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.