Your Questions - God is Love?

by Aaron
Aaron answers the question: "Since God is god, I accept He can harden somene's heart and punish him while on earth, but to also give him eternal punishment for a choice he didn't make seems to fly in the face of 'God is love'."

 

Everyone's A Critic

by Aaron

At a recent Gospel Class I was asked what I thought about “textual criticism.” I gave a short, some would say dismissive, answer because textual criticism has been used as an excuse in recent decades to try and destroy our faith in the reliability of scripture and it irritates me.  All the way back in the 1800’s Charles Spurgeon had to deal with it in what was known at the time as the “downgrade controversy.”
 
The reason someone asked the question at the Gospel Class was not to cause problems, it was simply that they heard about it and wanted to know what it was/is. I thought I would write up this short blog post so you all could have a better understanding of definitions and terms.
 
First, textual criticism is not just aimed at the scriptures, but any work of antiquity; it simply seems much more focused and pronounced in our day towards the scriptures.
 
Textual criticism is also called "lower criticism" and it is supposed to mainly concern itself with the identification and removal of what are known as "transcription" errors in the texts of manuscripts. Essentially, at times, ancient scribes would make errors, or alterations, when copying manuscripts by hand. A textual critic should seek to reconstruct the original text (the "autograph") as closely as possible. The objective would be a manuscript that most resembles the original.
 
Historical criticism is also called "higher criticism" and it is supposed to establish the authorship, date, and place of composition of an original text. It is also supposed to investigate the origins of ancient texts in order to understand the world behind the texts.
 
In the 18th century these criticisms came together and formed "Biblical criticism." Historical criticism began in the 17th century and gained popular recognition in the 19th and 20th centuries. The perspective of the early historical biblical critic was rooted in the Magisterial Reformation. At that time their studies were free from the influence of traditional interpretation.
 
But instead of seeking truth, as originally intended, most criticisms today seek to destroy the word of God for no seeming purpose except to try and discredit it. Today many people who are claiming to be scholars are simply skeptics with axes to grind because they refuse to believe in the supernatural as revealed by the scriptures. Today, in regard to the bible, we have source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, tradition criticism, canonical criticism, and dozens of other "isms" all trying to destroy the word of God as we know it.
 
The criticisms today have gone beyond wanting to know the context of a text or the most reliable text, they have gone to trying to discredit a text. Honestly, the scriptures we have today are the most reliable of any document known to man. We can trust the transcription, translation, and transmission. The question is, do we trust the God who gave them to us?

Your Questions - Free Will & Predestination

by Aaron
Well, finally. The answers to your video blog questions from a couple weeks ago are starting to go live. Here is the first one about free will and predestination. I am going to warn you, it is long with a lot of information. If you get lost, feel free to watch it again. Most of our other answers are NOT this long (I promise).

Enjoy,
Aaron

 

An Urgent Message About Division

by Aaron

Last Sunday morning in our message about Abraham riding in to save Lot, like an old William Wallace on a camel, I mentioned how Abraham brought rescue and redemption by setting the captives free. I then showed how it all relates to our Great God coming to rescue us. I closed the message with a quote from John Piper that said that there were six reasons for Jesus coming:

  1. To ransom many,
  2. To call sinners,
  3. To give sight to the morally blind,
  4. To divide households,
  5. To save from divine condemnation,
  6. To give eternal life.

I have had someone in my own GC ask about number 4: To Divide Households. After my GC left for their homes I checked my email and another GC leader had emailed me the same question. I thought I should/could briefly answer it to clear up any confusion.
 
There are a couple places where Jesus talks about division, such as Matthew 10:34-35, but let’s use Luke 12:49-53 because it adds a few dynamics.
49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! Fire refers to judgment…so there is a judgment coming.
50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!  This is referring to his death on the cross for our sins.
51-53 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
 
First, notice the “on earth” part from verse 51. He did not come to bring peace on this earth as we understand it. He did not come to change the social structure of this world, He came to change His people and bring peace (reconciliation) between God and us again. The Jews believed that when the Messiah came there would be a time of world peace. But Jesus is clearly showing how following Him, though it brings peace between God and us, usually brings division to relationships around us.
 
Simply preaching a social gospel that tries to get people to change their behavior misunderstands the nature of sin and what it has done, and continues to do, to people. Every time the Bible speaks about offering peace to humans (Luke 2:14; 7:50; 8:48; 10:5-6; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:13-17), we have to understand that peace comes to those who have responded to God’s call of salvation.
 
A sword divides and exposes as it cuts. When people respond to Christ’s call it typically brings division to families. I know young men whose fathers will not even speak to them because the sons follow Jesus. I know children who stop speaking to their parents because the parents followed Jesus later in life and are now preaching the gospel to their kids who want nothing to do with Jesus. I know Muslims, Mormon’s and Jehovah Witnesses who now follow Christ and the rest of their family will no longer even speak to them.

The sword Jesus brings exposes the true love of our hearts, whether it is Jesus or someone (or something else).  In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul speaks of the cross being folly to most of the world, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Where we should be a people who strive for reconciliation, the cross, by its nature, will divide the proud and arrogant from the broken and humble.
 
The peace on earth that Jesus brings, from being born in a manger, is a peace that is extended to those who love God. That peace is then extended through us, as God's ambassadors, and flows out from us by preaching the gospel. Jesus came to change us, and through us partnering with Him, just like in Genesis 1-2, to change and shape the world into a place that truly reflects the greater glory of God.

An Urgent Message About Division

by Aaron

Last Sunday morning in our message about Abraham riding in to save Lot, like an old William Wallace on a camel, I mentioned how Abraham brought rescue and redemption by setting the captives free. I then showed how it all relates to our Great God coming to rescue us. I closed the message with a quote from John Piper that said that there were six reasons for Jesus coming:

  1. To ransom many,
  2. To call sinners,
  3. To give sight to the morally blind,
  4. To divide households,
  5. To save from divine condemnation,
  6. To give eternal life.

I have had someone in my own GC asked about number 4: To Divide Households. After my GC left for their homes I checked my email and another GC leader had emailed me the same question. I thought I should/could briefly answer it to clear up any confusion.
 
There are a couple places where Jesus talks about division, such as Matthew 10:34-35, but let’s use Luke 12:49-53 because it adds a few dynamics.
49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! Fire refers to judgment…so there is a judgment coming.
50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!  This is referring to his death on the cross for our sins.
51-53 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
 
First, notice the “on earth” part from verse 51. He did not come to bring peace on this earth as we understand it. He did not come to change the social structure of this world, He came to change His people and bring peace (reconciliation) between God and us again. The Jews believed that when the Messiah came there would be a time of world peace. But Jesus is clearly showing how following Him, though it brings peace between God and us, usually brings division to relationships around us.
 
Simply preaching a social gospel that tries to get people to change their behavior misunderstands the nature of sin and what it has done, and continues to do, to people. Every time the Bible speaks about offering peace to humans (Luke 2:14; 7:50; 8:48; 10:5-6; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:13-17), we have to understand that peace comes to those who have responded to God’s call of salvation.
 
A sword divides and exposes as it cuts. When people respond to Christ’s call it typically brings division to families. I know young men whose fathers will not even speak to them because the sons follow Jesus. I know children who stop speaking to their parents because the parents followed Jesus later in life and are now preaching the gospel to their kids who want nothing to do with Jesus. I know Muslims, Mormon’s and Jehovah Witnesses who now follow Christ and the rest of their family will no longer even speak to them.

The sword Jesus brings exposes the true love of our hearts, whether it is Jesus or someone (or something else).  In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul speaks of the cross being folly to most of the world, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Where we should be a people who strive for reconciliation, the cross, by its nature, will divide the proud and arrogant from the broken and humble.
 
The peace on earth that Jesus brings, from being born in a manger, is a peace that is extended to those who love God. That peace is then extended through us, as God's ambassadors, and flows out from us by preaching the gospel. Jesus came to change us, and through us partnering with Him, just like in Genesis 1-2, to change and shape the world into a place that truly reflects the greater glory of God.

Military Family Appreciation Day - July 28th

by Element Christian Church
July 28th, 1-5pm

All month our eKids! children's ministry are saying a big Thank-You to all the military families in our community. Each week during Sunday School, they will making crafts to show their appreciation. The last Saturday of July we are hosting a MILITARY FAMILY APPRECIATION DAY! This family carnival will be a great afternoon of games, food, prizes and much more! We invite you to join us, and invite those families you know who has a loved one who is serving or has served!

The carnival will be July 28th from 1-5pm at Element Christian Church: 3596 Skyway Drive!

Download Poster or Postcard here to send to your friends!

We also need anybody who is able to help build the carnival booths and other activities, as well as volunteers to help run the carnival! Email christie.marangi@ourelement.org to sign up.

Child Salvation

by Element Christian Church

I would like to know if you believe that young children (like age 4) can be brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? What are your thoughts on it? My family and I are currently attending a church that believes that it is very rare and that it is too hard to tell if a child really gets what is happening. My family and I are under the belief that it is possible and that we need to teach them about what Jesus did for us and about the free gift of salvation He is giving to us through the shedding of His blood. I would really appreciate your opinion on this subject matter.

Answer:
Elements position is that all children are unique.

We have had parents who have expressed that their 4 your old(s) want to be baptized. We meet with the parents and the child to ascertain if they understand what they are committing to (some we have said yes, and some we have said no). I, personally, have a friend who was 4 when they started to follow Jesus and they are one of the most amazing people I know.

While we too find it is rare that a very young child fully understands Christ and His atoning work, it is not impossible. We also believe that, in the end, you as a parent will be the best judge of that, as you live with your child every day. It is also one of the reasons we meet with the parents in the process of baptism.

I think you will know if your child "gets it." That it is more than just words regurgitated from a teacher or class...but an actual love for Christ deep in their soul. Besides, I think the gospel is perfectly suited for young hearts and minds and we should be teaching and telling them about Jesus even when they are in the womb (reading theology and scripture to the growing belly). We tell them they have a mother and father who love them, but also a great God, who calls himself Father as well and sent His son as our great propitiation.
 
Jonathan, one of our Elders added this as well.
 

Lauren, our 5 1/2 year old is saved, I have no doubt.  She has even begun the sanctification process and has inquired on her own initiative about Baptism.  The need for salvation is, for some reason, not that big of a mystery to a child.  A child that is shown both love and discipline on a regular basis by their parents can readily understand the love and discipline God gives to believers.

Lauren knew that she was a sinner because she did wrong things.  She believes in God, because Jennifer and I don't talk about God like he is make believe, but talk to Him, and about Him, as if he is tangible and in the room.  She knows mommy and daddy have a relationship through prayer with God, so she is naturally inclined to pray.  She hears us regularly acknowledge God's provision of our family resources and income.

She knows that God created her and saved her mommy and daddy.  When she realized that sin prevents you from being with God, and by extension her mommy and daddy in heaven, she wanted to fix that problem.  She knows that Jesus fixed that problem and so she believes in Him and trusts His sacrifice.  To hear her explain her salvation in her own words; would leave you with no doubt of its validity.  She was four years old when she "accepted" Christ, after watching a children's movie that depicted Christ ministry, death and resurrection.

How The Tamar Center Is Living Missionally

by Element Christian Church
Along the eastern banks of the Gulf of Thailand, you can find a small city called Pattaya. It is about the size of Santa Maria and has nearly a hundred thousand people who claim residency there. Pattaya is primarily known for being the sex destination of Asia. It is especially known for its large gay community in an area of Pattaya known as Boyztown and Sunee Plaza. As a result, the nightlife is consumed by gogo bars, massage parlors and hourly rate hotels. While there are only those hundred thousand or so people who claim residency within Pattaya, it is estimated that there are an additional two hundred thousand people living there periodically throughout the year working in the sex industry in one form or another. To give you an idea of how well known it is for its night life and sex trade, the New York Times says, “If Las Vegas is Sin City, then Pattaya is a bear hug from Lucifer himself.”

Stats:

Thailand. Pattaya. Sex Trade. 

In the midst of such an oppressive city, there is a group of Christians working to show there is a better way...A better way to live, and to survive. They are revealing Jesus to the people of Pattaya by building relationships and equipping them with skills for a better way to provide for their families.

Founded in 1999, the Tamar Center is located in the midst of Pattaya directly helping these women get off the streets and out of that lifestyle. Their goal is to give them new job skills so they don’t have to rely on prostitution for income. They are given courses in card-making and English. They are taught skills in a hair salon or in a bakery or other income-earning activities. Most importantly, thousands of women have been given the opportunity to see Christ’s love through the women who are there to help them.

Continue reading on page 5 of Element Dispatch

 

The Shocking Truth

by Aaron

Well, it's NOT an electric chair, but it may as well be when it comes to killing flies.
 
My wife is forever trying to find me toys I will like, because I am a big kid and I like to play with things. Christmas this year she gave me one of those electric flyswatters, the one where you push the button and you can fry flies (yes, it is seriously awesome). I thought I had lost it, as I do most things, until we were moving our old ottoman and it was inside of it.
 
I pulled it out and set it next to the couch hoping a fly would find its way in the house. When one did, I started trying to kill it and nothing happened. I then decided to see if the swatter even worked. I grabbed both sides of it and pressed the button and SNAP, sizzle, sparks, and pain as an electric shock traveled through my hand. I was woefully unprepared for the amount of juice a couple of batteries can produce.
 
My wife thought it was funny; I thought it was painful.
 
Sometimes I think this is how our lives are lived before God. We don’t think something is working quite right, the right timing or the right way, and we go to try and “fix it” and get a shock in the process. Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. God calls people to live a certain way because He made us and knows how we were designed.
 
May we be a people who wake up and simply trust God to be God and live how He designed us. May we stop fighting His written word and trust it for the fullness it contains. May we stop being so ‘shocked’ when all that Jesus has said, is actually true and right.

Justifiable Propitiation

by Aaron
Yesterday was our Mom's Day Off event and I was helping out at it; it was at my house so I didn't really have a choice. One of the guys in the Gospel Community who put on the event asked me a question about a recent message I gave. In the message I had a long discussion about propitiation, expiation, and grace. He asked me about justification and propitiation and if they were the same thing.
 
I explained the difference to him and told Michael Reed, the guy that keeps our website site up to date and running smoothly, about the conversation. Michael says to me, "you should put that on the website because that makes way more sense that your 20 minute explanation during your message." Then he laughed at me.
 
So, here is what I said (basically).
 
Justification works like this. If someone broke into my house and threatened my family and I shot them, I would be justified in my action. Even though I would be justified, that guy’s family would probably not like me very much. In justification, before God, He has taken our lives and justified us by his blood (every action that is not justifiable, He has paid for). But more than that, propitiation means He actually likes us again.  
 
Romans 3:22-26 For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
 
Propitiation includes all of expiation and justification. It is summed up all together by our word: Grace
 
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
 
We have a truly amazing God.

A Story of Animal Cruelty

by Aaron

I hate animal cruelty. I think animals are cute, cuddly, furry, and fun. I want you to know that before I tell you my story.

Last week I had my back office door (read: exterior) open so my dog could run around and play. While it was open a bird flew into my office, but I didn't know it. My interior office door is a French door with lots of windows, I only knew the bird was in my office when it slammed into it trying to get back outside. It was squawking and making all sorts of scary fluttering noises. 

I proceeded to spend the next hour trying to capture it with rubber gloves and a T-shirt so as not to hurt it…it was cute after all. After chasing it from behind every piece of furniture, guitar amp, guitar case, and desk, I finally got it and took it outside. I opened the T-shirt for it to fly away and…it flew about 5 feet and landed (I assumed to get its bearings).

It was at this point my dog came out of nowhere (read: lurking in the shadows), stepped on it, and proceeded to put it in her mouth and chew on the poor bird before running off to play with her new toy (read: bird) that God had delivered to her from the heavens. 

I thought "bad dog" and was about to yell at her, but she was just doing what came natural. The same way she rolls in dirt, licks her…uh, hind parts, and eats her own vomit. There is even a proverb about that in the bible, Proverbs 26:11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.

I also started to think about how most Christians treat non-Christians the way my initial reaction was with my dog. We hold them to a standard that they do not comprehend or believe in, so we start to preach morality and not Jesus. First and foremost we must always speak of Jesus because He brings change. It's that old adage, "morality doesn't bring Jesus, but Jesus will bring true morality."

In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul gives a list of vices and sins, trying to give the Corinthians a proper perspective. He rounds it off by saying in 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God

It is Jesus who brings this to us. We all walked in ways that dishonored God, but Jesus has come to redeem and restore us. I say we lift up THAT Jesus so all men will know true grace.

As far as the bird goes, I'm OK with it. Easy prey or culling the herd, whatever it was, I tried.

A Wide Place

by Aaron

The other day my wife was very gracious to me. We were running errands most of the day and I was getting very hungry. I asked if she had any place she would like to stop to grab a bite to eat and she responded with the most glorious words she has spoken to me in a whole week. She said, "you can go anywhere, even El Postino."

Sweet Jesus, it was amazing. El Postino is the name of this hole in the wall Mexican Food place I like, but I can never remember it's name, so I call it El Postino (it's by the post office…NOT CASA MANANA).

I got a chicken burrito (no beans), some homemade chips, and some salsa.  As soon as we left though she said, "hey McDonalds is right there, I want some fries." So I got her fries…and I also ate them.

As I was driving home and thinking about my great wife, my yummy burrito, and my breath defying salsa, I became a little giddy. I realized that this is how God originally intended man to live (no, not on McDonalds and burritos), in freedom.

As we have been looking through Genesis, we see that God gave man great freedom. Gen 2:16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden…Even the El Postino Tree? Yes, anything. Our freedom was great and broad. God simply gave one admonition in this Gen 2:17… but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” In simple terms God says, "trust me to know what is good. I made you, designed you, and love you…honor me." We were free to do anything except dishonor Him.

Unfortunately, you know the story, you are living it now…all of us have dishonored Him and tried to do our lives our own way. But the great freedom of God still exists to this day. As we spoke about Sunday (Genesis week 17), following God and His decrees means we get to walk in a "wide place," meaning freedom (Psalm 119:44-45).

Let's live a life that more properly honors and glorifies Him by living free for Him, but never free from Him. Lives as they were intended, with great freedom.

Vandenberg Air Force Base

by Element Christian Church

At Element, we want to bless our city and see lives redeemed by the good news of Jesus. But our vision is bigger than the city of Santa Maria alone. We want to see the whole Central Coast changed by the power of the gospel. We want to see the gospel go out to “the ends of the earth.” So in this article we wanted to take the time to highlight our neighbors at Vandenberg Air Force Base and begin to look at ways that we can reach the folks at Vandenberg with the Gospel.

Stats:

Opportunities and Challenges:

"The church exists by mission as fire exists by burning." - Emil Brunner

Our great purpose as a church is to bring glory to God. We are all called to live missional lives – in which our words and actions, where our individual lives and our community life, all line up the same message of good news of Jesus Christ. The key question, then, is “how can we take this message to Vandenberg?” The base presents some great opportunities and some great challenges. You don’t have to look long or hard to see them.

For example, settling into a new home can be frustrating and lonely. Constantly pulling up roots can be wearying and unsettling. But imagine if new students at Vandenberg were welcomed into authentic communities who became their home away from home. Imagine if new believers were discipled, equipped, and strengthened, and then sent off as missionaries all around the world. Imagine if families were blessed by the welcome, hospitality, and love of the church (who is merely reflecting the welcome and love of Jesus) and in turn becomes that welcoming, hospitable, and loving family to others...

Continue reading this article on page 17 of Element Dispatch.

Apostles Creed: "He descended into hell?"

by Element Christian Church
in FAQ

A friend of my husband is always trying to get reactions out of believers and see how far he can push them. He had put up a huge thing about how Jesus went to hell after he died. I guess I had never really studied it. I was wondering if you could shed some light for me.

Well, first off, this is the problem when people do not know their bible, or who know very little, try to tell everyone else what the bible teaches. What he is referring to isn't in the bible, it is part of what is known as the apostles creed.

The first thing you need to know about the Apostles Creed is that it wasn't written by the apostles. The Apostles Creed was used as a baptismal creed (in the 4th century). The Creed was changed into what was called "the received form," the version most people know today, by the Roman church in the 7th-8th century. This received form included the phrase, "He descended into hell." The apostles creed wasn't even used universally until the 16th century.

There are 12 changes from the original form to the received form of the creed. The clause "he descended into hell" was believed to have been first reported in the West by Rufus Aquileia (390). In the East, the clause is found in the Arian Creeds (about 360) by Venanitus Fortunatus (590).

But the word for descended is the word DOWN and the word for Hell (in the original Greek) is the word for GRAVE (some Latin scholar decided this should be translated as "inferos" which means "Hell fire" or inferno). In the original creed it was simply meant to be a reference to His physical death.

Wayne Grudem says, “the phrase ‘descended into hell’ was not found in any of the early versions of the Creed...until it appeared in one of two versions from Rufinus in A.D. 390. Then it was not included again in any version of the Creed until A.D. 650.”

In the great reformed Westminster Confession of Faith, they went out of their way to remove any opportunity for confusion on this issue. In the section of their Confession of Faith explaining the Apostle’s Creed, they rendered the phrase as “He was buried, and remained under the power of death for a time.”

Some people like to also point to Ephesians 4:9 where it says Christ "descended," but we are to read the scriptures in context. Ephesians 4:9-10 in context says In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.

What this means is that in the incarnation, Jesus taking on flesh, He descended from the highest heavens (Luke 2:8-14 in the birth narrative) to the lowest regions (to the earth). When Jesus walked the earth he suffered, was crucified, was buried, but He also defeated death and rose again. This is why it says He then ascended and is now seated in the highest heavens at the right hand of the Father (See Acts 1:9 and 2:33).

Tattoo You

by Aaron

We have a lot of people who come to Element who have Tattoos, I know, a lot of churches do, but a lot of ours were gotten after they became Christians. I personally have three, our drummer has five, and a another person who attends has a gazillion. There are a lot of questions that float around about this so I will do my best to talk about tattoos (in a roundabout way).

Also, none of this is meant to imply anyone has to, or should, get a tattoo.

Eph 2:14-15 For he himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.

When we speak of "The Law" most people do not mean the whole Old Testament, but merely the first five books, the Torah.

In the Torah you will read:

  • don’t wear 2 types of clothing, so any person in modern clothes would be in sin.
  • before you poo, dig a hole, so if you use a toilet then you aren't digging a hole.
  • don’t eat fish from bottom of the sea, so if you eat shrimp, you are in sin.

We must understand that there are different contexts and different cultures, and many "laws" are not applicable to us.

The Old Testament laws are broken into 3 categories.

Moral Laws – This would be things like don’t kill anyone, don’t steal anything, and honor your parents. These are still binding today. We cannot say, “Oh, it's the New Testament...I am going to kill my parents.”

Civil Laws – In the Old Testament Israel was to be a theocratic country, so God gives laws for how His people are to conduct themselves AS HIS COUNTRY (His nation). America, today, is not a theocracy which means that God is not our president. Whoever our elected official is, that is our president (and if anyone in anyway thinks that any president is God, they have deep issues that they need help with).

In Romans 13 it reminds us the we live in nations with governments, and we need to respect those governments as long as they don’t violate God’s moral commands. Civil laws are fulfilled in CHRIST and are nonbinding. America is NOT the new Israel and not a theocracy.

Ceremonial law – This is what Paul is speaking of in Eph 2 with “laws and regulations.” This would be the priesthood and sacrificial system, where you would go to the temple with an animal and the priest would slaughter it. The blood would then run out of the temple. That has been fulfilled in Christ as He IS the temple, He IS the priest, He IS the sacrifice. The whole ceremonial system was pointing to Jesus. That is the whole point of the book of Hebrews.

So now that those distinctions have been taken away we can be reconciled to each other.

  • Before Jesus, God’s people ate different foods and couldn’t go to other people’s house for dinner, now we can.
  • Before Jesus, God's people wore different clothes and couldn’t be near others who weren’t like us.
  • Before Jesus, God's people spoke a different language and couldn’t communicate.

Now, today in the New Covenant, it is not about culture, it is about Christ. All the dividing points are taken away (it doesn’t matter your music style, clothes, haircut) the issue is DO YOU LOVE JESUS. It becomes about Jesus and not our cultural distinctive(s).

Now, for Tattoos...

The verse that people use for NOT getting tattoos is Lev 19:28 `Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD." The problem with taking this verse the way that most who hate tattoos do, is that it is out of context. This whole section in Leviticus is all over the map between civil laws and moral laws.

In Lev 19:19 it says

  • Keep my decrees.
  • Do not mate different kinds of animals.
  • Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.
  • Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

My dad is a farmer, they have a little over 300 acres that they farm. They have broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and cabbage all next to each other; does that make him a wicked sinner? No.

In Lev 19:27 it tells guys NOT to cut their sideburns...does that make most men today wicked sinners (well, yes, but not because of sideburns-haha).

But then in 19:29 it says "`Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness. Is this moral or cultural? Of course this is moral.

The hard thing about Leviticus is that it was there to separate light from dark, death from life, and sin from righteousness for the Israelites. We take these verses  and make it into a HOW TO manual for every part of life, not understanding much of the nuances underneath it.

The word we translate as "tattoo" simply meant "impression, inscription, or mark." It could have been a number of things. Many of the people the Israelites were traveling among would mark their slaves with tattoos to show that they were property. One of the things God is simply telling His people is that they are to belong to no one but Him. God wanted the Israelites FREE so they could worship Him in freedom.

I don't think tattoos have the same connotation they once did...or mean the same thing. I do not believe that THAT law is binding. BUT...the other question (and the more important question) is "do they honor God." 1 Cor 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I think a better question today is "why is someone wanting one." Is it to honor themselves or to honor God.

I believe they can honor God, but it should be done after much consideration.

Seder Meal 2012

by Element Christian Church

Missed our 2012 Good Friday Service? Watch the Passover Seder Meal presented byTuvya Zaretsky from Jews For Jesus.


DISPATCH ISSUE 2: Meet Our Newest Elder, A Closer Look at Vandenberg AFB

by Element Christian Church

Download Dispatch (Digital Magazine)

In this issue, you will get to know our newest elder and his family, take a closer look at Vandenberg Air Force Base (including the unique needs that exist within military life), and ideas of ways we can be missional to our neighbors just south of us. You will also find a great article from Eric Djafroodi about biblical community.

DOWNLOAD .PDF VERSION HERE

This Is Element

by Element Christian Church

Because so many people misunderstand the Element logo, we get mistaken for a lot of crazy things. Element constantly has beliefs ascribed to us by people who have never spoken to us, and the assumptions usually end up being wrong (you know what they say about assuming). We have decided to help everyone understand not only what Element is here for and what we believe, but also why Santa Maria. If you are visiting our city, moving to our city, or wondering about Element, we hope this 5 minute video answers many of your questions about who we are, what we believe, and why we do what we do the way that we do.
 

Good Friday Time Machine

by Aaron

This blog isn't a blog, it is a time machine. On Friday at noon there is a community Good Friday service at Calvary chapel. They have given 7 different pastors 5 minutes each to speak, and I am one of them. Yes, 5 minutes, me (sort of funny). For those of you who cannot make it, I thought I would give you my transcript of what I will be saying. See 2 days before it happens, like a time machine. I know it's long, but I talk fast, so it will all work out.

Why is it, when we come to the scriptures – or any story, we assume we are always like “the good guys?”

  • Cain and Abel: Abel;
  • Moses and Pharaoh: Moses;
  • Samson and Delilah: Neither;
  • David and Goliath: David;
  • David and Bathsheba: the prophet Nathan;
  • Saul and Steven: Steven;
  • Paul and Rome: Paul…

It’s interesting that I get to speak first as I get to set the tone. I believe Good Friday is a time for believers to revaluate our lives and our utter lack of humility. Too often we think that we are wonderful and our God is getting a good deal with us. Good Friday is to remind us that THAT is simply not the case.

You and I are awful. How awful? So bad that our God had to come to ransom us from the sin that was destroying us, the chains that held us to our depravity. When we think about that sin, when we talk about that sin, we try to convince ourselves and others how terrible it was…but our problem is, we LOVED IT and we still do. If we didn’t find it enjoyable, we wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

If, every time we sinned we got kicked in the head, we would stop real fast. But we don’t, because we find pleasure in things that hurt the image of God in us and more greatly destroy the creation in which He put us.

  • Cain and Abel – Cain (or worse), kills his brother out of jealousy
  • Moses and Pharaoh – Pharaoh – More concerned about his wealth and comfort than those around him.
  • Samson and Delilah - Both - one was manipulative and one claimed the name of God but really was more concerned about his pride than God’s glory.
  • David and Goliath – Goliath – arrogant, proud, and mocked God with words.
  • David and Bathsheba – Both – Our sexuality, this great gift of pleasure and wonder, has been tainted at every turn by either our fear of it or our hidden addiction to it.
  • Saul and Steven – Saul – when we destroy other believers around us rather than lifting them up.
  • Paul and Rome – Rome – we think we know how to run things better than anyone else.

This brings us to my verse, Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We read this verse and think, “Ya, they didn’t know what they were doing…I would never have crucified Jesus.” Yes, you would have.

Just like we are worse than Cain, Pharaoh, Delilah, Goliath…we are worse, many times, than those who strung Jesus up on a cross. Why? Because they knew not what they do…but you and I do.

Every time it comes to that decision where we know what is right, what would bring Jesus greater glory, that which would more honor His name, and we do the opposite, we are worse than those who strung Him up on that cross. We know what God calls us to…but when it comes to our will or His, we usually choose ours. We are worse for WE KNOW what we do.

That should be humbling to us and a great reminder that our Great God did not come in the flesh as Jesus to die for us because He needed us, or because we are so good that He couldn’t live without us – but simply because He is so good.

Our salvation is based in His grace and goodness… When Jesus was arrested the ropes did not constrain Jesus to His beating...His love for us did. God is bigger than our sin, our error, our mistakes and He will bend all of this to His will. Our God is tremendously mighty, nothing is Greater than our God. That is why Good Friday is Good, because He is good and has cleansed us from our unrighteousness by the blood of His one and only son, Jesus.

We should be the least judgmental and most humble people the planet: We are terrible, but our God is good.