Welcome to the eighth installment of Traditores Higher Frequency. This week we have the third of three episodes related to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 21 wounded in early December of 2015.
When such a horrible act is committed, how should we react toward the perpetrators?
Before we continue with that however, I wanted to wish you and yours a Happy New Year. This is being recorded on New Year’s Day, 2016 for broadcast starting tomorrow, January 2. Here is hoping that 2016 is your best year ever…and that if you do not know the Lord Jesus that you’ll find him before the year ends…or you are called into eternity…whichever is first.
Also, I have a personal request. We are trying to be good stewards of time and money…so if you have listened to Traditores Higher Frequency…please contact us and let us know. We aren’t looking for funds, just feedback…and we would be blessed starting off 2016 with a note from you. To do so, please visit thf.fyi on the web and look for the “Contact Us” menu item at the top right…or e-mail me directly at email@example.com.
Now…back to the question that has driven the last two…and is driving this…broadcast.
When a horrible act like the terrorist attack in San Bernardino is committed, how should we react to the perpetrators?
In the previous installments we looked at Scripture that wished pretty harsh things on enemies…along with other verses that, for instance, told us to love our enemies. This week we try to bring it all together, harmonize those differences, and leave with something we can apply to our lives. May God will that you never have to go through what those on 9/11, 2001 or 12/2, 2015 had to…but you, most assuredly…will be wronged. My prayer is that when this episode wraps up you’ll know how the Lord wants you to treat those who sin against you.
Without further ado, let’s return to the Antrim Church of Christ in Antrim, New Hampshire…
Heaping Burning Coals on 9/11 (Part 3)
[ These are quick broadcast notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. Complete sermon available here. ]PlayStop
Hmmm…now this is getting complicated. We don’t have the “I’m not the perfect sinless Son of God” excuse anymore.
And back in Matthew 5 if I read just a few verses later I would have reached, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
God really does expect us to be perfect, doesn’t He? His Son told us to love our enemies…and then showed love to His. After that the first disciple to be killed (if have that right) also shows his love for his enemies…as he is being killed in a way that had to be about as painful as it comes…
Additionally, earlier we heard the most prolific New Testament writer tell us not to return evil for evil…and perhaps you remember Peter’s words from last week’s sermon:
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).
We don’t count Scriptures, we weigh them.
But then why?
- Our Father does expect us to be perfect.
- Jesus does expect us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
- The Holy Spirit, through Peter and Paul, does expect us not to return evil for evil. On the contrary, we are to bless.
But then why the “heap coals” language in Romans and all the imprecatory scriptures?
First, I’ll admit that I didn’t find a convincing explanation of “heap coals.” Paul got it from Proverbs 25:22…and being such a student of the Bible it makes sense it would work into his arguments. But when Proverbs 25:21-22 says:
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
22 for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.
When Proverbs 25:21-22 says that…how are we to take it? Paul even seems to connect it to God’s wrath and vengeance when he quotes it in Romans.
- When you weight scripturess, do you give more weight to one that nobody can really explain or to one that was lived out by the Person who uttered it and His early disciples?
- When you weigh scriptures, do you give more weight to the clear part of Paul’s words, or to the part that makes you scratch your head?
- When you weight scriptures, do you give more weight to Peter’s plain statement, or to a verse in Proverbs whose meaning probably has been somewhat lost as the ancient culture it was generated disappeared?
Can you imagine a thousand years from now explaining “there is more than one way to skin a cat”? I can see it now, “Alan taught we should skin cats.” Yet, all I mean by that idiom is that there are alternatives…
When I first started preaching for this church I started with a series called “What Did Jesus Do.”
We saw exactly what Jesus did.
And…in His words we also may have glimpsed a big part of the why He did it.
Remember his words? “Father forgive them, for they…”
“For they know not what they do.”
Now, I believe that those 19 men are suffering the fate of the wicked.
But…think about it…wouldn’t it be fair to say they really didn’t know what they were doing? That, like Eve, they were deceived?
That, like us, they suffered from the same disease?
That, but for the grace of God and work of Jesus, we would suffer the same end as they are?
If you have cancer and run into someone else with cancer, do you have disdain or concern for them?
Then, why do we have a habit of having disdain for the ones who suffer from the rampant disease of sin instead of having concern for them?
God gets no pleasure from the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11)…neither should we.
Some of Psalms can be taken as direct advice on how to behave. Some of it is best understood as an example of being totally honest with God.
If you lost someone on 9/11 and you hope they burn in hell for all eternity, tell God that. He knows anyway…and the first step to healing is not being in denial.
But after the emotion calms…keep your eyes upon Jesus and follow His example.
And be glad that He died on the cross so that we don’t get what we deserve…that He prayed for those who persecuted Him…that He loved His enemies.
Otherwise we would be joining 19 jihadists in the afterlife.
Instead, we will be joining the One who gave us those really hard commands in Matthew 5.
And yes, it’ll be far better than 72 virgins 🙂
There you go…you have heard the advice I gave my congregation back in Antrim, New Hampshire. Thoughts? Did I get it right? Was it biblical?
Well, minus (in the recording) having the number of virgins a faithful Muslim man expects in heaven one short. 🙂
Thank you for listening to Traditores Higher Frequency. As I mentioned in the beginning…can you do me a favor and let us know you are listening so that we can be sure we are being good stewards of funds and time? We aren’t asking for money…just to hear from you. To reach out, please visit our website, thf.fyi, and look for the “Contact Us” menu item at the top right…or e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if don’t do either of those, will you pray for us?
thf.fyi also has downloadable copies of this and previous episodes, broadcast times, and more.
Happy New Year to you and yours from Traditores Higher Frequency…and from me personally. I hope in 2016 you have no reason to personally apply what you’ve learned over the past three weeks.
We can all look forward to a time when God will make it so there are no more tears…no more evil-doers. Quoting the English Standard Version‘s translation of Revelation 22:20:
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Love and grace be with you as we tune into Jesus’ higher frequency.