I is for Infiltrate

Following my wife’s suggestion, I have been making the deliberate attempt to taste my food before habitually adding salt to it. Salt has always been a valuable part of our diet and necessary for survival. I have always appreciated the value of both physical and spiritual salt.

In biblical times salt was a valuable commodity used mainly to cure and preserve food. Roads were built to provide access to the salt trade, and salt was valued enough to be accepted as payment for labor. The Church has a spiritual understanding of the value of salt. Jesus compared his faithful followers to the salt of the earth.

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Jesus is calling us to be salt as a preserving agent to keep our society from moral decay.

If salt loses its savor it is no longer able to infiltrate and preserve. Losing this quality renders it flavorless lifeless and powerless. The meat and food we would like to preserve is easily infiltrated by bacteria and begins to decay. In the same way, we see a trend towards blandness and powerlessness in the moral influence of the Church. It seems no longer willing or able to infiltrate into the culture as a moral preserving agent.

In order to maintain saltiness, the true Church has had to shield itself from the influence of strange teachings and doctrine. However, it is now struggling with an insidious infiltration of anti-Christian teaching spearheaded by a cultural revolution wielding the weapon of political correctness. The Church is losing its salt.

Challenge of the Enlightened 

The Age of Enlightenment brought the Church face to face with scientific and political theories which directly challenged its validity and authority.

Gerald Hiestand and Todd A. Wilson authors of “ The Pastor Theologian” point out that

The effect of the Enlightenment on Christian theology cannot be overstated. The Enlightenment reshaped the scholarly and cultural consensus regarding the ontology of the Bible and the place of theology within the wider culture…the Bible was no longer a sacred text and theology was no longer the queen of the sciences” ¹

The intellectual battle over the creation account and Darwin’s theory of evolution was lost. Great institutions of learning formally created to prepare individuals for service in the Church and ministry were now transformed into bastions of liberal scientific and political thought.

The Church reacted slowly and only now within the past 50 years or so has there been an advance in apologetic teaching that addresses concerns of reason and science and proposes a defense of the Christian worldview. Great teachers have emerged such as Francis Schaeffer and C.S.Lewis. The list of popular apologist is growing and so is their influence. This is a good thing for the Church and it would behove us all to become acquainted with their work and their reasoning.

The Church is now responding to arguments which the Enlightenment brought forth. However postmodern culture and the spirit of anti-Christ continues its infiltration of the Church with false teaching. The division which theistic evolutionary thinking brought about is one of many battlegrounds where truth has lost ground.

The Second Wave

The Church culture, intimidated by the advancing political correctness movement, has yielded ground to secularisms lies and deception. The Churches on the forefront of engaging the culture with their newly acquired confidence in apologetics are finding many intellectuals are no longer interested in proving the existence of God or Christ. They have moved beyond these foundational arguments advancing their secular cultural agenda, using PC as a weapon to fend off the call to repentance by labeling it as hateful.

The strength of the leftist culture is not in its reasoning because engaged in a reasonable debate its principles are soundly refuted. The strength of the left is the weakness of those with whom it engages. Sara Silverman the liberal comedienne has created a new series “I Love You America” in which she reaches out to discover America and to affirm her liberalism. In a recent episode, she meets and dines with a “Christian” family from down south. She attempts to solidify her leftist ideals by asking opinions on gay-marriage and allows a few weak-kneed responses from some of the family members and then declares “I have news for you, you’re really a liberal”.  Granted the obvious bias of creator and producer of this series has made it essential to edit any effective rebuttal, I have seen the same weak response from church members regarding this issue and other morally damaging yet culturally acceptable trends.

No longer questioning the reality of God and the validity of the Church, the left has infiltrated the Church’s domain of influence and hijacked the truth. Redefining the concept of love and grace they seek acceptance and affirmation of a sinful lifestyle. Having successfully reconstructed the immature Christian’s understanding of a calling to a pure life in submission to Gods truth, they are now pursuing and promoting a lifestyle of sin within the church.

Any call to repentance from members or the leadership of the Church is met with offense and a repeated misapplication of God’s word. How many have heard the verses “judge not lest you be judged” or “God is love” and other verses misapplied or misappropriated?  Yet those who misapply scripture to their advantage reject clear teaching on the need for repentance.    Such as found in

1 Cor 6:9

 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous ones will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,”

Acts 2:30

Peter replied,” Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 

No one is without sin, even those who are saved, so our struggle includes not only a daily repentance but a loving supportive outreach to those who are in need as we are. This  daily repentance is only possible in the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

Called to Disciple

Darrow Miller of Discipling the Nations has often said

“If the church is not discipling the nation, the nation will disciple the church.”

There are many reasons that churches are not effective in discipling.  In a 2013 presentation to the Disciple Nations Alliance Forum in Brazil, Luis Sena gives one explanation.

“Most plans for churches have as their focus the “expansion” of their size (i.e. numbers as indicators of effectiveness). Driven by self-preservation, preachers and teachers don’t touch the hot issues of the culture, because they know they will be persecuted. The privileges they enjoy as organizations will be lost. They will be challenged by the surrounding culture. Church leaders (usually) won’t risk publicly applying truth because it might mean putting the ministry in danger. But, when a church adopts this paradigm, it has inadvertently forsaken the truth.” ²

Until recently the Church has had much influence in forming a strong freedom loving society built upon the foundation of family and morals guided by the authoritative word of God. Yet as always throughout history, the Church is being asked: “hath God really said?”

As the Church, our challenge today is and has always been to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that fills us. 1 Peter 3:15  This means being able to explain what and why we believe as well as live out what we believe. We should be able to speak to our culture in defense of the sanctity of life and the sanctity of God ordained marriage. We should be able to speak to our culture about how the pursuit and justification of sin bring destruction to the individual and to society. Many churches have fallen into apostasy resulting in a trend affirming gay-marriage and transgenderism. Unless we see repentance and revival other pathologies will soon follow.

2Timothy 3:1-7  “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

The Healing Repentance

Discipling the lost does not begin by embracing sin it begins by embracing the sinner with a call to godly sorrow and repentance. It is in repentance that the grace of God is found. A doctor sharing bad news with a patient is not offensive, it is a word of compassion that wakens the patient to his need for medicine.  Reaching individuals struggling to make sense of their lives and speaking truth to a deceived culture is a compassionate calling of the Church.

Laura Perry, a former transgender, shared her testimony with Life Site News explaining that because of the support and care of loving members of her study group “God opened my eyes to the truth….He made me realize that the transgender life was … a dead end.” Many like Laura have been rescued from the snare of transgenderism, homosexuality and adultery and are actively sharing their testimony. They turned to God and sought Him with all their heart soul and mind.

Acts 26:20that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” To repent means to change your mind and its proof is in a change of action.

Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ….Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.”³

A sorrow for sin and a desire to be restored, to be made whole, is what is needed. This is the role of the church to preach salvation in the name of Jesus and to make disciples of all nations.

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Jesus offers forgiveness.

John 8:11  “go and sin no more”

Jesus offers grace and power to live in peace with God.

2 Cor 12:9 “My grace is sufficient”

Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

We have no idea how much time we have left to save those who are lost to sin. So the call today is to engage with the knowledge we have in apologetics and to clearly stand with conviction and the power of the Holy Spirit upon the word of truth, which God has given us. The Bible speaks with clarity, there are no hidden meanings, mixed messages or private interpretations which allow for sin. Preached in love, God’s word brings conviction. Some will react to their conviction and deem it offensive. If it leads to repentance then it will redeem the once offended.  We will hear them declare as Laura Perry has “I am living proof that God’s love is greater than the devil’s lies,” 

We have no greater duty than to stand for truth in all areas of life and to live it and speak it clearly in love.

Pass the salt, please!

Source

¹ https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?index=books&linkCode=qs&keywords=9780310516996

² http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2013/06/03/luis-sena-why-the-church-is-not-discipling-the-nations/

³  https://www.gotquestions.org/repentance.html

Other Resources

https://stream.org/salt-needs-get-salty/

http://www.notthesamelove.com/testimony/testimony-of-an-ex-transgender-ex-gay

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/she-tried-to-change-her-gender-but-spiritial-awakening-brought-her-back-to

http://www.apologetics315.com/2009/06/100-christian-apologists.html

https://pjmedia.com/faith/2017/01/09/how-gay-marriage-is-infiltrating-evangelicals-reading-of-the-bible/

http://www.disciplenations.org/

http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/balancing-grace-and-truth-on-the-lgbt-issue-interview-with-author-caleb-kaltenbach

H is for Hope

Millions of people across the nation observed the recent American Solar Eclipse. For Christian believers, several biblical verses came to mind.  These verses have to do with the signs of the times and the coming fulfillment of the believers hope in Christ. Sharing scripture on Twitter, Franklin Graham tweeted

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:28

The tumultuous events in the US and worldwide punctuated by the eclipse draw us to reflect on prophecy as reminders of the hope we share as believers. Although there are great debates among Christian scholars as to the real meaning of many of these prophecies, this does not dilute or distort the reality of our hope built upon the word of God and established in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

The Divine Message Of The August Eclipse

The Sun Will Be Darkened: A Brief Survey of Apocalyptic Symbolism

In this post, we want to invite you to explore hope, what it is and where it is found. This is not a comprehensive journey through the concept of hope. However, the links below will guide you to sources where hope and its implications are examined in detail and perhaps you will choose to make your life a journey of hope!

In his article “Hope” J. Hampton Keathley III, Th.M. graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary defines hope as a feeling, an expectation, a desire for something to happen or to be true.

“Hope may refer to the activity of hoping, or to the object hoped for—the content of one’s hope. By its very nature, hope stresses two things: (a) futurity, and (b) invisibility. It deals with things we can’t see or haven’t received or both. It is a confident expectation of something we cannot see or that we have not received yet.”

The Christian believers hope is built on trust in God and His word. The humanist/naturalist hope is built on trust in reason and matter alone.

In the article “What About Hope?” at The Humanist.com, Lawrence Rifkin writes about his inability to provide an answer to a middle-aged woman when she asked the question “What about hope?” The answers Lawrence presented her with were bright and clear and positive but left the woman unconvinced. After another attempt at answering the question, Lawrence came to the conclusion that he could convincingly present humanism as a source of hope.

Here are a few of his answers to the question.

The humanist worldview is filled with hope. We may be made of matter, but we decide what matters.” 

“Humanism is about possibilities. Without some grand supernatural plan or destiny, the future is open. Possibility means the door for hope and change and goodness is open.”

“The fact that we can try to change ourselves, other people, and the world—and make it a better place through reason and compassion—is a fundamental wonder of being human, and can be celebrated. It is a cause for hope and wisdom.”

“So let’s admit straight out: humanism is not about hope. It’s about facing the world as it actually exists and making the best of it.”

The clue to humanists/naturalists inability to give any human hope is clear, it is all about the human. It denies the reality of God and our relationship to Him. These beliefs set us adrift in the cosmos of human confusion and delusion, by abandoning the very anchor of our souls, in fact denying that we are souls.

The confusion rest in the fact that without a comprehensive objective guide to understanding life, meaning and morality we are left to create our own. The delusion is the fact that many believe we are capable of deciding “what matters” and what is good and have no need of looking outside the box for answers.

The track record of humans living inside the box without any help is tragic. One only has to look at the Holocaust to realize that in the absence of God, morality is but a human convention, morality is subjective and non- binding. There is no hope in the foundational principles of humanism because it denies the source of hope and that is the supernatural reality of God. God is not contained within our box of reason and nature. He is the creator of reason and nature and beyond Him there is nothing else.

Hope for the humanists is not a reality because by definition hope is invisible and they will not allow themselves to hope in something unseen.

Romans 8:24

“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance” NET

It is like two captains wives watching from the cliffs over the sea. One sees her husband’s ship and declares “there he is” her hope has been fulfilled. The other waits in hope that her husband’s ship is close behind yet cannot see it but her daughter who is at higher vantage point behind her yells out “ I see him, he is coming! ”. Will this wife deny what her daughter saw and leave the cliffs without hope?

This is what the Word of God does for us – it yells out to us “I see him, he is coming”.

Rev 1:7

“Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! ”

Without a belief in the Creator and His Word, we are left with an empty hope in human wisdom. Humanist believe that humans are capable of doing good without God. Their hope is misplaced because of the fact humans who do not acknowledge God are without hope.

Can we be good without God?

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-be-good-without-god

Romans 3:10-12

“No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”

J.Hampton Keathley writes

 “There are a number of warnings in Scripture against putting our hope in anything other than the Lord because these things will leave us ashamed, frustrated, disappointed, and in ruin.”

Job 8:11-15

“Can the papyrus grow up without marsh? Can the rushes grow without water? While it is still green and not cut down, Yet it withers before any other plant. So are the paths of all who forget God, And the hope of the godless will perish, Whose confidence is fragile, And whose trust a spider’s web. He trusts in his house, but it does not stand; He holds fast to it, but it does not endure.”

The first of several points that Keathley makes is that “hope depends on knowing the Word of God”

Romans 15:4

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Colossians 1:5-6

“because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;”

Proverbs 30:5 tells us that

“Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.”

New Living Translation

2 Tim 3:14-17

“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”    New Living Translation

https://thehumanist.com/magazine/january-february-2012/first-person/what-about-hope

Key Summary Points

The humanist/naturalist has no hope because he:

  • Has no belief in the supernatural
  • Does not acknowledge God
  • Has no belief in the afterlife
  • Will not recognize the fallen nature of man
  • Will not recognize the promises of God
  • Will not recognize the life of hope attested to in Gods Word past, present and future
  • Attempts to do good without God
  • Denies the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Denies eternal life with or without Christ

https://bible.org/article/hope

The believer has hope because he

  • Believes in the supernatural
  • Acknowledges God
  • Believes in the afterlife
  • Recognizes the fallen nature of man
  • Recognizes the promises of God
  • Recognizes the life of hope attested to in Gods Word past, present and future
  • Attempts to do good with the power of the Holy Spirit of God
  • Affirms the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Affirms eternal life with or without Christ

Where is your hope?

 

Luke 21:28

The Divine Message Of The August Eclipse                                     http://www.unsealed.org/2017/06/the-divine-message-of-august-eclipse.html

The Sun Will Be Darkened: A Brief Survey of Apocalyptic Symbolism by Jeffrey T. McCormack Delivered 05/28/17 http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/topical/sun-will-be-darkened-apocalyptic-symbolism.htm

“Hope” J. Hampton Keathley III,

“What About Hope” by Lawrence Rifkin                               https://thehumanist.com/magazine/january-february-2012/first-person/what-about-hope

Romans 8:24

Rev 1:7

“Can We Be Good Without God?”  by William Lane Craig                                               http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-be-good-without-god

Romans 3:10-12

Job 8:11-15

Romans 15:4

Colossians 1:5-6

Proverbs 30:5

2 Tim 3:14-17

 

Department of Weights and Measures and Truth

by Maurice M Hebert

 

As I stood in the checkout line adjusting the goods I had purchased in my carry box, a young man excused himself passing through to gain access to the measuring scale behind the counter. He carried a modest size box a bit larger than a shoe box. It was bound in leather and appeared to have been in use for many generations. He lifted the two brass latches on either side and opened the box to reveal uniform blocks of shiny metal. It was apparently a set of standard weights.The care with which they have been handled and stored over the years revealed a sense of awe and respect for these shiny blocks of metal. I am guessing they were made of either polished hardened or stainless steel. They surely held some value beyond the price of whatever they were made of for they were conspicuously cradled within felt lined compartments.

I watched as he picked up a handful of eight blocks or so and placed them on the scale and checked the numbers that came up on the digital readout. He moved the whole group of them around to different positions on the metal plate noting the numbers at each position. He soon finished the ritual and gently placed all the blocks back in their snug compartments, closed the box and left as discreetly as he had arrived.

Completing the checkout process for my box of goods I pondered this ritual and was intrigued by how much effort we place upon insisting that all of our material dealings with each other are kept fair and square. We place such great value upon honest trade in weights and measures. We do not like to be cheated in any amount for goods we trade or purchase. Then I imagined what it would be like if we placed the same value upon our relationships with each other, with God and the truth.

Is there a standard by which we can know and gauge the truth? If there is none, should there be? How do we know we are not being cheated? There is no other book that explains the truth as consistently and concisely as the Bible.  Norman Geisler writes in his article “The Inerrancy of the Bible”

“The Scriptures declare emphatically that “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18, NASB). Paul speaks of the “God who does not lie” (Titus 1:2, NIV). He is a God who, even if we are faithless, “He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13, NKJV). God is truth (see John 14:6), and so is His Word. Jesus said to the Father, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17, NKJV). The psalmist exclaimed, “The entirety of Your word is truth” (Ps. 119:160, NKJV).”

Many of us have witnessed the disastrous effects of lies in history and in our personal lives. We balance and gauge our trust in people according to past history, appearances, experience, reputation and circumstance. Is there someone we can fully trust to tell us the truth at all times so we may live our lives in that relationship without fear of being cheated? Yes, there is, search Him out, His name is Jesus.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 

http://biblehub.com/john/14-6.htm

http://whatisthegospeltruth.com/

https://www.namb.net/apologetics/the-inerrancy-of-the-bible

Review of “La La Land” or The Heartbreak of Fulfilling Your Dreams without Love

 

by Maurice M Hebert
week8
Illustration by Megan Tennant

I typically do not write reviews for films. However, I do tend to examine the film and try to sieve out the overall message that it is trying to convey. A good story has a message that is made clear as it unfolds.

The message I understood from the movie “La La Land” cannot be explained without a spoiler alert. If you have not seen the movie and plan on it, please do not read this. If you have seen the movie and enjoyed it as I did, you are welcome to read on. If you have not seen the movie and plan not to ever see the movie, I can only say you are missing one of the seldom seen sparkles from the “city of stars”.

The movie opens with a traffic jam of individuals enamored with the allure of dreams and the promise of love. Our characters Mia a coffee barista aspires to become an actress and Sebastian a jazz pianist dreams of rescuing jazz by opening his own jazz club. The two meet several times inadvertently and slowly fall for each other as they begin to share their dreams and aspirations. The songs, music and dance sequences are enjoyable and give the film a quality of joy and hope not seen often enough. Hope fades however as Mia and Sebastian both decide that it is best for them to pursue their dreams rather than maintain their love. Love is set aside for something better.

Mia achieves her dream after moving to Paris and Sebastian achieves his while Mia is away. Five years later when Mia returns we find that she is traveling with a man and her little daughter. We are left to assume that Mia married this man and had a child.

In the final sequence, Mia sits with her man in the jazz club Sebastian has finally opened and contemplates what could have been as she listens to Sebastian play his homage to love on the piano. We see a dream like review of the history of this couple play out with Mia and Sebastian falling in love and he leaves his dream aside to follow Mia to Paris. Mia achieves her dream and she and Sebastian have a son together and enjoy life and end up sitting together in a jazz club where her man plays a lament on the piano instead of Sebastian.

For most of us, the dream sequence is the apparent happy ending. The dreams and aspirations of both Mia and Sebastian should be fulfilled and it appears that it could only end happily this way by affirming the value and hope that love brings.

I will leave you to answer the following questions. After Mia and Sebastian realize how much they loved each other why did they not get married and continue following their dreams?  Are there not examples of dreams fulfilled within the context of love? Why was the love between Mia and Sebastian so unimportant that neither apparently attempted to stay in touch with each other? Was five years too long to wait? Were they truly in love?

The message of this film is important and should be explored. It leaves the viewer questioning which is more important, love or fulfilling your dream. It leaves you wondering if falling in love is compatible with following your dream. Do you have to make that choice? Or can you choose both?

When dreams and personal ambition discount the power of love, much is lost.

“Love is patient and is kind; love does not envy. Love does not brag, is not proud, does not behave itself inappropriately, does not seek its own way, is not irritable, does not keep a record of wrongs; does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Cor 13: 4-7P

Megan Tennant is an illustrator and entrepreneur. Check out her weekly comic where the above illustration came from at http://cardigansncoffee.blogspot.com/

F is for Faith

What is Faith?

Faith is the personal and active expression of what we believe is true, it is trust and hope in the physical and/or the invisible based upon reason and knowledge. Our faith experience begins at birth. We bond with our parents, mother first and then our father. Being so dependent and having little choice, we develop a faith in them knowing they will provide our every need. We cry when the needs are not met and are comforted as they are. This faith grows and is based upon past experience, knowledge and love. Good parents will want to assure their child that they love them and can be trusted to provide for their needs and the faith of the child in them is justified and desired.

The great theologian and philosopher St Augustine said “Thou hast created us for thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee.” We are created with an emptiness that must be filled with something. In filling our innate spiritual need we turn to the supernatural and put our faith in things invisible. In the days of Nero the infamous ruler of Rome, the Apostle Paul visits and debates with the teachers and leaders of thought. He sees that the people have many gods who control or represent many things. They have established for themselves a god for the river, a god for thunder, god of the sun, moon and sky. Their daily conversations where about pleasing the multiple gods they had put their faith in. Paul points at the inscription they had for the unknown god, and declares this is the God of creation, the God of all things seen and unseen, this is the one true God. He tells them of Jesus Christ and many become believers. Paul’s faith was made complete and effective when he realized as Jesus had said, there is but one way to a relationship with God and that is through His son Jesus who is Emmanuel, or God with us. Today as in Paul’s day many continue to insist they have a way to please their god and a way to ultimate fulfillment or nirvana. Many of us live in doubt and fear that we have not been as morally good as we would like to be and anguish over our relationship with God. There are those who count it all foolishness, denying the existence of a moral law giver claiming moral relativity while pointing out the moral failings of others, picking and choosing the absolute of the day. All of us have a desire to fill the void of the soul. Faith in Jesus affirms that God has reached out to man and in His love has done the work for us.

Christians come to faith in God based upon our understanding of scripture and the revelation of Jesus. As we read through the Bible we come to passages that inform us of the reality of Jesus and His life death and resurrection. Based upon evidence, facts and reason we build up knowledge and assurance that Christ is Lord and Savior. It is by trusting in what you know based upon evidence, facts and reason that you develop a personal relationship with God. This relationship is only possible by investing yourself in what you know is true. In today’s culture biblical faith is under assault and abused in many ways. We will look briefly at where the current dangers are in several areas of the life of faith.

 

 People of Faith

As we grow we place our faith in people, family and friends, doctors and teachers, churches and institutions and government. Each of these sincerely want to assure us they can be trusted to provide for our needs. Historically many have suffered at the hands of those who manipulate and abuse this faith. Those who survived the latest communist and statist regimes of persecution, tyranny, death and suffering attest to the fact that they had mistakenly succumbed to the promises of a brighter future where all the needs of the populace would be met. They had misplaced their faith.

There is a world movement gaining momentum embraced by world leaders to unite all people of faith regardless of what their faith is in. We read a warning in the Bible from 2 Timothy 3:1-17 that speaks of deception in the last days.

“They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

He continues  “They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith.”

The Christian faith is exclusive of all other faith claims. We must stand firm in this distinction and lovingly point out where the truth claims of other faiths miss the mark. For this reason through the ages Christians have suffered persecution.

“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.

“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Tim 3:12-16

In following the faith that we know is true we are confronted with truth claims from other faiths. We must be prepared to give them a reason for what we believe and allow the Holy Spirit to complete the work in bringing them to a saving faith in Christ Jesus. One major distinction of our faith vs all others is that we are saved by grace not by works.

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph 2:8-9

This is a concept that is not embraced in the personal sense by any other faith, or religion including but not limited to Catholics, Jews, and Muslims. This truth is certainly not understood in the eastern religions and philosophies and even some supposedly Christian denominations and other faith institutions such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

Faith and Freedom

For the Christian a secure faith is found in the liberty of Christ. As the recipients of a supernatural redemption we are free to live out the forgiveness, mercy and grace Christ has brought us. Our faith is in the one who set us free from bondage to our fallen nature and to death. Thus the Christian may

“Stand firm therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and don’t be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Gal 5:1.

We are no longer tossed to and fro by the deceptive propaganda of the oppressive state which seeks only to control and build it’s empire of power and lust, it’s ultimate goal governing the whole world. It is no wonder that Christians suffer persecution from those who are not likely to ever win over our faith. Our freedom and faith in Christ is a threat and an obstacle to the globalist agenda. The followers of other religions whose faith is placed in deities or beliefs other than the state are a stumbling block as well. Thus Communist China’s crackdown on Tibetan Buddhist.

Realizing that completely removing people of faith from the planet is not possible and will always bring about a negative reaction in the form of rebellion and revolution or a state of constant war, these wise leaders are cautiously infiltrating all faiths.

In his article “Patriotism, Piety, and The Perfect Storm” Michael D. Peabody writes how many can be deceived by leaders who usurp the credibility of faith and use it to their advantage in building up the central powers of the state. He gives the example of how Hitler merged Christian themes with nationalism “Hitler had wrapped himself in the nation’s flag and spoken to their Christianity, and though he may not have followed that faith himself, it was a tool he used to persuade and launch his nation on a hellish path.”

Peabody continues with a statement that must be understood as we mature in the faith and we disciple others.

“If religion is to survive in an authoritarian state, it must remain shallow and symbolic, eschewing the intellectual and uplifting the emotional. A would-be dictator finds his greatest strength in associating unquestioning faith with clueless obedience to fabled patriotic prerogative.”

The current tide of relativism paired with a mistaken notion of freedom has made the Christian message more difficult to explain and thus many have abandoned the effort. Our nation no longer enjoys the benefits of a society nurtured and immersed in a Christian consensus. The Marxists proponents of their form of social justice take the emotionally charged new Christian believers hostage and recruit them into building an ever more dependent populace. These leaders have little understanding or need for the true message of Christianity put in place policies and programs which on the surface appear reasonable and charitable yet tear apart the banner of a free and responsible society.

Considering President Obama’s rejection of the Founding vision of the United States, Author Rick Pearcey reminds us of the words of Francis Schaeffer;

“When the Christian consensus died, it left a vacuum, and this will tend to be filled by an elite to form an authoritarian state. When we speak of an authoritarian state, we must not think of the model of Hitler or Stalin, but rather a manipulative authoritarian state. The governments of the world have at their disposal forms of manipulation beyond anything the world has ever known before.”

— Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? DVD, Episode 6, “The Scientific Age”

It is well that we Christians guard and focus our faith in Christ. We must consider that as we allow educational and cultural institutions and government policies to assume more control over our welfare, and lately even our opinions, thoughts and beliefs, we essentially hand over our birthright for a mess of pottage.

In maintaining our faith in Christ we must be alert to deception and discerning of the intents of those we place in positions of power as our representatives. Our faith is indeed a reasonable faith and it has grown and matured and manifested itself in the creation of a form of government like no other. Let us be aware of the consequences of resting quietly in the comfort of our reasonable faith. For the needy world around us is being called to challenge the beliefs of the past and are chopping away at the Judeo Christian values upon which this nation was founded. We are facing an assault from two fronts. One will use our faith deceptively to establish themselves in power and the other will challenge our faith as they seek total liberation from the chains they perceive our faith has bound them in. Are we prepared?

Faith and the Intellect

In the recent past the church has been ignoring the intellectual and embracing the emotional. The focus of teaching has mostly been focused on evangelism with less emphasis on discipleship, engaging the intellect and developing apologetic reasoning. An effective vibrant faith is built with all of the faculties of reason and a spirit filled heart of gratitude and joy, in a sense a Holy Ghost union of the heart and mind, of love and reason.

William Lane Craig writes on the importance of maintaining Christian scholarship at all levels in order to preserve our Christian heritage and to be salt and light in our culture.

“The average Christian does not realize that there is an intellectual war going on in the universities and in the professional journals and scholarly societies. Christianity is being attacked as irrational or obsolete, and millions of students, our future generation of leaders, have absorbed that viewpoint.” Read more

Having absorbed the irrational secular logic of the times and embracing cultural relativism these children are barely approachable with the gospel. For they have been taught that the way forward is progressivism buoyed by the affirmation that absolutes are the cause of strife in all relationships.

Rather than dedicate themselves to the pursuit of truth they are discouraged from this endeavor by being taught that truth does not really matter and claims to truth lead to violence. Craig references this quote from Allen Bloom’s book “The Closing of the American Mind”

“The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all.

As he describes today’s church as being in intellectual neutral, Craig exhorts us to be engaged in this cultural battle at all fronts.

 “But finally, it is not just Christian scholars and pastors who need to be intellectually engaged if the Church is to make an impact in our culture. Christian laymen, too, must become intellectually engaged.”

 

 

 

Unreasonably Sharing a Reasonable Faith  

A reasonable faith would be one that is guided or affirmed by past experience or knowledge. One may have faith in an individual’s likelihood of responding a certain way in a situation. One may come to assist another in difficult circumstances without hesitation. A person may be relied upon to be supportive in times of need. You may have faith that your uncle will lend you money based on the fact he has done so before.

A reasonable faith may be in regards to nature and physics. Because of past experience you may be confident in assuming that a leap from any height will result in you dropping to the ground, the effect of gravity. However that faith would be tested as you board a plane to fly over the ocean to visit your relatives. Past experience reminds you that objects by nature are pulled to the ground. Your knowledge informs you that working within the laws of nature one can fly with the appropriately designed machinery and equipment. However when we look at Jesus we see that in many circumstance he operated outside the realm of our understanding, of our past experience and knowledge of nature.

Your reasonable faith is within the construct of past experience and knowledge circumstances. It would be unreasonable to expect to be able to walk upon the surface of the water like Peter did as described in the Bible. However he did! I have a faith that allows me to believe this story is true.

Against all understanding of past experience, knowledge and common sense, Peter did what no one but God could do, he walked on water. You may say in this instance Peter had an unreasonable faith.

Many Christians are at this place where Peter was, teetering between reason and un-reason. Our reasonable faith is based upon trust that God’s word is true. It has been proven true by its effect in our lives and in the lives of those who have walked before us. It is proven true by its accurate and unquestionable description of the nature of man and his state of depravity. It is proven by the numbers of prophecy fulfilled and the historical testimony of eyewitnesses by both friend and foe. So we may be deemed reasonable by saying we walk by a reasonable faith.

Was Peter walking a reasonable faith when he walked upon the water towards Jesus? I believe it was this very question he asked himself when he began to flounder and sink. Reaching his hand up to Christ in total surrender Peter realized that his faith in Christ had to be one that is beyond reason and comprehension it had to be complete and childlike. It had to be like that of a child who trust his father to catch him as he leaps into the pool. This childlike faith is based upon trust that is formed by past experience and love. Was Peter’s relationship with Christ such that he had reason to believe that he could do the un-reasonable? Could he place himself at the mercy of the natural world to experience the reality of the supernatural world that Christ himself created? I believe Peter was able to venture beyond his reasonable faith only when focusing his whole being upon the reality of who he was in relation to his Creator, Lord and Savior.

As we grow in our knowledge and experience of the reality of our Lord and Savior, we will grow in our trust in Him and our love for Him. Each step we take that brings us closer to Him will allow us to walk in those places which may seem unreasonable to others but are perfectly natural for the believer. We will be empowered in our heart and mind as we share the reasonableness of our faith in the gospel and the grace of our Savior.

In today’s world generational distinctions have occurred in a rapid pace. Intellectually, the major distinction is the exalted ideals of relativism and the rejection of absolutes. We see generations living a life of inconsistent morals and reason.  As Christians we are called to speak the truth in love. This unconditional love is what trust is built upon. However, the culture around us has been taught to view truth claims that argue in opposition to current norms, values and morals as being hateful. Our challenge is to continue to speak the gospel truth in love. Reaching out to others today in this fashion with an understanding of their need for a Savior may appear as unreasonable as walking on water. However, the gospel message and its supernatural power will be evident for all, as we do this in love, maintaining our focus upon the person of Christ as Creator, Lord and Savior!

2 Timothy 3:1-17

2 Tim 3:12-16

Eph 2:8-9

Video – A Personal Faith: From Doubt to Conviction | William Lane Craig, PhD

Gal 5:1

“Patriotism, Piety, and The Perfect Storm” Michael D. Peabody

Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? DVD, Episode 6, “The Scientific Age”

Rick Pearcey  http://www.pearceyreport.com/blog/2010/12/schaeffer_quote.php

Read more http://www.reasonablefaith.org/in-intellectual-neutral#ixzz4S3hCXnZA

“The Closing of the American Mind” Allen Bloom

Video-Is Faith A Blind Leap? oneminuteapologist

 

D is For Determinism

Determinism is the idea that events unfold in a predetermined systematic consequential way that is beyond our control. Some call it fate or destiny, others karma and some God’s will. The CARM ministry web site defines Determinism as

“the philosophical view that every event in the universe is caused and controlled by natural laws. This would dictate that there is no free will in humans and that all events are the result of natural and physical laws.”

It is an interesting thing that I came to the place of decision in this series of major terms of apologetics. I had the opportunity to make choices along the way. I am writing this series using the alphabet as my guide. The first three topics were fairly easy to confirm. The decision for this one came down to choosing to write on the concept of design or on determinism.

I had the opportunity to make a choice. That statement describes our understanding of the concept of freewill, which is directly related to determinism. As I ramble about these two concepts trying to make sense of them, I would like to point out that other wiser philosophers have wrestled with this as well. You will find links to the various types of determinism as you read on.

As Christians we understand the Bible as the word of God. In His word He describes this relationship between determinism and freewill in many places. Beginning with Genesis we see that He has created us with a freewill.

Genesis 1:26-28

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

In these verses we see that God created us in His image. As we study and look upon the characteristics and attributes of God we see that we have a freewill and we are commanded to rule and work and create and multiply within the confines of a godly nature. God cannot do anything outside of His Godly nature He would not be God.

Our calling at creation was to live eternally within the godly nature God has given and to do this willingly as free agents enjoying all the blessings of a god nature freewill.

Genesis 2:16-17 ESV

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

This passage reveals a choice that results in a determined outcome. There are types and levels of determinist that look upon freewill with varying amounts of liberty. Hard Determinist argue there is no freewill and all our actions are determined and thus we are not able to do other than what has been determined. This is refuted in the outline below.

At the following site you will find a chart and a very good explanation of the levels of determinism and a refutation of Hard Determinism with an argument favoring Compatibilism.determinismxfreewill-svg1

Created as we were originally before the fall, we were of one nature. Our nature was in the likeness of God. We were allowed to make all of our choices within the framework of that nature. There were multitudes of possible choices all with consequential effects within that nature.

A second nature was introduced at the fall by that which is in direct opposition to God and His creation. We see that nature appear as Eve falls for the lie of the serpent. The freewill choices Adam and Eve had are distorted when obedience to God was made to look restrictive and that God was keeping us from something good.

In this disobedience the choice was made to open up a whole new dimension of awareness and possibilities. However that choice came with a pre-determined consequence that was ignored and overlooked by Adam and Eve and that consequence was death.

This would be considered a deterministic outcome. Within the realm of these two natures regardless of what decisions or choices are made the inevitable outcome will always be death.

From this point on, all of humanity was allowed to work within these two realms, we could choose to live life within the God nature or the anti-God nature. Our choices would always be distorted, compromised and colored by the desires of our newly acquired sin nature. However hard we tried to maintain our lives within the God nature, the anti-God nature would overrule because of the fact that the original choice resulted in the determined outcome of death.

Now we can look at the many verses of scripture and understand the determinism that appears along with our freewill. We can understand the futility of living a life by all the Godly rules and yet still be overpowered by death.  We can get a better idea of the universal aspect of salvation through Jesus Christ and the cost of being restored to our original nature.

Some verses on Determinism and Freewill

Deuteronomy 11:26  “I am setting before you today…”

Deuteronomy 30:1 -19 “ the blessing and the curse…”

Proverbs 11:19 “ He who is steadfast in righteousness..”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but…”

Joshua 24:15  “Choose this day whom you shall serve…”

Galatians 5:1 “Stand therefore in the liberty…”

Compatibilism

What is Compatibilism?

The next two resources give an explanation of how Determinism and Freewill are Compatible.

 

In reflecting on Determinism and Compatibilism I have come to realize that the choices I make are either motivated by the sin nature or the Spirit of Christ. Many times I find my prayers are to make the right choice not out of fear of a determined condemnation but of love for the one who has rescued me from fear and death, and that this love would rule my heart and mind always.

These verse are helpful in reminding me there is a way to choose the right path.

Romans 8:1-2

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Philippians4:8

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

 

 

Can You Relate?

Does God exist? Romans 1:18-32 tells us that “what may be known about God is plain…..so that they are without excuse”  The question I found myself asking many times in the past was “what is God like?” “How do I get to know Him better?” “ Do I want to know Him better?” I am certain my friend Sal has had the same questions. So I asked him, “have you always been a Christian?”

I was not surprised to learn that like me he had been raised Roman Catholic. He explained that while in college, he met and dated his future wife. She attended an evangelical church. She asked him to come to her church one evening to listen to her sing. “Well” he responded, “I’ve already attended Mass” and she said firmly, “This is not an obligation but an invitation. It would make me happy if you came to hear me sing”. “So to please her” he said,”I went to her church, heard her sing, met her friends and after that experience I never went back to the Catholic Church.

His life changing event mirrored my own. My wife and I made friends at a CMA Church play group our children attended. We soon realized that these people had a relationship with God that was not born of a sense of obligation but in response to an invitation.

Jesus said “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28

Sal and I wrestled with the idea of God, not so much about His existence, rather it was about relating to Him. Our view of God and how to approach Him was distorted. We had a bad relationship with God. ¹

This may be difficult for some people to accept but a true relationship with God does not come by obligation, the works of man, ritual or tradition but by the cross of Christ. Col 1:20

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

According to Jesus a right relationship with God is vital ;

“On Judgement Day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you….’ Matt 7:22-23

Even those who have done so much good have placed the foundation of their faith on works, obligation, ritual and tradition rather than the intimate relationship that God has designed for us to desire.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. Psalm 73:25

We tend to design our relational approach or non- approach to God according to our view of God. These distortions range from passive indifference to fanatical terrorism. Skye Jethani writes

“a great many people have settled for a darker existence… in which they relate to God in a way that leaves them discontent”.²
pg3 -“With”

He explains that most people mistakenly relate to God from four postures of religious life, spending their lives trying to live  “over, under, from, or for God” never having been given a more beautiful vision of a “life with God” pg13 –“With” ³

How about you? Do you have a vision of living life with God? Can you relate?

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2011/october-online-only/ur-video-skye-jethani-on-treasuring-god.html

  Matt 11:28
¹Notes from lecture “The Psychology of Disbelief” Dr.John Coe ACC2014
  Isaiah 1:18
  Col 1:20
  John 14:6
  Matt7:22-23
  Psalm 73:25
²  Skye Jethani, “With” pg3
³  Skye Jethani, “With” pg 13

Life with Meaning

Meaning in life is only understandable by knowing God and immortality. Does a painting know it’s painter, a book it’s author? Does a human being know it’s creator? Do we have a way to know the creator? The Bible will tell us the way. It is the word of God, proven in history, fact and experience to be trustworthy.

Skeptical? Let us assume that it speaks truth, and perhaps you will find that it answers our questions most reasonably and better than any other source.

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, explains the history of our relationship with God, who created all things declaring them good. “let us make man in our image” Genesis 1:26  This is the first glimpse of the trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit existent in one relational and personal God. Humans were created for relationship with God. We need to be in relationship with God to know meaning and life.

St. Augustine writes of God “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” – Confessions Book 1 ¹

C.S.Lewis -The Weight of Glory ²

A sincere search for meaning through a relationship with God would lead us to Jesus Christ, who said

“No man come to the father but through me.” John 14:6 . Jesus, the author of life, knows death is the enemy of life. Any meaning we think we have is vanity if we end in death.

Adam and Eve had a relationship with God. “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31 They were created to be immortal beings. “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:17

Adam and Eve knew only good, they knew no evil until disobeying God. Genesis 3:7 Their decision to rebel, brought sin and corruption and death into the world.  Genesis 3:17. They became confused, unable to fully know God, meaning and eternal life.

“Thus by one man sin and death came into the world.” Romans 5:12.

We have since been trying in vain, with all forms of religion “to get ourselves back to the garden”.      Lyrics from “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell ³

But God, in His mercy and grace made a way to restore us to relationship, meaning and life in Jesus Christ,who said:

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved… I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. John 10:10

Jesus gives us the meaning of life in this declaration, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matt 22:37

Adam brought us sin and death but Jesus brings us righteousness meaning and life. We need to know God’s Love and His gift of life in Jesus to understand the meaning of life.

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Cor 15:21-22

¹ Confessions, Book 1, by St. Augustine – Cyber Library

² C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory – Video from Crosswalk

³ Lyrics –Artists: Joni Mitchell “Woodstock”

Dr. John Lennox  – brilliant presentation https://youtu.be/88WMQVpHZCU