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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Covenant of Works, Sanctification and the Evangelical Environmental Network

I'm not a tree hugger.  Nor do I endorse the theology of the Evangelical left on social issues.  But it seems to me that as part of our sanctification Evangelical Christians have a responsibility not only to obey God's moral law in regards to loving God, but we must also love our neighbor--including those who are not brothers and sisters in Christ.   (Matthew 22:36-40).

That would mean that we have an obligation to protect the creation and preserve a liveable planet and environment for those who will live here long after we are gone to be with the Lord should Christ's return be delayed.  It also means we are to show mercy to the animals God created.  (Genesis 1:24; Proverbs 12:10.  See also:  Billy Graham's My Answer).  That apodictic moral principle pertains not just to domesticated animals but to the animals in the wild. 

The primary focus and mission of the church is the preaching of the Gospel.  (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 13:10;16:15-16; Acts 1:8).  But as the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark said, the Gospel includes the systematic teaching of all the Scriptures.  (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Matthew 4:4; John 10:35).  Thus, if the Scriptures say that Adam's dominion and stewardship of the earth was part of the original covenant of works prior to the fall, it is no less a part of that covenant of works after the fall.  (See Genesis 1:26; 2:15; John 17:17).  

The moral law has traditionally been understood as threefold:  1)  The pedagogical use of the moral law convicts us as lawbreakers, sinners, and criminals in view of God's perfect justice and holiness.  (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 14:1-4; Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-23; 1 John 1:8-10;   2)  The moral law of God is to be a guide to the nations as the nations formulate their civil and criminal laws.  Citizens have an obligation to obey the civil law insofar as it does not command them to do something in contradiction to God's moral law and the Holy Scriptures.  (2 Chronicles 20:6; Psalm 47:8; Romans 13:1-10; Acts 5:28-29).  3)  The moral law is a guide to Christians as to how they are live by faith.  ( Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:16-17; Gal. 2:20; Gal. 3:11-12; Heb. 10:38).  Keeping the law could never be sufficient to make anyone just before God's court of law in the final judgment.  Therefore, no good works are acceptable to God unless there is first faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.  (Romans 3:20; 7:7; John 19:30; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).

Of course, we are not saved by keeping the covenant of works.  (Romans 4:2).  We as elect believers are saved through the covenant of grace.  (Genesis 17:1-7).  But the covenant of works was republished at Mount Sinai when the moral law of God was given through the apodictic Decalogue or Ten Commandments.  (Exodus 20:1-20).  Definitely the Scriptures record that Adam was commanded to tend the garden and keep it.  That command is still an ethical obligations to Christians today--not as a matter of saving faith but as an expression of their gratitude to God for saving them.  No obedience could justify a Christian.  But assurance of salvation is undergirded by faith and a resulting obedience that is imperfect.  (1 John 3:9; 1 John 1:8-10).  No one is perfect.  (Psalm 143:2).  

All that being said, it remains that Christians are obligated under the third use of the moral law--which is any moral command recorded anywhere in the Bible--to take care of the environment. Littering and polluting and destroying the earth is sinful.  Destroying forests and oceans, rivers and lakes, is sinful.  It is an abuse of Christian liberty to say that the environment is to be exploited for covetous profit.  (Luke 12:15-21).  In fact, giving a license to exploit natural resources is as antinomian as saying it is permissible for Christians to engage in drunkenness, fornication or adultery.  (Galatians 5:19-26).  Next time you are tempted to litter think about that.  Next time you're considering where to invest your stocks and bonds, consider what those companies are using your capital to fund in regards to the stewardship of the earth and God's creation.  (Hebrews 12:14).

Click here to see the statement produced by the National Association of Evangelicals:  Evangelical Environmental Network

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