Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Explaining Repentance to an Ignorant Lost Person

I've been preaching the gospel for decades in one of the most difficult places in the world.  I have been doing it a lot and with a lot of different types of people.  Obedience to the Great Commission does help one grow.  I have also preached through every book of the Bible verse by verse -- every one -- some in long expositional series.  So as I write this post, it comes out of all of that study and all of that experience.

When I preach the gospel to someone, when I'm done, he understands it.  He acknowledges it.  He knows it is true.  He understand it, he gets it, and he is ready either to believe or not believe it.  When I'm done, I know I preached the gospel.  I'm satisfied with that.  By the way, later today, I'm going out to explain this for two hours, door to door.  Today.

Last Friday, Thomas Ross posted a presentation of repentance for a Baptist church constitution or doctrinal statement.  One criticism was that it was too complicated or even messed up because it was too much.  The implication was that evangelists should leave it out, to keep the gospel simple, that is, the gospel isn't simple enough when repentance is included.  What I've heard in the past as a critique of repentance in the gospel is that it front loads works.  I'll explain how it doesn't in this post.  It's not that difficult to explain, or it's not complicated.  It's simple.

I'm going to write out what I say on repentance in a gospel presentation.  I'm talking to someone who doesn't understand it.  He's ignorant of it, so the poster person for 'let's not have it be too complicated.'  Every one of those, I've found, it isn't too complicated.  They may not like it, but they definitely understand it. I've never seen it where it is an intellectual issue.  It is always volitional. My opinion, and I say opinion, is that it is a volitional issue with the people criticizing the inclusion of repentance in the gospel too.  They don't want it because they want what they want, not what God wants.

I explain the gospel in four points as my base explanation, so I'm coming up to the fourth point, which is where I explain repentance.  Here's how it sounds.  I've done this thousands of times.

Just because Jesus died for everyone doesn't mean that everyone goes to heaven.  For what Jesus did to apply to someone, there is one response that is required to what He did.  He did everything that needed to be done, but there is a response that someone must make in order to be saved.  I call it a response, because it isn't a work.  Salvation isn't a work and doesn't come by works.  No amount of works can get rid of your sins.  The only way for your sins to be forgiven, removed, washed away is by means of one response to what Jesus did, and it isn't works.  [This is where I included works verses and their explanation.  I'm not going to do that in this post.]

OK, so salvation isn't by works.  The one response to what Jesus did through His death, burial, and resurrection is to believe in Jesus Christ.  The fourth thing that we need to know is 'believe in Jesus Christ.'  We know it is to believe in Jesus Christ, and I want to show you that, but an important question is, what does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ?  Many people say that they believe in Jesus Christ in this country, and they don't really believe in Him.  We know that.  So what does that mean, to believe in Jesus Christ?  First of all, however, we must believe in Jesus Christ, and I want to show you some verses on that.  [This is where I show verses on believing in Jesus Christ.  I show several and explain them, three of which are in John 3.]

OK, so we can see that if we believe in Jesus Christ, we have eternal life.  But again, what does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ.  Part of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ is to repent.  Let me explain.  In Luke 13:3 and 5, Jesus said the same thing twice.  He said, "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."  Twice, once in verse 3 and then in verse 5, Jesus said (quote the verse again).  So Jesus says, "If you don't repent, then you are going to perish."  In John 3, remember, He said, "If you believe, you won't perish."  If you don't repent, you will perish, but if you believe, you won't perish."  Repent and believe are two sides to the same coin.

Someone who does not repent, does not believe, and someone who does not believe, does not repent.  You can't repent without believing and you can't believe without repenting.  These people Jesus talked to thought that other people had perished because those people had done really bad things, that made them deserving of perishing.  Jesus is saying, no, unless you repent, you all deserve to perish.

To repent is to turn.  Let's say that this wall right here (or this railing or whatever you can use) is the end of my life and that is death, and so it is Hell, and this path to the wall is my life.  My life keeps going and going. One thing about life is that it doesn't stop, it just keeps going until you die.  So my life keeps going this direction and doesn't stop and it ends in Hell for me because of my sin.  I keep going my way and my way ends in death, in Hell.  I deserve it because of my sin.  Look at the wall.  If I don't want to run into this wall, and I can't stop, what can I do? (Wait for the person to answer.  Ask it again, picture it again, to help. Most people can't get this figured out, even though it is so simple.  If the person says, turn, then, yes, to turn, but they can't figure it out.  They see the only option as running into the wall.)

Alright, most people don't think of this, but if you don't want to run into the wall, and you can't stop, then all you can do is turn.  Turn.  (This is a "duh" moment.  It was too simple, it was so simple.  And they show that every time.)  If you don't want to run into the wall, you've got to turn.  If you don't want to go to Hell, you've got to turn.  Your life is a life of sin, it's your way.  The end of that is Hell.  If you don't want that, then you've got to turn from that, your way, your sin, the same thing, and what do you turn to?  You turn to Jesus Christ. (People know they can't keep going their way and be saved.  They instinctively know something is wrong or why would they need to be saved.? If everything is OK, then why does anyone need to turn?)

Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."  Jesus was talking about salvation.  To come after Jesus, to follow Jesus, you can't keep going your way.  You've got to turn from your way, deny yourself, and follow Him.  If you keep going your way, you're not believing in Jesus Christ.  You're believing in yourself, trusting in yourself.  You say, if I don't want to go to Hell, I can't keep going my way, I've got to turn to follow Jesus Christ, believing in Him, and not myself.  That's it.

As you look further in Luke 9:24, the next verse, Jesus says, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."  After "follow me," this is the second most common or repeated thing that Jesus says in the gospel.  To save your life, you've got to lose your life. You can't hang on to your life and receive the life that Jesus wants to give you.  Giving up your life is to repent.  You are turning from your way to his way. The word "life" is the word psuche, which is elsewhere translated, "soul."  For the Lord to cleanse your soul, you must give up your soul.  If you give up your soul, he will restore it or convert your soul that has been ruined by sin.

You can't keep going your way, you've got to go His way, follow Him, giving up your life for His life. Jesus goes on to say in the next verse, see here, "For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?"  In another place, Jesus says, What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?"  Losing your soul is going to Hell.  In Hell, there is no more opportunity for your soul to be restored or cleansed of sin.  It's too late. (There are various components here.  Their sin, which condemns them, they must repent of that, which is their way.  Those are one in the same.  There is an authority issue here too.  They are rebellious, wanting to do what they want, and going their way.  They have to turn from that.  Those are all interrelated.)

Next I bring in Romans 10:9-10, 13, which brings in Lordship.  Lordship, repentance, and faith all go together, and it is very simple.  If you are lord of your own life, you keep going your own way, and you don't repent.  If you believe in Jesus, then you believe He is Lord or Christ, and you give up your own way for His way.  If you do, He will save you. Those are His terms.  This is consistent with every other place on salvation in the Bible.

For those reading with the "front loading" works criticism, it's simple.  Faith or repentance are not works.  If you think that repentance is a work, then why isn't "calling upon the name of the Lord" a work, or "praying a prayer," not a work?  It is silly, but eternally and damningly silly.  Scripture says faith is not a work, says that repentance is not a work, and that confessing Jesus as Lord is not a work.  All three of those are singled out as not a work.  Salvation is not by works, so this is consistent in scripture.  What I think it is for these where repentance is just too complicated is that they don't want to preach it, because it's the part of the gospel that men have the hardest time with, so they leave it out willfully.  I believe it is willful and perhaps out of a reprobate mind.  That would be consistent too.

I haven't told you everything I say when I preach the gospel, but this is a good example of what I do when I preach repentance.  It is not complicated.  Every.  Single.  Person.  Understands. It.  I've never had someone say, I don't get it.  They get it, crystal clear.  I've also found that many, many will understand that this is different than typical evangelicalism or so-called Christians.  They know this is true.  The Holy Spirit is illuminating that truth to them through scripture.

Monday, May 29, 2017

God Has To Be God, pt. 4

Part One     Part Two    Part Three

James 1:13-17 reveals a lot about the nature of the true God.  I want to print the verses.
13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
This section of James is packed with teaching, but it is a huge revelation about God, specifically two attributes unique to Him, His immutability and impassibility.  God's immutability and impassibility are contrasted with man's mutability and passion.  Man's state is found in verses 13-15, separated by a metacomment in verse 16, and God's state is seen in verses 17 and 18.  There are some very clear grammatical markers that manifest this.

In 13-15 man functions according to outside stimuli.  He is tempted and drawn away of his lust, his passions.  God on the other hand cannot be tempted, because with Him is no variableness and He begat by his own will, not anyone else's.  Lust results in death.  God's gift results in life.  Because God is not afffected to change, we look to Him for wisdom (James 1:5), not the wisdom of this world, which is earthly, sensual, and devilish (James 3:16-18).  When we are tried, we depend on Someone Who does not change, not on man, who does.

What we see today are men conforming God to themselves in trials.  Rather than looking to God, Who is not tempted with evil, they are tempted and they turn to God with a purpose to adapt Him to their own desires.  When it comes to worship, God stays the same, but they imagine a god more to their liking, who conforms to their desires.  Rather than conform to God, they conform to the spirit of this age.

God doesn't change, but men's standards change, their worship changes, and false doctrines and practices are tolerated to maintain their coalitions, organizations, or movements.  God has to be God. Every sin is some departure from the nature of the one and true God.

A doctrinal statement might be identical to a hundred years ago, but the God in the statement is a vastly different God in the imagination.  The God in the imagination is the God who men worship. We know this occurs, that is, men change God into what they want Him to be (Romans 1).  This is why two churches with a nearly identical doctrinal statement can be very, very different.  These differences do matter.  God is communicated by more than the words on a sheet of paper.  He is communicated by the medium of worship men use and by the life that the worshipers live.  The words take on a different and either perverted or insufficient meaning when God is conformed to men.

Immutability is that God doesn't change.  Impassibility is a sub category of immutability in that God doesn't function according to passion.  He directs all His behavior.  He doesn't fly off the handle.  In part because of His impassibility, God is immutable.  Churches today have changed drastically in doctrine and practice.  Their worship has radically changed.  Worship has conformed to the passions of men and don't represent the true God.  They bring God to the level of man's lusts and profane Him.

I know a question, maybe the question, for those reading this series, are the people saved, really saved, who are so different than the God of historic Christianity.  Are they believing in the same God? I don't know.  I wouldn't want to be them.  Do they abide in the doctrine of Christ?  Do they have the same Jesus?  Just because they have the same Jesus on paper, it doesn't mean that they have the same Jesus.  I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.  God has to be God.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Repentance and the Baptist Church Constitution

Does your church constitution have a statement carefully defining repentance?  If your current church leadership went on to their eternal reward suddenly in an accident or other unplanned situation, would your church constitution be an effective guard against having a new pastor or pastors who teach a heretical gospel?  (Of course, not even the best constitutional statement is a substitute for a regenerate and spiritually mature church membership and church leadership that understand and regularly preach the gospel to the lost and agree wholeheartedly with the need to separate from even "Baptist" proponents of a false repentance-less "gospel.")

If your church does not currently have a statement on repentance, simply putting in one that is found in a classic Baptist confession, such as those discussed here, where one can also find sound exegesis on Biblical repentance, is a good start.  Perhaps the following suggested one would be a worthwhile addition to your church constitution and, consequently, something worth reviewing with all who seek to unite themselves to Christ's church in your area:

A Suggested Constitutional Statement on Repentance

Unfeigned repentance is an inward and true sorrow of heart for sin, with sincere confession of the same to God, especially that we have offended so gracious a God and so loving a Father, together with a settled purpose of heart and a careful endeavor to leave all our sins, and to live a more holy and sanctified life according to all God’s commands.[1] [Note: this is simply a quotation from a very widespread Baptist confession on repentance. Obviously, do not include this parenthetical statement.]  When the lost repent, they turn to God from their idols with the intention of serving the living and true God and waiting for His Son from heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).  God commands: “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin” (Ezekiel 18:30). “[T]urn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” (Ezekiel 33:11).  John the Baptist preached to the lost that repentance results in bringing forth good fruit, and those who do not repent and as a result bring forth good fruit are cast into unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:7-11), while Jesus Christ preached the same message of repentance as the first Baptist (Matthew 3:2; 4:17) and commanded His church to continue to preach the same message (Luke 24:47).  The Lord Jesus warns that the unsaved who do not “repent of their deeds,” deeds such as “murders . . . sorceries . . . fornication . . . thefts . . . [and] worship [of] devils, and idols,” will not be saved but will miss the Rapture and enter the “great tribulation” (Revelation 2:22; 9:20-21; 16:9-11; Matthew 24:21).  Standard lexica correctly define “repentance” when they affirm the word means: “[A] complete change of thought and attitude with regard to sin and righteousness . . . [a] total change, both in thought and behavior, with respect to how one should both think and act. . . . [T]he focal semantic feature of these terms is clearly behavioral rather than [only] intellectual . . . [resulting in a] change [in] one’s way of life.”[2]  The conclusion is clear that “[i]n the New Testament, metanoeo and metanoia [the Greek words for “repentance”] . . . are never used to indicate merely intellectual action. . . . [T]hey are always used to express volitional action . . . the change of purpose . . . from evil to good. . . . [T]hey always express internal change . . . [and] they require change in the outward expression of life as a necessary consequent . . . [t]he fullest content [is] found in the . . . radical change in the primary choice by which the whole soul is turned away from evil to good.”[3]

Both the words for “faith” or “belief” and the words for “repentance” in describing the response of the lost sinner to the gospel involve receiving Jesus Christ Himself (John 1:12).  The lost recognize that Jesus is the Christ—the Messiah, the Ruler and Redeemer who is the only One who can save (John 20:31).  Since Jesus Christ is God (John 20:28), Lord (Philippians 2:11), King (John 12:13), and Savior (2 Peter 3:18), the lost receive Him as God, Lord, King, and Savior from both the penalty and power of their sin—they receive Him as both Ruler and Redeemer.  The lost cannot receive a divided “Christ” who is only a Savior from the penalty of sin while the sinner continues to reject, rebel against, and refuse the Messiah as God, Lord, and King.  When the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is received, the dominating power of indwelling sin is broken (Ephesians 2; Romans 6) and, while indwelling sin is still present (Galatians 5:17), the lost receive a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) at the moment of their new birth (John 3), so that God’s holy laws are in their hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:10-12) and they become servants (Romans 1:1) of the King in the kingdom of God (John 3:3).

When the gospel is explained to the lost orally, the Biblical doctrine of repentance should be proclaimed, and when it is explained through written preaching, gospel literature that explains Biblical repentance should be employed.

The Bible warns that corruptions of the gospel are not to be tolerated, “no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue” (Galatians 2:5; 1:8-9), and Scripture is very clear on the necessity of practicing separation from those who corrupt the gospel and other Biblical teachings (1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 2 John 7-11).  Consequently, ----- Baptist Church will not allow anyone to preach from its pulpit, teach in its Sunday School classes, or preach and teach in any other of its ministries who cannot wholeheartedly and without mental reservation agree with the truths of Scripture summarized in the statement on repentance above.  Nor will ------ Baptist Church support financially any evangelist, missionary, or any other person or persons who do not both personally agree with, and whose sending churches also agree with, the statement on repentance above, wholeheartedly and without mental reservation.  Nor will ------ Baptist Church partner with any Bible college, seminary, institute, or other training institution, nor recommend its church members attend any Bible college, seminary, institute, or other training institution that does not wholeheartedly and without mental reservation agree with the Biblical teaching summarized above on repentance.

I believe that a statement of this sort  can help protect a Biblical Baptist church from the extremely dangerous heresy on that doctrine that has infected a frightening percentage of independent Baptist congregations today, and pass a pure and uncorrupted gospel on to future generations, so that they can both be saved themselves rather than not be saved but be hell-bound people who have just said the sinner’s prayer, and also so that our community and the lost world can continue to hear from independent Baptist churches the pure gospel as proclaimed by Christ, His Apostles, and the New Testament churches, instead of a watered-down corruption that will not save or that is less powerful to save because of crucial aspects that are left out.

[1]           The Orthodox Creed, Baptist, 1679.
[2]           Louw, J. P & E. A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament:  Based on Semantic Domains (New York:  United Bible Societies, 1996), 41:52.
[3]           Thompson, Effie Freeman, Metanoeo and metamelei in Greek Literature until 100 A. D., Including Discussion of Their Cognates and of their Hebrew Equivalents: Historical and Linguistic Studies in Literature Related to the New Testament Issued Under the Direction of the Department of Biblical and Patristic Greek, 2nd series, vol. 1 (Chicago, IL:  University of Chicago, 1908) 376-377.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

God Has To Be God, pt. 3

part one     part two

God wants to be believed, but it has to be belief in the actual one and true God to be belief in God.
Genesis 15:6, "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
It is not an uncommon statement, "I believe in God," but if the god the person believes in isn't actually God, then he doesn't believe in God.  There is only one God, Who isn't a made-up one in a person's mind.  It's got to be Him, the actual, only God.  A way not to believe in God is to believe in another, more convenient god.

Perhaps you can relate to the following situation.  Two different people or two different groups both say they believe in God and even in the same God.  I'm talking about both believing in the God of Christianity.  Both worship the so-called same God, the one both say they believe in, and yet what they both call "worship" is exactly opposite of the other.  The same God could not approve of both. So do they both believe in the same God?

God doesn't get to be who we want Him to be.  He is Who He is.  He doesn't become what we want in our imaginations.  We should think rather that we get to be what He wants us to be.  With God there is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).   We're the ones who conform to God, not He to us.  We get to conform to Him, if He allows us to.

People shape God to their imaginations with their worship.  They offer God what they want and the god of their imaginations accepts it.  It isn't God.  They believe in him and he isn't God.  He is the god of their imaginations, shaped by their offerings to him.  They give him what they want.  The children growing up in their churches also develop a wrong view of God.  It's no wonder that He also tolerates many various manners of lust from His so-called worshipers.  This is how various forms of Christianity exist.  When you judge one not to be true or orthodox or right, its adherents might show you a doctrinal statement, but they still have a different god in their imaginations, who isn't God.

Their god is the same god who allows for bikinis, short shorts, strapless dresses where the top comes right down to the top of their breasts, for their women.  Their god approves, applauds that.  He obviously isn't a holy God. They are very casual about their god and their god is casual with them.  In their minds, this god saves them and saves them by his grace, because that's what he does.  However, when they believe on this god, are they really believing in the true God?  I can't wish them into heaven by agreeing that he is God.  I don't think He is, because the God I worship and the one they do coudn't be so different.  Somebody's got to be wrong.  I know it's them.

God has to be God for you to believe in Him.  You are not believing in Him when He is who you want him to be.  How far does He need to dip below Who He is for Him not to be him any more?  Is that worth it?  Only Christianity plays this game, it plays this game with God.  Tiddly-winks isn't tackle football.  Madagascar isn't the United States of America.  The god of their imaginations isn't God.  He is a different god, more the god of their lust, and He doesn't save.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Andrew Murray, Mystical Quietist and Higher Life / Keswick Writer, part 4 of 7

The content of this post has now been moved to:
Please click on the link above to read the complete form of parts 1-7 that used to be in the posts here at What is Truth?.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trump Rumors

I'm actually on the road right now, and I've got a lot on the platter.  I'm writing this at an airport in the middle of the country.  This is easier to write, but I'm giving my take on latest about President Trump. I want to continue a couple of series I've started, but I don't have the time to put into them in order to finish, so here goes.

Very often today, the media is pushing the narrative that Donald Trump is on the road to impeachment.  You also hear from the same that Republicans are scared, troubled, and losing faith in Trump.  Here's what I think, and I've basically been right start to finish so far about Trump.  I think I'm right again, but here is what I think is really happening.

The media drives the Democrat Party.  Who feeds the media?  First, the media is an entity to itself and it feeds the Democrat Party.  Second, the media receives distracting talking points from leftover establishment and liberal types in the federal bureaucracy, including the intelligence gathering components domestic and foreign.  Third, a few very influential Democrats tied to the Clintons and the Obamas formulate stories for the media to tell.  Almost all of the stories, as I see it, are lies, at least lies in their basic premise.

We know from the account of the Clinton campaign, the book, Shattered, that as soon as Hillary lost, Podesta and crew came up with the Russian story as an excuse for losing.  The media has run with it.  There is very little, as is said, there, there.  If you scoured what every Trump associate or supporter did, you might find something inappropriate that might possibly be vaguely construed as violating some either law or ethic.  Mainly I'm talking about anyone who even talked to a Russian that could be used to place someone on the grassy knoll.

The greatest violations of law and national security and liberty have come from Democrats, primarily three:  illegal surveillance or eavesdropping on Republicans, including Trump team, for political purposes, the illegal and traitorous leaking to the media, and then the continued pile of evidence that the Clintons exposed tons of classified information, including that on the computer of Anthony Weiner, and profited from pay to play corruption in their foundation.  What I just stated is the real issue and the media is essentially covering it up, and establishment Republicans like John McCain are useful idiots to the media.

Every other story, that is a fake story, totally contrived, is the Russian collusion story.  It's just being used to hurt Trump, his leadership, his presidency, and agenda.  First, none of us has still received the evidence that the Russians affected the election.  People say it, but we don't know it.  We don't know that information wasn't leaked by Democrats themselves.  The media isn't taking that pathway because it conflicts with its agenda.  Second, we don't know what the worst possible of the Trump people has even done that is illegal.  Even if it is inappropriate, it pales next to Obama and Clinton in anything akin to it.  Flynn is already fired.  He can't be fired again.

I have seen no evidence of Russian collusion.  Some of the stories written are outright lies.  Those are the bigger concern.  Part of it now is this idea that Trump gave the Russians classified information hurtful to an American ally.  This is still unproven even if illegal.  McMaster is a favorite among even Democrats and establishment, and he is defending Trump.  Then there is Trump firing Comey to protect himself against an investigation, which continues unimpeded even by the testimony of the acting FBI chief.  I see Trump as firing Comey, because Comey is being too political, including in how he is treating this Russian situation, which is a nothing.  It seems to me that Comey has used it as leverage.  It obviously didn't work.

The last part of this is the new story that Trump asked Comey if he wouldn't investigate Flynn, because Flynn is a good man.  I think Trump believes Flynn is a good man, who has suffered more than what he should have.   He also wants this fake story to end, because it is a distraction to his administration.  Asking if the FBI would be lenient with Flynn isn't a crime.  They have spun it into obstruction of justice, and as impeachable.

The stuff against Trump is a fake story, fake news, a total house of cards.  That is my point of view.  We'll see how it comes out.

There is much more than this, but my flight just got called.

Monday, May 15, 2017

God Has to Be God, pt. 2

Part One

"I believe in God," you insist.  Sure, and the god to whom you refer both expects and allows you to live pretty close to how you want.  That's the god you believe in.  Actual God doesn't count that belief as believing in God, because it isn't Him, actual Him, Whom you are believing in.

What I'm writing about, the Apostle Paul describes in Romans 1:25, 26, and 28, which together read:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections. . . . 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.
People change the truth of God into a lie.  The idea of "the truth of God" in this context is "the truth about God."  They reject the truth about God for a lie about God.  They call their god, God, but in fact they serve the creature.  Their god functions within their own parameters.

Verse 28 expands upon verse 25 by explaining that they "did not like to retain God in their knowledge."  "Did not like to retain" is literally that "they approved not to have God in their knowledge."  The second half of 25 is a play on words.  "Approved not" is ouk dokimazo and "reprobate" is adokimos, both the same root words.  Their minds trash God, and their minds become the judgment of God itself.  Men can't think straight when the one and true God isn't accepted in their thoughts.  Their minds become what their minds do.  Their minds trash God and their minds become trash.  The judgment is a built-in consequence.

The chief alternative god to actual God, that I see today in the world, is what I call the goodymeister.  He's a kind of living vending machine.  He's perfect for men walking after their own lusts, who don't want a boss.  Knowing he is who men want as god, churches offer him as god to their people.  He does not form in their imagination mainly through a doctrinal statement, but by the style and substance of the preaching and the worship.  They give him, this goodymeister god, what they like, what they would want if they were him.  His adherents would gladly serve him, because he wants the same things they do.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Atheist Compliments on Daniel

As many readers of this blog may know, I have written an apologetic work entitled The Book of Daniel:  Proof that the Bible is the Word of God.  I used the arguments in this work in my debate last year with Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, Not Fact," and it came up again in my most recent debate with him, "Prophecy and Archaeology Validate the Bible as the Word of God."  Mr. Barker did not have a good explanation for the overwhelming evidence of plain, specific predictive prophecies in Daniel, nor did he have an explanation for the powerful evidences that Daniel wrote the book in the 6th century, far before the time that the predictions in the book were fulfilled.

I am pleased that two significant anti-Christian skeptical writers (both of whom do a better job than Mr. Barker trying to attack the Bible, although they are unsuccessful), have given my work on Daniel very notable compliments.  One said:  "Tom . . . has compiled the most thorough and reasonable defense for the traditional view of Daniel that I have ever encountered.  I commend him for the time and effort."  Another said: "I agree . . . that Tom's efforts at defending the traditional dating of Daniel were the best I'd seen." I am thankful for this praise from these anti-Biblical skeptics, although they were not willing, at least as of now, to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Please note that I am absolutely NOT recommending their blogs or their writings by posting this information, although the objections to Scripture are the typical sort one encounters in works of theological liberalism.  Young Christians and/or unsaved people could definitely be harmed by the misinformation and attacks on God's Word in their blogs.)

Both skeptics argued that Ezekiel's reference to Daniel was actually not to the man Daniel, but to a pagan Baal worshipper named Dan'el who is found in the Legend of Aqhat.  The response to such a highly problematic argument is contained below (reproduced from a footnote in The Book of Daniel:  Proof that the Bible is the Word of God):

The desperate anti-supernaturalist argument that the Daniel referenced by Ezekiel is not the righteous and wise servant of Jehovah who authored the book of Daniel and who is compared to Noah and Job as comparable righteous worshippers of Jehovah, all three of whom are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, but is an ungodly worshipper of the god Baal called Dan’el who is referenced in a ancient legend, is surely an argument made out of desperation in order to avoid the obvious implications of Ezekiel’s validation of the Jewish prophet Daniel and his inspired Book.  Archer comments:
[The anti-supernaturalist theory that] the Daniel referred to in Ezekiel must have been the ancient hero named Dan’el, whose life story is narrated in the Ugaritic legend of Aqhat (dating from about the fifteenth century B.C.) . . . [has extremely] serious difficulties[.] . . [T]he Lord’s declaration quoted in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and 28:3 amounts to this: Even though such godly leaders as Noah (at the dawn of history), and Job (in the time of Moses or a little before), and Daniel (from the contemporary scene in Ezekiel’s own generation) should all unite in interceding for apostate Judah, God could not hear their prayers on behalf of that rebellious nation. . . . The . . . difficulty with identifying the Daniel of Ezekiel 14 with the Dan’el of the Ugaritic epic is found in the character and spiritual condition of Dan’el himself. When the legend of Aqhat is studied in its full context, which relates the story of Dan’el, the father of young Aqhat, it is found that he is praised as being a faithful idol-worshiper, principally occupied with seven-day periods of sacrifices to the various gods of the Canaanite pantheon, such as Baal and El. His relationship to Baal was especially close, and he made bold to petition him for a son, so that when Dan’el became so drunk at a wild party that he could not walk by himself, his son might assist him back to his home and bed, to sleep off his drunken stupor. Later on, after the promised son (Aqhat) is born, and is later killed at the behest of the spiteful goddess Anath, Dan’el lifts up his voice in a terrible curse against the vulture (Samal) which had taken his son’s life. He prevails on Baal to break the wings of all the vultures that fly overhead, so that he can slit open their stomachs and see whether any of them contains the remains of his dead son. At last he discovers the grisly evidence in the belly of Samal, queen of the vultures. He then kills her and puts a curse on Abelim, the city of the vultures. The next seven years he spends in weeping and wailing for his dead son, and finally contrives to have his own daughter (Paghat) assassinate the warrior Yatpan, who was also involved in Aqhat’s murder seven years before.
         From this portrayal of Dan’el it is quite apparent that he could never have been associated with Noah and Job as a paragon of righteousness and purity of life. Nothing could be more unlikely than that a strict and zealous monotheist like Ezekiel would have regarded with appreciation a Baal-worshiper, a polytheistic pagan given to violent rage and unremitting vengefulness, a drunken carouser who needed assistance to find his way home to his own bed. Apart from a passing mention of Dan’el’s faithful fulfillment of his duties as a judge at the city gate—a requirement expected of all judges according to the Torah—there is no suggestion in the Ugaritic poem that he is any outstanding hero of the faith, eligible for inclusion with Noah and Job. It is therefore quite hopeless to maintain this identification of Ezekiel’s “Daniel” with the Dan’el of Ugaritic legend. (Ibid).

Thus, the Legend of Aqhat frequently mentions Dan’el’s worship of Baal, frequently connects Dan’el and drunkenness, emphasizes Dan’el’s son Aquat disobeying the goddess Anath, who kills Aqhat for his impiety, and speaks of a plot with Dan’el and his daughter to deceive and commit murder.  The Legend of Aqhat never even once uses the adjectives “righteous” or “wise” for Dan’el.  A simple reading of Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3 and the pagan Legend makes any identification of the person spoken of by Ezekiel and the person specified in the Legend an instance of insanity.  Only the extreme difficulty for anti-supernaturalism contained in Ezekiel’s reference to the man Daniel, author of the inspired book of Daniel, explains anyone’s affirming what is so obviously false.  The fact that such extreme measures must be pursued in order to attempt to eliminate Ezekiel’s testimony illustrates how powerful an evidence it is in favor of Daniel’s sixth century authorship of the book bearing his name, and thus of the reality of predictive prophecy.

I should also note that attempts to make Daniel's fourth empire Greece instead of Rome, and to make the 70 weeks prophecy end in the Maccabean period instead of in the time of Christ's ministry, require one to torture the plain meaning of the text of the book.  The obvious sense of Daniel must be changed if one is to attempt to get out of its predictive prophetic content, its plain evidence of the miraculous at work in the composition of the Bible.

Copies of this apologetic work on Daniel can be downloaded as MS Word files here and personalized for use in your Bible-believing Baptist church.  I have added in pictures to the second half of the work dealing with Daniel's authorship, and am planning, Lord willing, to update the first half as well, and then make the book available for both electronic and print acquisition.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

God Has to Be God

If you don't like the only God there is, you can always make up your own and believe in him or her. What do you think?  I mean, you can do that, just like you can wait in line for an invisible ride at the amusement park, hoping to ride it.   You say, "No one does that."  Most people do that with God. They shape a god in their minds to fit their desires.  Religions or churches encourage this too.  People fill up buildings to and for a god that doesn't exist.  There is a point when actual God dips below His actual identity in people's imagination, so that He isn't God anymore.

Let's say a very strong, large, tough man in an official uniform, because he's in authority, tells you that you've got to eat two fried eggs and two slices of whole wheat, buttered toast every morning, or he'll plaster you in the nose with his fist.  In your mind, he doesn't exist, so you eat oatmeal instead.  I guess he was real, as seen in your broken, bleeding nose.  The next morning you try two pieces of fruit and then welcome his fist again.  It doesn't seem you can just wish him away.  He's real.  The next morning it is two fried eggs and two slices of whole wheat, buttered toast, no fist in your nose either.

Your thoughts and the acknowledgement and belief about God must portend with reality.  You can't imagine Him to be who you want Him to be and then count a response to Him as God to count as one.  God has to be God.

People worship the God of their imagination.  For Him to be God, the imagination must be shaped by and then conform to the truth.  If not, He isn't Him.  You can say you are worshiping Him, but you are not.  You can say He will save you, and He won't.  You can say that you are safe from God's judgment, but you are not.  You can say that you are waiting for a ride at the amusement park, but it must exist for you to do that.

The nation Israel started off with God, or what we could call the One, True God.  There is only One, so someone can just call Him God.  God revealed Himself. After awhile, in general Israel didn't like their God, Who was the only God.  Even though there isn't another one, they wanted another one, or at least the One they had, the true One, to be different than Who He actually was.  They began worshiping their God like one of the other ones, which were gods of their roundabout neighbors.

By the time we get to Jesus in the gospels, the Samaritans, who were partly Jewish, were worshiping a god about which Jesus said in John 4:22, "Ye worship ye know not what."  Later, when the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, you could say that they were in a similar circumstance, when he told the Jews there in the audience in Romans 10:2, "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge."  At Corinth, the imagination of Jesus had been so distorted, that Paul wrote professing believers there in 1 Corinthians 12:3, claiming to be "speaking by the Spirit of God," "calleth Jesus accursed."  In their ecstatic state, they thought that true about Jesus, and accused the Holy Spirit of revealing that lie to them about Jesus as well.

The nation Israel started with the right knowledge, but that knowledge became distorted as Israelites, Jews, began to conform God in their minds to their own desires.  They would match up to God in their own righteousness, so His righteousness must be something where theirs could do that.  They diminished God's righteousness with the thought that He would see theirs as acceptable.  They wouldn't have to submit to the righteousness of the new god of their imagination.  They could establish their own righteousness as good enough and be saved by works.  God wasn't God anymore in their imagination.  The god that replaces God is an idol.  They are worshiping an idol, an idol that accepts their behavior, which is less than what actual God accepts.

Most people have a different god today with whom they are satisfied with.  They serve him in their own way.  They obey him like they like to obey.  He saves them like they want to be saved.  He's not real.  In the end, the one, only True God will give them the equivalent of the metaphorical fist in the nose of the above illustration in paragraph two.  They'll know Who He is right at that moment, but it will be too late.

If we can't take the only God at His Word, we won't believe in Him.  When we won't or can't believe, we won't or can't be saved.  God has to be God.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Julia and Derek: The Engagement

On April 14, Derek Wilhite asked my eldest daughter, Julia, to marry him.  She said yes.  Here's the story.

Back in the day, when I became a Freshman in college the Fall of 1980, I joined a college society, Euangelistes, because it was Jerry Wilhite's.  He was a Senior. I attended high school at the same institution, so I knew who Jerry was and I chose it because he was in it.  Later Jerry and I were in graduate school together for a year or two.   We took many of our classes from Thomas Strouse, who had an influence on both of us.  I remember going to Jerry and Debbie Wilhite's apartment for a meal during that time. There are many, many other ties I could tell -- many.  If we fast forward a few years, our church in California took the Wilhites for support to South Africa. They were one of our missionaries.  We have kept track of them for decades.  My assessment had been we believe and practice the same.

About four or five years ago, a beloved young man in our church, who had been saved and discipled here, David Warner, initiated a courtship, agreed upon by Jerry, with his third daughter, Julianna.  My family went out for their wedding three years ago at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church.  There my wife and I met all of the Wilhite children, including Derek.  We spent one day with him and others down in Philadelphia at that time.

I don't believe the woman initiates marriage, but the man as seen in Genesis 2.  Women sometimes do, but it's just not the scriptural model.  I do think that the Dad can make others aware he's got daughters and inquire if anyone knows of any interest.  I remember asking Jerry if he knew of any young men in his circles, who he might think would be interested in Julia.  Some of that day in Philadelphia, I spent walking around with Derek, and I liked him.  I had noticed his hard work around the church property.  Later Derek told me that Julia made a good impression to him, but Derek also did to us.

Even though I had preached on the obtaining of a life's partner several times and written a series about it over at the old Jackhammer blog, this was my first personal episode as a father, to see what how it might turn out on the ground.  It wasn't as though my efforts were just starting.  My wife and I raised children.  That's part of the process -- their character, their beliefs, and their honed abilities.  I'll get back to that later, because getting ready for marriage is the most important part for two people. These two really, really did that.

By my record, March 24, 2015, Derek wrote me for the first time, and we began a correspondence then that continued over two years.  Two years.  This didn't happen fast.  His Dad and I had talked a few times before that in an exploratory way.  We support the Wilhites as missionaries. Even though he wasn't stating his purpose, I understood what was going on when Derek wrote. Awhile after that, he made his first phone call, and we very often called, increasingly so, as we moved along.

I appreciated Derek's tack on this process.  He didn't start at all, one bit, with my daughter.  He started with me.  Observe that, young men.  I've got two other daughters, and if you want to disqualify yourself, try starting this with one of them and not with me.  It had already been attempted with Julia by others.  A good test of manhood is the ability to talk to a man.  Boys like beginning with the daughter, but men are fine starting with the Father.  Men.

With the announcement of their engagement, many, several, said to us that they thought we were moving along, it seemed, too quickly.  I laughed.  For our family, it was slow.  I see the point as, people want to watch the process in the open, and if they don't get to see all of it, then it isn't happening.  What they see seems fast, but it wasn't fast.  It doesn't count as happening if people don't see, like a dating situation would.  I wouldn't want the process to look like that.  Nothing is really happening until someone makes a commitment.  Derek's commitment was to talking to me first and I really, really admire that.  He showed confidence, something I'd want to see in a man who would marry my daughter.  It wasn't always easy, but he was being patient and concentrated on what was important.  I also appreciate his parents and their support and leadership in all this.  They also raised a good son by the grace of God.

When there is no commitment yet, and there shouldn't be, the two not ready for the commitment, they are committed to the process, which occurs in private. However, it is occurring, and it wasn't fast. Both could relax to do what they needed to do at the time.  They could focus on their priorities. There was not pressure to keep a relationship going.  It was about what it needed to be about, and that is making sure that two would want to make a commitment, would be ready to do so, really ready.  The most important things to know can be learned without being around each other, and those can be learned in the courtship phase of this.  They are not emotionally involved.  If the two aren't committed, then they haven't given themselves to each other.  They need to know first.

Julia was positive and fine about Derek during the process.  She knew what was happening and was happy about it.  I did not convey that information to Derek.  What he knew was that we were happy about it.  I'm sure every guy wants to know how happy the lady is.  I was being honest with him.  If it wasn't going to work, I would tell him.  He knew that too.  Of course, he wanted to know whether she liked him.  Courtship started on February 2.  He asked if he could court.  Julia said, yes.  Her mom and I said, yes.  He knew she said, yes.  He had a "yes."

Both Julia and Derek gave testimony of salvation and showed the fruit of that in their lives.  That is foundational.  You can't know that without some long term testimony in a true church.  During the writing and phone conversation, Derek went to school at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, studying mechanical engineering.  He did an excellent as a student and graduated in December 2016 toward the top of his class and with a very high gpa.  He has no college debt.  He worked and saved.  He didn't make impulsive purchases.  He was a very active member of his church -- evangelism, attendance, physical labor, and music.  His friends are in the church.  He likes to talk about spiritual things.  He is a student of the Word.  He is a bold Christian.  He kept his pastor updated on the plans and checked in with all of it.

Julia will graduate from Cal State East Bay in kinesiology in June.  She will have no debt.  She too worked and saved.  She has a great job and in a leadership position at Skyhawks out here.  She too is an active and helpful member of our church here.

When courtship began, I told them they could text and talk.  When they were together in person, they needed a chaperone.  That was already Derek's standard.  They have been chaperoned and have enjoyed that. They haven't touched.  They have honored the Lord, each other, and their parents.  They both waited and saved themselves for each other.  They have been a great testimony in this whole process.

When Derek asked if he could marry, Julia, I had a few questions still, that he answered well.  That was by phone.  He told me some of the details about how he would ask.  He was coming out in the middle of April for a job interview and the company would pay for the flight.

Derek included us in his proposal part of it.  Julia and he went on a bike ride with my youngest daughter from Pier 39 in San Francisco to Sausalito across the Golden Gate bridge.  He asked for her hand under the bridge on the city side.  We met them in Sausalito for lunch.  They took the bikes via ferry back to the city.  They did a great job of informing certain key people first, so they would not find out through social media.  No one knew until they were told.  People were surprised, because we and they kept it quiet and safe.  Derek did a great job, paying great attention to detail.

The wedding, Lord-willing, will likely be sometime January to March next year. Derek is moving out to California later this month to live here.  The two will work with us in our church. We are very thankful for it all.  We are thankful for his church and pastor, and again for his parents. Because they did this right, they have made this a very wonderful situation.  You should remember that.  It's much better when you do things right.  I am glad to say that they are an example worth emulating by others.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Andrew Murray, Mystical Quietist and Higher Life / Keswick Writer, part 3 of 7

The content of this post has now been moved to:
Please click on the link above to read the complete form of parts 1-7 that used to be in the posts here at What is Truth?.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Evangelicals Arguing about Pink Hair Dye on Male Church Members, pt 2

Part One (I and I'm sure many others are hopeful that Douglas Wilson's son, Nate, a many published author and married father of a few children, will recover well from the removal of a brain tumor this week.)

The point of my first post was not to isolate the single issue of optic hair coloring, whether men or women.  It is that scripture doesn't say, "Thou shalt not dye thy hair with iridescent hues."  There are great number of prohibitive activities the Bible doesn't prohibit.  God's Word is intended to be applied.  Men are supposed to live it, because it can be lived.  Being lived requires application.

Separatists for awhile have been applying scripture to such things as dress.  The Bible teaches on dress.  Scripture is sufficient for every area of life.  On many areas that Christians applied scripture through history, evangelicals stopped applying, especially in areas of what has been called personal separation, which relate to worldliness.  For believers to worship God, that is, "present [their] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God (Rom 12:1), they must obey two imperatives, commands, in Romans 12:2, "be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind."

"Conformed" is external and "transformed" is external.  Both look like something that has to be judged, and the assumption is that believers can judge and should judge.  "Conformed" (suschematizo) comes from a word of which BDAG says, "to conform to a pattern or mold," and this is how the English word "schematic" functions.  "World" is not kosmos, but aion, which here has the understanding of "the spirit of this age," parallel with the German and colloquial, zeitgeist, meaning, "the dominant set of ideals and beliefs that motivate the actions of the members of a society in a particular period in time."

The word "transformed" (metamorphao) comes from a Greek word that is the basis for the English word, metamorphosis.  Metamorphosis is external, like what we see when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, which is radical difference.  You can really, really tell a difference when something is transformed, and it affects what you see.

In the last part of Romans 12:2, Paul writes, "that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."  "Prove" is the Greek word, dokimazo, which is the word used for testing metals.  Everything in this present world, this system, needs to be tested as a Christian according to scripture.  The "renewing of the mind" that transforms the believer on the outside comes from hearing, understanding, and meditating upon the Word of God.

God expects us to test things in the world according to scriptural thinking.  The standard is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.  The world shouldn't be setting the pace for believers, even if they insist that it's innocent.  Believers of the past could easily judge pink hair on men or whatever number of unnatural technicolor hair pigmentation on women.  It wouldn't have even happened.  If it did, it would have been an easy call for people of most ages.  This present age is different. Why?

The abandonment of discernment, the unwillingness to judge itself, for evangelicals has followed the spirit of the age, which is one of toleration.  People don't want to be judged.  They want to fit in with the world.  They don't like sticking out.  I understand the pink hair sticks out anywhere, but not really in the world anymore.  Evangelicals have amped up, brought the juice, to professing Christians conforming to the world, but it isn't new.  The prophet Zephaniah in the Old Testament book by its name writes in 1:8:
And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD'S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.
Vincent Alsop was an English nonconformist preacher, who preached and wrote, The Sinfulness of Strange Apparel.  I recognize that pink hair is strange from a certain meaning of strange, or maybe we should say that it should be strange everywhere.  However, strange would go right along with worldly.  It is technically "foreign," but strange apparel was to dress like ungodly pagans.  You can see in the verse that was very serious to God.  He would punish His people for clothing with strange apparel.  Romans 12:2 is akin to that -- I don't think they are different.  If God is going to punish people for their dress (not just their attitude about clothing), then leaders should be warning them about it too, out of love.

God wants application of scripture to such things as dress.  He wants pastors, church leaders, to say certain dress is wrong.  There doesn't have to be a verse about an unusual earlobe piercing that stretches the cartilage beyond comprehension.  You know it's wrong and you should say something about it, because God doesn't want it.  The pastoral epistles talk about dress.  Pastors are supposed to teach on it, exhort, rebuke, and discipline people.  It matters.

If someone who calls himself a Christian wears a type of very bright pink hair, he's not representing Jesus Christ.  Like Paul mentions in Titus 2:10, "adorn[ing] the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things."  The word "adorn" isn't intended as a dress word, but it doesn't exclude it either.  The Greek word is kosmeo, like cosmetics, which is about appearance.  Our appearance should fit scripture, not the world.  It reminds me of the part of 1 Corinthians 13 in a description of love, that love "doth not behave itself unseemly."  That English translates a Greek word has the same root as "conformed" in Romans 12:2. BDAG says concerning this form of the word:
[R]efers to something that has a pattern or form, frequently of a type that the public considers standard or laudable; to act contary to the standard.
Love doesn't act contrary to a pattern or form that the public considers standard or laudable.  The world might wear pink hair, but it isn't standard or laudable.

The person wearing the optic pink hair is drawing the wrong kind of attention to himself, male or female.  His thinking is wrong.  It isn't scripture.  There is something wrong with this person that is manifesting itself with the hair coloration.

If someone confronts the pink haired person, and he isn't interested in listening to the counsel, this wouldn't surprise me.  This is a person who is contrary to a standard.  Like the apostate of 2 Peter 2, Peter describes in v. 10:
But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
If someone won't take counsel to change his hair color from the oddity that it is, he also has a problem with authority.  The church should do something about this kind of violation of the application of scripture.  It is factious behavior, the kind that Titus 3:10-11 talks about that is to be warned and then separated from.

To Be Continued