The Gospel 2: God

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 29, 2024 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

One of the greatest blunders that many evangelicals have made is changing the Gospel presentation to starting with God and who God is to “God has a wonderful plan for you.” This not only makes the Gospel about man, how precious man is, and how God needs man, but it spits on the face of God and basically turns him to a pansy. When the focus of the message is wrong, it paints a wrong picture about God and those are not secondary issues we can just set aside.

The Gospel starts with God. The first words of the Bible are: “In the beginning, God…” It all starts with God. It was God’s plan to create a universe, a setting in which mankind would rebel against God and in which He would come down and rescue His people from their sin. God is the originator, the orchestrator, the plotter, the planner, and the architect, and He will finish everything that He started. But first, we have to know who God is, because if we get God wrong, none of the message of the Gospel is going to work. God is who the Gospel is about. He is the hero of the story. He’s not a mere genie who assists man in his own story, nor even merely the wise mentor, but the hero. And a severe problem we have today is we think we are the heroes of our own story. Hint: we aren’t. We are the damsel in distress in the best-case scenario. In reality, we are the villain. We are the ones who sinned. We are the ones who rebelled. We are the ones who deserve the cheers and jeers from an audience that wants to see the villain go down. We are the ones over whom the people will rejoice to see justice to be met. And God is going to see that justice is done. It is God who this story is all about, and when all is said and done, it will be God who eternity is focused on.

Who is God? I have both blog posts and a book about the character and attributes of God – who He is and what He is like. Of many different attributes, I will emphasize a few. First, God is the Creator. I’ll deal with this more next week, but the Gospel starts with God as creator. Being the creator means God not only knows but also controls every intricate detail about His creation. This is called sovereignty. This is a dreaded word in today’s soft evangelical world, where God is more treated like a divine butler, or a needy, sissified God who needs man, or a shampoo model who breaks if you breathe near them. God is sovereign. That means He rules over all things, including our circumstances. He can change them in an instant, and they are all there to establish and build God’s plan and God’s kingdom.

Many people do not like the idea of God as sovereign because it takes self out of the equation. One thing I will be addressing in this series is the deadly teaching and belief that we can come to God on our terms. It comes in many forms, but we have to understand that God is God, and we are not. We do not have a say in how reality works, and we most certainly do not have a say in what God should or should not do. In every case when we do that, we are projecting ourselves onto God and telling Him that He should do what we think should be done. Sometimes out of His compassion and love for us, He will. But sometimes for other purposes we cannot know nor understand at the moment, He does not. God has a much bigger plan involved than we can imagine, and it has many more pieces in play that we can understand. Sometimes He allows suffering due to consequences of sin and other times to train and prepare us for something much bigger. We don’t know why God allows some to sin against others in very grievous ways but part of what triggered me to write this seriously is to show how the Gospel is also for the victims of such sins. We know that God is still good despite the evil decisions of man.

God is a holy, righteous, and just God. This means when we sin against Him, He does not and will not let sin go unpunished. A wrong has been made, and He cannot let that slide or that would be unjust. Yes, God does and has allowed very evil things to happen, but they never happen without consequences. Nobody sins without consequences. Some are immediate, some are not, but our sins will find us out and justice will be had. Even for those who repent, there are still consequences. Just ask David. God forgave him of his sins regarding Uriah and Bathsheba, but he would deal with violence the rest of his life and it would be a permanent blemish on his record.

Yet, God is also kind, merciful, and compassionate. He is strict about His law and requires absolute, 100% perfection to keep it, but He also knows the propensity of the heart and weakness of man. He knew man would sin and rebel against Him, and as a means of showcasing His glory, He chose to create man anyway so He could save us from ourselves. God loves us enough to let us choose to do what we want to do, even if it hurts us, but He also loves us enough to come and save us when we come back to Him. However, His love and mercy work side by side with His righteousness, justice, and sovereignty.

So God gets all the glory, salvation is only offered when God offers it and on God’s terms. He gives man zero say on the terms – only to accept or reject them wholesale. As we will see as this series progresses, don’t mess around with God, because He is not messing around Himself. He has an agenda, and it’s His agenda. While He does indeed care for His children, He deals with things so that He gets the glory and His kingdom is advanced.

If we are going to preach the Gospel correctly, it must be God-centered, not man-centered. The Gospel is about God and what God does; it is not about man and how special man is that God needs to come get us to meet His needs. God has no needs, especially not any “needs” that could be fulfilled by sin-cursed people like you and me. We need Him, and the sooner we recognize that, the much better outlook we’ll have because it is not about us, nor dependent upon us. And that means we can rest and rely on God to do the heavy lifting. Life is so much easier to handle (not saying it will be easy, but easier to handle) when we can just roll things off for God to handle than try to deal with them ourselves.

Next week, we’ll look at Creation – how God designed everything at first, how He incorporates the Fall, and the eventual restoration of the creation.

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2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 25, 2024 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
- 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Last week, we began looking at this introductory section of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In that section, Paul emphasized how God is our comfort in times of suffering, and we should then comfort others. Here, Paul tells us a bit more about those sufferings and the hope that he has in spite of that.

In verse 8, he desires to inform the Corinthian church about what he’s gone through, though he does not go into great detail. Paul’s reference to “in the province of Asia” is vague, so scholars do not know exactly where this trouble occurred. Scholars believe that it had likely occurred recently, given that Paul still seems to be emotional from this experience. It is likely that the Corinthians would have known the specifics since Paul does not elaborate.

Scholars do have some ideas on what Paul’s great affliction in Asia was, though these are all speculative. Some believe it was his fighting with wild beasts in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32). Others believe it was him suffering 39 lashes 5 times from the Jewish leaders, which he mentions later in this letter (2 Corinthians 11:24). It could also refer to the riot at Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41) or perhaps another time when people attempted to kill Paul. Or it may refer to persecution that Paul experienced somewhere from people who opposed him (Acts 20:19, 1 Corinthians 16:9).

However, this does seem to be a unique experience for Paul, at least up to this point in his life. It was incredibly overwhelming to him and his travel companions, and they basically gave up hope. They felt they could not endure it, and they did not think they were going to live through it. The rare Greek word translated as “despaired” in the last phrase implies that there is absolutely no opportunity to get out of a particularly oppressive circumstance. They did not think God was going to sustain them on earth through this affliction.

Paul reiterates that sentiment in the first part of verse 9: “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.” He fully expected that his time on this earth was done. But, God clearly delivered Paul and his companions from this terrible experience! Paul equates being so close to death and then being given life again with resurrection. He knows that it was only God who brought them through that affliction, and he shares this with the Corinthians so they can see what a miraculous work God did in Paul’s life. This was not to bring Paul and his companions any glory but rather that they would rely on God. God is the only one who can raise the dead, and Paul can now relate to that, being given a new lease on life.

God had delivered them from a deadly situation, and Paul believed that God would do that again in the future (verse 10). Note that Paul doesn’t say that he hopes never to be in a similar situation instead. He does not try to avoid future suffering. Instead, he knows that he will be put in this kind of situation again in the future, and he trusts that God will deliver him again. Whether that deliverance is on this earth or to leave this life and spend eternity in heaven, Paul does not know. But he fully trusts in God to provide deliverance through suffering, rather than hoping that God would simply not let him go through that kind of suffering again.

Paul also knows that the prayers of the Corinthians and other churches of the time will help sustain him and his fellow workers for the Kingdom (verse 11). The people should pray to thank God for delivering Paul so that he may continue to spread the gospel message of Jesus Christ on this earth; his work was not yet done! Many will give thanks for God sparing Paul’s earthly life at that time because he would continue to spread the gospel to more people.

While we don’t know exactly what Paul experienced, we do have the opportunity to know the God who delivered Paul through it. We want God to deliver us from suffering rather than delivering us through it, but that is often not how God works. We need to go through difficult times in our lives in order to see God as the one who delivers us, sustains us, and comforts us no matter what. Stories like Paul’s, even if we don’t have many details, can encourage us just like Paul writes: “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again.”

God is a God of deliverance. Sometimes that means delivering us here on this earth, or sometimes that means delivering us to eternal life in heaven with Him. But either way, take comfort in the fact that although we cannot (and should not) avoid suffering on this earth, God is there to deliver us through it, just as he was for Paul.

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The Gospel 1: Introduction

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 22, 2024 1 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

Every few years, I keep coming back to the theme of getting the message right that we as Christians are supposed to be giving and then pursuing the life that this message gives us. I have taken many different angles on this from identifying true and false teachers, what it means to be a Christian, and the authority and integrity of Scripture. While writing my previous series on the backstory of the kings, my church’s teaching elder made a comment about the Gospel that I had never thought about with any real depth: that the Gospel is not just for sinners who repent, but it is also for those who have been sinned against. So those comments dislodged this theme of getting the central message of Christianity correct once again. I want to take my time describing the Gospel, describing who it is for, and describing how to correctly preach it and how to offer it to the lost, the dying, and the born-again.

This post is the introduction, and I want to highlight the major themes I will be addressing. For the last two hundred years, the Gospel has been all but reduced to a quick 4- to 5-part summary. While the summary hits all the highlights and you can do a lot of quick street evangelism with it, the summary is NOT the full Gospel. It is a summary of it; it is the cliff notes. I will cover the summary over the next few weeks, but the summary must be unpacked. This summary usually has the form of creation, sin, Jesus/cross, and consummation at the end of all things. This hits the highlights, but it’s hardly comprehensive. And let me remind you: there is no possible way for any human to ever comprehensively hit the Gospel. I cannot do it and I am not going to try either. But one thing we do need to do is stop feeding people the cliff notes and start giving them the real thing, the full course.

I will first address who the Gospel is for. The Gospel is for every person on this planet, but more specifically, what kind of people and how does it reach that kind of person? The Gospel gives hope to the broken, the weak, and the hopeless. It gives strength to the believer. It gives healing and justice to those who have been sinned against. It also hardens the heart of the wicked to their own destruction. It also continues to refresh, rebuke, strengthen, and equip the believer. Let me make this clear: on this earth, no one ever ‘graduates’ or ‘moves on’ from the Gospel. I will deal with each of these categories and more in greater detail, and I do hope that there is healing for some in these posts.

After addressing that, I am going to address how we present the Gospel and how we are not to present the Gospel. This will include methodology as well as how to call people to respond to the Gospel. One of the problems with modern evangelicalism is that we have completely lost the vision and purpose of sharing the Gospel. We’ve gone from preaching God’s message as God gave it to “get as many people into our circles as possible,” and we’ve done that at the expense of the very message we are commissioned to give. And I am going to take a hard jab at some of our well-known apologists for this one, because in their attempt to give rational and logical defenses for the faith (which is not wrong), they openly state that they seek to “lower the bar” so people can “get in.” But one cannot reason with an irrational person. The spirit-born cannot use logic on the sinner who has rejected logic. Logic only works on those who are seeking truth. But worse than that is seeking to change the requirements for being a Christian to letting in as many as you possibly can and literally changing what it means to be a Christian in doing so. That is not presenting God’s message as we are called to. That is something far more sinister, and we need to be aware of those who profess the faith and who do that.

Then toward the end of the series, I’ll address what it means to have a Gospel worldview. This is more than just a Biblical worldview, where we see everything through the lens of Scripture, but seeing through the lens of the Gospel. I will make it clear that you cannot have a Gospel worldview without first having a Biblical worldview. And I will be the first to admit that I have not made a true transition from a Biblical worldview (which is absolutely necessary) to a Gospel worldview. And with this, I will have to address a very controversial topic: primary and secondary doctrines. This must be addressed because we have a culture where people will make anything they want to be “secondary” when what they want to believe goes against Scripture.

Let’s get back to the true Gospel, the message that God gave us for the hope of salvation, and let us proclaim it correctly, joyfully, and honestly, letting God deal with the results. We are not to be ashamed of the Gospel, and the majority of those who profess to be Christians are indeed ashamed of it for many different reasons. I’ll be addressing those reasons and more through this series.

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2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 18, 2024 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Last week, we looked at the introduction to 2 Corinthians. One of the main themes of this letter from Paul to the first-century church in Corinth is the idea of being comforted in affliction or suffering, and this initial paragraph of the letter’s content embodies that theme.

Paul often follows the greeting in his letters with a statement of praise to God, as we see in verse 3. We know from right after this passage (verses 8-10) that Paul experienced great troubles while in Asia to the point of thinking they would die. That was likely very recently before he wrote this letter, so God’s comforting presence in the face of suffering is fresh on Paul’s mind and near to his heart. God’s compassion and comfort are what allowed Paul and his fellow travelers to get through the situation in Asia, to continue their mission to spread the gospel, and to write this letter.

It’s important to note that Paul does not appreciate God’s comfort solely for his own benefit but so that he can comfort others (verse 4). We as humans generally try to avoid suffering and remain in our comfort zones, but that is often not how God works. Following Jesus Christ is not an easy path, and we often end up in situations where we seek God’s comfort. This happens not only for our own edification and growth in the faith (James 1:2-4) but also so that we can share that comfort with others. When God works in our lives, we are indebted to pay that forward by sharing our stories and helping and encouraging others through the trials they experience in life. That’s what it means to be the family of God – walking together through the easier times and the more difficult times in life (Romans 12:15).

Why does our suffering help us be more aware of God’s presence in our lives? When we experience suffering that often feels beyond our control in this life, we as believers remember that our only hope is in Jesus Christ. We share in the sufferings of Christ, and we share in His comfort (verse 5). We cannot have one without the other. If we never experience suffering, then we won’t recognize God’s comforting presence in our lives. We trust that God’s character will remain true and He will remain faithful through all of the circumstances that come our way in this life, whether good or bad. He is always there to provide comfort to us, no matter what.

The first part of verse 6 may seem counterintuitive to us: “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation.” How is distress for our comfort and salvation? We need to remember that this is a letter that Paul is writing to a local church. Paul is saying that if he and his fellow ministers are distressed, it is for the comfort and salvation of the people he is writing to. Because of Paul’s suffering, he can testify to the goodness of God in that situation as a witness to the people. He is equipped to encourage them because he has gone through these difficult situations himself. His distress will encourage the people and provide them comfort for when they, too, will go through difficulties.

But it is not only Paul’s distress that will provide comfort to the Corinthians. When he has been comforted by God, that is also a testimony to the goodness of God that Paul can share with them. Either way, the people will be working toward developing patient endurance through Paul’s witness to them. Paul’s testimony of what he has been through will guide and encourage the Corinthian people as they will likely face similar sufferings for the gospel in the future.

Paul affirms this in verse 7: “And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” Paul trusts that as brothers and sisters in Christ, they will share with him both in suffering and in comfort. Paul is confident that their faith will remain strong in the future when they face suffering because of their identity as the Church. Paul shares how he and his traveling companions endured hardship but God brought them through it, which will strengthen their faith so they can endure what is to come.

A form of the root word for comfort in Greek is used 10 times in this passage, so it’s important to talk a bit about that word. The root is parakaleo in Greek, which is the same root word Jesus used to refer to the coming of the Holy Spirit in John 14:16: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” In that translation (NIV), the word is translated as advocate. It has the idea of a counselor, comforter, intercessor, helper, encourager, etc. The same is true for this word we’ve been translating as comfort in today’s passage. The Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity who provides this comforting, encouraging, counseling, helping, etc. in our lives.

Where are you joining with fellow believers in their suffering? Where are you joining with fellow believers in comfort? How do you rely on the comfort that only God can bring during the distressing times of your life?

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Backstory of the Kings 26: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 15, 2024 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

The account of the kings ends with four revolving kings: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin), and Zedekiah. Three of these were brothers and the sons of Josiah. Jeconiah was Jehoiakim’s son, grandson of Josiah. All four kings were wicked kings, and the four of them lasted a combined 24 years. When Josiah fell at the battle with Egypt against Pharoah Neco, Judah became a vassal state to Egypt. Jehoahaz (ruled three months) and Jehoiakim (ruled 11 years) were selected by Neco to rule over Judah, and in that time frame Babylon had conquered Assyria and came in to finish the job of conquering the rest of the Middle East. Jeconiah lasted another three months when Babylon took him into captivity, and Zedekiah was the last one holding the bag when his decisions led to the final conquest and surrender of Jerusalem. His children were executed in front of him, before he was executed himself. Jeconiah, however, lived in Babylonian prison for a time before living the rest of his life eating at the table of the king of Babylon. All this is covered in one chapter.

All four kings had Josiah as their father or grandfather. All four kings had the prophet Jeremiah consistently warning them and telling them what God said. Jeremiah 1-39 covers his dealings with these kings, often going back and forth between Jehoiakim and Zedekiah following themes of rebuke rather than chronology. Of the kings, only Zedekiah actually wanted to hear what Jeremiah had to say, but he wanted to save his reputation of being a tough guy and still ultimately rejected God’s message. It cost him his life.

The political situation of Jerusalem here kept these kings running in circles, and time and time again, they wanted to hear hope and salvation rather than judgment. They did not want to think that God could judge them. The false prophets eventually realized that captivity was indeed happening but said it would only be a few years and they’d be back. Jeremiah got the real message as it would be seventy years, two full generations in captivity. This was the darkest moment in Israel’s history in the Old Testament, even warranting a full book to lament over the fall of Jerusalem (Lamentations).

I believe Josiah raised his boys in Godly ways. Jeremiah certainly did not let them off the hook. But they made a choice that they wanted to do things their own way, and they didn’t want God telling them what needed to be done. God had already proclaimed the captivity would take place. They knew that God chose to postpone it for Josiah’s sake, but they took no heed to Jeremiah’s words. Why not? While it was not stated by these kings directly, the notion was told directly to Jeremiah by those who survived Jerusalem’s fall and were plotting to go to Egypt. They believed that they had prosperity when they had their idols and worshiped the Queen of the Heavens, but when Josiah tore down the idols, they lost their prosperity. They NEVER even conceived the notion nor could even process that it was their own idolatry that was at fault, not God’s, not Jeremiah, not Josiah. It was sinful people turning to sinful sources instead of God. None of Josiah’s reforms made a difference in his boys. And that is not because Josiah failed; it is because they didn’t want to follow it.

All of these kings were young when they became king. Keep in mind Josiah was only 8 years old when he became king and ruled 31 years. He was 39 when he died. Jehoahaz was 23 when he became king, and Jehoiakim, his older brother was 25 when he became king a few months later. That means Jehoiakim was born when Josiah was 14, two years before he personally chose to walk with God. Jehoahaz was born two years later. Jeconiah, Jehoiakim’s son, was 18 when he became king. Jehoiakim was 25 with an 11-year reign before being sent off to Babylon, putting Jeconiah born when Jehoiakim was 18. Then Zedekiah was 21 when he became king, putting him at 9-10 years old when Josiah died. So the first two were old enough to know how to walk in the ways of the Lord, but they chose not to. The latter two could have known better, too, based on their upbringing and still chose not to. And unlike Manasseh, captivity did not change their minds.

Sin is so deadly that it truly will make someone insane and stupid. We have the advantage of hindsight and seeing God’s intentions and the spiritual side of things. If we lived in that time and we only thought in terms of the natural, we would likely think they were doing the best they could do and consider Jeremiah to be a crazy kook, much like how John the Baptist was viewed. But sin corrupts the mind, not just the spirit or the body. Because of our sin, we truly cannot think or see clearly, despite our finite limitations. And we see this demonstrated through the kings and their history.

This study has been quite fascinating to me to see how all these kings are interlinked and what we can learn not just from them but from their backstory as Scripture has revealed. There is a LOT I did not cover and a lot of history that other books cover in greater detail, but I hope this series has given us a bigger picture of these kings. With some of the kings, there simply is not enough to work with to see what was going on behind the scenes, and that’s okay. The Bible could not cover everything without being a mile thick. But each king did not rule in a vacuum. Their reign had to deal with the previous king’s decisions and practices, and they had to set up the next king’s rule as well.

One thing I want us to learn in this series is that we ourselves have a backstory, and we ourselves are also a backstory for someone else. Some call that concept their legacy. What legacy are we leaving? How are we preparing the next generation in how they are to live?

We all have a backstory. It does not matter if it is good or bad. We have seen through the kings that one’s upbringing can play a role in how they turned out. It was not a promise that a good upbringing produces a Godly life, nor does a bad upbringing automatically produce an ungodly life. Each king had to decide how he would live, and only a few made a good choice.

What is your backstory? What decisions are you making based on that backstory? Do not blame your backstory for your decisions. Your backstory may have put you in your circumstances, but it is your decision that matters: a decision whether you will follow what God says despite your backstory, even if it is a bad one, or whether you will go your own way, regardless of whether you were taught to follow God or not.

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Can You Be a Christian and Accept Evolution? Part 5

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 14, 2024 0 comments


by Steve Risner

We’re in the fifth and final week on this topic of “Can you be a Christian and accept evolution?” which was a question posed by an article I found on sciencenetwork.uk. You can find that article here. You can also find the first four of my blog posts on this here, here, here, and here. Thanks for reading. Let’s jump right into it.

Psalm 19 compels us to listen carefully to both science and the Bible on this issue.” No, it doesn’t. They’re giving equal footing to nature as they do the Bible. Again, this is very similar to paganism—the worship of nature. I suggest trusting the Lord and His clear teachings on this. Is God so inept He couldn’t communicate well enough to get the message across to us? He required atheists or, at the very least unbelievers or those who reject Scripture, to point out the truth to us? I find that hard to believe.

“…is there a way to take both Scripture and science seriously and accept a mainstream view of evolutionary theory?” Not even close. The author says, “Well, yes!” like they’re excited to be a heretic. But the truth is if you don’t have reading comprehension issues, there is no way to reconcile universal common descent and the creation narrative in Genesis. It’s simply not possible. Suggesting you can reconcile these tells me you’re either not very bright, don’t understand what either are telling us, don’t care and just want to be able to walk both sides, or some combination of these. Yes, it seems quite evident that God made the biosphere capable of limited adaptation. That seems like something a loving God would do. It also seems like we can observe this happening in nature. But don’t be confused; this is not at all related to abiogenesis and universal common descent. Before you throw your hands up and say, “Abiogenesis isn’t part of evolution,” let’s be honest. First, this discussion is about far more than universal common descent. It involves the totality of the humanist origins myth from the moment of the Big Bang up until the emergence of man on the scene and all that allegedly evolved between the two. Secondly, abiogenesis is intimately linked to Darwinism and is taught alongside Darwinism in every textbook we have available to us on the topic.

“I suspect that after another century or so of good science and good Biblical scholarship we’ll be able to draw some firmer conclusions.” Again, the “truth” found in what this person is calling science is far from complete and will be changed many times over in the next 100 years. The Bible is the unchanging Word of God. This person wants to skew the meaning of Scripture to fit into some humanistic interpretation of nature that is misapplied to history. Atheism requires deep time; Creationism does not at all. There is no reason to believe in deep time unless you first have bought the humanist origins myth as true before looking at the evidence – then you HAVE to believe in deep time. But, again, the topic of origins cannot be a scientific one. The Bible is truth; I believe this, and I’m biased this way. Everyone is biased in some way, though many will deny it. Are you honest enough to admit it? But future scholarship of the Bible will only work to further the decay of the Church from the Truth found in Scripture. Many of the scholars who want to tell us about the Bible these days are secularists. They have no regard or love for the Bible and only look at it as a book of myths and legends with the occasional nugget of historical truth. Nothing supernatural. Nothing applicable to the human condition. Let the Word of God say what it says. Accept it or reject it, but don’t reject it and act like you’re maintaining some high regard for Scripture or the Lord who inspired it.

“But the very existence of these men and women – scholars committed to the authority of Scripture who also accept evolution – proves that it is indeed possible to be a faithful Christian and agree with the scientific consensus on this issue.” Not at all, but even if it did; so what? And, again, many if not most of these scholars are not believers. They are not “committed to the authority of Scripture.” Even while Paul was doing his missionary work, there were those who poisoned the Gospel or even slightly changed it, making it something other than what it was. The author is trusting now in the authority of men (although I’ve not heard of most of these people in their list) and position rather than in the written Word of God. There are some Christians who will say that abortion is okay—it’s a woman’s choice. Does the existence of these people mean this idea is good? Some Christians will say that the man is the dominating force in his home and if he sees fit to beat his wife and kids, that’s his right. Does the existence of these people mean this is right? Some Christians think there are other ways to heaven other than Jesus Christ. Jesus said He is the only way—that no one comes to the Father but through Him. Does the existence of these people mean it’s okay to seek God elsewhere? Some people, like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, think their faith and the faith described in the Bible are harmonious. Does that mean it’s true since they exist? I hope you’re seeing how utterly preposterous this is. The existence of heretics (not saying all these folks are heretics mind you) does not mean heresy is respectable and equal to the Truth.

“Paul’s aware of the complexity involved in interpreting God’s truth rightly, and he knows Christians will come to different conclusions on things.” These complexities didn’t involve creation, did they? He seemed pretty unwavering on that as did Peter and John. Jesus seemed convinced the Word of God was true on the matter of creation, too. Again, the way theistic evolutionists argue, they suggest we can’t know anything from Scripture. That’s simply not true, though it is a logical conclusion of their beliefs. It’s simply wrong.

“You don’t have to choose between two things that you hold dear.” This is such a strange statement to me. Who holds evolution or, more specifically universal common descent, dearly? The fact that the Lord Almighty built life with the ability to have limited adaptive powers is awesome. But I don’t see how someone would hold common ancestry dearly. Are we putting way too much emotion into something that is nothing more than man’s attempt to explain nature and life without God? Jesus tells us we can’t serve two masters. Our hearts can’t handle it. The two masters in this case would be Christ and nature. It just doesn’t work to worship the creation and the Creator.

“Paul’s emphasis in these matters is that we are free in Christ.” What a terrible misapplication of this thought. We are free from the power of sin. We are free in Christ to do what we ought to do. Prior to that moment of salvation, we were not capable of doing the good we ought to do. With Christ in us, we can. Freedom in Christ doesn’t mean we can believe anything we want. It doesn’t mean we can toss out any of the Holy Scriptures we don’t like. It doesn’t mean anything like what this person is suggesting it means.

“In Christ you’re free to hold to young earth creation and you’re free to embrace evolution. You’re free to sit somewhere in the middle, and you’re free to be undecided.” Just because I feel it’s worth stressing again: we are not “free in Christ” to believe anything we think sounds okay. In fact, we know the path is narrow. Compromise is not something the Lord appreciates in us. He tells us in Revelation He’d rather we were hot or cold, not lukewarm. We are not “free in Christ” to toss out entire sections of Scripture or foundational doctrines merely because a man or woman who was likely an unbeliever told us what they thought about origins that differed from the Bible. Again, do not be confused: origins is not science. You cannot observe one-time past events. You cannot make predictions about one-time past events. You cannot experiment on one-time past events. This is especially true if those events are surrounded by conditions we are in the dark about.

“…heeding Paul’s command to ‘accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.’” This is what creationists tend to do. We do accept brothers and sisters who may be led astray concerning creation and the authority of Scripture. Some are fairly radical about it, but in general, we can accept them while simultaneously rejecting their bad theology. We have more similarities, in most cases, than differences and if we believe that Christ is the Son of God, that He lived a sinless life on earth and was crucified for our sins, only to rise again on the 3rd day and ascend into heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father, we are brothers and sisters in a spiritual sense. But I would advise believers who have rejected what the Bible tells us about creation and the Flood to get a good footing because the slope is rather slick. I’ve witnessed too many who follow this path and eventually reject the Lord altogether.

The author then, in their notations, explains that St. Augustine of Hippo is on their side here. This is simply not true. While St. Augustine had a complex view of Genesis that evolved over time, he held to a literal interpretation. This author also says Augustine did not conform to a 24-hour day time frame for the days of creation while he did maintain a historical interpretation of the book of Genesis. This is true. Augustine believed it was possible the Lord used the word “day” in the Genesis account of creation when, in fact, He created on each of those days in moments rather than 24 hours. In reality, we have no reason to believe God required 24 hours each day to complete His work. But each day is marked by something that He did unique to that day, in a specific order and consecutively. While evolutionists like to use him by misapplying his statements, Augustine was very much a Biblical creationist. He had some questions concerning exactly what happened on each of the days of creation and how long each day took (was it 24 hours or was it only seconds or minutes?) but he held firmly to the historicity of the narrative.

I pray this series of posts has helped you, the reader, understand some of the ins and outs of this debate. Evolution is a thing that happens. But evolution is also a competing story for how God created everything there is. It depends on what you mean by “evolution” when you use the term. It can describe living things or the cosmos or any number of other things when we talk about it in this debate. God gave His creation the ability to adapt to different environments within a limited degree. He’s awesome that way. Praise Him for His mighty acts! He is worthy of all our praise!

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2 Corinthians 1:1-2 and Introduction

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 11, 2024 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 1:1-2

Last week, we finished going through 1 Corinthians, so the logical next step is to begin taking a look at 2 Corinthians. But before we get there, what has transpired for the Corinthian church between these two letters? While we don’t know a lot of details, scholars have some general ideas of what may have transpired.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul addressed many issues that were occurring in the church at Corinth. It’s likely that the Corinthians fixed some of these issues before 2 Corinthians, as we don’t see Paul bringing them up again. For example, we do not see anything in this second letter regarding practicing the Lord’s supper or about lawsuits among believers.

But, even though they may have made some issues better, others got worse. Paul did not want to make another “painful visit” to them (2 Corinthians 2:1), but he did end up visiting them again (2 Corinthians 12:14, 13:1-2). An in-person visit from Paul would provide them with much more specific instructions to correct their ways than a letter could.

Paul sent Titus from Ephesus to Corinth with a severe letter for them. We do not have the contents of this letter available to us, but we know it existed at one time due to the references to it in Scripture. Paul and Titus were to meet in Troas, but Titus did not show up there, so they ended up meeting in Macedonia instead. After leaving Ephesus after the riot (Acts 19:23-20:1), Paul spread the gospel in Troas, did not see Titus there, and then traveled to Macedonia (2 Corinthians 2:12-13). Paul and Titus met up in Macedonia, and Titus shared his report of the Corinthians being responsive to the severe letter (2 Corinthians 7:5-16).

Paul worked in Macedonia for a while, and after he heard about additional problems at the church in Corinth, he wrote 2 Corinthians to them. The authorship of this letter is rarely disputed, given that Paul calls himself the author twice (2 Corinthians 1:1 and 10:1). Writings of other early church fathers outside of the Bible also quote this letter, including Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian. It is likely that while Paul spent a few months in Greece (Acts 20:2-3), likely in Corinth, he wrote Romans.

This letter of 2 Corinthians was likely written at least a year and a half after 1 Corinthians. Scholars give a probable timeline of 1 Corinthians being written in the spring of AD 55, Paul having his “painful visit” to Corinth that summer, writing the “severe letter” (that we don’t have) in the spring of AD 56, Paul and Titus arriving in Macedonia during the summer of AD 56, and then Paul writing 2 Corinthians in the fall of AD 56.

The letter is divided into three major sections: Paul discussing his apostolic ministry (chapters 1-7), discussing generosity specifically for the saints at Jerusalem (chapters 8-9), and more about being an apostle and Paul’s travel plans (chapters 10-13). Some of the key themes in the book can be seen in words or phrases that are often repeated, including comfort, affliction, and joy.

This greeting at the start of the letter is consistent with what Paul would typically write. He calls himself “an apostle” (2 Corinthians 1:1) of Jesus even though he was not one of the twelve who walked with Jesus during His earthly ministry. Paul considered himself equal to the twelve because of the special revelation he received from Jesus during his conversion to the faith.

Paul mentions Timothy during this greeting, which is significant for the Corinthians. Timothy was supposed to be Paul’s representative in Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17, 16:10-11), but it appears that Titus had replaced Timothy in that position by the time 2 Corinthians was written. It is possible that Timothy did not have great success in working with the church at Corinth, hence the change in personnel.

Paul promotes unity between this church and others in verse 1, specifically calling out the province of Achaia, which contained multiple churches. This congregation was just part of the church that God was building in that region, and Paul makes sure that they know there are others who are part of God’s “holy people” in that area.

Paul’s characteristic greeting in verse 2 combines both the traditional Greek greeting (chairein, which became charis, “grace”) and the traditional Hebrew greeting (shalom, or “peace”). This further should bring unity among the people who were from different traditions.

As we journey through this letter from Paul to the first-century church at Corinth, I believe that we will see that its themes and instructions are still relevant to us as twenty-first-century believers.

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Backstory of the Kings 25: Josiah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 8, 2024 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

Josiah became king when he was eight years old, just a year older than Joash when he became king, and reigned for 31 years. His father Amon was assassinated for his gross idolatry. Josiah was the last of the godly kings. His grandfather Manasseh was an abominable idolator until God utterly broke him by taking him into captivity in Assyria for a season. Amon was just as idolatrous, but he did not repent. He was killed two years into his reign. Josiah would have just barely known his grandfather in his repentant state, and he would have seen the turmoil of his father. For the first years of his reign, just as with Joash, there would have been adults who directed the formal decisions and guided him, but eight years into his reign, when Josiah was 16, he made the choice to follow the Lord.

Josiah personally sought to seek and follow the Lord, which is a statement only given to Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, and Hezekiah before him. When one seeks the Lord, he will see the abominations and they will grieve him. As a teenager, Josiah went after all those high places. It took about ten years to go through the whole land to destroy the idols and the high places. He destroyed every idol, every high place, and every altar, everything associated with idol worship. Josiah got rid of it and destroyed it so no one could bring it back easily.

Then 18 years into his reign, with all the idols removed, Josiah turned his attention to the Temple to repair it. That was when the Book of the Law was found, and Josiah realized just how far Judah had fallen from walking in the ways God set when they entered the land. The majority of the coverage of Josiah’s reign is on this event and Josiah’s move to get back to God’s ways. God was so pleased with Josiah that he would not allow Judah to fall into captivity during his lifetime. But the sins of Manasseh and the generations before him were still standing, and the judgment still had to come.

I don’t know what triggered Josiah’s turn to the Lord, but he did have the advantage of being too young for the idolatrous ways of his father to be deeply rooted in him. He also had the advantage of being just old enough to see that what his father was doing was outright evil. There were no Biblical prophets at this time, as Jeremiah would begin his ministry during Josiah’s reign. There were prophets, but not one of the “big ones” from the start. Whoever guided and trained Josiah had to be godly. The prophetess Hulda ministered in Josiah’s 18th year and she is the one who reported Josiah’s utter grief over Judah breaking the Law. There was no actual copy of the Law that Josiah had access to until his 18th year. Otherwise, he would have heard it by then. He knew the Biblical principles that God did not like idolatry and he very likely knew the Shema prayer and the Ten Commandments. By the time they were twelve years old, Jewish boys were supposed to have the entire Pentateuch memorized, and it’s possible this was still being practiced traditionally through the idolatrous ages. But Josiah heard at least some of the law and knew of the True God and that truth took a firm grip on his heart.

Josiah can also be compared to Joash because both were very young kings. Joash had a very godly man raise him. Josiah had no known Godly input. Joash departed the faith once his anchor passed away; Josiah turned towards the Lord regardless of his input. As I have mentioned, each person was responsible for his own choices. While the background of his early youth reflected Amon’s full-blown idolatry, Josiah still chose to seek the Lord. We don’t know how Josiah operated in those first eight years as a kid, but when he turned 16, he decided to seek the Lord personally.

Josiah is the last king who would seek the Lord. God decided the judgment upon Judah during Manasseh’s reign, but God had a promise to uphold before he could let that happen. I mentioned above how Josiah got rid of the high places and idols. One of those idols was a golden calf, the one that Jeroboam made 300 years ago when he led the rebellion against Rehoboam. An unnamed prophet confronted Jeroboam and told him a future king named Josiah would destroy that idol and desecrate the priests serving that idol by burning their bones on their altars. When Assyria conquered Israel, they did not destroy nor take the idol they feared the gods of that land and didn’t want to bring a curse upon them. A curse was indeed put on them, so they sent some of Israel’s priests who served those idols to teach the new occupants how to worship those gods. So the golden calf was intact in Bethel when Josiah came upon it. He did precisely what was prophesied about him – he destroyed the idol and burned the bones of the first priests on the altar before destroying the altar itself. God was not going to let Judah fall until this took place.

In Josiah’s reign, we see the sovereignty of God and the foresight of God. We see God directing events to fulfill the prophecies He made, and we see this through all the kings. While each king is held responsible for his own decisions, all have done the way God has said they would go. God wanted Josiah to showcase one last shot for redemption, knowing that it would not last, but also to give a final cleansing before the bottom fell out. It was a final push for Godliness so that in the captivity there would be a few who would be a remnant for the captivity. Daniel and his three friends were children of nobles and would have sat under the ministry of Jeremiah before being taken to Babylon as teenagers. Josiah’s reforms set the stage for Daniel to be a Godly presence in Babylon.

Next week, we’ll wrap up this series and look at Josiah’s sons. Josiah went to battle against Egypt, when he did not need to, and was killed in the battle. Egypt made Judah a vassal of Egypt, and Josiah’s sons brought the final judgment upon Judah.

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Can You Be a Christian and Accept Evolution? Part 4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 7, 2024 0 comments


by Steve Risner

This is week four on this topic of “Can you be a Christian and accept evolution?” I found an article with that says, “Yes” to this question, and I took issue with much of what they had to say. Before reading this post, I would recommend making sure you’ve read my other posts here, here, and here. This post will make more sense then. Let’s jump into it.

“We’re not free to disregard the Bible because it feels outdated.” So, why are you doing this? The Bible is timeless in its principles. And when it comes to history, how could anyone argue that changes? History happened. It was recorded. No amount of time passing can change what happened.

“We’re not free… to disregard science because its conclusions are inconvenient for our theology.” As many evolutionists are, the author of this article is confused. They think “science” is what we’re talking about when it’s nothing more than philosophy or religion. Scientific “conclusions” like gravity, pH, electricity, and so on are things you can bank on by and large. But stories about chemicals turning into life and that simple life form diversifying into all sorts of highly complex, very specialized organisms is a very na├»ve belief system. Feel free to discard any other religion’s take on origins if it conflicts with the clear teaching of Scripture. In short, if you read the Bible and you look at nature and they don’t seem to agree, you’re very likely misinterpreting nature. One of these revelations is a written communication from God Almighty. The other is essentially art, which can be open to a million different interpretations, and none may be correct or complete. When in doubt, side with the Lord and His Word.

Psalm 19 urges us to take both science and Scripture seriously.” It actually does not do this at all, but theistic evolutionists want it to say this, so they feel justified in rejecting Scripture. Placing the two on equal standing is not a good idea at all. In fact, it’s a terrible idea and is akin to paganism. God gave us His Word for a reason. Nature, while able to point us to our Creator, does not speak divine truth to us. In fact, the nature we’re seeing now is cursed. The Fall was accompanied by a curse that God placed not just on mankind but on all of creation. In fact, Paul tells the Romans (and us) that “creation has been groaning” since the Fall. The creation is essentially ill. The story it may be telling us now is nothing like the story it would have told us in Eden before Adam and Eve disobeyed God for the first time, introducing sin into the world. So, taking fallen man’s skewed interpretation of a cursed creation over the perfect Word of God is insane, in my opinion. What rational person would suggest we can understand more or even as much about God from nature as we can from the book He gave us?

“At the same time, we’ve got to be realistic and humble about how good we are as fallen and limited people at interpreting God’s truth.” This is partially true. We don’t know everything from the Word of God. But we can read His thoughts in His message to us, and what He clearly tells us about creation is undeniable. Either believe what it says or reject the Word. It’s up to you and where you put your final authority. I hate to repeat myself so much, but the truth here is still the same. We are fallen, and they get that right in this article. But we also have the Word of God, which is what He wanted us to know, and He has preserved it for us. Trust Him rather than sinful man’s take on origins. Man has been at war with God for nearly 6000 years. Do you think you can trust him more so than the Creator of all that is? And, again, what is easier to believe: that we grossly misinterpreted the clear teachings of God from His Word which He left for us, or that we misunderstood something we saw in nature, or we drew the wrong conclusion about something we saw in nature or we went a little too far in that interpretation—going beyond what we actually know to be true?

“When it comes to science, we can only ever work with a partial data set, and it’s not like we can do repeatable experiments where we re-run the last 4 billion years to confirm our hypothesis.” This is why origins is NOT a scientific topic of any kind. It’s impossible, and people will assault the integrity of the tool that is science by trying to force it to be something it is not and cannot be. Universal common descent is not repeatable. It’s not observable. It’s not able to be experimented on. It’s not able to have predictive power since it’s historical (you can’t predict something that will happen in the past). They’ve demolished their entire argument here by being truthful about why universal common descent is not science. It is rare to find a theistic evolutionist so honest about this, and it’s refreshing. I’ve literally conversed with hundreds over the years. Many are hostile toward the Bible and those who believe what it says. I’m thankful this person is genuine here.

“When it comes to Scripture, we’re all too prone to bringing our own presuppositions and cultural baggage to God’s word and reading into it what we want to read.” Fortunately, as a Biblical creationist, I’ve not done this to the best of my knowledge. This is precisely what others (old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists) do all the time. You need not twist Scripture with your own cultural or whatever biases to understand the creation narrative and the rest of the history found in Genesis. The book literally spans 1/3 of all of history. It’s all very important for understanding our condition and the solution that the Lord has given to us. There is no way to justify abandoning what everyone in the Bible and for almost 2000 years after Christ understood about creation. None. The cultural differences do not change what the clear teachings of ALL of the Scriptures are concerning creation (a short and incomplete list can be found here). And the culture changed over time from Adam and Eve to Noah to Jacob and his family to Moses and then David up to the time of Christ. Different languages are represented in the Bible. Different time periods. Even different locations. What culture would we be speaking about if that dictates how we understand the Word of God? If anything, the lens of our culture would force us to toss out much of Genesis and other creation passages. Thankfully, we don’t have to be blinded by our cultural biases, and we can accept God’s Word for what it says. I’ve found no reason not to after over 30 years of looking.

“Though God has genuinely made truth accessible to us via both means, we could be (and probably are) making mistakes in how we read either science, Scripture or both (and we won’t necessarily know which).” If you think it’s possible to misunderstand Genesis, then you literally cannot accept or know anything found in Scripture. None of it is able to be grasped if the opening chapters are in question. A 7-year-old can read or hear Genesis and understand the narrative. It’s very simple. The creation account, the Fall, the curse, the Flood, the dispersion, the covenant – it’s all important, all right there, and all easy to understand. Do we have everything right from Scripture? Of course not. But the odds of us having a perfect understanding of nature are far worse than us understanding God’s written communication to us. Especially if what we are trying to force nature to say to us is 100% opposed to what the Bible tells us. When there’s a conflict, trust His Word over anything else.

Again, time has run out and we are out of space for this week’s post. I hope this has opened your eyes to some of the issues with forcing the idea of universal common descent (often referred to as simply “evolution”) into the Judeo-Christian teachings on creation. Take care and come back next week as we wrap up this series.

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1 Corinthians 16:15-24

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 4, 2024 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
- 1 Corinthians 16:15-24

This passage wraps up the end of 1 Corinthians, the first letter we have from the Apostle Paul to the Church in Corinth. Paul provides his closing greetings here.

In verse 15, Paul references “the household of Stephanas.” Paul is promoting that household as an example for the Corinthians to follow. We do not know much about Stephanas or his household except for this reference. In that culture, it was common for when the head of a household was converted, everyone else in that household followed suit – not just the family members but also any servants associated with the household. Achaia was a province of Greece where the city of Corinth was located, so this household may have been local to the people of the church in Corinth.

Paul points out that the household of Stephanas was devoted to serving God’s people. The word used for serving there is diakonia, which is where we get our English word ‘deacon’ from. The role of deacons in many churches is to serve people, whether that be service during the worship service or service outside of worship gatherings.

Paul brings up this household as an example for the Corinthians to follow (verse 16). The Corinthians were to join in the service of others as the household of Stephanas, and we are urged to do the same in our churches and communities today. The text implies that Stephanas’ whole family joined in service, and our whole families should join in serving others as well.

In verse 17, Paul mentions Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus by name. Scholars believe that these three men were the ones who brought the Corinthians’ letter to Paul that prompted this letter as Paul’s reply. We are not sure what was meant by Paul saying they have “supplied what was lacking.” It may mean that their delivery of the Corinthians’ questions encouraged Paul that they were open to his advice and instruction for their congregation.

Paul wanted to recognize these three men (verse 18) because of their delivery of the letter. Their presence refreshed Paul’s spirit and encouraged him for the sake of the Corinthian church. It is likely that these men also delivered Paul’s reply of 1 Corinthians back to Corinth, so the people there would also be refreshed by the results of this exchange.

Next, Paul starts his actual greetings section to close out this letter. A section like this is typical of Paul in all his letters. Paul brings greetings from other churches to the Corinthians. When Paul mentions the churches in “Asia,” he’s referring to what we now know as western Turkey. There were already multiple churches located there, and Paul was promoting unity among the churches as they were all on the same mission from God to spread the gospel and make disciples of Jesus.

Paul specifically calls out greetings from Aquila and Priscilla in verse 19 because they were influential in founding the church in Corinth (Acts 18:1-3). According to Acts 18:18, Aquila and Priscilla sailed to Syria with Paul after their visit to Corinth, and they were influential in the spread of the early church. They are also mentioned in Romans 16:3-5 where Paul writes that they risked their lives for him.

It was a common practice at that time to greet other believers with a “holy kiss” (verse 20). This custom was also mentioned in Romans 16:15, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. It would show unity in the faith among the believers. This was not just something that the Christians did, but greeting with a kiss of friendship was a common practice in the Ancient Near East. Scholars note that it would have been culturally understood that this kiss of friendship would not cross genders; men would “holy kiss” men and women would “holy kiss” women.

In verse 21, Paul states that he writes this greeting in his own hand. This was a sign of authenticity for the letter. It was customary for letters to be dictated to a secretary of sorts who would do the actual writing.

Paul felt the need to add a stern warning to the end of this letter in verse 22, that anyone who does not love the Lord would be cursed, meaning that they would be under the wrath of God. This is how important it was for Paul that the recipients of this letter be followers of Jesus! Finally, he ends with a shorter benediction than is typical for him in verses 23-24, concluding with sharing his love for the Corinthian believers, even if he did need to give them some harsh words throughout this letter.

The main takeaway we can have from this section as modern believers is that we should regard this entire letter as authoritative Scripture. The people and places that Paul mentions are authenticated by other parts of Scripture. Paul’s indication that he wrote this greeting himself gives it validity as well. These concluding greetings and remarks can give us the confidence to trust Paul’s words throughout this letter as inspired by God and as an authority for our lives.

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Backstory of the Kings 24: Manasseh and Amon

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, March 1, 2024 0 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

Hezekiah was a godly king who tore down high places and destroyed idols including good things such as the Bronze Serpent. He got sick halfway into his reign, and God granted him 15 more years of his life. There is an indication that he was childless at this point with no heir. God said he would heal him and give him an heir. That child was born a couple of years later, Manasseh. When Hezekiah died, Manasseh was just 12 years old, and he reigned for 55 years. He had the longest reign of any king of Israel or Judah, and he was the worst of them.

Manasseh followed all the idols that the pagans had around them – Baal, Asherah, Molech/Chemosh, not to mention practicing sorcery and divination and seeking mediums, a list that not even Ahab did. And as bad as all that was, he did something even more evil than all that: he put these idols and altars directly in the Temple itself. And catch this statement in 2 Chronicles 33:9: Manasseh led Judah to do even more evil than the pagan nations whom the Lord had already destroyed through the Assyrian empire. Ezekiel gave some fierce words for this in Ezekiel 23 and compared Israel and Judah to two harlots. For as bad of a rap as Israel has, Judah out-sinned Israel. If the trio of Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah were bad, Ahaz seemed to seek to top them and Manasseh went even further.

Isaiah was nearing the end of his ministry, and he rebuked Manasseh for his idolatry. Tradition holds that Manasseh had Isaiah sawn in half. Manasseh wanted nothing to do with the prophets of God. Ezekiel 22 gives a devastating lashing against the prophets and priests of that time: conspiring against God and using their position and the people’s innate trust in that position to rip them off for selfish gain. No one stood in the gap; no one stepped up to put a stop to it. Hezekiah tried. Isaiah tried. But the people didn’t listen to Hezekiah or Isaiah, and Manasseh had Isaiah removed.

God had enough and had Assyria take Manasseh captive along with formally proclaiming the upcoming captivity to Babylon. Keep in mind that when Assyria took captives, they marched them in their chains, naked, and pulled along with a hook in their nose. This was only one of the many ways Assyria showed their brutal cruelty. In captivity, Manasseh was humbled. The teachings and preaching of his father Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah would have come to mind, and he remembered and sought the Lord. He returned to Jerusalem and began tearing down all the idols. He did not tear down the high places, but the people used them to worship the true God. Manasseh committed the most atrocious sins of all the kings, but he was humbled, and in that humility, he returned to serve the Lord until he died.

We don’t know when during Manasseh’s 55-year reign his arrest and repentance took place, but this sets up the backstory to his son Amon who was born 33 years into his reign. Amon lasted only two years because he followed the footsteps of his father into idolatry, only he did not repent of his sins. He was assassinated as a result. His officials had no interest in seeing another Manasseh who would turn Assyria against Judah again, so they killed him and installed Josiah in his stead, a boy of only 8 years old.

Let’s do the math. Amon was 24 when he was assassinated and Josiah was 8 at that time. So Amon was 16 when he fathered Josiah and 15 when he slept with Josiah’s mother. It’s not as crazy a situation as with Ahaz who fathered Hezekiah when he was 11, but still very young.

Manasseh and Amon show the reverse cases of Joash and Hezekiah. Joash started well and ended bad. Hezekiah started well and ended well. Manasseh started bad and ended well. Amon started bad and ended bad. Manasseh had all the markings, precedents, and foundations laid for a good backing. Because Manasseh was just 12 years old when he became king, it is possible that Hezekiah’s death triggered anger and resentment in him. He was old enough to have an attachment to Hezekiah, so it’s not implausible for him to blame God for it and go to all the idols to spit in God’s face. But that is speculation.

Amon likely lived through Manasseh’s repentance, but it may depend upon when that took place. I suspect the repentance was towards the end of his life, but I cannot prove that. I suspect Amon spent a good part of his youth engaged in idolatrous actions alongside his father. He clearly didn’t learn from his father about repentance and departing from the idols. He liked the idols and wanted to keep them. Instead of repenting from his sin, he multiplied it. In a way, God was merciful in allowing Amon to be assassinated, and the people in turn executed his killers. It wasn’t right to kill him, but God may have allowed it to give Amon’s little boy a chance to follow God and give him the opportunity to lead the nation in a last-minute revival while also fulfilling prophecy. That will be for 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.

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