The Faith of Jeremiah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, May 20, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Have you ever stopped and reflected on your life and wondered how in the world you ended up where you are? This can happen in either a very positive or a very negative light. Personally, I’ve had those moments when I’ve found myself leading a church in Marion, Ohio or ministering to the homeless in Findlay, Ohio after spending the first twenty-seven years of my life in Pennsylvania. Currently, I’m living back in Pennsylvania, residing and ministering in a town forty minutes from where I grew up yet still very familiar to me because of the four years that God allowed me to earn an income as a driver for FedEx Ground here. I’m experiencing all of this with my wife who “just happened” to wind up in Ohio at the same time I was and “just happened” to get a job at the homeless shelter where I was working, even though she spent most of her life growing up in Virginia. When I look back on my life, I realize not much of it could’ve been predicted and most of it is an example of God’s grace, his providence, and his GOOD plan.

Most of you could probably say the same thing about your own lives and the directions they have taken. We don’t always realize that God is working when he is, but it’s fairly easy to see when we take a moment to reflect on our lives. However, the question I shared above can also be asked when we find ourselves in the midst of negative circumstances. I can think of very specific times in my life when I looked around at the destruction and misery that surrounded me as a result of my own choices and wondered how I could have ever gotten that far down the wrong path. Again, I’m sure many of you reading this could say you’ve had those moments as well. The results in our lives can often be traced back to either God’s goodness or our own sins.

What we should know as believers in the Lord is that when we follow him, it’s a dangerous thing to evaluate our decisions and lives solely on our circumstances. While “reaping what you sow” is generally a true concept and is even Biblical (Galatians 6:7), the reaping doesn’t always make sense to our finite minds and worldly ways of examining our circumstances. One thing we’ve seen through this series on the heroes of our faith is that God sometimes blesses them even when they are caught in sin and allows them to suffer when they appear to be following him wholeheartedly. God uses everything according to his will and sometimes we don’t reap the rewards of our faith until we spend eternity with him.

One faithful hero who likely often wondered how he could end up where he did was the prophet Jeremiah. Despite his faithfulness to God, he was known as “the weeping prophet” and rarely reaped any positive consequences from his obedient sowing. More than just mental anguish over the state of his people, he also experienced great physical and emotional torment. Hebrews 11:36 tells us that some of the anonymously faithful “faced jeers and flogging," which could probably be characterized today as severe verbal and physical abuse. Jeremiah was one of several people from the Old Testament who would likely fit this description. In Jeremiah 20, we see that a priest named Pashhur, who at the time was the official in charge of the temple of the Lord, has Jeremiah “beaten and put in stocks” because he was upset about the things Jeremiah was preaching regarding the Lord’s anger toward the sins of the nation (vv. 1-2). A commentary I was reading from Enduring Word suggests that the expression translated as “beaten” most likely referred to the “forty lashes minus one” concept applied during a severe flogging. If you read last week’s post, you may remember that the Apostle Paul experienced this most painful of beatings five times. In addition, the “stocks” refers to a structure in which a prisoner was locked into a twisted and confined position to cause increasing pain and discomfort. By the way, this was likely AFTER he had already been flogged. So, it’s not like his wounds were healed before his body was forcefully contorted. Verse 3 tells us that Jeremiah was released the next day, which means he was kept in that position for the rest of the day!

This didn’t stop Jeremiah from continuing to speak whatever the Lord commanded him to speak. He was a prophet of the Lord and was not willing to water down the message in order to make people happy and save himself from harm. Jeremiah would face many other obstacles and extreme punishments during his time as a prophet, including being thrown in prison in Jeremiah 37 and then lowered into a cistern with no water and only mud in Jeremiah 38. That last punishment was intended to kill him; he was done. Jeremiah 38:6 says that he “sank down into the mud." If those are the cruelest of circumstances for someone who has done nothing but obey God, I don’t know what is. He was literally sinking into the mud in a cistern deep in the ground with no way to save himself or meet any of his other needs. He would die by either suffocation in the mud or starvation, whichever happened first.

God moved in the heart of one of the officials to rescue him before it was too late, but Jeremiah was certainly aware of how much pain had come to his life because he was obedient. There is a section in the book that specifically lays out Jeremiah’s complaint to God. It’s found in Jeremiah 20:7-18 and I encourage you to read it yourself. At first glance, it may come across like he is deranged and literally going back and forth between worship and whining. But such is the life of one who obeys the Lord in the face of intense opposition and endures all of the pain that comes with it. He says he is “ridiculed all day long” and mocked by everyone (v. 7). He adds, “The word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long” (v. 8). And we already know about his being beaten/flogged. He reflects on his life and has the thoughts most of us would: “Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame”? (v. 18) Yet, even in the midst of all the pain and suffering he faced, Jeremiah reminds himself that he was born to be the very prophet of the Lord that he was: “But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name’, his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (v. 9).

Jeremiah knew what he was born to do (God told him in Jeremiah 1:5 that he knew him BEFORE he was even born and that he had appointed him as a prophet to the nations) and the thought of not doing it was worse than enduring the pain and suffering that came because he was obedient to the Lord. This is a faithful hero if I ever read about one. He may have faced jeers and flogging, but his obedience forced the people who should’ve been honoring God all along to have to face their own wickedness. And while they ultimately did not listen to Jeremiah and were overtaken by the Babylonians as a result, Jeremiah could rest knowing that he did everything he could to stop it. Are you willing to speak the truth of God’s word to others no matter what it causes to take place in your life? People may not listen to you, but that’s between them and God. What you share and how you represent God’s word to them is between YOU and God. You may not reap good circumstances for yourself in this lifetime, but trust in God as your full reward and reap the benefits for all of eternity.

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It's No Longer OK to Be Broken?? Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, May 19, 2018 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

If you didn't read last week's blog post, please click here to do so before continuing.

When I went to the doctor a few years ago and complained of abdominal pain and spasms, the doctor checked my bowels, my muscles, and my lower digestive organs to see if there might be issues with any of them. Because I am male, these were the standard things to check. If I had been female, my doctor would have considered my symptoms differently and checked my reproductive organs as well as asked me about any abnormalities in my cycle. The same complaint from a male or female prompts different responses regarding diagnosis and treatment, because each is different and distinct. In fact, over 6000 genes in our bodies express themselves directly related to our sex. Biologically, sex is not fluid. Classically, sex has been equated with gender as one in the same. This is why psychology has maintained for a very long time that those who believe they are male when their sex is clearly female, or vice versa, had gender dysphoria. Simply stated, it’s a psychological confusion about their gender.

Modern psychological trends are attempting to re-write the definitions and standards around this topic to separate the idea of gender from sex - making "gender" a perceptual norm and "sex" a physical norm. By doing so, there can be support to set aside the classic diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Why? Because it presents this disconnect as abnormal (broken) and indicates that treatment to helps realign perception with biological reality should follow. In the new methodology, gender dysphoric separation in psychological perception is validated as normal (not broken). Counsel given under this method supports changing physical reality to match perception through gender reassignment.

I explain all of this not to engage in debate about the topic specifically, but to point out the shift in assumptions regarding what is broken or not broken, and what is helpful or not helpful. With the rise of relativist morality, the self-centered determination of reality has been promoted as normal and good. In other words, if it feels good, do it; if it's right for you, do it. The problem is there is no objective standard to settle conflict in this way of thinking. Even "social contracts" fail, whenever it is more beneficial to an individual to no longer honor the contract than to keep it. Everything becomes based on our perception of what is real, rather than any evidence, fact, commitment, etc.

Here's another way of seeing this. The expression cogito ergo sum ("I think therefore I am"), was originally meant to express consciousness. It was an expression of what we can be certain of, even in the midst of doubt. Descartes coined the phrase while trying to explain that in the face of uncertainty, our ability to doubt and think about our doubt is an expression of the certainty that we really exist. Ok, I know that is deep stuff. But look at this subtle shift I can make to that quote.

What if I said, "I think therefore I am," was a statement to support that I control my own reality? What if I said, "my thinking determined that I am," or "my thinking creates my reality"? I would be taking Descartes’ proof of existence and twisting it into a justification for bending my physical reality to how I think, which would be a very different focus and result for his statement. I would be borrowing the credibility of Descartes’ legitimate proof and turning it into a statement of my assumption. My assumption has glaring holes that Descartes would never agree with, the first and most obvious being that I have no real control over my reality - thinking a thing to be true or factual doesn't make it so. This is what is happening constantly in our culture right now. Elements of fact or truth are loaded into political statements, pop science, media stories, etc., and are then layered with perceptions and beliefs that people desperately want to be real. Many of these statements attempt to validate exceptions as normal and make what is accepted as normal to be evil or oppressive by nature just because it's the most prevalent. The ultimate goal behind all of this is power and control, and it stems from the thinking that we can force reality to become what we think it should be. This is the heart of vanity and the foundation of all human conflict.

Here is the counter story. Humanity was created to live fully in the design God gave us, in His image and with gifts and abilities that display His character and nature. We decided to take our lives into our own hands and go our own way. The consequence of our decision was separation from God and an inability to live up to the design and image we had been given, as well as an inability to control the consequences for our shortcomings (Genesis 1-3). Our design had been made to function in relationship with the one whose image we reflected. Apart from that relationship, from our own desires, our existence and example became counterfeit. Humanity, apart from God, is broken and sick. Our sickness is our desires to satisfy ourselves, and it continues our brokenness, just like a virus that keeps evading our immune system. If we do not acknowledge that brokenness and seek correction, healing, redemption, and/or rescue, we will become more sick. Or worse, we will recover from this sickness and be vulnerable to an even greater sickness that follows.

I encourage you to read what James had to say in the very first chapter of his letter to the early believers in Jesus. Reflect on each verse and write down your first thoughts as you read through the verses. Then go back and consider how you respond to verses 22-25. Do you adjust your thinking to the reality and the standards God has given, or do you try to adjust God to your thinking? Have you accepted the world's perceptions of what is or is not broken, or are you willing to see your own brokenness honestly and seek God's help?

His promises to Israel are still true: I will rescue you, I will free you, I will redeem you, and I will take you in and protect you as my family. What started with God's promise to Israel and a hope from Israel for the world, Jesus Christ made true and available for anyone who will trust Him with their life.

Will you?

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Basic Christianity

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 18, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

In the last two weeks, I have written about the big picture and how to build according to the instructions we have been given. Today, I want to hit what that big picture is. It doesn’t matter how mature you are in your faith, it never hurts to return back to basics.

A key thing about Christianity that has been missed is the fact that it does not matter how many times you go over the basic truths, you never will reach the depths of those truths. Karl Barth was known to be one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century. He was asked, “What is the most profound thing you know?” The answer was “Oh, that’s easy: Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.” Several years ago I would have laughed at that response. I would have been like “Really? That’s it? That’s a kid’s song.” That was then. Now, I see more and more how deep and rich that simple statement truly is. A Christian can go over the same basic truth over and over and over again and never exhaust the depth of it. The problem is so few are digging to get deeper into those simple basic truths. So, what are they? What are these basic truths?

First, I need to explain what Christianity is NOT because too many people live these false ‘truths.’ Christianity is NOT a religion as most people understand religions. While there are aspects to Christianity which are religious in nature, there is much more to Christianity than a mere religion. It is not merely something people believe to give them comfort or feel good, nor it is a set of doctrines to adhere to. Christianity is NOT something we agree to for what we get out of it. Too many people only embrace Christianity for the idea of going to heaven and getting out of hell. That’s not what it is, nor what it is about. Christianity is NOT something we give intellectual ascent to and then practically live however we want otherwise. If I had a weakness in my faith, this would be it – knowing the theory and the facts but not making it real in my life. Any time we take one of these routes, we cut ourselves short for what it really is. Many are disillusioned because they hear the grand thoughts but see lives that never demonstrate the real deal. As Leonard Ravenhill is famous for saying, “The world isn’t waiting for a new definition of Christianity. It’s waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity.”

Christianity is also not the common plan of salvation. When most people think of the Gospel, they think of the four spiritual laws or the Big Story. In a nutshell, the four truths are: “God created a perfect world, man sinned and created havoc as a result, God sent Christ to the cross to break the power of sin and death, and Jesus has been in the process of restoring man and soon the whole creation back to God.” This is a very quick summary of the big story that is Genesis through Revelation. However, most people think getting people through this and agreeing to it is all there is to it. That’s just the story. Christianity is not about a story. It is something real, something no other religion nor holy book nor ideal can grasp.

First, Christianity is about God, not man. God is the star and lead character, not man. If you ask the average church goer about who God is, most will reveal a very distorted view. Part of that is because so few are teaching about who God is. They will cite the love of God and the mercy of God, but not his holiness nor his righteousness. Many churchgoers will describe a god who likes what they like, hates what they hate, and seems to look a lot like them or how they would operate if they were God. Most people’s image of God is themselves. Christianity embraces God as he reveals himself to be and as the one who determines all things and as the standard of all standards. I wrote about the attributes of God a couple years ago and I am working on a devotional about them as well.

Christianity understands the nature of depravity of sin. It is something too many of us take too lightly. I struggled through reading the Life and Diary of David Brainard, however what stuck out to me was his constant awareness of his own sin. Sin is not merely something God doesn’t like. It is intentional defiance of God’s commands. When the angels and seraphim, planets and stars, winds and waves, and all creation obeys God at his word, man hears him and snuffs his nose at him. It is utter evil. Sin is an enemy, it only destroys, and it always results in death and destruction. Christ came to undo the work of sin and death. Why should we have anything to do with it?

Christianity recognizes the power and work of the cross. The cross did not just save man from hell, but it broke man from the grip of sin. Too many claim Christian lives and still live in captivity to sin. Why? I understand the struggle. I’m not talking about the daily battle with sin. I’m talking about embracing that sin as “part of who I am.” May it never be. Christianity is not about being freed from the consequences of sin, though that is part of it. It is about being free from the problem of sin and with the expectancy and hope of one day being freed from the very presence of sin.

Many people treat Christianity as a crutch, mere emotional support for coping through the day. Many skeptics think that is what God is for, just being a crutch to hobble through life while they have the strength to do it without God. The true Christian will recognize that Jesus is not a crutch; he is life-support. A Christian understands he isn’t merely sick in need of an aid but is under a life-threatening and life-sucking disease. The Christian knows and acknowledges that he truly cannot live apart from Christ. Christianity is a life-exchange: our lives for his life. We give Christ our lives and all our problems and he gives us his life and all his perfection and rights and power. The problem is, we just want to hang on to the “good” stuff when the whole time, when God’s stuff is so much better.

This post really does not give Christianity the justice it deserves. I hardly scratched the surface here. How can one tell if he is truly a Christian or just a faker? The letter of 1 John gives nine tests which exposes the true born-again believer from the faker just living it by name without any actual power or identity. That is next week.

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More of the Mountain of Evidence

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, May 17, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Last time, I began to talk about my research into the “mountain of evidence” for evolution. We're often told there is this huge mass of evidence for Darwinian evolution and to not accept it is a denial of documented reality. That is all, of course, nonsense. The “mountain of evidence” for universal common descent is a fraud. Upon looking for this mountain, I found that common traits was a big deal to Darwinian missionaries. This is something someone who doesn't understand evolution would say, in my opinion, because if you actually understand the processes and genetics involved, there's no way to make it work with the currently popular humanist origins myth. I touched on some of these issues last time. I'd like to explain a bit further if that's okay.

The more we learn about microbiology, genetics, and embryology, the less it seems Darwinism is a reality. Of course, the evolutionist will make some wild claims that these things further confirm their beliefs, but that's not the truth at all. Very often, they'll focus on a tiny detail that seems to support their mythology and ignore the large portion of the facts that contradicts their beliefs or at the least casts a shadow of doubt.

The idea is that life evolved from a common ancestor and this is evidenced by the fact that some organisms share similar traits. It stands to reason that if these traits were because we shared a common ancestor, we would develop these traits embryologically the same, and the same genes would account for the coding of these traits. This is largely not the case at all. How can one suggest this is the strongest evidence for Darwinian evolution when it doesn't support evolution at all? This is more of the same. Darwin thought the single cell was not much more than a bag of goo. It’s easy to think that just made itself out of stuff you see in a mud puddle, I guess. Little did he know the indescribable amount of activity going on inside each of these little cells. I briefly wrote on the immensely complex cell in this blog post and in this one. It seems the more we learn, the less we know. And the more details we discover, the less feasible it seems evolution, believed to be driven by mindless copying mistakes, can account for the genetic code and its unknowable intricacies, variation, and specialization. It seems Mother Nature accidentally made the same body plans repeatedly and with very different processes involved—all without trying. Approaching the rule rather than the exception, many traits that appear to be similar between organisms can have very different genes that code for them, very different times during development that they appear, or very different tissue sources that result in their formation. Yet we get the same or similar structures. This stands in the face of common thought in evolution today and in the face of logic if Darwinism is a reality.

I broached this topic last time, but let's look at it again because it really makes a mockery out of evolutionism. This, of course, doesn't mean anything because people who have bought evolutionism hook, line, and sinker will simply brush it aside or ignore it. Or, worse yet, they'll cover it up and be dishonest about it. Being ignorant is one thing; being dishonest is a very different story.

Limbs. We like them. We hold stuff up with them. We walk with them. We like our limbs. Having four limbs is a common feature among many animals. But is this because we have a common ancestor? Not at all. Our limbs develop quite frequently from different body segments in a pattern that evolution cannot explain. Dr. Michael Denton writes in his book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, about kidney development in fish and amphibians as compared to reptiles and mammals. One would think that kidneys, if they developed in some earlier ancestor that we all shared, would have a common development embryologically. They do not. Completely different processes exist for the development of the kidney if we compare fish and amphibians with reptiles and mammals. How does this fit with common ancestry? It doesn't, in my opinion.

Biology has also shown us that very often “homologous structures” (structures that seem similar) have different genes that produce them. This seems to not fit the story of Darwinism. The opposite is also true: seemingly similar genes will regulate vastly different processes or structure formation as well. It seems, according to evolutionists, that homology is allegedly what binds us all together. Homology is what evolutionists have built the nested hierarchies on and drawn their nice pictures of lineages from. But the more we investigate these alleged similarities, the more we find that homology actually discredits Dawinism fairly soundly. Yet this is held up as one of the BEST bits of evidence for universal common descent!

What seems interesting, as well, is that some structures are called “vestigial.” These are supposed to be structures that were once something important or useful but, due to evolution over time, have lost their usefulness. To be sure, there are no such structures. There are only naive and somewhat arrogant assertions. And this would actually be evolution in reverse, would it not? A structure is actually becoming less useful or less specialized. When is the evolutionist going to show us new organs that do something completely different that are slowly developing over time? We see none of that. We don't see that in the fossil record or in the present. The fossil record is full of all sorts of interesting organisms who all seem to have all their parts and all of them are fully formed and appear functional. The theory of evolution cannot be found anywhere in the geologic column. There are no ancestors with a lesser developed version of something. Again, this flies in the face of common evolutionist storytelling.

So the bottom line is genetics doesn't support evolution from a common ancestor. Homology or similar traits doesn't support it either. Embryology, the study of embryos and how they develop, doesn't support it. What does support it? “A mountain of evidence” that is also known as the imaginings and/or storytelling of those who accept it.

The Bible tells us in Genesis (and throughout Scripture really) that God created the heavens and the earth and that He made all living things about 6000 years ago. The Word of God is built on the foundation of Genesis and a natural reading of it. The evidence for its accuracy is well documented, from creation to the Flood and beyond. We'll look at some more of the “mountain of evidence” in the future. Thanks for reading.

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What Does the Bible Say About Grace?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 14, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

This is one of those posts where I simply want to write: “What does the Bible say about grace? See: entire Bible.” The entire Bible is full of the overarching story of God’s grace toward humanity, told through the stories of individuals or nations and through the life of Jesus Himself. But in this blog post, I’ll try and highlight a few passages that speak specifically to God’s grace and what it is.

One of my first few blog posts for Worldview Warriors back in 2011 was titled “Grace,” and we as a ministry have written numerous other posts on that same topic. We touch on God’s grace in many of our writings, since it’s such a primary focus of our Christian faith.

So what is grace? Simply put, it’s undeserved favor. We have sinned and don’t deserve to even be in relationship with God, much less be saved by Him, so it’s only through His grace that we can receive that salvation. This is closely related with God’s mercy, which I wrote about last week.

Ephesians 2:8-9 is one of the primary passages that explains salvation through God’s grace: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (I’d encourage you to read the whole chapter of Ephesians 2 to get an even better picture of God’s grace.) Similarly, Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Grace means we do nothing to earn it; it’s not based at all on our works.

Titus 2:11-14 speaks of the effects of God’s grace in our lives: “ For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Receiving God’s grace should not cause us to sin more because we know we’ll receive it. Romans 6:1-2 says, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” For more on that, check out this post.

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul writes, “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:8-10).

I encourage you this week to live out God’s grace in our life, the favor He gives you that you don’t deserve at all. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV).

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The Faith of the Apostle Paul

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, May 13, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

I recently had a conversation with a man from my church about how every day there are examples of the reality that life is all about choices. He’s going to be sharing a sermon at some point that is based on Deuteronomy 30:15, which says, “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction." The Lord has been basically telling the Israelites through Moses that this isn’t rocket science. The choices are clear and each person must make their decision regarding what they really want.

The man from my church was telling me that he had a recent opportunity to begin to teach his 5-year old son about this. They went to a baseball game for the local independent league professional team and were sitting in the grass just beyond the fence. As they were watching, a home run was hit and landed very close to them. The little boy got excited and told his dad he wanted to get a home run ball. As they continued to pay attention waiting for the next one, the little boy looked over and saw a playground nearby. He wanted to go play with other children, so he asked his dad if he could. His dad reminded him that he wanted a home run ball and said that if he goes to the playground, he won’t be there to catch a ball if it’s hit there. The boy asked when the home run ball is going to come and his dad said he doesn’t know and it might not happen either way, but that the boy would have to choose which fun thing matters more to him.

In Hebrews 11:35, we see that some of the anonymously faithful also faced a choice, and some “were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection." The idea of it being a better resurrection pertains to the beginning of the verse, which was discussed in last week’s post, about “women who received back their dead, raised to life again." The writer is reminding believers that while those women had faith and received the joy of their loved ones being raised back to life, those individuals merely returned to a hurting, broken, and imperfect world. The writer explains that those who endured torture all the way to death will receive a resurrection that is “better” because it takes us to glory. It is a permanent and perfect resurrection.

Now, I have to say that this particular description of faithful heroes presents a problem because there is no specific story from the Old Testament that seems to directly correlate to what the writer of Hebrews is describing. We have to remember that there were other writings besides the books of the Bible that were not considered to be part of the canon, but were likely known to many of the educated Jews. Two such books would be 1 and 2 Maccabees, and it appears that 2 Maccabees is where we would find the story of a scribe named Eleazar and the torture he endured. Scholars seem to agree that Eleazar’s story is what the writer of Hebrews was referencing in this description. There’s no doubt in my mind that the writer of Hebrews, whether it was Paul, Peter, or some other educated Jew, knew of the story of Eleazar. That being said, I have no idea whether scholars are right or wrong, so I’m going to veer off the beaten path a bit on this one and talk about someone from the New Testament that fits this week’s description.

When considering who might be the author of Hebrews, many traditionally believed it was Paul, but more recently people have agreed that only God can truly know. Of all the possibilities that scholars have thrown out there, it seems clear that if it wasn’t Paul, it was someone who knew him very well. My personal Bible happens to be the Men’s Devotional Bible from Zondervan and it specifically lists the approximate dates that each book was written. This is certainly not an exact science, but it’s worth noting that 2 Corinthians is said to have been written around 55 AD, while the book of Hebrews is said to have been written 10-15 years after that. If it was written by either Paul or someone who knew him, it stands to reason that they could’ve had Paul’s torture in mind even if they weren’t directly describing his faith in the way they described Eleazar’s.

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul explains some of the tortures he experienced because of his faith in Christ. He states that he was imprisoned, severely flogged, beaten with rods, pelted with stones, and constantly in danger because of those who were dead set on killing him. He specifically says, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one." This is a reference to some of the most cruel torture ever invented. The Jews believed that 40 lashes would kill any person, so the way to exact the most pain on a person without killing them (though at times someone would die well before the 40th lash) was to whip them 1 time less than what would kill him. Paul lived his life for the cause of Christ and to share the good news of Jesus with everyone he could. He didn’t worry about death or pain. In fact, some of his letters lead you to believe that he frankly couldn’t wait for death!

Paul was assured of the glory and resurrection that awaited him after his very temporary suffering and torture in this world came to an end. He wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). He also spoke to his friends and elders in Ephesus, knowing it would be the last time he would see them, before he went to Jerusalem: “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:23-24). Earlier, in Acts 16, Paul and his ministry partner Silas had been unfairly thrown into prison after being “severely flogged," then refused to leave the prison even after it appeared that God had supernaturally opened the doors for them to do so. Because they stuck around, the jailer who was seconds away from killing himself came to know Jesus along with his entire family and they were all saved and baptized (vv. 26-34).

Paul had many opportunities to choose what was easier at the time. He could choose to follow Jesus fully, knowing it would lead to great suffering temporarily in this world but believing in the “better resurrection," or he could choose to walk away from that task Jesus had given him and take an easier worldly road. You and I face the same choice regularly. Knowing Jesus means you have to do away with sins of comfort and follow him even when it isn’t easy. It means you may face suffering from resisting temptation and eventually may receive it in the way of persecution. But the knowledge that this is all temporary and that someday we’ll be in paradise with Jesus just like the thief who suffered tremendous pain right next to him on the cross motivates us to endure anything we face on this earth. Make the right choice today, then make it again tomorrow. Pretty soon, it’ll be a habit and, like Paul, you’ll live in true freedom!

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It's No Longer OK to Be Broken?? Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, May 12, 2018 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Recently, I battled a sinus infection that tried desperately to become bronchitis and pneumonia. From fever and congestion, to coughing, draining, more coughing and fatigue, the battle lasted over three weeks. During that time, my focus was on getting better. I knew I was sick, I took steps to fight the virus, and I focused on the hope that I would prevail and be well. This is common to all of us. Some of us fight with optimistic confidence in our journey to be well and some of us lament and talk about our sickness while seeking comfort, but we all take some form of action to be well again, because we know we are sick and something is broken.

This reality of our experience is being denied and aggressively silenced on many levels within our culture. The common cold is still accepted, but other more difficult and personal levels of brokenness and sickness are being "normalized" under radical ideologies. The intent is to make certain broken behaviors and dispositions "normal," and to vilify or outlaw the acknowledgement that there is something wrong. The goal? The same as it has always been: to "feel" ok. The difference? Facing brokenness to get well feels good because it is good to be restored and healed. Denying brokenness and promoting behaviors that mask it as "normal" may feel like relief temporarily, but the brokenness will continue to eat away at our body, mind, and soul - just like a virus - until we are so broken that wellness and healing seem impossible.

The knowledge that humans have brokenness in us, or as a part of our experience, has always been true. The need for healing, rescue, and redemption back to being healthy has also always been true. This is the basis of the four "I WILL..." promises God makes to Israel in Exodus 6:6-7. These promises are celebrated every year by the Jews at Passover as they remember their history and as they pray for these promises to apply to all people everywhere.

The context of these promises from God is important. We will look at them closer next week. For now, reflect on this question: "Where is the media and the world telling me things are normal or ok, and yet it still seems broken?"

Maybe you have a solid grasp on that. Maybe you don't see any place where this is happening. Let me prime the pump for some deeper reflection with additional questions:

* If the vast majority in any situation has a consistent set of norms based on biology, psychology, morality, etc., how can the exceptions to the major trends be called "normal"? And if we classify the exceptions as "normal" to that exceptional group, then what other factors are evaluated to determine if the exception has a good, unhelpful, or destructive divergence?

* If exceptions are "normal" and "good" just because they are divergent, then how do we evaluate climate change, the opioid crisis, sex trafficking, violence, isolation, gender and same sex attraction issues, biological expression vs. psychological perception, racial issues, etc.?

* If what is most prevalent is "evil" or oppressive, just because it is more present than the exceptions, then how do we determine when something has become too common and therefore can no longer be "good" because it excludes the exceptions?

Our ability to know right/wrong, good/evil, and truth/fiction, is all dependent upon being able to understand those things that are unchanging factual realities, and those things that are relative to perspective or experience. We then have to be able to take our changing perspectives or experiences and evaluate them in light of unchanging factual certainties. Where this gets messed up is when we change out facts for relative perspectives and skew what is good toward our experience. The tendency then is to ignore what is broken, or worse to make it normal and good. Our aversion to admitting our own faults and flaws comes from vanity, and vanity will do anything it can to look good in the mirror of public opinion.

If we cannot grasp our own brokenness, and we believe our faults and flaws are normal and to be celebrated, what harm could that do?

Continued next week...

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Build by the Instructions

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 11, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The LEGO Movie is about Emmet, an average every day joe who does nothing but his normal routine in the LEGO world. He ends up on a quest to save the world when all he knows is how to build according to the instructions and routine. He meets Master Builders along the way, characters who don’t know how to build by instructions and rather use all their pieces to make creative inventions. I won’t spoil the movie, but Emmet must learn how to be creative, but also the Master Builders must also learn how to build by the instructions.

Last week I wrote about the Big Picture and how every part of the Bible and Christian doctrine is meant to be a mosaic, an image of Christ, both individually and collectively. That is the standard God gives us, but it is much more than that. Our individual lives are also meant to be a picture of Jesus both individually and collectively. Now if we were to be dead honest with ourselves and compare ourselves to Jesus, none of us could say we match up. There is only one person who has ever truly lived the Christian life perfectly: Jesus Christ. Yet, just as Abraham, Joseph, David, Daniel, and others gave pictures and snapshots of what Jesus would be like, albeit not perfectly, so do we. Paul even describes us as ‘living epistles,’ living letters of God’s message to mankind.

Our problem is that our worldviews, which dictates how we live our lives and how we think, are not perfectly aligned to the picture God paints for us. Why aren’t they? I want to give three reasons why not and use a jigsaw puzzle and LEGOs to illustrate why not, then how to do it properly.

First, a jigsaw puzzle takes an image and breaks it up into a set of interlocking pieces. The challenge is to figure out how the different pieces fit together and create the image. There are many tactics in how to solve the puzzle, but the most popular one is to start with the edges or the borders. The edges define the limits of the puzzle, how big and how wide it goes. Then all the pieces fit within the edges.

Now there are issues with solving a jigsaw puzzle. The big problem is when we try to put pieces together that do not belong together. They may look like they fit and the colors may try to match, but there are ever so slight discrepancies that prove they don’t fit. If the edges are not built correctly, they can be too long or too short. If the inner pieces are in the wrong spot, the image that should be shown will be distorted. Yet many people try to force fit different pieces in the wrong places without stepping back and looking at the picture on the box to see if it really belongs.

This is seen most clearly in the twisting of Scripture. Scripture is twisted when a statement is not taken in the context it was given and the meaning is misapplied to make it fit a situation the person wants it to fit in. Satan did this to Jesus, misquoting Psalm 91:11-12 to get Jesus to be presumptuous. Yet Jesus knew where the piece went in the puzzle and knew it did not belong in that situation. So he quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 showing how to properly apply such a verse and when not to. He took the piece that did not belong where it was being placed, showed why it did not belong there, and then put it where it did belong.

I opened this post by talking about LEGOs because that is what illustrates the next two common errors. I was never much of a “master builder.” I was the kind who built by the instructions and I was GOOD. I could disassemble all my kits and put them into one massive pile of 30-40 thousand pieces. My brother could pull out a piece at random and I could tell immediately not only which kit the piece went to but also where in the kit. Not only do I have a good memory, but I knew my kits and I knew how they were supposed to look. The concept is still true with Christianity.

God has given us all the supplies we need to build and work out our faith with fear and trembling. He has also given us instructions on how to build. Now, I am not knocking the creativity of the “master builders.” That is a great skill to have and frequently it is a skill needed to operate in this world. However, the problem is many Christians want to free build with their lives and their doctrines, when God wants us to build according to the image he has given: Jesus Christ. We are not to conform to the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are going to end up building according to one pattern or another – either the world around us or God. Build with God’s instructions. He knows precisely the image he wants and he wants that image to last. Only by building by God’s instructions can we build correctly.

The other problem is when we don’t even use LEGOs in our building. Most people would never consider to mix Lincoln Logs with LEGOS, trying to get the two to interlock with each other. It doesn’t work. Yet so many try to do that with the things of God and the things of the world. Somehow we have been hoodwinked to think that we can mix secular humanistic ideas with Scripture, particularly in the area of origins, but often in family planning, counseling, leadership, and many other areas. The world thinks the Bible is foolish and the Bible calls this world’s wisdom foolish. Why try to mix them? It doesn’t make sense.

God’s solution to all this is to build according to the instructions he gave us and to build according to the image he gave us. Let me continue to make clear that none of us will ever get it perfectly, yet that is the amazing thing about God. He can take the unclear, fuzzy images our lives generate and create a clear image of Jesus. How does he do that? He starts with the fancy term called “sanctification.” God gave me such a neat way to describe that. Using the jigsaw puzzle image, sanctification is removing a piece that does not belong where it is currently placed, putting it where it belongs, and replacing it with the piece that does belong. The removed piece may belong to the puzzle and just needs to go somewhere else. But often, the piece is not even part of that puzzle. That is why I could build my LEGO kits from memory. I knew which pieces belonged and which pieces did not. God does not merely remove pieces that don’t belong, he replaces them with pieces which do. And he does that by comparing us to the standards he has given. What are those standards? Next week, I’ll write about what Christianity is and what it is really about. It will be about what the image our Christian lives are meant to look like. Stay tuned.

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


What Does the Bible Say About Mercy?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 7, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

What is mercy? It’s a word we may have difficulty defining, but we always appreciate receiving mercy! Google’s dictionary defines mercy as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.” Showing mercy means we could harm someone, but we choose not to. That does sound like a pretty Biblical and Christian concept, don’t you think? So what does the Bible actually say about mercy?

Many of the times the Bible speaks of mercy it’s in the New Testament, but it definitely shows up in the Old Testament too. Micah 6:8 tells us that God commands us to show mercy: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” We even see mercy in Lamentations 3:22-23: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions [mercies] never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

David pleaded with God to show him mercy in Psalm 40:11: “Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me.” David also explains God’s mercy in Psalm 25:6-7: “Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.”

Some translations of Psalm 23:6 use the word “mercy,” while others use “love.” The word there in the Hebrew is hesed, which we really don’t have a good English word for. The concept of hesed is a combination of mercy, love, and kindness. Wherever hesed is used, the translators have to decide which English word fits best, so sometimes we see mercy and other times they use other words.

While it doesn’t use the specific word “mercy,” one of the most famous Bible passages of John 3:16-17 explains God’s mercy toward us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Mercy is included as part of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). When speaking about loving your enemies, Jesus commanded us to “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). We are also instructed to be merciful to others if we want to be shown mercy, in James 2:12-13: “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Even the single-chapter book of Jude talks about showing mercy in Jude 1:22-23: “Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

Mercy goes hand-in-hand with God’s grace, which I’ll write about more next week. The Bible is full of God’s mercy, because without Him being a merciful God, we humans would be too sinful to have a relationship with Him. I’ll leave you with mercy as part of our salvation through Jesus, in Ephesians 2:4-5: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

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The Faith of the Widow at Zarephath

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, May 6, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

We’ve all heard that actions speak louder than words. I can preach a good sermon and talk for 30-40 minutes straight and people might even say I’m a good preacher, but that won’t go very far in determining what they think of me as a Christian. In fact, for Christians, the better thing to say would be that actions speak louder than “beliefs." Many of us know what we’re supposed to believe as Christians and we even know how to talk the talk. But even Jesus said that not everyone who calls him “Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who DOES the will of the Father (Matthew 7:21 [caps mine]). The Church is in an age when an increasing number of so-called “believers” either show no evidence of their stated faith or boldly show evidence that contradicts it.

Continuing in the series on the heroes of our faith shows us individuals who did more than just talk about what they believed. In many cases, they didn’t talk about it at all and in other cases, they weren’t even considered part of God’s people until the acts of faith for which they are now known. In Hebrews 11:35, the writer continues to tell about the faithful anonymous, reminding us that “women received back their dead, raised to life again." There are only a couple people from the Old Testament who would fit this description, and the one I will address this week wasn’t just anonymous to the writer of Hebrews, but also to whoever recorded her story in the first place. She is known as the widow at Zarephath and her story is found in the midst of Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 17:7-24.

The faith of Elijah and that of the widow are intertwined during a desperate time for both of them. Elijah has been on the run ever since he decided to confront King Ahab and his evil wife, Jezebel. God sends him to the middle of the wilderness and far away from any civilization where Ahab could possibly locate him, and he lives daily by depending on a brook for water and ravens who have been directed by God to bring him food. His faith is strong as he depends on God daily for his needs and doesn’t worry about the next day. But then, God decides it’s time for another move, which means another huge step of faith. The brook, Elijah’s one source of water, dries up, and God tells him to go to Zarephath in the region of Sidon because God has directed a widow in that place to supply Elijah with food (v. 9). Now, what we need to understand is that widows in those times were considered to be extremely poor because they had lost their source of income when their husbands had passed away. To Elijah, it probably made more sense for him to wait beside the dry brook and see what happens. When God calls us to move on, however, we can try to depend on the past and get the blessing back as much as we want and it still won’t change God’s mind.

God clearly had a plan to not only grow Elijah’s faith, but to bring this desperate widow to faith and knowledge of him. That’s often how it works. You might complain about your circumstances to the Lord, but they may not change because he may want to use the testing of your faith as an example to someone who doesn’t know him. Elijah goes to the widow as directed and he finds her gathering sticks at the town gate (v. 10). Elijah was probably hoping he would find that this widow was unusually rich, but what he found in reality is that she was even poorer than most widows. She didn’t even have firewood! After Elijah asks her to bring him water and a piece of bread, she declares that she has no bread and that she is gathering the sticks just so that she and her son can enjoy one last meal before they starve to death (v. 12).

At this point, Elijah has learned not to pay any attention to his circumstances when he knows what God’s word is and he is ready to live out his faith in front of the widow. He tells her not to be afraid because the God of Israel has promised that her oil and flour, the last resources she has available to her, will not be used up until the Lord sends rain on the land (v. 14). There had been no rain in the land because of Ahab’s wickedness and the lack of rain ultimately led to a great famine, which made the situation even more desperate for people like the widow. Yet, despite all of this, Elijah declared that God would miraculously meet her needs if she just trusts in him. That’s a big “if," for the widow at Zarephath and for all of us. God wants to bless us and we may “say” what we think we’re supposed to say to try to get the blessing, but our actions always speak louder than words when it comes to faith. Elijah boldly told the woman that she could make food for herself and her son, but the way she would show trust in the God of Israel would be by making a small loaf of bread for Elijah FIRST (v. 13). What if Elijah was wrong? What if he was selfishly taking advantage of a poor woman? Sometimes, God calls us to do things that will lead to us being misunderstood. But again, true faith trusts God with even those concerns. He can handle meeting daily food needs and he can definitely handle our reputations.

The woman has a choice to make. God is ready to bless her and Elijah knows it, but neither one of them is going to force her to LIVE her faith in this situation. The connection to our faithful choices and eventual blessing are all throughout Scripture. The blessing may not always look like prosperity, and the widow did not get rich off of her faith. But she did get her daily needs met. She did exactly as Elijah, who had spoken the word of the Lord, told her (v. 15), and she learned to put her full faith in the true God of Israel who could and would meet her daily needs.

The rest of the chapter tells us that her son would later get sick, so sick in fact that he stops breathing (v. 17). She assumes maybe Elijah has caused this but then immediately begins to look at her own sin as a possible reason. Elijah takes the boy and cries out to the Lord on his behalf, reminding God that the widow does not deserve this because she was very poor, trusted and followed him, and even continued to allow Elijah to stay with her. Elijah questions whether God would bring this tragedy on her and verse 22 tells us that God heard Elijah’s cry and allowed the boy’s life to return to him. The end result in verse 24 is that the widow at Zarephath states that she knows Elijah is a man of God and, more importantly, that the word of the Lord that flows through Elijah’s mouth is the “truth."

The widow learned that even in her most desperate circumstances, faith was about her actions and not words. She probably figured she had nothing to lose with the food. Whether you eat one more meal and die or eat no more meals and die, what’s the big difference? So, she did what God commanded through Elijah and received the blessing that came from it. But when it came to her son, she had everything to lose. Yet, she turned to the Lord then. Her newfound faith as a Gentile woman taught her that this God was real, and that his power could meet all of her needs and fix any situation if he wanted it to. When she put her full faith in God and his servant Elijah, she even received her son back to life even after he had been dead. The same can be true for you. I don’t know what you’re facing now in your life, but I do know that it’s there because God is giving you an opportunity to put your faith in him beyond your words and into your actions.

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The Big Picture

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 4, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

A very common question youth in particular ask about Christianity is, “What is the whole thing about?” We at Worldview Warriors have been addressing many different things including apologetics, Christian living, practical political situations, the philosophical issues we face, and many other topics. Starting today, I want to so a series on what this whole thing is about and why we as Christians do what we do and say what we say. This is the big picture.

A good friend of mine, Charles Jackson, was speaking at my church two years ago and he quoted Haskell Rycroft, the pastor of his boss when he was at the Creation Truth Foundation. Pastor Rycroft said, “What you have to do is look at the big picture. Whenever you’re lost and can’t find your way, you have to look at the big picture.” Dr. Jackson then described how if you are in a strange city, you can pinpoint your location on your GPS, however, you can’t really see where you are in that city until you zoom out and see where you are in relation to everything else.

Christianity can be like this GPS. It is easy to zoom in and nitpick all these tiny details about the meanings of particular words and get all kinds of depth out of a single verse. Many solid preachers can find a single verse and get an entire sermon out of it, whereas others of us look at a verse and the most we could get out of speaking on it would be reading it very slowly. But the reason these preachers can do that and still be Biblically sound is because they see the big picture. They know how to take that zoomed in image and pull back and see where it fits and belongs in the whole scope of things.

When I began thinking about what “the big picture” was and how all the different pieces of Christianity fit together, the idea of a mosaic came to mind. A mosaic is a collection of pieces of pottery or glass which are put together to create a unique picture. Many stained-glass windows in churches are mosaics of Christ or some event in Christianity. The artist takes different pieces of glass, creates them in certain sizes and shapes, and organizes them in certain patterns to create the big picture.

A mosaic can also be a picture within pictures. Each piece of the mosaic is a picture in itself. Here is a simple Google search for mosaic picture and you can see different pictures combining to create a unique image. Now, with most mosaics such as this, the main picture can be a little fuzzy, however there is one mosaic which gets absolutely clear the more pictures are included: that mosaic is the Bible.

The Bible is full of different pictures and images, especially throughout the Old Testament, each which is worthy of study in their own right. The study of creation is a hot topic because that is one of the primary fronts the enemy has been using to attack the integrity of Christianity. It is a very important topic; however, it is just one of many different pictures which demonstrates the central image. The study of end times is another topic, especially as today’s headlines are looking very similar to the prophecies of the end times. However, they too are just another piece to the puzzle. All the historical accounts of Israel from Adam to Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, the Kings, Nehemiah, and the prophets and more are all individual pictures worthy of their own study, yet each paint another picture: that picture is Jesus Christ.

Eric Ludy has an extremely important sermon called “Christophany." In this sermon, he addresses seven of the major issues that churches have split over and reminds us to keep our focus on Jesus as the center of attention. I still struggle with this in my online debates. Talking about origins is fine, however it is overall meaningless unless I am pointing to Christ. He does not deny the importance of origins, end times, theology, salvation, keeping the law, etiquette, or gifts of the Spirit. However, their place makes it work when Jesus is the focus.

Many people try to take each of these issues and others and relegate them to ‘secondary’ issues. I have long disagreed with such a notion. The argument is that “if it doesn’t affect salvation, it’s not important.” However, we cannot call ourselves Christians if we are going to look for the bare minimum of getting in and living our lives however we want otherwise. That’s not how it works. If we want to understand these issues, we need to start with Jesus and recognize that all the pieces of the mosaic create an image of Jesus. That being said, if we get the pieces wrong, it creates a fuzzy image of Jesus, or a false one altogether.

Many people think the image is Jesus in the center and all these other issues are off to the side and irrelevant. That is not true. All these issues are not side issues with Jesus as a separate discussion, but part of the image that is Jesus. Paul stated, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” He was a very intelligent man, very well-educated and very knowledgeable. However, he knew that all his knowledge was ultimately worthless unless Christ was his purpose and end game. He did not reject knowledge of anything else, but he saw the central purpose of it all. If it’s just knowledge for the purpose of knowledge, it is worthless. But if it points to and reveals Christ, then it is of the utmost value.

Charles Spurgeon is attributed to saying something like, “In every town there is a road to London. Likewise, in every Scripture there is a road to Christ.” (The quote tends to vary depending on who is citing it, but that is the gist.) Everything in the Bible points to and reveals Jesus. The Bible is the Word of God in written text. It is everything God wanted to say to his people of all time, of all languages, and of all cultures. Jesus Christ is the Word of God in living flesh. He is the personification of the message God sent through the written Word. To understand Jesus, read the Bible. To understand the Bible, look at Jesus. Every passage gives snapshots and images of what Jesus was like and what he would do. Even the villains of the Bible like Saul and Ahab and Absalom give pictures of Jesus by representing sin and the flesh and their ultimate demise at the hands of Jesus. Each story and each statement give some picture of Jesus both individually and collectively.

Look at the big picture. If any passage of Scripture or doctrine does not make sense, look at the big picture. Next week, I’ll look at some practical ways on how we can do this.

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.


Common Traits = Common Ancestor?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, May 3, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

After a few conversations in a variety of groups online, I decided to look into the “mountain of evidence” that supposedly supports evolution. I make it a habit to ask to see the mountain, but very little if any of this mountain is ever revealed so I needed to do some digging. Turns out, the evidence is underwhelming. The theme that kept coming up as a strong candidate for the “best” evidence was common traits. Supposedly, common traits or similar characteristics mean we all used to be pond scum. Another way to say it we can organize organisms into “nested hierarchies,” therefore, evolution. A nested hierarchy is an organized group. Groups of related organisms share similar traits. The more traits that are shared, generally, the more “related” the organisms are. This is somehow evidence for universal common descent. As laughable as that may be, this exposes 2 major things in my mind: 1) the evidence for Darwinian evolution is terrible, and 2) people who suggest things like this are strong evidence for evolution have no idea what they're talking about. Let's touch on that first and go back to the former one in a moment.

Evidence is interesting stuff. It doesn't really speak for itself, although many will suggest it does. The observer of the evidence must make the facts tell a story. The facts themselves do not do this. This is easily demonstrated if we look at a court case. Everyone involved has the same evidence, but the prosecutor and the defendant tell very different stories regarding that evidence. If we're talking about something that happened without anyone seeing it, it can be difficult to know for certain if one thing is true or another. But the real reason that this sort of evidence exposes a terrible lack of understanding of this topic is that the same evidence can strongly be used to support intelligent design. If facts are interpreted to support two very different ideas, then they likely are not strong support for one over the other. The facts are simply the facts. There seems to be a great many things that are strong evidence for evolution that are equally supportive of creation or intelligent design. If that is the case, then suggesting it is one of the greatest evidences for one side is foolish. Let me explain a little more.

Common traits are looked at by evolutionists as evidence for evolution. This is because they believe if two organisms have a common trait, then these organisms must have a common ancestor who shared these traits with them. However, creationists will see common traits and see it as evidence for a Designer who chose to use common designs for organisms. And why wouldn't He? It would make sense to use a superior design with a variety of living things, would it not? In a moment, we'll see how this actually does strongly support creation. The evidence is so contradictory to evolution it should never be brought up by Darwinists because they actually support a creation of distinct types within ordered groups, not Darwinian evolution. I hope you're tracking with me.

An obvious consequence of common traits being evidence for evolution would be that similar structures (common traits) would develop at the same time or similar and in the same way or similar. For a terrific number of traits, this is not true at all. For example, and I touched on this in another blog post, the five digits and hands of a human develop exactly backward from the five digits and hand of a frog. If we share a common ancestor, we would not expect these similar traits to develop completely differently, yet they do. As you can see in the blog post linked above, they've tried to use this as support for Darwinism for over a century, and even though they know that the “facts” concerning it that support them are fraudulent. Yet they persist in using it as evidence. If you have to use fraudulent ideas to support your origins myth, doesn't that say something pretty obvious about your origins myth?

Dr. T Dobzhansky said, “Homology does not prove evolution, in the sense that nobody has actually witnessed the gradual changes in the millions of consecutive generations which led from a common ancestor to a bird on the one hand and to man on the other.” The fossil record reveals no such lineage either. When traits are seen in the fossil record, they are fully formed with no ancestral, more primitive version. This is true all the way back to the Cambrian Explosion. So, in essence, the only way this can be used as support for universal common descent (that pond scum evolved into people) is by making up a story. There is no physical evidence suggesting such a thing and, in fact, it seems likely the idea is completely bogus anyway. Dr. A.J. Jones, a creationist, said, “The evolutionist argument from homology lacks scientific content... The evolutionist concept of homology is now shown to be entirely subjective.” In other words, one can make up anything they like, generally based on their worldview, and this is NOT supportive of evolution. It is nothing more than story telling.

The fact of the matter is, there are a very large number of exceptions to common traits that make evolution look naive and completely a child's mindless idea. This is true of a great many things, but this is a good one. There has been an entire concept devoted to such anomalies (which are closer to the rule than the exception): convergent evolution.

Even though convergent evolution is a rescuing device used to save the theory that doesn't actually fit the evidence, it's hailed as a great pillar of their faith. Convergent evolution is used to explain why humans and the octupus have the same type of eyes. Now, if you know anything about eyes, you know they're exquisitely complicated (find out more here). Believing the eye developed accidentally once is a stretch. Believing a nearly identical eye developed in an organism allegedly very far removed from humans in a completely different environment is really just laughable. This is but one example; there are huge numbers of them. Hemoglobin is another great example. This molecule very efficiently transports oxygen and other gases through the blood. Without it, we would not exist. Hemoglobin is a very complex molecule with thousands of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, etc., all very specifically organized to function as it does. Why do I bring it up? Hemoglobin is found in all vertebrates (except one fish family). That would seem to support common design or Darwinism. However, it's also found in some earthworms, fungi, starfish, crustaceans, mollusks, and bacteria. How could this extremely complex molecule vital for life be found in such a wide variety of organisms? Many of these organisms have “close relatives” that do no use hemoglobin but other types of carriers.

How did it develop multiple times across such vast spans of unrelatedness? This doesn't make sense from a Darwinist perspective at all, but it does work quite well with common design. Again, why not use a good design repeatedly? Sure, He didn't have to (and He didn't use it everywhere) but it makes sense when we see it.

A nurse shark and a camel have receptor proteins that are unusual (compared to other “close relatives”) and are not really shared with other organisms. How did these two very different organisms in VERY different environments develop the same receptors? There are long lists of structures that the evolutionist must rely on convergent evolution to explain. But does it really explain it, or just brush it aside? In all honesty, explaining how a single slightly complex structure would have evolved leaves much to be desired. Explaining how marvelously complex structures evolved exactly the same in two (or many) completely different organisms in polar opposite environments should not be considered rational by anyone, in my opinion. Convergent evolution has no supportive evidence whatsoever. They see two similar structures and can only conclude, because they are bound to the idea of evolution, that they evolved independently of each other.

These things and many others beautifully exemplify what has been referred to in the past as ideal archetypes. In other words, these structures are designed very well to do what they need to do, so they were designed into a number of different organisms. A modern example of this would be the wheel. A wheel on a car is similar to the wheel on a lawn tractor. They share traits with the wheels on a bicycle and a wheelbarrow. The wheel in a pulley is also similar. However, this does not support common ancestry of the wheel. It's because this design is perfect for what it's used for. And wouldn't we expect similar structures in a variety of organisms? Many of the stresses of life are the same, so similar structures and even similar genetic coding for such structures makes sense. Better designs would then be preferred over lesser designs, thus the Designer would give them priority.

We don't see the exact same design in many structures but extremely similar. Variety is the rule. Again, this points to a Designer. He is an artist—anyone that creates something, especially entirely out of His imagination, is an artist. If an artist sculpted the exact same thing over and over, he'd be bored to death and would lack creative talent. However, even slight variations show a mind at work. Dr. Jerry Bergman said, “Although many similarities exist in almost all animal structures, structural variations are the norm. Often the variations found in the animal world seem to exist solely to produce variety, and not for the purpose of conferring a survival advantage.” Survival advantage is what it's all about for the Darwinist, really. Variety for the sake of variety just shows the creative nature of our God. He's amazing and the fact that we, mankind, are constantly copying His designs for our own creations demonstrates the superiority of His creative mind over ours. Bio mimicry is a topic for another time, but man doesn't come up with much that he didn't swipe from nature—which means it was stolen from God.

We'll continue investigating this “mountain of evidence” in the future.

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Benjamin Franklin on Republican Government in the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, May 1, 2018 0 comments

by Bill Fortenberry

One of the most fascinating things that I discovered in writing my book Franklin on Faith was a short discourse between Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Cooper. Cooper was a Congregational minister who served as pastor of Battle Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts, and on May 15, 1781, Franklin penned a letter to Cooper with this somewhat cryptic paragraph:

“Your excellent Sermon gave me abundance of Pleasure, and is much admired by several of my Friends who understand English. I purpose to get it translated & printed at Geneva at the End of a Translation of your new Constitution. Nothing could be happier than your Choice of a Text, & your Application of it. It was not necessary in New England where every body reads the Bible, and is acquainted with Scripture Phrases, that you should note the Texts from which you took them; but I have observed in England as well as in France, that Verses and Expressions taken from the sacred Writings, and not known to be such, appear very strange and awkward to some Readers; and I shall therefore in my Edition take the Liberty of marking the quoted Texts in the Margin.”

The sermon that Franklin references here was a sermon preached by Samuel Cooper to which he gave the very lengthy and descriptive title of:

“A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency John Hancock, Esq; Governor, The Honourable Senate, and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, October 25th, 1780. Being the day of the Commencement of the Constitution and Inauguration of the New Government.”

This was one of the most widely read sermons in America, and it presented a theme that was commonly acknowledged in our nation at that time. Cooper preached that:

“The form of government originally established in the Hebrew nation by a charter from heaven, was that of a free republic, over which God himself, in peculiar favour to that people, was pleased to preside. It consisted of three parts; a chief magistrate who was called judge or leader, such as Joshua and others, a council of seventy chosen men, and the general assemblies of the people. Of these the two last were the most essential and permanent, and the first more occasional, according to the particular circumstances of the nation. Their council or Sanhedrim, remained with but little suspension, through all the vicissitudes they experienced, till after the commencement of the christian √¶ra. And as to the assemblies of the people, that they were frequently held by divine appointment, and considered as the fountain of civil power, which they exerted by their own decrees, or distributed into various channels as they judged most conducive to their own security, order, and happiness, is evident beyond contradiction from the sacred history. Even the law of Moses, though framed by God himself, was not imposed upon that people against their will; it was laid open before the whole congregation of Israel; they freely adopted it, and it became their law, not only by divine appointment, but by their own voluntary and express consent. Upon this account it is called in the sacred writings a covenant, compact, or mutual stipulation...

“To mention all the passages in sacred writ which prove that the Hebrew government, tho’ a theocracy, was yet as to the outward part of it, a free republic, and that the sovereignty resided in the people, would be to recite a large part of its history...

“Such a constitution, twice established by the hand of heaven in that nation, so far as it respects civil and religious liberty in general, ought to be regarded as a solemn recognition from the Supreme Ruler himself of the rights of human nature. Abstracted from those appendages and formalities which were peculiar to the Jews, and designed to answer some particular purposes of divine Providence, it points out in general what kind of government infinite wisdom and goodness would establish among mankind.”

Franklin heartily agreed with Cooper’s claim that God had established a republican form of government in ancient Israel, and that the Americans should model their government after the government of the Old Testament. In fact, Franklin was so convinced of the supremacy of government patterned after the doctrines of the Bible that he sought to have Cooper’s sermon published throughout Europe as well as in America.

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