Idolatry: Stealing

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 26, 2021 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

“You shall not steal.” -Exodus 20:15

I hope that over the past few weeks, you’ve seen the dangers of idolatry and why we must take it seriously. The last couple of weeks have been very heavy. It’s very difficult to address the murder and adultery of idolatrous practices “softly,” and trust me that I held back as much as I could on it. But these are issues our little kids are being confronted with the moment they step outside the house (if they haven’t been flooded with it on TV already). This post will be much lighter, however, I’m not done yet. Idolatry does not merely lead to stealing. It is a form of stealing. Yes, if you worship any god other than the True God, you are a thief. Idolatry is thievery.

There is only One True God. He is the Lord. There is none like Him. There is none who can compare with Him. There is none who can create, none who can deliver, none who can perform great acts, none who can save, none who can produce life, and none who control all things. None, other than the True God. One thing greatly missing in many churches is the study of God. It is rare to hear a sermon about the attributes of God and an accurate description of who He is and what He is like as revealed in Scripture. I know of a few books about the attributes of God, but good luck finding them in your local Christian bookstore and good luck finding one among contemporary preachers. When the preachers themselves don’t preach about God and who He is and what He is like, why are we surprised when the general population doesn’t know about Him either? The fact is that God’s true character is scandalous to culture. God is offensive to us in our sinful state, but unless we describe God as He revealed himself to be, then we are practicing idolatry and are attributing that which belongs to God to a being of our own liking. This is stealing.

When someone takes part of God’s message but mixes it with other philosophies and ideas and proclaims it as their religion, they are stealing from God. I call the atheism of our day a form of plagiarism, since they love to boast about their academics. As we know, plagiarism is the greatest sin of academia. You get expelled from college for it, yet plagiarism is practiced most heavily by the professors at these universities. How can I say that? They steal from God and claim it as their own models. Where does morality come from? The atheist will say “society.” Where does “society” get it? In reality: God. Or they will say, “Everyone knows what is right and wrong.” To which I agree but then follow up with Romans 2:14, John 1:9, and Romans 1:19-20 which reveals that the reason why everyone knows what is right and wrong is because God has told everyone what it is and given us a conscience to prove it. But the atheist claims it as his own morality and doesn’t give its proper credit to where it is from. That, by the book, is plagiarism.

Jesus lashed out at the Pharisees for attributing His works and deeds to Beelzebub. They had seen and heard all Jesus had done and instead of wonder and awe, they attributed His works to demons. Jesus called this the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” As John MacArthur put it in this sermon, “This puts them out of the possibility of being saved.” The Pharisees had an idol in their minds. They had a picture of the Messiah being a great military leader, yet nothing in Scripture ever suggests that. They had a false image of God and it prevented them from seeing Him when He was right in front of their eyes.

There is a lot of idolatry going on today. A lot of people proclaim a version of God that fits their ideals then call it “God.” That’s not just blasphemous; it’s theft. It’s stealing from God and putting it where it doesn’t belong. If your idea of God changes based on the culture, the latest “scientific findings,” or on whatever some person tells you rather than being based on Scripture, then you have an idol and you are stealing God’s glory and God’s name for your personal gain.

One form of this stealing is on display in Matthew 7:21-23. Many in the church are false converts and they will speak the language, do great deeds, even perform miracles and cast out demons, but Jesus will turn on them and say, “I never knew you.” The Message’s paraphrase of Jesus’ statement essentially goes: “You just used my name for your own platform.” Let me make this clear: there are many who claim the name of Christ and they don’t have a right to it. They are stealing from God, claiming something for themselves that isn’t theirs to claim. It has not been given to them by God to wear in the process God calls to get it. They just claimed it, but God knows the real from the fake. Often the fakes do a fine enough job to reveal themselves as such. The false convert isn’t just a false believer; he’s a thief. He is stealing from God that which isn’t his. Some of us need to get right with God right now. I’m not innocent of this charge either. There are times where I’ve declared I’m doing something for God’s glory and His purposes, when I’m really doing it for mine. Frankly, that’s stealing. A thief will not enter the Kingdom. That should disturb us.

Next week, we’ll deal with lying. Don’t be surprised if there is a lot of similarity to what I am saying here today.

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What Must We Learn from Ravi?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, February 24, 2021 2 comments


by David Odegard

It has become clear now that popular Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias covered up a ravenous sexual brokenness “including sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape.” You can read the full statement from RZIM here. This brokenness has come to light as every secret eventually must (Luke 12:3). As we examine the posthumous fallout from Ravi’s dark side, hopefully, we are also examining ourselves.

Ravi was a man of immense intellect, and he articulated a Christian worldview very well. We now discover that he seems to have had large holes in his practice as a Christian. The internet has erupted with questions, allegations, and apologies: How did we fail Ravi? How did Ravi fail us? How are we failing God in all this? Not to mention that the watching world is discounting all the very true and remarkable things he said for all those decades because it turns out that he is just as hypocritical as they privately are.

Among the loudest salvos are calls for more accountability. This is certainly true, but it misses the most crucial point: Ravi was able to creatively circumvent all the accountability structure that RZIM actually had in place. Ravi is a tragic reminder that what we know must become who we are if we ever hope to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:10).

Jesus taught us the way. Christian virtue ethics is that way and it teaches us that we need to allow the Holy Spirit to reshape our mind, will, emotions, and even our bodily habits (see Matthew 22:37). Ravi had a well-developed mental life, but some of his habits appear to have been unreformed. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). It is natural for human beings to be filled with these things, but when someone turns to Jesus and desires to follow His way, all of that person’s desires must reorient around God Himself. We simply must allow God to reorder our highest loves.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). To love God first is the beginning of the good life. We love everything else rightly when we have loved God first “with all your heart.” We must love God with “all our mind,” too. Ravi certainly did this, but this area alone is not enough. Our devotion to Christ must go much deeper than our minds until we have been captured in our whole person.

What does it mean to love God with all of our strength? Dallas Willard taught that sin dwells actually in the members of our bodies (see Romans 6). The muscle memory in our bodies has been trained in a habit of good or bad. Real virtue ethics is the retraining of our habits to align with what we know to be true. To learn more about this I would recommend Dallas Willard’s book Renovation of the Heart; many books have been compiled on this topic, but this one is a great place to begin.

The ancients talked about the head being the seat of reason and the belly being the seat of the primal passions or appetite, after all it is what growls when you are hungry. The head and belly were considered to be at war with one another. The head wanted to contemplate poetry and mathematics; the belly wanted to get drunk, procreate, overeat, and sleep in. Every hung-over student in calculus class testifies to the ancient dilemma.

The ancients had various answers to this dilemma like hedonism (obey the belly) and stoicism (obey the head); these are gross over-simplifications, but they are sufficient. The problem with these approaches is that one is always at war with himself or herself. And the head and belly (reason and passion) will always be at war. “Who shall deliver us from this?” (see Romans 7).

Christian virtue is different. The way of Jesus leads to truth, freedom, and peace with both God and man. Virtue arises from loving God first with all of one’s being—body and soul. If reason is the head and appetite is the belly, then virtue is symbolized by the chest. Virtue is courage and honesty, contentment and justice, etc. Virtue teaches us that the head must rule the belly through the chest, and the chest must be filled with deliberately Christian virtue (see Augustine’s Confessions).

This is why C. S. Lewis’s essay “Men Without Chests” was so critical of the kind of spiritual formation public school children were receiving. It was all head with no virtue, and he drew the obvious conclusion that these children would grow up to be bad adults. To ask them to be kind, upright citizens filled with honor and honesty was absurd since their education divorced ethics from learning. It was like “cutting down the orchard and still demanding its fruit” or “gelding the colts and demanding them to be fruitful and multiply.”

I looked up to Ravi, and the things he spoke were true and good. Truth must go deeper than our minds—it must remake us. In Lewis’s book The Great Divorce, he demonstrates how redemption can reach all the way back through our entire lives so that even our pain, brokenness, and suffering are redemptive toward saving our souls. This is also true for Ravi. Imagine the isolation and despair he must have known, grappling with his sin and not being able to reach out to others for fear of his own reputation. And his suffering is just. That being said, God redeems sinners. Nothing is as important as loving God and knowing Him for all eternity. Let us love God, examine ourselves, and be formed in Christ’s image.

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Ecclesiology: What Is the Church?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 22, 2021 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

What is the church? Depending on who you ask, you’ll likely get a variety of answers. The song I learned as a small child tells me that, “The church is not a building; the church is not a steeple; the church is not a resting place; the church is a people. I am the church! You are the church! We are the church together! All who follow Jesus, all around the world! Yes, we’re the church together!” While many people (and I have been guilty of this as well) refer to the church as the building where we go to gather together for worship services, this is not the Biblical definition. Through this look into ecclesiology, or the study of the church, we’ll find some insight into what the church really is.

The word ecclesiology comes from the Greek ekklesia, which most literally means a gathering or an assembly. Whenever we see the word “church” in the New Testament, this is very likely the word that’s in the original Greek. So, even the very word itself points to people instead of a building.

In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were representative of the church. The New Testament describes the people who are the church in a variety of specific ways: the people of God (1 Peter 2:9), a community of salvation (Matthew 28:19), the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), a servant people (2 Corinthians 4:5), and a community of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:4).

While the focus of the early church was defining what doctrines are true and which are false more than defining who they are as a church, they still had consensus on what the church was and is. The church was to be a spiritual society of sorts to replace the nation of Israel as God’s holy people. All people were now welcome, regardless of their ethnicity; you didn’t have to be “born into the club” anymore! The church was responsible for spreading the Gospel message, helping believers to grow in their faith, and making disciples. In the first century, it was the only place where authentic Christian teaching was taught.

There have been many good books written about the history of the church (this being one that I personally recommend), so I’m not going to go into all the details of how the church went from the first century to the twenty-first century. One of the “highlights” of church history was the Reformation in the 1500s. The church had previously split in 1054 into the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church. The Reformation further split the Roman Catholic Church into Roman Catholics and Protestants. In 1541, theologian John Calvin defined the essential doctrines of the Protestant church to be preaching God’s Word and rightly administering the sacraments (such as baptism and communion).

During that same time period, John Calvin also made the distinction between the visible and the invisible church. The visible church is what we see and experience as the church; it’s the group of believers who come together to worship God, for the preaching of His Word, and for the sacraments. The invisible church, however, is the fellowship of all the saints; it includes all of the believers who have gone before us. Regarding this, Calvin said, “Wherever we see the Word of God preached purely and listened to, and the sacraments administered according to the institution of Christ, we cannot doubt that a church exists.”

The church itself has 4 primary characteristics: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The church is one because it is unified in the belief in Jesus Christ. While there are many individual congregations of the church, it is still one unified church. All members of the church are in a relationship with the one true God of the Bible. Many other things (structure, worship styles, leadership, etc.) will differ, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is the one thing that truly defines the church.

The church is holy not in the moral sense of doing no wrong (as it’s made up of imperfect people), but in the sense of being set aside by God for His good purposes. The church can also be considered holy because we always have forgiveness of our sins through our faith in the work of Jesus Christ.

The church is catholic not in the sense of Roman Catholic but meaning universal or extending across time and space. The church is not limited to one geographic area, one people group, or even one time period. Check out this blog post for more on that idea.

The church is apostolic because it carries on the teachings of Jesus’ apostles. Jesus’ twelve disciples were the first apostles of the church, and it was the teaching that they received from Jesus and continued to proclaim that has been passed down as foundational to the church as a whole.

The church today is still God’s people, even though the church exists in a very divided state in our modern world. We should strive for unity as a church, but it is most important to remember our mission as the church, direct from Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

That is what makes us the church: following the mission of our ultimate leader, Jesus Christ Himself. He is the reason that the church exists.

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Idolatry: Adultery

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 19, 2021 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

Disclaimer: This post contains sexual details that may not be suitable for our younger audiences.

“You shall not commit adultery.” -Exodus 20:14

We live in a sex-charged society. Sexual depravity is exceedingly rampant and in the last ten years, I’ve seen a change in society. No longer are people hiding their sexual depravity; they are flaunting it in arrogance as though they are daring God to do something about it. There are many forms of sexual depravity. I’ll name them, because this commandment doesn’t apply to just one form of it.

Adultery: Having sex with someone outside of marriage
Affair: A married person sleeping with someone not their spouse
Bestiality: People having sex with animals
Bisexual: Having sexual attraction/activity with both genders
Drag Queen: Men dressing up as women (the reverse is also applicable here)
Fornication: Sexual activity with anyone prior to marriage
Homosexuality: Having sex with someone of the same gender (male-male or female-female)
Oral Sex: The act of using the mouth for sex
Pedophilia: Having sex with children (usually prepubescent, but teens count here too)
Polygamy: Being married to multiple people at the same time
Sodomy: The act of anal sex
Transgender: Declaring yourself a different gender than what you biologically are

There is only one thing in this list that isn’t publicly accepted yet: pedophilia, but there’s a big movement to change that. See my post from last summer about it how that’s happening. Polygamy is accepted in Utah, where the Mormons dominate culture. I still remember when these actions were considered not just immoral but also insanity. It wasn’t long ago when homosexuality was considered a mental illness. The Bible describes male prostitutes as perverted persons. The book of Romans describes these behaviors as being unnatural and a result of a “reprobate/debased” mind. And it’s not merely adults who do this in their rebellion against God. Numerous children are being seduced into engaging in this behavior, and there’s no age limit to their lusts.

Adultery is a serious issue. Paul describes all sexual sin as a sin against the body, not just against God. God has designed the body to have “in-holes” and “out-holes.” When the purposes of these holes are misused, it does physical damage to the body. There are other side effects of sexual activities besides just the STDs, some of which are too graphic to describe here. I’ll compare it to drinking. While someone might have “fun” while they are actively drinking, they don’t tell you about the immediate and long-lasting side effects that are not fun. The same is true about sexual promiscuity. Just like abortion, there is no safe way to do it. Along with teaching the kids how to act sexually, they also teach the kids to get abortions and give out condoms without parents’ direct consent. Satan plays dirty and he loves going after precious, innocent life… especially children.

How does idolatry play a role here? It’s often not mentioned, but a large majority of the rituals of the Ancient Near East in their worship involved sexual orgies. The image of Asherah was shaped as a penis. I’m not joking. The Greek gods had all sorts of sexual issues. It can be rightfully said that much of the problems in Greek mythology would have been easily solved if Zeus had simply kept his pants zipped. No matter where you went, if the ancient idols were involved, sexual deviancy went with it. It was said that during the “party” of Israel’s Golden Calf in Exodus 32, there was singing, dancing, drunkenness, and when any of that is involved, you know sex is happening along with it. Sexual depravity is how Balaam told Balak to get Israel to effectively commit suicide by seducing their men with his women. When the kings tore down the high places where these idols were worshiped, there is also mention of removing the prostitutes of the temples, both male and female. Yes, men served at the temples for giving sexual pleasure to the “customers.” And it was not just adults serving these idols; so did many children, mostly young girls. In India, many young girls work at the Hindu temples serving as sex workers. Amy Carmichael was able to rescue and raise 300 of these girls.

There’s nothing new under the sun. The temples of the Ancient Near East haven’t gone away. They’ve just changed forms. We call them “Adult clubs” or “brothels” today. There are the dance areas in the front side of the store, then there are the rooms in the back where what takes place is too graphic to describe on a Christian forum. In third-world countries, these clubs/brothers are also occupied by young children, who are sold and trained for “performance” at/or by age five. Even in Europe, there are buildings used for boy or girl sex and you knew which room had which by the color curtains. When sexual depravity is practiced and embraced by society, no one is safe, and no one is “out of bounds.” Fortunately, here in the U.S., we aren’t there yet. Pedophiles dread going to prison because that is the “no-no” crime among the prison culture and they often get what they did to the kids done to them.

However, there is an aspect of modern culture where adultery is directly taught as approved by idolatrous practices: the cults. Jude 3-4 says there are two keys to watch for to identify a false teaching: denying Christ and teaching an immoral act as being good, namely sexual immorality. The Church of Thyatira was a generally good church, but they had a false teacher who was among them, permitted to speak, and taught sexual behavior was good. The Church of Pergamum had the same issue. When you are looking at a genuine cult, there is sexual immorality somewhere taught in that group. Let’s examine a couple.

Mormonism: Mormon theology is primarily about sex. Men were to have as many wives as possible so they could have as many children as possible. Then when they get to heaven, they will become their own gods and with their many wives get to have many spiritual babies to rule their own planet. The idolatry of the false god of Mormonism teaches sexual depravity.

Islam: One of the promises given to a faithful Muslim is to have seven virgins waiting for him in heaven. While they do teach specifically against homosexuality (killing them), and they demand women to remain chaste, Muhammad was a pedophile. He “married” a 9-year-old girl and raped her. It is a common practice for very young girls to be “married” to men along with others to be part of the harem. Polygamy is part of Islam, too.

The strange cults of Branch Davidians (David Koresh) and others like him would renounce the marriages of those in the cult so David Koresh could produce his “apostles” by his own seed. In these cults, the “guru” is usually some sexually depraved maniac, and with his skills in charisma can control the minds of his followers.

I can go on and on, but I’ll wrap up with this. In Romans 1, the denial of God as Creator leads to a denial of God’s moral standards. When a society takes this path, sexual deviancy is frequently the highlighted form of sin. When the True God is not viewed as being on the throne, then any sexual deviancy becomes permissible and to justify his lusts, man will come up with any god he chooses to justify it. In American society, the secular/atheistic worldview has become the idolatrous religious. Yes, I will say that “no God” is just as much as an idol as any other false god. When “no God” is the religion, what takes God’s place is a combination of government/society and self, and that becomes “god.” And when you are your own “god,” whatever sexual desires you have will be fulfilled. It is a great evil and any basic study of world history will reveal that when homosexual and pedophilic practices are embraced by the culture, that culture’s doom shortly followed. Idolatry leads to adultery in all its forms. It also is a theft of that which belongs to God. That will be for next week, when we look at idolatry as a practice of stealing.

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Spiritual Enmity, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, February 16, 2021 0 comments


by Eric Hansen

I really enjoyed writing about TULIP recently and I want to explore that further, but there’s another topic that has been hitting close to home lately for me. As I sat thinking on what to call it, the term “warfare” felt complicated for the matter. The Holy Spirit doesn’t go to war; it bridges the gap between us and God. The word enmity fits the qualifications pretty well of what we go through when we start talking about “spiritual warfare” far better.

When I Googled ‘enmity’ for its definition you get this: “the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.” This is exactly what we experience: an active hostility towards God. In this series of writings, I aim to cover the how, the why, and what we can do about it.

Spiritual enmity is when we are in a state of resisting God’s will. This isn’t just telling God, “No, I won’t do/say that.” It may not even involve God directly at all. We all face moments where we don’t want to get up in the morning to go to church, read our Bible, pray, or praise Him. We may even want to spend our time playing on our phones instead of talking to our families or engaging in relationships with others. Or we could feel depressed about an event in our life, and instead of going to the Father for guidance, we drink our sorrows away. Maybe we just want to hit the snooze one more time but we end up waking up late and missing that much needed job interview.

At this point, it’s extremely important to make a clear distinction between temptations and trials. Trials are delivered to us by God in some form to strengthen our spirit and faith, to remember we are His children no matter our age. Temptation, though, is anything that drives us away from God, whether it be pleasure or punishment. In the examples given above, none of those are trials but temptations. We were tempted to tell God no because it would inconvenient us, to not go to church, play on our phones, drink, etc.

A book can be (and numerous have been) written on this topic, but it’s always important to remember it is evil that is behind our temptations, not God. God doesn’t desire us to stare at people in magazines with lust, or to lie to our partner to avoid arguments. Those are desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:17-21). Everything we do, say, or think abhors either God or ourselves, because we are either going to sin or be righteous. In our evil desires, we abhor God, and all of the evil forces know how to make that happen. The human race hasn’t changed since Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3). The desire for Eve to better herself by her own deeds drove her to eat that fruit, and Adam’s desire to know what was so enticing about it drove him to do the same. Then they both lied to God because of the guilt and shame that we feel even today when we sin. Evil watches us day and night to understand what our weaknesses are to exploit them. We all have weaknesses, no matter how grounded we are in faith.

Since Jesus Christ was both fully divine and fully man, Satan had a few tricks up his sleeve as well. Satan knew he couldn’t attack Jesus’ divinity, but every man he’s tempted fell prey to insecurity, glory, or needs, so he went this route. We see this in Matthew 4:1-11 where Satan tempts Jesus with food (need, as he was fasting; verses 2-3), insecurity (verses 5-6) and glory (verses 8-9). Each attempt Satan made he started with the word “if,” similar to what he did with Eve by implanting doubt into the statement. But the insecurity trick is the most intriguing to me as we move forward in this progressive-driven world.

Satan in his wisdom of scripture and trickery says, “IF you are the son of God, throw yourself down” (emphasis mine) and then follows that with scripture (Psalm 91:11-12). This is just like what happens to us now. We may hear a voice in ourselves or a friend say, “If you feel this way then here’s a verse to help you,” but all we have to do is look at the first 2 verses of that psalm to see that it doesn’t apply to Jesus because He Himself is God, so He cannot take refuge in Himself. If we take these verses out of context and silo them, then we can do more harm than good in dealing with these times of doubt, because we don’t truly look at the conveying message. But evil, whether it be Satan or some other force, loves to pick things apart and deliver to us a broken message.

This is what makes staying in the Bible during these times that much more important, because we are weak and easily manipulated. It is also why it is important to keep attending a church, Bible study, etc. to keep that fellowship in our lives. But evil will always try to rip that part of our life out so we feel hopeless and worthless to God.

Covering the how and why in some detail in this post, the next element is how do we handle this. In the midst of the struggle, it is definitely easier said than done to go to church, talk to fellow Christians, be in the Bible, etc. So the next important thing is to look at is what we can do to begin just talking to God again and to know that God hears us and loves us, wants our attention and to bless us with light. Stay tuned for my next blog post for that.

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Pneumatology: Who Is the Holy Spirit?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 15, 2021 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Last month, I wrote on Theology Proper, which helps answer the question of who God is. We can never fully know God, but He has revealed much of His character to us. In that post, I also looked at the idea of the Trinity - how God is three distinct persons yet one God. As humans, we find the ideas of God as Father and Jesus as Son somewhat easy to grasp, especially since Jesus came to earth in human form. But the Holy Spirit is a much more vague concept for many Christians to understand. Today, we’ll look at pneumatology, which is the study of the Holy Spirit.

The word pneumatology comes from the Greek word for spirit, pneuma. Both pneuma and the Hebrew word for spirit, ruach, have the idea of breath or wind also. This is where we get English words like pneumatic from; not because pneumatics have anything to do with the spirit, but more of the idea of wind.

The person of the Holy Spirit can best be described within the concept of the triune God. The Spirit is a full person along with the Father and the Son, so any characteristic that applies to one person of the Trinity applies to all of them. The Spirit is also eternal and unchanging, just as the Father and Son are. The Spirit is also omnipresent (all-present), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing), just as the Father and Son are.

We often think of the Spirit as some sort of mysterious divine force rather than as a person, often because it’s easier for us to relate to the Father and Son as persons. But we can have a relationship with the Spirit just as we can with the Father and the Son.

In the Bible, we see the Spirit expressed in a variety of terms and images. Here are some examples:

There is no single passage in Scripture that we can point to in order to learn all about the Spirit, but it is evident throughout the Bible that the Spirit is working as God. We see the Spirit present at Creation in Genesis 1:2. We see the presence of the Spirit in Jesus in Luke 4:18-19. In the book of Acts, we see multiple times that the Spirit facilitates salvation. Throughout the Scriptures, the Spirit gives power and gifts to the people, such as leaders and warriors in the Old Testament and the apostles and others in the early church, especially leaders and missionaries. We see the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. These are not traits that we can live out on our own, but ones that the Spirit lives out through us. They’re not our fruit, but the Spirit’s fruit that we make evident through our obedience to Him.

We are given lists of the gifts of the Spirit in Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4:1-16, and 1 Peter 4:8-11. There are three main views on the status of these gifts, particularly the gifts that are considered “ecstatic” (healing, miracles, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues): continuationists, cessationists, and cautionists. Continuationists believe that these gifts are still present and active today. Cessationists believe that these gifts are no longer active at all. Cautionists believe that it is possible that these gifts are still active but that is not a main focus of the Church. Personally, I am a cautionist, but I believe any of these views are plausible today.

We see that the written Word of God was inspired by the Spirit in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Word also refers to the person of Jesus, who shares a unified relationship with the Spirit. There is a definite connection between Jesus and the cross event of salvation and the Spirit revealing that truth to individuals to provide for their salvation. God could work in people’s lives through the Spirit without the written Word of God, but He has revealed Himself through the Word so they may work together. The Holy Spirit uses the written Word of God to make us wise, lead us to Christ, bring us salvation, bring us to faith and sustain our faith, to teach us, to reprove us, to correct us, to train us in righteousness, and to make us complete in God for every good work.

The Holy Spirit may still be difficult for us to define, especially in our Western culture where many do not acknowledge the presence of spiritual beings. But, we know from God’s Word that the Holy Spirit is very much an active part of the Trinity, and the Spirit dwells within the hearts of all believers. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

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Idolatry: Murder

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 12, 2021 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

“You shall not murder.” -Exodus 20:13

Life is precious. Man is made in the image of God and as a result, all human life is God’s “image-bearer.” There is a reason why most societies have laws about taking a human life, but with any other animal, the laws are about doing it humanely. This commandment is also specific about the pre-meditated taking of life. It is not about lawful execution carried out by the government, not about war, and not about self-defense. Most governments know the difference. There was a recent case of a father who caught a man molesting his daughter. He beat up the man, who ended up dying. He wasn’t even charged of murder because he was protecting his home and his family. However, had he known this man had molested his daughter, and later went to this man’s house and killed him there, then it would have been murder, taking the law into his own hands.

This is one of the most basic commands that is nearly universal across cultures, except when it comes to certain rituals. Idolatry is perhaps the world’s #1 cause of murder in this world. More so than theft, gangs, drugs, rape, greed, jealousy, you name it; idolatry is the #1 reason why people commit murder. And here is the disturbing part: it’s a COMMAND in a number of idolatrous practices. Not all, but a number of them.

To be clear, all idolatry is a result of a Satanic lie to corrupt and violate anything God has established as being “good.” Man is made in the image of God, so our very existence reminds Satan of God every moment of every day. He hates us with pure raging hatred for no other reason than we remind him of God. So what does he do? He takes whatever he can use and every aspect of man to twist it and corrupt it and malign it so he can say, “That is what I think of God.” The taking of life, especially precious innocent life, gives the enemy an adrenaline power rush.

So how does idolatry play a role here? Many people murder for a variety of reasons, and not all idolatrous practices lead to murder. But all murder is a result of rejecting the true God and despising the life of an image-bearer of God. I can easily go the Jesus route and reference him saying: “If you hate your brother, you may as well be murdering him, because if you would be able to get away with it, you would do it” (my paraphrase). So on a generic level like this, we’ve all committed the plotting of murder or the thought of it. But I want to get more specific on this issue.

Islam is a religion of utter violence. It is known as a religion of the sword. It spreads by conquest and war, not by passing on its teachings to another. It is written in the Koran that if a foreigner were not to embrace and confess Islam, such a person is an infidel and is to be killed. The stories of Christians who live in Muslim-dominated countries being slaughtered for refusing to renounce Christ are harrowing and numerous. Why do they kill? Because their false religion tells them to.

Don Richardson wrote of the Sawi Tribe of Ira Jira and Papua New Guinea in his book Peace Child. One of their cultural norms was to see who could best befriend someone and then betray them, kill them, and cannibalize them. It was part of their religious practices, as is the case with many other animistic and jungle warrior tribes. Jim Eliot, Nate Saint, and three other friends were slain by the Acua Tribe of Ecuador and as depicted in the movie The End of the Spear. The murder of another tribe was common practice as well.

The Aztecs in particular were infamous for their practice of taking a “human sacrifice,” cutting out the heart of the person, and then throwing the still living body down the long stairs from the top of their temples. In these religious rites, murder - the intentional taking of a life - was commanded by the gods.

Ancient Israel shed a lot of innocent blood too. This wasn’t just a pagan practice of the jungle tribes. There was one god in particular whom God despised even more than Baal and Asherah, and that was Molech. The worship of Molech was singled out as being a great wickedness. Why? Because in the worship of Molech, the parents would take a newborn baby and place it on the metal plate of the idol. Then the idol’s belly was a furnace and when it heated up, the idol turned red from the heat and the baby was burned alive to the point of its blood and water boiling. I was talking with someone who mocked God by saying that God committed genocide (likely thinking of the Conquest of Canaan). So I asked how he would vote on a jury of a man who burned his baby to death like this and he said he’d give that man the death penalty. I told him this was part of the religious practices of that area. This was a brutal, sadistic murder and it was commanded by the idols.

The U.S. is guilty of a great amount of bloodshed, too. Molech is alive and well here in our country today, only instead of living newborns being sacrificed onto a metal plate, we have done EVEN WORSE. We instead rip apart babies piece by piece before they even get out of the womb. I’m not sorry about the graphic image; that is what happens in abortion. It’s even worse than burning the baby alive, not to mention the emotional and physical harm it does to the mother. But what is the ‘idol’ that commands abortion? I’ll tell you what it is: convenience. I understand that 97% of abortion cases are ultimately a matter of convenience: financial, will, comfort, desire to be a parent, whatever. Less than 3% of cases actually deal with rape, let alone a pregnancy with such complications that only mother or baby would survive. King Manasseh was the only king of Judah to commit this crime of putting his son through the fire of Molech and Judah’s doom and captivity was sealed. How much more so for us here in the U.S. when we’ve committed 63+ million murders on abortion alone? It gets worse.

If Israel would turn so far in the worship of these foreign gods to enjoy sexual promiscuity and to murder their own babies, seeking comfort, productivity, prosperity, and or power, how much more so do our own “elite” of this world do the same? I know enough about satanic rituals to know how in these rites, a “human sacrifice” (age is no limit) would be tortured physically and sexually to maximize the adrenaline and strength of the will to survive in the blood. Then the sacrifice would be cut or killed, and the blood dripped into chalices. The practitioners would then drink that blood in honor of the spirits and for the power of their victim. It’s happening today and not just by the “weird people.” Reports are coming out about this being regularly practiced by the elite in politics, music, Hollywood, etc. If you look at what is being produced by these industries, it should not surprise you if some of this is going on.

The only solution to all this is the Gospel. God has given us hope in all this, and He came to rescue us from all this mess. But in order for the Gospel message to do its work in our lives, we must get rid of our idols and put God back where he belongs. This is a difficult topic, but if we want to understand why God takes idolatry so seriously, this is part of it. Next week will be another difficult one because adultery is no laughing matter either.

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What is the Plain Reading of Scripture? Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 11, 2021 2 comments


by Steve Risner

Last time, we began to discuss how we interpret Scripture, and if we need to use an external source to help shape our understanding of something, we cannot allow that external source to alter what the Bible says. That external source can fill in gaps or details but can never be used to change what the text clearly states. We discussed, in relation to this, that if the Bible provides a framework on a topic that external sources may be used, if necessary, to fill in the details but nothing more. Today we will look at the topic of interpreting Scripture and what a proper process for determining the original intent would look like. You can find much of this at this video by Bobby Madox.

The bottom line in this discussion is this: do you feel God is a competent communicator and was He successful in preserving His Word through the ages?

I would hope, as a believer, that one would agree that God is competent and perfectly capable of communicating what He wants us to know. If someone says they believe the Bible but do not believe in a 6-day creation about 6000 years ago, ask them, what God would have included in the Bible if He did create it in 6 days about 6000 years ago? Just because a claim is made that a portion of Scripture is ambiguous does not mean it is. The Genesis narratives on origins, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel up to Abraham are not ambiguous at all. They are written in such a way that they can be considered as or even more historical in its passages than other books like Kings, Samuel, or Chronicles, which are clearly historical narratives. It could hardly be clearer on the topic if origins.

On preservation, it has been well established for a very long time that the Bible has remained essentially unchanged throughout the centuries. The oldest sources maintain a nearly identical message to newer sources, showing us that there have been no real changes to the message of God’s Word. Most changes that can be noted are either copying errors or the changing of a name. No changes that have been documented appear to have any impact on doctrinal issues at all.

We discussed last time the difference between exegetical and eisegetical interpretations and how one of these is objective (exegesis) while the other is subjective (eisegesis). This brings us to which of these is a superior way to read the Bible. I hope it seems obvious that a more objective way is preferred since it would convey the real meaning the author wanted to bring out rather than what we want it to say. If we want to know what God intended to say to us, we must look at the writing objectively. Looking at it subjectively means we are not looking for what God intended but we are looking for the Biblical text to say what we want it to say. Looking at the text in a subjective fashion would mean we can make a passage of Scripture say anything we want it to. Sadly, this is too common these days.

One of the most subjective ways to view a passage of the Bible is to claim it is allegorical. Allegorical interpretations cannot be objective. In fact, it can be said that reading a passage as allegory, unless it specifically tells us that it is allegory with some sort of clue, is the most subjective way to interpret it. There is no way to confirm an allegory is the right way to interpret the text unless we make more assumptions. The more assumptions you read into the text, the less likely you are reading the text correctly.

When you read a passage of Scripture, I recommend using the plain reading of the text to tell you what it means. This is, of course, a general rule and not always applicable but it holds true most of the time. Language should be considered to mean what it commonly means. Understanding words by their common definitions would only make sense. If clarity is needed, use a dictionary that would give you the meanings of a word from the time of the writing. Sometimes, words have meanings that change over time. This is true of culture as well. It is important not to inject our cultural biases into the text. In the end, the meaning of a word, sentence, or paragraph should always be derived from the context within which it was written and not from some outside source unless this is the only way to make sense of the passage.

We should always interpret Scripture with Scripture. From within the confines of the Bible, we are usually able to determine a given passage’s meaning without external sources. As stated last week, those external sources can never be used to alter the clear meaning of the text but can only be used for clarification or for filling in details. If our interpretation creates a contradiction with another well-established passage of Scripture, this cannot be. An effort must be made to understand the contradiction and determine if it is real and, if it is, how to correct it reasonably with the least amount of assumption. This point cannot be overly stressed. We should generally interpret same or similar words, phrases, etc. in the same way from one passage to another. Of course, context may determine this does not work, but, again, this is a general rule. In instances where the text is very clear, external sources are inappropriate for determining meaning. Keep in mind that not all external sources are created equal. Some have much more credibility than others. Finally, the Law of Parsimony or “Occam’s Razor” is of utmost importance. This means the interpretation that involves the least number of assumptions or interpretive gymnastics is usually the right one.

Applying these rules (especially concerning context) to the origins discussion, we would have to agree that no one in the Bible and no passage of Scripture leads us to believe the Genesis account is anything but a historical narrative. No person from the Bible who speaks on a topic related to creation or the Flood indicates even slightly that they believed it was not a real series of events. None of the ten references of Jesus to creation contain any hint that the events were not to be considered actual events. There are well over 100 references to creation outside of the many references in Genesis that all seem to hang on the events described in Genesis 1 and 2 as real events. Every author of the New Testament references something from the first eleven chapters of Genesis. None of them discredit its historicity. In fact, the references only make sense if Genesis is real history. The New Testament references Genesis 1-11 over 100 times. All references in the Bible to the Flood, including four in the New Testament, appear to believe the Flood was a real event that destroyed the face of the earth. There are even some references to reshaping the earth’s surface. All references seem to think these events were real. Using this as a guideline for how we interpret Genesis 1 and 2 (or Genesis 1-11 since it is all under attack) would force us to believe that, if nothing else, the author of Genesis and everyone referenced in the Bible who speaks on Genesis believed it was giving us a credible historical account of the creation of the world and later a global catastrophe.

Let us not confuse the plain reading of Scripture with what some call literalism. Literalism means we read everything literally or exactly as it is stated. In some cases this is appropriate, but in a large number of instances, this is not the right way to read the text. Figures of speech, prophetic or poetic language, allegory/parables are all not to be read in this light, generally speaking. I know of no one who reads the entire Bible literally. I’ve seen many claims that Biblical creationists do this, but that’s absurd—usually a strawman argument. Some will refer to literalism as the historical-grammatical approach. This definition of literalism is much more agreeable to a point but is rarely what gets brought up in discussions with skeptics. This simply means we allow the text to be read considering its grammatical/word usage through the lens of the time and culture in which it was written. This does not mean we would radically change the text to say something it has never been considered to say. Too many want to inject their own beliefs into the Bible, making it say something that it clearly doesn’t.

In terms of the origins debate, we can easily point to the polemic hypothesis, which holds no water at all. Yet people still want to force the narrative to be an argument against other deities from the region and nothing more. Even at the surface this idea has no merit, but as you look more deeply into it, you find its arguments are exceptionally weak. There are other ways the Genesis narrative has been under attack for the last century or two. Sure, we have had some over the last two thousand years who have questioned certain aspects of the narrative, but never to the degree we see it today. And it is all in the name of “science” (which is not true really; it’s in the name of humanism or secularism or both).

We must be diligent to not allow our desires, beliefs, or preconceived ideas to dictate what the Bible says. We must also be diligent to not allow external sources to determine the primary message the Bible has in any particular passage. The Bible is a love story from start to finish. God is telling us He loves us over and over while humanity pushes Him away. He even goes so far as to sacrifice His own Son to pay our debt, one which we could never pay, so we can be with Him and have a relationship with Him. In my opinion, this is the absolute most important message from the Bible. However, this message is built on the fact that God made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them in six days as He said He did in Genesis and Exodus. If He didn’t create everything, why does He have authority to tell us anything? If He didn’t make man special, in His image, why does He require something from man He does not require from dogs or mushrooms or elephants or green star polyps? Nearly every major Christian doctrine has its origins in Genesis. These only make sense in light of the account being considered a narrative—a series of real events that took place about 6000 years ago. I say the time is important because God has revealed in His Word when He created Adam. This isn’t some new idea just recently brought out by those stupid “young-earth creationists.” We are Biblical creationists because we stand on the Bible as our source for truth regarding origins. I do not care at all about the age of creation beyond the fact that the Bible tells us when this happened. Aside from that, it is nothing more than a detail. The age of the universe is critical for the secular humanist origins myth; it matters very little to a Bible believer. For centuries, scientists viewed creation through the lens of the Biblical narrative on origins. It was not until recently that secular humanism gained access to the Church as a whole and scientism hijacked real science and Christianity/the Bible.

I hope this helps you see the Bible, and specifically what it says concerning origins, from the perspective of a Biblical creationist. In reality, the idea of how we should interpret Scripture is very useful for all believers. It is critical for us to know what God intended to convey to us through His timeless Word. Thank you for reading.

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Soteriology: What Is Salvation?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 8, 2021 1 comments


by Katie Erickson

What is salvation? As followers of Jesus Christ, we tend to put a lot of emphasis on salvation, but what exactly is it? That’s what we’ll look into today as we dig into soteriology, the study of salvation.

Specifically, soteriology deals with the divine work of God to bring His Creation, especially humanity, to enjoy His divine purpose in our existence. Why can’t we do that without Him? We as people were created in perfection and in God’s image, but the first people sinned, and that sin has continued to separate all of humanity from God’s perfect presence ever since (see Anthropology and Hamartiology for more on that). Because we as humans were disobedient to God, we need Him to save us from that disobedience and restore a right relationship with Him.

All Christians agree that salvation has to do with Jesus Christ and the “cross event,” but many can differ on the details of how and why salvation happens. The “cross event” refers to Jesus, who was both fully human and fully God, died an actual death and was raised to life again on the 3rd day. What actually happened during that remains a mystery; what exactly occurred in those days when Jesus was dead? What was that experience like for Jesus as a person to be raised again by God the Father? We really don’t know, and that’s ok.

The essential part of the cross event is to know that it happened. It was part of God’s plan for humanity to provide salvation for all of us sinful humans through the cross event, and we simply need to trust that it occurred in such a way that God has fulfilled that promise to save all of humanity. God had promised that as early as Genesis 3:15, right after the first humans sinned: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” God will crush Satan’s head and forever defeat death through the work of Jesus Christ.

I love how this quote from 16th-century theologian Martin Luther summarizes why Jesus Christ died: “Christ does not die for the attainment of a personal benefit, for He does not die for us in order thereby to gain a great profit and benefit from us for Himself. Nor does He die in order to satisfy the claims of justices, for He is not obliged or bound to die either for us or for Himself. But He does die for the sake of our sins that He may help us. The great, unending love He bears us moves Him to die for us.”

This is also explained in John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” This makes it clear that God loved “the world” (every person who has ever lived or will ever live), and Jesus was sent to earth to save the whole world. God desires for all to be saved; we see this in 1 Timothy 2:3-4: “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Everyone has the potential to be saved, but we need to call on the name of the Lord in order to be saved. We even see this in the Old Testament, in Joel 2:32: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.” This passage is quoted by the apostle Paul in Romans 10:13. Just before that, Paul tells us exactly what we need to do to be saved: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

There are lots of theories that are supported by various theologians that attempt to explain what occurs in the cross event and how we obtain salvation. However, none of them can be proven to us this side of heaven since no one knows the mind of God. You can check out this article to get a brief summary of 7 of the primary theories of atonement.

The other aspect of soteriology is known as the ordus salutis, literally “order of salvation.” This refers to the way in which events happen in the process of a person experiencing salvation. For example, Lutheranism teaches that salvation is by grace alone, and that grace is received at baptism. The person is dead in his or her sins and can do absolutely nothing in order to be saved; the work is all done by the Holy Spirit. The Arminian view, however, is one that allows the person to make a decision to follow Christ and be saved, though the work of salvation is still performed by God. The primary difference here is whether God is the sole agent in salvation, or if there is a cooperation between people and God in this act.

The Scriptures are not clear on the details of how salvation occurs in an individual and they can be interpreted in many ways, so personally, I find it difficult to take a solid stance on this issue aside from the fact that salvation has to do with faith in Christ and the free gift of grace that God gives us. We can be assured that when we have faith in Jesus Christ and His saving death and resurrection, we will be saved. This is not something we earn by our good works, but a gift that God has given us.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:4-9).

Do you have that faith in Christ that you have received His salvation? We don’t need to have all the details figured out, but simply have faith that Jesus’ death and resurrection are what is needed to restore our right relationship with God. If you have not yet received this gift of salvation through faith, please contact us at Worldview Warriors and we would love to talk with you!

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Idolatry: Sabbath and Parents

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 5, 2021 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
“Honor your father and your mother…” -Exodus 20:8, 12

As I continue my series on idolatry and how it violates all ten of the Ten Commandments, these two are the only two they really didn’t play much of a role in the worship of idols or the rituals involved in the practices. There are issues involved, but they don’t stand out as much as the other commandments.

It is important to recognize that in every idolatrous practice, there is some corruption of what God has instituted, and the 7-day week is no exception. Israel routinely gave it lip service, but they truly didn’t honor it. Along with the 7-day week, God extended the lesson regarding the land that every seven years the people were to let the land grow fallow so it could rest and be restored. The captivity lasted for 70 years because for 490 years, Israel had not honored the Sabbath in regards to the land. That included through the reign of good kings like David, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah. But was it idolatrous to do this? Actually, and I state clearly that this is just my opinion on this matter, I suspect idolatry led to this.

The purpose of the Sabbath was primarily two-fold. The first purpose is to rest the body and mind and let it recover. Science has revealed that the 6-day work week and 1-day rest is the best way for someone to be productive over any other structure. When groups like Russia and France tried to implement a 10-day week or a five-day week, they ended in utter failure. The second purpose was to remember God. While we are supposed to think about God continually, it is this Sabbath day in which we are specially meant to focus on God. Every 7th day, Israel was meant to remember God, what He had done for them, who He was, and think and dwell upon Him. Yet, we can see from how readily and how frequently Israel had turned to idols that very little remembrance of God took place. In the worship of idols, we forget God and any religious practices we do become nothing but meaningless rituals of vain repetition, completely devoid of their intended purpose.

The Sabbath is violated today ,too. And I’m not talking about Saturday vs Sunday. That’s for a whole separate debate. I’m talking about how today, there is a direct assault on the Creation week. Some may say I’m being petty here, but I do not take the clarity of Scripture as being a petty issue. Was the Creation week 6 normal days, or long periods of time, or what? How you take this may reveal if your understanding of God is accurate or a figment of your imagination, and thus an idol. Is God able to clearly communicate what He said and how He did things or not? Those who question the 6-day creation week argue from a position that Genesis 1 cannot be understood, which is a post-modern approach, not a Biblical one.

The “Progressive Christian” leaders make a big emphasis that the Bible gives more questions than answers and they purpose to teach that answers can’t be known. I ask this: “If Genesis 1 cannot be known, how can God be known? Or Jesus? Or the cross? Or salvation?” I have come to believe that those who fully believe “Old Earth” creation models do not worship the same God as described in the Bible and have made a god (idol) of their own liking which changes and conforms to the winds and waves of modern scientific models, and I’ll take anyone up to task on that. Clarification: there are true born-again believers who do hold to “old earth creation” models, but in their thinking and their studying, the old earth models truly have little to do with it and are hardly ever to be seen. So those people actually don’t believe the “old earth models.”

The other commandment I’ll address here is the 5th Commandment: Honor your mother and father. This one I really couldn’t find a direct connection to, which is why I will make this part quick and undeserving of a full post. While we are to honor our parents, those who gave us birth, and whom by instinct to want the best for us (there are numerous exceptions to this), how much more so should we honor our Father in Heaven, our Creator? If we turn to other idols, are we honoring God?

But this command is specifically about our earthly mother and father. There are many children who did “honor” their mother and father by participating in the idolatrous practices with them. See Jeremiah 7:17-19 for a direct example of this. They were being obedient and doing what their parents asked. How is that not ‘honoring thy mother and father’? When your parents have gone so far as to ask you to do something that is wrong, at what point do you honor them or do you speak up and say, “How can I do such a wicked thing?” Not having pagan parents myself, it’s hard for me to give an appropriate answer to that.

What I will say is this: if you are going to commit sin, even if your parents are asking you to do it, you are not honoring them. You are not honoring the position God gave them. You are caving to wickedness, and in the end, it will be your conscience that will be cut, not for disobeying your parents, but for disobeying God. And unfortunately, wicked parents will pull this command on their kids to get them to participate in evil deeds. Idolatry is no exception.

Now what about those who were raised in a Christian home and taught the ways of God and the child goes wayward? Chances are high that said child has another ‘god’ he/she is listening to and in that case, idolatry has come into play and leads to a dishonoring of the mother and father. Hezekiah had cleaned out all the idols in Judah, but his son Manasseh became the most idolatrous king of Judah. Though Manasseh was only 12 years old when he became king, he dishonored his father by turning to the very idols that his father destroyed well before he was even born. In this case, we see idolatry leading to the breaking of the 5th Commandment.

Idolatry doesn’t just mess with our relationship with God. It messes with our relationships with others as well. If our sins violate our vertical relationship with God, how much more will it violate our horizontal relationships with our own kind? Here we see how both are violated. As I continue my series, we’ll see how idolatry produces even greater evil in our dealings with men as I go through the rest of the “horizontal” commandments. Next week, I’ll examine murder.

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

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What Is the Plain Reading of Scripture? Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 4, 2021 2 comments


by Steve Risner

In a discussion about doctrine, the question of how we interpret a passage of Scripture is generally brought up. There are many different groups who feel that a certain interpretation of a particular passage is correct while others are incorrect. How do we know which interpretation is correct? How can we tell if one is probably wrong? I’d like to begin to explore that a bit today.

I am a Biblical creationist. This means my beliefs on our origins and the origins of the universe are founded in reading what the Bible says about it. I do not allow external sources to influence what I think the Bible says about this where the Bible specifically speaks on it. But there are certainly details or even entire topics regarding origins that the Bible doesn’t specifically speak on. In these instances, we would not allow an external source to alter what the Bible states, but we can use external sources to supply us with details, keeping in mind these details are subject to change as they are not written in the Word of God and may not be accurate.

For instance, if we are talking about whether or not there was a global Flood that destroyed all land-dwelling and air-breathing animals on earth except a small number of animals and humans that were saved on the Ark, we would have to agree the Bible is fairly clear that this happened. It is even fairly clear on when it happened. However, the Biblical text does not talk about massive graves of organisms that were buried all at once or huge sedimentary layers laid down during this deluge. We can assume, probably quite accurately, that this would happen, but the Bible does not speak specifically of it. We also do not have details on exactly what went on with continental drifting, mountain range formation, uplifting, or ocean creation. However, if we are to use external sources to help guide our thoughts on these ideas, we must be sure we do not allow those external sources to change what the Bible does say about the event. In other words, the Bible may provide a framework for something and where there are holes or left out details, we can use external sources to fill in the gaps, being diligent to not allow those sources to alter the framework the Bible has provided.

So how do we interpret the Bible in general and, in particular, the book of Genesis and other places where origins are discussed? What I believe is the best way to do this is called the “plain reading” or “natural reading” of the text. This is not reading it “literally,” and I’ll explain why later. In short, we allow the passages to tell us what they tell us. We allow them to speak for themselves without injecting our own desires or biases into it. Reading the text “naturally” would mean that if the passage presents itself as a historical narrative, we assume it’s a historical narrative. If the passage presents itself as poetry, we read it as such, but we also understand that poetry can talk about real people and events and be accurate as it does so. If it tells us it is allegorical or a parable, we read it as such. Books of wisdom should be taken as that and so on.

If how we interpret a passage of Scripture seems to contradict another passage of Scripture, we need to remedy this. It is usually not terribly difficult to do, but this can be a challenge on occasion. It could mean we need to reevaluate the passage we are looking into. It could mean we need to take another look at the passage we may seem to be contradicting. However, it is also very important to be sure the apparent contradiction is actually a contradiction. Sometimes we may think something looks like a problem at first glance, but upon further evaluation and after looking at the details a bit more deeply, we can see that the contradiction was just apparent and not real. This is actually pretty common, I think.

Here is just one example of this, but hopefully the reader can figure out others if they run across them in the future. The Bible tells us that Jesus would be, like Jonah in the belly of a fish (Matthew 12:40), in the grave for 3 days and nights. But Friday afternoon to Sunday morning is not 3 days and nights by our reckoning, is it? Luke 24:7 tells us this was the case—that Jesus rose on the 3rd day. There are several different explanations for this some have put forth over the centuries. I think the simplest way to remedy this apparent contradiction is to understand how the Jews counted days. A clue is found in Esther 4:16. Here we see Esther will fast for three days and three nights, but she actually approaches the king before the third night. Following our rules for counting the days, she would have had to wait until the fourth day to fulfill this command. Is this a contradiction? Not if we understand that Jews counted days differently than we do. A day actually ends (so the next begins) at sundown. So, Friday starts on Thursday night. However, even part of a day, if it’s before sundown, is counted as the whole day. So, while a passage may appear to be contradictory on the surface, sometimes it’s because we need to understand something about the culture or times or have more details about it. This does not give us license to completely alter a passage. This is often done in the name of following what was known at the time of the writing or something like that. This is not good and makes God out to be some sort of incompetent communicator. He is not.

A common problem today is that people bring their outside sources to the Bible and force the Bible to fit those sources. I believe the Biblical creationist does this to the least degree although, like anyone, it is possible we do interpret things based on our biases. However, if our foundation is to accept what the Word tells us and utilize that as a framework for the rest of our beliefs, it is much more difficult to allow external sources to change what the Bible is telling us. This is called exegesis vs eisegesis (more on that here). One is drawing out from the Word what it is telling us (exegesis) while the other is inserting in what we want or feel the text should say based on something from outside the Bible (eisegesis). Again, we must understand that the Bible does not give details about every last miniscule happening. However, this should not give us license to radically change what a passage says because we have found some external source that, while fallible and likely to change, is at odds with what the Bible tells us. External sources are fine to use, but they cannot ever cause us to rewrite what a well-established interpretation of a passage is saying. The truth is, for thousands of years both Jews and Christians alike have understood the creation account in Genesis to be a real series of events that occurred over 6 days and that the timeline is well spelled out for us to understand when Adam was created.

We are not talking about something like geocentrism here or something like that. While people may have had strong opinions on them, those types of things are not specifically stated in Scripture. The Bible does not tell us that the earth is at the center of our solar system or galaxy or universe. In fact, it does not mention the topic at all or earth’s location in physical space. Some may point to a belief in geocentrism and the conflict that arose when Galileo (I realize that Copernicus had a lot to do with this but Galileo had a pretty serious go of things with the Catholic Church over geocentrism) announced he believed the earth was not at the center of the solar system. They may say that this is a great example of allowing modern science to change how we interpret the text. But, this is nothing like this at all because the Biblical text makes no claims as to the specific design of the universe. Someone may have determined that the sun, stars, and planets revolved around us, but this isn’t brought out of Scripture. This means no newer, more accurate interpretation was needed.

I hope you as a reader understand this. We are not talking about something not specifically stated in the Bible. We are talking about something outlined in detail in the Word of God when we discuss origins and even when creation occurred. No external source should be allowed to completely disfigure the portions of Scripture that focus on origins or the Flood. If we are talking about something not specifically stated in Scripture, we might have more room to not be so rigid in our beliefs.

Next time, we will look at this in more detail as I feel it is an important topic. The “that’s your interpretation” argument needs to be put in its place. On occasion, it might be a reasonable defense, but often it is not at all. Thanks for reading.

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(Repentance Not Included) The Need

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, February 2, 2021 1 comments


by Chad Koons

“Come as you are” is such a welcoming invitation. Thank God that I could come to Jesus just as I was. But the best news came after this invitation, sort of a necessary next step, and it’s something that seems to have been removed from modern-day Christianity. Many have forbidden it, calling it insensitive. It’s been banned from most of our churches, especially from progressive Christianity, and it’s becoming increasingly unpopular amidst conservative congregations. I would wager that 9 out of 10 self-proclaimed Christians cannot even define it.

What is this forbidden next step?

“REPENT!”

Did that word in capital letters make you feel unsettled? I hit that nerve on purpose; I know that it sounds jarring, cold, and commanding. Perhaps it summons unpleasant memories, recalling someone from our past who seemingly wielded repentance as a hammer against us. For some, it is reminiscent of “old time religion,” a relic from a harsh, ignorant past that we’ve progressed from.

Yet properly understood, repentance is the best news that you can ever hope to receive. It means that you don’t need to be stuck in cycles of sin, but that you can finally be free!

Before I had repented, my life was filled with ungodliness. I had been a liar and a cheater. I had surrounded myself with friends who were even worse off than I was. I had begun involvement with drugs and alcohol. I had gotten pretty deep into witchcraft, satanism, and the occult. All the while, I was going to church and still considered myself a Christian in spite of my ungodly life. Yet in my heart I knew that I was not truly a follower of Jesus and I wanted to change, I just didn’t know how. The Father was leading me to repentance, but no one around me had the knowledge or courage to help me get there. Even worse, many Christians around me were comforting me by affirming my sin!

I was part of a massive problem that is still plaguing the church. God help us, we have created generations of self-proclaimed Christians who have never truly repented of their sin. Maybe we felt sorry for our sin, maybe we modified bits of our behavior for a short while, maybe our remorseful emotions caused a tiny change or two, but it could not last. Christianity without repentance is worse than fantasy; it’s delusion. It’s a delusion that has gripped the hearts of millions through our failing churches who have pandered to our emotional states rather than the saving of our souls.

Like little kids trying to play with a new toy yet lacking the required batteries, “Christians” have been playing with the idea of faith in Jesus without ever including the repentance necessary to get it going. We should have known; I mean it’s literally spelled out for us, had we bothered to read it: “(Repentance not included. Full repentance required).”

What is repentance? Quite simply, repentance means to change the way you think, to change your will and mindset. It’s a decision to serve the Lord with everything in your life. Repentance is also “to turn around,” stop moving in your current direction, turn backwards, and begin walking down a new and different path, to turn from sin and towards the Lord. Repent and believe. I believe that faith is impossible without repentance. Repentance is the very doorway to faith. You can never be a disciple of Jesus without repentance. To repent and believe is the Biblical order.

Don’t take my word for it, take His Word:

Repentance is necessary for acceptance by the Lord. Come out from among the sinners and be accepted by Him. (2 Corinthians 6:17)
Repentance is so important that it was the first message that Jesus ever preached! Jesus commanded them to repent. (Matthew 4:17)
Repentance is so important that it was also the first message of the early church! Peter told them to repent. (Acts 2:37-39)
Repentance from sin is a required action, as maintaining a sinful lifestyle will exclude you from God’s Kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Repentance from sin is foundational, it is the first mentioned of the “basic principles” of God. (Hebrews 5:12-6:1)
Repentance is a proof that we know the Lord. (1 John 2:3-6)
Repentance is commanded by the Lord. (Acts 17:30-31)

Now that we understand what repentance is, we can do something about it.

“Come as you are,” yes, amen, and thank God that He allows us to approach Him while still in our sin! He is not afraid of our mess. But thank God that He loves us too much to keep us there! He changes our lives, if we let Him. What does true repentance look like? We take a look at Biblical repentance in the follow up post, “(Repentance Not Included) Part 2” next time.

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

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