An elderly lady declared, “No one would ever carry a gun in our church!” These words were heard by a pastor of a mid-size church in a rural community. The pastor engaged the older lady in conversation, “There are likely several concealed handgun license holders present in the congregation and their presence [is] reassuring, should anything happen which might require a response of force.” After a few minutes of dialog, the woman gained a new understanding, it was the very people she had worked with, gone to church with, people she knew and trusted, who have taken seriously the responsibility of carrying a firearm (Luke 22:36) for defense of self and others. (The Concealed Handgun; Volume 12, Number 1 February – March 2008 – Official Bi-Monthly Publication of the Texas Concealed Handgun Association). In recent years there have been ten shooting in churches, alongside an increase of misuse of firearms and other harmful weapons – such as knives – in public places. Shootings we hear about have occurred in all parts of the country and have little in common. The common denominator in these shooting is this, they are happening in places were people are least likely able to defend themselves against those who desire to kill and destroy.
In an article written by Bill Titus, I read something that got me thinking about the times we are living in. His article was eye opening and it thrust my thoughts to think about of how bad things can get, and about what the Bible says about the end days (2 Timothy 3:1). He wrote, “Nine years ago, Larry Gene Ashbrook entered the Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas and opened fire. He carried nine loaded magazines for his weapon, emptying three before taking his own life. Those three magazines contained enough ammunition to take the lives of four teenagers and three adults in the unarmed crowd. A peaceful Wednesday evening church service had turned into a killing field with no warning.
A different outcome in Colorado Springs, Matthew Murray entered the New Life Church carrying three weapons and over 1,000 rounds. When he began his attack, he was confronted by Jeanne Assam, a church volunteer. With help from other church-goes, Ms. Assam distracted Murray and shot him, bringing his intended killing field to an end. After being disabled by Assam’s bullets, Murray took his own life, as was his likely plan all along. Two young women were killed and their father wounded, but had Assam not acted, how many more would have died at the hands of a man who had come prepared to kill as many people as he could?” (The Concealed Handgun – Bill Titus – Volume 12, Number 1 February-March 2008)
There are some important truths that need to be considered as one thinks on the times we live in as the issue of carrying some kind of protection arises amid controversy, such as “concealed carry” in public places, even in church.
What Jesus Said
The Bible holds a teaching of Christ that prepares us to live in these present days. Luke 22:36 says, “…But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36, New International Version). This passage of Scripture is found in the conversation of Jesus with His disciples during the Last Supper. He is about to be taken from them (Luke 22:37) and He is giving them instructions so they can carry on the work of the Lord. In Luke 9 Jesus sent the twelve disciples out saying, “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” (Luke 9:3) However, after the Lord’s death and resurrection things were going to change.
“…But now…” what He teaches the disciples then is also for us today. They would – and we today – need a “purse” (βαλάντιον balántion), a moneybag for support to live. At this time in history ministries, businesses, and people need finances to survive. They would – and we today – need a “bag” (πήρα pé̄ra) in which to carry provisions. Today, you need a bag to carry your provisions if you travel; a safe place to store tools, equipment, supplies, and important documents. Additionally, they would – and we today – need a “sword” (μάχαιρα máchaira) for personal protection. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary; A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory; The Bible Exposition Commentary; Thru the Bible Commentary) A “sword” (μάχαιρα máchaira), originally a large knife for killing…was a curved weapon for close combat. (Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament; Theological Dictionary of the New Testament; Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains) The sword in Luke 22:36 is not for a vigilante style of justice, but for provision and protection in this life. In contemporary society, a “sword” relates to owning a gun, or other similar weapon, to use for provision and protection of life.
In Luke 22:36 they were living in perilous times. Obedience to God’s counsel, to be well armed was just as important as obedience to the rest of His Word, to show their love for God and Jesus Christ. Today, if Christians want to enjoy walking in step with the Holy Spirit, they must desire to obey all of Jesus’ teachings.
What Theologians Teach
Jesus and the Apostle Paul told their disciples the world will become increasingly worse. Christians and other responsible human beings still have the right to protect themselves. Jesus’ instruction, “if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” is a good one to follow. On his teaching of Luke 22:36, Preacher/Teacher James Vernon McGee wrote, “You had better pack your suitcase and get your traveler’ checks if you are going out for the Lord today… You had better be prepared to protect yourself and your love ones. We are living in difficult days. The Lord said, ‘He hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.’ (King James Version) Why? For protection, of course. They were living in days that required a sword. We need to recognize that fact also.” (Thru The Bible Commentary, Page 347, paragraph 2 and 3 Copyright 1983) Jamieson, Fausset and Brown wrote, “[you] will now need support, provision and the usual means of defense.” We live in days that require a “sword” (a gun, or something) for protection.
The fact is the walls of religion will not stop bad men from entering an institution to dish out harm upon unarmed people. On March 6, 2008, a terrorist entered Yeshiva (religious school) during a seminar in Jerusalem. He opened fire on people wishing to learn more about their religious beliefs. This gunman had killed several students before Yitzhak Dadon – a student attending the seminar – responded with his weapon firing two rounds into the terrorist’s head, ending the bloodshed. The director of the Seminary, Rabbi David Simchon, was quoted by the Israeli News Service saying, “No terrorist will succeed in stopping our faith, our values, the justice of our cause of what we teach here at Yeshiva [Seminary] (religious school).” (Bill Titus – Publication of the Texas Concealed Handgun Association)
Our Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment states. “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The Founding Fathers of the United States of America knew the Word of God, and had a reverent fear of Him. I am convinced that God in His Sovereignty employed these men to use His truths to rightfully govern a Nation Under God. Men who said or wrote:
- The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people… that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; (Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824. Memorial Edition 16:45, Lipscomb and Bergh, editors.)
- [W]whereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them…” (Richard Henry Lee, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.)
- Zachariah Johnson argued that the new Constitution could never result in religious persecution or other oppression because, “[T]he people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.”
- Roger Sherman, during House consideration of a militia bill (1790) said, “…It to be the privilege of every citizen, and one of his most essential rights, to bear arms, and to resist every attack upon his liberty or property, by whomsoever made. The particular states, like private citizens, have a right to be armed, and to defend, by force of arms, their rights, when invaded.” (14 Debates in the House of Representatives, ed. Linda Grand De Pauw. (Balt., Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1972, 92-3.)
Others have understood the truth of needing people around us who take seriously the mandate of being able to protect themselves and others around them:
- Robert Heinlein’s observation is “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his actions with his life.”
- John R. Lott, Jr. states, “With the largest increase in gun ownership also have the largest drops in violent crimes…” “Criminals are deterred by higher penalties. Just as higher arrest and conviction rates deter crime, so does the risk that someone committing a crime will confront someone able to defend him or herself. As more law-abiding citizens obtain permits there is a greater decline in violent crime rates… Concealed handgun laws reduce violent crime for two reasons. First, they reduce the number of attempted crimes because criminals are uncertain which potential victims can defend themselves. Second, victims who have guns are in a much better position to defend themselves.”
- Take note of this voice from the past, “The right of self-defense is the first law of nature; …when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the bank of destruction.” (Henry St. George Tucker, in Blackstone 1768 ‘Commentaries on Laws of England.’ Judge of the Virginia Supreme Court & U.S. Dist. Court of Virginia)
Studies indicate that “Conceal and Carry” is a good way for good people to follow the Lord’s mandate to be prepared for the times in which we live. A new study, Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns, by John Lott, Jr.; School of Law, University of Chicago; and David Mustard, Department of Economics, University of Chicago determined that “allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths.” The study shows:
- American citizens use these weapons in self-defense up to two and a half million times a year; with up to 400,000 of these citizens indicating that having the means to defend themselves had saved a life.
- The study repeats the findings of surveys, in which convicted felons indicate that they have more fear of meeting an armed citizen during the commission of their crimes, than they have of running into the police. Many avoid late-night burglaries because of the danger of getting shot by a legally-armed citizen.
- The study also seems to point to the fact that legally armed citizens are more familiar with guns, and therefore have fewer accidents.
- The study concludes: “Allowing citizens, without criminal records or histories of significant mental illness, to carry concealed handguns deters violent crimes and appears to produce an extremely small and statistically insignificant change in accidental deaths.”
- For each additional year that a concealed handgun law is in effect the murder rate declines by three percent, rape by two percent, and robberies by over two percent. (John R. Lott)
- From a separate study: “One thing the national news media will always ignore is the practice of lawful self-defense. For example, most people are probably not aware of the fact that American citizens use a firearm to defend themselves more than 2.4 million times every year. That is more than 6,500 times every day. This means that, each year, firearms are used 60 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives. Furthermore, of the 2.4 million self-defense cases, more than 192,000 are by women defending themselves against sexual assault. And in less than eight percent of those occasions is a shot actually fired. The vast majority of the time (92%), the mere presence of a firearm helps to avert a major crime from occurring.” (http://www.akdart.com/gun3.html – updated November 27,2012)
- From an article in EIN News: Us Politics Today, by Ethel C Fenig (November 28, 2012) I came across this statement, “Gun-related violent crime in Virginia has dropped steadily over the past six years as the sale of firearms has soared to a new record, according to an analysis of state crime data with state records of gun sales. The total number of firearms purchased in Virginia increased 73 percent from 2006 to 2011. The total number of gun-related violent crimes fell 24 percent over that period, and when adjusted for population, gun-related offenses dropped from 79 crimes per 100,000 in 2006 to 57 in 2011.”
Our Lord gives us clear directions, get prepared to defend ourselves. The 2nd Amendment gives us the right to obey Jesus’ teaching. Studies show the value of being well armed for the defense of ourselves and others. In addition, personal testimonies bring this truth to heart.
- 12-Year-Old Defends Herself with Gun. This past Wednesday [10/17/2012] a young 12-year old girl in Bryan County, Oklahoma was able to protect her life when an intruder kicked in her back door and entered her house. Frantically, she called her mother who advised her to grab their household gun, hide in the closet, and call 911. The intruder made his way through the house, and as he was opening the door of the closet, the young girl shot him through the closet door. The intruder left the house and the girl was found unharmed. The police arrived and took the man into custody.” (http//www/akdart.com/guns3.html November 27,2012)
- “On Sunday, December 16, 2012, two days after the CT shooting, a man went to a restaurant in San Antonio to kill his ex-girlfriend. After he shot her, most of the people in the restaurant fled next door to a theater. The gunman followed them and entered the theater so he could shoot more people. He started shooting and people in the theater started running and screaming. It’s like the Aurora, CO theater story plus a restaurant! However, there was an off duty county deputy at the theater. She pulled out her gun and shot the man 4 times before he had a chance to kill anyone. This true story makes the point, ‘The best thing to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun.’” (http://www.mysanantonio.com – Sunday, December 16, 2012)
- LOGANVILLE, Ga. — “A woman hiding in her attic with children shot an intruder multiple times before fleeing to safety. The incident happened at a home on Henderson Ridge Lane in Loganville around 1:00 p.m. The woman was working in an upstairs office when she spotted a strange man outside a window, according to Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman. He said she took her 9-year-old twins to a crawlspace before the man broke in using a crowbar. ‘The perpetrator opens that door. Of course, at that time he’s staring at her, her two children and a .38 revolver,’ Chapman told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh… ‘My wife is a hero. She protected her kids. She did what she was supposed to do as responsible, prepared gun owner,’ Donnie Herman said. ‘Her life is saved, and her kids’ life is saved, and that’s all I’d like to say,’ Herman said.” (Before Its News, January 04, 2013.)
Simple observation reveals to us, that from the time of the Lord’s Last Supper and into present day, we live in perilous times. It is clear; the police cannot protect everyone from evil forces, often they arrive after the fact. It is clear; the Armed Forces cannot camp on every doorstep to protect the masses in times of disasters or civil unrest. The fact is, in Luke 22:36, “Jesus gave us truths we desperately need to know as we live in a sin-cursed, hostile world” (Wiersbe, W.W. 1996, c1989).
Obedient Christians and responsible people strive to gain finances, work for provisions, and purchase what is needed for protection. How much clearer can the Lord make it? The New American Standard Bible translates Jesus’ teaching as, “And He said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.” For those who believe that the English Standard Bible is the most accurate modern day translation, “He said to them, ‘But now let the one who has a money bag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” Eugene Peterson’s translation, “He said, ‘This is different. Get ready for trouble. Look to what you’ll need; there are difficult times ahead. Pawn your coat and get a sword. (The Message Bible) Lastly, the New Living Bible gives us this insight, “’But now,’ he said ‘take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!.’”
As long as churches, schools, post offices, and government buildings are perceived as “soft-targets,” assailants who are intent on killing as many people as possible will continue to attack such places. Now is not the time to reject the teachings of Jesus Christ and put trust in the conjecture of mankind. Considering the six Bible translations quoted in this teaching, you should allow the Holy Spirit to prick your heart with these questions. Do you have the proper finances? Do have the proper provision? Are You Packin?