Hebrews 13:15-19

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 30, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.”
-Hebrews 13:15-19

The verses right before this section focused on the sacrifice of Jesus, and these verses continue that thought with more insight about sacrifices.

It is only through and because of Jesus’ sacrifice that we can offer God our praise (verse 15). We are to offer that sacrifice continually, not just occasionally. This brings to mind the idea of offering our lives as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2) and continually living our lives for the good of others (James 1:27). Just as 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, we should always be giving thanks to God for everything, in all circumstances.

Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection, there is no longer any need for the people to kill animals as sacrifices to God. Jesus took care of that once and for all, as the perfect sacrifice for all humanity at all times and in all places. The only sacrifice that is needed now is the sacrifice of praise, which we do when we praise God’s name openly. Our praise of God is not something that is supposed to be hidden, but rather it is to be done openly. Jesus openly died on the cross for us; that fact is not hidden, and neither should our praise to Him be hidden.

Even though blood sacrifices are no longer needed, there are times when we need to make sacrifices in our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. The author gives two examples in verse 16: doing good to others and sharing with them. The word for doing good is a very general term, so the author doesn’t provide any specifics for what doing good looks like. The word for sharing, however, is more specific. It refers to sharing our possessions with others (goods, money, etc.) and also sharing with others in fellowship.

Just because we no longer make animal sacrifices doesn’t mean that we don’t have anything to offer those around us. We still can and should make sacrifices in our lives in ways that show our faith – doing good to others and sharing with them. These things will set us apart from the ways of the world, which are very selfishly motivated. As Christians, we are called to sacrifice our selfishness and instead practice generosity to others.

The author shifts gears a bit in verse 17 and ties this thought back to the idea of remembering and imitating our leaders from back in verse 7. This verse encourages Christians to trust those whom God has placed in leadership or authority positions over us. We are to be obedient to what they say because they care for us. The idea posed in this verse that they “keep watch over you” has the idea of the leaders staying awake at night out of concern for the people following them. This shows the level of care that an ideal Christian leader will have for his or her followers. This phrase could also be translated as “they keep watch over your souls,” which implies looking out for their followers’ spiritual welfare. Leaders are concerned for the hearts of their followers, not just their physical needs but their spiritual needs as well.

We also see in this verse that leaders will be called to account for their followers. Of course, all people have their own free will, and leaders are not responsible for their followers' actions in that sense. But leaders are called to look out for their followers, and leaders are responsible for making sure they lead in a manner that is honoring to God and helps their followers to grow and mature in their faith.

When the people submit to their leaders, then the leaders’ “work will be a joy, not a burden.” Leaders will be much more effective at what they are called to do when their followers are helping them in that work rather than hindering it. If the followers submit to the leaders’ authority, then the leaders can lead better, which then, in turn, benefits the followers by having good leadership in their lives.

Finally, the author closes this section with a brief call to prayer in verses 18-19. He urges the audience to pray for “us.” Scholars are not sure who else is included with the author in that “us,” mostly because scholars are not sure of the identity of the author. It may simply be like how we sometimes refer to ourselves in the plural, even when it’s just one person speaking, especially given the author’s use of “I” in the next verse.

But whoever is included in that, he shows the importance of prayer. While the author has at times rebuked and at times encouraged his readers throughout this letter, he still counts on them for their prayer support when he is not present with them. Even though he has the desire to live an honorable life, he knows that he will fail at that, but he asks for prayer to live a life that gives honor to God and keeps his conscience clear.

It is unclear what is keeping the author from “being restored” to his audience, which is again difficult to discern because scholars don’t know the identity of the author. Perhaps he was imprisoned for his faith, perhaps he was physically ill, or perhaps he was doing the work of God’s Kingdom in some other geographic location and was not able to leave. But whatever the reason, it is clear that the author’s situation needs prayer, which he urgently asks for from the audience of this letter.

These few verses of Hebrews encompass a variety of subjects – making sacrifices for the good of others to live out our Christian faith, being respectful and submitting to our Christian leaders, and the importance of prayer. While these may seem like all different topics, they are all simply different aspects of living life as a follower of Jesus Christ. These are all things we should do not because we feel obligated to do them but because we love God and want to honor and glorify Him with our lives. Which of these areas do you need to work on in your life? How will you give God glory through each of these areas?

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Sin 11: Consequences of Getting Sin Wrong: CRT

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 27, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This will be the last aspect of false teachers and the consequences of getting sin wrong that I’ll write on in this series. This is one I’ve mentioned a number of times in passing, but I didn’t know enough to really dig into it. Yet while at the 2022 Shepherd’s Conference, the ideas of Liberation Theology and its sister Critical Race Theory have come into the church enough to warrant their attention. The central theme of the conference was “Unashamed,” but the primary false teaching that was addressed in dealing with being unashamed is this very wicked and evil theology. While John MacArthur hit it from several different angles, it was Voddie Baucham who really cemented what we are confronting in concrete terms. So for this post, I credit most of this knowledge to him.

First, we need to define a few terms here. Liberation Theology is the idea that Jesus came to this earth to save the “oppressed” from the “oppressor.” This idea has been around a while, but it hit the Roman Catholics in the 1960s and got a firm hold there before coming in through the liberal Protestants and now is fully imbibed in the conservative Protestants. Critical Race Theory is basically the social implementation of this idea. I cannot emphasize these terms “oppressed” and “oppressor” enough because these terms are selectively chosen to apply to ANY group that those who are teaching this theology does not like. It is applied to economics first and foremost. So, the “oppressed” would include blacks and people of color who are specifically in a “poor” economic situation, as opposed to the “oppressors” who are pictured as your standard American white population and CEOs, but not the politicians. As Baucham clearly points out, this is not a general statement because this theory does not identify Asians who are often wealthier than whites, nor Nigerian immigrants who are wealthier than. It is explicitly Marxist, and its purpose is to divide. Socially, if you are a white, conservative Christian, you are an “oppressor,” and if you are a street-smart black kid, you are among the “oppressed,” and there is no hope for escaping this classification, much like the caste system of Hindi India.

The philosophy is total Marxism: take from the rich (those who have money and power that those who hold these ideals do not like, because they never talk like this to each other) and give to the poor. Baucham retells the Parable of the Talents from this philosophy. The story goes exactly as it does in Scripture except in the end, the master takes five from the servant who had five and gained five. He gives one to the servant who had two and gained two, and he gives four to the servant who had one and did nothing. All three have five talents in the end. This is not Robin Hood; this is Marxism – rewarding the lazy while punishing the workers. The way the parable actually ends is where the servant with five ended up with eleven, the servant with two got four, and the lazy servant with one lost even his one. This is not a parable about the proper economic system, yet many people try to make it so.

These ideas take what initially sounds good on paper (let the wealthy help support the poor) and make it a religion that entirely opposes the Gospel and Christianity. But there is a far greater sinister side to it, and that’s the issue of sin. The authors and bloggers pushing these ideas are quoted by describing the American Slave Trade as our “original sin” (compare with Genesis 3). That is what the 1619 Project is about. That is the year that slaves were first brought to the American colonies and THAT is what they say “America is about.” Not our Constitution or our Declaration of Independence, but slavery. They never mention that whites were enslaved too during this time and that blacks also owned their own slaves.

When Baucham pointed out that they think this is America’s “original sin,” I was ready to get up in arms. Why? Because these anti-American and anti-Christian (those two are not synonymous here; they are just against both institutions) writers are stealing God’s description of sin to describe THIS kind of “racism” (which for the record is no longer defined as “animosity due to color of skin” but as “economic and social inequity”) as so endemic that white people who have nothing to do with these kind of things have to bow before this ideology and apologize for what their ancestors did. Just by being white, we are labeled as guilty merely by association. And they define all the terms in such away that ultimately, the white conservative Christian is irredeemable in their eyes, no matter what they do. Even if a white person were to try to make amends, he is seen as just trying to protect his white privilege, and if he denies being involved in that, it is called “white fragility.” No matter what, the average white American in this ideology is so steeped in the “sin of racism” that he cannot be saved.

This thinking has had the power that some of those whom we thought were our allies just a couple years ago have bought into this lie and apologized in public to these false teachings and lies. Keep in mind here: these ideologies have absolutely no intention of actually helping anyone. They want the “oppressed” people to stay oppressed, so they keep with a victim mentality, but then they direct that offense against those who actually have nothing to do with it. You will never see the people promoting these ideas actually stepping down so someone less fortunate than them can take their place. They always insist on someone else doing it. The goal of this is to keep these groups of people fighting each other, when the real source of the problem is found in those ideals. Go back to what I wrote about the Hegelian Dialectic; this is literally that methodology.

There are consequences for how anyone preaches the Gospel from this mentality. First, there are two groups of people – the “oppressed” and the “oppressors” – and only the “oppressors” are the sinners who must “repent” by doing “good works” to bow before the “oppressed.” Then the “oppressed” need to stick their chests out and declare themselves “victims” and therefore everything they want is “owed” to them. Both are works-based, so this is a theological issue, too. These people who claim to be Christians think that Jesus came to settle the economic and social injustice and imbalance. (Hint: Jesus never once addressed that and neither did the Apostles. In fact, Jesus said the poor would always be with us when Judas suggested they sell the perfume to “give to the poor”.) And the gospel of this message is achieved when all people have equity (the same economic power and resources; but the people will be poor while the teachers of these ideals rake in the cash). This also requires a different “gospel message,” one for the “oppressed” and one for the “oppressor.” And neither of them has Jesus at the center.

In Liberation Theology, we see almost the opposite side of the same coin of the Prosperity Gospel heresies. In both cases, the ultimate of reality is defined by financial and social success. In one they seek God for their wealth; in the other they seek the wealth of others. In one, sin is defined as blocking your way to money; in the other sin is defined as having more than others. Both corrupt and distort the image of Jesus to cater to those ideals. None of them look to self as the problem and self’s sin against God being the primary issue. Neither of them has Jesus as the answer to man’s malady. Next week, I will showcase how all these false teachings will destroy any effects of evangelism we try, then I’ll come back to the proper and true understanding of sin, and from there I’ll examine the proper response to sin.

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.


Hebrews 13:11-14

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 23, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” -Hebrews 13:11-14

This final chapter of the book of Hebrews contains many pieces of advice and encouragement for Christian living. But, the verses we’re looking at today are a bit less practically-minded and focus on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – which is why we are followers of Jesus Christ in the first place.

Verse 10, right before today’s passage, states, “We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.” That verse referred to the fact that believers in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ have an advantage over those who do not consider Jesus Christ as the Messiah – specifically those who still followed the Jewish faith. Considering many ancient manuscripts title this letter “To the Hebrews,” this is the audience who would be reading this letter – the Jewish/Hebrew people by nationality, many of whom likely had not yet heard the gospel message and may still be following the Jewish traditions.

This letter contains many references to Jewish customs, and each time the author shows the connection to Jesus Christ and how He fulfilled those previous traditions. The verses we’re looking at today give a specific example of that: the Day of Atonement. The author has already referenced this holy day and its relation to the high priests earlier in the letter in much greater detail (see Hebrews 4:14-5:10 and Hebrews 7:1-10:18), but he needs to reference it again here to set up his next point.

In verse 11, he gives the highlights of the Day of Atonement, and then explains how the bodies of the sacrificial animals are “burned outside the camp.” This general practice for sacrifices was commanded in Leviticus 4:11-21. Using the word “camp” refers to the practice of the Israelites when they wandered in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. The author of Hebrews often refers back to that time frame because it’s one that all of the Israelites of his day would have had in common. After entering the Promised Land, the nation split up into more separate settlements, so their history was not as common, although it was still similar.

In verse 12, we see the author’s next comparison between the Day of Atonement and Jesus. Just as the bodies of the animal sacrifices were burned outside the camp, so Jesus “suffered outside the city gate.” This is not a perfect analogy, however, as the sacrificial animals were actually killed inside the city. But the point is that the animals that were sacrificed on the Day of Atonement were to provide for the forgiveness of the sins of the people, just as Jesus’ suffering and death did. The animal sacrifices were imperfect and temporary, however; Jesus’ sacrificial death provides permanent forgiveness of sins. Animals needed to die each year to cover the sins of the people of Israel, but Jesus only needed to die once for all people in all times and in all places.

The call to “go to him outside the camp” in verse 13 is an interesting one. Considering that the bodies of animals were burned outside the camp, that would not be a place that the Israelites would naturally want to wander to. Faith in Jesus Christ is “outside the camp” of the Jewish beliefs, so the people needed to go to Him to have faith in Him. To remain within the Jewish faith would be to remain outside of faith in Jesus and be separated from Him and His sacrifice. The readers of this letter must be prepared to go outside of their comfort zone of the Jewish traditions to embrace faith in Jesus Christ.

But going to Jesus outside the camp comes at a price. We don’t like to be faced with suffering (whether our own or someone else’s), but we need to see Jesus suffer to even begin to understand what His sacrifice means for us. We need to see Jesus’ disgrace to understand how much He truly loves humanity, that He would experience all that suffering and pain when He deserved none of it.

While we often desire to remain in the traditions that are comfortable to us, in verse 14 the author reminds his readers why it’s worthwhile to step outside of their Jewish faith and embrace faith in Christ. They do not have an “enduring city” in Judaism, but in Jesus Christ, they can look for what is to come. The author has referenced this eternal city before in Hebrews 11:10; its architect is God, and it will endure forever, unlike anything we experience here on earth.

We generally prefer to look to the security of things that we can see and feel here on earth, but those things do not endure. Only things that are of God will endure forever, which is why we need to pursue the things of God rather than the things of this world. We need to look forward to the eternal things rather than getting caught up in the temporary things of this world.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the most important thing we can keep in our hearts and minds. We need to see His suffering so we can truly appreciate it, and we need to remember that His sacrifice is outside of our comfort zone. Do you desire the eternal security we have through faith in Christ, or is your heart set on the temporary things of this world? The choice is yours – if you do not yet have faith in Jesus, go to him outside the camp today!

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Sin 10: Consequences of Getting Sin Wrong: Prosperity/Progressives

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 20, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Getting sin wrong has devastating consequences, not just for eternity but for our lives now and for all those around us. Last week, I addressed how having the wrong idea of origins produces a wrong view of sin and thus a wrong view of the cross. Two other groups I will address today are the Prosperity Gospel people and the Progressive Christianity people. As these groups comprise numbers comparable to the Roman Catholic Church worldwide (500 million if not more), we can’t just consider this a side issue. A few weeks ago, I looked at how these different teachings get sin wrong in general, but now I’m going to zoom in and showcase what this means.

Changing the definition of sin is very common in the Prosperity Gospel and “Word of Faith” teachings. Rarely do they use that term, but when they do, they use it in an entirely different context than what the Bible uses. Sin is not “high treason against a thrice holy God” (thanks to Justin Peters for this description), but rather just a “barrier to your blessings.” This one is tricky, because it has just enough orthodoxy to make you want to accept it, but just like rat poison it is 95% good and 5% deadly poison. Sin is defined as being “wrong,” things that God does not like, but they portray sin as nothing more than a mountain to climb or a canyon to cross, and all doable by man’s own efforts. Do you have cancer? Your sin may be a barrier to receive your healing miracle. What is that sin? Usually “not enough faith,” even citing Romans 14:23 to support them. And while not a blanket statement, there are many of these people who use your financial contributions to them as the evidence of your level of faith. This is what Justin Peters, who has cerebral palsy, experienced while at one of the “events” by Word of Faith preachers. By “screening” him from going up to the stage, they instead asked what their contributions to “God” (by that meaning to them) were like.

The consequences of having such a view of sin, in which the end goal of dealing with sin is to get health, wealth, and prosperity in this life, are devastating. Many think that these teachings only work in a nation where there are already high levels of prosperity (the U.S., for now). But one of the great evils of these teachings is showcased by many of the “preachers” of these ideals going to third world countries (like in Africa or to the Philippines) and effectively milking those very poor people dry, promising physical and temporal relief from their physical problems, by giving the tiny bit of money they had to the preachers. This is highway robbery, and these teachers are going home laughing as they soak in the money they were just “given.”

But it’s worse than that. Because of their false views of sin, where it is a barrier between you and your blessings, the theory showcases that if you are more healthy, more wealthy, and are having more business success, you are more righteous than those who are not. And it is absolutely crippling of any who do not end up on the top of the Ponzi scheme. It’s a slavery system, and most people don’t even know it. Another aspect of this self-righteousness is that those who promote this message will declare that they are “spokespersons” of God or even declare that they ARE “God” (known as the little gods doctrine). Daring to speak against them is speaking against God Himself, citing 1 Samuel 26:9 to “not touch the Lord’s anointed.”

So, if we take these teachings to their logical conclusion, if you believe that your righteousness will yield heath, wealth, and prosperity, and that if you don’t have it, it is because you have sin in your life, that means that unless you are extremely wealthy, you not only have sin in your life but are going to Hell. This is part of why Job’s friends were dead wrong. Job suffered not because he sinned but because he was righteous. So by these teachings, only a select few will “get in,” and even more so, how many purely pagan people are rich without appealing to those teachings? They get in, too, because they meet the qualification that the Prosperity Gospel teaches.

The Prosperity Gospel is not the only teaching that gets sin wrong. So do the Progressive Christian teachers, and they are growing to the point where a documentary “American Gospel: Christ Crucified” needed to be made to confront these teachings. These teachings are a combination of post-modernism in which there are no absolute truths, everything is relative to the teacher/listener, and also New Age mysticism. I do believe this is the primary approach that will be used to incorporate Christianity into the “one world religion” that we see being built.

In his book Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell describes the doctrines of Christianity as bricks in a wall that keep people who don’t promote the doctrines of the faith out, and he mocks it as “Brickianity.” He taught that instead of our doctrines being bricks, they should be treated more like springs on a trampoline, and they stretch depending on the weight or importance of the person. We should all just get on the trampoline and jump and have fun. The problems of this line of thinking are frightening. Bell is suggesting we toss out all the concrete ideas and moorings that define reality and replace them without own ideas. The very title of his book describes the repainting of an Elvis doll to “restore” it. Except nothing in his book does what this title suggests. The title calls for a repainting so we get a brand-new looking doll that looks like the original. What he did in this book, however, is to completely redefine all the terms and phrases so they can’t even be recognizable to the original. What does this have to do with sin? Bell describes that in a book he wrote several years later: Love Wins.

Love Wins (which I have not read but have watched the book trailer) is about universalism. It’s about Jesus’ death on the cross, emptying Hell, and that it doesn’t matter what you believe or what your morals are, you get to go to heaven. In other words, sin becomes an utterly meaningless idea. It does nothing and causes nothing since it is now completely done away with. The vile abuser gets the same prize as the holy man. Since Rob Bell in this book believes that any road leads to heaven, why should he claim Christianity as his faith, considering Jesus explicitly said, “No man comes to the Father except through Me”? It’s a legit question and since the writing of that book, he’s fallen from the spotlight. Yet when I picked up Velvet Elvis about 12 years after it was written, it was still #84 of ALL TIME on Amazon books (it’s much lower now, but it’s still high up there in the rankings). So whether Bell is still popular or not, his books have not gone away.

Bell is not the only one promoting this. William Paul Young wrote The Shack in which he defines sin as a “sickness” that needs to be cured in this fictional novel. While I applaud the attempt to deal with the grief of a father who lost his daughter to a rapist and murderer, the writing was extremely poor, and the doctrines taught to help Mack heal were simply atrocious. In this book, sin never draws God’s wrath, but simply is “its own punishment.” Young also showcases “the Father” (Papa, portrayed as a fat black woman) dancing sexually to rebellious rap music. He has God “loving” rebellion and defiance.

In both of these cases, sin is either avoided entirely or treated as powerless, weak things that don’t mean anything anyway. As a result of this, what is the point of the cross? What becomes of the Gospel? It becomes moot and pointless as well. Both groups define sin wrongly because they define God wrongly. They try to define God by their own likings, and that will always excuse the self from being in need of a Savior. I only touched on the surface of this, but this series is depressing enough. I have to keep this in such a depressing mode for one or two more weeks before we can delve into the proper response to sin. Next week, I’ll deal with an issue that has now become hot that the 2022 Shepherd’s Conference had to confront it as a theme: Liberation Theology and Critical Race Theory. Then I’ll return to going back to what God said sin is and what it truly does and from there we can see what our responses to sin must be.

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Escalating Anxiety to God

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, May 17, 2022 0 comments

by Eric Hansen

Anxiety seems to be a topic I either talk or write about frequently. It’s definitely a part of me that evil tries to use against me, and it succeeds so very much. In fact, earlier in the day that I wrote this article, I had some pretty intense panic attacks and didn’t even know why!

At the start of this year, I committed to God that I would treat Him as the ultimate authority above all else. Whether that be decision making, desires, paths to cross, etc., I decided to make a conscious effort to consult and pray with petitions for it all (Philippians 4:6-7). While I have failed at that more often than not, ultimately this is an important piece to recent events that have caused some significant anxiety within me.

With that commitment in mind to God, it had been a drastic whirlwind inside. There were moments where I was as cool as a cucumber, and other moments where I was as frantic as a person drowning and unable to swim (speaking from experience). The balance has definitely been a struggle in being able to keep grounded in faith. The turning point, though, for all of this happened after “suffering” constantly for a few weeks.

I really hadn’t been in God’s Word like I knew I should have. How else am I really going to hear God if I’m not focusing on Him? Even though I had been praying to God all throughout this to either keep the path clear or destroy it as you please if it’s not your will, I needed to be obedient to God. I woke up one morning at 4:30 AM in a panic attack. The first thing I did was dig into my devotional book of Jesus’s parables. I can’t say that the parables helped, but just reading the Scriptures and thinking and meditating on them started to bring me peace. The parable I read was about the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8). The significance to reading this in my emotional state was realizing I needed to be more persistent in praying to God and what I pray on. If I truly wanted God to be my guiding light through life, then I needed to seek Him more constantly.

I wish at this point I could say that everything was peachy, that the weight of anxiety started lifting. But reality had other plans, slapping me with more anxiety and testing my commitment and reliance on God. There were some periods in that escalation when I felt like giving up on life, asking if things are worth this. Not only did the original matter become a bigger part of the anxiety, but another problem arose as well that made it even worse. These are the times where you often just know evil is trying to create that division.

Ultimately, though, it helped me to remember what sin is. (Check out recent writings by fellow blog writer Charlie Wolcott for more on this.) At its core, sin is any separation between God and man (or me in this case). This means that the increased anxiety trying to consume my thoughts, dreams, and life was trying to separate me from God by directing my very soul to the problems I was dealing with. The sad thing is, I had no control over either problem, so I was having all this anxiety regarding things that I couldn’t do anything about to begin with. So then why was I allowing this division, this sin, to happen to begin with?!

It was at these revelations that I realized I needed to just focus on God. I needed to acknowledge the anxiety, fears, and thoughts but let the Prince of (amazing) Peace come save me. After all, if I'm telling people He’s my Lord and Savior, why am I not depending on Him as such?

I have a Korean-English bilingual bible that has hymns in it. My thought wasn’t to go to them, but I ended up opening the Bible to one of them. In fact, what I opened up to was a hymn called 너 근심 걱정 말아라 (Be Not Dismayed Whatever Betide) that has a repeating phrase of “God will take care of you.” I would say this greatly reminded me, especially as I kept re-reading the hymn, that God will in fact take care of me. This then led me to reading the psalm it is inspired by (Psalm 91), which I read a few times. In fact, I even read it today while having a pretty noticeable panic attack. Through my reading, I have been praying to God, praising and bringing my fears to Him.

Things aren’t perfect by any means, and I’m still fighting anxiety pretty heavily. But reading Psalm 91 brought me to reading through Ephesians (with a heavy heart towards chapter 6). This whole exchange has tested my ability to rely on God, to trust Him with things in my life, and to realize just how wonderful and peaceful He is when I’m in His presence. I don’t regret having had to go through all of this, and the talks I’ve had with people also guide me in it. Right now, my spirit basically demands more Scripture, and I try hard to satisfy that thirst.


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Hebrews 13:7-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 16, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.” -Hebrews 13:7-10

While the previous section of Hebrews 13 focused on the theme of love, the first few verses this section talks about leaders – specifically, how we as Christians should treat our leaders. Then, the author moves on to talk about faith and God’s grace.

The first thing to note is the Greek word used for leaders in verse 7. This is a general term for leader that does not distinguish what type of leader that person is. It can be used for the leader of a religious body (like the church), a political leader, a military commander, etc. There is a different Greek word that’s used elsewhere in Scripture for “elders,” so this word likely does not refer to elders in the church specifically.

Given the next phrase, “who spoke the word of God to you,” these leaders were likely involved in some form of teaching or preaching. “The word of God" here refers to the gospel message as a whole; remember that at the time this letter was being written, the New Testament was not yet formed, and some of it was not even written yet. So speaking the word of God could refer to the Old Testament Scriptures, the gospel message, or even the early documents that were already in existence that would be included in our New Testament today.

These leaders were being held up as an example for believers to imitate. Some scholars think that the word “outcome” here is actually a euphemism for death, meaning that the readers should consider how their former leaders were killed for their faith. That brings a bit of a different message here to the author asking the readers to imitate their faith that led to the outcome of death! But the reader is also encouraged to remember their way of life, how they truly lived out their faith and did not compromise it – even in the face of death. Whoever these leaders were, they were clearly good examples of faith to follow.

While being charged to remember their earthly leaders, the author tells his readers that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (verse 8). The reader can be assured that they will be following the same Jesus who those leaders followed, the same Jesus as was constantly portrayed in the word of God. This short verse emphasizes the unchanging nature of Jesus. The same Jesus who existed before the creation of the world is the same Jesus who took on human flesh, died, and was resurrected. He is the same Jesus who was worshipped and followed by the early church, He is the same Jesus we worship and follow today, and He is the same Jesus we will worship in the future – both in the rest of our earthly lives and into eternity in heaven.

It is clear from verse 9 that there were some “strange teachings” present in that day that the audience would be familiar with; we do not know today what those teachings were. It is possible that this relates to Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 10:14-33 about eating food sacrificed to idols, but there is no strong link there. Many religions of the day, including Judaism, had rules and regulations surrounding food.

The author’s point here is that we need to rely on God’s grace to sustain us rather than getting caught up in the rules about food or other such things. This is reminiscent of what Jesus said while He was being tempted in the wilderness in Matthew 4:4: “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,’” where He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3. There is no benefit in God’s eyes to eating ceremonial foods; we need to continually rely on God’s grace rather than following rules about what we eat or do not eat.

Verse 10 seems confusing in this context. What is this altar that the author is talking about? This has been interpreted as the Holy Communion table, from which only believers in Jesus Christ partake of the meal of communion. But, he just finished saying in the previous verse that we shouldn’t worry about food rules, and now he said that some can’t eat from this altar.

One commonly held view is that the altar referred to here is the cross of Jesus Christ. “Those who minister at the tabernacle” are the Jewish priests, or possibly all Jews in a general sense. They have no right to “eat” from this “altar” because they do not accept the sacrifice of Jesus as providing for their salvation. The fact that Jesus was crucified, died, and was raised again does not mean anything significant to them, as they still believe that the Messiah had not yet come.

The author is pointing out that his readers, as believers in Jesus Christ as the one true Messiah, have a privileged position over those who do not yet share this belief. They should consider their faith as a privilege that others do not yet have, but they do have the ability to welcome others to the table, to welcome them to a saving faith in Jesus Christ as well.

While the ideas presented in these few short verses seem rather disjointed (remember your leaders, Jesus never changes, don’t get caught up in food rules, and we are privileged because of faith), they are all connected in instructing believes about how to live the Christian life. We are called to imitate those who have been leaders of the faith; they trusted in the unchanging Jesus, and we should do so as well. We need to remain true in our teachings and not get caught up in any false teachings that may happen, including becoming too legalistic about what we can or cannot eat.

It really is all about the cross of Jesus Christ and the saving faith we can have through God’s grace to us!

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Sin 9: Severe Consequences of Getting Sin Wrong: Old Earth Ideas

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 13, 2022 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Having a false view of sin has devastating consequences. Over the last few weeks, I’ve showcased what happens when one takes sin lightly, changes the terminology, changes the effects, and changes the point or purpose of the cross. In a very brief nutshell, the consequence of taking such an approach is going to Hell, but there is much more to it than just that. I mentioned early in this series that there is no sin that just affects us. If we get sin wrong, it affects much more than just our theology and our destination.

I’ll return to origins because this is where I believe the lynchpin lies over the whole issue of sin. While there are Old Earth Creationists who do correctly define sin as knowingly and intentionally going against what God said, they have already lost the battle on how that applies to every person. While there are Old Earth Creationists who do understand the plan of salvation despite getting Genesis wrong, because they get Genesis wrong, they are preaching a confusing and incoherent message that has enabled the liberals to do what they do anyway. John MacArthur points out the problem here:

"What old-earth creationists (including, to a large degree, even the evangelical ones) are doing with Genesis 1-3 is precisely what religious liberals have always done with all of Scripture--spiritualizing and reinterpreting the text allegorically to make it mean what they want it to mean. This is a dangerous way to handle Scripture. And it involves a perilous and unnecessary capitulation to the religious presuppositions of naturalism--not to mention a serious dishonor to God."
~John MacArthur, Think Biblically!, pages 62-63

While proclaiming conservative evangelicalism, what Old Earth teachings have done is strip away the Bible’s authority on defining sin. This has enabled liberal ideas to so completely infiltrate the conservative church that the few churches who are still faithful to the truth essentially no longer have a voice that others are respecting. While this is a severe issue in terms of general approaches to the Bible, what many Old Earth Creationists do not understand is that their view is not just a liberal approach to Genesis; their models also directly deny the Gospel because they have a false view of sin and its origin. I keep addressing this issue because what I keep seeing in the teachers and promoters of Old Earth theology (not talking about the laymen who do not see what is going on behind the scenes) are the consistent marks of the false teachers that Scripture readily offers us. These teachers will play the “unity” card, however they are the ones bringing teachings that were contrived intentionally to deny and refute the Gospel without directly attacking it. The central issue is: What is sin and when did death enter this world?

When you use the current observations of how science operates TODAY and then extrapolate that as far back as you can (requiring there be no change in how the region, let alone the world, operates), you are using observations of a sin-cursed scientist and a sin-cursed world, with thousands of years of buildup from said corruption. These models reject the Biblical account of creation as written and the historical event of the Flood. The Old Earth Creationists then try to come back and insert these accounts into their already established models that were designed without the Bible’s input. As a result, they completely change the account to where it is completely unrecognizable to the original text. What does this have to do with sin? Everything.

When one assumes a “Deep Time” paradigm, no matter what flavor it takes, a KEY assumption behind all those dating methods and processes is that the present is key to the past – that what we see happening today is how everything has always happened. One argument made is that “God made the laws of physics, and God does not lie or change, therefore the laws of physics don’t change.” That is totally ridiculous because that put the creation at the same tier as the Creator and gives the creation the “incommunicable” attributes of God. This is important.

We are observing a sin-cursed, broken, breaking down world. If the laws of physics as we know them today reflect this, and this is a reflection of God, then this is actually an attack on who God is. Think about it. These creation models call for a corrupt creation from the start; thus by equating the creation to the Creator, they call the Creator corrupt. There is a group with an origins model that matches this precisely: the Gnostics (established heretics). They do not believe that corruption came from man but from a corrupt creator, the Demiurge (basically, the Biblical Satan). They think man’s problem is not sin but lack of knowledge (hence the name Gnostics, which comes from the Greek word for knowledge). Take notice of the primary approach that Old Earth Creationists take to solve man’s problems: it’s not the Gospel, it’s “science.” There are Old Earth Creationists who do proclaim the plan of salvation, however that plan of salvation and the Gospel message have no relationship whatsoever to the Old Earth models they teach. They directly contradict each other.

Why am I saying all this? Because of a false view of origins. All the Deep Time models have a false view of sin. They teach by practice that Adam and Eve’s sin ultimately did nothing to this physical world and try to reduce sin to be purely “spiritual.” Paul explicitly taught otherwise in Romans 8:19-23 AND in 1 Corinthians 15. I even had an Old Earther try to cite 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 to say, “Here is the Gospel and there is no mention of origins, therefore it’s secondary.” And I’m like, “Did you read the rest of the chapter?” Adam’s sin did cause spiritual death, but it ALSO caused physical death as well as every other kind of death. An animal had to die physically to provide clothes for Adam and Eve. Jesus’ death had to be physical. If it was just a spiritual issue, then why did Jesus have to die physically and historically? When asked this question, I have still yet to hear an Old Earther give any attempt to answer it out of their paradigm. Why? They can’t. If the earth is millions of years old, Jesus had no purpose in coming here as a man. If I have not made it clear yet: Old Earth ideas are antithetical to the Gospel because they fail to see what sin truly is and what it did. There are Christians who are Old Earthers. But don’t read what I’m not saying; they believe it out of deception, and I pray God frees them from said deception. But even the atheists understand that “millions of years” and “evolution” being true means the Gospel is dead.

"It becomes clear now that the whole justification of Jesus’ life and death is predicated on the existence of Adam and the forbidden fruit he and Eve ate. Without original sin, who needs to be redeemed? Without Adam’s fall into a life of constant sin terminated by death, what purpose is Christianity? None…
Christianity fought, fights, and will fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus' earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of God. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing!
What this means is that Christianity cannot lose the Genesis account of creation like it could lose the doctrine of geocentricism and get along. The battle must be waged, for Christianity is fighting for its very life."
~G. Richard Bozarth, American Atheist: The Meaning of Evolution, February 1978, page 30)

We cannot mess around with Genesis. So many in the institutionalized churches think that is perfectly admissible and that they should be considered “brethren” as they do so. How can anyone be united “in Christ” when one side denies the very reason why He had to come to begin with?

The consequences of getting sin wrong are devastating. I’ll expound on this further, but take notice what has happened to any church, denomination, institution, or ministry that started out as Christian then embraced Old Earth ideas any time between the 1850s to the 1950s. Where are they now? Look at Yale, Princeton, or Harvard – they all started as Christian universities. Look at many of the seminaries today. Look at the many denominations which embraced Old earth ideas. Where are they now? They are centers of liberalism. They are no longer conservative, and it could be debated whether they could be called “Christian” anymore. So much of what they teach is what a normal conservative evangelical today would call heretical. Just in the past couple years, the Southern Baptist Convention, known as the largest denomination in the US and knows as perhaps the last large bastion for truth embraced Critical Race Theory ideas. Where does that come from? Evolutionary and Marxist ideals.

“Millions of years” is a theory where death and decay are the creative mechanisms for bringing about life and the universe. And everywhere it has gone, it has produced death and decay. I will call belief in these models what it is: sin. It is specifically the sin of unbelief of God’s record in Genesis. It is the sin of believing pagan, ungodly men instead of Scripture. It is the sin of sitting in the council of scorners, mockers, and scoffers. It is the sin of elevating man’s ideals as equal if not higher than God’s standards. Ultimately, it is the sin of knowing God exists and rejecting Him as Creator. Next week, I will emphasize the Prosperity Gospel and Progressive Christianity and the devastating consequences of how those teachings get sin wrong, and then I’ll tackle Critical Race Theory and Liberation Theology.

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The Importance of Pruning in Your Life

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, May 11, 2022 0 comments

by Jason DeZurik

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” -John 15:2

In 2015, my wife and I were blessed to move our family out to the country. On the property was a massive lilac bush, and we were very excited to enjoy the blooms we anticipated were sure to come in the future. Well, the first spring, not many blooms came. The next spring even less came. It went this way for the next couple of years. So, I decided in the fall of 2019 that I would prune the bush back quite a bit. This bush was at least 12 feet tall, and I cut all the branches of this bush back to about 6 feet tall. Some people were worried that I might have killed the bush, but I was to the point of attempting to replace the bush anyway, so I thought might as well go for broke.

In the spring of 2020, I don't know if we got any blooms. The next spring in 2021, new growth had happened but not many blooms were found on the bush. This spring, though, there are so many blooms on the bush that they literally change the smell of the air all around our home and their fragrance is powerful.

This got me thinking about our own lives and how God works in and through them. Friends, yes, the Lord will prune and even discipline those He loves so we can have the opportunity to have much good fruit in our lives. But please keep in mind, too, that the Lord has already shown us how to live. At times we need to “prune” things out of our lives in order to receive the good “blooms” that the Lord desires for us to have in our lives.

Please don't get discouraged when you don't see much fruit soon after making good godly decisions in your life. Sometimes, just like the lilac bush in our yard, it takes time for the good gifts to come. So, rejoice in the Lord always; I will write it again, rejoice!

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:4-7

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Hebrews 13:1-6

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 9, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'
So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?'”
-Hebrews 13:1-6

This final chapter of the book of Hebrews contains more advice on how to live righteous living, continuing that theme from the last section of chapter 12. The theme of these first few verses is love and how we should live out the love of Christ for one another.

Verse 1 starts out with a clear command: “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” If you don’t have a great relationship with your siblings, perhaps that command sounds easy to follow – if you don’t feel like you love your brothers and sisters, then maybe this Christian love thing is not that hard! But “brothers and sisters” in this verse refers to our brothers and sisters in Christ – all of our fellow believers. We are not linked by close blood relations, but we are all linked thorugh the blood of Christ that was shed for us.

In Greek, however, verse 1 is just 3 words. The idea of it is simply to remain in brotherly love for one another. In English, we just have the word “love,” but in Greek there are actually 8 words that refer to different forms of love (though just a few of them are used in the Scriptures). We most often see agape love, which refers to the unconditional, sacrificial love of God. This occurrence, however is the phileo love, which is the friendship love. The actual Greek word used is philadelphia which does literally mean “brotherly love.” We should strive toward having that brotherly, friendship love with all believers, because we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

How do we show this brotherly love to one another? One way is to show hospitality to others, as in verse 2. The reference to unknowingly showing hospitality to angels looks back at the narratives of Abraham and Lot in Genesis 18 and 19. God is pleased when we show hospitality to others, which can take on many forms. It could mean providing lodging for a fellow believer in your home, providing a meal for someone, or serving someone in any way.

In the context of the time period of the letter to the Hebrews, hospitality was one thing that truly helped spread the gospel throughout the known world. As the early Christian preachers traveled from place to place, they were able to do so because of fellow believers providing them with lodging and meals. Many of the inns of the day were expensive, and they did not have great reputations as being reputable places, so believers showing hospitality to others facilitated the mission of Jesus Christ to spread the gospel.

In verse 3, the author turns his attention to showing love specifically to those in prison. A person would need to actively seek out those who were imprisoned in order to help them; obviously, prisoners won’t just come knocking on our door asking for a place to stay or for a meal. In that time period, prisoners often did not receive much (if any) food, so they would depend on the love of others for their basic necessities. It was dangerous to help prisoners, as anyone seen sympathizing with prisoners could be imprisoned themselves, but the author encourages them to help prisoners anyway.

This verse goes along with the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:26 where he wrote about all believers being the body of Christ: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” We are encouraged to care for those who are suffering in prison and those who are suffering in other ways or other places. We share in their suffering as the body of Christ.

The author turns to upholding marriage and discouraging sexual sin in verse 4. Marriage should be kept pure, not only for the sake of the marriage but because committing any sort of sexual sin will be judged harshly by God. The author specifically calls out adultery but also the general “sexual immorality.” For more on what the Bible says about these topics, check out this post and this post.

Verse 5 addresses sins of greed and coveteousness. Anyone who covets after something pursues that thing selfishly, regardless of what it does to other people. When we love money and all the possessions and security it can provide for us, we are trusting money and the things of this world more than we are trusting God. When we are content with what God has given us, we will not love money and desire after other things. For more on what the Bible says about money, check out this post.

The quotation in this verse is interesting, as it is not an exact quotation from any verse in the Old Testament. It is similar to Deuteronomy 31:6 where it says that God “will never leave you nor forsaken you.” Or it could refer to Joshua 1:5 where God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” It is suspected that the author is quoting from a manuscript that has since been lost. But even if we don’t have those exact words recorded elsewhere in Scripture, the idea rings true. We can fully trust in God that He will never leave us nor forsake us, therefore we do not need to trust in the material things of this world.

Finally, in verse 6, we see the author quoting Psalm 118:6-7. This emphasizes that we can confidently count on the Lord for all things. There is no reason to fear, because we have God on our side! Nothing that goes against God’s plan for our lives will succeed.

While these verses read almost like proverbs in that each verse seems to contain a different encouragement for how to live this Christian life, they really are all tied together in love. When we love one another, we will show them hospitality. When we love prisoners, we will care for them and remember them. When we love our spouse, we will honor our marriage. When we love other people, we will not commit any sexually immoral acts with them. When we love God, we will not love money nor the things that it can buy. We need not be afraid of anything in this world, because God loves us and He will protect us.

Live out the love of Christ today by loving others just as God has loved us!

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Sin 8: False Views of the Cross

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 6, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

When we mess around with what sin is and try to take it lightly, the logical conclusion leads to explicitly false views of the cross. Sin IS a gospel issue, and I would argue that it very well should be considered a salvation issue. If we do not understand the severity of sin, what that means, and who we have sinned again, what part of the “essential doctrines” are we actually believing as the Bible actually teaches? Now to be clear, not all those who have fallen for these false teachings actually believe what these false teachings declare; however, we must warn people of these teachings and what path they take. Why? Because whether the person does it or not, someone is going to take the small step of liberalism and go the distance. Paul said a little leaven leavens the whole loaf and today, I am going to showcase what happens when people take sin too lightly.

Around 15 years ago, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend wrote perhaps is one of my favorite modern “hymns”: “In Christ Alone.” I first heard it at an Intervarsity Chapter Camp around 2008 or 2009. There is a line in the second verse that reads: “While on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” Several churches contacted the Getty and Townend to see if they could change the life from “wrath of God was satisfied” to “the love of God was magnified.” Why would they do this? Because they don’t view God’s wrath as being an actual part of God’s character. Why would they think that? They reject the Bible’s teaching on sin. These are the same people that suggest that John Newton’s line in “Amazing Grace” of “That saved a wretch like me” is misguided. What does this train of thought do? It destroys what the work of the cross was all about, and it is an affront to the character of God. When we take away the seriousness of sin AND God’s holiness, you no longer have the Gospel of Christ; you are only left with a feel-good story.

The Progressive Christians have brought back another false teaching from ages past called universalism. This is the idea that it doesn’t matter what anyone believes, everyone goes to Heaven. The way they go about this is to say that God’s love for ALL of mankind is so great that He sent Jesus to die on the cross, and that would empty Hell. Rob Bell wrote a book called Love Wins in which this is his premise. William Paul Young wrote a fictional book titled The Shack in which this doctrine is taught. I came across a Christian Scientist who believed every path leads to God. All these, whether they directly say it or not, teach that not only is Jesus NOT the only way to the Father (calling Jesus a liar as per John 14:6), but they ALSO admit their own ideology has no weight either. When the Christian Scientists who think that every road leads to God were evangelizing and promoting their events, I wanted to ask them, “Why I should go to this event? If my path gets to God and your path gets to God, why should I change anything I am doing? Why should I go with you?” That is what the post-modernism philosophies have done. They have sought to deny any road of being able to stand on absolute fact, and such a position denies their own position of having any ground to stand on, too. But this nullifies the cross and ultimately denies Jesus of His job and the work He did.

Steven Furtick of Elevation Church got himself into a lot of trouble several years ago when in one of his sermons, he denied the Gospel and assaulted God’s character in the same breath. He proclaimed that the Law did not have enough “leverage” to save people (that never was its intention or purpose), and so in order to save people God had to “break the law” for the sake of love. His example of that was a parent driving over the speed limit to rush an injured child to a hospital. His argument is that you will break the law (of the speed limit) for the sake of love. He failed to see that no one would speed in that situation due to love; it’s rather due to fear. If the parent knew the severity of the wound and what the outcome would be (as God does) there would be no fear and no need to rush. But another problem is that Furtick unintentionally charges God as being a lawbreaker, who breaks His own law, and thus says that God sinned. Furtick holds the Law of God (based on God’s character) as being breakable, and that it really doesn’t matter what we do. God’s love will overcome it all. Again, this is all due to a reduced view of sin, a reduced view of the holiness and righteousness of God, and a too high view of self that “we are too special” for God to send any of us to Hell.

There are some who argue that Jesus only died to give us a moral example of what we should do. This is actually a common false view of the Gospel, that the Gospel is merely Jesus’ moral teachings. So Jesus went to the cross to just give us a visual demonstration of sacrificial love and to fight for causes greater than ourselves? Is that all He did that for? Again, this line of thought comes out of a low view of sin and a low view of the holiness and righteousness of God.

There is another one that keeps showing itself indirectly. It’s the Gnostic teaching that when we have “gained enough knowledge,” we, who were once part of the essence of God, will be rejoined with God and thus become part of the true God, thus becoming gods ourselves. The Gnostics did not teach that sin was rebellion against God, but rather that it was at best a “lack of knowledge,” so we need to pursue knowledge to correct our “sins” rather than need a Savior. Kenneth Copeland appears to believe that if he had enough knowledge, he could have died for ours sins just as Jesus did. Not only does this teaching reduce Jesus to a mere man but elevates man to the “savior” status. Copeland is claiming to be a “Christ” or a “messiah”-type figure. That’s a literal fulfillment of Jesus’ warning against false christs.

We are to have nothing to do with such men and such teachings. Their whole goal is to diminish and change the definition of sin, so that they do not have to be held accountable to the Sovereign God who reigns over all, and so they do not have to depend upon Jesus being their Savior. Any time sin is given this treatment, we have a false teaching on the Gospel, the kinds of false teachings that made Paul so mad he wished any who taught such things to “go to Hell.”

We need to stop taking sin lightly, and we need to stop listening to ANY voice that in any way reduces or marginalizes the nature of sin, the weight of sin, and with that, the price of sin. All such teachings are a direct or indirect assault on Christ and the work of the cross. They may proclaim all the doctrines, but it’s clear from their teachings that said doctrines have no weight, and the only thing we are to do with such people is to rebuke them. Otherwise, have nothing to do with them and give them no place for said doctrines. Next week, we’ll recap what sin really is and what it does.

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Levels of Information

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, May 5, 2022 0 comments

by Steve Risner

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb." -Psalm 139:13

We began a discussion on information found in genetic material last week. We determined that “instructions” is probably a more accurate description than simply information. We’re talking about a specific kind of information here—coded instructions for building and maintaining highly complex machines. According to Webster’s Dictionary: “Information: what is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of things or the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (such as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects, (1): a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data, (2): something (such as a message, experimental data, or a picture) which justifies change in a construct (such as a plan or theory) that represents physical or mental experience or another construct.”

Note that DNA is used here by the dictionary as an example. Yet our evolutionist/atheist friends have no idea what is meant when a creationist refers to “information.” But to my point that a better word to use is instructions, let’s look at the meaning of that word: instructions are detailed information telling how something should be done, operated, or assembled. This is according to the Oxford dictionary. Can we see how this applies to information found in DNA? DNA isn’t the instructions. It’s the storage medium used for these instructions, and it accesses the specific instructions that are needed when they’re needed. The process is mind-blowing.

These instructions are not something that is a natural or materialistic phenomenon. As we discussed briefly last time, we’re not describing information you can gather from nature. We are talking about information that is found in coded form and stored within every living thing we find. It’s detailed coded instructions for doing very specific things. A former East German scientist, J. Peil, writes this concerning how information is not just a physical thing:

“Even the biology based on a materialistic philosophy, which discarded all vitalistic and metaphysical components, did not readily accept the reduction of biology to physics… Information is neither a physical nor a chemical principle like energy and matter, even though the latter are required as carriers.” (You can read all about this topic at this link).

From the above link to the book In the Beginning Was Information, you will also find other well-regarded scientists and mathematicians speaking on what information is and is not. Norbert Wiener, the American mathematician, said decades ago that, “Information is information, neither matter nor energy. Any materialism which disregards this will not survive.”

What does this mean? Simply put, this information or these instructions are not just physical occurrences that just happen. Information like this is something an intelligence must produce. In the case of genetics, there is an intelligent creator of the information and an intelligent recipient that decodes the information and follows the instructions—building and maintaining a living thing. It cannot be stressed enough that information or, more specifically instructions, are not a property of matter, and it cannot be explained through material or natural processes. Like using an alphabet, we can arrange the letters we have assigned specific sounds to and make words that, again, have predetermined meanings. The letters and words are not naturally occurring things we find in nature. They are just markings. But an intelligent agent has decided that certain markings will represent certain sounds and, when arranged properly, will create words that have specifically predetermined meanings.

Claude Shannon was a mathematician who first described information, founding what’s known as Information Theory. His work has been used by many in the field of information to describe what information is and what its use is. But Shannon’s definition of information exclusively concerns the statistical properties of sequences of symbols; meaning is completely ignored. This is a limitation in this original or classical information theory because it doesn’t explain meaning or intent. It follows that this concept of information is unsuitable for evaluating the information content of meaningful sequences of symbols.

By limiting ourselves to just the statistical evaluation of information, we fail to understand or even concede the existence of meaning. When looking at the statistical analysis of a certain bit of information, we are simply looking at how many letters or words made up a sentence, what alphabet is used, and how often are words or letters employed. This has nothing at all to do with the actual meaning of the text. In fact, there could be no meaning of the text using this type of analysis. It could just be a random series of letters and spaces. To put this in terms related to living things and genetics, we would be looking at how many bases were used to make the strand of genetic material, what bases are possible (this is the guanine, cytosine, thymine, and adenine discussed in last week’s post), and how often are they used. It would not help you at all in determining what the section of DNA was used for—what its purpose is. The statistical level of information is the first level and is not very useful in this context.

The next level of information would be syntax. Syntax includes all the properties of the process of setting up the information in question. Here we are concerned with the symbols used and the rules governing how they’re made—which ones are appropriate etc. Again, meaning is not taken into account here. This could be the level of information, however, that mechanisms within the cell are used to deter copy errors when replication is occurring. Perhaps that’s too broad an idea. It’s just a thought.

Here we can discuss the conditions for determining if a code is being employed. There are three things that define a code all are necessary for something to be a code (sometimes there’s a fourth): a unique set of symbols must be used, the symbols must be arranged in an irregular fashion, the symbols must be arranged in a clear structure, at least some symbols must occur repeatedly (this one is often necessary but not always).

As opposed to the “necessary conditions” listed above, there is only one sufficient condition: the code must be able to be decoded meaningfully. Are your wheels turning about how this applies to genetics?

Next, we have the third level of information: semantics. This level does take meaning into account. What do the symbols mean when arranged in specific ways? For something to actually be information, it must have meaning. This is in contrast with Shannon’s idea of information. He believed even noise in a communication was information. In other words, if you were listening to the radio and there was static in the signal, that was information by his definition. In terms of meaning, that is obviously not true. In fact, such noise can corrupt a communication and render it unable to convey information—the meaning is lost. This is why our statements I quoted last time were nonsensical in this conversation. Things like, “Information comes from all over the place.” Or “I have a geology degree and can read information directly from an exposed rock face.” The rock face is not trying to tell anyone anything. Nature is not submitting information to us via some form of communication so we can understand her. We can extract information—gathering it through our senses to educate ourselves about it. But this nothing, literally, like, say, reading an encyclopedia or a newspaper or instructions that came with your new entertainment center.

DNA is a storage medium for this coded information, which is really instructions for developing and maintaining a living thing—a highly complex machine. All suitable ways of expressing meanings are called languages. Information can be transmitted or stored in material media only when a language is available. Genetic information is stored in DNA. What does that mean? It means the genetic code meets the criterion for it being considered first a code but also a language. A language must have an intelligent source. A code even more so must have an intelligent source and an intelligent recipient to decode the information and apply meaning to it. This is what happens within living things (in their cells) all the time. It’s a continuous process of finding the needed instructions stored in the DNA, unzipping the DNA to make RNA, using the specific piece of genetic material to generate a specific number of a specific protein, and zipping it back up and starting the process again somewhere else along the chain.

The next level of information after semantics (meaning) is pragmatics. This essentially means the actions required by the information. Information was defined by Werner Strombach (author of An Introduction to Systematic Philosophy and The Laws of Our Thinking: An Introduction to Logic) as a structure which achieves some result in a receiving system. These concepts are easily applicable and appreciated in how genetic information works inside a cell. DNA is continuously causing different actions to happen at the cellular level which impacts how an organism is functioning. It takes the stored instructions and dictates actions based on a series of 4 different chemicals that are ordered specifically to achieve precise results.

The final level of information, apobetics, implies information has a purpose. This ties in with the previous level of information nicely. The purpose of the information found in the genetics of an organism dictates specific actions occurring at specific times. In short, survival is the purpose. Survival of the individual as well as the survival of the species seems to be equally important aspects here.

I bring this long, wordy description regarding the levels of information up because atheists will frequently say goofy things like I quoted last time about information—it’s all over the place or you can get information from a rock or some such thing. But they are only focusing on Shannon’s description of information which, in the context of genetics and living things, is pointless. There is little similarity between the information one may gather from something in nature—something that is not trying to express that information but is simply just there—and the information housed in genetics that has an intended purpose and a specific plan in mind for the organism. Don’t fall for their silly expressions concerning information and information theory. Shannon had some great thoughts on the idea of information but his book on the topic was written 75 years ago. We’ve learned a great deal since then. The fact that evolutionists want to be stuck in 1940’s ideas on information so they can avoid a real conversation about it says quite a bit, in my opinion.

Much of this information was described by Dr. Werner Gitt in his book, In the Beginning Was Information. I highly recommend it.

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Hebrews 12:25-29

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 2, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’”
-Hebrews 12:25-29

In this last section of chapter 12, the author again employs contrast to continue encouraging his readers to live Christlike lives. All people will be judged by God, and only those who worship God will be on the right side of that judgment.

The contrast in this passage starts out in verse 25, looking at how “they” responded to God speaking and how we today respond to God. The “they” referred to is the nation of Israel in the Old Testament times. God warned the people time and again through many prophets how He would bring judgment on them for their disobedience. But the people didn’t listen, and they did receive the necessary punishment multiple times, especially during the years of the Babylonian exile.

Israel did not escape the consequences of refusing to listen to God, and that has not changed even under the new covenant. Yes, we are recipients of God’s grace, but He still warns us to follow Him and obey what He commands us to do, and we will still receive the just consequences when we disobey. This is why discipline is so important among fellow believers, so we learn from each other how to obey God better.

In verse 26, the author brings up what happened on Mt Sinai in Exodus 19:18. This shaking of the earth shows how important of an event this was when Moses received God’s Law for the people. Simply God’s voice shook the earth and caused it to tremble violently! God promised that He would shake the earth and also the heavens again, as the author of Hebrews quotes from Haggai 2:6. This refers to a great cosmic event, possibly at the end of time. It may be looking toward the new heaven and the new earth that we see in Isaiah 66:22 and Revelation 21-22.

The fact that the author picks out and explains the words “once more” in verse 27 shows that this is a final moment that is coming. It is the decision time, the judgment day. We see that the world that God created can be shaken, but in contrast, the things that are truly of God cannot be shaken. God is beyond time, eternal, and permanent, even though this world that He created is fragile and passing away. Only the things that cannot be shaken will remain after God “once more” shakes not only the earth but also the heavens. We may not know exactly what that looks like, but this will be a final separation that occurs one day.

In verse 28, the author gives us the good news that we receive these things that cannot be shaken by way of God’s Kingdom. When we become believers in Jesus Christ, we enter into that kingdom. It’s not a place like we may think of a kingdom here on earth, but it’s a mindset and a way of life. We live as residents of the Kingdom of God while we’re here on this earth, and we will one day live fully in that kingdom!

Because we are a part of God’s Kingdom, we are called to “be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” Interestingly, the word used for “be thankful” in Greek is more commonly translated as grace rather than an idea of gratitude. A few English translations render it as “hold onto God’s grace” or similar language to bring out that idea, but most go with some form of thankfulness or gratitude.

The word translated here as “worship” also means to serve, which is a great picture for us to live out. We commonly think of worship as what we do on a Sunday morning when we gather with fellow believers, but worship really should encompass our entire lives in everything that we do. We worship God by obeying Him, which means loving and serving all those around us whom God has called us to. Anytime we’re serving a fellow human being and doing what God has called us to do, we’re worshiping Him.

Finally, this verse says to worship God “with reverence and awe.” These words are meant to show us our place as humble and lowly creatures in comparison to the majestic creator God of the universe. We are to be in awe of Him because we cannot fathom His greatness and majesty. We are to revere, treasure, cherish, and admire God simply because of who He is. He is the Almighty God of the universe, and we are simply His creation.

Verse 29 gives us another reason to worship God – that He “is a consuming fire.” This expression appears to be taken from Deuteronomy 4:24. We need to remember who God is, and the fact that He can literally consume us with fire at anytime should He choose to. We often get so caught up in God’s grace, love, mercy, and compassion that we forget that He cannot be in the presence of evil (which we are). God is love, but God also has wrath and anger against anything that goes against His pure holiness. This should also cause us to worship Him with reverence and awe!

This passage serves as a warning to us that we need to keep a proper perspective of who God is and what He has done in this world. We need to listen to Him, or else we will face the consequences of His judgement. He is worthy of all our thankfulness, worship, and praise, and we need to give Him the proper place of reverence and awe in our lives!

The end of chapter 12 is somewhat of an ending to this letter, as chapter 13 is almost like an appendix of extra thoughts tacked onto the end. We’ll dig into that final chapter starting next week.

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.