Wednesday, April 11, 2018
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
In our vernacular to jot something down is to make a quick little note of something you don’t want to forget. In that same sense the language of Scripture contains jots and tittles, among the smallest of notations. Jesus was adding commentary to his “Sermon on the Mount” cementing the importance of the entirety of God’s Word. In short, you cannot pick and choose what you care to obey, or attempt to change what Scripture declares. In the final verses of Holy Writ John makes that point with stark clarity:
And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.
The jots and tittles are important in any communication. Consider just how important the little comma is in English. In the hymn Jesus Loves Me note how the placement of the lowly comma in the verse about loving Jesus at the point of death can reposition your theological stance from Calvinism (once saved, always saved) to Arminianism:
Calvin: If I love him, when I die He will take me home on high.
Arminius: If I love him when I die, He will take me home on high.
It may be straining at a gnat here, but changing the position of the comma makes a difference in how you think about the way God treats us. Calvin would separate the fact of loving Christ into a momentary change of heart with a life and eternity result all settled (once saved, always in that condition). Arminius would add perseverance to that, moving the comma further down the line to include loving Jesus when I die. Calvin just wants to know IF you love Jesus…Arminius thinks it’s important to know if you’ve kept loving Jesus all the way home.
Again…straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel? Is it THAT important? Well, it has been; the verse quoted here appears in the Baptist Hymnal version (Calvinist theology), while it is ommitted in the Methodist Hymnal (Arminianism). That one concept about walking away from the salvation of God has caused quite a stir over the years.
But there is still plenty of common ground Calvinist and Arminian bent thinkers share, despite the difference stated; we both agree it is loving Jesus that is the correct response to God’s love in Christ towards us. Neither Arminianists nor Calvinists want to change Scripture, or omit what God has said.
There is another contemporary controversy heralding a new split that may be far more pervasive and damaging to the church than moving the jot or tittle a little farther down the sentence…the legitimizing of homosexuality, bisexuality, trans-sexualism, et al. The Biblical fact – no matter how some may try to deflect or distort the meaning of what God said – is clear; other than heterosexual relations within the bonds of marriage, the rest is perversion. What do you do with a clear prohibitive like Leviticus?
Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22(NLT)
There is too little space in this devotional slot to effect a comprehensive look at how doctrinally and Scripturally far off course we are taken with normalizing sexual sin. So let me just put my cards on the table, so to speak; the writer of Leviticus (Moses) did not stumble or stutter when he wrote…or more accurately…when he wrote down what God said. The whole point would be that if Moses was wrong about sexual activity between persons of the same gender being wrong, and detestable to God, he was then also not to be trusted with those other ten words he said were from God!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road; have a blessed day.
 Jesus Loves Me, Bradbury/Warner 1860/62, The Baptist Hymnal (Nashville, Convention Press, 1991), p.344