens and alarms for a little while.  But it is soon over, and it clears the air.  It is a plain Scriptural duty to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

I am quite aware that the things I have said are exceedingly distasteful to many minds.  I believe many are content with teaching which is not the whole truth, and fancy it will be “all the same” in the end.  I am sorry for them.  I am convinced that nothing but the whole truth is likely, as a general rule, to do good to souls.  I am satisfied that those who willfully put up with anything short of the whole truth, will find at last that their souls have received much damage.  There are three things which men never ought to trifle with: a little poison, a little false doctrine, and a little sin.

I am quite aware that when a man expresses such opinions as those I have just brought forward, there are many ready to say, “He is not faithful to the Church.”  I hear such accusations unmoved.  The day of judgment will show who were the true friends of the Church and who were not.  I have learned in the last thirty-two years that if a minister leads a quiet life, leaves alone the unconverted part of the world, and preaches so as to offend none and edify none, he will be called by many “a good pastor.”

And I have also learned that if a man studies Scriptures, labors continually for the conversion of souls, adheres closely to the great principals of the Reformation, bears a faithful testimony against Romanism, and preaches powerful, convicting sermons, he will probably be thought a firebrand and “troubler of Israel.”  Let men say what they will.  They are the truest friends of the Church who labor most for the preservation of truth.

I lay these things before the readers of this paper, and invite their serious attention to them.  I charge them never to forget that truth is of more importance to a Church than peace.  I ask them to be ready to carry out the principles I have laid down, and to contend zealously, if needs be, for the truth.  If we do this, we shall have learned something from Antioch.

III. But I pass on to the third lesson from Antioch.  That lesson is, that “There is no doctrine about which we ought to be so jealous as justification by faith and not by observing the law.”

The proof of this lesson stands out most prominently in the passage of Scripture which heads this paper.  What one article of the faith had the Apostle Peter denied at Antioch?  None.  What doctrine had he publicly preached which was false?  None.  What, then, had he done?  He had done this.  After once keeping company with the believing Gentiles as “heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6), he suddenly became shy of them and withdrew himself.  He seemed to think they were less holy and acceptable to God than the circumcised Jews.  He seemed to imply, that the believing Gentiles were in a lower state than they who had kept the ceremonies of the law of Moses.  He seemed, in a word, to add something to simple faith as needful to give man an interest in Jesus Christ.  He seemed to reply to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” not merely “Believe in the Lord Jesus,” but “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and be circumcised, and keep the ceremonies of the law.”

Such conduct as this the Apostle Paul would not endure for a moment.  Nothing so moved him as the idea of adding anything to the Gospel of Christ.  “I opposed him,” he says, “to his face.”  He not only rebuked him, but he recorded the whole transaction fully, when by inspiration of the Spirit he wrote the Epistle to the Galatians.

I invite special attention to this point.  I ask men to observe the remarkable jealousy which the Apostle Paul shows about this doctrine, and to consider the point about which such a stir was made.  Let us mark in this passage of Scripture the immense importance of justification by faith and not by keeping the law.

(a) This is the doctrine which is essentially necessary to our own personal comfort.  No man on earth is a real child of God, and a saved soul, till he sees and receives salvation by faith in Christ Jesus.  No man will ever have solid peace and true assurance, until he embraces with all his heart the doctrine that “we are counted righteous before God because of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ [on the cross], by faith, and not for our own works and goodness.”  One reason, I believe, why so many professors in this day are tossed to and fro, enjoy little comfort, and feel little peace, is their ignorance on this point.  They do not see clearly justification by faith without their own “good works.”

(b) This is the doctrine which the great enemy of souls hates, and labors to overthrow.  He knows that it turned the world upside down at the first beginning of the Gospel, in the days of the Apostles.  He knows that it turned the world upside down again at the time of the Reformation.  He is therefore always tempting men to reject it.  He is always trying to seduce Churches and ministers to deny or obscure its truth.  No wonder that the Council of Trent [Roman Catholic Council that established their present doctrines] directed its chief attack against this doctrine, and pronounced it accursed and heretical.  No wonder that many who think themselves learned in these days denounce the doctrine as theological jargon, and say that all “serious minded people” are justified by Christ, whether they have faith or not!  The plain truth is that the doctrine is all bitterness and poison to unconverted hearts.  It just meets the wants of the awakened soul.  But the proud unhumbled man who knows not his own sin, and sees not his own weakness, cannot receive its truth.

(c) This is the doctrine, the absence of which accounts for half the errors of the Roman Catholic Church.  The beginning of half the unscriptural doctrines of Catholicism may be traced up to rejection of justification by faith.  No Catholic teacher, if he is faithful to his Church, can say to an anxious sinner, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”  He cannot do it without additions and explanations, which completely destroy the good news.  He dare not give the Gospel medicine, without adding something which destroys its effectiveness, and neutralizes its power.

Purgatory, penance, priestly absolution [confession], the intercession of saints, the worship of the Virgin, and many other man-made services of Roman Catholicism, all spring from this source.  They are all rotten props to support weary consciences.  But they are rendered necessary by the denial of justification by faith.

(d) This is the doctrine which is absolutely essential to a minister’s success among his people.  Obscurity on this point spoils all.  Absence of clear statements about justification will prevent the utmost zeal doing good.  There may be much that is pleasing and nice in a minister’s sermons, much about Christ and union with Him, much about self-denial, much about humility, much about love.  But all this will profit little, if his trumpet gives an uncertain sound about justification by faith without the attendant “good works.”

(e) This is the doctrine which is absolutely essential to the prosperity of a Church.  No Church is really in a healthy state, in which this doctrine is not prominently brought forward.  A denomination and/or church may have good forms and regularly ordained ministers, but a denomination and/or church will not see conversion of souls going on under its pulpits, when this doctrine is not plainly preached.  Its schools may be found in every town.  Its church buildings may strike the eye all over the land.  But there will be no blessing from God on that denomination and/or church unless justification by faith is proclaimed from its pulpits.  Sooner or later its candlestick will be taken away.

Why have the Churches of Africa and the East fallen to their present state?  Did they not have Ministers?  They had.  Did they not have forms and ceremony?  They had.  Did they not have councils?  They had.  But they cast away the doctrine of justification by faith.  They lost sight of that mighty truth, and so they fell.

Why did our own Church (Church of England) do so little in the last century, and why did the Independents and Baptists do so much more?  Was it that their system was better than ours?  No.  Was it that our Church was not so well adapted to meet the wants of lost souls?  No.  But their ministers preached justification by faith, and our ministers, in too many cases, did not preach the doctrine at all.

Why do so many English people go to dissenting churches in the present day?  Why do we so often see a splendid Gothic local church as empty of worshipers as a barn in July, and a little plain brick building, called a Meeting House, filled to suffocation?  Is it that people in general have any abstract dislike of formal worship, the Prayer-book, and the establishment?  Not at all!  The simple reason is, in the vast majority

of cases, that people do not like preaching in which justification by faith is not fully proclaimed.  When they cannot hear it in the local church they will seek it elsewhere.  No doubt there are exceptions.  No doubt there are places where a long course of neglect has thoroughly disgusted people with the Church, so that they will not even hear truth from its ministers.  But I believe, as a general rule, when the local church is empty and the meeting-house full, it will be found on inquiry that there is a cause.

If these things be so, the Apostle Paul might well be jealous for the truth, and oppose Peter to his face.  He might well maintain that anything ought to be sacrificed, rather than endanger the doctrine of justification in the Church of Christ.  He saw with a prophetical eye coming things.  He left us all an example that we should do well to follow.  Whatever we tolerate, let us never allow any injury to be done to that blessed doctrine–that we are justified by faith without any of our own “good works.”

Let us always beware of any teaching which either directly or indirectly obscures justification by faith.  All religious systems which put anything between the heavy burdened sinner and Jesus Christ the Savior, except simple faith, are dangerous and unscriptural.  All systems which make out faith to be anything complicated, anything but a simple, childlike dependence, the hand which receives the soul’s medicine from  the physician, are unsafe and poisonous systems.  All systems which cast discredit on the simple Protestant doctrine which broke the power of Roman Catholicism, carry about with them a plague-spot, and are dangerous to souls.

Baptism is a sacrament ordained by Christ Himself, and to be used with reverence and respect by all professing Christians.  When it is used rightly, worthily and with faith, it is capable of being the instrument of mighty blessings to the soul.  But when people are taught that all who are baptized are as a matter of course born again, and that all baptized persons should be addressed as “children of God,” I believe their souls are in great danger.  Such teaching about baptism appears to me to overthrow the doctrine of justification by faith.  They only are children of God who have faith in Christ Jesus.  And all men do not have faith.

The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament ordained by Christ Himself, and intended for the edification and refreshment of true believers.  But when people are taught that all persons ought to come to the Lord’s table, whether they have faith or not; and that all alike receive Christ’s body and blood who receive the bread and wine, I believe their souls are in great danger.  Such teaching appears to me to darken the doctrine of justification by faith.  No man eats Christ’s body and drinks Christ’s blood except the justified man.  And none are justified until they believe.

Membership in the local church is a great privilege.  But when people are taught that because they are members of a church, they are as a matter of course members of Christ, I believe their souls are in great danger.  Such teaching appears to me to overthrow the doctrine of justification by faith.  They only are joined to Christ who believe.  And all men do not believe.

Whenever we hear teaching which obscures or contradicts justification by faith, we may be sure there is a screw loose somewhere.  We should watch against such teaching, and be upon our guard.  Once let a man turn away from justification by faith alone, and he will bid a long farewell to comfort, to peace, to lively hope, to anything like assurance in his Christianity.  An error here is decay at the root.

(1) In conclusion, let me first of all ask every one who reads this paper, to arm himself with a thorough knowledge of the written Word of God.  Unless we do this we are at the mercy of any false teacher.  We shall not see through the mistakes of an erring Peter.  We shall not be able to imitate the faithfulness of a courageous Paul.  An ignorant congregation will always be the curse of a Church.  A Bible reading congregation may save a Church from ruin.  Let us read the Bible regularly, daily, and with fervent prayer, and become familiar with its contents.  Let us receive nothing, believe nothing, follow nothing, which is not in the Bible, nor can be proved by the Bible.  Let our rule of faith, our touchstone of all teaching, be the written Word of God.

(2) In the next place, let me entreat all who read this paper to be always ready to contend for the faith of Christ, if needful.  I recommend no one to foster a controversial spirit.  I want no man to be like Goliath, going up and down, saying, “Give me a man to fight with.”  Always feeding upon controversy is poor work indeed.  It is like feeding upon bones.  But I do say that no love of false peace should prevent us striving jealously against false doctrine, and seeking to promote true doctrine wherever we possibly can.  True Gospel in the pulpit, true Gospel in the books we read, true Gospel in the friends we keep company with, let this be our aim, and never let us be ashamed to let men see that it is so.

(3) In the next place, let me entreat all who read this paper to keep a jealous watch over their own hearts in these controversial times.  There is much need of this caution.  In the heat of the battle we are apt to forget our own inner man.  Victory in argument is not always victory over the world or victory over the devil.  Let the meekness of Peter in taking a reproof, be as much our example as the boldness of Paul in reproving.  Happy is the Christian who can call the person who rebukes him faithfully, a “dear brother” (2 Peter 3:15).  Let us strive to be holy in all manner of conversation, and not least in our tempers.  Let us labor to maintain an uninterrupted communion with the Father and with the Son, and to keep up constant habits of private prayer and Bible-reading.  Thus we shall be armed for the battle of life, and have the sword of the Spirit well fitted to our hand when the day of temptation comes.

(4) In the last place, let me entreat all members of a church who know what real praying is, to pray daily for the Church to which they belong.  Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may be poured out upon it, and that its candlestick may not be taken away.  Let us pray for those churches in which the Gospel is now not preached, that the darkness may pass away, and the true light shine in them.  Let us pray for those ministers who now neither know nor preach the truth, that God may take away the veil from their hearts, and show them a more excellent way.  Nothing is impossible.  The Apostle Paul was once a persecuting Pharisee; Luther was once an unenlightened monk; Bishop Latimer was once a bigoted Catholic; Thomas Scott was once thoroughly opposed to evangelical truth.  Nothing, I repeat, is impossible.  The Spirit can make ministers preach that Gospel which they now labor to destroy.  Let us therefore be urgent in prayer.

I commend the matters contained in this paper to serious attention.  Let us ponder them well in our hearts.  Let us carry them out in our daily practice.  Let us do this, and we shall have learned something from the story of Peter at Antioch.

Transcribed by

Tony Capoccia

Bible Bulletin Board

All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL

VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of

Zondervan Bible Publishers.

This updated and revised manuscript is copyrighted (C)1998 by Tony Capoccia.

All rights reserved.

Sermon Sunday – J.C. Ryle – Freedom

July 3, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in Sermon Sunday | Leave a comment
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Freedom
by
J. C. Ryle
(1816-1900)

___________________________________________________________________

© Copyright 2001 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as
long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.

Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION © 1978
by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

A copy of this sermon, Preached by Tony Capoccia, is available
on Audio Tape Cassette or Audio CD at www.gospelgems.com
___________________________________________________________________

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”–John 8:36

The subject before us today deserves our attention. It should ring in the ears of every person like the voice of a trumpet. We live in a land which is the very cradle of freedom. But are we ourselves free?

The question is one which demands special attention during the present state of public opinion. The minds of many are absorbed in politics. Yet there is a freedom, within the reach of all of us, which few, I am afraid, ever think of–a freedom independent of all political changes–a freedom which neither the prevailing government, nor the cleverest politician can bestow. This is the freedom about which I speak today. Do we know anything of it? Are we free? Continue Reading Sermon Sunday – J.C. Ryle – Freedom…

Peace on Earth

January 8, 2011 at 2:11 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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The Christmas season is winding down (for me it really isn’t over til after the new year) and, in an effort to keep from completely ruining your Christmas joy, I’ve held onto this until after the holiday was over. I also wanted to see what everyone said during the week leading up to Christmas. I have been thinking more (wait! don’t go yet…) and there have been a few loose threads that I’ve been following. Oddly enough, when I began to think about the threads, they all seem to be interconnected. I’m going to go through them and would love to hear your thoughts on these different topics.

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about comes from the songs that I’ve heard played over the Christmas holiday season. Things that talk about goodwill, peace on earth, and kindness. One that I heard very often throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas was the song Do They Know It’s Christmas Time At All. In case you haven’t heard it (although there are a number of remakes on Youtube), here is the original:

Continue Reading Peace on Earth…

Newslinks 12/12/10

December 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

2 More Christians Killed in Baghdad
Iraq’s Christian minority took another hit Sunday evening when gunmen shot and killed an elderly Christian couple in their home.

Prop. 8 Appeal Goes Before Federal Court

Pakistan Minister Condemns Reward for Killing Christian Woman

Colson: Prison Rate Up Due to Moral Breakdown

WCC Head, Pope Benedict Discuss Church Unity

Somali Teenage Girl Shot to Death for Embracing Christ Continue Reading Newslinks 12/12/10…

Newslinks 12/05/10

December 5, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

Global Church Leader Urges Koreas to Refrain from Use of Force
The United States and South Korea began naval exercises off the west coast of the peninsula Sunday to send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive actions must stop.

Pakistan Gov’t Barred from Pardoning Christian on Death Row

2 Healthy Churches Merge for Bigger Impact in Ariz.

Religion Debate Pits Blair Against Hitchens

Don’t Do Christmas on Credit, Debt Charity Warns

Iraq Arrests 12 Suspected in Deadly Church Siege

Leak of State Dept Cables Could Impact Friends and Allies Around the World, White House Says
(CNSNews.com)
– Sunday’s release by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. State Department cables provides a glimpse into the world where views are delivered directly and sometimes bluntly, far removed from bland diplomatic statements reserved for the cameras. The cables reveal frank evaluations of a range of issues and political leaders, offered not just by American officials but also by their foreign interlocutors speaking on the assumption of confidentiality.

Raising the Social Security Retirement Age Might Shift Older Workers Onto Disability Rolls, Report Says
(CNSNews.com)
– Improvements in life expectancy have led to proposals to raise the earliest eligibility age for Social Security retirement benefits above 62, the full retirement age above 67, or both. But a recent government report found a downside to raising the retirement ages.

South Korea Warns North Korea of Retaliation As Naval Exercises Begin
(CNSNews.com)
– South Korean President Lee Myun-bak on Monday vowed strong retaliation against the Stalinist state in the event of any further provocation. He spoke a day after the United States and South Korea launched a four-day joint naval exercise in the Yellow Sea. , the body of water located between China and the west coast of the Korean peninsula. China has complained about the U.S. Navy movements in its “exclusive economic zone.”

Alleged Christmas Tree Bomber Said He Wanted to Kill Americans While ‘They Were With Their Families Celebrating the Holidays,’ Says Affidavit
(CNSNews.com)
– Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali-born naturalized U.S. citizen, allegedly made the statement in a video- and audio-taped conversation he had with two undercover FBI agents on Aug. 19 of this year in a Portland, Ore., hotel room.

Security Situation Seen as ‘Bad’ by One in Five Afghans; 80 Percent Say Corruption Affects Daily Life
(CNSNews.com)
– “The number of Afghans rating their security situation as ‘bad’ is the highest since the nationwide survey began in September 2008,” the report stated. “This downward trend in security perception is likely due to the steady increase in total violence over the past nine months.”

Tea Party May Target Major Companies That Back Obama Agenda, Poll Shows
(CNSNews.com)
– The results of the survey led the pollster to conclude that Tea Partiers could “realistically” lead a boycott of such companies.

Obama’s Agriculture Dept. Has Hired Consulting Firm to Advise It on ‘Diversity
(CNSNews.com)
– Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has “taken a number of actions to make his department more sensitive to civil rights issues,” The Hill newspaper reported on Monday.

Bush, Warren: It’s Not About You
Former President George W. Bush revealed on Monday that during his eight-year term, he had in tow the same words of wisdom that Pastor Rick Warren may be famous for: It’s not about you.

Catholic Bishops Back House Resolution to Protect Iraq’s Christians

Survey: Evangelicals Go Against the Tide on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Family Group Blasts Holiday Gift Certificates for Abortion

Man Without Limbs: Live Without Limits

Survey: 1 in 20 Christians Cite Accountability in Church

Mother of 13 Urges Adoption of HIV-Positive Children
Carolyn Twietmeyer, a suburban mother of 13 children – including six from Africa – has a message she wants to say on World AIDS Day: adopt HIV-positive kids.

Faith Leaders Back DREAM Act for Undocumented Youth

Christian Charity in India Educates Public on HIV and AIDS

Televangelist Admits Affair on TV

Christian Columnist: We’ve Won the War on Christmas

Pro-Family Groups Fight Against ‘Hate Group’ Label

Prison Ministry: Spiritual Revival Happening in Women’s Facilities
For unexplainable reasons, other than the Holy Spirit, women inmates are attending Bible meetings and coming to Christ like never before, a prison ministry reported.

Conservatives Warn: DADT Repeal Likely to Hurt Morale, Recruitment

Apple Urged to Restore Manhattan Declaration App

Kay Warren on HIV/AIDS: God Broke My Heart, Wiped Me Out

Poll: ‘Very Religious’ Americans Have Better Emotional Health

Wash. Football Player Flagged for Pointing to God

Drug Cartel-Related Murders Exceed 10,000 for Year So Far, According to a Mexican Newspaper Tally
(CNSNews.com)
– Cartel-related murders in Mexico’s drug war have surpassed 10,000 so far this year, according to a tally kept by the Mexican newspaper Reforma. That figure is about twice the overall number of U.S. military fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

November 2010 Was Deadliest November for U.S. Forces in 9-Year Afghan War
(CNSNews.com)
– At least 45 U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan last month — up from the 17 killed in November 2009. That makes November 2010 the deadliest November since the war began more than nine years ago, according to CNSNews.com’s database. So far this year, 452 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan, more than was killed in any previous year of the war.

Hoyer Supports ‘Disciplinary Action’ Against USDA Employees Who ‘Consciously’ Discriminated Against Black Farmers
(CNSNews.com)
– House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) voted in favor of the huge settlement for black farmers who were discriminated against by the Agriculture Department from 1981-1996, but when asked whether “disciplinary action” should be taken against any USDA employees, Hoyer said he didn’t know enough about the case to endorse any specific action. “It’s pretty amazing to me that you can have 94,000 people likely discriminated against and you can’t find one single individual responsible for $2.3 billion worth of discrimination,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told CNSNews.com Monday.

‘Misleading’ Andy Griffith Ads Cost Taxpayers $3 Million, Gov’t Documents Show
(CNSNews.com)
– The federal government spent $3.1 million on TV ads in which actor Andy Griffith touts the new health care law, but a non-partisan watchdog group says those ads are misleading.

White House Deficit Commission Won’t Say If Federal Salaries Should Be Cut
(CNSNews.com)
– The co-chairs of the White House deficit commission said they support “at least” a freeze of federal employees’ salaries but declined to say whether they support a cut in federal salaries. Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis for the year 2009 show that federal worker compensation including benefits averaged $123,049, which was more than double the private sector average (with benefits) of $61,051.

Now That Obama Administration Is Taking Terrorism ‘More Seriously,’ Airport Security ‘Significantly Improved’ This Christmas, Lawmaker Says
Washington (CNSNews.com)
– Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said airport security has “significantly improved” since last year’s attempted Christmas bombing. “The federal government, Homeland Security and TSA have, I think, significantly improved since last Christmas, there’s more cohesion.”

Obama Administration Linking Arms Control Treaty With Russian Cooperation on Iran
(CNSNews.com)
– Pushing to get the New START arms reduction treaty through the lame-duck Senate, the Obama administration and Democrats are looking to pro-Israel organizations, arguing that delaying ratification will jeopardize Russian support for international pressure on Iran. Many conservatives, including some Jewish groups, have deep reservations about the negotiated treaty, including concerns that it will constrain U.S. missile defense options.

EPA Shifting Its Emphasis to ‘Sustainability’
(CNSNews.com)
– The Environmental Protection Agency, marking its 40th anniversary this week, has commissioned a National Research Council study that will help the agency “incorporate sustainability into the way the agency approaches environmental protection.” What does that mean? The EPA reaches all the way to Africa to provide an example.

‘Our Government Has a Role to Play’ in Reducing the Stigma of HIV/AIDS, Obama Says
(CNSNews.com)
– In a message marking World AIDS Day on Wednesday, President Obama urged the American people to “join in appropriate activities to remember the men, women, and children who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease.” He reminded infected people that his new health care law will help them get “adequate health insurance coverage and quality care.”

Energy Secretary Bemoans ‘Downward’ Trend in Energy Budget
(CNSNews.com)
– Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the “downward” budget trend for research and development at the Department of Energy is “alarming.”

Full-Scale Replica of Noah’s Ark Coming to Ky. Theme Park
Noah may have taken 400 years to build the ark but investors of a new biblical theme park in northern Kentucky plan to replicate a full-scale model in under 36 months.

Former Daystar Employee Sues Evangelist Over Affair

Late-Term Abortionist Moves to Maryland

Obama to Receive Christmas Cards Urging Mideast Peace

Americans Prefer ‘Merry Christmas’ to ‘Happy Holidays’

53rd Grammy Nominees for Gospel Music Announced

FCC Commissioner Wants to Test the ‘Public Value’ of Every Broadcast Station
(CNSNews.com)
– American journalism is in “grave peril,” FCC Commissioner Michael Copps says, and to bolster “traditional media,” he said the Federal Communications Commission should conduct a “public value test” of every broadcast station at relicensing time. In a speech at the Columbia University School of Journalism on Thursday, Copps also said station relicensing should happen every four years instead of the current eight.

British Christian Group Raises Concerns About Shari’a-Compliant Food
(CNSNews.com)
– A Christian organization in Britain has launched a petition campaign aimed at defending the right of those who do not want to eat meat slaughtered according to Islamic law (shari’a). Operation Nehemiah argues that the mainstreaming of halal across the world constitutes part of a global Islamization drive. While Muslims should be free to follow their own religious practices, the group objects to non-Muslims having little or no choice in the matter.

Bachmann: ‘There Needs To Be an Insurrection’ Against GOP Leaders If They Don’t Hold Straight Vote to Repeal Obamacare
(CNSNews.com)
– Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), founder and chairman of the House Tea Party Caucus, told CNSNews.com that there will be an “insurrection” against the House Republican leadership if it does not hold an independent, straight up-or-down vote on repealing the entire Obamacare law that does not tie this repeal to other policy initiatives including any effort to “replace” elements of Obamacare with new federal health-care reforms.

Q&A With Michele Bachmann: Zero Out Funding For Obama’s Czars and Obamacare
(CNSNews.com)
– Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), founder and chair of the House Tea Party Caucus, told CNSNews.com this week that when Republicans take control of the House in January they should kill Obamacare by zeroing-out funding for it. They should also remove funding for the non-Senate-confirmed “czars” President Barack Obama has named to his administration. “That’s the beauty of conservatives winning in this election, because the House has the power of the purse and we can zero that out in our budget,” she said.

Pence, DeMint Push for Permanent Extension of Bush Tax Rates
(CNSNews.com)
– Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) renewed their call on Wednesday for making the current tax rates permanent before they automatically reset to 1990’s-era levels at year’s end. “Higher taxes aren’t going to get anybody hired,” Pence said. “Raising taxes on job creators won’t create any jobs. Raising taxes during the worst economy in 25 years is just a phenomenally bad idea.”
“Uncertainty is the enemy of our prosperity,” Pence said.

Napolitano Says Granting Legal Status to Some Illegal Aliens Improves Immigration Law Enforcement
(CNSNews.com)
– Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said granting legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college or join the military will help the country target criminal illegal immigrants. She said the U.S. should “prioritize our enforcement resources on removing dangerous criminal aliens” rather than wasting time and effort prosecuting young people “brought here through no fault of their own.”

Congressman: Close Tax-Funded Smithsonian Exhibit Despite Removal of Ant-Covered Jesus
(CNSNews.com)
– Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) said that removing a video with images of ants swarming over Jesus Christ on a crucifix is a “positive” step, but he said there are other elements of the show that make it inappropriate for display in a federal institution where families come to see iconic works of arts such as the portraits of U.S. presidents.

Combat Troops’ Opposition Not an ‘Insurmountable Barrier’ to Letting Gays Serve in Military, Defense Secretary Says
(CNSNews.com)
– Although up to 60 percent of U.S. combat troops oppose the idea of homosexuals serving in the military, those concerns do not pose a ‘insurmountable barrier’ to repealing the statute, Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a Senate panel on Dec. 2. Gates indicated that the combat troops’ negative response to repealing the law stems from their lack of experience in serving with homosexuals. “I couldn’t disagree more,” responded Sen. John McCain.

Congress Should Look At Reducing Federal Workforce ‘Across the Board,’ Republican Says
(CNSNews.com)
– Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on Thursday declined to say whether salaries of federal employees should be cut, but he did say that Congress needs to look at “a reduction of federal employees across the board.”

Leaked Cable May Prompt Iran to Demand Resignation of Nuclear Watchdog Chief
(CNSNews.com)
– Amid rumors that Iran will demand his resignation, the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency denied any wrongdoing Thursday, following reports that leaked U.S. diplomatic cables indicated he sided with the U.S. on the Iranian nuclear standoff. Tehran has long accused International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano of lacking impartiality.

Church Planter Tackles Men Who Won’t Grow Up
A St. Louis pastor and respected church planter raised the alarm about a societal problem he calls “ban,” which are males that are not quite boys nor men in their maturity level.

Military Chiefs Ask Lawmakers to Delay DADT Repeal

Petition Asking Apple to Reinstate Christian App Gains Steam

Groups to Press Obama to Defend Iraqi Christians

Calif. Judge Refuses to Bow Out of Prop. 8 Appeals Panel

Wrong to Exclude God from Classroom, Says U.K. Think Tank

Newslinks 11/21/10

November 21, 2010 at 11:23 am | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

Obama’s Asia Trip Not Seen As a Success
(CNSNews.com)
– As he ended a 10-day visit to Asia, President Obama told reporters on Air Force One he believed that “all of Asia is eager for American engagement and leadership,” but his upbeat assessment sharply contrasted with the view of critics who have characterized the trip as disappointing – if not a downright failure.

Q&A With Virginia Attorney General: State’s Lawsuit Against Obamacare ‘Is Not About Health Insurance, It’s About Liberty’
(CNSNews.com)
– Virginia Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli told CNSNews.com that the lawsuit his state has filed against the health-care reform law signed by President Barack Obama in March is about preserving the liberty of individual Americans against a federal government that is over-reaching its legitimate constitutional authority.

Obama’s Claiming More Power Over Americans Than King George III, Says Virginia Attorney General
(CNSNews.com) – Virginia Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli, who has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the health-care law signed by President Barack Obama last March, says Obama and the Congress that enacted that law–which mandates that individuals must buy government-approved health insurance plans–are seeking a power over the lives of Americans that even King George III did not claim to possess. Continue Reading Newslinks 11/21/10…

Newslinks 10/24/10

October 24, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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National Debt Increases for 53rd Straight Fiscal Year; Jumped $1.65 Trillion in FY 2010
(CNSNews.com)
– The national debt increased for the 53rd straight fiscal year in fiscal 2010, when it jumped $1.65 trillion, according to data posted online by the Bureau of the Public Debt and confirmed by a spokesperson for the agency. The bureau says its reporting of the federal debt at the end of each fiscal year (as posted here) states exactly to the penny the full and actual amount the U.S. government has borrowed as of that date.

Value-Added Tax Would Hurt Economy, Kill Jobs, Business Group Study Finds
(CNSNews.com)
– An economic analysis sponsored by the National Retail Federation shows that a Value-Added Tax would damage economic growth and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs. The study showed that a large reduction in federal spending would be better for the economy. President Obama’s Fiscal Commission reportedly is considering a VAT as one option for reigning in out-of-control federal deficits.

Iran Elected to Chair OPEC Next Year; Dismisses Western Energy Sanctions as Ineffective
(CNSNews.com)
– For the first time since the Islamic revolution, Iran has been handed the rotating presidency of the OPEC cartel of oil-producing nations. The move comes at a time when Western governments are seeking to target Iran’s energy sector over its nuclear programs. Iran is pushing for oil to be priced against a currency, or basket of currencies, other than the U.S. dollar. Continue Reading Newslinks 10/24/10…

Newslinks 10/17/10

October 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Council on American-Islamic Relations Launches ‘Islamophobia’ Division
(CNSNews.com)
– Spurred by the controversies over Quran-burning and the planned Ground Zero mosque, the most visible Islamic advocacy organization in the U.S. says it is launching a department to deal with “Islamophobia.” CAIR said the new “Islamophobia” department will produce an annual report tracking “trends in rhetorical attacks on Islam and Muslims,” and it will also “organize conferences, seminars, cultural exchanges, and other activities and events designed to provide opportunities for education and dialogue.”

Obama Administration Gave General Electric—Parent Company of NBC–$24.9 Million in ‘Stimulus’ Grants
(CNSNews.com)
– The Obama administration gave corporate giant General Electric, the parent company of NBC, $24.9 million in grants from the $787-billion economic “stimulus” law President Barack Obama signed in February 2009, according to records posted by the administration at Recovery.gov. Despite getting $24.9 million from U.S. taxpayers, GE decreased its U.S.-based employees by 18,000 in 2009, according to the company’s 2009 annual report.

U.S. Spending At Least $18.6 Million A Day to Incarcerate Illegal Aliens
(CNSNews.com)
– U.S. taxpayers are spending at least $18.6 million per day to house an estimated 300,000 to 450,000 illegal immigrants who are incarcerated and eligible for deportation from the United States, according to data from the Homeland Security and Justice Departments. The prisoners are foreign nationals who have come into the United States, committed a crime, been captured, and imprisoned. Half of the undocumented aliens who were removed from the United States in fiscal 2010 (which ended on Sept. 30) had been convicted of a crime in the United States. Continue Reading Newslinks 10/17/10…

Ecumenism

October 6, 2010 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | 5 Comments
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Everyone has a cause or number of causes that they are passionate about. We seek out others of like mind to band together and make our voices heard. Depending on the cause, we may or may not agree with everything said and we weigh the causes based on this. Recently, Glenn Beck held a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that drew 300,000 – 400,000 people. The rally was labeled as a religious one and not a political one. Among those gathered were Muslims, Mormons, Evangelicals, Catholics, and other faiths. Throughout the day, the group was encouraged to turn to God and to rule themselves. This brings me to a question that I think that the church needs to consider very carefully. Continue Reading Ecumenism…

Newslinks 09/26/10

September 26, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Values Voters Pick Mike Pence Over Huckabee for President
Social conservatives at the Values Voter Summit have crowned a new top contender for president, though the winner of this year’s straw poll only edged out last year’s by two points.

Anti-Poverty Groups Sound Off Ahead of High-Level MDG Summit

Pope Expresses ‘Sorrow and Shame’ Over Child Abuse

ELCA Receives 3 Lesbian Ministers

Few Americans Think Glenn Beck Is Fit to Head Religious Mov’t

Wheaton College Installs New President Continue Reading Newslinks 09/26/10…

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