What Does the Bible Say About Dinosaurs?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 22, 2018 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Dinosaurs have gone in and out of popularity in our culture, often depending on what movies are popular at the time. Dinosaurs fascinate us because they aren’t alive today, but we have evidence that they existed, primarily in the fossil record.

The word “dinosaur” is not in the Bible at all, but that word was developed in 1841 by Sir Richard Owen. It comes from the Greek words “deinos” (meaning terrible or monstrous) and “sauros” (meaning lizard). So there is no ancient Hebrew or Greek word that literally means dinosaur.

So are dinosaurs mentioned specifically in the Bible? One passage that is often pointed to for dinosaurs is Job 40-41. Job 40:15-24 references “behemoth.” The word “behemoth” is a literal transliteration from the Hebrew; that’s how the Hebrew word would be pronounced. Scholars disagree about its meaning; it could mean hippopotamus, or elephant, or a very large creature. The Hebrew word is very similar to the one used in Genesis 1:24-25 that’s often translated as “cattle” or “livestock.” But from the description in the book of Job, the Behemoth definitely sounds like how we would picture dinosaurs.

In Job 41, the Leviathan is another creature that we aren’t really sure what it is. Its description again makes it sound like how we would picture dinosaurs. Leviathan is also mentioned in Psalm 74:14, Psalm 104:25-26, and Isaiah 27:1.

So if these creatures were around in Biblical times, where are they now? The most likely explanation is that they were wiped out in the flood of Genesis 6-7. Other than the fossils that have been discovered, we have little way of knowing what animals were wiped out in that great flood approximately 4500 years ago. We know from the fossils that dinosaurs were once alive, so they were created by God, but the Bible is pretty quiet on the subject.

Fortunately, the issue of details surrounding dinosaurs is not a matter of life and death; our salvation is not dependent on dinosaurs but rather on our faith in Jesus and His saving death and resurrection on the cross for us. What we believe regarding dinosaurs is irrelevant on that matter, which is why it’s okay that the Bible doesn’t share much on that specific topic; it just doesn’t really matter.

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.

READ MORE

The Faith of Barak

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, January 21, 2018 0 comments


by Logan Ames

With it now being early in 2018, we are in the season of awards shows. The Golden Globes took place two weeks ago, the Grammys are coming up next week, and the Oscars will happen in a little over a month. While I know they are part of pop culture and appointment viewing for many fans, I’ve never cared much for them, especially more recently since they have been very politically-driven. But one part of them that I always enjoy is listening to the acceptance speeches. Whether it’s one of the awards shows I referenced above or an athletic achievement such as the Heisman Trophy or an MVP award, I love hearing about all the people that worked hard behind the scenes to help the winner get to that place in life.

It’s always the person out front with the known name and fame who gets the glory. However, the acceptance speeches give those people the opportunity to give credit where credit is truly due. The ones who work hard behind the scenes generally accept that they don’t get the credit because that’s the nature of the work they do. But what if they are deserving of the spotlight and still don’t get it? Sometimes, a person does the leg work AND produces excellence, but the credit is given to another. How do you react when you KNOW you deserve praise but someone else gets it? Your answer has a lot to do with your level of faith in a God who promises an eternal reward regardless of what we receive on earth.

There was a man in the Bible named Barak who had enough faith in the Lord to proceed and win the victory even after he was told he would not get the credit for it. Because of his faith, he is listed in the group commended for their faith in Hebrews 11:32. Like all of the others we have studied so far, Barak did not have a perfect faith. He had at least one moment of weakness that ultimately cost him the honor he would have otherwise received. But God doesn’t require us to have perfect faith; he only requires a willing faith that will participate in HIS work to the extent that he commands.

The story can be found in Judges 4. As they often did throughout their history, the Israelites were still going back and forth from living by faith to doing evil and worshipping idols. This had a lot to do with their leadership, or the lack thereof. After a period in which they did evil and God allowed them to once again be overtaken by a foreign king and army with 900 iron chariots, the Israelites cried out to God for help. It’s interesting that verse 3 tells us that Sisera, the commander of the pagan king’s army, “cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years” before they finally turned to God for help. How long does it take you to turn to God? How many times do you have to suffer consequences or try all the wrong solutions before turning to the One who you knew had the right solution all along? It’s hard to believe they stayed stuck in their ways for twenty years despite their consequences. Then again, maybe some of you reading this have been oppressed by your own sinful choices for even longer.

The great news is that God hears us and responds to our cries no matter how long we have walked away or rejected him. God brings Deborah, who was both a prophetess and a judge/leader in Israel, to light a fire under someone in Israel who would be willing to put a temporary end to their misery. It turns out that someone would be Barak. In verses 6-7, she sends for him and tells him to round up 10,000 men and go up to a mountain top to get ready for her to lead Sisera and all his chariots and troops to the river below where she will give them into Barak’s hands. In other words, he has the chance of a lifetime to make a name for himself and win the greatest victory of his generation. How does he respond to this opportunity? Well, he basically says he’ll only do it if Deborah goes with him (v. 8).

In 2007, I sat in a coffee house in Findlay, Ohio with an elder from my church in Pennsylvania. We and a handful of others had traveled to Ohio for the seminary graduation of a friend of ours from the church. I had known for years God was calling me to go to seminary and learn to be a pastor and I knew that would take me to Findlay, Ohio, but this was my first time visiting the seminary and the city. I had been in a little bit of a spiritual rut in my life and wasn’t really doing what I was most passionate about despite being a youth leader at the time. The elder and I were talking about life and I was explaining my lack of passion and adventure and he simply said, “Logan, I imagine you will continue to feel that way until you do what you know the Lord is calling you to do." Less than two months later, I began to make plans to move to Ohio and go to seminary. A little over a year later, I made the big move.

As I look back on that moment in my life, what strikes me is that it’s not like the elder told me what the Lord was calling me to do. It wasn’t his call to make. He only reminded me of what I already knew the Lord was calling me to do. The issue wasn’t a matter of confusion about the call for me. It was a lack of faith and a choice I had been making to try to assure comfort if and when I would do what God wanted. The same is true with Deborah and Barak. In Judges 4:6, we read that Deborah tells him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you." The King James Version of that verse leads us to believe it is more of a reminder: “Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded... ?” It’s a rhetorical question to remind him of something God had already previously revealed to him. Again, the issue was his faith and level of comfort, not the call. When he responded initially, he was only halfway in. Like me, he wanted a comfortable way to follow God’s call. But that was soon to change.

Deborah responds to his request by choosing to go with him, but declares that his half-committed response means that he will not receive the honor most would for defeating an oppressive regime, and the Lord would use a woman to complete the job by killing Sisera (v. 9). To Barak’s credit, he seems to accept this and moves forward in obeying God’s command anyway (v. 10). The one example we have to show us that Barak grew in his faith throughout this time is that when Deborah tells him Sisera and his army are ready to be overtaken, he doesn’t hesitate (v. 14). He could stay up on the mountain where it would be tough for Sisera’s chariots to reach him, but instead he trusts the Lord and advances down the mountain and wins the victory (vv. 14-15). True to the word spoken by Deborah, Sisera is eventually killed by Jael (vv. 17-21).

The cool thing is that Barak may not have even had to do too much. Judges 5:21 shows us that the river where Sisera and his army were actually “swept them away." When we ultimately follow God’s commands, even if we initially had very weak faith, God always comes through. He will accomplish things that you and I cannot even imagine on our own. We may not get all or even any of the credit, and someone else who didn’t do as much might get it. But we know that the victory is ultimately God’s anyway so it’s irrelevant which human being is honored. When we move forward in faith, we get to watch and participate in what God is doing in the world. If you know God wants you to do something different or take a big step of faith, now is the time. Don’t expect him to show up and show off until you’ve taken that step out of your comfort zone.

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.

READ MORE

What Does the Bible Say About Aliens?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, January 20, 2018 0 comments


by Nathan Buck

I am still a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, and many other sci-fi related storylines. Yes, I can quote specific lines, moments, and character references, as well as pick out the “nods” to series prequels, historical canon, etc. All that to say, when it comes to wondering about aliens and life on other planets, I started asking what the Bible had to say about that when I was a teenager. It was one of the questions that often caused me to doubt God’s existence and the point of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

As a teenager I discussed this at length with the pastor of the church I started attending. He asked me, “What difference would it make if there was life on other planets? What would it change about God’s relationship to you?” It was a great question in that it focused me on why I wanted to know and what assumptions I was making. Part of asking that question was expressing a doubt about God’s existence and the validity of the Bible. Then he took me to Genesis 1, and asked me, “What did God make?” My answer, of course, was “everything.” And he said, “So, whether there is or isn’t life elsewhere isn’t really the question. The question is who made it and who is in charge. If it’s God, then we need to take His Word and apply it in our relationship with Him and let Him reveal what we need to know as we need to know it.”

That was a great start to answering the question, by refocusing on what’s important. As I grew in my relationship with God, I discovered Psalm 8, Hebrews 2, and most significantly Colossians 1. Now, just to be clear, I am not lifting these from their context, but I am drawing conclusions from what these passages do teach in their context. The Bible never speaks of life on other planets directly, but these passages do clearly make statements that should inform our understanding of life in the universe. Another point of clarity for those who do word searches of the Bible is that you will find the word “alien” in the Bible, but it is always referring to people on earth from other nations.

Psalm 8 explains how God created humanity and where we fit in the realm of all creation, and Hebrews 2 takes that understanding and relates it to Jesus. Both explain that we are God’s creation, given honor and glory, and although our form is a little lower than the angels, God has put us in authority over creation. That is an important affirmation. We tend to overlook our God-given place and authority in creation and seek alien life forms when we don’t believe that God created ALL of this universe for us. We seek out alien life when we struggle with the idea of being ‘alone’ in the universe, again because somehow 6+ billion people and God himself are not enough to satisfy our loneliness, sense of belonging, or purpose. We seem to enjoy the idea of other cultures, other humanoid inhabited worlds, and other intelligent species typically for two reasons: because it is entertaining fantasy, or because it gratified some longing that ‘there must be more.’

Colossians 1:15-20 puts a rather clear and precisely focused point on the entire issue. Read the passage and reflect on it. Look at how specific the language is:

  • ALL things are made through Christ, and for Christ. 
  • In Him all things hold together. 
  • JESUS IS the image of the invisible God. 
  • He is before all things.
  • In Him all things on earth and in Heaven are reconciled through Him.

So, if He is THE image of God, and we are made in the image of God, and all things are made through Him and for Him, then it stands to reason that any sentient life anywhere in the universe would be humanoid and share the same attributes as us. And if there are other worlds inhabited by humans, and ALL things in Heaven (meaning the heavens/universe) and earth are reconciled through Him, then that means they have the same story as us - fallen by choosing sin and separation from God, and needing rescued, redeemed, and reconciled to God through Jesus. This also means Jesus then would have been born, walked among them, died for their sin, and resurrected to reconcile them to God forever.

Did Jesus die on multiple planets over and over again in their history? Romans 6:10 quenches this idea by stating that Jesus died “once for all” - meaning “once for everybody at all times.” So, is it possible that he lived simultaneously on multiple planets, and was sacrificed and resurrected at simultaneous moments on all planets? I find that unlikely and not genuine to the understanding the Jesus was fully present and fully involved in His earthly ministry and His sacrifice on our behalf. It wouldn’t be an atoning sacrifice if Jesus wasn’t really present in the flesh and didn’t really die.

So, what does the Bible say about space aliens or life on other planets? Directly, nothing. Indirectly, a couple of things:

  • Seeking life on other planets is a reflection of our pride, insecurity, or denial of the evidence of the universe and earth as a created and intentional place for human existence.
  • Seeking life on other planets is a denial of Jesus’ significance and our significance to God.
  • There is no dynamic of the universe or life that is separate from God, and all of it holds together and exists because of Him.
  • Humanity is God’s treasured creation, and He did ALL of this to express His love for us, His creativity toward us, and the lengths He would go to in making a place for us to live to the fullest of the potential He gave us.

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

READ MORE

To the Church at Pergamos

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 19, 2018 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here.]

In this study of the letters to the churches found in Revelation 2-3, the letter to Pergamos is one of the three with the more dire warnings. Two weeks ago, I wrote about Ephesus and the importance of getting the love for God back in order. Here, the situation is much worse. Pergamos was a very idolatrous city. Ephesus was known for hosting the Temple of Diana, considered one of the wonders of the ancient world. Pergamos was an idolatry capital most noted for being the first city in Asia (Asia Minor and the Middle East) to emphasize Caesar worship. To the Romans, the Emperor himself was considered a god and was to be worshipped as such. Pergamos was the first of the cites in the region to not just embrace but enforce such idol worship. This is why Jesus describes Satan’s throne being at Pergamos. It was a center of great evil.

Jesus opens this letter by reminding them that he carries the double-edged sword, the weapon which pierces bone from marrow and discerns the hearts. The Christians in Pergamos were faithful to the name of Christ and would not deny him, even when Antipas was killed for it. But that is the only good thing Jesus had to say about them, because there were much bigger issues at hand.

The problem Pergamos had was compromise. They had false teachers in their midst whom they did not address nor kick out. The Ephesians stood firm against false teachers, but lost their love in doing so. Pergamos had the opposite problem: too much love and not enough guts to stand against false teachings.

This church did not renounce the name of Christ, but they allowed false teaching to come into their midst. In this case it had to do with the doctrine of Balaam who was cursed for continuing to get payment to curse Israel, yet could only preach blessings. Here, Balaam is accused of suggesting to Israel’s enemy, Balak, to entice them to eat meat sacrificed to idols, committing sexual immorality, and following the Nicolatians. Jesus told this church to repent of this sin quickly lest they fight against him and his sword.

Compromise is a major problem in the church today. I wrote a couple months ago about the dangers of Old Earth Creation behaving as a Pandora’s Box. It is the secular model of Evolution or parts of it, decorated in Christian language, with God’s name slapped onto the back of it in the end. Like the Old Earth crowd who believes in practice that it is just fine to worship God and secularism at the same time (ALL their methods for determining their models come not from Scripture, nor from quality science, but from the secular corruption of science), Pergamos seems to think it was fine for some to worship Caesar and the other gods as long as you didn’t deny Christ. Antipas was killed because he would not compromise and said Jesus was the ONLY God. It was the primary reason of the Roman persecution not directly ordered by the emperors. Not because Jesus was not another god to add to the collection, but because Jesus was the only God and all others were false. Paul is praised for standing up in Athens at the intellectual capital in Acts 17, but his message was not merely, “Here is the identity of the Unknown God.” It was also, “All other gods are false.” Many riots were started because he was taking away from the business of the idolaters around him.

It is not easy to stand for truth in the pit of hell. Many aspire to be a John the Baptist in their field or career, but unless they are built and prepared for crosses and prison, living on the outskirts of society, and very disliked by the established powers, it will be a very short time before the corrupted field influences that person before they ever start to change that field. You cannot go into academia and think you are going to change them to Bible believers easily. If you think you can go into the darkness and change the system, you are fooling yourself. No Christian is ever called to go save the system. We are actually called to rescue the lost FROM the system. And being a rescuer sent into enemy prison camps means there are guards looking for you.

Don’t forget about what the church of Smyrna had to prepare for. If you are not in position to prepare for this, be very watchful because compromise will come easy and you will start looking like the world. This world is going to burn and perish. If you stick with this world’s system, you will go down with it. If God pulls you away from it and you long to look back on it, remember the lesson of Lot’s wife.

Compromise with this world is very dangerous. There may be some areas where it does not affect you and your faith, but it most certainly affects anyone you listen to. When you compromise with any other pagan idea (New Age, Wicca, Islam, Hinduism, humanism, secularism, etc.) you are telling everyone else around you that not only do you really not believe anything, but it’s okay to be a Christian and believe nothing else. The real scary thing is most don’t realize they have compromised, because they have made the compromise their standard for truth instead of the Bible alone.

However, Jesus gave an encouraging word to those who had not bowed to this compromise. He will give them hidden manna to eat (vs 17). What is that hidden manna? There is no private interpretation of Scripture, so it’s not talking about a secret truth. What I believe this is talking about is real spiritual food that cannot nor will not be accessed by the compromisers. The fake Christians will be denied the real food, having to settle for the imitation brand, getting a chew toy instead of beef ribs, as a friend of mine one said. If you want real meat, you need to go to the real source, Jesus Christ and his Word, and leave aside all other worldly knowledge. Why eat good food and poison yourself alongside it?


But there is something else Jesus gives: a stone with a new name that only they will know what it is. I do believe this name is what is going to be written in the Book of Life. Abram, Sarai, Jacob, Simon, and Saul were each given new names after an encounter with God to Abraham, Sarah, Israel, Peter, and Paul. When someone is born again, they are born with a new nature and new identity and with that identity is a new name. We still retain the earthly names we are given, but this verse indicates each believer is given a new spiritual name at the point of salvation which is the identity to be used on Judgment Day. We’ll know for sure when we get there. Next week is perhaps the harshest of the letters: to Thyatira.

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.

READ MORE

Harumph Harumph Harumph

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, January 18, 2018 0 comments


by Steve Risner

Editor’s note: Due to the previous popularity of this post, we’re re-posting it today for your enjoyment.

It’s difficult in these days to have an intellectual conversation if Christianity has some sort of direct or indirect relationship to the topic. Generally, I find that people very quickly reduce the conversation to insults, highly spun information, hand waiving, and a bunch of “Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!” This is true in the origins debate in general. I am not only pointing a finger at those who may disagree with me on origins. Everyone views evidence with bias. Everyone gets very emotionally involved in the discussion, so tempers seem to flare up and boil over quite frequently. I’m guilty of it and I am very concerned with that, personally. I have been praying about and working on keeping my cool when an evolutionist is in the middle of telling me how stupid I am, how anti-science I am, or while they’re arguing against some strawman creationist point they’re preparing to knock down. I’m a work in progress.

This is a strange intro, I realize. I’m trying to set the tone for a series of blog posts I am, at this point, planning to write in response to another blog post. This blog post, titled “Ten Theological Questions No Young-Earth Creationist Can Answer” can be found here. It is very difficult to read something where, from just reading the title, you know the author has not thought well on the subject. This introduction to this series will only deal with a little background information. The author, Tyler Francke, writes for God of Evolution and seemingly attempts to insinuate that being a Bible-believing Christian means you’re dishonest, uneducated, and unthinking. It’s unfortunate. As I stated in my opening paragraph, it’s very difficult to have a conversation with such people. In responding to his post on these allegedly impossible questions for Bible believers—what he terms “fundamentalists”—I have no doubt he is completely uninterested in my words. However, I will inform him that I am indeed going to answer his unanswerable questions. It’s very possible my answers will be mocked and ridiculed as it seems he is fond of doing. I say this hesitantly as I truly despise going there in this introduction but glancing over the God of Evolution site tells me he’s long since abandoned intellectual discussions and reasoning with people who disagree. It seems as if he’s moved to writing for rubbernecks who can pat him on the back.

Reading the testimonial section of the site, in my opinion, is sad. At the top of the testimony page, we see a call for submissions from those who feel alienated by their churches or by religion. This is odd, especially when you read the testimonies, since I am constantly bombarded with bogus stats that claim almost everyone, Christian or not, believes in Darwinian evolution. I’m very frequently told by theistic evolutionists that those who believe in the Biblical creation story are “fundamentalists” and a dying minority. So what’s the deal? In the call for testimonies, he says, “If you’ve ever felt alienated by your church or the larger Christian community because of its rejection of evolution and/or its hostility toward other mainstream scientific ideas, this community — and the world — need to hear from you.” I’m curious what are the “other mainstream scientific ideas…” that Christianity is hostile toward. But, as I’ve mentioned many times in other blogs and even alluded to earlier, Darwinism is a consensus science and you can find support for that claim on the God of Evolution website. Very frequently, you will find when pressed for evidence, there will usually come a point where the evolutionist will spout off something about “99% of all scientists” (or some such nonsense) believe in evolution. I wrote a small piece on that which you can read here. Suffice it to say, consensus science is opposed to free thinking and true scientific inquiry. It’s also noteworthy to mention that many of the greatest minds science has ever known were creationists. I hate to keep linking to other writings, but I addressed the nonsensical nature of the “creation science oxymoron” in a blog post you can find here. I believe it’s just a poor demonstration of one’s willingness to interact with, discuss, and work through the differences with people who disagree with you when this is the sort of thing we see.

Sadly, a reading of the testimonies gives us information as to who he’s targeting with his writings. One testimony writer says he “…came to the conclusion that evolution was true and Genesis 1-3 was not.” Rejecting God’s Word as a result of secularism is not something I would celebrate as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is Mr. Francke’s opinion, I believe, that Biblical creation is something that is harming Christianity the world over. This is, of course, not true at all. It’s true that churches, parents, and Christians in general don’t educate themselves enough on these subjects and, therefore, don’t educate their students on these matters. As a result, because of a lack of understanding of the topic, many “fundamentalist” Christian young adults will have their faith shaken when they get to high school or college. I was educated on the subject mildly and had no issues with the evolutionary and atheistic bias I encountered in college level biology or philosophy courses. If you’re a parent, I would highly encourage you to look into this and begin to prepare yourself and then prepare your children to enter into a world that hates Jesus. Something interesting to note is that Christianity isn’t suffering as many theistic evolutionists will proclaim. (A theistic evolutionist is one who believes God uses Darwinian evolution to create life on earth rather than how the Bible says He created life.) In fact, especially outside the Western world, the Church is growing by enormous numbers. In places not buried under the oppression of the religious zealots of Darwinism, the Body of Christ is expanding in large numbers. You can read a little about the growth of Christianity here.

One of the largest, if not the largest, issues with theistic evolution is that science is used to understand the Bible rather than the other way around. In other words, man’s incomplete, ever changing, and very limited knowledge of nature is used to determine what God actually meant in His Word. This is exactly backwards. Please keep that in mind and understand that “origins science” is nothing more than story telling—whether from a creationist or atheist, religious person or secularist, whoever. We grab some science and arrange it to tell the story we like. There is no such thing as facts for evolutionism and facts for creationism. There are simply facts. We interpret those facts based on our worldview.

With Mr. Francke’s blog post, you’ll find it seems logical or common sense. But this is because it’s incomplete. When you evaluate the subjects he touches on, you’ll see very large amounts of information that seems to have been skipped or shoved to the side. So he jumps from a small statement to a huge conclusion. In all honestly, we’ve all done that and I know I do that even now. Because we already know what the evidence will tell us (because of our presuppositions, worldview, whatever) we find a small piece that supports it. Instead of following that fact to the next and so on, we jump immediately to the conclusion we wanted in the first place. This is why some of his points seem to make sense. And I do believe that he at least brings up some things to consider. But most of his “unanswerable questions” are nothing of the sort. It’s also telling that he claims “no young-earth creationist” can answer these questions. That’s odd. This would mean he’s asked all of us and we’ve all been incapable of responding. I actually know a lot of Biblical (what he terms young-earth—a misnomer) creationists who have not been asked any of these questions. I have never heard a single one and I’ve been engaged in this debate since 1993 to one degree or another.

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.

READ MORE

Nietzsche’s Will to Power

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, January 17, 2018 0 comments


by David Odegard

Nietzsche is famous for saying, “God is dead.” What he meant by that was that society no longer considered God to be there and hence they were on their own. Nietzsche did not believe in God, but he recognized that without a Good God to order the universe, two things would happen.

First, no one could ultimately say what was true. Truth as a universal, rational principle to organize all of life around was an impossibility. Nietzsche was one of the first to admit this. Truth was impossible. One could only hope to find something true for oneself. This became your own narrative of meaning. So instead of Truth with a capital T, there is only truth—truth to your individual story. However, there is no larger story “out there” by which to judge your individual story or your individual truth. Truth is entirely relative. One can only hope to live “authentically” to your particular community’s standard. So if you belong to a community of cannibals, well—live authentically.

Nietzsche was not the first one to believe this. The ancient Sophists, the pre-Socratic travelling philosophers, also believed that all truth was relative. For the most part they didn’t believe in universal truth, so they had only rhetoric or persuasion. What was true or just was up to the people who could persuade others—persuasion to your truth rather than using reason to discover universal truth, see the difference? This closely resembles Nietzsche’s position.

Socrates and Plato hammered the Sophists for this. They believed that truth could be known by using reason; they could come up with a system of belief that was anchored in universal truth and would bring forth the Good Life. Neither Socrates, Plato, nor Aristotle did achieve this universal system, but they believed that by concentrated efforts of reason and working through the data, universal truth would eventually be arrived at.

Christianity obviously holds this position as well. We claim that universal truth is found in the Bible and especially in the person and work of Jesus Christ. One can achieve a universal system of knowledge that will give ultimate meaning to our existence. Christian knowledge is utterly reasonable. One must believe that the prophets are speaking truthfully and that Jesus is speaking truthfully. If one accepts them as truthful, it is entirely reasonable to conclude that Christianity is a universal truth around which all of society can be upheld. It worked for about 1500 years in Europe and then America.

The Nietzschean philosophy, on the contrary, is doomed from the outset. Francis Schaeffer said that it plunges below the “line of despair.” The despair comes from giving up on the idea that universal truth can be known.

A second implication Nietzsche foresaw in a world that rejects God is that without a Good God governing the universe, without a universal moral objective, right and wrong are in the eye of the beholder. Morality is created from thin air by convention. There is no universal agreement of right and wrong.

You might immediately think that is great, now you can binge watch Netflix and live off of the government without a pang to your conscience. But sorry, it means that anyone’s sense of right and wrong can be put in place. Well, anyone with enough power to enforce it. That is what Nietzsche meant by “will to power.” Might makes right. That is all that is left in a world where there is no objective standard of good and no universal judge to hold people accountable at some point.

Morality is decided by those with power. And in most cases since there is no God or gods to govern, morality is decided by the government. Furthermore, there is no objective standard for them to be judged. If the government decides, like the 1930-45 German government did, that Jews ought to be dehumanized and ultimately destroyed, they just did it. No one operating by modern morality can say that they were wrong by objective moral standards, because there are none. Modern thinkers below the line of despair can only say that they don’t like it. But morality is decided by those with power and in the 1940’s in Germany that was the Nazi, the National Socialist Party.

The Nazi connection is an important one, because they used Nietzsche’s idea of “will to power” and it became the operational philosophy of the Third Reich. Also, the justification for ethnic cleansing was also adopted from Nietzsche’s √úbermensch, or Superman. This superman would operate for his own best good, pushing forward his own set of ideals without regard to traditional moral norms. He would decide for himself what was right and wrong.

Hitler blamed the Jews for putting Germany in moral bondage to their sense of right and wrong. He felt it was time to cleanse their conscience of Jewish morality. He adopted the final solution. You can say that he was wrong, as genuine Christianity certainly does, but without God there is no ultimate moral law, so you must make your appeal to a higher-than-human moral law. There is no universal standard of right and wrong by which to judge the Nazis outside of God’s authority. There is only power to enforce your own viewpoint. There is no Truth, only rhetoric. That is what Nietzsche understood.

The heartrending reality is today in Europe and America, we are in the same spot. Think about that next time a Christian is forced to bake a cake for someone, anyone, whom they don’t want to. It is a naked grasp for moral power through force.

IT IS WRONG because God says so.

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.

READ MORE

What Does the Bible Say About Aliens from Another Planet?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 15, 2018 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

And now for something kind of different… what does the Bible say about aliens from another planet? When I first read that topic, my response was that I couldn’t think of a single Bible passage that talks about aliens. But let’s dig into it and see what the Bible tells us on this topic.

A key part of answering this question lies in defining what “aliens” are. Generally speaking, aliens are defined as beings similar to humans - capable of making decisions, having intelligence, and having emotions. Aliens are not algae, bacteria, single-celled organisms, or anything like that.

We know from Genesis 1-2 that God created the entire universe - including earth of course, and all the other planets. God created the earth before He created the sun, moon, or the stars. God created the earth to be inhabited by humans (Isaiah 45:18). Humans are still exploring the vastness of the universe, but of all the planets we have been able to send technology to, none of them are capable of supporting life as the earth is. We know that when God created humans, he put them on earth. There is no evidence in the creation account that God did the same thing anywhere else in the universe.

Genesis 1:31 tells us that, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” At the time of Creation, before mankind sinned, EVERYTHING that God had made was good - including the entire universe and all other planets. Romans 8:19-22 tells us that the whole creation fell when humans sinned and has been suffering ever since, so if there were aliens on another planet, they would be suffering as well. We know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die once and for all (Hebrews 7:27) to save mankind from our sins. He didn’t do this on any other planet, but on earth. So if God had created aliens elsewhere, they would be left to suffer in their sin without even the hope of a savior; would a loving God do that? I’d venture to say no.

The Bible gives us no reason to believe that there are aliens on any other planets in the universe. So what does the Bible say about aliens from other planets? Nothing, because they don’t exist.

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.

READ MORE

The Faith of Gideon

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, January 14, 2018 0 comments


by Logan Ames

Have you ever felt like God was giving you way more than you could handle? I’m not sure there is a human being out there who would say “no." We’ve all been at those points in our lives and many who have at least some knowledge of the Bible immediately think, “Well, either that can’t be true or God is a liar because the Word says he will never give us more than we can handle." If you’re a Christian and a follower of that Word, and you’ve come to a point in your life when you just can’t take anymore suffering, then you’ve probably had to go back to that place in the Word to see what isn’t adding up.

The verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13. Click on that link and read it to see what it REALLY says. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and I’ve realized there is a big difference between “handling” something and “bearing” it. As human beings, we want to be in control. We want to have a handle on things. However, when it comes to the battle against temptation, we’re not told to handle it or control it by our own willpower. We’re told to bear it by the power of Jesus Christ. That’s why the last part of that verse says that God will “provide a way out so that you can endure it." The way out is the Lord Jesus Christ, who demonstrated for us how to bear with temptation (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13), then defeated death, sin, and temptation by raising from the dead after his crucifixion. Without Jesus, we are still susceptible to those things. But as we walk in the power of our Lord, we can bear our temptations and walk away from them. We do this time after time because we will not be fully separated from darkness and temptation until Christ returns, but the life of a Christian is to be lived to show that Christ is in our hearts even now and with HIS power we can bear with temptation until that glorious day.

One way that we continue to fight this battle and bear with temptation is to remind ourselves of others who have battled and the things that God did to get them through. As we remember the works of God, we gain more confidence and trust that he will continue his work in us. The series we’ve been doing on our heroes of faith from Hebrews 11 has been a good reminder for me, and I hope for you also. The stories of these men and women who were ordinary sinners like you and me help us grow stronger and more committed in our own faith. It’s good to pause and consider where we are in the series. The writer of Hebrews is now done giving us the details of each person’s faith story. He now will give us a few names, knowing that our curiosity is piqued enough at this point that we will do our own research to learn about their faith. In Hebrews 11:32, the writer basically tells us he doesn’t have time to keep telling us these stories, so hopefully we get the point by now and can study the rest on our own. I wonder why he writes that and frankly, I don’t have a clear answer. We don’t know for sure who the writer is, but many believe it was Paul. If indeed it was Paul, he seemingly had all the time in the world, having written his other letters mainly while traveling or sitting in prison. Again, maybe he just decided it was time for his audience to do their own study and be blessed!

The first name he mentions is “Gideon." Let me tell you, I was blessed by going back and studying this story, which can be found in Judges 6-8. As you can see for yourself if you read those chapters, Gideon enters the scene during a dreadful time for the Israelites, who were God’s chosen people. As a nation, they had done evil in the eyes of the Lord, so he allowed them to be overpowered by an enemy, the Midianites. The oppression from the Midianites was so bad that the people of Israel had to go and live in mountains and caves. Then, when they worked hard to produce crops and livestock for themselves, the Midianites simply came and stole everything. After being stuck in their sin for so long, the Israelites finally cried out to God to rescue them (Judges 6:6).

God responds first by sending the Israelites a prophet who reminds them of the great things God has done in their history but also reminds them of their sin. It was important for them to see their sin and remember God’s faithfulness anyway before they could be released from the hand of the Midianites. Then, an angel of the Lord comes and appears to Gideon, while he is threshing wheat in a winepress. This was not a normal place to thresh wheat, but it was the only way to try to keep it for himself and his family. Judges 6:12 tells us that the angel says, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." Gideon may have laughed at this. He may have even turned to look behind him to see if the angel was talking to someone else. He sure didn’t feel very mighty while he was having to thresh wheat in a private place for fear of the enemy stealing it. After that, he asks an obvious question that we’d all ask: how can the Lord be with us when we’re dealing with so much suffering? At that point, we realize it’s no longer an angel of the Lord, but the ACTUAL Lord himself who is talking to Gideon. This would’ve been an Old Testament appearance of the Christ, who came to assure Gideon that he indeed was with him and was sending him to rescue Israel from the Midianites.

At this point in our reading, we see that Gideon and the Lord then have a prolonged discussion in which Gideon questions the choice (he admits he is basically the weakest in all of Israel), then asks for some signs to show that God really is with them and will deliver the Midianites into their hands. We can learn from this that weak faith is better than no faith at all. Weak faith and insecurity are not heresy. Gideon is still listed among those commended for their faith in Hebrews 11, so clearly God can use anyone who puts even a little bit of faith in him even when we have doubts. God was patient with Gideon and saw the warrior in Gideon that Gideon didn’t even see in himself yet. Once Gideon discovers it truly is the Lord talking to him, he is given a command that may have seemed like a test to him, but was frankly more important than dealing with the oppressive enemy. Gideon is told to destroy the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole that his father and many other Israelites had been worshipping. The Israelites, like many of us, focused more on the external threats and circumstances than their own sin. They continued to worship idols even as they suffered at the hands of Midian. God knew that sin is a far greater oppressor than any foreign enemy, and it had to be dealt with FIRST.

Gideon obeys God and takes down the altars. Once the sin was properly dealt with, he was ready to move forward and accomplish God’s will. The enemy would have well over 100,000 troops, yet God planned to use Gideon and only 300 other men to defeat them. God wanted to make sure that stubborn and arrogant Israel did not take credit and boast of their victory, so he had Gideon reduce the army all the way down from 32,000 through two cuts. Once Gideon was down to 300 men, outnumbered over 400 to 1 by the enemy, he was truly ready to let God lead him to victory. Read the story yourself to see how God does it. Basically, Gideon and his band of merry men were collectively God’s tag-team partner. God did all the work, then tagged in Gideon and his army to finish the job and pin the enemy. God caused the enemy to be afraid, which led to them turning on and killing each other.

Gideon had to be tempted throughout the story to walk away from the Lord and give in to fear. But once he understood that the Lord was with him, that gave him power to bear that temptation and endure the struggle. It was power he didn’t know he had, and truthfully, he didn’t have it until he was obedient and got to know the Lord. If you are tempted, if you feel like you can’t take anymore suffering, if you are overwhelmed by the enemy, then put your trust in the Lord and find the power you need from him. Faith in him is the only thing that allows us to endure.

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.

READ MORE

To the Church at Smyrna

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 12, 2018 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

The second letter from Jesus to the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 is to Smyrna. Smyrna had it rough with numerous persecutions, poverty, and slander against them. Jesus’ letter to them was a letter of encouragement. This and the letter to the church in Philadelphia were the only two of these seven without a warning against a particular sin. This is a letter warning that the hardships were about to get worse, but it would be worth enduring them.

Jesus first reminds this church that he is the First and the Last, the one who died but now is risen. It is difficult to be in a worse situation than dead as Jesus was, but he rose from it. He knew the works of Smyrna. He knew the tribulations they were going through. He even knew their poverty and yet declared they were rich. And he knew that there were other Christians and Jews claiming to be as such who were not and were blaspheming both them and the very Christ they claimed to follow.

The first century church was a church that lived the way Christianity was supposed to live. Yes, they had many flaws and many faults, but the Bride of Christ worked as a whole unit, endured fierce persecution, and was willing to leave everything on the field to go after Christ. They were dealing with Nero’s formal persecution but also much of the informal persecution which Paul often saw. They were not wealthy, yet they had riches no one in the world system could see. False believers were speaking openly against them with slander. There is a lot of similarity to this among the true Christians today.

I am not citing a "no true Scotsman" fallacy because I am not specially defining a “Christian” to rule out those I disagree with. I am defining a “Christian” not as a follower of a religion, but as the Bible describes them: as someone who has been born again, bears the new nature of Christ, and lives their lives as though that is true of them. Jesus described the false believers who claim to be Jews as synagogue of Satan.

We in America do not have the formal persecution going on which was endured in the Roman Empire or the 1500s Inquisition. However, we are experiencing the informal persecution and it’s getting worse. Christians have been bullied out of business because of standing for their beliefs. I’m not just talking about a cake-maker whose case is before the Supreme Court, or even Hobby Lobby who balked at being forced to participate in supplying abortion to its employees (they only balked at 4 of the 20-some stipulations). A Christian family was booted from a farmer’s market because of a Facebook comment against gay marriage. And here, Justin Derby goes over an article how a student was booted from his university class for speaking against gay marriage on Facebook and the court, acknowledging no rights were violated and his right to freedom of speech, supported the school’s decision to remove him. This doesn’t include the heavily documented cases about discrimination in the scientific community against anyone who challenges the evolutionary paradigm. The video “Expelled” provides just a sampling of what is going on.

I have witnessed the slander from false Christians quite a bit too. They usually come in the form of Old Earth Creationists who, on the forums talking with me, will speak the language and try to get along, despite questioning the authority and sufficiency of Scripture the whole time. However, I’ve seen the same people in other groups and if I had not previously heard their claim to be a Christian, I would believe they were some of the most vicious militant atheists I’ve seen. They do a very poor job at convincing me to think otherwise when I engage with them.

It is going to get worse. That is what Jesus warned the church of Smyrna and he warns those of us being persecuted for nothing other than actually standing up and saying what the Bible says (not merely talking about Biblical Creationists here), that it is going to get worse. But he encourages us to hang on and endure. Some will be arrested and put into prison. Those of you reading Worldview Warriors today, do not think this is going to be readily accessible forever. Many of us are outspoken about our beliefs in the public square, preach in pulpits, speak at conferences, and as a result, we will be targeted at some point because of that. They will likely try to shut down our ministry, cut us off the internet, or silence us into small churches, but I can see each of us writers having the potential of spending time in jail for no other reason than speaking truth to a world which hates it. Are we ready to make such a stand?

Jesus told us, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Yes, that means stay true to what you believe, even unto the point of death. Very few of us have ever taken serious thought about what that means. It is easy to say, “I’ll never deny Christ.” We’ll see when the real persecution hits, when it becomes a matter of life or death, when it becomes a matter of the life of a loved one or renouncing Christ. Are we willing to pay that price for our Savior?

Those who endure and will not renounce the name of Christ at the cost of job, popularity, social prestige, finances, family turning on you, or even death, will not be touched by the second death (verse 11). There are many who as a lifestyle live their lives in sin and while Revelation 21-22 are cited as the glorious chapters, Revelation 21:8 gives a list of those who will not make it. Take note of the first one listed: the cowardly. When Peter denied Christ he was a coward. He talked big, but when it came down to it, he found out he was all talk. This same man just 50 days later would speak boldly before thousands, and only a few days after that he told the Sanhedrin who had just imprisoned him he would rather obey God than men. How was this possible? Pentecost, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. There is no way to endure this persecution without knowing the God of the Bible in his power in your life. Head knowledge won’t do it. Emotional passion won’t do it. Only the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in his power can do it. The persecution is coming and God will offer all the grace necessary to get through it. In that day, if it hasn’t already been revealed, the true Christian from the faker will be revealed, because the faker will not endure. Do not let that be said of you. Make sure you are in right standing with God and if you want to be sure about where you stand, talk to me or any of the blog writers here with Worldview Warriors.

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.

READ MORE

Good Mutation, Bad Mutation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, January 11, 2018 0 comments


by Steve Risner

Mutations: they’re tricky things to like. Evolutionists will argue that mutations are the “driving force” of evolution. This means that mutations are supposedly what brings about new genetic information which will lead to, over eons of time I guess, major changes in an organism’s characteristics—even new anatomy and physiology. Is there support for this? Is there evidence that mutations in the genetic code can turn a dinosaur into a chicken or an ancient ape into a human being? Let’s take a look, as this is one of the things thrown at creationists, insisting that creationists don’t understand evolution.

What’s a mutation? According to Wikipedia, it’s “the permanent alteration of the nucleotide sequence of the genome of an organism.” In other words, it’s a mistake made in the genetic code of an organism during some type of copying of the genetic information—DNA—or through some kind of external cause like radiation. That’s the simple explanation and it works fine.

Creationists maintain that the vast majority (not quite but nearly all) of mutations have no benefit whatsoever. There are some instances where, due to a change in environment or circumstance, a mutation may create a benefit that in reality is/can be destructive if the environmental change is reversed. This is often the case in antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Not having a benefit could mean that the mutation’s result is negative or neutral. The great thing is that our Creator, God Almighty, created a genetic code that runs in pairs. We receive half of our genetic material from our father and half from our mother. If dad’s DNA had a mistake in it when it was used at conception, there’s a good chance that mom’s DNA doesn’t have the same mistake. This generally results in the non-error DNA taking dominance over the mistake or mutation. In essence, it means that the mistake will never be known. However, there are certainly clear cases of negative mutations. There are, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute, currently just under 17,000 known genetic disorders in humans. This means there are nearly 17,000 known ways for a person to be ill (often times life-threateningly so) because of a mutation. There are, as with many of these things, various numbers thrown around. It may only be just over 6,000, but the fact remains—it’s a lot.

How many “beneficial” mutations do we know of? That’s a tricky question. It depends on what you mean by beneficial. There are 4 beneficial mutations I could find (and I’m being generous) online in humans (as opposed to nearly 17,000 negative mutations). I’m sure there must be others. Let’s see if these pan out and then we’ll discuss whether or not they actually matter.

The A-I Milano mutation has been found in a small population in Italy. This gene mutation makes these folks less susceptible to heart disease. This, to the evolutionists, is a death blow to creationists. However, to those who think that, it shows their incompetence concerning creationist beliefs and concerning this mutation. First of all, creationism has no issues with beneficial mutations at all. Why would we? But the truth is, most if not all beneficial mutations fail to do the one critical thing evolution needs for support: add new genetic information. An evolutionist who uses this particular examples as a means to show you that evolution is true because, hey, this is a beneficial mutation needs to be educated on what creationists believe about mutations and needs to understand this is not an issue even slightly. Let’s investigate.

This mutation actually is not an addition of new information. It’s not going to create a new type of human being that is more advanced or specialized than the current version. It’s a loss of information in reality—this means the protein in question is actually no longer doing what it’s supposed to. There’s a lot to it, but the basic idea is this mutation causes a protein to malfunction and that malfunction seems to be helpful in reducing the effects of atherosclerosis. It’s actually less adequate at doing what it’s supposed to do. This is not a kill shot for evolution, in fact it’s not even helpful for evolutionists. You can read a little about it here.

Then there is the malaria fighting (and sometimes deadly) mutation that causes sickle-cell anemia. This is a “beneficial” mutation that has inappropriately strengthened the case of Darwinism. The mutation in question is, like the previous one, a degenerative change that happens to help some of those who have it. I say “some” of those who have it because to those who have 2 of these mutations in their genes, the resulting disease is not good. Associated with this disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic, are things like anemia, episodes of pain and joint swelling, frequent infections, and vision issues, as well as growth problems for children. These issues can result in stroke, blindness, acute chest syndrome, organ damage, and a variety of other issues, many of which are life threatening. The average life expectancy of someone with sickle-cell is less than age 50. This doesn’t sound like a major advantage to me. If you were born with only one copy of this mutation, you do have an enhanced ability to resist the damaging effects of malaria. That’s great, but it’s not supportive of evolution, even a little bit.

The other 2 examples you can research a little on your own. It’s clear that an increased bone density can be helpful, but at what cost? And is this some sort of increase in new information or simply a deregulation or loss of info? And perhaps seeing 4 colors rather than 3 is some sort of evolutionary advantage. I can’t say, but I don’t see women who can see 4 colors being at some major advantage to the rest of us.

So, are there really beneficial mutations? I can’t say. I suppose some of these degenerative mutations which most often represent a loss of information are helpful in some cases. But they hardly represent the sort of change necessary for anyone to use them to suggest universal common descent is a thing. Evolutionists will use these examples as proof positive for Darwinism. Creationists don’t see it that way. Evolutionists will suggest this is because creationists don’t understand evolution, but upon careful examination of the claims and the actual science, it turns out an evolutionist who uses these examples as support for evolution doesn’t understand. Don’t be fooled and don’t be sucked in to baseless “proofs” that can easily be knocked down with a little investigation.

The truth is, mutations that serve to benefit the individual but do not add novel information to the genetic code are not at odds with creationism at all and do not support evolutionism (universal common descent) at all. God said He created the heavens and the earth. His claim is to be the Creator of man on the 6th day of creation. Any mutation that has happened since then that persists is exceptionally more likely to create a problem than a benefit. Most mutations are not of any use to its carrier and a very large number create negative conditions like cancer, Marfan syndrome, Huntington’s disease, and thousands of others. Do mutations (beneficial or otherwise) create problems for the Bible-believing Christian? Of course not! Not even a tiny amount. In fact, the evidence supports creation quite well.

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.

READ MORE

The Parable Explained

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, January 10, 2018 0 comments


by David Odegard

Haddon Robinson once said about his students, “The bright ones get it.” After all of his years teaching people how to preach, he understood that the listener has to bring something to the table if they are going to understand any given message. Some (but only some) of what passes for poor preaching is in reality poor listening.

Jesus was a master storyteller. He wove intricate concepts and interpretation of Scripture into simple stories. Once heard, these stories remain in the mind. Jesus created a myriad of unforgettable characters like the Good Samaritan, the Persistent Widow, the Unjust Steward, the Good Shepherd and so on. These characters are true to life and they live in our hearts and minds. They illuminate our perception of the world.

These stories were not accidentally created. Jesus knit them together, not out of spun yarns, but out of keen observation of the human condition—the condition He came to heal. Large crowds gathered to hear Him preach or watch Him perform a miracle. They came for a show, but Jesus disarmed His opponents as He gave them the words of life in story form.

A good parable is like a depth charge. It slips past the defense mechanisms and sinks deeper and deeper into the psyche without any alarm whatsoever. Then suddenly a flash of light, a deep rumble, and the parable is understood. The listener is forever changed and the parable remains.

Jesus did not explain His parables to the large crowds; He reserved that for His disciples. Imagine Jesus showing up to your college campus and because He is constantly in the news, a big crowd students and faculty forms to see what He is all about. The crowd quiets because it senses that He is about to lay some heavy truth on them. Jesus says, “A farmer put certified seed in the hopper of his seeder and pulled it through his field. Some of the seed was planted in alkali soil, some in thin, dry soil, some among weeds, and some in really good soil.” That’s it. Jesus walks away leaving the crowd to figure it out.

Some of the people are frustrated because they don’t understand the parable at all and it seems unfinished. Some of them would say, “That’s it? Who is he? Some sort of gibberish-spouting mystic?” Others would not give Him a second glance as they hurry to class. Still others might discern the kernel of truth thinking, “I sort of get it. He is saying something about us, something about how we conduct our lives.” But then the person gets a text and snaps back into her world, dropping the thread of Jesus’ idea altogether.

But a few listeners, the bright ones, get it. They realize that Jesus is saying that only a few will listen in order to understand. Those few who do listen, understand. To understand Jesus is to understand the core truths about humanity. In other words, it is to gain wisdom—practical skill at living life which satisfies us and gives us overflowing joy. It conveys skill in acquiring the Good Life.

In my humble attempt last week at a parable, the rain stands for the Life. As the Apostle John wrote in his first letter to the church, “The Life appeared, we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (1 John 1:2). Jesus is the Life. He is the source of all life and the sustainer of all things. Humanity wallows in death. They forgot the good life; Jesus came to resuscitate them, to remind them of true life (see more here).

Old hickory limbs, loincloth Merlin, he stands for the pastor, the man of God who is responsible for a community. That community is comprised of believers, but they are not separate from the world in a commune. The community of believers is in the world and Ole’ Hickory has a responsibility to the lost people who live in the shadow of his tribe.

The garden represents the fruit of our walk with God. We receive the Life and it is our provision. We always want more—demand for the good life always exceeds supply as far as we can tell. We want God to do all the work for us. We want Him to hook us up to an IV and let us sit in front of the television. But that is not how life with God works. The Apostle John reports Jesus’ words this way, “You must remain in me and I in you…” (see John 15). We have to work to develop our life in congruity with the life of God. If we are lazy, we will not experience the good life.

Ole Hickory realizes that we must help take care of one another in this walk of faith. By diligent seeking of God and the Life that is in Him, the preacher can help others to be connected through faith. The effect is an abundant life (see Psalm 1) for all. Those people in turn help others and suddenly there is an atmosphere of discipleship created.

In the parable, some people are slower to take the focus of themselves (they just keep showing up with an empty pumpkin wanting it to be filled). These people represent the many people in church who are focused on themselves, what they want to get out of a service, “their” ministry opportunities, how they demand to “be fed.” Selfishness always, always, always cools genuine love. Love is self-sacrificial by its very nature. Selfishness is an opposite.

In my parable, the hundred-fold tribe is a local church. As the congregation catches the vision and participates in the ministry of Christ to the world, they experience the Good Life for themselves and as a natural extension they are able to share with the world around them. The people are only too happy to share God’s Life (see Matthew 28:18-20).

The starving people represent those who are separated from God, from the true Life. They beg, “What must we do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30-33). But having been saved themselves by tapping into God’s Life, the church can answer with the confidence of Isaiah 55:1. There is plenty to go around!

The end of my parable shows a healthy church, a steady stream of newly saved people, and a satisfied pastor who knows that they dug in to the resources God supplied and they fulfilled the Great Commission. He and the congregation are poised to hear the “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). My parable has a happy ending, which was created by a few strokes of a pen. But dealing with human resistance to God’s will is much harder in real life. So, we must pray and preach and love and wait for people to open their hearts to the Good Life that God gives.

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.

READ MORE

What Does the Bible Say About Bitterness?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 8, 2018 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Last week, I wrote on what the Bible says about anger. This week’s topic is closely related to that: what the Bible says about bitterness.

What’s the difference between anger and bitterness? Generally speaking, anger is the reaction to a hurt that is presently going on, whereas bitterness is how we feel about past hurts that we can’t (or won’t) let go of. Anger can often go away quickly, while bitterness is a lingering emotion. We can control our anger and how we react to it, but when we let bitterness take hold of us, it controls us. We often act on our anger, but bitterness generally festers more quietly.

So what does the Bible say about bitterness? Primarily, it tells us to get rid of it. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Note how bitterness is linked to the need for forgiveness; bitterness happens when someone angers us and we don’t forgive them. Jesus tells us how many times we should forgive someone in Matthew 18:21-22: essentially, as many times as they wrong us.

We see that if we hold on to bitterness and don’t forgive those who have wronged us, God will not forgive us. Jesus tells us about this in Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25, and Luke 17:3-4.

Note that in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6, we see that love keeps no record of wrongs. Keeping track of how someone has wronged you generally leads to bitterness, because you’re holding onto the times they have made you angry.

To keep bitterness out of your life, follow the words given to us in Hebrews 12:14-15: “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Be on guard against the danger that bitterness can have on your life; if left untreated and unforgiven, it will lead you and others astray from God’s Word.

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.

READ MORE

The Faith of Rahab

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, January 7, 2018 0 comments


by Logan Ames

Now that we have officially entered a new year, it’s a good time to reflect on how we are doing with recognizing our need for the Lord and trusting in him to get us through anything. You may look back on challenges that you faced in 2017 or you may be anxious as you think about the difficulties that might be coming your way in 2018, but faith encourages us to persevere and to learn what trusting fully in God means through each of those things. There’s a great old hymn that was redone a few years ago by Matt Maher called “Lord, I Need You” which reminds us that we don’t just need God’s presence in our lives on Sunday mornings at church or when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances; we actually need him EVERY HOUR!

I remember a little over a year ago, at the end 2016, when three notable celebrities all lost their lives over a span of 4 days. After the deaths of George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, some people that I know publicly mourned their deaths on social media. But what may have begun as typical tributes and remembrances for what those people contributed to the world quickly turned to anger over the deaths. Some people, including several Christians I know, posted things like, “Okay 2016, time for you to go away!” or “2016, you suck!” People would talk about it as if the year itself had something to do with these deaths. Some people couldn’t hide their frustrations over these deaths being added to the deaths of people like Prince, Arnold Palmer, and others that took place earlier in the year. I understand that nobody likes death and we all deal with it in different ways, but I was so confused as to how people could throw their anger at a YEAR of all things.

These celebrities were not personally known by the vast majority of the people I’m talking about. Yet, death is something we all have to deal with on a personal level as well. When someone we love is taken from us, how do we respond? Do we throw our anger at God or something else? I believe it’s one of the things God uses to get our attention, to remind us of how fragile our lives are and to encourage us to depend on him. I remember hearing a sermon by John Piper one time when he was teaching on Luke 13:1-5 and pointed out that when we see great death and destruction, we shouldn’t be asking why so many died. He said the more appropriate thing to question is why we have been spared so far! If we truly understand our sin and God’s righteousness, we should wonder why we are allowed to live, not why others die.

Faith in who God is gives us a proper perspective. In the Old Testament, a woman named Rahab came to understand who God was even when everyone around her didn’t, and it literally saved her life. Hebrews 11:31 tells us about her faith, which led to her being spared while those who were unbelieving around her were killed. In order to understand the magnitude of her faith in the midst of a disobedient society, we have to go back and read the original story.

In Joshua 2, we see that Joshua and the people of Israel are preparing to cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land (the land of Canaan that would later become what we know today as “Israel”). It’s only wise to count the cost and see what they might have to deal with when they cross, so Joshua secretly sends spies to scope out the land, “especially Jericho” because that would be the first city they would have to conquer. God was giving them this land, but that didn’t mean the pagans who lived there were going to give it up quietly. As we saw in last week’s post, God worked a miracle and caused the walls of Jericho to fall as soon as the people followed his complete instructions. So, this type of reconnaissance didn’t really end up being necessary. Nevertheless, Joshua was acting in wisdom and God was going to use it for a different reason.

The reason was to bring Rahab to salvation. She is listed in Hebrews 11:31 and Joshua 2:1 as a “prostitute." First and foremost, we must see the truth here that faith is not something that only happens for the “religious” or “self-righteous." It doesn’t happen by going to church, and it’s not about our parents. No matter where we come from or what we’ve done, faith is an individual choice and is shown through action. Rahab did a lot of things wrong and lived in a pagan city enslaved by the filth of the world, but she chose to have faith when she came to realize she needed God the most. Her home was a logical place for the spies to go and stay because no one would have suspected anything out of the ordinary. That was their human plan, yet it was foiled and Joshua 2:2-3 tells us that the men are found out and the king of Jericho asks Rahab to bring them out. They had to be thinking they were toast. They would be killed unless God worked a miracle.

Joshua 2:4-13 then tells us that, at the moment of truth, Rahab lied and told the king that she sent the men away even though they were actually hiding on the roof. The men, who I’m sure were shocked at her choice, then get to hear her reasoning. She shares that she knows the Lord has given them and their people the land, and goes on to say, “The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below” (v. 11). This was an amazing statement! A woman with no godly upbringing whatsoever learned what it meant to fear God. And when she realized what God was up to, she knew it was time to get on his side. Notice how she said “the Lord YOUR God” (caps mine). Rahab was not yet a follower of God, but she was willing to learn more about what that meant. And it started with one step of faith that ultimately saved her and her family. An old pastor of mine used to pray, “Lord, I’m not willing, but I’m willing to be made willing." Sometimes that’s all it takes. Yet, we get caught up with religion and judgments. Rahab had no idea what it meant to follow God, but she made her choice and there was no turning back.

Rahab told a lie, and that is never right in God’s eyes. But Rahab is not remembered for her sins, but for her faith. And in that regard, she’s no different than anyone else in Hebrews 11 or any of us. We all make mistakes and do things wrong, but faith is still a choice each and every moment of our lives. And besides that, we cannot judge people who are not believers to follow a believer’s standard. Jesus invites them in. Jesus actually enters the houses of SINNERS. Maybe we should stop judging the actions of unbelievers and start spending more time getting to know them. We never know when that person might make a life-changing decision of faith.

The spies make a deal with Rahab to show them a sign when they come into the city that will tell them she has not changed her mind and is still on their side. Then, Joshua 6:22-25 tells us that, during the overtaking of Jericho, Rahab and her household are indeed spared because she kept her end of the deal and proved to be faithful. We see at the end of that passage that she “lives among the Israelites to this day." Rahab became a believer AFTER she made the choice to be faithful. She grew in her faith and learned more and more about this God she became aware of. She learned about how much she needed him in her life every hour. And because of her faith, she becomes so much a part of God’s story that Matthew 1 lists her as one of only 4 women in the genealogy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So again I urge you, stop wasting time judging yourself or others for past mistakes and start trusting God for everything. Accept that you need him every hour of 2018 and beyond, and let your life be the example that brings sinners to a saving relationship with 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.

READ MORE

To the Church at Ephesus

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 5, 2018 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The next post is here.]

To open up 2018, I want to look at the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. These are letters from Jesus, penned by John, to these seven churches. I am not going to get into who the seven churches represent, or why these specific seven were included and not others. Some of these letters are letters of rebuke. Some are letters of encouragement. Some have both. I want us each to examine ourselves to see where we fall, because in every church congregation, there is someone in each of these categories and a good chance that each church congregation in general falls into one or more of them. Remember to look to yourself first before you start looking at others. That includes me and it starts right here with the letter to the church at Ephesus, because as I read it to prepare this series, I saw me. Please read the passage before moving on.

Jesus spends two verses praising the church at Ephesus. He recognizes their works, their labor, their patience, and their refusal to bear evil. He loves that they test who they hear from, exposing the liars and false apostles for who they are, and how they have endured with patience and perseverance without becoming weary. I’ll be honest, that sounds exactly like me. I love working for the Lord and being involved in what he is doing. I am called to apologetics as just one part of my full calling, so while it is not fun to have to speak about false teachers, speaking truth is fun. But don’t think this is a boast, because the next part is also true of me.

Jesus had one major problem with the church at Ephesus: they lost their first love. They lost doing what they did for the love of Christ and his Bride and instead had done all this because of call and duty. I am an intellectual type and I don’t respond to emotion the same way most people do. I am very factually based and it’s very black and white to me. It’s true or it’s not and there is no middle ground. I am a straight-shooter, and I like getting to the point quickly. But I find I can ever so easily do this without love. And I’m not even talking about love for the other person; I’m talking about love for my Savior.

It is so easy to stand up and boldly proclaim, “The Bible is true!” It is true, but why do I stand and proclaim it? Just because I have a fact I must share? To be honest, that really is the primary reason I tend to operate by. When I see atheists post on Facebook, my primary instinct is to want to correct them because they are factually wrong. I have done a much better job at controlling my tongue (that is, my fingers on the keyboard) than I have in the past, but in my head, I’m refuting them long after I scroll past it. As I am writing this, I am reading Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. I’ve read books of false teachings and I get a righteous indignation boiling inside me, however with Dawkins, I am almost reading it as a comedy book because his arguments are so sad and weak. It has caused me to pity the man and wonder how much he could wreck this world system if he came to actually meet Jesus and get saved as Paul did.

But where is my love? It is easy to talk about love for your fellow brother and even for the lost, but I’m going to cut to the chase and hit the same nerve I am feeling as I am writing this. Where is our love for God? Numerous pastors, missionaries, and even evangelists, start hot and on fire but eventually burn out. Why? Because their initial love grew cold. They began to see their work as their job from which they can one day retire from and no longer work in service to the King of Kings out of their love for him. Why do we study the Bible? For factual knowledge only, (I’m guilty here), or to get to know the Author? Why do we pray? To get our needs met, or to just be in the presence of God? I can identify part of why I’ve been struggling with my prayer time, because it’s been more out of duty and trying to discipline myself rather than coming to God just to be with him and let him deal with the issues.

Jesus gave a solution to this loss of love for him and this is found in Revelation 2:5. Remember from where you have fallen. Were you once on fire for God? Was there a time where you could regularly grab a hold of the horns of the altar and speak with your God, but it’s lost now? Remember what brought you to that spot. Do not wish for old times to return, but instead ask God to bring you back and do what he says to get there. Repent. Turn back from what you are doing which has pulled you away from that moment. Do the first works. Do what God has told you to do. If you don’t know what that is, then go back to the last thing you know he said to do and do it until it is done. God has no obligation to give you new orders if you have not done what he has already told you. God will remind you what they are. And those who continue to refuse to listen to this warning is going to be cut off, unless there is repentance.

But Jesus then reminded Ephesus that he was pleased with how they hated the Nicolatian teachings. Exactly what those were is not made clear, but since these people are brought up several times in these seven letters, they are worth noting. They represent a particular kind of false teaching that was often thought to be about food sacrificed to idols and other idol worship. Exactly what that was, I am not sure. However, the Ephesians would not tolerate these false teachers so Jesus applauded them for it.

Unfortunately, many people tend to swing to one extreme or the other. They tend to swing towards staying true to sound doctrine, or towards expressing love without sound doctrine. Jesus here is promoting both. He was supportive of the Ephesians’ efforts and their stance against sound doctrines. It makes absolute sense why Paul gave them the Armor of God because they were the ones leading the battle for truth. However, by the time of Revelation, the Ephesians lost their initial love and zeal for God and Jesus is telling them to get back to it.

Lastly here, Jesus finishes each letter with “He who has ears let him hear.” Those who have the ability to hear his message, hear it and obey it. It is so easy to hear a solid message but then not act upon it. Let us (let me) not be that way. Let us return to that first love we had when we first got saved and let not just his love pour out through us, but also his firm stance on 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.

READ MORE