Sermon: Women in the Pastorate? Five Spiritual Laws -- By: Mark T. Coppenger

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 07:1 (Spring 2003)
Article: Sermon: Women in the Pastorate? Five Spiritual Laws
Author: Mark T. Coppenger

Sermon: Women in the Pastorate?
Five Spiritual Laws

Mark Coppenger

Mark Coppenger is pastor of Evanston Baptist Church in Illinois. He has also ser ved as president of Midwestern Seminary and as a professor of philosophy at Wheaton College and Midwestern Baptist Seminary. Dr. Coppenger has written numerous articles and the book A Christian View of Justice (Broadman and Holman).


Campus Crusade’s “Four Spiritual Laws” have been life givers in our day. This may strike some as strange, for many people associate law with burdens, prohibitions, and frustration—you must get a city parking sticker; you must not drive over 55 on that stretch of road. Regulations mount, and you find yourself unable to build what you want, swim when you want, and picnic where you want. There are taxes at every turn—property, school, excise, income (state and federal), and sales. The law seems to be a strait jacket. Where’s the life in that?

Of course, without law, we would have no community, safety, commerce, or public institutions. Take those away, and you lose a lot of the richness of life, not to mention a lot of lives. Good law is, in fact, a life giver.

The Ten Commandments, especially when cast in the “thou shalt nots” of the King James Version, can seem cold, and one might be tempted to think he could spark up his life by circumventing them. But as someone has put it, “You don’t break the Ten Commandments; you break yourself on the Ten Commandments.” Sin as you please, and you won’t put a dent in these laws. The only dents will appear in you.

Imagine a senior class’s choosing to test the livability of the Decalogue. Half will strain to obey the Ten; the other half will ignore and even defy them. The graduates agree to meet in 20 years to assess the results. Of course, the meeting would never occur. The lawbreakers would be long dead or imprisoned. And even those who’ve not yet gotten around to murder and theft would have ruined themselves through lies and infidelities; their souls withered through covetings and blasphemies.

We may chafe when God gives us scriptural direction, but we had better cling to his instructions. We may not die from disobedience, but in disobedience, we will surely miss the abundant life.

Paul says some seemingly hard, lawlike things in this passage, but we believers in scriptural authority, in biblical inerrancy, not only accept them; we give thanks for them, even as we try to understand them. This is the way of life.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone —for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peace...

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