Monthly Archives: May 2017

Sorry, Charlie (D.)

It might be when God providentially opens an opportunity for one of His people to bear witness for Jesus. It might be an occasion on which He gives another a flash of insight to start a fruitful conversation about our Lord and His Gospel. It might be in a online or offline discussion of some kind regarding things that really matter: God, the human condition, the way of salvation, final judgment, eternity…

In many if not most of such encounters, there is a topic that arises: EVOLUTION. Darwinism is by far the most common stumbling block of our age. It is offered almost universally as an objection to the truth claims of the Bible by those who are skeptical of those truth claims. It is ubiquitous in its influence over the thinking of the contemporary mind. It has never been observed, like adaptation has been observed, yet it is commonly assumed to be unassailable truth, backed by irrefutable science.

In reality it is anything but science. It is a great LIE, and the Christian evangelist must reckon with this damnable enemy to the progress of the Gospel.

One way we do this is by ever keeping in mind that “…the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). That is true regarding the whole counsel of God, and therefore includes the foundational truths of creation as they are found in Genesis and elsewhere in holy writ.

If we grant legitimacy to a theory that makes our Creator unnecessary or at best marginalizes Him, we have cast behind our backs the One Who is also the Redeemer. Allow for the idea that death and suffering are simply part of the natural order, and the sting of death – sin – is deceptively hidden from sinners in need of that Redeemer. For the truth is that “…through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12).

The true history of the origin of life and of the human race is far shorter than  evolution’s revisionist version with its millions of years of violent struggle for survival. A Biblically faithful summation of that true history is as follows. After God created the universe very good in every way, the sin of mankind brought a dreadful curse upon it (cf. Romans 8:20-22). Through Christ the Savior, the curse is being removed. The Gospel is the way of entrance into Christ’s kingdom and its ongoing work. The consummation of His kingdom work will include a perfectly restored, deathless, and eternal heavens and earth.

There was no “big bang” at the universe’s beginning, no evolution anywhere within it thereafter, and inevitable heat death and oblivion is not its bleak future.

When someone has gullibly swallowed evolutionism this Bible truth, breathtakingly contradictory to what he has been taught from earliest youth, appears as foolishness to that one. It becomes a stumbling block to those who otherwise might be coming to Christ for the gift of forgiveness of sin and everlasting life.

The salvific piercing and discerning mentioned in the verse from Hebrews cited above might begin when an ordinary Bible believing disciple becomes the very first person to ever question or challenge evolutionary thought in someone’s mind. How often has this writer observed the incredulity not only in the words but by the shocked facial expressions of someone steeped in this reigning mythology!

In Acts 17:16ff we have good precedent for “creation evangelism” in the example of the apostle Paul. In that passage we find him proclaiming the good news to philosophers and others gathered in the ancient city of Athens on Mars’ hill.

Mars, a.k.a. Ares, was among false gods having a place in the fantastical myths of cosmogony (the origin of the universe) and cosmology (the large scale properties of the universe) which darkened the hearts of men in that time and place. On Mars’ hill was a monument to an “unknown god.” Apparently the idols Mars, Jupiter, Athena, Artemis and the rest were inadequate to address the lost condition of their worshipers, who inwardly realized that was the case.

Paul started his address to them by affirming the one true God as Creator and Sustainer of all things. He was mocked. When we imitate the apostle, insisting that the creation of the universe and all it contains was by the word of God, that it took place in six days of ordinary length about six thousand years ago, and that the first human being Adam was formed of the dust of the Earth and brought to life by the breath of the Almighty, we will often be mocked as well. When we challenge this great lie, the philosophical idol of today, those who honor it as worthy will scoff. So be it.

Like many heroes of the faith over the ages, we must stand strong for truth come what may. The Gospel itself stands on the bedrock of the Biblical account of divine creation and the subsequent history of Mankind and his world which the Bible provides. Here we must stand, our consciences are bound by the infallible word of God, we can do no other.

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No CPR Required

The adherents of many religions and philosophies of the world erect beautiful monuments where their honored dead are interred. In striking contrast, we Christians assert that our Master is no longer in His cave tomb, the garden location of which was well known on the day He was lovingly laid there and remained known long after.

The central proclamation of historic Christianity is that Jesus walked out of that burial cave when He physically rose from the dead, having promised to do just that before He was unjustly executed. Our King is not crumbling to dust within a pyramid or any other majestic sepulcher built by slaves or admirers. The One Who sets men free and Who is worthy of all adoration is alive forevermore with a glorious, divine majesty that no artistry in stone could ever give.

Jesus Christ was not merely resuscitated, as is the case for example with a drowning victim whose breath and consciousness are restored within seconds or minutes. Following His violent and gory crucifixion, the soldiers who saw Him breathe His last ascertained that Jesus was dead. They plunged a spear into His lifeless body for good measure (John 19:30-34). He was buried shortly thereafter, and His closest friends grieved.

The testimonies of those initially incredulous friends and of hundreds of other eyewitnesses to what happened on the third day after His death are preserved in venerable and more importantly quite reliable ancient documents.* Approximately 2,000 years have elapsed since this miraculous but actual, historical event yet its veracity has never been successfully challenged.

Early Christianity was considered a vile superstition in its Roman province of origin, and at best as a curiosity in the greater Roman world. Christ’s enemies eagerly would have sought His bodily remains, because finding them would have exposed the witnesses to His resurrection as liars, dispersed a fledgling community of shamed disciples, and made Christianity a brief and obscure footnote in history.

But the best those enemies could do was to contrive a deceptive tale about His body being stolen. To this day, not the slightest trace or hint of any remains of Jesus have been found. And the best that His enemies of today can do is to arrogantly scoff.

What some hoped to make a footnote has become the main subject of history’s annals. The capitol of that province which counted Christianity as vile was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70, just as Jesus foretold (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). In the following centuries the Roman empire itself was engulfed by the successful, peaceful, and enduring movement which they had supposed to be flash in the pan. This is not the fruit of a fairy tale or of a well intentioned myth.

To sum up, we might say that the principle of habeas corpus bows before the reality of “ascended corpus.” To this day, while the adherents of various belief systems acknowledge that their founders are long dead and buried, billions including this writer have staked all our hope on One Who indeed died and was buried, but Who did not remain dead and buried.

And we acknowledge that if this is false…if Jesus did not truly and bodily rise from the grave, our faith is worthless and we are of all mankind the most to be pitied. Persuaded that it did occur, we present to all the same message that some philosophers of ancient Athens heard from a Christian preacher to whom the risen Christ had appeared:

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter.’ ” (Acts 17:30-32)

* Matthew 28:5ff; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 1:2, 24:12ff; John 19:35ff; Acts 2:32, 5:32, 10:39-4, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, et. al.

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Examine Your Faith

Do you have a reactionary faith or a proactive faith?

A reactionary faith is rarely seen on calm, sunny days. When the weather is fine and the sailing is smooth, the Father of lights from Whom every good and perfect gift comes down (James 1:17) is forgotten while His gifts are being enjoyed and used with gusto. But when the gloom thickens and doom seems near, this kind of faith presumes on the nearness of God and calls upon Him with fervency.

When some urgency arises, reactionary faith assumes that He Who has been ignored for months stands ready to respond in an instant. It counts God as its dearest Friend, eager to use His almighty power to achieve the greatest of all goals. That goal of course is to secure (as soon as possible) the personal comfort, happiness, and prosperity of the one expressing reactionary faith. After all, what higher goal or purpose could the eternal One possibly have?

Yet how gracious and longsuffering He is! How often He does indeed act powerfully and promptly to rescue the one who has reactionary faith. How often does the longsuffering God answer cries for help, only to find Himself forgotten and ignored again when the trouble is past.

On the other hand, a proactive faith is sketched for us at 1 Thessalonians 5:17,18. “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

It is illustrated by patient Job. During the course of a single day, he learned that a portion of his livestock had been stolen by two bands of thieves, that some of his servants had been murdered by the raiders, that other livestock and servants had been killed by fire that fell from heaven, and that all ten of his own children had been crushed to death when the dwelling in which they had gathered for a celebration collapsed in a violent windstorm. His response?

“…Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ ” (Book of Job 1:20,21)

So a proactive a faith gives thanks robustly, when earthly blessings abound. But it perpetually prizes God as its highest joy, the heaven of its heaven. It also looks with confident trust to a gracious Savior when gloom and doom is near. That confidence comes from having been at His side all along, ever abiding in the presence of Him Who is unseen.  Being a faith enriched by God’s living and active written word, it responds to adversity with the mindset of the Psalmist, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71)

Proactive faith knows well the exhortation with which James begins his general epistle. When various trials come it counts them all joy, knowing that testing produces patience. It apprehends that God’s eternal purpose is to glorify Himself in and by all things. Think about it – could God have a greater goal or purpose? What else would be worthy of Him Who condescends to consider the whole human race, indeed all creation?

Proactive faith delights in knowing that God will glorify Himself by using trials and tribulations to further conform the patient one to the image of the Lord Jesus…to make that one perfect and complete, lacking nothing…securing that one in an everlasting state that is blissful beyond anything he can presently ask or think.

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The Big Picture

Let’s cite a passage of Scripture, expound on it briefly, and offer an illustration of what it teaches.

The passage: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8,9)

The exposition: We are capable of reason because we are made in God’s image, but our knowledge and understanding is not infinite like God’s. Our thoughts are all creaturely – limited and derivative. Divine thoughts are original, and limited only by God’s own perfections; for example God cannot devise a wicked scheme as sinful men can do.

The illustration: Imagine a painting that is a nine hundred miles long and four hundred miles wide. The giant artist has told you it is a still life, depicting a bowl of apples set upon a rustic wooden table in a quaint country house complete with a rocking chair and a cat curled up by the fireplace. You are eager to behold the pleasing objet d’art, but since you don’t have a high flying aircraft, you cannot get to a vantage point from which you can see the whole.

You tell the giant painter that you would like to stand on the painting and walk around on it. By doing so you hope that you will somehow be able to gain an appreciation for the whole work. The master knows that allowing a little ant sized being like you this privilege will not damage his artwork, and gives you the green light.

You look down and the paint at your feet is pure white. As far as you can see in every direction, the dry paint is white. You begin to wonder, how can this be a painting of apples? Apples are not white. You walk for several minutes, and still see nothing but white. So you murmur about this to the artist, suggesting that his painting leaves something to be desired.

He could become indignant at your criticism, but he patiently explains that for the still life painting to accurately reflect reality, it had to show the sunlight reflected off the one spot on the one apple on which you happened to be standing. It is only that spot that is painted white. So you walk a couple more minutes and suddenly white gives way to red. Now you understand.

“O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man does not know, nor does a fool understand this. When the wicked spring up like grass, and when all the workers of iniquity flourish, it is that they may be destroyed forever. But You, LORD, are on high forevermore.” (Psalm 92:5-8)

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