Psalm 119, Part 2

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

by Katie Erickson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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False Teachings: Introduction

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

by Charlie Wolcott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Psalm 119, Part 1

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

by Katie Erickson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Basic Doctrines: Eternity

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

by Charlie Wolcott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Psalm 118

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

by Katie Erickson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Basic Doctrines: Authority

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

by Charlie Wolcott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Real-Life Exorcism

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

by Chad Koons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Psalm 115

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

by Katie Erickson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Basic Doctrines: Faith

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

by Charlie Wolcott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Genesis: The Polemic, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 3, 2019 1 comments

by Steve Risner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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