If We Get the Love Part Wrong, What’s the Point?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, November 20, 2019 1 comments

by Jason DeZurik

I have had the privilege to have been mentored and discipled by some incredible men of God. The world would probably say these men aren’t great men, but these men who were willing to sink their lives into mine and others in hope to advance the kingdom of God here on earth. The kingdom of God is a mindset, it is a spiritual awakening, and it is a lifestyle (Matthew 6:10).

One of these men trained me to learn about Jesus Christ and others, how they lived their lives, and to put what I had learned from them into action. But before he would take any of his time to disciple me, I had to memorize 1 Corinthians 13. He told me, “If we get the love part wrong, what’s the point?” That made sense to me since we know that, according to the Bible, God is love. So, I went to work on memorizing 1 Corinthians 13.

This text is very challenging. We see in verse 1 that while someone is speaking in tongues they might actually be speaking in an angelic language. We see that love is patient and kind and that it does not envy (here’s a little more to consider). With that said, we also see in verse 6 that “love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” 1 John 5:3 tells us that Biblical love isn’t just about accepting, but it is really about living out Godly ways, which includes delighting in truth.

So, since God is love, using the reason God has given to us as human beings, we can logically conclude that the God of the Bible will delight in truth. He will not promote or delight in evil ways as an okay way to live and do as we please without getting the consequences of natural law that we so justly deserve. Living this out can be very difficult. It’s difficult because our natural person wants to go our own way and not God’s way. When one chooses to live under God’s Law, now it should be the desire of that person’s spiritual “man” to follow God’s Law even if their natural “man” doesn’t like it.

Friends, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you should be striving to live out love in your life. This means for sure being patient and kind, not delighting in evil, and rejoicing in the truth. These go together. Love is not just an ushy, gushy love. It takes work. If one tries to love without pleasing God, according to the Bible that’s not Biblical love. It’s something else.

Here some other texts and writings to consider:
1 John 4:7-21
Matthew 5:17-20
Truth Without Love

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Psalm 130

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 18, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” (Psalm 130)

This psalm is part of the collection of the 15 songs of ascent (like this one and this one) that were prayed by the Israelites as they would ascent up to the temple in Jerusalem. While some of the songs of ascent focus on praise, others like this one are more of a lament. This psalm is also considered to be one of the seven penitential psalms (along with Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, and 143) because of its aspects of realizing the weight of our sin and confessing it.

This psalm begins in verses 1-2 with a lament, crying out to God. Being in “the depths” is a metaphor for adversity or trouble in a person’s life. It’s like that feeling of being in a pit that you can’t get out of because of the weight of the negative things going on in life. It may even feel like alienation from God because we’re so deep into a bad situation. But even in a place like that, or maybe especially in a place like that, we can and should cry out to God. The psalmist prays for God to hear his cry and to give him mercy, as it’s likely that whatever bad situation he is in is because of a sin he has committed.

In verses 3-4, the psalmist recognizes his sin and knows God will forgive him. In the courts of ancient Israel, if you were going on trial you would be asked if you consider yourself to be innocent or guilty of the crime. If you plead guilty, you would remain seated, whereas if you plead innocent, you would stand. The psalmist uses that imagery here, saying that there is no way he could stand in innocence if God remembered all his sins. But he is so thankful that God does not keep a record like that, and that there is forgiveness available to him. The psalmist knows that he needs to be forgiven of the wrongs he has committed in order to be able to serve God well.

The psalm moves on in verses 5-6 to a sense of waiting for the Lord. He knows he needs God in his life, and he must patiently wait on whatever God is going to do through him. While he waits, he puts his hope in a word from God. That likely refers to waiting on a promise of salvation or deliverance, as at the time this psalm was written they likely didn’t have the Word of God in the form of the Scriptures yet. The psalmist waits on this word like a watchman waits for morning to come. The watchmen guarded the city against attacks overnight so its residents could sleep peacefully. They know the morning will come and they wait expectantly for it.

This hope then turns to confidence in God in verses 7-8. The psalmist is putting his hope and confidence individually in God, but he also called for the whole nation of Israel to do the same. The Lord is the only one who can provide unfailing love and redemption, and the psalmist is confident that He will. He is the one who will redeem all of Israel from their sins.

While the psalmist didn’t have the Bible as we have it today, and he was writing long before Jesus came to earth, we can see even more clearly that we should put our hope in God as well. We have the true Word of God - Jesus Christ - and we have the Bible to show us how God is revealing Himself to us. We don’t have to hope in an unknown God but one that we can have a relationship with.

We need to feel the weight of our sinfulness just as the psalmist did, but from the depths of our sin we too can call out to God to show us mercy. When we have faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, we know that God will forgive us when we truly repent of our sin. Because of that, we have the certain hope of life eternal with God. We know that He is the only way to get out of the pit of our sin and be truly redeemed.

Put your hope in God and His unfailing love today, and live out this week in the confidence of His redemption of your life.

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False Teachings: Characteristics, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 15, 2019 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

As I continue my series on identifying false teachings, we must be alert to the mixing or blending of pagan ideas into Christianity and calling it “Christian.” A term that describes this is “Christian Syncretism.” This is when someone takes a teaching, practice, or idea from the world and gives it a “Christian flavor.” It is a grievous sin and blatant distrust of God whenever we do this.

James warned us that friendship with the world is enmity towards God. If we want to be friendly with the world’s way of thinking, the world’s methods, and the world’s ideologies, we will be in direct defiance of God’s way of thinking, God’s methods, and God’s ideology. We can’t have it both ways. A clue we can use to detect false teachings is if we see using the world as bait to draw people to Christianity. It’s the idea that if we look like the world, the world will like us and then embrace our message. It is very difficult for something more stupid to be said. Jesus gave a message that required renouncing of the world, denying self, and to follow Him no matter what. Most pastors and “Christians” today need to rip that completely out of their Bibles because they flat out have no hint of a desire to follow it.

Now, the common defense for these false teachings is that when Paul went to the Greeks he became a Greek, when he went to Thessalonica he became a Thessalonian, and to the Jew he became a Jew. Jesus went and ate out with the sinners and tax collectors. He hung out with prostitutes. They cite Paul’s preaching at Mars Hill by referencing their culture as evidence they should look like the world. Those are the Scriptures they use to justify looking worldly. But there’s a problem: none of these people ever did look like the world.

When Paul went to Mars Hill, he did not embrace the Athenian culture of polytheism of which the Stoics and Epicureans really did not believe. In fact, he used their own culture as a launch point to tell them, “You are all wrong and don’t know what you do. Here is the truth about this Unknown God you don’t know nor know how to worship.” He was directly counter-cultural and the responses he received of mockery and laughter showed very clearly that he was not seeking to appease anyone where they were at. Jesus did the same. He never once made any appeal to emotion or sought to make His message more appealing. He spoke the hard truth, and when people objected, He made it even harder to accept. Just read John 6.

People will say that our culture is too sensitive to hear a message like that. Give up self and repent from your sins? Let go of your education and your social prestige and start all over, relying on God? Be ready to be persecuted and suffer and be hated? Who can handle that kind of message? The answer is simple: NO ONE. No generation has ever been able to withstand the Gospel message. When the true Gospel is being preached there will be only two possible responses: resistance, if not hatred, or conversion. The true Gospel forces us to make a decision to go with God or not. No choice or waiting is simply saying, “No.” When we preach a true Gospel, those who love their sin will reject us, and those whom God calls will run to Him.

But there are a lot of counterfeits out there and they all have this characteristic: using the world as a draw card. It’s utter deception with bait-and-switch. Suck the person in with what his sinful flesh desires and then tell them that sinful flesh is a bad thing. How can anyone think that is reasonable? When you use sinful carnal desires to draw people in, the only way you will keep them is to keep feeding them sinful, carnal food. If the flesh is the draw, then no Gospel can be preached.

The majority of preachers today appeal to the flesh and teach to pray to God to feed your flesh. I’m dead serious. The modern evangelism tactic has abandoned the use of the Law of God to convict the soul and instead appeals to Jesus as a replacement for the sources of joy previously offered by sex, drugs, alcohol, education, sports, etc. It’s flesh-motivated. Jesus is used as nothing more than comfort for this bumpy ride we call life. Then it gets worse. The Christian life is preached to be a lovely, fluffy, padded, wealthy, prosperous life here and now. That is not what Jesus promised: tribulation, suffering, hardships. It’s a counterfeit. It takes the promises God offered in the next life and tries to apply them in the here and now, with no regard to eternity other than “I get to go.” It’s so dangerous. And they preach this because they are afraid their congregation will leave them unless they preach something that will appease them. It’s total fear of man.

Even the seeking after God has been counterfeited. A couple years ago, I did a study on prayer. It’s something that is not easy to learn. But a while back I was relistening to some sermons on prayer and I realized something. This too is being counterfeited. True Biblical prayer takes what God initiates and without doubt and without ceasing we pray until we get the answer God has promised. But there is a counterfeit to this. One such counterfeit is the “Law of Attraction,” which is heavily promoted by numerous BIG names in Christian circles today. It is disguised as prayer, but it does nothing but seek what self wants, visualizes it, speaks out loud, and persists until “God” answers. The problem is, when our “prayers and desires” are aligned to the flesh and not God, there are many demons who are more than capable of answering them for you. The reason these false teachings work so well in giving the flesh what the flesh wants is because they are serving their god, the devil, quite well.

When Christians start suggesting they can do “Christian Yoga,” or bands say they can do “Christian Rock” while dressed just like the heathen, or Christian scientists suggest that we can use the secular models of Deep Time to “present a better picture of truth to the unbelievers,” they are anything but Christian. Many people have suggested these are compromises, but I have grown to disagree with that term. Those are not mixing or blending of Christian and pagan ideas. They are pure pagan ideas just decorated cosmetically in Christianese. Remove all Christian references to the idea or act and virtually nothing but the wrapping changes. The concept and idea all remain. We don’t need to get the world’s approval on our messages.

Now I am not suggesting we be so isolated that we make no connections at all. We still must speak the language of our audience, but our message must not change. I use the sport of fencing as a tool to help visualize concepts and tactics of spiritual warfare. I am not taking the message of spiritual warfare and catering it to fencing, but rather using a tool to illustrate the message without changing it. Creation organizations do love the science involved in studying origins, however, it is an attempt to preach the Gospel to an academic audience. It’s never an attempt to look like the world in order to “win them over.” So, using tools or visual aids can most certainly help. However, we must not settle for a counterfeit version of the message that sells us short and people to Hell.

So, let me summarize the characteristics of false teachings from this series:
1. They LOOK like the real thing, often differing in seemingly minor but significant areas.
2. They never point towards nor glorify God as the primary. They always point towards man’s education, man’s discoveries, the “revelation” given to man, etc. God may be given credit, but only as an afterthought, hardly a footnote.
3. They seek to fulfill man’s sinful, selfish desires, and never promote death to self or surrender of self to God. They always seek to give what self wants.
4. They will use the world as a draw card and will give an appearance of spirituality, but it will be without Christ as the center. If one were to strip away all Christian references to the idea or activity, very little would change.
5. They seek the approval and applause of their audience. They want to be received, not to be ministers of the truth, especially if they never get credit.

I’m not done with this series yet. For the next few weeks, I’ll look at some of the tactics that false teachers use to get their ideas into the church. We must be alert, because these false teachers will look and act like your friend until you question them.

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Psalm 128

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 11, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. May you live to see your children’s children—peace be on Israel.” (Psalm 128)

Psalm 128 is another of the psalms of ascent that I mentioned last week, which were often read in connection with ascending to the temple in Jerusalem. It is a psalm of blessing, specifically relating to the blessing of family.

Verse 1 starts out with general words of wisdom: “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.” We see that the fear of God brings us blessings. That word “fear” has multiple meanings. It does mean that we should be afraid of God because He is the all-powerful creator and we are merely His creations. But it also means to have reverence or awe for God, again because He is God and we are not. We need to both be afraid of how He can punish us if we don’t walk in His ways, and we need to be in awe of His might and power. Because of this fear, we should walk in His ways.

If we do what verse 1 suggests and walk in obedience to God, then “blessings and prosperity will be yours” (verse 2). That doesn’t mean we’ll be immensely wealthy with the things of this world, but it refers to blessings and prosperity from God. That’s often not the same as being prosperous with material wealth and things. And, this doesn’t mean that blessings will simply be handed to you without you having to do anything. On the contrary, it says that “You will eat the fruit of your labor.” Your hard work will be rewarded, but we do still need to work to do what God is calling us to do.

Verses 3-4 provide many images of the blessing of a family. The man who works well at his labor will be blessed with wife and children, which was a sign of prosperity in Biblical times. To our ears, it may sound weird to compare kids to olive shoots, but that’s simply a cultural difference. Most olive trees do not bear fruit until around 5 years after they were planted and they may not bear fruit after 40 years, but they are still considered to be a symbol of longevity and productivity. They bear their fruit in due time, just as teaching children will bear fruit for generations to come.

In verses 5-6, we see that these blessings we receive from God are not just for a short time but for all the days of our lives on earth. In the days of this psalm being written, people often didn’t live as long as they do today, so being able to live long enough to see your grandchildren was a huge blessing.

The city of Jerusalem was (and is) of great concern to the nation of Israel. People of Israel would not only be concerned with the circumstances of their own lives and family but also with the status of Jerusalem, if the city was prospering and being properly defended from outside enemies. In Old Testament times, it was believed that God’s presence lived in the temple in Jerusalem, so this was a very precious site. Having God on your heart and mind also meant being concerned for Jerusalem, the place where God dwelled.

Jerusalem was also the center for their government and where the king of Israel would live. If a Godly king was ruling in Jerusalem, then they knew that the whole nation would be blessed by that king’s good actions. Even if a person was not in Jerusalem, having peace in Jerusalem would mean peace for the rest of the nation.

But what about for us, as many Christians today are Gentiles and not Jewish? Should we still care about Jerusalem and what’s happening there? I believe the answer is yes, as we should care for all of God’s people - both those who follow Him and those who do not. We should desire all people to come to saving faith in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection as 1 Timothy 2:1-4 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Are you walking in obedience to God’s ways in your life? Where might you be struggling to obey what God has commanded you? What blessings do you see in your life that are a direct result of following what God desires for you? I encourage you to think about these questions as you go about your week.

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False Teachings: Characteristics, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 8, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week, I wrote about how a false teaching will point either towards the One True God or it will point towards and glorify man, even if it gives lip service to being about God. There are more key characteristics of false teachings we must be watchful for. This week I am going to emphasize on something Jude brings up. Jude addresses two key features in false teachers and false teachings: they promote some immoral deed as being okay and good, and they deny our Lord Jesus Christ.

A false teacher will teach a moral problem as being okay to embrace or to be a good thing. A few years ago, I did a series on Matthew Vines and his argument that you can be both a Christian and a homosexual at the same time. He gives ten arguments of why the Bible supports homosexuality, and I addressed each one in my series. The logic was horrible and in no way, even in all his mangled reasoning, did any of the arguments actually demonstrate what he set out to do. He is just one example, but I have found more often than not that when a moral barrier prevents someone from seeing the truth and to promote other teachings, sexual immorality is by far the #1 moral issue.

If you find any person attempting to justify sinful behavior, that is a warning to not listen to them. And I say that knowing I am held liable to this truth myself. I can get heated in “discussions,” and I have to keep reminding myself to keep my cool and be the better man. My complete disdain for false teachings being promoted can, however, blind me from addressing the issue in love and a desire to see that person saved from said false teaching. It shows I am not fully redeemed yet. I can totally relate to Voddie Baucham when he gets into apologetic debates and “Bad Voddie” shows up to clean things up. “Bad Voddie” doesn’t do things the way Christians should do it, but he wants to smack people upside the head and enjoy humiliating them when they saying things out of total ignorance while trying to sound smart. There is “Bad Charlie” inside me that does the same thing. I need the spirit of John Hyde in whom when anyone attempted to find fault with him, he simply said, “They just misunderstand me.” When an enemy plant stayed with him for about four days to find fault, he ran out thinking Hyde was a god because he could find no fault. A true teacher will acknowledge their own faults. A false teacher will attempt to justify them. Keep in mind, though that this statement is about an overall style of life, rather than an analysis of single events.

Today, we live in a society where a mega-pastor caught in a homosexual relationship becomes the shame of the nation. The ministry he led was nearly completely destroyed, and it was a big one. Yet when a Christian author or musician publicly declares that they are leaving their families for another relationship or having serious doubts and leaving the faith, that is praised by the world. What is happening? In some cases, it’s a moral failure and instead of calling sin to be sin, there is justification for it and then more sin (abandoning wife and kids) to go live in that justified lifestyle. In other cases, it’s because a false teaching on a seemingly secondary issue began to grow and it soon affected their view of Christ.

The second issue Jude brings us is the denial of Christ. Let me be clear: there are many facets to this. It comes in the form of denial of the deity of Christ, denial of the authority of Christ, denial of the person of Christ, and more subtly, denial of the work of the cross. Among these is the replacement of the True Christ with a self-suiting image of our own liking. All of these fall under the category of denial of Christ. This is a reason I despise Old Earth Creation teachings. Because while seemingly a secondary issue, it is a direct assault on the work of the cross by denying the effects of original sin. Death is a direct result of sin, and every old earth model has death, and lots of it preceding man. This is not a secondary issue. It’s primary, because it is directly connected to Christ and the work of the cross.

Old Earth Creation is a counterfeit version of Christianity. It looks a lot like it. It seems it only differs at origins, but when you really look at it, it differs in many more areas. Those who truly follow it (not merely deceived by it and believe it without really knowing what it is or does) do not worship the same God we do. They worship a deistic god that is distant, unknowable, but there to create and come to our rescue at our desires. There is little to no submission to God in their teachings or lifestyle. They may claim to be Christian, but does Christ show through them? Do they point towards Him in their frail, broken bodies and minds? For the many I have come across, I haven’t seen it. It looks like the real thing, but it isn’t, because the teaching does not reveal the True Christ nor appreciates the work of the cross. Old Earth Creation differs from Christianity foundationally, because in OEC, man is the ultimate authority, and in Christianity, God’s Word is. OEC teachings will change as the scientific opinions change, but Biblical Christianity will never change.

One of the biggest names among the Christian Old Earth groups gave a “one-minute summary of the Gospel” and while it sounded pretty good, I saw two glaring things: the description of sin and the improper response. Sin was described as “imperfections” and “mistakes.” That’s not sin. Jesus didn’t die for those. Jesus died for our defiance against Him, for treachery, for rebellion. Then the response was simply to “ask for forgiveness and believe.” That’s not the proper response to the Gospel. The proper response is to repent and believe. Anyone can ask for forgiveness and anyone can make intellectual agreement. But to turn away from sin, from old thinking, and to turn towards God, completely trusting Him is something else. This person in this interview has been teaching a false origins model, but I do not believe he is born-again in part because he got taught a false gospel message that is far more prevalent and dangerous than the old earth issues.

When the person of Jesus is questioned, that He is just a “good teacher,” then a false teaching is coming with it. When the deity of Christ is questioned, then a false teaching is attached. When Jesus is replaced with a counterfeit “another Jesus,” then let the teacher promoting said fraud be accursed. When the work of the cross is denied, stay away. I am not done yet, but I am out of space for this post. I’ll continue more next week.

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A Homosexual Transgender Woman Came to Our Church

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, November 5, 2019 5 comments

by Chad Koons

Les (name changed for the purposes of this blog post) had walked into our church as a homosexual transgender woman. The impact upon us was undeniable, as well as life changing for all.

The Introduction
It was Les’s first visit at our church. He was decked out in a dress, high heels, and tons of makeup. I was glad to see most that people within our church warmly greeted Les without thinking twice about it, as most Christians tend to freeze up or emit disgust upon seeing a sight such as Les was that day. Extending my hand in greeting, I said “Hello, welcome to church!” It was only then that I had realized that this was a transgender woman. Les, recognizing that I had realized, stared into my eyes with a defiant yet quizzical look, as if challenging me to continue the greeting yet unsure of how I would proceed. “My name is Chad,” I’d stated cheerfully, “I am one of the pastors here. What is your name?”

“I’m Les,” he replied, slowly beginning to shake my hand.

“Thanks for coming today, Les, it’s really great to meet you!” I said with joyful earnest.

A startled expression came upon him. “Really?!” Les replied, eyes widening like saucers and a hesitant smile beginning to form upon his face. “Do you really mean that it’s ‘great’ to meet me?” Clearly Les had expected to be scorned at best or exiled at worst, especially from a leader within the church.

“Of course I mean it, why wouldn’t I?” I had exclaimed. Both of us chuckled and began to learn a little about one another. Les stayed for the Sunday morning service and for many services after that. We would always make it a point to speak, more often than not resulting in deep conversations sprinkled with laughter.

A couple of months had passed with Les regularly attending service at our church, building relationships with many within the church as time went by. He became engaged in everything and had requested prayer several times. One Sunday in particular, I remember seeing Les go forward to be born again! I sought him out afterwards and spoke with him about it. How elated he was! It was like a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders.

A few Sundays after that, I became concerned because I didn’t see Les in service. I walked to where he usually sat but I could not find him. “Hello, Pastor Chad,” came a voice from beside me. I turned to find a slender young man wearing a polo shirt and jeans. “Who’s this?” I’d thought. I didn’t know him but apparently, he knew me. “Don’t you know who I am?” the young man asked with a smile. That SMILE… it was Les! I hadn’t recognized him without the dress and makeup! “LES!” I shouted, giving him a bear hug while both of us held back tears. No longer was Les dressed as a woman; he was now standing before me as a well-groomed young man. This change was not of our enforcement. This happened from his heart. “God is changing my life,” Les confessed with a beaming smile. “I’m so grateful for y’all here, you’ve all shown me so much love.”

Les’s life really did change. He told me that he felt “free.” His clothing had changed, his voice changed, and his attitude changed, but that wasn’t all. We watched the Lord do what only HE could do: bringing emotional healing, breaking addiction, and even a divine healing as Les was miraculously healed of AIDS! It was a total transformation, inside and out.

So, what am I saying here?
Is this a testimony about God changing a life, or a success story for how Christians should treat LGBT people? Both, and so much more. This wasn’t the first nor the last time that an LGBT person came into our local church. We have had many. For the record, not all of them were equally welcomed. Not all of them stuck around. Not all of them had an amazing God encounter that changed their lives. Why? Maybe some of them sat beside the church gossip who gossiped about them until they left. Maybe some of them were berated by the churchgoer who found them disgusting, although they themselves were secretly engaging in sexual sin. Or maybe some of them were blatantly rejected by church people who hated homosexuality yet were somehow ok with their own unlawful divorces. If you can’t say “Amen,” you can at least say “Ouch.” Truth.

Yet some were equally welcomed. Some of them did stick around. Some of them did have an amazing God encounter that changed their lives. Why? Because we saw into the person instead of stopping on the outside. We realized that we are no better than anyone else. We realize that every single individual has limitless value, being worthy of the love and redemption of God Almighty. We understand that we are to be ambassadors to this world, the LGBT community included, allowing God to make His appeal through us. We refuse to go to the extremes of either rejecting them or supporting their sin. We understand that Jesus didn’t hole up in a building somewhere surrounded by His own people, but that He lovingly went into the world and called every sinner to repentance, regardless of which sin it is. We remember that as Christians, we are to come alongside people exactly where they are AND to lead them to Christ. We finally understand that we are all human beings together, regardless of what we may be or do at any given time, therefore we love God and love people without prejudice. No one will find repentance if we keep them from Jesus.

The Father is drawing people, but will they find Jesus within the hearts of the church? God help me to be faithful, never rejecting nor shortchanging those whom the Lord is calling to repentance, no matter what package they come in.

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.


Psalm 121

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 4, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121)

After writing on the very length Psalm 119 over the last two weeks, a short psalm is a nice change! Psalm 121 is only 8 verses, compared to the 22 sets of 8 verses we saw in Psalm 119.

Psalm 121 has the title of “a song of ascents,” and it is one of the 15 psalms with this title (Psalms 120-134). The Mishnah, essentially an early Jewish commentary, suggests that these psalms correspond with the 15 steps of the temple, that they would be said or sung one for each step as the worshiper ascended the steps to go up to the temple. They may not have originally been composed for this purpose, but they were used this way at the second temple in Jerusalem.

The content of this psalm also feels like an ascension. It starts with identifying God as creator, then as our guardian, then a blessing for all time. It is an encouraging psalm and can “ascend” the reader’s mood into one of feeling blessed and encouraged in our walk with God, even if we’re not literally ascending the steps of the temple while reading or reciting it.

This psalm starts in verse 1 with the psalmist lifting his eyes to the hills. Anyone who has visited a mountainous region, especially if they live in a flat area, is generally impressed by the beauty of mountains or even hills. I live in northwest Ohio where everything is super flat, so on the occasions that I’ve been able to travel to Colorado, I just love looking at the mountains! The terrain is so different and so much more beautiful, though I suppose flat farming fields have their own beauty as well.

The psalmist questions where his help comes from. We, too, can ask that same question in our own lives. When we’re discouraged, where do we turn? Do we turn to God, or do we turn to the ways of this world? God does give us people and things in this world that will help us through difficult times, but the most important place to turn is to Him - the one who created this world and all of us.

The psalmist’s answer to this question is found in verse 2. His help comes from God the creator. The one who made this world is the one who is sovereign over it and is fully capable of helping with any difficulty we encounter. God as the creator has unlimited power!

What exactly does God do for us? That answer can be found in the rest of the psalm (verses 3-8). God keeps us from slipping. God does not take naps where He’s not paying attention, but He constantly watches over us. We see this phrase of God watching over is 5 times in these verses - clearly, this is an important idea that the psalmist is emphasizing. The pagans would consider their gods to be sleeping at times, so this is in direct contrast to their ideas. The one true God never sleeps!

God shades us from the extreme heat of the sun, meaning that He will protect us from dangers. While that doesn’t mean that nothing bad will ever happen to us, it does mean that He is always with us to help us through anything we experience. There be many things in life that God has protected us from that we don’t even know about. He is a good God who loves His people, though we are still sinful and often cause negative things to happen in our own lives. But God is always there with us, watching over us, no matter what.

The climax of this psalm occurs in verses 7-8: “The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” The psalmist has built up to this point, and this is his emphatic conclusion. The Lord will continue to watch over us in the future, even until eternity!

The God that the psalmist was writing to so many centuries ago is the same God that we worship today. He does not change. He continues to watch over His people in all things. He is still the God who created all things, and He still has power over all of His creation.

What are you going through today that feels like it may be bigger than God? Whatever it is, God is walking through it with you and He has power over the situation. Put your trust fully in Him and lift up your eyes to the hills - God is where your help comes from.

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False Teachings: Characteristics, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 1, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The old adage says that bank tellers are trained to identify counterfeit bills by studying, touching, feeling, and smelling the real thing. By knowing the real thing, any counterfeit will be easy to spot. I used to work as a cashier and without ever going through formal training on this, I once was able to spot a fake $20 bill just by the feel of it. After sensing something was wrong, I took my marker, checked it, and it sure was a fake.

A local newspaper article recently warned about fake bills going around. Some of the clues they gave included Russian letters or Greek figures. To which I thought, “Really? Making it that easy?” The problem is very few people are bothering to check things except at an initial glance. And in today’s society, if someone were to give me a fake $20 bill in exchange for goods, and I identify it as such, I would have to be prepared for that customer to demand I take it anyway because “they don’t know any better” or “just let it slide” or “why are you being so judgmental.” I’m not joking or exaggerating on this. That’s the kind of society we live in, where we are supposed to accept whatever someone wants to give us without question and don’t dare challenge them on it, as long as it’s not Biblical Christianity.

The fake currency that gets through the system is the fake currency that looks most like the authentic currency. The same is true about false teachings. The ones that are most successful are the ones that most resemble the Truth. I have had skeptics tell me frequently, “There are 500 million gods out there. What makes yours the right one?” They know that the bulk of the gods are false. A quality response would be: “There are many counterfeits out there. But what makes something a fake? Is it not by comparing it to the real thing?”

I am not going to address false religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or the like because that is outside my scope. My target for this series is that which claims to be Christianity and clearly isn’t.

I have had people in the origins debate tell me, “Young Earth, Old Earth, and Theistic Evolutionists agree on 97% of Christian doctrines. Why can’t we join forces and combat atheism? Then we can battle out our differences?” Here is my response to that: “The majority of Old Earthers and Theistic Evolutionists are holding hands with atheists, using their arguments and their thinking, and are constantly joining sides with them against Young Earth models. How can we join sides?”

Technicalities aside on origins, I want to zoom in on the “97% of commonality” claim. If two teachings agree in nearly everything but a few minor points, we should be able to get along, correct? Well, you need more information. Paris Reidhead gave such a clear image that I will never forget in this sermon. He described the right hand and left hand. They are nearly identical – five fingers, each finger about the same length, same number of knuckles, etc. The list goes on. But there is one major difference: one hand points one direction, and the other points the other direction. All but identical except the direction they point.

This is a BIG clue we can use to discern true and false teachings: to whom or to what do the teachings point? One of the reasons I can discount all origins models that include millions and billions of years as being false teachings has nothing to do with science or the study of Scripture, but who the teaching glorifies. The Young Earth models, when taught correctly, only point to God and any study man does is subservient to what God has revealed. In every Old Earth model, the scholarship and authority of men and “modern science” are the focal point: “We know the earth is 4.6 billion years because we scientists have figured it out.” While any of these models may give God credit for the creation, the credit is a footnote, not the central focus. God has nothing to do with any study of origins involving billions of years because the very methodology used in the study purposefully keeps God out. It is called naturalism.

If the model glorifies what man has studied and discovered, be alert. This is really just another version of an ancient tactic used by Islam, Mormonism, the Roman Catholic Church, and all the way back to Genesis 3 at the Garden. It is the concept of the “private revelation” able to be equal if not superior to the “previous revelation” of Scripture. Peter immediately refutes that saying no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. Ezekiel also decries such notions, condemning prophets who said, “Thus says the Lord” when God had not spoken. He called such prophets ravenous wolves, devouring the people and conspiring, in our midst, against God for selfish gain. Those weren’t my words; that was God’s Word spoken through Ezekiel. The conspirators are in and among us, and at first glance, they look like us.

Jesus warned about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Paul gives multiple warnings against false teachers but specifically told the Roman church and Philippian church to mark and identify the true and false teachers and to avoid the false. He even gave some clues on how to identify them: they serve not Christ but their own belly (selfish interests) and they use smooth, flattering speech to deceive the hearts of the simple. Do not be impressed by eloquence or by presentation. Always examine the message being given. There is a famous preacher (whom I will not name at this time) who does a great job at relating to his audience (notice I meant audience, not congregation), but when he says things like “God broke the Law” to save us because “The Law didn’t have enough leverage to save us,” my response is, “This man does not know nor understand the Gospel, nor God. That is heresy. God had to send Jesus to save us because He would not break the Law, lest He deny Himself.” And if I mentioned his name, I’d have a lot of people blowing up on me for exposing him.

Who are we listening to? This preacher is not pointing towards Christ, but towards a “Christ” of his own liking and making. One that will cuddle him and come to his rescue, but not one who is holy and just and righteous. If a teaching does not reveal the One True God and the FULL council of Scripture, it should not be trusted.

There’s more on this. Next week, I’ll look at some other key characteristics of false teachings.

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Psalm 119, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 28, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

As I wrote about last week, Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, and it’s super cool in the Hebrew, so that’s why I’m writing a second blog post to cover it better. While I don’t have enough space to go verse-by-verse through all of its 176 verses, I do want to give the highlights of each 8-verse stanza, which are labeled with each consonant from the Hebrew alphabet.

Aleph: The very first verse of this long psalm is strikingly similar to Psalm 1:1. We see that the Lord will bless those who follow His law and follow in His way. The psalmist knows that he should always obey what God commands, but he realizes that he can’t always do that and wishes he were better at it. Learning and following God’s righteous ways will help him to praise God better.

Bet: This section starts out with a rhetorical question, asking how long a person can “stay on the path of purity” (verse 9). The answer, of course, is to live according to God’s Word. The psalmist expounds on that by explaining how that means we must seek God’s Word, keep it in our hearts, and delight in it. We need to be teachable and allow God’s Word to shape us.

Gimel: The psalmist is consumed by a desire for God’s Word, so much so that he feels like a stranger on earth. God’s Word is what brings him comfort no matter the situation. He focuses briefly on those who are wicked and do not keep God’s Word, then re-emphasizes how he’s not like that but instead delights in God’s statutes.

Dalet: In this stanza, the psalmist is facing adversities. He knows that only God and His Word can deliver him from these things. He strives to remain teachable, hold fast to God’s law, and continue to be devoted to God’s teachings no matter what happens in his life.

He: Most of the verses of this stanza start with imperative (command) verbs where the psalmist is commanding God to do things, but in a humble way and not out of arrogance. He wants God to teach him, give him understanding, direct him, turn his heart and eyes toward God, and for God to fulfill His promise.

Vav: Whereas in the last section the psalmist commanded things of God, in this section he reaffirms his commitment to God. He says that because of God’s unfailing love and salvation, he will always obey God, not be ashamed of God’s law, and continue to meditate on it.

Zayin: God’s Word provides hope even when (or maybe especially when) we’re suffering. The psalmist finds comfort in God’s law, and he knows that it will deliver him through whatever he’s going through.

Het: Seeking God goes along with obeying Him. We can’t obey Him if we don’t seek Him and know what He commands of us. Even in spite of difficulties, obedience to God needs to be first and foremost in our lives.

Tet: The Hebrew word for “good” starts with the letter tet, and in this section, the psalmist asks God to do good to him and to teach him good judgment. He affirms God’s goodness and the incomparable value of God’s law.

Yod: God has created us for the purpose of following His laws because we show Him love out of our obedience. The psalmist prays that he would follow God’s laws so well that others would look up to his example.

Kaph: This is a section of longing, with the psalmist wondering how long will he have to put up with those who persecute him. He is continuing to wait for God’s deliverance and His promises to be fulfilled.

Lamed: God and His Word are eternal, and the psalmist focuses on God’s law to get him through difficult times. He asks God to save him, for he has continued to learn and obey God’s law.

Mem: This is a praise section, full of statements about how the psalmist loves God’s law. He loves God’s teachings because he loves God, and therefore he devotes his life to following God’s law as best as he can.

Nun: This section contains the famous verse 105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” God’s law shows him the path on which he should live his life. He constantly faces adversity even on this chosen path, but he knows that God’s Word will sustain him.

Samek: Here we see that the ways of the righteous and the ways of the wicked are very different. This section has many contrasts between the person who follows God’s law and the person who doesn’t.

Ayin: The psalmist explains that he has upheld his share of the deal and followed God’s laws, so now he wants to see God’s promises to him fulfilled. Living in obedience to God is our response to His promises, even if they aren’t yet fulfilled in our lives. We uphold God’s law while we hate everything that goes against it.

Pe: God’s law is not harsh but rather good, and that’s another reason the psalmist wants to obey it. God’s Word brings enlightenment and understanding to our lives. The psalmist continues to pray for God to guide him in all his ways.

Tsade: God’s character and God’s law are both righteous, and that righteousness is the theme of this section, which is fitting as the Hebrew word for righteous starts with the letter tsade. Even though his enemies ignore God’s law, the psalmist clings to it.

Qoph: The psalmist cries out and calls to God for His help. He asks God to remain near him at all times. His prayer is intense, but his loyalty to God is also intense.

Resh: The psalmist’s lament gets stronger here as he continues to pray for God’s deliverance, while still focusing on God’s Word and His laws. He shows God how he has remained loyal, while those who don’t follow God have continued to break His laws.

Sin/Shin: In spite of the lament in the last section, the psalmist rejoices in God here. Even in the midst of affliction, the psalmist delights in God’s law.

Tav: This last section contains a prayer for salvation. Verse 174 sums up the psalm well saying, “I long for your salvation, Lord, and your law gives me delight.” The psalmist remains committed to following God and His laws no matter what, and he prays to God asking for continued knowledge and strength to do this.

And that, friends, is Psalm 119 in a nutshell! I encourage you to go read it, even just meditating on one section per day. Even though we are saved by grace through our faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us, we obey God’s laws and commands out of our love for Him and our thankfulness for what He has done for us.

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False Teachings: Introduction

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 25, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Today we live in a post-Christian society. What is that? A post-Christian society is one where the culture was at one point predominately Christian, but over time adherence to the Christian principles and ethics waned to the point where they are mere remnants of a long-lost age. The United States was founded upon the Judeo-Christian ethic as being vital to make the nation run as intended. The Founding Fathers themselves were predominately active members of their church (52 of 55 signers of the Declaration of Independence for example), coming off the heels of the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield during the Great Awakening during in which these Founding Fathers were young men.

However, today, that has all changed. The mere fact that our country was founded with Christianity and the Bible as the guide is relegated to myth and actively denied in most education circles today. Now, some states are demanding that instead of looking at the influences of the Christians upon our country, they require that students learn about the LGBT history of the country, of which no good thing can come.

What happened? What made the nation lose respect for the preacher and pulpit? When my pastor was part of revivals taking place in the panhandle of Texas in the 1970s, schools were calling the churches to find out if they were having meetings. Why? Because if the church had an event, no one would be coming to the school football games. Today, if church is going on, no one cares. What happened? One answer is because the church has fallen asleep and allowed false teachings to enter in. If you have followed me for a length of time, you will know that I deal with false teachings from time to time. I have named some specific false teachings including Old Earth Creation, the Prosperity Gospel, and the “Emergent Church” (now known as Progressive Christianity) in the past. But I am going to take a different approach this time and expose the tactics that false teachers use and the characteristics of false teachings, so if you are diligent and alert, you can spot them anywhere, not just in a few circles.

One of the greatest sins that a Christian can do, according to modern society or even from the church today, is to make a judgment call on anything. If anyone were to make a stand and say, “That is not true,” watch out for teeth and claws, including from other Christians. Matthew 7:1 has become one of the most abused verses to cite. I love Paul Washer’s response to this: “When someone tells me ‘Do not judge lest you be judged,’ I say back, ‘Twist not Scripture lest you be like Satan.’” We have become a society where we are supposed to ‘tolerate’ anything and everything, except the truth. Yet notice that the ones demanding tolerance for their own models, ideas, and sins are the least tolerant of all.

A couple of years ago, Todd Friel, host of Wretched Radio wrote a book called Judge Not. It is a rather snarky exposé of the utter ridiculousness that is taking places in modern American churches, claiming to be “Christianity.” Here is one thing he brings up: A popular youth group activity is for the youth pastor to put peanut butter in his armpits while kids dare to lick it off. Not joking. And because those are hits, other youth pastors just trying to figure out what they are supposed to do, lacking any form of discernment, taking these games and activities and incorporating them into their own groups. I’ve seen it happen firsthand. When I saw it, I didn’t have the discernment to really know what was going on then. But now, I realize just how little this youth pastor knew about what he was supposed to do. Overall, he was a godly man and I would not challenge his standing with Christ by any means, but this massive trend of church youth groups ultimately becoming little more than “clean hangout centers” with only a vague resemblance to teaching and instructing youth in how to walk in the ways of God is merely a fruit of what is happening in the pulpits and the seminaries as a whole.

False teachings have crept in, and today they are so integrated into our church culture that very few of us are able to recognize it. And those who do, those who have studied church history enough to see that what is going on in the modern church looks absolutely nothing like what it did in decades or centuries past, are frequently called out for being divisive, “holy-rollers,” “fundamentalists,” and anything but “Let me examine what we are doing and check to see if it is right.”

When foreign preachers tell us Americans that “our theology is 3000 miles wide and one inch deep,” they aren’t off the mark. When they say, “When I see a Buddhist monk and his dedication, I think holy man. When I see an American preacher, I think businessman,” that should make us worry. When they say, “The most amazing thing about Americans is what they can accomplish without God,” it shows. When they say, “Stop sending us your missionaries. You’re doing more harm than good,” is not the writing on the wall? I have heard reports that the average American “Christian” would be ex-communicated from many churches in the 3rd world because of false teachings and immorality.

We’ve lost sight of real Christianity. I haven’t grasped it yet. I often feel like I am a giant compared to some around me, but I’m no giant in Christianity. When I read the biographies of the last century and listen to those who have grasped what it should be, I know I have a LONG way to go. But I have an idea of where to head for and I strive to aim at it, even though I don’t know how to get there. To get there, I must know this: I must know what the truth is, and I must be alert for any false teaching and false suggestions that can lead me away from it, even if they come from those who seem to be Christian.

In this series, I want to instill a love for the Truth but also make you aware of tactics of deception to pull us away from them. Paul said we are not to be ignorant of the enemy’s devices. So, I am going to showcase some of the tactics I have seen of what false teachings do and what they look like, while also exposing some of the tactics false teachers use to get their teachings into our midst. Be alert because these tactics have been working quite well, but the false teachers get really mad when they become exposed. If you are going to make a stance for truth, expect similar responses. But if we love Truth more than we love the approval of men, then nothing they say will move us. Let us be such Christians that when the world sees us unflinching and unmoving in our faith in Christ, they reply with, “Whatever they have, I must have it.” We must have the truth, the courage to stand upon it no matter the cost, and we must not be distracted by the counterfeits seeks to lead us astray. Stay tuned. This series should open your eyes.

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Psalm 119, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 21, 2019 1 comments

by Katie Erickson

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses, so if you were expecting that I would cover the whole thing in one blog post, that’s just not going to happen! Today I’ll give an overview and some interesting facts for this psalm, and next week we’ll dig into the content a bit more.

When a psalm is this long, it needs to have some more organization than just by verses. So, it’s collected into 22 stanzas of 8 verses each. This psalm is an alphabet acrostic in the original Hebrew, which is something we sort of see but sort of miss in our English translations. If you look in your Bible, you’ll at least see non-English words above each stanza - those are the names of the Hebrew consonants, which is how the author named each stanza. Sometimes Bibles will print the Hebrew letter next to its name as well.

This psalm is an alphabetic acrostic too. Not only is each stanza labeled with a Hebrew consonant, but every verse in that stanza begins with that same letter! The first 8 verses begin with the letter aleph, the next 8 verses begin with the letter beth, etc. all the way through the last 8 verses beginning with the letter tav. All the verses are fairly short as well, so all this makes it visually look pretty cool in the original Hebrew.

These facts alone make this psalm a pretty amazing literary work, but the meaning is also very coherent and centered around the theme of God’s law. The message of this psalm is not just devotion to God’s law and doing the right thing, but also devotion to God Himself. It is typically considered to be a wisdom psalm, but it also has elements of lament and thanksgiving.

With the central theme of this psalm being God’s law, it’s interesting to note that there are 8 different Hebrew words that refer to God’s law used in it. They are:

1. Torah: You may have heard the first 5 books of the Bible referred to as the Torah because they do provide the background for God giving the law to His people as well as the Law itself. While Torah often means the specific law given by God, it can also mean any kind of Godly instruction.

2. Dabar: While this word literally means “word,” we know that all words spoken by God are meaningful. Dabar is often used for any kind of divine revelation that God gives us.

3. Mishpatim: The word mishpat means judgment, and this is the plural form of that. These forms of laws are more like the courtroom judgment type of laws, as God Himself is the ultimate Judge over all things.

4. Edut: This word technically means “statutes,” but it’s actually derived from the word that means “witness” or “testify.” It is also used to refer to God’s covenant with His people, so obeying God’s statutes also refers to being loyal to the promise God has made with us.

5. Mishvat: The word mishvat means commandment, as in the Ten Commandments. Generally, when God gives us a law or tells us to do something, it’s in the form of a command.

6. Huqqim: While it literally means “decrees,” this word is from the root that means to engrave or inscribe. God engraves His law and His decrees on our hearts, and He establishes His authority as God by doing this.

7. Piqqudim: This word is usually translated as “precepts” and is often found throughout the psalms. It comes from the root word meaning “visit” or “appoint,” as God’s precepts are the things that He has appointed for us to follow if we are following Him.

8. Imrah: This word is from the root meaning “he says,” and it means a promise. Our word should be good in that anything we can should be considered a promise, just as God’s Word is.

Is it coincidence that each stanza of this psalm is 8 verses long, and there are 8 different Hebrew words used to describe God’s law? I’d say that nothing in this amazingly crafted psalm is a coincidence, and all of these literary features simply point to the amazing God that we serve. The Hebrew language is truly amazing, and even after 11 years of studying it, I continue to be amazed at new insights into the heart of God simply by looking at the language and structure He used through the human authors He appointed.

While all this is interesting, what does it have to do with us living our lives today and not speaking Hebrew? In the Old Testament, the focus was on keeping God’s law - doing what God commanded His people to do, and not doing what He commanded them not to do. God had not yet sent His Son as the Savior when the psalms were written, so the focus was more on obedience than on faith. Today, we are living in the time after Jesus came to earth, and we have the opportunity to know and believe in His sacrifice for us. We know that we can never fully keep God’s laws, no matter what word we use to describe them. We know that we are in need of the Savior and that Jesus is the only one who truly is that savior for our sinful lives.

But as Paul says in Romans 6, because we have Jesus as our savior, does that mean that we can live however we want and keep on sinning, even when we know God’s law? By no means! Because we love God and appreciate the amazing sacrifice that Jesus made for us, we should strive to obey God’s law all the more. We have the opportunity to be enslaved to righteousness, which means that through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we should strive to live better lives to honor the God who saved us.

Being able to live in God’s grace makes His law all the more important. God’s law tells us how to live our lives to honor Him and the sacrifice that He made for us.

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


Basic Doctrines: Eternity

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 18, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The last two of the basic doctrines of Hebrews 6:1-2 are the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment. Since both deal with the other side of this life, I am going to deal with them together. Leonard Ravenhill suggested we would all live our lives differently if we had eternity stamped onto our eyeballs. He is saying if we had eternity constantly on our minds and if we saw everything through the lens of eternity, we’d been handling our lives very differently than we do now.

I have to confess that I don’t think about eternity nearly as often as I should. While I do not worry about the affairs of this life because I know God is in control, I do not think about these issues in terms of eternity very often. Paul could think of nothing else other than eternity. In all his troubles, and he faced a LOT of them, he considered them as mere trifles compared to the entire eternity perspective. But he also saw the state of souls from an eternal context. That is why he pleaded with and pursued people that they might be saved.

Atheists know our own Gospel better than most of us do (though I am amazed at how many other basics they get wrong). They know the Bible teaches an eternal Hell. This is one of their primary arguments against God. How can God be a good God if He sends people to suffer and be tortured in Hell forever? Instead of recognizing that they are in danger of that very real Hell, they blame God for being unfair. And to not have to deal with the issues of the judgment, they concoct this crazy idea that once you die, that’s it. You are gone and there is nothing afterwards. Yet that is so far from the truth. It is appointed once for every man to die and after that the judgment.

Every person will have a resurrected body, a body which will not die. It is not just the believers who will be resurrected but every person. The grave will give up the dead. The sea will give up the dead. And all will face God on judgment day. On judgment day, every person will give an account for what they did and why they did it. Every person’s works will be judged with fire and only that which was made with eternal material is going to last. The rest will burn to ashes. This applies to both Christians and non-Christians alike. There are many Christians whose works and “ministries” were nothing but works of the flesh and while they escape the fire of Hell, it will only be by escape and with total loss. In reality, there will be many tears as all the works that were not God-initiated, God-directed, and God-approved will be for naught. No person will be able to boast about their works on judgment day because they will all burn to ashes in that fire.

Those who do not have Christ as their Lord will not have Him as their Savior. Jesus has no obligation to save anyone from the judgment seat except for those He claims as His own. Many people can claim to be Christians, but only Christ’s call on whether any of us are His counts. I could go up to the White House and claim that I know President Trump, but I won’t get in unless President Trump says he knows me and gives the okay for me to come in. The same is true with eternity. Jesus warned that many will claim His name and show all kinds of good deeds they did for Him, but His reply will be “I never knew you.” That should frighten us, and I know I’m not scared enough of this dire warning.

Now, part of these teachings includes “assurance of the believer.” Never does the Bible state that we can never know who gets in until the time it happens. We can know because God will make clear that we are His in part because He disciplines us. God doesn’t discipline children who aren’t His. That is by no means a license to sin, if we are saved, we no longer will want that sinful life; we will want the new life. If we are born again, we do not have to worry about if one sin is going to cast us out of Heaven, but if we sin, we can expect God to come around and discipline us.

Jesus commanded us to store up treasures in heaven that will never rot, fade, nor get stolen. Yet how much do we take and spend our money and lives on things that only last for a few minutes or years before fading? I have published two books, and I have at least 8-10 others started or on the back burner. Yet, how much time have I spent on them? While my teaching job most certainly is a priority, have I honestly used my spare time appropriately? Not entirely. Part of the issue is that I have difficulty getting started on a topic and need to get some momentum going before I commit to a project. That is why I tend to write my Worldview Warriors series in one big swoop (such as this one which was done in just a few days) because I get onto a roll and don’t want to stop until it’s done. Writing is something I have to get going on and once I get going, stay out of my way. But getting started on these other projects again has been a challenge. It might not be as much of a challenge if I had eternity in the front of my mind more frequently.

Do we have eternity stamped onto our eyeballs? The easiest way to answer that question is by how seriously we take witnessing. When I said the atheists know the Gospel better than we do, they understand the weight of Hell, but they see the Christians who claim to believe in this stuff not take it seriously. Do we take Hell seriously enough that we’d crawl on our knees upon broken glass if that is what it took to get someone to receive the message? If someone was standing on train tracks with a train barreling down upon them, do we gently caution them to get off the tracks, or do we tackle them if they won’t hear? One thing I admire about Ray Comfort is his true, genuine love for the lost, even those who constantly mock and ridicule him. While he’s got a very infamous reputation as the “Banana Man,” even most atheists recognize how genuine he is and how much he truly cares for them, despite thinking he is a fool and uneducated. He has eternity stamped on his eyeballs. If we did, we’d be living different lives than we are now.

All this series has been to lay down the foundation and get the basics underway. But Hebrews tells us to move on from these basic teachings – not to ignore them or forget them, but to build upon them and actually build a house upon that foundation. Let us truly learn these foundational doctrines and then build upon them the never ending and ever deeper teachings that are found in the person Jesus Christ. He is infinite and cannot be exhausted. Those who have sought to exhaust the knowledge of God lived such glorious lives, albeit with much pain and suffering, that I can only imagine it. Let us stop being spiritual babies who still need our diapers changes and let us grow into maturity, into men and women of God whom will be of use to His Kingdom.

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Psalm 118

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 14, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Are you ready for some Bible trivia? The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117 with just 2 verses, and the longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119 with 176 verses. Psalm 118, which we’re looking at today, is the chapter that most consider to be the exact center of the Bible (though there is some dispute on that depending on which version you’re using).

Again depending on your Bible version, if you count verses, the exact center verse of the Bible falls in this psalm as well, Psalm 118:8. It says, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.” What a great truth to keep at the center of not only our Bibles but our lives!

But this psalm isn’t just a placekeeper for some nifty Biblical trivia. It is also one of thanksgiving and praise to God for His eternal love, which is way more significant than simply its place in this great book. It is the last in the collection of Egyptian Hallel psalms, the ones used in the Passover celebration, praising God for His deliverance of Israel from Egypt.

The psalm starts out in verse 1 with a familiar refrain: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” We’ve seen this wording or variations of it a few times throughout the psalms. The word “good” here is the same one that God uses to describe Creation multiple times in Genesis 1. The word translated as “love” is a Hebrew word that we really don’t have a good English translation for. It means a combination of mercy, kindness, and love all wrapped up into one. This same word and phrasing are repeated in verses 2-4 for emphasis and so that everyone knows and agrees that God’s perfect love will endure forever!

Because of this belief that God’s love will endure forever, we see what that means in the following verses. In verse 5, we see that God has delivered the psalmist. In verses 6-7, we see the psalmist’s conviction that God is always with him and because of that, he doesn’t need to worry about anything, even his enemies. In verses 8-9, we see the psalmist’s confidence in God over mankind.

In verses 10-12, the psalmist explains how bad things were with his enemies so that his praise of God is even more significant. He emphasizes that “in the name of the Lord” he was able to defeat his enemies. It was only through God’s power that he persevered, which is why he returns to thanksgiving to God in verses 13-14. Verse 14 is another key verse that we can remember for our lives: “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” We only have strength in our lives because of God, and He is the one to truly defend us from any enemies we may face. God is the only one who can truly save us.

The works the Lord has done are great causing for rejoicing, as we see in verses 15-16. We see the repetition of the phrase, “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things,” which again is for emphasis and to drive that point home to the people reciting this psalm.

In verses 17-18, the psalm changes from one of more communal praise and thanksgiving to focus on the individual. After all, a community of people cannot be praising God if the individuals who make up that community are not focused on that praise. We see the psalmist emphasizing that although bad things may happen in his life, God has continued to let him live so that he can proclaim the good that God is doing.

Verses 19-21 show us that a person must be righteous to be in God’s presence, and the symbolism of entering through a gate is used. The psalmist is considered righteous because of his trust in God and His deliverance, but we know that today we can be considered righteous because of our faith in God and what He has done through Jesus to bring us true salvation from the enemy of sin and death, not just deliverance in a battle from earthly enemies. Our focus is not on doing good things but on living out the faith that we have in Jesus’ saving work, which results in actions that praise God.

Verse 22 says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” This verse shows us that just because some people reject what we’re doing or who we are, God can still use us for great things (verses 23-24). When building a stone building, there needs to be a cornerstone, a foundational piece where the stone walls begin. In modern times, the cornerstone is more of a symbolic thing, but back then it was an essential piece of the building’s foundation. The builders may reject a certain stone for use in a wall because it doesn’t fit what they need it for, but God can use that for His glory and even make it a foundational piece. Think about that in your own life; have you ever been rejected from something, and then God has turned that situation around and used it in an amazing way?

In verse 25, the people ask God to continue the mighty works that He has already done. In verse 26, the people are assured that they will be blessed if they truly approach God in His name and for the right reasons. The people respond to this blessing in verse 27 with continued praise of God.

Verses 28-29 conclude the psalm with praise of God, including repetition of verse 1: “You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

What can we learn from this psalm for our lives today? Our confidence should be in God rather than in our fellow humans because God is the one who delivers us. He will use us for His purposes when we follow Him with our lives and approach Him with the praise that He is due. He may discipline us as needed while on this earth, but His love for us truly does endure forever. He is the only one who is truly good, and He is the one who always deserves our praise!

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Basic Doctrines: Authority

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 11, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Two years ago, when my church celebrated the anniversary of our founding, we brought in a guest speaker to preach a word of encouragement and to launch us into a new phase. That evening, he spoke to the volunteers of the church on how to serve, how to have the right mindset, and how to lead. Yet I heard of comments being made after the fact wondering why the speaker did not speak about how to pray, how to study the Bible, how to trust God, and things like that. The response I heard to that stuck in my mind: those things should be givens. Why should he have gone over the basics with the leaders of the church that should already be putting those things into practice?

This is the issue the author of Hebrews is facing as he wrote this book. He rebukes the church because they kept wanting to stay at the basics and he wanted to go over the even deeper riches that can be found in Christ. But he could not because they were not mature enough to handle the meat of the faith, still having to drink milk. What was he saying? The church was still spiritual babies after numerous years and were not showing signs of growth. This is a big reason why Hebrews has so many warnings against falling away mixed in with the key theological statements of the first ten chapters.

Today’s topic of authority, the laying on of hands, is rarely addressed often due to fear of associating with particular charismatic movement leaders that we have a right to be skeptical over. I honestly cannot think of a sermon I have heard or a book I have read that specifically deals with the laying on of hands appropriately. So, in a way, I am still learning the basics of this teaching. This is the teaching regarding giving authority, giving a blessing, and passing on of power to another.

There is something about a physical touch that imbues power. When the woman with bleeding desperately sought Jesus, she believed she just needed to touch the hem of His garment for healing. Jesus felt power flow out of Him that was unique from the touching of everyone else around Him. I have experienced something like that too. Back in 2007, I was witnessing to a co-worker and ended up stirring up a demonic entity that had been lying dormant in his life. At one point, he stood upright, pointed his finger at me, and a demon spoke through him. Being a fencer, my instinct kicked in and I “parried” his hand, pushing it aside, and he shook and dropped in an instant. In the long run I could not drive the demon out, and part of that was this co-worker never gave me the authority to drive it out. That whole story takes an hour to tell in its own right. But as I put this post together, that instance came to mind because one touch showcased power.

The laying on of hands is usually used for two purposes: for healing of the sick and more so for the establishing of authority and the sending out for a purpose. I’m going to emphasize on the latter issue. It is a serious issue to lay hands on someone for the purpose of establishing authority and one that should never be taken lightly. Eric Ludy has a great sermon about leadership titled “Five Smooth Stones” where he uses David’s preparation for facing Goliath as a template for sending out prepared leaders, not novices. Paul warns of the danger of laying on of hands on someone too hastily. If that young leader sins (very different issue than paying your dues and going through those struggles), then the leaders who appointed him and gave him said authority partakes in that sin and will be responsible for helping to clean up the mess. Every time God established His spokesperson, while He used broken and frail people, He took the time training them before releasing them. The average training period was 40 years. God took leadership positions seriously.

There is another danger to the laying on of hands: no one should readily seek it. Leadership should humble us, yet many seek the power without understanding the responsibilities that go with it. Leadership is a lonely position. Those whom God called frequently didn’t want it in part because they knew what it meant. It often meant being hated and despised while having to speak the unpopular message.

There is a third danger to the laying on of hands: when it comes from the wrong people. When someone gets “baptized into the Mormon church,” it comes with the laying of hands by the elders. This is supposedly to receive the Holy Spirit, however, it most certainly is not a spirit from God. It is rather a spirit of deception. In Paul’s time, Ananias the High Priest sought to destroy Paul and over forty men took a vow to not eat until they had killed him. The spirit of evil that rested upon Ananias leapt upon these men, but needless to say, they never succeeded. Be very careful about whom you receive a “blessing” from.

Now I am not going to knock the laying on of hands, because obviously this is a foundational doctrine according to Hebrews. However, because of the many abuses, many pastors have shied away from speaking on it. There are “faith healers” who love to lay their hands on people and pray for them that they may be healed, but they have done nothing to seek God’s opinion on the matter on what He wants to do. However, we must train a younger generation to take on the Kingdom’s work and to equip them for the task. Such equipping involves giving them the authority to do what they need to do, however, they must be trained and prove to be ready to handle such authority lest pride overtakes them and they fall.

There is so much more to say about this, but I don’t have the space nor the knowledge to give it proper justice. This is a basic teaching that still ties into all the others and is necessary to be able to dig deeper and go beyond just laying down a foundation of faith that has no structure and no practiced Christian life on top of it. We need our leaders to lay hands on us and commission us to take God’s work into this world. But we also need to be patient and wait for God to be the one to send us. He will equip us and He will send us when He determines when we are ready.

Next week, I’ll look at the last two doctrines: the resurrection of the dead and the judgment since they go together.

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.