Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Profane

Reading through the Bible for my second time this year, I arrived at Leviticus again and the word "profane" stood out to me.  It is found 26 times in the Old Testament of the King James Version and seven in the New.  Fifteen of those total times are in Leviticus.

In eighteenth century English dictionaries, to profane something is to violate something sacred.  The Universal English Dictionary in 1706 defines "profane":

Ungodly, unholy, irreligious, wicked; unhallowed, common, ordinary:  It is often opposed to sacred.

The Hebrew word, translated "profane," also many times means and is translated "to bore or to pierce."  Something is added that is not natural to a thing when it is pierced.  It is violated.  I like to use the analogy of a dirty dish placed with the clean dishes.

Here are the fifteen usages of the English word "profane" in Leviticus, all found in five of the chapters.

Leviticus 18:21, And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Leviticus 19:12, And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Leviticus 20:3, And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.

Leviticus 21:4, But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.

6, They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.

7, They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.

9, And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.

12, Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD.

14, A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.

15, Neither shall he profane his seed among his people: for I the LORD do sanctify him.

23 Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.

Leviticus 22:2, Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD.

9, They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do sanctify them.

15, And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the LORD.

32, Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you.

Profane, you can see, is an adjective, noun, or verb.  As a verb, the Hebrew word (chalal) means, "to be commonly used."  The Hebrew word is also translated in the King James Version, "pollute" (Numbers 18:32).  An understanding of "profane" must be taken in contrast to sacred, hallowed, or holy.

Something sacred is kept separate, not mixed with the common.  By mixing it with the common, it is profaned or becomes profane, which is the opposite of holy.  By adding something common to something sacred, the sacred is profaned.  It is no longer hallowed or kept separate.  The common is something not sacred, so it is of a different nature than the sacred or the holy.  For something to remain holy, it must be kept distinct, and a difference must be kept between the holy and the profane in order to keep sanctified that what is holy.  This is especially in important in worship and Leviticus is a guidebook for worship.

To keep something hallowed that is sacred, one must understand it's nature.  What makes it holy?  What is this act, thing, or person in its essence.  Then only something of that essence or of the same kind can be associated with it, brought into contact with it, or linked with it or correlated to it.  It's worth reading all the usages above from Leviticus.

The first usage in Leviticus of "profane" reads, "neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God."  It does not explain what that is.  It assumes the reader knows what that is.

"The name of God" is who God is.   It's what characterizes Him in His Person and Work.  To profane His name is to associate or correlate with Him something that is contrary to His nature.  It disrespects Him.  It dishonors Him. It mischaracterizes Him, and this is very serious to do to God, so God adds, "I am the LORD."  John Gill writes about this:  "I [am] the Lord; who would avenge such a profanation of his name."  God isn't going to allow someone to keep profaning His name.

I'm going to select a few of the above examples to give the sense or understanding of "profane."  Leviticus 21:12 says, "Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God."  To profane the sanctuary is to make it common.  It's a sacred place and it is treated as a common place, not unique to God.  This is not just profaning God, but profaning God's sanctuary, something closely associated with God.

Leviticus 22:1-2 say,

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD.

Those who had become common and, therefore, not holy, were not qualified to offer than holy sacrifices.  God would be profaned by the unholy offering the holy.   The person himself could profane God and the worship of God and the thing offered could be profaned so as to profane God and the worship of Him.  Common things, which are unholy, are to be kept out of worship.  They may not even be evil -- they're just common.  Something is made common when it is not treated in a unique or sacred manner, but is treated like everything else.

How people understand God in their imagination comes in a major way through association.  Not only does God take offense at it, because it disrespects Him, but it also gives people as much as anything a wrong view of God.  Someone will have a lesser view of God, a diminished understanding of Him, and that will affect a person's life.  He may not believe in the true God or live in accordance with the true God.

As much as anything today as an application of profane is the mixture in worship in the contemporary churches what is common with what it holy.  Professing churches give God profane worship and they profane God.  They give Him something worldly, lustful, and distorted so as to blaspheme God.  The people then become like their worship.  They themselves are profane and this just results in even further profanity of God and of their lives.  The world doesn't know God because of the correlation of the common or the profane with God in professing churches.  The people of these professing churches are made common and profane as they blaspheme God with their profanity.

Monday, July 19, 2021

A Test of Faith: Doing What You Know to Be Good Rather Than What Is Merely Permissible

Is what God wants you to do what you want to do?  There may be no law that requires you to do what God wants you to do, but doing what He wants is still a test of your faith, that is, a test for whether you truly believe in Him or not.

The book of James records tests of faith to decide whether someone possesses saving faith.  A saved man is not double minded.  He chooses what God wants because He believes that.  He's not tossed around like a wave of the sea.

A test arises in man's lust.  Rather than depending on God, He lusts and desires to have.  He's more of a friend of the world than he is of God.  Someone that doesn't want to do what God wants, which manifests itself in not praying for what God wants, isn't submitted to God or humble.  In general, God will resist that person.  It is pride and barrier to the grace of God.

In and of itself, it isn't a sin to go into a city, buy, sell, and get gain (James 4:13).  It is a sin to do that if God wants you to be doing something else.  Doing what is merely permissible is not a replacement for doing what God wants you to do.  When you know to do good and you don't do it, that is, you do something just permissible or lawful, it's still sin, even though there isn't anything wrong with it in and of itself.

People in heaven always do the will of God.   They always to what God wants.  Our overarching or overriding presupposition should be to do the will of God.  Our life isn't long enough to do both what we want and what God wants (James 4:14).  We ought to be saying, if the Lord will, we will do this or that (James 4:15).  This is a test of faith.  Faith doesn't come down to doing merely what is lawful or permitted to do, but doing what God wants.  He that enters into the kingdom of heaven is he who as a lifestyle does the will of God (Matthew 7:21), because he is the one who genuinely believes.

When as a habit we do not do what God wants, we're being covetous, which is idolatry.  We are putting what we want ahead of what God wants.  One reason cities are not being evangelized, even though there are hundreds of professing Christians in them or near them, is because those professing Christians care less about what God wants than they do about what they want.  God cares about evangelism, but they don't, or at least they don't care enough about it.

When the choice arises for a true believer to do what he wants, he will combat that temptation.  He will as a practice, want nothing.  He will stand up to that temptation as a regular lifestyle.  He will endure the temptation, that is, be patient.  His life isn't about what He wants, but about what God wants.

The world says, do what you want, but faith overcomes the world.  Faith sees a continuing city, whose builder and maker is God.  Faith sees the lasting nature of what God wants and the temporality of what I want.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

The Elimination of Practices and Activities Deemed Dispensable By the Truth About Real Gain

You can do certain things.  They're permissible, sure.  They're not wrong per se.  Paul argue that's not how we should choose to do things.   We might like them.  They might be fun.

Paul could have made money off of his preaching.  According to him in 1 Corinthians 9, he even deserved it.  Those who preach of the gospel, he said, should live of the gospel.  However, he willingly gave up that support for the sake of the gospel.  As an evangelist or missionary, taking monetary support for preaching the gospel could diminish the effects of his preaching.

The money Paul could have made was a type of gain.  It's still a well-known type of gain.  Gain is an economics term, like "capital gains."  Adam Smith in his classic, Wealth of Nations, begins chapter ten by saying:

The five following are the principal circumstances which, so far as I have been able to observe, make up for a small pecuniary gain in some employments, and counterbalance a great one in others.

Then he names those five principles circumstances and elaborates on them.  You see his use of the word "gain."  He uses it 17 times in that chapter.  In the next paragraph, he writes:

Honour makes a great part of the reward of all honourable professions. In point of pecuniary gain, all things considered, they are generally under-recompensed, as I shall endeavour to show by and by. Disgrace has the contrary effect. The trade of a butcher is a brutal and an odious business; but it is in most places more profitable than the greater part of common trades. The most detestable of all employments, that of public executioner, is, in proportion to the quantity of work done, better paid than any common trade whatever.

He says that honor is the reward of certain honorouble professions, rather than "pecuniary gain."  "Pecuniary" is "related to or consisting of money."  He implies there are other types of gain, like honor.  Honor is a kind of gain, not pecuniary, but one to be chosen over money apparently.  The profession brings honor, if it doesn't bring money.

The Apostle Paul refers to gain again and again in scripture, and this is seen in 1 Corinthians 9 in a section that most label as a section on Christian liberty.  I respect that idea that 1 Corinthians 6-10 is about Christian liberty.  I don't mind it, but it is worth looking at it from the perspective of the definition of real gain.

God created man for a relationship with Him.  The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 16:26,

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

There's that word "gain."  The implication here is that someone profits nothing, even if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul.  Luke 9:25 says,

For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

In the King James Version, Paul uses the word "gain" five times.  He writes first in 1 Corinthians 9:19,

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

Instead of taking pecuniary gain, Paul wanted heavenly gain.  He gave up the former for the latter.  Pecuniary gain was dispensable.  His own soul and the souls of the lost were not dispensable.  He dispensed of one to gain the other.  He goes on to use the word "gain."  Verse 22 is the last use:
To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
Then Paul uses the example of athletes or competitors who discipline themselves for a prize.  They dispense of personal comforts to win something temporal.  They are an example.  Paul says, decide and live and choose based upon real gain.  Dispense of false gain.  It isn't gain.

When Paul gives his testimony, he credits this thought in his own salvation.  Philippians 3:7 reads,
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Paul's own salvation meant accessing real gain.  What was once gain to him, to be saved, he must count as loss.  Later in his ministry, for others to be saved, what was considered gain by many, he must count as loss.

1 Corinthians 6-10 is less about liberty, more about eliminating practices and activities that are dispensable.  They are not gain.  Paul could say that "to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).  Real gain is what makes life worth living and death, not just tolerable, but favorable.

In 1 Corinthians 9 besides "gain," Paul uses the words "reward" (vv. 17-18), "without charge" (v. 18), and "prize" (v. 24).  Everyone is working or living for something.  Where is the gain, the reward, and the prize?

At the end of Paul's epistle (1 Corinthians 16:22), he writes:
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 
Anathema Maranatha means "cursed at His coming."

Do we love the Lord Jesus Christ?  That is, are we truly saved?  If we do, we can and we will eliminate dispensable practices and activities.  They are permissible, but they miss the purpose of God, why we're here on earth as people and especially as believers..

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

What Formed Crater Lake?

Certain questions, like the title of this post, seem rather remote and disconnected from every day life.  Like I like to put it to people, "It seems like an island that has nothing to do with the mainland, so why paddle out to that."  The world, however, takes great note of these questions and their answers.  We should have the true answer and be able to state it -- not to every such question, but to such questions.  We introduce the world to the real world.  They are stuck in their alternative reality and we are responsible to deliver them from it.  I know that today people state it as taking the red pill, but if this is a pill, it's probably not red or blue, but the concept itself is valid.

After about a year in Oregon, a friend and member of our church in California came up to visit on the weekend, we went door-to-door evangelizing Friday and Saturday, had Sunday services, and yesterday, we drove up to Crater Lake, which is also a national park about an hour and a half drive from where we live.  Crater Lake is beautiful.  It is essentially the top of a mountain that has been hollowed out with no outlet and water has accumulated there through various means over a long period of time.  It looks like a crater filled with the brightest blue, almost transparent water.  In the lake is another old volcano that also has a crater, a mini-island within the crater, a mountain within a mountain.  It was hazy, when we visited Crater Lake on Monday, because of wind blowing smoke up from fires in California.  Nevertheless, the views, as we drove all the way around and hiked to two locations and got out of the car at least ten times to look, were awe inspiring (if you click on the pictures, they get bigger and better).


Requisite now for national parks, which are very often very beautiful, are historical and apparent scientific explanations.  Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and it is the ninth deepest lake in the world.  At many of the scenic overlooks were placards and displays that talked about the formation.

The explanation for Crater Lake is that it was Mount Mazama, which became an active volcanoe, which erupted 6,000 to 8,000 years ago which blew out twelve cubit miles worth of material to form a cadera, the gigantic crater.  That bowl filled up with water from huge snows and the melting of the snow pack in the winter.  Since there are no inlets or outlets, it is very pure water, some of the purest of the world, and it is estimated the water completely changes every 250 years through the exchange of evaporation and precipitation.

If you read the descriptions on any of the placards or displays, there is no mention of God.  God does not enter into the explanation.  He should.  Crater Lake formed by means of a universal flood over the entire earth from which the original water also came.  Yes, it has since been replenished in the way described, but was a lake at the time of the great flood, revealed in Genesis 6-9 in the Bible.

God was angry with mankind and so He revealed to a righteous man, named Noah, that rain and a flood and destruction werre coming, because of man's sin.  Man was sinning and unrepentant of it.  Violating the moral law of God brings consequences.  God doesn't allow man to interminably get away with sin.  He reacts with righteous indignation and true justice.

God is also merciful, because he instructed Noah to preach to mankind to warn him for 120 years.  God also provided for a way to instruct the destruction of the flood, an ark.  Noah and his family would build the ark to save whoever would repent and believe.  No one did, so except for the eight people in Noah's family, everyone died.

The flood changed the topography of the earth.  Water came from beneath the earth's surface and from above.  A feature of the earth before the flood was the firmament, waters which protected the earth from factors that would greatly shorten people's life spans.  Proceeding from God's power, waters broke forth from beneath the surface of the earth and rained down from above it.

The pressure of the water that covered the earth completely changed the topography of the planet.  There was a tremendous upheaval that is responsible for what the earth looks like now.  This occurred by the powerful judgment of God and then the natural forces that followed from that.  Genesis 10 talks about the division of the earth.  It took awhile for the earth to settle.  The population was very small and in one location and everywhere else were massive changes from which are repercussions still today.

The forces at work from the worldwide flood caused volcanic eruptions and huge shifts of the earth's crust, leaving still the consequences of sin in the way of volcanic and seismic activity.  The earth still often shakes with the shifting of plates and destroys what's on the surface, leading to further death.  Giant waves form and hit the shore of populated area, destroying life and property.  The weather that followed the flood has continued to wreak havoc everywhere and all the time with the far less stable living environment than what existed before the flood.  Life changed drastically and it was all because of sin.

God's judgment of sin formed Crater Lake.  It also formed the Rogue Gorge, which is nearby Crater Lake about 45 minutes away.



These formations are beautiful to see.  They are powerful.  All of them have arisen from the power of God's destruction of a former world because of its sin.  No one mentions that at either location, but it is true and it is the most important story at both Crater Lake and Rogue Gorge.

Further judgment is coming to the world.  God has already warned about it.  He wants His children, His saints, to preach about it.  It's obviously nearer today than it ever has been.  Even the smoke over Crater Lake reminds me of that future fire that will destroy the world.  Like Noah and his family could be saved, God offers salvation.  Let's not miss that.  A former world was destroyed without repentance.  Only those who repent and believe in Jesus Christ will escape the next judgment of God.

Friday, July 09, 2021

Atheist Quotes from my Debates

 I have a new post with some illuminating quotes from my debates with atheists. Click here to read them.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Defining Pharisaism By Fleshing Out Its Confrontation by the Lord Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount

Terms like Pharisaism and legalism are often blunt instruments used today against churches and individual believers.  They can be much like the word, racism.  People weaponize terms to protect a belief or lifestyle through castigation.  At the worst, they want to eliminate the objects of their scorn.  Maybe they're right about the ones they want to cancel and what they believe and practice.  Is it true though?  Are their targets really Pharisees and legalists?

The Lord Jesus confronted Pharisaism and legalism with His Sermon on the on Mount in Matthew 5-7.  The sermon explains salvation, but in a unique way to cast down the corrupt view of the Pharisees, the religion of the day.  Their teaching was so prevalent everywhere, what Jesus then preached was also dealing with the thinking of everyone in His audience.   Even if He wasn't preaching to Pharisees, He was preaching to Pharisaism and legalism.

Pharisees didn't recognize their spiritual poverty, so they didn't mourn.  Spiritually rich people don't need to mourn because they're already full of righteousness.  As a result, they're not submissive to God.  They don't need God to inherit the earth.  They've got that one covered by themselves and through their own efforts.

Mercy is so weighty, so hard, that it's nearly impossible for an impression of righteousness, not actual righteousness.  Mercy also isn't showy.  It's like what James talks about, visiting widows and the fatherless in their affliction.  That doesn't get the same publicity like Pharisaical religion, which depends on being noticed.  Pharisees have a pure look, except when no one is looking.  They're not pure in heart.

Pharisees don't have real peace, so they can't be peacemakers.  Peacemakers require peace with God themselves.  Ignoring sin won't bring peace.  Peace doesn't come from toleration of sin.  Trying to be good and preaching that to others will leave them still an enemy of God's.

Daniel prophesies the hardship brought on by the Roman government.  It wouldn't and it didn't occur because of righteousness, but because of sin.  Israel wasn't suffering for righteousness.  Individual Jews weren't being persecuted by the Romans.  Followers of God, who would be followers of His Son, Jesus Christ, will be persecuted for righteousness' sake.

Pharisaism doesn't retard corruption like salt.  It hides its light to avoid persecution.  The Pharisees reduced God's law to something they could keep on their own.  Like Jesus, they did not keep the least of God's commandments, neither did they teach men to do so.  Instead, they ranked the commandments and eliminated the ones that are hard to believe and obey.  Because they abolished God's instructions, they added their own as a replacement.

To do everything God wants, someone must trust God.  In other words, his house must be built on the rock, who is Jesus Christ, and not the sand, which is their own efforts.  The actual keeping of everything God says, in order to please Him, is what God wants.  You won't do that if you don't believe in Jesus Christ.

Pharisees came to Jesus to find the greatest of God's laws.  It wasn't so they could keep God's laws, but to reduce them.  Most of evangelicalism fits that description and most of evangelicalism labels Pharisees and legalists those who do not fit that description.  They who do and teach the least of the commandments are called Pharisees.  Those who break them and teach others to do so are the Pharisees.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Christian Patriotism

Christian patriotism could sound like an oxymoron.  Patriotism is devotion to and rigorous support of one's country and Christian is devotion to and rigorous support of Jesus Christ.  If you're really a Christian, then there would not be room for patriotism.  What is true about this?

At some point, some kind of patriotism isn't Christian anymore.  There's a real danger of that.  However, I believe patriotism can be consistent with being a Christian.  It's even good and right to a certain extent that is still in the bounds of actual patriotism.  Some will disagree and I think in many cases it is harmful disagreement.

Right now, it seems to me that about thirty percent of Americans do not love the flag.  In a recent article in the New York Times, an article, "A Fourth of July Symbol of Unity That May No Longer Unite," starts by telling the story of a produce salesman, who couldn't sell his potatoes to locals because he displayed the American flag.  They associated that with something evil.  The theme of the story is that the American flag is a polarizing symbol, not a unifying one.

The state itself wants to change the story of America that is told to children growing up in its school system.  It's a version of history that isn't happy about America, let alone patriotic.  I would assert that those who attack America are an almost exact overlap of those who will attack Christianity today.  They're the same people.  Some patriotic Americans now don't feel free expressing patriotism.  Now the American flag associates with Christianity to many and they're either happy or unhappy with it in a divisive way.

Where does patriotism go too far?   God isn't worshiped by singing a patriotic song; He isn’t.  We won’t sing patriotic songs as an act of worship.  Mormons have a view very close to the idea that the U.S. Constitution is inspired by God.  That’s also not true.

Christian patriotism could be something in the trajectory of Paul’s claiming and using Roman citizenship.  It was helpful to him based upon the providence of God.  The providence of God is a practical ramification of the sovereignty of God.  Because of the power, wisdom, and love of God, we can know that He allows and causes everything, so that He is working all things together for good to those who love God.  We look for those ways.

The United States is an example of the providence of God, especially the idea of America, and any way that the scriptural aspects of this idea are upheld.  By being patriotic, we are being thankful to God for what He has done.  We want to support this.  We want to hang on to this.  We don’t want to lose this. 

America is a part of the plan of God.  God has used the country insofar that America has held to scriptural concepts and a belief in the true God.  Righteousness has exalted the nation.  Sin on the other hand is increasingly though being a reproach to the nation, and genuine Christians would do well as salt to retard that corruption in a patriotic manner.

Christian patriotism is loyal to the preservation of a righteous nation as salt.  Why retard corruption?  Why not let the nation die?  This isn't God's will for a Christian.  A true patriot will embrace what makes America great and preserve it.  To keep it, you've got to know what it is.  You've got to teach it.  When people try to keep you from teaching it, you try to do something about that.

Christian patriotism connects with something in the past to celebrate.  There is something to shoot off fireworks, wear red, white, and blue, and be thankful to God.  Nations are in the will of God.  The preservation of those nations requires true affection for what truly makes them great.  Patriotism and this affection might be one and the same.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Book Review: Parenting AAA: God's Goals and Guidelines for Generational Spiritual Reproduction by Timothy Paul Geist

Timothy Geist is a pastor with Robert Sargent at Bible Baptist Church in Oak Harbor, Washington, a sister church. He was a career Naval officer before he surrendered to and was ordained a pastor.  In late 2020, he completed and his church published his book, Parenting AAA:  God's Goals and Guidelines for Generational Spiritual Reproduction.  I hope you get it.  It's a good book on parenting, and every parent needs scriptural help.

You will enjoy Geist's book, whether you are a church leader or member, written in a style that digs deep but communicates in an understandable and practical manner.  He bases everything on the Bible and takes and proves all of his points from scripture.  Triple A sounds like a ranch or an auto insurance company, but it is the main outline of his book:  Authority, Associations, and Appropriation.  In his preface, he presents a helpful chart that summarizes the book nicely, providing scripture to buttress each point.  It allows you to own the entire content of his book with the easy-to-remember outline.

Someone could ruin a book on parenting by missing the point or the main points.  Geist doesn't do that.  As I'm reading, I'm nodding my head and saying, "He's got it right."  My assessment is coming from someone who did not do as good a job as he did, and I wish I had.  It's painful in that way, but a good kind of hurt that could prepare to aid others.

Geist does not skip any aspect of parenting.  Very often parenting books deal very well with one or two aspects and leave out others.  His book will help you if you aren't yet a parent, are one of small children, or your kids are teenagers.  He doesn't avoid the difficult topics in accomplishing this task.  He has the advantage of his children being old enough and his having seen success with them.  He has practiced what he preached.

Each main point in the book divides nicely into full and practical doctrine and practice.  Under authority, he writes on rules, relationship, and reason, giving a means of accomplishment, all fleshed out from and starting with the Bible.  He deals with the pitfalls that very often cause the failings for a parent.

As an example of the power and usefulness of the book, regarding relationship, which deals with a parent developing a relationship with his children, he emphasizes time, talk, and touch.  Those might seem like no-brainers, and they might be on paper, but every parent needs that emphasis.  He shows the scriptural nature of all of those means to a genuine, godly relationship of a parent with his child.

Geist has married, adult children, who wed godly spouses.  That didn't just happen.  He followed the biblical doctrine and practice laid out in his book.  There is a right way and he explains it.  He divides all associations into people and things and spends sufficient time on each of those to deal with friends, heroes, music, television and movies, and education.  These are all tough subjects and he's got a section on all of them as they relate to parenting.

Nobody will probably get everything right when it comes to parenting.  Geist comes as close as I've seen anybody.  You should take advantage of what he's offering and buy a copy for you and others that you know.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Winning Someone and Winning Over Someone

I was sitting in the doctor's office today for an appointment for my dad.  I go with him to all his appointments, which are many.  Usually it is also accompanied by medical decisions, such as tweaking a few of his medications, including his insulin intake.  I pulled up today's list of articles at Realclearpolitics while waitingand one of them was from the New York Times, titled, "Progressives’ Urgent Question: How to Win Over Voters of Color."  I didn't immediately read the article, but my mind began weighing the difference between "winning someone" and "winning someone over."  Were those two different from each other?  I thought so.

Part of what got me thinking about this subject was the consideration of "winning over voters of color."  What does that mean?  This is the New York Times.  Are voters of color won over in a different way than voters not of color?  Again, is there a difference between winning someone and winning someone over?  The first line of the article reads:
Can progressives win broad numbers of the Black and brown voters they say their policies will benefit most?
The first sentence says "win broad numbers" in contrast to the title, which says, "win over voters of color."   I'm still suggesting that "win" and "win over" mean something different.  "Winning over" seems to relate to benefits received, so that "slogans and policies that he said threatened the lives of “Black and brown babies”" do not "win over" this constituency.  In this New York mayoral race, the author of the article explains it by saying, "Black people talk about politics in more practical and everyday terms."  Practical terms are ones that offer immediate physical benefits.

If I'm trying to win someone over, I can do that by offering benefits.  If I'm trying to win someone, I might not offer any benefits, but the truth so as to persuade someone.  I might say, "You'll suffer more and you'll lose physical benefits, especially in the short term, but you will believe and do what is true and right."  "Winning over" uses every possible advantage, profit, and reward to gain the support of someone.  It's tempting to win someone over, because you've now got them on your side, if you do.  In the above illustration, they'll vote for you, if you win them over.  They want the benefits you're promising, so you're trading their advocacy for your assistance and their welfare.

One frustration of progressives is poor people  who won't be won over by promises of short term physical advantage.  Instead, these poor ignorantly cling to their religion.  They've been won by an idea or a belief instead of being won over by a material thing.

I'm not saying that the truth alone will win someone.  A person wants to know he's loved.  For the person being won, however, the truth should reign.  He should question someone's attempt to win him over with tangible benefits.  He should embrace the persuasion of truth.  Even if heaven and earth pass away, God's Words will not pass away.  As Job said, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 13:15).  Being slain won't win someone over, but Job was still won, because of the character and nature of God.

Evangelism isn't winning someone over.  It is winning someone.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Video teaching on eternal security and assurance of salvation for seekers

 Evangelistic Bible study #6, "The Christian: Eternal Security and Assurance of Salvation," is now available. Find out more here or watch the video below:

 


 



Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Lie or Deceit of the Warfare or Conflict Model Between Science and Faith

 True science proceeds from faith.  The historical record shows that modern science arose from faith in God.  Science and faith harmonize.  They don't conflict.

Like the tearing down of statues in the United States, the elimination of genders unto gender fluidity, and the revisionism of patriarchy as social construct, secular materialists banish faith from the public square by falsifying the true story of faith and science.  The false narrative, useful for dethroning God in the hearts of men, says Newton's science triumphed despite and hindered by his faith.  His belief slowed his work.  The actual narrative would read something like the following:  man's thinking, human reasoning, implausible speculation, superstition, darkness, little to no scientific progress, publication and propagation of scripture, motivation to know God through His creation, observation, scientific method, discovery and progress (subduing and having dominion).

Whatever scientific progress continues is built upon the foundation of biblical creationists of the past and borrowing from and imitating their work, even if it is separate from faith.  The riddance of faith portends to future regression, even as we see this trend and trajectory already.  For instance, without the faith in the invisible hand, the world economy is headed back to something more feudalistic.

Faux historians produced the science and faith warfare or conflict model in the late 19th century and this myth, legend, or figment of imagination burrowed itself deep into the psyche of Western civilization.  It isn't history.  It is a philosophical presupposition of naturalism masquerading as science.  Stephen Meyer writes about this in his most recent book, Return of the God Hypothesis.

Most science historians report the fideistic beginnings of modern science.  The founders believed in God and their faith buttressed their work.  A few men told a completely different story, John William Draper's History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science (1880) and Andrew Dickson White's History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896).  Commenting on this happening, historian Edward Larson writes in his Pulitzer Prize winning book that "they fostered the impression that religious critics of Darwinism threatened to rekindle the Inquisition. . . . Christianity and Science are recognized by their respective adherents as being absolutely incompatible; they cannot exist together; one must yield to the other; mankind must make its choice---it cannot have both" (Summer for the Gods:  The Scope's Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion, pp. 21-22).  These above two books helped or aided to fix in the amassed minds that science and faith were at war with one another and always have been.  Their lie displaced or deposed actual history.  Now it is very, very difficult to dislodge.

The warfare or conflict model buttresses the uniformitarian template that man lives in a closed system without supernatural or divine intervention.  It eliminates design with everything occurring according to chance.  This view cancels God, His authority over and judgment of mankind.  Man gets to live like he wants, because nobody's going to do anything about it.  Many if not a majority of professing Christians now at least surrender to this viewpoint, clashing with the Bible and a true, historical account.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Evidence of Things Not Seen

In the King James Version, Hebrews 11:1 calls "faith," "the evidence of things not seen."  How is faith itself evidence?  Does the English word "evidence" in the King James Version mean the same thing as what we think it means today?  It is close, but I believe there is evidence (pun intended) to say that "evidence" in Hebrews 11:1 means something a little different than what we think it means.

Faith itself doesn't seem to be evidence as we understand the meaning of evidence.  It is based on evidence, but not itself evidence.  Evidence itself is proof.  The slight difference in understanding would be that faith is the "proving to yourself" things unseen.  The Greek word elegchos is found only here in the New Testament.  However, the verb form, elegcho, is used 17 times in the New Testament, it would have the same root meaning as the noun, and it's classic and first usage in the New Testament is found in John 16:8, used by Jesus:
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
"Reprove" translates elegcho.  According to Jesus, this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and He "reproves the world of sin."  The meaning of "reprove" in John 16:8 is "convicts," which is a legal or judicial term.  It is translated "convinced" in 1 Cointhians 14:24, as in an unbeliever is convinced through preaching, we should assume, scripture that is itself proof.  It is to prove someone to be guilty.  Someone is proven to be guilty by presenting evidence.  The noun form would be "conviction."  That is the word that should be our understanding of "evidence" in Hebrews 11:1, "conviction" in the legal or judicial sense of the word.

The English word "reprove" has the term "prove" in it.  That is often how elegcho is translated:  "reprove."  It is used in 2 Timothy 4:2:  "Preach the word. . . . reprove."  Use the Word of God to prove the guilt of someone.  Present evidence from scripture that someone is wrong or needs to change.  Elegcho is also used in Titus 1:9:
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
It is translated "convince."  Use the Word of God to convince those not convinced.  Hebrews 11:1 could be understood as "the convincing of things not seen."  We know that God wants us to be convinced, because faith pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6).  We can't please God if we are not convinced about Him, which would mean that we're convinced about the reality of Him, the truth of Him, and the will of Him.

Matthew Henry wrote about the second half of Hebrews 11:1:
Faith demonstrates to the eye of the mind the reality of those things that cannot be discerned by the eye of the body. Faith is the firm assent of the soul to the divine revelation and every part of it, and sets to its seal that God is true. It is a full approbation of all that God has revealed as holy, just, and good; it helps the soul to make application of all to itself with suitable affections and endeavours; and so it is designed to serve the believer instead of sight, and to be to the soul all that the senses are to the body. That faith is but opinion or fancy which does not realize invisible things to the soul, and excite the soul to act agreeably to the nature and importance of them.
I agree with what he wrote.

Someone might ask, how is faith evidence if faith is not by sight?  Isn't evidence sight?  I agree that those two concepts can't contradict one another if they are both true, and they are both true.  Therefore, the proving or convincing doesn't come from something you can see out there in the world, but from the means by which God chose to prove Himself, His Word.  Like Paul wrote in Romans 10:17, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."  Hearing isn't seeing.

What's out in the world does agree with the Bible.  God originated both creation and scripture.  People's problem with what they see out in the world is not what is to be seen, but the interpretation of what they see and for two reasons.  One, their sight is flawed because of sin.  Two, what they see isn't neutral.  They are looking at evidence that has been trampled upon.  It's not a closed environment.  They aren't looking at something pristine.  They don't know enough to make an accurate interpretation of what they are seeing.  Only God knows enough and He also doesn't have lying eyes like we do, so we've got to trust what He says.  If we trust what He says, then we honor Him, glorify Him (1 Corinthians 1-3).

People very often do not like the idea of being convinced by scripture.  They want "evidence," which means to them scripture doesn't prove anything.  You've got to go outside of scripture to "prove" something.  Scripture is sufficient for convincing, for proving, for faith.  It is superior to evidence, even as Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:19.

Scripture is superior to experiences, even genuine experiences.  Just because you don't think Jesus is coming back, based on your impression or feeling or what you think you see through history and all around you, it's not true.  Scripture says He's coming back.  The second coming of Jesus is the particular doctrine that apostates reject and scorn according to 2 Peter.  They attack scripture, because that's the basis for believing in the second coming.  They go further in rejecting divine intervention, so they live like God doesn't exist.

You are not a dummy if you live based upon scripture.  You are not one if you use scripture to convince people.  Very often professing believers stop using scripture to persuade someone because they are embarrassed by it.  Paul wrote that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16).  The gospel as a method of persuasion is what God wants.  That makes it the smartest method ever used by people who are more than genius in relying on it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Worth Your Salt

When taking the opportunity to portray true Christian identity, Jesus used salt and light in Matthew 5:13-16.  Through these two metaphors, He painted a picture of the expected nature of a genuine believer.  In so doing, Jesus adhered to His original representation of salvation in the beatitudes (verses 3-12) and invoked the association with the Word of God (verses 17-20).

Salt can and will retard corruption and enhance taste if it retains its fundamental characteristic of saltiness.  Salt without saltiness is worthless.  Jesus said, "Ye are salt."  Specific people are salt, those who have saltiness.  Very often scripture portrays unbelievers as worthless.  They aren't functioning according to the image of God in which He created man.  They are like the branches of John 15, bearing no fruit and so thrown into the fire.  They are worthless branches.

At the time Jesus spoke, salt was of great value.  Roman soldiers were paid in salt, which pay meant they operated in a competent way.  They were worth their salt.

The blessed man, one with the ultimate fulfillment of true salvation and receives the kingdom of heaven, is persecuted for righteousness' sake.  The righteousness stands up to and contrasts and conflicts with evil.  This is being salt.  A true believer's righteousness will clash with false doctrine and practice.  He's not salt if he doesn't.

The standard for the genuine believer's conflict to retard corruption is scripture.  The true believer lives according to and propagates the Word of God.   Scripture manifests the nature of God.  To take on the nature of God, the true believer retards decay by detecting and correcting false doctrine and practice according to the Word of God.

The nature of the world conflicts with the nature of God.  This results in persecution.  Rather than succumb to the pressure of that persecution, the true believer will continue as salt, retarding the corruption.  This doesn't occur by destroying the law, but by fulfilling it, every jot and tittle (verses 17-18).  The genuine believe retains saltiness in the face of persecution.  It's his nature and that won't change with opposition, a characteristic Jesus front loads in His description of salvation.

The opposition to darkness isn't selective.  It's every jot and tittle.  As Jesus continues, it is teaching not just the "essentials," but even the least of God's commandments.  The righteousness of true Christianity supercedes the righteousness of the Pharisees.  It doesn't dumb down righteousness to a standard that can be kept by men.  This is the salt losing its saltiness and becoming worthless.

Churches today are becoming worthless at retarding the unrighteousness of the world, because they are not standing up for righteousness.  They stand up for selective or relative righteousness, not every jot or tittle. They are ashamed of many points of scripture and refuse to be salt where Christianity most clashes with the world.  They are not worth their salt.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Romans 5:1 As a Consideration for Taking a Scriptural Position on the Preservation of Scripture

The Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1 shows that attack on the authority of scripture is a major explanation or reason for apostasy.  The authority of scripture proceeds from the supernatural nature of the Bible.  It is inspired by God and then preserved by God.  When someone attacks scripture, the first wave is that it was only written by men and the second, that it isn't preserved.  Leading away from a doctrine of preservation is evacuating divine and supernatural preservation for something naturalistic.

I received an advertisement for the Center of the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, written by Daniel Wallace, and it read like a bit of a cliffhanger, using a manuscript presently residing for view at the National Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, the oldest known, surviving hand copy of Romans 5:1.  He writes:
Among the many ancient treasures held by The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, there is a tattered fragment of parchment containing the oldest known text of Romans 5:1. Most modern translations render the verse, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Some scholars believe, however, that the underlined portion should read, “let us have peace,” because many of the best manuscripts do, indeed, bear this text.

In biblical Greek, the difference comes down to a single letter within a single word. And the difference of that one letter makes all the difference.

The manuscript fragment in Washington, known to scholars as GA 0220, is dated to the 3rd century (between AD 200 and 300.) Unfortunately, the critical letter in question has been obscured by a fold in the parchment and a hole in the very worst place. Nevertheless, traces of the letter appear to remain, and we believe that our high-resolution, multispectral imaging equipment can reveal the truth.
He doesn't tell us why certain manuscripts are "the best manuscripts," but especially here he doesn't reveal which edition of Romans 5:1 is in "the oldest known text."  I would surmise that he would never use this as an example if it didn't agree with the King James Version.  He doesn't support the King James, but here seems like he is supporting the traditional text and seeing this theological presupposition on justification by faith as tied to his conclusion.  By not giving us his conclusion, he can also please both sides on this issue.

Most of the oldest manuscripts of Romans 5:1 support "let us have peace" rather than "we have peace," as if justification by faith may not result in peace with God.  However, to spoil the cliffhanger, the oldest surviving manuscript of Romans 5:1 agrees with the traditional text on this one letter, that results in "we have peace" rather than "let us have peace."

Textual critics have changed on this one word over the years, because Wescott and Hort in 1881 said exwmen and not exomen, so they opted for "let us have peace."  Now the critical text says the opposite and part of the "evidence" is the find of this manuscript fragment, called Uncial 0220 or the Wyman Fragment from the third century AD.  Even though as a whole, the manuscript apparently agrees with the Alexandrian text type, according to this one word and letter, it agrees with the textus receptus or the Byzantine text type.  Good news for eternal security and the doctrine of justification by faith.  Is this providence?  Is it an accident?  Do we have peace about the manuscript evidence?

The find of a new manuscript doesn't add to the doctrine of preservation of scripture.  I can't be happy about the Wyman Fragment agreeing with the received text, God's preserved Word, for this one word, when I know it doesn't agree with text already received by God's churches in other places.  We already knew that the word was exomen, "we have peace."

God's churches believed the doctrine of perfect preservation and then they believed that text of the New Testament was the one passed down by the churches.  What was possessed in the apographa (the copies of the originals) by the churches was identical to the autographa (the original manuscripts of the New Testament).  God promised to lead His people to all truth.  His people would and could live by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.  God preserved through His churches every Word for every generation of God's people.  There was a settled text of scripture.  This was the means by which God preserved His Words, using His churches, the Holy Spirit bearing witness to His Words.

The Wyman Fragment didn't offer anything new.  It contradicted many other old manuscripts on this one letter or word, but finding old manuscripts isn't the way scripture is preserved.  If an even older manuscript of Romans 5:1 is finally found, and it disagrees with Uncial 0220, that won't mean that we have to tweak or change that verse.  It's already settled.

On the other hand, God did preserve His Words in the original languages of the Old and New Testaments.  The King James Version is a translation of those Words.  Preservation of scripture did not occur in the English.  If that were the case, men didn't have a perfect Bible before the King James Version and the origination of the English language, which was long after the inspiration of scripture.  Preservation of scripture is the preservation of what God inspired in the originals.  Those words and letters (jots and tittles) are preserved.  God promised that He would.

Preservation is supernatural.  It is divine.  God used the churches, just like He used men in the inspiration of scripture to write the Words down.  They were His instruments.  The church is God's instrument of preservation, but He did preserve perfectly every word in the language in which it was written.  Every generation of true saints has had accessibility to every Word of God.  Embracing a translation over the original text is a denial of the preservation of scripture just as much as the embrace of the critical text.  Both views deny preservation of scripture and should be rejected.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Improved PATAS debate video

 The PATAS debate video has had its audio and video improved. Please learn more here.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

John Evincing Jesus as the Christ

The gospel of John is good going word by word and verse by verse in great detail, doing a three year series.  I've done that twice, the second time, twice as slow as the first.  John is also very good reading it straight through as if it were a gospel tract.  This can be a good reason that churches often hand out copies of John and Romans as an evangelistic tool.  I don't know how many people would actually read those two, who've been handed them, but if they did, they're powerful as a testimony to salvation.

I've mentioned that I'm reading through the Bible twice this year, and I read through half of John today as part of my first time through.  It's easy math to think that you can read John through in seven days at three chapters a day.  Perhaps read it through in two days and see the difference in that too.

I wouldn't say John isn't the life of Christ, but it isn't exactly biographical either.  It goes in chronological order, but it reads like an evangelist persuading someone to be saved.  That's what John says he is doing at the end of the book (John 20:30-31):

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

To have eternal life, John says we must believe that Jesus is the Christ.  You can be saved by believing in Jesus Christ, but believing in Jesus Christ is believing that Jesus is the Christ.  The Christ is the Messiah, that prophesied Savior of the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New Testament, the One Who came the first time to suffer and die and raise from the dead, and the second time as a glorified, conquering Judge and King to transform the earth and rule it.  You must believe Jesus, that historic figure, the One Who Already came, is also that second figure, which would mean that your future is wrapped up in Him.

John picks out material in the life of Christ -- this is, of course, all under the inspiration of God -- that will give evidence and persuade that Jesus is that Person, so that you can and will want to receive Him as the Christ.  For those who say that repentance is not in John, believing that Jesus is the Christ is repentance.  You have repented if you believe that Jesus is the Christ.  I didn't say intellectually assent that Jesus is the Christ or pray a prayer, but believe that Jesus is the Christ.  This isn't asking someone into your heart or even asking someone to save you in a way that you keep on the same path you were before.  No, you know your way is changing if you believe what John writes in his gospel.

This last week I twice ate at an Arab or Middle Eastern restaurant in Detroit.  It was authentic.  You look around and everyone around is Arab and there is Moslem dress on the ladies.  It's like a foreign country.  The first meal was the sample platter.  This had quite a few of the standard classics in that genre of cuisine, using the names in the original language.  That plate, which fed all five adults at the table, gave you a good idea about the food, whether you liked it and what you liked.  John gives the sample platter.  If you can't receive John's testimony of Jesus as the Christ, you aren't going to believe that Jesus is the Christ.

John writes with authority.  If what he writes is true, and it is, you better do something about Jesus Christ.  You can't be neutral.  You can't just enjoy the story and appreciate what a good man Jesus was.  It doesn't read like that at all.  A lot of John are long passages of Jesus teaching in Jerusalem on various occasions.  Peppered among these are various miracles of different sorts that confirm His teachings.

Before John ever presents the multitude of testimony, he pronounces how and why with outright statements of the identity of Jesus.  He will do and teach these things, because He is the God the Son with the same attributes of God.  He preexisted before time and created the world.  If you believe John's opening salvo, everything is downhill from there, much like if someone believes the first verse of the Bible.

Everything of Jesus was coordinated from above with His fulfilling Divine plan and purpose to perfection, including the foreordination of the forerunner, John the Baptist, who also then testified to Jesus.  His initial followers recognized He was the Christ in accordance with their knowledge of the Old Testament.  Then Jesus' works evince this reality with the miracle at Cana and His cleansing of the temple.  An unbelieving religious leader and teacher was challenged by what He saw personally and Jesus' preaching to Him in John 3 reads of an extraordinary presentation of His role as Savior.  John ends the third chapter by saying this (v. 36):

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Jesus is the Christ.

New Testament scholars and historians acknowledge the validity, truthfulness, and authority of the events of the New Testament.  They question the supernaturalness of the New Testament, but that's what John is all about.  Jesus wasn't just a man.  He was a man, but He was also God.  His teaching wasn't only Jewish either, even seen in John 4 with the Samaritan woman.  Samaritan salvation was also of Jesus Christ.  Using the water of the well as an analogy, Jesus said in verse 13-14:

13 Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

"Drinketh" of verse 13 is present tense and "drinketh" of verse 14 is aorist.  Continue drinking and drinking this water and you'll thirst again, but I give a water, that if someone drinks it one time, He will never thirst again in the strongest possible negation of thirst.  Jesus is the source of everlasting life for everyone and once someone has it, he can never lose it.

Next chapter in John 5, Jesus heals the impotent man.  Jesus can because He is the Christ.  He did it on the Sabbath and He explains, verse 17:  "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."  The Father never stops working, even on the Sabbath, because the whole world is upheld by Him.  Because His Son, Jesus, is also God, He also must always be working.  And then in verses 22-24:

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

All judgment is committed to Jesus.  He is the Christ.  The Son is to be honored as the Father is honored.  Eternal life is dependent upon hearing and believing the word of Jesus.

In John 6, Jesus feeds the 5,000 and He says this afterwards in verse 35, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."

The whole book keeps going like this.  It doesn't let down.  One particular repeated manifestation of Jesus as the Christ are statements like what Jesus said in verse 35, "I am the bread of life."  They've been called the "I am" statements.  In John 8:58, Jesus says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am."  "I am" points to God's introduction to Moses as "I am" in Exodus 3:14:

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Every chapter of John evinces Jesus as the Christ from beginning to end.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Power Comes from Somewhere

When you turn on your lights or your appliance and open your refrigerator and see it working, you know that power comes from somewhere.  It didn't just happen.  Your heart is beating, the power for that comes from somewhere.  You look up and see a burning sun.  The power for that sun comes from somewhere.  Nuclear, gravitational, and chemical energy all come from someplace.  They have their start somewhere.

We all need power.  Our body is burning energy, our brains are using it, our heart needs it, and every other creature does too.  It's there.  People are but dust.  Power holds this dust together in a complex and functioning form.

The Big Bang Theory supposedly explains the origin of matter, but the explosion could not have occurred without energy.  Senior writer and editor of Quanta Magazine, Natalie Wolchover, wrote on June 6, 2019:

The Big Bang theory . . . . pioneered 50 years before Hawking’s lecture by the Belgian physicist and Catholic priest Georges LemaĆ®tre, who later served as president of the Vatican’s academy of sciences — rewinds the expansion of the universe back to a hot, dense bundle of energy. But where did the initial energy come from?

The Big Bang theory had other problems. Physicists understood that an expanding bundle of energy would grow into a crumpled mess rather than the huge, smooth cosmos that modern astronomers observe.

Men guess, but they don't have an answer to the origin of energy or power.

The English word "power" is found 272 times in the King James Version.  The first time the English word appears, it is koah, and it refers to God's strength, ability, might, and force.  That Hebrew word is used 126 times.  The first is used of God in Exodus 15:6, "Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious  in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy."  Another one is Exodus 32:11, "And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?"  A lot of the usages of koah are like that one.

Another Hebrew word translated power in 1 Chronicles 29:11 is gebera, the verse reading:  "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."  That word is used 61 times in the Old Testament with another example, Psalm 21:13, "Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power."

The New Testament uses mainly two Greek words, which are translated "power" in the King James Version.  Matthew 6:13 reads:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

"Power" here comes from dunamis.  The English "dynamite" comes from dunamis, which BDAG, the foremost Greek New Testament lexicon, says means:

potential for functioning in some way, power, might, strength, force, capability

That Greek word is used 120 times in the New Testament.  The very next usage of "power" in the New Testament is in Matthew 9:6:

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

So this very next time "power" is used it's a different Greek word, which means something different than dunamis.  It's exousia, which speaks of "authority."  BDAG gives these first two meanings
1. a state of control over something, freedom of choice, right
2. potential or resource to command, control, or govern, capability, might, power 
Exousia is used 102 times in the New Testament.  One of the preeminent usages of exousia type of power is in each of the first three verses of Romans 13:
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
I give you these numbers and examples because they say that "power" is a dominant theme in scripture.  

Even though there are different underlying words in the original language of the Bible and then also differences in meaning, every one of these words are related.  Authority requires might.  Someone can tell somebody what to do, but unless he has the ability to enforce it, he doesn't have authority.  He is both lawgiver and judge, the latter including the ability to punish.  With regard to this issue, consider the following two verses:
James 4:12, There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
Matthew 10:28, And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Everywhere we look we see might, strength, and capability, and the existence of those results in control and command of one entity or person over another.  All of that power comes from somewhere.  The existence, life, and order of things depends on power all of the time.  It doesn't just happen, neither does it look random.  It shows purpose and organization.

The Bible starts with God as the Cause of everything, including energy.  All power proceeds from God's power that He has always possessed.  The origin of energy in scripture starts with God moving in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God moved.  Speaking of Jesus, Colossians 1:17 says, "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."  Hebrews 1:3 says He upholds "all things by the word of his power."

Maybe you've heard of the fine tuning of the universe.  It reads:

The Fine-Tuning Argument, to be abbreviated by FTA in what follows, claims that the present Universe (including the laws that govern it and the initial conditions from which it has evolved) permits life only because these laws and conditions take a very special form, small changes in which would make life impossible.

I always like to say that there are hundreds of things going right at every given moment for us even to survive.  One of these is that the power stays on.  Always.  Even as I wrote this and you are reading it, it should occur to you that you're breathing, you exist, and you're not sitting or standing there worrying about it.  And yet, it doesn't just happen.

Friday, June 04, 2021

Evangelistic Bible Study #3 now available in an improved format!

 The third in my series of evangelistic Bible studies is now available in an improved format. Find out more by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

My Conversations with Numerous Exvangelicals

Exvangelical sounds like either a misspelling or a bit too much cleverness, I would agree, but for the sake of this post, I'm sticking with a word of which I'm reading its contemporary usage.  Of all the words in the title, it gets your attention because it doesn't sound like a word.  Perhaps I'll help you in future Scrabble endeavors.

I regularly knock on doors of young, ex evangelicals, who grew up in church or a Christian home.  Now they aren't going to church and a large majority of the time, they don't have the faith any longer.  It is occurring and even as many of you readers know at an epidemic level.  Churches are hemorrhaging their young people.  Social media spreads the idea like a virus, and all the new forms of communication instantly create an interconnectedness in these exvangelicals that strengthens them against repentance or a return.  They bind together and encourage one another in their apostasy.  For those related, this is very, very sad, as sad an occurrence as they experience in their lives, putting new wrinkles on their faces and more grey in their hair.

I've had many long conversations with some of these young exvangelicals.  I haven't gone out of my way to talk with them.  It's just happened.  Even though they may come from varied backgrounds and situations and different types of evangelical churches, they are all very similar.  For two reasons, I'm writing on this subject:  the long talks with young exvangelicals in person and an article that was written by a Grayson Gilbert at Patheos, entitled, "I’m Not All That Impressed With Exvangelical Deconstruction Stories."  Gilbert is the polar opposite in that he started where exvangelicals have ended, so he was where they presently are, except seeing it from a unique perspective.

I don't write this post to critique Gilbert's piece, although I may refer to it, but to write mainly what I have found myself, and then discuss my approach to these exvangelicals.  When I meet one of them, I don't know they're there.  I haven't targeted them.  They just appear without notice and the conversation starts like all the other ones I have.  In the midst of it, they start telling me some of their backstory usually to explain why it is that they might not need to listen to what I have to say.  They say they've already heard and thought about it a lot, and they turned away from it for various reasons.  Almost always part of their narrative is some kind of injustice in the group they left, that justifies their having left it.  In other words, something also happened that they didn't like, so they can't go back to it for personal reasons, which also serves to validate their decision.  If they were to return, they now contend would support the evil of the former group.

What I have to say to them doesn't bring back exvangelicals, but it has resulted in longer conversations, where it seems to me that they're giving my preaching at least a consideration.  Like what we read in scripture, the real reason for their defection is why they are very difficult to persuade, so I see myself as just planting seed, giving them the best possible opportunity to come to the truth.  That's all we can do anyway.

Why would exvangelicals eject from Christianity or biblical Christianity at least, if biblical Christianity is the truth?

Assume that not every exvangelical will want to talk with you.  They might be hostile.  Many times they will talk though.  I'll ask, what happened that you left your group?  Or, why aren't you in the church any more?  Many times they'll give an answer.  I sympathize with them.  A lot of churches and groups have real problems.  One of the reasons that we can say they're wrong though is because we can know the truth about what's wrong, which also means we can know the truth about what's right.  It would bother me though if the wrong thing was just normally or regularly allowed.  I understand why someone would want to leave, it's like you're paddling out to an island that has little to do with the mainland.  Why should you keep putting in that effort?

However, just because your church or group went off or way off the rails, that doesn't mean that the Bible or Christianity itself are not true.  I am here to say that Jesus Christ is the best, really the only valid explanation for why we're here and what we're supposed to be doing.

From here, I treat exvangelicals a bit like people who say they're atheists.  I ask, "So do you think all of this, all of this around us, got here by accident?"  It is very, very rare that I have anyone answer, yes, to that question.  I remind them that everything getting here by accident is the view taught in the state schools and it still can't even be challenged there.  The viewpoint that represents, naturalism, the more we know from science, the more it's proven to be false.  Darwin looked at a cell and it was just a blob.  Now we can see it under a microscope, and even the cell is irreducibly complex, let alone the human eye or any of our bodily systems.

Science now agrees everything must have a beginning.  There can be no eternal regression of causes. Since the explanation for everything is supernatural, what is the true story?  What is the first cause?  When we look at what is caused, because we know it's caused, it matches with the Bible.

I talk to many, many religions, and I believe that every time I talk to one, I'm open to it being the truth.  Nothing comes close to comparing to biblical Christianity.  Christianity is different than everything else, because it is objective truth.  It has proof.  The Bible is historical, scholars agree with that.  Then there is prophecy and fulfilled prophecy.

Greater than every other evidence of Christianity is Jesus Christ Himself.  How do you explain Him?  More has been written about Him than about all other historical figures combined.  There is more historical attestation of Jesus than Julius Caesar.  We date our calendars based upon Him.  In His writings, He speaks with absolute authority.  Who could say, Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven?  What He said could not have been said by someone who was just a man.  Then He rose from the dead just like He said He would, and after walking around for forty days so thousands of people could see Him, who were alive when the New Testament was written, He ascended into heaven before over 500 of witnesses.

Everything in the Bible fits together.  It fits what we know to have happened.  When people have based their lives upon the Bible, they have thrived.  Its principles bring the success of a nation.

You've finally got to bite down on something.  You've got to make a choice and Christianity blows away the other choices.  You could say that you don't like the kind of proof of Christianity.  I like to say that the knowledge of the existence of God and the truth of the Bible is not like the knowledge of the existence of your right foot.  You don't need to seek after your right foot.  God wants you to seek after Him.  You won't find Him if you don't want Him, and that's how He's designed it.  But the proof is there.

Faith according to the Bible is not a leap in the dark.  It's based on evidence.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:6).  God does want you to know Him.  The Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus' day wanted an astronomical sign, and Jesus said He wasn't providing any more (Matthew 16:1-4).  He was saying, there's enough.  I like to say, for anyone who cares, there is enough.

If the proof isn't the reason for rejection, then what is the reason?  Romans 1 says men have enough proof to justify God's wrath.  They are holding fast or suppressing the truth in their unrighteousness.  2 Peter 3 says it's because of their lust. They want what they want to do more than what God wants them to do.  They want to be in charge of their own lives.

So exvangelical, just because you had a bad experience, you think, as a child or young adult, doesn't mean Christianity is false.  For there to be hypocrisy, there needs to be a belief in something. If there is no belief, no one can be a hypocrite.  Don't be upset at hypocrisy when you can't even be a hypocrite.  

So why not bite down?   You're not open minded unless you are willing to believe something.  If not, then you're just closing your mind to everything.   You can always say that you don't have enough evidence, but you're just rejecting what is by far the best explanation.  Really, it's the only explanation.

Why take God's free air, food, your circulatory system, your brain, all the good things, and be unthankful?  Use them all up for yourself without any kind of gratefulness to God?  That's just rebellious.  You're not going to get away with it.  You'll get to the end and you'll be separated from God and His goodness forever.  It won't be over for you.  You'll regret for all eternity.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Memorial Day and Memorials, Their Scriptural Importance

By dictionary definition, a memorial is something established to remind people of a person or event.  The last Monday of May is Memorial Day in the United States, a federal holiday for honoring and mourning those who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  The dedication of a certain day as a memorial began with spontaneous memorials in the middle of the 19th century at the tombstones of American soldiers, who fell in battle.  Women decorated these stones as a way to honor these who had died.  Then it turned into an annual day to decorate these tombstones.

A unique day to remind people of the sacrifice of American soldiers started out as “Decoration Day.”  By 1890, every northern state celebrated this as a holiday.  Not until 1971, however, did Congress designate the day in May as a national holiday, and called it “Memorial Day.”

I like visiting memorials.  The best ones in the United States are in Washington DC, including the fairly recent and gigantic World War 2 Memorial.  Everyone knows about the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials.  The Alamo is a memorial.  A memorial stands in Hawaii for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Memorials dot Civil War and Revolutionary War battlefields, and now a big one sits in New York City for those who died on 9/11/2001.

The most moving memorial for me was the American Cemetery near Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.  I wept again and again.  The cemetery staff there did a great job telling the story.  I felt thankful to be an American and for the men buried there.

The idea of memorial comes from God though.  We should use symbols, days, statues, and now what are actually called “memorials” to remember what is very important, not to be forgotten, and use them to motivate us.  The Lord’s Table is a memorial.  The bread and the cup remind a church of the body and blood of Christ, His substitutionary and sacrificial death on the cross.

The word “memorial” is found 32 times in the King James Version.  It’s mainly translating a Hebrew word in the Old Testament, tsekaron, found 24 times and means “remembrance."  A Greek word, mnemosunon, meaning, "memory" and translated "memorial," occurs three times in the New Testament.  God exalts the practice of making a special day, display, or monument in honor of something for the purpose of remembering.  God wants remembrance.

In Exodus 12:14, the memorial is a day.  In Exodus 17:14, it’s a book.  In Exodus 28:12, they are the stones on the garment of the priest.  In several Old Testament references, it is the actual offering in the sacrificial system, for instance, the flour cast on the altar by the priest in the sin offering is a "memorial."  Stones were set out in Joshua 4:7 as a memorial of God's dividing the River Jordan for the dry land crossing into Canaan.  The feast of Purim starts as a memorial to remember the salvation of Israel in Esther 9:28.

Remembering is helpful.  It's required.  I'm not saying we should try to remember wrong things or discouraging things.  We can remember what God has done, our parents have done, and what other godly people have done to give us strength and motivation.  Remembering the right things renews the mind in a transformational way.  It can lead to a life of praise and thanks.  This Memorial Day, let's all remember.

Friday, May 28, 2021

PATAS debate: Does History Validate the Accuracy of the New Testament Gospels? in Manila with the Philippine ATheist and Agnostic Society

 My debate with the president of the Philippine ATheist and Agnostic Society or Philippine Atheism, Agnosticism, and Secularism Society over the historical accuracy of the New Testament Gospels is now live! Learn more about the debate here or watch it on YouTube here.


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

If "Drinking Any Amount of Alcohol Causes Damage to the Brain," Is It Permissible for True Believers to Drink Alcohol?

It doesn't make sense for anyone to drink something that causes damage to the brain.  A new study says that drinking any amount of alcohol, even one drink, causes damage to the brain.  Both CNN and Fox News reported this.  It was an Oxford University study using 25,378 participants.  Knowing what alcohol is and how it affects the body, this news doesn't surprise me.  It deprives brain cells of oxygen and they die.  This is something people already knew, but it is has been released now as a scientific study.

I already believe the Bible, especially in Proverbs 23, teaches against alcohol consumption or what has been called the teetotalling position, the prohibition of alcohol.  I wrote a five part series on it (first, second, third, fourth, and fifth).  I show that prohibition of alcohol is a historic and biblical position.  This recent study adds another layer, because the Bible would argue that it is wrong to destroy your body and especially your brain or your mind.  Indeed, "the mind is a terrible thing to waste."  It would seem that you could not love God with your mind by damaging your mind.  Those two thoughts are in contradiction to one another.

An online Christian forum linked to this above article and I was interested in how pro-alcohol professing Christians would deal with it.  It seems insurmountable.  Proverbs 23 says alcohol is destructive so that someone would be better never even to look at it.  This is God's will.  So what were the arguments against the article?

One, the study wasn't "peer reviewed" yet.  The study had  been done and yielded it's results, but apparently peers had not yet offered their review before the study showed up in public.  There is a dedication to alcohol among some professing Christians that becomes desperation when they might be required to stop drinking.  What hypothetical scientific peers might say is that there is a safe or acceptable level of brain tissue loss.  Imagine that conversation.

"This s going to destroy some of your brain tissue if you drink it."  "How much will I lose with one drink?  Two?"  "Oh, only that amount?  Well, that's a safe and acceptable loss of brains that I will never get back again, so give me that drink."

So, more study needs to be done to find out what acceptable brain tissue loss is.  I know that when we cut our fingernails, they grow back.  When we destroy brain cells, do we get those back?  In the end, it is the pleasurable feeling of destroying brain cells with alcohol versus the loss of that pleasure.  What should a Christian do?  I think we all know that a Christian disobeys God by destroying brain cells or brain tissue.  The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and destroying brain tissue with alcohol moves to an unacceptable level of harm to the temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

The other argument was a related argument to the first one, that is, drinking is a calculated risk like "climbing a mountain, exploring a cave, snow or water skiing, scuba diving, buying bitcoin, investing in a stock, driving a motorcycle, seeing how fast your car can go (100 mph plus), ice skating, or driving on a frozen lake."  He included drinking alcohol as parallel to everything else in that list.

Scripture teaches that believers should not tempt God by taking risks, the example of Satan in Matthew 4, tempting Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple.  This is not of faith.  It's true that anyone could die doing almost anything, that breathing causes cancer and someone crossing the road could get hit by a car.  Alcohol does damage brain tissue.  That's not a calculation according to this study.  It's 100 out of 100.  You are destroying your brain.  None of the examples of activities in the previous paragraph guarantee destruction.  There is an argument for calculating risk, I agree, taking the safer route if possible, but alcohol isn't safe, so this argument doesn't work.

There is more to an argument against alcohol.  When you drink it, you're hurting yourself, you're also disobeying God, and you're causing others to stumble. None of those are permissible in scripture.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Main Reason God Intervenes on Earth in an Obvious Way: That We Know That He Is The Lord

Reading through the Bible twice this year, I just recently finished Ezekiel and I noticed these words as an emphasis in the book:  "Ye shall know that I am the LORD your God."  I wondered how many times then it was in Ezekiel so I looked it up, and then I also wondered how many times it was in the Bible.  I kept the search to "know that I am the Lord."  The words of that search just in Ezekiel are 63 times.  ""Know that I am the Lord" is found 77 times in the whole Old Testament.  It has to be an emphasis of the book of Ezekiel found so many times, and it is God Who is saying those words.

Here are some samples.

6:7, And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

7:4, And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

7:27, The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

11:10, Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

12:15-16, And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries.  But I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen whither they come; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

12:20, And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

14:8, And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

15:7, And I will set my face against them; they shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall devour them; and ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I set my face against them.

23:49, And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you, and ye shall bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.

25:5, 7, And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the Ammonites a couchingplace for flocks: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. . . . Behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.

25:11, And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

25:17, And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.

29:6, And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the LORD, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.

30:8, And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have set a fire in Egypt, and when all her helpers shall be destroyed.

30:26, And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

33:29, Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.

35:4, I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.

35:23, And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.

39:6, And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.

39:28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.

Those aren't even half of the usages in the book of Ezekiel.  I'm guessing that you didn't read them.  You got the gist of them after a few samples and stopped reading.  This is typical, but maybe you should go back and read them.  What you can see is that God does what is called in scripture "evil things," which doesn't mean "sinful," but things of judgment, like pestilence, famine, war, and death, so that the people will "know that I am the LORD their God."

I noticed that it isn't only "evil things," but also blessed ones such as the following example:

36:11, And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

That is a positive one, but I don't think I saw another positive one of the 63 usages in Ezekiel.  It does mean that God uses blessings or positive things so that we will know that He is the Lord, but He mainly uses negative ones, ones that hurt and deprive.  Those get our attention better and we know it.  God uses those.  What does it produce?  In rebels, it produces more anger and rebellion, and then God judges them more, destroys them usually.  However, His purpose is that they would know that He was the Lord.  That's what He wants.

The way these above examples read is something I've often said and that is that pleasure whispers to us and pain screams at us.  I don't like pain.  I don't want pain.  But I know that pain gets my attention more than pleasure.  I almost don't want to say it, because I'm saying something that will come about.

None of us should lose sight of the point though.  God wants to be known as the LORD our God.  That knowledge is more than just intellectual.  It affects our wills.  You can read that in these passages too.  It's the kind of knowledge that overcomes us and changes us.  Our behavior changes, because when we know that, we act like we know it.  This is what God wants from us.  We should know it.

The title of this piece is that God intervenes on earth in an obvious way.  If God wants us to know something, He shows us.  How we see He shows us in Ezekiel is through these difficult circumstances and events.  They get our attention.  They make us think.  We could avoid them if we would just take in the revelation of God through creation, conscience, and through His Word.  God is sovereign, but He may not intervene in a noticeable way, but if He wants to be noticed, this is how He wants to be noticed, that He is the Lord our God.