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Covenantal Families

 

COVENANTAL FAMILIES

 

CHEF Graduation Charge – June 1, 2013 given by Bob Wells

 

A CHOSEN GENERATION – CALLED FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS

 

Have you ever heard the expression: “Hung with his own rope?” A perfect example can be found in the Book of Esther. A righteous Jew, Mordecai, refused to bow down to Haman, the chief magistrate under a Persian King. Haman vowed to not only kill Mordecai but all of the Jews in the province. Later, Esther, Mordecai’s young cousin, who had been abducted and taken in as Queen, convinced the king that Haman was a traitor. The angry king decided he would put Haman to death. One of the king’s servants informed him that Haman had a gallows right in his own house that he planned to use to kill Mordecai. This gallows turned out to be the very instrument that the king used to destroy Haman.

 

Today, I plan to use your own chosen class scripture to bring my address to you and this distinguished audience. And by your own choosing, this scripture may very well lead to a bit of squirming and discomfort as I bring these charges to your attention. But seriously, I hope that this message will provoke and challenge you to move from this point in your life to bring great glory to our God.

 

Class Scripture – 1 Peter 2:9 (reading from the Amplified Bible)

 

“You are a chosen race (generation –K.J.), a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

 

Some of you Bible scholars may know what a rich, rich Old Testament foundation this verse in 1st Peter contains:

1. Chosen generationwas lifted from passages like Isa 43:20The beasts of the field will glorify Me; The jackals and the ostriches; Because I have given waters in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people.

 

2. Royal Priesthoodfrom Isa 61: 6,7 – But you will be called the priests of the Lord; You will be spoken of as ministers of God. You will eat the wealth of nations, And in their riches you will boast. Instead of shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation you will shout for joy over your portion.

 

3. Dedicated or Holy nation– Exodus 19:5,6 – …you shall be My own possessionamong all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

 

These and a host of other prophetic scriptures speak of the people of God, those who are chosen and called by the name of Christ on this earth. What wonderful promises these are indeed!

 

Now arguably those promises have been fairly well received and accepted by Christian people in this day and age. We are good with being called Chosen. We have grasped that we are something of a priesthood of believers – even that we are a special (or peculiar) people set apart and Holy for our God.

 

But there is a problem with our full understanding of this verse of the Bible. As is so often the case, we tend to grasp the fruits and benefits of the blessing without embracing the responsibility that goes along with it. We tend to neglect that little “THEREFORE” in the passage. Ever noticed how many “SO THATs” and “THEREFOREs” that there are in God’s Word?

 

An example can be found in the test that God gave Abraham as he commanded him to sacrifice his first natural-born son, Isaac as sacrifice....SO THAT God would know Abraham’s faithfulness.

 

Or in the New Testament, “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed which when sown is smaller than all other seeds yet when it is sown, grows up it becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; SO THAT the birds of the air can nest in its shade.”

 

So what’s the So That in 1 Pet 2:9? Let’s read it again: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased, special people,SO THAT youmay set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

 

Before we look closer at that “SO THAT” in this verse, allow me to bring an observation. Have you ever noticed how the meanings of things change over time – like with words? If I were to say to you that something isAwful, what would you think of? Perhaps something that is wicked, horrible or despicable? You would be very surprised to find that the original meaning of awful is“deserving of awe and admiration.” What about Sophisticated? You may think of something cultured, refined or high class. But the original word meant “corrupted.” How about Silly? Probably brings to mind someone rather goofy, mischievous or overly playful. But the original word meant “blessed or happy.” And finally, Nice. This may conjure up thoughts of someone super sweet, kind and thoughtful. But surprise! The 13th century meaning of nice was a bold insult meaning “foolish or stupid!” So just a sideline note: Be suspicious if someone calls you Sophisticated or NICE!

 

In a similar fashion, we often change the implications or meaning of certain facts. I would offer to you that the SO THAT in this passage has been changed in like manner over time for many Christians.

 

A New “So That” Has been Created in Our Modern Day Christian Economy

 

I would like to present a few possible scenarios for revised SO THATs to this familiar scriptural passage.

 

You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased, special peopleSO THAT you can explore the power of your creativity and do great exploits with your gifts and talents finding new ways to amaze the world with your Christian caliber and upbringing.

 

You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased, special peopleSO THAT you can find the true fulfillment of knowing the real you, self-actualizing and validating your existence on this planet and reaching the pinnacle of your deepest dreams and desires.

 

And here is my favorite and probably a more likely revision by many Christians today.

 

You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased, special people SO THAT you can live a nice comfortable life, completing your college degree, getting into a great profession, finding a really nice home and someday settling down to think about raising a few children to be NICE upstanding members of society.

 

Oh, how dramatically different are these “So Thats” than what the scripture actually prescribes… “…so that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him who called you…”

 

TWO Essential Parts to This Command

 

So what does it mean to “show forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him?” Well, we will examine these commands in two distinct parts:

 

FIRST PART of this “So That” - Show Forth His Wonderful Deeds

 

1. For one thing it means you must be willing to think more of displaying HIS greatness than of YOUR greatness. John the Baptist said it well when he said: He must increase but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

 

If the Lord had not said it Himself, that “love of money is the root of all evil,” I would certainly have cast my vote for SELFISHNESS as the worst root of all man’s evils. We have a great propensity to want to blow our own horns…as if we had a tune that EVERYBODY is obliged to listen to!

 

Somebody once said: The man who lives by himself and for himself is likely to be corrupted by the company that he keeps. Sir Walter Scott said:Sordid selfishness doth contract and narrow our benevolence, and cause us, like serpents to infold ourselves within ourselves, and turn our stings to the entire world besides. John Owen offered: Selfishnessis the making of a man’s self as his own center, the beginning and end of all he does.

 

But the Lord has called us to display HIS greatness, not our own!

 

1. Another part of “Showing forth His wonderful deeds” is that we must be completely focused on thinking His thoughts, on determining His will and His methods instead of fixating on Our thinking, Our will and Our methods.

 

R.J Rushdoony co-authored a book called Tithing & Dominion in which he expounded the importance of the tithe in today’s Christian experience. He beautifully made the case from scripture that tithing is an act of acknowledgment of the Lord’s own sovereignty and ownership of all creation and that any who would seek to deny the Lord this “tax” were in essence denying His Lordship and refuting His total sovereignty over all of His creation. I commend this book highly to you. But a statement that he made in this work is very pertinent to our topic at hand today that I would like to quote:

 

The issue that faces every man is the issue of sovereignty; it is the issue of Lordship. Who created man and therefore, to whom is man accountable? Is man a creature of God? Who is the Sovereign Lord…and who is the steward-creature within creation? ... The legal principle of God as Lord requires that the believer think and act in harmony with God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is God’s law, or Word, that is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is precisely because man lives “by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” that God’s every word is absolute law for man. This means that man is neither to think nor act apart from the Word of God.” (emphasis added)

 

Now that’s quite a mouthful, but here is what Rushdoony was saying to us:

God is the creator and thus owner of all creation including man. Because God owns man, then man is totally unfit to be anything but a steward (a caretaker) over God’s creation. And in order for man to be a good caretaker, then he must think and act like the owner. He must have the owner’s thoughts and wishes as his chief objective.

 

For us, this means that there is no area of study, no vocation that does not hinge on a theological belief of who God is. Economics and Theology are indivisible. Science and Theology are indivisible. Art and Theology are indivisible. Certainly many of your parents understood that Education and Theology are indivisible! You have been trained with a worldview that says that the Lord Jesus Christ has dominion and ownership over every aspect of creation…every vocational endeavor…every area of thought and philosophy.

 

1. Finally, “Showing forth His wonderful deeds” means that you must be willing to establish a legacy that will cause your efforts to show His wonderful deeds in more than just your immediate lifetime, but indeed to cause them to expand into the next generation and the next generation after that.

 

The sad but repeating story of the Old Testament is God’s people finding the mercy and glory of God and reveling over it for a few years and then neglecting to transmit that to their children only to have the next few generations stumble and fall into wickedness and sin, resulting in the curse of God in the following generations. And the same is incredibly true today with us.

 

There is one time-tested, rock-solid way that I know of to ensure a faithful transition of God’s truth and glory into the next generation and that is to HAVE and RAISE UP AS MANY CHILDREN AS THE LORD WOULD BRING to fear and love God with all their hearts, soul, mind and strength. This is sometimes called “Multi-Generational Faithfulness” to the Lord.

 

Graduates, this is the first of THREE Charges that I will offer to you today. Make this a prevailing goal in your life that you, Lord-willing, will leave a legacy of God-fearing children as you leave this earth.

 

It can be summed up no better than the Psalmist in Psalms 78:1-7.

 

SECOND PART of this “So That” - Display the Virtues and Perfections of Him

 

This is pretty simple in concept, but it is every bit as hard as the first because it requires much sacrifice and selflessness. There MUST be a noticeable difference in your LIFESTYLE, your BEHAVIOR, your CHARACTER and your PRIORITIES than those who are not Christians!

 

I recently heard a very challenging message from one of our brethren, affiliated with our church, who is a pastor and teacher in India. His name is Rajib Ottowan. Rajib has helped to establish dozens of churches in a region of India, but it has not been without consequence. India is officially a Hindu state. Christianity is NOT freely welcomed, and in many provinces Christians are persecuted and often killed for their Christian faith. Rajib has had to bury at least one or two of his close brethren over the last year, so he bears credibility when he speaks of sacrifice for the faith.

 

Rajib, commenting on the prophet Daniel and his challenge with King Nebuchadnezzar when Jerusalem was overwhelmed, said that Daniel and his fellow brethren who were chosen to serve in the King’s service had to “DRAW A LINE” as to how far they would go in living life with their heathen captors. Daniel said he would work for them, study for them, and serve them…but he said he had made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank. (Dan 1:8)

 

This world offers us so many nice choice “meals” and “good wine” if we will but allow ourselves to relax our standards, back off our insistence on a sovereign and demanding Lord. It is so easy to get comfortable with “doing it my way” (as Frank Sinatra taught us). As Rajib put it…Daniel had determined where he needed to draw the line so that he could live “IN the world” but not become part “OF the world.”

 

You recall the 1st Charge was to make it your prevailing goal to leave a legacy of God-fearing children when you leave this earth. I have two more charges for you as graduates today. The first of the two is an INTERNAL one, the other an EXTERNAL one.

 

Your 2nd Charge is this…DRAW YOUR LINES NOW. Determine the lifestyle, behaviors, character and priorities that YOU WILL NOT VIOLATE as you move through the next days and years of your life. And with this I offer a caution: If you wait until the challenge is upon you, it is too late! The passage in Daniel BEGINS with him “mak[ing] up his mind” what he would do and not do. You must make up your mind NOW and commit yourself to purity and virtue!! And as an added security…tell someone you trust (perhaps your BFF) of these things and ask them to hold you accountable.

 

Called for Such a Time as This

 

As I move to the last charge I must share with you a sincere belief that I have. In the mercy and grace of God, He is committed to restoring this world in its broken and rebellious state back into His grace and peace. He has also committed to always having a “remnant” with which to do this restoration. I believe that you young people, being trained and equipped the way you are, have Been Called “For Such a Time as This!”

 

Recall that I began my talk with the story of Esther. When Mordecai found out about the command that went out for all the Jews to be exterminated, he sent word to Esther to ask her to intervene before the King. She balked a bit, and Mordecai reminded her that if she remained silent, relief would come at some point through someone…but he also reminded her of the unique situation that God Himself had placed her and the resulting responsibility that she had as a result… “who knows whether you have retained royalty for such a time as this.”

 

Most everyone in this audience, and I HOPE each of you graduates, knows that we are in a WAR in our society – a CULTURE WAR. This war has many heads and takes on many aspects, and I will illustrate just a few:

 

Whether that be the rightness or wrongness of taking the life of a child in the womb of its mother…

 

–or- whether the text of the 1st eleven chapters of our Bible in Genesis are just nice flowery metaphors which have no true historical validity and that we can somehow justify God’s creation using the “scientific” theories of Charles Darwin from his Origin of Species

 

–or- whether the gender roles of men and women (more specifically husbands and wives) are up for debate and should be defined by today’s virtues or whether God really meant that the husband is the “head” of his wife…

 

–or- whether the institution of marriage is just a convenient creation of man and can be defined and/or dissolved as quickly as it is engaged or is it really a God-breathed institution which emulates the very binding and covenantal relationship between Christ and His bride, the church…

 

–or- whether the civil government can assume the status of the new Jehovah-Jireh in this generation or if it is indeed a creature of God’s own discretion which must act as ministers of justice for His laws…

 

Regardless of the specific issue, I can tell you this. All these culture clashes have one root. They seek to answer one question: Who is Lord…God or Man?

 

And each of you must be prepared to give an answer for what you believe. You must be prepared to meet the challenges of your day and answer the thorny cultural questions being posed by our society. Your mission is beautifully summed up by the prophet Isaiah:

And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail [SO THAT]…those among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell. Isa 58:11-12

 

So as a recap, your 1st charge was to have as your prevailing philosophy and goal to leave a legacy of God-fearing children into the next generation. The 2nd charge was to draw your lines now to live in purity and godly character. And here is your 3rd and final charge:

 

Your 3rd Charge is this: COMMIT TO REBUILD THE ANCIENT RUINS and RAISE UP THE AGE-OLD FOUNDATIONS.

 

This world, especially America, is in great devastation today and has fallen mightily from the great position that she once had, and it is primarily because her foundations have crumbled and decayed badly. But all is not lost! God can bring relief. But you cannot afford to stick your head in the sand and say that this is the job of someone else. It’s not just for the pastors and elders. It’s not for Billy Graham or Campus Crusades for Christ. It is for you. Because YOU are “a Chosen Generation, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased and special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him, Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

 

God bless you all, as you endeavor to meet these charges I offer today. IF YOU WILL…YOU WILL BE A SUCCESS, regardless of the world’s standards and the Lord’s Goodness and Mercy shall surely follow you all the days of your life.

 

Bob Wells

June 1, 2013

Edward Powell and Rousas J. Rushdoony, Tithing & Dominion, pp. 37-42, Ross House Books, Vallecito, CA, 1979