An open Bible and a cup of coffee.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:15)

Recently I strolled out into my back yard to play with the dog when I heard a weird creaking, grinding sound. Soon I discovered its source. One of our huge oak trees near the back fence had a severe crack about 15 feet up on its main trunk. I promptly called the arborist who told me that there is no way to save that tree; it will have to be taken down. If, while we wait for the arborist to come, the tree falls and causes a bunch of damage to our (and the neighbor’s!) property, there would be no sense in getting angry at the tree. Even though the tree is a biological system, it is not a self-conscious, personal agent that deliberates and makes choices. Rather, it is a physically complicated, self-replicating object whose behavior is controlled entirely by the God-ordained laws of physics and chemistry. Things are different with men. We are self-conscious, personal agents who make real and legitimate choices. In fact, our lives may in some some sense be distilled down into a long series of personal choices that we have made and will make in the future. This is precisely why we find the attitudes and actions of some men commendable, even admirable, while others we find blameworthy, reprehensible. Men can do otherwise and that’s the point. When they choose to believe and obey God, their choice is good, right, and commendable. When they choose to disbelieve and disobey, their choice is bad, wrong, and punishable. This is why the New Testament speaks of the necessity of both believing (Mark 1:15; Acts 15:7) and obeying (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17) the Gospel. The terms are used as near synonyms, a reminder that even our believing the Gospel involves and act of the will and therefore carries with it a certain moral dimension. This is only the “first fruits” of a life filled with choices made to honor and serve the Lord. Paul instructs us to take every thought captive to Christ’s obedience (2 Corinthians 10:5) and to do literally everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). “He that saith he abideth in [Jesus],” wrote the beloved disciple, “ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). We know that our Lord only did those things that pleased His Father (John 8:29 cf. John 5:30; 6:38; 14:31; Hebrews 10:5-10). This ought to be our lofty goal also. Joshua’s address to the nation of Israel was his challenge to them in this direction. It is also the basis for a powerful African praise song whose lyrics I will never forget: “Choose ye this day whom you’re gonna serve; choose ye this day whom you’re gonna serve. You can choose Jesus Christ or the devil; If you follow the world you are going to hell!” Imagine singing that in our North American churches!

God bless,

pastor john