Revealing the Redeemed

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 30, 2015 0 comments


by Bill Seng

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” ~Romans 8:19

These next few months are going to be very interesting in the book of Romans, in large part because of passages like this. Paul, in the chapters and verses we are now encountering, is going to be speaking in large part concerning God’s providence for the world, meaning his future plans of love and peace for that which is redeemed. Within this week’s passage, I would like to point out two major points. 1) The mystery of predestination in relation to these verses and 2) the redemption of the natural world.

First, within this upcoming section many people would use specific verses to lay claim to the notion that God elects people to salvation unconditionally, beyond anyone’s will but his own. I am not going to go into great depth discussing this right now, but to say that I disagree with this point. Verse 19 (above) and verse 14, “because those who live by the Spirit of God are sons of God,” could be interpreted to mean that the elect are simply waiting to be revealed as the elect although they have always been. This is a tricky situation in Scripture because my own understanding of predestination partly agrees with this notion but also factors in free will. Verse 14, to me, seems to be implying that those who are sons of God will walk by the Spirit. I don’t think that anybody should have a problem with this verse whether believing in unconditional election or free choice of some sort. Verse 19, on the other hand, is saying that creation is waiting for the sons of God to be revealed. This could easily be used to build the case for a predetermined election; some chosen for hell and others chosen to be God’s children. Looking into our second point, I think we can dispel this notion.

Point number two is that all of creation will be redeemed. Revelation 21:1 reads, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” Very interesting. What is this new heaven and new earth? I will probably discuss this next week. The important thing now is what Isaiah 65:25 says about this new habitat:
“The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountains.”

Notice that the Bible seems to be implying that there will be animals in heaven. These animals, on the new earth, are no longer subjected to the curse! Even the animals have been suffering as the result of mankind’s decision to rebel against God, but they will not be doomed to suffer forever or be completely annihilated. Unless I am mistaken, there will be animals on the new earth. Where mankind’s decision to follow the devil subjected all of creation to the curse, the creation draws its hope from the reality that mankind is being redeemed. Those who are redeemed will be the stewards of the new earth after all else has passed. As we wait in eager expectation for God to be revealed to us, so in the same manner does nature wait for us to take our seat in glory.

These verses begin painting a marvelous picture of the future glory that has yet to take place. We eagerly anticipate our appointment with God to see him in his glory and creation anticipates our glorification. The whole world will be turned into a place of peace and worship of the one true God. We would be foolish to reject God’s offer to partake in this glorious work.

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Romans 8:9-17

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 29, 2015 0 comments
 
by Katie Erickson

“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:9-17)

This post is almost like a part 2 to my post from last week, since Paul is continuing with his thought from the previous passage here. So go check out that post to get the context of what I’m writing about today.

Which realm are you living in? If you follow Christ Jesus, you’re living in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit lives in every person who is a genuine follower of Christ. But, if you’re not living in the Spirit, then you’ll be condemned to death. We will all still die a physical death, regardless of if we’re following the Spirit’s ways or not. But when that physical death happens, whether you have the Holy Spirit in you or not will determine whether you receive eternal life or eternal death. Again, Paul is talking about this same contrast: the flesh brings death, but the Spirit brings life.

So what do we do about this? We need to put to our sins to death so we can have life. We will still sin while on this earth, but we cannot continue to live according to the flesh. The flesh disobeys God; that is its nature and its desire. We cannot live in disobedience to God if we claim to be His followers! It just doesn’t work. You can’t say you love eating chocolate but go out of your way to not eat it, it just doesn’t make sense. You can’t say you follow God when you aren’t obedient to Him.

We can’t stop sinning all by ourselves, but that’s where the power of the Spirit comes in. While we’re on this earth we will still sin, but we can make progress toward living a more Christ-like life.

If we make that choice and try our best to live in the Spirit, what does that get us? We get adoption as God’s children! Adoption is the same as being a biological child; adopted children have the same rights as biological children. These rights include the family inheritance. What do we inherit as children of God? Eternal life with God Himself! What could be better than that? This is why we strive to walk in the Spirit and try to live a Christ-like life, to receive the benefits God has promised us.

Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying; even when we mess up and disobey God, we can still receive the benefit of eternal life because of His grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. When we have faith in Jesus, His sacrificial death and resurrection cover over all of our sins, as long as we repent of them. Because of what Jesus went through for us, we desire to turn from those evil ways and instead to live as He would have us live.

How are you living your life? Are you obeying the cravings and desires of your flesh, or are you living in the Spirit?

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Lessons on the Beach, Part 3: Immersed in Love

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 28, 2015 0 comments


by Ami Samuels

As I walked along the beach the morning of July 24, 2013, I began to notice heart shaped rocks everywhere I looked. I immediately started picking them up. There were so many I couldn’t carry them all. Well, I might have been able to, if I was willing to put down my coffee, which I wasn’t. For those of you who know me, you know how much I love my coffee. Sometimes at night before I go to bed I am already anticipating my morning cup of Joe. However, I did collect three heart shaped rocks.

Continuing to see heart shaped rocks as I sauntered along the beach I felt God’s unfailing, unconditional love for me. I was covered in his love.

God’s love for us isn’t conditional. “If you do this, I will love you.” “If you are good, I will love you.” “If you succeed, I will love you.” No, God loves us right here and right now. He loves us in our brokenness and in our successes. We don’t have to perform for God’s love for us.

That day I didn’t have an agenda or a plan of how I would serve God or worship him. I was soaking up his presence and his love for me. That’s it! It was that simple. I was just soaking up the Son.

As I stood with me feet in the surf, I felt the waves rush up onto my legs. If you have ever had the opportunity to stand and watch the waves roll in, you may have noticed how quickly the water rushes in. You really notice this if you don’t want to get wet as you race out of its path. As the water washes in, it reminds me of how God’s love rushes in and blesses us. How completely and fully he loves us.

As I watched the water recede back into the sea I noticed it was a slower, much gentler process. The receding water represented God’s grace and forgiveness to me. It gently washes away or sin and mistakes.

This week, take time to sit in God’s presence. We don’t have to be at the beach to find this quiet time with him. Turn off the noise of this world by shutting off your radio, television, computer, and phone, and find your personal sanctuary with your Heavenly Father.

I would love to hear about your sanctuary. Where do you find this peace and quiet with God?

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Carnal

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, June 27, 2015 0 comments


by Nathan Buck

"Into the woods it's time to go..." That's all you have to say to start the rest of the main musical score from Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" running endlessly through my brain. Sondheim is considered musical "calculous" by musicians and performers, because of the challenging changes and progressions of tonality in his music. Yet, the tunes are memorable, catchy, and often filled with lyrics that make us look at aspects of our existence we are uncomfortable with.

One such character in the musical is the Wolf. He of course is after Red Riding Hood. Like the fairytale, he eats Red's grandma and waits for his opportunity to devour Red as well. What's so striking in this story is how Sondheim portrays Red. She herself is a voracious eater, stuffing herself with sweets from the Baker's shop. She is gluttonous and cannot resist eating everything in her basket.

When Red and the Wolf meet in the woods, he struggles not to eat her right there, and only restrains himself when he learns of grandma and the chance to eat both of them. It's masterful and Sondheim does it on purpose - contrasting the adolescent glutton against the professional, in order to give warning about where our desires lead us.

Ultimately, the Wolf eats both Grandma and Red. But the Baker comes and kills the Wolf, rescuing the ladies from his stomach. Presumably, they were still whole in his belly, because the Wolf was such a professional at carnality.

Red, after her brush with death, realizes she was on a dangerous road, and we see a change in her character - not completely, but at least aware of where carnality can lead. Why do I share all that?

Read Romans 8:5-8. Paul tells us about the same danger that comes from living a carnal life - life by the flesh. When "consuming" is our highest motive (whether food, experiences, possessions, or entertainment) we are on a path to destruction. Being a consumer means we are concerned with consuming what we need and what we want. We are regularly indoctrinated by commercials and sales, telling us we are consumers. They want to constantly remind us of what is available and keep us focused on getting, gaining, or eating it. They know if they can keep us focused on consuming, we will shift our priorities to constantly live by the desires we have - and the ones they help create.

The most dangerous part of living carnally is the fact that listening to our flesh can make us deaf to God. If we are unable to see anything other than the opportunity to consume or gain, then we lose perspective on what might be truly good or best. We cannot do the right thing if we are only concerned with what feels good or benefits us. And we cannot consider something "right" based on whether it benefits us. If we become the moral standard, or our benefit becomes the moral objective, then we have put ourselves in place of God. That is why the mind led by the flesh is hostile toward God and cannot please God.

So, where are you Wolf-like? Where have you become a professional consumer, where you no longer even think about the effort - you just swallow whole? Where are you like Red, still able to recognize your own desires and where they are leading you?

Take some time to reflect. What is the major driving factor for every decision you make? Your benefit, your satisfaction, your peace of mind, your comfort? If you don't like the answer, or really want to keep God first, then maybe it is time to do a fast from food? I have noticed that nothing sharpens my awareness of my desires and how they rule me, then when I choose to deny them.

Here's a resource to help you start: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/10-fasting-tips-a-christian-guide/

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Wise and Foolish Builders, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 26, 2015 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
~Matthew 7:24-27

Last week, I talked about how we build the houses of our lives and how we need to have it on a firm foundation. But once we have our foundation, how do we build? Little makes this aspect clearer than the Young Earth/Old Earth Creation debate. One of the greatest misconceptions among non-YEC folk is the very nature of what “creation science” is. I have never heard a non-YEC get it right. Creation science is not “science dealing with creation.” It is rather, “science based off a Creation worldview.” Let me use the foundation and home analogy Jesus used to get a deeper understanding.

To the Bible-believer, the Bible gives us the foundation for how we live our lives and how we view and use that at our disposal. It is the foundation upon which we build our ‘home.’ It is the framework we use to base everything else off. We understand science is a process, just one means of learning about the world around us. But we do so with the framework that what the Bible says is true. What we learn from Scripture is that God upholds the universe. That means we should expect to see uniformity of nature (this is a very different thing than uniformitarianism). Yes, we still consider miracles, but like in reading any document, the specific is always used to interpret the general case. The exception is precisely that: an exception. God did set up the laws of science that we have discovered to be consistent, but God is not bound to those laws because he is transcendent of the Creation.

We do not use miracles as a “We don’t know, therefore God.” Though that is often an accusation, that is not what we say. We do not use God as a gap-filler for that which science cannot explain, where if we were to figure out a natural explanation then God takes a back-seat. That is the “God of the gaps argument,” but that is not what we do. Even if a natural explanation is provided, we still recognize God as the one performing the act. What our arguments actually are (and yes we need to make it more clear) is “The worldview of naturalism cannot account for this, but our Biblical worldview can.” It is coming from a position of knowledge from a different paradigm rather than just one of “I have no idea how to explain this, so I’m just using God to fill the gap.”

As a Bible believer, God is still in the center of the stage. He is still the foundation of what I believe and why. Science is an awesome thing, but it is not foundational to who I am and what I believe. I use it, in part, to decorate the interior of my ‘house.’ If a particular model falls through, I won’t lose my ‘house’ over it.

But what about those who think both science and the Bible can be foundational? This is the Old Earth crowd in all their forms. Reality is this: the Bible is not their foundation. Jesus said you cannot serve two masters. You can attempt to mix your foundations but in reality, you are only going to use one thing for it. The Old Earther will claim to support both, but look at what they really do. They do not use Scripture for their foundation. They do not get their position from Scripture. They look at Scripture to back up their position. This is like putting the best material you have into your walls, but not your foundation. Any architect would tell you this is foolishness and Jesus says the same thing. Because in order to make this work, one must twist Scripture to make it look like it aligns with a philosophy that does not come from God.

One can easily quote Scripture to make it say whatever you want. One person I know is an angry person and he justifies his anger by saying “God is emotional, he gave us his emotions, and he can be angry, therefore I have a right to be angry.” Yet, in reality his argument is totally taken out of context. He does not consider that we can be angry but we must have a righteous anger and when we get angry we must be angry and not sin. He did not get this position from Scripture. He started with his position that he has a right to be angry and then looked for Scripture to back it up. So it is not just those in the origins debate. This can happen to anyone if they are not careful. Do we build our position from Scripture, or do we start with our position (whatever it may be) and look for whatever we can to back it up?

Let me wrap up by bringing us back to what Jesus said about the wise and foolish builder. Those who listen to and obey Jesus’ words are like a wise builder, building his house on a rock, a foundation that is not going to change and will withstand the storms of life. But the one who rejects his words is like a builder who builds his house on the sand, a broken down rock that constantly shifts with water and wind. Such a house will not stand and when it crumbles (when, not if) it will be sudden. Some are finding out that their house is not going to stand and they are getting out. Some think the crumbling is just an illusion or think that their house will stand and when the house falls, they will go down with it. The only house that will stand is one build upon Scripture. This is proven time and time again. The storms that have come against Christianity should have long destroyed it, yet it still remains. I will close with a quote from Josh McDowell in A Ready Defense that reveals that no matter what is thrown at us, the Bible is a foundation that will withstand it. Let us trust in its Words as they are backed by the Almighty One who will carry through what he said he’d do.
“The Bible has withstood vicious attacks of its enemies as no other book. Many have tried to burn it, ban it, and outlaw it from the days of Roman Emperors to present-day Communist-dominated countries. Voltair, the noted French infidel who died in 1778, said that in one hundred years from his time, Christianity would be swept from existence and passed into history. But what has happened? Voltair has passed into history, while the circulation of the Bible continues to increase in almost all parts of the world, carrying blessing wherever it goes. For example, the English cathedral in Zanzibar is built on the side of the old slave market, and the communion table stands on the very spot where the whipping post once stood! The world abounds with such instances as one has truly said. “We might as well put our shoulder into the burning wheel of the sun and try to stop it on is flaming course as attempt to stop the circulation of the Bible.”

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Can We Drop This Chump?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 25, 2015 0 comments


by Steve Risner

“Give everybody a present and drop this chump, all right?” —Apollo

This is what I plan to do with 3 more “copycat” theories I’ve come across.

Two weeks ago, I addressed “The Real Jesus” as an argument against those who claim Jesus never actually existed. Last week, we discussed a common atheist argument that the story of Jesus was copied from the myth of Mithra. This week, I’ll touch on a few others: Apollo, Horus, and Dionysus. It’s clear, after investigating these alleged connections, that they are nothing of the sort—not even a little. It’s true that no copycat theory has any support from scholarly sources of merit.

Some have claimed that Apollo, the sun god in Greek mythology and the son of Zeus, was copied by the Apostles. Sounds exactly like the story of Jesus, right? Actually, there are no actual similarities at all. Apollo was the illegitimate son of Zeus and Leto. He had a twin sister, Artemis, who was born first. This sounds nothing like the birth of Christ. Apollo was born in October or November, not on December 25th. Frankly, anyone who claims any mythological person was born on December 25th and, therefore, was copied by the story of Jesus can’t be taken seriously. The Biblical account of Christ’s birth doesn’t have a date. In fact, it doesn’t even have a season to go by. The Bible simply states He was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Apollo had no visitors when he was born—shepherds or wise men. And he wasn’t a teacher in his youth. He did kill a terrifying snake, Python, at the age of 4 days with a bow and arrow. I find no record of Jesus doing anything like that. Christ did come to defeat the serpent. He did that via the Cross by dying for our sins and being raised to life again. Apollo was not crucified and did not die for our sins and did not rise again. I’m actually not sure what the connection could have possibly been.

Horus is another commonly cited “copycat” source. Horus is typically the national patron god of Egypt—usually having the head of a falcon. Documentaries claim the following is true of Horus: he was born of Isis Meri (supposedly where Mary came from) on December 25th and marked by a star in the east; he was given extravagant gifts by three wise men and was a teacher by age 12; he began his ministry around age 30 after being baptized by “Anup the Baptizer” who was later beheaded; he had 12 disciples and performed miracles, the greatest of which was raising back to life after being crucified and laying dead for 3 days. Sounds like a slam dunk. But this is only a slam dunk against Christianity if we are not concerned with the true facts of the story. Despite the claims, Horus was not said to be born on December 25th., he was born in November. But, again, this doesn’t matter. The Biblical account of Christ’s birth makes no mention of the time of year, let alone a date. Isis was never known as anything but Isis (not Mary) and she was not a virgin at his birth. Other details of his birth are not true and wouldn’t matter anyway. No star can be found in the story and no “kings” (the Bible says magi which are not the same thing) visited him. But the Bible doesn’t say three of anything visited Jesus at His birth. It simply records that magi visited—sometime between His birth and likely his second birthday. There is no one in any record named “Anup the Baptizer” or that Horus was baptized at all. He also has no set number of followers. Was he crucified only to rise again 3 days later? Hardly. Crucifixion was invented at least 1000 years after the story of Horus was invented. Keep in mind that the Romans developed this form of execution around 520 BC. Interestingly, Isaiah foretold this as Christ’s form of execution around 700 BC! Horus didn’t die for anyone’s sins and is not the savior of anyone. No record found can remotely related the myth of Horus to the existence of Jesus Christ.

Dionysus is an interesting story. Truly, the stories surrounding Greek/Roman mythology are pretty amazing fiction. Dionysus had a mortal mother while Zeus, again having an affair, was the father. Zeus revealed himself to Dionysus’ mother before he was born. The effect of seeing an undisguised god resulted in her death. Zeus took the unborn baby and kept him in his own thigh until he was born a while later. Seeing the connection to Jesus? Me neither. There are some other versions of the conception/birth of Dionysus, but none parallels the story of Christ on any level. It’s actually interesting studying these myths. There are as many versions are there are hours in day and they all read like a soap opera on steroids. Few scholars today see any connections between these two.

There are those who attempt to connect Horus, the god of wine, to Jesus. I guess there is some big wine fetish in Christianity that I am unaware of. It’s true Jesus turned water into wine. It’s also true that wine was used symbolically in the Last Supper. But wine was a commonly used symbol in Jewish ceremonies. That is the connection between Judaism and Christianity. I’ve never heard Christ referred to as the god of wine. In pagan religions, most supernatural figures that would die and were resurrected did so annually. Dionysus was one of these. There is a version of his story that includes being on trial for claiming deity. Christ was on trial, but He Himself never made a defense nor did He seek honor or publically proclaim Himself to be God in His trial. This is not how the story goes with Dionysus at all. According to Wikipedia, “Most modern biblical scholars and historians today, both conservative and liberal, reject most of the parallelomania between the cult of Dionysus and Christ.”

To quote Apollo: “Yeah, it's mentally irregular, right? But it makes all the sense in the world.” Sure, that’s Apollo Creed (as is my first quote in this blog), but I couldn’t resist. But these are arguments atheists will use against the faith. They are not concerned with the truth at all. This is the sort of stuff a young believer or teenager may come across and take to heart. If they’re not prepared for it, their faith may be unnecessarily shaken. In NO instance are there pagan references (that predate Christianity) to anything like the Christ story. The amazing story of Jesus Christ, foretold hundreds of years before, is like no other. It is also supportable with historical documentation. None of the mythological figures we hear about have any place that we know of in reality. Christ walked the earth.

Be encouraged in your faith! The Bible is the source of truth and there is no faith on planet earth like ours. But the enemy will use whatever means possible to shake your faith. Study up. Pray. Read the Word. And trust Him.

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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A Battle of the Mind

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, June 24, 2015 0 comments


by Logan Ames

If you ask just about any of the countless famous preachers or evangelists who found themselves in a place where sin was taking over their lives and causing them to lose their positions, good reputations, and in some cases their families, they might talk about how they were not guarding their hearts and minds and were trapped by the devil and their own flesh before they even knew it. While the struggles of those individuals make the headlines, the same thing is true with pretty much any believer there is. We are not “safe” even when things seem to be going well. As a matter of fact, when we are relying on a spiritual high to keep us going and keep us out of sin, that may be when we are most vulnerable because we expect things to keep going well and are not prepared for the enemy’s schemes.

As believers, we must remember that we have the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus, to guide us along the way. This is an ongoing process, not something that only happens when we feel good. One of my favorite country songs is by the singer Josh Turner and is called “Me and God." The one particular line that I like says, “Early in the morning talking it over, me and God. Late at night talking it over, me and God." It’s the idea of starting and ending your day by a conversation with the Creator, which can happen at ANY point thanks to the presence of his Holy Spirit in our lives. When we forget to take advantage of this gift God gave us to guide us each day, we leave our minds vulnerable to whatever the devil might throw our way. As James tells us, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14). Reading the verses that follow show you that the end result when we give in to sin is always death.

Paul shares the same thing but takes it a step further in Romans 8:5-8. Paul’s focus here is definitely on the mind. He states very clearly that “the mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (v. 6). So, what does it mean to have a mind that is governed by the flesh? Your gut reaction may be to say, “That’s not me” or, “I go to church and I follow Jesus." You may even be thinking about all the things you DO for the Lord. But I’m here to tell you that those things don’t keep your mind under the authority of the Spirit. I am a pastor, have led youth groups, have taken mission trips, have served every age group of people there is, and have worked at a homeless shelter. But I can honestly sit here and tell you that there are times every day that my mind is still governed by my flesh.

On the very day that I am writing this post, I had a meeting with two Christian brothers that I respect very much. They are wonderful fathers, friends, and mentors. We are involved in ministry together and meet for accountability and prayer. Today, we shared some of our struggles in the flesh. I talked about my battle with anger and how I handle a situation when things don’t go the way I believe they “should." All three of us talked about how we faced our struggles on basically the same night within the past week! It just so happened to be a night where we had gotten together to discuss ministry, which you would think would make us MORE focused on the Spirit rather than less. And yet, we recognized that our different struggles all had the same thing in common - a selfish need for control. In each of our struggles, our minds were set on what WE wanted or needed, not what God desired for us. Ours were minds governed by the flesh in those instances.

Paul explains in verse 5 that our minds are set on the flesh or the Spirit. It’s either one or the other. There is no middle ground, and Paul’s words show that they are direct opposites. He goes on to say that “the mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God” (v. 7). I asked you earlier what it means to have a mind governed by the flesh. One obvious way to notice this about yourself or in others is when you see hostility toward God. This comes in many forms. I know a man who is a very pleasant and decent man to be around. He gives generously to others and makes it a point to try to improve the lives of those around him. However, he lost his daughter tragically many years ago, and this has caused him to have hostility toward God. As much as I can sit there and say I might feel the same way in his shoes, the reality is that such a mind is governed by the flesh. It’s our flesh that tells God what WE think is best and right. It’s our flesh that says we would never allow the things that God allows to happen if we were him. It’s our flesh that tells God that he was wrong and made a mistake in a given situation. This also applies to other areas where we tell God that he made a mistake, such as a person’s gender, issues of sexuality, and an unborn child’s right to life. Our flesh decides that we are better at making those decisions than God. But, a mind set on the things of the Spirit trusts God and surrenders to his commands and his design.

The Apostle Paul wrote another letter in which he addresses the difference between the flesh and the Spirit. In a passage well-known in the church still today, Paul talks about the “acts of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit." Go ahead and look at the list of each in Galatians 5:19-23. The acts of the flesh, which Paul says are “obvious,” include things that I’d say would be consistent with hostility towards God and even towards others. These acts are driven by selfish desires and a need for control. But the fruit of the Spirit collectively represents someone who is in right relationship with God and at peace with the fact that he is NOT God.

You don’t have to think very hard to determine if you are being governed by the flesh. Since Paul said the acts of the flesh are obvious, take a look at what dominates your time and your thinking. Are they things like impurity, hatred, discord, fits of rage, selfish ambition, and drunkenness? If so, you’re probably not spending much time in conversation with God and you’re not letting the Spirit lead you. Those things won’t change on their own. On the other hand, if your life is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit, that likely didn’t happen overnight. It has been and still is an ongoing process for you. If you are in the first group of people but want to get into the second group, understand that you can’t just focus on trying to DO the fruit of the Spirit. As a former pastor of mine would say, it isn’t YOUR fruit. Your responsibility is to be in communication with God so that your mind is led by his Spirit, so that HIS fruit is what shows in your life. The important thing to remember this week is that it is definitely a battle, and that battle begins in the mind. Make decisions today that will put your mind in surrender to God, for nothing else can truly bring peace and cast out hostility from your life.

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Romans 8:5-8

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 22, 2015 0 comments
 
by Katie Erickson

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8)

How do you live your life? Do you live focused on yourself and your own wants and needs? Or, do you focus on others around you and try to help them get through life? Or, do you focus on what God desires for your life?

This brief passage helps us understand what it’s like to live in different ways. If you’ve been following my blog posts for the last few months, you may have noticed that Paul (the writer of the letter to the Romans) uses a lot of contrasts to make his points. We see another contrast here: the flesh versus the Spirit.

The Greek word for flesh is “sarx,” and it doesn’t just mean your physical skin. Sarx has the idea of the part of us that strongly desires to sin and to be disobedient to God. Our sarx is caused by original sin, and the fact that there is no person (except for Jesus) who is sinless (Romans 3:23).

On the other hand, there’s the Spirit. You’ll notice that the word Spirit is capitalized, which shows us we’re not talking about just any spirit, but about the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, the oldest Greek manuscripts of the New Testament were written in all capital letters (now, the commonly used Greek texts are primarily in lowercase); but when translating it into English, the context makes it clear that it’s the Holy Spirit that’s being discussed here.

Paul makes it clear that we have two choices: death or life. (Sound familiar?) Choosing the lifestyle of the flesh (sarx) brings death. Choosing the lifestyle of the Spirit brings life. Sounds like an easy choice, right? Maybe in theory, but in practice it’s a lot more difficult.

The lifestyle of the flesh is from a mind focused on the flesh and the world. The lifestyle of the Spirit is from a mind focused on the Holy Spirit. The word “mind” here refers not just to the gray matter inside your head, but it’s your mindset, your will, and the direction of your life. Which is it easier to follow - the things of this world, or the things of God? We as human like things we can see and touch, so it’s so much easier to follow and to do what we can see and touch. It’s so much easier to follow the ways of the world, but as we see in this passage, that will only bring us death.

Our desire is to follow Christ fully, but we still have our flesh that doesn't allow us to do that 100%. All of us struggle with this! Know that you’re not alone in your struggles; every other person who’s trying to follow Christ has a constant, daily struggle with following Christ instead of following the world’s ways. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this - go read Romans 7:15-18 if you don’t believe me.

While we know that on this earth we will never be able to do God’s will 100% of the time, that is our goal. Our goal in following Jesus Christ is to be controlled by His Spirit rather than by our flesh, our sarx. If we live in the flesh, that’s the opposite of what God desires for us. God will always love us, but we can only truly please Him if we are walking with His Spirit.

But how do we do that? How do we live the life of the Spirit instead of the life of the world? The easier-said-than-done answer is to be in relationship with God. Pray with Him. Read His Word. Get to know Him. Be encouraged by other followers of God. When faced with any choice, try and discern what God would have you do to be obedient to Him. At the risk of sounding cliche, ask yourself what would Jesus do? Essentially, keep your mind focused on the things of God and be in relationship to Him, and you’ll be controlled by the Spirit rather than the flesh, and you’ll receive eternal life through Christ instead of eternal death. And who wouldn’t want that?

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The Life Exchange

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, June 20, 2015 0 comments


by Nathan Buck

As I sat looking into the eyes of two people I had hurt tremendously, when I was a teen/twenty something, I was full of turmoil.

I knew I would see them at this wedding ceremony of a mutual friend. They were now married to each other, and my wife and I were just starting a new congregation in another state. For months I had languished over what this moment would be like. I knew God had changed me and forgiven me, but I still felt chained to the grief and offenses I had caused them. This was the first I had seen them in almost 7 years. There came a moment before the reception for the three of us to sit and chat. I had just started to pour out my apology, when they both stopped me.

Still staring in their eyes, trying to get a read on what they were thinking and feeling, that awkward moment seemed to last an eternity. Then I heard words of grace and forgiveness expressed to me that rocked me to the core. The most important part was when the husband said, “Nate, we forgive you. We release you from any guilt or shame you have carried about what happened before. We bless you. We want you to walk in freedom. We know you are not that man anymore.”

This was now the second time someone had released me from the weight of who I had been, to freely walk in who I had become. (The first was my wife.)

I have to be honest, that weekend I wept almost the entire 5-hour drive home. I wasn't sad. I was free. And that tremendous sense of freedom made me feel alive again where there used to be fear and pain. I was not only alive, but I was stoked to passionately walk in this newfound freedom. A new friendship blossomed between their family and mine, and for a season we all became partners in ministry. It was a very GOOD season. We remain treasured friends and a new story has been written among us and our children.

I mentioned last week that there is a “key” to unlocking the chains of our struggle with doing what is right vs. what is selfish or wrong. In Romans 8:1-4, Paul passionately writes, “There is therefore, NOW, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, has set me free from the law of sin and death.” When I read this passage, I am reminded of moments like what I just shared. And yet it is also an ongoing reality that we can trust.

The law and commands of God that reveal to us what is broken and wrong can only show us the “no” - what should NOT be. It is limited to the moral judgment of our existence - as we are, and have been. And when those teachings and commands penetrate our hearts, we can be overwhelmed but just how rebellious or broken we really are (or have been). The knowledge of what is wrong cannot forgive or release us. It can only make us aware of our guilt. It cannot quench our shame. It cannot remove our expectation of being found guilty, judged, and condemned.

Something completely different must occur - some further action or perspective outside ourselves must be revealed to our hearts - in order for us to be free, healed, and restored. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is very simply the satisfaction of law and commands that reveal wrongdoing. Who Jesus is, and what He did to unwind the shattered state of our separation from God, was like the moment I heard my friends say, “Nate, you are no longer that man anymore, you are free.” By giving His life, and overcoming death, Jesus nullified the penalty of the laws of the flesh, in His own life. And by following Him and having His Holy Spirit within us, we are able to live according to the law/teachings of His life. When we do that, we are no longer able to be condemned for who we were. Our life is exchanged for who He is, and who He has created us to be.

From the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His forgiveness can penetrate our hearts and bring life to all the dead places inside us. It is that life that wells up a passionate desire to walk in what is right, and we are finally able to overcome the desires of our flesh. It may take some time and maturity in our relationship with Jesus to overcome our deepest vices. But if we know they are already defeated by Jesus, we can trust Him to overcome them in us. We will talk more about that next week.

What about you... how did you do this week in your daily battle with right vs. wrong? Are there places that still need to be given over to Jesus? Are you ready to stop living under the consequences and condemnation of a self centered way of living?

Consider walking with Jesus and giving your life to Him, so He can give His life to you.

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Wise and Foolish Builders

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 19, 2015 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
~Matthew 7:24-27

The last couple months, I’ve been writing about how our worldview deals with issues like “Purpose,” “Destination,” and “Identity.” Our worldview also deals with “Origins.” All of these aspects together form the foundation for how we live our lives. It is like building a house or a building. What you do with that house depends on the foundation it is built upon. And the problems you have with that house also very often depend upon the foundation it is placed upon.

I currently live in a mobile home, and this home has been in two locations. At one location we just had concrete runners with a strong road base around it. In our current location we have a solid concrete slab all the way around. While the house itself was solid and would not move, the foundation at the old place was weak. Why? Because the road base did absolutely nothing to deter squirrels and skunks from making the underside of our house their home. You cannot put a shovel into this stuff, yet these creatures made no work of it. We had solid runners so the house itself would not move, but because we just had runners, and not a solid slab, it created problems. Now, we have been at our current location for 3 years and we have nothing living under the house. Not even spiders because there is nothing for them to eat under there. Before, we’d have to block up critter holes and even that would not faze them.

What are you building your home upon? Do you only have the necessary solid parts to keep your house from moving, but have open areas for critters to sneak in? Or do you have a solid foundation all around so nothing can get in? In Matthew, to wrap up the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his audience that a wise person will listen to his words and would be like a wise builder who uses a solid rock to build his house upon. But those that don’t listen to him are like foolish builders who build upon the sand. They don’t even have the runners. They just put the concrete tiers that the house stands upon straight onto the dirt. What happens when the storms of life come? The wise builder’s house will stand, but the foolish builder’s house will crumble.

It seems to be a no brainer to build your house on a solid foundation. Any engineer and architect would question your sanity if you suggested a solid foundation is not necessary. And God does the same thing. He tells us to build on a solid foundation, and what better foundation to use than his Word? God’s word does not change and it does not move because God does not change. If he were to change, we could not rely on him, depend on him, or trust him to carry through on what he promises. If he changes, then our salvation is no guarantee. Remember, architects want a foundation that does not change nor move on them. That way the house will remain standing.

Yet, so many of us refuse to build on the only possible solid foundation: God’s Word. Why is this? Some do not consider the Bible to be a reliable foundation. But how do people know this? Many believe what the world’s self-proclaimed experts say, particularly those claiming to speak about science. Science is not a foundation, but a tool you use to build your house. When you use science as your foundation, you’ve stepped outside the realm of “observation, testing, and repeating” and of “the scientific method” but into the realm of philosophy. Nikola Tesla had some things to say about how science was being carried out in his time: “Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.”

What I believe Tesla is referencing is the taking of science beyond what it was ever intended to be: a methodical process to examine the natural world. The vast majority of founders of our scientific fields were Bible believers. The Bible was their foundation and they built their house with science, but with the Bible as their foundation. The atheists claim science is their foundation but it really isn’t. It’s really naturalism, the philosophy of what I could call Evolutionism. It is a philosophy where the facts associated with them and the understanding of what is going on constantly changes. Evolution’s understanding of things is constantly under review and revision. But so is science as a whole. What we know now is very different from what we knew 50 years ago and is very different from what we will know 50 years from now. That being said, there is nothing wrong with science changing and ‘improving.’ It is great to pursue the most accurate model we can and the discard models that don’t reflect the evidence (waiting for Evolutionists to actually do what they say scientists should do in this regard). But there is something wrong with using something that constantly changes as the foundation for how you live your life.

Evolution is not a stable system. It constantly changes. And the more science we do, the more questionable the system shows to be. We have many people that are fighting desperately to keep it for the same reason people try to salvage a home where a flooding river has eroded away the foundation. And these people will remain in their home under a delusion that their foundation will hold and their house with it.

Many of these people fled the shelter of Christianity when the storms of life came because they did not trust God to sustain them. And the shelter they’ve chosen is the one that will actually fail them. God will shake everyone to where the only thing left is their foundation. I’ve been through such a shaking. It wasn’t pleasant, but it revealed exactly who I really was: someone who depended and leaned upon Jesus Christ. And he came through. What is your foundation? Your worldview will tell you exactly what it is. Next week, I’ll dig deeper into how we build our buildings from our foundation.

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Another Messiah Bites the Dust

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 18, 2015 4 comments


by Steve Risner

Thanks for taking a moment to read my blog post this week! Last week, I wrote on the fact of the existence of Jesus Christ. Some will attempt to confuse or distract us by throwing this objection at us—that Jesus never really existed. Those people are not to be taken seriously. You can read my post on that here. There is also no alternative explanation for the birth of Christianity aside from an authentic resurrection. That is, unless you refuse to be logical.

The next couple of weeks, we will focus on some of what I talked about near the end of that post—the Birth of the Way. The topic here is the alleged pagan influences for the story of Christ. I have heard many different attempts to attribute the story of Jesus to some other, older pagan story. You’ll see, once we get into them, that in nearly all cases the “connections” between the stories are exceptionally overstated or are completely made up. I won’t be able to get into a great deal of detail concerning each pagan story due to the constraints of space here. I would like to stress that it’s inconceivable that the Jews of the time would have incorporated pagan beliefs into their faith. Paganism was absolutely detestable to the Jews and this would go against everything they’d been taught since childhood. So let’s take a look at a couple of these.

Mithras was the first name thrown at me by an atheist. Honestly, I had never heard of Mithras until this person tossed his name to me, so it was a bit of a surprise. I immediately did some research and found the stories this atheist told me were common in atheist circles but actually had very little basis in reality. I was told hundreds of years before Jesus, according to the Mithraic religion, three Wise Men of Persia came to visit the baby savior-god Mithra, bring him gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. This atheist told me Mithra was born on December 25 to a virgin, that he died on a cross after celebrating a last supper with 12 disciples, and that his body was placed in a rock tomb. Finally, Mithra ascended into heaven during the spring equinox (around the time we celebrate Easter). You can find websites that suggest similar things. Be advised: such websites are not to be taken seriously. I say this because it’s fairly easy to demonstrate how inaccurate this story is concerning Mithras. We are here discussing primarily Roman Mithraism.

The story of Mithras begins with his birth. He was born from a rock, not a virgin, and was an adult or at least an adolescent from birth. He is commonly connected with bull slaughter, a practice I cannot find a reference for Jesus doing. Nearly every depiction of Mithras includes him slaying a bull. He is also connected quite heavily with the zodiac, something Jesus made no reference of during His life. He is also commonly depicted eating a meal with Sol, the sun god, on the back of the slaughtered bull—not the last supper with 12 disciples. Since there seem to be no known public ceremonies of Mithraism, it is believed there is no connection to his birth being on December 25, although it is true some pagan religions have deities born on or near that day. The Bible doesn’t actually say Christ was born on December 25th. In fact, it’s pretty unlikely that He was born in the winter and no known description of the time of His birth is recorded, until around 200 A.D. by Clement of Alexandria. He was unsure but lists several dates suggested at the time. It’s not until the mid-fourth century that December 25th is mentioned in a Roman almanac as Christ’s date of birth. More than likely, Christ was born in the spring. But that’s for another discussion. There is no mention of salvation through Mithras aside from a partial writing that MAY contain something about shedding blood—most likely referring to the bull Mithras killed. No ancient documentation can be found to suggest wise men came to visit Mithras, offering the same gifts given to Jesus. There are those who claim, without any source, that Mithras was visited by 3 wise men. There is no source of old that tells of Mithras dying at all, let alone dying on a cross. There are also no known scholarly sources that suggest he had 12 disciples.

Another interesting point to completely shut down the idea that Christianity somehow fashioned itself after Mithraism is the timeframe of Mithraism. According to religion facts, “The cult of Mithras appears suddenly in the 2nd century AD - hundreds of inscriptions begin appearing after 136 AD.” That’s at least 100 years after Christ’s resurrection. Some form of Mithraism may have existed prior to this but it’s hard to say, as all that survives of the cult are references in paintings and carvings for the most part. Different cultures over time may have acquired knowledge of this secret society and taken portions they liked and added their own. Few, if any, Jews would have had much knowledge of it at all, as it was a religion of secrecy. It’s important to note that although there may be older references to a character named Mithras, this does not necessary correlate to the religion that holds his name.

The same source says, “Mithraism is frequently said to have been a great rival to early Christianity, especially in popular books written by non-specialists. According to most academic sources, however, the archaeological evidence does not support this claim.”

Also of note is the fact that Jesus was a real person, as I discussed last week. In the case of pagan religious characters, they are what we commonly refer to as legends. Jesus lived an earthly life but was the Creator. He shed His own blood to provide salvation for any who would receive it. He claimed to be “the Way the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). He also stated no one can enter heaven through another way. Christ came to save a lost world that was heaped in sin. There is no action or ceremony required to gain salvation—only the decision to accept Christ’s payment for your sins. Mithras offers none of this. There are really no real similarities between Jesus Christ and the legend of Mithras. I have read through many websites that quote this authority or that connecting Christianity and Mithraism. There is no evidence to support any connection. You can find many unreferenced web pages that claim a large host of similarities, but they all fail when scrutinized. This, unfortunately, is often times how the person antagonistic to Jesus Christ and the Bible will behave.

It’s frustrating to have to defend your faith against purely made up stories. The primary case the atheist brings against Christianity is fabricated. This further suggests they refuse to believe or simply deny the God they know exists. Evidence is beside the point.

Later, we will discuss other alleged copycat stories like Apollo, Horus, and perhaps a few others.

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Known to the Demons

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, June 17, 2015 1 comments


by Logan Ames


There is a popular question that has been asked in Sunday morning sermons, in books, and in movies. If you were in a place where Christianity was illegal and you were put on trial and accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? This is something that every person who claims to be a Christ-follower must examine. It’s not really something that those around you can decide, so don’t rely on your reputation and don’t get down on yourself if others say you are “not Christian enough." However, it is important to look at your own life and honestly evaluate whether your life reflects what you say you believe. There are far too many people in churches who assume their eternity is secure based on nothing more than how they were raised or how many years they have been coming to church.

In Romans 8:1-4, Paul begins by sharing the wonderful promise that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (v. 1). But what is meant by the phrase “in Christ Jesus”? Some Bible translations have the phrase “who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” as the qualifier for this promise. If you click on the link above and read the passage in the NIV, you’ll notice that it agrees with most other translations which place the phrase at the end of verse 4. It’s almost like some translators couldn’t bear the thought that Paul would have suggested there is no condemnation for believers regardless of their continued sins, so they added the qualifier themselves. But the truth is that the gift of salvation is free for those who confess Jesus as Lord and believe that he was raised from the dead by God (Romans 10:9). There are no other requirements. But it doesn’t end there. If it did, we would automatically be transported to heaven immediately following our confession of Christ.

We still have the rest of our lives and we still have to answer the question of what it means to be IN Christ Jesus. For this, let’s go to what Jesus himself said. In John 15:1-13, he shares with his disciples what it means to remain in him as the branches stay attached to the vine. He states that we can do nothing apart from him, but can bear much fruit IN him (v. 5). In verse 10, he says that remaining in his love means to keep his commands. Then in verse 12, he tells them that his command is to “love one another as I have loved you." Are you following the train of thought from Jesus to Paul? To remain IN Jesus means to keep his commands, especially to love each other. If we do that, there is NO condemnation even when we slip up along the way!

This does not mean, however, that love is tolerating everything and always making sure people feel good. True love “does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). So, to remain IN Christ Jesus means to love one another while also understanding and obeying the truth of his other commands. Even though none of us can do this perfectly, Paul promises that we will not be condemned. God is merciful to us and may allow us to suffer consequences so that we get back on track, repent, and change our ways. But he will not condemn us.

A great example of God allowing consequences that were designed to bring about repentance and not condemnation is found in a passage I came across this past week in Acts 19. The same Paul who speaks to us in Romans was doing ministry in the town of Ephesus, whose people were known for their sorcery and superstition to the point where even some of the believers still held on to such practices. In verse 13, we see that some of the Jews who had obviously witnessed the miraculous work of God through Paul tried to duplicate it by driving out evil spirits. However, they did so by saying, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Finally, there came a day when the evil spirit actually spoke up and answered these guys and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” (v. 15) Isn’t that amazing? Paul remained IN Jesus and the evil spirit knew about him because of that relationship. The other guys tried to get the same result Paul had, but because they had no relationship with Jesus, the evil spirit had no clue who they were and they had no authority over it. The spirit promptly beat them so badly that they ran away “naked and wounded” (v. 16). Because of God’s mercy, these men were not killed and the event became known all over the city and resulted in many believers confessing their sins and burning their sorcery books regardless of their great value (vv. 17-19).

It was dangerous for these men to try to take on the dark forces of the spiritual realm without the authority of Jesus. Maybe they didn’t care. Maybe they thought that because they know a little bit about Jesus and heard about his teachings, that was “good enough." We need to accept that there is a big difference between having a personal relationship with Jesus and knowing who he is because someone in your life taught you about him. Before we laugh at or condemn these guys, we need to think about what allows us to remain IN Christ Jesus. Do you consider yourself “saved” because your parents raised you in a Christian home or because you’ve always gone to church? Or do you have a personal relationship with Jesus through his Spirit and by obeying his commands? In other words, do the demons know who you are?

If you do not know that you have a relationship with Jesus, feel free to contact any of the blog writers through this website or on Facebook to discuss it further. The promise made through Paul in Scripture is that anyone who does remain in that relationship with him will not be condemned even when they have failed. But without remaining IN him, we leave ourselves open to condemnation from God. Others’ opinions of us won’t matter because God gets the final say. Look at the evidence in your life. Living according to the Spirit and not the flesh is not a condition for that promise, but it’s the natural result of the life of one who remains IN Christ. As we saw last week, Jesus defeated the flesh and we are no longer held captive by it. We have been set free from the laws of sin and death (Romans 8:2). Life is not easy, but remaining IN that relationship with the one who already won the victory over anything and everything you could face gives you power that you can’t have without him. Let the demons get to know you, because they already know their place and they can’t touch you thanks to Jesus.

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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Monopoly for the Soul

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 16, 2015 0 comments


by Bill Seng

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” ~Romans 8:1

It is a hard reality for many people to come to grips with. We are so heaped with the garbage of our sins that their crushing weight makes us forget about God’s wonderful grace. We burden ourselves with thoughts that condemn us for the sins we commit. It is good to be sensitive to the evil of sin, but it is even better to know that our sins do not condemn us so long as we are in Christ Jesus.

It is a hard truth because it sounds like a get out of jail free card. Anyone who has ever played Monopoly understands this reference. For anyone unfamiliar with Monopoly, it is a board game that requires you to purchase properties and charge other players who land on them. Aside from landing on a fully loaded Boardwalk, many people fear the possibility of going to jail. There are multiple ways to earn your way to jail. You can land on the infamous “Go to Jail” corner. You can draw the card that bares the famous words “Go to jail: Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go and do not collect $200.” Probably the most frustrating way to go to jail is to roll doubles three times in a row. Doubles are typically good because they allow you another turn to roll the dice immediately. But if you roll three sets of doubles, you are penalized by being shipped off to jail. There are so many ways to go to jail. The only ways to get out are to either serve your sentence of three turns, or to pay the fine of $50. But certain players laugh in the face of the threat of going to jail.

These players possess the coveted Get Out of Jail Free card. By using this card, a player does not have to pay the penalty for committing an arrest-able offense. You immediately get out of jail and play your next turn without a fine or loss of turn.

I use this analogy loosely, but as far as I can see, the sin of a believer does not bring condemnation. I know that many people disagree with me and that is okay. We should not sin just because we are forgiven. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul warns his brothers and sisters in Christ, “Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh.” Believers are not to be sinners.

In Monopoly, there is one consequence for committing an offense that sends you to jail, even if you have the get out of jail free card. Your piece gets moved to the jailhouse and you miss out on the opportunity of obtaining the best properties in the game. In our spiritual walks, sin can be a setback. Many great Christians have transgressed horribly and had to regain credibility with not just believers, but non-believers as well. We need to walk boldly, knowing that Jesus Christ is our advocate, even when we fall short. Nonetheless, we should move forward, not being content with a stagnant relationship with our Lord. We strive to know our Lord in all of his glory.

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Romans 8:1-4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 15, 2015 0 comments
 
by Katie Erickson

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)

It seems odd to start out a chapter with the word therefore, but we’ve seen this idea before - Paul didn’t write this letter with chapters and verses, but rather as a continuous letter. So in order to get the context of what Paul is writing about, I encourage you to read Romans 7.

Paul had just been writing about how the law shows us our sin (here), so now he’s giving his readers some encouragement to follow that up. Because of what the law says (see Romans 5:12-21), we should be completely condemned. But, thankfully, there is NO condemnation if we’re in Jesus Christ! That right there is the whole point of the gospel message.

But why is there no condemnation for us, even though we deserve it? When we have realized that we’re sinners and deserve God’s condemnation for breaking His rules, we then need to understand that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty that we deserve for our sins. After that death He rose again, so that if we put our faith in Him, we don’t get that condemnation that we deserve! As it says in this passage, we humans were and are powerless to overcome the power of the law. But what we couldn’t do for ourselves, Jesus Christ did for us.

The word “flesh” is mentioned a number of times in this short passage. Law was weakened by the flesh. God condemned sin in the flesh. God won the victory over sin in the flesh. Christ came in the likeness of the flesh. If all of these things didn’t happen regarding the flesh, there would be no point for us human beings! But because all of this happened in the flesh, we reap the benefits of God’s work for us. Although Christ was in the likeness of the flesh, he did not give in to the temptation of the flesh to sin. Therefore, God, in Christ, has fulfilled the whole requirement of the law on our behalf, if we have faith in Him.

I’ve also been talking about that word condemnation a lot, but what does that really mean? The original Greek word used here is katakrima, which literally means “down judgment” or “to judge down.” It has the idea of not only being pronounced as guilty, but being handed the punishment for that guilt too. It’s like the verdict and sentencing, all at once.

This brings up the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11. Everyone was expecting the woman to be condemned, because she was obviously caught in adultery, which was punishable by death according to their law. But even though she may have deserved that condemnation, she did not receive it! Why? Because if anyone condemned her, they would also be condemning themselves, since they knew that no one could perfectly keep the law’s commandments.

We cannot fulfill the law on our own. But, we do our part to fulfill the law by living our lives in the Holy Spirit and following the ways of Jesus. Come back next week for more on what that looks like.

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Lessons on the Beach, Part 2: In a Whisper

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 14, 2015 0 comments

by Ami Samuels

  In part one of my Lessons on the Beach series, I wrote about finding the shell on the beach.  I was taught many lessons that day, but this week I would like to look at when God whispered, “Look around.”

That morning when I walked up and down the beach, I believed that God would show me a shell.  I had probably walked past the conch shell two or three times as I strolled up and down the beach, and not noticed it.  I had stopped at a place on the beach that I had deemed the best place to find a shell.  At this particular spot, I could feel stones and rocks gently rolling up on to my ankles, as I stood with my feet in the sand and watched as the cool tide rolled in.  The water washed in rather quickly, and I felt I had to diligently look down at my feet if I were going to find the shell I had asked God for.  My thought was that if I looked away, I might miss what God would show me.

Standing there for about ten minutes, afraid to move for fear I might miss my shell, I felt God whisper “Look around.”  Look around, but this is the best spot?  This particular piece of beach makes the most sense for a shell to roll in.

God’s whisper wasn’t to stand there longer, or to look harder, or to dig deeper, it was “Look around.” But I had tunnel vision.  I was focused on what I thought was best, instead of what God wanted for me.

When I obeyed what God had whispered to me, he showed me something bigger and better than I had hoped for.  Honestly, when asking God to show me a shell, I truthfully was thinking of a shell that would fit in the palm of my hand.  Ephesians 3:20 says “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations for ever and ever!”

In my life I have tried to position myself in the right place, worked hard, and totally frustrated myself in doing what I thought God wanted me to do.  If we listen and obey what he is telling us, it is usually right in front of us.  What God wants is for us to walk daily in a relationship with him.  I have spent too much time trying to figure out God’s plan for my life instead of patiently walking in relationship with him and listening for his guidance.

What if I hadn’t listened that day at the beach, and I had just stood in that same spot?  I may have become aggravated, tired, or bored.  I might have sat down and began to dig. But I wouldn’t have found the shell God had intended for me to find because I was too busy trying to figure it out on my own.

This week, join me as we listen for God’s voice in our lives, his guidance and direction, and obey. God’s direction for my life is taking me out of my comfort zone, a place where I have to completely rely on him, exactly where he wants me to be.

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Schizophrenic Faith

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, June 13, 2015 2 comments

by Nathan Buck


Who hasn't struggled with doing the right thing? As human beings, we know intimately the struggle of right and wrong, good vs. evil, and selfless vs. selfish choices. We wrestle with it daily, in almost every decision - or at least, we should.

Our selfish desires and motives are powerful, like I mentioned in last week's blog post. They can feel overwhelming and we can feel trapped by how strong they are. In Romans 7:15-25, Paul continues his reflection on this daily struggle we face. Read the passage carefully. I am sure we all can identify with how he describes his struggle to do good.

Look at verse 24. Notice what he says there: "Wretched man that I am, who will release me from this body of death?" This statement is a powerful picture we may not recognize. I heard a number of years ago that the Romans had a form of execution where they would take a condemned person and strap a dead body to them. They would face the dead person away from the guilty person's body, and then tie them back-to-back. Wrists, legs, torso, neck, and head would be bound together as tightly as possible without constricting blood flow in the living person. The goal was to have the living person still be able to move and walk somewhat normally, and have the corpse move with them without their skin having any separation.

As if having a dead body tied to you was not physical (and mental) torture enough, the real torture was far more insidious and deadly. The corpse would eventually begin to decay. As the maggots and worms began to eat the flesh of the corpse, they would easily make their way into the flesh of the living person. Gradually, they would destroy the body of the living person, and they too would die an agonizing death.

This is a gruesome picture, and I am sure this kind of punishment was used for serious crimes against Rome. But Paul uses it as a graphic reality check for our struggle with sin. Apart from God we stand condemned by our own willfulness, and if we pursue our own path we are bound for destruction, just like the Roman criminal strapped to a dead body.

Even after we accept a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we can still feel stuck in that way of living. Every time we struggle to do good, it is like evil selfish desires are right there, strapped to us, and destroying everything from within our own hands and feet. Even when we try to do good, somehow an element of pride and selfishness worms it's way into the situation.

But through Jesus' sacrifice there is a rescue and a freedom. There is one specific "key," if you will, that unchains us from the corpse of our selfish desires and sinful behavior. We will discuss that next week.

For now, I simply want to invite you to be aware of the struggle between evil and good, selfish vs. selfless, as we make each decision during the day. I want to encourage you to not let ANY thought or choice you have be on "automatic pilot." Before you make any decisions today, or any day this week, look ruthlessly at your own motives. And deliberately try to choose against your own self-interest - especially when it could be an opportunity to serve or help someone else.

See how you do. Journal about what you learn. Take note and look at when and why you fail. There is hope. Come back next week to gain more insight for the journey ahead.

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Identity: Saint or Sinner

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 12, 2015 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“I’m not perfect. I’m still a sinner. I’m just forgiven.”

How many of us have heard this line? Or used it? Many times I hear it to try to justify ourselves. We know we aren’t perfect people so we tend to pass it off as “we’re just forgiven.” Rarely, if ever, would we consider ourselves ‘saints’ because we know we aren’t perfect, not even close. We know our short-comings. If we are honest with ourselves, we’d admit we mess up every day, several times every day. And we know God’s standard is perfection.

Yet, as Christians, we are the picture of what Christ is like. That is what it means to be a follower of Christ. Just with the name itself, by claiming to belong to Christ, when people look at us, that is the image of God they are going to see. What is the image we are projecting? Most of the time, the image comes from a lack understanding our identity. I again reference Nathan Buck’s “A Lion in a Duck Suit” series. It really paints a solid picture of our identity telling us we are one thing but our behavior is telling something else.

In Romans 6, Paul tells us that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to Christ. Our identity is found as citizens of the Kingdom of Darkness or the Kingdom of Heaven. Many of us want to be in the Kingdom of Heaven, but we don’t want other people to know we are. Why? Part of it is that we are fearful of what they will think. We are afraid our identity as a follower of Christ will lead to social rejection. But is that not what we recognized what we would be getting into the day we decided to follow Christ? Or did that not get included in the package when we heard about the Gospel?

Jesus said, “No servant is above his master.” If Jesus suffered, why should we expect not to? Jesus said, “If you are to be my disciple, you must deny yourself daily, take up your cross, and follow me.” Jesus made it clear we have to die to be his disciple. That is what the image of baptism is about. But it is also what the Resurrection is about. We need to die to ourselves. That means to die to our identity. We are to renounce it, turn away from it, and consider it dead. That is our old identity, our old self, also known as the sinful flesh.

But when we die to our sin, when we partake in Jesus’ death, we will also partake in his Resurrection. Our old identity dies, but a new identity arises. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “He who is in Christ is a new creation.” We no longer are identified by what we once were. Our old identity was with the label “sinner.” By sinner, we are not talking about ‘one who sins.’ We are talking about one whose nature, whose propensity, is to sin. Our old identity was “servant of sin” and “seeker of self” and “Citizen of the Kingdom of Darkness.” It is “condemned,” “cursed,” “sinful,” “selfish.” It is “pride,” “gluttonous,” “thief,” “murderer,” “sluggard,” etc. But when we surrender our lives to Christ, that old identity perishes on the cross.

The new identity is “Child of the One True King,” “Bride of Christ,” “Citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven,” “Soldier of God’s Army.” It is also “justified,” “forgiven,” “free,” “redeemed,” “victorious,” “conqueror,” “beloved,” etc. Don’t believe me? What does the record (Scripture) say? What have we been studying in Romans all this time? Jesus said you must be born again to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Being born again means you need a new identity, a new name. That identity and that name are given to us when we accept Jesus’ call to repentance.

Are we saints or are we sinners? Daniel 7:27 describes how the authority of heaven was given to the Messiah which was then passed onto the saints. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus tells us all authority under heaven is given unto him… therefore go!” Who are the saints? His followers are. That means us. A saint is not someone whom the Roman Catholic Church deems qualified. A saint is someone who has given his or her life to purposes of Christ. This is not to boast about us, but to show us who God says we are.

Most of us still think of ourselves as sinners. Are we, as born again Christians, who have died to sin and are still dying to sin, ‘sinners’? Actually, no we are not. Do not hear what I am not saying. I am not saying we are without sin. I am not saying we are perfect. We won’t get to that point until our bodies die and the resurrection process is completed. But with our new identity is a new nature. Our old nature was always inclined towards sin. But our new inclination is always inclined towards Christ. We will sin. That is a promise, not a threat. But as Christians under our new identity, when we sin, it will grieve us. We will feel guilt over it, but not guilt of breaking the law. Rather, it will be guilt of grieving a loved one. When we sin, do we feel that?

Charles Spurgeon gives this illustration about the identity change, repeated in this sermon by Paul Washer. You have a pig and you put before him two plates: one plate is the finest fillet, a juicy, rich steak. The other plate is a pile of slop, the worst junk you could call ‘food.’ What will the pig go to? It will go to the slop. But what if you had the power to instantly transform the pig into a man? When you do that, and the man, with his face in the slop, realizes who he is and looks over at you, recognizing where his face is, would he not feel such guilt? The man will still drift over towards the slop because that is what he was so used to eating, but remember this is about identity. Who are you? A pig or a man? What are you attracted to? That reveals your identity.

This battle is the highlight of Romans 7. Paul constantly goes back and forth saying “I do what I don’t want to do but I don’t do what I do want to do.” This is the constantly raging battle between two identities trying to claim one body. Think of your body as terrain, territory. Who owns it - your sinful flesh, or Jesus Christ? Do you know? If not, take a look at the landscape. You can tell who owns it by how it is managed. What is the fruit? How does it look? If properly managed, a wetland will be a lush marsh. But if it in improperly managed, the wetland will turn into a nasty, stinky bog. As Christians, Jesus is in the process of turning the bog of our life of infested, stagnant waters to flowing, purifying waters. It does not happen overnight. Which areas of your life has it turned stagnant? Will you allow Christ to cleanse that piece of the land?

Who are you? What is your identity? Who gets to define you? These are all questions that answer the identity aspect of our worldview. Let us strive to let the King of Kings tells us our identity. If it be lost in sin, let us listen and obey his call to repentance so he can kill that identity and bring us back to life. If our identity be found in Christ, let us live as though that is true. Let today be day one of the rest of our lives, focused evermore towards Christ.

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The Real Jesus

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 11, 2015 2 comments

by Steve Risner

Was Jesus of Nazareth really a resident of the Middle East? Did He exist and walk among the people or was His story concocted by some uneducated fishermen who have fabricated the greatest hoax in the history of the world? I know. It’s pretty obvious my take on it since I’m writing for a ministry whose stated goal is to “equip students to impact this generation for Jesus Christ,” but there are actually some who will use this argument—that Jesus never actually existed—to confuse believers and especially young believers or students. Let’s take a look at a portion of the evidence.

I’ll start with Biblical evidence. It’s the least respected by the atheist for obvious reasons, but I think that’s simply because they need to reject it. It’s not because of the merit of the source. The New Testament is a collection of 27 books that are a result of and confirm the existence of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. These are 27 documents, some historical in genre, written by at least 8 different people all testifying to the ministry of Christ. This by itself should be enough to confirm Christ’s existence. But some will scoff and waive their hand. “I don’t believe your precious holy book and don’t care what it says,” they’ll tell you. So let’s look at other Christian sources.

With historical accounts, obviously the closer the writer was to the actual events in terms of time the better. There are several early Church fathers that lived within two generations of Jesus Christ that contribute to the historical evidence for Jesus. These sources would be independent of New Testament writings and likely had firsthand knowledge of Jesus or personal contact with someone who had firsthand knowledge of Jesus. Of exceptional note would be three Church fathers—Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna.

Clement wrote at least one letter to the church in Corinth about 50 years or so after Paul wrote to the same church. According to early church writer Tertullian, Clement was consecrated by Peter. He is considered the first of the Apostolic Fathers. Ignatius lived in the mid to late first century and was a student of the Apostle John. He’s considered one of the Apostolic Fathers as well. He wrote 7 letters to various churches and to Polycarp, his friend. Polycarp, a contemporary of Ignatius, was also trained by John the Apostle. Some suggest he compiled most of what we call the New Testament. These three men, as well as a host of others, wrote about Jesus Christ and wrote because of Jesus Christ. It would seem very unlikely that these men who lived and trained with people who claimed to know Jesus personally during His earthly ministry would have written about Jesus if He had not actually existed. It also seems that these men would not have chosen to die for the faith if Jesus Christ was not a real person. All of these men were martyred.

But some will say this means nothing. These are all people who had “skin in the game” so to speak (which is laughable in and of itself—suggesting anyone would willingly allow themselves to be executed for something they knew was false) so they had reason to lie. So what about non-Christian sources? There are just short of a dozen sources that speak of Jesus Christ written by people who did not believe He was the Messiah. There are about 4 that are considered very important.

Of course, the first of these is Josephus. He is by the far the most noted Jewish historian of the time. There are at least two references of his to the existence of Christ. One of these is considered at least partially doctored, giving it a more Christian sound. It’s considered fairly certain to have originally been about Jesus, but the language was likely changed to put Christ in a more positive light than Josephus had intended. The other is pretty certain because Josephus mentions Jesus in passing. He is referring to James, the brother of Jesus, who was executed by Hanan ben Hanan, the high priest of the time. He states, “So he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James.” This only matters because James was no one if not the brother of Jesus. But it’s known that Josephus lived in Jerusalem at the time of James’ execution, adding credibility to the account.

Tacticus was a Roman Senator who wrote on Roman history. When Nero tried to blame Christians for the burning of Rome in 64 AD, he mentioned Jesus in his account. He writes, “Hence to suppress the rumor, he [Nero] falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.” Obviously, he was no lover or respecter of Christ but mentions him, giving a solid account of His existence.

Another Roman official, Gaius Caecilius also known as Pliny the Younger (his uncle who raised him was Pliny the Elder), also wrote about Christ and his followers. He wrote many letters to various Romans including Emperor Trajan. One example explains common practices of the Christians of the time: “They were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of a meal–but ordinary and innocent food.” This is one mention of the Way in his writings. It’s noteworthy simply because he confirms for us that within one generation of Christ’s Resurrection, the Church was well established. Many of these Christians would have had firsthand knowledge of Jesus.

For me, the last of these sources is the most profound and most interesting. Thallus is the earliest of the Gentile writers, writing around 50 or 55 AD. He tried to give a natural explanation for the darkness that covered the earth at the crucifixion as recorded in the Gospels. Sadly, only citations to his work are in existence today. J Africanus wrote in the 3rd century, citing Thallus as using a solar eclipse as an explanation for this darkness. This, of course, is impossible. The full moon is when Passover is celebrated—when Christ was crucified. A new moon is necessary for an eclipse. This is 2 weeks away in terms of the lunar cycle!

The atheist may try to explain away these fairly conclusive sources, but the case for the existence of Christ is closed. Of course, as a follower of Christ, you and I know that Christ walked the earth and lives in our hearts today. We know Him personally. It’s not a matter so much of the evidence, although the evidence confirms what we know in our hearts. This is one of the amazing things I find with “former Christian turned atheist” stories. They either were not a Christian, were crazy, or are just being dishonest. I say that because the claim is that they once had a relationship with Christ (the basis of the Christian faith) and now claim He doesn’t exist. This is a common symptom of schizophrenia and other psychological disorders. You decide.

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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