Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Authority and Our Worth

There are people who seem to think that being under the authority of another person implies inferiority, but that is not necessarily the case. In the workplace, we need to submit to our superiors but that does not mean they are better people than us. In a biblical context, submission to the authority of God actually brings us self worth and security.

 It may seem counter-intuitive, but submission to the authority of God's Word gives us security and confidence that we are loved.
Credit: Unsplash / Ben White
People are interested in their own opinions and how they feel about something, and these things change frequently. This is often coupled with rebellion against God where people choose which parts of Scripture they want to believe. It seems counter-intuitive to to the natural mind, but being under authority gives us stability. For the Christian, submission to God's Word is vital to our spiritual lives.

There is submission in the Trinity, but no inferiority is implies. Likewise, wives are to submit to their husbands, while husbands are to love their wives sacrificially like Christ loves the church. When we are in submission to Scripture, we can trust it and know that we are loved. Indeed, we have the Creator of the universe living in us; the Holy Spirit reminds us that we are his children. Prayerfully, submissively, seek God's Word first in all things.
When facing difficult questions, do we respond by asking God or searching His Word? Or do we think we know best? Such self-idolatry reaches as far back as the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6). Just as it did for Adam and Eve, failure to recognize God’s authority will lead to a path of sin, death, and judgment (Romans 13:1–2). There’s zero humility in seeking ‘me first’ and what I think instead of seeking first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).
To read this short article in its entirety, click on "Submission to Scripture—the key to understanding our worth".

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

God Made Monsters Too

Bible believers know that God made every kind of critter. Some of those we think are ugly or creepy (they probably have unflattering thoughts about us as well), or even downright scary, take some people a bit of time to appreciate. (My wife isn't fond of when I talk about fascinating traits in reptiles.) Some creatures we think of as monsters.

God made dinosaurs and other monsters, but some of that depends on what you mean by the word "monster". Then there are those other monsters we live with.
Credit: RGBstock / Adrian van Leen
It's a fair question to ask why God would make monsters. He has his plans, and many things we consider to be monsters are not dangerous after all, while other cute and pretty things can be deadly. In the beginning, there was no predation; T Rex may have been a fierce melon eater! Aside from movies and television shows showing scary monsters, actual monsters are a matter of perception.

There is another kind of monster to consider: that taniwha on the inside of us, prompting us to sin, be imprisoned by our fears, and more. We have that sin nature, you see, the product of living in a fallen world. All of us are wretched sinners that need to be saved by grace through faith. Because are sanctification is gradual, we don't become perfect instantly and have to deal with that dirty creature on a daily basis. The ultimate victory belongs to God.
After one of my dinosaur presentations in the Dallas area, a mother told me a question her son had asked. She didn’t know the answer. If God is good and Genesis creation is true, then why did He create monstrous dinosaurs? After all, look at tyrannosaur teeth. What kind of good God would make monsters like that?
It took me a few seconds to find the flaw in the question. It was worded to sound like only one option exists—that God made monsters. But what if God didn’t make monsters? In other words, the question has a logical error. It leaves out an option.
You can read the rest of this short article by clicking on "Why Would God Make Monsters?" Also, I want to do something different. The music video below is about dealing with inner fears (the lyrics are here), and it struck me about how it is a (probably unintentional) allegory to our sinful nature. Compare the song with Paul's frustration expressed in Romans.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Taking Jesus for a Test Drive

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Most people admit to belief in some sort of God, which is consistent with what the Bible teaches (Romans 1:1-22, Ecclesiastes 3:11). Most do not know the true God in a personal way. Some have had the gospel message clearly explained to them, but they have rejected it or traded the truth for false religions and philosophies.

Many people profess belief in God but are not truly in the faith. We do not "test drive Jesus", but must humble ourselves and submit to his Word.
Used car lot, Lancaster, Ohio, 1938 photo by Ben Shahn / US Library of Congress / Public Domain
Some people think that they are Christians because they attend(ed) church and participated in rituals. Perhaps they get a twinge of sentiment around Christmas and Easter which inspires them to give an intellectual assent to Jesus. Unfortunately, many of these professing (or "former") Christians demonstrate little or no knowledge of biblical Christianity.

Easy Believism

Some folks want to make evangelism simple and pleasant. They come up with "ask Jesus into your heart", "God has a wonderful plan for your life", "say a little prayer", sales approach evangelism, and similar schemes. Some of these riders on the Owlhoot Trail do not know the real gospel message and may not be truly saved themselves. Check out this episode of Wretched Radio for examples of people who do not know (or even deny) the gospel. Such shallow evangelism leads to false conversion and people who think they are Christians, but do not understand salvation.

The Unbeliever Judges God

One approach to presenting the truth to atheists and other people who want to put on intellectual airs is to present all sorts of evidence, catering to the unbeliever's ego, allowing the Mighty Atheist™ to decided whether or not God exists and is worthy of worship. Not hardly! As shown above, Scripture teaches that people already know that God exists, but suppress that knowledge. In addition, the heart of man is deceitful and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV), or as the King James Version renders it, "desperately wicked". Do you really want to be guilty of trusting the hearts and minds of fools (Psalm 14:1, Proverbs 1:7) above God's Word?

Knowledgeable Christians are divided on a philosophical approach called Pascal's Wager. Simply put: if we're right, they're lost for eternity, and if they're right, we have lost little in our lives, so they may as well live as if God exists. Some Christians think that is a good idea, but again, it puts the unbeliever in the superior position. It also seems to appeal to works-based salvation.

The Test Drive

In a similar way, some people give the dreadful offer of "Try Jesus". Some even say to try him for thirty days! Pretty insulting to almighty God. This attitude makes it sound like they are giving Jesus a test drive and they can move on if they're dissatisfied. Perhaps another philosophy will suit someone better, another epistemology will be fulfilling instead of the Word of God. Cornelius Van Til said, "We cannot choose epistemologies as we choose hats". I would add, "... epistemologies or vehicles". There is only one way to salvation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12).

What is Lacking?

Easy believism and catering to the ego do not produce actual converts. Those modern churches that put on shows, preach from movies, and do other gimmicks may pack in the attendees, but they do not preach solid biblical truth. Jesus did the opposite of modern preachers, and drove away people! Being a Christian is not easy, and Jesus said that we have to deny ourselves and take up the cross (Luke 9:23). Indeed, we are guaranteed persecution (Matthew 13:21, Acts 13:50, Romans 8:35, 2 Timothy 3:12). Ever hear the word repent from these jaspers? It's in the Bible, you know, such as Luke 24:46-47, Acts 20:21, 2 Peter 3:9, 2 Corinthians 7:10. Go ahead, look it up. Repentance means to not only change our minds, but turn away from our sinful actions in conjunction with the leading and convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

For an excellent sermon, you can read or download the audio of "The Call to Repentance".

We must humble ourselves and submit to Christ, growing in knowledge and grace (2 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 4:15, Romans 12:2). Our faith grows primarily through sound teaching and the reading of God's Word. I'll allow that there are some parts that are difficult to receive, but we cannot say they are not true because we dislike them. There was judgement of the global Flood at the time of Noah, as Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others affirmed. We are sinners and deserve eternal punishment. Jesus is God the Son, the Creator of the universe. He took on human form and humbled himself before God the Father (Philippians 2:6-8, Romans 5:8). Jesus died on the cross but bodily arose three days later (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). He did this out of love (John 3:16). If we humble ourselves and receive him through faith (not by works), we will be transformed (2 Corinthians 5:17) and adopted as children of God (John 1:12, Romans 8:15, 23). People might think they can earn salvation by how swell they are, but Scripture disabuses them of that notion; there's no room for pride, just the grace and mercy of God.

Evidence in Good Works

Don't be disunderstanding me now! We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and not by works; we cannot earn our salvation by what we do (including rituals and such), nor can we keep it by our actions. That leads us to a spirit of fear. No, what I'm talking about is that our commitment to Christ and the Word is displayed by our works.

If you've spent any amount of time reading and hearing biblical teachings, you will have heard mention the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus also talked about bearing fruit (e.g., Mark 4:20, John 15:2-5, and others). Those who only have a superficial, emotional, or cultural acceptance of Jesus will not be demonstrating the fruit of repentance and knowledge of the Word. We must show Christian love to other believers (John 13:35,

People need to not only repent but also to have Jesus as the supreme authority in our lives. No, not everyone is riding the Sanctification Trail at the same pace, so we have to let God do his work in their lives as he chooses, you savvy that? I know full well that I'm mighty weak in some areas, and see other areas where my fruit-bearing is decent but other people are lacking. That's between God and each of us, except in cases of willful sin where we need to lovingly rebuke or correct some people, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

Detailing the Chosen Car

There are people who profess belief in God but show little or no real knowledge of biblical teachings, and their lives do not reflect the transformation and regeneration of being truly born from above. Some will choose what they want to believe and reject things they dislike. This is not about disagreements regarding side issues (such as baptism of infants, for example), but foundational truths of Scripture that get chosen and rejected during the car detailing process.

To be blunt, when they do this, they are building a God they can keep on the knicknack shelf to shine up when they need him. This is idolatry, old son, and requires repentance.

Continuing the test drive analogy, one guy decided he hated God and parked the car. He bounced around with atheism, agnosticism, made some Gnostic remarks (calling God evil and a liar) — and then announced the did believe in Christianity after all, and would essentially give religion another test drive. He resumed attendance of an extremely liberal church that has little regard for the Bible. In addition, he rejects biblical truth about the global Genesis Flood, and utterly hates biblical creation (as well as those of us who teach it, and the Bible likens hatred to murder), forget John 13:35. He is his own god, and the real God is kept on that knicknack shelf. Obviously, any Scripture that disagrees with his preconceptions will have to succumb to his "wisdom" and preferences The sad fact is that far too many professing Christians justify rebellion against God and prefer the idols they made their ownselves.

Dealing with it

People need to get serous about their salvation and commitment to God. Ask yourself, "Am I really in the faith?" Sure, everybody stumbles. It has been rightly said that people may fall, but diving into sin and staying there is a different situation altogether. Christians can repent of their sin (1 John 1:9) and continue in fellowship with God and other believers. If rejection of foundations of the faith, the essential teachings, is your lifestyle, I strongly urge you to examine yourself. There is no "trying" or "test driving" Jesus, but only repentance and commitment. The teachings at this link should help.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Interpreting the Bible with "First Mention"

There are many biblical scholars that I have heard and read (including Dr. James R. White, who can translate an ancient manuscript from the Greek on the spot). They never mentioned the Law (or Principle) of First Mention, so I was surprised to learn that this concept is a problem for hermeneutics and proper interpretation.

There is a concept called the "Law of First Mention" that is used to interpret the Bible. Unfortunately, it has several problems, leads to errors, and should not be used.
The Bible, George Harvey, 1845
I was also startled to learn that some educated biblical creationists actually use this Law of First Mention. Essentially, it means that the meaning of a word is determined by where it first appears in the Bible. That may appear sensible at first, but there are some things to consider. 

First of all, an argument for First Mention may appear more believable if people were reading from the original languages instead of translations. Another problem with the concept would be that the books of the Bible are not laid out chronologically — Job is considered to be the oldest book, Mark is considered to be the earliest Gospel, and John's Gospel is not synoptic, not following the timeline of Jesus' ministry. Also, there is no indication in Scripture that this approach is valid. There are other reasons to reject the pitfalls of First Mention.
Since the Bible is God’s Word, it is of utmost importance that Christians properly understand its message. To do that, one must learn how to rightly interpret Scripture. Sadly, many believers have never been taught basic principles for interpreting the Bible. This oversight has led to many verses being taken from their contexts and too many aberrant theologies based on other unsound methodologies.

. . .
Nevertheless, proper interpretation of the Bible must be held in such a high regard that any deviation from sound hermeneutical principles should be corrected. Young-earth creationists are not immune to mistakes in this area. While Bible-believing Christians may occasionally disagree on the correct application of certain interpretive principles, we can all agree that using a demonstrably poor principle to defend a correct position is unnecessary, inappropriate, and unbecoming of those who are committed to upholding the truth of Scripture.

One such principle has found favor among some young-earth creationists, and it is occasionally used by others who disagree with our view. It is known as the “principle of first mention,” or sometimes the “law of first mention.” Not everyone agrees on exactly what it means.
To finish reading, click on "Is the 'Law of First Mention' a Legitimate Interpretive Principle?"

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Doubling Down on Darwin in Denmark

Someone dared to question evolutionary science and point out moral problems with mixing Christianity with the Bible. The state church of Denmark wants him reeducated.

The joys of living in a civilized world where independent thought is encouraged, disagreements are discussed, violence and defamation are not used to get others to surrender to your point of view, atheists and evolutionists do not force their religious views on others — let me know when you find such a place. While most people believe in the separation of church and state (no, it is not in the US Constitution) and reject the idea of an official state religion, atheistic secular humanism is becoming the state church in the United States. Evolutionism is foundational to atheism and other religions that reject the authority of God's Word, and this is readily apparent from the actions of my distant kinfolk in Denmark.

Apparently, it is a sin to question Darwinism in the state Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark. One priest found out the hard way. Now, don't be disunderstanding me. Mads Jakobsen does not seem to hold any creationist views, but he does have problems with evolutionary science interpretations and how hitching up the bride of Christ with Darwinism can result in moral problems. Bishop Harpy's reaction was to malign the errant priest and call for his reeducation. Sorta like a Stalinist but with different lingo, or maybe from George Orwell. Intelligent people believe in evolution, you know, and we can't have idiots like that in our state church, no siree!  Can't be putting the Bible above fallible man's science opinions, can we?

If you study on it, you'll see why this is yet another reason we need Question Evolution Day.
Even within some churches, Darwin skeptics can face censure and calls for re-education in the religion of evolution.
That Darwin doubters can expect persecution within secular academia is old news. But in the church? Karsten Pultz, an intelligent design supporter in Denmark, reported a story he found in a “Christian newspaper” in his home country. He tells about the difficulties a Darwin doubting theologian encountered within the Danish church. 
To read the rest, click on "Danish Church Persecutes Darwin Doubters".