Thursday, February 16, 2017

Adam and the Tree of Life

Some folks may miss the important of the tree of life if they're quickly reading the Bible. (It's also very difficult to find a public domain image of it.) This tree first mentioned in Genesis 2:4, along with the one we've heard about quite a bit more, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Adam sinned, death entered the world (Gen. 2:16-17, Rom. 5:12, 1 Cor. 15:22). There are people who will agree with Satan and charge God with lying, because we read in Genesis 2:17, "...for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die", and Adam lived 930 years. That's one of the problems we have with translation, especially ancient Hebrew to modern English: meanings are difficult to communicate and still make the text readable. More literally, it reads, "dying you shall die". Adam and Eve were not going to die, but by eating the forbidden fruit, they began the dying process.

After Adam and Eve sinned and death entered the world, God would not let them eat from the tree of life. This was actually a tremendous act of mercy.
Image credit: Pixabay / OpenClipart-Vectors
God did not want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life after they had sinned, and stationed a guard to keep them out (Gen. 3:24). (If you study on it, you'll realize that Eden must have still been there, guard and all, for mankind to see up until the Flood happened.) The tree that was mentioned in the first book of the Bible is also discussed in the last book at the restoration of all things (Rev. 22:2). But what was the big deal? Adam ate from the forbidden tree, why not from the tree of life? This was actually a tremendous act of mercy.
In Genesis 2:9, we are told that in the midst of the Garden of Eden, God placed the Tree of Life as well as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam was permitted to eat of every tree in the garden except for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God warned that if Adam ate of its fruit, he would surely begin to die. (See this article for an explanation of why that is the best understanding).

In Genesis 3, the Bible describes the fall of mankind and how sin, death, and suffering entered the world when Adam disobeyed God’s commandment and ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
To read the rest, click on "Why did God prevent Adam from eating from the Tree of Life after he had sinned?"


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Creation in Evangelism

For Question Evolution Day, I thought it would be helpful to emphasize the importance of a strong position on biblical creation when presenting the gospel message. Some people claim that creation is unimportant in evangelism, it's just a side issue after all, and we should just focus on Jesus. Some who believe that Earth is old, especially theistic evolutionists, spread the falsehood that creation is a hindrance to the gospel. Not hardly! Yes, creation is a sort of "side issue", but it is still very important.


Some people think creation is an irrelevant or even harmful side issue. On the contrary, it is important in sharing the gospel.
Image credit: Pixabay / qimono
When Peter preached in Acts, it was to monotheistic Jews. Paul preached to pagans, and went back to creation as the foundation. Creation evangelism is important on the mission field and in paganized evolutionary cultures in western society as well as elsewhere. Genesis is the source of all major Christian doctrines, and it is the most attacked section of Scripture. Atheists and evolutionists have teams hitched up to their propaganda wagons and are running wild, spreading atheist-making evolution, which is their mythology of creation. You can't escape it. Television, music, movies, the Web — evolution and long ages are presented as irrefragable, even taken for granted. When witnessing to unbelievers, knowledgeable creationists can show that evolution is not all it's made out to be, that God is our Creator, and we're accountable to him.
Recently I had a series of unplanned admissions to hospital. This resulted in a couple of unexpected opportunities to witness to fellow patients regarding my Christian faith. The responses varied, but we can all learn lessons from the reasons they gave for their unbelief.

The first opportunity involved a discussion with two men—the guy in the bed next to me (guy A) and the guy diagonally across from me (guy B). Guy A, in his late 60s, was a tough manual worker on a country estate farm. He was recovering from a heart attack and awaiting coronary bypass surgery. Guy B, in his mid-60s, was retired, recovering from a life threatening chest infection that had very nearly irreversibly damaged his heart. During our time together we had some interesting three-way conversations; one lasted for almost an hour, by which time we were all exhausted. I listened to what they had to say and they listened to me.
To read the rest, click on "Biblical creation proves pivotal to evangelism". 


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Liberal Theology Fails Churches

Before we saddle up for the journey, I wanted to share some personal remarks from my history.

Way back when, my father was the pastor in the liberal United Methodist Church denomination. He denied the inerrancy of Scripture, supported the ordination of women as pastors, and had other unsavory views. (Interestingly, he was against ordaining homosexuals, and was ready to resign if the denomination passed that in a vote. Sad that it was subject to a vote in the first place! He also rejected evolution, and that was before all the evidence we have refuting it and affirming special creation that we have today.) The UMC denomination has become far more liberal after his time.

When I attended a Christian high school and learned the truth of the Bible, things began to get my attention, such as the phrase "reach the unchurched". Seemed to me that they were more interested in building up numbers than in reaching the lost with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, after I had left the denomination, I had not officially requested to be dropped from the registry. I was living quite a distance away, but they sent me a bundle of tithe envelopes. Gotta keep that money coming in, don'tcha know, but no interested in my family and me, or our spiritual well-being.

Many Protestant churches have gone into liberal theology, which includes compromising on the foundations in Genesis. This may have been a way to appear "relevant" and "intellectual" to pack the pews. This compromising was part of the reason the Fundamentalist movement started in the United States, and it was also a reaction against anti-faith intellectualism (see "Fundamentalist and Literalist" for my thoughts on Fundamentalism).


Mainstream Protestant denominations went into liberal theology. A new study suggests that this bad idea has led to their membership losses, and more people coming to conservative churches.
Image credit: Morguefile / Denna
One problem that many churches have to build up membership is worldliness. I know, I know, that word is used too freely, and often means, "Something I don't like", so they call it "worldly" and misquote Scripture. For an extremely enlightening message on worldliness and Christians, I recommend "Brothers, We Are Not Worldlings" by Phil Johnson. Free to listen online or download the MP3.

 Liberalism is a passel of hassle. Not only are liberal church rosters falling, but conservative churches are growing. Mayhaps it's because people do not respect compromise, but are more likely to respect those who stand for what they believe. It may be that they know they need the Word of God and not religious sounding schlock, that's a strong possibility.
Shrinking church congregations have been a problem in the West for many years now, particularly for mainline Protestant denominations. For example, “since the 1960s, Canada’s mainline Protestant denominations—made up of the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United churches—have lost anywhere between 40 to 60 per cent of their membership.”

Pastors have been encouraged to adopt liberal theology to stem this exodus. But a new study suggests liberal congregations are still shrinking, while conservative congregations are growing.
To finish reading, click on "New Study: Liberal Theology Doesn’t Save Shrinking Congregations".


Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Source of True Knowledge

Scoffers are fond of their own wisdom and knowledge, but that is based on worldly standards and comparisons to other people. They presume that the Bible is mostly (or completely) worthless, but therein lies the starting point of all true knowledge and wisdom.


Bible source of all true knowledge and wisdom
Image credit: pazham at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
People who deny God usually have a materialistic worldview that has no room for the Creator that they know exists, but suppress that truth. If God did not exist and we were the product of time, chance, random processes and so forth, we would not be able to trust our own reasoning.
How do we know that God exists and the Bible is His Word? Many people think God’s existence is just like any other truth claim—a hypothesis we can confirm or falsify by proper reasoning from more certain knowledge. Commonly, people start with the things they know for sure by their own experiences and then reach a conclusion about God’s existence. Perhaps their experience with cause-and-effect leads them to reason that the universe must have a cause and maybe that cause is God. Perhaps the intricate design of the human body prompts some to believe in the biblical God. In all such cases a person begins with what he knows to be true from his observations of the world and then applies his rational faculties to draw a conclusion about God’s existence.
To finish reading, click on "The Beginning of Knowledge".


Friday, January 27, 2017

Biblical Creation Does Not Hinder Evangelism!

One of the signs of the end times that Jesus warned us about is that the "love of many will grow cold" (Matt. 24:12 HCSB), due to the increase of false teachers and other things. I believe this applies to the disdain that many people have for God's Word, and the blatant compromise from various old Earth, "progressive creationist", and especially from theistic evolutionists. (Many TEs, I am persuaded, are actually Deists because of their low view of Scripture and their vicious temperament toward biblical creationists.) Love for Scripture, and a straightforward reading of it, has grown cold for them.


Theistic evolutionists and other old Earth proponents spread the falsehood that biblical creation interferes with evangelism, therefore, we should compromise on God's Word. The linked article shows why this is ridiculous.
Image credit: Pixabay / mary1826
Unfortunately, too many professing Christians succumb to the minatory threat of ridicule; they don't cotton to looking like "science deniers" or "stupid" in the eyes of those who hate God. So, they compromise with long ages and even with theistic evolution. TEs often link arms with atheists in their ridicule of biblical creationists, and it is often difficult to determine whether an argument is being presented by a TE or an atheopath. One falsehood that old Earth proponents present is that biblical creation hinders evangelism, so it's best to go with materialistic interpretations of science. Not hardly! (They show a glaring inconsistency by wanting to allow what "science says" about history, but still claim to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, which is contrary to secular science views as well.) Here is a "feedback" article that responds to some challenges, the first by a TE, the second from an atheist.
First, Matthew P, a Christian evolutionist from the UK asserts that young-earth creation is harmful to evangelism. Dr Jonathan Sarfati shows the opposite, and explains the baneful consequences to the Gospel of denying its foundation in Genesis. Then NH, an atheist from the US, hurls elephants about science and asserts that God deceived us and set up Adam and Eve to fail. Dr Sarfati explains some of the science and why God did NOT entrap the first couple.
To finish reading, click on "Biblical creation impedes evangelism? Plus yet another uninformed atheist".

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Creation and the Names of God

Nowadays, a person's name is simply a means of identification, perhaps only having significance for the family of a child ("You were named after your great uncle") but little more. Way back yonder, names carried deeper meanings. Just take a look in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and you'll see that names were not casual (such as Gen. 5:29, Ex. 20:10).


There are different names for God in the first two chapters of Genesis. Some people use this as an excuse to deny the divine inspiration of Scripture. Let's take a closer look at what's happening.

There are people who will react to anthropomorophizing God (assigning human attributes to him) in the Bible, such as arguing against the Bible's divine inspiration because God is described as having eyes, arms, hands, and so on. That's a cheap excuse. Something a mite more interesting, however, is the use of God's names in the Bible. He has several names, and the creation account uses more than one name for God. To some people, this indicates that there were several unnamed and unknown authors, others ignore common sense and claim that there are two contradictory accounts of creation. It's really not that difficult, especially when you ride this trail with a guide.
In Biblical times a person’s name had deep significance and was often an expression of his or her origin, character or destiny. There are many terms for God in the Bible, all having special meaning or significance. Even the first book, Genesis, uses different terms, for very good reasons, as we shall see.
To finish reading, click on "What’s in a name? — The terms for God in Genesis 1 and 2: no contradiction!"


Friday, January 13, 2017

Adam, Eve, and the Created Roles

Some folks don't cotton to God's plan for man and woman back in Genesis and elsewhere in Scripture, so they resent it and even rebel. Sometimes we hear things like, "Girl power!", as if women feel they have been made subservient to men. I'll allow that societies have treated women as second-class citizens, especially Mohammedan cultures, but that's not the way God planned it.


God created distinct roles for men and women. This does not mean one sex is "better" than the other, and a proper understanding of God's plan back in Genesis clarifies many things.
Background image: Adam and Eve in Worthy Paradise, Peter Paul Rubens, 1610-1615 (cropped)
There are roles that have been assigned, and this even applies in the Trinity itself. We see various roles in our daily lives: my supervisor is someone I need to obey, but that does not make her a better person than I am, it's just the way the job is structured. Unfortunately, men have abused Bible passages to force women to submit in a way contrary to God's Word and design. Men and women are different, there's no getting around that. Men are better at some things than women, and vice versa. A proper understanding of the hows and whys of creation puts things in proper perspective.
You only have to look at the starry sky or a butterfly’s wings to see evidence of our Creator’s design. God’s indelible imprint exists on all of His creation. Yet one aspect of creation, His crowning work, is worthy of special study: the making of man and woman, which the Creator pronounced “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The psalmist exclaims, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:3–6).

Understanding God’s design for males and females is central to understanding His plan for our lives. The modern confusion regarding gender identities shows the devastation that can result from ignoring God’s perspective. The Bible provides specific, clear, and abundant guidance on the noble purpose for each sex from the very beginning.  
To read the rest, click on "A Match Made in Heaven".