Mark 9:33-48

Markan Sandwich

Story 1 (Mark 9:33-37) — Argument over who is the greatest results in Jesus’ declaration that greatness will be defined by who is last and servant of all, represented in a small child.

Story 2 (Mark 9:38-41) — The disciples are uptight over an unknown exorcist wielding the power of the kingdom.
Story 1 continued (Mark 9:42-50) — Warnings about those who put a stumbling block before any little one who would believe in Jesus.
Mark sandwiches (intercalates) these accounts so that the reader understands them and interprets them together.


I.) The Disciples Issue

Mark 9:38 — “Does not follow us” — hearkens back to the issue of status or greatness (33). It was not that the man in question was not a follower of Jesus, but rather it was a matter of not having the proper credentials. It appears here the concern of the Disciples here is a concern about their position and status. The chap in question who was casting out Demons wasn’t licensed or ordained by the official disciple club. The Lord Christ teaches here that the support and fellowship of all who champion His cause and name should not be censured.

There seems to be a motif here that is captured by the proverb, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Taken together with the issue of “who would be the greatest” in vs. 34f as combined with the issue of position and status of sitting at the Lord’s right hand as given in Mark 10:35-45, vs. 38 reminds us again how important honor was in that society and culture. The Lord Christ does not overturn the notion of honor or hierarchy but He does alter its trajectory so that position and status is connected with serving as opposed to being served.  We know the Lord Christ maintained positions of honor and hierarchy just by virtue of the fact that He chose 12 to be His disciples from among many candidates, and then of those 12 He chose 3 (Peter, James, and John) as an inner circle. Honor and hierarchy are thus maintained. However something is changed in this issue of honor and hierarchy. What is changed is the purpose of leadership, and hierarchy.

The Lord Christ does not eliminate position or hierarchy of leadership. He is not a leveler who erases all distinctions between leaders and rank and file but what He does do is He teaches and models in such a way that it is made clear that any position of leadership is understood as a position of leadership to the end of serving. The Lord Christ, Scripture teaches, came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. Those who lead really do lead but they understand that leadership does not mean everyone serves them but rather that the Leader servers everybody in his leadership.

This is made clear when the Lord Christ says,

“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

This is made clear when Jesus takes the towel in John 13 to wash the Disciples feet.

This is made clear in Luke 22 when Jesus says to the disciples, who are again arguing over greatness,

“The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors.26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

The Church in the West, what little remains of it, desperately needs to hear again this word regarding status mongers and ladder climbers. Is the goal of leadership in the Church of the West to be fawned over and adulated? Are we looking for status via our positions? Are we seeking to parlay our leadership positions to the position of being famous for being famous? The Lord Christ offers a leadership example that demonstrates leadership by being concerned for the flock and its needs.  It is the leadership of the towel, the table-waiter, and the sheep dog.


II.) The Counsel of Christ

Mark 9:40 For the one who is not against us is for us.

Matthew 12:30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Note the repeated insistence we find in Scripture that there is no neutrality. There is no tertium quid where one can have a foot in both the enemy’s camp and in the camp of God’s company.  Christ speaks in black and white with no gray area. If you are not against Him you are for Him. If you are not with Him you are against Him. If you do not gather in His cause you scatter against His cause. No neutrality. In theological jargon this is the “Reformed Antithesis.”

Perhaps the best 20th century example of pushing the Reformed Antithesis was J. Gresham Machen.

Machen’s fundamental insight was that the Reformed Antithesis applied to “Christianities” that were Christian in name only. Machen insisted that Orthodox Christianity and Liberal “Christianity” were not two slightly different Christian theological positions such as Calvinism vs. Lutheranism but rather were two radically opposed systems of thought and religions that each competed over the possession of the Christian nomenclature, words, concepts and phrases. They each talked about God, Jesus, the Spirit, sin, salvation, the cross, but they each poured such different linguistic content into those words though remaining the same words in the hearing they were different words as to the meaning. Because of these vast differences of meaning and definition then, Machen concluded that Theological Liberalism was not Christian at all but was fundamentally opposed to Christianity as it comes to us defined in Scripture and history. Machen concluded that Theological Liberalism was against Biblical Christianity and not for Christ.

So, the thrust here seems to be the necessity to discern our enemies from our friends. Those who are genuinely advancing Christ’s cause, though they may not be of our club or tribe are to be supported, while on the other hand we are to reject those who are wolves in sheep’s clothing … those who use all the right jargon but who are using it with the intent to deceive.

So, on one hand we admit that there are Lutherans, and Reformed Baptists, and others we can come along and support and wish well but on the other hand there are those who may have an exalted status so that speak to Kings and Potentates in the name of a Christ who we are unfamiliar with because we are unfamiliar with their Christ. This business of knowing who is against us and who is for us is not always as easy as it might seem.

III.) The Promise of Christ

vs. 40 — Note that service to the Lord Christ that indicates that one is on the Lord’s side come in all shapes and sizes. It can be the widow’s mite or it can be a cup of water generously given.  Our service rendered to the Lord Christ and His people does not need to be splashy and ostentatious. Here the Scripture teaches that God notices what we might think are the most insignificant things. A cup of water to relieve thirst will not lose its reward.

God is debtor to no man. Service rendered to Him will be remembered. That is the kind of generous King that we serve. His generosity extends to the point of being generous in providentially providing opportunities wherein we can be of service.

IV.) The Warnings of Christ Against Stumbling

vs. 42 –“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,[g] it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

Commentators note that there are several catchwords repeated frequently throughout these verses, such as “name,” “scandal,” “fire,” and “salt.” In particular, the Greek word skandalon is used in each verse from 42 to verse 47. A skandalon is an obstacle that people trip over, and is usually translated “stumbling block” due to the decidedly moralistic tone the word “scandal” has taken in modern times. Jesus could not be more clear: he is talking about the danger that his own followers can do, and he uses the dire image of drowning to get his point across. Better to drown (be thrown into the sea with a millstone around one’s neck) than do harm to “these little ones.”

It is an open question as to whom the “little ones” are that the Lord Christ refers to.  The “Little ones” can refer either to the little child mentioned in vs. 36 or to those of seemingly lesser importance mentioned in vs. 39. Or it could be purposely nebulous so as to refer to both. Whoever the little ones are the point is that being the instrument by which someone struggles and stumbles in their faith who is young or tender in the faith is a costly proposition.

If we take the context seriously we would have to conclude that the Lord Christ is pointing this warning at the Leadership. Jesus lays bare the minefield of leadership in the church, and speaks of real dangers within Christian community particularly between more mature disciples and “the little ones.” The followers who are closest to Jesus in these verses, ie, the disciples, carry a huge responsibility as a result of their intimacy with Christ. Others look to them, follow their examples, are susceptible to their claims and practices, are perhaps especially vulnerable to their critiques and conflicts. Carelessness in discipleship can do irreparable damage to those most vulnerable within the body of Christ.

Elders in Christ’s Church can do both great good and great harm.

As a Elder in God’s Church when you teach wrongly or engage in unseemly behavior you risk not only yourself but you risk the faith of others.

Illustration — In High School I knew of a popular area Youth Pastor who had a dalliance with someone in his congregation and the result was a good deal of stumbling. More recent examples could be easily adduced.


Next the Lord Christ turns from warning against causing others to stumble to warning against those things which cause individuals to stumble. The language that the Lord Christ uses is hyperbole and is intended to make a point about doing all it takes to avoid sin and enter into life.

The point here is to not actually cut off limbs because of course it is never hands, feet, or eyes that “CAUSE” us to sin. The cause is our fallen natures. Hypothetical people who cut off appendages would not solve their sin problem by cutting off the appendages. Our human body parts are only the vehicle through which our fallen-ness is expressed. The point here is to take sin seriously and to wage war with sin.


IV.) The Consequences for Unchecked Sin

The reality of Hell

The New Testament speaks openly and repeatedly regarding the reality of Hell. It is,

The final abode of those condemned to eternal punishment (Mt. 25:41-46, Rev. 20:11-15)
Described as a place of fire and darkness (Jude 7, 13)
Described as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt. 8:12, 13:42, 50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30)
Described as a place of destruction (II Thes. 1:7-9, II Peter 3:7, I Thes. 5:3)
Described as a place of torment (Rev. 20:10, Luke 16:23)

Of course Hell is one of those doctrines that have fallen on hard times. Universalists deny hell.
What I want to do now is just give a few observations surrounding the denial of Hell.

1.) The denial of the eternality of Hell is all the more dangerous because on the surface it seems so benign. This denial is not like the denial of the Resurrection or the Virgin Birth. No one doubts that someone who denies Hell can be in Union with Christ. (Though I would insist that such a view leaves them open to the charge of having low views of Scripture.) I do insist though that people who are Annhilationists aren’t looking under the hood of that denial to see the implications of what they are denying.

2.)  The denial of the eternality of Hell is another example of putative Christians or unlearned Christians or immature Christians attempting to make God out to be nicer than He makes Himself out to be. It is an attempt to save God from being God. It is sentimentality trying to rescue the alleged mean glowering character of God. It is another example of do gooders, who by doing their good, end up making Christianity crueler then any Devil could. This denial of the eternality of Hell is taken up by those who, at the very least think, “My God would never be that mean.” It is the argument which attempts to make God “reasonable.”

3.) Annihilationism, does not seem to comprehend that by altering the anchor example of God’s eternal justice (The condemnation to Eternal punishment for those who rebelled against God and His Christ) that the effect is a relativizing of temporal justice and punishment. If the anchor of justice is set loose and diminished in the Cosmic Divine realm the effect is to set adrift any ideas of absolute justice in the temporal realm.  If God’s justice is altered in terms of Hell and / or its duration then justice is the realm of man can be relativized and altered as well.4.) Those who insist upon the conditionality of Hell or deny the eternality of Hell are those who will, in themselves or in their generations, become those who rebel against the whole concept of fixed Justice. When we deny the proper required Justice applied (eternal Hell) against those who commit crimes against God’s character and who do not find forgiveness in Christ, we will, over the course of time, deny the proper required justice against those who commit other lesser crimes. If the required proper punishment is denied, in our thinking, against those who commit the greatest of all crimes (unrepentant rebellion against the Character of God) then the consequence of that will eventually be the denial of justice implemented against all other lesser crimes.

Getting rid of the eternal character of Hell guarantees the eventual arise of Hell on earth.

  5.) The Holiness of God is infinite and as such rebellion against God’s Holiness requires eternal punishment for those who do not close with Christ. The denial of the eternality ofHell is a denial of the august and majestic character of God. Low views of Hell insure, and in turn cause, low views of God.Envision my point this way. If one was to change the penalty for murder from the death penalty to a $100.00 fine the obvious impact would be to cheapen the value of a life. Just so when we argue that Hell is not eternal punishment but only ceasing to exist we cheapen the value of God’s Majesty, Holiness and Transcendence.

The doctrine of Hell is a case where the punishment fits the crime. Any lesser punishment would suggest a lesser crime. The suggestion of a lesser crime would suggest that an offense against the person of God is somehow an offense that shouldn’t have the fullest possible consequences.  The eternality of Hell corresponds to the Majesty of God and His Law.

6.) Another way to frame this is to note how a threat on a President’s life brings greater punishment then that same threat levied against a homeless drunk. There is a greater punishment because the President is a greater person. The same principle applies here. When we offer up lesser penalties we communicate that God is more like the homeless drunk then He is like the President.

A Short Treatise On Immigration

George Barna Group

‘What we’re finding is that when we ask them about all the key issues of the day, [90 percent of Pastors] telling us, Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues. Then we ask them: Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?–and the numbers drop…to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.’

The reasons for that doubtless are varied. I intend to suggest a couple.

First, many conservative Pastor have been convinced that the pulpit is not the place for these kinds of pedestrian messages. The thought goes that the Pulpit is so special that we dare not waste time in it teaching on comparatively un-spiritual issue of the day. And so Ministers avoid issues like what God’s word teaches on issues like “Capital Punishment,” “progressive taxation,” “death or property tax,” “usury,” “centralized banking,” “minimum wage laws” or “illegal immigration,” as well as any number of other subject matter that is deemed “not Holy enough for the pulpit.” “We need to focus on ‘Spiritual Issues,’ so the story goes and as such God’s people hear very little of God’s mind on these types of issues.

Second, the reasons like these issues don’t come up in the pulpit is that they are prone to being controversial and as ministers like to avoid controversy so that the giving doesn’t go down, because angry people leave Churches, ministers tend to avoid these kind of subject matters like the plague.

The Barna report that I cited out of the chute confirms this reasoning. The report went on to ask: “Why the disconnect between your confidence that God speaks to all of life but your reluctance to teach that? According to Barna, the answer is simple. The answer lies in the conviction that Pastors are concerned about building big Church and one can’t build large churches based on sermons that are inherently controversial.

A third reason that these kinds of subject are not broached from the Pulpit may also be fear of the IRS 501c3 tax-exempt status being revoked.

Today we briefly take up one of those controversial issues and that is the issue of immigration,

43The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. 44He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.

Here God explicitly says that one consequence of His people’s disobedience is that they are oppressed by the stranger that is among them.

The immigrants who live among you will be promoted over you, higher and higher! But you will be demoted, lower and lower!

Deuteronomy 28:43 (Common English Bible Translation)

There are more than one Hebrew word translated as “stranger,” “sojourner,” “alien,”

The picture that is painted is one of an outsider among a foreign people who at times is a part of the culture and at other times is on the margins. This is a person who is counted among a specific people, but does not themselves belong to that people. They are required to obey the laws of the land, and can even participate in some of the customs, but in the end, they are still outsiders. This status threatens to lead to oppression, even though oppression of the sojourner and other marginalized people is expressly prohibited.  This paints a picture of a people who exist within the nation, but occupy the margins; they are in, but not included. There are thus continuities and discontinuities between the alien and the native born.

Of all the verses in Deuteronomy, the passage that sends the most mixed signals on this word and concept is Deut 5:12-15. Here sojourners are promised the same Sabbath rest as citizens, an indication of equality. However, when viewed in a slightly different manner we notice they are listed after children, slaves and livestock, which could indicate they were viewed no higher than the beasts of burden.

So, what we see here is that this idea of stranger, alien, sojourner requires context in order of us to understand how it is being used. Clearly in this Dt. 28 passage the word is being used in more of a discontinuity sense. We know this because God is saying that disobedience will bring the result that the alien … the one not belonging to the Israel as Israel will rise higher and higher over them. A clear demarcation is being made between the immigrant and the native son.

The resident alien (ger) in Israel was never so integrated and assimilated into the Israeli social order that the distinction between citizen born and alien evaporated. The resident alien (ger) was held to the same law, could become part of the worship cult BUT they were always known as distinct from Israeli born. Hence they are continuously referred to as ger (stranger).

Having said this we should realize that clearly there is a immigrant class that is living among the people of God. This people are not to be oppressed. They are to be treated with justice according to God’s law and they are to be able to find a way in the land. However, they are clearly the “tail” of the social order.

We know this because the text teaches that the roles will be reversed for disobedience. They who were once the head will become the tail and those who were once the tail will become the head.

So one judgment of God upon Israel’s disobedience is that God’s people will become strangers and aliens in their own land.

We should note here also that this text does away with notions of egalitarianism. All peoples in all settings are not equal. God speaks here of one people being a tail and one people being a head and says that He is the one that makes that to be the case and in here we learn that obedience to God’s Law results in being the head.

It is not Christianity that teaches egalitarianism but rather it is Liberalism as Machen noted,

“… one thing is perfectly plain—whether or not liberals are Christians, it is at any rate perfectly clear that liberalism is not Christianity. And that being the case, it is highly undesirable that liberalism and Christianity should continue to be propagated within the bounds of the same organization. A separation between the two parties in the Church is the crying need of the hour… The modern liberal doctrine is that all men everywhere, no matter what their race or creed, are brothers.”

(J.Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, p.133)

Of course we have come to the point that we no longer think in terms of categories like stranger, alien, foreigner, and sojourner which means we no longer think in terms of family. If we take Deuteronomy 28 seriously and find delight with the stranger being lifted above us we must at least ask ourselves if we hate our family and secondly if we are under God’s just punishment for our disobedience.

When we think of our own immigration issues we see that the result here is also that the head is becoming the tail and that the tail is becoming the head

This reality is portrayed as low skill labor class immigrants saturate our markets. Because of this immigration saturation opportunities for the native born at the entry job level have markedly decreased and those Americans who are the most to be hurt by this policy have experienced a dip in wages as a result of this saturation immigration.  Immigration expert George Borjas estimates that immigration is responsible for half the decrease observed in the wages of high-school dropouts.  “The biggest winners from immigration are owners of businesses that employ a lot of immigrant labor and other users of immigrant labor”, writes Borjas. “The other big winners are the immigrants themselves.”  The primary losers are native citizens with minimal skills and low levels of education.

There is a head and tail reversal going on here as a consequence of disobedience to God’s law.   This saturation immigration is creating a coercive and massive transfer of wealth from productive tax payers to the world’s poor from other nations.  Knowing this about illegal immigration and still supporting illegal immigration is an endorsement thus of theft on a grand scale in the name of philanthropic do-goodism and “Christian” charity. It is to invoke the sanctity of theft in the name of Christian charity. It is to disinherit our children so as to place the alien above the native born. James Hoffmeier, in his book, “The Immigration Crisis” teaches that a State is under no compulsion to have a generous immigration policy and does have a responsibility to protect its borders –just as States did even in the Old Testament. The biblical texts used by progressive Christian organizations like “Sojourners” to support illegal immigration are ripped out of their context in order to guilt the laity into thinking being a good Christian means disinheriting one’s self and children by supporting illegal immigration.

R. J. Rushdoony probed these issues as far back as 1965 in the context of the passage of the Immigration law that has finally placed us where we are now at. Rushdoony said then,

“The purpose of this immigration policy then is to unify man, to bring about the unity of the godhead. Its purpose, and its premise, is not economic but religious. It is theologically rooted in this religious dream, the United Nations.”

Rushdoony realized that the 1965 immigration act was religious in its essence. It was about pursuing a New World Order where man would be God. Rushdoony was insisting that where Humansim thrives, via Statist expression, there you will have a Unitarianism that requires the same oneness in all men, in a universal order, as obtains in the Unitarian God State.

One God-State to rule them all,
One God-State to find them,
One God-State to amalgamate them all,
and in the darkness bind them

So, Rushdoony realized that the immigration push was to eliminate all borders so that the humanist global order could come to the fore. Rushdoony understood that the immigration act in 1965 (and what is currently happening is merely the flowering of that Legislation) was being pushed by Humanists desiring to destroy the Nation State order. Rushdoony understood that such immigration was not Biblical because its real purpose and goal was the destruction of a Christian social order and the Christian religion.

This intent to assimilate the world into a New World Order via mass migration and immigration has no historical legs in terms of Biblical Christianity.

A Reformed Old Testament scholar Martin Wyngaarden, from Calvin Seminary a generation ago, recognized this when he wrote,

“Thus the highest description of Jehovah’s covenant people is applied to Egypt, — “my people,” — showing that the Gentiles will share the covenant blessings, not less than Israel. Yet the several nationalities are here kept distinct, even when Gentiles share, in the covenant blessing, on a level of equality with Israel. Egypt, Assyria and Israel are not nationally merged. And the same principles, that nationalities are not obliterated, by membership in the covenant, applies, of course, also in the New Testament dispensation.”

“More than a dozen excellent commentaries could be mentioned that all interpret Israel as thus inclusive of Jew and Gentile, in this verse, — the Gentile adherents thus being merged with the covenant people of Israel, though each nationality remains distinct.”

Martin J. Wyngaarden
The Future of the Kingdom in Prophecy and Fulfillment: A Study of the Scope of “Spiritualization” in Scripture pp. 101-102.

Before 1950 or so no orthodox Christian theologian of any heft believed in this mass amalgamation project that mass immigration portends.


The common view of immigration on the Left is that Mass immigration is a useful weapon on four fronts

1.) The war against the ideal of limited government

The influx of third world immigrants that is being advocated will result in the burgeoning power of the State as these new immigrants vote for candidates who will take from the stolen monies of citizens, that are nested in the Government coffers, and redistribute those monies to the new race pimps representing the immigrant constituency. The consequence of this, of course, is to expand government in its stealing from Paul to give to Peter routine.

2.) The greater jihad against the historic American nation itself

Bertolt Brecht in a similar context where people had risen up against their government poetically asked,

Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

Clearly a state apparatus that fancies that the best arrangement for a State is a Centralized top down State replete with a planned economy is going to do all it can to create a citizenry that agrees with them and will support the State. Traditional Americans who know their history and are familiar with their birthright will be, at the very least, diluted by the immigration influx.

3.) Enriching the Super Wealthy by swamping the market with low wage slaves.

Immigration redistributes the wealth upward into the pockets of the super-wealthy as wages are suppressed while the super rich get richer. What this means is a “have vs. have not” social order with the corresponding erasure of the middle class. For the “haves” there are high stock prices, rising home values and surging corporate profits buoying their recovery-era incomes . For the “have nots”their incomes are weighed down and falling by high unemployment and stagnant wages  due to the labor surplus created by untrammeled immigration.

“Love” for the immigration translates into disregard for the native born. We take care of the world at the expense of disinheriting our own children.

4.) And the Ultimate goal … To destroy the Historically Orthodox Christian Faith

This provides the ultimate reason biblical Christians should resist untrammeled immigration. Ultimately the agenda in this mad pursuit is to recruit the pagan hordes and so dilute the leverage and muscle of what little remains of Christianity. All of this is ultimately at attack on the Crown Rights of the Lord Christ. It is a indirect attack on Christianity. The intent is to pull down those who have most carried the banner of Christianity on a civilizational basis. In pulling down the West via mass immigration and amalgamation, Christianity falls also.

Most of the types of Biblical Christianity that informed America for the first 75 years or so has long gone into eclipse but remnants remain. With continued immigration Christianity will be redefined just as the rest of the nation is redefined. Biblical Christianity accounts for the belief in limited Government, the belief if just wages and just prices, and the belief system of traditional Americans. As such, this ultimate goal of destroying the Historically Orthodox Christian faith, if accomplished, assures that the lesser proximate goals are achieved.

Love of Christ as well as love for our people, our culture, our Fathers and our generations yet unborn require us, as Christians, to fight.


The Hypotheticals of Littlejohn and McAtee

Over here

Dr. Brad Littlejohn gives a series of  hypothetical examples that might prove that Christians should re-think supporting Kim Davis’ resistance to issuing sodomite marriage licenses. His examples are as follows,

In the year 2006, Captain Joseph Rodriguez of Aurora, CO, a Christian, was dishonorably discharged from the Army after refusing to follow orders to deploy his company to Iraq, on the grounds that it was a Biblically unjust war.
In 2007, Amy White of Evansville, IN, a Christian, was fired from her job as a grocery sales clerk for refusing to process any purchases of pornographic magazines.
In 2008, Judge William Clark of Macon, GA, a Christian, was forced into early retirement for refusing to hear the majority of divorce cases in his court, on the grounds that none of them met biblical grounds for divorce. 
In 2009, Molly Thompson of Billings, MT, a Christian, was fired from her job as a hotel clerk for refusing to allow gay couples, or obviously unwed couples, to check into the same hotel room. 
In 2010, John Barlow of Rochester, MN, a Christian, lost his job as a loan officer at a payday loan company for actively advising his customers not to take out loans from the company, and to go elsewhere where they would not be usuriously exploited,

In 2011, Michael Jones, a policeman of St. Petersburg, FL, and a Christian, was jailed and suspended from the force after conspiring to shelter an undocumented immigrant mother and her son, rather than arresting them to get them deported, as he was ordered.


From these examples Dr. Littlejohn asks rhetorically,

Here is my question: if Christians are going to hold up Kim Davis as a paragon of Christ-like refusal to compromise with injustice, then how soon are we going to hold up the hypothetical John Barlow or Joseph Rodriguez or William Black as well? Are we all prepared to examine our own vocations with the same rigor, and leave all to follow Christ? And if not, then is our admiration of Kim Davis simply proof of what progressives accuse us of–namely, a highly selective Pharisaism that takes sexual sins with profound seriousness, and everything else as relatively negotiable?

But this is a case where sauce for the good is sauce for the gander.

** In 2006 Mary Lewiston worked as a organ procurement agent for Planned Parenthood. Everything that Mary does is in keeping with the law. Mary is asked to cut a baby’s head open to secure it’s brains for delivery to the buyer. Mary does so because she follows Dr. Littlejohn’s advice and decides this is “prudent.”

** In 2007 John Sanchez worked as a Pharmaceutical salesman. He knows that his task is really to get people hooked on prescription drugs. His job is perfectly consistent with the laws. John decides to continue being a drug pusher because to raise a Christian objection would ruin his testimony with his coworkers who desperately need Christ.

** In 2008 Alex Cho worked for Pepsi. His wife Donna Cho worked of Lays. Both of them realize that fetal cells are used to enhance the taste of the products of the companies they work for. Everything they do is consistent with the laws of the land. The do not raise a protest as Christians because they learned from Dr. Littlejohn that, Christians, like their Savior, are never supposed to be quarrelsome.

** In 2010 Dr. John Little worked as the head of research at Monsanto. He is responsible for genetically engineering food that he knows increases the likelihood of tumors in people as well as demonstrating a pattern of reproductive problems in those who consume the food. He knows his food is modifying human DNA. However, Dr. John Little reasons that the vastly increased yields of his crops can feed the world. Dr. John Little operates perfectly within the bounds of the law. Dr. John Little keeps poisoning the food source for the glory of Jesus.

** In 2011 Dr. Thabiti Smith worked as the head of vaccine development for Merck Industries. Dr. Thabiti Smith knows that deadly agents are put into the vaccines but reasons that the good outweighs the bad. Dr. Thabiti Smith decides that this passes Dr. Littlejohn’s “Prudence test.”

Here is my question: Where would Dr. Littlejohn have us draw the line for Christian resistance? If we don’t draw it at the point where the enemy is seeking to protect the institution of Marriage and family won’t it make it easier to not draw the line in other places? If we will not draw the line at the point where Marriage is being redefined how are we not complicit in social order libertinism?  If we will not draw the line here will it not prove what the progressives accuse us of — namely that at the end of the day we are not really any different from them.

Notes …. Deuteronomy 28 … Cause & Effect World


Historicsim — The view that history is “the whole show” all there is. Historicism is the view that there is no God outside who is governing and sustaining History. According to Historicism, all History is determined by the immutable laws of some kind of Hegelian Historical fate. The dirty secret of Historicism is that it is the Historian who gets to craft those supposedly immutable laws of Historical fate via his written history and so History is read with the Historian as God and so a History textbook is in point of fact a Theology textbook.
History is best understood, not by spatial metaphors (Rise, Decline and Fall — Gibbon) or organic metaphors (born, growing, decaying and dying — Comte, Spengler). These metaphors hide from us the Historian’s unstated religious standard for what constitutes “Rise, Decline, and Fall” or the unstated religious standard for “birth, growing, decaying, and dying.” As such the pagan Historian can sweep the reader along without the reader realizing that he is not reading a book on History but rather a book on Theology where the Historian is God.
All of Scripture, including Deuteronomy 28, teaches us that History is best understood through the lens of divine judgment unto cursing or blessing. History is not a matter of impersonal time plus chance plus circumstance, as the atheist might suggest. History is not, as Historian Arnold Toynbee said, merely, ‘one damn thing after another.’ Rather History is riven with the actions of a personal God who intimately governs the affairs of men. This God … our God, “changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding (Daniel 2:21). This God … our God, “raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; on them he has set the world.” (I Samuel 2:8).
And this God … our God has told us that His rule throughout History, though never completely plumbed and understood by men, is a rule that is rational and has a ethical cause and effect relationship. This is what we read in Deuteronomy 28.

Because God’s people have always understood God’s rule as rational and having a ethical cause and effect relationship they have always read History in just such a way. Now, they perhaps were not always correct regarding how they traced out the hand of God’s movement in History but they nonetheless understood History as matter of God’s personal dealing with men.


The people of Judah had grown wicked, violent, and corrupt. There was no justice in the land that was supposed to be known by God’s name. Habakkuk couldn’t take it anymore. These people shouldn’t be allowed to disregard God’s law. Surely God would set things right.

So Habakkuk pleads with God, asking Him to save Judah from her own wickedness. God answers, but not in the way Habakkuk expected.

To judge Judah’s wickedness, God says He will hand them over to the Chaldeans: a nation even more wicked, violent, and corrupt.


1 Samuel 7:6, 10b:

And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lordwith all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only….And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.  Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines.

10B But the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.

Because of this observation that God’s judgments were rational and could be traced to cause and effect the Puritans developed doctrines that taught,

The sword of God’s justice lies quiet in the scabbard till sin draws it out. Affliction is good for us: ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted’ (Psa. 119:71). Affliction causes repentance (II Chron. 33:12). The viper, being stricken, casts up its poison; so, God’s rod striking us, we spit away the poison of sin. Affliction betters our grace. Gold is purest, and juniper sweetest, in the fire. Affliction prevents damnation (I Cor. 11:32). “ –  Thomas Brooks

And so if they were afflicted or if that which they thought of as punishment would come into their lives they would examine their lives to see if there was sin that need to be repented of in order that God might bless them again.

This mindset was captured by R. L. Dabney, who could say following our great fratricidal war,

“‘A righteous God, for our sins towards Him, has permitted us to be overthrown by our enemies and His.'”

R. L. Dabney

They inherited this mindset from passages like Deuteronomy 28.

Now we are going to spend a little bit of time looking at Deuteronomy 28 but before we do I want to say that there is also danger lying in this mindset that I’ve just teased out. The danger in this mindset is the potential development of a Health, Wealth, and prosperity theology that teaches that those who prosper are automatically seen as blessed by God while those who don’t prosper or who have calamity visit them are being chastened by God. This is certainly too simplistic of a reading of this theology. God often has reasons for afflicting His people that cannot be definitively traced to His displeasure. There are times God brings His severe mercy into our lives in order to grow us in sanctification.

Oh, what owe I to the file, to the hammer, to the furnace of my Lord Jesus! who hath now let me see how good the wheat of Christ is, that goeth through His mill, and His oven, to be made bread for His own table. Grace tried is better than grace, and it is more than grace; it is glory in its infancy. (Samuel Rutherford)

In such times and with such events God is not displeased with us but is working to take us out into the deeps of His unmerited favor to fashion and shape us according to His good pleasure.  Sometimes in our lives — maybe even many times, we, like Job, are never given the definitive reasons why God has wounded us and must remain content that God does all things well.

In other times we may be able to look back and understand God’s severe mercy. An example of this is all the woundedness of Joseph. Beaten by his brothers. Sold as a slave. Unjustly accused of adultery. Thrown into the foulest of prisons but finally lifted up in order to be God’s agent to save the Hebrews. Joseph can finally say to his brothers that all of this was a matter of their intending evil but God intending good.

Having given those qualifiers we do understand though that disobedience has consequences.

Here in this passage God is speaking to His people. And here He warns them of the consequences of disobedience to His law.

Note here that God is NOT anti-nomian. He is not against His law. Indeed, so highly does He esteem His law that He places a nexus of cause and effect between the disobedience of His people to His law and their circumstantial demise. This is so true that it should be the case that when we see God’s hand heavy upon us that we should ask ourselves if there is any way in which we have dishonored God and His Law.

Another thing to note here is the corporate and covenantal nature of this chastisement. When God’s people walk contrary to God’s law so that God visits them with calamity it is often the case that there are individuals who are caught up in that covenantal chastisement who were, individually speaking,  not direct participants in the corporate covenantal sin. We think here of Daniel and the three faithful Hebrews carried into Babylon as God visited chastisement upon His disobedient people. One can think of Jeremiah, who was faithful to God but carried into exile into Egypt.

Well, as we look at this segment of Scripture particularly we see that,

I.) Cause and Effect Govern God’s people

15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.

As we said at the outset, we do not live in an impersonal time + chance + circumstance world. This world, and our lives are lived before the face of God and so the world is ablaze with the handiwork of God in all our living.

The modern “Christian” man desires to live life as if it is disconnected to this divine cause and effect. We seldom tremble at the notion of sinning against God’s law because we don’t really believe that at a foundational level God governs the universe. We, might believe it at some abstract level, but we don’t really believe, concretely speaking, that God governs the affairs of men in such a way that every wind of sin is responded to by the whirlwind of God. The Scriptures repeatedly remind us that “God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth that shall He also reap.” We have forgotten the basics that this life is both the Theater of God’s grace and the theater of God’s judgment.

When we strip God’s law from this world so that the obedience of it or the disobedience of it has no impact the result is that we lock God out of this world.  The world then has no meaning except that which we sovereignly give to it by our own fiat word. If God’s law has no cause and effect impact in this world then we should not be surprised when we see a rash of Ministerial sin which is high handed against God and man.  When God’s law is deleted from this world God sovereignty becomes a hollow phrase that nobody really takes seriously.

But here in Deuteronomy we read that God’s cause and effect do govern God’s people. And the ironic thing here is our insistence that God’s law no longer governs us as a Church in all of our living brings upon us the very consequences that we see here.

We note again then that we live in a world of cause and effect. Not man’s cause and effect but Gods. So we see here that the curse is a reality. It cleaves to the sinner, pursues him, chases him down, ruins and and eventually even slays him as we see in ver. 45.

“All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you.  

Now of course some will contend that this is all Christian boogeyman God superstition to which we reply that all of History bears this out and while it might be the case that the wheels of justice grind slowly it also remains true that they grind exceedingly fine. It remains true that we can be sure our sins will find us out.

The Dark Soul-ed Storm

Europe’s Sons,  adopted by God
Have rejected Christ and forsaken kin
Bear the Father’s wrath and rod
Just penalty for such rebellious sin
Judgment is this dark souled storm
Abaddon’s migrant locust swarm

Will warning come from God’s Kirk?
Siren from the place of truth?
Alas, the prophet’s voice is now berserk
And the Holy desk is a carny booth
Judgment is this dark souled storm
That finds the Kirk in Apollyon’s form

A consecrated remnant can still be found
A band of blades for Christ supplied
But enough to halt the  Cerberus hound?
Or to turn back the dark souled tide?
Relief must come from He who calmed the storm
And those committed to Christ’s Reform

Arise ye clan of bards, prepare for siege
Kindred of Christ and Europe’s blood
We must defend our Lord and Liege
We must roll back the Dragon flood
For Christ and Country and future Kin
To now repose ‘twould be mortal sin

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