What Does the Bible Say About Self-Control?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 30, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Self-control is one of those things that’s a lot easier said than done. We know what we should do (or not do), but we can’t always control ourselves (thanks to sin in the world). So, what does the Bible say about self-control or self-discipline?

The first place I think of is the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” These fruit are not character qualities that we possess of our own power, but they are evident in our lives when the power of the Holy Spirit is living in us.

We know that self-control comes from God living in us. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” Paul’s letter to Titus shares that self-control is a quality that leaders in the church must have: “Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined” (Titus 1:7-8).

James 1:19-21 shows what a self-controlled life looks like: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Paul also writes about this idea of a self-controlled life in Colossians 1:28-29: “He [Jesus] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”

Self-control means being able to deny the sinful desires of our flesh in order to follow God’s desires for us.In Luke 9:23 Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Titus 2:11-12 echoes this: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Romans 8:13 similarly says, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

Paul explains self-control from the perspective of an athlete in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

The introduction to the book of Proverbs explains how the whole book teaches us to live a life of right living and self-control: “The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair” (Proverbs 1:1-3). Proverbs 16:32 says, “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Proverbs 25:28 tells us that self-control is important to protect ourselves: “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”

How are you doing with self-control in your own life? Call on the power of the Holy Spirit living in you to help you make good, self-controlled decisions in your life.

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Creator of Heaven and Earth

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, July 29, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

There is a well-known story called the “Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant." If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the basics of the story here. The parable is often used to promote diversity and acceptance of multiple religions. The gist of the story is that a wealthy king in India invites six blind men to his palace and brings out a large elephant. He has the blind men put their hand on part of the elephant and try to guess what it is that they are touching. Since each blind man has his hand on a different part of the elephant’s body, each one believes the object is something different. For example, one man touches the smooth side of the animal and believes it is a wall, another touches the trunk and believes it’s a snake, and another touches the elephant’s leg and believes it is a tree trunk. Afterwards, the blind men argue with one another and each insists that his perception is correct while everyone else is wrong. Eventually, the king reveals that the object is actually a giant elephant and the blind men come to the conclusion that each of them only knows his own part and would have to see the entire thing, like the king, to be able to know what it truly is. When this parable is applied to religion, we’re all supposed to recognize that each religion of the world only has a small part of the truth and must rely on other religions to get a more comprehensive picture of truth.

A missionary to India, Lesslie Newbigin, who later became an author and wrote books that I had to read for seminary, recognized the huge problem with this application of the parable. He pointed out that the only way someone can make the claim that each of those blind men only knew a small part of the animal is if they are in the position of the king and able to see the whole picture. When it comes to religions, it’s an arrogant statement to say that each one has a part of the truth but they all need each other to understand the “whole” truth. It may sound tolerant, but none of us on this earth are in the position of the King, our Lord God Almighty, who created all, sees all, and knows all truth!

Last week, we talked about what it means that God is the Father Almighty. This week, we move to the second core root of our faith from the Apostles Creed, which tells us that he is the “Creator of heaven and earth." Since my goal in this series is to take us from the “roots” in which we believe to the “fruits” shown in our lives, I’m not going to focus on debates regarding creation. I’ll leave those subjects up to the other Worldview Warriors blog writers who are much more passionate about them than myself. If you are someone who doesn’t even believe that God did create the heaven and the earth, then you’d have to question whether you follow Jesus. But for those who don’t question the creation story, I want to talk about how it should impact our daily lives.

In Romans 1:18-32, the Apostle Paul is warning the Christians in Rome about God’s wrath against the wickedness of mankind. He tells them, and us, that God’s wrath is being revealed because people are continuing to suppress the truth with their wickedness. And just in case people want to say they have no idea that what they’re doing is wrong, Paul says that is nonsense. He says that all we have to do is look at the invisible qualities of God that have been on display since the creation of the world and we will be able to understand that human beings really have no excuse for their godlessness (v. 20). But then he starts getting into the specific ways that we have ignored his power and nature. In verses 21-23, the people became foolish and chose “images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles” over the glory of God. This is certainly a form of idolatry. Another form is the sexual impurity Paul mentions in verses 24-25. Anytime we lust after the body of another human being, we are worshiping and serving created things rather than the Creator.

Paul then gets specific about the sin of homosexuality in verses 26-27. We can try to find ways to treat this sin as if it’s different from the others, but it’s not. If what I’m saying bothers you, your problem is not with me, but with God’s Word. This isn’t just Logan’s opinion. Paul refers to such acts as “shameful” and “unnatural." It’s important to note that simply having the feeling for a person of the same sex is not the sin, but choosing to indulge the feeling is wicked in the eyes of the God who created everything we see and a whole lot more. Then, in verses 28-32, Paul gives us a laundry list of sins just to make sure we are all covered in this passage. If you’ve ever gossiped, slandered someone, envied another, boasted, or disobeyed your parents, Paul is talking about YOU. He sums it all up by reminding us that the problem isn’t that we used to do these things, but that the perpetrators have learned about God and know his standard of righteousness and the due penalty of our sins which is death, yet continue to spit back in his face by practicing them anyway and applauding others who do them.

All of the acts of wickedness that Paul describes in this chapter are all the more astonishing to him because we have knowledge that we were CREATED by God, someone who is way beyond our ability to even comprehend and someone who has the power to destroy us immediately. Implied throughout Paul’s writing here is that only a fool would keep up with these acts knowing they are offensive to the Creator of heaven and earth. Every now and then, I ought to walk outside and look at the beautiful sky, the red hot sun, or the powerful storms and think, “I certainly don’t want to irritate the one who made all of that!”

We might say that we believe that God created all of this, but do we live like it matters? Do we assume grace will always be given to us no matter how we live? Do we assume we’ll have all the time in the world to figure things out or start living God’s way? James, the half-brother of Jesus, tells us that these assumptions are arrogant, boastful, and evil. He reminds us that we are “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). This isn’t a popular thought nowadays as we all remind ourselves just how much value and worth we have in this world. And it’s true that God created each of us in his image and that means we have great worth, but James still reminds us that in the big picture of God’s plan, we all play a very small fraction of a part and then we’re gone. He then concludes that portion of his letter by saying, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:17).

If we truly believe that God created heaven and earth, and that everything and everyone in it belong to him as Psalm 24:1 indicates, then our lives must show fruit that comes as a result of that belief. We must know our place and begin to view each day and each hour as truly a gift from above. We must take every opportunity to show love to those all around us because tomorrow we might not be around to get another chance. And we certainly must share our stories and the good news of Jesus with those who are desperate to hear it. Make no mistake: God absolutely loves you. But he also created you, and much more than you. Therefore, YOU should not be all you’re living for. I pray this word challenges you as it does me and motivates you to repentance.

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.


Contradictions in the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 27, 2018 2 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

A favorite argument from Bible skeptics is to cite the thousands of contradictions in the Bible. Someone even went as far to create a graph showing each and every contradiction in the Bible. Hmmm. Are they on to something? This book has had enemies for at least 2000 years, seeking to destroy it and discredit it, and now in the 20th/ 21st century, we just discovered these thousands of contradictions? Did anyone else in the past 2000 years cite them, or is it just the “new critics” of “higher education” today?

My first reaction to this argument is, “Give me an example.” Most skeptics will not be able to give one on the spot. They have to Google it. Like with the Telephone Game and Overzealous Monk arguments, this one too is passed around without actual study on the topic. However, there are two sides to the claims. First, the one making the claim that there are contradictions in the Bible must demonstrate that such a statement actually is a contradiction. Second, Christians claim the Bible is without contradictions so they need to be ready to back up said claim. All it takes is one counter-example and the secularists claim thousands.

To deal with this claim or many like it, NEVER let things remain in muddy waters. If they want to claim contradictions, make them get specific and make them prove it is a contradiction. For example, how could God tell Moses that no man can see the face of God and live while Jacob wrestled with him and lived? Or how come Matthew records one angel at the tomb and Luke records two angels? There are ways to resolve these. Josh McDowell gives this valuable advice.

"In evaluating any ancient manuscript, objective scholars apply a principle that any alleged contradictions in the work must be demonstrated to be impossible to reconcile, not merely difficult to reconcile… [Robert M. Horn] concludes: 'Difficulties do not constitute objections. Unsolved problems are not of necessity errors. This is not to minimize the area of difficulty; it is to see it in perspective. Difficulties are to be grappled with and problems are to drive us to seek clearer light; but until such a time as we have total and final light on any issue, we are in no position to affirm, "Here is a proven error or an unquestionable objection.”’”
~Josh McDowell, God-Breathed, pages 148-149

What the skeptics call “contradictions” are not actually contradictions but rather difficulties. Difficulties are when passages may seem to conflict and require a little more than a mere straight-forward reading of the text alone. Bobby Maddox is a good friend of mine and is a business lawyer by trade. He has spoken several times at conferences about how he analyzes documents for his career, and the same principles should be applied to the Bible as they would to any text. These are guidelines which most people employ just in general reading skills naturally. He has compiled them from a variety of sources, namely The Rehnquist Court’s Canons of Statutory Construction for definitions. This is his outline.

  1. Plain Meaning - Follow the plain meaning of the text except when the text suggests an absurd result or a scrivener’s error.
  2. Ordinary Usage - Follow ordinary usage or normal dictionary definitions of terms unless provided a specific definition in the text.
  3. Original Meaning - The text should be interpreted as meaning what it meant at the time it was written.
  4. Context - Examine genre, grammar and syntax, surrounding sentences and paragraphs to derive meaning (whether literal or figurative) of a word, phrase or sentence.
  5. Four Corners - Absent ambiguity, the meaning of the text must be discerned from the four corners of the document, without relying upon other resources or witnesses.
  6. Internal Consistency and Harmony - Avoid interpreting a provision in a way that creates an inconsistency or conflict with another provision.
  7. Rule Against Surplusage - Give effect, if possible, to every clause and word of a document, and avoid an interpretation that would render other provisions superfluous or unnecessary.
  8. Specific Modifies General - Interpret a general term in light of the more specific terms.
  9. Parol Evidence - When a text is truly ambiguous, parol or other extrinsic evidence can be used only to clarify, not to vary or contradict, the meaning of the text as written.
  10. Occam’s Razor - Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest unverifiable assumptions should be selected.

A difficulty must be analyzed through something like these guidelines and still not reconciled before it can be claimed to be a contradiction. Using Rule #4 alone refutes the vast majority of the supposed contradictions in the Bible. It will take you a short time to find out that the skeptic has not actually read the Bible nor studied it, but are simply quoting the individual passages that appear to be contradictory. That being said, when we analyze books like the Koran or the Book of Mormon, we must be studied and use the same standard we use to justify the Bible. These other “holy” books will not pass the SAME standard.

So what about these two examples I mentioned earlier? In looking at God telling Moses no man may see the face of God and live and Jacob wrestling with God and living to tell the tale, two things must be considered. Rule #8 is a clue that specific events, like Jacob’s wrestling with God, can supersede or overrule a general statement. But also, it was the Father speaking to Moses. When Jacob wrestled with God, the man is believed by many to be Jesus Christ before his Virgin Birth. So, these are two different persons of the Trinity. It seems like a contradiction at first glance, but it actually is not.

The other one is a rather funny one because a detail missing is geography. The one angel in Matthew is at the entrance sitting on the stone door of the tomb. Luke’s angels are in the tomb at the head and foot rest. Answer: there were three angels total. Just because they do not give a complete record of the event, that does not mean the records are contradictory. Rule #4 refuted that claim.

Another interesting detail about the nature of the contradictions is that the bulk of them are completely irrelevant to the account or the message. So one angel or two at the grave site? Does it matter? How does that refute the Resurrection claim? It doesn’t. That being said, don’t dismiss the claims with a hand wave, but I mention this to show how desperate the Bible’s enemies are in trying to find ANYTHING to argue against it. If irrelevant details are the best they can come up with, it shows they really have nothing to stand on anyway. Once you refute a few of the contradiction claims, the skeptic is likely to run and hide or dismiss you as trying to save face despite the “evidence.” They claim a mountain of evidence against the Bible and that mountain is at best the size of a dirt clod and crushed just as easily.

If you want more help in dealing with Bible contradictions, Josh and Sean McDowell wrote a book The Bible Handbook of Difficult Verses and they deal with MANY of the supposed conflicting passages of Scripture. I do not entirely agree with each of their assessments, but they are good overall. Charlie Campbell is a not as well-known of an apologist but his website “Always Be Ready” also has a section on how to deal with Bible contradictions.

The Bible has no true contradictions. As I mentioned in the beginning, the Bible has had enemies its entire time of existence. If there were such contradictions as they claim, the skeptics from 2000 years ago would have been quick to point them out. They didn’t and they had access to the texts. The website I linked at the get go is a joke to any quality Biblical scholarship, yet the scoffers will take anything to try to hold on to their false teachings. This is another claim that bites the dust. It is a claim of smoke and mirrors and it takes little effort to show the “Emperor still has no clothes.” Next week, I’ll address the different versions and translations and which one to use.

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.


Towards an Evangelical Social Ethic

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, July 25, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

Recently a friend of mine who is influential in Christian higher education told me that he did not want to talk anymore about homosexuality because it only distracted from the conversation about racism. He said it as a way to stifle further inquiry into his opinions, but I was left wondering why we couldn’t consider more than one social stance at the same time. Is there a hierarchy of ethical concerns?

Christians have been thinking about social ethics for a long time, and many of the conclusions are compelling. Evangelicals have been sleeping a dispensational slumber, and consequently we are weak in social ethics. Leftist “Christians” have been dominating the conversation while we slept and are now reluctant to allow Evangelicals a voice.

For the better half of the 20th century, with notable exceptions, Evangelicals were not very involved in politics and seemed to be largely uninvolved in worldly affairs. They expected Jesus to return any moment but certainly by 1988, one generation after the nation of Israel was reinstituted.

Dispensationalism was holding its drunken sway over Evangelical theology and it would take time and tears to disimbibe. When Evangelicals finally did wake up to the fact that we have to be involved in the affairs of the world because Jesus commanded us to “let our shine before humankind” (Matthew 5:15-16), they didn’t know where to start. Truly, Evangelicals are still a bit groggy and the leftists are not happy that so many conservatives have entered politics.

It is naive to believe that we can pick one social project at a time. Social thought bounces everywhere all the time and Christians must have a comprehensive answer to all these questions. We simply don’t have the luxury of asking cultural problems to form a tidy, single-file line. Current cultural thought is a mob situation and we have to shout louder than everyone else to be heard.

With that in mind, constant reader, I have compiled a hierarchical list of Christian social ethics drawn from several sources which I submit for your consideration. Over the next several weeks I will write on each with more detail.

1. Imago Dei, the Image of God. “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness… So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). Also consider Genesis 9:6: “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” The image of God is the essential identity of human beings. We are persons with souls, embodied souls. The Imago Dei has profound implications for social issues. Slavery is wrong, for instance, because all humans are made in the image of God equally and therefore have inalienable value and rights. Abortion is wrong because a human being, no matter in what stage of development, is a person and therefore no one, including the mother, father, or government, has the right to kill that person.

2. Family. The next main institution is the family and it must be protected above all the other institutions. It is not the only institution needing protection, but it is one of the most vulnerable. The social implications are that the Bible teaches us how to live our lives; fatherhood, motherhood, gender, marriage, child-raising, sexuality, etc. all spring from Biblical teaching and a commitment to family.

3. Virtue in the Public Square. Public life must be informed by Christianity. By removing religion from the public square, there is no longer anything transcendent to prevent politics from becoming a god unto itself. Not only does it destroy religious expression, but it also destroys politics because nothing higher than political power is allowed to exist. All that remains is an oligarchy of nihilists.

4. Theology of Work. The Bible gives us the essential elements of economics. Also, God gives Himself as our example of productive work. He is working productively, therefore, so must human beings.

5. Care for the Poor. Care for the poor comes after the theology of work because our ability and responsibility comes from sharing the results our productive labor. Everyone has a responsibility to work, but where that is impossible the Bible gives instructions on how to care for the poor.

6. Solidarity. In Christ there are no racial distinctions and God has called us to racial solidarity. We must identify with our brothers and sisters in Christ no matter their genetic traits. We stand with Christians everywhere. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Christian love is to be an example to the entire world on how race relations should work.

7. Creation Care. Christians do not worship the earth, but we don’t own it either. Part of our essential obligation to God is to tend the earth and use it responsibly. The earth is not more important than human beings, but it is our essential environment. At the base of God’s commands to all humans is to act responsibly toward creation. Our bodies are from the earth and rely on the earth.

Here then is a short introduction toward a comprehensive Christian social ethic. Most of us won’t have a problem with the list, perhaps the order, but it is how we approach each item that causes much of the fighting. Let us attempt a rational and loving discussion of each item.

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 Sin and Evil?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 23, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Wouldn’t it be great if there were no sin and no evil in this world? That’s the way God created it (Genesis 1:31), but He also created humans with free will, and the first humans used that free will to disobey God (Genesis 3), thus bringing sin and evil into the world. Because of original sin, the disobedience of those first humans has been passed on to everyone who has been born since then. While we are on this earth, we’ll have to deal with sin and evil. So, what else does the Bible say about sin and evil?

Google defines sin as “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.” So, sin is anytime we disobey God, based on the rules He has given us in the Bible. Evil is defined by Google as “profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force.” Evil is basically the manifestation of sin.

I already discussed how sin came into the world, but what is the consequence of that regarding our relationship with God? Isaiah 59:2 spells it out: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” God is holy, so He cannot be in the presence of sin, so when we disobey Him and sin, we’re separated from God.

We know that everyone falls short and sins against God (Romans 3:23). If we say we don’t sin, we’re liars (1 John 1:8-10). There is no one who never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

In case you don’t know what sin is, the Bible provides some helpful lists, such as the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Jesus gives us a list of sins in Mark 7:20-23: “He went on: ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.’” Another list of sins is in Galatians 5:19-21: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

John gives us an explanation of those who are of God versus those who are of the devil in 1 John 3:6-10: “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

This explanation from John may be confusing, however, because even when we are children of God, we do continue to mess up and disobey Him. But when we have been born of God, our desire is to sin no longer; this is in contrast to those who are not born of God, who don’t really care if they sin or not. So it’s really all about our intentions. Hebrews 10:26 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” We need to try our best for our sin to not be deliberate or intentional, once we know that we are in fact sinning.

The apostle Paul struggled with this as well in Romans 7:15-20: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” We all go through this same struggle of knowing what is right and not being able to do it.

You may be wondering why a loving God would allow sin and evil to enter His perfect creation. God allows humans to have the choice to love Him or not, rather than just blindly loving Him without having another option. That way our love for Him is genuine. The theological word for the problem of why a loving God allows evil is “theodicy,” and you can read more about that here and here.

We know that the punishment for sinning is death (Romans 6:23), but the second half of that verse is the remedy for sin - that God gives us eternal life through Jesus. 1 Peter 2:24 reminds us of this: “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”

Paul discusses more about how Jesus’ sacrifice saves us from our sins in Romans 5:12-21, and I encourage you to read more about that passage here. Verses 18-19 are the key point: “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” All sin entered the world through Adam (and Eve), and we all have the opportunity to be saved from that sin through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Do you have that faith? Please contact us at Worldview Warriors if you’d like to discuss that more, and we’d love to help guide you to that saving faith, so you too can have a restored relationship and eternal life with God.

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.


We Believe in God the Father Almighty

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, July 22, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Now that my previous series on the heroes of our faith is behind us, I feel it’s necessary for us to take a closer look at our faith. I’m not talking about “faith” as defined by the dictionary or Hebrews 11:1. When I refer to OUR faith, I’m talking about Christianity as a whole. It’s not about individual denominations or faith traditions but the overall belief system that ought to dictate our every move. I say “ought to," but we know the reality is that many who call themselves “Christians” either don’t know or don’t care that their actions aren’t matching up with their stated beliefs. So, I think it’s time to go back to the roots of our Christian faith.

Obviously, we all know that the true root of our faith is Christ Jesus himself. Throughout this series, we will look at the Bible’s recordings of the words of Jesus and others. But to look at something that may be a little more direct and applicable to our lives and what we say we believe, I’m going to use the Apostles’ Creed as the base for this series. If you’re interested in going back to see where it originated, you can read about that here. Since some of you memorized the Creed when you were a child and since it is widely accepted in the Christian faith, I’m going to use my posts to discuss how each individual line in the Creed can be more than just a core root of our faith. Jesus tells us in John 15:1-8 that our purpose is to bring the Father glory by “bearing much fruit," and that we are “cut off” if we do not bear fruit. I once preached a sermon series called “From Roots to Fruits," and that will be the focus of this series as well. What we truly believe is shown not just by what we say, but also by what we DO. So, each root that we have must lead to fruit in our lives. We must consider how we might go from simply saying “I believe” something to living those words out in our lives.

The word “creed” comes from the Greek credo which means “I believe." When we say those words, we are saying that we have those faith roots. But how do others know those roots exist? It’s only by seeing the fruit! Think about the roots that are around your home that you may not see. However, you know they are there because you see the trees, the bushes, and the grass. Jesus directly tells us in Matthew 7:21 that not everyone who calls him “Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who actually do the Father’s will. It sounds to me like we ought to take this responsibility to live out what we say we believe pretty seriously, since our eternity depends on it. We don’t like to hear about there being conditions to our salvation because we’re told it’s a free gift and that’s true. But I heard an analogy once and I can’t remember the source, but it’s worth sharing. Suppose someone offers to send you $100 if you first send them a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Simply believing you’ll receive the money won’t put it in your hand. Choosing to rebel against the rule and intentionally not sending the envelope will cause you to miss out. But if you comply with what was required and you send the envelope, you’ll receive the money. Did you earn it? No. It’s still a free gift and you merely met the conditions required to receive it. God’s love for you is unconditional and always will be, but salvation is not.

So let me talk about how we can live out our belief in God the Father Almighty. When you pray, how do you usually start it? You may not have thought much about it, but I think many of us address God as Father. It’s normal for us, but had we done that in the Old Testament or even the first few centuries in the Jewish culture and religion of Judaism, we’d be considered blasphemers. You won’t find a single reference in the Old Testament that I’m aware of where a human being addressed God as “Father." And that’s because they considered it blasphemous to even utter his name. God’s name in Hebrew is translated as YHWH, which becomes Yahweh when vowels are added. Yet, when Jews come across that name in their Hebrew Old Testament, they simply say “Adonai" (meaning Lord or Master). This allows them to hold God’s name with reverence and avoid speaking it blasphemously. They held the name of God in such a high regard that we can’t even fathom in our culture today.

So, where did we get the idea of God being our “Father”? Jesus told us the only way to the Father was through him, but even before that he taught us to begin our prayers by saying, “Our Father who art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). The Jews considered Jesus a blasphemer, but he came to show us that we could have an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. Look at Romans 8:14-16 to see what that means for our lives. If he is our Father, then we are his adopted children. We’re no longer slaves to sin and fear, but we cry out to him as we need him the same way a child cries out for their daddy. We don’t have to fear saying his name. Because of Jesus, we can have a close relationship with God our Father. And the relationship between a father and his child is unique. I’ve spoken to several mothers recently who probably do 75% of the work in caring for their children, if not more. Yet, when their children were finally able to speak, who did they call on first? You guess it - DADA!

The last part of this root is that we believe God is “almighty." You may think this is an easy one, but I learned something new as I dug into this phrase. The word comes from Genesis 17:1 when God appears to Abram to talk about his covenant promise and says, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless." Now, I always saw God the way I saw my earthly father - a very mighty and powerful being who could take me out anytime he wanted! But as I did the research, I found that “God Almighty” is the Hebrew El-Shaddai. El is the shortened version of Elohim which is the name for the trinitarian God, but Shaddai comes from a place I never knew. It actually originates from another Hebrew word that means “breast," which implies that Shaddai signifies the One who nourished, supplies, and satisfies. While I always associated might with my dad and I’m sure many of you did too, which parent would be the one who most often “nourishes, supplies, or satisfies” a child? The answer is obvious.

We can’t make this stuff up. When we as Christians say that we believe in God the Father Almighty, we are saying, to put it much more simply and applicable to daily life, that he is both the dad AND mom that we so desperately need. He is mighty when that is what he knows we need, but can also be nourishing when we’re struggling to find strength. This is why God is beyond gender, beyond human comprehension, and beyond our human parents. Even if you had good parents like me, they still lacked something. They weren’t perfect. They didn’t give you EVERY single thing you needed, because they couldn’t. But this revelation about God the Father Almighty impacts our daily lives when we understand that living this core belief means we are living as children of the One who can satisfy ALL our needs. Through Christ’s sacrifice, you are able to enter into that relationship of intimacy and you no longer need to chase after other people, things, or ideas to try to fill the voids in your life. When you know you’re struggling and know you desperately need something, you go running to your Father Almighty like a child who needs their parents and you let God fill you up. Walk in this relationship today and let it be more than just a statement of belief for you.

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The Overzealous Monks

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 20, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

A common argument against the reliability and accurate transmission of the Bible is the Overzealous Monk argument. The argument is this: The Bible’s original manuscripts never actually had such consistency. It was edited to make it look consistent after the fact by the “latter community.” The best answer to this argument I have heard is from Voddie Baucham.

To summarize, Baucham points out one major issue with this argument: a manuscript problem. Last week, I wrote about how we have 66,000 copies of manuscripts or portions of manuscripts of the Bible. Baucham only references 6000, and he is pulling from old data and specifically talking about the New Testament. These manuscripts are written in three languages (Greek, Syriac, and Coptic), and the copies he was referencing span over 300 years. So these overzealous monks would have to go steal the manuscripts, change 6000 of them the same way, lie the same way in each language, don’t show inkwork in doing so, and get them back where they stole them from without getting caught. Then do the same thing with all the commentaries by church leaders, which quoted the New Testament so often we can reproduce all but 11 verses with these commentaries alone. Call up The Sting, Oceans Eleven, or James Bond; get your best heist people and see if they can pull that off.

In the movie Paul: Apostle of Christ, we see a plausible scenario for how the book of Acts came about. A very interesting thing they do at the very end of the movie is produce 100 copies of Acts to send out. Luke wrote his book, and the local body immediate made 100 copies of it so the church community throughout the Roman Empire could be encouraged. Was this exact fact? We don’t know. But I can say the movie was plausible. It is not like the books were written during the lifetime of the eye-witnesses and then they stayed stagnant for 300 years until Athanasius gave the first formal listing of the “Canon” in 367 AD. That’s not how it went down.

Peter recognized Paul’s letters as having the same weight and authority as the rest of established Scripture, so it is clear that the church knew these were not ordinary books but special books. In looking into the timing of when the churches got the letters, to the number of manuscripts and the languages they were translated into, this is a plausible scenario of how they came about. When the initial recipients got the books or letters we now know as the New Testament, they would have shared it around the local church community, but they would have made copies of these letters then and there and began sending the copies out, while the initial audience kept the originals. It happened very quickly.

Now some manuscripts were either retired, lost, or even discarded by unfriendly sources. Many of them were written on papyrus reeds, which have a very short lifespan. Some of these manuscripts were old and either illegible or tossed aside and were used in paper mache masks, found in Egypt. The reason Josh McDowell’s claim of 25,000 manuscripts in 1999 in The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict jumped to 66,000 manuscripts in 2016 is in part because we have found many manuscripts in these burial masks.

The translations went from Hebrew and Aramaic in the Old Testament and Greek in the New Testament into Syriac and Coptic first. Not long afterwards as Greek was dying as the common language in the Roman Empire, Jerome translated from the manuscripts he had available into the Latin Vulgate. It was translated into other languages too as time passed and Christians spread out to preach the Gospel. What’s more is that even though some numerical copying errors have been found, (such as Ahaziah’s age of 42 when he began to reign as recorded in 2 Chronicles, which is impossible, when he was actually 22 as recorded in 2 Kings), the translators refused to make the correction because they were doing everything they could to keep with what the copies of manuscripts they had said. So they KEPT the errors in there for the sake of accurate translation.

These facts make this overzealous monk idea utterly ridiculous. Last week I wrote about the copying process, which not just kills the telephone game argument, but it also kills this one too. The copying process was so meticulous this idea would have only been attempted by an individual or small group, and even then, they would not be able to get much done on it because guess what? All those 66,000 manuscripts agree within 95% or more of exact precision, and that 5% are mere variants which have nothing to do with the actual content.

I still would like to know who did this. No one who promotes this argument has ever given a face, a group name, or even a time frame in which this was done. Apparently it was the “latter community.” Where? When? How? I know exactly why there is no face: because the argument is simply made up. It never happened. The men and women who wrote, copied, and defended these books of the Bible, especially during the Roman Empire and during the days of the Roman Catholic Church’s Inquisitions gave their lives for these books. They died and refused to recant what the Scriptures taught, even under the penalty of death. If the Bible had been edited to “make it seem to fit,” why would anyone do this and why did no one who caved to the tortures give names to give credence to these stories? It does not make sense.

Here is another interesting aspect. The Bible has numerous details that APPEAR to contradict at first. Secularists love to point out the “thousands” of contradictions in the Bible, yet each one can be explained, which only makes the passages difficult, not a contradiction. If the Bible was edited to fit nicely by overzealous monks, wouldn’t these difficult passages be edited to sound better? Why did they leave that stuff behind? I will deal with how to deal with contradictions next week.

The Telephone Game and the Overzealous Monks arguments are frequently cited but never investigated by those who cite them. They merely repeat what they have heard from other skeptics and never actually do their homework on the topics. While the information about manuscripts, copying, and such is valuable, the arguments simply do not hold any water simply by analyzing what is required for it to happen. These skeptics want you to think they are smart, but they really are not. When your knowledge base is not rooted in the Word of God, no matter what level of education you have, it is foolishness. Stick with the Bible. It has withstood any challenge thrown at it and no matter what the skeptics say today, they will pass and the Bible will remain.

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The History of Nations

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 19, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

As we continue our look at the Table of Nations, the Tower of Babel, and where people groups come from today, I wanted to touch on how this list of people is connected to the people groups of the world. There are some extra-biblical resources we can draw from here. As I stated in my last blog post, there are a great number of people and people groups listed in Genesis 10-11 and some of them we have no knowledge of other than what the Bible tells us. However, that was true for many more people groups in the not too distant past. There have been several groups unknown to us save the Bible's reference to them until finds in the area where they allegedly lived reveals that, once again, we see the Bible is accurate. Let's take a look at a few of these people groups, though there are just too many for us to investigate all of them fully.

One amazing resource to view on this topic is the ancient historian Josephus. He was a Jewish man charged with writing a history of the Jewish people for his Roman captors. What's amazing is how he beautifully connects many of the people groups mentioned in Genesis 10-11 with people groups that lived around him at the time of his writings. What an excellent resource and an excellent confirmation of Biblical history.

Josephus frequently relates the land area the people settled in, who their founder was (which generally corresponded to the name of the people), and their Greek name if it was different. For example, the Canaanites were descendants of Canaan, Israelites were descendants of Israel, Elamites were descendants of Elam, Cushites were descendants of Cush, etc. He references Japheth and his sons as well. Japheth’s son Gomer founded the Gomerites, and Josephus says they are now called by the Greeks the Galls. These, if you recall, are who Paul wrote to in his letter called Galatians. Japheth's son Magog founded the Magogites, who were known by the Greeks as “Sythians.” Japheth's son Madai was the founder of the Medes. The Medes are known for their part in the Medo-Persian Empire and are now commonly referred to as Iranians. Javan, another of Japheth's sons, was the founder of the Greeks and later the Britons. I'll discuss the history of that and a larger area in more detail further down in this writing. Thiras was the founder of the “Thracians” who are now represented in Scandinavia. Egyptian writings from as early as 1300 BC reference these people, calling them the Tarusha. The Greek historian Herodotus also mentions them. He wrote about 425 BC. From the name Thiras, the Norse people took the name “Thor” and worshiped him as a god. I'll touch more on that later as well.

Now Gomer's son Ashkenaz was the founder of the Ashkenazians. These are now known as the Germans. It stands to reason, possibly, that the Angles and the Saxons (commonly known together as the Anglo-Saxons) migrated to Britain and became part of the people from today's Great Britain along with Javan's descendants. England's name comes from the Angles. A son of Javan, Tarshish, founded the Tarshians and the city we know Paul was from—Tarsus. There are many more examples of Japheth's descendants, but, again, I cannot go into great detail with them all. I would like to look further at Britain.

The history of Britain and her ancestors is, to me, very interesting stuff. There are very large amounts of historical documentation supporting the fact that the people of this area—a variety of rival groups who frequently hated each other—independently trace their lineage back to Japheth and/or Noah. These documents predate the Christianization of these people groups. Let's look more closely at this.

There are six different Anglo-Saxon people groups that trace their lineage back to Woden (aka Oden), and we know from very old records that Woden traced his lineage back to Japheth and Noah. The name Japheth in the local languages was Sceaf or Seskef. There are Icelandic, Danish, and Norwegian records going back to Japheth as well, corroborating each other. These genealogies do not perfectly reflect each other. Some include names others do not and so on. However, there are striking similarities and the names that are similar can not only be matched with the Biblical record, but they are in the same order from one people's list to another. These lists all include the infamous Brutus for whom the Island of Britain and its people were named. To me, again, this is all very fascinating. The fact that genealogies extend back to a man named Japheth or Noah in societies that have, seemingly, no connection to the Judeo-Christian faith is striking!

Some argue these genealogies are forgeries. To that, a sort of silly accusation really, I say, “By whom?” What would be the point of all of these diverse people groups, who were frequently rivals or even hated each other, claiming to all trace their heritage back to the same people? And the fact that there are slight differences, to me, helps confirm they were not forged. The fact that some lists end with Japheth (or his local language equivalent) rather than Noah also tells me it wasn't out of some zeal to make the Bible look true by local Christianized people. In fact, as I've stated, these lists predate the Christianization of this area. Many of the people in these lists were noted for their barbarism and their adherence to pagan rituals. Iceland was founded by Vikings. I don't believe anyone would argue that the Vikings, Norwegian or Danish, were Christians, especially at the time of Iceland's colonization. There's really no merit, that I can discover, to such an accusation—that of these lineages being doctored to appear to demonstrate Biblical truth. Are there other people groups that find their heritage going back to Japheth? Yes!

The Miautso Chinese people, who do not consider themselves to be “true” Chinese, are an intriguing find. They once covered much of inland China, but, over time, according to their traditions, were pushed further and further out and into the mountains of the southwest. When Christian missionaries arrived to share the Gospel with them, they were surprised to find a very similar historical account in the Miautso oral traditions to the creation and Flood accounts found in the Bible, including a story about the Tower of Babel. You can find a translation of this oral history here.

The similarities between their traditions and the historical accounts found in God's Word are amazing. They trace their ancestry to a man named “Dirt.” The first man, Adam, has a name that sounds very much like the Hebrew word for “earth” or “ground.” Sounds a lot like dirt, right? “Dirt's” son was Se-teh. In the Bible, Adam's son was Seth. See the similarities? Further down the lineage, we see a man named Lama. This resembles the name of Lamech. Lamech's son, according to the Bible, was Noah. The Miautso name Lama's son as Nuah. This, to me, is remarkable. And Nuah's sons were Lo Shen, Lo Han, and Lo Jah-phu. These names are remarkably similar to Shem, Ham and Japheth. Lo Jah-phu had a son named Go-men which is the Biblical Gomer. They detail how Lo Han's (Ham's) sons were Cusah (Cush in the Bible) and Mesay (Mizraim in the Bible). They also have in their tradition that Lo Shen's (Shem's) sons were Elan (Elam in the Bible) and Nga-shur (Asshur in the Bible who was the founder of the Assyrians). The Miautso go on to say that several of these families that were present in China became the Miautso while a minority intermingled with the invading Chinese. You can read up on the Miautso Chinese here and here or do some of your own digging. The second link there is to a small portion of Bill Cooper's “After the Flood” which I highly recommend. You can read the book in its entirety online here.

There is a great deal more to say on this topic but obviously I can't get into all the details in a short blog post. I recommend reading this paper on Japheth and Britain. You can also check out this link for the lineage to the Swedes.

The evidence here really solidly supports the historical accounts found in Scripture. There are no rebuttals I have found that seem to have any merit at all, and they generally show nothing more than desperation to reject the Biblical account. If these genealogies are correct and they represent the foundations of all the people groups in the world, then this makes the global Flood of Noah's day true history. It also means God hates sin and desires more from us. It also means the lineages found in Scripture can easily trace for us a timeline back to, at the very least, Noah but really just as easily to Adam who was created on day six of the creation week—also necessarily true if the Table of Nations is accurate. God's Word will always prove worthy of the respect and honor it's due.

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What Does the Bible Say About Fools?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, July 18, 2018 0 comments

by Jason DeZurik

This topic is actually a pretty difficult one because so many people today want to point their fingers at others claiming them to be fools. I am hoping today’s post can be one where each individual reader takes the time to do some personal reflection on this word and what the Bible has to say about it. Piggy backing on Katie Erickson’s “What Does the Bible Say About...” series, I’d like to dig into what the Bible says about fools.

It can be quite a touchy subject because this word is such a trigger to most; who really likes being called a fool? I know I don’t. So, what I would ask you, the reader, to do with today’s post is to reflect on your own self. Please don’t just think to yourself, “Oh, I know who fits this very well and they need to realize it and change it.” I encourage you to see how in and through your own actions how you might fit this description, and then pray about it asking the Lord God to reveal to you about how you can change your own mindset and actions. In doing so, keep yourself disciplined and accountable to the Lord and His good and right ways.

So what does the Bible say about fools? We see in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” How are you doing with this? Are you being willing to listen to God’s Word and really be a learner, or do you think you’ve figured it all out?

Next up we see in Proverbs 1:22, “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?” Are you a mocker, always questioning everything even when you know something is right and true? How are you doing with growing in knowledge?

Proverbs 1:32 tells us, “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.” What comes to my mind is a person’s passion and desire to do what is right no matter what. How is your heart in wanting to do what is right? Are you willing to strive to be the best in all you do, or have you become complacent in doing good in this world?

I would like to share three more Proverbs with you. Proverbs 13:20 states, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” What comes to my mind is the text in 1 Corinthians 15:33 which states, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” It is really true. You end up becoming like those you hang out with. I encourage you to seek out good friends and good influences in your life and hang out with them as much as you can.

Allow the following text to “simmer” a bit in your mind and spirit. Pray on it. Proverbs 14:8: “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.”

What I appreciate so much about this next verse is how it points out the importance of being a person of grace to others, remembering that God forgives sins and so should we. Proverbs 14:9 says, “Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.”

There are so many more verses in the Bible about fools, and I encourage you to dig into them, research them, and be open to the leading of the Holy Spirt in not being a fool.

Lastly, I will leave you with Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

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What Does the Bible Say About Parenting?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 16, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

This is an interesting post for me to write since I’m not a parent, well at least not of humans anyway - our household does have 5 indoor cats, 4 pet frogs, 2 bearded dragons, and 1 betta fish. This is not a topic I’ve looked into much considering I don’t have a personal need for it in my life, but here’s what I’ve found on what the Bible says about parenting.

The most often-quoted verse I’ve heard on this topic is Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs also talks about disciplining children, as in Proverbs 23:13, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.” Proverbs 29:17 echoes this sentiment: “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.”

Hebrews 12:5-11 further tells us about discipline for children. Verses 9-10 say, “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” God disciplines us as His children, so we have His example to follow as earthly parents disciplining our children. For some additional insight on disciplining children, check out Jason DeZurik’s recent blog post here.

In Ephesians 6:1-4, we see instructions to both children and parents: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” There are similar instructions in Colossians 3:20-21: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

But, some of the most important parenting commands in the Bible come from the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” It’s very important for parents to teach God’s Word to their children, and to tell their children what God has done in your life so they can see Him working in their own lives.

Joshua 4:20-24 says, “And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.’” This passage shows us the importance of handing down the stories of what God has done to future generations, that they may know God’s faithfulness.

God is our Father, so while we humans won’t be able to perfectly imitate Him, look to His example given to us in the Bible for how to treat your children with Godly love, to help them grow in their understanding and relationship of their heavenly Father.

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The Faith of the Church

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, July 15, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

As our nation recently celebrated our 242nd year of independence, I found myself thinking about how many people must have dreamt about it and pursued it only to never fully experience it. We in America certainly take it for granted because we’ve all been born into freedom and have never known what it’s like to be oppressed by a nation or a government. But that’s not how it was for the original patriots who risked and in many cases gave their lives for this cause. That being said, we still have a role and a responsibility today to continue that cause for two reasons: 1) so that those who come after us will continue to enjoy the freedoms we have enjoyed, and 2) so that the sacrifices and efforts of those who went before us would not be wasted. In other words, it’s up to US to carry the torch of freedom and keep it burning.

When you think about it, this has been true about any noble cause that has ever existed. Other than Jesus dying for the sins of the whole world on the cross, God never intended for one person to do it all. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t begin the Civil Rights Movement (Rosa Parks and others came before him) and he certainly was assassinated before he got to experience the fullness of the freedom and desegregation that he dreamt of. Others had to keep the torch burning. Robert Gould Shaw (portrayed by Matthew Broderick in the movie Glory) was a white man who fought and died in the Civil War for the cause of freedom for slaves. His torch would’ve burned out if others didn’t keep it going. It’s true about ministry as well. I have a friend who is leaving in September to go to Ecuador for a year to help develop pastors and churches there who are ministering to the natives. The organization he’ll be working for put out a publication that states the work of evangelism in Ecuador began with Jim Elliot and the men who were with him in 1956. They were all martyred, but the seeds they planted were watered by others and now missionaries and native Christians are beginning to reap the harvest there.

It reminds me of the words of the writer at the end of Hebrews 11. As I have taken you through this chapter, faithful hero by faithful hero in a series that started over ten months ago, I pray that these examples of faith have ignited a fire within you to carry on their torch. That’s what the writer of Hebrews also desired. In Hebrews 11:39-40, he reminds us, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." The idea of being made perfect is actually that they are made “complete." In other words, all these heroes of the faith that we’ve talked about over the past ten months had a faith that was not yet made complete. Now, that’s not to say THEIR faith was incomplete. They followed God with boldness and total dependence on him. But the faith to which they devoted themselves was based on something God had promised but had not yet come to fruition. In that sense, the universal, Christian faith was not made complete until Jesus came, lived, died on the cross, and was raised to life again.

What does this mean for you, me, and all believers and followers of Jesus? The writer tells us as the next chapter begins. In Hebrews 12:1, we see the word “therefore," which directly refers back to every single mention of a hero of the faith, as well as the very last words from chapter 11. The writer tells us that we have some advantages that these faithful heroes didn’t have. The Church (capitalized to signify all Christians past, present, and future) ought to consider what each and every one of these faithful heroes did and how they stood firm in the incomplete faith that had not yet seen the arrival of the Messiah. Hebrews 12:1 calls them “witnesses," which is actually from the Greek marturos and is where we get the English term “martyr." You see, a martyr isn’t just someone who loses their life; it’s what all Christians are called to be to the extent that God asks of us. I might have to give up my life or I might only be asked to give up my desire for popularity and approval of those who would have me compromise the truth to obtain those things. Either way, every follower of Jesus must decide whether they will stand firm in their faith or be on shaky ground in something else.

The writer of Hebrews then tells the Church that, since we are surrounded by these witnesses and their stories - an advantage many of the faithful didn’t have as they stood out among the unfaithful - we have reason to get rid of the things in our lives that hinder us from faith and avoid the sins that ensnare us (v. 1). He says we ought to persevere in the “race marked out for us” even when it’s difficult. The way to do that is what the writer explains is another advantage that we have - we can “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). None of the ancient heroes of our faith described in Hebrews 11 could fix their eyes on Jesus because he had not yet come! They knew of him only in the sense that they believed in the promise, but it was still something they could only imagine. To our knowledge, the name “Jesus” was not revealed to any of them. So, when the writer mentions our Savior by his human name, only those who have come after him can find strength from his endurance.

We are reminded in verses 2-3 of what exactly our Savior endured. The cross was not just physically painful but also publicly shaming. Yet, Jesus “scorned its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." The author of Hebrews tells us that when we are struggling, we should consider not only all of those other faithful heroes, but the most faithful of them all - Jesus of Nazareth. If we consider all that he went through and endured, as well as his great reward of sitting at the right hand of God (the highest position of honor there is), we “will not grow weary and lose heart” (v. 3).

The heroes of the faith in the past chose to stand firm even though they had yet to see what was promised. If they could endure so much without seeing the promise come true, how much more reason do we have to continue to keep the torch of faith burning, knowing that God has been faithful in keeping his promises? If you are part of the Church, you have this responsibility for the next generation. I don’t know what God will ask you to endure, but I know that you have examples right in front of your eyes of those who have endured and have overcome even more. By the same faith that was central to the lives of so many before you, you can reason that God is bigger than your problems, that he has a plan, and that following him even when circumstances seem to be against you is more logical than rejecting him and his commands. As I said at the beginning of the series, faith in God is not blind. Follow the evidence, which includes all these faithful stories before you, and make your choice to stand firm in that faith. May God bless and reward you as you do!

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The Telephone Game

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 13, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

There are many scholarly critics, especially in the universities who love to impress upon new freshmen that the Bible has long been antiquated and completely untrustworthy. They have three favorite arguments which I have heard numerous times, yet all fall flat. I will address one today and the other two in the next two weeks. The professors who speak of these have not studied the issues themselves and a simple examination of how the Bible got here easily refutes such notions.

The first argument is like the “telephone game.” The argument states that the Bible was copied and copied and copied and translated and translated and translated so many times that we actually do not know what the original text said. In the telephone game, you get people in a line or a circle, one person gets a word or phrase and passes it on to the next person who gets the message and passes it on as well. Eventually by the end of the line or circle, the last person’s message seems to have little to no resemblance to the original word or phrase. Therefore, the argument states that the Bible cannot be trusted because we don’t have the same message it started with. The skeptics also tend to speak of oral traditions in the same way.

To this notion I laugh, because it is not a well-researched claim. First let’s dig into the nature of the telephone game analogy. In the telephone game, there are two details about the game which fail to apply to both oral traditions and to the Bible. First, we are not in an oral tradition society where our brains are trained to retain things we hear orally. In societies where their stories are passed down orally, they have excellent memories on the topic, rehearsing them over and over again until they are memorized. Also, what needs to be memorized is often put into a mnemonic structure, usually with rhymes or song, to help with the memorization.

The other detail is that in the telephone game, you can’t ask what the phrase was a second time. There is no way to validate what you heard. If you were trying to pass on information and all you had was an oral passing, would it not be wise to hear the message twice, repeat it, and make sure you got it right? The telephone game does not allow for this. But the Bible was not merely passed on orally. It was written. So anyone who heard Scripture could go to the text and validate what they heard. That is what the Bereans did with Paul and Silas and Luke praised them for it.

But now let’s get to the meat of the claim: the copying and translation aspect. The telephone game fails to account for this as well. The primary claim here is that the Bible went from one manuscript to another manuscript to another manuscript to another manuscript (again, without verification) and due to copying errors, the current manuscripts have no relation to what was originally written. That’s the argument. However, the only Bibles I know of which would remotely make this claim are the paraphrases such as The Message (I personally consider them commentaries, not versions). Each of the versions (KJV, NKJV, NIV, ESV, etc.) go back to the manuscripts in the original languages to get the most accurate translation in the modern language we can get. I will address the versions debate in three weeks.

The copying process itself was very intricate and detailed; it was not a casual process. Josh McDowell does a great job at describing this process in his books The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict and God-Breathed. I am just going to highlight a few of the points. The parchment, pen, and ink each had to come from specific sources and be prepared in certain manners. They could not use just whatever they wanted. Each sheet for the scroll was cut to exact sizes and then lined and columned. Each letter had to be written with a specific spacing and size range, and each line had to contain a certain number of letters. Each line and column would be numbered so if a mistake was made, the scribes could pinpoint precisely which letter was off by this system alone.

The name of God was treated with such reverence that the scribe would stop on the word before saying the Lord’s name, go cleanse himself, and prepare a new pen and ink well. He would write the word prior to the Lord’s name so the ink would not blot, and then write the name of God. If a single error was made on this name, the entire page of the scroll had to be burned and start over. Then to top it off, before a copy of the Scriptures was considered a valid copy, the manuscript had be carefully inspected letter by letter, a process which often took about three years. No other ancient book, written by hand, on perishable material, went through this kind of process.

Now, have errors been introduced into the copying process? Yes. They are called variants. But there is more to this claim than that. What kind of errors are they? Spelling and grammar, number disagreements, pronoun use (exchanging “The Lord” for “He”), and the like. Not a single variation found had anything to do with the actual content of what was being said. Look at this quote regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls.

"Once the Dead Sea Scrolls were translated and compared with modern versions of the Hebrew Bible, the text proved to be identical, word for word, in more than 95% of the cases. (The 5 percent deviation consists of mainly spelling variations. For example, of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, only 17 letters are in question. Of those, ten are a matter of spelling, and four are stylistic differences; the remaining three letters comprise the word light, which was added to Isaiah 53:11.)"
~Josh McDowell, God-Breathed, pg 154-155

“But there are thousands upon thousands of these variations.” Are there? Each error is counted with each manuscript we find. We have thousands of manuscripts. Two years ago at a conference I attended in El Paso, TX, Josh McDowell cited that there were up to 66,000 manuscripts or portions of manuscripts of the Bible, some of which date to within 50 years of the events written. In many cases, multiple copies have the same error. So we aren’t talking about hundreds of thousands of errors, but very few. No other ancient text can compare. The Iliad, Sophocles, Herodotus, Julius Caesar’s Gaelic Wars, and others all have single digit copies to hundreds, and the absolute best less than 2000 copies, many of which date multiple centuries after the originals were written. Those are accepted without question. So why are they skeptical about the Bible, when if they applied the same criteria to any other ancient history which they accept, that history would be unreliable? The answer is simple: they don’t WANT to believe the Bible, so they search for whatever excuse that allows them to sound smart in their unbelief. It works on impressionable freshmen, but to anyone who has done their homework, it is silliness at best.

The Bible did not go through the telephone game to get to us. Each translation goes back to copies of the original in the original language, pulling from the thousands of copies which enable us to get a clear picture of what the text says. It takes teams of numerous scholars, fluent in in Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and likely Coptic, Syriac, and other languages from the area to put together a translation. They do so what they believe is best to get it as accurate as possible and as understandable as possible. And finally here, one does not need to be a language scholar to understand the Bible. The translators can be verified by other scholars on their work. To discuss which translation is best is worthy for another post. But do not believe the claims that the Bible got to us via the telephone game or something like that. There is nothing of the sort to support such claims. Next week, I will address another popular claim: The Overzealous Monk Theory.

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Is the Journey the Truth?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, July 11, 2018 0 comments

by Jason DeZurik

We live in a day and culture of people seemingly enjoying “the journey” of life. While there is nothing really wrong with enjoying the journey, it seems to me that too many people are focusing way too much on that journey. I am not against someone walking through life and processing what is going on with them and in them during this life. But it seems to me that instead of looking for answers, people these days are more focused on the journey and believing the journey is what is the truth of life, instead of using the journey and enjoying the journey of life along the way to lead them to truth. Do you see the difference?

Perhaps you have experienced this yourself or know someone who is like this in your life. You know, the person always looking for truth but even when finding truth decides to keep going down the path looking for truth, even though they have already found the answer to their question. Since the answer they have found, which is truth, doesn’t fit into their already preconceived notion of how things should be, they keep looking for an answer that fits what they so desire it to be. Or are they?

It seems that even when many find the answer they are looking for, they keep seeking and searching because for them the truth IS the journey. They keep moving down the path. Even if they find real truth, they ignore it because the quest is more important to them then actually finding answers. Have you ever experienced someone like this in your life? Are you like this?

I have experienced people like this even before I became a Christian. The reason this topic is so near and dear to my heart is because when I was a young man, who was going his own way instead of following God, I came to a point of realizing that my way was the wrong way and I wanted answers. I came to a point in my life that I was going to seek and search out truth no matter where that search led me. I came to a decision that I would stand on truth, even if I didn’t like the direction it took me. I was looking for answers.

I have come to realize that the journey is very important, but it is not the answer. The answer to life lies in the person of Jesus Christ. He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. No one comes to Father God except and only though Him (John 14:6-7). If you are looking for truth just in the journey or the process, you will find nothing but emptiness and a place reserved for you in hell.

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What Does the Bible Say About Love?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 9, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

They say that love makes the world go 'round, and that love is all you need. But what does the Bible say about love?

That’s an interesting question to answer, because the Bible is God’s Word given to us, revealing who God is. God is love, so the Bible is technically all about God’s love. It’s like the transient property in math (yes, I’m a geek): if A=B and B=C, then A=C. So if the Bible = God and God = love, then the Bible = love.

Think about it; every story we read in the Bible has to do with God’s love. God loved humankind so much that He created us and the world we live in. God loved humankind so much that he at least saved Noah and his family from the Flood, so they could repopulate the earth. God loved us so much that He made a covenant with Abraham and made him into a great nation. God loved that great nation, the people of Israel, so much that He kept sending them judges and prophets to turn them back toward following Him when they’d stray. God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to die and be raised again for us so we could have eternal life (John 3:16). God loved us so much that He gave us His Word, so we could be equipped to do His work on this earth (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The entire Bible shows us God’s love!

But the Bible does talk specifically about love in many places as well. The most common place is what’s known as the “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13. I encourage you to go read the entire chapter, but I’ll highlight a few verses for you here: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Another often-quoted passage about love is 1 John 4:7-12: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

In John 13:34-35, Jesus commands us to love one another: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus reiterates this command to His disciples in John 15:12-14: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” While this was a new command in light of the love that Jesus brought to earth, this was also a very old command for the Israelites. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (known as the “shema” in Hebrew) says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

The Bible also tells about love in human relationships, including that of a husband and wife. Ephesians 5:25-33 talks about this, as does the book of Song of Songs. Ephesians 4:15-16 highlights how we should interact with others: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that love us one of the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” When we have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us, all of these things will flow from our lives and the Spirit working through us.

There are even Proverbs written about love. For example, Proverbs 17:9 says, “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

I could go on and on with more passages about love in the Bible, but as I started with, the whole Bible tells us about God and His love, either directly or indirectly. I’ll leave you with one final passage to close this post.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

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