It seems that an American soldier has been sent home from Iraq because he shot up a copy of the Koran. Indeed, President Bush has promised that he will be punished because of his insult to Islam. Do you think that his actions constitute a crime worthy of serious consequence? Is Islam now dictating the limits of freedom of speech and how much our soldiers should be punished? You can read the story here.
From the very announcement of the text some will be ready to say, "Why preach upon so profound a doctrine as election?" I answer, because it is in the God's word, and whatever is in the Word of God is to be preached. "But some truths ought to be kept back from the people," you will say, "lest they should make an ill use thereof." That is Popish doctrine, it was upon that very theory that the priests kept back the Bible from the people, they did not give it to them lest they should misuse it. "But are not some doctrines dangerous?" Not if they are true and rightly handled. Truth is never dangerous, it is error and reticence that are fraught with peril. "But do not men abuse the doctrines of grace?" I grant you that they do; but if we destroyed everything that men misuse, we should have nothing left. Are there to be no ropes because some fools will hang themselves? And must cutlery be discarded and denounced because there are some who will use dangerous weapons for the destruction of their adversaries? Decidedly not. Besides all this, remember that men do read the Scriptures and think about these doctrines, and therefore often make mistakes about them; who then shall set them right if we, who preach the Word, hold our tongues about the matter?
I do not know if you have yet heard of Josef Fritzl, and if you haven't, you might do well to walk away from this post. Fritzl is an Austrian man who decided twenty-four years ago to lock his daughter in a basement and rape her repeatedly. Indeed, over the course of that time she was never allowed out of her basement prison once, and she bore seven children in that dungeon. One of them died, and Fritzl disposed of the body by incinerating it. Such abuse is absolutely horrific and so utterly depraved that one would feel hard pressed to even dream up such a wicked scenario. Yet, look at the response that Fritzl gives to the community so shocked by his evil:
I could have killed them all. Then there would have been no trace. No-one would have found me out.
He goes on to insist that he is no monster because if he had not taken the oldest daughter of his daughter to the hospital to save her life, then he would not have gotten caught. Basically, all of the internal organs of the young girl of 19 were shutting down, probably due to her imprisonment. But Fritzl is no monster, he says. He is, in fact, a life saver. He could have just killed them all, right?
There is no depth to which the depraved heart will not sink in order to justify itself. After all the evil that he has perpetuated, Fritzl can still come up with an excuse as to why he is no monster. Should it then be any surprise that our moral neighbor has difficulty seeing himself as a sinner in need of grace? How we need the Spirit of God to awaken us from our depravity and shine the spotlight of truth into our hearts! Truly, the heart is a deceitful, self-justifying, God-denying, self-exalting thing that will make monsters of us all if not for God's mercy.
Go here to read more material and the source from which these quotes were drawn.
I am a pastor serving in my hometown of Albertville, Alabama. The greatest evidence of God's grace in my life are my wife, son, and daughter. One look at me and then my wife will tell you that her "yes" was a modern day miracle. Otherwise, I am almost completely mundane.