Centers and Circumferences
Every Square Inch
17: Lawful to Heal
June 6, 2021 • Sean Higgins
Selected Scriptures Series: Centers and Circumferences #17 # Introduction This is a very important message and, if the Lord does not return soon, containing much possible application for when I'm dead. I pray that many who hear it would sense a calling to the many ministry opportunities that the medical field allows, and that all who hear it would be thankful for God's good gifts to us in Western medicine. What’s to come in this message is some testimony, some principles, and some prescriptions. This is personal. I've torn ligaments in my knee, and another time had an avulsion fracture of the tibial tuberosity (the bump some people get below their kneecap) where the tendon ripped off and the bone broke, which is an extreme case of Osgood–Schlatter disease. I've had my tonsils out twice, sort of, once to cut out the tonsils and then again to get the blood clot that was so big in my throat that it was blocking my breathing. I've fractured vertebrae, had bone chipped from my hip to fuse two vertebrae (L2-3) together that are held in place with four large screws and two rods that connect the sets of screws. Because I have metal in my back, I had to have a Myelogram CT scan, which included a shot of contrast die into my spinal cord, but the needle hole didn't clot, leaking spinal fluid and making it so that my brain was resting on my skull, that required a blood patch about seven excruciating days later, and in between I was taking 8, 800mg tablets of ibuprofen a day, or, the equivalent of 32 Advil. I've had the top third of my stomach wrapped around my lower esophageal sphincter because of crazy acid reflux (Nissen fundoplication). I've had neck surgery to drill a hole (between C6-7) for a crushed nerve that caused permanent damage to one of the nerves running down into my right hand. I’ve broken my ring finger twice (ask Jonathan). I’ve had another back surgery to take out a piece of disk that was broken and pushing into my spine. I had a golf ball-ish sized cyst cut out of my chest in the doctor’s office, that turned out to be a rare kind of cancer, which required an actual surgery to remove larger margins of tissue, which resulted in fluid accumulation in my left pec, which required my doctor’s use of a large needle to suck the fluid out approximately half a dozen times. I lost half of my blood from an internal bleed, spending parts of five days in the hospital, and taking at least six months to recover from the anemia, for a bleed they never determined the cause of, and two pill cams died trying to take pictures of my digestive track. I've been in the emergency room with Costochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage near the breastbone that mimics a heart attack), twice with kidney stones, multiple times for spinal pain, and as recently as last Christmas day with chest pain. I have Spondylolisthesis (displacement rather than alignment of vertebra) at L4-5, and Gastroparesis (where things get stuck in my stomach too long). Ironically my only known allergy is to penicillin. And I am probably even a COVID survivor. I can’t remember the last day I wasn’t in some sort of pain, and I have it *way better than Mo*. And both of us would be dead were it not for Western medicine. It wasn't too long into our marriage when I realized that maybe I should have been a pharmacist, or at least studied that first. There are so many health, body, medical problems that we've had to deal with, let alone conversations with family and church family and friends with hurts, diagnosed and undiagnosed, that I wish I had knew a lot more about it. I'd have to be a pharmacist, though, not a doctor or nurse, because I get sick looking (and smelling) blood. Many of *you* also have many bodily ailments, and so the subject of medicine is to the point. # Good Health Is Good God did not make His image-bearers for disease or weakness or death. Sin brought broken souls and broken bodies. Yet God heals directly and mediately. He thinks health and healing are *good*. > Bless the LORD, O my soul, > and forget not all his benefits, > who forgives all your iniquity, > who heals all your diseases, > who redeems your life from the pit, > who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, > who satisfies you with good > so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. > (Psalm 103:2–5 ESV) Jesus healed, and many times He chose to heal on the Sabbath to show how *good* and *lawful* healing is. > And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. (Matthew 12:10–13) We have regular examples of praying for healing in Scripture (Genesis 20:17; Numbers 12:13; 2 Chronicles 30:20; Psalm 6:2); (we prayed for Jim 9 years ago today when he had a heart attack in London) our elders pray every week for those in the flock with physical problems. For a while at least, God gave some the spiritual gift of healing (1 Corinthians 12:28). God gives the promise of resurrected bodies that will not be subject to the same threats and breakdowns, no more perishable or dishonor or weakness in flesh (1 Corinthians 15:42-43). There have been miraculous healings, and there have been medical healings, all by God’s will. # Good Health Is Not the Ultimate Good (Even on Earth) Before getting too much further, let's also acknowledge that good health on earth is not the ultimate good, not even on earth, let alone for eternity. A man can live a thousand years twice over (Ecclesiastes 6:6), and it wouldn't matter how many successful surgeries he had or vitamin supplements he took, if he didn't fear God, he would not have *joy*. > If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. (Ecclesiastes 6:3 ESV) After that his eternity would be one of conscious, physical torment for his refusal to give God thanks for all his healthy years. # Causes and Correlations There are a number of reasons why medicines are needed; people get sick or injured, are weak and disabled. Many of those reasons came before and have nothing to do with Monsanto or Merck. A man could be stupid, and fail to be a steward of his body. A man could be be born with bad genetics. A man could be providentially chosen as an object lesson (Job 2:4-6, the man born blind in John 9:2-3). A man could be unintentionally hurt by someone else (e.g., Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 4:4), or maliciously attacked. A man could be exposed to contagion while trying to serve others who are sick. A man could need to learn sympathy, or need to learn comfort, so that he could care for others and comfort them (a broader application of 2 Corinthians 1:3-6). His body might be well-used/worn-out/old (Proverbs 20:29). And a man could have sinned, and brought the sickness on himself, which seems to be the connection in James 5:14, it is a consequence of unworthy participation of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:30, and even bones waste away when God’s conviction comes to a man who won’t confess his sin in Psalm 32:3-4. # It's Complicated We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I have not studied medicine much, and I have trouble remembering the doctor tells me about my own problems; I need my medical assistant, Mo, with me. But I do know that humans are more than bones and blood, and that the use of "flesh" in the New Testament has a number of references. There are bodily appetites/weaknesses along with spiritual appetites/temptations along with rational abilities/ignornances along with a will. Jesus said there was no direct sin that caused the man to be born blind. James said that the sick should call for the elders and not for their medical expertise, rather to deal with unconfessed sin that was ruining health. When you go to the doctor, or when you visit Google MD, do you throw in how angry you’ve been with your kids as related to your high blood pressure? Do you say that you are not sleeping because you are anxious, or did your anxiousness come because you can’t sleep? And then taking into account the medical http://industry...that is also complicated. For some it could be a full time job to track down the right physician and then pay that physician with cash, or insurance co-pay, or whatever. There are a lot of moving parts, certainly not everyone is motivated for the right reasons, and in fact, many are vocationally inconsistent with their (unseen and unacknowledged) worldview. # Survival of the Fittest The dominant worldview for many medical workers is based on “science,” and that science is based on the theory of evolution. But if they really believed in what they claimed to believe in, the only parts of the medical profession that would be appropriate would be for making the strong stronger. Wherever we want to start the blame for how much money people spend on medical things (and it is big business), the fact that there are so many people who require medical attention cannot be isolated from the gospel of Christ which results in mercy to the weak. Evolution does not care about compassion to the frail, the diseased, the damaged, or the disabled. *“Science” does not care about anyone.* The actual worldview undergirding most modern medicine is *Christian*, even if not perfectly applied let alone appreciated. That isn’t understood by most of the people we deal with, but at beast Humanism only believes that *some* human beings are worth helping, worth fixing, worth keeping alive. As Christians we know that killing due to cost or other inconvenience is wrong, so abortion and euthanasia are *not* health care. Destroying human life is not lawful. The increase in transgender "medical" treatments is likewise unlawful; that is not healing, that is *damaging* and disfiguring what God has made, not causing it to work better. These, however, are at least consistent applications of trying to live without a God in the world. # First-Aid in the First-World This is an important principle to park on for a bit longer. For all the problems we have, we have it better than ever in human history. Never have more people been as healthy as they are or lived longer. Never have less people been dying of starvation and infections and injuries. Many arguments are over quality of life levels *after* survival; we are all alive to be complaining about how bad we feel. This is due to the effects of Christians living as Christians, and the implications of confessing and loving and following Jesus. Look at a world map, and note the nations that are considered first, second, and third world. By far the first-world countries, which are generally places with better medical care, are those where the gospel has been. Considered by direction, this is also the West, Western Civilization, which starts going west from Jerusalem, and that includes Western Medicine. Of course there are problems and perversions. There is abuse of the good, and men with power often hurt others with it (Ecclesiastes 8:9). But *we ought not be ungrateful.* Yes, physicians and hospital CEOs and presidents of drug companies may be greedy and get a god-complex. And other men are bitter and self-righteous in the name of God, and unpleasant for other reasons. # Hot Takes A hot take is a a quickly produced, strongly worded, and often deliberately provocative or sensational opinion or reaction. I am definitely not trying to give the final word here, but at least trying to show that Christians can pick up the ball. Here’s a sample. Vaccines are *amazing*, life-saving, God-glorifying! They also should not be mandated by the government, and certainly not marketed by those who change their minds more than their latex gloves. Vaccines have a history, so check it out. Some skepticism toward ones that don't have a history is correct. Infertility treatments are *amazing*, life-giving, God-glorifying! They also should be evaluated, and the hearts of the infertile couple should be honest; if “having a child no matter what” is the goal, such a child may be an idol, and that won’t work out well. Further down the road, I am in favor of epidurals for women who want them, in favor of C-sections for those who need them. Cloning technology is *amazing*, dangerous, possibly God-glorifying, and should not be used for making humans. Plants? Sure. Animals? Maybe. Babies? NO WAY. Narcotics are *amazing*, pain-easing, and God-glorifying! When taken appropriately, including not as an escape from reality, but as a help to fulfill responsibilities. I do not think that Kuyperians are only all-natural, or allowed homeopathy, or only alternative medicine, or only herbal medicine. # Paging Dr. Higgins As we have established, I am not a Dr. That is not going to stop me from giving some medical advice. First, your body is the Lord's. He gave it to you, warts and all, and expects You to serve Him with it (see Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Medicine is also the Lord's. While some may treat medicine as a god, God is not threatened by His own creation. He enables doctors and nurses and big pharma every day to bless people. Every thumb's width of a pill bottle container with tamper-proof, child-proof packaging is His. Second, related, do your homework. And this is both more possible than ever (on your phone!), and the challenge these days are competing solutions, not lack of suggestions. Get a second opinion. Or a fifth. Third, give grace to one another. Grace may come in the form of speaking truth, as in, get to work. Grace from a doctor doesn't come by his lies, and if your friend is stuck in a self-serving falsehood, it might be good to talk about it. And also, imagine the bed-side manner of a good doctor, and imagine the work a good doctor would do to understand a patient's problems, asking questions and doing research and comparing with other cases he's seen. And if the Facebook post you read about how sugar is the reason your friend is falling apart fits, then, go for it. But perhaps you might consider that you are the thorn in the flesh. Fourth, especially for some of the younger, give thought to if/how you may be called to study and make the medical sphere better (even when I’m dead). And last, give thanks to God, for meds, for those who serve in the sphere of medical care, for those who prescribe meds, for not needing meds, for those who do need meds that have something to tell you when you get hurt later. What meds you take, or don’t take, isn’t a game to see who can feel superior to another rather than a reason to be thankful for another feeling better. # Conclusion Kuyperians really have the opportunity to please the Lord by caring for others, and that is different than trying to please the Lord by complaining. It may not be possible to heal someone, it is always possible to make them more miserable. Many of the hurting already feel lonely, sometimes unseen (like the woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years). Until we receive our resurrected, glorified bodies we will be subject to sickness and pain and death. What great opportunities there are for *Christians* to continue learning about how God made our bodies to work, how our bodies and souls belong together, and how to help one another glorify God in sickness or in health.
13: Abraham Kuyper's Anti-Revolutionary Party
March 7, 2021 • Sean Higgins
Selected Scriptures Series: Centers and Circumferences #13 # Introduction I have always believed in the value of naming things well. When we arrived in Marysville in 2001, the name of the youth ministry was "GY" - Grace Youth. I thought we could do better. A website I really liked at the time was called *http://antithesis.com* (which, for what it’s worth, is where I read “What Would Jesus Drink?” that convicted me about my lack of drinking wine. Not only that, but anthesis turned out to be a major emphasis in Kuyper’s life though I had never heard of him at that point). The antithesis is the opposite, the contrast with something else. At the time I decided that I didn’t want to focus on the negative, to act as if someone else could claim the center, the thesis, to which we had to respond. Did we really want to be known for what we were against? Over the last year we've heard a new push. We are being exhorted with a modern demand (actually with *many* demands, but there’s one in particular). We are told that it's bad to be just not a racist, we are told we must be *anti-racist*. Part of what they mean is that we need to spend more time proactively thinking about how wrong it is, not just dealing with it when it comes up. I don't agree with what "they" mean by anti-racist, but I'm beginning to think there is a lesson for Christians here, a lesson that Abraham Kuyper helps with. I first gave a biographical message about Kuyper at a TECY retreat in 2014, and then shared that biography at an evening service later that year called “[All Thumbs]http://(https://subsplash.com/trinityevangelchurch/lb/mi/+yzm3qfh).” There is real importance in biographies, and history. God’s Word itself makes a certain sort of biography *necessary* for obedience: > Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7) When I started paying more attention to biographies I remember hearing John Piper talk about how he had an instructor who encouraged his students to select one theologian and make that man his mission to know. I haven’t written it down, but I have a tentative goal of reading everything Kuyper ever wrote that gets translated into English. I’ve been reading 5 minutes most days for a few years of something by Kuyper. I’m not even close to finishing what’s been translated, and I’m less close to finishing appreciating what he did. # Kuyper’s Profile He was born in 1837 in Holland, the first son of Jan Fredrick and Henriette Kuyper. (For some world history context, Charles Spurgeon was born three years earlier, Mark Twain two years before, John D. Rockefeller two years after, and Claude Monet three years after.) "Bram" was a preacher's kid, but his pastor-dad did not committed whole-heartedly to orthodoxy. Jan's liberal faith and ministry were typical of the time and Abraham grew up despising the church. > In the years of my youth the Church aroused my aversion more than my affection. … I felt repulsed rather than attracted. … [T]he deceit, the hypocrisy, the unspiritual routine that sap the lifeblood of our whole ecclesiastical fellowship were most lamentably prevalent. ("Confidentiality", 46) The Kuyper family moved to the city of Leiden largely for the grade school that "followed the traditional classical curriculum of immersing students in the humanities and languages" (Bratt), though a recent Wikipedia edit says he was homeschooled. He entered the University of Leiden when he was 18 years old to study theology of the anti-supernatural strain. He graduated when he was 21, started doctoral work, had his first (of three) nervous breakdown in 1961, and then graduated with his doctorate when he was 25. What sort of job did he pursue? A pastorate. But his was an intellectual "faith," a ministry of scholarly sentences and sentimentality until he came to the little town of Beesd. During his schooling at Leiden he met Johanna Hendrika Schaay whom he married in 1863 when he was 26. Throughout their multi-year courtship he felt like Jo was not educated enough, so he kept sending her books to help her be more cultured. In the summer of 1863, newly married and newly bestowed as Doctor of Theology, he moved to Beesd. I'm not sure how large the congregation in Beesd was, but there was a minority group in the church who disliked Kuyper from the start and kept their distance from him. The rest of the members told Kuyper not to worry about "them," but he felt like he needed to serve them. So he started visiting them and, strangely, he said that he found himself wanting to listen rather than speak. These were people who believed the Bible was God's Word and that Christ was Savior and Lord. Kuyper wrote as part of his testimony: > I observed that they were not intent on winning my sympathy but on the triumph of their cause. They knew of no compromise or concession, and more and more I found myself confronted with a painful choice: either sharply resist them or unconditionally join them in a principled recognition of "full sovereign grace" — as they called it— without leaving room for even the tiniest safety valves in which I sought refuge. Well, dear brother, I did not oppose them and I still thank God that I made that choice. Their unremitting perseverance has become the blessing of my heart, the rise of the morning star for my life. ("Confidentiality", 56) As a pastor he finally got *saved*! After his regeneration and reeducation in Reformation theology, it “left him with a daunting personal agenda. Where should he begin? What should he *not* do?” (Bratt, 59). After a while he was called to a larger church in Utrecht (1867), then to even larger Amsterdam (1870). As he labored to exhort the Christians to exert their influence in the city and throughout the nation, he realized that much work was needed inside the church. In 1887 he helped start a new denomination of churches called the Doleerende Kerk, from a Latin term meaning sorrow, so "The Sorrowing Church." His book, _Our Worship_, is a manual for understanding the whys and whats of liturgy. Though he never said it in a single sentence, he believed that culture starts with worship because people are shaped into likeness of what or Who they worship; more than *homo sapiens*, “rational” men, we are *homo adorans*, a “worshipping” species. That book is one of the reasons why I can’t stop talking about the church as an *assembly*. He had also realized that much work was needed *outside* the church. He knew that there is *no neutrality*, there is thesis and antithesis. In particular, a teacher necessarily starts his lesson plans believing that God is central or that man is central. Kuyper began to speak and write for the freedom and support of Christian grade schools. He worked to establish a base of support, then to establish government laws, and also to educate educators. He rallied parents and teachers at school convention meetings. He also realized that Christians needed a place for further more training, a place for research. Christians needed a university. Every subject, not just theology, should be pursued for Christ: philosophy, law, literature, art, politics, medicine, science. So he helped to found the Free University of Amsterdam in 1880 with only eight students and five professors, himself included. Before that, in 1871 he became the editor in chief of a once-weekly paper called De Heraut, "The Herald." But shortly after, he realized that this was not enough. So he founded and edited a daily newspaper, De Standaard, "The Standard," in 1872 in order to inform and rally the Christian public. He wrote his last article in December 1919, ending a 47 year career as a journalist. Notably he was invited in 1898 by B.B. Warfield to give a series of lectures at Princeton University, which became _Lectures on Calvinism_ (and [here’s the link to a free audiobook version]http://(http://trinityevangel.org/kuypers-lectures/) if you’re interested). It is reported that Warfield learned Dutch just so that he could read Kuyper. But the thing I’d like to talk about for just a bit more relates to Kuyper’s life in politics. # Kuyper’s Party - AntiRevolutionary He arrived in Amsterdam (1870) as a pastor but within a short time people persuaded Abraham that he could and should use his leadership in the national government. He served in both the upper and lower houses of Dutch Parliament. He was convinced that the government was a good sphere, as in a sphere established by God. He also believed that government worked best when it recognized God, submitting to His supremacy and His standards. Again, there is no neutrality. So the state should protect marriage and family, punish those who do evil, encourage Christian worship and morality, and support Christians educating the next generation. Kuyper argued that government should be driven at the local level and that the federal government should be representative, not a bunch of detached so-called experts. Kuyper appreciated the United States in this regard. But the government of Holland was *not* like this; a change was needed. So Kuyper helped form and presided over the **Antirevolutionary Party**. Think Kanye's "[Birthday Party]http://(https://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2020/07/08/kanye-west-says-hes-done-with-trump-opens-up-about-white-house-bid-damaging-biden-and-everything-in-between/?sh=1e4a28b547aa)," but more serious. The book is titled, _Our Program: A Christian Political Manifesto_. It was published as regular features in De Standaard from April 1878 to March 1879, collected into a book later in 1879. An antirevolutionary stood opposed to the ideology embodied in the French Revolution of 1789 (less than a hundred years between). Kuyper had a particular group in mind that were Revolutionaries, but a group prior to the rioters. He mentions a group multiple times called “The Encyclopediests” in multiple works, that I apparently just kept reading over. The leading figures behind the enterprise were Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert, and contributors included Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Voltaire, sometimes known collectively as the Encyclopedists. They worked on this project in France especially between 1751 to 1756. They sought to sever the ties between God and men, God's Word and men. They called for a new humanity to make a new world. Even in the 18th century that included hatred of the nuclear family, and it has metastasized to hatred of heterosexual marriage, the hatred of offspring (through abortion), and the hatred of gender. So an *antirevolutionary* stood against Enlightenment, rationalism, modernism, secularism, humanism. He stood against willy-nilly feelings and topsy-turvy riots. He stood against paganism, and anti-Christian worldviews. These necessarily have moral and political implications, again, as seen in the idea-makers/marketers that led to the Revolution. An antirevolutionary stood for submission to God, not independence from God (contra the cry of the French Revolution: “No God, No masters"). There is **no neutrality** (Kuyper called it "the fungus of _neutrality_" (310)). He saw the sacred in all of life and God as the *only absolute authority*, the one in whom total sovereignty resides. Then that personal faith and worship must be linked to broader work. So the positive name for his party is the "Christian-historical” party. > “If ‘Christian’ therefore stands opposite ‘humanity,’ the addition ‘historical’ indicates that our situation cannot be created by us at will. It is the product of a past that, independent of our will and apart from our input, is fashioned by Him in whom we live and move and have our being." (278) > "We are therefore at heart a __militant__ party, unhappy with the status quo and ready to critique it, fight it, and change.” For what it’s worth, Kuyper has entire sections on contagious diseases and epidemics (around page 246-247), opposed to mandatory vaccination, the "government should keep its hands off our bodies" and referred to it as a "form of tyranny hidden in these vaccination certificates.” > "And if we succeed sooner or later in having a free Christian university for gathering a circle of intelligent law students around professors in antirevolutionary statecraft, then perhaps, by God’s grace, a future generation may be in a position to rely on a group of solid statesmen to inject the marrow of the antirevolutionary confession into the dry bones of our currently lifeless political institutions." (374) He was eventually elected to the position now called Prime Minister, an office he held for one term from 1901-1905. On his Wikipedia page I count 7 significant losses for political offices, not to mention his patience with how many times his policies were rejected. He had his problems. He and Jo had 8 kids, and I’m not convinced he did right by them. As the saying goes, he worked like an Arminian, and his three nervous breakdowns required significant time for recuperation. He did get distracted for a while by a kind of mystic pietism that taught the possibility of Christian perfection in this life, though he turned away from that after a while. # Marrow for Our Bewildered Bones But for his weaknesses, we could use more of his titanic immunity against the virus of man-centeredness. Consider the coronavirus and our culture. Listen to this description of the virus itself: > "corona connects to a specific receptor on its victim's membranes to inject its genetic material. The cell, __ignorant of what's happening__, executes the new instructions, which are pretty simple: Copy and Reassemble. It fills up with more and more copies of the original virus until it reaches a critical point and receives one final order: Self-destruct." Isn’t this a perfect medical metaphor for our cultural destruction? Not just in lungs, but in legislators; ignorant self-destruction is happening. As Christians, we see the virus affecting lungs, we see it affecting our political leaders, but we must not let it infect our hope. A virus cannot survive without a host, and it prefers a *weak* one. A physical virus will die, but the cultural virus will eat the culture until there is no more. Changing analogies, the fire of envy will not die out, it must be opposed. It may not be enough to be *pro*-reformation. You must be that *and anti-Revolutionary*. ## If you would be an AntiRevolutionary: 1. Mediate on God’s Word night and day. Psalm 1, *contra* the fools and scoffers and *for* the hard times . CHAZ are like chaff that the wind drives away. As a politician, Kuyper spoke regularly about “School with the Bible." You must know and submit to God’s Word. 2. Make your calling and election sure. 2 Peter 1:10-11. Submit to the truth of God’s sovereignty. 3. Be a man (“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” 1 Corinthians 16:13). Or be a woman (Proverbs 31). Be an image-bearer of God, male or female. Look, if you can’t identify your gender, you aren’t going to have much luck figuring out anything else. You must know how to submit to God’s will. 4. Read history and literature. They will make you healthy in mind, immune to the rot. You need to have more history in your head than as far back as you can scroll in Instagram. “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set. (Proverbs 22:28, see also Proverbs 23:10) Know where you’re at. You must know God to learn from God’s providence. (By the way, *biography* is good *twice*, once for content of the example and again in the practice of seeing historical examples.) 5. *Rejoice* when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12). Don't be surprised when others mock you for not joining them in their sin (1 Peter 4:3-4). Be prepared even for them to *claim* that you are the revolutionaries, turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6). 6. Let thanksgiving fill the place. Gratitude is the antithesis to immorality and impurity and lawlessness and covetousness. (Ephesians 5:3-5). Thanksgiving is the ultimate anti-Marxist, anti-envy activity. We are awake, but anti-woke. We are ready to submit to lawful authority, and not easy to command. We are against State monopoly on information, ideas, education, and media. We oppose media pressure and refuse to swallow dis-iniformation. We know that The Ministry of Truth is a lie, and we will not serve them. We will be preppers, not mostly hoarding gallons of water and toilet paper, but of books and even more, if they burn our books, in our *memories*. We will not forget our identity, as image-bearers, as Christians, as Protestants, as Americans. Jesus is Lord. Jesus and Him crucified is our world-and-life-memory. > "A nation, too, must __struggle__ for its existence. Its independence does not come free but has to be conquered or defended, and reconquered after losing it." (254) Kuyper died in 1920 (two years after World War I), 101 years ago. The outcome of his way of life is worth considering, and *imitating* as we remember his teaching from the word of God that Jesus is Lord.
12: Kuyperian Sexuality
February 21, 2021 • Sean Higgins
Selected Scriptures Series: Centers and Circumferences #12 # Introduction It's hard to imagine anything so obvious and obscene, so laughable but heart-breaking, so inarguable yet argued, as those who can't (or won't) tell the difference between the sexes. We are in a very bad, not good day when male and female are subjective, debatable, pliable, and at times indiscernible. At least we're moving toward a totally wireless society, because pretty soon it's going to be a hate crime to plug things into a socket. The sphere of sexuality is ubiquitous, even inescapable, and seems to somehow be becoming more exhausting every day. Understanding sexuality as a *noun* affects the nature of our identity, which affects what we pursue as *ideal*. Understanding sexuality as a *verb* affects the narrative of our relationships, especially our view of marriage and family and generations. While our Christian sub-culture thinks that the wider culture has gone crazy, they think we are in a cult. It used to be, "Do you want to be my girlfriend, yes or no?" And now it's "Am I a girl? I don't know.” This Centers and Circumferences series has the aim to consider Christ's lordship over various spheres of life under the sun. We are seeing how Christ provides the focal point--the center, and has interests extending out to the edges--the circumference. Sexuality, considered today as divided into gender identity and orientation, is different than, for example, Kuyperianism and Economics, in that sexuality is built into our person, part of our DNA, in a way unlike a man's paycheck or purchases. In what I've read by Abraham Kuyper I can't recall him explicitly addressing the subject of sexuality. But there are some principles of Kuyperianism and its *weltanschauung* (world-and-life-view) that will help us keep our heads. To be clear, Kuyperian Sexuality is not about his sexual appeal. As the elders also maintain, we are a church that teaches Dispensationalism, which comes from an approach to reading the Bible that, ironically, led to our becoming Kuyperian Dispensationalists. It turns out that Dispensationalists have not offered much when it comes to cultural issues, and even if they have, it isn't *from* their Dispensationalism, it is almost always in spite of it. This series has been more of an opportunity to show that we Dispies can think outside of being Left Behind, not necessarily our attempt to contribute. But tonight I'd like to consider sexuality as a Kuyperian Dispensationalist and then tell you what I see as some really good news when it comes to our current cultural degeneration. We need some encouragement for our souls, for raising our kids, for endurance in the re-education camps, for withstanding the propaganda, and for giving glory to God in whose image we are made. # It's Bad Out There Our culture has been circling the sexuality drain for a while. We have problems, serious and public. The gaslighting game is strong, and we are told that we're the crazy ones. Trying to talk about what is "natural" is taken as oppression by those who want to be "free." While we don't glory in the depravity, we are to see it for what it is. > “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." (Ephesians 5:11) Pornography is explicit and accessible in ways unimagined by previous generations, which messes with both the noun and verb of sex. It removes context, relationship, and the liturgy of porn teaches that physical release is the only goal. It messes with our brains, our expectations, and our consciences. Schools have embraced explicit sex-education at the earliest grades with crude materials. It ends up causing more confusion and leads young people into despair. Therapists have become auto-supporters, referred to as “gender affirming therapy”; many of them believe it's wrong to challenge or ask questions, and threaten concerned parents that if the parents ask too many questions, their transitioning kid may feel so un-affirmed that the son or daughter will commit suicide. Abortion is called "health care," under the guise that women can't have healthy lives competing with men for pleasure and productivity and power if they are "stuck" with a child. It leads to later guilt from killing one's child and some abortion methods ruin her from being able to have a child later. Then there is drag queen story hour at the public library (even here in Western WA), the "Cuties" so-called "documentary" on Netflix last year about sexual exploitation of children that itself was exploiting them, decades of Feminists and Lesbians, LGBTQ+ YouTube and Instagram "help" and support, PRIDE month and parades, delay of marriage and no-fault divorce, so-called gay marriage, marriage to robots, and more miserable Christian families modeling no better alternative. Our new executive regime seems hell bent on shoving our faces in folly. Our President and Vice President are fully on board a train that has left the tracks. Biden's Equality Act is deranged, though it's not as if Trump was going to help us treat women better. Biden's choice of Rachel Levine as "health secretary" is a science laughintstock. Conversion therapy, even prayer for your own kid ([in Australia]http://(https://harbingersdaily.com/australia-conversion-therapy-ban/)) that might suppress his or her orientation or identity is becoming against the law. Many who think it's gross for *them* think it's okay for others. Solomon did say that there is nothing new under the sun. If you think back to Genesis 6, whatever the nature of it, the depravity warranted a global flood of judgment to wipe out the wicked. In Genesis 18 the men of Sodom groped at the door in blindness so that they could violate the visitors, and Lot offered his own daughters instead. His daughters proved themselves more pragmatic than pure not long after in Genesis 19. David's adultery with Bathsheba, and murder of Uriah, is tame by comparison. Even Romans 1 is hard to outdo. Having read some about the Caesars, I don't know if Jeffrey Epstien and his clientele were worse, but they do get more media exposure. I'm sure there are numerous resources, but I was benefited by reading a few. I don't recommend all of these as audiobooks while driving around with littles in your car. - _The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self - Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution_ by Carl Trueman - _Irreversible Damage_ by Abigail Shrier - _Men and Marriage_ by George Gilder - _The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert_ by Rosaria Butterfield When I was younger, the teenage girls had body-image issues, they thought they were fat and developed eating disorders. The boys had lust problems and wanted to have sex before marriage. Now it is trendy for girls to have gender dysphoria, to be uncomfortable about being a girl, and be told that it might be because she's not a girl. Some of them buy breast binders (an upgrade from duct tape), take hormones, get "top surgery" or seek gender reassignment surgery. Plume is a service with the tagline, "Gender-affirming hormone therapy from your phone," where ostensible 18 year-olds can sign up to get hormone blockers sent to them in the mail without their parents needing to be aware. There are no more Tom Boys, now they are just Tom. **This is not fine.** Where did all of this come from? How did we get here? We are nearing the end of a cultural revolution that is much older than the 60s and hippies. We are in a cultural revolution where your "self" is defined without history, without family, without biology, without logic or science, but by self-sentiment. Authenticity is about attitude, not anatomy. Identity is not a given, it is a freedom, and technology has allowed more sad people to pretend collectively that we can change who we and what is making us so sad. We want to be acknowledged, but not examined, let alone attacked. We want community, but we want that community to affirm us, not expect us to conform to fit it. Schools and churches, even therapists and teachers, are the culprits of this cruel and unfair control. As Trueman points out in his book this is an *anti-culture*. It is the worst sort of F.O.G., a fellowship of grievances. This is the only way that LGBTQ+ could become a collective group. Lesbians used to be angry at gay men; gay men didn't have to hide like lesbians, and feminists were mad at men anyway. The only reason they can be included on the same side is against *heterosexuals*. Transgender and Queer both depend on denying the very categories that define what makes a Lesbian or Gay person. One example I read was of a lesbian whose parter decided to transition to a man. In order for the lesbian to maintain her identity, she would have to deny the identity of her partner. So she calls herself Queer, which is nothing other than *muddling the identity and orientation norms*. The only common ground is hatred of what is natural and honorable. They hate the institutions that remind them of it, including the normal nuclear family, and even their own bodies. It is not creating anything fruitful, because there is no real goal or _telos_. Human nature has no meaning other than trying to find meaning, or be less sad. > "These worlds, with nothing beyond themselves by which they can justify their beliefs and practices, are doomed to be volatile, entropic, and self-defeating.” (Trueman) Acting like you can choose your pronoun is an act of defiance. And it turns out, pronouns are not a preference. # Kuyperianism and Sexuality Please note that Kuyperian is a nickname, it is shorthand. Kuyper himself attributed the root of his principles to Calvinism, but as I've said before, I considered myself a Calvinist for almost 20 years (from 1993 to 2011) while failing to recognize the implications of Calvinism that affect the center and circumferences of all the spheres of life. So these days I prefer to identify as a *Kuyperian*; you do not need to identify as one. There are three biblical emphases made by Kuyper that really help when it comes to sexuality. These are the sorts of things that help us understand why Christians think differently, and transfer that understanding to another generation. ## 1. Election As a Calvinist, I was overwhelmed when I first grasped God's choice to rescue me who didn't even know I needed rescuing. When I really saw sin's blinding power to keep a man from believing and that God had opened my eyes to the glory of His Son and Christ's sacrifice for sinners, it was the kind of humbling that exalts. > "Long my imprisoned spirit lay > Fast bound in sin and nature's night > Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray > I woke, the dungeon flamed with light > My chains fell off, my heart was free > I rose, went forth and followed Thee" > —honorary Calvinist, Charles Wesley As I came to see God's sovereignty in salvation, I did agree that God was sovereign over *all things*, but still didn't give due credit. I might say I thought that the doctrine of God being sovereign over everything was mostly an object lesson for sake of magnifying His *spiritual* work. Kuyper helped to distinguish not only Calvinism from Lutheranism, but Calvinism from *evolutionism*. Luther's emphasis on justification by faith alone is true, Calvin emphasized God's sovereignty. In lifting up God's power, Kuyper lifted up God's power *in particulars*. **God. Elects. Everything.** Another way to say this is that God makes decisions and distinctions all over the place. In Genesis 1, He divided land and sea, dark and light, day and night, seeds by kinds, birds by kinds, fish by kinds, and animals according to their kinds. Not only were there differences, there were orders, a *greater* light and a lesser one, the *great* sea creatures and the rest. All the decisions and distinctions were His will, and He called them all **good**. When He made man, God also elected to distinguish, to limit, and to complement the sexes. > “So God created man in his own image, > in the image of God he created him; > male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27) God elected mankind to rule over the rest of creation, to "have dominion over" the other creatures. God also elected one man to become one flesh with one woman (Genesis 2:24), and "blessed them" to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). As someone has said, Genesis 1:1 is the most offensive verse in the Bible. Genesis 1:27 and 28 are close behind. God elected for there to be XY chromosome combos and XX chromosome combos. God elected male and female, and He elected them to be His reflections. **He elected whether you are a he or a she.** If we are *reflections*, and we are, then self-definition and becoming whatever we choose to be is impossible. Our fundamental identity as living beings is determined by One who is outside of ourselves. In the middle of the 19th century, Charles Darwin theorized a story of beginning and being and becoming without God. Then Friedrich Nietzsche claimed that God is dead; there is no standard Maker. Then Sigmund Freud said that we're all sexual beings looking for satisfaction. Our technology has finally advanced to the point both that we have enough food with enough leisure time to watch Instagram how-to videos on gender transition. The hormones and surgeries seem plausible because no one really agrees on what human nature is anyway. Don't take for granted your worldview with a transcendent God who exists, who has revealed Himself and His expectations and who exercises His will over who is tall and short, rich and poor, great and small, sick and healthy, male and female. Nothing is by chance. Self-determined sexuality is an illusion of unbelief. ## 2. Common Grace If grace is getting something good that you don't deserve, then *everything* good to a sinner is a gift, not wages (the only wages earned by a sinner is death). In salvation, we are given particular grace, a special good that is only for the elect. Saving grace grants regeneration, repentance, faith, forgiveness, fellowship, eternal life, and inheritance. Kuyper also emphasized common grace, truly *good* things, that are *undeserved* things, given by God because He is generous even to those He chooses to glorify Him in judgment; "he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). He gives sinners colors, tastes, music, stories, spouses, and offspring with baby skin and scents. All of those goods can be enjoyed to some degree, and none of them were earned. Common grace, like particular grace, is God's to give, or not, to whom and to what extent He pleases (think Psalm 135:6). In the course of history, more common grace to unbelievers seems to increase when there are more Christians. Particular grace *saves*, common grace makes accountable. God gives good and takes note of those who don't thank Him for it. This is the standard behavior of the unrighteous in Romans 1. > “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." (Romans 1:18) > “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21) God says that just rulers and laws are good. God says wisdom is better than foolishness. God says some things are "natural," things that should be common sense. Perhaps the ultimate example of "natural" is also in Romans 1. > “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." (Romans 1:26-27) Those who won't acknowledge transcendent truth eventually lose connection to natural truth, to simple reality. The more godless a culture becomes, the more unnatural it will become. Of course, by the end of the chapter, men not only do it with a guilty conscience they throw pride parades and force people to bake them cakes. > “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." (Romans 1:32) Professing to be wise, the Supreme Court have minds as dark as their robes. Common grace is God's favor to men that enables them to act inconsistently with their core ingratitude. Christians can thank God when they see such inconsistencies, and can to one degree or another recognize opportunities for limited partnership in cultural morals, but we cannot *depend* on common grace for culture-building, not for long. As for non-Christians, they are gifted with a taste of good, which serves to make them *more* accountable. ## 3. Anti-Dualism One of the biggest blessings of Kuyper's ministry to me is that he demonstrated that God cares about the terrestrial as well as the celestial, the temporal as well as the eternal. This includes our bodies. They are His design, His gift, His concern. Without claiming exclusive causation, at least consider the inconsistency of a Christian who criticizes those who want to divorce identity from biology while at the same the Christian defines identity only as spirituality. We have acted as if God doesn't care about our bodies, just about our thoughts. That’s not what God’s Word reveals. > “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (Romans 12:1) > “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Too many Christians have defined the pursuit of theological knowledge as maturity, so do we really wonder that unbelievers define something other-bodily as their liberty? Christian husbands have not embodied love, Christian wives have not embodied respect, Christian parents have not raised parents. Christian families, so called, have made family ugly, *unsexy*. It is of great importance to look to God, to see what He has divided, what He has united, and how He has done it. # Dispensationalism and Sexuality While the doctrine of the Trinity is the place to start for developing categories for love, for relationship, for intimacy, for diversity and unity, there is something about Dispensationalism that puts one in a better position to contribute to the recognition and celebration of male and female. What I understand to be the central mark of Dispensationalism is the distinction between the nation of Israel and the church. We believe that every promise God made to the elect nation in the Old Testament will be fulfilled, either already or not yet, and that those promises are *not* being fulfilled *spiritually* or figuratively in the church (of Jews and Gentiles). We see Jews and Gentiles as distinct. With that in mind, consider this comment from Paul to the Galatians 3:27-28. > For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek.... Has that just undone Dispensationalism? He continues: > there is neither slave nor free, **there is no male and female**, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Is Paul now saying that gender is a meaningless distinction for Christians? There are at least some professing Christians who *do* make such a claim, in the name of Christ. They argue that in Christ gender roles in the home and in the church are at least radically redefined, if not undone altogether. But a Dispensationalist is one who knows how to see categories, who can acknowledge shared blessings without flattening every distinction. He can see that the Galatians needed to learn the need for faith instead of for works and signs, and to learn that Gentiles could share in Christ by faith, and yet with Paul in another place still call the Gentiles "a wild olive shoot" (Romans 11:17) grafted into Christ along with the "natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree" (Romans 11:24). Male and female are both saved by faith through grace in Christ; the means and manner of salvation are identical. They are co-heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:8). *And* yet their identities (ethnicity and gender) are *not* interchangeable. A hammer and a saw are both tools, but they are not meant for the same use. # The Good News I said at the beginning that there is some good news to share. The good news is that Jesus died and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3). This means our faith is not in vain. This means we are forgiven from our sin. This means we were raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). This means we do not need to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). The gospel is "the power of God to salvation" (Romans 1:16), to the Jew first and also to the transgender. Yes, to the Jew and Greek. And yes, transgender is not actually accurate; gender is a given. But Paul proclaims the power of God directly before all this suppressing of the truth about God. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, which includes the male or female glory. Paul told the believers in Corinth, know for their sinfulness, that the sexually immoral would not inherit the kingdom. He also said, such were some of you. > “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NASB) > He told them to flee sexual immorality, and that they were not their own. They had been bought with a price and were glorify God in their *bodies*. We see some of our brothers and sisters being canceled for their claims, and there certainly looks to be more condescension, and fines, and lawsuits coming our way. But as discouraged as we might be, and as vigilant as we must be, seek His grace to obey Him in your body, in your heart and in your relationships and in your families. Submit to His sovereign election, give thanks to Him for every good gift He's chosen for you. Be honored to reflect Him as an image bearer, male or female. And keep worshiping God. Fathers, love your daughters; God has given you to provide the security they long for. Mothers, do not coddle your sons; let them grow up to carry heavy things. Refuse to send your kids to an educational institution that can't tell male and female apart. Pray that God would grant revival. We may have a decreasing expectation of common ground, but we have been given reason to *not* be ashamed of the gospel.
8: Kuyperian Economics
October 11, 2020 • Sean Higgins
Series: Centers and Circumferences Part 8 I have missed preaching about economics twice now; the first time was in March due to virus-lockdowns, and then it was rescheduled for last Sunday night, but I was laying flat on the floor. It's part of our Centers and Circumferences series, concentrating on how Christ's lordship ought to be the focus (center) and full-scope (circumferences) of every sphere of life. I'm sure we could have moved some things around and found another evening for this message, but I'm tired of holding new wine in old wineskins, or, as my dad used to say, it’s like cash burning a hole in my pocket. I also think that this provides a providential excuse to talk about one of the defining dispositions of TEC. We see the errors of, and have come to repent from, dualism. I haven't used that word in a while. It's not meant to scare anyone with academic sounding vocabulary. It refers to a wrong-headed evaluation of spiritual things over earthly things, an improper division between mind and matter. It refers especially to Christians who love the Bible but who ironically misread the Bible in order to defend their incorrect understanding of the Bible's teaching about earthly things. Paul wrote that we are to think about Christ, not “on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2), and then *he defined the earthly things* as things such as sexual immorality, covetousness, anger, and lies. Then he gave instruction for how those who are richly indwelt by the Word (3:16) will behave as spouses, parents, masters and slaves (3:18-4:1). Apparently we “seek the things that are above” *on earth* in our relationships and responsibilities by doing “everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (3:17). When I got serious about theology I got serious about how much more important it was to read theology than to make dinner. The only thing that could be better than studying the Bible was studying the Bible *longer*. The point of church was to gather up truth, as we line up in our pews like beakers in a lab, all trying to get our truth-tubes filled. That’s false. While we love truth, we learn from *Scripture* that the collection of truth is only as good as our transformation by truth. Bible reading and study makes men obedient and *fruitful*. A convenient nickname for this anti-dualism is Kuyperianism. Abraham Kuyper died 100 years ago; he taught and embodied with star-like energy the reality that Jesus is Lord of all, including all the things that so many *Christians* claim (or live like) are just secular or neutral, as if Jesus has no interest in those things. It turns out that a big reason that Christians, and their churches, have been so lost and tossed about in the last six months is because their theology never needed to be public before, certainly not political. We've been, as a flock, trying to pick up a three-dimensional worldview with our opposable thumbs, and economics is the next issue on the table. I have some things to say about economics because I've had to learn on purpose. My message this morning is not primarily about household budgets, or cash envelope systems, though I enjoy Dave Ramsey as much as the next person with a burdensome monthly car payment. This is not about tithes or tariffs or pivot tables. I've never excelled at Excel. I think Solomon once wrote, "of the making of many spreadsheets there is no end, and much study of tax codes is weariness of the flesh" (think Ecclesiastes 12:12). But while we seek first the kingdom of God, what do we do when He adds “all these (other) things” to us, like Jesus says (Matthew 6:33)? Mature disciples are not the ones who think that the promise part of the verse never comes true. Economics is the sphere of stuff and services, of producers and products and distribution and marketing and consuming. Economics is about *exchange*, interpersonal and international. Lots of times it involves money, but it's more than dollars and cents. Kuyperian economics is not Keynesian economics (not just in name, but actually in principle, since Keynesian focuses on demand-driven rather than supply-driven factors). *Kuyperian economics is simply a way to get us to ask: in what ways does Christ's claim of "Mine!" affect our exchanges?* The question is not beneath a Christian because, unlike what I previously believed, Jesus holds us accountable for how we care. It can't be wrong if He's the one who gives us goods to work with. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and then He gives some the gifts of butchery and others the gifts of barbecue-ry and others the gifts to buy it, some 5lbs and others 2 and others 1. We don't just spend what He's given, let alone sit on it, we're to turn a profit (Matthew 25:27). Earning on His capital through your talents, energy, inheritance, skills, education, personality, creativity, is what He's going to ask you about. He gives wealth and the power to get wealth. He gives work, and He gives governments to protect one's work. If He really blesses a people, the government will not overtax and over-regulate their people. We are so far into the regulatory ditch that you're required to wear a mask if your ditch isn't six feet from the road. What about our exchanges please the Jesus Christ as Lord? Here are eight Kuyperian ideas. ## THE GOAL OF EXCHANGE CREATE WEALTH AND BLESSING. Turn your five into ten (Matthew 25:20-21). Turn your one seed into an orchard. Turn your ideas into a job, maybe even a job for others. We are after more than survival, certainly more than distraction. Good exchanges benefit more than one-self, and do more than achieve power *over* others. It is possible that Netflix could make you more a interesting person and better equipped to serve others, or it could be confirming that you're lazy. Video game playing, and commentating, is somehow a vocational opportunity these days. Is it the way Christ would have you to love your neighbor, provide an inheritance for your grandkids? ## THE NATURE OF EXCHANGE MONEY IS ONLY ONE KIND OF WEALTH. This is not about just things that increase the bottom line of some bank account. Paul said, "If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?" (1 Corinthians 9:11). He invested what he had, which were true goods of one kind, and anticipated an exchange of a different kind of good. Of course, wealth isn't *never* money. A fruit tree can grow and be healthy without http://fruit...for a while, but the point of a healthy tree is producing fruit. "Remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth" (Deuteronomy 8:18). As wisdom said, "Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness" (Proverbs 8:18). Some have wealth *and* the power to enjoy it, others don't (see Ecclesiastes 5:19 compared to 6:2). Joy itself is a kind of wealth. A prudent wife (Proverbs 19:14), wisdom itself (Proverbs 3:13-18), a good reputation (Proverbs 22:1) are better than financial riches. Privilege, or favor/blessing, includes ideas, worldview, attitude. It includes health, access, discipline, and relationships. ## THE RULE OF EXCHANGE YOU WILL REAP WHAT YOU SOW. Because Jesus is Lord, and because not anything that was made was not made by Him (John 1:3), the world spins on its axis one way and not another. Likewise, because He is Lord of the order, the cosmos, it is impossible to *consistently* do the wrong thing and get the right outcome. Wrong ideas may take a while to surface, and they may succeed in causing havoc, but they will blow up. Dumb doesn't profit. The more concrete a choice is, the more quickly it hurts if you drop it. > Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Galatians 6:7) Sow wasted time, reap worthlessness. Sow immediate gratification, reap small wins (like preemie-baby carrots) and an empty field later. Sow a mindset of entitlement, reap a generation of the entitled, along with envy and theft and destruction. Sow greed and constant angling for more, reap anxiousness and gnawing dissatisfaction. On the other hand, sow longer term, even generational, vision, reap plans for today and likely harvest later. Sow a mindset of responsibility as image-bearers of a creative God, reap innovation and a sense of satisfaction in one's work and actual product. Sow love and sacrifice, reap measures disappointments along with Christlikeness and reward from Christ (Colossians 3:23-24). ## THE NETWORK OF EXCHANGE NO HOUSEHOLD IS AN ISLAND. If Jesus is Lord, and He is, then He has not made you an island, or even a complete body. This is not based on Plato's _Republic_, but on the Trinity. It is not good for man to be alone, which is true in the church (1 Corinthians 12). One sows and another reaps (John 4). This is God-given and (good). *Economics assumes exchanges between persons*. This means it is okay to receive help, and give it. It means that it's appropriate to pay for it. This also means that mass produced/cheaper products are not necessarily inferior, depending on how much time you waste (rather than producing wealth) to acquire (or grow/make/fix yourself). That possibly means that you are a squanderer, not a steward. Your wealth is limited. Everything you spend (dollars and minutes) means you are not investing it somewhere else. There are constant alternatives for your labor. What are you supposed to do? Two people could gather wood all day; presumably that would gather more wood for the fire. But is it worth it if no one catches the fish to fry over the fire? We are a part of a great network of persons and process. If you would do more, ask about your needless commitments. Needless possessions can more easily be ignored, but "commitments are a recurring debt that must be paid for with your time and attention" (James Clear). It is propaganda to say, for just one example, that nothing good can come out of Walmart. Complaining about their greedy efficiency is not better than those who complain from a position of greedy inefficiency. ## THE CURRICULUM OF EXCHANGE LEARN HOW IT WORKS. This is Kuyperian in that we are growing in our interests in the kinds of things that interest Christ. It also means that we see what profits. Profits not only reveal what goods are economical, but how to make goods more economically. At some level learning also includes failure and loss. Which means you can't take every loss as an omen, but see them as opportunities. ## THE GROWTH OF EXCHANGE SEE PAST LIMITS. The Lord did not make a zero-sum world. There is not a fixed amount of work that could be done. Work begets more work, which, yes, could be striving and vanity under the sun (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8), but could also mean greater wealth for your neighbor and your grandkids (Proverbs 13:22). Maybe one market appears saturated, could you make something better? Or different? This is true of ideas, too, certainly with Kuyperianism. We can *all* be Kuyperians. "If someone discovers an idea, everybody gets to use it, so the more people you have who are potentially looking for ideas, the better off we're all going to be" (George Gilder). Sometimes the limits are self-imposed, meaning we do not want to do the work, or at least *that* work. ## THE ATTITUDE OF EXCHANGE ALL ARE YOURS, GIVE THANKS. What amazing things we have access to: the internet, iPhones, Coke. > For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1 Corinthians 3:21–23) Let us have an Economy of Thanks. Make good use of your time as a Spirit-filled believer and be thankful to the Lord for all He's given (Ephesians 5:15-16, 18, 20). You be thankful to the Lord and to others, and you be more easy for others to be thankful for. ## THE ENERGY OF EXCHANGE GIVE GREATER GIFTS. “We are in a contest of gifts” is a line from George Gilder that I can't get out of my mind. Our economy works so well because of the nature of the world, and it is a world of *gospel*, because of Jesus who died to bring life for the underserving, because of love that desires to see someone in a better position. If Jesus died while we were still sinners, then everything in the world turns on gift. > you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9) Here it is worked out on the horizontal level. > The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. > As it is written, > “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; > his righteousness endures forever.” > (2 Corinthians 9:6–9, quoting Psalm 112:9) If material is lord, there is only so much, hence what is called the first law. But what of love, and Jesus? The stingy get what's coming to them: scarcity (Proverbs 28:22). On the other economic hand, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap” (Luke 6:38). # CONCLUSION To the degree that these things are true, they will "work." Which also means that they work both ways, for good and for destruction. The government paying people to be unemployed, unmarried, retired, sick, poor, imprisoned, *because people sow selfishness and still expect a profitable exchange*, will ruin. It's not about monetizing *everything*, or side hustles. It's not about no leisure, no rest. It's not trying to make everyone an entrepreneur for Jesus. I'm not telling you how to make all your mundane choices, I'm telling you that your mundane choices can matter, can be *gain*. I’m asking what sort of civilization recognizes His claims of “Mine!”? Survival of the fittest is about an economics of beating, not blessing. Instead, think of what Christianity has done for the life of the world. These are not inconvenient ideals, and we’re not dependent on an “invisible hand,” but making exchanges because Jesus is Lord of all. ---------------- ## Charge The work week starts on Monday but *with* Sunday. We go to work because we’ve worshipped, we work on the foundation of God’s steadfast love not to earn love from Him. We remember His glorious power and works, and we ask for His favor for more of that power through our hands that we might do good to our neighbors and have more reason to give thanks to God again next Sunday, and until His Son returns. ## Benediction: > Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, > that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. > Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, > and for as many years as we have seen evil. > Let your work be shown to your servants, > and your glorious power to their children. > Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, > and establish the work of our hands upon us; > yes, establish the work of our hands! > (Psalm 90:14–17, ESV)