Bonus Content from August 11th (Psalm 87)

We received one question after Sunday’s sermon. I answer that question below and provide further detail on another portion of the sermon.
 
As Christians, we love all people, including immigrants. However, all must enter the country legally. Family or not, God set government in place to enforce laws for all people. Would you agree here?
 
The question fascinates me because it reminds me of the times Jesus interacted with people who sought to divert conversation from their own issues to point the finger at someone else’s issues. One example: “Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Lk. 12:13). How does Jesus respond? He doesn’t wade into the issue about what the speaker’s brother was doing wrong; instead, warns the speaker himself (who may very well have been correct in assessing his brother’s fault!) to be on guard against his own covetousness.
 
Perhaps we can learn a lesson from that here. Obeying governmental authorities was nowhere in our text this week (though it will show up when we preach 1 Peter 2:13-25 this Fall). However, embracing the multi-nationality of Zion was demanded by this week’s text, so that was the call to action from the pulpit. If I hear God’s Word say, “embrace even Christian immigrants as brothers and sisters,” and my mind immediately goes to, “but they aren’t obeying the law!” I am in danger of doing what the man did in Luke 12:13. My neighbor’s sin ought not be my first concern; my first concern must be whether I am meeting my own obligation (in this case, an obligation of love for brothers and sisters of other ethnicities and nations of origin).
 
To answer the question of whether I agree that all immigrants must enter the country legally because God set government in place to enforce laws for all people, I would say this: “Yes, just as all people must obey the speed limit because God set government in place to enforce laws for all people.”
 
Have I ever broken the speed limit? Yes.
 
Do I believe that speeding is sin that requires repentance? Yes.
 
Will I nevertheless break the speed limit next week (with a clear conscience before God!) if my wife goes into labor and I need to get to the hospital in a hurry? Yes.
 
When I find out that a Christian brother or sister has broken the speed limit, do I believe it in any way mitigates my responsibility to love that person? No.
 
If the government announced next week, “Hidden cameras have been keeping record all speeders on all roads for the last 20 years, and those 20 years of accumulated tickets will be arriving in the mail next week,” do I think that would be just? That’s an important question for us all to consider.
 
 
Where does the Old Testament talk about the new birth?
 
In John 3:10, Jesus seems to think that as a teacher of Israel, Nicodemus should have understood what he meant when he talked about being “born again” or being “born of the Spirit.” But how was Nicodemus supposed to know about this?
 
I suggested in Sunday’s sermon that it’s hard to read the pieces about being “born in Zion” in Psalm 87 in any other way besides some sort of second birth. While more cautious about Psalm 87, here is a good article that lays out some of the Old Testament passages that point to the theme.