Jesus’ Disciples: Judas

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 21, 2020 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Judas, also known as Judas Iscariot, is often singled out among Jesus’ twelve disciples. He is best known for being the one who betrayed Jesus so He could be crucified. But what else do we know about Judas?

Similar to the name James that we discussed previously, there are multiple men named Judas in the New Testament. Another is one of Jesus’ disciples who goes by the name of Jude that we’ll discuss soon. The names Judas and Jude are basically the same name, with Jude being similar to a nickname for Judas, which is likely why the Judas we’re talking about today goes by Judas Iscariot. Jesus had a half-brother named Judas (Matthew 13:55) who is also the writer of the book of Jude. In addition, there was a church leader and prophet named Jude in Acts 15:22-32.

Back in Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, and Luke 6:13-16 where the twelve apostles are listed, Judas is already called out as the one who betrays Jesus. Obviously, the disciples did not know that at the time, but since the gospel accounts were written after Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension, the writers thought it important to mention that when looking back - spoiler alert!

The question has been raised of why Jesus would choose a betrayer as one of his twelve disciples. We do not know this, as we cannot know the mind of God, but we do know that Jesus knew this was how everything would play out. In John 6:61-64, we see that “Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him” (verse 64b).

Why did Judas, who faithfully followed Jesus for the entire 3 years of His earthly ministry, feel the desire to betray Jesus? We could place the blame on greed, which is a very powerful emotion. Perhaps that was Judas’ purpose in God’s Kingdom: to play a part in bringing about Jesus’ death that would lead to the opportunity for the salvation of all mankind. It’s definitely not a glamorous part that he played and he’s not remembered well for it, but it was also necessary for those events to happen.

But what else do we know about this Judas other than his betrayal of Jesus? John 12:4-6 says, “But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’ He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” Judas was the treasurer for the group of disciples, but clearly he wasn’t a very good one. It’s very likely that this fact of stealing the disciples’ money was lost on the disciples until after Judas’ death, which is another reason the authors of the gospel accounts wanted to constantly call him out as the betrayer when writing about Judas. Judas’ greed is very apparent in this passage, which is why that greed was a very likely motive for him to betray Jesus.

We read about Judas’ final downfall in John 13:27-30: “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’ But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” Judas’ role as treasurer made it not unusual for him to leave to go do something, even while they were having this big meal to celebrate the Passover festival. Judas was not just greedy in this act, but we see that “Satan entered into him” as well. These events needed to happen so the Scriptures would be fulfilled, but that doesn’t mean they were good events.

Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was predicted even in the Old Testament, though not by his name of course. We see this in Psalm 41:9: “Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.” It is also alluded to in Zechariah 11:12-13: “I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.”

Judas meets his end by suicide as read about in Matthew 27:3-10. He realized how wrong his actions had been, he tried to return his payment of 30 pieces of silver (equivalent to around $600 today) to the chief priests and elders, then hanged himself. The chief priests and elders used the money to buy a potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners, just as was alluded to in Zechariah 11 above.

Later, in Acts 1:18 when the remaining 11 disciples were choosing who would replace Judas, we see, “With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.” That’s a bit of a different story than what was recorded in Matthew, but the main idea is still the same: Judas died a terrible death which he perceived as penance for this horrible act he had committed, and the betrayal money was used to buy a field.

So what can we learn from Judas to help us as disciples of Jesus today? First of all, don’t be greedy as it can lead you to bad things. (You can read a bit more on what the Bible says about greed here.) While greed is a sin in and of itself, greed often causes us to commit additional sinful actions because of it. Greed is generally the root of theft, embezzlement, and often even murder.

We can also learn from Judas that Jesus loves us no matter what. Jesus knew that Judas would be the one to betray him, for a lousy 30 pieces of silver, and yet Jesus still spent 3 years of His life teaching Judas along with the rest of the disciples. If Jesus still loved the man He knew would betray Him to a very gruesome death, He surely still loves us in spite of all the ways we sin!

Be encouraged by Judas’ example to live in Jesus’ love and forgiveness, and to not live a life of greed but to follow Jesus in His ways.

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Rejecting Wisdom

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 18, 2020 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.” ~Proverbs 1:28

I started reading through Proverbs again to start out September, doing a chapter a day, and the first chapter leapt out to me. It’s something I’ve read numerous times, but this time there was an emphasis there which I had not seen before. The above verse of Proverbs 1:28 and the surrounding verses fly in the face of so many teachings we hear today.

The average church today describes how God will give us so many chances because He is so full of love and mercy. After all, He is longsuffering, not willing that any would perish but all might come to repentance. There is a lot of truth to this, but it’s often out of balance. Proverbs is telling us here that there may come a time where we may call out of to God for help, to seek wisdom in time of trouble, and because we refused to seek Him for so long, He won’t answer. Yes, I am saying that there could come a time where no matter how much we cry for help that God will not hear us. It happened at least once: with Noah’s Flood. God said He would not strive with man forever. He wasn’t going to let them sin for the sake of “love” and “mercy” forever. Many people would have banged on the Ark when the floods finally came, and God did not answer them. That should frighten us.

Jesus warned against the blasphemy of the Holy Spirt as being the unpardonable sin. While many interpret that as “rejecting Jesus as your Savior,” John MacArthur put a different twist on it that I had only vaguely heard of in this sermon 51 years ago. He made the comment that because this verse directly follows the Pharisees calling the acts of Jesus as being of the devil, that Jesus was suggesting that if you could see all the works He did and the only conclusion you could come up with was it was of the devil, then you were beyond the possibility of being saved. It’s a rather bold statement, but he’s not alone either.

Adrian Rogers, in addressing how God handles those who have never heard to the Gospel, said this: “Light received gives more light. Light rejected increases darkness.” Here is his message. Every person will be held responsible for the “light” or the knowledge he has been given. If someone did not have a lot, he won’t be held responsible for that which he wasn’t not given. But as Scripture declares every person has been given at least some knowledge of God, every person has enough knowledge and evidence to damn them. What is this knowledge? Paul describes both creation and conscious in Romans 1. None have any excuses. Each must make an account for what they know and how they responded to it.

So, what about those jungle warriors who never heard the Gospel? Paris Reidhead got to see that firsthand. He went to Africa initially thinking they had such a poor existence on earth that he’d bring the Gospel to them to give them hope, yet when he got there, he learned that the heathen there already knew more about God than he dreamed they knew of, and they wanted nothing to do with it. Reidhead noticed they knew of God, but they loved their sin and wanted to stay in it. God’s message to Reidhead shook him up. The Holy Spirit impressed upon his spirit this concept: “I didn’t send you to Africa for the sake of the heathen. I sent you to Africa for my sake.” Reidhead learned he was sent to claim what Christ purchased on the cross. God wasn’t so concerned about their “souls” as He was about His glory and what His Kingdom stood for.

We have got to learn that while God does take interest in us, we are not His first priority. His first priority is His Kingdom and His glory. That means when we choose to get in His way, things don’t go well for us. When we reject God and when we reject His wisdom, God is going to let us suffer the consequences. If we continue in that sin, then God will continue to let that sin boil and fester. Eventually the time will come when God will simply hand us over to a reprobate mind.

Several clichés come to mind. “If you made the bed, lay in it.” “Many people like to sow wild oats and pray for a crop failure.” Look, God is full of love and He is full of mercy. I am not questioning or challenging this. But we cannot use that as an excuse to take sin as flippantly as I’ve seen, including in my own life. I hate the fact that I don’t take God as seriously as I should. I know what I am, and I know what I can be apart from Christ. If God doesn’t apply His grace and mercy to me every day, even when I don’t ask for it, I know how evil I can become. And don’t think you are any different. You know who you are, too, and what you would be capable of doing if the guards and checks in your heart and mind were removed. Some of you may think you don’t do something because society says, “Don’t do it.” That’s fine. But if society didn’t check up on you about it, what would stop you? Don’t blame God when we choose to sin against Him and He lets us experience the consequences.

God gives grace and mercy when we disobey out of childish foolishness. Jesus prayed for His Father to forgive those crucifying Him because they knew not what they were doing. Paul affirmed that. If they did know what they were doing, they would not have crucified Christ. But when that childish foolishness becomes and grows into intentional defiance, then God will lay down the hammer of justice. And if it continues after repeated cases of mercy and grace being offered, there will come a point where God says, “It’s over. You are lost forever.”

Ahab was one such case. God revealed Himself to Ahab through a 3 ½ year drought, through fire from heaven, through an old prophet outrunning his best horses, through two battles against Syria, and even a final chance after getting Naboth murdered for a vineyard. In every case, God offered Ahab a chance to repent, but in each case a woman named Jezebel got in the way and kept him reeled in. Eventually God had enough and asked a lying spirit to convince Ahab to go to war to be killed in battle. Ahab rejected wisdom and rejected God. It cost him his life and to be forever marked as the evilest king of all the rulers, a king who refused to hear God despite the numerous attempts God made to draw him. Did God fail? No. He let Ahab make his choices. Ahab’s loss was Ahab’s loss, not God’s. Let us remember that. When we disobey God, we are the ones who lose, not God.

There is only one escape to this judgment. Accept the light while we can. What has God shown you? What truth do you know God has given you? Start with that. My pastor gives very solid advice: when you don’t know what to do, go back to the last thing you know for sure God told you to do and do it. You may not get further or clearer instructions until you do. Seek wisdom. Seek God’s knowledge. Only by obeying it can we get more, and the mine of God’s wisdom is inexhaustible. If we reject God’s wisdom, we truly become stupid, but if we receive it and search after it, we’ll keep getting more and more. And this treasure is simply invaluable. It’s beyond comprehension of how valuable it is. We are to pursue it, and if we get God, we get all that comes with Him. No words can describe that prize. Go after it and don’t scorn it.

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Jesus' Disciples: James the Less

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 14, 2020 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

As I wrote previously when writing about Jesus’ disciple James, there are multiple men named James associated with Jesus and the New Testament. Today, we’re going to look at the other James who was part of the Twelve Disciples.

This James was the son of Alphaeus, whereas the other was brother to John and son of Zebedee. He is often referred to as James the Less, not because he was less important but likely because he was of smaller stature. He is mentioned in all of the lists of the Twelve in Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16.

It is believed that James was related to Jesus. The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 1:18-19, “Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.” Some scholars believe this was Jesus’ actual half brother (biological son of Mary and Joseph), whereas other scholars believe he was actually a cousin or other relative of Jesus. Early Christian men often called each other “brother” even if they were not actually biological brothers, so there is some ambiguity in Paul’s statement.

There is additional support for the theory of James being Jesus’ brother from 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 says, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” There in verse 7, this is the James who is mentioned. Jesus may have singled James out among the rest of the apostles in this appearance because of their biological relation.

But, the fact that James the Less is also called James son of Alphaeus indicates that he was not Jesus’ half brother, or else he would have been James son of Joseph. Acts 1:12-14 says, “Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” This was right Jesus’ ascension into heaven and before the day of Pentecost, so we see that James son of Alphaeus was present there, still very much a part of the Twelve.

In Acts 12:1-19, we see the story of Peter’s miraculous escape from prison. Verse 17 records, “Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. ‘Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,’ he said, and then he left for another place.” This is believed to be James the Less that Peter spoke of.

We see in Acts 15 that James presided at the council held to consider what to do with the Gentiles in the church. He is specifically mentioned in verses 13-21 where he quotes the prophet Amos in saying that God intended for the Gentiles to be included in His church. We see James as head of the church in Jerusalem when Paul comes to visit, as recorded in Acts 21:17-26. Specifically, verse 18 says, “The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present.”

But was this the James who wrote the letter of James included in our New Testament? James was a common name in that era, just as it is today, and they didn’t use last names then like we do today. It is believed by many scholars that the same James who was head of the church in Jerusalem is the same James who wrote this letter, as its tone matches what we see in Acts 15 and 21 referenced above, but there is still some uncertainty there.

All that is great for historical knowledge, but what can we learn from James the Less for us as disciples of Jesus today? Our culture today, and even the Church today, is very divided on a number of issues. It is so easy for us to put ourselves and others into different groups based on all sorts of factors. We often separate between Christians and non-Christians, and even among our faith, we divide ourselves into different denominations, different congregations, and even different groups within congregations. With all that division, it’s difficult for those who are outside of our faith to see how we are all unified, and this could be a stumbling block to those who want to have faith in Jesus but don’t want to deal with the confusion of all that division.

So, I believe the most important lesson we today can learn from James is from the speech he gave in Acts 15. In particular, verse 19 says, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” The big division in that time was between Jews and Gentiles. Once the early church decided that Jesus’ gospel message was for Gentiles too, they then struggled with how to incorporate both into one Church that followed Jesus.

While there are certain commands of God that we all are called to follow, we who are in the faith should not make it difficult for anyone else who wants to be a part of our community, whether just our overall community of brothers and sisters in the faith or for joining a particular local congregation. Yes, need to help our fellow believers to follow the commands God has given us, but we primarily are called to build one another up in love (1 Thessalonians 5:11) rather than making it difficult for others to be a part of “our club.”

We are not all called to be leaders over a congregation like James the Less was, but we can still learn from him that we need to be leaders in encouraging all who want to be a part of our faith.

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The Doctrine of Suffering

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 11, 2020 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

A few weeks ago, I wrote about preparing to suffer. The context was getting ready for persecution. As I am writing about an objection against God asking why God doesn’t heal amputees, I am going to look at suffering from a different angle: a necessity for growth.

We in America are such spoiled brats, it’s rather embarrassing. In 2011, El Paso, TX was slammed with the harshest winter storm we’d ever seen. Not much for snow and wind, but for the first time in recorded history, El Paso was below freezing for over 72 hours, much of it below 15°F. Now I know most people who are from up north are laughing about this. I grew up in Colorado, so I know cold, but the northern mid-west still has me beat on that one, too. But El Paso is not built for cold. While we do often see temps fall into the teens, it’s only for a few hours and the daytime is above freezing. We had never experienced 2-3 straight days where the high never got above freezing. What happened?

The pipes froze and burst in many homes and buildings. City water pipes also burst, forcing us to be on a one-week “boil water” order, because dirt had leaked into the main water lines. The generators also froze which meant they could not pump water. The city lost 90% of its water, and we had to maintain rolling black outs because we couldn’t produce enough electricity because everything was frozen over. But how did the people respond?

The residents of El Paso whined and complained. They demanded of the mayor and city government to fix the issues immediately, and they put the blame on them for not being prepared. Who living in El Paso would ever think that kind of cold would hit us? How could they be prepared? El Paso citizens were comfortable in our comforts, and when those comforts were taken away even for a couple of days, sin rose up in the forms of selfishness and pride. Just on the other side of the river, Juarez, Mexico had the exact same problems but they had a very different response.

In Juarez, most people were used to suffering so when their pipes burst, they simply went about their business and fixed it. They didn’t whine or complain. No riots. No public protests against the short comings of the government. They just went about their business, dealt with the situation, didn’t whine about it, and basically treated it as just a new obstacle for that day. After all, when you live in homes built with pallets and your doors and walls are blankets and curtains, and the cold wind of winter or the searing sun scorches you anyway, what’s a lack of water for a day or two in which you really only have a barrel of water for everything anyway going to do? The people of Mexico, living in the colonias in third-world settings didn’t bother whining about the cold temps. They were used to being in it anyway. They had been hardened by suffering and so this Deep Freeze event didn’t even bother them.

The same issue applies to us as Christians. There is a satanic doctrine in many American churches that says that “suffering cannot be from God.” The notion of “brokenness” is virtually anathema in many Christian circles (check out this sermon by Voddie Baucham on the value of brokenness). They teach that if we are suffering, it must be because we have sinned or don’t have an enough faith. (Perhaps these people need to read and study the book of Job, because that book specifically refutes such a notion.) So, when people pray for a miracle to answer the suffering and then whine to God because the pain didn’t go away, that’s a problem. Now, no one likes suffering. I’m not suggesting that we should like it. However, our response to suffering should not be “God, please remove this.” Our response should be, “God, what do you need to teach me through this?”

A man caught cancer and asked his pastor to come pray for him to heal him of the cancer. The pastor said, “I will not pray for God to heal your cancer, because this cancer has brought you closer to God than 40 years of my preaching. But I will pray that this cancer cannot take another cell of your body without express permission from God.” What was happening? When we suffer, the natural instinct is to turn to God to appeal to His grace and mercy to get us through it. Nowadays, many people have so seared their conscious that they no longer seek after God but after whatever drug they have found that can dull the pain. Russel Berger was a spokesperson for CrossFit and both he and his wife were exceptional athletes. Yet his wife had a genetic disorder that completely sapped her strength and has forced her to live on oxygen, among other issues. But she came to know Christ through the suffering and gladly suffers as long as she gets to be with Christ. Their story can be found on the “American Gospel: Christ Alone” documentary.

Many of us love a good story of a hero rising up to face a great evil and overcoming that evil. We love to watch in the distance from our armchairs because the hero goes through immense suffering, and it is in that suffering that he gains the character and strength needed to face his nemesis and gain victory. Those of us who want to be like the heroes tend to go for the admirable qualities and the action but are not willing to face the suffering from the training or the losses that are required to go there. Eric Ludy preached on Richard Wurmbrand one time and said he admired and wanted the love Wurmbrand had for the Communists who tortured him. God reminded him, “Do you want to go through what he did to get that (14 years of brutal torture in prison)?” Ludy had second thoughts. I greatly admire Ray Comfort for his genuine love for the lost, but what has he had to go through to get that love? He became known as the “Banana Man” and is the center of ridicule for many atheists. Yet through that suffering, he has had the opportunity to witness to so many people including Lawrence Krauss and Penn Jillette. But it took suffering to reach that point.

Suffering is really the only way God can work sin out of our lives without destroying us in the process. When we suffer, it forces us to depend upon God, because we naturally will not do it on our own when we are comfortable. God never calls for His people to be comfortable, because only when we are not comfortable do we actually depend upon His strength instead of our own.

But we must also remember that the suffering we must face in this world is only temporary. Our lives in our sin-cursed bodies will end, and for those of us who are born again, we will be resurrected with a new body, one that is not cursed of sin but rather one that is glorified. Revelation describes how there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more death when God brings it all to a close. We will instead truly have that “they lived happily ever after” ending. The suffering we face is temporary. Let us keep that in mind as we pray and as we address the answer to why God allows suffering in this world.

The suffering we face in this world will end. Those who have put their faith in Christ will receive glorified bodies that will have their full function, without pain or suffering. Yet, those who think the suffering is bad in this world now and don’t receive the free gift of Christ, this is as good as you will get. We deal with the cards we are given and many of us have been dealt a difficult hand. We can whine about it, or we can make the best of it. But if you haven’t noticed in my posts lately, there is a common message: those who know how to handle suffering well tend to be the happiest and most content people alive. Trouble comes their way and it’s just water off a duck’s back. That doesn’t make it any less painful or real, but it doesn’t bring them down. It just makes them stronger. We as Christians in America need to learn how to suffer well, because the end result will be more of Christ and a greater longing to spend eternity with Him. I look forward to that day. Nineteen years ago today, 9/11 happened. We suffered. Only a few people learned from it. We are far worse today than we were 20 years ago. What’s it going to take?

So to wrap up my study on why God doesn’t heal amputees, I’m not going to defend God before a scoffer. I’m not going to put God through a “test.” I’m going to expose what the real issue is, and the real issue is not about not having prayers answered or not having evidence of the supernatural. The real issue is about a sinful heart that is looking for a reason to reject God. We are to give a defense for why we believe what we believe, but God can defend himself just fine. I will say that God is God, and we are not. He is in charge. We are not. He is the standard; we are not. We answer to Him; He doesn’t answer to us. Some will call Him cruel. I’d tell them to look in the mirror first. God’s grace is sufficient for us. Be grateful you get any at all.

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Does It Really “Take a Village to Raise a Child”?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, September 9, 2020 0 comments


by Jason DeZurik

We’ve almost all heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Most reading this probably even think that this is not only true, but you’re probably thinking it’s a great and encouraging saying. Friends, please bear with me as I tell you: not so much.

Years ago, I was discipled and mentored by a pastor for almost 15 months who seriously challenged me in my thinking with this phrase. He allowed me to not only make the claim to defend this phrase, but then he allowed me to give him what I perceived as a good argument for it. My discipler looked at me, put up his hands and said, “Ahhhh!” in frustration. I was like, “What?”

He asked me, “Do you know where that phrase came from?” I said, “From Hillary Clinton.” (The first time I personally heard this phrase was in the 1990’s when Hillary Clinton was the first lady to then President Bill Clinton.)

My mentor went on to tell me about how his daughter had been a missionary in Africa and how she has seen this African proverb in action. He told me that this phrase came from the fact that men and women were choosing not to marry. They were having sex with each other with no lifelong commitment. So, when a child was born, no one knew who the father of the child was because the men and the women had been having sex with multiple partners. So, the men were relinquishing their God-given responsibility to raise and care for their child. This is why this African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” exists and where it came from.

This is a huge issue with this phrase. In that context, this phrase goes directly against the Word of God and the institution of marriage between one man and one woman that God Almighty set up from almost the beginning of time (Genesis 2:21-25).

As time moves on and generation after generation continues, we can now see the very fruit of this phrase and its abhorrent mindset. Not only are we seeing children being raised without fathers, but women are without a husband to help raise these children and even be there for their grandchildren. It is a vicious cycle that tends to be repeated over, and over, and over again.

Now, I am almost certain there are some reading this who are probably upset and more than likely are saying something like, “Well, I’m a teacher and I can help teach someone else’s child,” or “I don’t have children, so are you saying it’s bad to help someone with their child or that I can’t help someone with their child?” Not at all. I am saying that ultimately, the God-given responsibility to raise children has been given to the parents of those children.

Unless a person has been living under a rock, or just flat out is ignoring reality, we can all see the dangerous fruit of this mindset taking over our nation, not just in casual sex but now in the rearing and teaching of children in our society. Getting away from the Biblical principle and God-ordained institution of one man and one woman marriage certainly hasn’t done our society any favors. Not only mothers but fathers, you are extremely important.

#TheWayForwardIsBack

For more study on this subject please consider digging into the following passages:
Ephesians 6:1-9
Colossians 3:15-25

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

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Jesus' Disciples: Bartholomew / Nathanael

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 7, 2020 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

So far as we’ve looked at Jesus’ disciples, we’ve discussed the most commonly known ones: Peter, James, John, and Andrew. Today, we start getting into some of the lesser-known ones. Why are they lesser known? We simply don’t have as much recorded about them in the gospels, and because of that, we don’t have as much information on them. But they are still important for us to learn about because they were part of Jesus’ twelve disciples, so I will share with you what I can find on them.

Today, we’re looking at Bartholomew. One interesting thing about Bartholomew is that he was also likely known by the name Nathanael. He goes by the name Bartholomew in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, while in the gospel of John we see him known as Nathanael. So there isn’t a place where the Bible equates these two names as being the same person, but that can be inferred by the context of the passages. It’s generally assumed that Bartholomew and Nathanael are the same person, though some Biblical scholars reject that theory.

First, here’s some gospel information. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the synoptic gospels. In the Greek, ‘syn’ means ‘together’ and ‘optic’ means ‘seen,’ so the word synoptic means they are ‘seen together.’ Generally speaking, these three accounts are pretty similar to each other in the stories they choose, their general structure, etc. The gospel of John was believed to be written much later and it has a different general setup than the synoptic gospels.

So, in the synoptic gospels, we always see Philip and Bartholomew mentioned together. There is no mention of Nathanael in the synoptic gospels. In the gospel of John, we always see Philip and Nathanael mentioned together. There is no mention of Bartholomew in the gospel of John. Therefore, it seems very likely that Bartholomew and Nathanael are the same person.

It was common in Biblical times that Jews would go by two different names. For example, Jesus’ disciple Simon also went by the name Peter. Names often carried important meanings in those days, so sometimes a person’s name would be changed depending on what happened in their life.

The name Bartholomew is from the Aramaic and means “son of Tolmai.” Tolmai was clearly the name of Bartholomew’s father, but what does his name mean? It could mean furrows, like the farming term relating to land, or it could be a version of the Greek name Ptolmy. So Bartholomew’s name could mean “son of furrows,” meaning he is rich in land, or it could simply mean Tolmai/Ptolmy’s son.

What about the name Nathanael? Nathanael originally comes from the Hebrew, and it means “God has given” or “given from God.” The Hebrew verb “natan” means “he gave”, and El is one of the Hebrew words for God. The spelling of Nathanael is actually the Greek form of the Hebrew name.

All that being said, what do we know about Bartholomew/Nathanael? In the synoptic gospels, he is only mentioned as one member of the lists of Jesus’ disciples. You can find these in Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, and Luke 6:12-16. We also see that Nathanael was with those who Jesus appeared to on the Sea of Tiberias after His resurrection, which you can read about in John 21:1-14.

The most significant narrative about Bartholomew (under the name Nathanael) occurs early in the gospel of John:

“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, 'Follow me.' Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, 'We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'
'Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?' Nathanael asked.
'Come and see,' said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, 'Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.'
'How do you know me?' Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, 'I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.'
Then Nathanael declared, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.' Jesus said, 'You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.' He then added, 'Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man’” (John 1:43-51)

After Philip began to follow Jesus, he found Nathanael and wanted him to come along on this amazing adventure too. The Jews had been waiting for their Messiah for many years, and Philip realized they had just met him! He wanted his friend to come along and follow Jesus too. But Nathanael first doubts, simply because the Messiah is the person Jesus who came from Nazareth. Nazareth did not have a good reputation, and even people in Biblical times had prejudices about where people came from.

But Jesus knew that about Nathanael, of course, so He specifically proves Himself to Nathanael by showing how well He knew him before they had even met. Jesus showed Nathanael that He was God simply by relaying an encounter that He didn’t physically see, and that’s all it took for Nathanael to believe in Jesus and begin to follow Him. Jesus’ reply to that belief is basically, “You ain’t seen nothing’ yet!”

What can we learn from Bartholomew / Nathanael, other than interesting facts about his names? We can be reminded that Jesus is truly God, and that fact alone should cause us to give our lives to following Him, just as Bartholomew did. He was one of the Twelve and got to see amazing miracles through his faith in Jesus, and we, too, have that opportunity! We may not be able to physically follow around the person of Jesus in bodily form. We may or may not get to see miracles with our own eyes. But we need to follow Him and believe, and we know that one day we will see greater things than what we have on earth when we receive our heavenly reward.

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Praying for Miracles

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 4, 2020 2 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

When I was in college, I wore a T-Shirt that said, “Pray for Juarez” put together by the ministry my parents worked for at the time. This was 10 years ago and Juarez, Mexico was in the middle of a fierce drug cartel war, making it the deadliest city in the world at the time. It was not uncommon to be in Mexico and see a dead body or even a head on a city fountain (yes, that kind of graphic violence). One of my college advisors saw the shirt and said “Did you know that scientific evidence says that when people are sick and pray for healing, there is only about a 50% success rate? Therefore, prayer doesn’t work.” I didn’t answer because I didn’t feel that was the place for the debate, but I brushed it off, knowing this guy knew nothing of prayer and so did his source.

But what’s the deal with this? This is part of the “Why Doesn’t God Heal Amputees?” issue. The claim was, “If Jesus said you can pray for anything in His name and He’ll give it to us, why doesn’t He answer prayers or do miracles?” I want to make this clear. One of the reasons why many people reject the Bible is due to “unanswered prayers.” They have certain expectations, and when the expectations aren’t met, God is to blame. But is the fault with God for not answering a prayer? Is the fault with the person for not asking the right kind of prayer? Is there not enough faith? What’s the deal?

As I’ve studied prayer and tried to practice it, one thing is for certain: prayer is NOT a process. It is not a formula. God is not a “rub the lamp and get three wishes” genie. Prayer is man reaching out to a personal but sovereign God. It is man calling out to God to do what man cannot do. While Scripture does indeed say, “Ask and you shall receive,” there is fine print that goes with it. These aren’t hidden contract fees, but you must interpret what is said in one verse in context with all other verses that talk about the same issue.

One thing must be made clear: God is only responsible for answering the prayers that He said He would answer. Just asking for a few things and attaching “Jesus’ name” to the end of it and saying “Amen” is not true prayer. To ask in the name of Jesus means to ask as though Jesus Himself is asking. That means we need to have the mind of Christ and pray what He wants to be praying. While we do have the authority in Christ to ask whatever we need and God will grant it, that authority only works if we are submitted under the authority of Christ. The Centurion understood this. He knew Jesus didn’t operate under His own power or agenda. He also knew that Jesus could delegate the power and it would be done. If we want free access to the throne of Grace, we have to do thing God’s way and go after the things God wants.

God’s typical answers prayers are yes, no, or later. Not many people like the “no” or “later” answers, but we have to remember that God is a Person and He is sovereign. That means that God has His will and His Kingdom as the chief agenda. God does indeed love us and seek the best for us, but we are not the center of the universe. We are not what it is all about; God is. We have to keep that in mind. God does not need us, nor did He create us to fill a missing hole. He created us to showcase His glory and His character. That includes His love and mercy, and that includes His justice and His wrath.

Now don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that God is indifferent about us. I’m not saying that God doesn’t actually care about our desires and our feelings. But I am saying that God’s primary focus is what will give Him glory. He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. He brought a 14-year old boy back to life after drowning and being formally declared dead for over an hour. But He let a former Muslim and Christian apologist, Nabeel Qureshi, die of cancer. Why? Prayers were offered for both. Does one being saved and one dying mean that God is arbitrary? No. It means God has reasons for letting somethings happen and intervening in another that we don’t see. The boy, John Smith, who died was brought back is not proud or boasting of the gift God gave him. He’s asking: “Why me?” And that’s the attitude anyone of us should have when God acts on our behalf. “Why me?” We don’t deserve it. The only thing we deserve is the wrath of Almighty God.

When God moves, it’s always for a purpose. Miracles are called rare for a reason. If God answered the prayers of every person who wanted a healing or a restored limb, several things would happen. People would get complacent and reckless. They’d start doing stupid things because after all, who cares about safety if only we believe God will fix the problem? There is natural law and consequences for our actions for a reason. Part of it is to teach us not to do stupid things. Be sexually promiscuous, you will likely catch an STD. Drive drunk, you’ll likely crash and kill someone, if not yourself. Tell a lie to your boss, you may get fired. If God were to fix every problem we created, would we ever learn from them?

Another issue is that the miracle would become commonplace and God’s glory would be minimized. I do believe God does miracles still today (though I am against the notion of “miracle workers” where God always does them through the ministry of a specific person), however those are rare what could be called “mercy drops.” The miracles God does are set up so only He can get the glory. God is capable of working through natural means, and often He will orchestrate the natural to do what He wants done. But He also works in the supernatural where He intervenes upon the natural world to do something it won’t do normally.

People say there’s no objective evidence for miracles. I always ask: “What’s your criteria? What are you expecting?” I rarely, if ever, get a straight answer. I’ve been miraculously healed. I’ve seen food multiply. I’ve even been present (though I was too young to recognize it then) when eyeglasses for a giveaway were multiplied and the last pair of donated glasses went to the last person, each with their precise prescription. But I’ve also seen doors shut, the sick remain sick, the lame remain lame, the damaged brain remain damaged though it was no fault of that person. The fact remains that we live in a sinful, fallen, cursed world and the source of that curse is not God. It’s us.

But what about those who need a miracle? The parent whose child is battling cancer, or a defective heart (as a family in my church is dealing with a second child with the same issue, the first died a few years ago before age 6), or those in a serious financial bind (through no fault of their own)? How should they pray? They should pray knowing two things: God is the God of the universe and He loves His children. He loves to give good gifts. He does hear the pleading and desperate heart. But He is also sovereign, and He has a bigger plan than we can imagine. To the parent with a suffering child, God loves your child even more than you do. He knows what is going on, but He also knows what needs to happen for His glory, or what would happen if He intervenes as we request. Make your plea and keep asking for your plea until the answer comes. David did, but God didn’t answer his prayer to save his son. Yet the Syro-Phonecian woman persisted and God did answer her. Pray until you received closure to your request, but accept the answer when it comes, even if it is a no.

Next week, I’ll examine a crucial Christian doctrine that is sadly ignored or even vilified in many churches today: the doctrine of suffering.

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When Church Isn’t the Right Place For a Miracle

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, September 1, 2020 2 comments


by Chad Koons

The door flung open as he strode into the office, holding an envelope. I greeted him but he did not respond, staring at me with a face overcome with emotion. “What’s this?” I asked him. He went to speak but found no words, instead slapping the envelope on the counter and walking back out the door. I knew that it must be about his grandson, Clint.

What was inside of that envelope blew me away. We look for God to move inside of our church buildings, and He does, yet what if He most often prefers to move outside of them?

I try to remain open to the Spirit’s leading. Quite often the Lord will have me pray for someone, speak a Scripture, give Godly counsel, or outright share the gospel when I am out and about.

On this particular day, it happened while I was at work, just a couple of months ago.

While working with a particular customer, the conversation had somehow shifted off of his project and onto the funny things that little kids do. I don’t remember how this happened, but when a conversation shifts to something off topic, I have learned to pay special attention for this may be the leading of the Lord. And in this case, it was. He told me that he has a 3-year old grandson named Clint. “Please pray for him,” he said softly, “he’s undergoing surgery right now.”

This information alarmed me. He said that Clint had been having pain in his ear, nasal trouble, and a loss of hearing. The doctor suspected a tumor or cyst, some mass that needed to be removed, though they would not know more until they got in there to find out.

“You said that he’s undergoing surgery now, did you mean right this instant?” I asked him. He confirmed that Clint was literally on the operating table at that very moment. “Then let’s pray for him right now,” I said. The man seemed surprised by this but said, “Yes, let’s pray.” We stood in the parking lot while I began to pray out loud. Being careful to listen to the leading of the Lord during my prayer, I was slow to speak as the right Scripture and words came into my heart and out of my mouth.

A great urgency came in my heart just then during my prayer, and in my mind, I briefly saw an image of a gloved hand performing surgery. The hand suddenly moved towards a different section within the surgery area, then the image went away. I sensed a need to pray accordingly, so I did: “Fill the surgeons with wisdom and foresight, bring all things back into their remembrance, move and guide their hands to the right areas, directing them to see exactly what they need to see for Clint’s situation.” I felt relief after praying this. I knew in my heart that something significant had happened just then.

Upon concluding the prayer, the man thanked me and left. However, the situation remained upon my heart. A dear little 3-year old boy, the same age as my little son, it was a burden that I could feel.

A few days later, the man returned. He quickly walked into the office and delivered an envelope to me, leaving without saying a word, as he was overcome with emotion. Inside the envelope was a card:

“Thank you for praying for Clint. The doctor’s hand was clearly guided during the operation. At first he couldn’t find the obstruction and thought maybe it had resolved itself, but his hand was led to a spot he did not imagine could hold the cyst. He found and removed the obstruction and Clint will be fine. The obstruction was against a major nerve and if the Spirit had not moved his hand forward, Clint would have been stricken with both facial and brain issues. May God be glorified.”

Amazing.

God moves right where you are, regardless if you are at work, play, rest, or church. This may surprise you, but as the ministry of Jesus shows us… God especially “works” in mundane places, like the workplace. Have a look in the Gospels and identify the many individual people that Jesus encountered. Most of these occur within a place of work, so to speak.
Simon, Andrew, James, and John were at work fishing. (Matthew 4:18-22)
Matthew was at work in the tax booth. (Matthew 9:9-10)
The lame man was at work begging. (John 5:1-15)
The woman from Samaria was at work drawing water. (John 4:7-42)

We seem to think that we need to have the proper setting for God to move: the gathering of believers, the worship team, the pastor, and all that comes with the corporate assembly of “church.” Make no mistake about it, there is much power within the corporate assembly, and special things happen therein by God’s design (Psalm 133, 1 Corinthians 14:26, Hebrews 10:24,25). However, the Lord works through His people wherever they may be, regardless of numbers or location.

Sometimes it will come as a small voice leading you to do something. Perhaps a normal conversation shifts, and you will recognize the Lord in it. Maybe a Scripture will pop into your mind and you’ll be compelled to share it. Do not hold back when these things happen; these urgings can be the leading of the Holy Spirit, directly connected to the work of God being performed within another’s life! We want to be used of God, as if it was some clear cut, organized thing. Yet most often it is not! Look closer, it’s right there mixed among the mundane, ordinary, everyday duties of life, where the Lord shows up with an opportunity for wonder and power that we so quickly discard if we are not listening. But when we do listen… great things happen.

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Jesus’ Disciples: Andrew

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 31, 2020 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

As we continue our look at who Jesus’ disciples were, this week we’ll learn a bit more about Andrew.

Andrew’s name is Greek, and it means “manliness.” We read about Andrew being from Bethsaida in Galilee, along with Philip and Peter, in John 1:44, and in fact, Andrew was Peter’s brother (Matthew 10:2).

Andrew was one of the very first disciples who Jesus called. The gospel of John tells us the detailed story in John 1:35-41:
“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’
They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means ‘Teacher’), ‘where are you staying?’
‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).’”

Matthew 4:18-20 gives us the highlights of this same story: “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”

We see from both of these accounts that Andrew was the first disciple whom Jesus called, and then Peter was shortly thereafter. They both left their occupation as fishermen to follow Jesus, and they did so pretty immediately.

Another time we see Andrew called out specifically in Scripture is in the feeding of the 5000 in John 6:1-15. In verse 8, Andrew is the one who finds the boy with five loaves and two fishes that Jesus ends up multiplying to feed the very large crowd.

While Peter, James, and John are generally considered to be Jesus’ “inner circle” of His twelve disciples, we see that Andrew was included in this group in Mark 13 when Jesus is discussing signs of the end times. Andrew is one of those who asked Jesus about when the temple would be destroyed in verse 3. After that question, Jesus goes into a great discourse about the end times and what will happen, though of course, we still do not know the day or the hour when that will occur (verse 32).

Andrew was also involved when some of the Greeks wanted to see Jesus. John 12:20-22 says, “Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.” Perhaps Philip included Andrew in this because of his Greek name, but that is only speculation.

Andrew is also mentioned in Acts 1:13 as being with the group of the disciples after Jesus ascended into heaven. “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1:14). Andrew remained as one of Jesus’ disciples after His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension; he kept the faith and did not fall away.

There is a theme in three of these encounters that’s important to note: Andrew was instrumental in bringing 3 different people to Christ: his brother Peter, the boy with the loaves and fish, and the Greeks. While that does not necessarily mean bringing them to faith in Christ as we’re familiar with that phrase today, but simply bringing these people into the presence of Jesus while He was on earth. Sometimes all it takes is one encounter with Jesus for a person to have faith, and while we do know Peter’s story, we don’t know what happened with the boy or the Greeks. Perhaps they became believers in Jesus too because of Andrew’s involvement; we don’t have that recorded in Scripture.

Who are you leading to Jesus? That may not mean actually praying the prayer that helps that person come to faith, but perhaps just introducing someone to Jesus through your actions or words. Sometimes, all it takes is one encounter with Jesus for a person to dedicate their life to Him. Are you allowing the Spirit to guide you and use you as Andrew was used to bring people into an encounter with Jesus?

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Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 28, 2020 2 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

Earlier this year, I had someone approach me on Facebook with all sorts of doubt about the existence of God and especially about miracles. This person said he was raised in the church, but he revealed that it was a “Word of Faith” church that emphasized “miraculous healing.” He observed that what he saw was fake and became disillusioned. However, instead of going to Scripture to test what he was seeing, he dismissed God and religion all together. One of the sources he gave me to showcase his claims was one called “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?”.

I knew immediately that there would be all sorts of problems with this page and the book it is based on, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we as Christians need to be able to give an answer to this question. I did not read through the whole website because it turns out it’s basically just this author’s book. But in the parts I did read, I could see where it was going.

The opening described a school shooting and how a teacher prayed for safety only to be shot and killed. His conclusion? That God didn’t answer her prayers because He doesn’t exist. The premise of the whole thing is: Prayer is just an emotional feel good blanket; because science has shown that prayer can’t work and miracles don’t happen because there’s no evidence for them, therefore God doesn’t exist. In another section, the author goes through over twenty explanations that Christians have given to why God doesn’t answer every possible prayer out there and he attempts to dismiss each one. The whole notion is foolishness and horribly devoid of logic in my opinion. It showcases a lack of understanding of prayer, a lack of understanding of God’s sovereignty, and a lack of understanding of who God really is. It says God is a liar because He promised that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name, it will be given to us… but anything major like restoring a limb or something obviously miraculous is not in the realm of possibilities.

In this post, I am going to the real heart of the issue. The REAL issue is not: “Prove to me that God exists through authentic miracles like restoring a missing limb.” The REAL question being asked here is: “Why would a good God allow people to suffer and not fix them when they ask for help?” When the cliché goes, “God, it’s no wonder you have so few friends considering how you treat the ones you have,” we need to be able to give a reasonable answer for this.

Joni Eareckson Tada was 17 years old when she dove into a pond that was too shallow and broke her neck, paralyzing her. She has spent the rest of her life as a quadriplegic, yet she is an outspoken artist with her mouth and a public speaker. I’m sure she had many people praying for her to be healed that she could live a “normal” life. But I have never heard her complaining about the injury, and instead she has praised God for the life she has had.

Nick Vujicic is an Australian man who was born with no limbs except for a small stumpy foot. He went through a lot of problems growing up, both physically and emotionally. But he has a wife and at least one child last I heard, is a public speaker, can swim without limbs, and like Tada, he refuses to play victim to the circumstances he was given. Why doesn’t God do a miracle and give him limbs? Why didn’t God heal Tada? Is it because God is inept or because He doesn’t exist, or is there much more to the picture?

I have a nephew and niece whom were adopted, and they suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It’s permanent brain damage. Could God heal them? Sure. Will He? I don’t know if He will in this lifetime or not.

A skeptic may say that I’m trying to just give God excuses, but the skeptic is not exactly being honest in his evaluation either. God is a sovereign God. That means more than just God is in control of things. It also means that everything that He allows to take place or cause to happen is for His goals and His purposes. I’m going to make this very clear: God does not exist for us. He is not out there to make us happy or to fulfill our wishes and dreams. God created us for HIS purposes. He let Bartimaeus be born blind for the purpose of showcasing Jesus’ authority as the Son of Man. God’s ways our not our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He sees the whole picture and we don’t. Who are we to judge Him?

Voddie Baucham has another answer to this and it’s very powerful. The author of this “Why doesn’t God heal amputees?” site suggests that because God doesn’t do the miracles he wants to see in the timing or manner he would prefer to see them, then God must not exist. That’s terrible logic. Baucham turns it around and I’ll use his tactic. This author is asking the question wrong. To ask it properly, he needs to ask it this way: “How could a holy, righteous, loving God, look at what I did, said, and thought upon yesterday and not kill me in my sleep?” If we are concerned about God not restoring a limb or making the truly lame walk today, should we not be even more concerned about how God is letting us live AT ALL? What right do we have to live? I’m serious about that. We’ve all sinned. We’ve all committed treachery against the Creator in defiance of His will. There’s only one thing any of us deserve and that’s death. We deserve the wrath of Almighty God. Who are we to accuse God of not letting our lives be just fluffy and rosy and giving us everything our sinful, selfish hearts desire? Where is the flaw? Is it in God or is in us? If you want to indict God on anything, you best make sure your life is completely perfect. Good luck with that.

The issue of why God doesn’t heal amputees is only one specific example of what skeptics are using to deny God His place of authority. I’m going to explore this issue a little further over the next couple of weeks, but not in great detail. I’ll address how praying for a miracle should look like as well as what the Doctrine of Suffering 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.

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Jesus’ Disciples: John

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 24, 2020 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Last week, we discussed Jesus’ disciple James, son of Zebedee. The disciple for this week is John, James’ brother. John was also present in many of the stories we read in the gospels about James, so I’m not going to write about those same narratives again here. Just like with the name James, there are multiple Johns we hear about in the New Testament. John the apostle is the son of Zebedee, not to be confused with John the Baptist or the John who was also known as Mark (or John-Mark).

John the apostle was one of Jesus’ inner circle along with Peter and James. These three witnessed the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21-43), witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus together (Matthew 17:1-13), and went further into the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus and were commanded to watch and pray (Matthew 26:36-46). John had an occupation as a fisherman before he was called by Jesus to be a disciple.

But John has an identity among the disciples that’s all his own as well. He wrote the gospel of John in the New Testament, which is believed to be the last of the four that was written, possibly as late as 90-100 AD. The other three gospel accounts are very similar in nature and contain many of the same accounts, but John approaches the story of Jesus from a slightly different perspective. The purpose of writing this gospel is stated clearly in passages such as this: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). John gives his own testimony so that the believers who receive it will experience their faith as he has. John’s gospel was written primarily for those who already believe to be able to fight heresies (beliefs that go against Christianity), whereas the other gospels were written to unbelievers at earlier dates.

One of the main heresies of John’s day was Gnosticism, believing that Jesus was not fully human. John’s gospel provides a more detailed character sketch of Jesus than the other gospels. He starts by showing Jesus as the divine Word from the Father, but then also shows Jesus’ humanity. Another heresy of the day was that John the Baptist had the same religious authority as Jesus, which John shows in his gospel to be clearly false. John the Baptist was a fully human prophet, whereas Jesus was fully God and fully human.

An interesting fact about John’s gospel is that he appears to never mention his own name. As a follower of Jesus, even though his mom wanted him to be one of the great ones in Jesus’ Kingdom, John modeled humility. Rather than bragging on himself, he would call himself “another disciple,” the “beloved disciple,” or “the one whom Jesus loved.” These phrases are used many times in the gospel, and it’s clear from the context and other historical accounts that they refer to John. While He was on the cross, Jesus showed His love for John by entrusting him to take care of Jesus’ mother Mary (John 19:26-27).

While brothers James and John share many experiences during Jesus’ life and ministry, we often find Peter and John together as well. They follow Jesus after His betrayal and to the high priest’s courtyard (John 18:15-16). Mary Magdalene tells the two of them first the news of the resurrection, and they are the ones who run to see what happened (John 20:1-10). After the resurrection, Peter and John are fishing with some others when Jesus revealed Himself to them (John 21:1-7). Peter and John do ministry together in Acts 3-4, doing healings, sharing the good news of salvation through Jesus, being put in jail, then being sent to testify before the religious authorities.

John became a leader at the church in Jerusalem, but then much of his personal history goes unrecorded. He wrote the letters of 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John, as well as the book of Revelation. It is believed that he retired to Ephesus, as we see him having a special affection for the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2-3. We know that John suffered persecution for his work with the early church and was banished to the island of Patmos. It is believed that he returned to Ephesus later where he died, probably around the year 98 AD, having outlived all of his companions from the early days with Jesus on earth.

So what can we learn from John about being a disciple of Jesus? The main theme we can learn from John’s life is to keep the faith. Many of the original disciples died young as martyrs, while John was able to live a long life. But he never gave up his faith in Jesus, from the time Jesus called him as a young fisherman until his death. His writings and his leadership in the church helped educate the early church so they would remain true to the gospel message and the facts about Jesus. He did not compromise the truth even when faced with persecution.

What are you doing to live a consistently faithful life, to help educate yourself and the other believers around you as John did?

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Where Is the Flaw?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 21, 2020 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

One of the annoying knee-jerk reactions I frequently receive when I preach the truth of Scripture is, “That’s just your interpretation.” I hear it as though the other person has it all figured out themselves. Sometimes I respond with, “Isn’t that just your interpretation?” Sometimes, I respond with, “It’s not MY interpretation. It’s what it says.” Many people have confused church tradition with what Scripture says, but other people have confused the process of eisegesis and exegesis: they think they are doing a study of the text of Scripture when they are actually just inserting their already established ideas into the text.

How do we solve these issues? The first thing we have to do when coming to a conflict between Scripture and any idea is to ask this question: Where is the flaw? Which position needs to go to the examination board first? When it comes to origins, it’s amazing how many people will say we need to examine our understanding of Scripture, and there is partial truth to that. But why are they saying this? Because they have this notion that what they have learned in “science class” is fact. I wrote a few months ago about the dangers of brainwashing, namely in science, where the secular-humanistic worldview of naturalism is being equated with “science” when science is nowhere to be found. There is clearly a conflict between what Genesis states naturally and what the “science” says. So, which one should get examined first? Where is the flaw? Is it our understanding of Scripture that needs examination first? Or is it the science that needs examination?

There are ministries out there which teach that the Bible and science must agree, but be watching their tactics. Which is made to agree to what? Science to the Bible, or the Bible to science? In EVERY Old Earth model, the science is left alone for examination and the Bible’s “interpretation” must be off because the “science” says otherwise. You will hear them say they are happy to be shown to be wrong about the science, but you can tell when they are shown by science how wrong they are that they aren’t willing to change for the life of them. Where is the flaw? These Old Earth ministries think it’s in the Bible (I’ve heard them say “the Bible is unclear” or even “the Bible is wrong.”) Do they actually examine themselves or their own models? Hardly.

Now, so you don’t hear what I am not saying, there are MANY times where someone does indeed misinterpret Scripture. But how is that corrected? By an outside source that has no authority on what Scripture is and what it means? Or is it rather by a more accurate study of the text in the context of what is being said? When you hear the claims that the Bible contradicts itself, you can easily resolve most of said claims simply by reading the context of said verses. But again, where is the flaw? Is the flaw in Scripture, or is the flaw in man?

So many skeptics speak about the Bible as having no voice itself, and many Christians have the same approach. Do we as Christians not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us? Does not the Author of Scripture dwell in our presence as we read Scripture? We don’t have perfect understanding of Scripture. I don’t; I get things wrong all the time. That’s why I don’t rely on MY understanding of Scripture. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

If an interpretation is wrong, there will be clues for why. Look at the motivation for making such statements. Look at the resources used. Why did the people making the claims say what they said? Augustine is cited by Old Earthers frequently because he did not believe in a six-day creation. He believed in an instantaneous creation (hardly what OEC’s position states). But why did he believe it? Was it because of an in-depth study of the text of Scripture? No. It was merely because he did not understand why God needed to take six days. It was because of doubt and unbelief of the text. Where was the flaw in Augustine – in Scripture, or Augustine? The flaw was in Augustine.

But what about all those Christians who don’t act right, or are unloving, or supported slavery, or “fill in the blank”? I ask: “What about them?” Whenever I find someone blaming God for the behavior of some of His followers, I point them to Romans 3:1-4. If someone is in error (and I am sometimes to often in this category myself), that person isn’t the standard; God is. If I am not pointing people towards Christ, if I am not exalting His name, then perhaps I should not be listened to. But if I am going to be rejected, I’ll know if said person is saying so because they are zealous for the truth and love God, or whether it is because I am exposing their own evil deeds. I can take correction, but I also know who to take it from.

It’s interesting how people, who try to blame Christianity based on what people who claim its name do when it is in contrast to what Christianity teaches, will defend their own position (such as Evolution) and separate themselves from those who actually carry out what comes out of said teachings. Many Evolutionists hate it when Creationists use Hitler as the poster child of what Evolution teaches, yet nearly every, if not all, Evolutionist prior to Hitler’s reign was exactly what they are accused of being. Evolution didn’t change post-Hitler. The teachings are the same. Modern Evolutionists who decry what Hitler did and distance themselves from him do not practice themselves what Evolution naturally leads to. Where is the flaw? Was it Hitler’s application, or the modern Evolutionists’ interpretation? Or the entire notion of Evolution itself? I’ll say Hitler is the one who got Evolution correct, and it’s the modern Evolutionists who don’t understand what it is themselves.

Where is the flaw? The problems with this world can be summed with a one-word answer: SIN. The cause of these problems can be summed up with a one-word answer too: YOU (and me). The flaw lies with you. It lies with me. We have all sinned. We all fall short. We all miss the mark. We all have core flaws. There is only one who got it completely correct: Jesus Christ. He is the only one without a flaw. That is why I do not trust me to figure it all out (and being an intellectual type, that is not easy to do, and I fail miserably at this often), but I lean on God to make His Word clear and straightforward. Then there is the obedience part of it, but how can we obey unless we know what truth there is to obey? This is why so many refuse to let Scripture speak clearly, because if it is open to interpretation, then its command for obedience cannot be upheld. But if it is clear, then no matter how we may want to say it is otherwise, we are held responsible for believing and obeying it. If you believe Scripture as written and take God at His Word, then He is responsible for what happens to you and the fallout. But if you want to make Scripture fit what you’d prefer, then you will be held responsible for it against a pure, perfect, and holy God. I’ll stick with God being the standard… not me.

Where is the flaw? Let us examine ourselves, because that is a good place to start looking.

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Jesus’ Disciples: James

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 17, 2020 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Who is Jesus’ disciple James? First of all, there are two different men named James who were a part of Jesus’ band of twelve followers: one was the son of Zebedee, and the other was the son of Alphaeus. Today, we’re going to look at James the son of Zebedee.

James is often referred to with his brother John, together known as the sons of Zebedee. Jesus also gave them the name Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17), likely because of their boldness and energy. We see from Mark 1:16-20 that James was a fisherman with his brother John and their father Zebedee before Jesus called the brothers to be His disciples. In the account of this event in Luke 5:1-10, we see there that James and his brother John were fishing partners with Simon Peter. This account ends with Jesus telling them, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people” (Luke 5:10).

It was James’ occupation to catch fish. James’ father was a fisherman, and James and his brother John were fishermen, so that was what they knew: catching fish. Fishing likely encompassed basically all of their lives to this point. Jesus took what they knew and used that as a metaphor for what He was calling them into. Instead of catching fish, they would now be “catching” people for Jesus’ mission.

This is our first lesson on being Jesus’ disciple from James: our mission is not only to follow Jesus but to join Him in His mission. Jesus came to earth on a mission to save all of humanity. To do that, people would need to get to know Him and His teachings, then make the choice to follow Him or not. We don’t see James and John asking Jesus a bunch of questions to make sure that’s what they wanted to do; they simply started following Him. The account in Mark makes this look like it was an almost immediate thing, whereas the account in Luke gives us a bit more of a story of Jesus showing them who He was before they followed Him. Either way, the end result was that they knew that following Jesus was the right thing to do, so James and John did it.

The next account we’ll look at for James is when he was present as Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter back to life. You can read the full account in Mark 5:21-43. Jairus was a leader in the synagogue, and his daughter who was around 12 years old was dying. Jairus knew that Jesus could heal her so they started toward his house, but then they got stuck by the crowds who often followed Jesus. In the midst of the crowd, a woman with a bleeding issue touched Jesus’ cloak and was healed, which stopped them from their mission of getting to Jairus’ house. Before they could get there, they receive word that Jairus’ daughter had died. Jesus encourages Jairus to still have faith. Once they finally arrive at Jairus’ house, only Peter, James, and John are permitted to go inside with Jesus. They got to witness Jesus speaking to the girl and her coming miraculously back to life!

Why was James included in this trio of men to be Jesus’ inner circle? That really isn’t spelled out for us in Scripture, but it is clear that James was a truly devoted follower of Jesus by this point. Jesus must have had a particularly close relationship with these three that they were allowed to witness this powerful moment with Him.

Perhaps that is why James and John’s mother makes a big request of Jesus for the sake of her sons in the next passage we’ll look at today. You can read it in Matthew 20:20-28. The boys’ mom asks Jesus to make sure her sons will sit at Jesus’ right and left in His Kingdom. These positions would mean that James and John would share in Jesus’ power and prestige. But their mother clearly doesn’t know what she’s asking. While she is the one who actually asks the question, the context shows that her sons were right there and not stopping her. They all knew that Jesus was a powerful person to know after all they had seen of Him to this point, but they were likely still thinking it was political or social power for this world.

Jesus’ reprimand of their asking this question gives us another lesson in discipleship: “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28). The point of following Jesus is not to become great in this world. We must be focused on being a servant to all, just as Jesus was, rather than trying to make a great name for ourselves. Sure, people may recognize us and applaud us for our service when they see it, but our focus needs to be on doing what Jesus did - serving others, even to the point of giving up His life for the whole world.

So what ended up happening to James? Acts 12:1-2 tells us, “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.” Being “put to death with the sword” means that James was beheaded. This likely happened around the year 44 AD, so approximately 10-15 years after Jesus was crucified.

While we don’t have many details on what this Son of Thunder did to show his faith after Jesus’ death, clearly he was seen as a threat by King Herod. James clearly lived a life that followed Jesus even after Jesus’ earthly ministry, and he died a martyr’s death for his faith in Jesus.

If James could boldly live out his faith in a time of intense persecution such as the middle of the first century, what are you doing to boldly live out your faith today in 2020?

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