TEXT: Exodus 28:36
This afternoon, with the Lord's help, we'll start a new monthly study on the Puritans. The Puritans have been called many things-not all of which are flattering. To most people Puritan means fanatic, hypocrite, or persecutor. Someone has defined a Puritan as "A man whose greatest fear is that someone somewhere might be having a good time".
But is that how they were? It isn't. The Puritans had a remarkably positive outlook on life. The early ones were criticized by the Catholics for being too.jolly! Their hymns, for example, were scorned as Geneva Jigs. Rather than denying life in this world, they wanted to sanctify it. Our text served as a motto for them,
Holiness unto the LORD.
Were the Puritans perfect? Of course not. But they were good examples. Their way of life is worth learning. And, for the most part, following.
On the third Sunday afternoon of each month, I hope, we'll look at one aspect of Puritan life. Though I'll draw from many sources, we'll follow the outline of a fine book by Leland Ryken. It's called,
The Puritans as
They Really Were.
If you don't have a copy, I encourage you to get one-but not mine!
Today's topic is The Puritans on Work.
When you hear the term, Puritan work ethic, what comes to mind? Ryken says it is.
"Used today to cover a whole range of current
ills: the workaholic syndrome, drudgery,
competitiveness, worship of success,
materialism, and the cult of the self-made
Is this how the Puritans really were? Did they work impossible hours, neglect their families, worship money, and look down on people who weren't successful?
They didn't. In fact, the picture we've drawn of the Puritans looks a lot more like us than it does them! It is we who work ourselves to death on jobs we hate to buy things we don't need while our children grow up alone or in daycare.
When it comes to working, we have a lot to learn. The Puritans can help us.
THE SANCTITY OF WORK
The first thing to say about the Puritan view of work is also the most important: They believed that all work was God's work.
This means that God's Work is not limited to being a pastor, a theologian, a Christian school teacher, or a missionary nurse. Every job is equally sacred! Here's a list of quotes,
"If we look externally, there is a difference
between washing dishes and preaching the
Word of God, but as touching pleasing
God, none at all" (William Tyndale).
"The action of a shepherd keeping sheep
is as good a work before God as a
minister in preaching" (William Perkins).
"This is a wonderful thing, that the Savior
of the world and the king above all kings,
was not ashamed to labor, and to use so
simple an occupation. Here He did sanctify
all manner of occupations" (Hugh Latimer).
If the Puritans were so godly, why would they equate washing dishes with preaching the Gospel? Here's why: Because every job is a Divine calling. In other words, flipping burgers is no less a calling than pastoring a church.
"God doth call every man and woman
to serve Him in some peculiar employ-
ment in this world.The Great Governor
of the world hath appointed to every man
his post and province" (Richard Steele).
"A vocation or calling is a certain kind of
life, ordained and imposed on man
by God" (William Perkins).
"God is the General, appointing to every
man his particular post.God Himself
is the author and beginning of
callings" (William Perkins).
This means we don't stumble into our jobs, but God gives them to us. And because He gave us the job, the job must be sacred.
This is what the Puritans believed. But is it true? It is-the Bible says so. The key passage is Colossians 3:22-24,
"Servants, obey in all things your masters according
to the flesh, not with eye-service, as men pleasers,
but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever
you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward
of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ".
The people spoken to here were not serving men, but the Lord. What were their occupations? Apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers? No. They were slaves. They were plowing fields, milking cows, slopping pigs, washing dishes, and cleaning out chamber pots! Yet their jobs were God's Work!
If all work is sacred, three things follow:
with contentment. Contentment is no little
part of your homage to that God Who hath
placed you where you are" (Cotton Mather).
would have His gifts improved to their
best advantage" (Cotton Mather).
fall out with his calling" (Cotton Mather).
The first two points cannot be denied. But the third-some think-is arbitrary and legalistic. Is it wrong to bounce from job to job? Inherently, it isn't. But there are often sins behind the constant moving. What are they? Cotton Mather says,
"Many a man, merely from covetousness and
discontent, throws up his business".
William Perkins adds two more,
"Ambition and envy.when we see others placed
in better callings and conditions than ourselves".
To the Puritans, all work is good, because every job-from curing cancer to sweeping floors is from the Lord.
THE GOALS OF WORK
The Puritans differed from us-not only on the sanctity of work-but also on its goals. What is work for? Most people would say it's for money. If they had enough money, they'd never work again. Others are a little nobler than that-they work for the love of it. Or to support their families. All of these things are legitimate. We need money; we need something to do with ourselves; we need to take care of our loved ones. But as necessary as these things are, they're not the highest goals of work. William Perkins writes,
"Must we not labor in our callings to maintain
our families? I answer: This must be done:
but it is not the scope and end of our lives.
The true end of our lives is to do service to
God in serving man".
The two chief goals of work, therefore, are: (1) the glory of God, and (2) the welfare of other people.
The Puritans have a lot to say on the first goal-but you've heard about that a million times. Mather says,
"A man ought to pursue a calling
so that he may glorify God".
Let's spend most of our time on the second point-working for the welfare of other people. In the 1960's there was a strong emphasis on Public Service. Many young people joined the Peace Corps and other groups to help the poor, and so on. Now, let's not be romantic about those days. A lot of men were joining to avoid the draft or to show off or to meet girls!
But having said that, I wonder if we haven't gone to the opposite extreme? How many students do you know who are going to college in order to help others? Very few. The most popular majors are the big money ones! Business, computer science, engineering, pre-law, pre-med, and so on. There's nothing wrong with these things, of course-they too can be of great public service. But how many people are studying them to be of public service? Not many, I suspect.
The Puritans thought otherwise. Here are some quotes,
"We must labor, not for our own good,
but for the good of others" (John Preston).
"The public welfare, or the good of the many
is to be valued above our own. Every man,
therefore, is bound to do all he can for others,
especially for the church and commonwealth"
"We may not aim only at our own, but at
the public good. Therefore, faith will
not think it hath a comfortable calling
unless it will serve, not only its own turn,
but the turn of other men" (Cotton Mather).
To these Puritan quotes, Leland Ryken adds,
"What is noteworthy about such statements
is the integration among God, society, and
self that converges in the exercise of one's
calling. Self-interest is not totally denied,
but it is definitely minimized".
The Puritans, therefore, worked-not mostly for money or prestige-but for God and other people. In doing that, they were but obeying the Two Great Commands,
"You shall love the Lord your God
with all of your heart, soul, and mind.
And your neighbor as yourself".
If this is what work is for, you've got to choose your work carefully. Richard Baxter says,
"Choose that employment or calling in which
you may be most serviceable to God.
Choose not that in which you may be most
Rich or honorable in the world, but that in
Which you may do most good.
"In choosing a trade or calling, the first con-
sideration should be the service of God
and the public good, and therefore, that
calling that most conduceth to the public
good is to be preferred".
WORK AND SUCCESS
How did the Puritans view success? They came to America with nothing, and within a generation or two, created a society that was well off financially. Many of them became rich. And not only in America. English Puritans often did well, and so did their counterparts in Scotland, France, the Netherlands, and other places too.
Did they attribute their success to their hard work or thrift? No they didn't. They saw it as a gift of God.
"In our occupations, we spread the nets,
but it is God who brings into our nets
all that come into them" (Cotton Mather).
"Neither covetousness nor hard work
can make men rich, since God alone
blesses with success" (Robert Crowley).
Two modern Puritan scholars put it this way,
"Calvinism does not tech an ethic of self-reliance,
as the work ethic does. It is instead an ethic of grace:
whatever tangible rewards come from work, they
are the gifts of God's grace".
"No direct correlation exists between wealth
and godliness. It is not riches, but faith
and suffering for the Gospel that are
signs of election".
This means: When the Puritans did well-and they often did-they didn't congratulate themselves; they thanked God, James 1:17.
It also means: They didn't look down on poor people as being stupid or lazy. Richard Baxter says riches are given to some so that they can,
"Relieve our needy brethren".
RULES FOR WORK
Finally, we have two rules for work.
The first is Work Hard,
"Religion does not seal warrants to idleness.
God sets all His children to work.God will
Bless our diligence, not our laziness"
The second rule is Don't Work Too Hard,
"Take heed of too much business" (John Preston).
How do you know when you're working too hard? Philip Stubbes says,
"Every Christian man is bound in conscience before
God not to allow his immoderate care to surpass
The limits of true godliness".
In other words, if you're working too much to pray or read the Bible or take care of your family or come to church, you're working too much.
Richard Baxter says the same thing in another way,
"Take heed, lest under the pretense of diligence
in your calling, you be drawn to earthly-mindedness,
or excessive cares or covetous designs for rising
in the world".
Well, there you have it: The Puritans on work. How did they see it? They believed all work was sacred-from preaching the Gospel to changing diapers, every job matters. Including yours. They also believed the goals of work are the glory of God and the good of other people. They believed success depends on God's grace-and not just our efforts. They believed we work, work hard, but to remember work isn't everything.
We might not agree with every detail of their vision, but they got the Big Picture right! This is what work is and what it's for.
Now go to work tomorrow morning as though you believed it.
By Guest Contributor,
Pastor Michael Phillips
Michael Phillips is a pastor at Grace Baptist Church-Fremont. Serving since 1983 as the primary teacher at Grace Baptist, his special interests are Biblical Theology, Redemptive-Historical Preaching, and Church History. He is married to Gladys and they have three adult sons.
This article was first delivered by Pastor Naphtally Ogallo at the Reformed Family Conference in Zambia.
Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus, resulting in its death.
‘An abortion can occur spontaneously due to complications during pregnancy or can be induced. An abortion induced to preserve the health of the pregnant woman is termed a therapeutic abortion, while an abortion induced for any other reason such as is done at the woman‘s request is termed an elective abortion. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy, while spontaneous abortions are usually termed miscarriages. Abortion (induced) is the deliberate termination of pregnancy.’
Almost all bodies and organizations concerned with ‘Abortion’ basically say: it is here we can’t stop it so let’s handle it ‘safe’. The emphasis now is on ‘unsafe abortion’.
Clearly, the majority are not talking of stopping abortion but legalize it. The fact that campaigns are done around the world to legalize it must make us stop and ask ‘why need to legalize it?’ Isn’t it a silent but conscious admission that naturally it ought never to be so?
“Unsafe abortion mainly endangers women in developing countries where abortion is highly restricted by law…” (WHO)
“By contrast, legal abortion in industrialised nations has emerged as one of the safest procedures in contemporary medical practice, with minimum morbidity (injury) and a negligible risk of death.”(WHO)
Facts and Figures
“Approximately 56M abortions take place each year worldwide. That is 126,000 a day, 87 every minute, almost 2 every three seconds. Abortions account for 80,000 maternal deaths globally each year” (Africa Christian Action).
America is leading in cases of abortion with about 55M cases so far recorded since 1973 (Lifenews.com)
“In every 100 births, 31 are aborted = 30%. 100,000 abortions per year.”
8M plus babies have been aborted in Britain since 1968 when the abortion Act came into effect. About 552 every day. The chief executive of Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in UK (SPUC) says:
“Our country has been deprived of millions of never-to-be repeated lives by the hidden horror of abortion”. (Evangelical Times June 2016).
8.3M abortions were reported between 2010 and 2014
In 2013, African Population and Health Research Center reported that over 400,000 abortions were recorded in 2012. Another study reports of 310,000 every year.
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa reports that 52,000 cases of abortion between 2003 and 2008 were recorded.
In 1972 the law was ‘any intent to procure abortion’ earns you 7 years. Any woman involved in abortion gets 14 years. Anyone involved in assisting/supplying… for abortion receives 14 years.
The complaint by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is ‘this is not enough leverage’; “This does not give women full choice and control over their bodies.”
Reasons for abortion
“Abortion is not permitted except as may be provided for by an Act of Parliament.”
A report showed that teenagers mention stigma (shame/disgrace) of childbirth outside of marriage, the inability to support a child financially, being forced to drop out of school and keeping it from parents as the main reasons.
Termination of Pregnancy Act (TOP) in 1972 allowed termination of pregnancy (abortion) on health and socio-economic grounds = when her own life and health, or the health of other members of her family, may be put at risk by the pregnancy, or when the fetus may be expected to be damaged or diseased.
In 2005 amendment was made to include rape and defilement (incest).
Reasons get more worrying
Many people when asked about Hitler and the holocaust (murder of the 6M Jews) they condemn him outright. But ask the same people and they support abortion! Their reason is ‘one is considered human 3 days after birth; others give it 7 years; others say 40IQ; one general scare is handicaps.
The Pro-choice [in America] often say they shouldn’t be thought of as ‘trigger happy’ in the matter of abortion. But they then go ahead and shoot themselves on the foot: “The President of Planned Parenthood in America Madam Ilyse Hogue is on video saying that she aborted for convenience; she wanted to follow her career (achieve her dream).” To quote her:
I’m Ilyse Hogue. I’m the president of (National Abortion Rights Action League) NARAL Pro-Choice America, which I might not be if I hadn’t had access to a legal abortion twenty years ago when I got pregnant due to a contraception failure.(LiveActionNews of Feb.8, 2016)
This woman is simply saying that motherhood is a hindrance to women. ‘Legalize abortion to empower women with the right [to] manage themselves better.’
Astonishingly, the NARAL leader just had a twins (June 2015) and - surprise! - she is still the head of NARAL! Hogue made the announcement on her Facebook page last June:
“June 17th, my husband and I were thrilled to meet our new daughter and son when they came into the world at 11:29 and 11:34 am respectively. We’re still getting used to being new parents with all of the flood of emotions– overwhelming joy and confusion and awe.”
Planned Parenthood sees pregnancy as a disease which require treatment and that abortion! Dr. Willard Cates (FHI 360) wrote a paper “Abortion as treatment for unwanted pregnancy, the second sexually transmitted disease”.
NARAL and its President, Hogue presents a picture that actually weakens a woman/mother and her own child.
Erika Bachiochi (Pro-life feminist) speaking on CNN on 2015 Jan 22nd challenged NARAL:
“When we belittle the developing child in the womb, a scientific reality that most pro-choice advocates have come to admit, we belittle and distort that child’s mother. We make her out to be one with property rights over her developing unborn child (much as [like] husbands once had property rights over their wives).
We give her the inhumane…right to decide the fate of another human being, of a vulnerable child — her child — to whom she properly owes an affirmative duty of care…The sign of a strong woman is not in how quickly she will sacrifice her own flesh and blood for personal ambition, but in how she maintains her dignity and that of her child while working through a challenging situation to find real solutions. Many women in much more difficult circumstances than Hogue’s have chosen a better way: instead of viewing their own offspring as expendable “mistakes,” they have faced their challenges while embracing and protecting life.”
Abortion as political tool
In 1984 US President Ronald Reagan worked through to come up with a policy known as “The Mexico City Policy [this] is an intermittent (alternating) United States government policy that required all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services as a method of family planning with non-US government funds in other countries.”
The interesting thing is that when the Republicans are in power the policy is upheld. As soon as the Democrats get to power then the policy is rescinded (overturned/withdrawn)! Example: Bill Clinton (D) got to power and Jan.22nd 1993 he rescinded it. Jan.22nd 2001 George Bush (R) enforced it. Jan.23rd 2009 Barrack Obama (D) rescinded it! =>Murder of babies is become a political tool in American politics!
Procedure in abortion
1st three months (1st trimester) they use Dilation and Suction (DNS) or Dilation and Curettage (D&C). Basically crushing then sucking the baby through a tube. I leave you to think of the dangers involved even upon the mother.
2nd three months (2nd trimester) they use a needle to reach amniotic sac which is the baby’s safe home. They suck out the natural fluid and replace it with salt solution, burning the baby and within 24 to 72 hours the baby is forced out.
3rd three months (3rd trimester) hysterotomy (surgical operation) is done to abort. However, some babies come out alive then killed!
GOD’S WORD ON ABORTION
The fact that governments around the world make laws to regulate abortion tells you. There is a Higher Being we are all answerable to. It is God! The guilt that plagues the woman that aborts the first time tells her she is answerable to God. So what does God say about abortion? Abortion is murder in God’s sight and He takes it seriously.
1. God and conception
Conception is an act of the sovereign God.
We must begin from the beginning; the origin of life. Even though conception happens when a male and female have sexual relationship, it is due to God’s sovereign act and will.
Genesis 17:21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear to you at this set time in the next year.
Genesis 18:10 And he said, I will certainly return to you according to the time of life; and, behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son...
Genesis 18:14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
Genesis 21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as he had spoken.
Genesis 21:2 For Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
2Kings 4:17 And the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha had told her.
Luke 1:24 Now after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and she hid herself five months, saying,
Luke 1:25 Thus the Lord has dealt with me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
Conception or pregnancy is not an accident or a disease or a mistake! It is a visitation of God. Taking place at the sovereign pleasure of God alone.
2. God and His image in man
What is conceived is a human being, precious to God and expects care and protection
It is God’s image
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
“in God’s image” = in moral likeness, knowing good and evil, capacity to love, reason
It is a human being
Those women who conceived carried and bore human beings
1 Samuel 1:20 “…Hannah conceived and bore a son…”
1 Samuel 2:21 “…visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters…”
Psalm 51:5 “…in sin did my mother conceived me”
Isaiah 7:14 “…Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son…”
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you (Jeremiah; a person); Before you were born I sanctified you…”
That human being requires care/protection
God gives the child in the womb a very special care.
The womb is structured in three amazing ways:
 Perimetrium = thin lining connecting the uterus and the body lining
 Myometrium = most import and provides muscular contraction needed during childbirth
 Endometrium = Contains glands. Through it the placenta is formed which supplies oxygen and nutrition to the baby
The womb functions also in three wonderful ways:
 Protection from harm/danger
 Provision for food or Nutritional support
 Prevention from infection or Waste removal
Numbers 11:12, 13 “Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them…that you say ‘Carry them…
Isaiah 49:15 Can a woman forget her sucking child
Even when that conception is going to bring about inconvenience as in the case of David and Bathsheba
2 Samuel 11:5 The woman conceived and told David ‘Am with child’! David did not plan to kill the child and so erase all evidence. Instead he thought of others things…!
Psalms 127:3 Behold children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is His reward.
God condemns those who murder
Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.”
Genesis 9:6 If you shed man’s blood yours will be shed; ‘A life for a life.’ => This is Capital Punishment.
But why is human life valued so highly? Because man is made in the image of God. He is special hence David could say “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”
=>To murder a human being is to murder that which is most like God. It is attack on God Himself (Deuteronomy 19:15ff)
Capital Punishment is also taught in New Testament! Matthew 26:51 and Acts 25:10f; Romans 13:4; Proverbs 6:16-19
=>When you shed innocent blood you meet with God’s full wrath (Genesis 4:10; cf. Hebrews 11:4; 42:22)
4. God and murdered babies
What does God do with millions of murdered babies? Or Do all aborted and babies who die in infancy go to heaven automatically?
Notice the following arguments:
It is argued: ‘Those who die in infancy have an “excuse” (Romans 1:20) in that they neither receive general revelation nor have the capacity to respond to it.’
But is this the true position of God’s word?
While it is true that God cares for babies right from conception, the fact that they die in infancy does that qualify them for heaven? I will disappoint some here but the answer is NO!
A belief in automatic entrance in heaven for dead babies would destabilize the whole basis of salvation.
This kind of thinking fails to put into account balanced teaching of the Scripture.
The words “I shall go…” (2 Samuel 12:23) simply mean that. Those words also do mean die or depart. David simply means ‘I eventually will die too’. To take this to mean that the child went to heaven is to stretch the words beyond limit. But also, this is not in line with biblical doctrine of salvation.
Doctrine of salvation
Salvation is absolutely essential to entering heaven. Those who will be saved are the elect ones. Election is not an end in itself. We know those who are elect by the fact that when they hear the gospel preached, they are regenerated/born again and then they believe and walk in holiness.
We all treat pregnant women with respect. Why? Cos of what they carry. We all love babies. But our emotional attachment to babies must not make us go overboard. Though God fully knows and understands us, He does not express similar human emotions.
Conceived in sin
David got it right:
“In sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). God treats us not in terms of age but state.
“The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” (Psalm 58:3)
“Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth...let them melt away... let them be cut in pieces...let (every one of them) pass away; (like) the untimely birth of a woman, (that) they may not see the sun...” (vv.6,8)
David asks God that these persons who would live and practice wickedness were better off not born!! These are very hard words; imprecatory Psalms. David knew the state of children; evil is set in their hearts. They are potentially capable of every evil thing. ‘Naturally every child would turn out to be like Hitler or Amin. But when that nature is changed by God’s saving grace then one would turn to be like Spurgeon’ (K B Napier)
Take note of Isaiah 48:8 “...for I knew that you would deal very treacherously, And were called a transgressor from the womb.”
To quote K B Napier
“...any child who enters heaven does so only if he has been elected and he has, in his tender years, been born again.”
To be born again follows the first and natural birth. And ‘be born again’ comes about when one has heard the gospel then believes and is saved. This new birth is mandatory to entering heaven (John 3:3). Yet it is a sovereign work of God that no sinner can bring upon themselves (cf. v.7)
Question: What sends people to hell? It is not because of the daily sins we do. That is false! “We go to hell for the inborn state of Sin that causes the daily sins!” This is fundamental Reformed Biblical teaching. But it is being avoided! This is the ‘original’ Sin that entered the human race when Adam fell, plunged whole human race into life against God.
It is for this sin that Jesus died and took our place and now brings us to God.
Question: How does that view address the matter of aborted children?
Answer: Just this, this teaching underscores the horror of abortion. Abortionists are cutting short lives/souls of those who should leave to hear the gospel which alone is able to save their souls. Abortionists are exactly as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day:
Matthews 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 23:15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
Anyone involved in abortion, God’s judgement hangs upon you!
5.The church’s duty in this situation
What can the church do towards abortion?
1. Preach the urgent gospel of repentance and faith in Christ alone to all. This leads to new creation and holy living before God.
Naphtally Ogallo is one of the Pastors of Grace Baptist Church - Eldoret.