Clean Yourself

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 31, 2023 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

Who can say, “I have made my heart clean,
I am pure from my sin”?
~ Proverbs 20:9

When I came across this verse a few months ago, it leapt out with a whole new level of depth that I had not seen before. On the straightforward reading, this verse is a rhetorical question. Who can say they made themselves clean and pure from sin? Answer: no one. No one except God. But when I meditated on this verse, I saw something else with it. The only way you can get clean is by using an authority or something greater than that which made you dirty. The ramifications of this reality are huge.

Jesus said, “A servant is not above his master.” A student can only do and learn what his master teaches him, and a master is never truly able to share everything he has learned to a student, because masters have lived longer lives and thus have more and different experiences. Those experiences are also different and teach lessons that no one else can learn.

I am both a fencer and a coach for the sport. As a fencer, I can only learn up to my coach’s level. If I want to improve beyond those skills, I need another coach who has different skills and knowledge or greater skills and knowledge. As a coach, I have no delusions of grandeur that I will be able to train Olympic-level fencers. Not only do I not have the skill set to do that, but I don’t even have the heart or mind to do such things. I have told my fencers that I am never going to hold them to “top tier” fencing standards, but rather I will hold them to the standards where they are at. I will help them improve and raise their personal level and personal ceiling, but my main goal is to let them have fun and worry only about their personal abilities. Part of that comes from my own approach to the sport. I have never taken the sport seriously enough that I really want to be #1 all the time. I actually don’t care about that, and I just want to have fun with the sport. So as a result, my coaching is not going to produce “top level” fencers, and that’s perfectly fine. If one of my fencers wants to advance beyond what I can teach them, I know how to point them places to do that.

But no one can improve himself by himself. As a fencer, there is nothing I can do alone to make me a better fencer. What do I mean by that? If I want to improve, I need to submit myself to a coach who will train me to do better. That does not mean I don’t do anything independently, such as drills and exercises, but everything I do for practice and drills has to come from someone higher than me, someone better than me.

In academics, it is very hard for someone to make a clear case that they learned something completely by themselves. Usually, they had to read books of those who had gone before them. One could argue that science is a field where people discovered things that were never known before, but it really is interesting how the majority of those who actually did that learned from a source, or rather Source, much greater than they were. George Washington Carver is often ignored by U.S. history courses these days other than as mere side reference, yet he created 300+ recipes for the peanut that put it on the Farmer’s Almanac as a feasible crop and literally delivered the South from slavery to cotton. How did he do that? He actually went into his prayer closet and asked God to show him what he made each part of a peanut for, and God answered his prayers. So even in science, man is not above his Master.

In physics, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is often considered the most fundamental law of all science. This law essentially states that all things will tend towards a state of lowest energy and disorder. The amount of usable energy is always decreasing in any exchange. Another application of this is that there is no such thing as a 100% efficient machine, which is basically the break-even point. But this law brings up a valuable point in this topic: in order to bring more order out of lesser order, or to be able to make energy useful for something productive, you need someone with a greater authority and greater force to make that order come about. Your room is not going to clean itself; it’s going to take you, someone with an intelligent mind greater than the room, to put it back in order. There is a certain level that a child can clean and then mom comes in with an even greater authority and can clean it to a much greater level.

Now to apply this spirituality. We cannot clean ourselves. I have news for you: all those “self-help” books that profess to be Christian do is tell you how great you are and how awesome you are and all you need to do is change your attitude about yourself; those are utterly worthless. You may be able to put on a faƧade of bettering yourself, but you aren’t actually dealing with the real issues. The real issue is not your view of yourself; it is your sin. When you take a shower to clean yourself, you can’t just rub the dirt off and get it clean. You need a greater agent than the dirt to clean yourself – soap. Likewise, we cannot clean our sin because we ourselves are sinful. Any tool we use is cursed by sin. That’s like trying to wash off your muddy body using both a muddy sponge and muddy water. You aren’t going to get clean that way; you are going to get dirtier. You cannot use the same level of agent to eliminate something. You need something greater.

No man can say he had cleaned himself. He doesn’t have the right cleaning agent. There is only one thing that can wash us clean of sin: the blood of Christ. It took Jesus Christ to give His life and shed His blood so that we can be washed clean. Your mother didn’t let you walk into the house with muddy shoes, did she? Especially those with mothers who would say, “I brought you into this world; I’ll take you out!” Come into mama’s kitchen with dirty shoes after she just cleaned it, and that’s almost a death wish. How much more so with the God who is “Holy, Holy, Holy” where even the slightest bit of contamination triggers the “death stare”? Our problem is that we are dirty from head to toe, and all our efforts to clean ourselves only makes us dirtier. The only hope we have is to come before God, fall at His feet, and beg us to make us clean. Only He can do it, and without Him doing that, we will face Him in His wrath.

God doesn’t need you to make yourself clean before coming to Him, because you cannot do it. And even if you could, you would be so corrupted with pride that you’d ruin it. You need to humble yourself, fully acknowledge your current status, desire to be cleaned and to be rid of that sin, and then God is able to clean you. But if you get clean, don’t rush back to the pit and get dirty again. Repentance means staying out of the pit. Purity is even further than that which lets you be in the pit but not getting dirty while in it. Come to the cross and get cleaned from your sin. Then sit at the feet of the greatest Master, the One whose knowledge can never be exhausted. We’ll never surpass Him, but we’ll also never stop growing as we learn from Him.

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You Are Too Weak to Fight Temptation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, March 28, 2023 0 comments


by Eric Hansen

It’s been a little bit since I wrote my last article, and I’ll be finishing up my series on John 17 soon to get into some other topics I’m excited to write about. However, there’s a huge red flag waving its prominent face across all of Christianity that needs to be addressed: temptation.

When people think of temptation or research temptation, most results seem to be either more sexualized or ambiguous. Especially as a male, the only temptation people seem to want to talk about is masturbation, porn, and homosexuality (sometimes summarized as “lust”). While that is a very legitimate use for the term “temptation,” there’s much more to that. There’s greed, envy, depression, murder, etc. that can all be considered temptation as well.

If you’re wondering if something is a temptation, be honest with yourself and ask, “Is this keeping me from spending time with God?” Be honest. A job is not necessarily a temptation as you need to provide for yourself and your family through the gifts or opportunities God blessed you with. You also need time to recharge your emotional/mental batteries whichever way you do so (whether an introvert or an extrovert). But if you have a Bible and your phone next to you and you find that the phone is more enticing, that’s a temptation.

Over the past few months, and quite possibly way longer than that, I’ve been depressed. It never really crossed my mind to get checked for it because it was always taboo in my family. But recently, my therapist told me I really need to get some medication to help with my mood. I wasn’t suicidal, and I haven’t been for decades at this point, but the feelings I felt were the same as when I would do self-harm. I mention this just to paint a picture of the heavy, dark cloud that hung over me. It was enough to impact my day-to-day living but not enough to be alarming to myself. Most days just felt like any other until more recently when I sensed something was wrong but had only apathy about recovery.

This, for me, was temptation. It kept me away from God. Whenever I would finally read the Bible, I’d either find some joy or nothing at all, but in either scenario I felt alone. Each prayer I prayed felt like it just bounced right back to me, even if I was outside. Bluntly, it sucked, and I can’t imagine how Jesus felt when He had to cry out to God, “Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). David also shared the same sentiment in Psalm 22:1-2. The more I felt like nothing mattered in my life, the more I felt like my spiritual life was dead as well, and evil (whether Satan or demons) knew that all too well. This effectively just meant a cycle of emptiness growing bigger and bigger, just like any other sin from temptation that is left untreated.

There are many people who go through things like these and never speak about it. Most employees at my gym are veterans, and all have expressed that they or someone close to them from their squad either contemplated or committed suicide or know someone who has.

This is why having a firm grounding in faith and a home church is important, and this is groundbreaking for me to say as I had always been against the idea of a home church. But, for me, the real kicker that started the ball rolling toward improvement was the Holy Spirit pulling it out of me to admit how I’m feeling to the men’s group I’m in. Once that happened, everything just snowballed into me like an avalanche, but in the end it was needed and was in God’s hands.

I ended up going to my doctor and telling him everything that’s gone on lately, and he put me on an antidepressant. Other than my body adjusting to in some annoying ways, that has been worth it so far.

There are many options out there that are healthy, viable, and safe for anyone. A healthy church should by all accounts try to help you in times of need, but there are also friends, family, law enforcement, medics, hospitals, etc. that can help.

My therapist also told me that March and April are the highest months of suicide rates for the year, and perhaps that’s why I was led to write this and share what I have. But, even if not, I want to leave you with the fact that most countries have a hotline for suicide, depression, and crisis matters, and in America that’s dialing 988.

Remember, Jesus loves you!

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1 Corinthians 2:11-16

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 27, 2023 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 2:11-16

In the previous section, Paul compared the wisdom of God with the wisdom of this age, concluding that there is in fact no comparison between the two. God’s wisdom is infinitely greater than that of any person of any era! Paul continues that idea of contrasts here by comparing the Spirit of God with the spirit of the world.

Just as we cannot fully understand God’s wisdom, we cannot understand any of God’s wisdom without God’s Spirit. In verse 11, Paul states that no person can truly know another person’s thoughts. In that same manner, no one knows God’s thoughts except for God Himself. God’s Spirit referred to here is, of course, the Holy Spirit. This is not referring to some kind of spiritual force but rather the person of the Holy Spirit, who is fully God along with the Father and the Son.

While it appears that this verse gives us an analogy comparing the Holy Spirit to God like a human spirit is to that person, that is not the case here. The grammar of the Greek text does not support that analogy, nor does our theology of the Trinity. The spirit of a person is that person, whereas the Holy Spirit is a separate person of God, while still also being fully a part of God.

We as believers have received the Holy Spirit in our lives. We have not received some other spirit that comes from this world, but the true Spirit from God. Why do we need the Holy Spirit in our lives? “So that we may understand what God has freely given us” (verse 12). The Spirit reveals God’s Word to us and helps us understand who God is and how we should live out our Christian faith.

The point of having God’s Spirit in our lives is given in verse 13: we speak words taught by the Spirit. The only way to convey the truths of God’s Word is through words that the Holy Spirit gives us. While we cannot fully understand spiritual realities with our finite human minds, the best attempt we can make is through language given to us by the Spirit. This is again showing the contrast between God’s wisdom and human wisdom, the Spirit of God and the spirit of this world.

Verses 14-15 emphasize this contrast even more. If we don’t have God’s Spirit, then we can’t understand the things of God. Those who are unbelievers consider God’s ways and Word to be foolishness like Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. The only way to understand God’s wisdom is through God’s Spirit, so someone who doesn’t have God’s Spirit just doesn’t understand. But for those of us who do have God’s Holy Spirit living in us – believers in Jesus Christ – we are able to understand these things, at least at a human level. We are able to discern the things of the Spirit.

Those of us who are believers with God’s Holy Spirit are not subject to merely human judgments, meaning that we follow a different authority and a different wisdom than the wisdom and authority of this world. This is confirmed by the quote that Paul gives in verse 16 from Isaiah 40:13. As with most of the quotations Paul gives in this letter, it is not word-for-word, but he provides the same idea as that verse here.

While we cannot fully know the wisdom of God, we do have some knowledge of it. We don’t know the mind of the Lord in a way where we are in authority over Him or could instruct Him; that much is made clear by this quote that Paul gives. But then he follows that up with stating that we have the mind of Christ. What is Paul saying here?

Recall that the city of Corinth, where the recipients of this letter were located, was a very pagan city. There were lots of Greek philosophers there who relied on their own minds to discern the truths of this world. While Paul acknowledges that he does not fully know the mind of God, he is emphasizing that anything that he teaches will be like foolishness even to the smartest philosophers of the day because Paul has the mind of Christ and they do not. Paul does not know everything that Jesus knows, of course, but through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, he has access to whatever the Spirit wants to reveal to him.

The same is true for us today! While we can never know everything that God knows, and in fact we can ever only know a really tiny fraction of that knowledge, we have access to whatever the Holy Spirit desires to reveal to us. We don’t need to reason out how this world works through the limited capacity of our human brains when we have the whole mind of Christ that we can access through the Holy Spirit!

That also means that anyone who does not have the Holy Spirit will see our message and our teaching as foolishness. They can’t understand the things of God when they don’t have His Spirit to help them understand. This is the epitome of Paul’s argument contrasting the wisdom of God with the foolishness of this world. They are completely at odds with each other, and the only way for one to understand the other is through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

Are you living your life through the understanding of your human spirit in this world, or through the knowledge that you gain through God’s Holy Spirit? Choose wisely!

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Walking the Path of Righteousness

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 24, 2023 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.
~ Proverbs 11:5-6

When I read through Proverbs again recently, this passage stood out. Those who live righteous lives will have their paths made clear for them. The righteous are going to know what to do and when to do it when the time comes. There are many wrong ways to do things, and the righteous will not choose any of those paths. They will walk the straight and narrow. They will do their duty and will never have to worry about watching their backs for their wrong choices to haunt them.

The wicked, however, do not have this luxury. Sure, they may seem to thrive for a season, but they are always watching their backs. Whether they recognize it or not, they constantly have a tingling in the back of their head that someone is watching them and going to end their parade. As society falls deeper and deeper into depravity, the wicked feel empowered to where they can press the envelope further and think of the “lesser crimes” as being nothing. However, they will fall on their own by their own folly. In all their attempts to do wicked deeds, they will trip over themselves.

We need to understand that the wicked are not merely those who are tyrants, bullies, murderers, thieves, rapists, etc. “The wicked” does include those things, but it also includes those who truly try to do things “rightly” but in their own way. We need to understand that all those villains we love to hate actually think they are doing the right thing. There are only a few of them that know they are doing evil and love doing it anyway. Those who commit the white lies, cheat the system a little bit, copy answers for an exam, sneak a little candy from the store, watch a little snuff – that is all sin and wickedness. The main difference between the “small crimes” and the “big crimes” is how loose that sin’s leash is. If there were no real known consequences for sin, we’d all be turned loose, and we’d have destroyed ourselves a long time ago. It is only when God puts the clamps down on sin that it is restrained.

“The righteousness of the upright will deliver them.” Deliver them from what? The traps of the wicked. The wicked cannot stand having the righteous near them. Why? Even if the righteous don’t say anything, their actions will convict the wicked that what they are doing is wrong. Because they are cheating the system, and they are seeing someone using the system correctly, they feel inferior, and so they want to take that person out. They desire to put some dirt in their eye or do something to get them to do something wrong just to make them feel better. So while the righteous do not have to watch their backs for the law to come down on them, they must certainly act with sharp eyes and discernment because of the enemy seeking to take them down a notch.

But for the wicked, it will all come back on them. The very traps they set will be the traps they fall into. The Bible gives two notable examples of this: Haman in the book of Esther and the bulk of the government structure of Persia during Daniel’s time. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai would not give him the attention he wanted, so Haman sought to kill all the Jews starting with Mordecai. Those familiar with the story will recall how Esther, Mordecai’s niece, was the queen and vouched for the Jews. Haman was busted and was hung on the very noose he was prepared to hang Mordecai on. In Daniel’s time, Daniel was such a man of prayer that the other prime ministers and princes, the rulers of the Persian Empire, sought to bring him down and get him thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel didn’t budge; he prayed anyway, was tossed down into the den, but was spared. The king realized what was going on and had all those who plotted against Daniel thrown into the den themselves. They didn’t even make it to the ground before lion’s tore them apart.

God is going to preserve His people and only let them be touched for a certain time, a certain purpose, and to a certain limit. Think of Jesus. There were numerous attempts on His life, but nothing could actually touch Him until it was time for Him to surrender and give His life on the cross. As long as the righteous continue to seek after righteousness and constantly stay alert, they will not stumble and fall. They will be attacked and harassed and hindered, but they will not stumble. Each attempt to stop them will only make them stronger.

There is one thing the righteous can do to readily keep themselves strong and alert: to not keep company with the wicked. I am not talking about Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, treating them like real people and working toward their conversion. But rather I am talking about Psalm 1:1: the blessed man does not dwell in the house of the wicked, and they do not take council with the scornful nor sit in the seat of mockers. They give the wicked no credence nor approval in what they do, nor do they join hands with them. Working on a civil project together may be one thing, but the righteous do things the right way and do not take part in the coarse discourse of the wicked, the crude joking, the plots to steal away some of the company’s goods, etc.

Walk the righteous path. It will be difficult! There will be many distractions and many lures to pull you off that path. It will likely be a lonely path, but we must do the right thing even if there is a cost to it. The cost for doing the right thing is nothing compared to the cost for doing the wrong thing. Let the wicked target you all they want, then remember the psalmist who said his joy was renewed when he entered the House of the Lord and remembered the destination of the wicked. The righteous will prosper, even through hardship. The wicked will perish and everything they gain through deception will be taken from them.

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1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 20, 2023 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
- 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

In the previous verses, Paul wrote about the message that he brought to the church in Corinth – the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul did not preach with his own wisdom but by demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit in his life.

Now, Paul shares that his gospel message is one of wisdom for mature people (verse 6). The word mature there is from the Greek word teleios, which generally means perfect, mature, finished, or complete. We don’t have a great English word to convey the full meaning of teleios. Here, it refers to those who are spiritually mature. While often this phrase can mean those who have been living out their faith for a while, rather than new believers, that is not likely the context here. The Corinthian church was still fairly new, as was the Christian faith, so not many had been living out their faith for very long! Here, mature refers to those who have the Christian faith, as opposed to those who do not yet believe.

This wisdom that can be understood by believers does not come from this world. It does not come from the rulers of this age, as they are not the true authority figures in God’s kingdom. While we can learn from leaders if they, too, are believers in Jesus Christ, worldly wisdom is not something we should focus on or pursue. Instead, “we declare God’s wisdom” (verse 7). But, then Paul says that God’s wisdom is a mystery.

How can we declare God’s wisdom, when it is a mystery to us? As mere humans, we are unable to fully grasp the mind of God; in fact, we cannot even understand a small fraction of the mind of God. But we know that God has had a plan for mankind before time even began! Even before humans sinned back in Genesis 3, God already knew His plan for our redemption. While some parts of that plan were revealed in the Old Testament, it is explained much more clearly in the New Testament. We can understand the gospel message of Jesus Christ and we declare that truth to others, but God’s wisdom is still a mystery to us.

Paul elaborates on the rulers of this age a bit in verse 8. He declares that none of the rulers of this age understood God’s plan of redemption. If they had understood and known that Jesus was the Messiah, surely they would not have killed him! Paul is referring here to the leaders of the Jewish church – the Sadducees, Pharisees, and teachers of the law – along with the Roman rulers since all were involved in Jesus’ crucifixion.

In verse 9, Paul refers to Isaiah 64:4. When the phrase “as it is written” is used as it is here, that typically does not mean that it is a direct quote, but that the ideas referred to there are from the Old Testament Scriptures. It is not necessarily a formal citation or direct quote. In this specific reference, the ideas of the first few lines are from Isaiah 64:4, but the last line is likely Paul summarizing some thoughts from the Old Testament as a whole.

In this verse, Paul emphasizes that we cannot see, hear, or comprehend the things that God has prepared for us! Paul has been preaching the “hidden” wisdom of the Old Testament, showing how all the promises and prophecies that God set up had been fulfilled in Jesus. It is not through any human wisdom that we can understand the message of salvation.

Verse 10 further explains that this wisdom comes only through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. God’s wisdom is only revealed through God Himself, through the person of the Holy Spirit. While Paul was referring to how he and the other apostles had God’s spiritual wisdom revealed to them, we too have access to God’s divine revelation. We have the Bible for us to read, and when we have faith in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit to help us interpret what the Bible says and what God is telling us through it.

The second half of verse 10 shows the extent of what the Spirit can reveal to us: “all things, even the deep things of God.” The Spirit is continually working in the lives of believers who are seeking God and His truth in the words of the Scriptures. Paul explains this concept further in Ephesians 1:17: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

The main idea of this passage is the contrast between the wisdom of this age (and its rulers) and the wisdom that is revealed to us by God through the Holy Spirit. That distinction is clearly evident in our culture today. A recent Barna survey indicated that only 4% of Americans hold a truly Biblical worldview. Only 4%! Three years ago, that number was only 6%, but that is still a pretty significant drop in just a few years. The wisdom of this age is truly prominent in our society.

What can we do to promote the wisdom of God instead of the wisdom of the age? First of all, we need to make sure that each one of us is truly seeking that Biblical worldview. Unfortunately, there are many places that call themselves churches and leaders who call themselves Christians who pick and choose the pieces that they like of the Biblical worldview, rather than embracing the entire thing. Since we are sinful human beings, we know that Jesus is the only person to ever live that has a 100% true Biblical worldview, but we can strive to get as close to that as possible. For more on what a Biblical worldview is, check out this blog post.

Then, while we are working toward that Biblical worldview in our own lives, we need to share it with others, keeping in mind that we are encouraged to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:11-16). Focus on the gospel message of Jesus Christ and what that means to live it out in our own lives, and share that with others so they too can experience God’s wisdom through the Holy Spirit.

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Systematic Theology 11: Eschatology

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 17, 2023 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

This is the final of the ten “systems” of theology. Eschatology is the study of end times, also known as the Consummation. How will it all end? There are many debates on this topic, and they fall into two sub-categories. One category deals with the Tribulation, where and when that will take place in conjunction with the Rapture. The other category deals with the Millennial reign of Christ and whether the end times events take place before or after the 1000-year reign of Christ, or whether that reign is symbolic in the amillennial position. I am not going to argue any one of them here. I personally lean towards a pre-tribulation position followed by a literal 1000-year reign of Christ, but not in a way that lets believers escape any form of persecution. Another subtopic is whether the end times prophecies only described the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. This is the preterist position.

That said, I know that no one in history ever really understood how a prophecy would be fulfilled prior to its fulfillment. The only ones whom seemed to get it were the chief priests at Jesus’ birth, knowing he’d be born in Bethlehem and knowing that Jesus said He’d raise from the dead after three days. That’s why they had the tomb guarded. Yet despite knowing what Scripture and Jesus said, they missed both badly. But no one else every figured out the details of how prophecy would be fulfilled prior to it being fulfilled. So I am perfectly fine if I am wrong on eschatology and won’t fight other believers for it. I tend to align more with David Wilkerson who said the point of it all is “Be ye ready.” Jesus’ main theme of end times is that we aren’t going to know when it will happen until it happens. He expects us to be watching, be ready, and be doing what we are supposed to be doing.

Our view of the end times is also affected by our view of origins if taken consistently. This is a key reason why Old Earth ideas must be false. The whole plan of salvation is a plan of redemption, a plan to restore that which was lost to an even more valuable form. A key thing about restoration is that it looks like the original. It’s more valuable than the original, but it looks like the original. For example, if someone wants to restore a 1957 Chevy, when the project is done, it is going to look like a 1957 Chevy. It is not going to look like a 2006 Lamborghini. When it comes to origins and end times, when God restores the Creation, it is going to look like what it originally did before sin corrupted it.

This is why Old Earth ideals, which include death before sin, must be false. If what we see now is how God created it all, which is their claim, then we have nothing to look forward to in the new earth. Everything will still die; sickness, disease, death, etc. are not going to change if this is how God created it to start with. I have heard some old earthers say that the new creation is going to be completely different and that it will finally be perfect. Yet, according to their position, the universe that God made is corrupt, defiled, cursed, breaking down, wearing down, and most certainly is not a product of someone who would make everything good and has the knowledge of getting it right the first time. So that would also be how the new universe will be made too. And how is that “restoration”? As I said, restoration brings back the original design.

Yet the Young Earth position, which derives from the clear reading of Genesis, teaches that when God created everything, it was in a perfect and ideal situation. No sin, death, disease, or heartache of any kind or in any of the living, breathing animals. Objectors will say that this would have been a severe problem because if there was no animal death, then the animals would have heavily overpopulated the earth. This is nice speculation but not fact. We don’t know what would have happened if Adam chose to eat from the Tree of Life instead. Some have suggested that God would have brought him with Him to paradise for choosing life. That too is speculation. But what we do know is that God had everything planned from the beginning, which means He had Adam’s sin and the curse in His plan. It also means He had how it will all end in the same plan, too.

The final thing I’ll note here is the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is both in the Garden of Eden in Genesis and it will be in the New Jerusalem on the New Earth. The only details we truly have of this tree is that it gives 12 fruits in their season and that once Adam and Eve sinned, God did not want them eating from that tree lest they live forever in their sinful state. But once we have our resurrected and glorified bodies that will be freed from sin itself, then we will be able to enjoy this tree’s fruit for eternity. We know that there won’t be any night there because God’s glory will play the role of the sun, and that indicates that our physical bodies will not need to rest with sleep. It makes me wonder how that new body will operate.

This concludes my series on Systematic Theology. As expected, I knew it would be just a few snapshots of what each system should cover. While origins is not included among them, each of the ten systems do tie to origins. As each system is holistic, you cannot disregard one without having some effect on the others. Thank you for reading.

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1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 13, 2023 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
- 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

When a passage begins with “And so…” as this one does, we need to look at the context to figure out what the author is basing his argument on. In this case, you can review the passage right before it here. Paul’s point there is that we have nothing to boast about in ourselves, but we should boast about who God is and what He has done. Paul is also referring to his own mission that he referenced in 1 Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

And so, in verse 1, Paul reminds them of his visit with them prior to this letter, which is likely the one recorded in Acts 18:1-18. When he preached the gospel to the people of Corinth, Paul did not rely on his great wisdom or his ability to be a great speaker. He knew that the message that he preached was significantly more important than the person preaching it or the way in which he preached it. The message of the gospel is so powerful that it almost speaks for itself! Paul explained the gospel to them, but it was the Holy Spirit working in them that allowed them to understand and believe, based on Paul’s testimony.

Paul placed emphasis only on Jesus Christ while he was with them and preaching (verse 2). The key message of the gospel is Jesus Christ and him crucified, as Paul says. While teaching about Jesus’ life was (and still is) important, it is Jesus’ death that really paved the way for our salvation. That is the heart of the message that Paul preached – and that we should continue to preach today.

Paul recognized that he came to the people of Corinth in weakness (verse 3). The fact that they have faith in Jesus was not because of the great work that Paul did, but rather the great work of Jesus Christ that could only be on display when Paul humbled himself. Given the culture of persecution for Christians in that time period, which Paul participated in until Jesus appeared to him, Paul was naturally afraid to preach the gospel. I think we would all be afraid to devote our lives to publicly preaching a message that could get us killed as Paul did! But that did not stop him, as the power of the gospel outweighed his fears.

In verses 4-5, Paul emphasizes again that they did not believe in God through his great message and preaching, but rather through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul does not want them to believe in himself and his teachings but rather in the gospel message that he brought them – Jesus Christ and him crucified. Their faith needs to be truly rested on the power of God, not on the wisdom and eloquence of any human teacher.

We have so many Christian teachers to choose from in today’s modern and very connected society! Just look on social media and you’ll see plenty of gospel presentations. We need to keep our focus on the core of the message itself – Jesus Christ and him crucified – and not focus on the wisdom or eloquence of any one particular teacher. Just as Paul was, our teachers and preachers today should be humble in their approach, not pointing to themselves and their own wisdom but only to God and the message of the gospel.

But this does not apply only to those who are preaching and teaching in the formal sense. The principles in this passage apply to every single believer. We are all called to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ, whether to just one person or to hundreds or thousands. Does your life show humility regarding yourself, recognizing that your faith is only due to God’s power and the Holy Spirit working in your life? Is your focus completely and totally on Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection? Or are you worried about being eloquent and presenting the gospel message?

Remember that Paul was afraid; he came to Corinth “with great fear and trembling.” It’s ok to be afraid when sharing the gospel, but we can’t live in that fear. We need to push past it through the power of the Holy Spirit so that everyone around us can know Jesus Christ and him crucified.

We also need to check what we believe and who we are listening to for teaching. Does your faith rest on the power of God or on human wisdom? Are you following human teachers but not checking what they teach against the Word of God for yourself? We are all humans who can make mistakes (even here at Worldview Warriors!), so we encourage all believers to investigate everything that you hear and check it against what the Bible says.

Be like Paul. Live your life in humility to God’s power, proclaiming your testimony about God to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit, allowing the Spirit to bring others to faith in Jesus Christ.

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Systematic Theology 10: Angelology

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 10, 2023 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

This is the 9th of the 10 systems you will find in most systematic theology texts. Angelology is the study of angels and demons. There has been a big uptick and interest in the spiritual realm with the Charismatic movement and books like Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Peretti had an influence on me as he indirectly was the one who got me interested in sword fighting as a whole. A mission group that I was part of was influenced by Peretti and did a spiritual warfare skit about what goes on behind the scenes in evangelism in a very Peretti-like manner. That skit had a profound influence on me, and I have been hooked on sword fights ever since. My book Call to Arms came out of all that.

To make it clear, angels and demons are real, but there are dangers as C.S. Lewis warned about in his Screwtape Letters. There are two equal and opposite dangers to dealing with angels and demons. One is to ignore them, and the other is to over-emphasize them. I will say that most demonic possessions do not do what “Emily Rose” deals with. About 15 years ago, I’d watch a show called “Haunted” and it primarily explored the ministry of Ed and Loraine Warren, who were controversial exorcists. Of course, this show rarely showed the true solutions to demonic activity, which is the Gospel of Christ, but as I have personally dealt with the demonic and heard many stories dealing with the demonic, I can state with high certainty that every person will confront them in some way. Some may not recognize it, but they will deal with it.

The Charismatics often go too far with their studies of the demonic and angelic realms. While there is a legitimate hierarchy of angels and demons, some take that to an extreme. Jim Osman is a Cessationist and the pastor over Justin Peters. On American Gospel TV, he did a series on spiritual warfare and showcased how some of the Charismatics go too far, going to climb mountains to renounce the “spirit of that region” and other strange things. However, I think he goes too far on the other side and denies the whole aspect of demons ruling over regions because of the extremes. He even makes a comment that our spiritual warfare is ultimately only against false teachings, not against demons, and in doing so he misses a big part of Ephesians 6:12, which explicitly marks the demonic realm as one of our enemies.

On the flip side, I sat through a sermon about 2 ½ years ago from the pastor’s wife about “angels” that she ultimately got while on the plane sitting next to another Charismatic preacher. The sermon started out with describing angels and their roles, but then it went downhill fast, basically having angels being our servants waiting for us to give the command to go serve them. It was borderline heresy. So, both extremes are seen today, and few know how to balance the right approach to the angelic and the demonic. I’m not about to say I have it figured out myself, but I’m at least going to try.

As with every other systematic theology theme, this one also ties back to origins. Job describes how the angels witnessed the creation of the universe. There are old earthers who use this verse to suggest that the earth had a long past and that Lucifer ruled over it until he rebelled. Then God destroyed the earth with water and started from scratch with the six days of creation. This is the “Gap/Ruination” theory. A variation of this is “Young Biosphere Creation,” which isn’t any better. Both of these theories put a massive time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:3 all because the geology states “4.6 billion years.” Yet, within that geology are fossils of once-living things that completely refute the entire notion. And even under the Ruination theory, the “flood” that wiped out Lucifer’s reign left no evidence whatsoever, so there is no way to support it.

We don’t know when God created the angels, only that he created them prior to the physical universe according to Job. As Genesis marks the beginning of time, and considering that the angels are created beings that had a start time, I personally have good reason to suggest they were part of the creation of Day 1. On Day 1, we have water and light, but there is no mention of when angels were created. Some might make an argument that they were created on Day 4 because of how angels are often describes as stars such as in Revelation 12. The ultimate answer to when angels were created is that we don’t know.

What we do know, however, is that they had to be created sometime between the start of Day 1 and the end of Day 6. Only God existed prior to Day 1 and upon the completion of Day 6, everything was done and completed. We also know that Lucifer’s fall could not have happened prior to Day 6 because the creation was complete and God called it “very good.” But we know from Isaiah and Ezekiel that at some point, Lucifer, the brightest of the angels, known as the worship leader of heaven, got proud and thought he deserved worship himself. Personally, I think part of this came out of God creating man to be made in His image and being the focus of God’s grand plan. Lucifer was not going to be the center of attention; that puny human being was going to be. Somehow, angels had free will too. But unlike man, the angels who rebelled against God have no place for redemption. Jesus’ death was for men, not the angels. The ones who joined Lucifer in his rebellion will be cast into the judgment that they are all well aware of as noted when they tried to identify Jesus before He wanted to be known.

Jesus defeated Satan at the cross and crushed his power. He is a defeated foe, but that does not mean he is not still fighting. Many battles have been fought after the war formally ended because word did not get out. Likewise, Satan doesn’t acknowledge his defeat as long as we don’t acknowledge it. And he is not behind every temptation either. He is not God’s equal. He is a master plotter and strategist and a master observer, so he knows well how to get to us and what kind of lies we’ll believe and which ones we won’t. We will never outwit him. But if we trust in the Lord, God will outwit him, and we’ll get to watch him made the fool for trying to stop us.

The angels are God’s messengers and more. Some are warriors, some are messengers, some are worshipers and I’m not going to go into great detail on that. They long to see how God will deal with us and when one of us repents and comes into the Kingdom, they rejoice. And they outnumber the demons 2-1. So, we need not fear the demonic. We should not take them lightly, but we should not let them hinder us.

Next week, we’ll look at eschatology, the end times.

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1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 6, 2023 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
- 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Paul brings up this contrast between the wise and the foolish in the previous passage, and he continues it here. Paul previously said how even the foolishness of God is better than the wisest of humans, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength (verse 25), meaning that we humans cannot even begin to compare to God in strength or wisdom!

Paul builds on that to address his audience. In verse 26, he recognizes that the believers of the church in Corinth were not exactly part of the top levels of society. They weren’t the influencers of the day or the intellectuals, and they weren’t even born into nobility. The words Paul uses there encompass anyone who would have been important socially, politically, or intellectually. These believers were just common, ordinary people. Many of us believers today fit that same description. We’re not famous or popular, and we’re not part of the elites in our society either. So while Paul is directly writing to those first-century believers in Corinth, he is speaking to us too!

But, the good news is that God chose us lowly people anyway! Verses 27-28 show more of these contrasts, and how God’s way goes against the ways of the cultures around us. God chose the ones who seem foolish or weak in order to shame the wise or the strong. God chose the ones who are lowly and despised people of society to show up those who consider themselves to be important. Even though the foolish, the weak, and the lowly are not chosen by society, they are chosen by God!

Jesus taught about this concept multiple times. One example is in Matthew 19:16-30 with the story of the rich young ruler. The man doesn’t follow Jesus because he can’t give up his earthly wealth. Jesus ends that narrative by saying, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (verse 30).

Immediately following that is Matthew 20:1-16, which tells of the parable of the vineyard workers. In that story, a man hires people throughout the day to work in his vineyard. At the end of the day, the owner pays them all the same – the ones who worked a full day earned the same as the ones who worked only a couple of hours. The owner finishes by saying that he has the right to do with his money as he wants. Jesus then follows that up by saying, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (verse 16).

Another example from Jesus’ teaching is in Luke 13:22-30. This is when Jesus is teaching about the narrow door to be saved, that there will be those who think they are first but will be last, and those who think they are last but will be first.

Paul is building on those teachings by Jesus, showing that the Christian faith is upside-down from the way the world typically thinks. Why is this the way things are for believers? “So that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:29). If we were chosen by God because of our earthly roles, then that would give us more cause to boast about who we are and what we have achieved. But if God chooses the weak and the lowly, then we can only boast about who God is and what God has done, not about our own accomplishments.

Paul emphasizes that face in verse 30, reminding believers that it is only because of God that we are in Christ Jesus. Through God, we have righteousness, holiness, and redemption. None of us are worthy of receiving the salvation that God gives us because all of us have broken God’s laws. We are all foolish, weak, and lowly in God’s sight – we are all sinners who are not worthy of His love. But it is only through the salvation brought to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection that we can be seen as holy and righteous in order to receive the redemption from sin that Jesus bought us!

Why is it important that we receive righteousness, holiness, and redemption? Righteousness is being brought into a right relationship with God, which allows us to be in good standing with Him. We mess up and ruin our relationship with God, but grace is there to restore it. Holiness is to be clean and pure, and God demands us to be holy to be in His presence. Jesus is willing to deal with our crap and replace it with holiness so we can be in God's presence. Redemption is being bought back. When we redeem something, it allows us to get something back. God needed to have a plan to get His creation back to Himself after the Fall into sin, and that plan is Jesus.

In verse 31, Paul references Jeremiah 9:24. For context, Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.” That passage from the prophet Jeremiah emphasizes that our only boasting should be in God, not in anything that we have done.

God did not choose us because of our status in our worldly societies. God chose us because we humans are nothing without Him, no matter our earthly position. We need to remember who God is and what He has done for us. We are not worthy to receive the salvation He gives us, but that is God’s grace at work. We do not deserve His love since we continually disobey Him, yet He continually loves us! That love is only because of who God is and what He has done, so we should never boast about ourselves or our own works but only boast on what God has done for us.

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Systematic Theology 9: Ecclesiology

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 3, 2023 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

Ecclesiology is the study of the church. Many people think that the church started in Acts 2 at Pentecost. While that is historically true, God used the entirety of the Old Testament not only to provide pictures of Christ but pictures of the church, too. So, what is the church? There are several definitions of a church. One is a local body, a local congregation. My current church is The Old Paths Christian Church, which I joined two years ago. I previously went to Restoration Fellowship for 18 years before God called me out. That is a local congregation. Another description would be denominal identifiers, such as Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists, Lutherans, etc. These are groups of local churches that adhere to the same doctrinal principles and an overseeing governing body. Then there is the general church of a particular region such as the US, Europe, China, India, etc. In many of my critiques of the church, I generally refer to the general state of the Christendom in the US. But then there is the universal Church, the Bride of Christ. This is what I will be focusing on here.

The universal Church is the combined collection of all believers who have been authentically born again by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Unlike any of the other definitions of a church, this is the only one that is defined by true believers as described by the Bible. Most of Jesus’ parables deal with distinguishing the professing believers into true believers and false believers. The whole letter of 1 John provides a great set of tests to show who is indeed saved by what the style and overall tone of life looks like. The universal Church is not a show. It’s not a “religion” in a traditional sense, though there are most certainly religious aspects of it. It is not a “relationship” per se, but without that intimate relationship of which marriage is the closest image we have, it does not work. It is a religion, a marriage, an adoption, a new creation, a clean slate, a job, a journey, and both vertical and horizontal relationships all together.

The Church is also a holy body. The church is meant to be separate from the rest of the world. We are not to think, do, and operate as the world does but as God would have us operate. This is a huge problem we are facing in Western Christendom. The extreme majority of local churches and denominations today are so worldly-minded that there is really no separation between them and everyone else. Local churches are run as businesses where success is determined by growth and proclamations instead of genuine conversions, and the philosophies for how to run it are nearly entirely worldly. However, God has always had His Plan A for how His followers are to act and behave. I boil it down to two simple words: believe and obey. This has been God’s pattern from the beginning. All those who are called saints of God are those who believe and obey.

It starts in Genesis. The account of Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man is about believing and obeying. God told them to not eat from only one tree or the consequence would be death. They did not believe Him and chose to disobey Him instead. Cain and Abel then showcase the prototype of the reprobate and the believer. Abel knew what God required to cover for sin and he believed God, proving it by obeying Him through giving a blood sacrifice of the best of his flock. Cain, however, did not believe, and one can get an impression that Cain gave a spurious offering of his own work rather than properly examining his heart, and he gave God the scraps.

Noah found grace in the eyes of God and he believed God about the Flood and obeyed by building the Ark and preparing for the Flood. Abraham is considered the father of the faith. He was called out from his family and hometown and journeyed with God to an unknown land that would be the home of his people and the center of world history. His faith and obedience are considered righteousness. If I were to go through Hebrews 11, the list goes on. The central markers for all believers are belief and obedience. It’s that simple; God takes care of the rest. So it is with the Church. The Church is a group of individuals who believe and obey God. We can use the Old Testament history to give us examples of what that looks like played out. That is a central part of Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 10 – to learn from what Israel did and did not do.

One thing I want to be careful about is to not confuse the national covenant with Israel with the Church. There is a whole doctrine called “replacement theology” in which the church is a literal replacement for Israel as a people. Paul explicitly refutes that in Romans 11 in which he describes the Gentiles in the church as being “grafted” into the main vine. The original vine is still there. It has been significantly pruned back, but it’s still alive. God is going to restore the nation of Israel when the time is right, and the Jews will recognize Jesus as their Messiah. With that said, there are certain promises that are made to the nation of Israel that do not apply to us, especially to the US. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a classic example. That verse was in the context of how God would restore the kingdom of Israel when they repented of their sin and sought the Lord. So many think that applies to the US, but it doesn’t. Jeremiah 18:7-10, however, does apply and it’s the same general message. Nations that turn towards God will be blessed and have judgment deterred, but those who refuse to hear God will be judged and condemned. While we can learn from Israel’s examples as to what the Church is supposed to be and do, the Church is not “Israel” for the modern day.

Note that Jesus confronted this very notion in John 8. The Jews thought they were already “saved” merely by being of Abraham’s bloodline, and today many think they are saved because they can check off doctrines and go to a local congregation. Yet Jesus made clear that the only ones who are truly saved are those who believed as Abraham did – those who believe and obey. Those who do not believe and obey, no matter what lineage they claim to be part of, are sons of the devil and not sons of Abraham, not sons of the faith. The Church is not people who claim the faith but people who have been born again, who believe God and obey Him. They may know next to nothing about doctrine or theology, but they know and trust and believe their God. Genesis gives the models, and we prove if we are in the faith if we walk as they walked: in faith, trust, and obedience.

Next week, we’ll look at angelology, the study of angels.

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

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