Galatians 5:1 - Freedom

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


by Katie Erickson

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” -Galatians 5:1

I’m taking a quick break from writing through the book of Hebrews to write this post specifically requested by Jason DeZurik. If you’ve spent any time around Jason’s Facebook feed or read his recent blog post, you know he has one primary focus recently: liberty.

Back in 2014, I wrote this post that discussed the difference between liberty and freedom. As I summarized in that post, “Liberty is being able to do what you want to do, while freedom is the power to have that liberty.” We receive both liberty and freedom through Jesus Christ, and that’s what we’ll take a look at when digging into Galatians 5:1 in today’s post.

When looking at any passage of Scripture, it is always important to look at its context. What comes before it? What comes after it? By whom and to whom is its book of the Bible written?

The book of Galatians was a letter written by the apostle Paul to a group of churches in Galatia, as we see in Galatians 1:1-2. However, there are two main theories regarding this: the North Galatian and South Galatian. The North Galatian theory says that the audience for this letter was the northern churches in that area, and Paul would have written it between 53-57 A.D. The South Galatian theory says, not surprisingly, that the audience was churches in the southern part of that area that Paul would have founded on his first missionary journey. This would date the letter at likely 48-49 A.D. or possibly as late as 51-53 A.D.

The theological setting of this book is the conflict between Jewish Christians and Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians, specifically regarding the idea of “Judaizing” – making any Gentile believers adopt Jewish practices (especially circumcision) before they could be fully welcomed into the Church. This was significant in this historical context because many of the believers were converted from pagan religions and were not Jewish by ethnicity. The Jewish mindset of legalism and following the law would have been strong in the Jewish believers, and that is part of what Paul is writing this letter to go against.

After some introductory remarks, Paul shares his history and how he became an apostle of Jesus Christ, including his relationship to other apostles. Next, he explains and defends the gospel message. That goes to the end of chapter 4, which is where we see our verse of Galatians 5:1 comes in. The rest of the letter after this verse calls for believers to live Godly lives, warning them to not fall from grace but to live in the Spirit.

So, at this point in the letter, Paul has shown that he is worthy to be teaching them on these matters, as he is an apostle of Jesus. He has also explained the gospel message itself, including how we are saved by grace through faith and not through any works that we do. Before he gets into the next section on how to live the Christian life, Paul gives this verse that is both a summary of what came before it and an introduction to what comes after it. This verse is really the key that holds this letter together!

The verse itself is divided into two parts. First, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” This is why Jesus Christ did the work of saving us – to set us free! Then second, “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This is what we are to do about Christ’s work for us.

The Greek word used here for “freedom” could be translated as either freedom or liberty. One Greek lexicon writes that this usage especially refers to freedom that is contrary to the law of Moses, which was looked at as slavery. Another lexicon says about this word, “In a number of languages the concept of freedom is expressed as a negation of control or domination, for example, where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is no longer domination or a person does not feel under constraint.” Yet another definition says that “It describes the state of a person who is no longer enslaved by an oppressive force.”

This is why Jesus Christ came to earth – to liberate us from the slavery and oppression of having to follow the Old Testament laws! God knows that no mere human could follow every law perfectly all of the time, so we were all in need of a savior. Only Jesus, as fully human and fully God, perfectly fulfilled the law so that His death would be a worthy sacrifice for us. Jesus Christ has set us free from the burden of our sins and the oppression that comes with being enslaved to sin. (For more on that, check out this blog post and this blog post.)

After having stated this fact, Paul then commands us what to do about it: stand firm! This is a command in Greek, not just a statement. Do not take up that yoke of slavery again! Paul is telling them that they should no longer be bound by the rules of the Old Testament law as their primary focus. Jesus didn’t give His life so we could continue to be slaves to our works and never measure up to God’s perfect standard; Jesus gave His life so we could have freedom in Him!

Today, we still have the daily choice to choose between being a slave to sin or a slave to Jesus Christ just as Paul wrote about in Romans 6. Being a slave to sin means we’re burdened by the impossible standards of keeping every one of God’s laws perfectly all of the time. Being a slave to Jesus Christ is to live in freedom!

We are no longer obligated to keep the entire law because Jesus did that for us. We desire to keep the law because that’s what brings God glory and honor in our lives, but that is not the means of our salvation. God has accomplished our salvation through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, and because of that, we desire to worship and honor Him through being obedient to Him rather than obeying the world and its sinful ways.

Are you living your life as one who is enslaved or as one who has chosen the liberty and freedom that only Jesus Christ can bring? Make the decision for freedom today!

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Sin 2: Original Sin

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


by Charlie Wolcott

Last week, I wrote about the primary definition of sin: missing the mark. But as I mentioned, that really is just a surface level understanding of the nature of what sin truly is. To be able to understand sin properly, and thus understand the Gospel properly, we need to know how sin entered the world and what man’s plight from birth really is: the doctrine of original sin.

The doctrine of original sin only applies to mankind. It does not apply to Satan, aka Lucifer, and his host of fallen angels. So, I don’t buy the argument that sin was in the world long before Adam because Satan was in the world. That is just another attempt to try to insert millions of years into the text, and it is also an attempt to diminish the seriousness and weight of Adam’s sin, which also diminishes the work of the cross (more detail on that in a future post). Let me be clear: it is possible to be born again and not know the full weight of this issue. The thief on the cross recognized the weight of his own sin, and maybe he did or maybe he didn’t know about Adam’s sin. But Jesus and Paul both knew about Adam, and both put Adam as the federal head for all of mankind bringing in the curse of sin. Without Adam as that federal head, then Jesus is not our federal head as a born-again believer.

The doctrine of original sin is two-fold. First, it addresses how sin, and as a result death, entered the world. Second, it addresses the “sin nature” – the inclination, desire, and power of sin over each person. The first is pretty simple: read Genesis 3. For me to unpack and exegete the whole chapter will take me multiple blog posts, but I’m simply going to emphasize the three tactics of the enemy and the three sins of Eve in the first three verses. Russ Miller describes this as the 3Ds of sin.

The first lie is doubt. The serpent asked, “Has God really said…?” And thus, Eve’s first sin was doubting God’s word and God’s command. Before the Serpent even got to the second lie of denial, Eve already did it. Eve added to the command of not eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil by not touching it too. This enabled the serpent to outright deny God’s command by saying, “You will not surely die.” And with the denial came the third lie: deify. The serpent told Eve she could become like God. At that point, she saw the fruit as what she wanted, gave it to Adam who was with her, and both ate. The eating of the fruit wasn’t the first sin; it was simply the final touch that sealed the deal. Adam and Eve realized they were naked and felt shame for the first time. They knew they had done wrong and had first-hand knowledge of evil.

As the federal head, Adam’s sin then became imputed onto every single person. “But that’s not fair,” someone will object. Well, life is not fair. As a citizen of the United States, I have an inherent debt associated to my name. It’s called the national debt. We did not choose to be poor budgeteers; our representatives did. They inherited a debt they could not pay. Not only will they not be able to pay it off, but they are adding to the debt. Likewise, we inherited our sin debt from Adam, but each of us have nothing to pay it off with. Instead, we are only adding to that debt we owe God with our own sins. So, while skeptics will try to blame Adam for their choices, they still have only themselves to blame.

What happened as a result of original sin? My pastor, during a church retreat last fall, preached on Genesis 3 and cited this list of things that happened as a result of sin.

  • Lust: Now there is shame.
  • Shame: We are ashamed of our bodies.
  • Condemnation: They hid from God.
  • Loss of Communion with God: They hid from God.
  • Blaming others for their sin: “It was the woman.”
  • Enmity between you and Satan so he seeks to totally disfigure you.
  • There will be great pain in childbearing, not just birth but in raising the children.
  • Marital Conflict
  • Thorns and thistles: Vanity under the sun, and you work for no real fruit or value.
  • Tedious work: Work is often not fun anymore.
  • Death
  • Alienation from God: Kicked out of the Garden.
  • False worship: Works-based righteous through Cain.

That list of what happened in Genesis 3 into Genesis 4 is thorough but not comprehensive. It took only ten generations from Adam for the entire world to fall into such great corruption that God found it unredeemable and sent the Flood to wipe out everything. Even with Noah, the one righteous man left, being saved, Noah was not the savior. He simply continued the line of mankind, likely with some genetic defects that carried onto his line which shrunk the lifespans from 900+ years down 100 years.

The nature of sin continued to progress. Sexual sin erupted quickly to where the very act of homosexuality became known as sodomy, after the city that was known for it. Some have tried to downplay this as it was just a one-time act of attempted gang-rape, however, this was their lifestyle. God destroyed this city in His mercy because of how corrupt it could have become.

Mankind has only gotten more and more perverse. If you go through Paul’s letters, every time he goes through a list of sins, he’s really just going off the top of his head and hardly coming up with an exhaustive list. Here are SOME of the passages: Romans 1:28-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Galatians 5:19-21. Combine all these lists together and there is not one category of sin left that is not mentioned. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a single person (besides Jesus Himself) who is not guilty of each and every one of these sins in heart or mind if not actually deed. Yes, that includes me. I have hard time taking an honest evaluation of myself and reading these lists and not saying “Guilty! Guilty!” If I were to “boast” perhaps the only one I can think of that never tempts me is drunkenness, but that’s ONLY if you only consider actual alcoholism as the sin. If the spirit of drunkenness were to be applied to something else… guilty! Drunkenness is a reference to addictions and it’s not just talking about alcohol.

The fact remains that every single person is guilty of sin and every one of us have broken the law, not just in one area, but in every area. Each one of us deserves death. And before anyone says, “That’s not fair! I haven’t done anything bad enough to deserve that!” let me remind you, those statements do not consider the weight of sin, nor Whom that sin is against. I will cover that next week, and from there, we’ll go into the different ways our modern “Christians” have been describing sin and its effects.

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Hebrews 12:1-3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 21, 2022 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” -Hebrews 12:1-3

This section of the letter to the Hebrews is both a conclusion and an introduction. While Hebrews 11:39-40 concludes the “heroes of the faith” section, these verses tell us what to do with the stories of everyone the author just described. It introduces the topic for the rest of the letter - practical ideas on how to live a Christian life.

The “therefore” at the beginning of verse 1 is that hinge point that connects the previous stories with what we should do about them. Because of all those who have lived by faith and were commended for that faith, we need to live like that as well! The people and stories mentioned in the previous chapter are not just imaginary stories, but they were real people who actually lived out their witness to the faith. The author includes himself in being surrounded by all of those witnesses to the faith; he, too, is striving to live the life of faith.

The Greek word used for “cloud” can refer to the clouds in the sky, but it also refers to a throng of people. When used in that way, it emphasizes the great number people included in the group. The author only had space to mention a handful in their stories and a few more by name, and many others were referenced by general events in life. But there were far too many to list in that chapter, and many, many more have lived between tha time Hebrews was written and today as well!

Because of all those who have gone before us, “let us throw off everything that hinders” us (verse 1). The word translated “everything that hinders” is a Greek word meaning any kind of weight. Sometimes it refers to any excess body weight, like an athlete would need to shed during their training process. This fits with the metaphor of the race at the end of verse 1. Throwing off this weight also means to carry nothing excessive with us; you never see athletes competing in a race with backpacks of stuff on them! Anything that we don’t need will just hinder our progress of living out our Christian faith. This is especially of true of the sins we get entangled by.

The race we are to run is not a sprint but a marathon. We need to be prepared for the long haul of living the life of faith. It’s not something we do quickly once and then it’s over, but something that requires endurance and perseverance. That is what the witnesses who came before us did, especially in light of the fact that most of them never received the “prize” they were running for, the fulfillment of the great promises of God. We, too, need to strive to run this race. We have seen the fulfillment of God’s promise of sending a savior in Jesus, but we will not be truly victorious until our race is over on this earth.

In verse 2, we see the focus that is required to run this race. Our eyes need to be fixed on Jesus! A runner cannot be distracted by the fans in the stands, what the clouds in the sky are doing, look that that flower over there, etc. A runner fixes her eyes on the goal of the race – the finish line. We need to have our eyes fixed on our goal – Jesus Christ. He is “the pioneer and perfector of faith.” Faith is all about Him, not about us. He originated the faith and He perfects and completes the faith. Even though He was not yet on earth in physical form during the days of the Old Testament and the witnesses that the author spent chapter 11 describing, Jesus was still present as God. He existed since before time began and before people were created to have faith. Faith all points to Jesus, no matter when the faithful people have lived or will live.

Why is faith all about Jesus? Because “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (verse 2b). Was death on the cross a joyful experience for Jesus? Definitely not! But He knew there would be joy at what He accomplished through that torturous death – salvation for all of humanity who has faith in Him. He endured what He needed to endure so that we would be able to experience salvation in Him through our faith. After accomplishing His work on the cross, Jesus sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, which symbolizes that His work is complete and He is now reigning over the entire world because of it.

Verse 3 shows us that Jesus’ endurance of the cross gives us benefit. The word “endured” is in the perfect tense in Greek, which indicates that it is a completed action with an ongoing effect. Jesus has already died on the cross; that is complete, yet it has an ongoing effect of bringing salvation to all of us sinners. He endured the opposition that He needed to endure so that we can be encouraged in our faith.

There is weariness involved with running a long race, and runners can easily be tempted to quit when it gets difficult. But that is not what we are called to in our life of faith! The witnesses that came before us endured their situations by faith. Jesus endured death on a cross for the joy that was coming after it. We, too, are called to endure whatever is in the race set before us, and we can do that when our eyes are fixed on Jesus!

What has God called you to endure at this point in your life? Perhaps you’re at an easier point in your race, or perhaps you’re climbing a steep hill and feel you can’t take one more step. Either way, fix your eyes on Jesus! He began this faith and He fulfills this faith, and His work is done. Do not grow weary and lose heart, but keep your faith in Him, being encouraged by all those who have come before to run the race marked out for you with perseverance.

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Sin 1: Missing the Mark

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 18, 2022 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

After writing my series on what it means to be a Christian, I contemplated what to write next, and I think I need to go into the Christian life even deeper. This is going to be a dark and depressing series for some, but I feel compelled to write about the nature of sin. This will take several posts, but hopefully not a lengthy series because sin is not a fun topic. It is, however, very necessary to address because we’ve truly lost what it is. As a result, we do not take it seriously. What I want to do in this series is to showcase what sin is in general, the false views of sin that have infiltrated the church, and what the true view of sin is. Once we have that full backdrop of knowing what sin truly is, then we can truly appreciate the work of the cross. This post will just be a quick introduction to the series and then we’ll get into the meatier issues.

What is “sin”? The word sin means to “miss the mark.” It’s an archery term. To “sin” in archery means you missed the target. In science, we talk about precision and accuracy. Precision is the ability to hit the same spot. Accuracy is the ability to hit the actual target. When we sin, we miss the mark. We miss hitting the target. I’m not merely talking about hitting the bullseye, though that plays a role; we are missing the target entirely.

In academia, if we get every point correct, we get a 100%. Anything less than that and we get a lower grade. But in academia, a 70% is considered passing. A 90% is considered mastered. Yet when it comes to God’s standards, only 100% is acceptable. James tells us that if we break just one of the least of the commandments, it is as though we have broken the entire law. This is true in the legal system.

When someone commits a crime, they go through the justice system, are found guilty, and are labelled a criminal. It does not matter if it is rape, murder, theft, assault, etc. Breaking just one of the laws still gives us the same punishment: jail time. Some crimes have more weight than others and yield more jail time than others, but if you are in jail, you may be in jail for one crime or another, but you are still a criminal. Likewise, whether someone lies, cheats, steals, commits adultery, or worships idols, they have broken just one of the commandments, and they are treated as sinners. They are treated as one who has broken the entire set.

When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they only had one restriction: don’t eat from that one tree. They could have eaten out of any other tree, but they went after that one. How did the serpent tempt them? Clearly, they were eyeing that tree and wondering what it was all about. But the game was over the moment Eve missed the mark when she added to the Word of God. God never said not to touch the fruit. He simply said not to eat of it. The moment Eve added to the command, she missed the mark and the serpent had her. It was just a matter of sealing the deal from that point further.

Adam and Eve were just the first to miss the mark. Their son Cain also missed the mark. We tend to picture Cain as this rebelling defiant youth, and while that would be accurate, he was also a religious person. He sought to make his sacrifice as required. While I can picture Abel preparing his properly and Cain watching, only to scramble to do his as well, Cain wanted to worship God his own way, not God’s way. He missed the mark.

Nadab and Abihu were the two highest priests besides Aaron, the next in line. But they offered strange fire, that which God did not prescribe, and God killed them on the spot. They missed the mark. King Saul went out to wipe out the Amalekites upon command but instead spared the king and the best of the cattle and spoils. He missed the mark. David was so excited about bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the new capital, Jerusalem, that he put the ark on a cart instead of on the shoulders of Levites. When the ark was about to tumble, Uzzah put his hand on it to protect it. God killed him. Both David and Uzzah missed the mark.

Four of the “good” kings of Judah, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, and Jotham, were marked as good for at least part of their reign. But they had a strike against them. They did not tear down the high places of idol worship. They missed the mark. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to join the gracious giving of the church. But they only wanted to give part of the funds while wanting the impression of giving all. They missed the mark. Simon the sorcerer saw the power of the Holy Spirit and thought he could buy that power. He missed the mark.

The Bible gives us many more examples of missing the mark. Each of us have missed the mark as well. Each of us has sought to please God in our own way, and we have missed the mark. But there was one man who did not miss the mark. There was only one person who did not sin and fall short of the glory of God: Jesus Christ. He was the only one who fully and perfectly obeyed all of God’s commands and never once missed the mark. And because He fully fulfilled each task and never once fell short, including going to the cross, He has been proclaimed the King of all kings with the name above all names. And it is in Christ who intercedes on our behalf. It is Christ who took on our imperfection and gave us His perfection in its place. That is what the Gospel says.

This is actually just an introductory post, so I’m going to stop here. The nature of sin goes much deeper than just “missing the mark.” The examples I gave didn’t merely just miss the target; they actually intentionally aimed for a DIFFERENT target. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to explore what sin truly is, what the popular false views of sin are, and once we know what sin truly is, we’ll be able to explore what the cross really did. This series is going to be depressing for a while, but once we see how dark we are, we’ll appreciate how bright Christ is all the more.

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Not the Last Crazy Thing Theistic Evolutionists Say

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 17, 2022 2 comments


by Steve Risner

It’s time to wrap up this initial series on the crazy things theistic evolutionists say. There’s more to write about, and that will happen in the near future, but this series was based on a post by a theistic evolutionist online concerning a meme he disagreed with. His introduction to that post concerned some weird and silly statements about the “apostasy” that accompanies the rejection of universal common descent and other major tenets of the humanist origins myth like the Big Bang. He actually believes it is appropriate to refer to this disagreement with secular teachings as apostasy. This is one of the reasons I referred to this as craziness. You can see where I discuss this and other odd statements made here, here, and here.

He then went on to refer to specifics in a meme that he took offense with. The meme listed several things its creator believed created issues for the Big Bang and evolution (universal common descent). The first point concerned the second law of thermodynamics. He disagrees that this law is violated by the Big Bang and abiogenesis. That’s fine. We can disagree on that, but I feel very strongly that the evidence is on the side of the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches a 6-day creation about 6000 or so years ago. This person, and many theistic evolutionists like him, believes the organization that came from a massive expansion event billions of years ago is allegedly not violating the second law of thermodynamics. He believes the inconceivable amounts of sophisticated ordered information stored in genetic material is no problem for someone who understands entropy and how it works. I disagree, and I think science does as well. I wrote about that here and here. I lightly touched on it here as well, but this post was more about his second addressed claim—that the law of biogenesis creates problems for those who do not believe God created everything in the 6 days of creation.

So, yes, he goes on to try to argue that 1) the law of biogenesis is not violated by universal common descent, 2) there is no law of biogenesis, and 3) the law of biogenesis is a necessary part of universal common descent. He actually tried to make all three of those points even though some are contradictory. We see time and time again that evolutionists desperately want to divorce themselves from abiogenesis. Thomas Huxley even coined the term to move it away from spontaneous generation, which was a fable disproven in the 1800s. The two things are defined nearly identically, but they changed the name to abiogenesis, so it seemed more legitimate. When it comes down to it, the law of biogenesis stops universal common descent in its tracks before it even starts. This law states all living things come from other living things. This is our experience, and to date, all observations conclude that it is 100% accurate. There has never been a time when a single living thing was observed arising from something that was not alive. Not once. All experimentation trying to manufacture something “alive” in a lab has failed miserably. All of it. The law of biogenesis makes abiogenesis, the necessary starting point for universal common descent, look like the na├»ve belief system that it is. It is pseudoscience. You can read on that here and here.

The final installment then, after that much longer than anticipated recap, will be based on this quote from our theistic evolutionist:

Each of your other claims, in your meme, can be similarly dismissed by simple reasoning, by simple truth, except for the final claim, that God loves us. As such, it's time to accept God's love and repent of the falsehoods that many anti-evolutionary folks, such as yourself, routinely repeat. I think that the words of 2nd Corinthians are applicable for those who have fallen into the dishonesty of anti-evolutionary pits. Come out from among the young-earth deniers of evolution.
“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” -2 Corinthians 6:17-18

Interestingly, he claims that all the claims in the meme – which I believe include things like genetics, spontaneous generation, laws governing information systems, specified and irreducible complexity, and things of that nature – are able to be “similarly dismissed.” I find that ironic since he was not able to dismiss the claims at all. In fact, there seems to be a great deal of argumentation against his religious beliefs. I say they are religious beliefs because he believes that not believing in evolution is apostasy—clearly a religious type of error.

I can’t say that all of the things listed in the meme are good arguments against the humanist origins myth and all that comes with it—the Big Bang, chemical and stellar evolution, the development of solar systems, and eventually the spontaneous generation of life on earth and its diversification from pond scum to people over a few billion years. But I can say that he did a terrible job on the two he chose to refute and, in fact, the arguments against him are solid in my opinion.

It's rather disingenuous for him to suggest that Bible-believing Christians have rejected God’s love. I find it nice that he agrees with the statement—maybe a point of common ground—that God loves us all, but to suggest people who trust the Bible over the currently popular version of origins that secularists want to push at the moment is a little absurd. Also suggesting that a difference of opinion is akin to lying to the world about something is also disingenuous. Come on. It’s very childish to suggest that if you disagree with me then I must be lying. Or, if it turns out that something I (or something who believes as I do) say is wrong, this does not mean it was lied about. It simply means an error was made or there was a misunderstanding. The accusation of dishonesty gets thrown out way too often by these people. But that’s part of their mode of operation. They like to discredit their opponent because often times they cannot respond to their arguments—like his responses to this meme. His arguments were weak and not well thought out by any means in my opinion. But if they discredit the person they’re debating, they don’t feel obligated to respond to the points of the argument. They’re far too righteous for such a thing.

Then the icing on the cake happens. He actually reiterates this claim that it’s apostasy to reject universal common descent by saying, “I think that the words of 2nd Corinthians are applicable for those who have fallen into the dishonesty of anti-evolutionary pits.” How amazing is that! First off, it’s not dishonest to question universal common descent (notice I try not to use the word “evolution” since its meaning can be unclear). There are plenty of very well-known scientists who have questioned it or who have/had real issues with it. Many of them had these issues while maintaining their status as an unbeliever. In other words, they didn’t question universal common descent or even reject it based on their faith in the Bible. The “science” isn’t settled on this, regardless of what they wish. Not only is it not dishonest to question universal common descent but it’s a healthy approach to scientific discovery. How many amazing discoveries were founded on accepting the status quo? Not many, I’d wager.

Secondly, applying the Word of God and His warning to be unlike the people of the world in a situation where you are advocating for being like the people of the world is one of the worst applications of Scriptures I’ve ever seen. “Don’t be like the world but reject their teachings… by accepting their teachings that are completely contrary to the expressly written origins narrative in the Bible.” This is a paraphrase, of course, but that’s what he’s saying. The Scripture is a great one in this debate but not for him to use against anyone. He’s aligned himself with atheism. He’s aligned himself with anti-Biblical teachings. He’s rejected the clear teaching of Scripture—the teaching that has been understood to mean exactly what Biblical creationists (and most Christians prior to the last century) understand it to mean for thousands of years. Theistic evolutionists would do well to heed this warning and come out from among the unbelievers. I’ve found many theistic evolutionists who are Christians will always argue against Christians who do not believe as they do on origins. I have found they will almost always hold hands with atheists and attack Bible believers for exactly that—believing the Bible. So please! Come out from among the atheists, the Bible rejectors, the God haters, and the secularists. Reject their origins myth and adhere to the easily understood, very clearly written Word of God.

The simple truth is that if you reject the origins narrative of the Bible because “science” says it didn’t happen this way, you must reject all supernatural activity in the Bible or you’re a fraud. Science says a man dead for 3 days cannot rise again, especially on His own power. It also says a virgin cannot conceive. It also says 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread cannot feed 5000 men plus women and children. A man cannot walk on top of the sea or tell the sea to be calm and it listens. There is literally no supernatural event in the Bible that can be taken as the truth if you allow secular humanism (what they are allowing to masquerade as science) to rule your thought processes. I hope that makes sense.

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Hebrews 11:39-40

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 14, 2022 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” -Hebrews 11:39-40

In our modern world, we tend to want instant gratification for everything – fast food, the speediest Internet service, quick travel across the country, immediate responses from too-connected friends, etc. But that’s the opposite of what the author of Hebrews points out in this conclusion to the great Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.

First, in verse 39a he again commends all of them for their faith. This refers to not only the people he mentioned by name but also those he ran out of space to write about. For some, he just listed names, and for others, he gave descriptions of what happened to them or what they did in general terms because of their great faith in God. God never forgets any person who has lived by faith in Him. Whether they had great earthly significance because of their faith like Abraham or Moses or whether they had little earthly remembrance, ALL who have lived by faith have great significance in God’s eyes.

The Greek word translated here as “were commended” is the same root where we get our word “martyr” from, meaning one who has been killed for their faith. It can also mean to give testimony, testify, or be a witness. The NASB translates this as “having gained approval.” It is a passive form here, so those meanings do fit better than the more active meaning of giving testimony or testifying. But it is the same verb used in verse 4 where the author speaks of Abel being commended for his faith, the first person on his list. This acts as sort of “bookends” to this chapter – it both begins and ends with this commendation or approval because of the testimony of all of these who have lived by faith.

But even after looking at all those whose lives were lived by faith in God, we see that “none of them received what had been promised” (verse 39b). That’s the opposite of instant gratification; they never saw the fulfillment of God’s great promise in their lifetimes. But, that does not mean that they never saw any of God’s promises fulfilled. In fact, verse 33 told us that they “gained what was promised.” God always keeps His promises, so the people who lived their lives in faith did see some of God’s promises fulfilled – just not THE promise. That one great promise of God that they did not see was the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. God kept that promise unfulfilled until the proper time in history had arrived for Jesus to come to earth in human form and fulfill everything that was promised in the Old Testament.

Then in verse 40a, we see that “God had planned something better for us.” The author intentionally leaves this vague and unclear because God’s work has not yet been fully revealed. By the point in time when this letter was written, Jesus had already come to earth, lived His perfect life, died a terrible death, was raised again, ascended into heaven, and the early Church had begun to be formed. So the promise of God to send a savior for all people had already been fulfilled, but the author knows that this is not the end of God’s plan!

Not only does God have something better planned for us, but “only together with us would they be made perfect” (verse 40b). Jesus was the one who accomplished our salvation once and for all, but it still involves the entire Christian community. We are saved individually but we are also saved communally. Contrary to our highly individualistic society today, the perspective of the nation of Israel was a very communal one. What some people did (or didn’t do) could affect the entire nation. That still happens in our world today, but we have less national identity and tend to focus more on individuals.

All followers of Jesus Christ, including us today, are included in the “us” in verse 40. God has something better planned for us, and it will be “made perfect” in us as a whole people of God! That word translated as “made perfect” is from teleios, which contains the ideas of perfection, maturity, wholeness, and completeness. That is our goal as Christians, to become teleios in God – complete, mature, and whole.

This is impossible to achieve without Jesus Christ. It is only because of the work of Jesus on the cross that we have the opportunity to be in relationship with God and experience salvation. It’s not because of what we have done, and our actions will never lead us to teleios. Only the work of Jesus Christ fulfilled the ultimate promise made to all those who lived by faith in the Old Testament. Only the work of Jesus Christ fulfilled the ultimate promise to those who lived in the New Testament era. Only the work of Jesus Christ fulfilled the ultimate promise to all of His followers who have lived throughout history and to us who follow Him today.

Have you lived a life of faith that is worthy of being commended? What is your testimony and witness to what God has done in your life? We don’t have to be an Abraham or a Moses to be able to give God glory through what He has done in our lives and to show that we have lived by faith. We don’t even have to have a dramatic story of how God saved us from a terrible situation in life, though God does work in that way sometimes. Even a life lived by making daily choices to follow God in the small things is a great testament to His glory.

We can be encouraged and inspired by the “great” stories of what God has done and how so many people of old lived by faith. But every single person who lives by faith even in what may seem like an ordinary or mundane life is just as great as the stories we read about in this chapter of Hebrews. We likely won’t see instant gratification from it, but we will have a life lived for God as a witness to others.

What are you doing to live your life by faith in God?

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Being a Christian 10: Trust and Obey

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 11, 2022 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

This post will end my series on what it means to be a Christian, and I want to finish this by coming back to the very simple. In all that I have covered in this series, in all the doctrines that are involved with it, and all that I didn’t cover, I can summarize ALL of it with two simple commands: trust and obey. One of the classic hymns is “Trust and Obey” (or it’s alternate first-line title: “When We Walk with the Lord”), and it would be good to listen to it before moving on in this post.

I can argue technical details with anyone, but it really boils down to this question: “Do you believe God or not?” I am not asking you to believe my interpretation. I am not asking you about your opinions on the matter. I am asking if you believe what God said or not. After a recent sermon, my pastor and I got to share about how simple the faith is. While having greater knowledge of the faith is great and awesome, it boils down to the simple childlike faith that isn’t childish.

Faith, in its simplest and least-theologically defined form is trust. When we look at all of Jesus’ rebukes of His disciples, He frequently says, “You of little faith,” or “Why did you doubt?” Jesus is asking: “Don’t you believe me? Don’t you trust me?” And how are we any different? How many times have we failed to trust God even on the simplest of things? We so readily trust Him for our salvation (so we claim), but we panic over our finances when the economy tanks or when a very minor virus passes through. It’s one thing to not be presumptuous and to presume God will do something we call for, but on things that God promised to take care of, why do we struggle with this? God says, “Trust me.” We have all sorts of theological books about the faithfulness of God. We have many biographies showcasing how God delivers time and time again for those who believe Him, yet someone our generation has believed that lies that “That was for yesteryear.” “That was for them.” “They were special.” “That was just a one-time thing.” What happened to believing God?

George Mueller is a good example of this. He saw the churches and ministers going around from church to church to raise money for what they were doing. He didn’t like these models because in reality, they were not trusting God for their finances. They were trusting men and other churches. They would say that they are trusting God to provide what they needed and to prompt their givers to give what they needed to, but was that really trusting God? I can’t say it is. In his prayer time, Mueller asked God for a current, physical, visible, tangible demonstration of what truly trusting God looked like. He started an orphanage, and he absolutely refused to tell a single person about the needs of the orphanage. Only the staff knew at best. He brought every need before the Lord. One time, they were out of food entirely, so they still set the table and prayed for God to provide. A milk truck broke down right at their gates and donated milk and cheese. Mueller not only raised 1000+ orphans but was able to sponsor numerous foreign missionaries including Hudson Taylor. It was said that $1-2 million passed through Mueller (in the 1800s) over the years. Mueller only saw himself as a channel for God’s provision. That is a prime example of what it means to trust God.

Another analogy given by my pastor is like sailing on a boat. The moment of conversion is getting on the boat and departing from the dock. The sanctification process is when we are sailing across the ocean. Glorification is when we arrive on the other side. But the whole time, it is Jesus piloting the boat, not us. If we trust Jesus, we won’t be complaining about where He guides us, where He leads us, which route He takes, etc. When things don’t make sense, we simply trust that God knows what He is doing.

But trust by itself is meaningless. Trust calls for action. Jesus didn’t settle with merely intellectual belief. In every call for belief and trust, He tied it together with obedience and action. Jesus said multiple times that those who are His are those who obey Him. In our culture where “experts” are treated like gods, if your doctor says something is wrong with you and to take such and such medicine, if you believe him you will take the medicine. If you have a financial advisor and he suggests certain things, if you believe that advisor you will do what he suggests. Why is it not the same thing with the very God whom we declare to be both Lord and Savior? It’s because we do not see Jesus as Lord. We do not recognize His position as the ruler and master of the universe. We only see Him as a good luck charm, a genie who is all-powerful to get us what we want but not sovereign to determine what happens and how. Jesus’ commands are not heavy. They are not brutal. They are only difficult when we kick against them. But if we trust Jesus and then submit to His commands, while there will be challenges and difficulties, life will be much easier to process and handle. Why? Because no matter how hard it gets, all our circumstances are dependent upon Christ, not ourselves.

There is a huge benefit to trusting in God. We aren’t responsible for how things turn out. All we have to worry about is trusting God and being obedient to the best of our abilities. We don’t have to worry about the outcome. You may say, “I have no confidence in myself to obey God.” Guess what? God has no confidence in you either. He has taken your inability and your stupidity into the equation long before asking you to join in with Him. It’s not even about you anyway. It’s about God and His agenda. We simply get the privilege of going along for the ride.

For me, it’s been a very fun ride. For about 20 years of my life, I have known virtually nothing about the future. All I have known is what I am doing now and where my general direction is going. I have never tried to plan out what I will be doing 5 or 10 years from now. I know better than to try. Why? Because God has always redirected my steps. I teach physics and advanced physics at a local high school, and I will stay there until God moves me on. That could be in two years, or it could be in 20 years; I don’t know. I just know that God has me where I am, and I am not to move until He gives me another assignment. This is what I know about trusting and obeying God. I have no regrets in doing so.

I do hope this blog post series has encouraged you, strengthened your faith, and helped you understand what comes with the faith. It is so much more than just a set of creeds; it is a total lifestyle. It’s a very simple faith, too – just trust and obey.

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Hebrews 11:32-38

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 7, 2022 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” -Hebrews 11:32-38

Up to this point in Hebrews 11, the author has been spending at least one verse on each specific case that he has brought up. However, to continue at that rate, this one chapter would be way too long! There are so many people of faith documented in the Old Testament, and they all deserve to be commended for their faith, but the author needs to move on. However, he does not move on before mentioning a few more of them by name in verse 32, and then he turns to various acts of faith in a more general sense.

While the author of Hebrews does not give us details of what Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel did, we have the Old Testament to give us their stories. You can click those links to read blog posts by Logan Ames about each of them, and I’ll give some highlights here.

The stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah were all recorded in the book of Judges. Each of them faced enormous odds stacked against them. Gideon was to use an army of just 300 men to fight one more than 400 times its size – and he was victorious because of his faith (Judges 6-8). Barak would not go into battle without Deborah, and they were up against the mighty army of Sisera (Judges 4). They had faith, and God gave them victory in that battle. Even though Jephthah was a mighty warrior, he was the least of his family and had to overcome those odds. He, too, needed to have faith that God would win his battle for him, and God came through. Jephthah even had enough faith in God to follow through on a vow he had made, which cost his daughter her life (Judges 10-12).

At first, Samson did not seem to have much faith in his life. He was arrogant and often ignored his Nazirite vow, being disobedient to what God had called him to before he was even born. But Samson’s arrogance caught up with him, and after Delilah betrayed him, he was greatly humbled. At that point of humility when he had basically nothing left, Samson finally trusted God and had faith that God would still use him for His good purposes of killing hundreds of oppressive Philistines (Judges 13-16).

David’s story is well-documented in the Bible, from his days as a shepherd boy, to killing Goliath, to running from Saul, to being a mighty warrior, being crowned king of Israel, committing adultery and murder, and still being known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). We see David’s faith spelled out in much of the book of Psalms. Only faith in God could lead David through a life like that and leave him with a legacy of being known as the greatest king that Israel had.

Samuel and the other prophets had to have faith in the messages that God gave them to share with the people. Prophets were not known for bringing good news, but most often their messages were that of “Repent or die!” They needed to have faith to give them the courage to share difficult messages with the people to whom they were told to deliver those messages.

Verses 33-35a give lists of other acts of faith that people did. We can put names to some of those acts from the narratives we have in the Old Testament, but there were likely others that fit in these categories as well since the author of Hebrew doesn’t mention names in these verses.

In his blog post series and his book on the Heroes of the Faith in this chapter, Logan Ames covered specific people who fit all of these descriptions. I encourage you to check out either or both of those resources for more on them and how their faith helped them do those amazing things.

Some of the things on the list do appear to be possible in our human strength, but in reality, all of them are only truly possible by the supernatural power of God Himself. Can people conquer kingdoms, quench flames, or become powerful in battle? Sure; but everything that we do is all part of God’s sovereign plan and because He gave us life and various abilities. We need to rely on God by faith for everything that we do, as He has the ability to help us succeed or fail.

Verses 35b-38 tell of the harsh ways in which followers of God have been treated. People have been tortured in many different ways because they hold fast to the faith that God has given them. If this faith were not true, we would not have so many examples of people who gave their lives for it! Sometimes that persecution led to death, while other times it meant a more difficult lifestyle while here on earth.

Either way, we see that “the world was not worthy of them.” While the world may have thought these faithful people were not worthy of living in the world, the truth is that God sees them as completely and totally worthy of the life and faith that only come from Him.

Are you living out your faith in a way that mirrors the faith of these great people of God mentioned by name and of all these others who are not specifically listed by name? Does the world consider you unworthy and treat you harshly because of that faith? While we do not yet face outright persecution like that in the United States, there are many places in this world where Christians are persecuted and have to keep their faith secret or else they risk their lives. Now is the time to become confident in God and the faith we have in Him so that when the testing of our faith does come, we’ll be ready for it!

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Being a Christian 9: Testing a Teaching

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 4, 2022 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

The very term “Christian” has all but lost its meaning in our culture today. When someone says, “I am a Christian,” that can mean all sorts of things, most of which have nothing to do with Christianity. When we look at the polls about what people believe about certain core doctrines, we are currently seeing upwards of 60% of proclaimed Christians who no longer believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, just for example. That is not a negotiable. We have lost the authority of Scripture, and as a result, we have lost the ability to test what we are hearing with whether it belongs in the church or not.

We have many different denominations out there. Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal, etc. I wrote about these “divisions” in the church a few years back, and just a quick reminder: there are NOT 33,000 denominations out there, and the bulk of those denominations are separated by geography and formal governing bodies, not teachings. But there is something else we have going on today: we have “movements.” These are not new. Some are legitimate, and some are totally fake. The Great Awakening was one such movement. That is what brought the colonial U.S. to God and prepared them for the American Revolution. We have many movements going on in recent days. There was the “Jesus Movement” of the 1960s-70s. My former church was a product of those days. There was the “Laughing Revival” of Toronto, Canada. There was Billy Graham and his crusades.

There are also major teaching shifts as well. We have Old Earth Creation, Young Earth Creation, the Charismatic Movement/Word of Faith Movement, Critical Race Theory, Emergent Church/ Progressive Christianity, seeker-sensitive movement, movements launched from books like “The Prayer of Jabez,” “The Circle Maker,” or “The Genesis Flood,” and there is/was a Reformed Theology revival in recent days, too. These are BIG major teachings that aren’t just affecting a city or region, but millions upon millions of people. The Word of Faith movement has about 500 million followers, comparable to the Roman Catholic Church alone. These are HUGE movements. But which ones of them are Christian? Which of these should be associated with the faith? How can we know?

John MacArthur was one of the first major voices to speak out against the Charismatic Movement/Word of Faith Movement. His infamous Strange Fire conference was to expose those teachings as not fitting with true Christian teachings. I am not going to repeat his sermon here, however he gives some very good tests that we should use to test ANY movement or teaching. Some of what I will share here come from him and some I piggy-backed off of those. These tests are not whether they agree with creedal statements of the faith. Many false teachings and false churches put such “statements of faith” on their websites that are copy and pasted but don’t actually reflect what they actually teach. These tests go deeper than mere intellectual agreement. I have put various teachings to said tests, but I’m only going to address them in principle here, rather than go through each teaching and put them through the test.

• Does following this movement/teaching add any clarity to the text of Scripture, or does it make Scripture less clear? Does it seek to understand the original and intended meaning to Scripture, or does it seek to simply make room for ideas that are not explicitly taught in Scripture? Does the teaching/movement base itself on the clear exposition of Scripture in context, or does it rely on technicalities and “dictionary roulette” as I call it (looking for any definition of a term that can justify the position)?

• What does this teaching/movement bring to Christianity that helps believers in this day and age live out the Christian life? Or is it completely extraneous?

• How does the movement/teaching direct the worship of God? Is the worship of God taught as God wants to be worshipped, or is the worship however man wishes to worship (see my post on Worshipping God’s Way)?

• Does the teaching/movement point to and yield to holiness and the separation from the world and the world’s system and the world’s way of thinking? Does it stand out from the world? Or does it seek to incorporate teachings and ideas from the world and other pagan religious teachings?

• Is the teaching/movement God-centered, where it is about God and what He wants and about His glory? Or is it about man, what man wants, and what man gets out of it, where God is merely a means of getting man what man wants? Does God get the glory at the expense of man? Does our sacrifice cost us something? Or does man get to share the glory with God?

• Does the teaching/movement support and uphold the doctrine that Scripture is the first, final, and ultimate authority on every subject it touches on? Or does Scripture have to share its authority with another field of study (science, history, psychology, etc.)? Does it, not theoretically but practically, teach the sufficiency of Scripture?

• Are you able to find scoffers and mockers who utterly hate truth, God, and Scripture within the ranks of that movement? I’m not talking about mere tares among wheat here. Does the teaching/movement enable and allow such people to identify with such a movement without question?

• Is the teaching/movement only concerned about the opinion of God? Or is it concerned about how others will receive it? Whose opinion is the teaching/movement most concerned about?

• What makes such teachings/movements “Christian” teachings? Where, when, and how is it “Christian”? Does the movement/teaching come as an outflow of the foundations of the apostles and prophets of the Bible with Christ as the cornerstone? Or is the movement/teaching mere cosmetic and completely irrelevant to the foundation?

• Does the teaching/movement promote humility or arrogance? Does it require “high level education” to understand it? Or is it accessible to the simpleton with no academic inklings?

• How has church history taught on this subject throughout the ages? There is nothing new under the sun, so every movement/teaching we have today has been taught before. What has been the church’s position overall through the ages? How has the church faced those teachings?

• What is the history of the teaching/movement? What is its spiritual heritage? Where does it originate? What foundation does it have?

There are more tests we could come up with, but these should give us a good starting point. Because the church in general has so lost Biblical authority, I have to argue that the extreme majority of the movements we have today are not merely extra-Biblical but mostly anti-Biblical. While no movement truly has 100% correct doctrine (because only Jesus ever had that), a very big clue on the legitimacy of a movement is when the goal is to get back toward sound doctrine and to return to what has been taught throughout the ages. But take notice that the real tests of a Christian teaching or movement are not merely agreement to core doctrines as given by the creeds (and that is also a necessary test on top of all these), but to showcase overall submission to Christ and Scripture, as opposed to submission to the ideals of sinful men.

There are so many counterfeits today that it is getting harder and harder for the genuine to be visible. Many unbelievers are frustrated with us as a Church, especially in America, because we refuse to be united on the basics. God said the genuine would be separated from the counterfeit. How can you tell what is what? These tests will help clear the confusion and make things much easier to discern. Apply these tests to any teaching, any movement, and any ministry. Yes, even apply these tests to Worldview Warriors and me; if I am not passing these tests, I need to know that so that I may repent and adjust accordingly.

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