by Katie Erickson “It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: 'I have made you a father of many nations.' He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.' Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old —and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why 'it was credited to him as righteousness.' The words 'it was credited to him' were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:13-25) To start off this week’s post, I encourage you go to read last week’s, since this is a continuation of it. Last week, we discussed who Abraham is and why Paul is using him as an example for faith. Romans 4:1-12 told us how faith is very different from works (verses 3-8), and how faith doesn’t depend on a religious observance like circumcision (verses 9-12). Continuing on to this week’s passage, we see how faith is unrelated to the law (verses 13-17). Abraham didn’t receive the promise of salvation through the law, but through faith. The same is true for us; the law is useful to show us our sin and keep us on the right track, but we can’t be saved by it. We can only be saved by faith. Further, our faith is on a promise that often goes against what seems normal to us (verses 18-22). Abraham was 100 years old when God promised that he would have a son, and his wife Sarah was no spring chicken either. How many people do you know in that age range, and how many of them are having babies? That definitely goes against what seems normal to us! But Abraham still had faith that God’s promise would come true, and it did. Faith does not always seem normal, but it is essential. There is a theme in this section of Romans that focuses on God’s promises. The promise is based on faith, not the law (verses 13-15). Because of this, God’s promise is the same for the Jews as it is for the Gentiles - we all have the same promise (verses 16-17). Abraham’s faith in God’s promise was firm and unwavering (verses 18-22), thus giving us an example to strive for in our own faith. What has God promised you in your life? If you don’t know, look in your Bible. God’s promises to the people in His Word are promised to us today as well. The most important promise is that of salvation, which God has already made good on! He promised thousands of years ago that He would send His Son Jesus to die on a cross for each one of us, so that if we have faith in Him we will be saved. That promise was, is, and always will be true. Do you believe it? This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration. Any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will be deleted. Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature, will be reported to the authorities.
by Michael Terrian I remember as a young person, I was bullied quite extensively in grade school and I remember many times being very angry and confused. I really wasn’t sure what the right attitude was for me. I was born and raised in church and I knew right from wrong. I knew I was supposed to be a good person, but I have to admit I was angry often times because of what was happening at school. At a young age it was difficult to love my neighbors, because they were the ones wrecking my life. They were the ones seeking to tear me down and destroy me. I didn’t like to feel this way. I wanted to be the happy-go-lucky boy that was always looking to make life more enjoyable and fun. Sometimes it meant causing mischief and getting into trouble. I also found during that time that those who were “Christians” and went to church with me would do some of the same things to me. There were times when I was punched in the arm until it brought tears to my eyes. I would be tripped and knocked down in front of my peers. This was very embarrassing and at times I was very confused and frustrated. I would often think to myself, if this is what being a Christian is about, then I don’t want any part of it. There was nothing to motivate me to be a Christian as a young person when I would see my examples of Christ treating me the same way the world was. It was very confusing to me and it would often build anger inside of me. It doesn’t take very long before you build walls around your emotions. Things aren’t as fun anymore because you’re not sure if someone is going to ruin it for you. I didn’t like feeling this way. On the flip side of that, there were always elderly people in my church, most of the time they were ladies, who would truly show me the love of Christ. This was big for me. I needed to know that being a Christian was real. I needed to know that what I heard from the pulpit could really happen in hearts of believers. There were many people in my life that influenced me in a positive way. They truly were the beacons of hope for me in my young world at that time. The power of influence is incredible, especially when you’re young and very impressionable. When these incredible and awesome people in my life would shine the light of Jesus on me, it was powerful. Times like those are cherished for a lifetime. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” - Matthew 22:37-39 This is not a suggestion but rather a commandment. Jesus is admonishing us as Christians that we are to follow these two commandments. We are to love the Lord our God with all that is within us and, just as importantly, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. This love puts the needs of others before our own needs. Think about what Jesus set aside so He could be beaten, scorned, humiliated and then crucified for the needs of sinful man. “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet’ and if there is any other commandment, all are summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” - Romans 13:9-10 Love does no harm. What a powerful statement! If we love as Christ loved us, then we will treat people as Christ would treat them. It is impossible to hate and love at the same time. You cannot love a person and hate them equally. You cannot treat someone with compassion and malice simultaneously. It is impossible. Even when our enemies seek to destroy us (and there will be times), how we respond to them dictates our love or lack of love for fallen and lost people. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - John 13:34-35 If we are to be an example of Christ, then how do we treat others? We do not have the right or the privilege as Christians to be the bully. If we truly are a “Christ follower,” then we show love and compassion. We live to build each other up; we don’t exist to tear each other down. How will the world see the love of Christ if we don’t show it to them? “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 7:12
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, March 28, 2015 0 comments
by Nathan Buck
Yep, I am taking a jab at the sensationalized titles used on the internet to get you to watch viral videos. Hang in there, the title actually does have meaning beyond the “hook.” In the Bible, Abraham is the guy who is considered the father of the Jewish faith, and the example for Jews and Christians alike for what it means to believe God and trust Him with your life. He is not celebrated because he lived a perfect life; in fact he made MANY mistakes and even rebellious decisions at times. Abraham believed God’s promise in a way that he took action and re-directed his life – that is what the Bible defines as faith. When he had faith in God, Abraham was “credited as” or considered righteous or in right standing before God. This was not because he lived perfectly first, but because he first believed and then adjusted the way he lived.
Look at Romans 4:1-17. In this passage Paul unpacks this moment of faith for Abraham. Take a moment to read through it, and then I want to call out a couple of key points. Consider these summaries of the verses listed next to them:
- Abraham didn’t earn his righteousness; he didn’t “deserve” it because of his value or his work. (verses 4-8)
- God didn’t offer righteousness to Abraham because of some physical things he had already done (circumcision, good deeds, religious actions, etc). (verses 9-10)
- Abraham is the example of faith, and faith is how we accept God’s promises; we cannot earn them. (verse 11)
- Since faith is how God’s promises are accepted, anyone can access the promise anytime. (verses 12-16)
Relationship with God comes by grace through faith. Grace is the vehicle God uses to offer it to everyone, and because God offers relationship graciously to everyone, no one is excluded from that offer for any reason. Let me say that again – no one is excluded from the offer of relationship with God for any reason. Everyone has equal opportunity to come to know God and to participate in His promise of life and life to the fullest. The only way we are exempted from right standing before God is by our own choice to not have faith. No one can boast about how they “earned” it by living perfectly. We can only humbly accept it by trusting God, believing Him, and adjusting our lives to live out His teachings.
Let me ask you a simple question this week – what or who have you believed? Are you listening to the voices of those who have called you names or ridiculed your life? Are you listening to the self-doubt and fear inside your own thoughts? Do you believe that you are worthless? Do you believe you “deserve” things? Maybe you have believed that you have to get everything messy in your life straightened out in order for God to accept you. Or maybe you believe God will rescue you, even if you never change the self-focused, self-protective way you are living. Perhaps you are listening to hyper-religious people (even “Christians”) who have side tracked you with all kinds of religious worship rituals, arrogant prosperity assumptions, ungracious judgments, or paranoid demonic delusions. Maybe you believe God doesn’t exist. Maybe you are deafened by the pain or loss that made you doubt that God could be real.
Wherever you are on your journey – look at Abraham’s story in context. He was living his life, satisfied and comfortable, and wasn’t looking for God. There was nothing about how Abraham lived that earned him the right to be chosen. The promise God offered would require him to leave his country, leave his extended family, and disconnect from everything that made him comfortable in the land of Ur of the Chaldeans. And when he encountered God, there was nothing special about Abraham that caused him to realize this was God Almighty – he could have just as easily dismissed the opportunity as you or I could. The only reason we know Abraham is because God chose him, and he listened to God.
God wants that same kind of relationship with each one of us, and He chose all of us to be a part of His promise of life – full life, here and after we die. We get to benefit from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and get to have relationship with God – the fullness of our design interwoven with other people and empowered by God’s Spirit. It’s awesome to share that sense of life and purpose with others, and see the amazing power and presence of God working through people who, because of the grade from God, have decided to live by faith with GOD.
Is it time to get beyond the lies, doubts, fears, bad examples, pain, trauma, desires, and selfishness to let the Truth of God’s love touch your heart? The offer is extended to you… will you have faith?
For more of Abraham’s example of faith, be sure to read my blog post next week.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 27, 2015 0 comments
by Charlie Wolcott In the last three months, I do hope you have learned a lot about what God has shown me about spiritual warfare. There is so much more I would like to share, but at this time, God has told me this is enough for now. My prayer is that you have taken the concepts in these posts and used them to look at our situation as Christians in a deeper and newer level. Just in the writing of these posts, I have grown in my walk and am starting to recognize more of these tactics and strategies as they are being used. Today, I am going to finish this series on a high note. The enemy has been a brilliant tactician against us as a church, and for us being weak, feeble-minded humans, we have fallen so often to his strategies. But do not fear. As followers of Christ, we have on our side the one person who did not fall even once to Satan’s strategies: that person is Christ himself. In reality, in all of Satan’s planning, scheming, and strategizing, Jesus is above and beyond anything Satan can imagine. Think about this. Satan could not stand that the Son of Man was beating him in every step during Jesus’ ministry. Jesus could not be touched. Several times the people tried to stone him or throw him off a cliff and he simply walked right through them. Satan was livid and he searched and searched and searched for any opportunity to take him down. And he found his chance. He found a weak spot in Jesus’ inner circle: Judas. If you look throughout the Gospels, Judas was the one always questioning what Jesus did, especially when money was involved. Judas was the money handler for the ministry, which is interesting because Matthew had previously made a living dealing with money. Satan got Judas to trade Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Satan then worked through the Pharisees and even Pilate to have Jesus beaten to a pulp and then crucified, the most brutal form of execution at that time. From a military perspective, this was an ingenious plan. The one person who could stop Satan from maintaining his rule over this world was dead. But in all his cunning and planning, Satan was the one duped. Satan truly thought he had won, but all he did was walk right into God’s plan and carried it out for him. He thought he had captured Jesus and defeated him. Yet Jesus said no one could take his life. Rather, he laid it down willingly. He had the power to lay it down. He also had the power to take it back. Satan never understood this. It gets better. The fact that some of the prophecies of the Messiah, including Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, and Zechariah 11, talk about the manner in which Jesus died. This is incredible because the all these were written between 400 and 1000 years before Jesus lived as a human on earth. Remember that crucifixion was not a method of execution that existed during the time these prophecies were written. Also during some of these prophecies, it was not conceived that a Gentile nation, such as Rome, would conquer them. How is this possible? It isn’t, unless there is a sovereign God overseeing the entire thing. What is truly incredible is that Satan knew about these prophecies. He knows Scripture. He knows what God says. He even quoted Scripture to Jesus. It was out of context and seeking to misapply the promise, but he knew Scripture. So why did he go after Jesus exactly the way the prophecies said he would? The answer is simple. He didn’t understand what he was doing. No one understood what they were doing when they crucified Jesus. It was a brilliant plan, but none of those involved understood the whole picture. If they had, they would never have crucified him. For Jesus to conquer death, to pay the redemption for sin, he had to perfectly fulfill the Law and the prophecies about him. All it took was one prophecy missed for Jesus to not be the Messiah. I wrote about the “Messiah Test” back in November. Check it out to get a deeper picture. The key point is this: if I was Satan and dealing with the Messiah, I would do everything in my power to get him to break just one of the promises. Did you know that the Jewish execution was stoning, yet the prophecy of Christ’s death would be “hanging on a tree” which is now known as “crucifixion”? All Satan had to do was to make sure Jesus did not die by crucifixion. Yet he couldn’t because of the Roman government. The Jews could not execute Jesus. Rome had to. In all Satan’s planning, all he did was walk into God’s far superior plan. Jesus outwitted, outsmarted, and beat Satan. And he did so by being completely obedient to his Father. He did not stray one bit. If you want victory over Satan, all you have to do is simply obey the Father. You cannot do this in your own strength, but if you believe in Jesus Christ, if you are covered by the blood of Jesus and have been born again, you have access to all Jesus had to defeat Satan. If you are obedient to God, Satan has no legal power over you. He only has power over you as long as you walk in sin. I said at the beginning of this series that Satan is a defeated foe. And like 2000 years ago, he is coming for one last attempt to defeat God at his own game. Much can be said about end times prophecies, but I am not going to get into details on that. What I do know is that Satan is going to gather all the world’s armies together and advance upon God’s people to destroy them. And when that time comes, Jesus is going to return, not as a meek, mild baby, but as a conquering King. Jesus is our Commander-in-Chief. He is known as the Commander of the Army of the Lord. There is no better Commander out there to serve. He has a 100% winning record and the final battle is coming. God has shown us how the end of the story will go. Satan, in all his wit and planning, is again going to walk right into God’s plan and perfectly fulfill it. Which side are you on? The side that thinks they are going to win, but are raging against God in futility? Or are you allied with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords who never loses? To be allied with God, we have to go by his rules. I have accepted God’s offer on his terms, to follow him wherever he leads me. I strive to follow his orders, even if it results in opposition or even my death. And in nearly 25 years of following him, God has never failed to fulfill what he promised. I don’t follow him because of what I get out of it. I follow him because he is the King and he deserves to be followed and worshipped no matter what happens to me. He may lead me into battle, he may lead me behind the scenes. But either way, I am available for him to use me as he wishes. So this is the conclusion of my series on some spiritual warfare basics. I will touch on this subject again later down the road, but this should give you a foundation to work with to understand what we are facing and how our enemy is working. I pray this encouraged you and strengthened you to carry on and fight the good fight for the glory of our Commander-in-Chief, the Lord Jesus Christ. This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration. Any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will be deleted. Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature, will be reported to the authorities.
by Steve Risner “The empty-headed fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'” BAM! I said it. Actually, God said that and I'm just repeating it. That's the opening verse of Psalm 14. Now, to be honest, I don't like bringing that sort of language up in debates or discussions because I think it's offensive and can easily result in a wall going up that will never come down. My point in debating or discussing these matters with unbelievers is to help them and to learn for myself as well. Intentionally putting up a wall is never my goal. But I start with this verse to make a point: the Bible makes no argument whatsoever for the existence of God. That's because, apparently anyway, the Bible assumes if you are intelligent enough to hear and interpret its words or to read them, you're intelligent enough to know there must be a God that exists. Paul tells us in Romans that there is no excuse for unbelief—that nature cries out to us about its Creator. This truth is so critical and so obvious that it astounds me that some claim there is no evidence for the existence of God. I have heard this repeatedly in discussions and it's amazing. What the person often means is that there is no scientific (and they mean naturalistic) evidence for God. In other words, there is no physical evidence of a non-physical Being. That's what we call a “duh” statement. There can't be physical evidence of a non-physical Being. He would be a physical being if that were the case. Since this argument seems popular—that there is no evidence for God—I'd like to explore just a couple of the arguments for the existence of God. These arguments will all be extra-biblical, which I feel is important. We can point to all sorts of stuff in the Bible that supports our position—whatever that position is—but if the person we're talking to has no respect for the Bible, we're wasting our time. Honestly, I believe the Bible is the single most important weapon we have as believers and that's Scriptural. But in some cases, at least starting with something else is helpful. I think that once someone is forced to admit there could be a God, when we open the Bible up to them and make the case that the God they've accepted as existing must be the God of the Bible, we can make a lot of headway with them. Let's look at just a few of the arguments over the next few weeks for the existence of God. There are, truthfully, many more. But we'll look at the three most common ones that I can find. The Argument of Causation or Creation: This argument simply states that anything that has a beginning has a cause. Aristotle called this the Prime Mover or the Uncaused Cause. Science is pretty clear that the universe had a beginning. In other words, according to Edwin Hubble, the universe is expanding. If you move backward in time long enough, everything in the universe would be a single point. This means at some time in the past, there was no universe, and then there was. Hence, the universe had a beginning. What could have caused such a huge and indescribable thing other than an almighty God? Science agrees the universe had a start. The Christian simply points to Genesis 1:1 and there you have it. Understanding this, that the universe had a beginning, means science (not philosophy, which is often confused with science today) screams to us that there is a Creator. You cannot create or destroy energy or matter. So either energy and matter have always existed (so they are God), or they were created. Anything created requires a creator. Much of what Hubble did for the development of the Big Bang theory was, as he admitted, because the alternative (God) was unthinkable and unacceptable. You see how he quickly went from a scientist to a philosopher there? But Hubble’s findings changed everything. The universe had a beginning, and you don’t even have to believe in the Bible to arrive at that conclusion. Now, let's understand this argument. It does not say that everything has a cause. That is invariably the first thing that the atheist or skeptic will bring up. “Well, what caused God?” First of all, that doesn't matter anyway. We're not talking about that. We're simply talking about the fact that the universe (and everything in it) was created by something. But this question, “What caused God?” is a misunderstanding of the argument and of God Himself. The universe, which functions in time as does everything else physical that we know of, had a beginning. Something greater than the universe must have caused it. God had no beginning and, therefore, no cause. He simply is and always has been and always will be. When time expires, He will not. He is eternal, which means, by necessity, that He had no cause. That's a lot for the human mind to wrap itself around. In fact, I think it's impossible for us to understand that fully since we know nothing other than our experience in time. It seems logical that a personal God who chose to create would be necessary, as would an all-powerful God, since the matter and energy in the universe are beyond description. It also seems He would not be bound by any of the natural laws He put in place nor would He be bound by time. Otherwise, He would not be God. The God of the Bible fits this bill pretty readily. There are other ideas about the nature of the universe and whether or not it had a beginning. Some have tried for decades to show the universe is eternal. But the case is fairly solid that the universe has a beginning—at least in terms of astronomy. My purpose here is not to exhaust all thoughts contrary to the Bible on the existence of the universe, but to simply engage in a discussion on the most common arguments. The Big Bang (which is full of all sorts of holes) claims the universe had a beginning. This is currently the most commonly held belief by secular scientists. This argument of a cause seems pretty straightforward and simple to grasp. It's actually something a child could understand because it just makes sense and is solidified by our experience. I look forward to the discussion that takes place with this topic. Next week we will take a look at the Design Argument. That one is pretty cool and I've written many blog posts with this argument in mind. Not seeing it, like most of these arguments, means you're not willing to admit what is so logical and clear. Those who scoff at these arguments are willing, in my opinion, to suspend rational thinking so they can claim there is no God.
by Logan Ames
I would assume that unless you were a perfect student for your entire life, there was some point during your time in school that you did something to earn “extra credit” toward your grade, whether it was a matter of necessity to pass a class or you just wanted to make that report card a little bit better. I had my fair share of those times, but I remember one specific time in college when I didn’t get the answer I wanted. I couldn’t “earn” my way out of trouble.
It was my junior year. I was taking a liberal arts class that had absolutely nothing to do with my field of study, but was needed to complete the bachelor’s degree. To be honest, I hated the subject matter and thought it was ridiculous that I was forced to take the course. To make matters worse, the professor had no sympathy and was practically offended if you didn’t grasp what he was teaching. The class was a major struggle for me and I came to a point about two-thirds of the way through it where I was clearly not going to pass the course. So, I did the only thing I could think of - I asked the professor if there was any way that I could do a project for extra credit in order to pass the course. To my surprise, the professor said “no” because the syllabus had been written in advance and everyone in the class knew what would be needed for a passing grade. He told me that I could still attend the class for the rest of the semester anyway if I wanted to learn about the subject, to which I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me." I made it very clear that I was there to get a passing grade and move on, and that if he wasn’t going to allow me to earn extra credit, then it looked like I had just earned a free hour on those mornings!
Isn’t this how Christians sometimes view their salvation? Everyone knows that we can’t escape or defeat death on our own, so we become obsessed with figuring out what will happen after we die. This then leads us to put so much attention on the end result and not all of the time between now and then. It’s as if we are telling God to let us know what is needed to “get the passing grade” and then expecting him to let us EARN extra credit when we realize we have fallen short. If that’s what we are counting on, and we realize that we can’t earn our desired result, we are almost certain to give up.
It turns out that God does give us the “syllabus” and tells us exactly what is necessary to “pass the course” of life so that we are permitted into eternity with him. But it’s not something we can simply earn outwardly. It’s a matter of the heart. In Romans 4:1-12, the Apostle Paul begins to explain how Abraham, whom the Jewish people held in very high regard as their forefather, was justified by his faith and not by his actions. This was a shock to those who had ignored the Word of God. As this commentary explains, there were writings from ancient Jewish rabbis that said, “We find that Abraham our father had performed the whole Law before it was given” and “Abraham was perfect in all his deeds with the Lord." They must have either forgotten or willfully ignored the fact that Abraham was a married man who slept with his wife’s slave to try to have a child (Genesis 16:1-4). That is why Paul basically says that even if Abraham could be justified by his works before men, he would have nothing to boast about before God (Romans 4:2). In other words, most people would consider Abraham a righteous person overall because of all the good things he did despite his sin with Hagar. But in God’s eyes, messing up even one time is the same as breaking the entire law (James 2:10). God’s standard is perfection, which means Abraham’s works were not good enough.
Before Abraham had sinned with his wife’s slave girl, God had told him that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:4-5). Right after that, we see that he “believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Paul quotes this Scripture as part of his argument in Romans 4:3, then goes on to explain to the readers that this all took place BEFORE Abraham was circumcised. A quick look back in history shows us that the circumcision took place in Genesis 17. The reason this is a critical piece of information for Paul and should be for us is that the Jews put so much emphasis on the physical act of circumcision and believed that was what set them apart from others and made them righteous before God. But the command for males to be circumcised was given to the Jews, so their faulty thinking caused them to consider anyone who was not circumcised (Gentiles) as “unrighteous."
Paul exposes the wrong thinking of the Jews in this passage. It wasn’t Abraham’s work of circumcision or any other act that allowed him to be considered righteous by God. Instead, it was his faith. He believed God. Because it happened before he was circumcised, the Jews needed to face the reality that even those who are not circumcised can be considered righteous if they believe God as Abraham did. This also meant that Abraham was not just the father of the Jews, as they boasted, but also of anyone else who chose by faith to believe God.
The application for you and me is twofold. First, we must remember that we are mistaken if we judge any other human being as unworthy of the righteousness that comes only by faith in Jesus Christ. Second, if you choose not to believe God but think you can be a “good person” and get by that way, you are also mistaken. Trying to gain righteousness through works attempts to put us in control. It’s a system that tells God what he owes us because of our good works. But as we’ve established through Romans thus far, no human being can be good enough on their own to meet God’s perfect standard. God’s system is one of grace, where he gives us something we could not obtain on our own. We can’t choose not to believe him and then come back at the end and find out what we can DO to earn extra credit. His Word tells us ahead of time that only faith will matter. Will you choose to believe God today? It’s your only way to be saved and justified before him. Don’t waste the opportunity he has given you today, since you know there is no “making up for it” later.
This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration. Any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will be deleted. Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature, will be reported to the authorities.
by Katie Erickson “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'
Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
'Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.'
Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!
And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.
And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” (Romans 4:1-12) In the passage from Romans 3 that we looked at last week, Paul gives two results of being justified by faith and now the law:
1. We can’t boast in our own accomplishments. (3:27)
2. Jews and Gentiles have equal access to justification and salvation. (3:29-30) Paul now develops both of these ideas more here in chapter 4 with reference to Abraham. He looks at the idea of boasting in our own accomplishments in 4:1-8, and everyone having equal access to justification in 4:9-17. So we’ll look at part of that this week, and the rest next week. To start with, who is this Abraham guy and why is he important? Abraham was the original father of the people of Israel, and he was the first person whom God made the covenant with (a covenant like a promise, but stronger). This was a few thousand years before Jesus came to the earth in human form. Abraham was the father of Isaac, who was the father of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. You can read about Abraham’s story starting in Genesis 12. Paul uses this chapter of Romans to show the significance of Abraham’s faith, and therefore also our faith. Why did Paul choose Abraham as an example? He was revered by the Jews as a pillar of their nation, because of the covenant God made with him. Also because of that covenant, Abraham was a key figure in the Old Testament in God’s plan of salvation. But the Gentiles aren’t left out for this example, simply because they’re not biologically related to Abraham. The Gentiles can also claim him as their father, because he is seen as the father of the faith too, as Paul says in verse 12. So, back to Paul’s conversation on faith. Why is faith significant? Faith is very different from works. Our good works get us nothing, because we can’t live up to God’s standard of total perfection. We still have sin in our lives. It’s not like a balance where the good can outweigh the bad; no, rather even just one sin shatters perfection and separates us from a perfect relationship with God. We can only “earn” God’s righteousness by having faith and trusting in Him. Faith doesn’t depend on a particular religious observance, such as circumcision. As I wrote about previously, our outward actions are not what’s essential for salvation. God made the covenant not because he was circumcised and had done all the proper religious things, but because Abraham had faith in God. Yes, religious observances do aid us in keeping our faith at the forefront of our lives or setting us apart from the world in some way, but they aren’t what’s truly important. Make sure to check back next week as we continue this discussion on Abraham, faith, and why it’s important.
by Ami Samuels What if you met Jesus and he had a question for you: “How did you treat my children? Were you loving, forgiving, kind, generous, gracious, fair, and honest? Or were you calloused, cold, impatient, indifferent, manipulative, controlling, calculating, and self-absorbed?” The world tells us that we need to get ours, to be number one, and that second place is the first loser. Another worldly view is that we need to look out for ourselves because nobody else will. I do believe that healthy competition can be good, but winning at any cost, sacrificing our integrity and character, is going too far. I have seen this many times in sports. Win at any cost. If you aren’t number one you are nothing. We are losing the sense of team in our society. It is all about worshipping the starting five, the starting nine, or starting eleven. What about the player who gives one hundred percent at practice, works his hardest, performs to the best of his ability but never makes the starting lineup? Is player not good enough by society’s standards, because his skills in a sport aren’t as good as another player’s? Would Jesus be on the field hailing the starters, or would he be on the bench encouraging the guys who aren’t playing yet? Jesus would be lifting up the one who never sees the field, never has his name in the paper, or never gets a chance to swing away in the game. In John 15:12-13, Jesus says, “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” As we grow in our Christian walk, are we learning to follow Jesus’ example? Are we deciding to put others before ourselves? This is easier said than done. The next time you are in traffic and there’s that guy who races to the front without waiting his turn, do you let him in? The rude store clerk messes up your transaction yet again, and you have already been waiting to check out for fifteen minutes; will you be patient and kind? The kid in school who continually bullies your child asks you to buy something in support of his sports team; do you respond in a kind manner and buy his product? WWJD – What Would Jesus Do in these situations? I believe he would show mercy and grace. I believe he would put others before himself. Jesus says in Matthew 19:30, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” We fight tooth and nail to be first here on earth, when our focus should be on following Jesus’ example, wherever that lands us. At the end of our lives, who will we say we followed, the world or Jesus? It is never too late to start following Jesus’ example in our lives. This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration. Any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will be deleted. Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature, will be reported to the authorities.
by Nathan Buck There is an incredible sense of relief and even joy whenever I leave the chiropractor. I enjoy the friendship I have with my chiropractor, but that is not why I feel so good when I leave. I feel good because my bones and joints have been re-aligned and my nerve endings, muscles, and blood flow are less restricted. Often times I feel like my vision and thinking are improved, and tension is released. The feeling of being fully re-aligned is a VERY good feeling. Recently I explained that no one has a special privilege or is exempt from God’s Law, and the Law simply shows us how “out of joint” we are from God. In Romans 3:21-31 Paul talks about justification by faith. To be justified is to be “fully aligned.” Just like with the chiropractor, justification means everything is put back into its proper place and is able to work the way it was designed to. In our relationship with God, we are justified with Him, fully aligned with Him, by faith. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we accept that God justified all human brokenness through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. God Himself in the flesh (Jesus) overcame the pain of our brokenness, the separation of our rebellion, and the consequence of our rejection of His design for us – which is death. God loves you that much, that he provided a way of rescue and re-alignment through Jesus Christ. And what’s more is that if you look at verse 31 in that passage, Paul makes an amazing statement. He says, “Do we nullify the Law through faith? May it never be so! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” Having faith in Jesus Christ, becoming fully aligned with God, doesn’t destroy God’s Law and it doesn’t make us a “law unto ourselves” making it up as we go along. Being justified by faith puts us in a position where our lives validate and reinforce the TRUTH of God’s teachings (Law). Being fully aligned with God allows us to live even better than the Law and in ways that are impossible for us to do on our own. Because He transforms and renews our hearts to bring about the fullness of the life he designed us to live. We become living proof of His existence, our NEED for Him, and even a physical representation of His presence as we share His love and grace with others. Read through this passage carefully, and be sure to read some of the other blog posts from this week if you need to dig into this topic and understand more about what it means to be “justified by faith.” If you are not fully aligned with God – what are the questions/doubts you have? How can you take a significant step in resolving those this week? If you have decided to follow Jesus Christ with your life – have you fully surrendered your life to Him and let him teach you what it means to be saved by grace and justified by faith? How are others experiencing God’s grace and Truth through you? This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration. Any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will be deleted. Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature, will be reported to the authorities.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 20, 2015 0 comments
by Charlie Wolcott Today’s post is going to be the second to last post for my series on Spiritual Warfare Basics. Today, I will discuss one of the major tactics the enemy uses against us in battle and then next week I will wrap up with a final post reminding us who is really in charge of everything. So today I will describe a tactic called “Divide and Conquer.” This is a challenging strategy to describe just via text. It is really enhanced via visuals so I have included a couple links to describe how this strategy works. But little better illustrates it than the Nazi conquest of the European Mainland. There was one man in Europe that actually had the guts to stand up to Hitler: Winston Churchill of England. To get the full picture of how this conquest worked, watch this hour long documentary called “Why We Fight: Part III, Divide and Conquer,” which explained to the US civilians why we got involved in World War II. But allow me to explain the gist of what was happening. Because England was the one main threat to Hitler, he had to find a way to defeat them. England, being an island, could not be approached by air without being close enough to the coast to fly there and return. Most aircraft had a range of 400 miles, which meant 200 miles there and 200 miles back. There were only two places that were close enough to work. German northern ports were too far away without depending on aircraft carriers. But France was close enough and because of the curvature of the earth, so was Norway. France gave a direct attack from the south and Norway provided another angle from the northeast. And if Germany could take both nations, he could then establish a blockade around the island and wear England down into submission. Through a series of propaganda and deception, Hitler marched through Denmark and Norway with relative ease; neither nation was prepared for the invasion when it happened. England and France set up a blockade at the French/German border called the Maginal Line. In WWI, the French beat back the Germans by attacking into the German offense. This time, the French went defensive. The Maginal Line was thought to be impenetrable. Between the line and the northern coast were three neutral nations: Luxembourg, Holland, and Belgium. They sought to avoid war, but got war without warning. The allies set up defenses in position to assist the Maginal Line should the German attack there and ready to swing north like a gate with a “hinge” right at the northern end of the Maginal Line where a large forest acted as a natural barrier. Hitler knew this and attacked the three nations to instigate the allies to move their “gate” and close it in. And the allies did. However, now with the allies defenses in two different locations, Hitler went straight where he was least expected, straight through the ‘hinge’ of this line. He created a “spearhead” that pierced through the defenses and established flanking positions so the main army could simply march through virtually unhindered. France fell before almost anyone could imagine and Hitler raced for the coast. Over 400,000 allies troops got pinned at Dunkequerk and England sent every boat they could muster to rescue them. England was now pinned between two major fronts. Fortunately before Hitler could carry it all out, the US came to England’s aid and pushed the Germans back. This entire conquest was a large-scale model of “Divide and Conquer.” It requires you dividing your army up to attack multiple fronts of your enemy, and it also requires getting your enemy to divide himself up in attempt to meet you. When properly used, this tactic can defeat armies significantly larger than you are. Sun-Tzu always praised the general who could outthink his opponent rather than outfight him. So how would we see this tactic being used against us in the spiritual arena? Sun-Tzu says “chaos comes from order, disunity from unity.” This doesn’t really make sense at first glance, but let’s look a little deeper. If you are unified, make your opponent think you are not. If you have order and structure, appear chaotic. We have many fronts coming against the Christian faith in America. And a number of them appear disorganized. In such apparent disorder, it makes it harder for us to see what is really going on behind the scenes. We as Christians have fought battles over issues like abortion, or homosexuality, or our freedom of religion and freedom of speech rights. But these are all just facades to the real issues being attacked. While we are fighting legal battles, the enemy is coming in through the education system, through the science experts, and creating a “spearhead” that we are doing virtually nothing to stop. The enemy has also gotten us to fight amongst ourselves, often over trivial issues. There are over 41,000 denominations of “Christianity.” Now a good number of those are quite a stretch to call “Christianity,” because they include many of the cults that only have a slight semblance of Christianity. But the very word “denomination” means “division.” Paul got on the Corinthians’ case over this. Some boasted to be under Paul, others Apollos, others Christ. Paul pretty well told them, “Forget about that. It’s all Christ and Christ alone.” The enemy is succeeding in getting us to split up in attempt to meet all his fronts, and he is succeeding because we are not joined together. We aren’t communicating with each other. We don’t have the same spirit. And a lot of that is because we’ve allowed so many false teachers into our midst. We don’t even know what we need to be unified together on. Today, we are “unified” on anything except the Gospel truth. We have been divided and the conquering has long been underway. Can we stop it? The whole point of this series is to get us to wake up, and to recognize the enemy’s tactics as they are being used against us. I know I cannot nearly do this job its proper due in these posts, but I want you to be more aware of what is going on and to be alert. Use this post as a springboard to dig deeper to find out what is really going on in our nation, in our church. One thing I have learned is that Satan cannot change his tactics. He uses the same stuff over and over and over again. It comes in very different packages but it’s the same bag of tricks. If we recognize what those tricks are, the enemy will not be able to beat us. He can’t overpower us, but he can outwit us. And he always will unless we turn to our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ. Next week, I finish this series on the basics of Spiritual Warfare. We have all these tactics and strategies the enemy uses on us, but we have an advantage that goes above and beyond anything Satan can use against us: Jesus Christ, our Commander-in-Chief. This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration. Any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will be deleted. Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature, will be reported to the authorities.
by Steve Risner Olfaction comprises a huge portion of our chemosensory system and it is amazing! Did I scare you with those terms? Okay. How about this: our ability to determine what chemicals are in the air or in our mouths is mostly determined by our sense of smell. Olfaction is the fancy word for smell and literally means “to do the smelling” in its Latin origins. We rarely think of our sense of smell but it's working all the time—ALL the time. We'll breathe something like 20,000 times today inhaling about 250 cubic feet of air and every single time we will smell tons of different chemicals in the air and hardly take notice. That's because our sense of smell has a very fast ability to acclimate to smells. That just means we stop noticing smells pretty quickly. If you think about it, that's good. The air is filled with all sorts of smells all the time. If we paid attention to all those smells, we'd not have time to do anything else. Let's take a closer look at this amazing sense. The ability to smell is the first sense to develop and is fully functional at birth. Many believe the sense of smell is something that dramatically increases the bond between mother and baby. This makes sense in light of the fact that studies show a woman's favorite smell is that of a newborn baby. What is a man's favorite smell, you ask? Breakfast—no lie. There are several other things that make the top of the list including new car smell, leather, crayons, and cinnamon. Women typically have a much better sense of smell than men and the younger you are the better your sense of smell. After age 80, most of us won't be able to smell much. So smell the roses while you still can. Olfaction is a very important sense although very little attention gets paid to it. In fact, more of the known expressed human genome is for this sense than for anything else! 1% of your genes go to your ability to smell! Isn't that crazy? Nearly every air, land, or water dwelling creature has the ability to smell—even bacteria. Not everyone uses their nose, especially if they don't have one. But the benefit of detecting chemicals in the air or on a surface is critical for life. Our sense of smell triggers more memories and emotions than any other, and we recall smells much better and much longer than visual memories. Most of our sense of taste comes from our ability to smell as well—in some cases up to 95%. Ever wonder why things taste differently when you have a stuffy nose or why they tell you to pinch your nose when you eat your peas? Our capacity to smell is unique among our special senses—taste, smell, sight, hearing, and touch. Some classify the olfactory nerve, the nerve that extends from our brains into the upper portion of our nasal sinus, as literally an extension of our brains and not really a nerve. Of all the cranial nerves—those nerves that originate in our brains rather than our spine—the first one, our olfactory nerve, has the ability to regenerate. In truth, we get a new nose every month or so! It's also the most variable of our senses. We literally have the potential to identify a trillion different smells. If this doesn't blow your mind, think of a dog's ability to smell. They have 40-50 times the receptors for smell that we have! What's the sense of smell good for? Lots! You can tell what's in the air around you, which is pretty important and has the potential to save your life. Your sense of smell is directional as well, meaning you can tell from which direction a smell is coming. That's why it's hard to get away with passing gas in a group of friends. You also taste with your sense of smell. But there are other things it's useful for as well. Research shows us that you can smell fear or other emotions. Different chemicals are released in our bodies when we feel certain emotions. These chemicals make their way into our sweat and can be transmitted to those around us who may be influenced to feel the same way. Smell is also important in bonding and in sexual attraction. This is much stronger, it seems, in the animal kingdom than with humans (most of our sense of smell is dwarfed by much of the animal kingdom). There are some scientists who are developing ways to use a person's distinct smell—every person has their own smell just like their DNA or fingerprints—to help solve crimes! How's it work? I'll tell you: As we breathe, air fills our nasal passages. This pathway from outside our face to the top of our nasal passage is complicated in and of itself with bones that direct and funnel air, hairs that filter out particles, bacteria, and other things, to mucous that keeps the area moist and healthy. This air is laden with chemicals. About 15% of the air we breathe will make contact with the olfactory nerve fibers. These fibers are extremely specific and a chemical that enters here fits one of those fibers perfectly like a lock and key. This causes the nerve to fire, sending a signal to the brain. Let's walk along the path this signal takes to the brain. The nerve fibers extend through the Cribriform Plate (which is much like a screen in the top of the nasal cavity) and enter the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb directly enters the brain via the olfactory tract. And this is where smell is deciphered. Your brain will have a strong recollection of each particular smell for about a year! Can you imagine glancing at a phone number for a second and being able to recall it a year later? Smell is a critical part of the human experience. If you think that doesn't smell right, consider this: Some suggest the sense of smell is the oldest sense life developed. I actually don't think life developed that sense at all. I think that God gave it to every living thing that has it. The brilliance of the design of the sense of smell in humans and many organisms on the planet tells us quite loudly that it was designed this way—it was no accident or the result of a series of lucky mistakes. The faith of evolutionism relies heavily on luck and, essentially, magic since we know of no known natural processes that can account for the process of universal common descent. Believing in God as the Creator and Sustainer of life is not belief in magic but in an eternal Being Who designed everything from spiral galaxies to the Krebs Cycle—from arm hair to the reasons we cry. But make no mistake: both are faith-based systems that utilize science to support their claims, but neither (evolution and creation) is a scientific field. Smell seems fairly symbolic to the God of the Bible. God gave specific directions to Moses for creating an oil used for anointing individuals or things for special purposes. This fragrance was used to anoint holy things like the tabernacle and also holy people such as kings, priests, and prophets. Why should you care about such things? Because, if you are a child of God, you are a king, a priest, and a temple. Few received this anointing in the Bible but it is now available to all! Jesus said the aroma of His children was sweet to the Lord and smelled a bit like giving sight to the blind, proclaiming the Gospel to the poor and oppressed, and declaring freedom for the captive! If you have the smell of that fragrance, the anointing of God, you are empowered to do these awesome things and so much more! For study, compare Isaiah 61:1-2 with Luke 4:18 and then go be those things to this lost and dying world. This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration. Any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will be deleted. Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature, will be reported to the authorities.
by Logan Ames One of my favorite commercials that currently plays is the one for the Dollar Shave Club (here) where the man walks up to the counter with a pack of razors and is told it will cost him $19.65. Shocked at the price, he tells the cashier that it seems like a lot. The cashier then thinks for a second and says, “It’s because of the free gift”. At that point, the customer shows excitement as he reaches for the neatly wrapped present on the counter. His momentary joy turns to pain, however, when he picks up the apparent gift and it’s connected to a wire that opens a secret compartment below the counter and propels a mechanical boxing glove to punch the man right in the groin area. As he drops to his knee, he is punched again in the forehead. The man had been duped by the promise of a free gift. We love the word “free”. Companies know this, so they creatively use it to sell more things. Think about it. When was the last time you received something truly free? I bought a used vehicle last year and convinced the salesman to throw in two free new tires. However, I couldn’t receive those tires without making a purchase. And trust me, it wasn’t a cheap purchase. The same goes for my brother when he decided to purchase a timeshare after we sat and heard a pitch in Orlando, Florida some years ago. Once the salesman understood that my brother was interested and could possibly afford it, he started throwing in all sorts of incentives, including “free” passes to several Disney amusement parks and other gifts. Were these things truly free? You can say that we didn’t have to pay the usual price for those things directly, but again, a purchase of some sort was required. I always chuckle when I got to the grocery or clothing store and the cashier tells me how much money I “saved” using discounts or bonus cards after I’ve made the purchase. The reason I laugh is because I want to tell them that I could have saved a lot more than I did by not buying anything at all! They didn’t really “save” me anything. They just decreased the amount that I needed to spend to get what I wanted. In each of the above scenarios, a purchase is required to get the benefit. But there is one truly free gift offered to every one of us that requires no purchase at all. While Christians would rightfully say this is the gift of salvation, our passage for this week specifically refers to one of the results of God’s work of salvation for us - justification. Romans 3:21-31 explains in more detail what the previous passage started to say, that there is no way we could have accomplished what God did by our own works. The sad truth of verse 23 that we all fall short of God’s glory makes way for the blessing of verse 24, that “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”. Paul is very emphatic here. “Freely” and “by his grace” are essentially the same thing, so the goal is for the reader to understand that this gift of justification is truly free. There is no catch, no hidden punching glove, and no required purchase. What do you suppose is the value of this free gift? I can assure you it’s higher than anything you’ve ever imagined. Even if you play the lottery and have dreamed of winning hundreds of millions in cash, that still wouldn’t even come close to comparing to the value of this free gift. Just think about one of your sins that you’ve committed in the past 24 hours. According to God’s standard of holiness, that ONE sin would be enough to render you guilty before his throne. Now try to think about all the sins you’ve committed in that time, then think about all the days you’ve lived. In our current justice system, when there are numerous counts of the same crime and you are convicted, you receive a sentence for EACH one. All those sentences get added up and that’s the total amount of time you are said to “owe” society in prison. If that were true with God, we’d be toast! If you’ve never heard about this gift before, you may be wondering how such an expensive thing could be given away for free. Well, it’s free for you and me, but someone had to pay for it. The idea of justification comes from the court system, and because God is a righteous judge, he couldn’t let the sin go unpunished. This is where it may get difficult for us to understand. We hear and maybe even think things like, “If God is loving and forgiving, why couldn’t he just forget about our sins?” The answer is that if he did that, he wouldn’t really be a holy God because he’d be tolerating sin. That’s why verse 26 says that God did what he did “so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”. But what did he do? According to verse 25, God presented Christ, his only Son, as a “sacrifice of atonement” for us. Fancy theologians would call this “propitiation”, but it simply means that he was a “substitute” for you and me. God could make sure sin was punished, but rather than punish those who deserved it, he took the penalty himself through the life of his Son. An innocent man bore our penalty so that we could stand justified before a holy and just judge. What’s even more fascinating in this passage is that we see that God was planning this for a long time. Later in verse 25, we see that God had “left the sins committed beforehand unpunished”. So, the free gift isn’t just for you and me and everyone who came after Christ. It was also for those who lived before Jesus who kept their faith in the promised Messiah. Other translations say that God “passed over” their sins. In other words, God did allow their sins to be tolerated, but only temporarily. God’s work through Jesus allowed him to deal justly with those sins as well. So, what should be our response? Clearly, this free gift is offered to “those who have faith in Jesus” as the passage declares. But it seems to me that a clear understanding of the fact that we are justified freely should cause us to want to worship our God. David did just that in Psalm 103:10, when he worshiped God and wrote that “he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities”. Paul later writes to the Corinthian church that they should flee from sexual immorality and that the only appropriate response is to honor God with their bodies because they were “bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). How will you respond to this truly free gift? Will you share it with others and encourage them to receive it as well? Will you live your life as a servant of God, understanding that he paid the most expensive price there ever was to buy your justification? I hope you don’t ever forget what he did for you, because he didn’t forget about you while you were trapped in your sin. This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration. Any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will be deleted. Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature, will be reported to the authorities.
by Katie Erickson “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood — to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:21-31) This is one of those times where I feel like I could write a whole bunch of blog posts on all of the different ideas in this passage, but unfortunately I’m limited to just one. This is a pivotal passage in the book of Romans and of Paul’s line of reasoning through this letter. Last week he established that all are sinners and cannot be saved by just the law, and in this passage he emphasizes that again along with a number of ideas: God’s righteousness, justification, salvation history, faith, sin, redemption, grace, and forgiveness. I’m going to try and briefly explain all of those theological themes for you, because there is so much in here. Paul tells us that God’s righteousness is made known apart from the law. He goes on to say that this is through faith in Christ Jesus. Well, what is righteousness? It is most simply defined as being completely right or holy; it is the opposite of being sinful. We know that God is holy, and that we are not. God’s righteousness is demonstrated through the work of Jesus, that He came to save all people from all of our sins. Justification is one of those “churchy” words that can be pretty complex in meaning. I encourage you go to read this post for a little more on it. This passage in Romans lays out the idea of justification pretty well: we don’t deserve to be called righteous or holy, but through the work of Jesus Christ and our faith in Him, we are seen as righteous in God’s eyes. That process (of becoming made right even when we’re sinful) is called justification. In the Greek that this letter was originally written in, the words “righteous,” “righteousness,” “justify,” and “justification” are all from the same root. The original readers of this letter would more easily recognize the relationship between these words and ideas. Paul gives us salvation history in a nutshell in this passage. God’s plan for humanity to be saved has gone through a number of stages, and a new one is introduced through the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Paul references that the Law and the Prophets testify to this, as a reference to the previous stage, and then he goes on to explain what Jesus did to provide salvation. In verse 22, Paul brings up the idea of faith. He had already made this point back in Romans 1:17, but it’s worthwhile to bring up again. The righteousness of God is only available to us through faith; there is no other way we can be in right relationship with Him. The reason we need to have faith is because of our sin that has separated us from God. Because of this sin and separation, we need God’s redemption. Jesus is the only one who is worthy to be our savior and our redeemer. Without Him, we have no hope of becoming right with God again and being justified. But how do we know that God even wants us to be in relationship with Him? We know this because He lovingly extends to us His grace. We do not deserve God’s love and grace, but He gives it us anyway because we are His creation and He loves us. We still sin because we are still human, but God will forgive us for those sins when we’re sorry for them. After all that deep theological stuff, in verses 27-31 Paul gives us an introduction to faith that he’ll expound on more coming up in Romans 4. We see in verse 28 that a person is not justified by the law, but by faith. God is the God of all people, so all people are welcomed to having faith in Him. Honestly, it’s difficult for us to understand all that is going on in this passage. Paul is trying to explain the mystery of the salvation that God gives us through Jesus. What it boils down to is this: God loves you even though you have sinned to separate yourself from Him, and He desires that you have faith in Him so you can experience a right relationship with Him again. Where are you at on that? Do you have that faith, or are you longing to experience that relationship with God? Please reach out to any of us in the Worldview Warriors ministry if you would like to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ! This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration. Any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will be deleted. Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature, will be reported to the authorities.
by Nathan Buck I want to backtrack for a moment this week. Take a look at Romans 3:1-4. I’m inserting the word “leader” where it says “Jew.” Yes I know it is a gentle sidestep from how I usually emphasize context, but go with me for a moment. “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew (leader), or what value is there in circumcision (leadership)? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews (leaders, like all believers) have been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: ‘So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.’“ The last phrase in that passage is a quote from Psalm 51, when King David admits his sin of adultery and begs God to cleanse him with “hyssop.” My understanding is that that type of cleansing was like being cleansed with acid, stripped to the bone. David knew his rebellion against God and selfish choices had to be purged for him to get back on track, and for the nation to follow God and not their broken king. Many “fads” have happened in organizations and the church because leaders take even a healthy idea or move of God and then imitate only the parts they can control or generate income from. Case in point: “missional” is now the catch phrase for any “outreach program” in churches that want to sound edgy and fresh, but cannot or will not stomach what being “missional” truly is. At its core, being missional starts with a passion to see the church deployed across every domain of culture. This means it is fully integrated into business, politics, banking, industry, arts, etc. It is not meant to control those domains or to somehow “churchify” them, but rather to be Christ in the midst of them and work toward God’s purposes through them, graciously letting them continue as they are, and offering wisdom for change only as God directs (and when they are ready for change). It also requires a “centered set” value system, which intentionally partners with ANY organization that is moving in the same direction as God on any given idea or issue, even if they reject God on other issues. This is not approval of all their agendas, but partnership where we are moving in the same direction. This takes wisdom, courage, guts, grace, and love. Most of all it takes being secure in your faith and your own skin. If you are a leader, please don’t call yourself or your group missional, if you are still playing the “come to our church” “secular/sacred” “us/them” games. And likewise if you are not partnered across denominations, and across racial/social boundaries, do not call yourself Kingdom minded - unless you really mean “your” kingdom. We have a long way to go. Let those who have the love of Christ that brings passion and courage to be IN the world fully, and yet not of it, rise up and lead where others have only feared, controlled, or maximized the return on their investment. May the true Church arise, and the shadow of western “fifedom” perish. May we continually ask as leaders to be purged of our selfishness and poor choices so that God may be seen. As we are pure in following Him, then what Paul quoted in this passage of Romans will be true - His Word will be proved right and His judgments/perspectives will prevail in changing the world. This is when we will see His Kingdom and not our own.
Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 13, 2015 0 comments
by Charlie Wolcott
“For this reason, attaining one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the pinnacle of excellence. Subjugating the enemy’s army without fighting is the true pinnacle of excellence. Thus the highest realization of warfare is to attack the enemy’s plans; next to attack their alliances; next to attack their armies; and the lowest is to attack their fortified cities.”
~Sun-Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter 3.
Last week, I talked about how the enemy has used false teachers and spies to get to know us really well. But what is the main goal in all this? It’s really simple. Satan has only three goals: to steal, to kill, and destroy. And like a roaring lion seeking any whom he can devour, he seeks to get us away from our Master so we are easy targets. But his ultimate goal is to remove God’s influence on this earth. Here is his plan.
Look at what Sun-Tzu says in his opening to Chapter 3. In another translation it says this: “Winning 100 battles in not the height of skill. Subduing your enemy without fighting is.” Look at what is happening around us. Society is in the tanks. Liberalism runs rampant. Christians cannot voice anything without 500 lawsuits being filed against them. Our youth are running from the church where only 20% of church going youth remain in the church past college. What is happening? It is very simple. The American church has been subdued virtually without a fight.
Engaging in battle is a very costly affair. If you read the whole book (it’s actually pretty short), you will see Sun-Tzu talks about the importance of leaving your enemy intact, but subdued. He talks about using your enemy’s resources to feed your own. He says one loaf of bread from your enemy’s supply is worth bringing twenty loaves from home. War is very costly and there is no nation that has ever thrived from prolonged war. Our enemy has limited resources. Who is our enemy? Refresh yourself here. Our enemy is not like God who has infinite strength and resources. He is just very good at how to manage them.
This principle about subduing your enemy without fighting requires a lot of planning, a lot of strategy, and a very in-depth knowledge of how your enemy thinks and acts. And it does not require a lot of brute force. This is part of why Sun-Tzu says it is so important to know and understand your enemy and yourself. Review this in the same link immediately above.
So how does this all happen? There are four things Sun-Tzu talks about in order: plans, allies, armies, fortified cities. And he says to attack those in that order. To address these four things, it often requires some military action.
When you attack your enemy’s plans, you do so through maneuvering your armies, planting false information, making your own plans secret, and as necessary, engaging in skirmishes that take your enemy’s focus away from your main target. That last bit is itself a strategy I will address a little later. If you keep your enemy on his toes, guessing what you are going to do and when, it forces him to be reactive, instead of proactive. Look at Vietnam. In 80% of engagements between the US and the Viet Cong, the Viet Cong were the ones to initiate the fight. And our moves were very predictable. We bombed out a landing zone, brought out our troops, and the Viet Cong were often waiting for us. We ultimately had no plans that were doing us any good and the Vietnamese could do pretty well whatever they wanted.
The next issue is to attack your allies, your support team. How does the enemy bring a pastor down? He doesn’t tempt him to fall right away. He takes away the pastor’s support first. How many of us (myself included) are regularly praying for our pastors? I know I don’t nearly enough. Does anyone have your back? Do you have someone you are accountable to who can help keep you on the right path? There is no such thing as a lone-wolf Christian. Lone-wolves are very easily led astray. Do you know who your allies are? Have you chosen allies that you can trust to support you? Or have you chosen ones that will fade away when you need them the most? Remember Vietnam. Our soldiers’ allies were us at home. And the enemy got those at home to turn on the soldiers.
The third thing is the army. If you can get into your enemy’s head by preventing his plans from having any effect, if you can take away his support from his allies, or better, turn his allies against him, then you can engage his armies and they will easily be defeated. It does not matter what kind of weapons or technology they have. If the plans fail and the allies aren’t being supportive, the army won’t have the will to keep fighting, nor the confidence in their leader.
Lastly is the fortified cites. When the leader’s plans are thwarted, when his allies have pulled away or turned against him, when his army is effectively powerless, he can remain holed up in his cities all he wants. He is basically a defeated foe at that time. And the best part is, all the resources in that city are yours for the taking and plundering. But it is most unwise to attack the fortified city first. Why? Because all the enemy’s strengths are still present and must be dealt with.
Now, can you see how this strategy has been used against the church? Can you see how very little by little, Christian values in the U.S. have been hacked away and the main offense has not actually been seen? The American church has been beaten with barely a fight. Not from us, the church, but from the enemy. The enemy hardly fought us to beat us. Why? Because Satan knows better than to stir up a man of God, who when awakened is like a lion aroused from slumber. So instead, he subdues us without fighting, so we are beaten while sleeping. And most of us have bought into it without even knowing it. Is it too late for America to rebound? It could be. But there will always be a remnant. Remember that throughout history, the Christians are strongest when the system around them is completely against them.
This strategy is reveals the overall goal. But how does one attack plans and allies before engaging the armies effectively? Here I just talked about the general theory. Next week, I will address a military strategy that has worked from the beginning of time: Divide and Conquer. There are many different ways Divide and Conquer has been used, but I am just going to give you the basis of the strategy. Then after that, I am going to wrap up this series with a final post about in whom and where the final victory lies.
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by Steve Risner "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." - Obi-Wan Kenobi Ever look at something you found in the dirt and ponder its age? Sometimes the age of an object can be determined with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Other times, the best we can do is guess based on some facts we may have. Still other times we can only imagine. In the cases where we can fairly accurately describe an object’s age, we have to have some frame of reference. For instance, a coin will have the date it was made printed on it. Therefore, we can know with a fair degree of certainty when that coin was made. Perhaps a watch found in the dirt has a manufacturer’s emblem on it. If we know when that manufacturer made watches, we can determine a timeframe. If we know when they made this particular style of watch, we can assume an even more accurate date. If the watch is inscribed with a message that includes a date, we may be able to say the watch was made very near that date. If we find a fossil in the ground, how do we know when that animal lived and died? If we find a rock, how can we be certain of when it was formed? They rarely come with dates on them or manufacturer’s emblems. So how can so many scientists insist they’ve figured out the age of, say, a particular rock formation or a fossilized dinosaur or even the earth or universe? How can they pick up a rock and proclaim its age? I will suggest that they, in fact, have no idea how old any of these things are. I will also suggest that to “know” their ages means the person with this “knowledge” is not a scientist or, at least in this instance, is not using the scientific method. They are claiming something as fact when it is actually a faith. It is based on nothing more than how their worldview allows them to interpret the evidence they have collected. You see, evidence, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t speak for itself. It cannot. The one viewing the evidence must make the evidence say something. It’s very easy to make the evidence appear to gel together nicely and tell the same story from multiple angles if you’re interpreting it in such a way. The topic of the age of the universe/earth has been written about significantly. There are numerous blog posts on this topic on the Worldview Warriors website. If you search the key word “radiometric” on the blog page, you will find several written by Bill Seng, Charlie Wolcott, and myself. My focus in this writing is not to get into the detailed scientific evidence because it’s not the point. The point here is that evidence has no voice but what the investigator gives it. This is entirely true for nearly everything used as evidence to support Darwinism or the Big Bang or origins in general. Please note this is the case for either side of the discussion. Creationists know and are secure enough in their position to admit that creation and evolution are not scientific fields. They are faith-based issues determined by our worldview. Sure, it’s possible to pull out scientific facts that support your ideas—but only if those facts are interpreted to support you. There is a strange belief that evolutionism has a monopoly on scientific facts. This is very odd thing because the facts are not for or against anything. They simply are the facts. There aren’t facts for evolution and facts for creation that we are somehow lobbying for you to view. There are just facts. Creationists use the exact same facts as secularists use. It’s only the interpretation of those facts that differs. I have personally asked an entire group of anti-Biblical persons (some old earth creationists, some theistic evolutionists, some atheists) what it is in science that Biblical creationists reject or deny. The responses, which were numerous, were astounding. The lack of understanding on what science actually is was shocking. The inability to be specific in answering my question was also very telling. Occasionally, I will use these responses as topics for blog posts. Today is touching on one of their answers—the age of the earth as determined by “science.” If we have no frame of reference, forensics is useless. We don’t know when it happened, how it happened, what was involved, nothing. We have no idea, in terms of science, about the origins of the universe, earth, or life. Yet we are told in science texts all about these things. There is a major difference between what a crime scene investigator does and what a person does who is trying to judge the age of these things or how they happened. In forensics, we have a database of evidence we can look at. We know several factors involved. We know how things work and can determine that something either did or did not happen based on experience. In many cases, an eye witness is very useful in solving a crime. But we have little if any of this in the study of origins. We assume a great deal and arrange the evidence conveniently to support our preconceived notions about the topic. Many suppose, because of all the television shows like CSI, Criminal Minds, and NCIS (and so many others), that forensics is a very hard science that frequently provides indisputable evidence for the way a past even occurred. In truth, forensics does solve crimes and is very useful. However, anything is possible on television and the technology used in many of those shows to catch the criminal often only exists in Hollywood. Looking into the past is difficult. Looking into the distant past is more difficult. Looking into the far distant past is nothing more than story telling. Many think that the “evidence” that suggests an old earth or universe is very solid—it’s well established and well tested. This is a farce. The number of holes in the procedures used for this is appalling, and if one is unaware of such discrepancies, they should really look into it. Such an outline is beyond the scope of this post but, as I stated, there are several posts on this topic from the Worldview Warriors as well as countless articles online concerning issues with these forms of dating objects. In short, there is no such thing as “evidence for evolution or the Big Bang” and “evidence for creation.” There is simply just evidence. A young earth creationist will view the evidence in light of his or her belief in creation. An evolutionist will view the evidence to support his or her belief in universal common descent. This is very similar to how a Democrat will have a very different view of how the election in 2012 went vs how a Republican would view the same election. Two students from different schools that battled it out in a basketball game will likely interpret the night’s events very differently. If your team won because of a controversial call by the referee, you would likely view that call differently than someone from the losing team. These facts on the age of the universe or earth are absolutely no different. We, as followers of Christ, have an eyewitness account, and supporting the story told in Genesis 1-11 with science is easy. In fact, I think it’s easier than using it to fit the story of the Big Bang and Darwinism. There truly is no reason for a Christian to adhere to philosophies that contradict the Biblical history told in Genesis. Melding secularism and Christianity never works. If you’re not sure, read Genesis 1 today and see if it’s possible to fit millions or billions of years into it. This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration. Any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will be deleted. Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature, will be reported to the authorities.