Being a Christian 3: Superstitious Symbols

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 21, 2022 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

Growing up, one of my favorite songs was by Michael W. Smith titled “Cross of Gold.” I mostly enjoyed the beat then. When I heard it again now as an adult, I see the song in a totally new light, and I see how important that message is today. The gist of the song is addressing the person who wears a cross on a necklace and is asked why they are wearing it. Is it just a symbol? A piece of jewelry? A fashion thing? A charm? Or is there something much more to it?

I have asked multiple times: “Why do we call ourselves Christians?” The ones who are truly born again and regenerated with the new nature know why. Those who are fakers will not be able to answer that question correctly. Why do we wear Christian T-shirts? Why do we have a cross as a piece of jewelry? Why do we even carry that Bible around? American Christians have turned our symbolism into superstition, and we aren’t the only ones.

What do I mean by turning the very symbols of our faith into superstitious items? It’s not anything new. We see a clear example of this in the history of Israel. Israel sinned in the wilderness and God sent fiery serpents to kill people. He then had Moses forge a bronze serpent and hang it up on a pole so that anyone who looked upon it would be healed and saved. This would be a picture or an image of Jesus on the cross. Several hundred years later, king Hezekiah began to do some reforms and he sought to clean out the nation from all its idols (and they were many). One of the idols he had to destroy was this very same bronze serpent. Why? Because Israel had turned it into an idol, a superstitious symbol and image that they turned to for hope and help and healing instead of God.

When God showed Himself at Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19, He came in thunder and smoke and fire, but He did not take any physical form. Why? In Deuteronomy 4, He said He would not take any physical form because Israel would take that form and create an idol out of it, turning to the idol instead of Him. God knows the tendencies of mankind.

Israel didn’t just fail in this regard. They turned even the Law into religious superstition. They turned the sacrificial system into a superstition. The purpose of the sacrificial system was to constantly remind Israel of the severity of their sin and to look forward to the eventual Savior who would do it once for all. Yet, it did not take long for the sacrifices to be nothing more than ritualistic rites and essentially superstitious means of getting God’s favor. That was king Saul’s excuse for disobeying God twice. He offered a sacrifice, something only a priest/prophet could do, not the king. Then he used sacrifice as a cop-out for being caught in disobedience. Saul never saw the weight of the system. David, on the other hand, did. When he sinned by taking the census, he went to make his sacrifice and he made sure it cost him something. He understood the mercy of God, but he also took the wrath and high standards of God seriously.

Today, we fall into the same traps. We turn to physical images to give us hope and encouragement. We go to church as routine and as religious rite, but how often do we actually go to church to meet God with other believers? Why are we even going to church to begin with? The majority of Christians today no longer believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and they believe that you can get to heaven by doing good deeds (recent polls put these figures at 60+%). They think that by going to church, they will please God and He will let them in to heaven. It’s the same religious superstition of the Ancient Near East. They sought to win the gods’ favor by sacrifices, prayers, praises, and good deeds. Ultimately, their idea is to use their good deeds to strongarm the gods into granting their favor. Today, it’s no different. We have this thing called “The Law of Attraction,” which essentially is a way to attempt to make the world’s energies come give you want you want. It’s half pantheism, half demon worship. And yet our most popular preacher in this country, among others, openly teaches this. It’s superstition, religious rite, and completely devoid of their purpose.

A friend of mine, Jody Ayers, made a very interesting comment on this issue. She pointed out that all these rituals, talismans, symbols, idols, and even things like circumcision, the sinner’s prayer, or whatever are all cheap replacements for genuine repentance. We seek these things to ‘protect ourselves’ instead of seeking God with a broken heart and calling upon His grace and mercy to save us.

Christianity is NOT one of these other religions. It tells us explicitly to never place trust in an icon or a picture or image. Those are idols. It also tells us to avoid any religious rite that is done by routine. There are religious rites that we Christians have: we have the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Each of these have instructions on how they are to be taken and carried out. Sure, each local church congregation has its own methods, procedures, etc., but so many of these things are done because “we’ve always done it that way,” not because “we want to follow what God wants us to do.” That’s one thing I like about my current church. We definitely do some things that other people will find weird. We have an elder ring a bell (a triangle) to signal the start of the service and to prepare our hearts for worshiping God and hearing the sermon. We then have someone bring the Bible up down the aisle up to the pulpit for the “call to worship.” I often feel like it’s marching the U.S. flag to the stage for an event. We do things with purpose, and we have Scripture to support why we do what we do (for these two cases it is to treat the gathering of believers seriously and the Word of God with reverence). But we do not do these things as though they give us any special standing with God, nor to garner nor earn His favor. We do it as a means of setting our hearts right to do things God’s way, not our own.

Why are you a Christian? Why do you look to that cross? Why do you look at a picture of Jesus? Why do you take Communion? Why do you go to church? Is it because you actually are a Christian, because you love Christ and seek to do things God’s way? Or have you simply created your own superstitious religion in hope to “get in,” seeking God’s blessing but not seeking God’s face? I know I’ve done church too many times by rote. God will not be pleased with mere religious ritual. He wants a heart that longs for Him. Calling upon some kind of talisman will do you no good. Only the true God can save you. This sounds so basic, yet most of our churches today are not teaching this stuff. I’m going to continue exploring this as I continue this series.

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Crazy Things Theistic Evolutionists Say: Entropy Again

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, January 20, 2022 0 comments


by Steve Risner

This is a follow-up on my last post concerning entropy and, hopefully, we’ll be able to leave it be for a time. I’m writing in response to some strange (what I’ve even regarded as crazy because, frankly, some of it is the whackiest stuff I’ve seen an evolutionist say) things a theistic evolutionist said in a group on Facebook. I love the group because, while it is truly an atheist’s troll den, it serves to provide me with information to write on. This information can be things they say Biblical creationists say. It might be things they think are great arguments for their position. Or it might be arguments against the Bible or creation. Either way, I get a great deal of material from such groups, although they can try one’s patience a great deal. Honestly, I need to work on how I respond to character assassination and personal attacks. I need to cool it, but I let it get away from me sometimes. Jesus is working on that with me and I’m grateful. Moving on to the point…

Entropy is a measurement of how much energy can be used for meaningful work in a system. Basically, as energy gets used or transformed, some of it is always wasted. Eventually, no energy will be useful for work. That’s called “heat death.” If you ask Google what heat death is, it will say, “a state of uniform distribution of energy, especially viewed as a possible fate of the universe. It is a corollary of the second law of thermodynamics.” It just means energy is dispersed such that it cannot be used for anything useful. This results in “death.” Associated with the Second Law of Thermodynamics (which talks a great deal about entropy) is the idea that a natural system will tend to degenerate into a less organized state as time goes on. I believe these two things work against abiogenesis and universal common descent. I’ve explained a little as to why in my last post.

Basically, the idea is that simple chemistry in a warm pond (or where the currently popular version of the humanist origins myth says abiogenesis happened) will not, with the application of undirected energy, produce the sophisticated, highly complex structures that are essential for a life form to exist. The difference between even amino acids (which are fairly complex in comparison to water or salt) and proteins and DNA in their complexities is astronomical. But we are to believe that undirected energy (that’s critical) can cause amazing amounts of order from a disorganized soup of chemicals. It’s a hard case for them to make, in my opinion. I realize many will want to suggest it’s settled somehow. But it really is not settled at all on any factual basis. It’s just settled in their imaginations.

To highlight what I feel was an important point from my last post, consider that while those who propose we should all believe the humanist origins myth (the Big Bang, chemical, stellar, and cosmic evolution and abiogenesis leading to universal common descent) will say entropy (that measurement of disorder that always tends to increase) only applies to closed or isolated systems (depending on which person you talk to—closed or isolated). But the Second Law of Thermodynamics works in all systems that are left undisturbed. Dr. John Ross of Harvard University states:

“… there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems. … There is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.”

So be sure not to fall for this trick of the evolutionist. And while order can increase slightly in a system because it decreases elsewhere, there is a major difference between order and complexity. A complex system of data storage and retrieval is not the same as crystallization (this is the example I’ve been given numerous times of order increasing naturally). A crystal is an organized lattice work of a particular chemical makeup. Google explains it as “a piece of a homogeneous solid substance having a natural geometrically regular form with symmetrically arranged plane faces.”

If you smash a crystal, you get smaller crystals. If you cut it into pieces, you get more smaller crystals. This is because it’s a repeating pattern of chemicals organized in a very plain and predictable way. This is not true of a life form. If you smash a cell, it’s no longer a cell; it’s a number of complex parts that no longer function together. If you cut a turtle into a million pieces, you no longer have a turtle. It’s not a repeating pattern of order. It’s a highly specialized, complex, and orchestrated number of processes and structures that make it what it is. You lose that if you smash it or cut it up or whatever. Do you follow? Do you see the difference between order and complex?

Applying energy to the system will cause the breakdown of order to occur more quickly. We are supposed to believe that applying energy to a warm pond caused it to organize and become highly complex. This defies science and experience as we all know this isn’t how applying undirected energy works. And undirected energy is all the naturalist has. They cannot call on anything supernatural or unnatural because that violates the major crux of their belief system. So, they are left holding a bag of miraculous events—everything I listed above as tenets of the humanist origins myth—but cannot explain them naturally so they make up very interesting ideas on how some of it could happen (which is usually wishful thinking) but doesn’t help them explain that it did happen.

The high level of order and complexity we see in living things and, quite likely, the universe as a whole, can only be accounted for by a Creator—a Designer. How foolish to say a watch has a maker but a watchmaker does not. One is a complicated machine that cannot be accounted for without an intelligent cause. The other is an astronomically more complex machine that not only built the watch but imagined its design and created it from raw materials. But one has a maker while the other doesn’t. Do you see the contradiction? Do you understand the absurdity of the humanist origins myth? It’s self-contradictory.

Without an intelligence behind it, energy cannot be employed to create high orders of complexity. Without intelligence to harness and utilize available energy, regardless of the type of system, we see the universality of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is a plus for creation and not so good for anti-Biblical origins tales. Paul writes for us in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Unbelievers are without excuse. But I think believers are as well—believers who can read the Word of God and know exactly what it’s saying but reject that and accept something completely unbiblical. And to think this whole discussion was brought about by a Christian who thinks he’s doing a service for the Lord by preaching a message contrary to the one we find in Scripture. It’s bizarre to me how some people work.

In this regard, I think it’s important to note that the Lord warned us against hanging on to the philosophies of the world while living the Christian life. In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16a Paul writes, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” And then in verse 17 he tells us, “Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’” We are to avoid blending our faith with the faiths of others. We are to avoid joining our faith with foreign ideas that are completely contrary to what Scripture tells us.

What else are theistic evolutionists doing but this very thing? God has called us out of unbelievers. Of course, our origins beliefs will be contrary to those of the world. They hate God and anything associated with Him. Creation can only exist because of the Creator, so they make up silly stories about expansions and the evolution of everything that defies science, reason, and experience. But they have to because they must reject the Creator, no matter how foolish their stance is. Richard Lewontin said this on this topic: “…we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.” At least he was good enough to admit it.

More next time – I’ve run out of space again!

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Theme of the Year and You

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, January 18, 2022 0 comments


by Eric Hansen

Fellow Worldview Warriors blogger Charlie Wolcott wrote a post on New Year's Eve talking about the movement of creating a theme for a given year on how God will bless you. As someone who isn’t a part of the “Word of Faith” movement, yet does set a yearly theme, I thought it would be beneficial to provide a side thought on this topic.

Charlie makes a great directive in adding “how God will bless you” to his topic. I think as Christians we should acknowledge the blessings God does give us, but they are within His will, not ours. There are definitely areas where people will make statements such as, “2022 is the year God will give me a million dollars a month!” Of course, we know God is not an ATM or a vending machine as it’s not scripturally supported anywhere.

But instead, I implore you to determine if having a theme for a year, month, or day is chastising the concept of faith.

Since 2019, I’ve personally had a theme for each year. I reflect near the end of the year to see what areas I’m weak in, and I pray to God about what He wants me to strengthen in the coming year. It may not even be an area I see, such as the first year it was patience. During my reflection, I didn’t see an issue with my patience, but God did.

What we need to do is evaluate what the purpose is of our actions. As humans and Christians, we should be growing, expanding, and looking forward. I’m just as guilty as the worst for staying complacent; it’s why I was in a relationship for 3 years too long. That experience alone taught me, even before I truly believed in Christ, that I need to grow and learn from experiences.

If you’re someone who needs or enjoys structure, it may benefit you to have a theme for a season. Due to my ADHD and introvertedness, I’ve discovered journaling has helped me. While the structure of the journal can change, I have some foundation. For example, for the month of January, I’m tracking my mood in the morning and evening, along with making a conscious effort to be a better husband. I’m doing this by structuring the expectations I set for myself. If you’re familiar with the bullet journal method, you’ll quickly understand.

I look at each year as being a season, and within that season there are sub-seasons. So in 2019, my main season was growing in patience, and I experienced various flows that either helped or regressed my growth. But each one taught me yet a new lesson on pivoting. Sometimes the pains were pleasurable; other times I felt like quitting. But, my focus wasn’t on me but on God.

While I can’t remember what my theme was for 2021, in thinking back during that time I can easily see where I did and did not grow. God definitely ran me through the ringer so to speak a few times, and there were times I regressed. But the only expectation there was of God was His forgiveness and blessing of strength and guidance.

There’s no reason either for this to happen only on January 1 each year. If you end up reading this post at any point of the year, start then if you like. Just like exercise, the best time to start may have been yesterday, but today is only tomorrow’s yesterday.

For me, any theme for any intent should be Jesus-centered. Things like “self-development,” “self-esteem,” or anything else prefixed with “self” is idolatry. We are made in the image of God, meaning at each of our core is God in some fashion; this is NOT, however, saying we are “little Gods.” To get a better sense of what I mean, Rick Lawerence wrote a great book I recommend reading: Jesus-Centered Life.

If you’re interested in starting a process like this but are not sure where to start, prayer and petition to God is where I would start. Ask for Him to soften your heart, open your eyes, and guide you in the process. Once God directs you to an area to focus on, seek His guidance on how to accomplish change. Journal if you like, start off running if you want, or go at a comfortable pace if you feel that’s best. It’s a very personal journey that people can only support you on, not tell you what to do.

Ultimately, it’s up to us on an individual level to listen to the Spirit on whether we should embark on any situation, how to navigate it, and when to pivot. God didn’t call us to stay still and keep complacent. We should continuously look to grow in the Spirit, Word, and love of God. If that includes theming a Jesus-centered development, then let it be so.

For me, my 2022 theme will be “Jesus First”:

Do you have a theme or word for the year? Share it in the comments!

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Hebrews 11:1-3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 17, 2022 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
-Hebrews 11:1-3

These verses begin what’s often known as the “Hall of Faith” chapter of the Bible – it’s like a Hall of Fame but for heroes of the faith. But before digging into those stories, the author needs to first establish what faith is.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we often talk about faith, but do we really know what faith is? Even those who claim no religious beliefs have faith. We have faith that the chair we sit on will hold us. We have faith that the brake pedal in our car will work when we need it to. These examples of faith are based on reason and experience; based on the countless times the chair hasn’t broken and the brake pedal safely stops the car, we believe that will remain true. But if you have an experience where a chair breaks when you sit on it and you fall to the floor or the brake line goes out in your car, your faith will be shaken.

But what about faith in God? Should our faith in God be different than our faith in material things? If so, how?

Let’s start with the definition that the author of Hebrews gives for faith: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (verse 1). It’s interesting that in Greek, this verse actually starts with the verb – “is.” That’s unusual, so it places emphasis on that word. It’s a present indicative verb, which means it’s stating a fact in our present reality. Faith simply is; it’s not something only in the past or the future, but it is a present reality of today.

What is faith? It is confidence in what we hope for. That word confidence can also be translated as substance. Something is made more “real” to us when it has substance to it – things we can feel and see. Having faith gives substance to things that appear to have no substance, and in that we can be confident. Faith is the basis of all that we hope for. We can’t see everything we we have faith in, but we have confident hope in those things.

He also says that faith is assurance in what we do not see. The word for assurance often means a proof or a test of something, many times used in a legal context. Faith is how we can test and provide proof for the things that we don’t see with our eyes. It’s not a physical test but a spiritual one; do we really believe by faith what we have been told, even though we can’t see it?

The author further describes faith as “what the ancients were commended for” (verse 2). The “ancients” often means “elders,” which could be people who are elders either due to age or dignity. It can also refer to forefathers – those who have gone before us. Here, it is an introduction to what is to come. Starting in verse 4, the author begins to list many forefathers of the faith who were commended for how they lived out their faith. They weren’t perfect, but they did their best to live by their faith in God and the confidence and assurance that gave them.

At the beginning of verse 3, we see the first occurrence of a recurring theme in this chapter: “By faith.” For most of the chapter, “by faith” introduces some person’s actions from the past. Here, however, WE are included in it in the present. This is what we need to do with our faith: “we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Creation is the first thing that happened in our world that we must believe on faith. No one was around to personally witness the act of creation, but we see evidence of it everywhere. Any theory of the origin of our world (even non-Biblical ones such as the theory of evolution) require faith to believe it; no one was there to see and experience it.

Based on this understanding of creation, that God formed it all at His command, creating what we see out of what we don’t see, everything else is possible! If we believe that God spoke everything into existence, God must be able to do whatever it is we need Him to do in our lives. We did not create everything around us, therefore we are not in control. God did create everything out of nothing, therefore He is in control.

This understanding of God is how we can live our lives by faith in Him. We do not need to be secure in our own abilities, just in the ability of God to do whatever He needs to. Our faith does not need to be blind faith, but it can look at what God has done. God created everything out of nothing, including creating us, so we know that God loves us and cares for us. This is just the first example of many we’ll see in this chapter about how we can have faith in God because of what He has done.

What or who do you have faith in? Do you have confidence and assurance in God, the creator of the universe? What has God done in your life to prove Himself faithful? God has shown to be faithful to so many people since the beginning of time, so He will surely continue to be faithful to us as well. Of that we can be completely confident!

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Being a Christian 2: Relationship or Religion?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 14, 2022 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

“I don’t have a religion. I have a relationship.”

How many of you have heard this tag line to distinguish themselves from other religions? I hear it all the time, and I’ve even used it a number of times. But it’s not true. No one who has thought this through can claim this. Everyone has a religion. Everyone has some deity they worship whether it be Jehovah, Allah, an idol, nature, or themselves. Everyone worships something. And everyone has a “code of ethics” that comes with their religion, God or no god. So, sorry, everyone has a religion.

But Christianity is unique. The religion is rooted in both a relationship and a creed. No other religion actually proclaims a personal, intimate relationship between the deity and the people. God repeatedly proclaimed His relationship with Israel as being unique and not like those of the other nations. This is not a mere acquaintance nor a friendship. It is described as a marriage. Some theologians have suggested that the Ten Commandments could actually be the wedding vows between God and the nation of Israel. Then due to Israel’s repeated unfaithfulness, Scripture even declares that God divorced Israel. The Christian’s relationship with Christ is also compared to that of marriage. Paul spends a fair amount of time of Ephesians 5 making this connection.

The Christian faith has both relationship and religion. There is the personal connection with God, which only happens via the supernatural regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and there is the religious aspect, which calls for moral adherence and obedience to God’s commands. There must be both parts to it, and they work holistically. Paul makes it absolutely clear that our salvation is by grace through faith in Ephesians 2:8. But James said that faith without works is dead. Jesus Himself said that those who are His family are those who obey His commands. Then there is the other aspect: all law and no relationship becomes legalism. In studying church history, there is always the pendulum swing between legalism and antinomianism (a moral free-for-all). Church generations tend to swing back and forth between one extreme and the other. In the 90s, there was the sexual purity movement. Today, it’s a free-for-all, and the “New Reformation” teachings are back to stoicism, with pure theology and no emotion. The same is true about the relationship and religion aspects as well. When the church sees something wrong between the religious aspects, they overreact and focus on just relationships. That’s where we are right now. But we are also seeing that the relationship aspect is devoid of moral stability, and we are moving to come back to center, at least for a moment.

You cannot have a relationship with someone you don’t know. The Bible does not deal with acquaintances when it comes to how God relates to His people; it deals with the deepest kind of intimacy. Marriage is the closest relationship a man can have with a woman, and the epitome of this relationship is in sexual relations. The Bible often uses the term “to know” to describe this. I want to be careful how I say this, but it is absolutely necessary for the image I am trying to give here. When a husband has sex with his wife, he puts his seed into her, and she conceives. Nine months later, a child is born. In Christianity, Christ, the husband, puts His seed into us, and that seed produces salvation (among many other things). When Jesus told the many who call Him “Lord, Lord” “I never knew you,” Jesus was saying, “I have had no intimate relationship with you. My seed is not within you.” You will not get into heaven by proclaiming yourself to be a Christian, nor by simply saying you have a relationship with Christ. You only get in by Jesus saying, “I know YOU.”

Isaiah warns about our day in Isaiah 4:1. Before that in chapter 3, Isaiah describes the sinful state of Judah and then describes how God takes away 11 positions of strength of a nation, from military strength to leadership, to quality speakers, to food and water supplies, to the economy, etc. With these 11 strengths gone, a nation is devastated. Side note: look at today – most of these strengths are gone from the U.S. too. In that day of destruction, in that day of judgment, seven women will go out to one man to make a marriage of convenience. They will do their own thing and they will stay out of the man’s way; they just want the name of the husband so they could take away their reproach, so they would look good before man. David Wilkerson taught that this was a picture of Jesus, when numerous people would come to Him, proclaim His name, but never have any real intimate relationship with Him. This is the kind of relationship that is nominal at best and again, there is no seed of growth. It’s all a work of self and the flesh. It’s a man-made religion with no relationship. Let me make something clear here: the majority of those who say they have a relationship, not a religion, very likely are in this boat. Why? Because they boast of a relationship with Christ but show they have no interest in what Christ actually wants: obedience.

I am going to dig into this issue as I go through this series. Christianity is a faith in which salvation is by the grace of God, but there much more involved than just a casual belief on our part. It is not enough to say you know Christ. It is not enough to just say a prayer and be saved. There must be life being produced within us. It takes the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to make that seed of Christ grow within our “womb” so that it bears life. That which does not produce fruit will be cut off and cast out. Read the Parable of the Sower. Read John 15. That which bears no fruit will be cut off. What kind of fruit are we bearing? Is the seed of Christ within us? How can we know? I will be answering these questions as I continue this series.

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Hebrews 10:32-39

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 10, 2022 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’
And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
-Hebrews 10:32-39

In the previous section, the author of Hebrews gave stern warnings to those who continually choose to disobey God. Interestingly, the NIV text (quoted above) omitted a very important word at the beginning of this passage: the conjunction “but.” The conjunction is present in the Greek text, and I believe it’s very important for the author is distinguishing between those who have chosen to fall away from the faith and the believers whom he is addressing in this passage.

Those in the audience of this letter are the ones who “received the light” (verse 32). This verb sometimes refers to baptism, but that is not necessarily the case here. What’s important here is to note that these are believers in Jesus Christ who have been enlightened to faith by the gospel message.

The next phrase refers to enduring a “conflict full of suffering.” The Greek word translated here as conflict has the idea of athletic competitions to it. This word was often used for early Christians, comparing them to spiritual athletes. In those early days, the Christian life was a strenuous one where they encountered much suffering.

Verses 33-34 explain this suffering in greater detail. There are two groups of believers referred to here – those who were actively persecuted, and those who suffered because of their association with the first group. Those in this first group were insulted and persecuted in a public manner; this wasn’t just persecution occurring in their homes or churches, but they were made a spectacle of in public areas.

The second group is guilty by association so to speak. They were present when others were publicly persecuted. They sympathized with prisoners. They allowed their personal property to be taken away from them, knowing that material things were not what was important in life.

Prisoners were not treated well back in those days. Today, while prison is not considered a great life, prisoners do have their basic needs taken care of – food, shelter, etc. In those days, that was not the case. Prisoners would be dependent on their friends or family to bring them food to keep them alive and for any other items they needed. While this is something that Jesus commanded His followers to do (see Matthew 25:34-36), it was risky for those visiting prisoners. They would be associated with the prisoners they visited, and they could potentially be accused of the same crimes.

These believers “joyfully” allowed their possessions to be taken away. The text is unclear as to whether this confiscation happened by the authorities or by violent mobs, but regardless, they did not remain attached to material possessions. They knew that the message of the gospel was much more important than owning possessions. They knew that the hope they have in Jesus Christ could not be taken away from them.

In verse 35, the author gives some encouragement to those who had endured all this. They had placed their confidence right where it belongs – in Jesus Christ – and he encourages them to keep it there. While they may not be rewarded with a comfortable life on earth, they could be certain that they would be richly rewarded in their eternal life with Christ.

The author encourages them to persevere through whatever may come in verse 36. The verb used here is hupomone, which has the meaning of actively or positively enduring something and being steadfast in that. They would need to continue to endure whatever persecution came their way; Christianity is a way of life, not just a momentary thing. When they continue to do the will of God, they will receive the fulfillment of the promises that God has given them.

As is typical for the author of Hebrews, he then gives them some Old Testament Scripture verses for encouragement in verses 37-38. He quotes from Habakkuk 2:3-4. (For more on the context of that passage from Habakkuk, check out this post.) The author reminds the early Christians that Jesus will come back for them, and until that happens, they need to continue to live by faith.

He further explains this point in verse 39 by emphasizing that the believers are those who have faith and are saved, they are not the ones who shrink back from the difficulties that this life may present. The author has confidence that he and his readers will be among those who continue on in their faith. With this verse, he sets up what is to come in the next chapter – a further discussion on faith and those who have gone before and have lived it out.

Are you among those who have been enlightened by faith in Jesus Christ? If so, be encouraged to keep living out that faith! Today in America, we are not (yet) facing the public persecution that the early church faced. If they could continue to live out their faith in spite of those difficult circumstances, so can we! We are to be encouraged just as they were, to continue to persevere in our faith no matter what this world throw at us.

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What Does it Mean to be a Christian?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 7, 2022 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

My church takes membership seriously. We ask people who wish to be members to take the classes so they would know how our local congregation does things, and the elders also do interviews with each person who fills out an application to be a member. In the application, we do not merely ask for personal information, but we ask if applicants have read the by-laws, the specific church doctrines, and to list any disagreements they have with certain doctrines that are taught. We have had members apply and upon realizing that the church’s direction and their direction aren’t aligned, they have walked away peacefully. But another part of the application is to give our testimony of how we became believers.

I don’t have a “gutter to glory” testimony of living a lifestyle of sin and being delivered from it. I grew up in the church and on the mission field. I am the “poster-child” of what it looks like to be a sound Christian by appearance. I know the language, I know the morality, I know the doctrine, and I made my profession of faith when I was seven. But as I was filling out my application, I began to think about my testimony.

A few years ago, I went through a period in which I examined myself to see if I was saved. Why would I do that? Not only is that a command to the church (we are to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith rather than assume we are saved), but I was going through a transition period. For most of my life, if I were to be asked why I was a Christian, I could give a variety of reasons, but ultimately it would boil down to “I was raised that way.” This is a critical issue I wrote about several years ago in a post titled “Don’t Ride Your Parent’s Faith.”

For so much of my Christian life, I rode my parent’s faith. I went to the same church with them until earlier in 2021. I have lived with them my entire life until literally right about when this is being posted with the only exception being when I lived at my college apartment (and still went to church with them every week). I am now at my own apartment (or about to be) as my parents are moving from Texas to Michigan. This transition began about 8 ½ years ago when I did my fencing spiritual warfare presentation for my former church and was baptized as an adult. A few months later, I began the Cadre program at the Creation Truth Foundation, and I started my time here with Worldview Warriors.

In those years, I began to transition from sharing the faith of my parents to having and claiming my own faith. It didn’t happen in an instant. Not everyone’s moment of salvation is really an instant event. Sometimes it happens over a sequence of time or is recognized in that time frame. Today, if asked why I am a Christian my answer still includes, “I was raised that way,” but it is much deeper than that now. Today, I can say, “I have studied the Bible and the claims both for and against it, and I have found that Biblical Christianity is indeed the only true religion.” That’s the one-sentence intellectual side of things. However, just knowing the intellectual side of the faith is not enough.

It is absolutely vital to have correct doctrine. If you know anything about me, I am a staunch defender of the doctrines of the faith and the integrity of Scripture. But one thing I am learning is that it is fully possible to have 100% correct doctrine and still go to Hell. When I look at what Jesus said about true and false believers, there was always something more than having sound doctrine. You still have to have sound doctrine; the Apostles would actively remove people from the church for teaching error. But having truth by itself as mere intellectual statements is nothing more than dead faith.

Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor who was tortured for 14 years in Communist prison said this: “A man really believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for.” Anyone can state a doctrinal statement; that’s how so many false teachers got into the church. They proclaim to believe whatever they needed to believe to get in. But a false convert/teacher would not defend those teachings, especially when presented with evidence or a claim that seems to contradict it. They will readily question those teachings in light of what they truly believe. They will not question the false teaching for favor of the doctrines they proclaim.

One example I’ve seen recently is when I dealt with someone who proclaimed to believe all the core doctrines of Christianity including that it was Adam who brought sin and death to mankind. But he also believes that the earth is billions of years old. When I asked him how he handled human fossils dating to hundreds of thousands of years old, he danced all over the place questioning everything from the definition of a human to the definition of death, but he never once questioned the dating methods. That’s what he really believes – not so much the doctrines of Christianity, because he let his doctrine be challenged by the dating method, not the dating method that challenged his doctrine. What you believe is what you will defend. If you don’t give it much weight and if you really think they are secondary issues, you won’t take a defensive position when someone challenges said teachings.

What you believe requires action. Faith demands action. If you are going to proclaim faith in Christianity, it calls for action. Jesus repeatedly told His followers that those who belong to Him are those who obey His commands. You can’t obey commands if you have wrong doctrine. So, you must have correct doctrine so you can obey it. One of the commands Jesus gave is to count the cost. While salvation is indeed a free gift and while we cannot work to deserve it, do not think that living this life is going to come without a cost. To follow Christ means to abandon and surrender your old life to get the new life. This is not being taught in most churches today. What is instead being taught is to add “Jesus” as a final accessory to your current life. This is not Christianity. The Gospel instead teaches that to receive Jesus, we must put to death our old way of living so that we can embrace the new life.

This is an introductory post in a series I will do about what it means to be a Christian. In no particular order, I will address that the Christian is meant to be the light of the world and to be a holy people. This means we are to be unique and separate from this world. We need to stop being schizophrenic Christians – people who talk theology before Christian friends and act like secular people in front of unbelievers. I’ll look in detail about the characteristics of the “ex-Christian” based on proclamations I have heard such people give. I’ll address compromise and how to test a movement or teaching. While sound doctrine will be a key structure to what I’ll be addressing, I am going to go over much more than just sound doctrine – how we are to live out in practice these truths. As I go through this series, I want to first examine myself, then I will examine my audience, and finally, I want to examine how the Gospel addresses the issues. I don’t want this series to simply challenge you or me; I want it to change us. Will we let the truth change us?

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.

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