Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Nation Built on Forgiveness? YES! It's OUR'S!

Words mean things. New Testament words have original, permanent and unchanging meanings.  Despite this fact, many forget the true meaning of words and embrace later false and allegorically "assigned" meanings.  One such a word is "liberty."  Today, defines "liberty," among other ways, as "...the power to do as one pleases, the power of choice, an action going beyond normal limits..."  In short today's post-modern existentialist man or woman, when hearing "liberty" really hears "license."  In today's fallen culture, "liberty" is license to do as one pleases despite consequences or impact upon others.  That was NOT the case in 1776!

The New Testament use of the word "liberty" is found it two primary passages, one spoken by Christ and the other spoken about Christ under apostolic authority.  Quoting Isaiah 61, Christ says the following: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." - Luke 4.18 - 19 (ESV)

Paul also conveys the same thought: "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace..." - Ephesians 1.7 (ESV)

The words "liberty" in the Lucan passage and "forgiveness" the Ephesian passage are BOTH translations from the same Greek word, aphesis.  "Aphesis" means literally; "from letting" or "sent forth."  "Aphesis" means, according to Thayer, "...release from bondage or imprisonment, pardon of sins, letting them (sins) go as if they never were committed, remission of the penalty."  "Aphesis / aphesin is found 15 times in the New Testament.  It is translated either "liberty," "forgiveness" or "remission" in all 15 cases. 
Liberty is Forgiveness and Forgiveness is Liberty!
Though WE may have forgotten what "liberty" means, the Founders did not!  One such Founder was the governor of Connecticut during the War for Independence.  He made several proclamations to his state, to General Washington and to the entire nation.  He had a larger than would be thought likely platform for he was one of but a few colonial governors that did not support the tyranny of the crown.  Most colonial governors in 1775 were Tories and were opposed to independence.

In February of 1775, Gov. Trumbull issued the "For a Day of Fasting and Prayer" proclamation:

By the Honorable Jonathan Trumbull, Esquire, Governor of the English Colony of Connecticut, in New England in America; To offer up fervent Supplication to GOD, for His gracious Presence with us--to give us true Repentance and Reformation and to make us fully sensible that our Dependence must be on His Power and Grace alone, to deliver us from all the Evil that we feel or fear;---that He would not leave us to trust in an Arm of Flesh;--(1)
That summer the United States Congress (Yes, CONGRESS!!) proclaimed that July 20, 1775 was to be a National Day of Prayer and Fasting.  In response, Gov. Trumbull issued a proclamation to General George Washington upon his assumption of command of the Continental Army at Boston, MA.  He urged the commander that:
...the English Colonies on this continent to stand before the Lord in one day, with public humiliation, fasting and prayer, to deplore our many sins, to offer up our joint supplications to God, for forgiveness and for his merciful interposition for us in this day of unnatural darkness and distress(2).

This proclamation was not just a proclamation to the general personally, it was "carbon copied" to the entire nation!  The American nation and her leadership clearly understood the meaning of "liberty" and used it prominently in the Declaration of Independence the very next summer on July 4, 1776.  Many revisionists have said that the Founders were just "channeling" John Locke and Edmund Burke.  That assertion could not be further from the truth!  The Founders were avid Bible readers and knew the Book far better than many today would dare to suppose.  The principles found in both the Declaration (a biblical case for separation from the crown) and the Constitution (implementation of a biblical government) are replete with allusions to Scripture.  In reality, our Founding documents are some of the finest examples in human history of biblical exegesis!  This is why the profoundly biblical word LIBERTY is so prominent!

Liberty is Forgiveness - Forgiveness is Liberty!

The Founders believed in something they called "Natural Law."  Natural laws were laws that descended from Heaven itself and could not be changed by the whims of mortal men.  Our Lord brings Natural Law to bear on Pilate in His own trial; "So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me?  Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?"  Jesus answered him, "You have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above..." - John 19.10 - 11c (ESV)  The Apostles understood that Natural Law could be usurped by men and therefore had to be opposed.  In Peter and Johns trial before the Sanhedrin, they said this when they were "ordered" to cease speaking in the Name of Christ; "So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." - Acts 4.18 - 20 (ESV) 

The Founders applied Natural Law to the Declaration for they would rather have had forgiveness from God (LIBERTY) than the favor of a usurper and his parliament! 

Yes, there was a revolt in 1776, there was revolution against Natural Law, there was a munity against the English Constitution.  The revolutionaries and mutineers were King George III, his Parliament and his minions led by Lord North and others of his ilk.  Some 27 +/- of thier crimes against Natural Law are presented in the Declaration.  Here again the words of our Founders who sought forgiveness from God;

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation...

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government... is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such a government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...

A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, us unfit to be the ruler of a free people...

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown...  

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

This is why Founder John Adams said regarding our Republic, "Our form of government is suitable for a moral and religious people and none other."  Our Republic was founded upon the eternal principle of LIBERTY!  The opposite is very true as well...when our people become immoral and irreligious we will lose our liberty, our forgiveness!

Liberty is Forgiveness - Forgiveness is Liberty!

Postscript: Ironically and sadly, history has come full circle.  The Connecticut statehouse that under Gov. Trumbull led the Nation in Repentance, Confession of Sins and Humiliation before God in 1775 is now attempting to lead our Nation in the opposite direction - libertinism.  Just last week on June 25, the sitting governor of the state of Connecticut ordered the so-called "rainbow flag" flown over the state house upon the usurping by the Supreme Court of God's Natural Law concerning marriage as being only between one man and one woman.  Were that the sitting governor could spend just five minutes with Gov. Trumbull and learn about Natural Law!  Roe vs. Wade usurped God's Natural Law over Life and now the overthrow of a Constitutional Vote in California disavowing homosexual marriage will together destroy America's opportunity to "pursue happiness." 

The SCOTUS is now standing with Pilate, the Sanhedrin, King George III, Lord North and his Parliament.  Where do YOU stand?  Once again, it is time to "Rise Up O Men of God!"

Do you want forgiveness and liberty?  There is only one way to receive it!  When convicted in their hearts regarding the murder of the very Son of God, the Jews called upon the Name of the Lord for salvation asking "What must we do?!"  Here's what Peter told them; "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness (remission) [aphesis] (Liberty!) of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - Acts 2.38 (ESV)

Christians are 100% liberated people regardless as to what kind of government they live under.  Won't you be liberated today?

Happy Independence Day - 2013!                      - Russ McCullough

NOTE: Flag image courtesy of
(2) Ibid.
NOTE: Trumbull portrait courtesy

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Just What Is Biblical Preaching?

A  Bible question deserves a Bible answer!  Paul clearly and emphatically states:


“For if I preach the gospel, there is nothing for me to boast about, for necessity is pressed upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” – I Corinthians 9.16 (EMTV)


It is very and abundantly clear that Paul was under a tremendous focus to preach the gospel, the proclamation of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is preached for the express purpose of saving those “who call upon the Name of the Lord for salvation” by repentance and baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.  (Acts 2, Acts 9, Acts 22 et. al.)


Today marks what would have been the 117th birthday of my grandfather, Clyde Larimore Taylor.  He was born on June 6, 1896 in Beech Grove, KY.  Brother Taylor was a Christian, a missionary and a gospel preacher.  He was and IS my mentor.  Being able to see him again in Heaven continually motivates me to always “preach the gospel both in and out of season.” He once said to me; “Russell, if I can take my lesson down the street to the denominational church and get “amen’s,” its NOT gospel!”  It is fitting, therefore, to explore the question; “Just what is biblical preaching?” on this,  his 117th birthday.


ANY sermon that proclaims this gospel is by default…biblical!  Sadly, ALL denominational preaching is non-biblical for it is accursed as Paul asserts in Galatians 1.6 – 9.  Preaching within the Fellowship of the Saints, as well, often falls short of the high standard of biblical preaching.  Let’s examine some examples of this kind of preaching:


Biblical preaching is not a topic in search of a text.  Biblical preaching is not shallow.  Biblical preaching is not “story telling.”  Biblical preaching is not a text in search of a meaning.  Biblical preaching is not just social commentary.  Biblical preaching is not just a review of current events.  Biblical preaching is not pop psychology.  Biblical preaching is not selective.  Biblical preaching is not random.  Biblical preaching is not just reflective.  Biblical preaching is not simply engaging.  Biblical preaching is not entertaining.  Biblical preaching is not relevant for relevance’s sake.  Biblical preaching is never pragmatic.  Biblical preaching is not a mantra or a narrative.  Biblical preaching is not without an application.  Biblical preaching is not without a call to action.  Biblical preaching does not play on one’s emotions for emotions sake.  Biblical preaching is not man generated or man focused.  Biblical preaching is not allegorical.  Biblical preaching is not without a clear text within context.  Biblical preaching is not without a contextual theme.  Biblical preaching is not without a contextual thesis.  Biblical preaching is not without a conclusion.


Even among the most faithful of congregations in the Lord’s church, one often finds sermons that are random, shallow, without theme, without thesis, lacking direction, void of purpose, out of context.  Essentially lukewarm spiritual rice water is often fed to the flock while steaming hot “meat and potatoes” remain left behind in the kitchen.


What characteristics, then, would we ascribe to biblical preaching?


·       (Biblical preaching) express(es) exactly the will of the glorious Sovereign – allow(ing) God to speak, not man.

·       (Biblical preaching) brings the preacher into direct and continual contact with the mind of the Holy Spirit who authored Scripture (through the Scripture.)

·       (Biblical preaching) frees the preacher to proclaim all the revelation of God, producing a ministry of wholeness and integrity.

·       (Biblical preaching) promotes biblical literacy, yielding rich knowledge of redemptive truth.

·       (Biblical preaching) carries ultimate divine (and apostolic) authority…

·       (Biblical preaching) transforms the preacher, leading to transformed congregations.[1]


When the gospel is proclaimed BIBLICALLY, individuals are saved, families are reunited, congregations are revived, communities are transformed and nations are restored!


-        Russ McCullough – 6 June 2013

Happy Birthday bro. Clyde Taylor!

[1] John MacArthur (Rediscovering Expository Preaching, W Publishing Group, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN), Introduction, pg. XV

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