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.

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A Real-Life Exorcism

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, October 8, 2019 1 comments

by Chad Koons

Do you believe in the supernatural? Though often fictionalized in Hollywood, the supernatural is very real indeed. Here’s my firsthand experience with a real-life exorcism.

My friend Billy and I had been invited to minister at a rather large senior high youth conference in Erie, PA. It was a weekend gathering, and hundreds of youth came from churches all over the region. There was an altar call on Saturday night and probably two-thirds of the students had poured to the altar for prayer. The youth ministers worked the altar, praying for the students who had come forward. About 50 of the students had remained in their chairs, so I had stayed back to monitor them. I felt strangely compelled by the Lord to survey the altar area, my gaze falling upon one of the adults, a volunteer youth worker named Dave. Dave was a very likeable man in his late 30’s or early 40’s. He was very tall and thin, balding on top, with a mustache arching over his ready smile. Everyone seemed to love him.

Unexpectedly, I heard the Lord speak clearly in my heart: “That man has demons.” WHAT??? The Lord had never said anything to me like that before, and besides, Dave surely looked normal to me. He was silently kneeling beside a female student at the altar, his hand was upon her shoulder and his head was bowed. If anything, it was the very picture of peace and serenity! “If Dave really does have demons, please give me a sign,” I had quietly prayed, turning around to attend to the seated students.

“UUUUUGHNT” came the loud moan from the altar behind me. A cold shot ran down my spine as I whirled about to see what was going on. But nothing had changed. Dave, just as before, remained silently beside the same student, though she now eyed him strangely. Still not seeing evidence of a demon (whatever that looked like), I had turned back around, again praying for a clear sign.

“…uuuuhhhAHHHH!” wailed a tormented voice from behind me, immediately followed by a loud, hollow THUD! I spun around to find a horrifying scene: there was Dave, struggling to maintain his balance, pressing his forearms into the plastered church wall at the left end of the altar. His head was hanging almost lifeless between his two upraised arms, drool falling freely from his open mouth, eyes wide and perplexed, mucus beginning to bubble from his nostrils. One of his long arms pulled back and viciously slammed the church wall, sending a second hollow THUD echoing throughout the length of the church building. The voice came into my heart again: “I told you that this man has demons,” affirmed the Lord.

This was like a Bible story coming to pass before my very eyes. “Dave?!” came a sheepish and frightened voice from one of the students at the altar, “Dave, are you okay?!” She wasn’t the only one worried. All eyes had become fixed upon the tall man. Seeming to be at odds with his own body, Dave snorted, coughed, wretched, convulsed, and let loose a series of terrifying moans and screams before spinning about to confront the crowd of stunned onlookers. Chaos erupted as the first of many students unleashed a horrified scream. There was panic at the altar.

The youth frantically began climbing over one another in attempts to escape the danger zone. Adult chaperones did their best to corral the fleeing teens, beckoning the students to the rear of the building and then taking them to their respective lodgings for the night.

Eight youth workers, Billy, and myself were now left with Dave. He began lumbering towards us. One of the men approached Dave, but he simply flung out an arm and hurled the man aside with alarming ease. The man, knocked to the floor, just stared at Dave in disbelief, his eyes filling with terror.

“What should I do?” I prayed. The Lord had already prepared me for this. I felt completely full of the Holy Spirit, as if empowered to do anything in that moment. “Cast them out,” the Lord instructed me.

Cries of “Jesus!” and “Help us Lord” were mixed with more earthly pleadings of “Dave, what are you doing?!” and “STOP!” Jerking and tormented, Dave knocked another man to the ground. Someone jumped on Dave in an effort to contain him. Others followed suit, and soon Dave had three men upon him, dragging him down to the floor. Billy also joined in on the action, jumping on his back while Dave lay pinned down on the carpet. That was my opportunity. I moved in towards Dave and laid my hand upon his back, feeling the tremendous heat emanating from the demon-possessed man. “Father, I thank you for power over demons…” was all that I had managed to say before Dave wrestled free from his captors and regaining his feet. Three men were flung off of him as he emerged upright.

Billy somehow managed to stay on, however, now hanging precariously from Dave’s back. “A little help, here!” Billy called out to me. I moved forward to assist, on a mission to cast out the demons and set the man free. Dave swung his twisted face towards me, and I stared back defiantly into those demon filled eyes.

Wild-eyed and foaming at the mouth, Dave (with Billy still on his back) was now trying to flee the church building. As soon as someone would grab ahold of him, they would be wildly attacked or effortlessly hurled aside. He was like a wild animal, impossible to tame. The strength that resided within Dave was simply incredible, far beyond what his physical stature should naturally possess. He had become an absolute powerhouse, which reminded me of the demon-possessed man of Gadara.

The men were again successful in wrestling Dave to the floor. He was now being held face down, with every part of his body was being pressed into the carpet by a separate man. The men were crying out in prayer while tears streamed down their cheeks. I knelt by Dave’s side. Touching the small of his back, I prayed aloud, “Father, I thank you for power over demons.” Dave’s body began ferociously thrashing. He screamed and twisted but the men held him securely. “Any demon inside of this body, I command you to come out now in Jesus’ name,” I firmly demanded. His body jerked violently, his eyes went shut, and his body laid completely still. A hush fell upon us all; was it over? “There are more,” the Lord spoke clearly into my heart. I immediately looked upon Dave’s face, just in time to see his eyes shoot open, locking on me with a hate-filled glare. He screamed again, beginning to convulse more fiercely than before. “In the name of Jesus, come out of him!” I insisted sternly. His body jerked again and then relaxed, his eyes lazily closing halfway this time. The men continued praying, calling his name in hopes to illicit an intelligent response. Suddenly Dave’s eyes shot back open as he initiated a hellishly strong twist, nearly upsetting the unsuspecting men from his back. The demonic force inside of him was howling in outrage, his horrid gaze fixing upon me once more. Surprising indignance rose up within me. “Any more demons inside of him, come out now in Jesus’ name!” I strongly commanded, feeling as if I had become the very mouthpiece of the Lord. Dave convulsed one final time and went completely limp.

We checked for his pulse, rolled him over, yelled his name, patted his back, and even gently slapped his cheek in efforts to revive him. Slowly, Dave came around. After some time, he had regained his legs and managed to stand. Wiping the thick mucus and foam away from his face, his faculties began to come back. He stood there gawking puzzled at the ring of men standing around him. “What happened?” Dave said, finally able to speak again. “I feel like I’ve gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson!” A hint of a smile returned to his good-natured face. That smile faded away when he realized the scene before him. We were battered and bloodied, our clothes had been torn, our cheeks were tear stained, and we were visibly exhausted. We tried to explain what had happened, but we didn’t quite know what to say. “What do you remember?” I had asked him. “The last thing I remember was praying for that girl,” Dave replied, “I said, ‘Whatever is bothering her, please come into me instead,’ and that’s the last thing I remember.” That was the wrong thing to say; it was an open door to the demons.

The rest of the weekend consisted of counseling the students and helping them to make sense of it all. This event caused huge waves throughout the denomination, even reaching the Bishop’s attention. It caused the Bishop to write a letter, denouncing the demonic possession and stating that it must have been an epileptic fit of some sort, demanding that it be spoken of no more. It seemed the Bishop didn’t want to deal with the mess. I had spoken with Dave about his life and beliefs. Apparently, Dave had been deeply interested in the supernatural – ghosts and demons – and he even reported seeing “spirits” in his church and speaking with them. Play with fire, and you will get burned. Have nothing to do with darkness, Child of God. You will always reap what you sow.

Do not be afraid; I do not share this to scare but rather to educate you on what is real. Most of us will never encounter a demonic possession, but no matter what manner of darkness you witness or that might attack your life, Scripture is clear: you must hold your ground. We are commanded to resist the devil and he will flee from you. Use the name of Jesus and demons must leave. Remember that the authority you have as a believer comes from both God and His Word, not from yourself. Whenever discussing this subject, I cannot help but remember the words of Jesus in Luke 10… all eyes on Him.

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


Psalm 115

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 7, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

As I’ve been writing through the psalms this year, you may be wondering how I choose which psalms to write about and which to skip. While they’re all wonderful writings, I’m only going through about a third of them, 52 out of the 150 there are. Sometimes it was that there was something interesting about the psalm that I wanted to know more about. Sometimes a particular verse or phrase would catch my eye. In other cases, the reason is that psalm or a verse in it means something significant to me. Psalm 115 is one of those psalms.

The significant part of this psalm to me is verse 1: “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” This was the chosen theme verse for my graduation from Winebrenner Theological Seminary with my M.Div degree in 2010. Along with that, we had the song “Not to Us” by Chris Tomlin as our theme song. All of us graduates had accomplished something great - earning a theological degree - but we wanted the focus to be on God’s accomplishments, not our own. It was only through God working in each of our lives that we earned our degrees.

Also, Psalm 115:1 is a verse that I’ve memorized in the original Hebrew. Memorizing Bible verses can be difficult enough in your native language, but it takes some extra work to memorize them in another language. I have the Hebrew text of it written on a notecard under my computer monitor where I work so it’s always in front of me. It helps me remember that I’m not working as an engineer for my own glory, but for the glory of God.

All that being said, while this verse means a lot to me personally, there is much more to this psalm. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) and the Vulgate (Latin translation of the Bible), Psalm 114 (which I wrote about last week) and Psalm 115 are actually all one psalm. While they do go together in some respects, most scholars agree that their genres are too different for them to be one psalm together. Psalm 114 is focused on what God did for Israel in the exodus, while 115 is much more varied in its language.

Verses 2-8 show the difference between the one true God and the idols of other nations. God is in heaven and has power to do what He wants to do for His good purposes. Idols are completely powerless because they are fake. They may have eyes, mouths, hands, etc. but they are all useless because they are not even living beings and they don’t have any power. The psalmist calls out all who worship those idols as being as false as they are.

On the contrary in verses 9-11, the one true God is our help and our shield and everyone should worship Him. Each of these verses contains repetition for emphasis on this fact. Trust in the Lord, and He will help you. Abandon the worship of anything false and trade for worship of the true God. He’s not powerless like any idol you could worship, but He is the one who is all-powerful! Three times it is written to trust in the Lord, and three times we are assured of His power and protection in our lives.

In verses 12-13, we see three blessings of God called out. He will bless Israel, He will bless the house of Aaron, and He will bless all those who fear Him. The distinction of Israel and the house of Aaron signifies that this applies to both the priests and everyone else. We are included in “those who fear the Lord” when we have faith in Him. Fear doesn’t just mean being afraid of something, but it also means being in awe of the majesty of God. When we truly understand just a piece of who God is, we should both be terrified that He could strike us down at any time as well as being in awe at His majesty, power, and love for us.

Verses 14-15 spell out the blessing for God’s people: “May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Because God has power and is sovereign over all of creation, He causes blessings for those who follow Him. We know that He can provide these blessings because of verse 16: “The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind.” God has ownership over the heavens and the earth, though He has given mankind the earth to manage and live on.

Finally, the psalm ends in verses 17-18 with praise of God. It clarifies that it is not the dead who will praise God but those who are alive - that’s us! We are called to praise God, both now and forevermore.

What are you doing in your life to give God the glory, rather than receiving it yourself? Are you living out worship of the one true God, or are you worshiping idols - not necessarily some little statue, but anything else besides God? Are you placing your trust in God and receiving His blessings? How are you showing God the praise He truly deserves? I encourage you to ponder these questions this week.

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: Faith

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 4, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Whenever I get into debates about origins with Old Earth Creationists, they always tend to bring up the fact that the method of creation never was listed as a core teaching of the Gospel, therefore it doesn’t matter how God created. I have major issues with this argument. The same people who say this try to lecture me about “understanding the culture.” Yet, they are the ones who don’t understand it, by preaching that the Bible teaches something it never did.

There are three reasons I will address why the Apostles never mentioned Genesis as a core teaching of Christianity. 1) It wasn’t being attacked at the time, so they saw little need to address it. 2) It was simply assumed as a core teaching already there, and therefore didn’t need to be addressed. 3) It is incorporated into these core teachings. I will expound upon the latter two.

I had an old earther try to cite to me 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 as being the Gospel message. In a nutshell, he said this passage does not include Genesis, therefore you can have any interpretation you want on Genesis (except what it actually states: 6-day creation with only a few thousand years having passed since). In my opinion, this man did not believe this passage as he claimed he did. He rejects the straightforward reading of Genesis, which Paul used to expound upon the summary of the Gospel at the beginning of the chapter and throughout the rest of the chapter. Paul spends six verses simplifying the Gospel into a few statements, then spends ten times that space explaining those first six verses and making frequent ties back to Genesis. Because this person rejects Genesis, he rejects Paul’s explanation of the Gospel. And because he rejects that explanation, he rejects the very passage he cited as the Gospel.

When you mess with foundational issues, you mess with everything else those issues build upon. Creation is such a foundational issue that many theologians have recognized that every core doctrine of Christianity traces directly or indirectly to some foreshadow, foundation, or reason laid out in Genesis, namely chapters 1-11. Every New Testament author refers to Genesis 1-11 at some point, and each of those chapters, except 8, are directly commented upon by the New Testament. It is not up for interpretation.

The Bible doesn’t merely talk about Creation and move on, but it uses Creation and the key events of early world history as a foundation upon which to plant the cross. There is no point or purpose to believing in a 6-day creation that took place just a few thousand years ago unless you take that account from Genesis and follow it through to the cross. The author of Hebrews only makes a couple small mentions of Creation, but that is due to it being an already presumed foundational understanding. In Hebrews 6, the author seeks to move on from basic, core teachings, but cannot because the audience isn’t ready for it. But later in Hebrews 11, we see two references to some key assumptions laid down.

In Hebrews 11:3, by faith we believe the God created the heavens and the earth by the word of His mouth so the visible was made by that which is invisible. Right there, we have a complete refutation of every old earth model that depends upon natural means and natural methods for the origins of the universe and man. But then Hebrews moves on to describe Enoch’s faith and makes this statement: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Pay attention to three things: First, it is impossible to please God without faith. Faith is not a blind acceptance of a statement without evidence. The atheists claim that is what faith is and it certainly is the kind of faith they practice, but not us. We trust and believe in the Word of God, the person of God, and that He will do what He said He will do. In verse 3 above, we have faith in the record of a past event to showcase our trust in the one who did said act. We have faith in the Creator because we can trust the record of said creation. The record is what gives us reason to trust the author of the record. How anyone can claim to be a Christian and follower of Christ and not believe the record about Him (even regarding Creation) is beyond me. You cannot please someone if you don’t believe them. Likewise, if you don’t believe God on what He did regarding creation, let alone the cross, you are not pleasing to Him.

Second, you have to believe that God is. This is much more than that God exists, but that He IS. When Moses met God at the Burning Bush, he asked for God’s name and received: “I AM THAT I AM.” This means God is eternal, self-sufficient, the sustenance for life, the purpose for existence, superior, the ultimate authority, the foundation for everything, and the list goes on. Many people are fine with the idea of a creator God, as long as that Creator doesn’t tell them how He created, or that He is not sovereign over the affairs of man. But the God of the Bible is intimately involved in the affairs of man and will judge all of us one day. Unless you embrace that God is the Creator, doing it the way He said He did, then you do not believe that God is. Augustine of Hippo is credited to saying, “If you can pick and choose which parts of the Gospel you accept and which parts you do not, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.” And he’s right.

Third, God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. God does not hide Himself from anyone who honestly wants to find Him. He will hide Himself from those who hate Him and want nothing to do with Him, and ultimately that is His mercy, so that they might live long enough to repent from such foolishness. I have never known God to turn down an honest seeker, and because God faithfully rewards those who diligently seek Him, I know that anyone who claims to have sought God and didn’t find Him did one of two things: they didn’t search, or they quit searching. Either way, they are lying to themselves about having sought the truth of God. No one who seeks God with their whole heart is turned away.

Do we believe God? Do we have faith that He is? I’m hardly scratching the surface here because faith is one of those words and terms that does not have a measurable depth. But I would recommend reading the entire chapter of Hebrews 11 or get ahold of Logan Ames’ book “Heroes of the Faith” where you can read more on what faith truly entails.

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.


Genesis: The Polemic, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 3, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

We are furthering our investigation into Genesis—its literary style and, most importantly, its intent. What's the message that the book of Genesis was written to give us? Is it important? Is it history? Is it theological or spiritual? Can it be used to denounce other religious faiths? The answer to all of these questions is, “Absolutely.” You can catch up by reading the previous posts here, here, here, here, here and here.

Recently, on the Worldview Warriors Facebook page, a person who believes that Genesis was written much later than tradition, or most scholars, supports, after suggesting there is evidence to show Genesis is a polemic (a written response to denounce neighboring pagan faiths) and is not actual history said this:

“In this case what we have is not so much answers to the questions: When did creation take place? Where did everything come from? or How did everything come about? Instead we have answers to questions like: Who is the creator? What is he like? What is my relationship to him? What is my relationship to the created world? And in this case we find that God created an orderly universe that is meant to be the perfect environment in which people can experience fullness of life in harmony with God and all of his creation.”

To me, it seems rather obvious that the narrative answers all of these questions, not just the latter questions. The Bible gives us a very specific timeline as to when God created Adam. You can find that in my blog post called “Is Young Earthism New?” God seems to emphasize special events for us. The Jews had several major holidays they were meant to keep and commemorate special things He did for them, and, of course, every week they were commanded to celebrate the creation of the universe by resting on the Sabbath. None of this makes sense if the timeline or information isn't real.

The creation account obviously tells us where everything came from and how; it came from the mind of God. He spoke all that there is into existence. This, I believe, would be true regardless of how you read Genesis. The narrative gives us a clear indication of who the Creator is and what He's like. He is full of compassion and love and is generous, but He expects obedience and demands payment for rebellion. He's merciful and gracious, but He hates sin and punishes those who have no intention of following after Him. But He sees the heart and is willing to give us many opportunities to repent and come back to Him. He longs for a personal relationship with each of us and that's why He created us—for fellowship.

The end of the above quote “...we find that God created an orderly universe that is meant to be the perfect environment in which people can experience fullness of life in harmony with God and all of his creation” doesn't really follow if the account isn't recounting something that actually happened, does it? If the account in Genesis didn't actually happen the way it states it happened, does it really tell us that God created an orderly universe for people to live life to the fullest? Telling cute stories and distributing folklore doesn't actually seem like something to base your faith on. Not for me, anyway. My faith is based on truth. It's based on who God actually is and what He's actually done. I can gather evidence for my faith from the Bible as well as from creation.

The same people who make such claims—that Genesis isn't actual history even though that's exactly how it's written and seemed to be taken by every Biblical author who touched on it—also say things like this: “We know that the earth is billions of years old. We know that plants didn't exist on the earth before there was a star in our solar system. God's natural revelation shows us.”

This is unfortunate unless this person has perfected time travel. Otherwise, we can't possibly know any of this unless we're told by someone who was there. This person is raising our frail, incomplete, and terribly inept understanding of nature (what they like to call “God's natural revelation”) to a higher level of importance than that of the actual written revelation of God to mankind. This, of course, is the Bible. This is actually a huge mistake, and the naivety of such a gross misapplication of interpretive freedom—of the Word of God and of nature—cannot be overstated.

Think of it: we have a written communication from God Almighty. He is far more intelligent and capable than we could possibly imagine. He invented communication so He's probably very good at it. He told us very plainly and very clearly what happened on the days of creation—what He created and when. It's recounted in several other passages of Scripture including Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17. The first of these 2 passages contains a “therefore” telling us that since God created everything in 6 days, we are to work for six days but rest on the 7th day. This confirms the historicity of the creation narrative. The second of these 2 passages contains a promise, again emphasizing the fact that what is being promised is as true as what it's being compared to. The following verse, Exodus 31:18, tells us this was written in stone by God Himself. It's not the incomplete, ancient near Eastern sheep farmer understanding of the cosmos. It's God Almighty telling us and writing for us exactly what He wanted us to know.

What seems more likely: that we've misunderstood these passages of Scripture for thousands of years, even though they're written in very plain, ordinary terms, or that we've misunderstood nature? It seems even foolish to put any time into considering which is more likely. We've been making major mistakes concerning nature forever. It's true we've also made some mistakes in terms of interpreting Scripture, but generally we're talking about things that 1) probably weren't major issues anyway, 2) were written such that they could be interpreted a variety of ways, and 3) were probably not taken as Biblical truth by a large portion of believers. But Genesis 1 through 11 are not written like that. These chapters are written very clearly to give us a basic understanding of how God created everything and, further, we can figure out when approximately starting in Genesis and working through the Old Testament.

What if the basic premises behind the humanist origins myth (the ideas of the Big Bang, deep time, and universal common descent) are wrong? What if even some of the many assumptions associated with it are off or just flat our incorrect? What if man, who is a fallen being and has very limited intelligence compared to our Creator, has misinterpreted something foundational as he's peered into a cursed creation, giving him a false understanding of the cosmos and life? What if the reason anyone put any stock in any of that at all was because a handful of people were determined to remove “Moses from the sciences.” We know there are major issues with all of the above-mentioned ideas—Big Bang, deep time, and universal common descent.

As a simple example of how little we actually understand about the universe, according to NASA, what we can measure with instruments—what we know actually exists because it's been detected, observed, measured, etc.—accounts for 5% of the actual universe. The other 95% is something we've invented to fill in the gaps we don't understand. This is dark matter and energy—something no one has yet detected, measured, observed, or had any indication of other than we need it to fill in the major gaps we have in our understanding of the universe. I could understand hanging on to a fudge factor of 5% or even 10% in terms of astronomical numbers (maybe even 20% if we wanted to be really generous) but a 95% fudge factor is a little much, isn't it? We are ants in an unimaginably huge universe. We desperately want to understand and we assuredly want to feel powerful and in control, but the truth is we are tiny specs in a universe so large, and we are so insignificant in our abilities that it's beyond measurement to determine the amount of control and understanding we have (or don't have). Please don't try to tell me we “know” how old the universe or earth is or that something happened before something else. What evolutionists and others who like the humanist origins myth “know” is really what they believe. It's not knowledge; it's faith. They trust in themselves to figure it out. I (and many other Christians) trust what God has plainly told us.

Strangely, people who follow after the secularists' version of origins but want to be Christians will say totally bizarre things to Biblical creationists like, “I don't need to call God a liar and pervert his word like you do.” This is an actual quote from the conversation I previously mentioned on the Worldview Warriors Facebook page under one of my blog posts. This person thinks that allowing the text of Genesis (and the rest of Scripture, really) to read like a narrative (which it unarguably is) on history is to call God a liar. That makes no sense at all, but this is the mindset of some of people. I guess it's a perversion of His Word to allow it to tell us what it plainly tells us rather than injecting man's thoughts on the subject? I don't know, but that seems foolish. The text says what it says. It clearly says, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.” This is the very short version of Genesis 1. It very clearly states that God flooded the world, destroying all living things on land except those He put in the Ark. This was a judgment against a world filled with sin. It very clearly tells us that using a series of different markers throughout the Old Testament when God created Adam. This is calculated to be about 6000 or so years ago. It's very clear, and suggesting it's not or that it means something radically different means you're not trusting in the Word of God but putting more stock in the word of men—fallen people who are interpreting what they see in a cursed world. Injecting man's ideas into the text before you read it or interpret what it's telling us is not proper and is exactly what old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists do every time.

I didn't even get into what my intended topic was today—the nature of the writing style of Genesis and how it was understood by the Hebrews, Jews, Christians, and pretty much everyone who read it until the last few hundred years. Come back for that next time.

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