This past Sunday, October 11 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, we returned to our Deuteronomy sermon series examining the first few verses of Chapter 22 about our responsibility for our neighbors. The first question asked by a human that’s recorded in the Bible is Cain’s: Am I my brother’s keeper? (meaning am I responsible to take care of my brother?) From the beginning God has given us the responsibility for our neighbors, and it’s been our inclination from the beginning to not do this. In the Deuteronomy passage we see that neighbor or brother means a member of the community, which at that time numbered in the millions. So we may not know our neighbor whom we’re called to help. These verses call us to help our neighbor not only in the catastrophe but also in the mundane and everyday. God calls us to be involved in others’ lives, but there’s a cost. Listen to the whole sermon here.
In this sermon, Craig addresses a tough passage—Deuteronomy 21:18-23—that outlines what parents are to do with a rebellious, wayward child. God requires the parents to take their disobedient child to the elders to be stoned to death. Most modern-day reactions to this command range from laughing (as though it’s a joke) to doubting God’s love (thinking, How could a loving God be so unforgiving and require such a harsh disciplinary action?). But how can we have such reactions to this passage when we know our unchanging God is just and forgiving? How can we understand God’s loving nature through this command? Craig tackles what it means to interpret Scripture by using Scripture to understand passages in the Bible that seem to contradict the characteristics we know to be true about God. Listen to the whole sermon here.
Proverbs 11:10 says, “…through the blessing of the upright, a city is exalted.” This passage speaks volumes to the purpose of Deuteronomy 21, our focus for this week’s sermon. In it, God sets forth multiple scenarios in which His people are to act justly and seek His righteousness over their own desires or the “easy” paths of the world. Pastor Craig emphasizes three of those points: unsolved murder, people from defeated nations, and brokenness in the home. In each scenario, we as God’s people can and must learn how to deal with the brokenness of our communities, whether they be the places we live, the friends we make, or the families God has placed us in. As a family on mission together, it is vital that the world see us gladly pursuing God’s will and commandments. With these three specific examples, we have our starting points for how to treat people justly, protect others’ dignity, and respect those made in the image of God. Craig asks, “How can we, as the people who have the grace of God available to us, let such important things go?” Listen to the whole sermon here.
As we’ve seen the past few weeks in our Deuteronomy sermon series, battle is a constant reality for God’s people. Through this land and these people will come Jesus, the Savior of the world, and God is giving his people instructions in Deuteronomy 20:1-9 about whom he wants fighting in the battle. The fainthearted are given an exception to fighting, told to go home with no judgment or court martial. Not only would these fearful freed-slaves-turned-soldiers be a detriment to themselves and useless to others around them, but God also knows that fear spreads. God didn’t want fearful fighters anywhere near the battlefield.
As our senior pastor shared this past Sunday, September 13, the kingdom of God can only advance through faith not fear. He challenged and warned us with several faith-versus-fear questions:
- What can fear and faithlessness do in our lives to hinder the advancement of the Gospel?
- What might Jesus not do among us because we’re more full of fear than faith? (Mark 6:1-6)
- In which way will we amaze Jesus–with our faith or lack of faith? (Matthew 8:5-13)
As we focused this past Sunday, August 30 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, on Deuteronomy 20:5-9, we see the Lord telling men on the battlefield to go home. Since God wants undivided hearts on the battlefield, he tells some to go home to be with their new wives, live in their new houses, and enjoy their new vineyards. God knows how weak we are and that our hearts aren’t always undivided. Yet there’s no condemnation in this passage because God is not desperate. He sends some to war and some home. For us, there are many, varied facets to building his kingdom: Some of us are on the “front lines” (like serving as a missionary in Africa or telling college students the Good News), but those of us who love our families and our neighbors are advancing the kingdom, too. Listen to the whole sermon here.
This past Sunday Craig turned our attention to Deuteronomy 20, where we find a transition from the “Cities of Refuge” to a time of war for the Israelites. Just as God provided guidelines in previous chapters for the Israelites to preserve life, he also gives his people standards for battle—an inevitability for God’s children. In each sermon, Craig offers a nugget of Biblical truth (you know, one of those quotes that you want to type up with Pinterest-level creativity and hang in your house). This week he said, “Faith reaches back in time to remember what God has done.” Fear causes us to forget the supremacy and might of God; faith remembers each instance in which God has demonstrated his love and omnipotence to his people. Instead of fearing the battles and conflicts we face, we, as Christians, should respond boldly in faith knowing that the strength of God on our side will always overpower our opposition.
The last several weeks at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charleston, SC, we’ve seen the character of God displayed in our Deuteronomy series through his provision of refuge cities. We’ve seen how God provides protection not just for our physical bodies but also for our souls, as we find refuge when we are closely related to Christ and one another.
On Sunday, August 16 our senior pastor preached Deuteronomy 19:11-13, showing us that cities of refuge are not for everyone. The man described in those verses sowed thoughts of hate and reaped plans of murder. The cities of refuge teach us about the Gospel, and the Gospel is the act of God’s justice. That’s why Jesus’ death on the cross is so horrific. The Gospel is the justice of God being satisfied in Jesus. Listen to the whole sermon here.
Last week Pastor Craig focused on the physical relief that comes from refuge in Christ. This week he returns to the example of the refugee in Deuteronomy 19:1-10 to emphasize the spiritual shelter we find in The Lord. Our souls cry out for protection and rescue from our sin (not just in times of pain, grief, or depression). Yet where can we go but to Christ to find true and lasting peace? God knows each and every fiber of our beings, which is why His Word speaks so often of the peace we find under His wings. We desperately need the Spirit of God to use the Truth of God to realign our lives. It is where we must turn when the world offers false hope in the form of a remedy to the wrong problem, so that rather than making excuses and choosing the world, we will mature in Christ. Imagine the desperation of the man who flees retribution day and night without rest, seeking the city of refuge—are we that desperate for refuge and maturity in Christ? Listen to the whole sermon here.
Pastor Craig Bailey returns to Deuteronomy 19, specifically focusing on verses 1-10, which expounds on the sixth commandment “You shall not kill.” Craig reminds us that there is not one single flaw in the perspective of God, and we must return to “the second law” to reorient ourselves around God’s Truth in the midst of a sinful world. Much like the cities of refuge that God commands to be built in central locations and far-reaching, easily accessible roads, we can find refuge in passages like this when the world wants to lead us astray. What does the existence of these cities tell us about God’s heart? What truth is it that He is trying to communicate about Himself? In answer, Craig points to the positive side of the sixth commandment as “You shall preserve life.” God seeks to preserve life because we are created in His image. As the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13), we must continuously love our neighbors and enemies alike, as God loves us, often times by asking hard questions such as, “Where do I place myself in relation to others?” or “Am I, as an image-bearer of Christ, making it my mission to preserve life through every thought, word, and deed?” Listen to the whole sermon here.
Last week The Post and Courier printed a list of hate groups in South Carolina, as determined by the Southern Poverty Law Center, defining a hate group as “those who have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people typically for their immutable characteristics.” Yet everyone who has ever lived throughout all of history has been born into sin and has been born a sinner. We cannot change that immutable characteristic about ourselves. So if churches seek to bring change into people’s lives, we’ll be considered a hate group. What brings change into people’s lives? The Gospel.
The day is coming–or perhaps is already here–when those who speak the Gospel will be labeled as those who hate.
How do we live as a church in such a culture? How should we respond to it? Deuteronomy 18 has some answers for us: Our job is not to hate or retreat. We are to be in the world, shining like stars with the light of Christ, living as children of the light. Listen to the whole sermon here.