Archive for October, 2011

Voluntary Active Euthanasia – a Compassionate Solution to Those in Pain?

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

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DEBATE: MICHAEL MOORE, MLA (Australian Capital Territory) & REV. SPENCER GEAR. This is Spencer Gear’s presentation. [1] 8.00 pm Thursday 10 June 1993, Erindale Theatre, McBryde Cr., Wanniassa ACT, Australia

EXAMPLE

“Jennie was only forty-eight when she found the breast lump. The surgeon had been hopeful, but the pathology report showed the cancer was very aggressive and had already spread to the lymph nodes. Radiation and chemotherapy were completed.

Before long, Jennie’s cancer had spread to her spine. It galloped through her bones, liver and lungs. She lost weight very rapidly, became depressed, and required large doses of morphine. The medication only partially relieved her severe pain. Any movement was excruciating.

Eventually her husband Sam asked the doctor to give Jennie one large injection of morphine so that she won’t suffer anymore? She’s been in so much pain for so long. She just wants to get it over with… All involved were ready for Jennie to die” (Orr, et. al., Life & Death Decisions, 151-152).

IF THE LARGE INJECTION OF MORPHINE HAD CAUSED DEATH, THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN VOLUNTARY ACTIVE EUTHANASIA.

DEFINITION OF EUTHANASIA

I must define my terms.

Euthanasia is “the intentional killing of a person, for compassionate motives, whether the killing is by a direct action, such as a lethal injection, or by failing to perform an action necessary to maintain life” (from “Euthanasia: killing the dying. ‘It’s OK – isn’t it?’ Foundation For Human Development, Site 4A, 32 York Street, Sydney 2000)

Voluntary active means that the person asks to be killed. It must be realised however that those who promote euthanasia do not use the word “kill”, but it is the only accurate word to describe the reality of what happens. Besides, it is the word the law uses.

People are sometimes confused by the current debate on “the legality of disconnecting mechanical life support systems for long-term comatose patients or the patients’ right to request that no extraordinary means be used to keep them alive when all hope is gone.” This is often called passive euthanasia, but it is not euthanasia

This refers to the common law right of all Australians to decide which treatments they want to have for themselves.

But I must insist that this is not euthanasia.

The Canadians got it correct in their 1983 Law Reform Commission when, following an inquiry, they concluded that “mercy killing not be made an offence separate from homicide” (in Brian Pollard, Euthanasia: Should We Kill the Dying?, p. 45).

Tonight when I use the term euthanasia, I will be referring to voluntary, active euthanasia.

OVERHEAD NO. 1

Euthanasia is not a compassionate solution to those in pain for the following reasons:

1. The first reason for not supporting voluntary active euthanasia is that: We already know the consequences of a permissive approach to euthanasia. We have glaring examples before us of where permissive euthanasia laws will lead us.

a. GERMANY

In Germany in 1920, there was a publication by a lawyer, Karl Binding, and a psychiatrist, Alfred Hoche, called The Permission to Destroy Life Not Worth Living, that opened the floodgates and led to open discussion and legislation to permit euthanasia in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

Initially, it was seen to have a beneficial social effect in dealing with the so-called “useless” sick.

Why did they do it? For the very same reasons that are being advocated today: compassion, quality of life, and to cut the cost of caring for these so-called “useless people”. They stressed the cost of caring for the handicapped, the retarded and the mentally ill. They were called “useless eaters”.

This led to experimentation on human beings and genocide. It was a small step from euthanasia to the Nazi government’s killing of 6 million Jews, and it is estimated that about 6 million others also were killed.

Dr. Leo Alexander, a Boston psychiatrist at the Nuremberg trials after World War II (in 1946 and 1947) says: “it started with the acceptance of the attitude basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived “Medical Science Under Dictatorship”, New England Journal of Medicine 241:39-47, July 14, 1949. (This was also covered in Newsweek magazine, July 9, 1973)].

It started when doctors, lawyers, legislators and even clergy–against their professional and ethical obligations to respect all human life, decided to destroy life that they considered not worth living

Michael, there is no way to control voluntary euthanasia.

We have a much more recent example in Holland.

b. HOLLAND

At St. Mark’s National Theological Centre, Canberra on Feb. 26, 1993, Michael, you said that your brief to the Parliamentary Council would be to give criteria (and you articulated them) similar to Holland. What is happening in Holland?

The official Dutch Government report (The Remmelink Report, 1991) gives conclusive evidence of abuse. The Dutch report shows clearly that doctors are killing without the explicit request of the patient. Doctors have violated the ‘strict medical guidelines’ provided by the Dutch courts (John Fleming, “Euthanasia, The Netherlands, and the Slippery Slopes”, Bioethics Research Notes Occasional Paper No.1, June 1992, published by the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, PO Box 206, Plympton SA 5038, Australia).

OVERHEAD NO. 2

EUTHANASIA IN HOLLAND: CRITERIA LAID DOWN BY THE COURTS

(Although officially illegal at the time of the Remmelink Report)

1. The request for euthanasia must come only from the patient and must be entirely free and voluntary.

2. The patient’s request must be well considered, durable and persistent.

3. The patient must be experiencing intolerable (not necessarily physical) suffering, with no prospect of improvement.

4. Euthanasia must be a last resort. Other alternatives to alleviate the patient’s situation must have ben considered and found wanting.

5. Euthanasia must be performed by a physician.

6. The physician must consult with an independent physician colleague who has experience in the field.

Summarised by Mrs. Borst-Eilers, Vice-President of the Health Council (a body which provides scientific advice to the Dutch government on health issues). In I.J. Keown, “The Law and Practice of Euthanasia in The Netherlands”, The Law Quarterly Review, Vol. 108, January 1992, p. 56]

OVERHEAD NO. 3

BUT WHAT WERE THE RESULTS IN HOLLAND?

The Dutch report in the British medical journal, The Lancet, states that “in cases of euthanasia the physician often declares that the patient died a natural death” (p. 669). This report indicates that 0.8% of the 38.0% of all deaths involving euthanasia were “life-terminating acts without explicit and persistent request” (p. 670) (Paul J. van der Maas, Johannes J.M. Delden, Loes Pijnenborg, and Caspar W.N. Looman, “Euthanasia and other medical decisions concerning the end of life”,

The Lancet, 338:8768, September 14, 1991, 669).

This means that the deaths of about 1,000 Dutch people in a single year were caused by a doctor who hastened the death of a patient without the patient’s explicit request and consent.

But there is more. Another assessment is that the real number of physician assisted deaths, estimated by the Remmelink Committee Report is, in reality 25,306 which is made up of (they’re on the overhead projector for you to see):

  • 2,300 euthanasia on request (Remmelink Report, 13),
  • 400 assisted suicide (ibid.15),
  • 1,000 life-ending treatments without explicit request (ibid.),
  • 4,756 died after request for non-treatment or the cessation of treatmentwith the intention to accelerate the end of life. cf, ibid, 15; there were 5,800 such cases but only 82% (i.e. 4,756) of these patients actually died. cf Dutch Euthanasia Survey Report, 63ff
  • 8,750 life prolonging treatment was withdrawn or withheld without therequest of the patient either with the implicit intention (4,750) or with the explicit intention (4,000) to terminate life.[ibid., 69; There were 25,000 such cases but only 35% (i.e. 8,750) were done with the intention to terminate life.Cf ibid., 72; cf also Remmelink Report, 16),]
  • 8,100 morphine overdose with the implicit intention (6,750) or explicit intention (1,350) to terminate life. Of these, 61% were carried out without consultation with the patient, i.e. non-voluntary euthanasia.
  • There were 22,500 patients who received overdoses of morphine, cf Remmelink Report, 16. 36% were done with the intention to terminate life, cf DutchEuthanasia Survey Report, 58. See ibid., 61, Tabel 7.7 (“Besluit niet besproken”)].

THIS TOTAL OF 25,306 PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED DEATHS AMOUNTED TO 19.61% OF TOTAL DEATHS [129,000] IN THE NETHERLANDS IN 1990.[“To this should be added the unspecified numbers of handicapped newborns, sick children, psychiatric patients, and patients with AIDS whose lives were terminated by doctors according to the Remmelink Report” (pp. 17-19). Source: Dutch-speaking Dr. Daniel Ch Overduin, Vita, Vol. 7, No. 1, March 1992, pp. 2-3]

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OVERHEAD NO. 4

(Title of Lancet article, “”Euthanasia and other medical decisions concerning the end of life”)

Dr. John Keown, Director of the Centre for Health Care Law, in the Faculty of Law, University of Leicester, U.K., has completed a research project on euthanasia in Holland. He concludes:

OVERHEAD NO. 5

“It appears that the overwhelming majority of cases are falsely certified as death by natural causes and are never reported or investigated… It is clear from the evidence set out in Keown’s research that all that is known with certainty in the Netherlands is that euthanasia is being practised on a scale vastly exceeding the ‘known’ (truthfully reported and recorded) cases.  There is little sense in which it can be said, in any of its forms, to be under control” (I.J. Keown, “The Law and Practice of Euthanasia in The Netherlands”, in The Law Quarterly Review, 108, January 1992, 67, 78).

Yet Michael Moore stated at St. Mark’s that he wants to follow the Dutch guidelines.

2. A second reason why euthanasia is not a compassionate solution is that there is no guarantee it will be limited to terminal illness for those in pain. The recent history of the euthanasia movement demonstrates this.

Michael has made his views clear. On the Matthew Abraham show, Radio 2CN, February 2, 1993, he was asked by:

Matthew Abraham: “What about an old married couple? Maybe in their 80s and they’ve been relatively independent in their own home, they don’t want to be of trouble to their kids, they’ve had a good life… They want to commit suicide as a couple…

Michael Moore: “I think it should be covered in the act and I think that under certain circumstances, given appropriate counselling and appropriate time to make that kind of decision.

He reinforced this at St. Mark’s National Theological Centre, Canberra on 26 Feb. 1993, I heard him say:

“I’m not just talking about the terminally ill, but also a couple, say who have been married 60 years, one of them is terminally ill and they want to die together. I would agree with that, but I don’t expect legislative support for that.”

No civilised society like ours will remain civilised if we endorse this kind or any other kind of homicide.

How can we say where to limit? Chronic illness? Mental illness? Multiple sclerosis? Those crippled with arthritis? Persons who are handicapped? What about some of the people I counsel, like a 16-year-old who is on drugs, severely depressed and suicidal?

This is one of Michael’s core problems–where to draw the line.

The most recent review of the need for euthanasia in Australia was the Social Development Committee of the Parliament of Victoria The report, called Options for Dying with Dignity in 1988 concluded: “It is neither desirable nor practicable for any legislative action to be taken establishing a right to die” (in Pollard, 45).

Those who start with euthanasia for the terminally ill, most often broaden their base:

One of the most blatant examples of how far euthanasia advocates will go is this (HOLD UP) Australian Human Rights Commission Occasional Paper No. 10 (published in August 1985): “Legal and Ethical Aspects of the Management of Newborns with Severe Disabilities”.

When published, this paper created quite an uproar because of what it recommended for babies with disabilities:

  • one of the main emphases supports euthanasia for deformed newborn babies,
  • Dr Helga Kuhse promotes “a quick and painless injection” (to kill) for a Down’s Syndrome infant with an intestinal obstruction (p. 4).
  • Yet this Human Rights Commission document also cites the United Nations “Declaration of the Rights of the Child” which states: “The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required for his particular condition” (p. 28).

You can’t have it both ways: kill off the handicapped newborn, and give the handicapped special treatment, education and care. This is a shocking report advocating the killing of the handicapped newborn, all in the name of the Human Rights Commission. I believe this is eugenics (selective breeding).

Do you really think, if we were to legalise euthanasia, that doctors and nurses would stick to the rules?

In 1988, doctors surveyed in the State of Victoria were asked, “Have you ever taken steps to bring about the death of a patient who asked you to do so?”

29% (of 369) replied “Yes”. (Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, “Doctors’ Practices and Attitudes Regarding Voluntary Euthanasia”, The Medical Journal of Australia, 148:12, June 20, 1988, 623-627).

The situation with nurses is just as alarming.

In 1992, “of those nurses who had been asked by a patient to hasten death, 5% had taken active steps to do so without having been asked by a doctor.

Almost all of the 25% who had been asked by a doctor to engage in active steps to end a patient’s life had done so” (Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, “Euthanasia: A survey of nurses’ attitudes and practices”, Australian Nurses’ Journal, 21:8, March 1992, 21-22).

With euthanasia illegal, some doctors and nurses are breaking the law. Do you honestly think they will follow, say Dutch guidelines, if they became legal?

3. The third reason: It is a strange paradox that euthanasia is being strongly promoted at a time when the medical profession has made great advances in the treatment of pain. This is not the time to recommend assistance in the killing of the terminally ill or others.

According to Dr. Bob Allan, president of the ACT branch of the Australian Medical Association, “Modern palliative care ensured that patients should never have to consider euthanasia on the grounds of severe pain. Treatments are available to ensure death with dignity and without pain” (The Canberra Times, Feb. 3, 1993, p. 5).

Medical doctors, Robert D. Orr and David L. Schiedermayer, conclude:

“The hospice movement has demonstrated that physicians should be better educated about pain management and better equipped to treat pain effectively. More than ninety-five percent of cancer patients can be kept virtually pain free if given adequate doses of pain medication at appropriate intervals” (Orr, Schiedermayer, & Biebel, Life & Death Decisions, Navpress, 1990, p. 165).

Retired anaesthetist at Concord Hospital, Sydney, Dr. Brian Pollard, says:

“Most cancer pain is well within the competence of any doctor to treat effectively. It is necessary to regard unrelieved pain as a medical emergency to be dealt with as energetically as possible and to address also the emotional turmoil which is usually present” Euthanasia: Sould We Kill the Dying? Little Hills Press, Bedford, U.K. 1989, pp. 9-10, 65).

At a time when there is every reason to offer caring, compassionate palliative care to the sufferer, Michael wants to eliminate the sufferer rather than eliminate the suffering.

4. A fourth reason is that it debases the medical profession and has harmful effects on the doctor/patient relationship.

The standard form of the Hippocratic Oath that is taken by many medical doctors, dating back to the time of the Greeks, says:

“I will follow that method of treatment which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel” (in Francis A. Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, 207).

Dr Bob Allan, president of the ACT branch of the Australian Medical Association confirms this position. He stated in The Canberra Times that “the association’s position, and that of the World Medical Association, was that euthanasia, even if requested by a patient, was unethical.

“Dr Allan said doctors would have great moral difficulty in actively bringing about the end of a patient’s life.

“To actively set out to end someone’s life is an enormous break from medical standards” (The Canberra Times, “Euthanasia row fires both sides”, February 3, 1993, p. 5).

Michael Moore has stated in The Canberra Times (Feb. 3, 1993, p.5), “I’m interested in facilitating the right of people to make a decision about their own life. It is the most fundamental of human rights–the right to life and the right to death”.

Michael is fundamentally and legally wrong at this point. He is not advocating the right to die. People can do that legally now by committing suicide. Michael is advocating something much more devastating to our society. He is claiming the right for somebody to be killed on request in certain circumstances. He is also calling for the right of others to assist in the killing of others.

This right does not exist in our society and it should never be introduced if we want to maintain a country with respect for one another.

5. The fifth reason to resist voluntary active euthanasia is: There is a better alternative: promote life and become actively involved in compassionate care for the dying, persons who are handicapped, and other sufferers in our society.

This compassionate care involves a competent doctor effectively treating severe pain, emotional support and caring communication from others. Empathy is needed by the doctor and others.

We need to improve the standards of care for dying patients. I commend the ACT government’s initiatives to develop a hospice. It is urgently needed.

Inter-disciplinary teams will be needed involving doctors, nurses, clergy, social workers, other professionals and caring paraprofessionals.

6. The sixth and final reason: human beings are not animals, but unique beings made “in the image of God”.

As a doctor put it to me recently: We put down dogs, why shouldn’t we offer the elderly in a vegetative state the same? The reason is that human beings are not animals. Human beings are unique, “made in the image of God”, according to the Bible.

We could find support for this proposition by referring to Noam Chomsky’s work on the uniqueness of human language, or neurosurgeon, Wilder Penfield’s, research on the difference between the brain and the mind—both affirming the difference between human beings and animals.

As God’s image bearers, each of us has the capacity to be personal, rational, volitional, emotional, and moral. Our responsibility is to reflect God’s character and purposes in all that we do.

When we reduce human beings to animals, it logically follows that a whole range of horrendous evils could eventuate.

Human life is sacred and God has forbidden that any life be murdered. To do so it indirectly an attack on God.

Any society that engages in the killing of innocent life will pay a grave price. When we do not respect life before birth, if affects our view of life after birth. If we do not respect the dying, it will affect our attitude towards the living. As the Bible puts it: “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord” (Romans 14:7-8).

Euthanasia is not a compassionate solution to those in pain for the following reasons:

1. We already know the consequences of a permissive approach to euthanasia. We have glaring examples before us of where permissive euthanasia laws will lead us.
2. There is no guarantee it will be limited to terminal illness for those in pain. The recent history of the euthanasia movement demonstrates this.
3. It is a strange paradox that euthanasia is being strongly promoted at a time when the medical profession has made great advances in the treatment of pain. This is not the time to recommend assistance in the killing of the terminally ill or others.
4. It debases the medical profession and has harmful effects on the doctor/patient relationship.
5. There is a better alternative: promote life and become actively involved in compassionate care for the dying, persons who are handicapped, and other sufferers in our society.
6. Human beings are not animals, but unique beings made “in the image of God”.

SUMMING UP

I oppose voluntary active euthanasia because of:

  • Abuse
  • Error
  • The historical examples
  • Distrust
  • Coercion

I CONCLUDE:

The case for euthanasia is based on:

  • intentionally killing or assisting in the killing of innocent human beings.
  • repudiation of the doctor-patient relationship that is meant to promote life.
  • flies in the face of the medical advances made in the treatment of pain and is at odds with compassionate methods of care.
  • does not fully consider the historical examples that show euthanasia cannot be legislatively controlled.
  • rests on presuppositions that do not respect human life.
  • plays God.
  • ethically, rests on self-defeating assertions.
  • it is not in the patient’s or society’s best interests.
  • it eliminates the sufferer, rather than eliminating the suffering.

FRANCIS A. SCHAEFFER & C. EVERETT KOOP dedicated their book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race,

” To those who were robbed of life,
the unborn, the weak, the sick,
the old, during the dark ages of
madness, selfishness, lust and greed
for which the last decades of the
twentieth century are remembered”(Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, p. 118).

For further study:

  1. Tony Sheldon, Utrecht, Holland, “Being ‘tired of life’ is not grounds for euthanasia” (British Medical Journal).
  2. Dutch legalise euthanasia” (BBC News)
  3. Deadly diagnosis in the Netherlands” (Concerned Women for America)
  4. Dutch doctors want to kill the healthy” (Christianity Today)
  5. Voluntary euthanasis not under control – the Netherlands.
  6. Dutch euthanasia law should apply to patients ‘suffering from living.” (British Medical Journal)
  7. Who killed Grandpa? (Chuck Colson)
  8. From a slippery slope to an avalanche” (Chuck Colson)
  9. Coming soon to a hospital near you” (Chuck Colson)
  10. Professor of Death: Peter Singer” (Christianity Today)
  11. Interview with Phillip Nitschke: Australian euthanasia advocate
  12. Bishop Fisher & Dr. Phillip Nitschke in Sydney euthanasia debate

 

Copyright (c) 2014 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at date: 30 November 2017.

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The fear of God

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Future Threat

(ChristArt)

Spencer D Gear

God gave A.W. Tozer the wonderful gift to get to the core of many issues for Christians.  He wrote that “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself.” [2]  Just think on this: What you believe about God is the most important thing about you!

Today, there is tremendous irreverence for God through blasphemy and profane use of his name by secular people around us.  Jesus Christ or God seem to be as familiar to our peers as words like mate, sex and the dole.

But with some Christians, their view of God has become very familiar, downright low.  I have had people speak of their heavenly Father and call Him, “Daddy.”  Afterall, they say, Rom. 8:15, calls him, “Abba Father.”

  •  That’s true.  This is the very word Jesus used in the garden of Gethsemane when he was in horrible agony and unburdening his soul to God (Mark 14:36).

It is also used in Gal. 4:6, the Spirit of adoption cries out “Abba Father.”  “Abba” is the Aramaic word for “father.”  Yes, it is a term of “tenderness, trust, and love.”  It does speak of “the intimate spiritual relationship between the believer and his God.” [3]

But “Abba” only appears three times in the entire Bible.

Is your view of God, one of his being a “daddy”?  A friend, a mate or buddy?  This is a shallow view of God and our relationship with him, if we want him primarily as a buddy. God is awesome and for us to relate to him as a daddy or mate, is horribly superficial and irreverent.

If we are true believers, we must relate to God in a more profound way.  There’s a word that appears at least 49 times in the Book of Psalms [4], especially throughout the O.T., but also in the N.T. that defines the true believer and his/her relationship with God. [5]

It’s a view of God that is far from our lips. We rarely hear it today, even in the church.  We may want to turn our backs on this kind of God and run from him.  But this is the core of true Christianity.  See Psalm 112!

Hallelujah.  That’s how this psalm begins: “Praise the Lord.”  This, along with Ps. 111, is an acrostic psalm.  Instead of end words of a line rhyming, the writer here uses the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to begin each new line. Praise the Lord for what?

THE STATE OF THE TRUE BELIEVER (Psalm 112:1)

“Blessed is the [person] who fears the Lord.”  The truly godly person is one who fears the Lord.  This is a radically different relationship than being your daddy or mate.
If you are ever going to be blessed, you must be one who fears the Lord.

A.  What does it mean to “fear the Lord”?

Some of the old time theologians used to speak of the “terror of the Lord.” [6] However, the King James Version and the modern versions I checked (NIV, NASB, NRSV, RSV) speak of the true believer as the one who fears the Lord.

When we want to understand any biblical principle, we need to compare Scripture with Scripture.  This is a basic rule of biblical interpretation.  Many of us get into trouble with interpretation when we take just one verse in isolation.
So, what does it mean to “fear the Lord.”

 

 1.  Isaiah 8:13

“The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.”  When we fear people it is radically different from the fear of Jehovah.  When we fear people, we:

  • fear their power to hurt us–
  • hurt our reputation,
  • damage our property,
  • hurt those we love,
  • hurt us physically if they are more powerful,
  • may fear the power of the government over us to tax us, punish us when we break the law, take away our freedom, etc.

On the human level, we may have sound reasons for a healthy fear of people and government.  However, too often we forget that human beings, Satan and his demons, can only do to us what God allows.  Job is a classic example.

Jesus said to Pilate: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:10).

Human beings are absolutely powerless against God.  God can shatter any plans they have against you.  God could strike them dead at any moment.  Fear of human beings may cause those who are morally weak to follow the wicked.  I see this with youth who get into drugs and sex.  They fear their peers and what they will think of them if they don’t do these things.

Fear of human beings may cause some people to become slaves to employers, be untruthful and act as cowards.  Fear of human beings may influence some not to be honest with their convictions and even applaud evil.  Fear of human beings may cause us to be hypocrites, to pretend that we are Christian when we are not.  It may even cause us to deny Christ, as the apostle Peter did and later repented.  The fear of man is condemned in Scripture. [7] Just one example, I Peter 3:13-16:

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.  `Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Let’s return to Isa. 8:13, “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy.”  In contrast to the fear of human beings, the fear of God, according to Isa. 8:13, is based on two convictions:

First, He is “the Lord Almighty.”  We fear him because of his power.
Never forget this: Human beings can only injure you as far as temporal things in this world are concerned.  The most human beings can do to you is “kill your body.”  God’s powers go beyond the grave.  As Jesus put it: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).  We fear him because of his might.

Second, Isa. 8:13 emphasises that we fear God because of His absolute holiness. “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy.”

a.    What does “holy” mean? [8]

We mostly think of the purity and righteousness of God, but that is not the primary meaning of holiness.  It is more than a moral or ethical quality.

b.    Holy has two distinct meanings:
(1)    Primary meaning is: “apartness” or “otherness.”

“Holy” comes from an old word that meant “to cut” or “to separate.”  To put it into contemporary language, we could say He is “a cut above something.”  When we find some goods that are of superior quality, we say they are “a cut above the rest.”  That is, when we say that God is holy we are saying, by nature, there is a profound difference between God and all creatures.

  • God’s transcendent majesty;
  • His absolute superiority;
  • Therefore, He is worthy of our:
  • Honour
  •   Reverence or fear
  • Adoration
  • Worship

He is completely “other.”  He is different from us in his glory–radically different.  “When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate.  He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us.  To be holy is to be `other,’ to be different in a special way.” [9]

When the angels were calling to one another in Isa. 6:3, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory,” they were not saying “pure, pure, pure is the Lord Almighty,” but “wholly other, transcendent One, absolutely superior, is the Lord Almighty.”

(2)    The secondary meaning of holy relates to God’s pure and righteous actions.

God does what is correct.  He never does what is wrong.  He doesn’t have a sinful nature to tempt him to evil.  God always acts in a righteous way because his nature is holy.  We find that difficult to comprehend–somebody who is absolutely just and correct in everything he does.  But that’s our God.

Thanks to God revealing himself through the Bible, we know and can say that:

  • internally (by nature), God is righteous.  Therefore,
  • externally, his actions are righteous.

Because God is holy, He is both great and good.  There is no evil mixed with His goodness.  Why then, according to Isa. 8:13 are we to “fear” or “dread” this Lord?  This is the God of the universe who reveals Himself through the Bible.  The Scriptures tell us this about God:

  • “How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth” (Ps. 47:2). 

Politicians may legislate the killing of human beings through voluntary, active euthanasia, but it is the Lord Most High who is King over all the earth.  He is the one who judges individuals and nations.  Australians may think they can thumb their noses at almighty God, but God’s law is king.  We are finally accountable to this awesome God.  The superior, transcendent One.

When the Israelites were driving out the Canaanites from the Promised Land, the Bible says:

  • “Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God” (Deut. 7:21);
  • Again in Deuteronomy: “The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.  He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow. . .  Fear the Lord your God and serve Him” (Deut. 10:17-20).
  • “‘For I am a great king,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and my name is to be feared among the nations'” (Mal. 1:14).

What does it mean to fear God?  Let’s compare another Scripture!  Job gives us a summary of what it means to fear the Lord:

2.  Job 23:13-17

This is the One whom he fears:

a.    “He stands alone” (v. 13, NIV)

“He is unique” (NASB).  Literally: “For he is in one” [10] It speaks of the unity of God, the One true God.  As Deut. 6:4 puts it: “Hear. O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
Job does not have to answer to many gods, just the One true God.  Thanks to later revelation we know that this one God is in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Not polytheism (many gods).  The three persons in the one Godhead act totally in one accord.  They are one. 

He not only stands alone, but:

b.    “Who can oppose him?” (v. 13)

Literally, “who can turn him?”  As James 1:17 says of God the Father “who does not change like shifting shadows.”

For Job, there was the realisation that nothing could change God’s resolve to treat Job the way God did by afflicting him.  We need to understand this.  The Almighty God we serve is “unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”  This means that God’s laws for us, this world, including the ungodly, never, ever change. 

No matter how much the leaders and ordinary people of this country thumb their noses at God, scoff at His laws, this world is heading towards God’s conclusion, based on His unchanging person.  Sinners don’t get away with their sin.  Nations that reject God’s laws will suffer the consequences.

God’s Law is king.  It is a foolish government that wants to establish laws that contradict the law of God.  God’s law will always be king.  We, personally, and nations, are accountable to God.  We may not see the consequences in this life.  But God’s unchanging consequences will be experienced.

There is no circumstance anywhere in the world or in your life or mine that can affect this absolutely perfect God.  He is “the same yesterday, and today and forever.”  I ask you: “Who can oppose him?”  NOBODY!  To Job, God emphasises it:

c.    “He does whatever he pleases” (v. 13)

Literally: “And his soul desires, and he does.” [11] This sounds rather harsh, but God does what is absolutely best for this world and us.  There is no favouritism with him.  He always acts according to his perfect righteous nature.  Surely we see this all around us in the moral world.  God has told us that sexual relations are reserved for marriage.  People reject that and we have sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, devastating the world.

God says it is one man for one woman for life in the covenant of marriage.  We break it and we are reaping the consequences of shattered relationships, adults and children who are full of hate and are devastated.  God does whatever he pleases, but it is always totally good, holy and just.  We must understand what this meant in Job’s life:

  •   There is no one on earth like Job;
  •   He is blameless and upright;
  •   He is a man who fears God and shuns evil (1:8);


God gave Satan permission to:

  •   slaughter Job’s servants;
  •   destroy his animals;
  •   kill all of his sons and daughters;
  • BUT “in all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (1:22).


But there is more:

  •  “Satan… afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head” (2:7).
  •   Then Job’s “wife said to him, `Are you still holding on to your integrity?  Curse God and die!'” (2:9).  But there is still more.
  •   His three friends then came to try to comfort him, but they wanted to blame him for bringing this on himself.
  •   But in the end, “The Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before… The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first” (42:10, 12).

But God made it very clear to Job that God does whatever God pleases in Job’s life.  By application, whatever takes place in our lives is what God has sovereignly ordered for us in his goodness, holiness and righteousness.  I trust that you can conclude with Job at the end of his life.  He says to the Lord, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (42:2).

d.  Job 23:14

“He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store.” 

That is: God will do what he has planned for Job.  From the human perspective, it does not look very nice.  But this is God’s perfect will for Job.  Perhaps Job was thinking that God had many more doses of affliction for him.  God’s plan for the universe includes all individuals–Job, you and me.

Of sparrows, God says, “Not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:29-30).  These are God’s plans for you and me–even down to my baldness.

What is this saying?  The God whom we are to fear is one who cares about the weakest saint, every sinner, as well as governments and nations.  We must understand that God’s plan for Job was not exceptional.  Job was a real person.  However, we have in Job a revelation of the nature of God and how God operates in people’s lives.

What is Job’s response to this God?

e.  Job 23:15-17

  •  “I am terrified before him”;
  • “I fear him”;
  • “God has made [his] heart faint”;
  • “The Almighty has terrified [him]”;

This last verb, “terrified” (“dismayed”, NASB) is a very strong one and means that God “has filled [Job] with horror and consternation.” [12]  The thought of an all-powerful God who does not change, and puts into action what he decrees against Job, caused Job to have inward fear, confusion, terror, dismay.

The effect on Job as he meditated on God’s character as an all-wise, irresistibly powerful, moral Governor, who does whatever he pleases according to His will, is not something that people think very seriously about these days.

However, if we pause for a moment to think about the power and wisdom of God in creating and sustaining this vast material universe, surely it puts us in perspective.  We get a glimpse of our spiritual worthlessness and how puny we are before the eye of the majestic, awesome God.  I am convinced that we don’t understand our weakness and insufficiency until we truly have contact with God.  Until we begin to understand God as he is.

When faced with God’s holiness, Isaiah saw himself: “Woe is me!” I cried.  “I am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isa. 6:5).  When Job contemplated God, he said, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job. 42:6).

Since this is the true fear of God by one who is godly, what should the fear be for those who are rebels against God, have no peace with God, and on whom the wrath of God will be poured out in hell forever and ever??

Paul, the apostle, saw this very clearly when he said in 2 Cor. 5:11, “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.”  Many Christian people are puzzled.  They don’t understand why, in God’s sovereignty, they receive difficulties, affliction, death, from God.  Why are they treated with such severity? 

Most of us have never experienced what Job went through.  But he came through it with a fresh understanding of who God is.  Too often our knowledge of God’s plan is imperfect.  Our understanding of God is deficient.  This causes us to think that God is against us.  Like Job we don’t have genuine trust in God.  Our confidence in God is lacking. 

Rather than impeach God’s unchanging love towards his faithful followers and charge God with being an enemy of believers, we need to understand the nature of God.

Let me touch on two other Scriptures, briefly, to help us get a handle on what it means to “fear the Lord.”

 

3.  Psalm 111:10

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (same as Prov. 9:10; similar to Prov. 1:7, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”)   How can the “fear of the Lord” be the beginning of “wisdom” or “knowledge.”  Does this mean that if you study science, agriculture, medicine, without a knowledge of God, you do not have any knowledge?  That would be ridiculous logic!

It means that “the initial step or starting-point” for anybody who wants to gain true wisdom is the “fear of the Lord.”  No matter what human knowledge you attain, if you do not have the knowledge of God as your foundation, it is folly.  Your framework is faulty.  If you want to advance in knowledge and wisdom, you must have a reverence or holy fear of God. [13]

The sense of God.  The belief that He exists.  That He reigns in my life, my job and over the universe, and is the Source and Sustainer of all life and blessing–that is the foundation for all wisdom, success and anything excellent in life.

This is one of the reasons why Australians are floundering these days in law-making, in seeking answers for behavioural and moral problems in our society.  We do not fear God, so we do not accept his divine Word as authoritative.  Instead, we look to the best of man’s flawed human wisdom.

One of my former staff members attended a public meeting in Bundaberg, Qld, Australia where the speaker was advocating that laws against incest should be abolished.  It should no longer be a criminal offense for fathers and mothers to have sex with their children, he said.

When people reject the fear of God and do not seek God’s mind in dealing with moral problems in our society, the foundation for answers is shattered.  And we get such nonsense as decriminalising incest.  Will it be theft next?  What barrier is left for laws against murder to stand?

I consider that our Australian culture is on the skids; it is almost lost.  One of the finest defenders of the faith in the world today must be Ravi Zacharias.  This man with an East Indian background says:  “The greatest question of our time must be considered: Can man live without God?  It must be answered not only by those who are avowedly antitheistic, but also by the many who functionally live as if there were no God and that His existence does not matter.” [14]

Secular historians, Will and Ariel Durant, understood that question.  Their answer was, “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.” [15]

Without the “fear of the Lord” and obedience to his Word as the foundation of knowledge and wisdom, our nation will go down the skids, morally and culturally.

Someone has said, “We truly fear God just in proportion as we truly love him.”[16]

One other verse gives us another view of what it means to fear the Lord.

 

4.  Proverbs 8:13

“To fear the Lord is to hate evil.”  This is the reverse side of what I’ve been saying.  When you know that your sin is forgiven, you can truly hate evil.  Prov. 8:13 tells what evil the true believer is to hate: pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”

Since God is holy, to reverentially fear Him means that we adore God’s character, his goodness.  It should be natural then that we revolt against that which is opposite to God–evil.  When we fear God, we need to hunger and thirst after his righteousness.  We must have a passion to be Christ-like in our thoughts, actions and attitudes towards people.

This makes evil look hideous, detestable, abhorrent.  We must have horrible opposition to any evil desires or actions.  We must loathe evil from the bottom of our hearts.  Not just evil actions, but our own evil thoughts.  Yes, we practise morality because we fear God the Judge who will punish us for doing wrong.  But it is far more than that.  We love goodness and hate evil for God’s sake.

 

B.  SUMMARY

A.W. Tozer said that one of the perils for the preacher is “when he loses his solemn fear in the presence of the High and Holy One.” [17]  What is the fear of the Lord?  One writer put it this way:

It does not mean fear in our usual sense of being afraid.  It means rather to quake or tremble in the presence of a Being so holy, so morally superior, so removed from evil, that in his presence, human boasting, human pride, human arrogance vanish as we bow in speechless humility, reverence, and adoration of the One beyond understanding. [18]

This fear of God is not a dread or terror of Him in an horrific sense.  It is a loving reverence of him that finds us falling on our faces before him in willing obedience to his commands.  The fear of God includes trust in God, knowledge of God from creation and His Word, recognition of God’s claim on my life.  It is awe of the power and holiness of God.  When I fear God, I cherish the sense of His presence.


Human beings are dependent people.  We depend, not on husbands or wives, not on children, bosses or government leaders.  We must not depend on ourselves.  We cannot act wisely if we are our own king.  Dependent human beings must fear God.  We have a duty to obey Him.  We must carry out the plans of our Creator.  Life is only ordered correctly for us when God is in charge.  We depend on the Almighty One for our very existence.

 

II.  APPLICATION

We must apply this to us in Australia and around the world in the 21st century.

1.    Ps. 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.”

Why is this sense of God’s awesome holiness virtually unknown among Christians today?  Why is this holy reverence and overwhelming wonder missing in our lives and churches?  How can we be so blind as to treat God as a daddy, a good bloke, rather than falling on our faces before Him in holy awe?

The apostle John, according to Rev. 1:17, fell as if he were dead at the feet of God.  The reason for this lack of fear of God becomes clear:  “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.  Then he placed his right hand on me and said: `Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'”

Surely, there would be profound reverence and godly fear if we suddenly found ourselves in God’s presence.  In John’s words, the reason he had this holy fear was: “I saw him.”  Our lack of passionate love for God.  The fear of God is not among us because we are so far from our Lord.  We need to seek Him.  We need to see him and know him.

2.    How do we obtain the fear of God?

a.    Seek him.

It will not fall into your lap.  It comes through perseverance and diligence in prayer in his presence.
Ps. 27:8, “My heart says of you, `Seek his face!  Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Ps. 105:4, “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”

If you will seek God,

b.    He will teach you to fear him.

Ps. 34:9 & 11, “Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing… Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”

God teaches us to fear Him through his word.  Before Moses died, he told Israel’s kings how they were to walk in obedience to God.  Deut. 17: 19 says that their king was to “read [the law of God] all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.”

If you will feed your mind on who God is and his past dealings with the people of God through the Scriptures, you will learn how to fear the Lord.  You will quickly see how Jehovah blessed the obedient.

Read the historical books of the Old Testament (the Samuels, Kings, Chronicles) and you will see that when the king did what was right in the sight of the Lord, the nation was blessed and prospered.  When he did evil in God’s sight and walked according to his own ideas, the nation faltered and was judged.

We learn to fear the Lord when we meditate on his Word.

Deuteronomy 31:12-13 states:

Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law,  [13] and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess (ESV).

This is also a message for our day.  We are seeing a generation of youth (and adults) who know nothing about responsibility, morality or the fear of God.  Our children have been baptised into it through their music, television, peers and parents who know nothing of God.  This generation is lost.  They have little idea about God.  If we, the church, do not cry out about the sins of this generation, who will do it?  If we don’t teach them to fear God, who will?

The educators, counsellors and media moguls won’t do it.  They are busy destroying any semblance of God.  In New York City there was a tract circulating (if it’s in New York City, it won’t be long before it’s here in Australia) among 7th grade students, called “Your Rights.”  It says, “You have a right to have sex with anybody of any gender, anytime you please.”  The tract is sponsored by a school-related organisation. [19]

God is saying to us, the church, “Our children will not know about the Lord or about His holiness.  You must teach them the fear of God–teach them the Scriptures.”  How do you come to fear the Lord?  Seek Him and He will teach you.

Finally,

c.    Psalm 86:11

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”  You must want to seek God with “an undivided heart.”  Believers, if you truly want to fear God, you have to seek him with all your heart.  Wholeheartedly!  No distractions.  God does not give his fear to those who are spiritually lazy.

Proverbs 2:1-5 reads:

My son, if you receive my words  and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;  yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (ESV).

To learn to fear the Lord, is quite simple.  It starts with obedience to him in what you already know.  If your heart is undivided, he will lead you one step at a time in further obedience into his holy fear.  I am a Protestant.  The Protestant Reformation started with God using Martin Luther in the 1500s.  One of the things that marked the Reformers was an awe of the holy, majestic God.  It drove them to their knees in fear and reference.

Maximilian Kolbe knew the fear of the Lord.  It fueled his obedience–even to the point of pouring out his life for another.  His fear of God was greater than his fear of the tyrants of Auschwitz [Nazi prison camp].

The believers of Eastern Europe knew the fear of the Lord.  They chose Christ over their communist oppressors.  (Now they must choose Christ over materialism or whatever else follows.) [20]

The fear of the Lord was the secret of the early church.  When Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead in judgment because they lied to God (they trampled on the holy), Acts 5:11 says, “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

The contemporary, user-friendly, meeting felt-needs church is the opposite of one that fears the Lord.  Today’s church wants to “portray [God] as fun, jovial, easygoing, lenient, and even permissive… Sinners hear nothing of divine wrath.”[21]  Is it going to take a modern day Ananias and Sapphira to get the church back to an awesome fear of God?

The Scriptures link an awesome fear of God with a determined pursuit of holiness.  “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1, ESV).

Consider these words from a 19th century Scottish pastor and theologian, John Brown:

“Nothing is so well fitted to put the fear of God, which will preserve men from offending him, into the heart, as an enlightened view of the cross of Christ.  There shine spotless holiness, inflexible justice, incomprehensible wisdom, omnipotent power, holy love.  None of these excellencies darken or eclipse the other, but every one of them rather gives a lustre to the rest.  They mingle their beams and shine with united eternal splendour: the just Judge, the merciful Father, the wise Governor.  Nowhere does justice appear so awful, mercy so amiable, or wisdom so profound.” [22]

When we are overcome with our own sinfulness, the awesome majesty of the holy God, and the deep significance of the meaning of the cross of Christ, we will want to join with the hymnist and sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! 
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.

Holy, Holy, Holy!  All the saints adore thee,
Casting down heir golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
Who wert and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye of sinful man they glory may not see,
Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee
Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth and sky and sea;
Holy, Holy, Holy!  Merciful and Mighty! 
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity! [23]

Endnotes

2.  A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy.  San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1961, p.1.
3.  William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Romans: Chapters 1-8.  Grand  Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1980, pp. 259-60.
4. Psalm 2:11; 15:4; 19:9; 22:23, 25; 25:12, 14; 27:1; 31:19; 33:8, 18; 34:7, 9, ; 36:1; 40:3; 46:2; 52:6; 55:19; 56:4; 60:4; 61:5; 64:9; 66:6; 67:7; 72:5; 85:9; 86:11; 90:11; 96:9; 102:15; 103:11, 13, 17; 111:5, 10; 112:1; 115:11, 13; 118:4; 119:38, 63, 74, 120; 128:1, 4; 135:20; 145:19; 147:11.
5. Other verses on the “fear of God” (not comprehensive): Gen. 20:11; Deut. 6:13; 2 Chron. 6:31; Job 1:8; 24:14; 28:28; Prov. 1:7; 2:5; 3:7; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26-27; 15:16, 23; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; 24:21; 29:25; Eccl. 3:14; 12:13; Isa. 33:6; Jer. 2:19; 36:16, 24; 2 Cor. 5:11; Rev. 14:7.
6.  See The Practical Works of Richard Baxter: Select Treatises.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, reprinted 1981 (from 1863 edition), p. 188.
7.  Ps. 35:4; 51:7; Jer. 1:8; Ezek. 3:9; Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:4.
8.  These two studies are based on R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith.  Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992, chs. 16, 17.
9. R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God.  Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1985, pp. 54-55.
10. H. D. M. Spence & Joseph S. Exell (ed.), The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 7.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, n. d., p. 397.
11. Ibid., p. 398.
12. Ibid.,  p. 393.
13. The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 9, pp. 5-6.
14. Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God?  Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994, p. xvi.
15. The Lessons of History, pp. 50-51, in Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1981, p. 45.
16. The Pulpit Commentary, No. 9, p. 5.
17. A.W. Tozer, God Tells the Man Who Cares.  Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1992, p. 92.
18. Caleb Rosado, “America the Brutal,” Christianity Today, August 15, 1994, p. 24.
19. “Love, Fear and Obedience,” David Wilkerson, 17 August, 1992.
20. Charles Colson, The Body.  Milton Keynes, England:: Word Publishing, 1992, p. 383.
21. John F. MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel.  Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1993,  p. 63.
22. John Brown, Expository Discourses on 1 Peter, vol. 1.  Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1848/1975, pp. 472-473.
23. Words by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826; Music by John B. Dykes, 1861, being Hymn No. 60, The Hymnal.  Rosebery, N.S.W., Australia: Aylesbury Press, 1967.

 

Copyright © 2007 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 25 March 2017. This document last updated at Date: 22 May 2017.

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1 Peter 1:1-2, Don’t chuck it in because of who you are as the people of God.

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Do Not Trash Clip Art

(clker.com)

By Spencer D Gear

1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV),

‘Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you’.

1.   INTRODUCTION

Have you witnessed to your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and experienced this kind of reaction? Comments like:

  •  “I don’t want to listen to that nonsense. You’ve got to be joking. Just take a look at all those religious paedophiles who have sexually abused children placed in their trust.” OR
  •  “Christian! Huh! Hypocrites, that’s all they are. Remember Jimmy Swaggart and his prostitute? Jim Bakker, high flying TV evangelist jailed for 45 years for fraud–and, of course, there was adultery? Don’t mention the church to me.” OR
  •  How can I believe in your God of love with so much evil in the world? Hitler and your God allowed all that! Sadam Hussein & what he did to Iraq.

In the language of some of the kids I counselled in the 17 years before I retired, “Life sucks.” You may get to the point of asking yourself, “Is it worth it? I should chuck this in.”

For those who are tempted to chuck it in, this Book of I Peter has some profound things to teach, to encourage you to keep on keeping on, and NOT to give up when the going gets tough.

Before we examine this wonderful encouragement, we need to note:

2. SOME THINGS ABOUT THE BOOK OF 1 PETER [2]

  • First verse, it claims to be from “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1). Sounds pretty straight-forward. Peter the Apostle wrote it. Yet some liberal scholars promote the view “that First Peter is a pseudonymous [false] work of the post-Apostolic Age . . . [Peter] could not have written the letter.” [3] Why do they claim this is not the apostle Peter who wrote, but a person who falsely used the name of Peter? Because these scholars want us to believe that the “persecutions mentioned in the book” are “those of the reign of [Roman Emperor] Trajan (98-117).” [4] 
  • If we make the writing as late as during the reign of Trajan, it would be 70-90 years after the death of Christ and Peter could not have written the book, as he was probably dead. Then somebody from the early church, not the real Peter, wrote the book.
  • NO, NO, NO! This Peter, 1 Peter 5:1 says, was the one who was “a witness of the sufferings of Christ.” This is no fake Peter, but the apostle Peter, who was Christ’s apostle, denied him 3 times, and was there as an eyewitness of Christ’s death. Why do these liberal theologians invent such things? Here is a link to the non-canonical, apocryphal Gospel of Peter (Raymond Brown translation).
  • 5:12, he wrote it “with the help of Silas/Silvanus . . . a faithful brother.” This is probably the Silas of Acts 15:22; 1 Thess. 1:1;
  • When was this book written? If you read 2 Peter 3:1, it speaks of “This is now my second letter to you.” Perhaps this is referring back to 1 Peter as the first letter. There’s a writing from the early church called I Clement (5:4-7), written by Clement of Rome to the Corinthian church, written about A.D. 96.[5] It speaks of Peter and Paul as suffering persecution.[6]

This probably refers to the persecution under Emperor Nero [7] of Rome following the fire that destroyed Rome in AD 64. 1 Peter “was probably written from Rome shortly before Nero’s great persecution — that is, in 62-64.” [8]

  • Peter says that he wrote the book from “Babylon” (5:13). This is probably “a code word for Rome” [9] if you look at verses such as Rev. 14:8; 17:5, 18.
  • Who received this letter? Verse 1, ” To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.” These were cities in northern Asia Minor, what is known as Turkey today. It was written to God’s people who were scattered, for some reason, across Turkey. If you read 1 Peter 4: 3-4, it suggests that these believers had probably “been converted out of paganism rather than out of Judaism.” [10]
  • I Peter 4:3, ” For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do–living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.”
  • Why did Peter write this letter?

It is a very warm pastoral letter with lots of encouragement for Christians who are scattered. I Peter 5:12, ” I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”

  • These Christians shared a common faith;
  • But they faced common problems. Their basic problem was that they lived in a society that was ignorant of the true and living God (sounds like Australia today);
  • As Christians, they would be misunderstood and given some cruel treatment;
  • Peter wrote this epistle so that these early believers would “see their temporary sufferings in the full light of the coming eternal glory. In the midst of all their discouragements, the sovereign Lord will keep them and enable them by faith to have joy.” [11]
  • This is a very practical and relevant message for us in Queensland in the 21st century.

In this passage we are considering, Peter urges his readers and he exhorts us here in Australia:

Blue-Metal DON’T CHUCK IT IN BECAUSE OF WHO YOU ARE AS THE PEOPLE OF GOD (vv. 1-2).
Blue-MetalDON’T CHUCK IT IN BECAUSE OF THE INCREDIBLE BLESSINGS YOU HAVE RECEIVED (vv. 3-5)
Blue-MetalDON’T CHUCK IT IN BECAUSE GOD CAN TAKE THE JUNK IN YOUR LIFE AND TURN IT INTO GOLD (vv. 6-7)
Blue-MetalDON’T CHUCK IT IN BECAUSE YOU LIVE BY A LAW THAT BAFFLES THIS WORLD. (vv. 8-9)

First, there is hope for your life no matter how bleak the circumstances. We’ll only have time to look at the first 2 verses today.

1 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV):

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

3. DON’T CHUCK IT IN BECAUSE YOU ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD (vv. 1-2)

Christian believers, don’t give up because you are:

A. GOD’S ELECT

As the church of the living God, remember who you are in Christ. Peter says you are “God’s elect” (literally, he wrote “to the chosen strangers”) [v. 1]. Not “to the chosen one” but “to the chosen ones (plural, the church). We see this also in v. 2: You have been “chosen” by God.

In fact this whole book of 1 Peter revolves around who you are in Christ and what is expected of you as believers. Chapter 2:9 addresses the believers then and us now: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.”

Before Peter gets to talk about who you are in the world and what things might happen to you in a hostile culture like Asia Minor and like Australia, he reminds us of our relationship to God the Father: you are “God’s elect.”

The concept of chosen or elect people comes originally from the OT. In Deut. 14:2, Moses told the tribes of Israel, “Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” Isaiah often spoke of Israel “whom I have chosen” (Isa. 41:8; 44:1; 45:4).

But here Peter shifts this thought to the Christian community. We, the born-again people of God–the church–are the elect. In fact, Gal. 6:16 calls the church “the Israel of God.”

How is it possible for people who were enemies of God, rebels and hostile towards Him, to be chosen by God? How could this take place?

Are you one of God’s elect? I had experience with two different funerals this month. I went to one funeral and he was preached into heaven with all Christians. I knew the fellow. He was a nice guy, but in my experience he never gave evidence of knowing the Lord Jesus personally. I left that funeral, saying to myself: “I must live so that the preacher can tell the truth at my funeral.”

The other funeral I did not attend because it was held on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. I received this information from Maranatha Christian Journal by email:

How June Carter Cash’s faith in God impacted others was a common thread that ran through the funeral service in her honor at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., May 18 [2003].

“A lot of great things will be said about June today, but the greatest thing that can be said about her and about anyone is that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Glenn Weekley, pastor of First Baptist [Church] Hendersonville, where Cash was a member.

“I’m so thrilled to be able to stand here today, knowing that June had that personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I think she would make sure all of us know that she is in glory today not because of any deeds she did but because of the deed Jesus Christ did 2,000 years ago when He laid down His life on Calvary.” [12]

“[June Carter] Cash, a member of the [country music’s] legendary Carter Family and wife of Johnny Cash, died May 15 [2003] at age 73 following complications from heart surgery. Among the nearly 2,000 people gathered for her funeral were musicians, actors and others Cash had reached in her lifetime.” [13]

The apostle Peter wants you to remember who you are! It’s a great honour for the church to be chosen by God. But you are elected by God, not to be pompous and proud about it, but God elects you for a purpose. The teaching on election is not something to be scared about, but at times it has generated more heat than light in Calvinist vs. Arminian debates. Believers are called “God’s elect.”

Why? Because that’s who they are. But it is also to bring them comfort and to encourage them. We see in v. 6 that these Christians were going to experience “all kinds of trials.” While all true believers are God’s elect, they are also

  (1) “Strangers in the world” (NIV).

The original language does not include “in the world” but the idea is there. Other translations call them & us “aliens” (NASB, REB, NJB), “exiles” (NRSV, ESV), “refugees” (GNB), “sojourners” (NAB).

The idea is this: the chosen people of God are

“Persons who belong to some other land and people, who are temporarily residing with a people to whom they do not belong. They are for a time being aliens, foreigners, strangers and not natives. They never expect to become [naturalised citizens of this world]. They do not want to be considered or treated as natives by the… people among whom they happen to be living…

“Aliens are often held in contempt by the natives among whom they dwell. To this day they may be placed under severe restrictions in times of war; they may be [thrown into prison] or even repatriated.” [14]

Yet, despite this treatment by the people living in this world, Peter exalts true believers far above the citizens of this world. You are “God’s chosen people” while the people among whom you live are nothing of the sort. “In fact, God’s election has made the Christians `foreigners’ to the rest. At one time [you] were common natives and lived on the same low level as the rest.” [15] You are not like that any longer.

We “live in the world but are no longer of the world. [We] have become like Abraham, [we] are merely sojourners in a land that is now strange to [us]. [We] look for a city which has foundations, whose designer and maker is God; heaven is [out] home and fatherland.” [16]

We are strangers here in Australia. Our desire is for a better country, a heavenly one, the city that God has prepared for us (see Heb. 11:9-16).

Don’t you feel like this sometimes? You are out of step with the direction the world is taking. You walk to the beat of a different drum. This is the way God wants it to be.

You know why there is so much crime and violence in our country. It’s not just because of a poor home environment or poverty. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). In the words of Jesus: “For from within, our of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness [that’s lack of self control with sinful behaviour], envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean’” (Mark 7:21-22).

We could talk about what’s happening to the morality of the nation. As believers, our diagnosis should be radically different from the world’s. So would be your recommended treatment. Don’t be surprised if you feel like a fish out of water in this putrid age. You are.

When it seems as though the world is smothering you with its wretched solutions to the sinful dilemma. Peter encourages us: don’t chuck it in. To keep you strong and help you not to cave in and give up, Peter reminds you of this solid assurance that you, the church, were set apart by God. You are God’s elected chosen people. This is who you are. You are not an accident of history or some weirdos. You are people chosen by God for a purpose.

But this blessed doctrine of election has caused much heartburn in the church for centuries with statements like this from a leading theologian today:

“From all eternity, before we even existed, God decided to save some members of the human race and to let the rest of the human race perish. God made a choice–He chose some individuals to be saved into everlasting blessedness in heaven and others He chose to pass over, to allow them to follow the consequences of their sins into eternal torment in hell… The elect do choose Christ, but only because they were first chosen by God… The non-elect receive justice. The elect receive mercy.” [17]

This is, I believe, an unbiblical view. It is quite popular in some quarters of the evangelical church today and mostly since the time of the Reformation. But it has caused unnecessary concern.

This view of God choosing you for salvation and damning others–the majority of the world–makes God sound like an unjust, ugly monster. Opening the door for you, by his sovereign act, but giving most of the world the flick into a hell of horror. To me this is not consistent with the attributes of the God of the Bible.

First Peter makes it clear what God has in mind when he speaks of election. Believers are chosen:

(2) “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (v. 2);

Pause with me a moment to look at what God means by his prognwsis, foreknowledge, omniscience. Literally, it means “knowledge beforehand.” [18]

For God, that means:

  • he and only he knows Himself and all other people and things.
  • He knows whether they are things that actually happen, will happen, or are merely possible;
  • God knows comprehensively and completely about people and things in the past, present and future;
  • God knows perfectly and from all eternity.
  • God knows all people and things at the same time, exhaustively and truly. [19]

Let’s look at a sample of how much God knows about you, everybody, our world, and about Himself.

  • Proverbs 15:3 (ESV), “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
  • Jeremiah 23:23-25 (ESV): “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’
  • Hebrews 4:13 (ESV): “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
  • Matthew 10:30 (ESV), “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” For some of us men that is a challenge, but not to God


We don’t have time to look at all of the Scriptures, but we need to note God’s foreknowledge means that:

  • God knows himself (the Trinity) intimately and only he knows himself (see Matt. 11:27; 1 Cor. 2:11);
  • God knows things that are actually existing:
  • The inanimate creation (Ps. 147:4);
  • People and all of their works (Ps. 33:13-15);
  • People’s thoughts and hearts (Ps. 139:1-4);
  • God knows your needs (Matt. 6:8, 32);

God not only knows things in the past and present, but he also knows all things that are possible:

  • He knew that Keilah would betray David to Saul, if he remained in that vicinity (I Sam. 23:11-12);
  • Jesus knew that Tyre and Sidon would have repented if they had seen the miracles that were performed in Bethsaida and Chorazin (Matt. 11:21);
  • Jesus knew that Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared disaster if they had seen the works that were done in Capernaum (Matt. 11:23-24).

God’s foreknowledge means that he knows the future. But we need to understand that from a person’s “standpoint God’s knowledge of the future is foreknowledge, but not from God’s [point of view] since He knows all things by one simultaneous intuition. He foreknows:

  •  the future in general [Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV) remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’”
  •  God foreknows the future in general (also Dan. 2, 7; Matt. 24-25; Acts 15:18), but he also foreknew the evil course that the nation of Israel would take (Deut. 31:20-21);
  •  He foreknew the coming and the work of Cyrus (Isa. 44:26-45:7);
  •  He foreknew the coming of the Messiah (Micah 5:2) and that
  •  Wicked men would crucify him (Acts 2:23; 3:18, etc.) [20]

So, Peter’s readers were “elect/chosen” believers “according to the foreknowledge of God.” God knew beforehand what they (and we) would do with the proclamation of the Gospel. Would they respond or reject Christ? We know that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” [Romans 10:17 (ESV)]. But we can’t come to Christ unless the Holy Spirit draws us.

Remember Peter, the apostle preaching the gospel to the household of Cornelius.

  • In Acts 10:44 (ESV), “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.”
  • Jesus said: John 6:44 (ESV), “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Let’s get back to I Peter 1:1-2.

Peter is not talking about how you as an individual person became a Christian and why others have not come to Christ. Peter is speaking to us as Christians and about God’s plan for us and how it happens. The “foreknowledge of God the Father” means that God knew ahead of time what we were like and what we would do with his gracious offer of salvation in Christ. When God pledged to make you more like Jesus, he “knew what he was letting himself in for.” [21]

You are God’s elect with a special purpose in view. Here it is

(3) “By the sanctifying work of the Spirit” (v. 2);

(4) “For obedience to Jesus Christ” (v. 2).

(5) “And for sprinkling by his blood” (v. 2)

We’ll have to wait until another time to examine God’s special purposes.

For all believers in sanctification, obedience and “sprinkling by his blood” (what could that mean?)

 

Let’s make some applications to you and me as I draw to a close:

Application:

  •  Since God, in his foreknowledge, knows everything about you, what is your relationship with the king of Kings and Lord of Lords? Do you know him personally? Has the Gospel been clearly proclaimed to you and you have responded from the heart? If you DO NOT KNOW you are saved and will go to heaven immediately if you died today, please come to speak with me after the service. Where you are with God is the most important thing about you – and God knows your inner being. You can’t lie to him or fake it before him. Where are you with God?
  •  If you know the Lord and are growing in grace, you can expect opposition. We feel like and ARE “strangers in the world.” You should not feel at home in this world. If you have more in common with the world than the people of God, there is something radically wrong in your relationship with God. And it’s not God’s fault. What are you doing to ruin your relationship with God?
  •  Since trials and tribulations will come in this world, what incredible assurance it gives us to know that we are the “elect of God.” Chosen by God to be his sons and daughters as the blood-bought church of Jesus Christ.
  •  God knows you and me through and through. He knows the bottom of our hearts. There are no secrets before him. What would he be pleased and displeased about you and me today?

What about the TV programs, videos, and computer games you watch?

I remember a Christian family that sat in my counselling office a few years ago and said, “We don’t allow our kids to watch much TV. But they do enjoy, “Home and Away.” Have you ever watched that program and considered all of the values that are promoted that are contrary to God’s word and holy living? I think you’d be surprised.

  • Would God be pleased about the content of your thought life this week? This year?
  •  Will you allow God’s Holy Spirit to search every aspect of your being and clean out whatever is not pleasing to him?

What are you rebelling about in God’s word? Folks, we ultimately have to answer to God Himself. What will he say about your life when you face him?

  •  If your thought life became visible before our eyes, what would you be ashamed of?
  •  Would Christ be pleased with what you have thought about this last week?
  •  Has your viewing been to the glory of God? I find it a very helpful question: If Jesus sat beside me, would he approve of the books and magazines I read?
  •  What about my conversation? Has your language been pleasing to God this week? To your wife, husband, kids, the boss, other employees, the person at the store?
  •  How have I treated other people this week? May the Lord convict you about what is not pleasing to Him and help you, starting today, to have these things sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • What will you be remembered for? Has God chosen you as a Christian believer? Are you one of God’s elect? Are you sure of that?

As I close, let me go back to the life and death of June Carter Cash. This was said at her funeral:

“Rosanne Cash was a stepdaughter to June Carter Cash, but she said June banished the words “stepdaughter” and “stepmother” from her vocabulary and accepted all the children as her own.

“In another testament of June’s character, Rosanne recalled how years ago she was sitting with June in the living room at home when the phone rang. June picked it up and started talking to someone, and after several minutes Rosanne wandered off to another room because it seemed she was deep in conversation. She went back 10 or 15 minutes later and June was still completely engrossed.

“I was sitting in the kitchen when she hung up a good 20 minutes later, and she had a big smile on her face, and she said, ‘I just had the nicest conversation,’” Rosanne said. “And she started telling me about this other woman’s life and her children and that she had just lost her father and where she lived and on and on. And I said, ‘Well, June, who was it?’ And she said, ‘Well, honey, it was a wrong number.’ That was June. In her eyes there were two kinds of people: those she knew and loved, and those she didn’t know and loved. She looked for the best in everyone. It was a way of life for her. . . She was forever lifting people up.”

“Rosanne Cash also said June’s great mission and passion in life were lifting up Johnny Cash. If being a wife were a corporation, she said, June would have been the CEO.

“It was her most treasured role. She began every day by saying, ‘What can I do for you, John?’ Her love filled up every room he was in, lit every path he walked, and her devotion created a sacred, exhilarating place for them to live out their married life. . .” [22]

What will the preacher say at your funeral?

From I Peter 1:1-2, Peter urges you to not chuck in your faith because of who you are in Christ:

  •   You are God’s elect;
  •  According to the foreknowledge of God the Father;
  •  And strangers in the world.

Hymn: Have Thine Own Way (hymnal.net)

Endnotes:

2. These points are based on: Edwin A. Blum, 1 Peter, in Frank E. Gaebelein (gen. ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (vol. 12). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981, p. 210-213.

3. Ibid., pp. 210-211.

4. Ibid., p. 211. B. C. Caffin states that Peter “must have written before the outbreak of any systematic attempt to crush out Christianity, or any legalized persecution such as that under Trajan. Judgment was about to begin at the house of God (ch. iv.17)”, I Peter, The Pulpit Commentary, Spence H.D.M. & Exell, J. S. (eds.), (Vol. 22), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1950, p. viii.

5. F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture. Glasgow: Chapter House, 1988, p. 121, gives these details.

6. Blum, p. 212.

7. Caffin’s view is that “all this seems to point to the time of the Neronian persecution. Before that date, we gather from St. Paul’s Epistles, there was no actual persecution in Asia Minor” (p. viii).

8. Blum, p. 212.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11.  Ibid., p. 213.

12.  Erin Curry, May 19, 2003, Baptist Press, ‘June Carter Cash’s Christian faith, love for family remembered’ (Accessed 20 June 2012).

13. Ibid.

15. R.C.H. Lenski, An Interpretation of I and II Epistles of Peter, the three Epistles of John, and the Epistle of Jude. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966, p. 21.

16. Lenski, pp. 21-22.

17. Ibid., p. 22.

18. R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992, pp. 161-62.

19. Thayer states that the verbal form, progin?sk?, means “to have knowledge of beforehand; to foreknow.” For the noun form he simply defined as “forethought, pre-arrangement” [Thayer, J. H. (transl, rev., enlarged) 1962, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 538]. Progin?sis, the noun, only appears twice in the NT at Acts 2:23 and I Peter 1:2.

20. Based on Thiessen, H. C. 1949, Introductory lectures in systematic theology, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 124.

21. The above Scriptures are based on ibid., pp. 125-126.

22. “June Carter Cash: Remembered At Funeral,” other bibliographic details are in note 12 above.

 

Copyright (c) 2012 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date: 13 October 2015.

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How to talk to your child about alcohol and other drug use

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Alcohol or drug use, particularly when it may involve a member of your family, is a very emotionally loaded issue. Thus, it is quite natural that many parents are at a loss to know how to begin to handle this problem within the family.  The following guidelines were prepared by counsellors trained in working with young people to provide parents with some basic ideas for use in dealing with this issue.

pot is fun1. Become informed about alcohol and drugs and their effects. Be a credible source of information for your child.

2. Make your position on alcohol and drug use clear to your children so that they know where you stand, even if you have no indications they are involved.

3. Husband and wife should try to reach agreement with each other over handling the issue. There should be consistency and mutual support in your communications with your child on this subject.

4. Be aware that the behaviour you are expecting from your children may be different from that of their peers and that peer acceptance may be of paramount importance to them. Work with them so that they understand the reasons for your expectations. Strengthen their feelings of self-confidence and independence.

5. If you suspect alcohol or drug use, avoid unproductive accusations. These often result in denial. Sit down with your children and discuss calmly any suspicions you have. Talk about your personal concern for them, as well as their wrong-doing. Try to keep discussions on a rational level. Overly emotional, angry outbursts frequently serve only to cut off parent-child communication prematurely.

6. If you see evidence of alcohol or drug use (i.e. physical or psychological symptoms or drug apparatus in their possession), restate your position and make clear the consequences you are prepared to enact. Make sure you are prepared to follow through with the consequences you set. Empty threats are meaningless to a child.

7. Avoid “labelling” or name-calling. You are not dealing with your child’s character at this stage, but with his/her behaviour. Try to remain calm and avoid saying things which tend to further alienate you from your child. The goal of communication is to help him/her understand that, although you are concerned about and disapprove of his/her behaviour, you still love him/her.

8. Try to maintain good communication with your children’s teachers. Let them know you are interested in their progress in school and would be appreciative of feedback from them regarding their academic and social behaviour. Make your child aware of this so that the children realise there exists a “parent-teacher coalition.”

9. Make it your business to get to know your child’s friends, who their parents are, where and with whom he/she is socialising, whether or not parties will be supervised by adults, and so on. Don’t be afraid to communicate with parents of your child’s friends. Introduce yourself to them in person or by telephone. As a general rule, parents have the bests interests of their children in mind and need to reach out and support each other. Make sure that your child is aware you are establishing communication with his/her friends’ parents – being secretive only breeds mistrust.

10. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Counsellors trained in working with children and adolescents can help by re-opening communication between parent and child, providing a neutral ground for expression of feelings, and serving to “de-fuse” the climate of tension within families which sometimes develops over issues such as alcohol and drug use.

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Marijuana is not a soft drug: Here’s the evidence!

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

 

Image result for marijuana bush public domain

(public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

 

Since 1965, over 12,500 scientific research papers on marijuana have been published.  These papers have been collated on a major data base by Dr Carlton Turner of the University of Mississippi – Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.  The papers have been listed in a publication entitle, “An Annotated Bibliography of Marijuana,” Volumes 1 & 11 and supplements .  None of these papers gives marijuana a clean bill of health.

Yet some want to say that the “the benefits of smoking marijuana outweigh any potential harms” (Professor Miron), but this is refuted by top medical authorities. Dr. Susan Dalterio, a University of Texas (San Antonio) senior lecturer in the Department of Biology, told a drug conference: that she feels like screaming when she hears about the alleged medical benefits of marijuana. “This is just crazy, it’s totally nuts,” she told the audience.

Marijuana has some beneficial effects on pain, she admitted, but other drugs do a better job and their safety and consistency are assured by the federal government. A synthetic version of  marijuana is now available in pill form by prescription. It has been successful in treating nausea, pain and anorexia. People no longer have an excuse for smoking marijuana for medical reasons, she said (“Expert Urges Tough Fight Against Drugs,” James Hagengruber, Billings Gazette, Montana, 25 September 2003). [1]

The toxicity of a drug is not determined by debate or opinion.  It is determined by research.
“Marijuana is an addicting substance with a physiological withdrawal syndrome”  [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatry, 4th edition (DSM-IV)]

Terminology

Portal icon marijuana:  (mexican) frequently referring to cannabis leaves or other crude plant material in many countries.
Portal iconsinsemilla: unpollinated female plants.
Portal iconhashish:  resin from the flowering tops of cannabis plants.

Portal iconhashish oil:   (cannabis oil) is a concentrate of cannabinoids obtained by solvent extraction of the crude plant material or of the resin.
Portal iconcannabis: a synonymous term with marijuana as it is derived from the plant Cannabis Sativa.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is one derivative of the plant Cannabis Sativa.  Marijuana contains 426 bioactive (biologically active) molecules, increasing to over 2000 identifiable chemicals entering the bloodstream when it is smoked.  61 of the 426 bioactive molecules are called cannabinoids.

Portal iconOf these cannabinoids the most destructive is a toxin (poison) called ‘-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  Marijuana  accumulates in fatty tissue and is still detectable 3 months after abstinence.  The THC acts like a time release capsule, constantly and steadily releasing into the blood stream, keeping the user in a state of mild yet continual sedation.

Cannabinoids are not water soluble.  They are lipophilic (fat soluble) and collect in the fatty tissue of cell walls.  They block the passage of nutrients into a cell and block waste products from exiting the cells.  Two major areas of collection are the brain (of which 33% is fat) and the sex organs.  Others are the adrenal glands, liver, kidneys and heart.
Note:  The body’s waste removal system is water based and therefore not well equipped to remove fat-soluble substances.

Physical symptoms of withdrawal are mild as the THC cannot be withdrawn from the body as rapidly as in alcohol or even heroin.  The body has a lingering store within the fatty tissue and saturated fat may not lose the cannabinoid for 9 months or more depending on the amount and duration of use.

Any attempt to summarise the health effects of cannabis, as with any psychoactive substance, runs the risk of over simplification.  The manner in which the drug affects a person is very much individualised based on the users own makeup, quality and quantity and type of drug, duration of use, method of administration, prior experience and tolerance level as well as environmental, biological and genetic factors.

With this in mind, the following data are provided as an indication of the effects, either individually or collectively, which the user will suffer with the use of cannabis.  Many of these effects however will not be seen or noticed until the damage is done.  The user may state that there is no effect.

 

Summary of the effects or results of marijuana use

Bong Wikipedia

1.    One cigarette (joint) impairs the short term memory for at least 6 weeks.  There are many studies demonstrating the deterioration of short term memory in marijuana users.  The definitive and best controlled of these was done in 1989 by Dr Richard Schwartz.  He demonstrated persisting impairment of short term memory six weeks after supervised abstention from the drug.  Just one joint is all that is needed.  (Dr’s Richard Schwartz, Gruenewald, M Klitzner et al “Memory Impairment In Cannabis Dependent Adolescents”, Am, J. Dis, Child, 143:1214-19, 1989 – Georgetown Medical School – Washington DC).  Take a read of this one from The New Scientist, “Natural high helps banish bad times.”

2.    In a major study to investigate the effects of cannabis on motor skills, twenty four hours after one cigarette (joint), experienced pilots performed severely impaired simulator landings.  These pilots reported that they felt absolutely fine, with normal mood, alertness and performance and were completely unaware of their impairment.  Several major rail crashes in     the USA have been associated with the use of marijuana.  (Dr JA Yesavage, VO Leirer, DG Morrow, Stanford University – “Marijuana carry over effects on aircraft pilot performance” – Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 62:221-27, 1991)  Marijuana use is a continuing concern to paediatricians.

What about road accidents?

The front ends of two cars after colliding

Courtesy Wikipedia

Cannabis and driving: a new perspective” by Carl J O’Kane, Douglas C Tutt and Lyndon A Bauer, warns of the influence of marijuana use on one’s ability when driving a motor vehicle [Emergency Medicine, Volume 14 Issue 3 Page 296  – September 2002].  Whilst much research exists from overseas relating to increased risk of motor vehicle accidents due to marijuana use, the following Australian data are significant.

Dr Judith Perl, pharmacologist, of the Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit – NSW Police Service released information in 1991 of a study conducted over the period 1987-90.  The study involved taking blood and urine samples from accident victims in four Sydney hospitals at random.  The only qualifier was that those measuring .05 BAC [blood-alcohol concentration], or known to have consumed alcohol were not tested for other drug use.  The increase in positive testing for cannabis in the blood of these victims was staggering, increasing from 28% (87-88) to 68% (1990).  [See also Judith Perl,  “Drugs & traffic safety”, Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences 17:25]Mrs Kate Carnell stated in “Debates of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory” (Hansard, 9 September 1992, p. 2077) that:

“Cannabis is clearly a cause of driver impairment – a fact of which we are becoming incresasingly aware.  A study conducted by Dr. Judith Perl, of the forensic unit of the New South Wales Police, shows that cannabis is the single most important source of driver impairment discovered in blood and urine samples.  Cannabis constituted 68 per cent of all drug-positive urine and blood tests conducted in New South Wales during 1990.  Thus the threat that cannabis poses to driving safety is not idle and it must not be ignored.  We know that alcohol also affects driving ability, judgment and skill performance, but the residual effects of cannabis last much longer than those of alcohol.”

3.    A 15 year research project at the Karolinska Institute and Juddinge University Hospital, Sweden, revealed a 600% increase in the incidence of schizophrenia in conscripts who had used marijuana 50 times or more in their lifetime.  This study used a standardised method for the diagnosis of schizophrenia.  (Longitudinal study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden – 15 year study using 45570 army conscripts – Dr Sven Andreasson,  P Allerbeck, A Engstrom et al., Cannabis and Schizophrenia: A Longitudinal Study of Swedish Conscripts.  The Lancet, 2:1483 -1485,1987).

4.    A parallel study showed a 500% increase in the overall incidence of other psychiatric disorders in conscripts who were users. (Andreasson, S; Allerbeck, P; Rydberg, U., “Schizophrenia in Users and Non Users of Cannabis”  Acta Psychiatr. Scan., 79:505-510, 1989)  The use of cannabis in adolescence and risk for adult psychosis was examined in a New Zealand: longitudinal prospective study.  It found that “early cannabis use (by age 15) confers greater risk for schizophrenia outcomes than later cannabis use (by age 18). The youngest cannabis users may be most at risk because their cannabis use becomes longstanding.” [BMJ BMJ. 2002 November 23; 325 (7374): 1212–1213] [2].  The New Scientist reports on another study confirming the “Cannabis link to mental illness strengthened“.

5.    The Swedish study scientifically linked marijuana to the dramatic increase in drug-induced schizophrenoform illness and the associated increase in teenage suicide rates and other violent death (as above )

6.    The so called “Amotivational syndrome” –
Portal icon  Apathy, poor judgement, lack of self care,
Portal icon  Decreased empathy (perception of others problems)
Portal icon  Impaired perception of past, present and future.
Portal icon  Difficulty with information processing.
Portal icon  Difficulty with sequential dialogue.
(Goodman & Gilman – “The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics” 8th Ed. 1991)  For the latest edition.

Dr Robert C Gilkeson, – a teacher, paediatrician, adolescent neuropsychiatrist and brain researcher, specialising in early childhood development and learning disabilities, moved in 1987 (after some years of paediatric practice and consultancy) to devote his time to research the effects of marijuana on brain function.  Up until his untimely death in 1993, he was the Director of the Center for Drug Education and Brain Research.  He summarised his general findings in a paper to the US Committees of Correspondence, Drug Watch division with this quote:

“My research studies of youngsters from kindergarten through high school show previously well adjusted and intellectually endowed children falling apart academically and emotionally in the teenage years with the only new factor being that of occasional marijuana use.  Marijuana use can lead to an inability to retain strong self image, and an inability to visualise and plan for the future.  Using marijuana makes ‘great’ people feel average, and ‘average’ people ‘dumb’.  Marijuana use is toxic to all cells, and most especially toxic to brain cells.

“In 1981, my eight year study of 90 adolescent marijuana smokers was completed.  Each youths brain wave tracings (EEG) showed dysfunction (decreased activity) similar to brain wave tracings of the learning disabled.  A decrease in brain cell energy causes a decline in the level and complexity of thought and behaviour.  ‘Burned out’ kids with impairment to both their frontal lobe and their short term memory due to chronic intoxification of marijuana were evident.

“These impairments are the cause of the increased violent and non violent juvenile crime, truancy and school drop out, teenage runaways and vagrancy, teenage prostitution and pregnancy, venereal disease, adolescent depression and suicide, polysubstance use and adolescent psychiatric referrals.  Most alarming of all is the fact that we have witnessed the appearance of a new chronic organic brain syndrome called ‘burnout’ caused by marijuana use.”

 

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Recent research in animals has also suggested that long-term use of marijuana (THC) produces changes in the limbic system that are similar to those that occur after long-term use of other major drugs of abuse such as cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. These changes are most evident during withdrawal from THC. During withdrawal, there are increases in both the levels of a brain chemical involved in stress and certain emotions and the activity of neurons in the amygdala. These same kinds of changes also occur during withdrawal from other drugs of abuse, suggesting that there may be a common factor in the development of drug dependence (Connecticut Clearinghouse, “Marijuana: The Brain’s Response to Drugs,” 1999).

In 1992, a study assessed the acute effects of cannabis on human cognition.  This study found that cannabis impaired all capabilities of learning including associated processes and psychomotor performance.  (Block RI, Farinpour R & Braverman K., “Acute effects of marijuana on cognition: relationship to chronic effects and smoking techniques. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behaviour,” 1992, 43(3):907-917).  Here is a summary of that research.  Also take a look at: “Marijuana use during pregnancy damages kid’s learning” (The New Scientist).

“Much recent research is showing us exactly how marijuana impairs the brain. For instance, three days or more after smoking marijuana, PET scans of chronic marijuana users show decreased metabolic activity in the brain, especially in the cerebellum, a part of the brain involved with motor coordination, learning, and memory [Volkow ND et al., Psychiatric Research Neuroimaging 67:29-38, 1996]” (quoted from, “Prof. Miron Is Wrong About Marijuana,” Janet D. Lapey, M.D., The Massachusetts News Columnist, February 2000).  However, The New Scientist claims that “Controversy still rages over whether cannabis damages the brain.”

For a summary of information for teenagers see:  “Tips for Teens: The Truth About Marijuana.” 

7.    Four times the cancer causing potential of cigarettes.  Cancers of the mouth and jaw usually seen in men (over 60 ) who had been heavy smokers and drinkers for decades have been found in young users.  All had been daily marijuana users but had not smoked nicotine and only used a small amount of alcohol if any.  Study group was young men between 19-38 who had developed squamous cell cancers of the tongue or jaw with lymph node involvement. (PJ Donald – “Marijuana Smoking – Possible Causes of Head and Neck Carcinoma in Young Patients” Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, 94:517-521, 1986 – University of California, and Hoffman, D.; Brunnermann, KD.; Gori, GB.; Wynder, EL., “On the Carcinogenicity of Marijuana Smoke”.  In: Runeckles, VC., ed. Recent Advances in Phytochemistry, New York: Plenium, 1975:63-81.) 

The New Scientist reports on “Cannabis smoking ‘more harmful’ than tobacco.”

“Marijuana smoking is associated with a dose-dependent increased risk of head and neck cancer. . .  Marijuana is a risk factor for human head and neck cancer ” (“Marijuana Use and Increased Risk Zuo-Feng Zhang, Hal Morgenstern, Margaret R. Spitz, Donald P. Tashkin, Guo-Pei Yu, James R. Marshall, T. C. Hsu and Stimson P. Schantz,  Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention Vol. 8, 1071-1078, December 1999) 

Here’s a summary of risk factors for head and neck cancer, including the use of marijuana.

Although scientists have been convinced in the past that smoking causes lung cancer, the strong statistical associations did not provide absolute proof. This paper absolutely pinpoints that mutations in lung cancer cells are caused by benzopyrene. An average marijuana cigarette contains 30 nanograms of this carcinogen compared to 21 nanograms in an average tobacco cigarette (Marijuana and Health, National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine report, 1982). This potent carcinogen suppresses a gene that controls growth of cells. When this gene is damaged the body becomes more susceptible to cancer. This gene, P53, is related to half of all human cancers and as many as 70% of lung cancers.

Commentary: Clearly marijuana smoke contains more of the potent carcinogen benzopyrene than tobacco smoke. Furthermore, the technique of smoking marijuana by inhaling deeply and holding the smoke within the lungs presents a chance of much greater exposure than a conventional tobacco cigarette. (Commentary provided by William M. Bennett M.D., Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Clinical Pharmacology and Hypertension at Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.  This information is from Drug Watch Oregon).

8.  Depression of the immune system at both humoural (body fluids) and cell immunity levels. In fact the immune system response is lowered by up to 40%.  Studies have shown for instance that young people who are users tend to be ill more frequently than non users.  Dr Akira Morishima has found that marijuana more than any other drug he had studied is closely     correlated with a high rate of chromosome damage or destruction particularly in relation to T- lymphocytes (white blood cells). [Friedman, H; Klein, TW; Newton, CA; Widen, R., “The Effects of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and 11-hydroxy-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on 7-lymphocyte and B-lymphocyte Mitogen Response”. J. Immunopharmacol., 7,451,1985 Florida University – 1985 &1994 Drugs of Abuse and the Immune System; 1st International Symposium Paris 1990  & A Morishima, GG Nahas & et al].

“There is good evidence that THC and other cannabinoids can impair both cell-mediated and humoral immune system functioning, leading to decreased resistance to infection by viruses and bacteria. However, the health relevance of these findings to human marijuana use remains uncertain. Conclusive evidence for increased malignancy, or enhanced acquisition of HIV, or the development of AIDS, has not been associated with marijuana use” (National Institutes of Health – Workshop on the Medical Utility of Marijuana, February 19-20, 1997)

For a contrary opinion, see “Marijuana and Immunity,” Leo E. Hollister M.D. (Journal of Psychoactive Drugs pp. 159-163 Vol. 24 Apr-Jun 1992).

Portal icon9.    Fertility and other sexual development problems in males and females.

Males: sperm production is reduced, sperm motility reduced, production of testosterone and other hormones are reduced or delayed, which inhibits normal sexual development in males.  Studies indicate that sometimes this sexual developmental delay leads to lack of interest in females and normal copulatory behaviour.  Another side effect is the chromosomal damage (up to three times the normal rate) giving rise to the inability to produce normal pregnancy.

Females:  marijuana can cause defective menstrual cycles, damage the ovum, cause production of high levels of testosterone, and significantly reduce levels of prolactin, which is required for milk production.  Additionally females who use during pregnancy or who have residual levels of THC still present in their bodies are shown to produce lower than normal birthweight babies and, especially males with a higher than normal mortality rate. (Dr Wylie Hambree et al Columbia University; Dr Susan Dalterio University of Texas; Mendelsen JH et al Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, 1978, 207:611-617; Dr Ethel Sassanrath, University of California; Hingson et al ‘Paediatrics’, vol 70 Oct 92 – Marijuana Alert.  Hatch, E; Bracken, M., “Effect of Marijuana Use on Foetal Growth.”  Am. J. Epidemiol. 124, 986, 1986.  Fried, P; Watkinson, B; Willan, A., “Marijuana Use in Pregnancy and Decreased Length of Gestation.”   Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol., 105, 23, 1984)

A new study at the University of Buffalo, USA, has found: “Men who smoke marijuana frequently have significantly less seminal fluid, a lower total sperm count and their sperm behave abnormally, all of which may affect fertility adversely, a new study in reproductive physiology at the University of Buffalo has shown” (University of Buffalo Reporter, October 23, 2003).

Researcher Peter Fried, a psychologist at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, “told New Scientist (25 March 2003) that as well as affecting memory and learning, exposure to marijuana during pregnancy has a strong effect on visual mapping and analysis in human children.”

10.    DNA metabolism is inhibited thus interfering with cell function and replication.  The blockage of this process results in slowing down the manufacture of DNA, RNA and proteins in the cell nucleus – a process essential for cell life.  (B. Desoize; G Nahas; C Latour; R Vistelle,  University of Champagne – Ardenne, “In Vivo Inhibition of Enterocyte Metabolism by Delta-9-THC” Pro. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med., 181, pp. 512-516, 1986)

11.    Associated with the above the THC enlarges the area between each cell, resulting in poor transmission of nerve impulses.  This can lead to impaired speech and comprehension of complex ideas, loss of memory, difficulty in concentrating, insomnia, lack of body coordination and loss of muscle strength, impaired vision and unexpected mood changes.  (RG Heath et al – “Chronic Marijuana Smoking  – its effect on the Function and Structure of the Primate Brain”.)
Again associated with the issue of DNA, RNA, cell function and replication is the issue of birth abnormalities being produced in the offspring of parents who have used or are still using marijuana.  These abnormalities closely resemble those of thalidomide babies although where thalidomide produced such abnormalities called phecomelia – in place of hands and feet, new borns had seal-like flippers.

Marijuana is responsible for defects such as non-existent limbs, phocomelia, syndactyly (fingers are fused together rendering them useless), missing hands and forearms, webbing of the hands, lack of nails, club feet and hydrocephalus (so called water on the brain).  Dr Virchel E Wood, Orthopedic Surgeon & Associate Professor of the School of Medicine – Dept of Orthopedic Surgery – Loma Linda University (USA) has indicated that abnormalities can occur in the young of one or both parents who have been shown to have used marijuana.  People who use marijuana and other drugs have 18 times more birth defects than non users.

n research reported in 2003, Drs Kenneth L. Audus, and Michael J. Soares of the Institute of Maternal-Fetal Biology concluded that “illicit drugs (e.g. cocaine, marijuana, etc) taken by the mother at virtually any time during gestation have the potential to adversely affect the outcome of pregnancy, resulting in severe complications for the mother, pre-term birth, abnormalities in fetal development and increased health risks as the newborn grows into adulthood” [” Dr. Audus is an internationally recognized expert on drug metabolism and drug transport by the placenta, while Dr. Soares’ expertise resides in understanding mechanisms controlling the growth and development of the placenta”] (News Release, September 1, 2003).
Dr Susan Dalterio of the University of Texas (San Antonio) has noted in extensive studies that genetic mutations have passed through to the second generation of offspring of marijuana users.

Such warnings [about marijuana use linked to psychoses] should not surprise the scientists who have for many years maintained that the THC contained in marijuana is dangerous. First, in the late 1960’s Dr. Robert Heath, then chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Tulane Medical School, found that marijuana affects brain waves and destroys brain cells. [3] Second, a study conducted by Dr. Ethel Sassenrath at the University of California at Davis between 1974 and 1978 found that THC increased the rate of fetal loss (in utero, fetal death) in monkeys by over 300%, while at the same time decreasing the birth weights in those babies born alive. [4] Third, a study by Dr. Susan Dalterio, at the University of Texas found that marijuana decreased testosterone and impaired sexual development in male mice. [5] Finally, a study by Dr. Albert Munson found that injections of THC suppressed the immune systems of mice and made them 96 times more susceptible to the herpes virus. [6] (Schaffer Library of Drug Policy)

12.    1100% increase in the incidence of acute non lymphoblastic leukaemia in the offspring of mothers who used while pregnant or just prior to conception.  The research also indicated that that these children developed the leukaemia earlier – 19 months instead of the usual 93 months.  (Professor Neglia et al Minnesota University – reported 1990 and Robson et al Children’s Cancer Study Group – reported in “Cancer” 63:1904-1910, 1989)

13.    Marijuana prevents liver enzyme CP450 from breaking down anti-depressant medication thus causing an accumulation of the anti-depressant in the body which can result in death (Dr John Anderson – Neuro Scientist, Consultant, Psychophysiologist – Neuroscience Psychological Services Centre,  Westmead,  Sydney NSW).  It is tragic for the scientific cause of the investigation of the impact of marijuana and anti-depressants that Dr. Anderson died in 2002.

  I would like to see in-depth research conducted to follow-up Dr. Anderson’s pioneering work.  Here is a summary of Dr. John Anderson’s preliminary research.  Further, Dr. Anderson contended:

Statistics suggest that 40% of ADHD children are predisposed to substance abuse during adolescence or adulthood. Of the ADHD population who are poly substance users, 67% smoke marijuana. Many behavioural changes are similar to those of ADHD: academic ability decreases; sniffles, colds, trivial illness, especially respiratory system; concentration levels decrease; depersonalisation; increased levels of anxiety; increased depression; reaction times slows; short-term memory difficulties; a lack of motivation or interest in things previously enjoyed; increased impulsivity; space and time distortion; may increase appetite.  (A summary of a talk presented by John Anderson to ADDult, NSW, Australia)


14.    Marijuana use and its link to other illicit drugs, is not genetic according to
Michael Lynskey, at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri, and his team [who] found that the early user [of marijuana] was two to five times more likely to go on to use harder drugs or become dependent on alcohol – regardless of whether they were an identical twin or not.

    The fact that identical twins, who share all their genes, did not differ from non-identical twins, who share half, suggests that the progression is not the product of genes. (The New Scientist, 21 January 2003, based on an article in the  Journal of the American Medical Association, vol 289, pp. 427, 482).

15.  Yet, there is a rising swell of support for marijuana use across Europe and Canada, according to The New Scientist

For further marijuana research summaries, see the Drug Watch Oregon website.  See “Marijuana: Facts for Teens.”

Here’s another summary of the dangers of marijuana use.
Here’s a short summary of the effects of marijuana (a summary of this article).

Notes:

1.  Susan Dalterio is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Her email contact is:  sdalterio@utsa.edu

2.  Copyright © 2002, BMJ BMJ. 2002 November 23; 325 (7374): 1212–1213, “Cannabis use in adolescence and risk for adult psychosis: longitudinal prospective study, ” Louise Arseneault, lecturer, Mary Cannon, Wellcome Trust advanced fellow, Richie Poulton, director, Dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study, Robin Murray, professor, Avshalom Caspi, professor, Terrie E Moffitt, professor. 

SGDP Research Centre, King’s College, London SE5 8AF, Division of Psychological Medicine, King’s College, Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Correspondence to: T E Moffitt t.moffitt@iop.kcl.ac.uk. 

3.  Robert G. Health, “Cannabis Sativa: Effects on Brain Function,” Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 15, No. 5, 1980.

4. Government’s Supplemental Sentencing Memorandum Re: Health Effects of Marijuana, U.S. v. Greyshock, United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, 1988.

5.  Ibid.

6.  Ibid.

 
Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 9 October 2015.

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Whytehouse Designs

More Fluoride Spin

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Dental fluorosis picture
Examples of dental fluorosis in 8- and 9-year old children who grew up in fluoridated Auckland, New Zealand

By Spencer D Gear

It is interesting to observe what one professional did to support the status quo in dentistry in promoting the addition of fluoride to a city’s water supply.  Take a read of this Australian dental professional’s letter to my local newspaper.

Dental President’s push for fluoride

This letter-to-the-editor appeared in the Bundaberg NewsMail (Queensland, Australia), Wednesday, October 26, 2005, p. 6.

False claims on fluoride
I was horrified to read the arguments against fluoridation recently printed in the NewsMail.

They falsely claimed or implied that water fluoridation caused a whole range of diseases and medical problems.

Would the World Health Organisation, US-based Centres for Disease Control, the UK Medical Research Council, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council and more than 100 of the world’s leading health and
scientific authorities endorse water fluoridation if it cased (sic) health problems?

Of course not; the suggestion is ludicrous.

An independent 2002 cost benefit analysis showed that the state would save more than $1 billion over the next 30 years if Queensland’s larger towns were fluoridated.

That’s in 2002 dollars and takes into account all capital and ongoing costs.
Rather than costing money, water fluoridation has a massive cost benefit.

Why do we put up with the worst teeth in the country and the most expensive public dental system in the country?

Why are more than 140,000 Queenslanders (more than all the surgical and “secret” waiting lists combined) on public dental waiting lists?

Why do our pensioners and low income earners have to wait for years for a dental check up?

Every other state and territory fluoridated their drinking water decades ago and they have reaped the financial and health benefits ever since.

The Australian Dental Association and other health authorities look forward to working with state and local government bodies to implement what was recently described by the US Centres for Disease Control as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

DR MICHAEL FOLEY
President
Australian Dental Association
Queensland Branch

My response to the Bundaberg News-Mail

How does one respond to a dental professional who seems to have the dental status quo on his side?  After all, he wrote:  “Would the World Health Organisation, US-based Centres for Disease Control, the UK Medical Research Council, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council and more than 100 of the world’s leading health and scientific authorities endorse water fluoridation if it cased (sic) health problems?”

Dear Editor,

Dr Michael Foley, as President of the Australian Dental Association (Qld.), is lauding the benefits, especially the cost  benefits, of adding a toxin (fluoride) to our water supply [2].  He quotes the authorities that he wants but ignores others.

He omitted telling us that 98% of Europe does not drink fluoridated water. Apart from 10% of the UK and 3% of Spain, virtually every European country has either ceased or rejected outright water fluoridation as a health program. [3]

Dr. Hardy Limeback is no dummy in dentistry, as head of Preventive Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Canada, and was once an ardent supporter of the benefits of fluoride – but no more.

He says that “mass medicating” the public through the water supply is dangerous and unnecessary, stating that the benefits are “exaggerated” and there is growing evidence of the results of overexposure from fluoridated toothpaste and other sources.

He wrote, “On the risk side, so many people will end up with ruined teeth, fragile bones, acute sensitivities, thyroid problems and an increased risk for cancer, all in the name of preventive dentistry.”

He admits, “I am ashamed for my profession and can no longer take part in the charade.” [4]

Nobel Laureate in Medicine (2000), Dr. Arvid Carlson of Sweden wrote: “I am quite convinced that water fluoridation, in a not-too-distant future, will be consigned to medical history.” [5]

Why is it that The Harvard School of Dental Medicine announced in July 2005  that it would investigate the work  of one of its faculty members after an environmental watchdog group accused the professor of ignoring research conducted by one of his own students that linked fluoride to bone cancer in boys? [6]

But Dr. Foley is “horrified” about the anti-fluoride letters in the NewsMail and claims the link with diseases and medical problems is false.  Try telling that to the Harvard University dental researcher and the European countries that contradict Foley’s claims.
Sincerely,
Spencer Gear

P. S. A very abbreviated version of my letter was published.

Various levels of fluorosis (Fluoride Action Network)

My Response to the Fraser Coast Chronicle

I responded to a letter from Maryborough, Qld., medical practitioner, Dr. Cotton.  I am not aware that this letter was published.

19 April 2006

Dear Editor,

I applaud Dr. Cotton’s (Forum, 15 April 2006) call: “What we need is leadership on the issue [of fluoridation].”  But it must be truthful leadership about fluoride’s effects.

Dr. Hardy Limeback is no dummy in dentistry.  He’s Associate Professor and Head, Preventive Dentistry, University of Toronto, Canada.  He used to be a leading advocate for fluoride and pushed for it in Ontario.  Now he is opposed.

This is the leadership needed on the Fraser Coast.  A study at the University of Toronto confirmed Dr. Limeback’s worst fears.  “Residents of cities that fluoridate have double the fluoride in their hip bones vis-a-vis the balance of the population.  Worse, we discovered that fluoride is actually altering the basic architecture of human bones.”

Skeletal fluorosis is a severe condition that occurs when fluoride accumulates in bones, making them extremely weak and brittle.  What are the earliest symptoms?

According to Dr. Limeback, they are mottled and brittle teeth.  He said that in Canada they were now spending more money treating dental fluorosis than on treating cavities.  And that includes his own dental practice.

Dr. Limeback compares two Canadian cities.  “Here in Toronto we’ve been fluoridating for 36 years.  Yet Vancouver, which has never fluoridated, has a cavity rate lower than Toronto’s.”

This is the type of leadership needed!

Yours sincerely,
Spencer Gear
Bundaberg

It’s time that we got the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the fluoride debate.

LINKS

1.    “Why I changed my mind about water fluoridation,” by John Colquhoun, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 41, 1, Autumn 1997, available from: http://www.fluoridation.com/colquhoun.htm (John Colquhoun was from the School of Education, University of Auckland, New Zealand).

2.    Dr. Hardy Limeback, “Why I am now officially opposed to adding fluoride to drinking water,” available from the Fluoride Action Network at:  http://www.fluoridealert.org/limeback.htm [14th August 2004].   Dr. Hardy Limeback, BSc, PhD, DDS, Associate Professor and Head, Preventive Dentistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5G-1G6.  E-mail: hardy.limeback@utoronto.ca.

3.  I highly recommend the Fluoride Action Network and its range of articles, reports on scientific research, to provide information about the status of fluoride that you will not find in conventional medical or dental circles.

Notes

2.    Bundaberg NewsMail, 26 Oct., 2005, p. 6.
3.   “Why is the Media Finally Paying Attention to Fluoridation?” 14 March 2001, Canton, New York.  Fluoride Action Network,  available from PR-Archive.com at: http://public-utilities.pr-archive.com/en/pr42418.htm (Accessed 26 October 2005).
4.    Ken Macqueen, “Biting Back Against Fluoride: The long campaign against treated water is gaining new adherents,” Macleans, November 25, 2002, available from the Canadian Encyclopedia at: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=M1ARTM0012369 (Accessed 26 October 2005).
5.    “Dr Arvid Carlsson, Nobel Laureate in Medicine (2000), Opposes Fluoridation,” Available from the Fluoride Action
Network at: http://www.fluoridealert.org/carlsson.htm (Accessed 14th August 2004).
6.    Brendan R. Linn, Crimson Staff Writer, “Dental School Begins Investigation of Prof: School probes accusations that Douglass misreported findings of cancer study Published on Friday, July 01, 2005, Harvard Crimson, Harvard University’s newspaper, Available from: http://www.thecrimson.com/today/article508199.html (Accessed 2 July 2005).

 

Copyright (c) 2013 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date: 9 October 2015.

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The Church’s Role in National Decay

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

(Courtesy Open Clip Art Library)

By Spencer D Gear

At a time when Australia is in moral disarray, who decides what are the `right’ values for government, education, media and individuals? We live in a society that is wanting to throw out absolute, God-given moral values and replace them with the whim and fancy of individuals. The public square seems naked.

Chuck Colson, of Watergate fame in the USA, who became a born-again Christian believer, while speaking of the USA, stated in 1994, prior to September 11, 2001, that “the culture in which we live is nearly lost.” [1]  Secular historian, Will Durant, follows a similar theme when he states that “we will find it no easy task to mold a natural ethic strong enough to maintain moral restraint and social order without the support of supernatural consolations, hopes, and fears.” [2]  Francis Schaeffer’s response to Durant’s comment was:

    Poor Will Durant!  It is not just difficult, it is impossible.  He should have remembered the quotation he and Ariel Durant gave from the agnostic Renan in their book

The Lessons of History

    According to the Durants, Renan said in 1866, “If rationalism wishes to govern the world without regard to the religious needs of the soul, the experience of the French Revolution is there to teach us the consequences of such a blunder.” [3]

The Durants persist with morality’s link to faith: “There is no significant example in history before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.” [4]

    The hunger for the transcendent remains unabated. . .  The yearning for the spiritual just will not die. . .  There is no clearer demonstration of this unrelenting hunger than the experiences of Russia and China as each has, in its own way, tried to exterminate the idea of God, only to realize that He rises up to outlive His pallbearers. . .  The greatest question of our time must be considered: Can man live without God?  It must be answered not only by those who are avowedly  antitheistic, but also by the many who functionally live as if there were no God and that His existence does not matter.  [5]

If Australia is to be restored, God’s transcendent truth must be proclaimed, demonstrated and brought to bear on our society. Jesus said that this was essential for believers (the church) to be salt and light. Christians must stand up and be counted for God’s truth in allareas of society.

BUT WHERE IS THE CHURCH?

Crime and violence skyrocket; sexual promiscuity and venereal disease are rampant; the poor and homeless are marginal; who protects the unborn, the handicapped and the elderly? Daily I deal with rebellious youth and disillusioned parents. Sometimes they are care-less parents and fed-up youth. Where is the church? Singer and songwriter, the late Keith Green, nailed the problem when he sang that we are “asleep in the light”:

Do you see, do you see all the people sinking down?
Don’t you care, don’t you care?
Are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb not to care if they come?
You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done. . .
He’s told you to speak, but you keep holding it in.
Oh, can’t you see it’s such sin.
The world is sleeping in the dark
that the Church just can’t fight,
‘cause it’s asleep in the light. [6]

David Wilkerson agreed: “The church of Jesus Christ is asleep.  Its shepherds are mostly slumbering or chasing after their own dreams. Only the sleeping church could have allowed the abominations now poisoning it.” [7]

The moral madness in Australia is worsening. For the average Aussie, life goes on as usual with few concerned about the awful danger we are in. Almost nobody is alarmed. Apathy has overcome the culture and the church. But that won’t stop the judgment that is coming.

The people of Noah’s day did not expect the catastrophe, but it came just the same. While we live in relative luxury, gross injustice is being perpetrated with the shedding of innocent blood. But what does a fat society and a sleepy church do? “Give us another drink!” South Australian Christian ethicist, John Fleming calls it “decaffeinated Christianity.” [8]  John Smith says we are a “delinquent church.” [9]

For Israel, it took a Lion’s roar through the true prophet, Amos. What will is take to awaken Australia’s Christians, let alone the culture? God has already given Christians His orders: “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here(Romans 13:11-12).

It is time to wake up!!

The spiritual and moral danger we are in, are too critical to brush aside with, “She’ll be right mate!” The issues we face are too crucial. The destiny of people made “in the image of God” hangs in the balance. The direction of our nation is too pivotal for Christians to be casual and lazy when delivering God’s message. Christian preacher and writer with prophetic insight, John O. Anderson, challenges the church: “The lawyer’s mistakes go to jail, the doctor’s mistakes go to the cemetery, but the minister’s mistakes go to hell!” [10]

Endnotes:

[1]  Charles Colson, “Foreword,” Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God?  Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994, p. x.
[2]  Will Durant, The Humanist, February 1977, in Francis A Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto.  Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1981, p. 45.
[3]  In ibid.  The quote is from Will & Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 1968,  pp. 50-51.
[4]  Durant, ibid.
[5]  Ravi Zacharias, pp. xv-xvi.
[6]  Keith Green, “Asleep in the Light,” retrieved from “Frontlines” on June 10, 2002, at http://www.heartofgod.com/frontlines1/Articles/EdRec.asp?ArticleID=47
[7]  David Wilkerson, Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth.  Lindale, Texas: World Challenge, Inc., 1985,  p. 108.
[8]  In John O. Anderson, The Cry of Compassion: The Church’s Needed Voice in Today’s World.  Klamath Falls, Oregon: John O. Anderson, 1992, p. 67.
[9]  John Smith, Advance Australia Where?  Homebush West, NSW: Anzea Publishers, 1988, p. 211.
[10]  Anderson, p. 81.

Wake up from your slumber!

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 October 2015.

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September 11 & other tragedies: Why doesn’t God stop it?

Monday, October 24th, 2011

We have experienced some horrible trauma and grief in my hometown of Bundaberg and district in recent years. The Childers, Queensland, backpacker tragedy put this community on the international map, with 15 incinerated in a backpacker hostel in the year 2000. In 2002, there was the wicked murder of another backpacker, pushed over the rails of the traffic bridge to her death. This is in the sugar cane growing city of 60,000 (including the district) that once had a reputation of being “the city of charm.”  Why doesn’t God stop it?

 


(Twin Towers, September 11, 2001, dailymail.co.uk, public domain)

Then there was September 11! Terrorist carnage has put the world on alert. Where was God?

When I was in counselling work for many years, my staff and I heard of some of  the most disgusting abuse of children by adults, and of parents by youth. What’s going on in our homes? What’s wrong with our world?

Philosopher, Richard Rorty, speaks for many when he says that truth is what your peers let you get away with. [2]  But the views on television are not that much different. Sleeping around is OK. Marriage is for nerds. Obeying parents is old-fashioned.

Television viewing has become a way of life and a mentality for approaching reality. Truth has been slaughtered by the many “truths” of our postmodern world. Choose your own values. There is nothing absolutely right anymore. As Philip Kenneson puts it, “There is no such thing as objective truth, and it’s a good thing, too.” [3]

If that’s so, why worry about sexually abused children, incinerated backpackers, or terrorists destroying the twin towers? They’re doing their own thing and surely that’s OK in our world? Leading Indian-born defender of the Christian faith, Ravi Zacharias, and a few friends had a discussion with one of the USA’s most powerful construction tycoons who wanted to know why God was silent when there was so much evil in the world?  One of them asked him, “Since evil seems to trouble you so much, I would be curious to know what you have done about the evil that you see within you.”  Zacharias said that there was “a red-faced silence.”  How would you respond?

The Bible provides a radically different diagnosis and solution to the “anything goes” values of today. The Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, nailed it: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)

The cure for the depravity that is all around us is found in the God who took his own medicine. He sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to shed his blood by gross crucifixion to make forgiveness available to all of us — the desperately corrupt.

There was an article in The Times newspaper in England that asked, “What’s wrong with the world?” A lot of letters followed. The shortest was one of the most powerful, from British author, G. K. Chesterton. What’s wrong with the world? He wrote, “I am.  Yours truly, G. K. Chesterton.” [4]
  See more photos of the September 11, 2001 tragedy.

 

Notes:

2.  Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.  New Your: Princeton University Press, 1979, p. 176, in Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay.  Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 20.
3.  Philip Kenneson, “There Is No Such Thing as Objective Truth, and It’s a Good Thing Too, ” in Groothuis, Truth Decay, p. 21.
4.  In Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God?  Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994, p. 145.

“I am the problem.”

 

Copyright (c) 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date:  7 October 2015.

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The Content of the Gospel . . . and some discipleship [1]

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Gospel Feet
(courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear [2]

Two rather different experiences came out of the communist experiment with trying to create a classless society. Both examples point to a need for something in life that goes beyond what our senses interpret. Romanian pastor, Richard Wurmbrand, spent 14 years in a communist prison – three of these years were in solitary confinement. Later, he was able to say,

“We prisoners have experienced the power of God, the love of God which made us leap with joy. Prison has proved that love is as strong as death. We have conquered through Christ. Officers with rubber truncheons came to interrogate us; we interrogated them, and they became Christians. Other prisoners had been converted. . . The Communists believe that happiness comes from material satisfaction; but alone in my cell, cold, hungry and in rags, I danced for joy every night… Sometimes I was so filled with joy that I felt I would burst if I did not give it expression. . . I had discovered a beauty in Christ which I had not known before.”[3]

“I remember vividly a meeting with the editors of Pravda, formerly the official mouthpiece of the Community Party…. Pravda’‘s circulation was falling dramatically (from eleven million to 700,000) in concert with communism’s fall from grace. The editors of Pravda seemed earnest, sincere, searching–shaken to the core. So shaken that they were now asking advice from emissaries of a religion their founder had scorned as ‘the opiate of the people’.

“The editors remarked wistfully that Christianity and communism have many of the same ideals.“‘We don’t know how to motivate people to show compassion,’ said the editor-in-chief. ‘We tried raising money for the children of Chernobyl [who had suffered badly from radiation sickness when the nuclear reactor exploded], but the average Russian citizen would rather spend money on drink. How do you reform and motivate people? How do you get them to be good?“Seventy-four years of communism had proved beyond all doubt that goodness could not be legislated from the Kremlin and enforced at the point of a gun”. [4]How can we obtain joy and hope in the here and now, even when in prison? What will bring motivation to show compassion to the unlovely and suffering? It is the same inner change that brings eternal life. How can we experience this salvation that comes with an eternal guarantee? Here’s an outline of some of the essentials!

A.    You must understand God’s holiness.

“God’s holiness means that he is separated from sin and devoted to seeking his own honor.”[5]See Proverbs 9:10; Psalm 111:10; Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7; 15:33; Micah 6:9.

1.    God is utterly holy and His law, therefore, demands perfect holiness. See Leviticus 11:44-45; Joshua 24:19; I Samuel 2:2; 6:20.

2.    Even the New Testament gospel requires this holiness. See I Peter 1:15-16; Hebrews 12:14.

3.    Because the Lord God Almighty is holy, He hates sin. Exodus 20:5.

4.    Sinners cannot stand before Him

  • What is sin? “Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature. . . Sin is more than simply painful and destructive — it is also wrong in the deepest sense of the word. . . Sin is directly opposite to all that is good in the character of God.”[6]

See Psalm 1:5B.    You must understand God’s righteousness/justice.

    In English, the terms “righteousness” and “justice” are different words. This is not so in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. There is only one word group behind these two English terms.[7]

1.    What is God’s righteousness/justice?

  • “God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right.”[8]
  • What is right or just? “Whatever conforms to God’s moral character is right.”[9]

Deuteronomy 32:4; Genesis 18:25; Psalm 19:8; Isaiah 45:19; Romans 9:20-21.

2.    Christ’s sacrifice was to show God’s righteousness

  • When God sent Christ as a sacrifice to bear the punishment for sin, it was to show God’s righteousness. See Romans 3:25-26.

C.  You must understand that you are a sinner who sins & God hates sin.

  • Gospel means “good news.”
  • What makes it truly “good news” is not only that heaven is free, but also God’s Son has conquered that sin.
  • Jesus said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). What do you think Jesus meant by that?

1.    Sin is what it is that makes true peace impossible for unbelievers.

    Isaiah 57:20-21

2.    All have sinned.

    Romans 3:10-18

3.    Sin makes the sinner worthy of death.

    James 1:5; Romans 6:23

4.    Sinners can do nothing to earn salvation.

    Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; Revelation 21:8

D.  You must understand the wrath of God.

    “If God loves all that is right and good, and all that conforms to his moral character, then it should not be surprising that he would hate everything that is opposed to his moral character. God’s wrath directed against sin is therefore closely related to God’s holiness and justice.”[10]

1.  What is the wrath of God?

    “God’s wrath means that he intensely hates all sin.”[11]
    Exodus 32:9-10; Deuteronomy 9:7-8; 29:23; 2 Kings 22:13; John 3:36; Romans 1:18; 2:5, 8; 5:9; 9:22; Colossians 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:16; 5:9; Hebrews 3:11; Revelation 6:16-17; 19:15.

2.  God is slow to inflict his wrath on people. Why?

    See Psalm 103:8-9; Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9-10.

E. How can God’s wrath be pacified/appeased?

1. God has provided a way through blood-sacrifice.

Leviticus 8:15; 17:112.  By Christ’s death (blood-sacrifice), he appeased the wrath of God.

Hebrews 9:7, 12, 20, 22, 24.3.  God calls this “propitiation” and it makes God favourable towards sinners.

Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; I John 2:2; 5:10 (atoning sacrifice/sacrifice of atonement = propitiation)

  • Propitiation is important “because it is the heart of the doctrine of the atonement. It means that there is an eternal, unchangeable requirement in the holiness and justice of God that sin be paid for. Furthermore, before the atonement ever could have an effect on our subjective consciousness, it first had an effect on God and his relation to the sinners he planned to redeem. Apart from this central truth, the death of Christ really cannot be adequately understood.”[12]
  • “The atonement is the work Christ did in his life and death to earn our salvation.”[13]

F. Who is Christ and what has He done for you?

    The solution for the sinner is found in the

Lord Jesus Christ.

1.    Christ is eternally God John 1:1-3, 14; Colossians 2:9

2.    Christ is Lord of all

    Revelation 17:14; Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 10:36

3.    Christ became man Philippians 2:6-7

4.    Christ is utterly pure and sinless

    Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22-23; 1 John 3:5

5.    The sinless one became a sacrifice for YOUR sin

    2 Corinthians 5:21; Titus 2:14

6.    He shed His own blood as an atonement for sin

    Ephesians 1:7-8; Revelation 1:5

7.    He died on the cross to provide a way of salvation for sinners

    1 Peter 2:24; Colossians 1:20

8.     Christ rose triumphantly from the dead

    Romans 1:4; 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

G. What does God demand of you? “Repentant faith is the requirement. It is NOT merely a ‘decision’ to trust Christ for eternal life, but a wholesale forsaking of everything else we trust, and a turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.”[14]

1. Repent

What is repentance? “Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.”[15]

Ezekiel 18:30, 32; Acts 17:30; 26:2; Luke 13:3

2.  Turn your heart from all that you know dishonours God Thessalonians 1:9

3. Follow Jesus Luke 9:23, 62; John 12:26

4. Trust Jesus as your Lord and Saviour Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9

5.  Repentance and faith continue throughout your life

Repentance and faith must start together at the beginning of the Christian life. See Acts 20:21. Repentance and faith must be lived by Christians throughout their lives.

  •    Concerning faith, see Galatians 2:20; I Corinthians 13:13.
  •    Concerning repentance, see Revelation 3:19; 2 Corinthians 7:10

“Conversion is a single action of turning from sin in repentance and turning to Christ in faith. “Therefore, it is clearly contrary to the New Testament evidence to speak about the possibility of having true saving faith without having any repentance for sin.  It is also contrary to the New Testament to speak about the possibility of someone accepting Christ ‘as Savior’ but not ‘as Lord,’ if that means simply depending on him for salvation but not committing oneself to forsake sin and to be obedient to Christ from that point on. . . “Some prominent voices within evangelicalism have differed with this point, arguing that a gospel presentation that requires repentance as well as faith is really preaching salvation by works.  They argue that the view advocated [here] that repentance and faith must go together, is a false gospel of ‘lordship salvation.’  They would say that saving faith only involves trusting Christ as Savior, and that submitting to him as Lord is an optional later step that is unnecessary for salvation.  For many who teach this view, saving faith only requires an intellectual agreement with the facts of the gospel. . . “The source of this view of the gospel is apparently Lewis Sperry Chafer. . . [who says], ‘the New Testament does not impose repentance upon the unsaved as a condition of salvation. . .’  Chafer recognizes that many verses call upon people to repent, but he simply defines repentance away as a ‘change of mind’ that does not include sorrow for sin or turning from sin”[16].

H.  You must count the cost of following Jesus with much thought.

  • Salvation is absolutely free.
  • So is joining the army; you don’t have to pay to get into it. Everything you need is provided.[17]
  • Following Christ is like joining the army. It will cost you daily. It will cost you freedom, family, friends, doing things your own way (autonomy), and possibly even your life.[18]
  • I must tell you, a prospective believer, the full truth and nothing but the truth.
  • Read what Jesus said about this in Luke 14:26-33; Matthew 10:34-38; Romans 6:6.

A.W. Tozer wrote:

“The cross is the most revolutionary thing ever to appear among men. The cross of Roman times knew no compromise; it never made concessions. It won all its arguments by killing its opponent and silencing him for good. It spared not Christ, but slew Him the same as the rest. He was alive when they hung Him on that cross and completely dead when they took Him down six hours later. That was the cross the first time it appeared in Christian history. . . The cross effects [i.e. brings about] its ends by destroying one established pattern, the victim’s, and creating another pattern, its own. Thus it always has its way. It wins by defeating its opponent and imposing its will upon him. It always dominates. It never compromises, never dickers nor confers, never surrenders a point for the sake of peace. It cares not for peace; it cares only to end its opposition as fast as possible.     With perfect knowledge of all this, Christ said, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’ So the cross not only brings Christ’s life to an end, it ends also the first life, the old life, of every one of His true followers. It destroys the old pattern, the Adam pattern, in the believer’s life, and brings it to an end. Then the God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins. This, and nothing less, is true Christianity. . .     We must do something about the cross, and one of two things only we can do – flee it or die upon it.”[19]

  • Read Mark 8:35-37.

I.  I urge you to trust (have faith in) Christ alone for your salvation.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:11, 20; Isaiah 55:7; Romans 10:9-10;

What will you do with Jesus?

J.  After you trust Christ alone, what should you do? Where do good works fit in?

  • Good works: See Hebrews 5:9; Titus 2:14; Ephesians 2:10;
  • Baptism: See Acts 2:28; 8:36-39; Mark 16:16; Romans 4:10-11;
  • Join with a local church. See Hebrews 10:25.

K. What was the first creed of the early church?

    See Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 4:5.

L.  How will you know that you are a Christian?

1.    You presently continue to trust Christ for salvation

Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 3:14; 6:12; John 3:16 (“believes” means “continues believing in him.”[20])

2.    There will be evidence in your heart of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit[21]

  • Through the subjective testimony of the Holy Spirit within your hearts. Romans 8:14-16; 1 John 4:13.
  • Your life will produce the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
  • You continue to believe and accept the sound teaching of the church. 1 John 2:23-24
  • You will have a continuing relationship with Jesus Christ. John 15:4, 7
  • You will have a life of obedience to God’s commands. 1 John 2:4-6, 10, 19; 3:9-10, 14, 17, 24; 4:7; 5:18; James 2:17-18.
  • You will give to needy people. Matthew 25:31-46

3.    You will have a long-term pattern of growth and obedience in your Christian life 2 Peter 1:5-7, 10; John 6:40

M.  How will other people know that you are a Christian? By the fruit in your life

        Galatians 5:22-23; Matthew 7:16-20; 25:31-46; James 2:17-18

N.  Do you want to repent and trust Christ alone for your salvation and live eternally for and with him?

O.  What happens to those who reject God’s offer of salvation? Because God is an absolutely just God, if you reject his offer of salvation you will receive the consequences that God, the Maker, Sustainer, and Ruler of the world, has decided. At death, God sends you to hell.

1.    Hell forever

    “Hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked.”[22] David Kingdon writes: “Sin against the Creator is heinous to a degree utterly beyond our sin-warped imaginations’ [ability] to conceive of. . . Who would have the temerity to suggest to God what the punishment . . . should be?”[23]
    Matthew 25:30, 41, 46; Mark 9:43, 48; Luke 16:22-24, 28; Revelation 14:9-11; 19:3

            2.    Is hell just? Revelation 19:1-3

“Be under no illusion.  Unbelievers deserve to go to hell.  And it is fair for God to send them there.  Don’t blame God or say it is unfair.  Man it is who has sinned.  He is the rebel who continues to defy God and break his holy laws.  In his heart he hates God and refuses to honour or serve him.  He does not want God to interfere with his life or tell him how to live.  And man is without excuse.  The evidence stares him in the face.  Even creation tells him that God exists and that God is powerful as well as eternal.  Man’s conscience also tells him of his duty to obey God.  There is the Bible, too, which reveals God to man.  But man ignores the evidence.  He continues to sin without realizing that God, in his holiness and anger, must punish him for his disobedience.  ‘The soul who sins is the one who will die (Ezekiel 18:4).” [24]

W. G. T. Shedd said, “If there were no hell in Scripture, we should be compelled to invent one.” [25]  C. S. Lewis wrote: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’.  All that are in hell choose it.” [26] Matthew 11:28 (ESV):  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. If you want to know more, see “Two Ways to Live”.

 

 

Endnotes:

1. This summary of the content of the Gospel is based on John F. MacArthur Jr., Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles. Milton Keynes, England: Word Publishing, 1993, p. 247ff.

2. Spencer D Gear PhD is ordained with the Christian & Missionary Alliance, Australia, is an independent researcher, Bible teacher and Christian apologist living in Brisbane, Qld., Australia. He completed his PhD in New Testament (University of Pretoria, South Africa) in an aspect of the historical Jesus.

3. Richard Wurmbrand, In God’s Underground (Diane Books), in David K. Watson, How to Find God. Wheaton, Illinois: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1974, p. 65.

4. Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995, p. 75.

5. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994, p. 201

6. Ibid., pp. 490, 492.

7. Ibid., p. 203.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid., p. 204.

10. Ibid., pp. 205-206.

11. Ibid., p. 206.

12. Ibid., p. 575.

13. Ibid., p. 568.

14. MacArthur., p. 252.

15. Grudem, p. 713.

16.  Ibid., p. 714,  including note 5.

17. MacArthur, p. 253.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid., pp. 254-55, from A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous. Harrisburg, Pa.: Christian Publications, 1955, pp. 61-63. 20. Grudem, p. 803.

21. Ibid., p. 803-806.

22. Ibid., p. 1148.

23. In ibid., p. 1151.

24.  Eryl Davies, Condemned For Ever! What the Bible teaches about eternal punishment.  Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England: Evangelical Press, 1987, pp. 77-78.  This quote is taken from Davies’ chapter, “Is it fair?”  He is asking the question about the justice and fairness of God sending unbelievers to hell.

25. In John Blanchard, Whatever Happened to Hell?  Darling, Co. Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 1992, p. 148

26. In ibid., p. 149.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 December 2015.

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Refutation of a heresy of Christ’s incarnation

Monday, October 24th, 2011

image

Courtesy of Hendrickson Publishers (2005)

By Spencer D Gear

Was this idea of Jesus’ being fully man and fully God a creation of the church after Christ’s life, death and ascension?

A statement has been made about the divine and human with relation to Jesus. It’s a confusing statement, but it points to a problem in the contemporary doctrine of the person of Christ:

It seems to me that part of the problem is the idea of Jesus being “fully man” and “fully God” simultaneously. But I think some of this is stuff that has come up AFTER Jesus. For example, the Ebionite Christians of the 2nd Century said that Jesus was man, but not God, but the Docetist Christians (same era) said Jesus was fully God, but not a man at all (since, by their thinking, God couldn’t be debaucherized by entering a sinful world.. so Jesus was kind of like a hologram, in today’s terms).. and so to stick these together, they made Jesus “fully God, and fully man”.. and that’s where this confusion comes from.[1]

My response[2] is that Jesus has two natures – fully God and fully man – and this is the orthodox teaching of the New Testament. See the following for biblical support:

The Nestorian heresy

This was as much an issue in the early church as it is today. It was debated at the First Council of Ephesus in 431 and the Nestorian position was found to be unorthodox and his teachings were condemned as heresy.

Nestorius, the patriarch of Constantinople, may not have taught this doctrine himself, but Nestorianism, associated with his name, believed the error that Jesus was two distinct persons, one human and one divine. This doctrine threatens the nature of the atonement. Harold O. J. Brown stated that

Nestorius’ incarnate person was a single person, not two as his critics thought, but he could not convince others that it was so. Consequently he has gone down in history as a great heretic although what he actually believed was reaffirmed at [the Council of] Chalcedon.[3]

The Scriptures do not indicate the human nature of Christ as an independent person. We don’t find in the Bible any teaching such as: “Jesus’ divine nature did this” and “Jesus’ human nature did that” as if they were acting as two separate persons. The NT teaching always speaks of the PERSON of Christ did this or that.

So, the orthodox position is that Jesus was one person who possessed both a human nature and a divine nature.

We can talk of Christ’s human nature, where he ascended to heaven and is no longer in our world (see John 16:28; 17:11; Acts 1:9-11). When speaking of Christ’s divine nature we can say that he is present everywhere: “Where two or three are gathered in my name THERE AM I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20); “I am with you always to the close of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

So we can say that both of these things are true about the PERSON of Christ – he has returned to heaven AND he is also present with us.

We can say that Jesus was about 30 years old (Luke 3:23) if we speak of his human nature, but when speaking of his divine nature, we can say that he eternally existed (see John 1:1-2; 8:58). In his human nature, Jesus became weak and grew tired (see Matt. 4:2; 8:24; Mark 15:21; John 4:6), but we know that in his divine nature, he was omnipotent (Matt. 8:26-27; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3. Therefore, we know that he was omnipotent, but he grew tired.

We see these two natures at work in the situation where Jesus was asleep in the boat and then calmed the wind and the waves (Matt. 8:26-27). It is amazing that this one person was both tired and omnipotent. At time his weak human frailty hid his omnipotence. But we must never lose sight of the fact that Jesus was one person with both human and divine natures.
I find that the only way I can get my head around this teaching that opposes Nestorianism, is to read the Scriptures. Jesus was truly and fully God and truly and fully human – both natures in the one person.

But what about this problem?

It is stated by Jesus, ‘But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father’ (Mark 13:32 ESV). He was speaking of his second coming and Jesus did not know this time. How can this be when he is fully God?

This is why the biblical doctrine of Christology needs to be fully support in understanding that Jesus was one person with two natures. Christ’s lack of knowledge of the time of his return is a clear example of the need to have the orthodox doctrine of Christ’s one person with two natures. Wayne Grudem put it this way:

This ignorance of the time of his return was true of Jesus’ human nature and human consciousness only, for in his divine nature he was certainly omniscient and certainly knew the time when he would return to earth.[4]

Let’s check out Lutheran commentator, R. C. H. Lenski, and his interpretation of Mark 13:32:

The fact that the angels, though they are in heaven, do not know the date and period is no special surprise to us, but the fact that “the Son” should not know day and hour does cause surprise. The term “the Son” is placed alongside of “the Father.” But whereas Jesus thus names himself according to his divine person and nature, what he predicates of himself is something that pertains to his human nature. The Scriptures show that Jesus may be named according to either nature, and yet that something that belongs to the opposite nature may constitute the predicate. Analogous to the expression used here is Acts 3:15: “you killed the Prince of life”; also 1 Cor. 2:8, “crucified the Lord of glory.” In their essential oneness the three persons know all things, but in his humiliation the second person did not use his divine attributes save as he needed them in his mediatorial work. So the divine omniscience was used by Jesus only in this restricted way. That is why here on Mt. Olivet (v. 3) he does not know the date of the end. How the incarnate Son could during his humiliation thus restrict himself in the use of the divine attributes is one of the mysteries of his person; the fact is beyond dispute.[5]

This is the mystery revealed in the NT. Jesus Christ was one person with two natures – human and divine. Lenski has stated it well in his assessment above: “How the incarnate Son could during his humiliation thus restrict himself in the use of the divine attributes is one of the mysteries of his person; the fact is beyond dispute”.

See more of my articles in ‘Truth Challenge’. See also the article, ‘What do Christians believe about the incarnation? Was Jesus really God?

Notes:

[1] Christian Forums #256, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7474786-26/#post58827293 (Accessed 23 October 2011).

[2] Ibid., #257. I was helped in my response by Wayne Grudem 1994. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, pp. 555-562.

[3] Harold O. J. Brown 1984. Heresies: The Image of Christ in the Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy from the Apostles to the Present. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., p. 176. This edition now is available from Hendrickson Publishers (2005).

[4] Grudem, op cit, p. 561. Grudem notes that if you check out the commentaries on Mark 13:32 by John Calvin, H. B. Swete (an Anglican) and R. C. H. Lenski (a Lutheran), you will find that they all attribute this ignorance by Jesus to his human nature and not his divine nature (Grudem 1994:561 n 43).

[5] R. C. H. Lenski 2001. The Interpretation of Mark’s Gospel. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, pp. 590-591. Previously it was published by The Wartburg Press (1946) and assigned in 1961 to Augsburg Publishing House. The Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. edition was printed in March 2001.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 October 2015.

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