Other Central Messages to the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 30, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This will conclude my series on how to read and understand the Bible before beginning my next series on the 10 major systematic theology categories. Last week, I wrote about how Jesus is the ultimate central message of the Bible. Every passage of Scripture is meant to point to Jesus and reveal Him and also show what He is not. But I also left last week pointing out that if we truly are to follow Jesus, we must take all that comes with Him. That is what this post is about. While every passage is about Jesus, it is also about living a life with Jesus at the center.

The American Church as a whole has overemphasized “just believe Jesus” so you can get to heaven and the rest is details. The problem is that Jesus never taught that Himself, and neither did Paul or any other Biblical author. Luke 14:25-35 is one of the most neglected teachings of Jesus today, telling us to “count the cost.” Few people are being taught today that to be a Christian is not a freebie. While it is a “free gift” in that we do not do anything to earn it, there most certainly is a cost to it, and that cost is steep. It cost Jesus His life; it also costs us ours. We are to die daily to self, take up our own cross, and follow Jesus. Jesus did not say, “Proclaim my name, say good things about me, but you can live your life as you want otherwise.” Yet that is how many “Christians” live today. Many will adamantly deny they do this, but it won’t take lot of pressing for them to show that is exactly what they believe. So, what are other major themes throughout the Bible that revolve around following Christ?

First, you are not God. God is God. God is not like you nor molds to your desires. I will take any person to task who challenges me in my claim here that the bulk of “modern Christianity” in America today does not worship God but worships self. Listen to them. Listen to how they preach and pray. It’s all about how God can help them and service them. They treat God as their “Divine Butler.” They see Jesus as the “Humble Servant” and instead make him “THEIR servant.” God is Holy. Not just holy but holy, holy, holy. He is not like us. He is separate from everything in this universe not just in substance but especially in thinking. And in man’s hubris, we have created an image of God that does what we want, is against what we are against, likes what we like, hates what we hate, and is frankly a mirror image of us or what we would be like if we were God. One of the central messages of the Bible is that God is not like us. He is above us, far above and beyond us, where sinful man cannot grasp Him. Yet He has let us know Him in ways our finite minds can comprehend.

With that is a call for separation. This is nearly completely absent from modern Christianity today. We are to be in this world but not of it. And it’s not the Word of Faith only that does this. Listen to the Old Earth Creation scholars. They are totally engulfed in this world. They cannot understand how you can proclaim the name of Jesus and actually agree with what Jesus said about origins. Some of these scholars of various types go as far as saying that we cannot understand the Scriptures without understand the Ancient Near East cultures that surrounded them. That is absurd. Israel was told repeatedly to not be like the other nations. Yes, they were a nation that was in the Ancient Near East, but their culture was extremely different and God disciplined them every time they tried to mix with the other cultures. We in the United States are no different. We are called to be different from the culture and yet the primary philosophy of many churches today is to be like the world. We are not to think like the world, act like the world, embrace the world or any of its ideas, from millions of years (which is out of secular humanistic naturalistic thinking), to the sexual perversions we are seeing today, to the lust for material wealth, health, and prosperity, to the consumer mentality, to critical race theory and other Marxist ideologies, or even to the political issues. We are not to think like the culture, no matter what culture it is.

We were saved not only for enjoying paradise either. We were saved for the purpose of serving and glorifying God. This is often missed in the studying of Exodus. My pastor has pointed that out as he has been going through his teaching series on Exodus the last almost 2 years (and we aren’t halfway through yet). God did not save Israel because He was sad about their fate as slaves. He saved them so that they would be His people, serve Him, represent Him, and be a people that would raise up the Savior and proclaim the Savior to the world. That is our job, too. We are not saved just to get out of Hell. We are saved so that we can be separate from the world and to serve, worship, and glorify God. Our primary dream about going to heaven should not be for paradise, but our primary dream should be about being with Christ. Our dream should be about being finally free from all that which goes against Christ (which is sin). We were created to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever; the paradise is just the cherry on top. But if Christ is our focus, then Christ should BE our focus.

Finally, a key message throughout Scripture is summarized in Proverbs 3:5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. A central message to the Bible and a central message to Christianity and following Christ is to not rely on self, especially self’s understanding of things. I do not think it is unfair to state that you are not following Christ if you are relying on your own understanding of things; you are following you in that moment, not Christ. So when you hear, “That’s your interpretation” or “That’s not how I see it” or any other variation of that, you are listening to self’s opinions, not what God has said. And while we can only proclaim what we know, we must take the pulpit or the pen very seriously. I can tell when what I write and what I speak is coming from God and when it is coming from self. And the latter is nearly always convoluted and confusing and often gibberish. But God speaks clearly and poignantly so that we have no excuse on what He meant. We are to trust God, not ourselves. When we read and study the Bible and we are saved, the Holy Spirit is with us. He is a far better teacher than any preacher or scholar (and that is no knock on those who have done these great studies). If you submit to the Holy Spirit and read the Bible for yourself with the mindset of believing and obeying it, you will find that the Holy Spirit is an even better teacher of Scripture than I ever could be.

Next week is 2023, and I will open up the year with a 10-post series on Systematic Theology. Enjoy.

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Manasseh, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 26, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

After the great legacy of obeying God that King Hezekiah left during his 29-year reign, you would think that it would be easy for the next king to follow in his footsteps and keep following God. However, that was not what King Manasseh did, as we read about him in 2 Kings 21:1-18.

King Manasseh was the son of King Hezekiah, so he would have grown up experiencing what it was like to follow God under his father’s reign. But, he was only 12 years old when he became the king, so perhaps he was not mature enough to follow in his father’s footsteps during the next 55 years that he was the king – the longest reigning king in Judah’s history.

King Manasseh basically undid all of the good that his father had done. While King Hezekiah had gotten rid of all the places of idol worship, King Manasseh built them back up. In verses 2-3, we read, “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.” Note the comparison of King Manasseh to King Ahab of Israel; he was known as the worst of the worst kings!

But the details of what King Manasseh did get even worse. The next thing mentioned is that he built altars to pagan gods in various parts of God’s temple in Jerusalem. But then verse 6 tells us even more: “He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger.” It is believed that his son was only an infant when King Manasseh sacrificed him as part of a ritual to a pagan god. All of this activity is demonic in nature and exactly the opposite of what God wanted His people to do.

To add to that, King Manasseh placed the Asherah pole in the temple. This was an especially terrible offense to God as the Asherah pole was a symbol of sexual immorality. To put that in the temple was like a direct slap in the face to God. The people were worshiping their own bodies and their sexuality rather than God. The author recounts a promise of God to the people of Israel in verses 7b-8: “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. I will not again make the feet of the Israelites wander from the land I gave their ancestors, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them and will keep the whole Law that my servant Moses gave them.” The people were definitely not doing what God commanded them, and they were not keeping the law that God gave them through Moses.

Verse 9 tells us that the people did not listen to the law of Moses but instead let King Manasseh lead them astray from God. Not only did they go astray, but they did even more evil than the other nations that God had destroyed!

We don’t have names recorded for the prophets that God used during King Manasseh’s reign to try and get the people to turn back to Him, but we do see God’s message to the people in verses 11-15. God declares that Judah, and specifically King Manasseh, has done so much evil that God would destroy them. God will “bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.” He is going to completely wipe out the nation, and they will be looted and plundered. God reminds them that they have been making him angry basically ever since they left Egypt!

Judah sinned so severely that they should expect a very severe judgment from God, and it is during this time period that God began to make that happen. God is a merciful and gracious God, but there is an end to His mercy when the people keep blatantly turning against Him in very explicit ways. God had already allowed the northern kingdom of Israel to be taken into exile under the Assyrians, so it is made clear here that a similar fate is now on its way for the southern kingdom of Judah.

The question remains, though: what happened between the very good reign of King Hezekiah and the very evil reign of King Manasseh? What caused the drastic change in the people?

One theory is that the change toward worshiping and obeying God under King Hezekiah was only lip service. Perhaps the people treated it like the next new idol worship fad but did not experience a true heart change toward God. Then, when King Hezekiah’s 16-year reign was over, the people reverted right back to idolatry.

Another theory is that it all hinges on the leader, and the people simply blindly followed whoever was in charge at the time. That does ring true with the history of the nation. When the leader follows and obeys God, he gets the people to do the same; when the leader disobeys God, he gets the people to do the same.

Another factor to consider is the people’s sinful nature. Following God is not easy, and people are naturally enticed by the easiest way to get through life. Sin and idolatry have to look more enticing than following God, or else no one would do it. Satan is cunning in that respect, and he appeals to the nature of the people to do what is pleasing in the short term rather than what may be better in the long term.

Today, we are no different than the people of Judah under King Manasseh. While we don’t worship Baal or Asherah poles, we do worship many other false gods – particularly the god of self. Our culture is all about doing what feels good and pleasing ourselves, which is often the opposite of what God calls us to do. It’s not that God doesn’t want us to be happy, but again, sin has to be enticing or we wouldn’t do it. God calls us to do the difficult thing of going against the culture (and even our leadership when they go against Him) to follow Him. It was not easy for the people of Judah, and it is not easy for us today. But because of what God did for us in sending Jesus to take on the punishment for our sin, we are called to honor and glorify God by living that difficult life that honors Him, rather than getting sucked into the idolatry that the culture around us is committing.

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The Central Message of the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 23, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

In our day and age of intellectualism and our desire to pick apart and dissect every detail of anything academically, it is very easy to get sidetracked and chase rabbits while forgetting where we are and where we are going. While the ability to properly read, understand, and unpack a verse gives the reader life, let us not forget that all these verses and all these passages have a point and purpose together. For the next two posts, I am going to describe several of the central key messages of the Bible holistically to help us keep our thinking and our studies in line. This will set up my next series on the ten fields of systematic theology that theologians use to describe the ten major subjects and themes of the Bible.

As we celebrate Christmas this weekend, we should have a heightened awareness of Christ and His coming. The overall central message of the Bible is Jesus. As Eric Ludy teaches, the Bible is the Word of God in text form. Jesus is the Word of God in living flesh. One of his sermons that I often go back and listen to again is called “Christophany,” which is about making Jesus the center of all our theology and Bible and living discussions and studies. In the sermon, Ludy shares a hypothetical dialogue between a new preacher and his old mentor. The new preacher did an excellent job at dissecting the text with great analogies and good application, but the old preacher said it was a poor sermon. Why? Because even though the text did not explicitly have Christ in it, the preacher did not make a connect to Christ. Every text has such a road to Christ and the preacher’s job, or the reader’s job, is to find that road and go to Him.

I emphasize on origins a lot, but it really is not about whether the earth is 6000 years old. The age is merely a label that encompasses everything that comes with it. There are some old earth creation apologists who publicly state that Jesus is more important than origins. While that sounds good on paper, and while no one would disagree with such statement on the surface, this is actually a false teaching in how it is used. It is correct in that studying origins is pointless unless it points to Christ, but it is dead wrong to suggest that you can believe whatever you want regarding origins “as long as you believe in Christ.” Why? Because if you get origins wrong, you get Jesus wrong. If the earth is billions of years old, that means within all those rock layers are millions of dead things, including humans, that well precede any notion of Adam. That puts human death before sin, and that right there completely eliminates the Gospel. The atheists know this. Yet our theologians cannot see it. And we wonder why our churches are so impotent today: our leading men don’t believe our own text. Why are we letting those men lead us? Why are we putting men who openly question the clarity and meaning of the opening chapters of the Bible in the spotlight as our representatives?

If Jesus is the center and the most important topic, then anything He says on the matter goes, right? Except that Jesus didn’t come into existence only about 2000 years ago. Jesus is the very Creator Himself. Don’t you think He’d know what He did? “Well, well, this is Jesus’ humanity speaking. He didn’t have His God-knowledge.” Is that your final answer? Because Jesus said He knew Abraham and that He was the I AM who met Moses at the burning bush. But let’s say Jesus’ “God-knowledge” was held back. How would Jesus answer any question about origins? “Have you not read in the Law of Moses that in six days, God created the heavens and the earth and the seas and all within them?” We have a very famous apologist who said if he could go back in time and talk to Jesus about origins, he not only would have to teach Jesus about Evolution, but that Jesus would be perfectly fine with it. My reaction to that was, “Blasphemy!” Not because he is wrong about origins, but because he is wrong about Jesus. He has the wrong image of Jesus as a result of his wrong image of origins.

There are other fields of theology in which Christ must be center. No. matter what we study, the center must be Christ. The end goal must be Christ and the One proclaimed in the end must be Christ.

Proclaiming Christ means proclaiming the Gospel. Now the Gospel is not merely the plan of salvation. It’s a big part of it, but the Gospel is so much more than that. The Gospel is not just how we sinned and rebelled and how Jesus came to save us. It is also about how we live our lives as saved people. So, the Gospel is for the believer, not just for the unbeliever. And the Gospel should be all about sharing Christ and who Jesus is.

One of my pet peeves today is the modern testimony. It is so self-centered and all about “me” and how Jesus makes my life better. While there are often mentions of “I once was a sinner and now am saved” and while there are mentions of how “Jesus saved me,” I have to ask: would anyone leaving that conversation know anything about Jesus? The answer is often no. Why? Because all they gave was self-centered message in which Jesus is a means of making life better. Jesus was presented as a means to an end, not the end of the means. We need to learn how to share our testimony so people walking away will be thinking about Jesus, not us. When Rebekah came to become Isaac’s bride, she was thinking about Isaac, not the servant who told her about him. The same should be true about us. We point to Christ and then get out of the way.

In our intellectual day and age, we are so focused on doctrine that we frequently miss Christ. I easily fall into this trap as well. I often fail to get to the Gospel when doing apologetics because I am so set on seeing the truth being proclaimed in that one area that I never get past it to where it all points too. This is one thing I so greatly appreciate about my church is that while we love and support the intellectual studies, we seek to do so out of humility and not pride. I have learned a lot, but I have a lot more to learn in putting it into practice.

Though He is the primary message, Jesus is not the only message in the Bible. There are others that go along with Him. You cannot have Jesus without having these other central messages as well. It is not enough to “just have Jesus,” because Jesus drew a rather thick line to what it means to be His disciple or not. You have to take all that comes with Him. That’s for next week.

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Hezekiah, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 19, 2022 1 comments

by Katie Erickson

After Judah experienced the evil reign of King Ahaz for 16 years, his son Hezekiah took over the throne. While King Ahaz was one of the evilest kings of Judah, Hezekiah was one of the best. His reign is described in 2 Kings 18-20 and also 2 Chronicles 29-32.

The summary of King Hezekiah’s reign is found in 2 Kings 18:3-7: “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. … Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.”

In short, King Hezekiah was a model king. He followed God, got rid of all evidence of idols that the people had been worshiping, and continually trusted in God. Because of that, God blessed him and gave him success in everything that he did. King Hezekiah even rebelled against Assyria, which is significant because the northern kingdom of Israel was giving into Assyria’s takeover around that same time, under the leadership of King Hoshea.

The capture of the northern kingdom of Israel is described under King Hezekiah’s reign in 2 Kings 18:9-12. The goodness of King Hezekiah is contrasted with the evilness of the nation of Israel and its kings by showing that Israel was captured and the people were deported to Assyria, away from their land. The account makes it clear that this was because they disobeyed God, in contrast to King Hezekiah’s obedience.

But, that doesn’t mean Judah was safe from all attacks. Ten years later, Sennacherib the king of Assyria attacked and captured the fortified cities of Judah. Assyria was geographically located north of Israel, so they just continued their destructive journey southward through Israel and then into Judah. King Hezekiah realized that his nation could easily be overtaken by the Assyrians, so he reached out to strike a bargain with the foreign nation. Sennacherib asked for what amounts to 11 tons of silver and 1 ton of gold. King Hezekiah went above and beyond that, emptying all the silver in the temple and even taking the gold off the doors and doorposts of the temple.

But that didn’t satisfy Sennacherib’s greed; he suspected there would be much more wealth where that came from. So, Sennacherib sent a message to King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:19-25. In it, he points out first that King Hezekiah should not trust him, and then he suggests that King Hezekiah and his army are not as strong as they think they are. Sennacherib implies that all wars are won with the strength of the army and the number of chariots. He even calls out King Hezekiah’s faith and trust in God as bigotry and says that God was the one who told Assyria to attach the nation of Judah!

Sennacherib’s messenger tries to convince the people in Jerusalem who were within earshot that they could not trust King Hezekiah. He repeatedly says that the people should not listen to King Hezekiah, and he promises them rewards for listening to him and Assyria instead. The Assyrians claim that no god has ever delivered them; however, the flaw in their plan was that all the other gods are not like the one true God.

King Hezekiah was distressed by this message from the Assyrians, and his advisors went to Isaiah the prophet about the situation. But, Isaiah had an encouraging word from God for them: “This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword” (2 Kings 19:6-7). Word of this got back to Sennacherib, who again tried to dissuade King Hezekiah from trusting in God. He explained all that the Assyrians had done to conquer other nations; what does Judah have that makes them any different?

King Hezekiah’s response was the right one: he prayed. In his prayer in 2 Kings 19:15-19, he praises the character and authority of God. He acknowledges that the Assyrians have destroyed other nations, but he also has confidence that God will deliver Judah – not for Judah’s sake, but so that everyone may know that He truly is God!

God sends a message back to King Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah, which is recorded in 2 Kings 19:20-34. In short, God will do what He said He will, and He will deliver Judah from the hand of the Assyrians. That night, God did exactly that; while everyone was sleeping, God killed 185,000 Assyrians, which caused Sennacherib to withdraw his remaining troops.

For many of the kings, we have no record of how they died; the text simply states that the reign was handed down to the next person. But we see in 2 Kings 20:1-11, King Hezekiah became ill, and God sent him a message through the prophet Isaiah that he was going to die. Hezekiah wept at this message, and then God sent Isaiah back with another message that God would heal him. Not only that, but God would add 15 years to his life and deliver the nation of Judah from the Assyrians. King Hezekiah asked for a sign that this would happen, and God gave him the sign he asked for.

The nation of Babylon heard of King Hezekiah’s illness, and so they sent representatives to Judah. King Hezekiah showed them everything in the kingdom, including all the storehouses of treasures. Isaiah gave King Hezekiah a prophecy that one day, everything would be carried off to Babylon, including the people. But, that did not happen in King Hezekiah’s lifetime, though it would happen to Judah eventually.

King Hezekiah is remembered for being one of the great kings of Israel, truly honoring God and following Him in everything that he did. Today, we can look to King Hezekiah’s example and do the same – honor God and follow Him in all that we do. God will reward those who obey and follow Him, just as God rewarded King Hezekiah with a prosperous reign, victory over the Assyrians, and a longer life to lead the people and keep them on the right path to worshiping Him.

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How to Unpack Scripture

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 16, 2022 2 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The past few weeks, I have been emphasizing that the Bible is overall simple and easy to understand. It is easy to get the central message of it. Otherwise, the believer would not be able to cherish its truth, and the unbeliever would not feel its conviction. But the Bible is much more than a simple book. It is a book that no matter how many times you read it you will never exhaust its depth. There a very few books you can read and keep getting new content out of it. Some books are thick enough and meaty enough that it takes multiple readings just to get it (just try studying physics when you are not used to it and see if you get it the first time through). But once you get those books, there is little point in re-reading them other than just to refresh your mind on it because you already exhausted its content. The Bible is not like that.

Anyone can unpack Scripture and continue to dig and mine its depths to see each verse come alive over and over again no matter how many times you have read it. Proverbs 3:5 is one of those verses for me. It’s a verse I memorized as a child, but in recent years, it’s truly come alive where no matter what I see and hear, this verse keeps coming back. In this post, I want to give you tips in how I unpack Scripture.

First off, there is no such thing as a “deeper meaning” of Scripture that is different from the plain, surface-level meaning. In a debate between Kent Hovind and Hugh Ross on age of the earth, during a Q&A session one guy proposed that “day” as a normal day is the plain reading, but “day” as a long period of time is the deeper meaning. I don’t remember Hovind’s response to that, but I remember I didn’t like it. He should have said that such a proposal was absurd because “deeper” cannot be “different.” You cannot go over basic addition and subtraction and then teach calculus that denies addition and subtraction. Deeper has to build upon the plain meaning and make the plain meaning richer. But you cannot change the meaning, otherwise you have a different meaning, and it will be nonsense. The simple meaning of “day” cannot be a normal day when the deeper meaning is “long periods of time.” That doesn’t work.

Sometimes digging into the original culture gives additional details that we don’t see through our lenses. An example is the Parable of the Prodigal Son when the father runs to greet his son. It was actually culturally inappropriate for an older man to run in that time period. Does this change the meaning or our understanding the passage? No; it just makes it even richer because we see the father abandoning cultural norms to show his love for his son. Yet, I have had someone use this as justification to support “Old Earth Creation” models and there was no relation whatsoever to the two. You can use these “parochial” sources to help expand the picture, but never to change the picture.

So how do you unpack Scripture? The first part of that is to believe and obey what you already know; this is vital. God has no obligation to show you deeper truths if you do not believe nor obey the truths you already have. The unpacking of Scripture is not meant to be an intellectual game that is for the scholars only. My dad is an anti-scholarly as you can get; he simply is not wired academically. Yet when he was reading through Acts and came across Paul preaching to King Felix, he caught something. Felix was nearly persuaded to be a Christian and chose to send Paul back to his prison cell to be brought back at a time that was more convenient. He shared this with me, and he had a whole sermon about the dangers of listening to and obeying Scripture at our convenience. He could not understand how someone like me could unpack Scripture so deeply, and yet there he was doing the same thing. I told him how proud I was of him in seeing that. He COULD do it. And it is because of having child-like faith. The Bible says it; he believes it. That is the first secret.

Once you come to the position of believing the text, the next part is asking God what He wants to show us. This may happen subconsciously on a spirit-to-spirit level. This happens with me all the time. I may not articulate it as such, but I’ve already taken a position of “This is God’s Word; God, what are you saying here?” As you pray and meditate on the passage, write down what is coming to mind. There are places for consulting commentaries and other versions, and I do not knock those, but be careful about letting them do your studying for you. People can tell when a preacher or writer (like me) has actually spent time in Scripture on a topic or spent time in “the books.” You will see things differently and find different things than I do. You will emphasize one thing more than I would but as long as the truth of the overall message is not changed, then you are on the right track.

When you let God speak, there is no limitations to what you can get out of a text. But beware of just pulling something out of a hat and talking out of your rear. Our job is to preach the Word, not make something up and decorate it in Christianese. But the applications, the angles, the pictures, that one living, breathing text that the Holy Spirit makes alive are too numerous to count and all out of one interpretation. There are not many interpretations – just one. God said one thing, not 20, not 2000 – just one. (See Eric Ludy’s sermon "Betrayed with a Kiss" for more on that issue.) Just preach that one thing, but the depth you can go in that one statement, that one truth, is limitless.

To unpack Scripture and dig into its depths is a skill that will not come immediately, and no blog post or book will properly equip you. It’s just like prayer. While you can read books about what prayer is and what it should look like and what it does, you will not experience the power of prayer until you actually pray. Likewise, you will not mine the depths of Scripture until you start digging and practicing and believing the truth that you know. Next week, I’ll wrap up this series by examining the central messages and key “systems” of the Bible.

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Hoshea, King of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 12, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

As we have seen with each king of the northern kingdom of Israel, the nation has been on a downward spiral ever since it split under King Solomon’s son Rehoboam. While the southern kingdom of Judah has had some good kings and some bad ones, not one king of Israel can be considered good with obedience to God. King Jehu is the only one who may be slightly considered as good, but only for part of his reign.

God kept delaying His judgment on the evil, idolatrous nation of Israel, but finally, under King Hoshea, their extra time ran out. King Hoshea is the last king of the northern kingdom of Israel.

King Hoshea’s reign even began in a tumultuous way. We read in 2 Kings 15:30: “Then Hoshea son of Elah conspired against Pekah son of Remaliah. He attacked and assassinated him, and then succeeded him as king in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah.” Hoshea only became king because he killed King Pekah who had been on the throne.

The rest of King Hoshea’s story is found in 2 Kings 17:1-6. Previously, under King Pekah, the nation of Assyria invaded Israel, but the Assyrians did not fully take over at that time. While some previous kings made alliances with the Assyrians to keep the peace, King Hoshea was against that. When he took the throne, it was during a military purge that was pro-Assyria, but then he quickly changed his tune. However, King Hoshea’s efforts to go against the Assyrians were not successful.

Outwardly, King Hoshea had become a servant to the king of Assyria, but inwardly he did not pledge his allegiance to the Assyrians. The previous king of Assyria had died, and his son Shalmaneser took over in his place. Shalmaneser discovered that King Hoshea was not truly a loyal subject, and that was basically the end of King Hoshea’s reign – and the nation of Israel being an independent nation.

Because of Israel’s lack of loyalty to Assyria, they invaded and fought for 3 years. Then, “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria” (2 Kings 17:6a). While on the outside this appeared to be a political situation with Assyria, really this was God’s judgment on an evil people who had been disobeying him for a few centuries. King after king continued to be evil, even with God sending multiple prophets to try and get His people back on track. The people were so far gone from actually honoring God as the one true God that something drastic had to be done, and God used the nation of Assyria to accomplish that.

This true reason behind the exile can be found in 2 Kings 17:7-8: “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced.”

The whole section of 2 Kings 17:7-23 is a long discourse about why Israel was sent into exile. Israel continually did what was not right in God’s eyes. They built towers, high places, Asherah poles, and sacred stones to worship idols and the gods of pagan nations. They did all sorts of wicked things that made God angry. God clearly told them not to worship idols (Exodus 20:2-6), and yet they constantly did it anyway.

God sent multiple prophets to the nation – Ahijah, Jehu, Micaiah, Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Micah, and Isaiah to name a few. What was the result? “But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the LORD their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the LORD had ordered them, ‘Do not do as they do’” (2 Kings 17:14-15).

Reading through this section, it seems that the more that’s recorded about the evils of the nation of Israel, the worse it gets. “They forsook all the commands of the LORD their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger” (2 Kings 17:16-17).

The result of all of this was that God removed Israel from His presence. Even God’s mercy has a limit when His people continue to blatantly disobey Him again and again for a few hundred years. God rejected them and allowed them to be captured and taken into exile by the nation of Assyria. Now, this punishment was just for the northern kingdom of Israel, but the author points out that the southern kingdom of Judah should take note, as they were falling into idolatry as well.

A summary of the nation of Israel from the time the kingdom divided until the exile is given in 2 Kings 17:21-23: “When he tore Israel away from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king. Jeroboam enticed Israel away from following the LORD and caused them to commit a great sin. The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them until the LORD removed them from his presence, as he had warned through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there.”

We can learn a lot about God’s character through His dealings with the nation of Israel during this time. God is a patient God; this was not a quick judgment, but it took over 200 years for God to finally get to the point where He allowed them to be overtaken. God is a persistent God; He kept giving warning after warning through many prophets to try and get the people to turn back to Him. God is a merciful God; even when sending the people into exile, He did not totally kill off the people but instead gave them harsh punishment. God is a loving God; He never stopped loving His people and trying to win them back, and even their punishment of exile was an act of love to get them to see who He really is and how much He loves them.

The God of the nation of Israel is still the same God we worship and serve today. He is still patient, persistent, merciful, and loving; but He also has the right to punish a nation that continually and blatantly rejects Him. Consider yourself warned!

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How to Misread the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 9, 2022 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about how to read the Bible, and now I am going to show you the opposite: how to misread the Bible, so you can identify it when you head some of these silly ridiculous arguments made by both unbelievers and believers. And don’t think I am bashing everyone out there because all of us are guilty of doing this. We have all read the Bible wrongly. So, this is not just for watching for bad arguments from “out there,” but also for watching for it in ourselves.

We first must recognize that the born-again believer is still not fully redeemed. He still has his mind and body acting on sinful old habits that are in defiance and rebellion against God. That is why we must be in continual process of putting self to death and being renewed with the transforming of the mind into alignment to Christ’s. While we are alive here on earth, we will not escape this reality, but we can be in the process of becoming more and more freed from sin and more and more like Christ. In the meantime, we have the Bible, which is our guide and school master for doctrine, reproof, correction, and righteous instruction. But we have to read the Bible correctly and not let our sinful desires that reject, corrupt, and twist it get in the way.

Perhaps the most common error that I see among professing believers is the practice called “eisegesis.” It is the idea of taking an already established idea or model and using that to interpret the text. One example of this is “Old Earth Creation” models. Because there is no text anywhere that remotely supports these models, the way it is argued is that “modern science” is true, and then they search for an interpretation, a dictionary definition, that COULD be used to support it, despite the context completely saying something different. One example of this is when an OEC cited Proverbs 6:6 to show that we could use science to interpret the Bible. Proverbs 6:6 is telling us to “look to the ant” as an example to ward against laziness and slothfulness. It does not hint whatsoever that science is a valid interpretive tool to understand Scripture. Steve Risner has a couple of blog posts, such as this one, that address this issue in more detail.

Another example of eisegesis has been a lot more subtle, but it ties back to my previous series about how the Christian home needs to ditch the “American mindset” and return to the Biblical concept. Today, we read of the Proverbs 31 woman in context of the American dream. That’s not how it should be read at all. Instead, we need to look at what it says regardless of our culture. But we do this all the time. We bring in our own understanding and our current definitions of terms instead of actually looking at what the text actually says. We must keep our guard up against this.

Another common error is that of pragmatism. I’ve always known what pragmatism was, but it really wasn’t until I was at the Shepherd’s Conference in March 2022 that I really started to get a grip of how pervasive pragmatism is in the church. Pragmatism is the “practical solution” by man’s understanding rather than doing things God’s way. The Shepherd’s Conference dealt with Critical Race Theory as the main false teaching it targeted, but one I will address is the “church growth movement.” It’s all pragmatism with the goal of “getting people in the church.” They change the message, remove the pews, give concerts instead of worship services, and give motivational speeches instead of preaching. And it works. It gets people in the church buildings. But it has gotten few saved. It is the complete antithesis of being Biblical. We must be watchful for the “practical solution” at the expense of prayer and seeking God.

Allegorization or spiritualization of the text is another big one. Here, the theme is “look for the spiritual meaning and don’t worry about the plain meaning.” Again, Genesis is a common place this is used. “It doesn’t matter that God actually created the physical universe. What is the spiritual message we can learn?” My response: you can’t learn the spiritual meanings until you get the plain ones first. But even more common than this is the inserting of yourself into the text. A classic example is David vs Goliath. You are David and Goliath is that big obstacle in front of you: finances, a job, a boss, whatever. You have to take your stone of faith and slay your giant. Sorry, that’s NOT what it is about, and you are NOT the hero. Jesus is the hero. We can learn from David for sure, but you are not David. We are not Gideon. We are not Nehemiah. Those people are all pictures of Jesus overcoming sin, not our tiny little problems.

Another one that I am surprised is still being used often is bad application. It goes like this: Jesus said He was the door, and He is not literally a physical door, therefore not every text in the Bible is to be taken literally, therefore the days of creation in Genesis 1 must be taken allegorically. And I’m like “What? How did you come up with that?” That is not flying at all. Not only is that a strawman argument, but it’s not even coherent. You can’t just say, “This worked here, therefore it must work there,” unless you can demonstrate the same conditions and setting. These arguments do not do this. We all recognize Jesus gave a metaphor, but it is quite obvious what a door is and what it does, and it is obvious what Jesus is saying with the metaphor. But those who say “day” must a metaphor never tell us what the metaphor is. What is the picture? What is the image it is supposed to portray? And is that image clear from the text? It’s not. And it’s not just Scripture where this argument is used. It’s used to defend mainstream geology. In The Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth, 11 geologists argued that rocks can fold without breaking by applying the right pressure in all directions in the same way that in a lab you can deform an ice cube by putting the right pressures in the right directions. What these geologists did not do is demonstrate that those pressure conditions were present without also literally transforming the rock metamorphically. And they accuse us of telling “half-told stories” in the same breath.

A final way to misread the Bible is, “that’s your interpretation.” I get this one quite frequently, and there is a lot of baggage with this claim. They generally mean that the Bible cannot be read or understood as God’s message to us, but one that we have to “interpret” to academically figure out. These people do not believe that God actually intended to say anything to us, because the message is “not clear,” so we have to “figure it out.” God only intended one interpretation and He used precise language (known as the doctrine of perspicuity) to make it so no one has excuse for not knowing what it says. When someone throws the “that’s your interpretation” argument at you, they are trying to put you on defense and make you second guess yourself that you have heard from God correctly. All the while THEY are the one who is “interpreting” it wrongly so they can justify their false beliefs, while professing to be Christians. Don’t fall for it. There is a way that seems right to a man, and the end is death. None of us are “qualified” to “interpret” the Bible. We are all untrustworthy. This is why Proverbs 3:5 tells us explicitly to not lean on our own understanding but to the trust the Lord. Do not try to “interpret” the Bible. Instead submit to it.

Next week, I’ll look at how to unpack Scripture and how to dig into it for richer and purer ore.

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Pekahiah and Pekah, Kings of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 5, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Though there are still a bunch of kings of Judah, we’re almost at the end of the kings of Israel! Today, we’ll look at two kings for whom there is not much recorded, then next week we’ll look at the last king of Israel before the nation fell to the Assyrians.

What we do know about Kings Pekahiah and Pekah is written in 2 Kings 15:23-31. Not surprisingly, Pekahiah was an evil king who did not obey God but instead worshiped idols. As is the pattern describing the kings, King Pekahiah was said to have committed the same sins as Jeroboam, and he did not turn away from them.

King Pekahiah was the son of King Menahem, and he only reigned for 2 years. One of his chief officers was Pekah, who wanted to be king himself, so he plotted against King Pekahiah and then assassinated him. Scholars believe that Pekah was King Pekahiah’s closest bodyguard, which would give him plenty of opportunity to plot against the king.

Pekah was apparently influential among the Gileadites, so he was able to get 50 of them to help with his plot to kill the king. King Pekahiah had two other bodyguards, Argob and Arieh, who likely remained loyal to the king rather than joining in Pekah’s coup. Hence, they were murdered along with the king.

There was a lot of political drama going on at this time that is likely related to who was in power. While King Pekahiah’s father King Menahem was on the throne, Israel essentially bought off Assyria to hold them back from invading Israel. While King Menahem was building this temporary alliance with the Assyrians, there was a group within Israel that was against it. This anti-Assyrian movement was gaining strength during the short reign of King Pekahiah. It is believed that Pekah was part of this anti-Assyrian group, which was why King Pekahiah appointed him as his chief bodyguard, to try and bring unity back to the nation of Israel.

But, after he assassinated King Pekahiah, Pekah became the king of Israel. There is debate among scholars as to what year King Pekah took the throne. The timeline of the kings of both Israel and Judah in this time frame does not add up among the various accounts of who became king when and how long they reigned. So while 2 Kings 15:27 records that King Pekah reigned for 20 years and became king during King Uzziah of Judah’s reign (also known as King Azariah), that may or may not be true. It is possible that the southern kingdom of Judah gave Pekah credit for being king right after King Zechariah because of the politics of the day, thus not recognizing the short reign of King Shallum and then King Menahem.

But the details of the timeline are less important than the king’s actions and attitude. As with King Pekahiah and all the kings of Israel before, King Pekah “ did evil in the eyes of the LORD. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit” (verse 28).

During King Pekah’s reign, Assyria invaded Israel. The battles were focused around the area of Galilee and also in Gilead where King Pekah was reigning. All of the cities mentioned in this account lie on a north-south line, following the Assyrians’ march into Israel, conquering each city as they entered. While Israel did not fall to the Assyrians during King Pekah’s reign, the end was definitely coming soon for this nation. King Pekah’s reign ended when Hoshea rose up and assassinated him to take the throne.

This time period was a very tumultuous one for the nation of Israel. Israel had evil king after evil king for its entire history as the northern kingdom, and that does not make good things happen for the nation. This is a clear example of how when a nation continuously disobeys God for 200 years, that nation will definitely reap the consequences of that disobedience. God used all of the political upheaval and He used the Assyrians to bring about punishment for the nation of Israel. It did not happen immediately, but it was building to that point of destruction over a few decades.

How does that relate to us today? Take a look at our nation of the United States of America. While this nation was founded on Christian principles, we have gone astray from that. There are still many who follow God in our nation, but there are many more who do not follow Him. Even if they claim to be Christians, the lifestyle of many people does not support that claim. We have different idols today than they did back in Israel's time, but idolatry and the worship of false gods is rampant in our culture today.

We cannot see the future and know if or how God will punish us for our nation’s disobedience to Him, but we can and should continue to pray for our nation, that we as a people would turn back to God and truly desire to follow Him, not only so that we escape harsh judgment like Israel experienced from the Assyrians but more so because God is truly worthy of our worship.

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Understanding the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 2, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Samuel Clemens stated, “Most people are disturbed by the parts of the Bible they don’t understand. I find the most disturbing thing are the parts I do understand.”

The Bible is not some cryptic text that takes decades of scholarship to understand. It was written in simple, plain language so that an “uneducated” audience could hear it and understand its message. A child can understand the basic message in Scripture, despite the depth of Scripture being inexhaustible. But a common trend I am seeing today are scholars, some of whom proclaim to be Christian, actively trying to make the Bible not understandable because the plain reading directly contradicts all the scholarship of their age and culture. And I will call this intentional. Why? Because the passage in discussion is directly in conflict to the world’s teachings.

I have had people actually try to cite 2 Peter 3:16, in which Peter does admit that some of Paul’s teachings are hard to understand as justification to claim that “some parts of the Bible are hard to understand, therefore Genesis is hard to understand.” Really? That passage actually doesn’t do what he thinks it does. The context of that passage not only puts Paul’s writing in the Scripture category, but the “difficulty to understand” part is specifically connected with those who seek to distort the teachings. The Bible is hard for the natural mind to understand, because they are spiritually discerned.

So while I am not trying to make a blanket statement here, if people think that “day” is not clear in Genesis 1, when it is even clearer in Exodus 20:11, is that because the text is not clear or because the reader simply doesn’t want to believe the text? The word “day” is never debated in any other passage, only Genesis 1. Why is that? The answer is very simple: Because we have an academic world that teaches the earth is millions of years old and this notion is held as tightly as Jezebel held the teaching of Baal. I truly consider “millions of years” to be one of the big idols of our nation. And because it is given precedence over the directly revealed, divine revelation of Scripture, that certainly puts it in the idolatrous position.

Martin Luther said that if we proclaim the truth of Scripture EXCEPT in the area where the battle is taking place, then we are merely professors of Christ, not confessors of Christ. Professors of Christ in this context are in extreme danger of being in the Matthew 7:21-23 category, professing the faith but never having known Christ. Only confessors of Christ – those who stand for Christ no matter what the world says – are getting in. It’s not enough to just say, “I believe in Jesus.” That is not going to cut it. You can state all the doctrines and proclaim the Gospel all you want, but if you cave on the very topics that the world is attacking, then all those proclamations have no weight and no power. For the last 200 years, origins has been on the front lines on the attack on Scripture. The Christian duty is to defend Scripture against such attacks, not to surrender Scripture to accommodate such teachings. We must be vigilant at all times and be alert for the cheap counterfeits of faith being offered that lets you get along with the world and still proclaim a faith that actually doesn’t match the one the Bible teaches.

To cover this, the unbelieving yet professing believer doesn’t admit that he simply doesn’t believe the text. He makes the argument that the Bible wasn’t clear. That the text was for ancient, primitive people, that we modernists have moved on from. This argumentation unintentionally does several things. The person who makes these claims is actually proclaiming illiteracy. If they do not understand what “day” means and they really mean that, why on earth should we believe they actually understand anything else like “science” or “salvation”? If you have a hard time understanding addition and subtraction, how are you going to convince someone you understand calculus?

With this charge is an accusation that God does not know how to communicate with his own people what he meant to say. Einstein is attributed to saying that if we can’t explain something simply, we don’t know the material well enough. If God did indeed create over millions of years, He had the ability to communicate that to an unscientifically minded audience. Take notice that all these supporters of Deep Time cannot do it either. They cannot explain it themselves. It’s too nuanced, too technical to explain it simply. The fact remains that Deep Time CANNOT be understood until it is accepted first. That’s why elementary books and science shows all get the indoctrination done first so it is already accepted before going into the details. But this whole charge is that man is smarter and more advanced than God. Such hubris. So why are CHRISTIANS supporting this? I get the world doing this. I get sinful people doing this. This is why Eve ate of the tree: to be better than God. But the Christian?

My recommendation to the Christian struggling with “understanding the Bible” is to empty your library. EMPTY it. Get rid of all the books. Forget all the theologians. Get rid of your education. Start all over. That’s part of what being “born again” actually entails. Even Yoda echoed this truth: “You must unlearn what you have learned.” Start over. Start with the Bible. Understand it as the Word of God speaking directly. If you need it hear aloud, read it aloud. Pray that God reveal what he means to you. After all, the Author is still around. Only upon accepting the Bible as the Word of God are you to start looking at any other book. There are things you may not understand, and that will happen. We are finite beings. But when you come to an area of not understanding, take the mindset of the father of the demon-possessed boy: “I believe, help my unbelief.”

Make this your prayer: “Father, I know this is your word. I do not understand it, but I accept it as your word and I will believe it, even though I don’t understand it.” NEVER let this be your attitude: “Our modern science and academics must be true, therefore the Bible needs to be adjusted to meet it.” The Bible is the first, final, and ultimate authority of the believer. We go to it first, we check our studies with it, and we let it trump any and every other voice out there. Beware, only those who believe and obey are getting in. And how can you believe and obey what God says when you change the message to make it more comforting to you? Here is a good, general test to see if your “interpretation” is correct or not: Does the world teach the same idea or the opposite? If the world is teaching it, you can be certain that God is not part of it. Believe the Bible; believe God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and please do everything in your power to stop leaning on your own understanding.

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There's Something About Mary Schweitzer, Part 5

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, December 1, 2022 3 comments

by Steve Risner

In my post last week, we took a look at some statements from Dr. Mary Schweitzer (famed North Carolina State University paleontologist who is noted as the person to bring to light soft tissue found in fossils allegedly tens or even hundreds of millions of years old) that I thought we could all agree on —God is awesome, and His creation praises His name and points us to Him (more or less). I like to find common ground if possible, and this was a pretty easy bridge to connect. But moving on in the same article found in Discover Magazine, Dr. Schweitzer says some things I fundamentally disagree with. Let’s take a look.

Some of this quote is from the article and not directly from the good doctor. But the article reads as follows: “Unlike many creationists, she finds the notion of a world evolving over billions of years theologically exhilarating: ‘That makes God a lot bigger than thinking of Him as a magician that pulled everything out in one fell swoop.’”

Although I’ve been criticized for thinking I know more about “science” than this professional who is an expert in her field, this article in Discover Magazine tells us up front here that this paleontologist’s opinion on theology is what we’re talking about. It says, “Unlike many creationists, she finds the notion of a world evolving over billions of years theologically exhilarating.” This is where the argument lies—in differences of opinion on theology and not on the “science,” if we’re going to be gracious enough to call it that.

Why someone would think that death and destruction over billions of years of struggle is theologically exhilarating is something I can’t connect with. To be fair, creationists understand that life can evolve. But we have to be careful to understand what “evolve” means; it means different things to different people and in different contexts. We all know organisms can adapt over time in many cases. We all understand that epigenetic changes, population isolation, genetic drift, and predominantly degenerative mutational changes can cause a population to be slightly different over large periods of time. This has nothing to do with universal common descent or evolution from a single common ancestor. So, I suppose, understanding that creationists understand and acknowledge that over time there can be slight genetic changes in a population means the theistic evolutionist doesn’t have a monopoly on the topic.

But since there isn’t a shred of evidence to show us that one kind of organism can mutate over time into a completely different type (for example, a multicellular glob of algae will never develop over time into tube worms or an anemone which will never evolve into a fish that will never evolve into some sort of walking/slithering fish on land that will become an amphibian or some other such nonsense), we don’t believe that. We know the Bible makes no mention of deep time or universal common descent beyond whatever God created during creation week being the common ancestor of that particular kind of organism. Later, whatever walked or flew off of the Ark was ancestral to all the various species of organism that are part of that kind. We’re getting in the weeds here. The point is that struggle and death over billions of years doesn’t sound “theologically exhilarating” to me at all. It sounds awful, and it has no support from the Bible in terms of how God brought life to earth.

They go on in this article to quote Dr. Schweitzer saying, “That makes God a lot bigger than thinking of Him as a magician that pulled everything out in one fell swoop.” Again, we’ll have to disagree here. First, no one claims “magic” is involved unless they’re trying to make their opponent look weak and foolish. That’s not what anyone says who wants to be taken seriously. God is not a magician. If Dr. Schweitzer believes anytime God moves supernaturally that this is Him being a magician, doesn’t that mean she lifts her nose to all miracles found in God’s Word or around the world since? The Resurrection would be some magical moment that the Great Magician pulled the wool over our eyes, right? We all know magicians are fake. We all know the magic we see on stages done by magicians are just illusions and slight of hand. Is that what God is? Does He just trick us all into believing He’s all powerful? I would hope she doesn’t believe this. I’m sure she doesn’t, but it’s the implication in her statements that lead me to this. We also don’t believe He “pulled everything out” all at once. It took Him 6 days, not because He needed the time but because that’s how He chose to create and so He could model the work week for us, among other things.

But what seems more awe-inspiring? That God sort of wound up the universe and is just sitting back watching as the it evolved and then life, without His creative hand, spontaneously just began? It slowly changed and diversified over billions of years, again without His input, to become all we see around us including humans—the apple of His eye and pinnacle of His creation. Or does it seem a little more impressive that God just spoke everything into existence, and it was? Which requires more power and wisdom? Which demands a God that is beyond all imagination? Which requires God at all? When I look at the awesome beauty in nature—especially the night sky but the amazing creation can be appreciated all around us at all times—I join with the Apostles in Acts 4:24 and say, “Sovereign Lord… You made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.” He alone is worthy of that sort of praise, and He alone is capable of such unimaginable feats.

Dr. Schweitzer is saying she thinks billions of years of struggle and death is some elegant form of creation. I think it’s horrifying. She seems to believe that mutations, which are usually unnoticed but can often times create terrible developmental issues and put an organism into the bondage of some terrible disease or disorder, are “theologically exhilarating.” To be fair, I’m sure she didn’t think all that through when she made this statement, but it is what her statements logically lead us to.

Previously, we noted that Dr. Schweitzer had said, referring to seeing God in nature, “I see His compassion in the world around me.” How are billions of years of struggle and death with developmental issues and disease compassionate? This is logically inconsistent and theologically not in line with the Word of God at all. Again, I do not believe this is what she was thinking about when she made these statements, but it is the conclusion we must draw logically and necessarily from her comments.

In my estimation, not only is theistic evolution devoid of any support from Scripture (which is pretty important), but its implications about God are repulsive as well as unbacked by actual physical evidence. But in all this, the fact that the Bible has nothing to say about such processes is remarkable. To suggest universal common descent is in harmony with the Bible, and especially with Genesis, is laughable. It’s like saying after you read a Weight Watcher’s cookbook, you saw no conflict with that book and with using ice cream and large amounts of sugar in all your recipes. The two are obviously at odds with each other. How seriously would you take someone who suggested they are not?

We’ll continue to dissect Dr. Schweitzer’s discoveries and what she had to say about them next time. Thank you for reading.

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.


Ahaz, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 28, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

King Ahaz became king of Judah after his father King Jotham, but he was definitely not like his father. Jotham was a king who obeyed God and was generally considered to be good, and King Ahaz was the complete opposite of that. His story is recorded in 2 Kings 16.

If the evil ways of Kind Ahaz sound like a king of Israel rather than a king of Judah, Scripture agrees with that; “Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel” (verses 2b-3a). What led King Ahaz to depart from the ways of his father? The reigns of King Uzziah and King Jotham had brought much prosperity to the nation, which made the people become lazy and complacent in their spirituality.

So, how evil was King Ahaz? He imitated the pagan idol worship of Israel, even including sacrificing his own son to idols (verse 3)! Scholars dispute whether that idol was Molech or Baal depending on which ancient artifacts you look at, but regardless, this act was evil to its core, completely going against the ways of God. As verse 4 tells us, King Ahaz “offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.” These were all places of idol worship, not places where a person went to worship the one true God.

One of the main events of King Ahaz’s 16-year reign was the war between Judah, Israel, and Aram (later known as Syria). Scholars believe there were 4 causes of this war. First, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel would have wanted Judah’s support to go against the nation of Assyria. If Aram and Israel conquered Judah, then they’d have Judah’s forces combined with their own. Second, some historians believe the other two kings simply disliked King Ahaz.

Third, from a spiritual perspective, this looks to be the enemy’s attempt to take the line of David off the throne in Judah. But according to Isaiah 7:5-7, God made sure that would not happen: “Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, ‘Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.’ Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘It will not take place, it will not happen.’”

Finally, we know that God is sovereign over everything, so God was orchestrating this war to punish those who needed to be punished. God would use this to bring defeat to the Arameans and the Israelites, and he would deal with King Ahaz and Judah as well in His own way.

All the details of this war can be found both in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28. During it, the prophet Isaiah came to King Ahaz and spoke the words of God to him. Isaiah told King Ahaz that Judah would not be defeated in this war, and that King Ahaz should ask for a sign to confirm this. King Ahaz refused to ask for a sign and preferred instead to rely on his own skills rather than depending on God (Isaiah 7:10-12).

King Ahaz contacted the king of Assyria and asked for their help in defeating Aram and Israel. Once Assyria was paid off with the gold and silver from Judah’s temple treasury, they happily obliged and killed the king of Aram and captured Damascus, which was in Israel’s territory. When King Ahaz went to Damascus, he saw an altar that he liked, so he arranged for that same style of an altar to be built back in Jerusalem.

When King Ahaz returned, he presented offerings on it – a burnt offering, a grain offering, a drink offering, and a fellowship offering. These offerings symbolize dedication, peace, joy, and fellowship with God, none of which King Ahaz had ever embodied! His attempt at piety toward God on an altar other than the one God desired in the temple were like a smack in the face to God. Not only that but he moved the bronze altar away from its position in the front of the temple, and the new altar was used for future offerings and sacrifices.

King Ahaz further desecrated the temple of the Lord by dismantling the stands holding the altar and various other parts of the temple, so he could honor the king of Assyria rather than God (2 Kings 16:13-18). According to 2 Chronicles 28:24-25, he even cut up the furniture of the temple, closed up the temple, and set up altars on every corner in Jerusalem instead. He also made sure that every town in Judah had high places to sacrifice to idols rather than to worship the one true God.

As you can see, King Ahaz’s reign was one of complete and utter evil. Some of the kings were more passively disobedient to God, simply letting idolatry happen. King Ahaz, however, actively pursued all forms of idol worship and actively discouraged the worship of God. King Ahaz took Judah into a very evil time period.

What can we learn from King Ahaz? During his reign, we don’t see any direct punishment for King Ahaz’s evil acts. But all this was more fuel for the fire of God’s wrath that would eventually lead the nation into exile. Not everyone who does great evil is punished in this life, but we can be certain that King Ahaz did receive his punishment from God for all eternity because of his complete disobedience to God. We may or may not receive negative consequences in this lifetime for going against God, but we can be certain that they will come.

Our motivation for honoring God with our lives should not simply be an avoidance of negative consequences, but we should strive to be the opposite of King Ahaz – love and honor God because of who He is, rather than doing everything we can to go against God.

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How to Read the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 25, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

We live in times with the information superhighway, and most access to commentaries and study guides and sermons of all time, and yet we have to actually teach people how to read again. It is no exaggeration when I say that while we have the most access to information of all time, we are also the most illiterate of all time. Not only do so few people actually read books anymore (they read blog posts or hear commentaries on social media, but few actually read), it’s left a generation that is truly the dumbest of all time. Don’t believe me? Watch Jeopardy! Why have we had several excessively strong winners all in a row? Look at the questions. They are getting easier. The reason we have three of the top winners all in the last few years is because they have little competition. I’m not taking away anything from them academically. They did their job. But so few can rival them because we have an illiterate generation.

There is a saying: as goes the family, so goes the Church. As goes the Church, so goes society. Yes, I will put a big chunk of this problem on the Church from the past 50-some years. When Barna released their latest polls last year, 6% of professing Christians have a Biblical worldview and 34% of pastors (and I think that’s being generous). Where are you going to find a pastor actually preaching from the Bible? Hardly anywhere on TV today. Where are you going to find a pastor who strives to teach his congregation how to read the Bible? I’m glad I am part of a church that wants to do that. My previous church touched on it, but overall, there is an assumption that those in the congregation are reading the Bible regularly and know how. We know that is not true because of how many false teachings pastors are letting through their doors and proclaiming themselves. And we have to ask as well: how many pastors are actually reading the Bible besides to find something for a sermon? What is going on here?

The only solution for any of this is to get back to reading the Bible and actually believing it. For this post, I am going to give you tools and tips on how to read the Bible, and these are not magical formulas by any means. It is simply putting to words what should be practiced in normal reading. This is about what the Bible says; what the Bible means is a separate topic that I will address next week.

The first tip is to identify the genre. We do this naturally and subconsciously with nearly anything else we read. We know what a historical document is, what a poem is, what a metaphor is, what a myth is, what legal document is, what fiction is, etc. After all, I do assume we passed basic English or literature classes here. The Bible is written in multiple genres and the only ones it does not have are myth and fiction. Even if you don’t agree with it, at least be honest about what genre it is. Genesis (for example) is a historical document. Despite many scholars trying to say otherwise, there is no legitimacy to any such argument. Each argument boils down to, “I know what the text says, I don’t believe it, but I want to show I believe the Bible, so it must not actually mean what it says.” And these are people we have deemed to be good preachers saying this, not just your average academic. The language, the grammar, the syntax, and the verb conjugations all speak of plain, simple, historical narrative, just as much of the rest of the Bible is. But many try to make Genesis anything other than this so they can be justified in holding positions that are directly contrary to what it actually says.

The next thing to learn is called exegesis. Don’t panic over this theological term; it simply means to let the text speak for itself. We do this with every other document. Yet why is it so hard with the Bible? When the Bible says “the first day,” it MEANS “the first day.” When the Bible says, “The waters parted and Israel crossed on dry land,” it means that waters parted and Israel crossed on dry land. When the Bible says Jesus rose on the 3rd day, it means He rose on the third day. When the Bible says that Jesus is the ONLY way into heaven, it means Jesus is the ONLY way. That is what it says. That is what the words say. “But how do we account for modern science?” We don’t try to account for modern science. Not at this stage. The first stage is: “What does the Bible say?” Once we get that straightened out, THEN we can go try to figure out how it all works.

My friend Bobby Maddox is a business lawyer and to help address this topic, he came up with a list of ten principles that we all normally do anyway. If we keep these principles in mind, we’ll avoid the traps and errors that so many have fallen into. In this video, he explains his structure, so take the time to listen for more details. Here are just a few of the ten principles.

• The plain meaning is to be the intended meaning unless the context demands something different. The adage goes: “Adding more sense to the plain sense leaves you with nonsense.”

• Stay within the four corners of the document. In other words, get as much out of the document as you can from within the document itself. The phrase preachers use is “Scripture interprets Scripture.” Follow this and most confusions will clear up.

• Use of other sources should be limited and only used for help to clarify what the document is saying, never for interpreting and making it say something it didn’t. These outside sources are only to be used after all other internal sources have pretty well been exhausted.

• Keep it simple. Don’t try to overthink it. The mental gymnastics people do in order to try to keep track of their misinterpretations is simply mind-boggling. God did not write a book that takes a super genius and 80 years of scholarship to figure out. He made it simple so even a child and the uneducated can get at least the basic message.

One final tool is the acronym OIA, which stands for Observation, Interpretation, Application.

Observation: What does the text say? Get all the data you can before you start putting the facts together. Don’t read a single verse and lift it out of context. Keep it in context.

Interpretation: I’ll emphasis this more next week, but only put together your interpretation after you gather all the facts. Don’t be like those CSI teams that quickly jump to a conclusion too early and then a new piece of evidence reveals the actual truth. Get all the facts as much as you can. And please, test your interpretation against the whole message of Scripture.

Application: The purpose of the Bible is first to be believed then obeyed. It is not meant to be academically scrutinized (though there is great truth to be found in unpacking Scripture, which I will address in a couple weeks). You cannot obey the truth that you don’t know. And if you misinterpret it because you left out some of the facts, how can you obey the truth?

Read the Bible – all of it. It pretty well clears itself up. There will be some things that are harder to understand than others; I get that. But the whole message is pretty clear. It is clear enough that Jesus’ audience understood perfectly what He was saying, and they hated Him for it. Please do not confuse unbelief with “it’s hard to understand.” That’s just a cop-out to cover for unbelief. Next week, I’ll address how to understand the Bible, rather than “interpreting” it according to our own understanding.

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.