The Faith of John the Baptist

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 24, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

“Imagine how much more we could get done in the church if no one cared who got the credit.” (author unknown)

The above quote was brought back to my attention two months ago when I received life ordination as a minister in the Churches of God, General Conference denomination. A wonderful woman from my church surprised me by knitting some of my favorite quotes onto a pillow as a gift to commemorate the occasion. When I saw this quote and two others, I asked what in the world would’ve made her think those were specifically my favorites. Little did I know that once you put something on your Facebook profile and don’t ever look at it again, others might still find it! I signed up for Facebook in 2009 and immediately picked quotes as my “favorites” that were important to me at that time. Nine years later, I didn’t remember the above quote or its source, which was likely a random seminary book I had to read. Nevertheless, reflecting on the quote makes me think of so many of the heroes of the faith we’ve been studying who sought the rewards of eternal life rather than temporary fame and fortune.

For the second time in this series, I’m going to veer away from those that the writer of Hebrews was likely talking about and discuss someone of whom the New Testament believers would’ve been aware even if they didn’t have the writings that we now have. In Hebrews 11:37, the writer tells us some of the faithful “went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated." This description could probably best be applied to Elijah from the Old Testament, but we already discussed his faith in regards to escaping the edge of the sword. The question would then be whether there is someone else who fits this description. It just so happens that a man who entered the scene in the New Testament was just like Elijah, so much so that Jesus himself referred to this man, John the Baptist, as “the Elijah who was to come” (Matthew 11:14).

John the Baptist, who was related to Jesus through their mothers (Luke 1:36), served as a forerunner whose mission it was to prepare the way for the Lord. This means he went around preaching and proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven was near and it was time for people to “repent” (Matthew 3:2). Matthew tells us in 3:3 that John the Baptist fulfilled a prophecy from Isaiah 40:3 that said there would be one in the wilderness who would call for people to get prepared for the Lord and “make straight paths for him." That isn’t the only prophecy John fulfilled. Malachi 3:1 tells us that God will send a “messenger” ahead of the Lord and Malachi 4:5 specifically says that God will send “the prophet Elijah” before the day of the Lord. Elijah the Tishbite, the man who confronted Ahab and Jezebel, was long gone at this point, so the prophecies had to be talking about someone else, and Jesus confirmed that John the Baptist was he.

Now, what kind of living circumstances do you think a man who spent his time in the wilderness would have to endure? While he wasn’t specifically forced to wear “sheepskins and goatskins," he did wear “clothes made of camel’s hair” and “his food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4). The big question is, “Why?” Well, Luke’s gospel account tells us that the wilderness is where the word of the Lord came to John (Luke 3:2). How many of us receive the word of the Lord and then try to arrange our circumstances to our liking so that we can “comfortably” do what God has asked of us? That’s certainly not what John the Baptist did. The word came to him in the wilderness, so he began to preach IN THE WILDERNESS. Luke 3:3 says that “he went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." John knew what God had called him to do and preached around the Jordan River because that’s where he baptized those who came. There wasn’t time to waste. The kingdom was near. If he was going to preach true repentance and people were going to want to respond, the quickest and most outward way to show it was by being baptized. This was a public confession of the inward change and it happened IMMEDIATELY.

So, what exactly was he talking about when he told people to repent? I once wrote a 10-page paper on this one word in seminary and I learned that the Greek word is from the root metanoeo, which is a combination of meta, meaning “against," and noeo, which means “to think." This tells us that when John, and later Jesus, urged the crowds to repent, they are talking about literally changing their ways, which begins with a complete change in thinking. It could be said that repentance is literally “going against one’s current thought or understanding." As people encountered John the Baptist and heard about the coming of the Messiah, they were moved to completely change their thoughts and ways and do a complete 180-degree turn. John told them that the water baptism was a symbol of what was to come - the baptism of the Holy Spirit that happens only through Jesus.

John the Baptist became quite the popular figure as more and more came to him, but he remembered his mission and didn’t seek anything more. Even as some thought he was the Messiah, he reminded them that he wouldn’t even be worthy to carry the sandals of the true Messiah (Matthew 3:11). He didn’t seek a building to fit a megachurch, didn’t ask for a large salary with good benefits, and didn’t demand respect and authority. He simply hung out in the wilderness, munching on locusts and wearing camels’ hair, and preached what God gave him to preach. When specific people like soldiers and tax collectors asked what repentance would look like for them, John was direct in telling them how to live rightly (Luke 3:12-14). He urged people to not just feel sorry for their sins, but to confess them and to bear fruit that shows the change that came from repentance (Luke 3:8). His message was well-received by most, but not all. Because he was so focused on speaking truth and not what was in it for him, he boldly rebuked King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife among other wicked acts, which unfortunately landed John in prison for the rest of his life until Herod had him killed (Luke 3:19-20).

John the Baptist was certainly a copycat of Elijah in many ways. He lived in humble circumstances, boldly called out the wickedness of a pagan ruler, and urged repentance from God’s people. But John the Baptist said something that, to our knowledge, no one else did. Despite his boldness in challenging wicked authority, his response to Jesus was marked by humility like no one else had seen. When some of his disciples complained that people were going to Jesus rather than him, he simply reminded them that he was not the Messiah and was given only the joy of preparing the way for him (John 3:26-29). Then, he spoke the words by which we should remember and emulate him. Speaking of Jesus, he said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Are you willing to become “less” so that you can make Jesus “greater” in the eyes of the world? One thing’s for sure: you wouldn’t be able to care who gets the credit. Let John’s faith and his willingness to accept his role in God’s story of redemption speak to you today. Use his example as a catalyst for repentance and humility in your own life.

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A Tale of Two Children

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 22, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The Bible is rather interesting in that in many of the stories there are the stories of two children. Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Eliab and David, Absalom and Solomon. The list goes on. In each of these stories the first one is not treated kindly by Scripture and the second one is the one God chooses. While the Bible often emphasizes the rights of the firstborn, why is it that in many cases the firstborn never seems to pan out?

Eric Ludy is the one who caught my attention on the issue of the ‘twos,’ though he is not the one who inspired this particular post. He takes the tale of twos even further. It’s not just brothers which showcases the issues here; so did King Saul and King David. In each case there is a pattern of behavior. The first one tends to be about self and man’s efforts and the work of sin and the flesh. The second one tends to be about the Spirit and God’s work.

Cain gave an offering of his work, but it wasn’t his best. Abel brought the best of his flock. Ishmael was produced out of the impatience of Sarah and Abraham and his line has been a thorn in the Jews’ side ever since. Isaac was the child of promise. Esau was a hunter who despised his birthright. Jacob, while being a deceiver and supplanter, sought God with everything he had, even by not so great means. Eliab, the first son of Jesse, looked the part of a king: young, handsome, and yet God rejected him because David was the one who sought after God’s own heart. Absalom had serious problems. He murdered his brother due to the rape of his sister (not a good response to a bad deed), and then nearly pulled off a coup of David’s throne (2 Samuel 13-18). Solomon walked and followed in the ways of David until his wives pulled him away. As king, Saul started good but demonstrated how life lived in the flesh and without God often turns out. David, despite his flaws, became the greatest of Israel’s kings because of his longing for God.

There is another pair in Scripture worth noting: Adam and Jesus. Jesus is known as the Last Adam. Jesus came to do what Adam failed to do. Adam disobeyed God instead of believing him, while Jesus was perfectly obedient, even to the point of death on a criminal’s cross. All these stories of siblings and kings are pictures and snapshots of the ultimate comparison between Adam and Jesus. Much can be said about this comparison, but this is just the set up for my main point: Which child are we? Are we of the firstborn who walk in the ways of the flesh, or are we of the second-born who walk in the ways of Christ?

When Jesus confronted the Jews in John 8, he was straight up and accused them of being children of the devil. How could he say that? Simple. He saw they were talking and living according to their sinful flesh and not after the ways of God. They wanted God’s miracles and his provision and his protection, but they didn’t want HIM. In fact, Jesus revealed they were seeking to trap and kill him. Jesus said that our father is the one we listen to. Do we listen to God or do we listen to the devil? How can we tell?

A few weeks ago I wrote about nine different tests offered in 1 John with how we can examine ourselves to see if we are indeed in the faith (Part 1 and Part 2). I want to offer two more tests which are not in 1 John but help us see where we stand.

The first test is: What do you like? A child who loves his father will generally love what the father loves and hate what the father hates because he wants to be like his father. If you claim to be a child of God, do you love what God loves? I am not merely talking about morality here. God loves the downtrodden and the lowly. Do you? Do you hate what he hates? God hates sin and particularly six forms of it including pride and lying.

Does obeying give you the joy of being with the Father, or do his commandments give you the dread of a slaver? The firstborn finds the commands of God to be a loathsome reproach. The second-born loves them because they know they protect him. The firstborn sees God’s commands as though they come from a totalitarian dictator who cares nothing for them and just wants to damper their fun. The second-born see the commands as preparing them for matrimonial unity with Christ and spending eternity with him.

The second test is this: Does God discipline you? He will not discipline someone else’s children like a father. He punishes them as a criminal. Each one of us has done things we should not have done. Let’s say I broke a window by throwing rocks at it as a child (I never actually did this). If the window was in my house, my father would deal with this in house, likely spank me, and I would have to do something to rectify the situation. However, if the house was not mine, the father of that home would have every right to bring me to civil court and to press charges.

Children do not respond to disciple or correction from those they do not acknowledge as having authority over them. I remember being with a missions team years ago and a kid on the team got in trouble, a man on the team got in the kid’s face, and I could see the kid’s almost defiant face because the man was not his father. Children will respond to parents they respect, to coaches and teachers they respect, or to whatever they give honor to. Who do you respect enough to let them tell you what to do? Is it the proper authorities, or is it those who tell you that you can do whatever you want, especially in defiance of God’s established order?

I understand many people have a great difficulty seeing God as a Father because the relationship with their own father was sour to say the least. If that is you, please hear that God wants to play the role of father that you never had, and he always does it right.

How does God discipline us? So few have articulated it as well as Eric Ludy does in this sermon in distinguishing the difference between the saint and sinner. His main point is there are two types of sin: “Sin” (big S) and “sin” (small s). With Sin, it is outright rebellion and defiance and that is what is to be addressed first and foremost. With sin, it is not rebellion but rather childish foolishness. God is patient with sin and will work with us to correct it and cleanse it out. However, when it comes to Sin, that is when he needs to take us behind the woodshed and give us a spanking. Many fathers do know how to play this role with their children, yet they are getting harder to find today mostly due to the destruction of the family structure in society. How does God discipline you? Or does he at all? Can you sin and get away with it without feeling the guilt of offending God?

We are a child of God or we are a child of the devil. We are of the firstborn living after self and with no regard to God, or we are of the second-born longing and striving after God. Which one are you?

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Will You Believe God Almighty or Not?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, June 20, 2018 2 comments

by Jason DeZurik

Recently, I watched a video from a well-known person who debates theological positions versus Christians and non-Christians alike. He was making the claim that the days of Genesis couldn’t be trusted to be 6 literal 24-hour days and that the age of the earth had to be very, very old. I have also had a good amount of friends and Christians asking me or telling me that it isn’t a big deal how old the earth is or how long it took God to create the creation in the Genesis account. And to that I would say, great, so God created in 6-literal 24 hour days and rested on the 7th day (Genesis 1:1-2:3). Many people then say something like, “What I mean is, why couldn’t the ‘days’ in Genesis be long ages or periods of time longer than a day?” To that I ask, “Do you believe God Almighty or not?”

Most people at this time say something like, “Well, God didn’t write Genesis.” To which I say, “If God did tell us how many days it took Him, while our time was moving and we know God was inside of time when He told us would you believe Him then?” Most revert back to saying the creation account in Genesis could have been long periods of time.

So, I will reiterate again, if Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, did tell us, while our time was moving so human kind knew what a day was, and He told us while inside of our time, would you believe Almighty God then? If God is a holy and just God, who cannot lie like the Bible claims (Numbers 23:19), would you believe Him? Most people who claim to follow Jesus at this point say, “Yes.” Then they follow it up with, “but Genesis doesn’t count,” or something like that.

My reply is then that I’m not going to bring you to Genesis. I am going to bring you to the book of Exodus, the Ten Commandments as a matter of fact. Before we go to the book of Exodus, though, let’s make certain of who wrote the Ten Commandments. The answer to our question is found in Deuteronomy 9:10. As you can see, God Himself wrote these Commandments with His very own finger. Moses did not chisel them out, as some believe. God wrote them down and then gave them to Moses while he was on the mountain. This is very important to see. Not only is Moses on the mountain, but God Almighty is there as well. They are both on the earth at the same time and in virtually the same place, both Moses and God. Why is this important? Because God cannot lie. Human beings, by this time, know what a day is. The earth has been rotating on its axis for quite some time and has been making trips around the sun. Humans know what a day, a week, and a year are. They have been living it out for a long time.

I would guess most of us can agree that this is true, unless you’re just wanting to be disagreeable. Again, if this is true, in Exodus 20:11, why wouldn’t God write down how long it really took Him to create the Creation? This would be the perfect time for God Himself to correct the misunderstanding about the time it took to create during the creation week, wouldn’t it?

Instead He wrote, with His very own finger, “For in six days God created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them...” Pretty straight forward, don’t you think? Unless you just don’t want to believe the One that was there since before time even began.

You see, you have a choice. You can believe fallible humans and their ways or you can believe an infallible Almighty God who does not lie. The choice is yours.

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What Does the Bible Say About Authority?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 18, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Authority is one of those things that we all appreciate when it keeps things under control, but we also don’t appreciate when we feel as though it’s oppressing us or keeping us from doing what we want to do. Authority comes in lots of forms, such as teachers at school, your boss at work, those to protect us in law enforcement, and those who rule over us in local and national governments. But what does the Bible say about authority?

First and foremost, we know that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. Because of that, He gives us the authority and power (and the command) to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

As for human authorities who govern over us, we see in Romans 13:1-7 that Paul urges believers to obey the governing authorities. For more on that, check out this post and this post.

It’s easier to submit to the authorities who govern over us when their rule lines up with God’s Word. But what about when it doesn’t? 1 Peter 2:13-18 says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

Ephesians 6:5-9 says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”

While I would guess that most of the readers of this post are not in slavery, that was a common situation in Biblical times so the Bible speaks on it a fair amount. But slavery back then was not the same as we think of slavery today; then, it was generally only for a short time to pay off a debt, and then the slave was freed. Even though we’re not technically enslaved, we can use the principles given in these passages when we are dealing with authorities such as bosses or teachers. Serve them as if we’re serving God; do God’s will by obeying them.

Paul gives us words of encouragement on dealing with authority in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15: “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.”

The writer of Hebrews echoes this thought in Hebrews 13:17: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Titus 3:1-2 also encourages us this way: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”

In the book of Acts, Peter and the other apostles were often persecuted and thrown in jail for the sake of the Gospel. In one such instance, they are being questioned before the high priest and the Sanhedrin (some of their governing authorities), and they said, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29).

We see from Scripture that it’s important to obey the human authorities that are over us, but when we have to choose between obeying God or mankind, we know that receiving God’s reward in eternity is better than the temporary reward we’d receive for obeying humans and going against God. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

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The Faith of Ahimelek

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 17, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

There is an old legal saying with an unknown original source that goes like this: “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table." Clearly, this would lead to a lot of anger and pounding regardless of the actual truth. I remember my first day in class when I started college in the criminal justice program and one of the professors said, “The criminal justice system is a game, and the goal of the game is to win." In other words, he and many other professors wanted us to know up front that it’s not really about the truth, but how you can best navigate the system to achieve your desired result.

Despite this way of the world, the Christian faith tells us no pounding is needed. Jesus himself said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). If you are on the side of the truth and have been set free by the Lord, then literally nothing else can take you captive. There is a little-known man in the Bible who showed his faith by doing what he knew the Lord would want him to do, and when it was clear that it would ultimately cost him his life, he simply stood by the truth. In Hebrews 11:37, we see that some of the faithful heroes of the past “were killed by the sword." God’s people went through several dark periods in their history when his servants were intensely persecuted. One of those periods was when King Ahab and his wife Jezebel were slaughtering the Lord’s prophets and Elijah spent much of his time on the run but still boldly spoke God’s word. Another time was when eighty-five priests, along with their families and livestock, were killed with the sword by Doeg the Edomite at the command of King Saul in the town of Nob (1 Samuel 22). One of those priests was Ahimelek and he is our hero of the faith for this week.

Ahimelek became part of God’s story when David, who had been anointed as the next king of Israel, had to flee because the reigning king, Saul, had become hellbent on killing him. Since the Bible is in part a history book, it helps to know the context of what happened to Ahimelek and the other priests. Saul was the first king of Israel when the people demanded a king to lead them so that they could be like the other nations (1 Samuel 8). Initially, Saul had the Spirit of the Lord on his side and gave credit to the Lord when a battle was won. As time went on, however, he walked away from the Lord and became obsessed with self-preservation. He was afraid to take on Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 despite the fact that he was bigger and badder than anyone else in all of Israel. God anointed David as Saul’s eventual successor and David proved himself to the people by killing Goliath.

After David’s victory and sudden rise to fame, Saul became increasingly jealous of him and tried to protect his throne at all costs, even if it meant killing David who he knew was innocent. He tried to kill him several times, but the Lord kept David safe and he was able to escape. David then had to flee for his life and ended up going several different places, one of which was Nob (1 Samuel 21). There, David went to the right place when he sensed that he was in trouble - the house of the Lord. That’s when he met Ahimelek, the priest at Nob. The story can be found in 1 Samuel 21:2-9. David lied to Ahimelek, pretending that Saul had sent he and other men on a secret mission when in reality he was completely alone and running from the king himself. David desperately needed food so he asked Ahimelek to give him whatever he has to eat.

This is our first look at the heart of Ahimelek. As a priest, he had certain customs to follow regarding the “consecrated bread” that was kept at the house of the Lord for the priests. But here, there was a human need right in front of him. In giving David the bread, Ahimelek went against the priestly customs but did not go against God’s word. God never said that ONLY priests should eat the consecrated bread; that part, while logical, was an addition to God’s word. We must never put our interpretations or applications of what he said on par with what he ACTUALLY said. Jesus spoke of Ahimelek’s example as the Pharisees questioned his disciples for picking heads of grain on the Sabbath when they were hungry in Matthew 12:1-8. He used it to make the point that human need is more important than religious tradition. Jesus’ words show us that Ahimelek was to be commended for putting his faith in the Lord over traditions and customs.

In addition to the bread, Ahimelek also gave David the very sword that he had previously used to kill Goliath. Unfortunately for Ahimelek, Doeg the Edomite witnessed all of the help that Ahimelek gave to David under the impression that David was on a mission from the king. Later, in 1 Samuel 22:9-10, this eyewitness evidence sealed the fate of Ahimelek. Doeg reported to Saul, who was already off his rocker, that he saw Ahimelek helping David, whom Saul continued to intentionally refer to as “the son of Jesse” just to remind everyone that David was just a little man from a poor family. Saul then asked Ahimelek and many other priests why they would conspire against him. Ahimelek’s response is listed in 1 Samuel 22:14-15, where he simply stood by the truth, which was that he clearly knew nothing of the conspiracy. He praised David to Saul, showing that he truly did not know Saul wanted to kill him, and also admitted to helping and praying for David other times, which revealed that he believed David’s lie that Saul had sent him on a mission.

Ahimelek’s defense was the honest truth. Once he had spoken it, he simply asked the king to not falsely accuse him or his family. We don’t hear of another word from Ahimelek as Saul had already made up his mind to have him killed. Verses 16-19 that follow tell us that he, his family, and most of his town were put to death by Doeg. Ahimelek did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and his death could be blamed on David’s lies as much as Saul’s anger. But in the end, Ahimelek valued love for a human in need over religious tradition and valued standing firm in the truth over his own life. While he is not mentioned by name in Hebrews 11, the faith of he and the other priests at Nob was known to Jesus and the believers that came after him. Ahimelek’s life ended when he was killed by the sword, but even today his example urges us to put the needs of others above our traditions and to let the truth stand on its own when we are falsely accused. If you are facing either of those dilemmas in your life today, learn from this man of faith.

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.


A Culture of Death

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 15, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This week, one of the topics Worldview Warriors is addressing is suicide. The taking of one’s own life is a great tragedy and happens for a variety of reasons. Some would suggest in certain circumstances, such as being about to be taken as a prisoner of war, that suicide rather than humiliation is a good thing. However, the vast majority of suicides come at a place of hopelessness and a lack of purpose. According to Wikipedia, in 2014 teen suicide was the #2 killer of young adults and #11 of all people age 10 and up. This is not including those who have attempted suicide and survived, let alone those who have thought about it.

There are many offered solutions to help stem the suicide rates. There is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline among other resources. Suicide is absolutely no laughing matter, and to make things worse, most who are struggling with the thoughts of suicide don’t have the courage to cry for help. If you who are reading this are facing thoughts of suicide, GET HELP! Do not face it alone. There is no shame in calling for help when you are in trouble, yet there is a fear of a social stigma for those who cry out for help, and often that stigma is truly there.

While counseling centers and suicide hotlines are good answers to the suicide problem, these are mostly for dealing with the problem after it has rooted. I would like to tackle just one of the reasons that brings up suicidal thoughts before it can take root. There are many others so please do not read what I am not saying, nor consider me the “expert” on all these issues. I am not a trained counselor, nor am I any professional in this field, however, I am not oblivious to the issues either. One of the reasons why suicide is considered is due to a culture of death.

We here in the U.S. live in a culture of death. Death is celebrated and encouraged in many different ways and it forms a cycle which grows more and more until it arrives. “Death is celebrated?” Yes, it is celebrated, either death itself or choices which lead to death. How so? Take a look at what our youth listens to: the rock bands, the rappers, “death metal.” The lyrics are horrific. They have “good beats,” but they lyrics are full of death, sex, murder, rage, and language. Look at the violent video games, where the players shoot and kill anything that moves and then everything “respawns.” Kids are not being taught the value of life nor the severity or permanency of death.

When I first really started to engage the issue about abortion, at that time, most people who had abortions have regretted doing so. Many still do. However, many are celebrating abortion, giving clinics awards for “saving women’s lives,” by killing fully functioning, perfectly healthy babies for the sake of convenience. Only 1.5% deal with rape or incest, according to the article linked. The extreme majority are out of pure convenience or deceptive counseling. Young mothers, especially of minority ethnic backgrounds where poverty levels are high, are highly encouraged to get abortions under many circumstances. Look at the abortion rates by ethnic groups here.

Abortion brought forth one major thing: life is determined only by whether it is wanted or not. If your parent decides they don’t want you and you are not yet born, your life is forfeited today. Families today in general do not talk about producing life, nor do they talk about their kids being their precious offspring. Many do, but by and large this culture does not do this. How can I say that? School is getting out and many parents are dreading it. The attitude for many parents, especially come August, is that school is a place to get the kid out of the house to give mom and dad some peace. Parents treat school as glorified day care, and public schools in particular have been happy to oblige. That’s not a compliment. Children are being treated as an inconvenience for our enjoyment and are raised to only be necessary to provide for society for the next generation.

Society as a whole treats each person as only as valuable as they are producing for that society. If society does not see the potential the person can bring to them, he is discarded. Once the person’s use is exhausted, then society would prefer to “euthanize” the elderly because they are consuming so many resources which could be sent elsewhere.

The value of life has been reduced to monetary value and level of pleasure in the immediate here and now. What other ways are there to measure the value? According to this world, they have nothing else. Why does the world have no other answers? Because it rejects the Word of God and how God values life. Evolution has played a very subtle yet major role in this transition from valuing of life to devaluing life. Under Evolution, you have no value, because you are nothing more than just another highly evolved animal where any purpose or reason for your existence is determined by what you make out of it. And many are searching and searching and not finding it. Under Creation, each person is uniquely created in the image of God and each person has value, including the handicapped.

It’s not just abortion or Evolution. Look at the lifestyles being offered and praised. The U.S. is the most drug-crazed nation in the world. Drug cartels are so lucrative because we have the money and we are demanding these drugs, yet it’s killing us. Drunk driving deaths each year are comparable to major wars. Sex choices are being made completely on a pleasure basis, yet what abortion centers, sex ed classes, and “safe sex” tips do not tell people is that sexual immorality is often lethal, via STDS, cancer, or other issues. The world wants to live in paradise without God and all that is going to result in is death.

What is the solution? The only solution that is even remotely capable of working is the Gospel. Surrender yourself and let God be God in our lives. God is able to take this culture of death, kill it without killing us, and bring life in and out of it. When we let God do his job in our lives, he will give us the hope and the purpose to go through our difficult times. He will give us the strength to hold on to the very end and not give up. God never lets a single drop of his saints’ blood go to waste.

God is able to get out of the messes we put ourselves into. He is able to rescue us to the utmost. He can take the mainline drug addict and deliver him from the demand of the drug. He can take murderer and rescue him from the lust for blood. He can take the sex pervert and restore his sex drive to its original function. However, to be freed from sin requires renouncing it. God will not save if we have a continual desire to go back to our sin.

Suicide is a terrible tragedy. Between the social, familiar, political, emotional, let alone spiritual pressures of life, those who do not know Christ can find it easy to give up. Satan goes after the precious life. When David Wilkerson preached this sermon, “The Hunter from Hell,” I got a whole new perspective on how to see the downtrodden. The kid who is the “black sheep” is frequently the one God is able to use the most. He became the “black sheep” because the enemy went after him to keep him from being used. If you are down and weak and feeling suicide may be your only out, God not only can rescue you, but he has something specially planned for how to use you. The enemy has been out to mess you up so that you cannot reach your true potential if God were to use you. There is hope, there is a purpose, even if you cannot see it now. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. There is a way out. Don’t listen to this culture of death. Choose life. Last year, Ray Comfort put out a video called Exit, and it is one of the very few sources I have seen which addresses the issue of suicide, provides more than just coping skills, and actually provides an answer. It is a MUST see if you are contemplating suicide or if you know someone who is.

This culture wants you to be independent of authorities and to sever ties with parents, preachers, and anyone who can help steer you on the correct path. They know if you are alone and unprotected, you are easy prey, easy to use and abuse and easy to discard. Just look at how the world treats the broken; it’s never good. Yet, if you turn to God, even if you don’t have parents who protect you and guide you or a church to help you, he is sufficient. You are not meant to be alone. No man is an island. Get with God and if you have a bond with Jesus Christ, you will be hard to take down. Build that relationship with him because he will not let you down as long as you trust him and obey him. He will NEVER let you down and will always be with you. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Choose life.

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.


The Epidemic of Suicide

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 14, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

This week I was hoping to change gears and, for once, write in tandem with Katie and her blog post concerning what the Bible says about suicide. This topic is near and dear to me and, unfortunately, for many others as well it's hit fairly close to home. Coincidentally and tragically, as of the writing of this blog post, there were two celebrities who took their own lives last week. People who seemingly have it all—fame, power, money—they're living the dream life, right? But they're empty inside. Their hearts were lacking something. However, I feel there are some misconceptions about suicide that I would like to address. Thank you for taking the time to read...

In 2016, there were something like 45,000 suicides! That's nearly twice the number of homicides and has increased around 30% in most places in the U.S. Keep in mind, as well, that successful suicides are dwarfed by the number of attempted suicides by some 25 times. Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Montana, for some reason, leads the nation at about twice the national average. Among 15-35 year old Americans, it's the second leading cause of death! (Click here for more statistics.) Holy cow! What's going on?! Unfortunately, I believe this is another symptom of the lack of Christ in our culture, but let's move on.

A very dear friend of mine that my wife and I were able to witness to, bring to church, and watch find Jesus Christ back when Michelle and I were newly married took her own life recently. We were shocked and devastated. We couldn't believe it or understand it at all. We had no idea anything was going on and we were just broad sided. But her husband's take on it changed my concept of suicide a little. He believed she took her life not because she was being selfish but selfless. I understand this is not always the case, so please don't misunderstand me. But she didn't want her family to have to deal with her in the condition she was in. In her state of depression, she believed she would not recover and that taking her life would be the easiest thing for her family to deal with. Of course, no one else believed this and it's clear she wasn't thinking correctly, but in her state, this made sense to her.

This beautiful person's mind broke (these are the words of her husband). It was no different than if her heart stopped working or her liver shut down. Now, I realize some people won't accept something like that. They'll feel the need to attack this person or explanation or even declare that she's incapable of dancing before her Savior for all eternity because of this. However, this is not in line with Scripture at all and demonstrates, to me, a shallow understanding of the work of Christ on the cross. This wonderful person was a believer. She loved Jesus Christ intensely. She worked hard to raise her daughter in the ways of the Lord and her witness was instrumental in her entire extended family finding Christ. She was forgiven. It was a done deal when Christ entered her heart.

No one is arguing about the terrible nature of the act of suicide. Taking someone's life is murder, whether it's your life or someone else's. No one is suggesting suicide is not a bad thing—a sin. However, we all sin and no sin carries more weight than another. Someone who lies is forgiven if they find Christ, even if they lie again. Someone who covets his neighbor's property is forgiven if he finds Christ, even if they covet again. A person that takes a life is forgiven if they find Jesus and make Him Lord of their lives... even if they take another life. That may be hard to swallow, but the fact that we all sin before and after we turn our lives over to Christ is indisputable. We all sin. So suggesting, “This person destroyed an image bearer of God” or some other spiritual gobbledygook is meaningless.

This sin, like nearly all others, is not unforgivable. And Christ's forgiveness is not a future event or an event that occurs after we sin. The Savior of mankind died on the cross for my sin and yours 2000 or so years ago. He rose from the dead 3 days later. It's a done deal, folks. When I found Christ, that was not the moment my sins were forgiven; it was the moment I began to walk in that forgiveness. So if I were to sin right now and then die seconds later, I have no fear that my eternity would be spent face to face with the Creator of all and the lover of my soul. Otherwise, we could never be sure of our salvation because we could accidentally sin and die unexpectedly without getting forgiveness. This is in line with Colossians 2:13-14. Paul tells us that when we put our faith in Christ, He forgave us all our sins—ALL of them. Not just the sins we had committed prior to finding Him. His sacrifice was final and complete. So, for me anyway, the idea that suicide means you've committed some sin you couldn't be forgiven of is a catastrophic failure to understand foundational principles of Christianity.

Others will suggest that a person who takes their own life, if they were a believer, has apparently given up on their Lord. They've lost faith in Him so they desired to stop living rather than allow Him to walk with them through whatever they were dealing with. I don't feel this is the case at all, although not every situation is the same. I'm sure this could be the case in some circumstances, but certainly not all and I don't feel comfortable being the judge concerning it. I'll leave that between God and the person in question.

Going back to an earlier point: often times the brain of a person who is in the deepest despair or depression cannot reason properly. This means trying to figure out exactly what happened or what the person was thinking is not possible. Your brain runs on electricity and chemistry. If the chemistry is terribly out of balance, it will literally not be possible to think clearly or control your thoughts. Have you ever heard advertisements on television or radio for a new medication that includes, as a side effect, thoughts of suicide or worsening depression? See the connection? Please don't take this to mean I'm saying someone isn't responsible for their actions. Of course we are held accountable. However, I will leave God alone to judge the person as He stands before them. One thing I am sure of—if the person was a follower of Christ, regardless of what sin they may have committed just before they died, they're praising God in the throne room of the Almighty.

Suicide is a major problem. It's on the rise and it's not looking good. The only real hope to change this is Jesus Christ. Taking a life, whether another person's or your own, is murder and a sin. However, if someone is a follower of Christ, all of their sins have been forgiven if we are to trust God's Word. This includes the sin of murder (as well as any other sin one may commit). Taking a life is not an unpardonable offense. However, there is always a better way. If you have contemplated suicide, please understand there is a better way to handle whatever your situation may be. Jesus loves you and so do a great number of people, and we all want to help. For those of us who may not struggle with these thoughts, be aware that often times a person dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts cannot or will not talk about it. If you see some strange behavior or a red flag, approach the person in love and with grace. We have to try to stop this epidemic.

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.


What Does the Bible Say About Suicide?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 11, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Last week, I wrote about what the Bible says about life and death. This week, I want to address a different circumstance of that: suicide. This is a topic that we at Worldview Warriors have been asked about at various times and in various ways, so we want to address it for those of you struggling with this - whether pondering suicide yourself, or struggling with a loved one who committed suicide.

Some people seem to believe that suicide is an unforgivable sin, and because of it that person would definitely not go to heaven. What does the Bible say about that? Nothing that I can find. The determining factor of whether a person goes to heaven or to hell is their faith in Jesus, not the cause of their death. It can be argued that the act of committing suicide is done because one loses faith in Jesus, but again the Bible does not speak specifically to that. We know that God is the ultimate Judge and the one to decide the fate of every human being, and we have to trust that He is loving and just.

There are stories in the Bible of people committing suicide, or making someone kill them (which is basically the same thing). In 1 Samuel 31, Saul fell on his own sword and killed himself, rather than face being captured by the Philistines. At the end of Judges 9, Abimelech makes his armor bearer kill him, rather than be killed due to injuries incurred by a woman. In Judges 16, Samson commits suicide (as well as the murder of thousands of Philistines) by literally bringing down the house. In Matthew 27:1-5, Judas Iscariot killed himself out of the guilt of betraying Jesus.

God isn’t interested in finding technicalities to keep people out of heaven, like the method in which a person dies. He fully desires for everyone to join Him in heaven for all eternity (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). He loves and highly values EVERY person, including you! God desires to have relationship with us and has made each one of us for a good purpose (Romans 8:28).

In this world, there will be sin. There will be bad stuff that happens. There will be things that may make it difficult to see how you can go on with life. (For more on why, check out this post that I wrote a few years ago on that topic or this post last year by Charlie Wolcott.) But, Jesus has overcome the world! He has promised to always be with us, through whatever struggles we may face. Here are just some of promises God made to us to assure us of His presence with us:

Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We know that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Jesus will be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).

Even though we walk through dark places, we don’t need to fear because He is with us (Psalm 23:4).

Not even death can separate us from the love of God when we have faith in Him (Romans 8:38-39).

God is greater than anything we face in this world (1 John 4:4).

God will be with us, strengthen us, and help us, because He is our God (Isaiah 41:10).

God is near to us when even we’re suffering, and He will deliver us (Psalm 34:18-19).

The best way to deal with the hopelessness that suicide stems from is to renew your hope in Jesus, the only one who is truly worth hoping in. If you are considering suicide, please get appropriate help such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Also, reach out to fellow believers, to strengthen your relationship with Christ through their encouragement. Find a local Bible-believing church to encourage you and help you grow in your faith. If you don’t have anyone close to you that you can reach out to regarding this, please contact us here at Worldview Warriors! Connect with us on Facebook, leave a comment on this (or any) blog post, or get ahold of us through our website. We will help encourage you with God’s truth, about this or whatever struggle you may be having.

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.


The Faith of Isaiah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 10, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

This past week, I got to watch the last hour of a movie that, having grown up in the 1990s, I consider a classic. Braveheart is the story of William Wallace, who led the Scottish revolt against the king of England beginning in the late 13th century. The theme of the movie is Wallace’s quest for independence for his people in the face of the uncertainty of so many of his comrades, who at times boldly followed him and other times questioned his willingness to take on the establishment. During one conversation with his close friend and fellow rebel, Hamish, Wallace is considering taking the Scottish nobles up on their offer to join forces to go after the enemy. Hamish tries to convince Wallace that it’s a trap (he would be proven correct on that), but Wallace is willing to take that chance because he knows it’s the only way they could possibly achieve victory. Hamish, fearing the trap will lead to their gruesome torture and death, declares, “I don’t want to be a martyr." Wallace responds, “Nor I. I want to live. I want a home, and children, and peace. I’ve asked God for these things. It’s all for nothing if you don’t have freedom."

Even after William Wallace was captured, he held true to the cause of freedom, refusing to confess his “crime” and swear allegiance to the king of England, even while being tortured and killed. He demonstrated that it is better to die fighting for what’s right than live having accepted what is wrong. In Hebrews 11:37, we read about the unnamed heroes of the faith who experienced excruciating pain as they were martyred but never abandoned their allegiance to God. One of the descriptors is that “they were sawed in two." This is an interesting category of martyrs because we do not find any specific stories of someone being killed for their faith in this way anywhere in Scripture. As I’ve found in doing some research, a theologian named John Gill explains in his exposition of the Bible that other historical Jewish texts, including the Talmuds and the Midrash, have references to the death of Isaiah the prophet. These texts and Jewish tradition hold that Isaiah feared the evil King Manasseh, who took issue with some of his prophecies. Isaiah then ran away from the king and hid inside a cedar tree, but the outer edges of his clothing were visible and he was found. King Manasseh ordered that the tree be sawed in two while Isaiah was still in it, and this is how he was martyred.

Admittedly, I don’t have copies of any of these historical texts in my posession, so I cannot verify their words. However, I do believe that Hebrews 11 is true because, like the rest of Scripture, it is inspired by the very breath of God (2 Timothy 3:16). As the writer of Hebrews was putting pen to paper, we can be certain that the Holy Spirit was guiding him and that the Jews who would’ve read it would’ve been familiar with the tradition of Isaiah’s martyrdom. But that’s not all.

We can certainly look at the Scriptures that do describe this time in history and consider whether it’s possible and even likely that King Manasseh might have killed Isaiah. Isaiah 1:1 tells us that Isaiah was a prophet during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, who were all kings of Judah. 2 Kings 20:21 tells us that Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah and succeeded him as king. So, we already know that Isaiah’s prophecies ended when Manasseh came into power after Hezekiah. Logically, we can ask ourselves whether it is likely that a man who proclaimed the word of the Lord for the reigns of four straight kings would’ve suddenly just decided to stop for any reason other than his own death. Prophets of the Lord didn’t plan for retirement! Plus, Isaiah 6:11-13 tells us that God sent Isaiah to prophesy until Judah is forsaken and ruined and the Lord has sent everyone far away. As we look further into the story, that piece of information becomes important.

The reign of Hezekiah lasts from 2 Kings 18-20, and during this time, Hezekiah seems to accept the prophecies of Isaiah. Hezekiah trusts, follows, and seeks the word of the Lord. In 2 Kings 20, he becomes very ill and Isaiah tells him that God says he is going to die (v. 1). Hezekiah pleads with God to remember his faithfulness and heal him, and God tells Isaiah to go back and tell him that God has heard his prayer and will add fifteen more years to his life (vv. 2-6). Isaiah speaks everything God commands and then even tells Hezekiah how to treat his condition and also reveals the sign that God has given to show him he will be healed (vv. 7-11). After this, Hezekiah accepts envoys sent from the king of Babylon and essentially shows off everything in his kingdom. He doesn’t realize how foolish of a move this is until Isaiah declares that God has spoken and that one day, everything Hezekiah has shown off to the envoys will be carried off to Babylon and some of his own biological descendants will be taken as captives and made eunuchs there (vv. 12-18). Certainly, this is common sense. If you boast about your wealth to a pagan country who has the means and the ruthlessness to attack you and take it for themselves, you can expect that they’ll come for it at some point. Hezekiah doesn’t seem to be too alarmed by this because he figures it will happen after he is long gone.

After Hezekiah died, Manasseh took over and “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 21:2). The rest of 2 Kings 21 goes on to tell us the evils that Manasseh committed, but verse 16 is where we specifically see that he “shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end." It’s not difficult to surmise that Isaiah was likely one of those innocents who was killed, especially since he was so prominent during Hezekiah’s reign and we never hear from him again chronologically after this.

You might be wondering what Isaiah’s faithfulness and willingness to speak the word of the Lord truly accomplished. Well, 2 Chronicles 33:1-20 gives us another view of Manasseh’s reign. Verses 11-13 shows us that what Isaiah had prophesied to Hezekiah in the last known prophecy of his that we have outside of the book that bears his name came true! Manasseh, obviously a biological descendant of Hezekiah, is taken captive to Babylon after his kingdom is attacked. He likely knew of Isaiah’s words about this and may have murdered him over that specific prophecy, yet now he realized that it came true. Manasseh humbled himself before the Lord and the Lord rescued him and brought him back to his home and kingdom. “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God” (v. 13). This changed everything for Manasseh and he spent the rest of his reign and life worshipping and following God, even while his people continued to sin.

Like William Wallace, Isaiah stayed loyal to his cause even to his death. Neither of them wanted to die and each of them tried to avoid it with all they could. Wallace had a wife who had been murdered and spoke of a desire to have a home and children and peace. Isaiah 8:1-4 tells us that the prophet had a wife and at least one child. I’m sure he dreamed of living happily ever after with them, but God commanded him to speak truth and he never abandoned it, even though he knew it could cost him his life. In the end, his willingness to proclaim God’s word planted a seed in Manasseh that caused him to turn back to the Lord when it came true. Isaiah may have met an awful end to this life, but he is surely counted among the faithful heroes who chose to die being right with God rather than live in opposition to him. May we boldly follow his example if it ever comes to it in our lives.

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.


Getting Into Heaven

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 8, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

There are many proposed ideas of how to get into heaven. Is there only one way? Does God consider our good works? Doesn’t his love overcome his judgment? Why would a loving God send anyone to hell anyway? Can you wait to follow God until you’re ready? Let us set things straight.

One way. Jesus said it so clearly. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but through me.” He also begged God three times for salvation to come by any other means than the cross. Let me make this clear. Jesus was not asking to avoid the Roman whips, the mocking, and the cross. He was asking to avoid become the very thing he had never experienced intimately: sin, and then taking the full force of the wrath of God. If there was any other possible way to get to heaven, then Jesus died for nothing, and our faith in Christ is in vain.

Good works. Do you think you are a good person and God will let you into heaven because of all the good things you have done? By what standard are you judging yourself by? Isaiah 64:6 tells us that all our good deeds are as filthy rags in the sight of God. They are worthless and in actuality, we are much better approaching God fully naked and ashamed than we are trying to cover ourselves in our own righteousness, because any attempt we do only shows how short we fall. Paul pulls no punches in Romans 3, telling us several times there are none who do good, no not one.

Even if each of our good deeds were worth four of each bad deed, we would never break even. How many times have we broken the Ten Commandments? How often have we worshiped something other than God? Put an image that we worship instead of him? Taken the Lord’s name in vain? Disrespected our day of worship and rest? Dishonored our parents? Murdered someone? Committed adultery? Stolen something? Lied? Coveted something that did not belong to us? Those are without the fine print that goes with each one. Have we hated someone, wishing they were out of our path? That’s murder of the heart and the only reason you haven’t actually done it is because you would not be able to get away with it. If we lust after someone, we picture ourselves being sexually intimate and even if we don’t engage physically, we are still desired to do it. God sees it as the same. Ever stolen the glory of God as your own? Or what about claiming the name of Christ and not accurately representing him? As my pastor says, “Amen, or Oh, me?” Try as you may, none of your good deeds are ever going to outweigh your sins. That is why we need a Savior, and what a great Savior he is.

God’s love. But if our sins are so great, can’t God simply forgive them and let us into heaven? After all he does love us, doesn’t he? Yes, God loves us. He loved us so much he sent his Son to save the world and not to condemn it. He desires that none perish but all might be saved. He doesn’t want any of us go to hell. He did not create hell for us. He created hell for Satan and his demonic hosts. So does God send anyone to hell who does not receive Christ as their Savior? The answer is found in the not-so-popular verses that follow John 3:16. In John 3:18, Jesus tells us that we are condemned already. So the situation is not: Repent and receive Christ or you are going to go to hell. The situation is “You are heading for hell now. Here is the way out.” The former is a threat, which many have unfortunately abused. The latter is a reality check.

But can’t God just love us enough to put that past us? After all, if our child was hurt, we would break the law and speed to get him to the nearest hospital. Yes, I have heard speakers say that God broke a law to save us using this very line as “proof.” God’s love is not love if he breaks his own standards. If God does not punish sin, he is not loving. The idea that God can simply sweep our sin under the rug takes the nature of sin too lightly. If we understood sin as God sees it, or as David saw it or as Paul saw it, then we’d realize how wicked and horrible we truly are apart from the grace of God. So, no, God cannot just “love us into heaven.” He loves us so much he will take us as we are, but he will not leave us as we are. God will not take us in our sinful status into heaven because if he tried, his holiness and his purity would annihilate us. So he has to remove the sin without destroying the sinner, and the only way that was possible was for Jesus to become sin for us. The only way to enter heaven is to die to sin because then we can resurrect with Christ.

I’ll receive Christ when I’m ready. This is one of the most dangerous things a person can say and here is why. If you say “I’m not ready,” what you are effectively saying is, “I still want to live the way I want to live, but when I want to make things right, I’ll do it on my own time.” Today is the day of salvation. Not tomorrow, not ten years from now. God will give every person a chance to receive him, however, he never leaves it up to us when to take it. He does not leave it on a table for us to claim when we want. He may offer some people multiple chances to obtain it as he did with Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2, 3, and 4), and Ahab (1 Kings 18, 20, and 22), or King Saul (1 Samuel 13 and 15), but other people he only offers it once, such as with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), and Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8). God is not arbitrary in how many chances he gives us. A lot of that depends upon how we respond, our character, and ultimately, God is allowed to give mercy to whom he chooses to give mercy to. You can’t get saved whenever you want. It must be with God’s drawing and his initiation. If you reject him, you are not promised any other opportunities. Watch this short video put on by John Bevere which well addresses the dangers of coming to Christ at our convenience.

Lastly, heaven is not a utopian paradise where all is lovely and fluffy as many tend to imagine. Heaven is the place where God is glorified as he ought to be glorified. Heaven is about God. If you want paradise but no God in it, you can expect to find yourself in hell, because that is the only place you can go where you won’t find God. Those who know God know that he is not boring, he is not a cruel tyrant, but he is the paradise we dream of only far better. If we diligently seek God, he will reward us by letting us find him. Heaven is where God is glorified without ceasing. We will get the benefits of paradise but it will be about God, not about us. And there is nothing greater for us than to give God his due.

How do you plan to get to heaven? Are you trying by your own efforts and your own logic and reasoning? Or are you going to take God’s offer while it is available to take? It is not going to be what many think it is; it’s going to be so much better. I know I am going to heaven, not because I am good, not because of my intellect and knowledge of sound doctrine, but for no other reason than my hope and trust is found in Jesus Christ. You can have this confidence too, but you must do it God’s way. Where do you stand? If you don’t know, you can find out with certainty. Take the tests I wrote about the last two weeks (here and here). Examine yourself to see if you are indeed in the faith. It is not too late to turn to God and to cry out for his mercy and his grace. He longs for sinners to repent. Take God up on his offer. It is more than worth it.

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.


Heal Us O Lord, Cause Us to Live

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, June 6, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

Lord of all life, every good thing comes down from you (James 1:17). You have adopted us as children through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:23). You have redeemed us by His precious blood (1 Peter 1:19) and given us a new standing in this world and the one to come. You are bringing all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (Ephesians 1:10). Even so, Lord, the entire creation groans in agony, anxiously awaiting liberation from its bondage to decay (Romans 8:19-21). Your entry into this world changed its future and destiny (John 1:10-13)—the ramifications of which continue to ripple through our own lives, individual and corporate.

But, Lord, our fallen ancestors taught us to be sectarian and divided, and until we met you, there was precious little hope for change. Yet now that we do know you—now that we have become acquainted with the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit—hope surges against the intractability of fallen society.

We are inspired by what society could be like if it too experienced regeneration (Matthew 12:21). Though we are tempted to reduce our hopes to only what we can accomplish on our own, it is the supernatural possibility of transformation at the very core, made possible by the power of the gospel, which motivates us to work for the spread of the kingdom of God and the consequent resuscitation of humanity (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Yet, Lord, we confess it has been hard for us to shake off “the empty way of life handed down to us from our ancestors” (1 Peter 1:18). Our ancestors wounded us by their way of life and we yet bear the scar tissue from those wounds. Heal us, Lord. Cause us to feel. Even as we are drawn by what could be, we are hindered by what has been. Lord, we seek to “put off that old man which is corrupted by deceitful desires and be renewed in the spirit of our minds” (Ephesians 4:22-23).

Help us to reject the attempts of the fallen world to classify us and divide us by race, gender, or economic standing (Romans 12:2). But rather, help us, Lord, to see each other from the vantage that our new identity in Christ affords us. “We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that we may declare Your goodness” (1 Peter 2:9-10) to all people on earth.

We recognize only two races: Adam’s fallen race and the people of the Kingdom of God which has been constituted of every tribe and tongue. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Lord, it is our hope to address our own wounds as the family of God and to offer aid to the world at large.

We acknowledge that many injustices have been suffered by members of our society and that Christians have often been naïvely swept up in societal actions that are not based on the way of life You teach us, but are based on power, envy, pride, fear, or a host of other fallen motivations (2 Corinthians 5:16). We also acknowledge that there are deleterious effects to these past injustices which are still being suffered by various people in our society. Give us wisdom to reverse these effects while at the same time not propagating further injustice to anyone (Romans 13:10).

Our purpose is restoration to the good life (John 10:10), not vengeance for the past (Romans 12:19). Please, Lord, have mercy on us and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). Begin with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17) and let us be the light on the hill (Matthew 5:14; Acts 13:47) that You have always wanted us to be. Amen.

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.


The Search for Truth

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 5, 2018 0 comments

by Jason DeZurik

Back in the early to mid-2000s, Worldview Warriors was really nothing more than an idea of a few friends to help the students in their youth ministries have an opportunity to learn what a Biblical worldview was and a place to encourage them to seek out truth. At times, this challenged not only the students who came to these events, but many of the adult leaders that came were challenged and encouraged about their beliefs as well. Much of this stemmed from many youth leaders seeing many youth in their own youth groups struggling not only in their own beliefs but in how to actually stand up and defend absolute truth.

For me, this was something I took on as a personal quest. In the mid-1990s I had made a very pointed decision in my life that I was going to search for and seek out truth and go to absolute truth wherever it would lead me. You see, earlier as a young man, I had chosen my own path and decided not to follow Jesus Christ. What I did not realize at the time when I had made this decision to seek out and search for absolute truth was I was deciding to get to know Jesus Christ more intimately than ever before in my lifetime. You see, in John 14:6 Jesus Christ made the claim the He was the way, the truth, and the life. So, since I had already made the decision to go wherever truth was going to lead me, I had already, in essence, made the decision to search for and seek out Jesus Christ the God-man and His ways. I had chosen that even if I, my fleshly man, didn’t like where truth led, I was going to go down that path because that was truth and I wanted answers. Well, in doing so, I came into a right relationship with Jesus Christ and have chosen to follow Him in all that I do, no matter what, because He is the way, the truth, and the life. You can learn more details about my story in my book.

So many people today say they are looking for answers and want the truth, yet I freely admit that I wonder if this really is the case for some. Why might this be? Well, for me it is because some say they want truth and they do seek and search for it, but when it leads down a path they do not like, or they do not like the answers they are receiving, they seemingly give up the quest and start looking down paths when they like the answers better, even if it leads away from truth. It seems we are living in a time where people would rather trust their feelings more than actual facts that are right in front of them. If you are one of these people, I encourage you greatly to get back on the path of searching and seeking for truth. Now, it might hurt and sting for a little bit, but in the long run you will be ever so glad you got back on the path of truth.

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.


What Does the Bible Say About Life and Death?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 4, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

If you’re reading this post, then you definitely know something about life, because, well, you’re alive. But we all have to deal with death in our lifetime too - the death of friends, family members, and other loved ones, and ultimately facing our own death at some point. This can be hard to deal with, so as followers of Jesus we should be looking to Him and His Word for answers. So what does the Bible say about life and death?

First, let’s start with life. We know that God created us and gave us life (Genesis 2:4-25). But because mankind messed up and turned away from God (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12), we all deserve death but can have life through faith in the work of Jesus (Romans 6:23; John 3:16-17; John 14:6). Because of this faith, we strive to live our lives as God wants us to, in obedience to Him (Romans 12:2).

But what about death? We will all die a physical death as our bodies wear out or some sort of trauma happens to cause it. But if we have faith in Jesus, then we don’t need to fear the physical death, because then we will be able to live in close communion with God forever. However, if we don’t have faith in Jesus, then we should be very afraid because we’ll spend eternity completely separated from God. Matthew 10:28 says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Check out these links for more on what the Bible says about heaven and hell.

In the story about the death of Lazarus (brother to Mary and Martha) in John 11, Jesus tells Martha, ““I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (verses 25-26). Lazarus died a physical death, Jesus raised him back to life, and however many years later, Lazarus still had to die another physical death. But if he had faith in Jesus as we believe he did, then he didn’t have to fear the physical death because he would live forever with Jesus.

That’s the good news - Jesus is Lord over both the living and the dead! Romans 14:7-9 says, “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.”

1 Corinthians 15:51-58 gives us confidence that Jesus has victory over death, and He shares that victory with us! This passages quotes Hosea 13:14, which says, “I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?”

How do we live in this victory over death? By living the life that Christ calls us to and living out our faith in Him. Romans 8:13 says, “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.”

We see from his writings that the Apostle Paul wrestled with this concept of life and death a lot - likely because he was often imprisoned and the threat of physical death was an ever-present reality in his world. In Philippians 1:21-24 he writes, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

When you are a follower of Jesus, death is not something to be feared. Be encouraged by more words on this from Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:6-9: “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” Physical death is leaving this world, but it is also being united with Jesus forever!

To close, this truth from John in 1 John 5:12 pretty well sums it up: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Be mindful of that as you go about however many days God has given you on this earth.

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.


The Faith of Zechariah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 3, 2018 2 comments

by Logan Ames

What kind of legacy are you leaving for those who will come after you? This question is one that haunts some people as they near the end of their lives and causes many others to make changes when they consider it early enough in their time on this earth. It’s why so many young couples show little or no interest in church until they have children and begin to think about how it would be good for their little ones, even if they still don’t follow Jesus themselves as adults. It’s also why those same adults have no problem with colorful language until their children begin to repeat after them, at which point they shudder at the thought of the example they are setting!

There’s a great Christian song in country music called Three Wooden Crosses. The song is about a terrible traffic accident in which 3 out of 4 people riding on a bus are killed. Three wooden crosses are eventually put up on the side of the highway and the singer says he doesn’t know why there isn’t four there. It turns out the four individuals were a farmer, a teacher, a preacher, and a prostitute. The song tells us that it’s not what we take with us when we leave this world that’s important, but what we leave behind us when we go. The farmer left a harvest, a home with 80 acres, and faith and love for growing things in his young son’s heart. The teacher left her wisdom in the minds of her students. The preacher laid a blood-stained Bible in the prostitute’s hand and asked her to look toward the promised land. It turns out the singer is saying that his preacher is the son of the prostitute, proving that the preacher who died in the accident left a legacy just like the farmer and teacher did, and his dying gift set the prostitute on the road to Jesus and resulted in kingdom benefits for generations to come.

Today, I want to briefly share the story of a faithful hero in the Bible who left a legacy with his dying words just like that preacher. In Hebrews 11:37, we’re told that some of the past martyrs “were put to death by stoning." The man I want to tell you about this week, who was one of the Old Testament heroes murdered by stoning, was actually mentioned by name by Jesus. If you look at Matthew 23:35, Jesus is in the midst of pronouncing his woes on the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Here, he specifically mentions that blood will come upon them from the righteous blood that has been shed by previous martyrs, beginning with Abel and going all the way to Zechariah. A commentary by David Guzik says this is because Abel was the first faithful martyr (that makes sense since he is the first one mentioned in Hebrews 11 and the first in this series) and Zechariah was the last one listed in the Hebrew Bible, which ended with 2 Chronicles.

Zechariah is the same man who was a prophet and wrote the Book of Zechariah, but the story of his martyrdom is found in 2 Chronicles 24. Zechariah, like many of the previous heroes we have discussed in this series, took center stage while so many others around him were wicked. After his father Berekiah (aka “Jehoiada”), a priest who was influential toward King Joash, passed away, Joash and the people of Judah turned away from the Lord and worshiped idols (v. 18). God tried to get their attention and get them back on track by sending prophets who proclaimed his word, but they refused to heed the warnings. One of those prophets was Zechariah and he once became bold in the Spirit, stood before everyone, and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you’” (v. 20).

At that point, the people’s reaction wasn’t merely not listening to him in the sense of ignoring him. Rather than listen to the warning, repent, and plead with God to come back to them, they go the other direction. Their anger gets the best of them and they plot against Zechariah and even receive an order from King Joash to stone him to death in the courtyard of the temple (v. 21). It’s somewhat shocking how quickly Joash could be willing to kill a man whose father had meant so much to him, but that just goes to show us how quickly sin can destroy us if we don’t continue to repent and seek the Lord every day. But as Zechariah was dying, in his final moments he left a legacy statement: “May the Lord see this and call you to account” (v. 22).

Zechariah’s statement comes off a little bit like he wants revenge on them. It doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it that Stephen’s plea for the Lord to not hold their sin against him as he was being stoned in Acts 7:60 has. Yet, when Zechariah declares that he wants the Lord to call them to account, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is asking for God to destroy them. The truth is we all have to give an account for our careless words and sins. There are only two ways we can give that account - we either experience the natural end result of our wickedness and die, or we trust in Jesus whose blood was “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Zechariah understood that a savior was coming, and with his final words he pointed the people who murdered him toward that time when they would either pay for their sins themselves or trust in that savior.

Many Old Testament books talk about the savior who would come, and they present prophecies that would only be fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. Some of the clearest of these prophecies about Jesus are found in the book of Zechariah. He seemed to visualize what was going to happen to Jesus and how it would impact his own people. Toward the end of his book, Zechariah writes the word of the Lord about the death of the savior: “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10).

Zechariah’s legacy as he lived and preached among the wicked was that he didn’t hesitate to point them toward the One who is both Savior and righteous Judge. It ended up costing him his life, but that didn’t stop him from proclaiming what the Lord had him proclaim. The One about whom he prophesied mentioned him along with all the other faithful martyrs. That’s probably all we really need to know about Zechariah. Jesus himself considered his spilt blood to be “righteous." I’d say that means he did something right in leaving a legacy for those after him.

What is your legacy? What would others say is most important to you? If you are spending time, money, and energy on something other than pointing people to Jesus, it’s time to evaluate your priorities.

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.