Saturday, November 30, 2013

What Exactly is Theism?

Psalm 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.”

There is an old saying that nothing starts an argument quicker than a discussion between either politics or religion. But, I think that there is no issue that provokes more controversy in the free marketplace of ideas than the question of whether or not there is a God. In a book on “Why Atheist believe in Unbelief” by Sproul, I started reading on the religion of “Atheism” (the belief in no god) to understand more, since our Pastor JJ presented a Wednesday night overview or “Comparative Religions at our church peaked my interest.  Focusing on Atheism to find the reason why people do not believe in God, I found immediately that this debate has raged for ages, as the Stoics theistic beliefs, the Platonists “Idea of Good’ and the Aristotelians “Unmoved Mover” beliefs were mocked and scoffed by individual group in their time. In every culture with believers in God there have been unbelievers. From apathy to violence, from unbridled passion to careful, calculated reasoning, the debate takes place. But knowing that misunderstandings and problems can arise by the proper definition of words, a study starts with the clarification of the varieties of “Theism” and the various categories of it.

Ecclesiastes 3:10-14 have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what god has done from the beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it si that men will revere Him.

Sproul explains that that the word “theism” is a general term that includes a wide variety of species. Literally, the word means “Godism,” that is, belief in God. It is derived from “theos”, the Greek word for God. The content of the term, however , is far more difficult than its derivative. One dictionary defines “theism” as “the belief in the existence of a god or gods”, and the definition of “god” as “a being or object believed to have more than nature attributes and powers and to require requires man’s worship” and also “a person or thing of supreme value.” This all-encompassing definition is broad in scope and serves to increase the ambiguity (vagueness and uncertainty) that so often surrounds the meaning of the word “God”. For instance, the National Motto of the United States of America is “In God We Trust”, which is historically documented as based upon the Judeo/Christian definition of Israel’s “Yahweh” of the Pentateuch and Bible, but in the pluralistic culture of today, you will hear that the word “God” can mean whatever you, individually and personally, want it to mean.

Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Sproul states that because of the now ambiguity of the word “God” and the multitude of meanings attached to it, some contemporary thinkers have despaired of having any meaningful discussion of the word at all. There is a crisis of language in the whole of God-talk. Therefore, God cannot be discussed seriously and rationally unless people agree on what sort of being and/or power that they are attempting to discuss, because the problem is in terms of language. Radical skepticism, however, is an overreaction to the problems involved.  Though the word “God” abounds with linguistic difficulties, it still functions in a meaningful way in our society. Most people still assume that “God” refers to some person, or power, on a level of existence different from ordinary humanity. “Theism” is, it is generally agreed, belief that such a power or being exists. In terms of numerical statistics, it is safe to say that the vast majority of human beings have at least subscribed to some variety of theism. Theism has been so persistent in human civilization and has been so characteristic of mankind that it has been fashioned to describe man in terms of being “homo religious”. Man appears to be incurably religious, not atheistic. There is something about faith and unbelief. How can such brilliant thinkers and competent scholars come to such radically divergent positions? The debate between theists and atheists continues. Why? Knowing can and will help you and I to be a better disciple to, and witness for the Lord to our family, friends, and neighbors. Let’s take a look.

In Christ, Brian 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Not Just Thanksgiving, But Thanksliving

Back in 2009, when I start this blog, I posted this first Thanksgiving message. Revisiting the origins and original intent of the blessed holiday though the Proclamations that established this traditional celebration is as important today for understanding  because focus of this attitude of gratitude is the same, just as the reason to that the Proclamations were made in the first place. Let's look at it again.
1 Thes. 5:16-18 "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

The origins of America’s Thanksgiving Day.

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings. --William Bradford, Ye Governor of Ye (Plymouth) Colony, November 29, 1623
WHEREAS, It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor;
WHEREAS, Both the houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. --George Washington - October 3, 1789
********************************************************************************************* The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.  - President Abraham Lincoln - Oct. 3, 1863
Psalm 100 – "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."

I included the original three proclamations by Bradford, Washington & Lincoln to remember the original intent of this holiday that we set aside in America. We live today in a very egocentric and materialistic world, society and culture (and maybe it has always been that way in varying degrees due to human nature). Americans have freedoms and blessings in abundance that most other nations and peoples never know.

I love President Lincoln’s assessment “To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come." Do we take our lives for granted and neglect the freedoms and liberty that we enjoy, our families and loved ones, the bounties of our possessions, and the source of them all (Almighty God)? We need an “attitude of gratitude” towards God, not only for the things that happen in our lives but also for the things that did not happen by His providence. We need to give thanks in the “good” times and the “bad” times, in all places and in all things despite our current circumstances because of who He is, what He does, how He loves us, what He did for us in Jesus Christ, our adoption into the family of God and our eternal home in Heaven to come.

Do we thank God for our faith, for the gift of Heaven and eternal life? Is it not Jesus Christ who loves us, seeks us, guides us and protects us as the “good shepherd? Despite our faults and failures, God still loves us, still accepts us; we are still his child, and still His desire. We can come to Him with our dreams and our problems without fear because of our relationship, our standing and our position with God. Our decision to salvation through Jesus Christ brings hope, forgiveness, prayer, peace, blessings, holiness, and an eternal prospective of the world to come in Heaven.

Are our lives in conformity with His will? Do we desire and strive to live a life pleasing to Almighty God? Do we claim to be a “Child of God”, and give no thanks? The sin of ingratitude displeases our Holy Father in Heaven. Where our heart is at, this is where our treasure is. Where is our treasure? Where are our hearts? We need to begin each day with thankful gratitude, end each day with gratitude and fill in the middle with thanksgiving. We are not lucky, but blessed and need to thankfully rejoice as Christians! What do we have that we didn’t receive from God? May the gracious name of God have all the praise! This is Thanksgiving Day, but every day should be Thanksliving Day!

Psalm 136:1-3 & 26 "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever."

I wish you and your families a blessed and happy Thanksgiving Day.
In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Identity Transformed – A New Creation

2 Corinthians 5:17-21Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We are all familiar with our name. Our name is important and matters, in that it carries with it some sense of who we are, yet more than us individually in the bigger scheme of God’s plan. Revelation 21:5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” God has called us to be His people by His saving grace through His son Jesus Christ. What a privilege to be a part of God’s new creation in Christ.

Pastor JJ pointed out in this week Sunday Sermon series about our Christian identity that God is in the life transforming business. But what exactly is God transforming in our life? What is it that He changes? Three areas that God transforms in us are:

(1)            A new heart. Guard your hearts because it is our “control center”, where we make decisions. It takes a Christian worldview to see as He sees. Not how they work for us, but how they please Him. John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” But God transforms the heart. The sorrows of life and the ways of this world is where He goes to soften the heart and make it sensitive to godly ways. Ezekiel 11:19I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” This is not pride on what we wee, but in what God has revealed to us. The ways of the world lost and dying in sin sees Christian beliefs as foolishness. But God’s transforming of the heart teaches with discernment of His holy will, gaining godly knowledge and wisdom for the glory of God. Romans 12:2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” It starts and ends with God’s Word, becoming light in the daily process within our own life as a disciple of Christ.
(2)            A new motivation. When we are, as a boat without a motor or oars, set adrift in this god-rejecting world system, the winds of popularity blow us into the rocks of destruction. But God propels His children with power from above, against the wind and the waves, with direction towards the destination (in His image). God stepped in on sin and death to pull us out in Christ and take us to a new aim, purpose and end. What more do we need to motivate us to follow Him.
(3)            A new mission. The ministry of reconciliation. We have been reconciled through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus to become His mouthpiece and offer to the world that does not know the Lord, what was offered to us. You don’t have to be “good” at witnessing for Christ because the Holy Spirit works through us to reach those who have been prepared in advance to hear and receive the word and light of truth. It’s as easy as just telling others your story of what God has done in your life. God shows up and does His good work, so that a life transformation centered in Christ has been purposed and fulfilled to the glory of God. God is at work in the world and chooses to offer life in it. This is the mission that He made us for: telling others about our name, whether “Saved by God”, “Forgiven by God”, “Loved by God”, “Child of God” or “A new creation in Christ”. What on your name tag?

Transformed with a new heart, motivation and mission, He makes all things new, created in Christ Jesus that we may turn and return, not churn and burn. His love endures forever.

Psalm 100 “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Children of God – Part 2

John 1:12-13But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Let’s pick up where we left off, on Pastor JJ’s Sunday Sermon series “Identity Theft” – being Children of God.

(2) Paying attention. 1 Corinthians 6:19Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” God points out godly ways to God, led by the Holy Spirit in a direction that is guided, not lost; always teaching for living rightly, not misguided and eaten away by sin. The Scriptures open and speak the truth from our Father in Heaven. He loves you and I too much to allow us to wonder and wander. John 14:16-17I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

(3) Access to the Father. With our identity to the Most High God, the children have direct access to Father God, as sons and daughters of the Sovereign, not subjects. Think of God’s commandments, decrees, laws and statutes not as rules and regulations, but actually as the chains of slavery coming off. John 8:31-32 + 34 To the people who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Romans 6:6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”  Not condemned, but saved. No bewilderment, no confusion, and no uncertainty, but free to see in relationship. 1 Corinthians 14:33 God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” Not living in a constant state of fear, waiting for God to “zap” us, but able to approach our Heavenly Father with respect as “Abba” (Daddy) and be embraced in His loving arms. To hear a child say “Daddy” is exactly what God wants from us as we share our life with Him. Know Father God in deep intimacy. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross gave us that right and privilege.

(4) The Spirit testifies with our spirit. Our sins give us a “bad” name, but God gives us a “new” name and identity, so we are clothed anew in this life. A redressing: buried with Christ, raised as children of God and we are no longer defined by our past. Let Christ into your life. Acts 17:28-29 “For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. He has made us His.

5) Our future is changed. We have an inheritance shared with Jesus. And once changed, it doesn’t change – we’ll be in heaven for eternity. We shall hear: “Welcome home child”, and we get all this now … the moment we first believe. “Well done, my faithful child” as we live now, and it doesn’t stop here. Look forward to coming before our Heavenly Father today and tomorrow in eternity.  1 John 3:1-2See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

Do you see yourself as adopted sons and daughters of God? Is that a reality for you and I, or is something else our reality? Relationship based in our identity as children of God is a reality in every part of our being.

Galatians 3:26For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Children of God – Part 1

John 1:12-13But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

When one or more of the unholy trinity makes an attempt at spiritual identity theft, what identity are they trying to steal? They can’t steal something that you do not have in the first place. Pastor JJ continues in this Sunday Sermon series by identifying “who we are in Christ?” The devil doesn't get us to become “devil-worshipers”, but gets us to doubt God (the original sin). There are many voices in our culture that work to distract our senses and tempt our minds. If those who do not hold to biblical values are deceived then the children of God need to engage our culture and society. Those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord have been adopted by God and welcomed into the family; there is our identity.

Romans 8:14-17For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

There are five great truths about being children of God.

(1) Our motivation for living righteously. Things will have to change because God meets us where we are at, but does not keep us where we are at. We must give up the sinful things of this God-rejecting world system. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Does death look fun? Then why do people say things like: “Everyone else is doing it.” or “At least I’m not as bad as others.” Are they excuses just to have a little sinful fun. Sin has consequences … ultimately, the death of our soul. But, sons and daughters of God know and hear a different calling in Christ; tuning and aligning their lives to the Word and the Spirit to live, representing God on high and carrying His name. “Christian” is our identity and we have obligations to the kingdom of God

Philippians 2:14-16Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

Being that this post looks packed with great truths that need mindful digesting in heartfelt prayer, let's pick this issue up tomorrow right here.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Need to Succeed

Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

I’ve really been enjoying this Sunday Sermon series on “Identity Theft”, that examines the question: “Who are we in Christ?” Pastor JJ explains that it is an important question because we have a tendency to forget that we’re special already, created in God’s image, with our identity in Him, not with others. Have you noticed that where we look determines our identity? If we look to the world: people, possessions, pay, portfolio, pomp, pageantry, prestige, power, position, pleasure, et cetera ... it’s never enough. We’ll always need one more to finally “make it”, then one more again, because you can never have too many. When John D. Rockefeller, who had an estimated net worth of $340 Billion, was asked “how much would be enough?” he answered “just a little bit more.”  But, he who has the most at the end does not win.

Ecclesiastes 5:10-12Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?  The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.”

In the Rat Race of life, we are engrained with the motto of “Look out for Number One”, claw, fight and scratch your way up that ladder of life. Conquer, highest grades, top of the list, best job, improving, promotions, bigger and more as we compare ourselves and base our success on others in the race with the need to succeed. This racing to the proverbial finish line can produce a condition known as “Hurry Sickness” : a behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness; an overwhelming and continual sense of urgency; cramming life, running from one place and activity to another. In the church, what keeps most people from Christian ministry? The most common answer is: “I don’t have the time.”

Psalm 49:16-17Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.”

Luke 12:15 “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

We are all created differently, with strengths and weaknesses. We are naturally good in areas that we are gifted in. In the final analysis, it’s all about the pursuit (where you are looking), because you can’t take it with you when you go. You’ll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer. Filling up our life with stuff that we cannot take with us when we go to be with the Lord is not the pursuit of happiness. It isn’t about doing, but about being. Our “doing” must flow out of “Being”, and balance comes from being in Christ. Life is not about building bigger barns and filling them up. More is not enough. We need to look beyond the shinny stuff. Remember that when you play the game of Monopoly, the goal is to bankrupt everyone else by owning all the properties and money, but in the end, everything goes back in the box.

Job 1:21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Ecclesiastes 5:15Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.”

To succeed is not inherently evil, unless a consuming desire for success takes your focus off of God. We can idolize the pursuit of success and replace the need for God with the need to succeed. The first step in the pursuit of spiritual success starts with forfeiting ourselves. Keeping up with the Jones has a prideful impediment element, that we do not need anything. But in reality, we are a sinful beggar dependent upon the providence of Almighty God for our very life, breath and future. We are never to plan so much for this life that we forget about the next. True success is having Christ in our life. God sees character that flows out of His character (i.e. ethics, loving, giving, etc.). The need to succeed is about looking to Christ and not being distracted by the God-rejecting world system or what our secular culture tells us. True success does not come by what you can acquire, because it’s unattainable that way. The real question is: “Are you right in God?”

1 Timothy 6:6-7 “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”

Success is in the Lord; faithfully knowing and obediently doing what God says. Are the things of God more important to us than the things of this world? In the need to succeed, we all need to clear the things of this world out of our lives in order to reach the real fulfillment that we all are looking for. Success is in the Lord.

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Faith or Unbelief: The True Root Issue

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Our Wednesday night Apologetics / Theology lesson has come to this conclusion: The root issue is sin, but the true battle in “Creation verses Evolution” is about “Who is sovereign, God or man?” Not physics, but metaphysics. The Creator’s holy Word, Will and Way or our word, will and way? Philosophically, who has ultimate authority? The answer leads to belief or unbelief as the means to the end. 

Quote: “I do not want to believe in God, therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation arising to evolution.” Dr. George Wald, Nobel Prize winner and professor emeritus of biology at Harvard University.

Genesis 1:27So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Remove the Biblical account of Creation and replaced it with impersonal naturalistic Evolution and you eliminate God (in their mind). People reject Creator God because His sovereign authority over their life, which they are accountable to, so is offensive. In particular, the judgment and wrath of God, but nowhere do we find God involved in capricious or arbitrary acts of judgment. His wrath is never directed against the innocent. His anger never flows without reason. It is always directed against human rebellion and sin. 

Quote: “Evolution is unproved and improvable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation, which is unthinkable.” Sir Arthur Keith, physical anthropology and head of the Anatomy Department at London Hospital.

It is ironic that it is “the cross” that reveals the most violent and mysterious outpouring of the wrath of God that we find anywhere in the Scriptures. Here the sinless and innocent Son of God does suffer the wrath of God, but only after He willingly takes upon Himself, by imputation, the sins of the world. Without this act of wrath there is no grace. But it is precisely through this act of wrath that grace is made available for a rebellious people by the mercy of a holy and loving Creator God. If anyone is offended by God, perhaps the fault is not in God but in their own corrupt and distorted sense of values.

Quote: “I suppose the reason we leaped at the origin of species was because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores.” Sir Julian Huxley, the late president of UNESCO and grandson of Darwin’s colleague Thomas Huxley.

Romans 1:18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

Notice that God’s wrath is not against innocent or ignorance but against ungodliness and wickedness. What kind of wickedness? What is the specific  act that is provoking the divine wrath? The “suppressing of truth”. What truth is being suppressed? The rest of the text provides the answer:

Romans 1:19-21 “Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

The apostle gives us a description of “general revelation”. This simply means that God has revealed Himself generally in His creation. God reveals that He is and That He has eternal power and deity to all mankind. First, this general revelation is plainly manifest to them. God has shown it to them and it is clearly perceived. Thus, this knowledge is not obscure. Second, the knowledge “gets through” and finds its mark. God does not merely provide an available objective revelation of Himself that may or may not be subjectively received. “They knew God.” Man’s problem is not that he doesn’t know God but that he refuses to acknowledge what he knows to be true. Third, this revelation has been going on since the foundation of the world and continues in a constant way. Fourth, the revelation comes by way of creation. God’s invisible nature is revealed “through the things that are made.” The whole creation is a glorious theater which gives a magnificent display of its creation. Fifth, the revelation is sufficient to render man inexcusable. “So they are without excuse.” What excuse? Obviously, the excuse eliminated is that of ignorance.  None will ever be able to say to God: “I’m sorry I didn't worship and serve you. I didn't think that there was sufficient evidence to affirm your existence.”

Romans 1:22-25Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts … They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. 

The apostle explains pagan religion as a distortion of the truth. An “exchange” takes place between the truth of God and the lie. God’s glory is replaced by the substitute of the “glory of the creature.” Evolution is a religion, but it is the religion of idolatry. Idolatry represents the ultimate insult to God. Darwinian Macro-Evolution through spontaneous generation with macro-evolution over time and chance is viewed then not as growing out of an honest attempt to search for God, but out of a fundamental rejection of God’s self-revelation. In the war against Creator God, the battle between faith and unbelief wages on daily.

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Worship the Creator, not the creation nor the creature. Look at this beautiful world, created to be inhabited by you and I, and give praise, honor and glory to our Father in Heaven, Maker of heaven and earth.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, November 15, 2013

Life on Earth: Evolution by Natural Selection or Creator God?

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” 

I’m continuing on with the second portion of our church’s Wednesday night series on seeking truth through Theology and Apologetics overview lesion on Creation verses Evolution that I facilitated last Wednesday night.

The book that centered the debate was “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life”, by Charles Darwin, was published November 24, 1859.

Darwin’s theory of evolution presented an atheistic philosophy and idealism for the “origin” of life, claiming that the combination of lifeless inert space, long periods of time and chance could produce life. He theorized that all life is came from one common (simple single cell) ancestor the evolved over millions of years into every living creature and variation through a “survival of the fittest” process called natural selection that would take the random chances that were most helpful to an organism’s survival. Basically, stating that there is a quantitative, but no qualitative distinction between animals and man. This hypostasis falls short in three areas ...

1.      The Fossil Record. It won’t support evolution and is actually against evolution. Animals appear abruptly and without transitional forms in the oldest rock layer – called the Cambrian period. 100 million fossils and no progression. The “missing link” is still missing.

2.      Micro-Evolution verses Macro-Evolution. Micro-evolution is small changes within a species. (Example: Dogs of every size, color and shape, but all dogs). Macro-evolution is one species turning into or producing a totally different species of animal. The evidence of macro-evolution is completely missing. But, Evolutionist take the evidence of micro-evolution and use it as proof of macro-evolution (example: Darwin’s Finches).

3.      Explaining Life’s enormous biological complexity. No evolutionist has been able to propose a plausible way that such intricate structures (like a seeing eye) could have arisen randomly. Even at the microscopic level with DNA (with coded information) within the not-so-single cell. Random chance alone cannot produce life, and the various species. What we see in nature is “intelligent design” and the unmistakable fingerprints of our Creator God.

For Evolution, what should be there is not there, but what shouldn’t be there is.  There is not gaps in the theory of evolution; there is no evidence. Charles Darwin said himself: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organism existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Origin of Species

Isaiah 45:18 For this is what the Lord says — he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Some Evolutionists proclaim that all Scientist believe in Macro-Evolution for the origin of life on Earth, but the fact is that 40% of all Scientists are Bible believing Creationists.  I’ve met a few. Also, the “Scientific Method”, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, experimentation, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses, was developed by Christian Creationist Francis Bacon. Major Fields of Science were established by Biblical Creationist Scientists. (examples: Bacteriology by Louis Pasteur, Celestial Mechanics by Johann Kepler, Chemestry by Robert Boyle, Computer Science by Charles Babbage, Dynamics by Issac Newton, Electro Magnetics by Michael Faraday, Energetics by Lord Kelvin, Galactic Astronomy by William Herschel, Genetics by James Simpson, Hydraulics by Leonardo Da Vinci, Hydrostatics by Blaise Pascal, Ichthyology by Louis Agassiz, Isotopic Chemistry by William Ramsay, Natural History by John Ray, Oceanography by Matthew Maury, Optica Mineralology by David Brewster, Paleontology by John Woodward, Pathology by Rudolph Virchow, Stratigraphy by Nicholas Steno, Thermodynamics by Lord Kelvin and Thermokinetics by Humphrey Davy to name a few. And many notable inventions, discoveries and developments in the filed of Science were by Bible-Believing Creationist Scientists also. The Bible is not a textbook of Science, Newton said that Science was “Thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” Science is about investigating the natural world, not asking questions like: Is there a God? or Why are we here?

The “social” consequences of Darwinistic evolution is that explaining “life” by impersonal natural processes, ultimately leads to morality being whatever we want it to be. It is well documented the Nazism developed out of social Darwinistic evolution beliefs. The Columbine High School shooter is also well documented as acting out of social Darwinism. In the final analysis, evolution says that there is no Creator God and when you die, that will be the end of us, so you might as well do whatever you want to do. Life, ultimately, has no meaning, no purpose, no reason, no significance, no worth and no value without God. Stephen Jay Gould stated: “Homo sapiens are a tiny twig on an improbable branch of a contingent limb on a fortunate tree.”  Meaningless life?

Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

The Naturalistic Darwinian Evolution Theory is the only view of human origins allowed in American Public Schools and taught as a fact. It is against the law to inform students that there are scientific challenges to evolution. An origin is a study of ultimate things. The theory of Evolution is a religion, as an alternate Theology. But Charles Darwin stated: “A fair result can only be obtained by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question. To present both sides of this is the only way to come to a fair result.” - Origin of Species. Where does the evidence lead? Why aren’t all facts and arguments on the table? We’ll get to that on our third part of this lesson.

Isaiah 45:12 It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Universe: Spontaneous Generation or Creation?

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens.” 

Our church has be going though a “Systematic Theology / Apologetics” teaching series on Wednesday nights, and I was asked to put together and present an overview lesson on the subject of Creation verses Evolution. With such a large and detailed subject, I centered on three areas in the debate (1) the Universe – which includes the Earth, (2) Life on Earth, and (3) The True Issue.

According to one theory, a Big Bang occurred approximately 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe. At this time, the Universe was in an extremely hot and dense state and began expanding rapidly. After the initial expansion, the Universe cooled sufficiently to allow energy to be converted into various subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons, and electrons making the over 100 billion galaxies that we can see. This theory is not believed anymore with the  advancement of technology to look deeper into the Cosmos and the associated new observed Scientific discoveries. But the logical question is, how do they know? What is this extremely hot and dense state they talked about and where did it come from? What made it explode and why?

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

In the so-called “age of science”, a growing sentiment that clinging to a belief in a Creator God is an option for those who cannot face living in a universe where things happen by natural laws and random chance; a climate of option that science has made God unnecessary or not capable of being defended against attack or criticism. Materialism is all they see and believe. Skeptics of the Biblical Creation account maintain that the God-hypothesis was no longer necessary because “now we know the universe came into being by “spontaneous generation”. They speak of the origin of the universe in terms of combinations of space, time and chance. In a popular sense this means “creation by chance” and the notion of “self-creation” by luck in a Cosmic accident. Is that logical?

Job 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

In my study, I found that the notion of “self-creation” is irrational in the extreme. Chance is defined as “something that happens as a result of unknown or unconsidered forces”. Chance describes a mathematical relationship of factors. Does chance do anything? Of course not. Chance merely tells us the possibilities in light of the multitude of variables. Chance has no power to do anything. It has no power because it is nothing. To say that the universe was created by “chance” is to say that it was created by nothing or was “self-created”. What are the chances that the universe was created by chance? Not a chance! It is non-scientific, illogical and irrational. Science is defined as "knowledge" acquired by the rational scientific method of study, experimentation and observation. 

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies  proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

The nearest star to Earth, Proxima (Alpha) Centauri is about 4.243 light year away. The disk of the Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light years in diameter. Remember that light travels at 670,616,629 mph, so do the math. This universe is big, with some 100 Billion visible Galaxies in the Universe. What are the chances of life out there? Not good.

Some of the factors necessary and sufficient conditions for complex life on an inhabitable planet:
  1. A planet orbiting a Main Sequence G2 Dwarf Star. Less mass reduces the “inhabitable zone” and increases gravity to stop planet rotation.
  2. A planet within the circum-stellar  “Inhabitable zone” of the solar system. 5% closer = too hot for life. 20% farther = too cold for life.
  3. A planet within a solar system, within the Galactic “Habitation zone”, middle plain between spiral arms for maximum protection.
  4. A planet protected by “Gas Giant” planets to draw meteor collisions & enough gravity to stabilize inner planet orbits.
  5. Correct size (mass) of planet for proper gravity.
  6. Proper magnetic field cause by movement of interior liquid iron producing a protective field from harmful solar rays.
  7. Proper plate tectonics of a thin outer crust (4-30 miles thick) for adjustments.
  8. A planet with a nearly circular orbit around the Sun for mild climate changes.
  9. A planet with a transparent atmosphere for life-giving visible light penetration and warmth.
  10. A planet with a moderate rate of rotation for day and night.
  11. An oxygen rich atmosphere (21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen & 1% carbon dioxide).
  12.  A planet orbited by a large moon. ¼ the size of earth, the gravitational pull stabilizes the angle to the axis at exactly 23 degree, so that the entire earth’s surface is warmed evenly, with temperate seasonal changes, and churning tides.
  13. Liquid water (where water flows life grows)
  14. Proper ratio of liquid water to Continents (land) for weather and climate change.  
The probability of necessary major and minor factors necessary existing simultaneously and fine tuned for a terrestrial planet one one-thousandth of a trillion or 1 over 1,000,000,000,000,000. There shouldn't be life on this planet with those odds. How do you explain this? The earth is obviously “Anthropic” (designed and created for life to exist and be sustained). It takes a lot of faith to believe otherwise … or on faith.

Quote: "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance." Isaac Newton – Principia

It's an interesting overview, from a Christian perspective. I encourage you to look into the debate and the information available. We shall look at "Life on Earth" next time.
Blessings, in Christ, Brian