Thursday, November 29, 2018

Contraception


Contraception
The Bible, in the New Testament, makes no explicit judgment against birth control, which it surely would if such action was sinful. But this is arguing from silence which is a dangerous way of arguing from the Scripture. We must be careful to present arguments that are based on positive commands. Nonetheless, the are many Scriptural principles to establish Christian ethics in matters of contraceptives. Christian prudence and wisdom can be founded on such principles that are espoused in the ensuing argument.
The reason for this presentation is to fill up the existing gap in obstetrics and gynaecology. My own experience with gynaecologists and obstetricians when it comes to giving counsel about contraception is basically to take the patient to a road junction and ‘counsel’ the person to take any of the birth control routes! They may tell you the dangers in each road and even tell you what benefits each may have over the other but they don’t really help by saying that you have to ‘see what works for you’, in other words – be a guinea pig! Some of the methods can even kill!
What do Christians have to say on contraception? Birth control for reasons of social responsibility, the health of the mother, or for spiritual duties (1 Cor. 7:5) either by abstinence or intervention, does not appear to contradict the teaching of the Bible. There are those who are troubled by Genesis 1:28; 9:1; 38:9. But we have no reason to believe that these commands were intended as an order to every couple for all time, since there are those who can’t bear children anyway, by God’s own design.
Equally, those who prefer to use no form of birth control have a perfect right to their conviction. In most Protestant Christian circles, there is commonly little reservation about the use of contraceptives. There are ethical implications concerning the use of certain types of contraceptives that you will need to weigh and prayerfully consider in your own intimate life.
In the methods outlined below the average statistical failure rate for each method, used perfectly and with spermicide creams, if relevant, are put in brackets.

1.    Fertility awareness or natural family planning
These prevent egg and sperm from meeting and fertilizing. These include the withdrawal method and the rhythm method. Aids to the latter include monitoring the woman’s fertility using calendar, Billings, thermal, symptom-thermal, or commercial systems. Used perfectly, the failure rates of these methods range from 1-4% in studies and do not involve the loss of an embryo. Besides, they encourage male-leadership and self-control. These methods do not have troublesome side effects, but require organization, and discipline. They can be problematic if menstruation is irregular.

2.    Barrier methods
These prevent egg and sperm from meeting and fertilizing. They include the male (2%) and female (5%) condoms, the diaphragm (6%), cap (9-26%), sponge (9-20%) usually in conjunction with spermicide creams. These methods can be a bit messy and fiddly but again never involve the loss of embryo. The male condom is the most preferable considering the biblical aspect of male leadership. Male condom is one of the very few contraceptives that have been manufactured for men.

3.    Hormonal
These have a threefold mode of action. (a) Stop the release of the egg by hormonal influence (b) render the mucus in the cervix thick and hostile to the sperm, and (c) make the lining of the womb thin, so that the embryo cannot implant. Modes (a) and (b) are considered tenable by the pro-life group, but not mode (c).
Hormones include the mini Pill – progesterone only (0.5%), and the combined Pill – oestrogen and progesterone – (0-1%). Though statistically safer in preventing pregnancy, studies have shown that the mini Pill may fail in modes of action (a) and (b) above. Therefore the mini Pill would be operating in mode (c), stopping the embryo implanting – which means effectively it works through deliberately causing the loss of a fertilized egg. If the fertilized egg is considered to be ‘life’, the mini Pill is therefore causing an abortion if it only works in mode (c).
The Pill comes in varying doses of oestrogen/progesterone – to help reduce unpleasant side effects on the woman’s health (e.g. weight gain, acne, depression, headache, nausea, dizziness, thrombosis etc.) but the degree to which the oestrogen is reduced may mean that the mode of action leans towards mode (c) and therefore being abortifacient (causing abortion). However, doctors are still unclear and divided about this, depending on whether one is pro-life or not. However, Pills can be taken by ‘tricycling’ which is not usually the prescribed method which many doctors would not advice. This method completely prevents ovulation and is recommended by prolife doctors.
Depot Provera™ injection (3%), and the Implanon™ rod implantation (0%) – though very few studies to date have been done). There is no conclusive evidence currently that these cause the loss of an embryo, though as the levels of hormones run down when replacement is due, it is theoretically possible, but biologically unclear, whether contraception is achieved by mode (a) or the abortifacient  mode (c). these methods may both have side effects (pain/acne/irregular bleeding).

4.    Intrauterine methods
Coils, which may or not contain additional hormones are fitted inside the womb by trained staff. These work in different ways from hormones, but also threefold: (a) killer cells produce an inflammatory reaction and destroy the sperm and egg preventing fusion (b) by having a direct chemical effect killing or immobilizing the sperm or egg (c) by blocking implantation of the embryo. These include the Copper Coil ™(0.8%), and the Mirena™ intrauterine system (0.1%) which also has a progesterone life effect akin to the mini Pill™. Coils, because of mode (c) are considered abortifacient by pro life doctors. They also have a variety of unpleasant side effects.


5.    Morning after pill
This is taken after unprotected intercourse. However, it acts in several ways, including preventing implantation in the womb so that the embryo is aborted, unless it is taken too late – in which case the embryo has already been implanted.
The problem with 3, 4 & 5 is that they put undue responsibility on the wife. This is Biblically unadvisable, and unloving since the man abdicates his male-headship responsibility on such an important matter. Besides, why should the woman, who is the ‘weaker vessel’ both bear the burden of child-carrying/bearing be loaded once again with the responsibility of contraception? It is advisable that the Christian men take this important family planning responsibility seriously and show godly leadership. 

6.    Sterilization
When a couple are sure that they should have no more children, for whatever reason, the ultimate form of limiting family size is sterilization. This is achieved by simple operations which tie off the tubes leading, in the woman, from the ovary to the womb, on in the man, from testes to the urethra. Your family doctor can arrange this operation. The simplest operation is that on the man (vasectomy), and is not very expensive. Both partners should realize that for all practical purposes this is irreversible step. Reversal operations are not often successful. Only in exceptional circumstances, therefore, sterilization appropriate for a newly married couple. Even if you have both agreed that you do not want children, we would strongly recommend against sterilization, a few years of marriage often changes your attitude towards having children.[1]



[1] Brian and Barbara Edwards, No longer Two, Christian Guide for engagement and marriage, Day One, HR, UK 1994, p.112-115

Friday, October 12, 2018

Sin Killed Jesus Christ!

The wages of sin is death. Sin kills and murders! Yet sin is very tantalizing and seductive. It sleeps with many and kills as many! It is my desire that you would view sin's nature rightly. I pray that the Spirit of the Living God may give you the grace to make a correct estimation of it is guilt. Read the third verse of Thomas Kelly's hymn, Stricken Smitten and Afflicted and the Puritan, Thomas Brooks' book, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, to know this.

You who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
It is the Word, the Lord's Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.
Thomas Kelly, 1769-1854 (Hymn, Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted)

How did God deal with sin? Christ, His only Son had to come from the eternal bosom of his Father to a region of sorrow and death. That God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature; that He who was clothed with glory should be wrapped with rags of flesh; He who filled heaven and earth with his glory should be cradled in a manger. That the almighty God should flee from weak man—the God of Israel into Egypt. That the God of the law should be subject to the law for He was born under the law. That the God of the circumcision be circumcised on the eighth day, that the God who made the heavens working at Joseph's workshop! That He who binds the devils in chains should be tempted; that He, whose is the world, and the fullness thereof, should hunger and thirst; that the God of strength should be weary, the Judge of all flesh condemned, the God of life put to death; that He who is one with his Father should cry out of misery, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). That He who had the keys of hell and death at his belt should lie imprisoned in the grave of another, having in his lifetime nowhere to lay his head, nor after death to lay his body. Such was the cost of sin, so view its nature rightly by discovering who bears the awful load – tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed, Son of God and Son of Man.

That that HEAD, before which the angels do cast down their crowns, should be crowned with thorns;
That the EYES, purer than the sun, be put out by the darkness of death even though momentarily;
That those EARS, which hear nothing but hallelujahs of saints and angels, to hear the blasphemies of the multitude;
That FACE, which was fairer than the sons of men, to be spit on by those beastly wretched Jews;
That that MOUTH and TONGUE, which spoke as never man spoke, be accused for blasphemy;
That those HANDS, which freely swayed the scepter of heaven, nailed to the cross;
That those FEET, "like unto fine brass," nailed to the cross for man's sins; each sense pained with a spear and nails;
That His SMELL, with stinking odor, being crucified on Golgotha, the place of skulls;
That his TASTE, with vinegar and gall;
That his HEARING, with reproaches, and
That SIGHT of his mother and disciples bemoaning him;
That his SOUL, comfortless and forsaken by God, forsaken by friends, forsaken by family, forsaken by his own, forsaken by his foes; and
All this for those very sins that Satan paints and puts fine colors upon!
Oh! how should the consideration of this stir up the soul against sin, and work the soul to fly and flee from it, and to use all holy means whereby sin may be subdued, killed and destroyed!

It was good counsel one gave, "Never let go out of your minds the thoughts of a crucified Christ." Let these be food and drink unto you; let them be your sweetness and consolation, your honey and your desire, your reading and your meditation, your life, death, and resurrection.
Thomas Brooks, 1608 -1680

Monday, July 23, 2018

Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved




For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 
(Rom 10:13)

Friend, I pray and desire that you may be saved today. This is also God’s own desire for you, for He desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Your greatest need is not to have a job or money. Your greatest need is not a wife or a child. Your greatest need is not to be healed and be healthy. Your greatest need is salvation from your sins. You may be wealthy or healthy, but what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul? There is no profit for your soul if you drove a Porsche and lived in the most expensive neighbourhood but remain unsaved. If your sins are upon you, then you will surely die. But there is a message of good news here. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into world to save sinners, even the worst of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).
Let us unpack the verse that heads this message. Let us in it hear the promise of God. Let us see in it a faithful saying and let us receive it as ours. Let us receive it with meekness and believe its message: “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
EVERYONE - Anyone and everyone - without distinction. Jews and Gentiles can appropriate this wonderful blessing of salvation to themselves. Our Saviour calls upon male and female to be saved - and He is able to save them. This promise may be received by a boy or a girl. It may be an old man as well as a young man. Anyone means the sick as well as the healthy so long as they call upon the Saviour Jesus Christ, there will be salvation for their souls. Therefore, the salvation that there is in Jesus Christ does not discriminate in terms of nation or tribe, language or race, age or gender or anything else. Rich or poor may gain entrance into the glorious kingdom of God. Jews and Gentiles are saved in the same way. Neither Jews nor Gentiles have righteousness of their own. Salvation is for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.
WHO CALLS ON - To call on or upon is taken from the Greek word epikalesntai means a believing expectation of our all from Christ. To call upon is to express faith in prayer, trusting only in the one being called upon. Calling upon is the same as crying out for help, having abandoned all hope in oneself. Calling upon is not despair, where all hope is abandoned. It is trusting in another to who is both able and willing to offer or bring help to the one who calls. The point is made - if anyone is to be saved, he has a responsibility to call upon Christ. Do you need to saved from your sins? Then call upon Christ. 
THE NAME OF THE LORD - In Joel 2:32, from where this verse is cited, the LORD referred to is Yahweh, but both Peter and Paul's inspired hermeneutics takes it to refer to Christ! Salvation full and free is to be obtained from only one Saviour - the Lord Jesus Christ, who being the eternal Son of God became man and so was and continues to be God and Man in two distinct natures and one person forever. To call on the Name of the LORD is to appeal to Him to save in accordance with who He is and what He has done and accomplished for salvation. The saving mercy and grace is extended to those who ask the Lord for it. God says that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and who is it that He will have mercy? Everyone who calls on His name.
 Charles Hodge commenting on this verse puts it this way;
     "Whosoever, therefore, betakes himself to God as his refuge, and calls upon Him, in the exercise of faith, as his God, shall be saved, whether Gentile or Jew." 
Robert Haldane also commenting on this verse puts it this way:
"By calling on the name of the Lord, all parts of religious worship which we render to God are intended. It denotes a full entire communion with God. He who calls on the name of the Lord, profoundly humbles himself before God, recognises His power, adores His majesty, believes His promises, confides in His goodness, hopes in His mercy, honours Him as his God, and loves Him as his Saviour. It supposes that this invocation is inseparable from all other parts of religion. To call on the name of the Lord is to place ourselves under His protection, and to have recourse to Him for aid."
WILL BE SAVED ­– The Gospel speaks of salvation from sins. Salvation is eternal and happy blessedness, where our sinful nature is replaced with a new nature after the image and likeness of Christ in true righteousness and holiness. It is being born again and adopted into the family of God. It is becoming a child of God, and therefore co-heir with Christ. It is being made a partaker of the kingdom of God. Therefore, salvation spoken of is that happy condition in which even angels have never been partakers. Remember that by nature we were sinners, dead sinners, enslaved in sin, blind to the riches and preciousness of Christ, children of wrath and enemies of God. In salvation all that old condition is done away with and we are immediately made to be the redeemed of the Lord.
No one has ever called upon the name of the Lord who did not get saved. Zacchaeus was saved in spite being a corrupt man in his duties. The paralytic was forgiven his sins and freed from the bondage of sin. Mary Magdalene, who was a prostitute and who, perhaps, broke many families in her sexual immorality was saved. The dying thief who repented while he was upon the cross went to Paradise with Christ that same day.
Don't trust upon yourself or any other. Don't depend upon your work, merit or conduct. Depend on Christ. Don't depend on a preacher or a pastor or a priest. Depend on Christ alone. Don’t repeat any preacher’s prayer – repent from your own heart, thinking about your own sin with your own mind, sorrowing over your own guilt, weeping for offending such a benevolent God, pleading for the forgiveness of your own iniquity, entrusting your soul only to the Saviour. To get to God, you need a Mediator – Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). However, to go to the Mediator, you don’t need another mediator! The Mediator has already come to men and has taken the nature of men in order that He may be a merciful and faithful high priest in relation to God, on our behalf (Hebrews 4:14-16). The mediation of Mary is not necessary; the mediation of a human priest is completely unwarranted; the mediation of a pastor is completely useless! Don’t trust any other mediation to be saved. Jesus Christ is perfectly sufficient to handle your case. He is all you need and you have Him if you will trust Him!
We have a great Saviour in Jesus Christ. There is no need to delay a salvation so full and free. There is nothing to keep you from coming to Christ except your own rebellion and sin. A great high priest is none other than the Saviour Christ – come to Him. A great sacrifice of Christ who is the sin-bearing Lamb of God. He is able to save to the uttermost all those who draw near to God through Him (Heb. 7:25).
He bears the name above all names – reigning Son of God, surpassing all other titles, powers and claims. He is our mighty Advocate with the Father. He is our Friend, Prophet, Priest and King. He knows all our weaknesses, tears and pain for He was tempted like us in every respect yet emerged triumphant, without sin.
Come and obtain salvation for your soul. Come and find rest for yourself. Do not harden your heart. You have heard His invitation – “Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest!”
Seek His grace and you will find it. He is supreme to save go to Him without any more delay. Let us praise our risen, ascended Lord, the great Saviour of sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ.