Sunday, July 30, 2017

Canaanite DNA and Fake News

The New York Times joined in the story of DNA proof the Canaanites survived despite God's command to the destroy them in the Bible.  I saw the headline of the story last week at RCP, and my immediate thought was that God commanded their destruction.  God also commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Israel disobeyed God's command, which was one reason for their apostasy.  It shows you how stupid the New York Times is, and others like it.

It's sad and funny that the New York Times links in its article to a BibleHub online Bible of Deuteronomy 20:17, which the King James Version reads, "But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee."  God commanded Israel to destroy them, but in very ancient news, Israel didn't obey.  Just because God commands something in the Bible doesn't mean that everyone does what He says.  The Bible isn't the story of a people who were completely obedient, but the story of sinners who, even though God gets it entirely right, themselves get it usually wrong.

The science part of the study appeared in the American Journal of Human Genetics.  It should be a great testimony to the authenticity of the biblical record, since it says that these people existed. Instead, many used it with great glee as a basis for the Bible not being true.  This included The Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Tech Times, Mother Nature Network, Cosmos, and many more.  They are saying in essence, "The Bible says they were destroyed, and they weren't!" The Bible says that God told Israel to destroy them.  Israel didn't.  As a result there was all sorts of Canaanite false worship in the land.

Joshua 17:12, Judges 1:27-28, 31, and 2:3 read (some underlining for emphasis):
Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. . . . Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out. . . . Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob. . . . Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.
Scripture itself later says the Canaanites were not destroyed from the face of the earth, which was the point contradicting the New York Times and all the other fake news.

I guess we can wait for a retraction.  You should be heartened though.  Those on the other side are wrong again and obviously so.  They are either totally duped or deceived or rank liars, but they are wrong.  This is just who they are, so don't let them bother you.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Mark 13:32: the Son's Glorious Ignorance of the Day and Hour

Mark 13:32 reads:

 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

This verse is a favorite of anti-Trinitarians.  However, it by no means disproves the true Deity and equality of the Son of God with His Father; rather, it relates to the true humanity of Christ.  (I discuss the verse at length in lecture #16 of my Trinitarianism class, on my website here and also on Youtube).

My point in this post is not an apologetic or dogmatic one, however.  This verse is not just something to explain when speaking to a member of the Watchtower Society or another cultist, and otherwise pass over in painful silence.  As in my discussion in my work The Triune God of the Bible, a wonderful truth connected to salvation is taught in the verse.  The quote below relates to the way patristic Trinitarians responded to the Arian rejection of Christ's Deity based on Mark 13:32 and the Bible's affirmation of Christ's human ignorance.

It is basically the same argument that is to be applied to the atoning exchange between ignorance and wisdom in Christ—a problem that was much discussed in the fourth century, for the Arians had appealed to passages in the Gospels such as those in which it was said of Jesus that he increased in wisdom and even was lacking in knowledge [Luke 2:52; Mark 13:32]. Athanasius handled this question in entire consistency with his arguments about what the Son of God had done in making himself one of us and one with us in what we actually are in order to save us. That is to say, while the Son or Word of God who is one and the same being as the Father enjoys a relation of mutual knowing between himself and the Father, nevertheless in his self-abasement in the form of a servant he had condescended, for our sakes, really to make our ignorance along with other human limitations his own, precisely in order to save us from them. "He incorporated the ignorance of men in himself, that he might redeem their humanity from all its imperfections and cleanse and offer it perfect and holy to the Father." The fact that Christ was both God and man, and thus acted as God and as man, led some theologians in the fourth century to make ambiguous statements about the "economic ignorance" of Christ, and sometimes even to speak of it as unreal. Gregory Nazianzen, and Gregory Nyssen, both insisted on the reality of our Lord’s ignorance as essential to his humanity; but it was Cyril of Alexandria who developed the soteriological approach of Athanasius most fully. For him the ignorance of Christ was just as essential to his amazing self-abasement or kenosis as his physical imperfections and limitations, all of which are to be predicated of his one incarnate reality (mia phusis sesarkomene). It was an economic and vicarious ignorance on our Lord’s part by way of a deliberate restraint on his divine knowledge throughout a life of continuous kenosis in which he refused to transgress the limits of the creaturely and earthly conditions of human nature.

As the Word or Mind of God become flesh Jesus Christ was the incarnate wisdom of God, but incarnate in such a way as really to share with us our human ignorance, so that we might share in his divine wisdom. This was not just an appearance of ignorance on his part, any more than his incarnating of the Word or Mind of God was only in appearance. Had either been in appearance only, it would have emptied the economic condescension of the Son to save and redeem of any reality. Unless the Son of God had assumed the whole nature of man, including his ignorance, man could not have been saved. The wonderful exchange that lies at the heart of the interaction of the incarnation and atonement operates right here, as at every other point in the relation between God and sinful human being, for the human mind is an absolutely essential element in creaturely being. Hence God in Christ Jesus took it up into himself along with the whole man, in order to penetrate into it and deal with the sin, alienation, misunderstanding, and darkness that had become entrenched within it. Jesus Christ came among us sharing to the full the poverty of our ignorance, without ceasing to embody in himself all the riches of the wisdom of God, in order that we might be redeemed from our ignorance through sharing in his wisdom. Redemption was not accomplished just by a downright fiat of God, nor by a mere divine "nod," but by an intimate, personal movement of the Son of God himself into the heart of our
creaturely being and into the inner recesses of the human mind, in order to save us from within and from below, and to restore us to undamaged relations of being and mind with himself. Thus throughout his earthly life Christ laid hold of our alienated and darkened human mind in order to heal and enlighten it in himself. In and through him our ignorant minds are brought into such a relation to God that they may be filled with divine light and truth. The redemption of man’s ignorance has an essential place in the atoning exchange, for everything that we actually are in our lost and benighted condition has been taken up by Christ into himself in order that he might bring it under the saving, renewing, sanctifying, and enlightening power of his own reality as the incarnate wisdom and light of God. (T. F. Torrance (The Trinitarian Faith, pgs. 186-188; footnotes of original patristic sources not reproduced. While this is a great quote, regrettably, Torrance has severe theological problems and I am not confident of seeing him in heaven. Also, one must not push Torrance's argument too far and conclude that Christ actually assumed a sinful human nature instead of sinless humanity into union with His eternal Divine Person.)

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this quote (and on the verse in general) in the comment section below.  I would encourage you read my discussion of Mark 13:32 in The Triune God of the Bible or watch lecture #16 where I discuss it first, though.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Should I Blog?

Within this last year, someone approached me, who I believe really cares, to tell me he didn't think I should blog.  It related mainly to church autonomy, that pastors will have to deal with problems at a time not of their choice, because of what their members will read here. I might be 100% true and truthful, but the people receiving it will not get it in the right manner if they obtain it other than just in their church.  I didn't agree.  I'm not going to argue for my position here.  I have several arguments for.  I think I should blog.  However, I want to hear from those who also think I either should or shouldn't.  I want to hear, either way.

I've got one rule.  You must be respectful when you give your comments or I won't publish them. Please, however, give them.  I do want to hear/read them pro or con.

Thank you.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Is the Bible Enough Evidence?

God established the Bible as true.  It's as if scripture has already gone through the verification process and got its authentication seal of approval.  It's already science, because it is already all true.  What's better about it than "evidence," the stuff that people call evidence, some of which is and much of which isn't evidence, is that it channels straight from God, bypassing lying eyes and a contaminated scene.

God is the originator of life.  He's not created.  He self-exists.  Unlike us, He doesn't have to depend on someone or something else to survive.  Everything stays pure with Him, because He doesn't need to change and He won't change, because He's already the perfection of all His attributes.  God has already given us more than enough reason to receive what He said in His Word as true.

The purity of scripture because of its pure source is why in 1 Peter 2 it is called the sincere milk of the Word, which is the pure mother's milk.  Mother's milk comes straight from mother, so it isn't contaminated by taking it out of that channel of purity.  God's Word comes in the same manner.  This is why in times of test, James says, trust the Word of God.  Don't waiver like the waves of the sea.  Don't trust your own desires, but trust God.  You were begotten by the Word of Truth, so trust scripture in those temptations and tests and trials.  This is how you manifest that you are a believer, that you have true faith.

If you believe the first verse of the Bible, everything else left to believe in the Bible is downhill from there.  That's the toughest thing, so if something else seems tough, you can go back to that and remember that nothing is too tough.  He said He created everything.  He has given evidence that He did, enough of it, but if you can believe that, then you know that He has the wisdom and power and nature to do everything else that He said He did and would do.

I am justified by faith.  Why would I think that, receive that, believe that, know that?  God said I was, that's why.  That is faith.  Some say faith is disconnected to evidence.  Not true.  Scripture is evidence.  I'm sitting at an airport right now.  I have an identification.  It says I've already jumped through enough hoops to prove that I am who I say that I am.  The Bible has already done that.  It has already been authenticated as evidence, and so it skips right to the front of the line.  No more investigation is needed.  Validation is settled.  It is a wicked generation that looks for more than that. Now you just know it, believe it, think it, however you want to say that.

There are gaps in historical proof for some of what the Bible says.  The Bible itself is historical proof and better than historical proof.  If you read Isaiah 40-48, you know that what God says is better than other forms of evidence, because it connects to the present, the past, and the future.  Nothing else does that in the realm of what we know.  The Bible is the gold standard.  Everything else is some hybrid, some mixture.

The true church isn't a state church, such as Roman Catholicism.  The true church is the separated church, the one that never identified with or associated with a state church.  True churches always existed.  Yes.  The truth didn't get passed down through Roman Catholicism.  Why do I think, believe, know this?  Scripture says.  I anticipate what the Bible says.  You say, but you can't prove that.  I can, the Bible teaches it, and that's proof.

Other say, no, we don't have evidence for anything but the Roman Catholic church until the Reformation.  That's it, folks.  They have to rely on evidence to get their positions, so it's Roman Catholicism.  They would rather believe their lying eyes than they would the Bible.  They can't see churches in recorded history, not enough came through the hand-written part of history, so they can't say it exists, even though Jesus said it would.  Is the Bible enough evidence?  Are professing Christians too embarrassed of the Bible to accept it?

The Bible stands or as Jesus said, scripture cannot be broken. Written history doesn't stand.  Some of it does, but not all of it, and the further you go back, the more difficult it is to sort through what's true and what isn't.  If you think the Bible needs further confirmation from history, then you've got a problem.

When Jesus spoke to His disciples in the upper room discourse, a speech that went into the streets of Jerusalem with them at the end of John 14 through the end of 16, He made a lot of promises about the future.  They were as good as true, as good as done, right when He said them.   They hadn't happened yet.  The Holy Spirit had not come.  Was what Jesus said, evidence?  Are men better off saying, "I'll believe it, when I see it?"  What He says always comes true like He says.  It is evidence.  To top that off, He prayed in John 17 to the Father that these things would come true. Everything Jesus prays will come true.  We can anticipate what Jesus said would come true.  What He said and prayed are not up for question.  They are true.

I can't find a true church in every year since Christ ascended.  That doesn't mean there isn't one.  I can't find their doctrinal statements.  In certain cases, I can find unorthodox doctrine attributed to separatist groups. This is where we please Him by faith by just accepting that there were always true churches separate from the state church (which isn't even a church), in every year since Christ ascended.  He said there would be, so we believe there was.  That is the evidence, not history. History can be helpful, but it isn't 100% trustworthy.  You can't completely count on it.  You can't even count on contemporary opinions or writings of men, let alone really old ones, written a long time ago.  The Bible is different.  It is the pure mother's milk.

Our view of the church needs to match up with the Bible.  Our view of authority needs to match up with the Bible.  Our view of preservation of scripture needs to match up with the Bible.  The Bible isn't something that God's people didn't have accessible for four hundred years.  That can't be the Bible.  The Bible itself teaches a settled text.  It teaches perfect preservation.  Whatever fits what the Bible teaches is the true view.  It is what we should accept as happening, as the truth, as knowledge, as a fact. Other types of so-called "validation" or "verification," like so-called "reasoned eclecticism" are not faith.  Scripture doesn't teach that the true text is in the majority of the manuscripts, where ever they might be.  All of these positions are not faith, and we should count on them being wrong. They clash with scripture.

I read someone in the last few weeks, who wrote about "reasoned eclecticism":
The main draw of the eclectic approach, for me, is its honesty about what we know, what don't, and why it makes the choices it does. I don't mean to say the other views are dishonest (well, some of them are), but "honest" in the sense of facing facts squarely and not leaning heavily on wishful thinking.
He is saying that someone can only be honest if he sees something.  If he doesn't see a physical manuscript with that particular word, or at least a vaunted textual critic sees it, then it didn't exist, even if it is found in a printed edition.  Being honest in this case is relying on evidence.  Is the Bible enough evidence?  When it comes to biblical doctrine, do we not rely on the Bible for the doctrine? The Bible provides the trajectory, the template, the understanding of what will happen, connecting past, present, and future, like God does, and that is where true knowledge lies.

Is someone being honest if he says he believes the Bible and then either doesn't believe the Bible or just ignores it, because the latest and best history or extra-documents seem to contradict what the Bible teaches?  Are we supposed to go outside of scripture to understand scripture?  Desire the pure mother's milk like babes do.  Stop desiring the latest hybrid that takes the gutter route.

Some in an attempt to elevate lying eyes will call faith in scripture, fideism.  They treat it as if it is an ethereal faith in faith or faith for faith's sake.  No.  There was a talking snake.  Moses looked totally washed out white coming down Sinai.  The Red Sea split and an entire nation walked through.  I don't have to find chariots.  I don't have to find Joseph's tomb in Egypt to believe Joseph ruled in Egypt. One measly archaeological reference to David doesn't overturn David.

Christians, do we really like the Bible?  Do we really trust it?  God deserves to be honored, to be believed.  Let's do believe Him.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Metaphysical Reality

When you think of your own existence, you find yourself in a moment of metaphysical reality.  Your thoughts are not mere chemicals.  As you direct your own mind to subject matter, you know this is not only physical.  Some other dimension besides the physical is at work.

Space and matter appear to be expanding and men know this didn't and doesn't "just happen."  Even if it isn't expanding, what we see as doing so must have been caused to begin.  The idea of the universe being part of a chain of infinite causal regress, cause and effect going back forever, is not possible.

Modern observation of the fine-tuning of the universe, the complexity of the cell, and modern physics point to a metaphysical reality. String theorists envision ten or more dimensions.  Quantum-field theorists speculate higher dimensions. Scientists are not yet certain exactly what dark matter and dark energy are, but many of them "believe" that we are detecting the effects of both, and they use dark matter to explain galactic motion.

If someone can accept higher dimensions and dark matter, he should also consider metaphysical reality.  Men choose to conceive of artificial intelligence living in a simulated computer universe. That intelligence could be totally unaware of its programmer-creator watching it, even though the world exists outside of the computer.  The human brain far exceeds the sum of the abilities of any man-made computer,  so that even a simulation is far beyond the computational capability of any current computer or the coding itself required to program it.  Though human minds are immaterial, they depend on matter to exist.  However, as a transcendent Spirit, God does not depend on material things to exist, and therefore His mind could compute far beyond the reach of any even conceivable supercomputer man could build.

Astronomer Hugh Ross identified one hundred forty fine tuning parameters of our universe, without which life as we know it would be impossible, akin to one hundred forty radio tuning dials that have to be simultaneously tuned to precisely the right frequency.  If it isn't God in charge of those dials, then there must be some explanation and it can't be continuously successful chance.  Even though men haven't come close even to finding another planet that can sustain life, it doesn't make any sense to give credit to some very talented and powerful alien for controlling those dials.

Generating complex order from an explosion isn't possible.  Explosions produce disorder and chaos, not mind boggling order beyond the ability of even human design.  Men don't see accident or chance functioning with precision.  Yet the accuracy applied to all the calculations necessary for succeeding at the monumental number of correct conclusions is beyond the cumulative efforts of all the smartest men.  It is metaphysical reality.  Who is metaphysical reality?  He is God.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Fifth American War: Uniquely Good Analysis By Victor David Hanson

I don't normally read Victor David Hanson.  Through the years, cumulatively I've read several articles of his, but he has written a monumental piece for National Review, just out.  His analysis is dead center, entitled, The Fifth American War.  Enjoy.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Liberty and Lordship

Someone could say to his boss, "Sure you're the boss, but I get to interpret everything you say and, one, make it mean what I say that it means, even if it means changing its meaning, or, two, decide what is plain or clear so as not to do what isn't plain to me."  No boss would take those terms, because he would know what it means -- he isn't the boss any more.  He couldn't and wouldn't count on his business getting done.  Yet, this is the state of most of professing Christianity today.

Whatever it is that professing Christians, including its leaders, don't like or don't think will work, they can void through one of the same two ways as the above illustration.  Differing interpretations and decisions related to plainness become liberty issues or at least are considered to be questionable things.  Your only requirement, something of which you don't have liberty, is to agree to disagree -- that is the only requirement, the only way in which you don't have liberty.  You have liberty only to agree.  You don't have liberty to say someone is wrong, because you would have to sure someone is wrong.  You might be sure, but you can't say, because that would take away this liberty to interpret everything on your own, and the companion liberty to decide what is plain and clear, both of which I will hereon refer to as "faux autonomy."

I have read a very tenuous, spider web thread-like exegetical or theological connection to this inability to be sure, based upon faux autonomy.  If scripture doesn't say, for instance, smoking crack, you go beyond scripture to prohibit.  Peter said that there are things hard to be understood, so things can be too hard to understand.  Jesus talked about weightier matters of the law, so certain matters can be judged to be very light, weighing literally nothing.  Since the gospel is first in importance, someone can judge things to be of very little importance, or might as well be said to be of no importance.

If someone believes in Jesus Christ, he must believe Jesus is Lord.  If someone believes Jesus is the Christ, then he believes Jesus is the Messiah, that is, the King, another implication of lordship.  The identity of Jesus is an aspect of the gospel. You must believe in the Jesus of the Bible, the One revealed in scripture, to be saved.  Doing what you are told shouldn't be and can't be separated from lordship.  He isn't Lord on our terms, anymore than someone is boss on our terms.  If it is our terms, then He isn't Lord to us, that is, we aren't believing in Him.

No one has liberty to sin, especially Christians.  Christians don't have liberty to disobey Jesus Christ. Faux autonomy contradicts the lordship of Christ.  However, this is where Christianity is today, diminishing the lordship of Christ with faux autonomy.  They are picking their own Jesus based on what they prefer.  They use faux autonomy to "believe" in Him and then not do what He says.  They don't believe in Him.

Jesus calls us to salvation by calling us with Him outside the camp (Heb 13:13).  Professing Christians want the salvation that stays in the camp and doesn't bear the reproach of association with Jesus, separate from the world.  They prefer a convenient Christianity, spotted by the world.  This Christianity attracts a larger crowd.  It isn't Christianity.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Repentance Debate Challenge

For a number of decades now the heresy on repentance hatched in hell and taught by Jack Hyles, Curtis Hudson and Shelton Smith's Sword of the Lord, and other "Baptist" leaders, as well as the (falsely so-called) Free Grace movement of Zane Hodges and others, has rejected the Biblical fact that when the lost repent, they must, enabled by God's grace and the powerful working of God's Spirit, turn from their sins to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Instead of this basic gospel truth, the heresy that repentance is just turning from unbelief to belief (which of itself misunderstands the nature of saving belief or faith, which involves surrender) has infected a significant percentage of the independent Baptist movement. However, while this false gospel has spread, being taught with more or less consistency, in schools such as Hyles-Anderson College, Golden State Baptist College, Dayspring Bible College, Baptist College of America, West Coast Baptist College, Berean Baptist College, as well as through para-church organizations such as the Sword of the Lord, and by nutcases with a large Internet presence like the Holocaust-denying "Baptist" Steven Anderson, no public debate over it has taken place.  In light of these terrible facts, I would be interested in conducting a public and moderated debate with a prominent advocate of the alternative "Baptist" position on repentance.  (It could have some value to debate a "free grace" advocate who attended Dallas Seminary and goes to a Bible church, but I would prefer to debate an independent "Baptist" advocate of this new and false gospel, as I am the most concerned for independent Baptist churches adopting and promulgating this damnable heresy.)  Both parties to the debate would have full rights to do whatever they wished with the video-recorded debate, (which, in my case, very likely means posting it for free online, as my debates with Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation are online), over the proposition:

"Saving repentance always results in a changed life."

or something similar.

If you are a significant advocate of the anti-turning from sin position on repentance and are willing to defend your position in open debate, please contact me on my website.  If you are not an advocate of this position but have connections to one of its significant advocates, please encourage him to stand up for his position like a man (and, in his view, like a Christian, even if his gospel is not in truth Christian) and defend it in an open debate.

I believe it would be beneficial for the kingdom of God to have a public discussion of this sort available, instead of just having two radically different gospels proclaimed among independent Baptists without any serious interaction of this kind.  Such a debate could, Lord willing, be watched by many in this media-focused generation--between the advocates of the opposite positions.

I would love for advocates of the anti-true repentance position to take the name "Baptist" off of their church signs, as they are neither Biblical, Baptist, nor Christian, but if they are not willing to do so, then at least they should be willing to defend their heresy.  The way the majority of them spread it, by taking texts out of context, screaming from behind their pulpits to the whipped-up crowds of the mainly already convinced, "proving" they are right by the number of people they have manipulated into repeating the "sinner's prayer," and other non-exegetical antics, really needs to stop being good enough.  It is time for one of them to defend their new "gospel" in public debate.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Should Naturalistic Explanations Overrule Scriptural Ones?

When scripture teaches something, does that settle a matter, a belief and practice? If a naturalistic explanation clashes with a scriptural one, should the natural overrule the biblical?  The virgin birth is not naturalistic.  Should believers reject that event and teaching for a naturalistic explanation? Should men just receive what the Bible says happened?

New studies say that spanking isn't good for children.  The Bible says it is good.  Should the Bible continue to rule on child rearing?

Naturalists say earth is billions of years old.  The Bible says less than 10,000.  What decides?

Linguists say there's evidence the Hebrew language developed from other ancient ones.  The Bible shows Hebrew the original language in the Garden of Eden.  Is the Bible true?

Naturalism says that societal evolution advances egalitarianism.  The Bible says God designed man as the head of the woman.  What are we to think?

Naturalistic rules of textual criticism say that no one can be sure of the exact wording of the New Testament, neither was the text of the New Testament accessible for centuries.  The Bible says God preserved and would preserve every Word of His Words for every generation of believer.  Which should be trusted?

Taking a naturalistic position in denial of scriptural teaching is a faithless position.  According to scripture it doesn't please God.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Do Christians Like the Whole Bible?

All of the Bible is the truth and all of it is good.  It comes as a package.  You don't accept the Bible and then not accept all of it.  You accept all of it or none of it.  It is like the truth in that way.  There is one truth.  It is the truth whether you like it or not.  Just because you don't like it doesn't mean that you get to choose your own truth.

The Bible is not a buffet restaurant intended for choosing what you like and discarding the rest.   None of it reads that way.  An illustration closer to how scripture reads would be the instructions for putting together an intricate model.  Each individual piece fits in one and only one place.  Every piece is necessary to the whole and each place where each piece goes is also an important feature.  That isn't an exact analogy, but much, much closer than the buffet table that God's Word has become.

Our church is very, very different than most of the evangelical churches in our area and even different than the fundamentalists ones.  All the of the differences between us and them relate to ways that churches have capitulated on Bible doctrine and practice.  Our church still believes and practices where the church has caved and mostly for "cultural reasons."  Today you will read, hear, or see that a church is conservative doctrinally and liberal culturally.  Now very often if not most often, if the doctrine is right, the cultural issues don't matter to them.

Scripture teaches the church is different than the world.  Where a church very often if not most often suffers today is not in its doctrine, but where it contrasts with the world.  The light of the church shines through its practice and especially where the world varies from it.  This is especially and mostly seen in cultural issues.  By that I mean such as dress, music, entertainment, recreation, literature, food and drink, art, marriage, education, manners, and roles, among some others.  All of these relate to morality and righteous behavior.

Here's what has happened and at one time, most professing Christians knew it was happening.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, the differences in culture between the church and the world were little, because of the influence of the church on the culture.  This was a way that the light of Christianity shown on the United States.  The world, however, began to change away from the Christian culture at a more rapid pace.  The churches stood against that.

As the world changed and the differences between the church and the world became more drastic, churches began to modify to accommodate the world.  Those that did were more popular.  Other churches preached against the world, but then also against those other churches.  Finally the churches that weren't moving with the world became the minority.  They were not only castigated by the world but also by a majority of the churches.  Those churches have dwindled until there are very, very few that stand where they once did.

True doctrines have slid with the wrong practices, including warped aesthetics and inordinate affections.  Now unity might be expected over minimal doctrine and on almost nothing in the culture.  You can hardly tell the difference in most churches between the church and the world.  To conform to that, the gospel is then changed to something that excludes resulting behavior.  Even if a church hasn't slid on most of the doctrine, it won't separate from a church that has moved.  Churches have become a hodge-podge of belief and behavior. You can't rely on the church anymore for stability for truth, goodness, and beauty.  It's stopped giving guidance and instead reflected what is happening around it.

God hasn't changed though.  He still wants all of His Word practiced, every bit of it. Christians now don't like the whole Bible and they don't even have to like all of it.  They just have to believe the parts that are "essential," which excludes almost everything in the way of practice.

Scripture still has authority as much as it ever has, but churches don't respect the authority of scripture.  They follow it in the areas they think they'll be benefited.  They know the Bible has lost its authority with them, but they still advocate for it in those areas they think they can say are plain enough.  It's not convincing, so churches have stopped attempting to convince people with the truth and now are doing it with social and "spiritual" aspects that they hope will transmit to others the possibility of something divine.

If you are going to preach the Bible, you have to preach all of it, believe all of it, practice all of it, and apply all of it, using its principles.  It is as authoritative, as true, and as good as it ever has been. The Bible applies to every area of life, including the cultural issues.  Christians applied them in the past and we have historical literature on how they did.  Those practices still matter to God.

Churches that have given up on cultural issues are in trouble with God.  Really, they have invented a whole new god who will accept their own personal dislike of a lot of scripture that they don't want to practice. Their god is good with that.

To go along with the perversion of the culture, churches have to go along with new definitions of love, marriage, and sin, among many other words or concepts.  They do that.  One is a redefinition of grace.  If you do believe and practice the whole Bible, because you do believe it is all God's Word and you like the whole Bible, you'll be called a legalist by other professing Christians, churches, and church leaders.  This is to smear you or taint you with something that makes you look like you are less than Christian.  However, they are the ones who have moved off of the biblical truth about grace.

Almost all of those who throw around the word legalist see grace as a garbage can. It is a fake or placebo grace that doesn't change you in a scriptural way.  It allows you live like the world, but be given credit like you are living a holy life.

True grace cleans you up and empowers you to live according to all of scripture.  The fake gracers reduce scripture down to what they think they can keep in their own strength.  They are depending on themselves, so it isn't even the grace of God.  The idea of grace is to minimize or reduce the teachings of scripture, and then let "grace" take care of the rest.  You don't have to live it, but grace will do that for you.  It's not grace.  It's a form of left winged legalism.

People who want to live like they want will gladly accept a new, perverted form of grace. They'll believe they have the grace of God, like Charismatics believe they are speaking in actual tongues or that they are seeing actual miracles.  They don't.  God's grace changes someone to live a holy life, not to conform to the world.

God is a good God, so everything in the Bible is good.  Most professing Christians don't think so anymore.  They are discontent with God and His Word and have reinvented their Christianity to fit the lifestyle that they want to live.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Monday, July 03, 2017

The Relationship of Faith and Science or Faith and Thinking

Last Wednesday, I and other folks from our church were out evangelizing near Berkeley, California, and my group had left a door, and a middle aged man in the street on roller blades informed us that the family there wasn't home.  I said to him concerning his roller blading, "That looks like good exercise."  He asked, "What are you guys doing?" I said, "We're from Bethel Baptist Church and we're out preaching the gospel, telling people about our church and what we believe."  He answered, "A long time ago, I stopped believing anything, because believing results in not thinking."  I told him that wasn't true, that it was a wrong understanding of belief.

The man's idea was that faith really did preclude evidence, that it was completely separated from evidence.  If you want to know something, you get that by thinking, which is contradictory to faith.  I told him that we don't get to define faith however we want, because the very concept of faith comes from the Bible.  If we want to know what it means, we look at the Bible to find out what it means.  I said that Hebrews 11:1 defined faith or belief and it says that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Faith is based on evidence.

What the man argued is seen all over the United States today, recently revealed in a decision finally to allow a young earth creationist to take rock samples from the Grand Canyon.  He's a creationist, not a scientist, because creation is based upon belief, which is detached from thinking.  This is not true.  There is one truth.  The two opposing viewpoints cannot both be true.  Neither are neutral either.  Both start with presuppositions, one based on the Bible and the other based upon speculation.

The Bible itself is evidence, and the creation scientist wants to go to the Grand Canyon to corroborate, but that is an unacceptable point of view to even be given the opportunity, so, as you can read in the above linked article, he went to court to sue for his right to be allowed by the National Park Service to take samples he'd like to study.  He wants to look at the evidence to see what it shows, whether it backs up a Genesis account of origins.

Faith is not bereft of evidence.  Those who receive the Bible believe that it is true, so it presents the only true account of the story of mankind.  They also think, that's right, think, that the evidence corresponds to and corroborates the biblical account.  They believe the Bible because God wrote it, but they also think what it says to be true.