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". 

 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Seeking Belief Challenges

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

No, I'm not the one seeking challenges for my beliefs. Someone was asking what people read that challenge their "deeply held beliefs". The inquirer (who shall remain unidentified as well as my source) does not want to be pigeonholed as someone who believes because he or she was told to believe, and commenced to reading books by atheists. Other folks chimed in and said it was a good idea.


Some professing Christians think they need to seek out challenges to their beliefs. That is not how faith works.
Image credit: Freeimages / Stephen J. Sullivan
Before I continue, ever have a situation where you explained something correctly, then found out that the person receiving the explanation didn't need it? That's how I feel here. What I'm about to say is valid, but I don't know if the one doing the asking even needs this information, but I'm doing it for someone who may need it. Hope that makes sense.

Why seek out challenges to your faith? A Bible-believing Christian gets those on a regular basis from temptations, media, social media, friend, family, atheists, evolutionists, compromisers, cultists, and so on. Keeping on a good spiritual walk is challenging, and we need to seek out God on a daily (even hourly) basis. 

"But the only way you'll learn is by reading stuff by people you don't agree with, Cowboy Bob!"

That may be true in philosophy, politics, peripheral matters of Christian doctrine, and so forth, but not when it comes to salvation and the development of faith. Our source for life and thinking is the Bible, and there's nothing in there that tells us to seek out enemies of God to build ourselves up. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV tells us that Scripture is God-breathed to equip us for every good work. Further, we are indwelt and guided by the Holy Spirit (John 14:17, Acts 1:8, 1 John 4:15, Romans 8:15-17, Ephesians 5:25), and are to dwell on good things (Jude 1:20-21, Philippians 4:8). Paul did not rely on clever arguments and lofty words, but on the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

We have no need of their philosophies, which are harmful (Colossians 2:8), and they are enemies of God (Romans 3:10-12 and Romans 5:10, John 8:44). Further, Scripture calls them fools נָבָל (Psalm 14:1), which denotes moral deficiency. Don't disunderstand, that doesn't mean that they are necessarily stupid people (although I can point out some amazingly stupid atheopaths), and some unbelievers are brilliant in their own realms. However, their pursuits and affections are in opposition to God's ways (Psalm 10:4, Romans 8:7, Colossians 1:21).

Is this "I don't want people to think I'm a Christian just because I was told to be one" attitude based on pride? There's no reason to be remotely interested in what unbelievers say or think about why we became Christians. More importantly, I wonder this individual wants to say that he or she reasoned into the Kingdom by weighing the evidence and making a decision for Christ. Doesn't happen that way, old son. We are not saved by human reason, but by faith, and we are regenerated (Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 5:12). It is spiritual, which is something atheists deny. Faith is by the grace of God. A reader who does not understand this may not actually be saved (see "How to Become a Christian").

Someone who is not grounded in the Word and spends time reading worldly philosophy, especially by those who actively hate God, can become confused and abandon the faith — if there was a commitment to Christ in the first place (1 John 2:19). All Christians need to spend time in the Word, prayer, and receive solid biblical teaching. There are people who are built up in the faith and have the support of other believers who research false teachings, evolution, atheism, and so on in order to refute them. Those are called to apologetics ministries, and are not doing it to impress others. 

Let's take the approach that someone is reading this and has a problem with both pride and is actually unsaved. I implore you to carefully consider what I have written, and especially the Word of God. Are you truly born from above, or playing at Christianity? If the latter, please repent and make Jesus Christ the lord of your life today. Otherwise, we all need to exercise caution on what we put into our minds, and spend time on the things of God, not the haughty scribblings and vain philosophies of those who are opposed to God.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reasons to be a Biblical Creationist

I reckon the most common term to refer to those of us who believe that the Bible means what it says, and that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are presented as actual history, is young-earth creationists. It is accurate to some extent, but it implies a skewed priority. We don't believe Earth is young and then plug into the Bible. Rather, we believe that Earth is young because the Bible teaches that. I'll allow that the abbreviation YEC is convenient, but I've learned that the more accurate term is biblical creationists.

There are good reasons for Christians to be biblical creationists. Unfortunately, many do not think about how they adversely affect their theology by compromising with atheistic science trends and interpretations.
Image credit: Freeimages / Flavio Takemoto
When professing Christians add "deep time" to the Bible, they immediately begin to use eisegesis instead of exegesis. Scripture is not up for personal opinions or forcing in trends in atheistic science interpretations, old son. God said what he meant. When someone begins compromising to make the Bible more palatable to our science-loving culture, that person actually does violence to the text from Genesis to Revelation. Often without realizing it. Many people add long ages (and often, evolution) to the Bible without giving serious thought to what they are doing to their theology and the gospel message itself.
There are many Christians who think that the issue of how God created the world doesn’t really matter, that this type of intellectual bickering doesn't affect how we live our Christian lives. There may be intellectual arguments that have little effect on our lives, but creation is not one of them. Here are seven wonderfully practical benefits of being a biblical creationist.

Biblical creationists, in particular, can take comfort and joy in these things. And anyone who isn’t or doesn’t think that creation really matters should take the time to seriously consider the seven reasons below.
To find out more, click on "7 Practical Reasons Every Christian Should Be a Biblical Creationist".


Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Mysterious Magi

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

It's kind of sad that the manger scenes we have are wrong. Well, not exactly wrong, just...not exactly accurate. I had one of those barn things with figurines and three plastic wise men on camels. When I learned that the magi were not there to see the birth of Jesus and arrived much later (possibly even two years later), I put the figurines away from the manger scene and said, "They're on their way". Kind of difficult to include them in a Christmas celebration if you're going to be a stickler for historical accuracy, but that's just me.


There are many traditions and opinions about the magi (wise men) of Matthew 2, but who were they really? Some historical material may surprise you.
Adoration Of The Magi, Sandro Botticelli, 1500
We know the song about the "three kings of orient are", but who were they, really? There are a passel of traditions and opinions about them. The only reference we have to the magi (wise men) is in Matthew 2:1-12, but we can't justify the tradition of three wise men on camels. Three gifts are mentioned, but no camels (although that's not so far-fetched). 

They were mighty important, too. This was not some guys that said, "Hey, there's the Christ star! Saddle up, Clem, we're burnin' daylight. Better grab some gifts, too!" This was at the time of Herod the Great (he earned his title before he became such a wretch later in life), who was a powerful figure with the approval of the Roman authorities. Do you think some jaspers would have been able to show up at his palace and be allowed to have a chat if they were nobodies (Matt. 2:7)? Nope. They were a powerful and respected group, and most likely had an impressive entourage.

More importantly, they revered God, and were quite possibly descendants of the people that Daniel taught and supervised in Babylon (Daniel 1:20-21, 2:48-49). When the magic saw Jesus, they rejoiced and bowed down (Matt. 2:10-11). These powerful men (who were Gentiles) sought the King of the Jews and humbled themselves before him. There's a lot going on here!

At this point, I'm going to turn you over to Dr. John MacArthur. He has two sermons that have some fascinating historical information on the magi that were the inspiration for this post. They're not short, so maybe you can listen to them when you have some time, or save them for later. "What the Magi Mean to Christmas, Part 1" has download buttons for the video as well as MP3s, or you can listen/watch online. "What the Magi Mean to Christmas, Part 2" doesn't have the video available at this writing, but the audio is there now.

Wishing you and yours a blessed, safe, joyous Christmas celebrating the time that God the Son became a man for our salvation!


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Yes, the Old Testament Matters

When someone has just given his or her life to Jesus Christ, one of the first things that the evangelist does is give them a New Testament with the recommendation of reading one of the Gospels. Then, keep going and get acquainted with other books in that volume. By all means, that's an excellent start.

While reading the New Testament is important, we cannot stop there. The Old Testament helps us further understand the work of Jesus the Creator.
Image credit: Freeimages / John Harris Pe
Unfortunately, some people stop there. Worse, some people are "Red-Letter Christians", who believe the red letter versions where the words of Jesus are in red, and only read those. The entire Bible is the written Word of God. To gain a fuller understanding of the work of Christ the Creator, we need the Old Testament, which points to him.
It is common today for pastors/ministers to focus mainly on the New Testament in their preaching and ministry while hardly citing the Old Testament. Even worse are superficial slogans such as ‘This is a New Testament church’ or ‘Just preach Jesus’.

Some of this can be due to either uneasiness or embarrassment about plain teachings such as six-day creation and the global Flood. This has become much more prevalent because many theological institutions—even conservative ones—deny, spiritualize or explain away these early chapters of Genesis as allegory or reworked pagan myth.

So it’s easy for a church leader to maintain or even promote the misconception that creation is an ‘Old Testament issue’. Thus it is one to be relegated to a much lower order of importance and priority. But as will be shown, Genesis creation is an important part of the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
To read the rest, click on "The importance of the Old Testament". 

 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Unicorns in the Bible?

When people hear the word unicorn, they typically think of the mythical magical horse with a horn on its head. I'll allow that it's a reasonable assumption, since we only hear about the beasties in fantasy stories. So why did the King James Version of the Bible use the word unicorn?

Mockers complain about the use of the word "unicorn" in the King James Bible. Actually, there's a good reason for that.
Monoceros, Canis Minor, and Atelier Typographique by Sidney Hall, 1825
Let's look at Numbers 23:22 KJV, one of several uses of unicorn. John Wycliffe and associates in the late 1300s rendered this verse, "The Lord God ledde hym out of Egipt, whos strengthe is lijk an vnicorn". The Coverdale Bible of 1535 rendered it, "God hath brought the out of Egipte, his stregth is as of an Vnicorne". In 1587, the Geneva Bible translated this verse as, "God brought them out of Egypt: their strength is as an vnicorne". Several Bibles before the KJV, including non-English translations such as Martin Luther's version, also used unicorn. Many modern versions translate

We're not confined to just the Bible referring to unicorns as real creatures. One of the constellations in the picture above is Monoceros, which is the Greek word for (wait for it...) unicorn. Somewhere around 1612, cartographer Petrus Plancius introduced this and seven other constellations on a celestial globe that was published in Amsterdam.

The fantasy horsie and the historical one-horned creature were concepts that existed at the same time for a long time. Reckon that the historical creature of great strength is extinct now, so that's part of the confusion; the mythical scenario continues. No, God did not use mythical creatures in his Word.
Unicorns mentioned in the Bible—not only in English King James Version but also in other languages—are not the fairy tale creatures many people think of nowadays, but real creatures familiar to the people living in those ancient times.

So what kind of creature was the Bible talking about? If there really was a historical unicorn, when did the word start referring to a creature of fantasy? And why did Bible translators use a word that could dredge up fantasy images in documents intended to reflect genuine history?
To read the entire article, click on "Will the Real Unicorn Please Stand Up?" You may also want to see "Mythical Critters and Scoffers".

Friday, December 2, 2016

Was Adam Real or an Archetype?

Liberal theologians and theistic evolutionists attempt to say that Adam was not a literal person, but an archetype (or "protoplast"). The Bible does indeed use "type and shadow" imagery with real people (such as Joseph as a type of Christ), but that does not excuse saying that Adam was not real.


Some liberal theologians and theistic evolutionists say that Adam was not an actual person, but just an archetype. This compromising view has many serious problems.
Adam and Eve expelled from Eden / Paul Gustave Doré, 1866
Saying that Adam was not real is essentially saying that Jesus, Peter, Paul, and many others in the Bible were wrong or even lying. The motive behind this is to reject the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, and elevates man's opinion above God's Word. Some people compromise with evolutionary ideas without thinking it through, but it leads to further serious compromises all the way through the Bible.

There are some old Earth creationists as well as theistic evolutionists who falsely say that the Church Fathers rejected a literal Adam, or that the ancients did not understand science, so they told stories to make a point. That's chronological snobbery and not how it works, old son. While the Church Fathers did not write the canon, they were closer in time to the apostles, and what they had to say is worthy of consideration.
This paper explores teaching from the early church that relates to the nature and formation of Adam. This is in response to John Walton’s claim that Adam was just an archetype of humanity and not the first-formed man and ancestor of all. Instead of speaking of Adam as an archetype, the Apostle Paul and Church Fathers use the language of protoplast (the first-formed) to define Adam. Where archetype is used by early theologians it is in the context of Christ being the archetype for Adam and humanity as a whole. It can be seen then that those who believe that Adam and Eve were the first couple, and the ancestors of all humanity, are in line with the teaching of Scripture and the traditional understanding of the early church.
I know that Church Fathers and church history do not appeal to everyone, and this article is a bit on the long side. Nonetheless, I hope you'll invest some time in this interesting material. To read the rest, click on "Adam as the protoplast — views from the early church in response to the archetypal view". You may also want to see "Theistic Evolution: Old Heresy Rebooted".

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