Friday, April 29, 2011

Is Childbearing a Sin?

Question: God tells Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), but later says, “when a woman gives birth and bears a male child, she shall be unclean for seven days . . . but if she bears a female, then she shall be unclean for two weeks as in the days of her menstruation . . .” (Leviticus 12:2, 5). Is childbearing sinful?  Isn't God asking the impossible?

Answer: The issue centers around an act that was part of the original creation: childbearing is an act ordained and blessed by God, but Israel is instructed that the performance of bringing a child into the world brings a condition on the woman that separates her from God.

First, it is not the birth that causes the problem, but the flow of blood connected with it in the context of ceremonial law (as opposed to civil or moral law). The Bible teaches that "life is in the blood" (Genesis 9:4). Leviticus 12:6-7 shows that after her days of ceremonial waiting, the woman was to bring a sacrifice for a sin offering to be offered “before the LORD to make atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood.” The man does not give the offering—even for the child. The woman has the ceremonial problem and must ceremonially take care of it herself by faith in the payment of the blood sacrifice. Blood for blood.

One point of the ceremony is to show that defilement can be intentional or unintentional; but, it should not prevent them from doing what was commanded (to have children) or think of the act as sinful, ungodly. They must carry out what God has commanded and not ignore the incidental defilement. Sure, they can avoid it, but in so doing God’s command will not be obeyed and there will be no securing the blessing of children.

Another point of the ceremony is that God does not leave the unclean person without a way to be clean, even ceremonially. The obedient person will do what God has commanded fully, which includes trusting Him to justify the unclean person once justice has been served and payment has been rendered; hence, the sacrifices.

Ceremonies like these serve as a reminder that living in the flesh is living in a fallen world and there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, much less, clean ourselves up (even ceremonially). God must do the cleansing when we go to Him by faith in the finished work of His sacrifice that He made for us in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Randoms

James White gives us "The Real Story Behind the Harold Camping Decoder Ring."

Robertson McQuilkin speaks on "Priorities in Great Commission Living."

"Christian schooling is growing in South Korea. That phenomenon brought a TV production crew from South Korea to the campus of Columbia International University and Ben Lippen School in February to produce a program on what makes Christian education work, and the philosophy behind it."

Animal Beat-box:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who Created the Heavens and the Earth: God or Jesus?

The short answer: “Yes.” Here is the link of reasoning behind the question:  

Genesis 1:1 says God created the heavens and the earth and Isaiah 44:24 says, “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by Myself.’” The New Testament says that the world was made by Jesus in John 1:10 and 1 Corinthians 8:6.

The bottom line is this: Jesus and God are not divided. Colossians 1:15-17 is one place that explains, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  The explanation is quite simple:

  1. Jesus is the “image of the invisible God.” The Greek word here is “icon” and we use them every day without difficulty. When you use your computer, how do you recognize, open and run a program? You find the one representation (icon) of the program on your desktop and click on it. When this happens, everything you can’t see or begin to understand (or maybe you do!) runs as it is expected. That’s what is happening here. 
  2. Jesus is the “firstborn of all creation.” This means either Jesus is first in quantity (some would argue Jesus was created first by God then everything else was created by Jesus); or, Jesus is first in quality (He is the exalted as the Father’s agent in creation). The first option is less unlikely when we consider the background of John 1, which explains that Jesus is God. 
  3. Jesus made all things. Think of it this way: how do you know what is on my mind? You don’t unless I speak (or in this case, write). When words leave my mouth, or my fingertips, then you know what I have inside. God spoke everything into existence through His Word, Jesus!
The scripture here makes it clear that Jesus is the one who exists preeminently holds all thing together. The first tenant of the ever-changing “String Theory” is just catching up to what the Bible has already said!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

“If evolution is not true, then why does the Bible say that animals and birds came out of the water (Genesis 1:20-21)?”


It doesn't say that.  The Bible teaches that birds were formed from the ground.  Let’s read the passage in question from the King James: “And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl [that] may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.’ And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.”

Notice those words in brackets? They are not there in the Hebrew and have been inserted for easier reading in English. What does it say in the Hebrew? The poetry alone is quite impressive:

And God said, ‘Let the waters teem/swarm [“sharats”] with teeming/swarming things [“sherets”] that have life, and flying creatures [“owph”] flying [“uwph”] in the open expanse of heaven. And God created great sea monsters/dragons/whales [“tanniyn”] and every living soul that moves which teem/swarm the waters after their kind, and every flying creature after his kind: and God saw that good.”

Immediately one cannot help but notice a slight difference in the description, the most obvious difference being the archaic language of the King James and the even more archaic language of the Hebrew. We also must recall that we approach literature differently than the culture to which this was initially written.  The problem concept here is "bring forth."  Do we today have a 1611 understanding of the term?  Hardly.  Besides if at creation birds were "brought forth" from the sea, then what do we do with Noah who must have been painfully pregnant in Genesis 8:17 when God said, "Bring forth with thee every living thing that [is] with thee, of all flesh, [both] of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth."

They key question to be answered is this: is the purpose of the text to describe the detail of the creation of animals; or, does it describe their habitation? The latter is more reasonable because the purpose of this particular passage is not detail of “how,” but “what:” Teeming/swarming things live in the sea and flying creatures inhabit in the sky.

So if they did not come from water, where do the birds/flying creatures come from? Once the reader understands the general story in Chapter 1 (that all things are created by and are distinct from The Creator) the author can lift out one detail and expound on it. In this case, we can focus on these particular creatures. Interjected into the details of the creation of man, who incidentally was formed out of the ground (Genesis 2:1), we find this statement, “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air.” (Genesis 2:19)

Monday, April 25, 2011

When were the stars made?

How can they “sing for joy” (Job 38:7) at the creation of the earth on Day 1 if they were created on Day 4 (Genesis 1:16-19)?

God asks Job this question: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).

Frankly, I am surprised that the question is not “how can stars sing?”

The first part of the answer regarding the stars is found in the figurative language itself, a kind of language we use daily. If I were to ask, “Who won Super Bowl XLV?” the answer would be a representative name (The Packers) instead of the roster of those who actually played in the game for the winning team? MSNBC says the Packers Beat the Steelers—did they really? Is everyone ok? What did they beat them with? The article also says the quarterbacks played on the “biggest stage.” Silly me. I thought they played on a field.

Clearly, “the morning stars” refer to something else. Given the repetition of figurative language here and in other places, this choir are identified to be the “sons of God.” Specifically, angels.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Who Saw Jesus First: Mary or Peter?

"The Gospels say that women were the first to see the resurrected Christ (Mary first and then to the other women) and then to Peter and then to the Twelve. Later in the New Testament, Paul says that Peter (Cephas) was the first one to see Christ after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:5). Which is correct?"

Since men’s testimonies were considered legal (official) in the first century, it is understandable that the apostle Paul would not list the women as witnesses in his defense of the resurrection in his letter to the Corinthians. Jesus did appear first to Mary Magdalene, then to the other women, and then to Peter. Paul was not giving a complete list. The order of the appearances of Christ is as follows:

The order of the Resurrection appearances is as follows:
  1. Mary and the women (Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:10–18);
  2. Peter (1 Corinthians 15:5);
  3. Two disciples (Luke 24:13–35);
  4. Ten apostles (Luke 24:36–49; John 20:19–23);
  5. Eleven apostles (John 20:24–31);
  6. Seven apostles (John 21);
  7. All apostles (Matthew 28:16–20; Mark 16:14–18);
  8. 500 brethren at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6);
  9. James (1 Corinthians 15:7);
  10. All apostles (Acts 1:4–8);
  11. Paul (Acts 9:1–9; 1 Corinthians 15:8)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Randoms

Does the Bible Matter In the 21st Century?

The Value of Intercultural Studies: An Open Letter to ParentsDr. Mike Barnett answers the question, "In a very job conscious environment, why would a parent fork over their valuable earnings to allow their student to study a subject that is perceived to have little economic return?"

Luis Palau preaches at Protestant centennial in spite of government putting up obstacles to event.

No Doctor Who for You!  China bans time travel

Ya'll know my birthday's coming up, right?   (see below)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Who did the women see at the tomb: a seated angel, a young man sitting, two men standing or two angels sitting?

This question reminds me of those lateral thinking problems: “A man and his son are in a car crash. The father is killed and the child is taken to hospital gravely injured. When he gets there, the surgeon says, 'I can't operate on this boy - for he is my son!!!' How can this possibly be?”

Some evidence has been withheld behind the question, so the problem appears to be more difficult than it really is; for example: Matthew 28:2-5 describes at least one angel who seemed to be the one responsible for rolling the stone, as witnessed by the guards, not the women. “And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.”

When the women arrive, there is no mention that they see the one who sat on the stone. We do know they see at least one sitting inside the tomb (Luke 24:1-4, Mark 16:5) sitting opposite another angel (John 20:12). When the women enter, at least one of the angels speaks. “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified’” (Matthew 28:5).

Are they angels or are they men? Clearly the two men were angels and if there were two in the sepulcher, then there was at least one. The angel who rolled the stone still could have been sitting on the stone, which would bring the grand total to three angels (though the gospel writers make no mention of him remaining there). The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

The most important and most glaring fact remains undisputed:
  • He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come; see the place where He was lying.” (Matthew 28:6)
  • Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.” (Mark 16:5)
  • Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen.” (Luke 24:5-6)
  • Cheer up, weepy! Here I am! (John 20)
Oh, before I forget: the surgeon was the child’s mother.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Was the Tomb open or closed when the women arrived?

The editors of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible see a contradiction in the following accounts (dutifully quoting from the KJV):

The Tomb was Closed:
  • The angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” (Matthew 28:2)

The Tomb was Open:
  • And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.” (Luke 24:2)
  • Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away.” (Mark 16:3-4)
  • The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.” (John 20:1)

Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible does not truthfully present or examine all the evidence. First, the quote of Matthew 28 is incomplete. Starting from verse 1 we read in the NASB (a clearer translation of the Greek), “Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.”

Mark 16 lets us in on a conversation the women were having on the way to the tomb—clearly the women were expecting to find it closed because they were talking. Mark 16:2-4 tell us plainly, “Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’ Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.” They found the unexpected—it was already open, just as Luke and John record! Matthew tells us how it was opened.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Who Buried Jesus: Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus or the Rulers of the Jews?

Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:43-46 and Luke 23:5-53 each state the Joseph of Arimathea took down and buried the body of Jesus. John 19:38-42 says the same thing, only adding one piece of information the others did not: Nicodemus helped Joseph. That’s not a problem, nor is it a contradiction. So what?

Well, Acts 13:27-29 says that the Jews and their rulers crucified, took down and buried the body of Jesus. “For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him. And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed. When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.” 

Ok, so who are the Jews and their rulers?

Mark 15:43 shows that Joseph of Arimathea is both a Jew and a ruler, “Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” And they buried Jesus according to the custom of the Jews.

Nicodemus is also both a Jew and a ruler. John 3:1 identifies him thus, “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.”

So Acts 13:27-29 is correct!

Friday, April 15, 2011

How long did it take to create the heavens and the earth: six days or one day?

Genesis 1:1-2:3 describe the first six days of creation, but 2:4 says, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and heaven.” So which is it: did it take one day, or six days?

Answer: six days. Let’s be fair in the use of language. When we refer to a day of work do we mean “9 to 5” or “24 hours?”

  • “Back in the day,” I had a mullet.
  • “Back in the day,” I drank beer.
  • “Back in the day,” I could have cared less.
What day? There is no particular day of which I am thinking, but am instead recalling a period of time—a number of years as a matter of fact! The same is true here. Moses is not being fickle, but for the purpose of introducing a new narrative is summarizing what he has said once already.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Randoms

Thou hast just received the Amish Virus.  As we haveth no technology nor programming experience, this virus worketh on the honour system.  Please delete all the files from thy hard drive and manually forward this virus to all on thy mailing list. We thank thee for thy cooperation. — The Amish Computer Engineering Dept. (ht: Jayden)

The latest scam: Nails from Jesus' Cross.

Dr. Larry Dixon discusses Rob Bell's book, "Love Wins."  Here is a link to a 19-minute video based on the Chapel presentation.

20 Signs That You May Need Revival.

You've heard about that rope that priests wore around their ankle.  Here is some enlightening background information.

Online Grammar Checker!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why are there two contradictory creation accounts in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and 2:4-25?

Sure seems that way, doesn’t it? The answer lies in the very text itself!

When you look at a novel, what do you see? You see a book with a title. What’s it about? Depending on the publisher you may either flip the book over or look at the inside leaf to find more information about the novel—what is it about? Now that you have been informed, you read the novel! How many novels are there in what you just read? Just one, with the story told three different ways: title, synopsis, and body.

This is very much like what happens in Genesis. The author tells what he wants to communicate and then he communicates it. When he is done, he gives a synopsis of what he just said! Now that the audience understands what is on the author’s mind, he can lift one detail from what he just shared and can expand on that one detail.

  • He tells us what he wants to say in Genesis 1:1: “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is the title.
  • Now he gives details in Genesis 1:2-3. This is the “body.”
  • Then he concludes by reminding us what he just said, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven” (Genesis 2:4). This is the synopsis of what he just said.
Can you see how the phrasing of this verse “bookends” the account?

Now that we are all on the same page (as it were), the author can move on to a new detail he did not give us before by telling a different story. To do so, he is going to build on what he has already said by lifting out one detail of the previous story and expanding it. He says, in effect: “remember that part in the first story when nothing was growing on the earth? Well, man wasn’t around then either. Let me tell you about the creation of man.” This is what happens in 2:5-25!

Patterns like this are found all throughout the Bible and makes for some excellent reading!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Bible IS Full Of Errors! The Evidence is Overwhelming!

I was on the campus of USC in May 2006 sharing the gospel with students in "The Horseshoe." I was going through the law with this guy to point him to his need for Christ: he admitted he had broken the 9th and 8th and 3rd Commandment. When I asked if he had committed adultery, he said he had not. I pointed out that Jesus said that if you look at a woman so as to lust after her, that adultery had already been committed. He got extremely agitated and raising his voice fired back, “You can’t quote what Jesus said because his words are contained in a humanly written book that is filled with errors!”

I wanted to ask him who wrote the textbook in his hand if he thought the author was right in the ever-changing flow of understanding. I didn’t.

Instead, I held out my Bible and asked him to show me some of those errors. He stepped back and declined my offer. He sarcastically shot back, "prove walking on water archeaologically!” I confessed I could not, but that’s why such events are called “miracles.” He wanted to go eat, and thus ended our conversation.

I’ve not been able to shake his comments about errors in the Bible. The more I think about it, the more I realize he is right. There ARE errors in the Bible. The Bible is full of mistakes and I will show you some right now (by golly!):
  • Genesis: God told Adam to eat of any tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he is not to eat of it or else he would die. Adam disobeyed God and death came. Big mistake.
  • Exodus: God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come out for the thirsty people. Moses struck the rock and disobeyed God, so Moses was not able to enter the Promised Land. Bungle!
  • Leviticus: Nadab and Abihu disobeyed God’s directions for priestly behavior and fire fell from heaven and consumed them. Error!
  • Numbers: God told Israel to take the Promised Land, but the people failed to believe God and wandered until the unbelieving generation died. Blunder!
  • Deuteronomy: A review of past mistakes for the next generation (Ch. 9) and a prediction of future rebellion (Ch. 31). Beware misappropriation!
  • Joshua: God instructs that no souvenirs be taken from conquered cities, but Achan did anyway and the army was defeated at Ai. Achan died for his disobedience. Misjudgment!
  • Judges: everyone does what was right in their own eyes and were punished. Constantly. Aberration!
  • Ruth: Naomi’s thinking that God afflicted her. Misconception!
  • 1 Samuel: One word says it all . . . “Saul.” Delusion!
  • 2 Samuel: Again, one word . . . “Bathsheba.” Misapprehension!
  • 1 Kings: In the midst of all wisdom, Solomon drew around himself a lack of discernment. Laxity!
  • 2 Kings: Israel trusted in their strength amidst their rebellion against God and the Babylonians invaded. Misguided!
  • Chronicles (see 1,2 Kings)
  • Ezra: Adversaries of Judah tried to resist and oppose the rebuilding of Jerusalem. False Impression!
  • Nehemiah: see Ezra.
  • Esther: Yet another single word . . . Haman. Self-Deceit!
  • Job: try to put words in God’s mouth. Malapropism!
  • Psalms: Misguided worship. Not a good idea!
  • Proverbs: act like a fool. Misinterpretation!
  • Ecclesiastes: try anything once, do the fun things twice. Vanity!
  • Song of Solomon: (uh, hmmmm. Oh, here we go . . .) Treat love cheaply. Dream!
  • Isaiah: Practice empty religion. Woe!
  • Jeremiah: try to tell God He does not know what He is doing. Bull!
  • Lamentations: try to act like nothing is happening. Flaw!
  • Ezekiel: hang onto idolatry and false religion. False hope!
  • Daniel: tell God who the king REALLY is. Malediction!
  • Hosea: do whatever you want, even it means acting like a harlot. Faulty!
  • Joel: Don’t repent. Foolish!
  • Amos: abandon true worship and act foolish. Heresy!
  • Obadiah: Edom mistreated Judah. Erratum!
  • Jonah: God said, “go”; Jonah said, “no”; God said, “oh?” A Bubble!
  • Micah: persistently pursue evil. Trip!
  • Nahum: be proud against sovereignty. Danger!
  • Habakkuk: see Amos and Micah.
  • Zephaniah: ignore God’s attention-getting. Delusive!
  • Haggai: misplaced spiritual priorities. Not advised!
  • Zechariah: see Haggai.
  • Malachi: hold contempt for God. Oops!
See, the Bible IS full of errors! And that’s just the Old Testament!

Monday, April 11, 2011

What Matters

“What’s on your mind?” the psychiatrist asked.

“It doesn’t matter,” replied the physicist.

“What is matter?” prodded the psychiatrist.

“Never mind” replied the physicist.

**************

“Does it matter what I believe? If I love Jesus, isn’t that enough?” These are questions that seems to echoing through the age. But are these good questions? Perhaps the first question is inadequate. What is “it” that “matters?” Perhaps a better way to ask the question would be, “If I love Jesus, what I believe matter?”; or, “Is my love for Jesus enough to have a bearing on what I believe?”

If one were to ask Jesus, He would say that belief has everything to do with love that is bound up in Him. Jesus answered this question three times, saying plainly:

If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (Jn 14:15);

He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him." (Jn 14:21)

"If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love, even as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (Jn. 15:10).

Tied directly to love for Jesus are His commandments. If one does not love Jesus, then his beliefs reflect what he loves. An incorrect belief system evidences inappropriate love. Jonathan Edwards would say to the effect that true religion is vigorous to cling to its object of passion[i]. Millard Erickson states that beliefs are in direct correlation to the person of our faith.

Love alone for Jesus is not enough. Something must be done about love and that “something” is obedience to His commandments. Since His commandments tell us what to believe, then all we do in obedience matters. If our love for Jesus alone were enough, then all God needed to do was peer over the precipice of heaven, whisper to sinful humanity, “I love you” and that’s about it as His love alone were enough. Instead, God did something about His love by sending His Son.

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, coming into being out of a woman, having come under Law, that He might redeem those under Law, so that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, also an heir of God through Christ.” (Gal 4:4-7)

If Christ Jesus did not come, civilization would be much harder, more pagan, deeper in disgust, exhausted. If Christ Jesus did not come, man would still be under the law, unredeemed and orphaned. If Christ Jesus did not come, man would remain slaves and without inheritance.

How does this tie in with doctrine? All things implied in an obedient belief system (man, sin, salvation, heaven, hell, angels, demons, the church, future things, etc) seem to be more hindrance than help because somewhere along the line one accrues the idea that he must master it all in order to become a sincere believer. The reason why people are scared of church is because they feel fire-hosed so they look for man-centered “tone down” doctrine that is less threatening; or they avoid the fellowship altogether.

But think about this: when Jesus walked this earth, people wanted to hear what He believed because what He believed mattered. His beliefs mattered because 1) He enjoyed a perfect relationship with God and what He believed showed; 2) He enjoyed abundant living because what He believed made a difference. What He believed were absolutes—unchanging.

Satan would have the world believe otherwise. Imagine my shock while watching Star Wars, Episode III, “Revenge of the Sith” and looking for something of redemptive value (I did not see the movie until two weeks ago), hearing Supreme Chancellor Palpatine declare to Anakin Skywalker in the heat of battle that the Jedi are deceived, only believing in mythical absolutes. What an rediculous statement in the context of things--sort of like the ventriloquist reminding the audience the dummy is not rea! Yet the language is so intentional! [From the “what it’s worth” department, my kids hate me. They scattered like roaches in the daylight when the movie was over because I had my list of “teachable moments” ready—but I’ve not unrolled it all on them . . . yet] [[how did I get off on that?]]

“ . . . when we say with our whole heart that Jesus is Lord, we have thereby accepted much more besides, for we have committed ourselves to Jesus’ teaching about God, the human race, sin, redemption, and the various other topics he discussed. If Jesus is Lord, he is Lord of our beliefs as well as of the other areas of our lives.”[ii]

I think the reason why people ask the initial question is because of so-called Metathesiophobia[iii] (I say “so called” because at it’s root is the more accurate "rejection of change"). Change is painful and can be very costly and if people are expected to believe something they have not before, huge adjustments must be made. This is a primary reason many shy from studying theology. While I certainly understand the problem, I would say it is a good one to have. This is why we begin doing theology be starting with the study of God through His Word. Can we study God apart from His Word? We will address the another time, but the short answer is “no.”

The fact of the matter is that what we believe about truth has a affect on how we live out reality. The tendency is to do this backward, allowing reality to define truth, and this cannot happen. Correct belief is to wrap the mind around what is true, then act on it.

Erickson gives a small list of objections some may offer concerning the study of doctrine, giving us a little insight into why people are concerned about “going deep”:

  • "The study of doctrine unduly complicates the Christian faith, taking the simple and making it complex."
  • "Doctrine Divides Christians"
  • "Doctrine may distract us from other aspects of the Christian life."
First, I think Charles Schultz thought otherwise about the complexity of doctrine. A Peanuts cartoon pictured Lucy and Linus looking out the window at a steady downpour of rain.

"Boy, " said Lucy, "look at it rain. What if it floods the whole world?"

"It will never do that, " Linus replied confidently. "In the ninth chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow."

"You've taken a load off my mind, " said Lucy with a relieved smile.

"Sound theology, " pontificated Linus, "has a way of doing that!"

Second, I find intrigue in noting how non-Christians seem to be more observant of division and the importance of settling on the absolutes of scripture than we are. While we can’t let people continue disbelief at our expense, we need to learn which doctrines are central and act accordingly.

Finally, J.C. Philpot (1802-1869) in his sermon, “The Precepts of the Word of God” had this to say about doctrine and the aspects of the Christian life: “All doctrine, all experience, all precept center, as one grand harmonious whole, in the glorious Person of the Son of God. From Him they all come; to Him they all flow. Severed from Him . . . doctrine is seen to be but a withered branch; experience but a delusive dream; precept but a legal service. But His light enlightening, His life quickening, His power attending the word of His grace—doctrine is seen to be no longer doctrine dry and dead, but glorious truth; experience to be not a mere matter of fluctuating feeling, but a blessed reality, as the very kingdom of God set up with a divine power in the heart; and obedience not a legal duty, but a high, holy, and acceptable service.”

In closing, (did I just preach a sermon? Adrian Rogers used to say that one should be ready to preach at the drop of a handkerchief and be on the second point before it hit the ground) some reflection on Luke 24:13-27: Jesus meets two disciples on the road to Emmaus. What would you say was important to Jesus concerning how and what the disciples believed about Him in light of the teaching of scripture and His resurrection? What was His attitude toward their lack of knowledge of scripture concerning Him?

*********************

[i] Edwards, Jonathan. The Religious Affections. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1984.

[ii] Erickson, Millard. "Does it Matter What I Believe?" Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.

[iii] In case you suffer from Sesquipedalophobia (fear of long words), Metathesiophobia means “the fear of change”.

Friday, April 08, 2011

"Could you be wrong in your claims about Judgment Day and the existence of hell?"

The existence of hell and the surety of the judgment are not the claims of fallible man. The Bible is the source of the claim, and it is utterly infallible. When someone becomes a Christian, he is admitting that he was in the wrong, and that God is justified in His declarations that we have sinned against Him.

However, let’s surmise for a moment that there is no Judgment Day and no hell. That would mean that the Bible is a huge hoax, in which more than forty authors collaborated (over a period of 3,000 years) to produce a document revealing God’s character as "just." They portrayed Him as a just judge, who warned that He would eventually punish murderers, rapists, liars, thieves, adulterers, etc. Each of those writers (who professed to be godly) therefore bore false witness, transgressing the very commandments they claimed to be true.

It would mean that Jesus Christ was a liar, and that all the claims He made about the reality of judgment were there-fore false. It would also mean that He gave His life in vain, as did multitudes of martyrs who have given their lives for the cause of Christ. Add to that the thought that if there is no ultimate justice, it means that the Creator of all things is unjust—that He sees murder and rape and couldn’t care less, making Him worse than a corrupt human judge who refuses to bring criminals to justice.

Here’s the good news, though, if there is no hell: You won’t know a thing after you die. It will be the end. No heaven, no hell. Just nothing. You won’t even realize that it’s good news.

Here’s the bad news if the Bible is right and that there is eternal justice: You will find yourself standing before the judgment throne of a holy God, who has seen every sin you have ever committed. Think of it. A holy and perfect Creator has seen your thought-life and every secret sin you have ever committed. You have a multitude of sins, and God must by nature carry out justice. Ask Him to remind you of the sins of your youth. Ask Him to bring to remembrance your secret sexual sins, the lies, the gossip, and other idle words. You may have forgotten your past sins, but God hasn’t. Hell will be your just desert (exactly what you deserve), and you will have no one to blame but yourself. This is the claim of the Bible. If you don’t believe it, it is still true. It will still happen.

Yet, there is good news—incredibly good news. We deserve judgment, but God offers us mercy through the cross. He paid our fine so that we could leave the courtroom. He destroyed the power of the grave for all who obey Him. Simply obey the gospel, and live. By doing that you will find out for yourself that the gospel is indeed the "gospel truth." Jesus said that if you obey Him, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (see John 8:31,32).

Get on your knees today, confess and forsake your sins. Tell God you are truly sorry, then trust the Savior as you would trust yourself to a parachute. Then you will find yourself in a terrible dilemma. You will know for certain that hell is a reality. When you get up the courage to warn people you care about, they will smile passively, and say, "Could you be wrong in your claims about Judgment Day and the existence of hell?"

(from: The Evidence Bible)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Randoms

Right now, as you read this, there are five or six million shipping containers on enormous cargo ships sailing across the world’s oceans. And about every hour, on average, one is falling overboard never to be seen again.

The AutoCrit Editing Wizard is an instant book editor.  With the click of a button it shows you the problems
in your manuscript. 

Top 10 Reasons Why the World Won't End in 2012.

106 of the most beloved Street Art Photos.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

"You've Wandered Long Enough" by Russell Kelfer


Somewhere along the journey
When life's hard times get tough,
A still, small voice but whispers,
“You've wandered long enough.”

God understands your “balanced life”
And honors all your zeal,
He knows you love to worship Him
And that your walk is real.

He's seen you in the dark of night
When no one is around,
He's heard you cry out in the night
When no one heard a sound.

He knows that on the surface
You daily bear your cross,
But also knows the compromise
When you might suffer loss.

He loves you; oh, He loves you;
Yet His analysis
Is, “Child, I love you so much...
There's more to life than this.”

“There is a deeper walk with Me
Let's just call Satan's bluff...
Go ahead and say to Me,
‘I've wandered long enough.'

“I want to enter Canaan's gates
With all its plains and lakes,
I want whate'er you have for me;
Oh, God whate'er it takes!

Lead me to that promised land
And may I ne'er return
Give me all there is of Christ
Oh, for that life I yearn!

I've wandered long enough, dear, Lord
I want whate'er I lack,
Whate'er it takes, take Me I pray
And I will ne'er turn back.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Job's Reflection, part 2. "If"

“If” is such a small word and under the right circumstances it can be very, very powerful. “If” is a conditional word and often instigates doubt. “If” is the launch-pad of adventure and helps make sons into men.



Long before Kipling, Job understood the power of “if,” for he uses it on himself in self-examination the way the surgeon uses a scalpel. 31 times he uses the word “if” as it is recorded in the thirty-first chapter of Job, fifteen times directly, and 16 times indirectly. Job understood the perfection of the Almighty and in the course of the bad counsel of so-called friends, Job examines himself against God, who said of him, “there is none like him in all the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:8) The fear of God is what keeps one from evil—how does Job measure up against God who is good? The baseline for examination is found in God Himself, knowing that sin must be punished (Job 31:2-4). What does God know to be true about your own walk in life?

Job first examines his integrity (Job 31:5-8). He basically says, “Let me be weighed in the scales truth, then we will know what kind of person I am.” Another way to ask this would be, “how many lies have I told?” Nobody is exempt of this examination as many centuries later, we see that God weighed the heart of Belshazzar, who came up short and he received from God his portion of calamity for his iniquity (Daniel 5). God has an attitude about truth, as “lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.” (Proverbs 12:22).

Heart and integrity go together, and Job wants to make certain that he is walking correctly before God (31:7). Job clearly states that he does not follow his eyes. Some make it very clear that they only believe what they can see, so walking by faith is absurd. Can you trust your eyes? Ask yourself this simple question: “have you ever seen the sunrise?” The answer is: no. The sun does not rise. So can you trust your eyes? Of course not! That’s why magic and slight-of-hand are so much fun! There is a blessing for the one who does not walk in the pathway of sinners (Psalm 1)!

. . . if any spot has stuck to my hands,” (31:7) means simply, “have I ever taken for myself anything that belongs to someone else?” Regardless of the reason or the value of the object, what has stuck to your hands? Job is examining himself to make certain his conscience is clear of any stealing. Why? Because there are consequences to stealing! “Let me sow and another eat, and let my crops be uprooted,” (31:8) implies restitution both in the human and the divine sense!

The next set of verses (31:9-12) addresses adultery and lust. He first examines his own life to find out if he has been enticed, or ever gone looking for a sexual encounter outside of marriage (31:9). If so, then let there be consequences! He admits that if someone came in to his wife, it would be a criminal and punishable offense, so why would he be any different (31:10-12)? The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that looking with lust is the same as committing the act of adultery and this, too, is sin. Job acknowledges the consuming fire that awaits the adulterer.

How does God see your heart? Do you have integrity?

How many lies do you think you’ve told?

Have you ever taken anything that did not belong to you, regardless of the reason or value?

Have you ever looked with lust?

You are going to stand before God on Judgment Day to receive a portion from the Almighty. He sees your ways and has all your steps in His eyes—would you be “innocent” or “guilty?”

Friday, April 01, 2011

Happy Atheist Day!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a "Happy Atheist Day!"

Click here to listen to a debate between Atheist Ron Barrier and evangelist Ray Comfort. This debate was hosted by the American Atheists, Inc. in April 2001 in Orlando, Florida at the National Annual Meeting of American Atheists, Inc. Ray Comfort attended by invitation.

Comments are appreciated!

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