What Does the Bible Say About Purgatory?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 30, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Before we look into this week’s topic of what the Bible says about purgatory, what exactly is purgatory? If you’re not familiar with the Roman Catholic church, you may not have heard the word before. The catechism of the Catholic church teaches this: “All who die in God’s grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” Purgatory is believed to be the place where souls go to undergo this purification, before they can enter God’s presence in heaven.

So what does the Bible say about this topic? The word “purgatory” doesn’t actually appear in the Bible, so we’ll need to look at passages that discuss the concepts.

The primary passage that Catholics use to point to purgatory is 1 Corinthians 3:15: “If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” The context before this verse is Paul addressing how we are to have Jesus as our foundation, but it takes many teachers and encouragers in the body of Christ to build up one another. This section talks about a believer’s works being judged with an illustration of going through fire. If our works are of good quality, they will make it through; if they are poor quality, then they will be burned. It’s the believer’s work that will go through the fire, not the believer himself. Purgatory is believed to be the place where this happens - the believer’s work becomes good through a purification process.

But, do we really need to be purified? Hebrews 7:27 says, “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (The “he” being referred to here is Jesus.) Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Isaiah 53:5, prophesying about Jesus, says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Those verses all indicate that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough. Once we have faith in Him as our Savior, we don’t need any further purification; Jesus covered all that for us through His death on the cross. Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Corinthians 15:3, and 1 John 2:2 (among others) remind us that salvation is not anything we can accomplish by our good works, but only through the work of Jesus Christ.

According to Revelation 21:27, we know that nothing impure or unclean will enter heaven. We know that our sins make us impure and unclean. Every time we’re disobedient to God, we separate ourselves from Him and HIs perfection. But that’s where Jesus came in - He lived a perfect, sinless life, then died the death that we deserve. He was the perfect sacrifice, because we couldn’t be.

Salvation is not about what we do; it’s about what Jesus already did for us. While we all strive to live lives that give honor and glory to God, we all mess up. But when we have faith in Jesus, God sees us as He sees Jesus - completely purified, no longer in need of any further purification.

So what does the Bible say about purgatory? Nothing - it’s not needed! Jesus took care of everything for us.

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The Faith of Abraham - Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 29, 2017 1 comments

by Logan Ames

My wife and I had the pleasure of going on what was at that time the trip of our lives for our honeymoon in the summer of 2016. Thanks to the Lord providing for us through several different avenues, we were able to spend an entire week on the island of Kaua’i in Hawaii. While there are some who have the means to take a trip like that every year, we felt it was pretty likely this would be our only chance to visit such a place in our lifetimes. That reality gave me a little bit of a different perspective on the trip. I found that there was a little bit of pressure to try to make sure we saw and experienced everything we could on the island. We rented a Chevy Camaro convertible in order to see and experience it “the right way." As the week continued, I began to grieve the end of it, almost as much as I was thankful for the amazing vacation.

Most of us have had experiences like that. We focus so much on the great gift we are receiving and grasp it so tightly out of fear or sadness of losing it that we forget to remain grateful. The heroes of our faith had to learn to have the opposite view, depending on their God and Creator while everything else around them was falling apart. Abraham and Sarah received a promise from God very early in their journey, but while things did not seem to be going according to plan, their choice was whether to trust in the promise or the Promiser.

In Hebrews 11:13-16, we see that Abraham and Sarah got to a point where they were “assured” of the promises made to them even though those promises were still far away. This echoes what we see in Hebrews 11:1. Even though they didn’t understand why things weren’t happening as quickly as they thought, they “embraced” what the Promiser had revealed to them. The Greek word for “embraced” in that passage can also be translated “saluted." The passage gives us the idea that the promises of God were like a constant companion for Abraham and Sarah. Even if they were far away, the couple never let them out of their sight. What if we tried this? Could we wake up each morning while we face difficulties and greet or “salute” God’s promises? That intentional acknowledgement could change your life!

For Abraham and Sarah, God’s promises caused them to live as “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (v. 13). The passage goes on to tell us that the more they trusted in God and embraced his promises, the more they ignored whatever they left behind. Had they been thinking about what they left, they could have gone back (v. 15). When we focus on God instead of all the things we have to leave or all the things we love that come to an end in this life, we can truly begin to see our true home as heaven rather than the temporary attachments we have here.

We’re now in our third and final week of looking at the faith of Abraham (his wife Sarah was obviously a huge part of the story as well). We’ve looked at everything they went through and the patience in the midst of trials that God required of them. But because Abraham learned through those situations to depend so much on the Promiser rather than the promise, he was ready for his toughest trial yet. Hebrews 11:17-19 describes his faith even as he was ready to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, who was to be the heir of the promise Abraham had begun to embrace. Let’s remember that God started by promising to make Abraham into a great nation (Genesis 12:2), then proceeded to tell him his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:4-5), then finally guaranteed him that he and his wife would have a son at the ripe old ages of 100 and 90, that they would name him “Isaac," and that he would be the heir to the original promise (Genesis 17:17-19). Isaac was born 24 YEARS after the original promise. You’d think that after God made Abraham go through all of that, he’d finally agree to just leave him alone and let him live in peace! Surely, Abraham had passed the test of faith.

We ought to know that God does not do things our way. He doesn’t act or think like we presume that he “should," because his ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). After finally giving Abraham and Sarah the son they were waiting for, God still had more purposes for Abraham as the “father” that many nations would look to as an example of faith. So, he decided to test Abraham once again. Genesis 22 tells us the story of God appearing to Abraham and commanding him to take Isaac up on a mountain and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. You can read the story on your own and I strongly encourage you to do so because there is so much to learn and see. There are so many parallels between Isaac in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament, from the fact that Isaac was the “only begotten son” of the promise, to the fact that he trusted his father no matter what, to the geographical region where it took place being a mountain outside of what later became Jerusalem, to the sacrifice being over wood, to the relief coming on the third day, to God himself ultimately providing the lamb for the sacrifice. For the purposes of learning from Abraham’s faith, the most important thing for us to know is that he was obedient, and then to understand why.

Genesis 22:3 tells us that Abraham did what God commanded him to do the very next morning after he received the order. Verse 8 tells us that he was confident in God’s ability to provide a lamb for the burnt offering, but verse 10 tells us that he was also ready to go through with killing his son just before God intervened and stopped him. Why was he willing to kill his son, who was the only one that would be able to carry out the promise God had given him? Hebrews 11:19 gives us the answer. Abraham “reasoned” that even if he killed his own son, God was able and willing to raise him back to life. Abraham was so confident that whatever God said was true and right, even if it seemed crazy and contrary to everything else. He believed that he couldn’t go wrong following the Promiser, who he knew he could trust to come through no matter what. We must not assume that Abraham knew God would stop him, just to make it easier to relate to our own lives. He only knew that God was in control, and he couldn’t go wrong with full obedience. May we all learn to simply obey and trust God with the results.

Going back to our foundational verse of Hebrews 11:3, I believe that Abraham was able to “reason” that God could raise the dead only because he first understood that God made everything in the universe out of nothing. Faith in God is not blind. It makes the most sense. As of Abraham’s time, no one had ever been raised from the dead. But if our foundation of faith is that God made everything from nothing, then is there anything he can’t do? Regardless of what God requires of you in this life, always ask yourself if you truly have any reason to doubt him. He might ask you to give up more than you ever thought you could, but obedience will never go wrong for you. When everything else will fade away, he is the one sure thing.

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Test the Spirits

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 27, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” ~2 Peter 3:8

The apostle John cannot be any clearer when he tells us to “test the spirits.” In my studies of the epistles of the New Testament, no single topic is addressed more than discerning between true and false doctrines. Do we know what we are listening to? In the Old Testament, the standard for a true and false prophet was whether what was said turned out to be true. It was practiced that if a single prophecy was made while claiming to be coming from God failed to happen, not only was every prophecy stricken from the list, but the prophet was stoned. In the New Testament, we have another test, a test executed well by the Bereans: check out what is said with Scripture.

My library is fast growing and each of the books which deal with Christianity (fiction or non-fiction) fall into one of four categories. The first category are books where I can tell the author has truly met God in the area he/she is writing about from experience, and where the author is speaking the truth where God has revealed it. I am not by any means suggesting these books are on the same level of Scripture, nor am I suggesting they are inerrant, but you can sense the Spirit of God dwells within the author in the good books. In the second category of books I have read from the get-go, I sensed a very wicked spirit hiding within the pages and the best I could do is just stomach through it. The only reason I finished these types of books is so I have first-hand knowledge of what is being said so I know how to refute it. I question how any Bible-believer who knows even a fraction of sound doctrine can read from this second category without disgust in some form. A third category is much like the second and is extremely dangerous. They are books where I REALLY wanted to agree with what was said but I could not because I sensed something was dreadfully wrong with the message. These are the more carefully disguised false teachings. And the fourth category of books I have read really had nothing wrong or offensive with them, but they lacked anything real. It was like eating sugarized-air. It wasn’t poison and it tasted sweet, but gave no real nutritional value. You can go through your local Christian bookstore and find books that belong to all four categories, and sadly very few of them will belong in the first one. A good number fit the fourth. My question is this: do we have the discernment to know which is which?

Now, when I talk about false teachings, I am not talking about perfection. Nobody on this planet outside of Jesus Christ has ever had 100% correct doctrine. I am not talking about those who may miss the boat on some things but everything in their focus is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I am not talking about Christian leaders who have fallen from grace or got caught in sin, such as those I talked about last week. Those teachers need to repent (if they have not) and be restored (if they have). I am talking about those who take the philosophies of this age, the ideas and concepts from the godless, secular world, or outright demonic ideas, and mix them with the truth. The most successful lies are not the ones that are 100% false, but those that are 95-98% true. I would suggest many false teachers are not spreading these false teachings intentionally, however, we still must mark and identify them.

Proverbs 22:3 tells us that if we are aware of our surroundings, we will not be in peril. We can avoid evil. The simple man, however, only sees straight ahead of him, is only able to see appearances, and is not aware of where the enemy can spring traps. Proverbs 2:10-22 talks about how if we have wisdom and discernment, we can be kept from a number of evils. Discernment and wisdom are virtually impossible to find these days, and those who have it are called bigots, liars, hate-groups, and any other name in the book the politically correct people can throw at you. We need to seek wisdom and discernment in every area of our life, because for every teacher who has found the truth by seeking the Lord, there are at least ten false teachers who seek to promote anything but the truth… even among those who claim with adamancy their faith in Christ.

The easiest way to tell truth from a lie is to study the truth. That is how bank tellers are trained. They must spend hours touching, studying, feeling, and smelling a real dollar bill so when a fake comes by they can tell in an instant. I can relate, because when I worked as a cashier at a grocery store, I found a $20 mixed with the cash that simply did not feel right. I used my marker to test it and sure enough, it was fake. I knew how the real felt, and just by touch I could spot the fake.

However, we must not be ignorant of the wiles of the enemy. Sun-Tzu was not off the path when he said, “Know your enemy and know yourself, and in 100 battles you will never be in peril.” Do we know ourselves and do we know our enemy? One of the most critical tactics the enemy uses to not just get information to us but to get misinformation to us is through spies, namely the false teacher. Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John frequently spoke about the dangers of false teachers. Jesus said to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Many do not understand what this means. Jesus is not talking about the Wiccan witch, the Buddhist priest, the Muslim imam, or the jungle witch doctor. He is talking about the priests WITHIN the body of Christ, those who are in and among us, but are not of us. Ezekiel 22:25 warns about the false prophets in Israel’s midst, conspiring against God and the people for their own gain. These false prophets that Jesus is warning about are in and among us.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to cover three major false teachings that are strong within the Christian community and the tactics used to get these errors into the church. The teachings are the Prosperity Gospel, the Emergent Church/Progressive Christianity, and Old Earth Creation. Now, I am not going to specify names of the promoters of these teachings in these posts, however, I have listened to the teachings and read the books and articles from some of the teachers of these false teachings. So anything I write, unless otherwise cited, is going to be an analysis from first-hand knowledge of what they say. As I go through these major false teachings, if you would like to have specific citations, I will be glad to give them upon request. But for the sake of the message not being lost by an emotional attachment to a specific teacher, I will withhold the names. However, if you hear what I will share and have heard the concept being taught by someone, I will gladly address that in the comments either on this link or on the Facebook pages where this will be posted.

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Human Plight and God’s Solution: Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, October 25, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

Last week, constant reader, I delivered three observations on the human plight: 1) The dead condition we live in is universal. 2) All of humanity is complicit in this deadness; that is, it does not fight against the deadness of it all, but rather humanity has gotten used to it, perhaps even likes it. 3) This death is total. It is idiotic to ask how fatal this death is; there are no degrees of fatality.

All this being true, I touched only briefly last week on God’s solution to humanity’s problem. This week I would like to give a fuller treatment.

Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the macabre plight of humanity: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the age of this world and according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among them we all also once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

But then Paul takes a sharp turn in verses 4-7: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Paul begins verse 4 with a deep contrast between the state of humanity (its inability to change, its selfish desires, and its expectation of God’s wrath) and God’s righteous character (His desire for humanity to live and His generous mercy). In these verses we see that God is active in giving life, but humanity is lazy, weak, and passive in death.

Humankind, having chosen to live according to Satan’s will and the unction of the flesh, are left in a shameful state, deserving only judgment and wrath. A false parable says, “God is voting for you, Satan is voting against you, wherever you cast your vote decides if you’re elected.” This is patently false. It should be changed to this: “Satan is voting against you, you have voted against you, but it is only God’s vote that creates an option for life.” Only the divine initiative could change the trajectory of the human plight.

God is obligated only to pay out the judgment due humanity for the transgressions and sins that they have committed against him. He will reward each one according to his works. The depth of God’s love offers another chance. The amazing aspect of the plight of humanity is that it does not end in the total annihilation of the human race. Rather, God has broken into this dead human condition and opened a way of mercy in Christ, which He was not obligated to do.

God has made Christ the focal point of his mercy and grace. Humanity has earned death, but God offers life through Christ. His kindness is expressed in Christ (Ephesians 2:7). God’s grace is bestowed regardless of the utter lack of human merit. This mercy comes from the riches of his grace.

The “formerly-now” comparisons run throughout Ephesians (2:2, 11, 13, 19; 5:8). They describe a change in identity as a result of God’s gracious salvation. This is one reason why Christians should not engage in identity politics. “Formerly” we were many things, but now we are Christians, which is to say that the defining thing about us is Jesus has reconciled us to God.

God has made three significant status changes to those who are “in Christ.” God has given believers life with Christ, raised them up with Christ, and seated them with Christ in the heavenly realms. Hence, the believer’s identity is directly linked to Christ’s identity. By the mercy of God, the fate of Christ has become the fate of the believer.

Being alive “in Christ” is the indication that the divine life of Christ is now in operation in the believer. God has reversed the state of being dead in transgressions and sins. He has done this through the merit of Christ. This is a transference from death to life, from bondage to freedom, from the power and dominion of the “ruler of the world” to the kingdom of God.

In every way this is a change in status from shame to honor. Paul establishes the honor of Christ in Ephesians 1:15-23 and contrasts it with the believer’s pre-conversion shame. According to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), believers may have been drunkards, they may have performed homosexual acts or submitted to homosexual acts, or they may have been adulterers or thieves, but now they take part in the same honor as Jesus, having participated with Christ in his death, resurrection, and ascension.

Paul prayed that the believers would know the hope, the riches, and the incomparably great power for believers (1:18-19). “This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (1:20). The new status of being raised with Christ and seated with him puts believers above the dominion of the evil one and energizes them with a new power to live in Christ. Moreover, God exercised this tremendous power to illustrate his own grace in Christ; it is for purposes of God’s own glory, internal to his own honor that He has worked this tremendous strength in resurrecting dead humanity, and giving them a victorious place with Christ.

This realized eschatology wherein believers are “already” seated with Christ and raised with him is contrasted by the reality that Satan can still very much harass the body of believers (hence, the need for the armor of God in chapter 6). The believers live with a new kind of “resurrection” power in their daily lives (2:10) which Paul further detailed in Romans 6.

God has given us everything we need to now follow him. Whether or not we still struggle with sin, we have a new identity. God has given us a new ability through His grace in Christ.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

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Ministry of Reconciliation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, October 24, 2017 0 comments

by Aaron Felty

With each passing day, there seems to be a growing chasm between the white culture and the black culture. We see professional athletes kneeling during football games and “patriotic” white folks demanding they be prohibited from doing so. We see black people protesting and marching for more equity in the judicial system after each video of a black person being shot. We see white people telling them to stop committing crimes and just comply with police officers and they will not need reforms. We see white supremacists marching and demanding we keep up statues of southern slave-owning Americans, and we see people including white folks demanding they be taken down. In both groups are people who just want to move forward justly in faith.

How should we as Christians respond in these and the myriad of other situations currently facing our nation and the church, as it relates to people of different cultures or races? How are black and white Christians processing the incidents that occur in our country relating to race? How can we maintain unity? We have to start from a position of humility and honesty. We need to realize our experiences are vastly different from one another, and that demands we listen and care.

Our problems of race, as a nation, began far before our formation as a country. The problem is sin, and the solution is our Savior! 

We must admit that perhaps the way we understand these things is not the way others understand them, whether you are black or white. After that, we have to humbly determine to seek understanding where we can, and decide to not allow the differences to divide us. How we do that is a bit more complicated, but we must approach this subject with the mentality that we will not leave the table until we have unity. A blog post is not going to SOLVE this problem, but perhaps it can help. It will be one person talking to another with the desire to understand and care.

During college, I had an identity crisis. I attended a small private school nestled in northwestern Indianapolis. At that time, there were 400+ people on campus but 1200 admitted. All but 4-8 people (depending on the year) in campus housing were white and boy did they let us 4-8 know when we were walking around. I was radically saved by Christ in 1993 and my understanding of who I was completely changed. The Heavenly Father adopted me as His son and no longer was my identity attached to the color of my skin. I am a child of God and no amount of melanin can change that. But guess what? That is true for EVERYONE! So from that point forward race meant little to me, until the last couple of years. I have seen such division and angst. Insensitive words and a covert racism are the norm. People are comfortable with me so they say things that reveal a deep dislike for people of the other race, referring to the black and white issue.

I have been profiled many times for many things by many people, but I am not a victim. I am keenly aware that in our country I am black. As a biracial person, I see that generally black people do not trust white people and white people do not trust black people. I often feel like I’m the only one in the room who senses what is actually happening. I feel at home when I am with black or white folks, but in neither place does “home” feel healthy. Only in homes where Christ is the center do I truly feel at home. 

Reconciliation is needed - the kind that the Bible outlines. As ambassadors of Christ, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-20); it is not an option! At the tower of Babel, the people came together with one voice and attempted to make a name for themselves. As a result, their voices were changed and they were commanded to scatter. I believe that it was shortly after this that “racism” began. At Pentecost, people of all backgrounds were together, focused on Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit descended upon them and they heard the Good News in their own language (Acts 2). A powerful unity was restored. This must happen again in order to heal this rift!

Healing will begin with honest self-reflection, doing only what the Bible actually says, putting aside politics when it conflicts with Scripture, and taking a stand when people make ungodly comments about those who do not look like them. We need to stand against injustice everywhere we can. 

Reconciliation requires listening attentively, admitting our part, and asking for forgiveness and repentance where appropriate. Only after those things have occurred can unity be restored. I am guessing that the vast majority of followers of this blog are white, so I want to encourage you to consider how you actually feel about black people. If you saw a young black boy walking down the street with sagging pants, a crooked hat, and a hoodie up walking at you, how would you feel? How do you talk about the black athletes protesting during the national anthem? What feelings do you have about the Black Lives Matter movement? I wonder if those who are white in the church have turned a deaf ear to the screams of their black brothers and sisters. I wonder if my black brothers and sisters are so hurt that they cannot risk trusting a white person again. 

We have to move away from thinking our way is THE way, turn to Scripture, and see how Jesus responded to those who were feeling oppressed and minimized. Then we should do likewise. I suggest doing all that you can in your ministry of reconciliation. Be proactive not reactive!

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


What Does the Bible Say About Earth?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 23, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Over the last two weeks, I’ve written about what the Bible says about heaven and about hell, so earth is next on the list.

Most of the events written about in the Bible take place on earth, so for starters we could say that nearly the whole Bible says something about earth. It is the place where God’s created people dwell. We are here to give Him glory, and to pursue relationship with Him until the day when we can be with Him forever in heaven (or without Him forever in hell).

The main thing that the Bible says about earth is that it was created, and it says this a lot! Some examples are Genesis 1:1, Exodus 20:11, Psalm 104:5, Job 38:4, Isaiah 42:5, Colossians 1:16-17, Jeremiah 10:12, and Hebrews 11:3. Some who live on earth today adamantly refuse this fact and believe that the earth just magically appeared out of goop or something, but the Bible clearly teaches that was not the case. God created the earth as a place for His creation to dwell.

We know that the earth belongs to God, as does everything in it (Psalm 24:1-2). The earth is full of the knowledge of God (Isaiah 11:9 and Romans 1:20), so even if a person does not have the opportunity to hear the good news about Jesus Christ, they can still see God’s presence in the earth simply by living here.

But, earth is not the perfection it was once created to be. In Genesis 1:31, God said that all of His creation was very good. But in Genesis 3, humans messed it up by wanting to be like God and thinking they could actual attain that. Not only did this curse people but also the entire earth! Genesis 3:17b-18 says, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.” Isaiah 24:4-6 echoes this fact, by saying: “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”

Because we messed up the earth, one day it will pass away (Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1). When that day comes, all of those living on earth will be sent to either heaven or hell, depending on God’s judgment of them.

God has created this earth for us to dwell in, until such time that He is ready to restore all of creation to Himself and usher in the new heaven and the new earth. What are you doing in your life to make your time on earth worthwhile, to give God glory and prepare for the day that you’re no longer on this earth?

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.


The Faith of Abraham - Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 22, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

How do you like being told to wait for something you desperately want or need? That’s a dumb question, right? I mean, who enjoys waiting? Some of you might be thinking that you don’t mind it, but I would guess that means you’re just better at dealing with it than most people. Plus, if you think you’re a patient person, you’ve probably never had to wait multiple decades for something promised to you for which you had literally changed your entire life. The better question than whether or not we like waiting is to think about how we handle it. What do we DO when we are waiting? Do we sit on our hands and do nothing? Do we get frustrated and try to obtain what we’re waiting for a different way? Do we just try our hardest to forget about it and settle for less? These responses were all part of the waiting process for Abraham and Sarah.

Last week, we dug into the first part of Abraham’s story in the Bible, which took place when he was still known as “Abram." We looked at his faith in leaving his family, native country, and everything he knew to go to a place God had not yet even revealed to him, all because that is what God told him to do. However, we also looked at the fact that, after he and his family set out with his father to go where God was sending him, they settled in a different town and stayed there for a long time. Abram, like many of us, learned how to settle from his father and needed a little extra motivation to get his behind moving. God promised him great things, but we saw last week that his decision to finally follow God was much more about what he needed to leave than where he was headed. Once he and his wife began the journey of faith, there was no turning back, even though the tests and trials were only beginning.

Hebrews 11:8-12 tells us a little bit about their circumstances. When they were known as Abram and Sarai, they lived in tents in a foreign country and weren’t even concerned with having their own home or land because their focus was on the future home and city where they would reside in heaven (v. 10). But during that time, they also remembered the promise God gave to Abram, which was that he would be “made into a great nation." He may not have known exactly what this meant yet, but he had a pretty good idea that it had something to do with children. That being said, Abram was 75 years old when he left Harran where he had been settling (Genesis 12:4). He had zero children. So, if God was going to make this happen, it was going to need to be really soon!

Our Hebrews passage tells us about BOTH Abraham and Sarah, reminding us that unity is of utmost importance when a married couple is trying to walk in their faith. I’m sure there were times of bickering between them, but it was important that they both be on board with trusting God during their difficult circumstances. Going through hard times is tough enough on its own, but when there is disunity and dysfunction in the family structure, it virtually guarantees your faith won’t stand. Hebrews 11:11-12 tells us that Sarah’s faith enabled her to conceive a child long after she was past the age of childbearing, and that allowed Abraham to experience the fulfillment of the promise to become a great nation even though he was “as good as dead."

As it is with all of the heroes of our faith in Hebrews 11, the faith of this couple didn’t come without some major hiccups. To understand the journey they took, we need to be familiar with more of their story. About ten years after they obeyed God and left Harran, nothing had changed. Could you wait ten years for a promise from God to come to fruition? We read nothing about Abram complaining during that time, but in Genesis 15:1-8, God comes out of nowhere and appears to Abram to remind him that HE is Abram’s true reward. Abram had to be thinking, “Man, I was doing well with the whole unfulfilled promise thing until you had to go and remind me!” Abram then questions how the promise could come true since he has no children and his servant will get everything he owns, but that’s when God reminds him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. In other words, they will be too numerous to count.

At this point, Abram and Sarai do what many of us would do. They get tired of waiting and assume that God needs them to take action in order to accomplish the impossible. This would be a good time for us to be reminded that while God often wants us to take action steps in connection with our faith, he doesn’t NEED them. Also, he’ll never ask us to do something that contradicts his own Word. Sarai decided it was her barrenness that was preventing them from having a child, so she concocts a plan to have Abram sleep with her servant, Hagar (Genesis 16). Abram figures his wife is not only okay with him sleeping with someone else, but she requests it, so how can he say “no” to that deal? True leadership would’ve been to refuse to go against God’s command and to be patient even when his wife wasn’t. Their decision leads to Hagar becoming pregnant, and Abram is 86 years old when his son Ishmael is born. You can read the story for yourself to see the ripple effect of sin and the fact that God does not bless their sinful plan.

Then, another 13 years go by. Could you wait 24 years for a promise God gave you? Genesis 17 then records the conversation where God again reminds Abram of the promise and changes his name to “Abraham," which means “father of many nations." He challenges Abraham to “walk faithfully and be blameless” in order to receive God’s promise (vv. 1-2). He then requires Abraham and all the males in his home, as well as all future descendants of Abraham, to be circumcised as the sign of their end of the covenant. After he requires this, he finally, after 24 years, tells Abraham directly that his wife Sarah will become pregnant with the son who will be the heir of the promise “at this time next year” (v. 21). In case you had any doubts about Abraham’s faith, he then gets circumcised… at NINETY-NINE years old! I don’t even want to imagine it, but that’s what God said. If we want to receive the blessings of God, we must be willing to do what he says even if we don’t like it or it doesn’t make sense.

When Abraham hears the specific promise, he laughs, almost directly at God (Genesis 17:17). Sarah later does the same thing (Genesis 18:12). So God tells them their son’s name will be “Isaac," which means “he laughs." If we were in their shoes, we probably would’ve laughed too. What else can you do after the journey they’d been through? But the most important thing is that despite their frustrations, doubts, sins, and laughter, they chose to again be faithful. When Isaac was born with his dad 100 years old and his mom 90 years old, they gave him the name the Lord commanded. But this time, Sarah and Abraham thanked God for their laughter. Faith allowed them to go from laughing AT God to laughing WITH God (Genesis 21:6-7). They overcame their fears and human plans in the midst of waiting and received the promise they thought would never come. Friends, whatever you’re going through, don’t give up. God wants to bring you to a point where you can look back on it and LAUGH. Trust him to take you there.

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Fallen Leaders

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 20, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of the most tragic things that happens to Christian leaders is when they fall. Many of us have heard the stories of numerous Christians in almost any industry fall into sin. These are some of the prominent examples in my time. Ted Haggard, pastor of a mega-church in Colorado Springs, was caught in an extra-marital sexual relationship. Trey Pearson is a personal friend of Worldview Warriors’ leader Jason DeZurik, and last year Trey came out as an open homosexual. Before him, Ray Boltz had an extremely powerful ministry in music, before he announced that he was a homosexual. Sandi Patty was a major Christian artist until she had two affairs and got a divorce. And there is Kent Hovind, then a very popular creation speaker, who was arrested and spent nine years in prison for tax evasion (although many debate the legitimacy of those charges). Let me make this absolutely clear: I am NOT bashing these people, however when this topic is brought up, these are some of the names that may pop up. I want to address the proper way on how to respond when a Christian leader like these people fall.

First off, no one actually “falls” into sin. As Paul Washer puts it, “they slide” into sin. What we see is what happens when someone gets caught, but the issues had been there for much longer. These pastors and worship leaders who fell into sexual sin had struggled with it for some time. In the article linked, Ray Boltz said he knew about his issue since he was young. I know Kent Hovind had been open about his opinions about the government, education, and taxes and I do believe that was part of why the hammer fell on him. Should he have been quiet? I’m not going to say here. What I am going to say is no one suddenly “falls” to the temptations of sin. The draw towards sin had been there for some time.

There are two things we need to recognize in for such cases. First, the person who sins is still responsible for that sin. We as Christians are NOT to make any excuses for them. Even if we want to defend them and protect them and cover the sin, we must not make excuses for them. Second, the fact that they fell showed they did not have an Aaron nor a Hur who stood by Moses’ side and held his arms up during the battle with the Amalekites. There is a sad reality. Very few pastors report feeling like their churches are supporting them, particularly in prayer. In many churches, the pastor not only does all the work in the church, but they also do all the prayer work or feel like they are. Many congregations are not praying for their leaders as they ought and you can tell that simply by how quick people are to criticize them when something goes wrong. One of the reasons why Christian leaders fall is because they have big targets on their back and their followers are not covering their backs. They are not lifting up the leaders in prayer, nor are they holding the leaders accountable to their faith. So when a leader falls, it can be because of one or the other or both, or even others reasons not addressed.

There are typically two responses to the fall of a leader. First, we throw them under the bus. So and so failed to deliver, so not only are we going to reject them as a leader, but we are going to make sure everyone else knows what they did wrong. The world is good enough at looking for any possible flaw in our lives and they love to expose the smallest detail, even if all they can find are spelling and grammar issues. And sadly, many Christians join the world in taking a fallen leader and throwing them under the bus.

Second, we sweep the problem under the rug. This is the equal and opposite wrong response. Instead of proclaiming the sin to the whole world, we instead hide it as though it never happened and don’t actually deal with it. The Roman Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal broke into the light because this was going on. Instead of actually dealing with the problem of pedophile priests (who are NOT the majority nor represent the Roman Catholic Church as a whole) abusing their parishioners, they hid the sin and moved the priests to a different diocese. The problem when you sweep the problem under the rug is that God will expose it eventually. All sin is going to be exposed, but to what extent is dependent on how much you try to hide it.

So what is the proper response when a leader falls? It is absolutely critical NEVER to bring back a leader who has fallen into sin without a clear sign of repentance. David Wilkerson gives an account of a pastor he knew who fell in love with another woman and soon left his wife to be with her. It totally broke his wife, and his daughters, who started strong in the faith, turned against him. But not even six months later, the pastor had moved into another church and was leading Bible study there. The ex-wife asked how he could go on like that and the response was “I just fall upon the grace of God every day,” yet according to Wilkerson everything he touched resulted in death.

Before planting the church I currently attend, my pastor preached in a farming community and news broke out of a very famous preacher being caught in a sin and was making a public confession of his sin. As he sat at the coffee/breakfast bar of the community, listening to the confession, one of the farmers said: “That would mean a whole lot more had he said that before getting caught.” What was he saying? The farmer could tell this pastor was only making a superficial confession and truly was not repentant of that sin. My pastor said the same preacher was caught a second time a little later.

But that is not it. We must seek that the fallen leader be disciplined in the ways of the Lord, healed, and restored. I do not agree with the actions of these leaders in how they fell, however, I am not going to throw them under the bus, even if they are not repentant. But if they are not repentant, I am not going to support them in a leadership position either. I will pray that God does what needs to be done to break them of their sin and should they show genuine repentance, I will welcome them back. That is what Paul told the Corinthian church to do with a man having an affair. He told them initially to boot him out and not tolerate sin in their midst, but when he repented, he told them to welcome him back. Never, ever bring an unrepentant fallen leader back into a position of influence. If we do that, we run the risk of inviting an Absalom in our midst. Abaslom, after murdering Amnon for the rape of his sister, was invited back but was not repentant. He ended up stealing the hearts of Jerusalem and threw a coup to take the throne from David. It nearly succeeded. Never bring back a fallen leader unless there is clear, genuine repentance.

When Christian leaders fall, all of our comments and actions should be two-fold: discipline for the purpose of dealing with the sin and getting rid of it, and the purpose of eventual restoration should the discipline do its job. Love covers a multitude of sins, and there is no better place to confess your sins than in the presence of God in your personal prayer time, and to a truly loving, mature, tight small group who truly love you and seek the best for you. Last year, I got a chance to be in such a prayer circle and while the work that night did not finish the job I wanted done, it is something I definitely want to go through again because I can see the cleansing that comes with such a prayer posse. But choose such a circle very wisely.

Let us lift up our leaders and pray for their protection. Do not wish harm on them if they offend you. The leader’s job is tough and it is very lonely. Support them. That does not mean hide their flaws, but it also means don’t broadcast them. There is time to expose and time to cover. Your leaders need your help. Raise their hands and rise up in prayer to protect them from the enemy’s attacks. If your leaders cannot depend upon you to cover their backs, do not be surprised when no one covers yours. Treat your leaders as you would like to be treated as a leader, even when you fall.

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God's Provision: From Ohio to Houston, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 19, 2017 0 comments

by Steve Risner

This is a continuation of the story of how my wife and I responded to the call to provide aid to Houston, Texas after hurricane Harvey ravaged the area. You can pick up part one here. I'll pick up where I left off…

Chase over at Findlay Warehousing had a contact that donated an entire pallet full of pancake mix, a pallet of Jiffy peanut butter, and a pallet of Smucker's grape jelly. We also received a floor buffer from the Tiffin Mall. We collected, with the generosity of the community and the grace of God, over 100 gallons of bleach, hundreds of pairs of work gloves, thousands of pairs of rubber gloves, 500-600 cases of water, a pallet of Gatorade, near 100 gallons of laundry detergent, several pallets full of food, and much more.

The truck was set to leave Wednesday morning. After Rob, the driver, got all the clearance and weighed, he had 78,000 lbs of stuff on his trailer—and there were 4 pallets of stuff left over! So Michelle and I had our original plan come back around to us—we would fill a pickup truck and trailer. I had a hard time finding a trailer I could borrow, so a generous local business owner, Jeff, paid the cost of renting a trailer from U-Haul. Michelle and I picked up a trailer, got loaded at Findlay Warehousing, and set sail on Thursday afternoon after a morning at work. We got by with closing our office for only a day and half. My estimation was that the semi would be in Houston in the early afternoon on Friday. However, I received a call from our driver, Rob, at about 5pm. “I'm about 2 hours from Houston and wondered where you were,” he said. I just sorta laughed and said, “I'm in Indiana—about 16 or more hours away.” He told me that was fine. He needed to take his 10 hour break. He'd get up early and get on the road to beat the rush hour traffic of the 4th largest city in the country. Because of this, however, it made me feel like we couldn't stop driving. Aside from restroom breaks and gas, we didn't really stop at all until we made it to the Worship Center the next morning at about 9:30am, after 21-22 hours.

When we arrived, we saw the truck was about 1/3 of the way unloaded and the guys working on it were having a tough time. The truck was loaded at a warehouse, so getting a fork lift in and out was easy. But plans to have the truck unloaded at another warehouse fell through. We had a fork lift, but all the pallets needed to be brought to the back of the trailer so they could be unloaded. Pallet jacks made this much easier, but the building materials refused to cooperate. The drywall, placed in the middle of the trailer, wasn't set high enough off of the floor of the trailer for a pallet jack to be used. This meant each pair of drywall sheets needed to be lifted overhead and set gently down on the pallet jack. That was hard work in the Houston heat and even more so in the metal box we were working in! Once the drywall was out, the remainder of the pallets came out easily enough until we reached the front of the trailer where we found two large bundles of 2x4's—588 in total. These too were not set high enough for the jack to be of use, so we had to use our heads. That didn't go well! We broke open the top bundle and drug the 294 boards to the fork lift and restacked them. The bottom bundle was a little better. I asked if we had any ratchet straps. The idea was to latch on to the bundle and use the fork lift to pull it to the back of the trailer. It took about the same amount of time as dragging the boards to the open doors of the trailer, but no one had to touch the boards, so I called it a win.

The church staff and those helping out seemed very appreciative for the generosity of those who contributed to this effort. Pastor Kellen, our contact at the Worship Center, told us there were 67 families they were planning to help who had contacted them seeking aid. These families had a partial to total loss of everything they owned and most were without insurance. It was stressed that a great number of these families suffered a total loss. While we were unloading the truck, in just the 4 hours we were at the church working, two more families stopped by to ask for assistance. A week later, as I was in communication with Pastor Kellen, he informed me that after the families they had originally committed to helping came through and got what they needed, they opened up the supplies to a much broader base. Over 500 families were able to come through and be blessed by the efforts of the Church. It broke our hearts to not be able to dedicate the time to helping these families at their homes with clean up and rebuilding. We were just not able to stay long enough to get involved that way. My brother-in-law's mission focused more on service while ours focused on delivering needed supplies.

After leaving Houston on Saturday morning around 11am, Michelle and I headed towards home. On the trip down, we went from Ohio to Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and finally into Arkansas before getting into Texas. For the trip home, we decided to travel along the gulf more to see the aftermath of Harvey. We traveled through Beaumont, TX, which was ravaged by this record setting storm as well. The trip from Houston to Beaumont was about 90 min. The entire way there we could see neighborhood after neighborhood gutted and ripped apart. One pile of the contents of these homes stretched for nearly 200 yards, in my estimation, and stood at least as tall as a man. Looking down streets as we drove by, we could see both sides of the street piled high from end to end with the internal contents of so many homes. I'm sure many of these homes will never be lived in again. And to think that many of these families are without insurance to cover the damages is heart breaking. We noticed a farm that had a fence with straw snagged on it all along it for nearly half a mile. This straw line was about 2 ½ feet off the ground! As we approached the end of the fence, we found a large, amorphous heap of round straw bales jumbled together. These bales are often well over 500 lbs each and they were tossed into this mess by the rushing flood waters. I can't imagine witnessing that.

This is why we were called. This is what the church is supposed to be doing—helping. I read an article published shortly before our trip that stated that 80% of the aid going to Texas and to Florida was from the Church and that FEMA was lagging behind terribly. If you supported us in any way during this trip, you were part of that statistic! Thank you so much for the help and for supporting us in this endeavor. It was truly a privilege to be a part of this and we count ourselves blessed to serve.

The Church is called to be a light in a dark place; the world is a dark place. After a terrible event such as these hurricanes or tornadoes or other tragic events either natural or unnatural, we need to mobilize. I've seen lately that many people, especially on social media, revel in complaining. They live for it. They post article after article (many of which are editorial pieces masquerading as news or are unsubstantiated news articles) and make grievances. I find, in my experience, that such people have no interest in helping fix the problems they are so excited to voice their opinions on. I believe they are rarely actually interested or concerned with the problems they're referencing, but just want to complain, nothing more. We're not called to complain. We're called to help. Complaints don't fix devastated areas; actions do. Rather than registering your complaint online, why not pick up a hammer, send an envelope with a check inside, or drive to the area and get your hands dirty? Be the change rather than just being an irritant. If you simply cannot do any these things, you are all capable of prayer. Whether we get involved or not, we should be in prayer over these matters. I believe prayer got the semi-truck Findlay Warehousing donated filled over capacity, that it got my wife and I safely to Houston and back without any real issues, and that it'll bring peace to a these devastated areas.

I’m looking forward to what God has for us in the future. I feel a door may have just opened. Pray for us, friends, as we consider the future and what God may call us and you to do.

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Human Plight and God’s Solution: Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, October 18, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

The dead condition of humanity resulted from following its own evil inclinations in response to the spiritual ruler of the fallen world. God owes humanity nothing except the judgment and destruction which they have earned. Yet, God remains profoundly merciful, providing the gift of salvation and a new destiny for those who follow Christ.

Because of the Fall, humanity was plunged into death as Paul says, “By the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man” (Romans 5:17). According to Pauline theology, Adam is the representative head of humanity, and his sin caused an inescapable addiction to sin. Adam’s sin predisposed the entire human race to reject the reign of God and accept the reign of sin. Each person decides to be an authority for themselves. Paul describes this morbid state as the normal condition under which the entire human race suffers.

There are three observations that come to mind concerning this ongoing death in which humanity continually suffers. First, this dead condition is universal. When Paul says, “All of us also lived among them” (Ephesians 2:3), he leaves nobody out of the equation.

The second observation is that all humanity is complicit in this deadness; it does not fight against the deadness of it all, but rather has gotten used to it. The phrase, “and we were children of wrath by nature, as also the rest of them were” (Ephesians 2:3) seems to insinuate that the descendants of Adam may not be the prime originators of this fallen condition in the sense that Adam was, but neither are they completely passive—or acted upon—by the transmission of Adam’s death.

It is not as though aside from Adam’s sin, we would all be innocent. Rather, the murky corruption in which everyone is born conveys death to each one. And each person is also complicit in this corruption and willfully accepts and relishes in the morbidity it conveys. Humanity delights in their dead, rebellious condition; they thrive in death. Adam may have plunged the human race into sin, but humanity stayed there willingly.

It is alienation and separation from God. It is a wretched condition caused by our own sins. This creates a cycle of death, because sin increases an appetite for more sin; death unto death. But even if mankind chose the reign of sin and death rather than the reign of God, his addiction to sin is no excuse. Each person is accountable to God for their rebellious heart. All this creates a deadness to God and a deadness to life.

Everyone “lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). Adam followed this ruler when he was enticed by Satan; his children still follow this ruler as they live in Adam’s death. Also like Adam, they chose to live out their lives in the cravings of their flesh, “indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind” (Ephesians 2:3). Hence, each person has lived in a manner controlled by the world, the flesh, and the devil. They have chosen to be ruled by the devil himself, rather than God.

The third observation is that this death is total. It is idiotic to ask how fatal this death is. There are no degrees of fatality. Humanity is utterly hopeless in ever reversing this death brought about by its own transgressions and sins. No one can raise himself from the dead. Everyone lives to gratify the cravings of this fallen nature. The only impulse that dead humanity possesses is the impulse to follow the ruler of this age into further gratification of the sin nature.

Not only is humanity taken captive by the ruler of the spirit of the air, but even if humanity could free itself from the chains of sin, it would not exercise that freedom. It has earned its judgment, ratified its intention to live independently from God’s ways, committed itself to vile tastes, and receives its sustenance and energy from the ruler of this present age, the evil one.

Humanity is a corpse ball looking for fresh enticements. Long dead lay the world, enticed to dark appetites by the ruler of this present age. Each person has lived to establish his or her own sense of what was right, instead of the standard of right and wrong being God’s unchanging holiness. Therefore, the world chose anarchy and alienation from God. It chose the serpent over the Savior.

The cycle of sin and death imprisoned every person; no one could escape. Somehow, someone from the outside had to break in and bring deliverance. Jesus Christ did that.

Though God owed nothing but judgment and damnation to those rebels, He Himself opened a way of salvation so that they might have opportunity to escape. He did this by virtue of Christ’s merit applied to those who received His gracious gift. He did it in order to blot out the traces of rebellion and shame. This act of God was based solely on God’s own mercy and Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, since it could not be earned by anyone.

God made believers alive in Christ. He gave them a completely new identity, gave them victory over the ruler of the spirit of the air, and gave them a new status all to showcase His great kindness and grace.

None of these things were earned by the recipients of grace, so that none of them could boast of any merit of their own. God offers each of us this gift of salvation. Make sure to catch part 2 next week.

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What Does the Bible Say About Hell?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 16, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Last week, we discussed what the Bible says about heaven, and we briefly touched on the idea of hell. Today, we’re looking a bit more into hell and what the Bible says about it.

One of the primary texts we have regarding hell is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Lazarus goes to heaven and is by Abraham’s side, but the rich man goes to hell and is in constant suffering there. What is hell like for him? Well, a drop of water to cool his tongue sounds to him like the most amazing thing he could ever have. I’ve gotten pretty thirsty at times, but that sounds pretty severe! He is also tormented by the fact that his family members will likely suffer the same fate as him, but there’s nothing he can do about it. Finally, the icing on the cake so to speak is that we know he can see heaven. That would be like being so close to that refreshing water in a time of extreme thirst, and even seeing someone else being refreshed by the water, and knowing you can never have it.

So why was hell created? We don’t see it listed in the original Creation account of Genesis 1-2, but that’s because it wasn’t really needed then. God created everything to be perfect (Genesis 1:31), so there was no need for a place for evil to dwell. Hell was prepared as a place for the devil (the first fallen angel) and his angels to dwell (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4). Hell is the place for those who have done evil, so they can face their condemnation there (John 5:28-29; Revelation 21:8; Matthew 25:46; Matthew 13:50; Psalm 9:17).

The devil is not necessarily in charge of hell, but he has been banished to live there forever (Revelation 20:10). Hell is eternal fire (Mark 9:43) and will destroy both body and soul (Matthew 10:28). We know that God cannot be and is not present there (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Those who dwell in hell are living in a place that is completely without God; we can only imagine the horror that that would be, since God does dwell and work in our world, even if we don’t acknowledge Him.

How do we get to hell? Well, it’s the opposite of how we get to heaven. We get to heaven by believing in Jesus as our savior, so we get to hell by NOT believing that. Unfortunately the way to heaven is much narrower than the way to hell. Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Hell is a real place. What are you doing in your life to make sure you’re going through the narrow gate to heaven, and escaping the eternal torment of hell?

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The Faith of Abraham - Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 15, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Like many people, I’ve had seasons of my life when, now that I look back on them, I can see that I was settling. One such time was after I graduated college. I had grown up in Pennsylvania and knew that God was calling me to go to seminary and eventually be a pastor, but that meant moving to a faraway land known as Findlay, Ohio, for a minimum of three years. That was going to be very uncomfortable. I’d have to move away from my family, lose a lot of friendships, and go where I had no network of support and little money. I had been preaching for many years and there was no doubt about my specific calling, but for the first time in my life I would have to seriously walk by faith and trust God. Needless to say, I decided against it.

Many of you who know my story are thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought he did go to seminary and live in Ohio." It’s true that I did, but I’m here to tell you now that I delayed my move quite a bit. And let me just tell you, when God calls you to something and you have no doubt about it whatsoever, never delay! I searched for comfort in relationships with women, in a good-paying job, in friends, in my social life, and in setting up ways to make sure all MY needs were met. But the more I resisted what God was urging me to do, the more I felt uneasy and unsatisfied. It wasn’t until a friend and leader in the church called me out on my sin of settling and told me I would continue to lack purpose and passion until I obeyed God that I finally decided to do so. Had I not gone to Ohio, I probably wouldn’t be a pastor, wouldn’t have met my wife, and wouldn’t even know what Worldview Warriors is, let alone be writing for them!

A man who we know as Abraham, who was originally named “Abram,” was prone to settling at one point in his life. Yet, he learned to obey God and walk faithfully. We will spend the next three weeks talking about this man, as there is much to learn and apply to our own lives. Hebrews 11 has more to say about him than anyone else. Our foundational verse of Hebrews 11:3 certainly applies to him. Abram was given a promise without many specific details, yet he knew that a God who formed the entire universe out of what is not seen could handle the details. That first step is basically where I got hung up before I followed the call. I was worried about all my needs and so many details that God had already figured out since before the world was created! If you’ve experienced such a time in your life, you can learn from Abraham’s faith.

Hebrews 11:8-9 tells us that Abraham “obeyed and went” when God called him to a place where he would receive what was promised “even though he did not know where he was going." We also see that he had to live as a stranger in a foreign land and basically camp in tents. He didn’t even have a house for crying out loud! Talk about trusting God for your needs! To make sure we’re all brought up to speed, you can learn about the promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1-7. First, he is told to leave his home, his native land, his friends, and even his father’s household, but he is not provided with the destination. He is simply told that God will show him a land. God probably knew that Abram wouldn’t go just based on that alone and would just chalk it up to bad wine or a weird dream. So, God adds the incentive by promising to make Abram into a great nation and to bless all peoples through him. Let’s face it, we’re all promised things from time to time. The promise alone is irrelevant unless we believe we can trust the “promise-r” to fulfill it. Abram had to leave all of those comforts and trust God even though God wouldn’t even tell him where he was going. God wasn’t forcing him. He could have rejected the call and then went about his business. But he probably would’ve found, like I and maybe you did, that settling for less than the best God has for you only brings discontentment. Maybe he already knew it.

I find it interesting that we read this story and always tend to focus on the fact that Abram was not given a destination. We think God is being a little unreasonable with this call and we wonder how we could ever respond the way Abram did. But what if I told you that it’s not always about where you’re going? Sometimes, it’s about WHAT you’re leaving behind. Look again at what God says to Abram in Genesis 12:1. God does nothing by coincidence, so you better believe that he wanted to remind Abram of what he needed to leave rather than put his focus on where he was going to end up. Many biblical scholars believe that Abram’s father and his native people were big into idolatry. While we don’t know that for certain, I always think about the fact that we read about the faith of Abram but not of his father. In fact, that’s true about most of the heroes of our faith. But I have a free piece of advice for you: if you are currently operating in an environment that encourages participation in anything that you know is not acceptable in God’s eyes and it is bringing you down rather than bringing you up, I can promise you that God is “calling” you to leave that environment. He wants you to RUN, not walk, away from sin.

Not doing what God commands is sin. And Abram’s father showed him how to sin in this manner. Acts 7:2-3 tells us that the call to head to the land of Canaan came to Abram while he was still in Mesopotamia. Abram’s family lived specifically in the land of Ur in that area, and Genesis 11:31 tells us that his father, Terah, took the family and set out from there to go to the land of Canaan. This was the actual Promised Land that God would give Abram and where Israel is still located to this day. But that same verse shows us that they came to Harran and “settled” there. When Abram followed God in Genesis 12:4, he set out from - guess where - Harran! That means it was only after they had settled for less than God’s best that Abram chose to follow God as he should’ve in the first place.

The name “Terah” means “delay." Friends, you may have learned to settle and even been encouraged to settle by your parents or those around you. But God wants so much more for you. He has promises for you. Abram’s name, which meant “exalted father,” was changed to Abraham, which means “father of many,” only after he began to trust God for his basic needs and also that what God promised would all come true. We’ll dig into this more next week, but keep in mind that we cannot get what we want in this world by trying to “exalt” ourselves and make sure WE are taken care of. 1 Peter 5:6 tells us that only AFTER we humble ourselves before God will he “lift (us) up in due time." Abram learned the idols of SELF and SETTLING from his father, but received the promise and the praise from God after he humbly obeyed and trusted him. In whatever area you know you are currently settling because you are worried about meeting your own needs, I urge you to trust the God who made everything you see from that which you cannot see. He will not fail you and he never breaks his promises!

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Why Do I Trust the Bible?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 14, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

This may be a very short blog post for me, but it represents decades of experience, research, study, and certainty formed from uncertainty.

My trust in the Bible starts first and foremost with the fact that nothing else I have ever read, studied, researched, or examined has ever passed examination. Nothing, not Eastern Mysticism, not Islam, not Hare Krishna, not Mormonism, not Jehovah's Witness, not Nihilism, not Gnosticism, not secular humanism, nor atheist philosophy, nothing has passed scrutiny beyond the most basic of tenets. Rational, philosophical, historical, archeological, scientific, and experiential proof is cohesive and astounding within the Bible, from the most basic of historical references to the most dramatic miraculous fulfillment of prophecy.

My trust is deepened by the fact that scientific method, social justice, racial and gender equality, freedom (from the most basic to the most misused), and law and order all begin with the roots of morality established in Judeo-Christianity. Then you add in those who grew up in cultures directly averse to the Bible, or those who have tried to prove the Bible wrong, who end up coming to faith in Jesus Christ. These are people like Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, and the list goes on.

My trust is galvanized by experiences where I have encountered God and heard his voice. It is ratified by events that can only be explained by the presence of unseen spiritual beings (angels, demons, the Holy Spirit). It is verified by speaking or praying that resulted in miraculous emotional and physical healing. And it is multiplied by the lives of people who have been recreated from who they thought they were into who God always intended them to be.

When I read the Bible, the Word of God, I realize again and again that He is reading me. God's Word reaches into the depths of my brokenness and rebellion toward desires and destruction and calls me to freedom and life. I cannot disprove it, I cannot deny it, I cannot rewrite it, I cannot forget it, I cannot abandon it, I cannot stand against it, I cannot get around it, I cannot get past it, I cannot go beyond it, I cannot fake it, and I cannot escape it - BECAUSE "[His Word] is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Why do I trust the Bible? Because I have tried everything and everyone else, and His Word is the ONLY one that never fails. 

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The Parable of the Sower

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 13, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The Parable of the Sower is likely Jesus’ most famous parable, in part because it is one of only two he actually explained in detail about what it means. It is also the one Jesus said would be the key to understand all the other parables. If you can grasp the Parable of the Sower, you will understand what all the others are about: true and false conversion.

I first heard that remark from a preacher in a Q/A session and that thought has been stuck in my mind: most, if not all, of the parables deal with true and false conversion. I began going through in my head all the parables I could think of and I have had a hard time thinking of any of Jesus’ parables that fail to illustrate the difference of what a true and false believer will be like. The Parable of the Sower is the key, according to Jesus, to recognize this.

I am not going to review the parable itself here, however if you are not familiar with it, please examine both it and the explanation Jesus gives. There are four types of soil: path, rocks, weeds, and good. Three of these failed to produce fruit, and only the last made it. When I have heard most people preach on this parable, they will typically suggest the path is non-believers, the rocks and the weeds are failed believers, and the good soil are the solid believers. I must disagree with this understanding. I have come to understand that all four of these soils are those who claim to be followers of Christ, but only one is a true one.

The path is a type of ground that is hard and compact. Seeds placed onto the path will not easily grow because they will not get buried into the ground. It is too hard. And because it is hard, the seed is exposed and the birds can come and take it away. Jesus described this soil as the kind of person who hears the word but the enemy comes and takes it away before it can take root.

Every one of us have dealt with hardness of the heart internally. How do I know? How often do we hear a great sermon on Sunday morning and get home and have no clue what it was about? I have a collection of 80 sermons and counting on my flash drive I listen to in the car. I choose sermons that are worth re-hearing, are dealing with issues I am working on, and are good reminders for me. However, I’ll hear a great comment in the sermon and by the time I get home, I lose track of what it was. Those birds are hungry, looking for any chance to take away a good word that can affect our lives. How much more do we hear a legitimate word from God and before the day ends we lose what it was, let alone attempt to take action on it? That is when we have an area that has become a hard, compact, trodden path.

Rocky soil is the kind where the seed initially takes root because there is some good soil, but a lot of hard material for the roots to cut through. The roots are shallow and do not have a firm grip. Because of the lack of grip and lack of access to the ground water, when the hot sun comes up, it does not have the strength to endure. Jesus likens this to people that are eager to jump into the fray, however because they have not been established, they fail.

Eric Ludy has a sermon called “Five Smooth Stones” in which he spends almost half the sermon talking about growing trees. It is about leadership and developing missionaries, and his main point is that in early years, trees are extra vulnerable to pests and diseases. The tree needs to get established and firmly rooted before facing the storms.

The enemy wants to get after us before we get established because he fears what we could be if we continue to be obedient to the Lord. So the moment we start to show growth, he’s going to come after us. Many people who are rocky soil are fickle. They tend to jump ship quickly at the first sign of trouble and then try to find another safe place. They are unwilling to go through the storm because of fear of failure among other things. Those who jump churches the moment something doesn’t go their way fit in this category. Now some do need to leave the churches they are in, but when they church hop each time they are offended, they need deeper roots. Rocky people like this also tend to be gullible because they are so quick to change direction each time the winds and waves of society shift.

Weedy soil is the type of soil where people serve two or more masters. You have competition for the nutrients of the soil. Weeds tend to grow en masse without any care, whereas good crops take heavy hours of maintenance to keep growing. These are the people that want one foot in with Christ and another foot still in the world. We are to be in the world but not of it. That does not mean we cannot watch a football game, play a video game, or watch TV and movies, however, which tends to dominate your thought life? Could it be possible that these entertainment venues is taking your energy and your thoughts away from God?

Crops CAN grow in weedy soil, however their fruit will be weak, the vine will be sickly, there will not be as much fruit, and the soil will be weaker for the next set of crops. There are a number of weeds that look at LOT like good crops, and that is what the Parable of the Wheat and Tares is about. The tares are false converts that suck away nutrients from the wheat and keep the wheat from being able to produce. When the tares leave, the wheat feel much better and freer to grow and develop.

Good soil is the real deal. It is well plowed and broken up before the Lord. Seeds are able to bury themselves into the dirt, die, and rise as a fruit-bearing plant. Rocks are broken up and the tap root is able to hit the ground water. The roots go deep, and while a tornado could bend the tree over, it will not uproot it because it has a firm grip. It is clear of weeds, and the sin and worldly things that entangle us are removed. This soil is able to bear good, rich, numerous fruit.

God wants to make us into good soil. Each of us start as path, rocky, or weedy soil but as a good gardener, he knows how to clear it, plow it, and prepare the soil. Let us be good soil, so God’s word can grow, take deep root, and have such a grip on our lives that no matter what storms come it will not let go.

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.