The Psalmist affirmed in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” This truth is evident to the unprejudiced mind. While some seek to convince man that design in the universe is illusory, nature offers a compelling and convincing argument for a Maker. “There is no speech nor language Where their [the heavens and firmament] voice is not heard” (vs. 3).
Continue reading » God, The Architect of Redemption
I just read an interesting essay written by Dan King, describing the moral degradation that was present in Rome in the centuries following Christ’s life. Brother King’s point was that though we live in an ungodly society, it is nevertheless a much better circumstance than the experiences of early Christians.
Evidences supplied to support the thesis included historical references to wars of aggression; state sanctioned idolatry; the moral debauchery and excess of emperors such as Vitellius, Caligula, Nero, Domitian, Commodus and Elagabalus; the corruption of Roman society which included prostitution, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, divorce , abortion, infanticide and gambling; and a fierce and continual anti-Christian attitude that led to frequent persecution for the first 300 years of the church’s existence.
While things are bad in America, and getting worse, we at least have protections offered by our constitution, and an admittedly dwindling majority that to this day objects to egregious expressions of immorality on the part of our public leaders. As brother King concluded in his essay, “Let us thank God for our freedoms, and pray that our nation will always allow for the right of its citizens to believe what the Bible says and our consciences dictate, and permit us to express those convictions through uninhibited public preaching and teaching.” (Is America More Wicked Than Ancient Rome? Daniel H. King, Sr.)
Northland College principal John Tapene has offered the following words from a judge who regularly deals with youth. “Always we hear the cry from teenagers, ‘What can we do, where can we go?’
“My answer is this: Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and when you’ve finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational activities, and your parents do not owe you fun.
“The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words, grow up, quit being a cry baby, get out of your dream world, and develop a backbone not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you!”
~ Seen on Facebook
The teen years are wonderful years in any young person’s life. Teenagers should be allowed to have fun, and enjoy their adolescence. However, even the young can and should be serious minded and trustworthy. This is especially important spiritually. As Paul wrote Titus, “Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you” (Titus 2:6-8).
Today I was asked a question about how the Bible refers to the seat of emotions, intellect and will to be the heart of man. Passages such as, “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore” (Psalm 86:12), use the metaphor. While we know the actual physical heart is a muscle that pumps blood, and that it is the brain that is the physical organ of thought and emotion, men have commonly referred to the heart in this poetic way.
I pointed out that using the word “brain” to refer to will, emotions and intellect of man is a metaphor as well. While it is true that the brain is the physical organ that regulates these things, it is a mistake to equate the brain with the mind. The truth is much more complex than that. To reduce such things as love, artistic expression, inspiration, genius and faith to the biological firing of synapses is to distort the essence of what it is to be a human being. Such reductionism is found in the efforts of some secular scientists who believe (as the term reductionism is defined) “that every complex phenomenon, especially in biology or psychology, can be explained by analyzing the simplest, most basic physical mechanisms that are in operation during the phenomenon.”
Continue reading » In the News: Can Science Explain the Heart of Man?
Loyalty is a good thing. A very good thing. Consider the beautiful expression of Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi, “But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me’” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Loyalty to God must be absolute. Divided loyalties are unacceptable. There is no way to be excessively loyal to Him. As Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
Continue reading » Excessive Loyalty
Ron Doss shared with me a word that he recently came across, with which he and I were not familiar. The term was fideity, or fideism. (Interestingly, my spell checker in the computer program I use to prepare this bulletin doesn’t know the term either).
There are two definitions for fideism I want to share with you—both from online dictionaries. 1) exclusive reliance in religious matters upon faith, with consequent rejection of appeals to science or philosophy—dictionary.com; 2) The doctrine that knowledge depends on faith or revelation—oxforddictionaries.com.
The term would be used disparagingly toward Christians, as clearly indicated by the first definition. The question is, is it true? Well, it depends a bit upon the actual definition of the term. According to the second definition, absolutely so! We are dependent upon God’s revelation regarding what is true. Even if such revealed truth is counterintuitive to what we think would be true, we accept revelation above our own thoughts. “Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). However, if it is claimed that belief in God and His word is contradictory to true science or philosophy, and in order to believe we must be unreasonable, that is categorically untrue. As Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
If you want an example of unreasonable dependence upon faith, how about the idea that all you see today is the result of mere chance? Now that is a true example of fideism!
The sermon contrasts what the Bible teaches about Noah and the worldwide flood, and what the newly released movie purports him to be. Also discussed is the Christian’s proper response to the movie.
The wise man of Ecclesiastes wrote, “Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, But they have sought out many schemes” (7:29).
The text clearly teaches that man appears on the earth inherently good. This contrasts with the world view of the Reformed Theologian who contends that man is born to a state of absolute depravity. The text also absolves God of blame when evil abounds. It is not God’s fault or doing when suffering comes as the consequence of sinful behavior. God made man upright!
Why then do men do evil? Because God has given man a will, and men choose to do evil! “They have sought out many schemes.” No one wishes for God to do away with free will. It is His greatest gift, and the reason Moses wrote that God made man “in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). However, when God gave man the freedom of choice, it was inevitable that some would choose to do evil things. Adam did, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Recently, I was given the following quote — a fitting end to this short missive. “You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choice.” Wise words to consider the next time we are tempted to choose foolishly!
In these verses, Paul switches from the prayers he offers for the Christians in Colosse to be worthy of Christ, to affirming the preeminence of God. In verse 13 he establishes two truths:
First, that God has delivered us from the power of darkness. That power is Satan (cf. Acts 26:18). Satan holds men captive in their sins, but God redeems us through the blood of His Son. By His sacrifice, Jesus secures for us “the forgiveness of sins” (vs. 14).
Second, when he delivers us from Satan’s clutches, the Father conveys us “into the Kingdom of the Son of His love.” This verse is important for several reasons. If we are in Jesus’ kingdom we are citizens, with full privileges and benefits. We are subject to the laws of the King, and are to recognize and respect His authority. Finally, in affirming that the Colossians had already been translated in Christ’s kingdom, Paul refutes the common view that the kingdom of Christ has yet to be established. This single verse clearly disproves a central tenet of the doctrine of Premillennialism.
Our text establishes clearly the apostle Paul’s priorities in life. Though the “things which happened to me” included imprisonment and possible loss of life, Paul considered it a fortunate turn of events. Because of his trip to Rome and house arrest, the gospel was preached to individuals who otherwise would not hear it. Paul wrote of those in Caesar’s palace who were aware that his “chains are in Christ” (13).
A further benefit was the courage taken by others from Paul’s example. Because he preached boldly despite persecution, others were emboldened to do the same. This serves to illustrate the benefit of a godly example. If you live for Christ despite opposition, others see that and are encouraged to do the same.
Paul rejoiced because the gospel was preached. He didn’t care what it cost him personally. He understood the purpose of the message, and made its spread his life’s work (cf. Romans 1:15-16).
It is common for religious people to claim that they have received instructions or confirmation directly from God. They place great trust in the “directions” they have received, and use any coincidence as corroboration that God has spoken to them. When asked what God’s voice sounds like, they are seldom bold enough to describe an actual voice, but remain steadfast in their contention that they have been directed in some nebulous way by Him.
There is no doubt that at times God has spoken directly to man. The Old Testament gives examples of conversations between God and Adam, Abraham and Moses. The apostle Peter stated, “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Continue reading » God Speaks to Me!
Have you noticed a lack of respectful consideration in the conversations you enter? Never before in my lifetime have I witnessed raised and angry voices, profanity and innuendo as I do in the present. It is pervasive on television, in movies and, (perhaps because of the influences of the former), in the daily conversations you overhear or in which you participate.
Often, the person who is guilty is speaking with someone he doesn’t even know. He sprinkles his conversation with curses and vain repetitions, and never once considers how the listener he has just met may be offended by his speech. And it is not only men who speak this way. Increasingly we hear women and children being overtly profane in their daily conversation. On top of the corrupt speech we see insults, snideness, gossip and other offensive habits of speech. The same is true in our written conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and other types of social media.
Christians are to be the “light of the world” (cf. Matthew 5:14) in this aspect of their lives, as in any other. Paul said, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:5-6). We would do well to remember this admonition the next time we open our mouths, take out our pen, or put our thumbs to our virtual keyboards!
The picture to the left is not of the best quality. It is, however, striking. It is the picture of a young girl, perhaps 8 or 9 years old, who is hiding her eyes during the 2011 Toronto Pride Parade, an annual event celebrating the LBGT (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender) agenda in Canada. While the picture was taken at the 2011 parade, it was published on the internet only this week. The picture (cropped from a much larger image) was taken by Steve Jalsevac of LifeSiteNews.com.
The parade included large numbers of completely naked men and women, wearing only shoes. Transvestites were also prevalent, along with profane and sexually explicit signs and banners. Even those clothed were often dressed in very immodest attire. Thousands lined the streets. Community leaders, including participants from various area law enforcement agencies, actively took part in the parade. Many children were present, including the one in the picture.
Continue reading » The Emperor’s New Clothes – Redux
In my study of the Thessalonian epistles, I came across a concise statement of God’s sovereignty written by David Lipscomb, dealing with the passage of 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7. The comment is located under verse six, which states, “since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you.”
While God permitted them to suffer persecution as a means of testing and strengthening their faith and love, He recompenses tribulation on those who troubled them. God uses wicked men to try the faith and love of His servants, to test their worthiness, and then so orders that these wicked persecutors are punished for the evil they brought on His servants. God works in and through His people, and overrules and controls the courses of the wicked (emphasis mine, SC).
(Gospel Advocate Commentary, page 88)
It is a lesson we should always keep before us, God is in control. Paul affirmed this fact in Acts 17, in his sermon on Mars Hill, “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (24-25). God does not need us, we need Him! What a humbling thing to know and remember!
The sermon discusses the text of Matthew 14:22-33, and lessons learned (such as the power of faith, and the worthiness of Jesus as Lord and object of our worship).