The Price of Ignorance

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, February 24, 2018 0 comments


by Nathan Buck

Regardless of your political affiliation, read through this, as it is important for all of us. In the last week, we have seen the termination of an NBC commentator for his comments during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, the negative Twitter flurry over an appropriate quote from Hamilton used to congratulate US figure skater Mirai Nagasu, and the admonishment of other commentators for any statement that could be taken wrong by anyone. We saw the use of Twitter by Adam Rippon to amplify his spotlight by taking a shot at Vice President Pence as being hateful toward gays, and then duck and cover when the VP offered to meet in person and have a conversation to get to know each other. The climax of the week was Joy Behar, on The View, stating without hesitation or reservation, that to be Christian and to say you 'hear God' is a sign of mental illness. Her comments were specifically directed at VP Pence, but they were insensitive, slanderous, and hurtful.

The outcry from religious people and mental health community was swift, and many demanded her termination. VP Pence responded with respect and disappointment, pointing out the damage this kind of careless speech can have on those who do struggle with mental illness, and also on people of all faiths - whose relationship with their god was stated as illness.

Now, I am not advocating for Pence, nor am I stumping for action on any of these specific events. I AM wanting to point out the extreme irresponsibility and damage that can be done when people publically speak out of ignorance. If there is a call to action, it is in what we learn from these situations. Look at what these events have in common. In each of them, someone tried to be smart, funny, popular, recognized, or powerful by stating something publically that they thought would help others see them this way. And in each circumstance, they said something out of their lack of knowledge or experience, and they ignited criticism and backlash. Maybe they did it knowing what would happen, maybe it was calculated, but it appears to just be stupidity given voice. We used to just tolerate these comments and ignore them - knowing that person would eventually encounter reality, or maybe we would thoughtfully share the truth with them. But NOW the culture is trained to be 'triggered' every time someone says something stupid, inflammatory, etc. The reactions are sharp, tribal, and often just as ignorant.

Ok, this is not a new phenomenon, even if we feel like it is new to us in our culture. Even Charles Dickens included in the Christmas Story that the two most dangerous "creatures" were Ignorance and Want. Consider the ways in which ignorance and desire have lead us to racial division, wars, class separation, and genocide. There is a heavy price for ignorance, which brings me to Jesus' example in Matthew 15:1-20.

Jesus and his followers just finished traveling across the Sea of Galilee by boat, teaching people and physically healing people. They are tired, and yet empowered by God and doing amazing things, and apparently they grabbed a snack. Religious leaders there decided this was a time to challenge Jesus and try to invalidate what is happening. Instead of acknowledging the good and celebrating that people have been miraculously healed, instead of acknowledging the work Jesus and His disciples are doing for people, these religious leaders focus on the fact that the disciples didn't pause to ceremonially wash their hands before eating.

Why am I calling this out? The religious leaders thought they were uber smart and tuned into God's plans. They knew the rules and believed that they were in a position to correct Jesus and discredit Him. They spoke out of what they were certain they knew, and they never considered the potential of their ignorance.

Read the rest of the passage carefully. See how Jesus responds to them. What does He call out? 

Jesus counters their appeal to the 'clean hands' tradition that they FELT was sacred, and exposes how they have used their traditions to break God's commands which ARE sacred. They had become so confident of their position and interpretation of events that they couldn't see where they were getting it wrong. They spoke from the silo of their experience and forgot that God sees everything and can consider every perspective in helping people live out what IS true and right and good.

But here is what is critical: Jesus said, “It is not what goes into a person's mouth that makes them unclean, but what comes out of it... the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart and these defile them... from the heart come evil thoughts: murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander...these are what defile a person.” As we face another day of reactive media attention, violence in our schools, and division within our nation and our neighborhoods, let us fully acknowledge this simple truth. Unrestrained lips are destructive, no matter who may be speaking.

If we are going to stop the downward spiral of our culture, it is going to start with people who care about knowing the Truth and speaking words that heal and restore. The path forward for us as a nation and as the human race is to shut out ignorance and the reactiveness of our short-sightedness. We need to assume our ignorance, position ourselves as learners, and in the places where we get to speak God's Truth, do so with gentleness and respect. Even if we are pressed to defend ourselves or others against the ignorance that perpetrates all kinds of evil, we must do so with humble restraint toward what is actually true, and with every effort to open the eyes of those who are acting in ignorance - just like Jesus did.

I recognize that there was a season in my life where I was hyper critical of the mystical, like Joy Behar, and may have even dared to speak outrageous things. Fortunately, I did not remain ignorant on the things I had spoken so firmly against, and I pray the same for her. I also hope all of us are able to acknowledge our own ignorance and be willing to discuss, discover, and discern, so that we and others do not have to pay the heavy price of ignorance.

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

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The Bible’s Take on Creation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 23, 2018 2 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

This week, Worldview Warriors is looking at what the Bible says about creation. There is far too much to say on this topic in one blog post and this has been a topic discussed by myself, Steve Risner, Bill Seng, and others on occasion in great detail. Today, I want to boil it down to the core issues and remind us what the creation issue is so important. There are three major aspects I want to address: the details of the creation account given, the purpose of the creation account, and whether it is a primary or secondary issue.

There are many who try to minimize the importance of the creation account. Some do this because they really have not thought about the purpose of the account and see it as a distraction. Others, however, do this for the intentional purpose of inserting their opinions (namely evolutionary aspects) into the mix. Now, the Bible does not say “About 6000 years ago, God created the heavens and the earth.” Many old earthers use this as their primary argument to insert their opinions of pagan origins (yes, I said that intentionally). But they purposefully ignore what the Bible does say about the creation in doing so.

The Bible gives five major details regarding creation, and most seem to only recognize one of them. The Bible tells who created the universe: God. Then the whole rest of the Bible proceeds to describe God in who he is and his interactions with mankind. Most old earth creationists and young earth creationists will agree on this point, however, I do question the OEC’s understanding of who God really is.

The Bible gives the order of how God created the universe. That’s Genesis 1 in a nutshell. Every old earth models gets this aspect wrong; I’ll explain why next week. The Bible tells us the mechanism God used to create the universe: his voice. He spoke it into existence. He did not use any natural means. Hebrews 11:3 reveals that which is seen was made by that which is not seen. “Seen” and “natural” are virtually interchangeable in this context. Old earth models fail at this point as well.

The Bible tells us how much time has passed since creation. Old earthers will cite Genesis 1:1 as saying God made the earth billions of years ago, then he did the rest of it over six days. Yet God himself, when addressing the full congregation of Israel while he gave the 10 Commandments, said he made the heavens and the earth and everything in it is six days. The first four words of the Bible are “In the beginning, God…” There’s where the calendar = 0. The Bible then counts forward, using the genealogies, the rules of the judges and the kings, and even some references to secular rulers to give specific time frames for the events. To this day, the Jewish calendar is based on this and has yet to hit year 5800. Bishop Ussher’s calendar is about 200 years different and most of that has to do with the alignment with secular history and our modern calendars. These differences are negligible in the context of the big picture. The old earth creationist constantly struggles to address this point, so often they outright ignore it or try to make it seem irrelevant.

The Bible gives a fifth detail: the condition of the creation. Genesis 1:29-31 describes how both man and animal were given plants for food and God calls it “very good.” Decay, sin, thorns, thistles, and death were not present. Old earthers love to suggest the Bible never says animals did not die prior to sin. It never says any did die prior, and the first death it does describe was a direct result of sin: providing clothes for Adam and Eve. None of the old earth accounts accurately describes the conditions the Bible does give. They are not great in detail, but enough to know which models line up and which ones do not. It is critical to understand that the world behaved very differently than it does today under the curse of sin and the judgment of the Flood.

Why does the Bible give an origins account? First off, this account is not a myth, nor parable, nor allegory, nor metaphor. I’ve read my share of those types of accounts and the Bible fits none of them. It is written as history. Whether one accepts the history or rejects it is another matter. The reason people suggest that Genesis is not history is because they know what the Bible says and what they believe on origins do not agree but they want to still sound both smart to the world and religious to the Christians. God calls such notions foolishness. Believe him or don’t, but don’t be lukewarm as the Laodicean church was as I wrote about last week.

The purpose of origins is to give the Gospel message a foundation rooted not in myth, but in reality. If Genesis is just a feel-good story, then everything else that follows is just a feel-good story and Christianity is just another useless religion. But if Genesis is correct in its history, then sin is a very real problem with only one real solution: the cross of Jesus. To the many who love this world, that is unfathomable, mostly because of pride. The Bible makes it clear that the world and God are enemies. It is impossible to believe God’s authority and the world’s “experts” at the same time.

It is critical to understand that origins must NOT be an isolated event. Every word of the Bible is not meant to be taken as a stand-alone. It all points to one thing, or rather one person and one event: Christ and Christ crucified. Paul, a very educated man, said he determined to know nothing except Christ and the cross. He did not reject his other knowledge, but he made it all point to that central point.

So does that make Creation a secondary issue? Beware of this one, because many false teachers will try to make it one for the purpose of sneaking in their poison. Take notice WHO is declaring that creation is secondary. It’s not the ones who believe and defend the authority of Scripture over the world. It is those who believe the world over Scripture. This approach is the “minimal requirements” approach which I wrote about just over a year ago. It is a ploy to get the bare minimal to “get by” and retain as much of self and the world as possible. This is also a Satanic tactic: bring the false teaching in not by directly attacking Christ but through “secondary” issues. Any military strategist would attack this way. This approach is not of God. They want Christ’s name to get out of hell, but will not let go of their own sin. Such people won’t make it in because Christ will not have anything to do with it.

So is creation secondary? Yes and no. It is only secondary in the sense that it points to Christ who is supreme. It is primary because it is the foundation which holds the cross upright. No one likes a plain foundation for a home; they want the home. But the home is a very weak home unless it is built upon something very solid that won’t give. The reason we can trust the Gospel and the cross is because we can trust every single word of Scripture and that includes Genesis. If we cannot trust God to get his origins account right, how can we trust him about salvation? It is an issue of authority and which one should be believed. That is a primary issue.

The Bible makes Genesis so simple and clear that a child can read and understand it, and yet the most learned and “wise” people of this world cannot embrace it. God purposefully chooses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. And Jesus said unless we become like a child, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. God approves of child-like faith: those who hear him and trust him as a child is supposed to trust his parents. But unlike the fallible parents of this world, God will not fail. Only the humble will see the creation account and the cross for what they are. The proud will never see it. If the creation account is too difficult for you to understand or accept, then follow the advice of Martin Luther and let the Holy Spirit be more learned than you.

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

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Faith in Evolution

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 22, 2018 0 comments


by Steve Risner

Evolution is not a scientific study. It's a religion. Some will argue otherwise (most, I would guess, who believe in evolution) but the case is fairly well closed. Evolution (meaning the idea that life emerged from non-life billions of years ago and slowly, over eons of time, became more and more complex and specialized, changing from pond scum to, eventually, people through a series of mutations and natural selection) is a belief system. As much as evolutionists want it to be based on evidence, it's not at all—not at all! If I had a dollar for every time an evolutionist told me about the mountain of “hard evidence” for universal common descent, I'd be fairly wealthy. Yet, when asked for just a pebble from this mountain there is most often no response. On occasion, things that do not support common ancestry are given as a portion of that mountain, or evidence shared by creationists to support their models is shown. But evidence that is incorporated into the creation model and the evolution model is not appropriate to use as evidence monopolized by evolution.

Here is a little fact for everyone to chew on: evolution as an explanation for the origin of life and the diversity of life from some most recent common ancestor has no scientific evidence whatsoever. None. Evidence for slight (often epigenetic) changes are given as proof for single common ancestry, but that is disingenuous. They are not the same thing. Let's take a quick look at why belief in evolution is BELIEF in it and why evolution can easily be called a religious faith. It's pretty straight forward, really.

I'm going to throw in atheism here for fun because, in reality, atheism naturally leads to a belief in evolution. The two go fairly hand in hand (which is another reason theistic evolutionists make me sad). Religion has several major components. The first is stories—primarily stories about origins of the universe and life. Atheism via the Big Bang and abiogenesis gives us its myth about origins. This even can lead to us knowing, from the atheist's perspective, what man's place in the universe is. According to the tale, man is just a smart animal and is, therefore, not really special at all. There is then experience. How many atheists have said how “liberated” they felt when they decided to deny the existence of God? Darwin had his time on the beagle that changed his perspective (not really—his grandfather wrote about universal common descent long before Darwin did). From the social perspective, atheism is as much a missionary minded religion as any other. Richard Dawkins says, “If this book [The God Delusion] works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.” Atheism is taught to children under the guise of evolution (as I said, the two go hand in hand). Scientists are often looked at as the source of truth in the world. Some we would call them the priests of evolutionism or atheism.

Then there is the written source of the religion. Atheism has several manifestos that give it its substance, and there are numerous authors who have proclaimed its various truths. Whether an atheist knows what these documents claim or not, they likely believe what these pages state to one degree or another. Each religion has some sort of standard of conduct by and large. Atheism adopts relativism in terms of morality, although it really has no standard at all for morality as prominent atheist authors have stated. Ritual, I would say, is the weakest of the traits in atheism for religion. But it exists, for sure. Darwin's Day was just celebrated 2 weeks ago and has gained popularity over the last few years. There are other examples, but Darwin's Day is probably the biggest example. The material side of atheism includes nature herself. She's considered our mother by atheists. You can read in more detail about the 7 characteristics of religion and how it pertains to atheism here.

Evolutionism is a belief. People will foolishly put their faith in “experts” or those “at the top of their field” to give them answers to questions no scientist could possibly answer. Have you ever heard Neil deGrasse Tyson say, “The universe is almost 14 billion years old, and, wow! Life had no problem starting here on Earth! I think it would be inexcusably egocentric of us to suggest that we're alone in the universe.” This is a philosophical statement and has no basis in science. Some try to suggest that denying that evolution is a thing means you're rejecting science. That's nonsense—totally and utterly nonsense. Science and evolution are not just NOT synonyms, they're hardly related.

Here's the thing: show me a single piece of evidence that shows evolutionism is a reality. Be careful! I'm not asking for you to show me that a life form can change slightly under environmental pressures. That's not representative of universal common descent and it does not support that man shares an ancestor with apes or that birds evolved from dinosaurs. It means life can adapt. Nothing more. There is no evidence that supports this and can only mean Darwin was right. The mountain of evidence is a sham. It's a farce. There is not only not a mountain, there is not even a pebble. And reading what a Ph.D. says about events he doesn't understand, wasn't around for, and couldn't possibly have real knowledge on and then concluding that you've read the facts means you have no idea what science is or what it can do. Science –real science—can help us cure diseases or put satellites into orbit. It gives us cell phones and ballistic missiles. Universal common descent does none of those things. It's historical and literally nothing else. It's a story of past events and is unsupportable with real data.

Evolutionism is a religion. It's about faith in the word of a man who claims to know things he can't possibly know. And what of the “experts” who have studied God's Word their entire lives and say there is no way to marry Christianity's Genesis account with Darwin's origins myth? Are they not qualified enough to be taken seriously? Why is the evolutionist's “expert” more qualified than the Christian's? Because of predetermined outcomes that are selected for by the evolutionist.

What is exponentially worse is a Christian who will completely disregard what the Bible clearly says about origins and, instead, accept the currently popular origins myth of atheists (that we know will be different next year or 10 years from now). This, of course, is what the theistic evolutionist has done. Then they will hold hands with people who hate God and attack brothers and sisters in Christ using the God hater's arguments and tactics. The fact is, once a person has determined in their mind what they believe about origins, all data will be interpreted to support that idea… like it's a belief. Atheism is the active belief that there is no God (although some will try to say it's merely the absence of belief in God). Atheism makes claims only an omniscient being could make, setting the atheist up as his own god. If an atheist has made up in his mind that there is no God, when he is presented with data about the universe or allegedly about origins, how else will he interpret that evidence but in a way that will support his belief? To quote creation.com’s article Atheism Needs Evolution: “So all of the core elements of the grand theory of evolution (cosmological, geological, chemical, biological and human evolution) are simply a logical, philosophical outworking of the basic concept of classical atheism applied to the world we live in. All of these conclusions could be derived from a simple general belief that God does not exist (atheism), prior to influence from specific physical evidence whatsoever. From that point forward every fact one sees could be interpreted according to that view. These would then be correlated to create a history about the universe that supports those beliefs.”

And what of atheists who doubt the Darwinian mechanism for explaining life and its diversity? They BELIEVE something else, which is weird since they claim it's a fact.

“Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint... the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today… Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.” Michael Ruse, Ph.D. and anti-creationist philosopher of science.

Take a moment to read creation.com's article “Evolution a Religion.” It's a short read and outlines a number of particulars as to why Darwinism is a belief system.

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

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What Does the Bible Say About How to Treat Creation?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 19, 2018 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Creation: it’s all around us, and in fact literally is us! We know that God created everything - humans, nature, the sun and moon, the stars. So when He gave us His Word in the Bible, what did He tell us about how we should treat this amazing creation?

Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” The Hebrew word that’s translated there as “work” can also mean labor or serve. The general idea of it is to work or serve with respect. The word that’s translated there as “take care of” also means to guard or keep watch over. So in that statement, God is showing the man (Adam) and the rest of us that we should treat His creation with respect.

Numbers 35 talks about cities of refuge for the people of Israel where they can be safe, and verses 33-34 say, “Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.” While that command was specific to the Israelites in that situation, we can take from it the idea that we should treat the land with respect. The Lord does dwell with us, and we should treat His creation well for that reason.

We know from Psalm 24:1-2 that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” If someone gives you a gift, especially a person you greatly respect or admire, you would generally treat that gift with the utmost respect. How much more should we take care of this earth that God has given us! It is a gift to us, along with our very lives, from the almighty creator of the universe!

In Exodus 23:10-11, God gave Israel specific instructions regarding the farming of their land: “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.”

Deuteronomy 11:12 is talking about the promised land as the Israelites are about to cross into it. It says, “It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” Again, that passage was written to that group of people specifically at that time, but the idea behind it is that God does care for the land, so we should treat it with respect.

God created this world for us as humans to inhabit, so simply because of that fact we should take care of it. It brings God glory when we take care of His creation. How are you glorifying God in your life by taking care of creation?

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

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The Faith of Samuel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, February 18, 2018 0 comments


by Logan Ames

I remember when the show American Idol, which became one of the most popular television shows of all time, first came out and one of the biggest reasons to watch the show was Simon Cowell. He was quite the polarizing figure because while other judges were soft, kind, and tried not to ruin the contestants’ dreams, Simon seemed to have no problem telling them exactly what they needed to hear. His goal was not to placate the contestants just so they could leave that week or the entire show feeling better about themselves. His years of working in the industry taught him that the best thing he could do for those people was tell them the truth.

Whether you liked Simon or not probably had a lot to do with how well you receive the truth when it is not what you hoped it would be. Personally, I enjoyed watching Simon on the show because I felt that he was the only person that truly cared about what was best for the individual. As I relate it to my own life, I’ve had plenty of “yes” people around me who were unwilling to give me the dose of reality I sorely needed at times, and I’ve also had plenty of people who were always willing to tell me the truth even when they knew it would sting temporarily. I can say with 100% certainty as I sit here and type this that the truth-talkers have been much more beneficial than anyone who wanted to make me feel better in the moment.

I’m sure many of you would say the same thing if you sit back and reflect on your lives. The truth doesn’t always feel good, but it’s never wrong. We can look at accepting truth when it doesn’t feel good as a sort of discipline. Hebrews 12:11 tells us, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hearing what we need to hear gives us a chance to get back on track. If what we hear has to do with sin, it also gives us the chance to repent.

This week’s faithful hero is a man from the Old Testament named Samuel, which literally means “heard by God." I’ll get into the circumstances of his birth in another blog post later in this series, but it helps to know that his very existence was brought about by a conversation between his mother and the Lord, and that his life from very early on was characterized by his own ability to speak to and hear from God himself. Samuel is the last hero mentioned by name in Hebrews 11, but his story is quite unique. It’s hard to place him within one specific era in Israel’s history because he was around at the end of the period of the judges and the beginning of the period of the kings. Samuel is most known as one who “called upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 99:6). As such, Peter also lists him first among all the prophets as he is addressing the crowd in Acts 3:24. Like all of the other heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11, Samuel had a role to play in God’s story. But unlike many others, he had no great military victory or conquest. His role was to simply speak truth where it was needed, and he did it well.

The first time we really see Samuel doing what he was called to do is in 1 Samuel 3. He was only a boy but had been set apart for the Lord’s service by his mother, so basically, that means he was living at the house of the Lord and serving under a priest. That priest’s name was Eli, and the story tells us that Eli had wicked sons and that he did not properly deal with their sins. If the priest was not even willing to address sin within his own family, then he certainly wasn’t honoring the Lord and the position he had been given. Samuel hears God speak to him for the first time, but it’s bad news. God tells Samuel, who I remind you is STILL A BOY, that he is going to judge Eli and his household for the sins of his sons which Eli knew about and did nothing. 1 Samuel 3:15-18 then tell us that Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision the next morning despite Eli’s insistence. This is where we see, however, that Samuel does not allow that fear to stop him from honoring God’s word to him. He tells Eli the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and Eli correctly accepts the word of the Lord knowing he can’t change it anyway. Verse 20 then tells us that all of Israel recognized Samuel as a prophet of the Lord.

We see more examples of Samuel’s willingness to speak the truth throughout 1 Samuel. In chapter 8, we see that the elders of Israel ask for a king to lead them so they can be like the other nations. This greatly disturbs Samuel, so he goes to the Lord. He’s probably expecting God to work something good in the situation, but God just tells him to give the people what they want and warn them of the dangers of naming a king to rule over them, which really meant they were no longer looking to God for guidance but a mere man. Samuel again pours his heart out sharing everything God told him to share, but the people reject his words and demand a king. Repentance is rejected by the people, so they get Saul as king and the downward spiral begins.

In chapter 12, God brings thunder and rain when Samuel is done speaking to the people about God’s greatness and their sins. The people repent and admit their sin of asking for a king and also ask Samuel to pray that they won’t die for their sins. This might be where Samuel says something like, “Heck no! You knuckleheads have rejected my preaching so many times that I am done with you!” But that’s not what he says. He tells them it would be a sin against the Lord for him to fail to continue praying for them. Samuel continued to be faithful to God’s word.

Samuel stands up to King Saul several times, including in chapter 15 when Saul fails to completely obey the Lord, who told him to completely destroy the Amalekites. Saul destroys everything and everyone that is weak and despised, but he keeps the best of the best alive. He tries to pretend his intention was to sacrifice them to the Lord, but Samuel declares that God prefers obedience over sacrifice every single time. He is so serious about keeping God’s word that he even kills the king of the Amalekites himself when Saul is unwilling. In chapter 16, Samuel anoints David as the next king of Israel even when he is rejected by everyone else, including his own father and family members. Samuel honors the word of the Lord for the rest of his life, and actually, beyond! In 1 Samuel 28, Saul is so distressed (sin will catch up to you eventually) that he consults a witch to consult the spirit of Samuel long after he has died. A crazy thing happens and the witch, probably to her own amazement, is able to bring up Samuel. Saul asks Samuel for help and guidance and even the spirit of Samuel continues to speak the difficult truth of God’s word to Saul.

What we can learn from Samuel is that God’s word is never to be sugar-coated. Without understanding the reality of what God is saying to us, we can never repent. And repentance is a MUST for anyone to really turn to Jesus. God sets a very high standard for those who claim the responsibility of speaking HIS word. Throughout the Bible, he condemns those who speak only what the people desire to hear so they can feel great about themselves. Samuel kept his faith in God’s word and never manipulated it to be what he wanted. He continued to speak it and very seldom brought about repentance. But as a true prophet, his ONLY responsibility was to speak the truth. The results were up to God. This is a powerful lesson for any of us who share God’s word with others. And in case you didn’t know it, faithful Christian, that’s not just preachers; IT’S YOU TOO!

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

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What Do Miracles Prove?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, February 17, 2018 1 comments


by Nathan Buck

I recently saw a post from a colleague about an unexpected miracle his congregation experienced. They were having a dinner for the community, and they planned for 100-150 people. But, they had double that amount show up! Their kitchen staff had planned for the original numbers, there was no extra food, and no one had time to go to the store. A bit panicked, the leadership, the prayer team that was praying for people coming to the event, and the kitchen staff all stopped and prayed. They asked God specifically for a "loaves and fishes" miracle like in Luke 9:10-17. Then they all prepared and started the event trusting God. Halfway through the meal, the lead kitchen person came into the gathering and announced that there was enough for anyone who wanted seconds. People ate their fill. At the end of the night, my colleague walked back to thank the kitchen staff, and there sitting on the counter was the leftovers. They had placed them in Styrofoam carry-out containers. With nothing wasted, and nothing stretched, there were EXACTLY 12 carry-out containers left. A miracle, exactly in line with what they prayed, and beyond the power of any human there.

Miracles are real. Miracles don't just "happen." Contrary to popular mystic psychobabblers on TV, the universe is not some powerful anonymous force conspiring to occasionally help us win at the casino or be more confident about our personal power to influence the world. THAT is delusion. Miracles are specific, and they are usually directly related to causing someone to lay down their sin and shame and trust God, or to amplify people's faith in God. If you read through the Bible you will see that all miracles, even creation itself, was intended for human beings to encounter the existence, power, and love of God.

So, I am not going to spend this blog post defending whether miracles "happen" or why they occur. They do, and they are intended to provoke faith in God. What I am going to do is look at what happens when we try to divorce the miraculous and supernatural from God.

Can empty spiritism and personal power do anything? Look no further than a recent speech at the Grammy's. The mask of spirituality, hides the obvious truth that "personal power" is really a reflection of pride. See the contrast. Using power words in speeches or evoking emotional responses in your followers, while directly benefiting and overlooking the very "casting couch" abuse that now conveniently serves political ambitions by supporting #metoo, is no different than thousands of other charismatic cultic leaders in history. Sadly, legitimate power to hold sex offenders accountable and give support to the abused is hindered by the blurred vision from this kind of virtue signaling. Saying we should "speak our personal power" reminds me of Acts 19:11-20.

In that passage of the Bible, God has been opening people's eyes to the truth of Jesus' resurrection. God has been doing incredible miracles of healing and restoration and people are giving their lives to God. But there is a group of religious Jews who don't believe in Jesus but see power being demonstrated by Paul, and they try to imitate it. They go and they try to face off against an evil spirit possessing a person. They say, "...in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches..." (verse 13).

You know that moment when you say something, and then you realize what you just said makes no sense? I like to hope these guys had that moment here. But even if they didn't, what happened next surely confirmed to them that what God was doing through Paul, because of Jesus, was not some magic incantation they could wield. I laugh every time I read the demon's reply to them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?" Especially because they get a thorough thrashing and are sent away naked and bloody. It's hilarious, because God's power is not some magic spell, and miracles are not a manifestation of human power or effort. Beyond that, it's hilarious because they get their butts handed to them for being fakes.

Think about all the empty spiritual messages constantly being offered up in our culture. It doesn't matter who says it, how popular they are, or how much influence they have in the world, if they present ANY offer or secret to power that is not directly from and in relation to God through Jesus Christ. It is at best a fantasy, at worst demonic, and most likely a trope to comfort their conscience and bolster their position.

Miracles are real, and they only occur for one reason: to demonstrate who God is and who and what he cares about. The Bible is clear: only one has the power to truly do miracles, and our experience of the miraculous is directly related to Him. I encourage you to read Acts 19 and 2 Timothy 3. Reflect on the differences between Paul and the imitators. Let God lead you to any place where you may be imitating godliness but denying its power. 

May you discover a deeper relationship with God and walk in His power in such a way that you see the kinds of miracles Jesus has done and continues to do.

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To the Church at Laodicea

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 16, 2018 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

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

This is the final post on my series on the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. This seventh and final letter is to the church at Laodicea, and here Jesus does not have one praise about them. What a frightful thing to behold: the day Jesus writes you a letter and does not have one thing to be pleased with.

Jesus opens by describing himself as “the Amen,” “the Faithful and True Witness,” “the Beginning of the Creation of God.” Those are worthy studies in and among themselves, however I believe Jesus makes a point about this because this is what Laodicea is not. Jesus knows their works, and specifically that they are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. Let me make this clear: Jesus is not like Goldilocks who doesn’t like it too hot, nor too cold, but just right. He wants you on fire, or turned off, but not this halfway mindset with one foot towards God and another foot in the world.

There are many who say this warm and cold comparison has nothing to do with heart but rather references the fact that two rivers flowed through Laodicea and met in the city. One river came from a glacier and was cold. The other came from a much warmer origin and was hot. Both rivers were used for medicinal purposes, however after the rivers met, those uses were no longer any good. While this geographical point is true, Jesus is clearly talking about something much deeper.

There are very few dishes which can be enjoyed at a lukewarm temperature. Most need to be hot (cooked or microwaved) or cold (refrigerated). Many foods spoil fast at a lukewarm temperature. A number of years ago when I was living on a missions base, we had a weekly food box drive and at one point we averaged 60-80 families on a given week. One Thanksgiving week, we housed a mission team and they wanted to feed every family who came for that food box drive. We were anticipating 1000 people, so we cooked a caldillo soup for 1000 people. It took two weeks to do that. On the day of the event, we had 12 people show up. My mom, the lead cook, was just fine, but the team leaders were very confused. So instead of feeding 1000 people there, we ended up feeding over 1000 people in Mexico by giving it away. However, we stuck 3-4 gallon ice-cream buckets of this soup into a cooler and put it into our walk-in fridge. We failed to let it cool first. The cooler retained the lukewarm temps of the soup and it grew green EVERYWHERE in that cooler. Just opening that cooler nearly made us sick, let alone tossing out the soup and then cleaning that cooler. We never made that mistake again. The food had to be stored hot or stored cold, but not lukewarm. That’s what Jesus wants: hot or cold.

How was Laodicea lukewarm? They boasted about having wealth and not needing anything, yet Jesus saw their hearts as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. They thought they had it all together but Jesus revealed that they really had nothing. It is really easy for a wealthy church to be lukewarm. I have found that when God needs someone to learn how to trust him, it is almost always with finances that God uses as the tool of instruction. It is so easy to do things for God out of surplus, but when things get tight, how much of a tighter grip do we have of our money? As I learned from Rees Howell’s biography, it is still one thing to submit all finances for ministry purposes and it is something else entirely to depend wholly on God on how to spend a single penny, even in the case of a thank-you card.

What is Jesus’ response? How does he want Laodicea to deal with this problem? He asks them to buy gold from him which has already been tested. Everything the Laodiceans had built was with wood, hay, and stubble, which will burn in the day of judgment. Jesus wants them to build with gold, silver, and precious metals, objects which have already been through the heat and proven their value through fire. He’s not talking about buying your way into heaven but to use your resources for the Kingdom’s purposes, not your own. Jesus said to build your treasure in heaven, not here on earth.

Jesus also told Laodicea to get some clothes on, but not ordinary clothes. His clothes. He had already told a parable about a wedding banquet where a man without the right clothes was found and was cast out. Laodicea was clothed with their own wealth and resources, but not with God’s clothing, the covering of Christ’s blood which washes whiter than snow. And Jesus said to get some salve so they could see. It’s hard enough to see what is going on around us, but spiritual pride provides for excellent blinders. Laodicea was a proud church and Jesus needed to take them down a few notches.

Jesus reminds Laodicea that he disciplines and chastises his children. If you have been under the discipline of God and you know you have not fully settled the situation yet and suddenly God pulls his finger off you… let me tell you, that should absolutely terrify you. As I have been going through this journey, I have been begging God to keep the pressure on to keep reminding me to stay focused, and a while back I realized I had not felt God’s pressure. I haven’t completed the phase of the journey I know I am to be on and the day I realized I had not felt God’s pressure and his discipline for about a week, it scared me. And I’m the kind that doesn’t feel fear. Please pray for me that I be able to carry through in obedience what I need to do in this journey. I must get zealous for God. Not for his truth, but for him, and I must repent of what has kept me from it.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Many theologians have long misquoted this passage as being the door of a person’s heart and Jesus as a gentleman will only come in if we let him. That is not true. Jesus didn’t kindly wait at the door for Saul to respond to him. He kicked the door in and turned his world upside down, even changing his name to Paul. This is the door of a church, a church that thought they had it all and lacked nothing. Will the church open the door, or shut him out?

Despite hearing multiple sermons on these seven churches, writing these posts about them has gotten my attention. I already know how much my life the last few years has resembled the Ephesian church. I would love to be able to hear what Jesus told Philadelphia. What I do know is that I know what I need to do and I need to do it. Laziness has been my enemy the last few months so in a way I feel like Sardis. I need to get up and follow through. I pray this series has been a blessing for you.

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What Does the Bible Say About Miracles?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 12, 2018 2 comments


by Katie Erickson

What is a miracle? Google defines it as, “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency” and as “a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.” Essentially, miracles are things that we really can’t explain logically; they may astound us and be almost unbelievable. Miracles are generally considered to be good things.

One example that we in Worldview Warriors have experienced recently was the healing of our president, Jason DeZurik. On December 15, 2017, Jason had a life-threatening stroke and very nearly died. Within 24 hours, he was moving all his extremities, talking well, and even joking! Within just over a week, he was out of the ICU. In less than 2 weeks since the stroke, he was back home. He is still recovering, but his healing has been nothing short of miraculous!

So what does the Bible say about miracles? Well, there are a LOT of miracles listed in the Bible! There’s too many to list here, so read in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation if you want to catch them all. But I’ll give some highlights here.

Creation: God created everything from nothing! That’s definitely not “explicable by natural or scientific laws; for more on that, check out Steve Risner’s posts.

Isaac being born to Abraham and Sarah: I don’t know of any other 90- and 100-year-olds who have given birth, do you? This miracle occurred to fulfill God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation.

The parting of the Red Sea: The people of Israel were trapped against the sea and the Egyptians were pursuing them, until God literally parted the waters so they could walk across on dry land. This wasn’t like just crossing a little stream; it was approximately 9 miles they had to walk, through where the water should have been. This definitely defies the laws of nature, but for the good of God’s people.

Jesus’ conception and birth: With the advances of science today, a baby can be “conceived” in a test tube, but there still has to be material from a mother and a father present. In the conception of Jesus, there was no human father, but God Himself. This can’t be explained by science.

The miracles that Jesus performed are numerous, including the healings I wrote about last week. He also turned water into wine, walked on water, fed 5,000 people from a small amount of food, and even raised Lazarus from the dead, just to name a few.

God is a miraculous God, and the Bible gives plenty of proof of that. He often does things that don’t make sense in the natural world, so that we can see what a great God He is and how worthy He is of our praise. The God of the Bible is the same God we serve today, as He does not change, so does He still perform miracles today? I fully believe that He does, simply from healings I have witnessed to some people around me. God enjoys showing off His power so that His people will praise Him more.

What miracles have you seen God do in your life? What miracles are you hoping for God to do? What miracles are you praising God for?

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The Faith of David

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, February 11, 2018 0 comments


by Logan Ames

In a perfect world, human beings would just automatically do exactly what God says because he said it and there is nothing to distract us or make us think we should not obey. That’s how God created things when Adam and Eve were first made, and ultimately the world will be returned to that utopian place when God unveils the new heaven and the new earth for those who knew and loved him. For now, we continue to live in our sinful world with our own fears and selfish hearts. The amazing thing is that God still uses us to accomplish his great works, even as we doubt him or turn away from him. Sometimes, we just need a little bit of extra motivation to do what we already know he has told us to do. When I was in college, I remember being in a Bible study where 4 of the 5 guys in the group had either started or continued going to church because of a girl that was there. Our Lord certainly knows how to reel us in!

Each of those men from that group are now married to women they met through church or Christian functions and they are serving the Lord in amazing ways. One of them lives in South Korea with his wife as missionaries, two are teachers, two are pastors, and one manages a ministry at another college. And several of us still get together to encourage one another every year though we graduated 15 years ago! To think that God used our desires to have girlfriends to either bring us to church or keep us there long before we even knew each other makes me laugh and smile. God will do his work one way or another, and he’s not opposed to use whatever he knows motivates us!

One of the greatest heroes of the faith was also initially moved to action by extra motivation beyond just doing what God wanted. I’m talking about David, a man about whom we learn a lot throughout the Old Testament. To try to put the faith and life of David into a short writing is a difficult task, but we can learn a lot about him from possibly the most frequently referenced Bible story of all time, both inside and outside the church. Hebrews 11:32 counts David among those who are commended for their faith, but we really begin to see that faith play out all the way back in 1 Samuel 17. The Israelites and Philistines are preparing to battle each other, but it likely wasn’t going to happen as long as everyone on the Israelite side continued to cower in fear at the sight of Goliath, a monster of a man who defied God and the Israelites and even mocked them daily. But God was waiting and urging someone to step up by faith and defend his name and his people. This was the occasion for David to make a name for himself by honoring God’s name and putting his full faith in him.

We do have to understand something about this story. We have to realize that Goliath was a messenger of Satan who literally took his physical stand against God twice a day every day (v. 16). Look at Goliath’s measurements and his armor in verses 4-7. He was six cubits tall, had six pieces of armor and weaponry, and the iron point of the spear was six hundred shekels in weight. You can either believe it’s a coincidence, or you can look at those numbers, 666, as if the Word is telling us about Goliath’s role in Satan’s great plan. If Goliath could kill David, Satan could eliminate the bloodline from which the Messiah would eventually come, take away Israel’s occupation of the land where the Messiah would eventually be born, and ultimately try to defeat the Messiah. Satan already knows it’s a lost cause, but it doesn’t stop him from continuing to rebel and try any way that he can to thwart God’s plans and promises. Anyone who would defeat this giant messenger of evil would surely be doing God’s work.

At the time of this story, David was just a young shepherd boy and the people of Israel had chosen Saul as their king based on his outward appearance. Saul was their king because he was their biggest and baddest dude. Yet, when they desperately needed someone to stand up to Goliath, “Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified” (v. 11). People generally follow their leader. If a leader shows cowardice, he can’t expect the people to find courage. Saul had been lacking leadership for a long time ever since he started walking away from the Lord and loving his own self and his position too much. And because the Lord was no longer with him, he had no faith or bravery to go after Goliath and the Philistines. A new leader was needed.

That new leader literally arrives on the scene in verses 12-26. Because he was the youngest and forced to tend the sheep at his father’s home, he wasn’t able to fight in the Israelite army and was just going back and forth between the two people he was serving, Saul and his father Jesse. His father orders him to take food to his brothers who are on the battle line with the Israelites. When he does this, Goliath comes out and shouts his usual mockery while David is still there. This is the first time David hears it and it’s almost like he is shocked no one has done anything about it yet. In verse 26, he says, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David cared not that Goliath was so tall. He wasn’t bigger and better than God. The rest of the Israelites were terrified and saw themselves as little grasshoppers compared to Goliath, but David saw Goliath as a mere grasshopper to God!

Notice how David, who was full of faith in God, still had a slight ulterior motive. He figured he could serve and honor God and get a great reward in the process. Like I said before, God is not opposed to using other motivation to get us moving. David was told that Saul would give anyone who kills Goliath great wealth, his daughter in marriage, and tax exemption. I find it more interesting to note what Saul was NOT willing to give up - his throne. Here was Saul, a man bigger and stronger than all of Israel, yet a wimp who was afraid to stand up to Goliath but still desperately tried to hold onto his throne against ALL threats, including BOTH Goliath and David. And then there was David, a man who had no reason to even get involved in this mess until he heard someone talk about his God in a demeaning way and also heard what he could get out of the deal. One was a leader by name and title; the other was a leader by faith.

David goes on to defeat Goliath with a simply sling and a stone - the greatest upset in all of history. But it wasn’t, especially when you consider who was on David’s side. The people looked at David vs. Goliath and said there is no chance David can win. David looked at Goliath vs. God, using David as a mere servant to accomplish his purposes, and said there is no way God can lose. David went on to receive all that was promised him and all that motivated him, plus the throne of Saul. He never boasted about his conquests except to give glory to God for the victory. What are you facing right now in your life? Where are you afraid to move forward because there is an evil giant staring you down? Learn from David and choose to see the God that is on your side. When you do, you’ll see that it’s not you, but that enemy giant, who has absolutely no chance!

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Is God Healing People Physically Really a Thing?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, February 10, 2018 0 comments


by Nathan Buck

It was several years ago now that a man visited the local church I was leading, and as we got to know him he shared that he had migraines and neck pain. It was after the worship gathering, and 3-4 people were hanging around chatting with him. I asked him if he had any ideas about the cause for it, and he said, "A brick... to the face." I laughed at first because I thought he was joking. He laughed too and then said, "No seriously, I took a brick to the face."

As I recall his story, he had been working construction, and one day when the crew he was with was driving back from a site, another truck with bricks on it passed them. A brick fell off that truck and came through the open passenger window and hit him in the face. Since then, he has had these headaches and neck pain.

This was one of a few specific times I have felt the Lord strongly prompt me to pray for healing to restore a broken body part. I remember this one because I was overwhelmed with an urgency to pray, I felt my hands and body get warm and a rush of energy I can't really explain. I asked him if the couple people there with us could pray for him, and he said, "That would be great." Now, keep in mind that I just met this person, and he just met us. I had no idea of his trust level with God, and this was way more forward than I am comfortable being on a first meeting.

We prayed, and as we did, I had an image of his head and neck appear in my mind, almost like an x-ray, and I could see something wasn't right in his neck. I didn't know what specifically, but I knew I had to place my hand there as I prayed. I laid my hand flat on his neck as he stood in the middle of the group of us. There were not many words. I recall asking God to heal, and specifically to re-align his neck and skull, take the pressure off any nerves, and remove the pain, in the name of Jesus.

A week later, he told me that something happened during that prayer, and he didn't want to jinx it by saying something, but he knew he had been healed. He went all that week without pain and was amazed that God did that for Him. As far as I know, that pain didn't return.

I am aware of the scientific fact that something as simple as physical presence can influence heart rate. In fact it has been shown that within just 3 feet, another person's heart rhythm can have a psychophysiological effect (here's a fun link). Perhaps we do have some influence biologically on one another in our desire to help someone be well. But there is little evidence to show that this contact is enough to reverse the types of disease, deformity, and death that has been reversed by praying to God, in Jesus’ name.

Does God heal people? Yes! Does he always heal people when or how we want Him to? No. Do I have a formula for figuring out when He will or won't? No. But, there are some things we can learn from the Bible accounts when God healed people.

1. God healing someone is usually connected to their faith - either the beginning of it or in response to the faith they have. And it always has to do with relationship with Him. (John 5; John 9; Luke 8:40-56)

2. Physical healing by God doesn't mean we never hurt again, or never die later. Even when Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, which was a tremendous miracle, Lazarus still later died. (John 11:38-44)

3. There are no magic phrases or words that make healing happen. It is a God-lead thing, and God-powered thing. (Acts 8:9-25; Acts 5:12-16; 1 Corinthians 12)

4. Sometimes total healing by leaving this life is how God heals or ends suffering. (Acts 7:54-60)

5. If God doesn't heal, it may be that there is more value to us and to His mission in our suffering. (Philippians 1:21-30, Job)

6. Healing or not healing isn't a sign that God loves us more, or less. John 3:16 indicates clearly that God's expression of love was through His total sacrifice of Jesus in our place, so that we could have eternal life with Him. He cares about our eternal destiny more than our temporary journey, and He will do what is BEST for us in this part of our journey. It's a self-centered assumption to believe that what is always BEST for me is for me to always feel my best.

7. We can trust His promise to heal and should freely and openly ask Him for it. We should boldly believe the promise in Isaiah 53:5 that "by His wounds we are healed." But we should understand that THAT healing was focused on the eternal healing of being restored to God. We may see Him physically heal our temporary situation as a direct reflection of that permanent healing promised. But the big thing we need to avoid is bitterness, doubt, and withholding our trust in Him, if in His wisdom He would choose not to heal our temporary situation.

Again, no silver bullets here, but the quick summary is this: Is healing a real thing? Yes. Can we trust Him to do it? Yes. Is it always BEST for us? No. Do we have a greater hope than just temporary healing? Yes. Does God desperately love us no matter what we face in this life? Absolutely yes, and He goes through it with us, not only by our side but feeling our pain and working it toward His good, just like He did with Jesus.

If you are in need of healing, I pray God heals the situation you are asking Him to. And whether He does or doesn't, I pray He shows you how He is carrying you through, and exactly how He will use this temporary hurt for eternal and great good (Romans 8:28).

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To the Church at Philadelphia

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 9, 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.]

This is the sixth post in this series about the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. This is Jesus’ letter to the church at Philadelphia. This is the most positive of all the seven letters. There is not a single negative statement nor warning of darker times coming in this letter. Now, was there any sin that the church in Philadelphia could be caught in? Sure. They weren’t perfect, however Jesus did not have something very specific to address with them. Any sin they had was being dealt with and they were in process of sanctification without resistance. With the exception of the letter to Smyrna, all other letters were dealing with sin issues that had become stagnant and were not being dealt with. Philadelphia did not have a sin issue being left unattended which Jesus needed to address.

So why write this letter? This is a letter of encouragement to keep going, to stay faithful. Jesus opens this letter as being the one who opens and closes doors, which no man can reverse. When Jesus opens a door, no man can shut it. When he closes a door, no man can open it. Here Jesus presents an open door which no man can shut. What is that door? It’s hard to say specifically, but I believe God’s grace and his place of honor for them are part of it.

Jesus praised Philadelphia for their faithfulness, for staying true to God’s Word, and refusing to deny his name. But then he follows with a very interesting statement. In Revelation 3:9, Jesus said that those in the “synagogue of Satan,” (those who claim to be Jews or Christian but are not and lie about it) will be made to come and worship before the feet of the church of Philadelphia, to know that Jesus loved them. What is up with that? Does this not violate the 1st and 2nd commandments regarding other gods and idols? A look at other versions may help clear it up.

I always prefer to cite NKJV in my posts, so unless I specify otherwise, that is what I am using. The NIV states, “I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.” So NIV is not talking about worship in the context of treating one like God, but rather coming to a pleading for mercy for their mockery of those who stayed true. ESV says something similar. Holman seems to echo NJKV. The Message describes how God will humble these fakers and force them to acknowledge they were loved by God. So this is not talking about worship of the Philadelphian church instead of God, but rather being made to recognize God was behind them the whole time.

Jesus continues. Because Philadelphia kept the command to persevere, Jesus promised to keep them from the hour of trial which would come to the whole world. What trial is this? I’m not sure it is talking about the Great Tribulation of the end times. I don’t know at all what this particular trial is, but Jesus is not going to put Philadelphia through the intense fires intended to purify the Bride. Why? Because they are putting themselves through the process.

Again, Jesus did not specify any sin that Philadelphia was struggling in or refusing to address. That means God does not need to give them trials which are for the purpose of purification. He does not need to scrub them to get the stuck-on grime off. He just needs to wash them from time to time. Philadelphia had no need to go through the trials because they did not need the intended purpose of those trials. The trials are to test those who dwell on the earth, to prove who is legit and who is not. The trials are there to get the true believers to further recognize their sin and to deal with it, and to separate the fakers from the real thing. Philadelphia did not need such trials because they were actively dealing with their own sin the Biblical way and did not need these harsh trials to do it for them. What a statement to be made! If Jesus could declare to you that he would spare you from the great testing trials because they are unnecessary to cleanse you from sin because you are dealing with it yourself, that is a great honor.

Jesus gave encouragement that he is returning and soon. Now 2000 years doesn’t seem like very soon, but Jesus emphasized on being in a state of urgency and not laid back. If Jesus said he wasn’t coming back for 2500 years, Philadelphia would have had no reason to stay faithful. Jesus told Philadelphia to stay true and hold fast so no one can steal their crown of being a faithful believer.

Jesus then makes another claim. The ones who overcome and stay faithful will be made pillars in the temple of God. Keep in mind that pillars back in those days were symbols of strength, glory, and beauty. The pillars did more than hold the roof of the temple, but they were works of art. The Temple of Diana in Ephesus had 127 marble pillars and this temple was a masterpiece, one of the ancient created wonders of the world. The pillars are part of what made this temple stand out.

God wants to make Philadelphia pillars of his temple. These pillars are the foundation, the strength, and the power of the temple. Believers like those found in Philadelphia are what makes the Body of Christ operate as it should. The pillars of an organization are the ones who make it run. The pillars of God’s temple are the ones who make his body operate.

The last thing Jesus says to this church is that he will put his name on them. That is a powerful statement. I am an author and there is a huge difference between having my published book (working on making that plural) and having a signed book, especially if that signature is personalized. It is easy to produce many copies, but it is rare to have a signed copy. You can get a baseball and toss it away without an issue. But if you had one signed by Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter, or Clayton Kershaw, you would put that ball in a trophy case and never let it go. When Jesus puts his name on you, you are an extremely cherished treasure. Jesus held Philadelphia with such esteem because of their faithfulness he will sign his name on them. This church had to be a sight to see.

Next week, we’ll look at the last of these letters: to the church of Laodicea.

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I Have a Theory

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 8, 2018 2 comments


by Steve Risner

The discussion has been on evolution and if creationists really understand it or not. Very often, supporters of evolution (theistic and atheistic alike, unfortunately) will accuse unbelievers (those who do not believe in evolution) of not understanding it. Now, I'm not sure how much hubris is required for such erroneous and baseless statements, but it must be large. As stated numerous times, there are a very large number of highly qualified scientists who reject the theory of evolution outright. Many of them have PhDs or EdDs in biology. Some have taught evolution at the college level and no longer will do so based on their belief that it is incorrect. Dr. Gary Parker comes to mind. I've read some of his books. Regardless, claiming it's because of a lack of knowledge that someone will reject Darwinian evolution is wrong in many (but not all) cases.

Some have said that evolution is “just a theory” and therefore isn't necessarily correct. While this is true—that theories are an explanation of a series of facts—this is not a good argument concerning why evolution from a single or last common ancestor is not true. A theory is, in the simplest of terms, an explanation of the facts. It's not used properly in today's common vernacular: “I have a theory” is what a person will say if they've got an idea about something but don't necessarily have much data to support it. The University of California, Berkeley, defines a theory as “a broad, natural explanation for a wide range of phenomena. Theories are concise, coherent, systematic, predictive, and broadly applicable, often integrating and generalizing many hypotheses.” Notice how they sneak the word “natural” in there. That's because they want to make sure creationist ideas are excluded before they are even considered. This is common and has stunted scientific progress, in my opinion. Many if not most scientific journals run by deep time proponents will rarely if ever publish papers that are supportive of creationist ideas. If they are published, the journals will frequently print criticisms of the paper without giving the original author an opportunity to respond. The belief by many is that the scientific peer-review process is unbiased and highly honorable when, in reality, it is anything but. The bias is astounding and the hypocrisy is profound. That's not really my topic for today though. I want to talk about the theory of evolution and thoughts concerning those words.

One evolutionist told me that theories are superior to facts in science. He said that theories explain facts, so they're of greater importance. Now, I found that to be a terrible statement. The data is not as important as the explanation of the data? The thing is, the data is what it is. The numbers or observations are just that. However, 10 different people can explain the data 10 very different ways. And while theories change over time, the facts don't. Sure, the facts can have a greater understanding over time, but, for the most part, facts are facts. We may be able to add to the facts as more is revealed about them, I get that. But the mass of O2 is the mass of O2. That E=mc2 is how it is. That the sun is about 93 million miles away from earth is a fact. Acceleration due to gravity on earth is 9.8 m/s2. These things are facts.

More closely related to the primary topic—universal common descent—are facts like all organisms found in the fossil record show up abruptly and without more primitive ancestors. The eye of the octopus and the eye of the human are nearly identical but they do not share a recent common ancestor (according to the theory of evolution). DNA can store all of the world's data—all of it—in a teaspoon size amount. An once of DNA holds about 450 thousand billion (that's 450 with 12 zeros behind it) gigabytes of information. Mutations occur. Mutations, as we discussed recently, are mostly neutral (they are not seen or have no effect) but can very often be damaging. Nearly if not every instance of a mutation changing a function of an organism is degenerative—a loss of specificity. These are all facts. It's the way things are. But the interpretation of these facts can change literally daily. How so many hang their hat on something that is so liquid and placid is beyond me.

One reason evolution should really not be considered a scientific theory, strictly, is that it has literally no observational or experimental value. We can't see it happen and can't do experiments to see it happen. That's just the way it is. It is quite literally impossible to test alleged evolutionary events of the past. You can't do it, period. We can see natural selection working on a population, but this only works on what is already there—there is no addition of genetic information or even addition of variety. The stuff that selection works on is present BEFORE it works on it. And most of the data collected to affirm universal common descent can equally be accredited to other ideas—primarily creation theory. Evidence must be interpreted and creation does just fine with the facts. There is no ignoring of facts. There is not denying facts. Creation explains them differently and that is all.

Evolution, in reality and in keeping with strict definitions, is not a theory of science. It is a religious belief that masquerades as a scientific explanation of our origins. But science cannot tell us about one time past events that no one was around for and no one knows the conditions of. There is literally no way for this to be a scientific idea. It's religious and nothing more. If that's wrong, prove it. If it's not wrong, stop trying to argue over scientific stuff. It's not about science and never has been, although creation can keep up just fine with the scientific jargon and data.

The Word tells us that God created the heavens and earth in 6 days and that He created life on a couple of those days. It also shares with us about when this happened. There is no honest way around that. If you are a follower of Christ, you cannot hold to a deep time model and believe the Bible. The two are mutually exclusive and reinterpreting the Bible or rewriting history only proves the point that Christianity and evolution do not work at all together. Stating otherwise exposes a deep conflict of the heart that you truly don't trust God or His Word. Please stop.

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A Farewell to Arms

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, February 7, 2018 0 comments


by David Odegard

If you look on any good map of the universe, in the very center you will find Wharton, Ohio, a sleepy village with only a post office and a pop machine, and a really great church—twice removed from the beaten path, populated by 412 souls. It lies nestled between bean or corn fields throughout the muggy summers and houses the families of farmers and factory workers year-round. This is the field of my campaign. I pastor that church.

Today, I lay down my pen for Worldview Warriors; this is my last post. I am leaving the trench. Worldview Warriors has a vision to empower students to stand up for their faith and offers answers to some of the intellectual and cultural assumptions which students have been taught. It seeks to answer those questions which evolutionary theory and postmodernity poses for Christian thinkers such as yourself, constant reader. I believe in the battle.

As passionate as I am to see young people develop and maintain a Christian viewpoint, I find that the field of my campaign does not overlap with Worldview Warriors in the same way that it has in the past. This is not due to any disagreement, but rather the recognition that I need a healthier distribution of labor for myself. I love writing for Worldview Warriors, but the demands of my own field require me to focus on it.

For me, this blog has only ever been the branch, never the vine itself. So, when the prunin’ time comes, it goes first.

The metaphor of war is a Biblical one and useful for us to understand the demands and complexity of our Christian lives which are lived out between the tension of this present darkness and the Kingdom of God. These two exist in conflict until Jesus returns. Our conflict is not with human beings, though, but rather the spiritual forces behind the present darkness. I feel that the persons that I want to reach with the Good News about Jesus are missing that point. I get the impression that they think I am warring against them. I am not.

Rather, I feel like I am a guy who displays a treasure so beautiful that people desperately want it. They would reach out and take it, but their idols, the silly lover-gods, hold them back. I fight the idols—not the captives. Not that I feel that Worldview Warriors is fighting captives—they are doing the same thing as I am, but I simply must trim some things from my own docket.

The church in Wharton is growing, we are in a building program, and I am currently slogging through my doctoral studies (half-way through). I have six children, a lovely wife, and a hobby farm where we grow our much of our own food. Obviously, constant reader, I have my own trenches to tend.

Of course, if you really miss me, I am pounding away at the pulpit in Wharton First Church of God. We are praying and preaching and loving and waiting on the Lord every day in an exciting ministry context. Perhaps you would like to jump in the trenches with us. We are here.

God bless you,
Pastor Dave Odegard

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What is the Purpose of the Religious Test Clause?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, February 6, 2018 9 comments


by Bill Fortenberry

Ever since the Constitution was first submitted for ratification, the final clause in Article VI has been a matter of strong contention among Americans. That clause, known as the religious test clause, simply states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” It is frequently claimed that this clause represents the desire of the founding fathers to keep religion out of the government and to establish a secular nation. But is that really how this phrase was intended to be used?

To understand the true purpose of the religious test clause, we must look back to the Corporation Act of 1661. This was the first of three Test Acts which were implemented in England and which remained in effect until 1828. Under these acts, no one could hold office in England unless he swore an oath of fealty not to God but rather to the doctrines of the Church of England. This was the kind of religious test which the founders prohibited. They had no objection to biblical qualifications. What they objected to was the requirement that all government officials be forced to swear allegiance to the codified doctrines of an established church.

The wisdom of this objection can be illustrated by an examination of the different doctrines of the Christian churches on baptism. Some churches teach that baptism is necessary in order for one to become a Christian, while others teach that baptism is not necessary but merely symbolic. There is no reconciliation between these two views. Those holding to the first view often deny the Christianity of those holding to the second and vice versa. Therefore, if the founding fathers had permitted religious tests by saying that only Christians could hold office under the new Constitution, they would have placed us in the difficult position of allowing our government to determine which of these two views on baptism is correct. The churches would immediately have recognized that whichever church managed to obtain a majority representation in the new government would have the power to define all other denominations as non-Christians and force them out of the political arena entirely. This is exactly how the Test Acts were used in England, and it was one of the reasons that so many Christians had fled to America in the first place. Our founding fathers realized that the only way to prevent this abuse of the power of government is to eliminate the religious test requirements altogether.

That this is the view which the founders had in mind can be seen in the statement on this clause by Oliver Ellsworth. Mr. Ellsworth was one of the pivotal drafters of the Constitution, and he later became the third Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In his defense of the religious test clause, Mr. Ellsworth first explained what was meant by the term “religious test”:

“A religious test is an act to be done, or profession to be made, relating to religion (such as partaking of the sacrament according to certain rites and forms, or declaring one’s belief of certain doctrines,) for the purpose of determining whether his religious opinions are such, that he is admissible to a public office.”

He then proceeded to examine the most basic religious test possible and to demonstrate that it would be wrong for us to have such a test in America.

“If any test-act were to be made, perhaps the least exceptionable would be one, requiring all persons appointed to office to declare at the time of their admission, their belief in the being of a God, and in the divine authority of the scriptures … But I answer: His making a declaration of such a belief is no security at all. For suppose him to be an unprincipled man, who believes neither the word nor the being of God; and to be governed merely by selfish motives; how easy is it for him to dissemble! how easy is it for him to make a public declaration of his belief in the creed which the law prescribes; and excuse himself by calling it a mere formality. This is the case with the test-laws and creeds in England … In short, test-laws are utterly ineffectual: they are no security at all … If they exclude any persons, it will be honest men, men of principle, who will rather suffer an injury, than act contrary to the dictates of their consciences. If we mean to have those appointed to public offices, who are sincere friends to religion, we, the people who appoint them, must take care to choose such characters; and not rely upon such cob-web barriers as test-laws are.”

The final sentence of Mr. Ellsworth’s statement brings us back to our original question. Did the founders include the religious test clause in order to establish a secular government? Not at all. They simply placed the responsibility for the religious character of our government on the shoulders of the people themselves. In the words of John Jay, our nation’s first Chief Justice:

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

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