Friday, July 31, 2020

God, the Church, and Government

While the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has prompted many people to learn many things about it, we have also seen how certain American government officials who have contempt for God have not only made restrictions on human rights in the US, but also around the world. Churches in the US are being forced to decide between God and Government.


Setting the record straight regarding #COVID19, God, and government. We also hear from John MacArthur and the defiance of the California governor's dictates.
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People may be surprised to know that God has ordained government to enforce laws and protect the people. If you study on it a mite, you'll realize that the "you can't legislate morality" canard is foolish, because most laws are based upon morality. When governments act according to their purposes, the church and the state get along fine. When the state rejects God wrongly exceeds and claims power, we have problems.

Prayer in schools is outlawed, Christians are told to shut up and stay out of government (apparently government is only for secularists now), teaching that evolutionism is a religion and its science is flawed is bad medicine for leftists, telling us that we cannot gather while condoning "protests", abortions, and other gathings — then Christians object to discrimination and resist those in power.

In the first of two posts, Jason Lisle explains how and why government exists, its purposes, limitations, and the ultimate authority to whome the church — the Bride of Christ — and the state are responsible.
Many people have the impression that the Church is God’s institution and that the government is not.  Consequently, the Church must abide by the Bible in all matters, but the government must stay away from religious matters.  After all, isn’t there a separation of Church and state?  In reality, both the Church and the state are God’s institutions and both are morally obligated to abide by biblical principles.  When a government functions in the way God has specified, it is a blessing to all the people.  But a government that will not follow biblical principles inevitably becomes a tyrannical “beast” that oppresses its own citizens.
To finish reading, click on "God vs. Government". Be sure to come back for our second item.

In late July 2020, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley (a part of Los Angeles), CA, under the leadership of Dr. John MacArthur defied the dictates of leftist Governor Ralph Northam. At first, the church respected the urging of government officials to suspend public gatherings. The Wuhan Virus was new back then. However, as more facts became available and it was clear that government shutdowns were political machinations and continued to harm churches and citizens, Grace Community Church took a stand.
Christ is Lord of all. He is the one true head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). He is also King of kings—sovereign over every earthly authority (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16). Grace Community Church has always stood immovably on those biblical principles. As His people, we are subject to His will and commands as revealed in Scripture. Therefore we cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.
You can read the rest of Dr. MacArthur's article (note that I found this extremely slow to load, but never that bad in the past), click on "A Biblical Case for the Church’s Duty to Remain Open". In addtion, you can watch or listen to his sermon, "We Must Obey God Rather Than Men". The video below has a discussion between Eric Metaxas and Dr. MacArthur. It covers this discussion and touches on a few others. You will hear, "We have to take a break", and "...in the second hour", but it has been trimmed to about 38 minutes.


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Repenting of Old Earth Creationism

It may be surprising, but repentance is not preached nearly as much as it should (Matt. 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 24:46-47, Acts 3:19, 2 Tim. 2:25, 2 Peter 3:9, Rev. 3:19). It applies not only to the unsaved, but to Christians who are not following the truth. How does this apply to old-earth creationists?

Those who give the false teaching of an old earth need to repent.
Credit: Modified at imgflip from a graphic at FreeImages by Claudia Meyer
Repentance from false beliefs is readily apparent, such as Arianism, Pelagianism, Gnosticism and Docetism, and others. These are far more significant than, say, disagreements regarding baptism. (I have to restrain myself about the war between Reformed and Arminian doctrines, each has adherents that act like cultists belonging to the One True Faith™ and essentially calling the other side heretics. Why I oughta...) There is a difference between heresies and disagreements. Learn it.

One thing that many false teaching have in common is denial of scriptural authority. Theistic evolutionists are coyotes smuggling evolution into the Bible, and with that comes a form of the Pelagian heresy. For owlhoots like that and other old-earthers, the Bible doesn't mean what it says, biblical creationists are deluded or dishonest, and we need to elevate atheistic interpretations of science into the magisterial position above God's Word.

While biblical creationists are not saying that believing in millions of years or evolution is a guaranteed ticket to Hell, those people need to examine their priorities. Why are long ages so important to them? It is also curious that they need to perform massive eisegesis by putting long ages into the Bible so they can pull that concept back out. The authority of current trends in man-made science are clearly more important to them than the inerrancy of Scripture. Mayhaps they should seriously consider repenting of their disparagement of God's Word and alliance with atheism.
A while ago I wrote an article explaining how the idea of millions of years entered the church, and I closed with a call for repentance. At a recent seminar, a man asked me publicly to explain my strong words. After all, aren’t all of us, even the godliest believers, subject to error? Must we confess every error before God?

This man was specifically concerned about the implications for two old-earth creationists he highly respected. As he explained in a later email, they were dear brothers in Christ who had dedicated their lives to the gospel. They may be wrong, he said, but there is “a difference between being wrong and sinful deception.”

That’s a good question that has broad implications for every believer’s walk with God. It is hard to imagine how any of us could avoid errors in our thinking. So is it possible to walk in fellowship with God even though we are wrong about some biblical issues? Or are we living in sin until we correct those wrong views?
To read the rest of this interesting and helpful article, click on "Old-Earth Creationism—Is It a Sin?" You can also consider the principles for applications in other areas.
 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Losing Faith in an Old Earth

It may come as a surprise to many people that a number of those involved in biblical creation science ministries had quite different views before becoming biblical creationists. Some were atheists, others theistic evolutionists, and some like Dr. Brian Thomas held to an old earth view.


Many biblical creationists formerly believed in an old earth, but like Dr. Brian Thomas of ICR, changed their views in light of evidence and Scripture.
Credit: StockSnap / Lauren Mancke
One problem people like Dr. Thomas and others have is that they are only aware of one side. Many do not even know that other — superior — interpretations even exist, and have never heard of biblical creation science. Brian's faith in long ages was challenged by several factors. He could not reconcile the old earth narrative with observed evidence, and most importantly, he saw that secular interpretations of the facts did not fit the truth of the Bible.
A student recently asked what I believe about the age of the earth. I replied that at one time I felt absolutely certain that the world was billions of years old. I even wrote a song that mentioned “the age of dinosaurs.” Now, however, I believe the dinosaurs that got fossilized lived when (but not where) Noah lived. They got locked in rocks through Noah’s Flood only 4,500 or so years ago. Four specific facts helped change my mind.
To finish reading this short article, click on "Why Do I Believe in Recent Creation?"

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Honor-Shame Cultures and the Gospel Message

In the United States and many other countries, the gospel message is rather straightforward (with some variations, of course). Unfortunately, evangelists tend to leave out Genesis, which has the origin of everything and tells us where sin and death began. Things get more complicated when dealing with people who have honor and shame in their cultures.

When sharing the gospel with people from cultures emphasizing honor and shame, we must learn how they think and show how the gospel meets their needs.
Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos / tawatchai
Honor and shame are closely associated with pride, but in some cultures, it affects the entire family. Also, they want to save face, and even help you or I to do the same so dignity is maintained. People will "accept Jesus" without knowing what that means, and those who believe in many false gods will add the real one into the mix. 

Missionaries have reported false conversions through misunderstandings, but have had far better success when beginning with Genesis. We need to learn about the people we are talking with and to change tack so we can take their mindset into account. We can tell them about the shame and humiliation that Jesus endured, and how God honors us in salvation.
Maintaining honour and avoiding shame are hugely important aspects of life and worldview for the majority of the people of the world, particularly those who live in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. They may be Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Judaists, animists, polytheists, or atheists, and they have the least access to the Christian Gospel and Christian resources.
. . . 
In these cultures, relationships guide decision making, so the most important identity is the family, rather than each individual, as in the West. The family makes the decisions, and the primary concern of members is to maintain honour and avoid shame (or ‘save face’) for their family, because what a person does brings honour or shame not only upon themselves but upon the whole family—indeed often also upon the entire community. Great respect is usually given to the elderly in the family, and in some cultures this may extend to the honouring of the spirits of dead ancestors by means of food offerings. In such cultures, often the father is the main decision-maker on behalf of the family.
The full article is found at "Preaching the Gospel in honour/shame societies".



Thursday, July 2, 2020

Evolution, Creation, and the Dilemma of Death

Professing Christians who accept the pronouncements of secular scientists about the age of the earth and evolution are faced with several dilemmas regarding death and God's very good creation. We can watch it on television and movies, read about it in books, but death is not entertaining when it happens to those we care about.

When it comes to dealing with death, secular ideas like evolution only cause confusion and offer no hope. The truth is found in God's Word.
Credit: Morguefile / ClarksGirl
Secularists tell us that death has been here all along. God's Word tells us that death is an intruder into creation, an enemy that was defeated at the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Death was not God's process of creation over long ages, and there will not be there at the restoration. The lie of evolution causes confusion and raises questions, but the truth in the Bible — beginning in the very first verse — gives us answers. You won't get answers or any hope from secularists.
Why is the world filled with death? Why did my friend’s three-month-old son recently die in the ambulance on the way to the hospital? What kind of God would make a world where three-month-old babies die?

. . .

But we don’t just struggle to explain human death. What about the death of so many animals that we find buried in the earth’s fossil-filled rocks? On every continent, thousands of feet of sedimentary rock layers are filled with billions of dead plants and animals. Why are they there? Did God make the world that way?
You can read the full article or download the MP3 at "The Problem of Death". You may also be interested in a related article, "The Fall of Man and Animal Death".



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