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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Character of God As Seen in Creation

“What I believe about God is the most important thing about me.” A.W. Tozer

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Romans 1:18-20

Knowing Jesus intimately is singularly one of the greatest privileges we have as a believer. It is also one of the most crucial aspects of our eternal life. Jesus said in Matthew 7:18-23, "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name? and in Thy Name have cast out devils? and in Thy Name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity."

With that in mind, I want to propose an examination of the two most prevalent creation models being presented as truth considering the character of God. Only one can be true. Either the world is 4.5 billion years old or roughly 10,000 years old give or take. Either God created the world in six literal twenty-four hour days or six eras. Both uses of the word "yom" from Hebrew would be correct. But only one of these declares who God really is.

It has been my observation that the created world has caused many people to give up their faith based on a faulty understanding of the character of God. Richard Dawkins did just that. He noted the created world through the lens of science and he also read the Word of God and He saw a God he didn't know. Where was the God he knew who was easy on sin, all gentle at all times and never ever angry? Why did the created world portray something entirely different?

Instead of realizing that God was revealing something to him about Himself, Dawkins dropped the ball and attacked the Bible. Because so many people misunderstand the attributes of God and cannot reconcile these things with the created world as seen from its beginning, they conclude that the whole thing is a sham.

Further, there are folks such as Ellen White and Rob Bell who were led to conclude that hell's fire is metaphorical or a momentary experience at best. They can't reconcile the all benevolent god easy on sin with eternal torment. Yet God says that His eternal attributes are clearly seen right from the beginning. If you look closely at His judgments, you can see that He is not easy on sin. Quite the contrary in fact. So let's compare the attributes of the YEC (young earth creationist) God with the OEC (old eath creationist) God and see which one most clearly portrays the God of the Bible.

In creation one of the main attributes I would hope to see is absolute honesty. If there is one thing I know for a fact about God it is the fact that He doesn't lie ever! Now, YEC states that yes in fact the universe is immense and many objects are millions or billions of light years from earth. To the layman what that means is that we are seeing what happened to those galaxies millions of years ago. Yet, they would suggest that God only gave the universe an appearance of age to the average person. In other words, the universe appears old, but it is really very young.

There is no way to reconcile this with scientific evidence. The natural world does not coincide with this and when pressed, the knowledgeable YEC will admit this. So they fall back on something not clearly seen, which would be supernatural activity like someone waving a magic wand.

My question is does God do that typically? Does He work miraculously to bring about His will for us? Or does He work supernaturally naturally through the things He's created? It has been my experience that it is the latter 99.9% of the time. These things are still miracles, but they are happening so naturally that to the man without faith, they seem to be happening without the hand of God. That is how God operates the majority of the time. That is His character. Our faith works through that to cause these natural things to work for us.

Another point is that Psalm 19:1-3 tells us, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." What that means is that anyone on the planet regardless of mental status can look up and understand what they see.

With that in mind, a faction of YEC propose an intense mathematical formula that they believe reconciles this problem. Very few people would be able to decipher this formula. Not to mention, it has been refuted and proven false. Yet many unsuspecting Christians loving the God of the YEC model have adopted this as proof even though it is not clearly seen by everyone on the planet regardless of language, mental capacity, or location so they they have no excuse.

Another problem is the sixth day of creation. I never considered this until I started listening to Reasons To Believe. Logistically, it would be impossible for Adam to name all the animals, realize they aren't compatible with him, have major surgery, and then wake up to meet Eve. The YEC knows this. And once again, we have to fall back on smoke screens and mirrors to explain this. What we clearly see, which is a time passing, is not what we actually see because once again, the YEC proposes that God did something supernatural like prolonging the day. Yet reality fits the God of the Bible.

He is honest and truthful. If He says we can clearly see this, you know what? I think we should be able to clearly see this and lo and behold, we do. Science has discovered that man traces back to one woman and one man. Granted, the man comes later. But that is exactly what we would expect if everything bottlenecks after the Flood with Noah.

Hurry up, God!!!
Am I the only Christian on the planet that feels that God has no problem making me wait for something as in years and years and years....? What about how He made David wait until after he was dead for Solomon to build the temple that he planned? God doesn't ever seem to be in a hurry according to my timeline. But not the YEC god. He's in a big hurry to get this universe underway. Zip, zip, zip, zip, zip, zip. It's done. In comparison to infinity, that is like a microsecond for us.

The Bibles says in Daniel 7:13, "I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him."

Now, that to me sounds like a very long time. Plus, when God is presenting to us a picture of Himself through Abraham and his son Issac, we see that God has Abraham wait until he's 100 to have Issac. So as a human ancient man, Abraham has a son. Now compare that to infinity and you can see that God being a brief six days old is zero in comparison. Plus, this is a perfect picture of the Ancient of Days having a Son - Jesus.

Psalm 86:15 says this about God's character, "But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth."

If you look at the creation events in reality, it is apparent that God suffers in its creation. He creates animals that are dying. We know that He is aware of each of them.

Romans 8:22 tells us, "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." Creation has been declaring God's longsuffering from the beginning. And the purpose of this is exposed in the very next verse, "Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. ." The longsuffering isn't just sadism but it has a purpose.

The Terror of the Lord
Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. 2 Corinthians 5:11

Where is this attribute in the YEC model? God would be completely disingenuous if He didn't include His terror in creation from the beginning. Yet in the YEC model, it doesn't exist because according to their point of view, these things are not apparent until after the fall of mankind. They believe that there is no death in the world at all except for perhaps plant life. This would mean that all animals are herbivores until man sins.

The problem with this is that many of these animals themselves are terrifying. And thank God they don't live today or we'd all live our lives in terror. If your neighbor were a family of tyrannosaurus rex, you would probably die of fear. But God in His wisdom created these things on the fifth day and then took their breath away. Then He created again and replenished the earth with carnivorous animals that would not be as difficult to abide with. Yet, it is apparent that many eras of man have discovered the remains of these animals and depicted them in art work as terrifying creatures.

The Mercy of the Lord
Now both models would support this loving attribute. The most prevalent place for this would be in babies. We see cute cuddly innocent babies and our hearts melt. See, everyone sees the benevolence of God in nature in the things that are made because they are more abundant than the things that are malevolent. Thank God for that or the world would be so destructive that we could not survive. Instead, we see fluffy bunnies and cuddly kittens all showing God's character.

God makes no apology for creating these chaotic things and in fact, says that He does in Isaiah 45:7, " I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.’ " Since all creating stopped after the creation of man, we know these things were created before the fall.


The real miracle of creation is in the fine tuning and ways in which this universe and in particular, this planet is sustained. Yet, God's means to achieve that is through these events that to us seem imperfect. Is the problem the creation or our perception of who God is? Perhaps we truly need to step back and see who this God is and accept that He is stating clearly in His Word the exact same things.

He rejoices over things like the KT boundary as is seen in Psalm 104:29-32. He sees the good in the works of His hands and how the things He is creating are formed through means of suffering. This planet has been suffering since its inception.

Do you know how Jesus, who is God Almighty was made perfect? For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10 Shouldn't that modus operandi be clearly seen from the creation of the world? Is it?

From the point of view of reality, it is. From the point of view of the YEC, it isn't. From their perspective, everything was pristine until man fell and then a new creation came into play unlike the one before the fall. In this new place we find suffering, but not before.

It is hard to imagine that a bug was in the thoughts of God. I find them to be disgusting. On the other hand, what is interesting to me is the way God has created these creatures that are soulless to portray parts of His character. He tells us one in Proverbs 6:6-8, "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. "

Can you see that God is saying that an ant portrays a character quality of diligence? And shouldn't that quality be clearly seen from the creation of the world?

Of all the animals that men have filmed, I think we are all fascinated by insects the most. Nevertheless, we would hate to have them in our homes. They are not friendly for the most part because they do not bond with man.

These are just a few character attributes that I believe are imperative in terms of God revealing who He is to mankind from the creation of the world. God knew we would be in a faith based universe where we couldn't know Him by our physical senses. So He left us with a creation that would help us understand who He is. We have to see that from the point of view of reality to comprehend His invisible attributes. He is telling us in Romans that it is enough so that we are without excuse.

Interestingly, the atheists see it. They see that side of God. They see that He is angry with the wicked every day. They see those attributes in creation. That's why they are without excuse.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Righteousness by the Law or a Righteousness by Faith - A Fine Line

Did the Jews achieve a measure of righteousness by the Law? According to Scripture, they did. They still sinned and fell short of the glory of God, but they were able to grasp some righteousness. (Luke 1:6, Phil 3, Galatians 2:15, Acts 17:30)

Grace is God's power to set us free and to do the work that He has called us to. This power is extended to us through faith.

It is actually easy to perform religious ceremonies and dress in religious outfits. It is impossible to be pure in heart, speak the truth in love, and be angry and sin not just to name a few ways that a true Christian should respond. Those responses are unpredictable. They must be manifest at the time they are needed. Sometimes, gentleness and compassion are the right approach. Sometimes the fear of the Lord is more appropriate. Jude 22-23. Nevertheless, with the Holy Spirit, we can do the right thing, at the right time in the right way.

One major confusion about the gospel message is our need for righteousness to be received into heaven. This requires grace. We need a full pardon for past sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. But we also need something else. We need to be freed from the sins of our flesh so that we can walk in the power of God's Spirit.

2 Tim. 3 describes people in these last times that have a form of godliness but deny the power of God. They are ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. I have experienced this type of believer. On the outside, they look holy. Unfortunately, this doesn't translate into genuine love toward the brethren, discernment toward those around us or an ability in general to judge righteously. Everything is judged based on one's ability to keep these standards of righteousness. Even our responses are preconditioned per the admonitions of the hierarchy. So for example, a tough approach would always be intolerable and sin their site.

Many that attempted this path found a dead end and some either turned to sin or turned to Reformed Theology as an answer. It is appealing because according to Reformed Theology, we don't do anything in Christ because God is doing everything for us. That isn't what grace is about.

The righteousness on this side of the cross is not about law. Christians try to make it law but it isn't law. It is fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit living in us - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control - against such, there is no law. This leads to liberty but not liberty that gives us a license to the flesh. We are not free TO sin but free FROM sin.

Interestingly, both sets of people can seem the same on occasion. For example, a Spirit led person may not see a movie because of nudity, which the Holy Spirit directs them away from. Those that try to obtain righteousness by the Law will do the exact same thing. A man can't watch that type of thing without lusting. Lust is adultery. Adultery is sin for which one will be cast into hell. So the Holy Spirit would lead someone away from that type of movie.

What has happened in a segment of the church is that because of this doctrine of sin nature, we are led to believe that what's inside us to motivate us daily is irreparably sinful even after we are saved so that we are driven to sin against our will, but thank God for Jesus dying. In order to keep ourselves from sinning, this group has developed what they call "standards" to keep us from sinning and thus reconcile us to God.

To keep from sinning and offending God, they have established a law of sorts. When Ephesians 2 says that we are saved by grace and not by works, this is exactly what it is speaking against. We have to be righteous to enter heaven. But we can't obtain the kind of righteous that God is seeking by the works of the Law. That type of righteousness, as is seen in the Pharisees, falls short. Our righteousness has to EXCEED that.

There are many sobering Scriptures that support this conclusion. (Matthew 7:21, Hebrews 10, Galatians 5, 1 Cor. 5 and 6, Rev 2, 3, 21 and 22) When those Scriptures are understood properly, the admonition of Paul's to walk out our salvation with fear and trembling makes perfect sense.

I find this group not to walk in the fear of the Lord but falsely believe that God overlooks sin. Acts 17:30 says just the opposite. Their rationale for believing this is that there are so many standards to keep that they can't keep them all perfectly. So their ability to avoid sin is impossible. Can you see how these manmade ordinances have the potential to muddy the waters?

What you might hear from someone who has been into this for a while is a false humility declaring their sinfulness as though this brings glory to God. What it actually does is make Scripture, our faith, and the cross null and void and brings great reproach on the Lord. Why? Because younger believers assume that all sin is the same and then do the things that God specifically states will get them a one way ticket into hell's fire.

Our goal should be to know Jesus and for Him to know us. Sin, which is the thoughts and actions that we have done that have offended God, are in the way. The only way to deal with our sins committed in the past is to repent of specific things that we've done asking Jesus to cover our sin with His blood. "God forgive me of all my sins" doesn't cut it. God wants us to confess it all to Him. I learned that truth through Bill Gothard. I prayed that way and for the first time in my life, I was reconciled to God.

As to future sin, that is handled by grace through faith. We take in more faith through the Word of God, which gives us more grace. Suffering also brings more grace. This would be suffering that God brings as we suffer with Christ and not self inflicted suffering or suffering for doing wrong.

Some of us have experienced Christian law to make us righteous. In other words, if you wear dresses 24/7, dress in a particular style, wear a hat, never look at a movie, never listen to rock music, never participate in sports, and never associate with folks that don't keep your standards, you will be reconciled to God. This is a quote from Bill Gothard from one of his programs for youth. See if you can find the problem with this. It is very subtle.

**If your heart is filled with the carnal beliefs expressed in current music, philosophies, dress, movies, and activities, you will be carnally minded and will not be able to experience God’s presence or power. Loving the world separates you from the love of God. (See James 4:4 and I John 2:15.) Have you surrendered your body to the Lord and purposed to resist “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life”? ***(These include music with a backbeat, sensual images, friendships that displease your parents, unwholesome movies, etc.)*****

Sensual images are porn. Porn precludes lust. Lust is adultery, which will get you thrown into hell. So yes, that would definitely be "the world." The rest in the list are so undefined as to leave the person with only one conclusion. There is nothing anyone can do outside their home without offending God. I know, because we tried to keep this type of thing meticulously and that became the only conclusion.

I have sat under this man's teaching for many years and can testify both personally and from observation that this ideology, which seems right on the surface, bears some really rotten fruit. It is saying that if you stop doing all these things that Bill Gothard has interpreted as "the world," you will be reconciled to God. Then it further admits that this cannot be done perfectly, hence, we are destined to sin every day. This has led some men to conclude that they can have incest, look at porn on the Internet or blatantly commit adultery without any ETERNAL recourse from God. The teaching does say that they will suffer here but not in regard to eternity because they believe the blood of Jesus covers their sin. And while it is true that we can be redeemed, God does not always grant repentance to such a person who is claiming to be saved but walking in gross reprobation. I have seen that too.

On the other end of the spectrum, some of these are so ambiguous that it leaves the person with only one conclusion. You can't do anything. What's an unwholesome movie? What activities? What music? Keith Green? If an unwholesome movie is a movie with violence, then what does that say about the stories depicted in Scripture? Some of these stories are more violent than any movie that I have ever seen such as a woman driving a peg through a man's head or a man cutting up his dead concubine into twelve pieces?

I have more problems with some Christian movies than I do with secular ones. Fireproof is a fine example. Although I appreciate the message of change and repentance, I did not like the way the journal gave this young man a promise that if he repented, he would have a great marriage. We do not repent to get a great marriage. We repent to be reconciled because we've offended a very Holy God. His wife may or may not repent herself and then what? The Jesus movies have never shown a Jesus that I know and love. We have the hip-hop cool Jesus, the sullen Jesus and the drop dead gorgeous Jesus.

What might not be fully realized is that these folks have something to boast about and more to judge than what Scripture speaks about. After all, I don't do these things and others do. We can compare standards to see who has the best ones. People are generally snubbed and considered unsaved if they don't keep the standards. So I am more reconciled to God than that other guy because I don't wear pants and I never enter a movie theater. Or worse, I am less than the guy who is keeping these things to perfection, which is depressing. In fact, the gospel message from this camp says that when you are saved, your spirit is perfected but it just takes time for your soul. Hence, one can see how this would further lead people to see the inner circle as higher up than the low man who isn't as saved. This leads some Christians to subtly inadvertently put certain people on a pedestal. The leadership become untouchable and unteachable.

One standard not mentioned involves money. There are many admonitions in Scripture for us to give and we should give cheerfully especially to the poor and needy, not to the fat cat preacher who is boiling over with money. That is what God wants us to do but not to twist God's arm on our finances. The teaching further says that you must handle your money perfectly to be blessed of God financially. If you are struggling financially, it is a sign of sin. Gain is therefore, a sign of godliness. Scripture specifically tells us to turn away from such people. Read the book of James if you want to see the correct perspective on money.

See, Jesus said if you don't know Him and He doesn't know you, you aren't getting into heaven. So reconciliation is paramount to salvation. The lust of the flesh are the things that God has specifically told us not to fulfill according to the flesh outside of His plans and purposes because they keep us separated from God. These would include sexual perversion or drunkenness. The lust of the eyes is covetousness, which is wanting things that others have and thus, idolatry. The pride of life is believing myself to be better than others or wanting to be God.

But see, this statement has rewritten this to include movies, a particular brand of music, activities and philosophies. The things of the world are attitudes of the heart and works of the flesh that mislead us in the wrong direction. And yes, we should be aware and be led of the Spirit and discern wrong philosophies. The more we know God's Word, the more faith we receive and the more we understand what God hates and we find no enjoyment in evil because we know the Lord. It doesn't make us righteous to stop doing these things. Our righteousness is being born out of this faith, grace, love relationship. So then, these decisions come after that point, not before because we are being led of His Spirit. In other words, my faith translates into making particular decisions. Movies are lawful for me but not all movies are edifying. Music is lawful for me, but not all music is beneficial.

I think a better exhortation is to fast from these things for a while and let the Holy Spirit speak to you about them. Part of the problem in America is we spend hours of time on the TV and a mere fraction of time with the Lord each day.

Now according to Romans 14, if something causes you to sin because you are weak in faith, you are to cut it off and I am called to respect that. So if movies cause you to sin and walk away from God, then don't watch them ever again and I will respect that and not judge you over it. It doesn't make you righteous but perhaps those things are a stumbling block.

Let's take pants on women for an example. The right attitude is to dress modestly out of love for my brothers as the Holy Spirit leads me, not to make myself holy or be saved through it. I like dresses and wear them most of the time. However, there are times when loose fitting pants on a woman are more modest than a dress because the dress could fly up in the air. To be dogmatic on this is to be under the law. It doesn't give the Holy Spirit an opportunity to lead the person where He wants them to go.

Philosophies, mentioned above, too are very ambiguous. To separate yourself from every wrong philosophy is a lesson in futility. You can't go anywhere or do anything because every non-Christian and many so called Christians have a place where they are missing the mark. You certainly could never witness to a lost sinner because they would make you take on their wrong philosophy. Hence, nobody who is under this type of Law would dare go to a sinner as is seen in the Pharisees. They wouldn't dare hang out with sinners to lead them to repentance. And again I observed that phenomenon through this teaching. There was a fear factor built into it that said, "Don't go to where the lost are because they will make you sin and cause your children to sin." In addition, there are very few Christians that one can associate with because few people keep every single standard the same.

That is normal. God may give a person liberty to do something that, as I said, is a stumbling block for someone else. That is why our convictions are often varied. What Scripture teaches is that when I am with you, I should keep your convictions as not to put a stumbling block before you. If your conscience isn't clear on something, then I must honor that.

What we observed as a family, was just the opposite of success. When we tried to walk meticulously in these standards, we drove one of our daughters and one of our sons out of the door. He couldn't deal with it anymore. But when we did what God said to do and we began to understand faith, our younger children began to grasp what it means to be saved. We saw a dynamic difference in these younger children to be led of the Spirit.

I think the Calvinistic philosophy misses the mark, for example. But listening to what they have to say doesn't force me to anything. We've heard arguments on creationism, sin, science and all sorts of things. What has happened is that God, through His Spirit, has given us more and more answers.

Our righteousness has to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees and it comes by faith. FAITH. That is the key to receiving God's grace. That's why the poor in spirit can receive it and it doesn't lead to boasting because we know that it is Christ in us, the hope of glory. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. This is the total confusion that the Calvinists miss. They are taking passages of Scripture related to this aspect of salvation and putting them inside the other aspect of salvation, which is that pardon.

The law is attractive. Jesus had to use a spiritual jackhammer to get through to the Pharisees and explain to them as directly as He could that their righteousness didn't cut it. They were not clean on the inside but only on the outside and that caused pride in their lives. They didn't like that message. That's why they crucified Him.

Making outward changes is easy. Changing our hearts is pert near impossible. God convicts me of attitudes that nobody can see and I have been cleansed on the inside because of that work of grace. It is real genuine righteousness.

Doug, more so than me, talks to many people out on the streets. The most difficult people to witness to are the sinners that come out of this camp. They are so full of pride that they can't see where they really truly stand before God and trying to tell them that they need to change only conjures up their past experiences of trying to be righteous by the Law. Bar none, they top the list in my book on the most difficult people to witness to.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.


Friday, March 26, 2010

But doesn't Scripture teach us that death is our enemy?

One thing that is imperative for us to realize is who we are and how we were created. Many people believe that being human is sin, wretchedness, ugliness and awful. The teaching is that men are sin, are guilty of Adam's sin and therefore need a Savior, not that men commit sin and therefore need a Savior. They would further see themselves as wicked and evil by nature without any hope on this earth of ever making a righteous choice. The flip side of this or extreme are those who refuse to accept that their goodness is flawed by their own freewill choice to sin. We all sin, not because we don't have an inner voice saying not to, but because we are weak without the Holy Spirit's power to help us.

Sin is a choice that Adam and Eve made. James 1:14 tells us that we sin when we are enticed by our own lusts. That is what happened to both Adam and Eve. She wanted more than what she had and he didn't want to let go of her. Before that, Lucifer made a choice to sin against a Holy God. Sin did not begin with Adam and Eve, but with Satan.

Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. This Scripture in Romans 5 doesn't mention animals receiving death at this point but people and that is important. We are not overcome with remorse when a baby animal is eaten in the wilds of Africa. But we would not feel the same if that same lion were running after a human toddler. That is because we are special in God's sight. Everything in our being proclaims that truth.

I don't believe that God was taken unaware by Lucifer's temptation of Adam and Eve. It was a means to challenge God, which God allowed. Satan wanted to be ruler of God through these creatures created in His image. But God had a plan to remove Satan from His presence permanently using these same creatures created in the image of God and a process called death and in so doing, He would destroy sin. Scripture tells us that God had this in mind from the foundation of the world. Revelations 13:8

1 John 3:5-9 says,
"And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
He is telling us here that the purpose that God had in mind, which we know occurred from the foundation of the world, was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3 explains how this is accomplished through us. We have the potential to make this enemy God's footstool by grace (God's divine nature imparted to us) through faith by the very fact that we are created in the image of God and are therefore, like Him.

Now I personally see that Satan's interaction with God in Job is significant because a) he's in the presence of God b) they are having a debate of sorts concerning the integrity of a human c) God is defending Job's integrity and d) Satan is given freedom to tempt Job through illness, the death of his children and financial ruin. Interestingly, Job passed the test. Clearly, Adam and Eve didn't and they were not nearly in the state that Job was in of suffering. This proves that we can choose.

According to 1 Corinthians 15:21-26 says,
"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
Death is our enemy because we are created in the image of God. We are a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5) and of much greater value than animals (Luke 12:7). Jesus tells us in John 10 that we are like gods. This is because we are so much like Him. We make freewill choices. We have every attribute of God including the knowledge of good and evil, which was the final aspect making us like God. Genesis 3:22

Psalm 104:29-31 tells us that God allowed animals to die during the creation process. This is partly because of His ultimate goal that would be accomplished through His own death, burial and resurrection, which is what 1 Corinthians 15 is expressly explaining. Without that resurrection to life, we are undone and wasting our time. This is the only thing that can get us back to where we need to be.

Romans 8:20-22 tells us that God subjected the creation to these sufferings in hope. That hope is the "glorious liberty of the children of God." Our suffering cannot come close to being compared to this final event.

Jesus was perfected through suffering. We know that He was without sin and so this was not a consequence of wrong doing. There is something about suffering that helps us personally to be perfected. I can often see that in my own life. A situation of suffering seems to add a greater understanding to us and a greater power according to Paul. It increases grace in our lives if we endure that suffering in the right way. God created that type of trial for that reason.

This is in contrast to the consequences of sin, however. This type of suffering does not prefect us in the same way because we are suffering for evil. Peter explains that here:
But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 1 Peter 3:14-18

One day death will be gone. It will be completely defeated. Will this happen during the Millennial reign of Christ? According to Scripture in Revelation, (Revelation 20:7-9) a host of people are going to rise up against Jesus in the end and be destroyed. So the answer is, "No."

It will be a while before death is completely gone for those who remain on this earth. For those of us who are resurrected, we will enjoy eternal life with Jesus after our death and experience all His goodness. That is our hope. He is truly a God of life, not death. Yet He created death for a good purpose. A new day will dawn and God will begin creating again in a new heavens and a new earth without decay.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Could a loving God create death before man sinned?

It is obvious that this world is created for a purpose. The Creator cannot be known at all in this universe by our five natural senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and sound except for His Word. This is the only place on Planet Earth that God reveals the most important aspects of Himself to those created in His image. In fact, Scripture teaches us that the natural man cannot know God. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Now through the ages, He has used other means such as oral traditions. He also used people that He gave power to such as the prophets and preachers. He also used the descendants of Abraham to reveal more of Himself to the world. This all culminated in these last times in Jesus Christ and the final canonization of His Word. At one time, God did overlook this ignorance in man, but now commands all men everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30)

Further God has an enemy and that enemy has been sinning for some time before creation. So the first sin to enter God's realm was not man's sin, but satan's sin.

It is evident from the fact that Scripture tells us that Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world, (Revelation 13:8) that God was aware of satan's sin issues and the fact that he could deceive us to sin. Consequently, God devised a strategy to create beings with the ability to choose and He allowed them to be tempted by satan knowing the potential that they could fall. Yet their failure is actually the basis of God's success in removing this wicked evil being from His presence for eternity in hell's fire.

Jesus tells us this here:
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him. John 10:34-38

I believe what Jesus is saying here is that it is possible for God to be made man because man is like God. We are like little images of God walking around here. He says we are gods. This is not in the sense that we should be worshipped or be God, but that we are like miniatures of God. (Genesis 3:22)

This is important because God used us to defeat His enemy. Our failure may have seemed like a huge mistake, but it wasn't. God was able to use us, in the Person of Jesus Christ, by using the likeness of sinful human flesh and by living a normal human life under the same conditions any other human would live, be tempted in the same ways any other human would be tempted, but without capitulating to sin in His heart; and then He laid down His life for us by dying on a Roman cross. He was without sin. He was a fully blameless human being. In that way, He was a Lamb without spot or blemish.

This is a key point to being a Christian. If you believe that Jesus came here with omnipotence and omniscience, then you have a false understanding of what it is that He did. The central part of His being remained in heaven so that while He was here, He lived as a human would live praying to His Father in heaven. Both the Son and the Spirit were on this planet at the same time in the Person of Jesus Christ. Further, the Spirit was working through John the Baptist at that time. He was also working in Mary, Joseph, Anna and Simeon and several others.

This cannot be overemphasized. John said twice that if you do not believe that Jesus came in the flesh, you are antichrist. (1 John 4:3, 2 John 1:7) Every form of false religion, besides the fact that they exude rotten fruit, demonstrates that they have this commonality: they do not believe that Jesus Christ came fully human. Jehovah's Witnesses and Islam have that same basis. They do not believe that God Almighty could come to this earth as a man. Mormons have a twisted view on this as well in that they do not believe that God Almighty came to this earth fully man. Now some that you might not have considered that also fall prey to this are Calvinists and Catholics. You may ask how I could say that. The reason is because their doctrinal position is that being a man is sin. We are all born with Adam's sin. Thus, they would say that Jesus had God as His Father and did not have that sin. The Bible says that Jesus was of the seed of David and goes to great lengths to list His sordid lineage. (Romans 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:8, Luke 3:23-38) Not to mention that Ezekiel 18 totally tosses out the idea that we are held accountable for anyone else's sin but our own.

How does this relate to death? The laws of physics necessary to cause death had to be in play from the creation of the world as is clearly seen there, for God's plans and purposes to be fulfilled. It was His plan all along to defeat satan personally through a man. Romans 8 tells us that the whole creation has been suffering since the beginning because God subjected it to suffering.

This all happens too so that we can be redeemed. We are still responsible for the choices we made all along. Hence, God also loved the whole world and died for us to make a way for us to spend eternity with Him.

Oh the depths of the riches and wisdom of God!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

God's Character in Nature

I listened to a debate recently between Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. Francisco Ayala.
Both of these men are supposed Christians. Dr. Craig, a philosopher and theologian, was trying to demonstrate that God is seen in nature through intelligent design. Dr. Ayala is an evolutionary biologist who believes in natural evolution. Dr. Ayala's kingpin argument was the character of God. He used this to speak against intelligent design.

You see, Dr. Ayala too believes that God is solely benevolent. He cannot agree that these malevolent designs in nature are a display of God's character. Isaiah 45:7 tells us something different. The word create in this passage is bara. So this is part of God's initial creation from the beginning, not from the fall of mankind and God is taking responsibility for it and declares in Romans 1:20 that His invisible attributes are seen here.

Dr. Ayala falls back on naturalistic evolution to explain what he sees because under His comprehension of God's character, God must have left the scene, be no longer present in nature, and nature was left to formulate without God's presence after the initial creation event. This is the only way he can reconcile his fallacious impression of God with reality.
The problem with this is that God would have had to be absent throughout the course of history even to the creation of man and that is not what the Bible tells us. The Bible tells us that God was intimately involved in creation throughout its course and that He personally oversaw the creation of Adam and Eve. If I understand Dr. Ayala correctly, he would disagree with this. He believes that man evolved from apes. There are so many ramifications to that assertion until it is mind boggling. Keep in mind too that there was no sin in the world at this time, so why has God left the building?

This argument has been made before by various Christians who see the implications of human evolution, but it is worth repeating here. If man is simply an intelligent animal, then animalistic behavior in man is acceptable. Can you see how that one little idea at the vertex of a proposition or philosophical hypothesis can lead to deception? This denies the conscience of man and allows for a great latitude with sin, in particular, in the sexual realm. Is it any wonder under this false doctrine that we are now including practicing homosexuals, fornicators and adulterers into churches and calling them saved?

Almost anything is acceptable as long as the two participating people are consenting. After all, animals do it. Love is tolerance of sin under this teaching and being salt and light is hate. Guaranteed in the future that little by little, this philosophy will chip away at the core of our morality until we are accepting sin at a magnitude unheard of in these civilized times because we have to be all tolerant of what others are doing. We are under a strict moral code to mind our own business. That is what it means today to be loving.

The only place at this point where we draw the line is under mutual consent. If those who are into perversion can prove that these victims are consenting, then they can take more ground and society will accept it as right and good. Since many of these folks deny God, their definition of right and wrong is based on whatever society deems as right and good. That is how these heinous practices become socially acceptable.

For example, abortion is a heinous crime against the voiceless innocent. Yet the bulk of society turns a blind eye to this wicked evil in the name of a lack of prosperity due to overpopulation.

In the end, they will wish that all those children had survived. It is only when they see the effect it has on the ladies who participated and the adverse problems, generated by killing off parts of our society necessary to support the elderly, that the tide will turn. Then they will look back and gasp in horror at what our society did. There isn't a doubt in my mind too that somehow this will become something that "Christians" participated in and so therefore, Christianity is the problem. They are twisting the history on slavery in the same manner and the Nazi regime. Forget the fact that those who sincerely were Christians refused to participate in those things.

I was a little disappointed that Dr. Craig did not see that the logical conclusion is that we are misunderstanding God's character. Regrettably, Dr. Craig is probably tainted with the same formulation concerning God's character.

There is no way of getting around this. We either have to take the position that everything we see is an illusion and that God is not seen in these things or we have to take the stand that God isn't here at all to make this idea of God's all-loving character work. What if neither of these positions is true? What if the truth is that reality is true, God is intimately involved in creation and His invisible attributes are clearly seen here from the creation of the world?

The truth is that God is love. The difficulty is with our definition of the word love. We have so skewed this interpretation that it is no wonder that there is an enormous confusion over God's character and creation.

A loving God sent His Son here to die a brutal death for the sins of the world to satisfy the just requirements necessary to pardon us from sin. That was His just requirement. Let that sink in. That is what God designed to make a way for us from the moment of creation. Hebrews 9:26 He took that upon Himself and came to this earth as a man to accomplish this. Nevertheless, it was still a rather gruesome means necessary to help us. If you ask me, from the impression of the singularly benevolent character of God that people have built in their minds, God would have never allowed this to happen in the first place.

A loving God judged the Jews on more than one occasion and certainly eliminated the people in that region who were diabolical. Why? Because they were not people who cared about others, they loved their money, they were full of pride and they were full of sexual perversions. Ezekiel 16:49 They had gone so far into this corruption that there was nothing that could redeem them. Society is heading that way again today and Romans 1:18 and the book of Revelation tells us that God is going to react the same way.

If those characteristics were not evidenced in nature, then Romans 1:20 would be null and void of effect to anyone who does not believe and everyone on this planet would have plenty of excuses not to believe. Instead, it is the very fact that we see both beautiful, gentle and loving creatures here and ones that are terrifying that causes God's judgment to be just.

The most significant part of that, in my mind, is that the most terrifying creatures to have ever lived are separated from us by God through a cataclysmic event that wiped them out. Yet we can see that they did exist and we have a little fun imagining what it would be like if we had a zoo full of them in the movie Jurassic Park. It would obviously not be a good time and we would be in panic mode. These folks are genuinely terrified and rightfully so because there is an aspect of God that is terrifying as well and it is directed toward those people who refuse to obey His commandments.

2 Samuel 22:22-27 demonstrates this duel character of God based on our lives and hearts. He shows Himself loving and merciful to those who are loving and merciful. On the other hand, He is shrewd to the devious. This is actually a Hebrew play on words. The first word means crooked or perverse. The second one means to be twisted or to wrestle. The implication is that God twists the perverted. That is how He will appear to them. These attributes of God must be evidenced in nature or people will fail to see that He has righteous indignation.

He is a God that would beat up a bunch of merchants who are selling for the purpose of profiting off of Him in His church and so, He messed up their business day. I have heard people gloss over this display of anger by Jesus in saying that He is God and so He can do what He wants, but this would be sin to us. The clear implication is that this is wrong behavior that we can't do because we aren't God. How ridiculous. If it is sin to us, then God in the flesh would be sinning too. The entire objective here was for Jesus, who is God Almighty, to live the life of a man without sin. So anything that falls under the category of sin for us is sin for Jesus.

When these folks with their false impression of God see us out on the streets confronting people on their sin, they are grossly offended because of this doctrinal error. Their entire view of God is one of benevolence and gentle kindness. They have no idea what these folks need nor do they realize that these sin filled perverts are overflowing with the love message that has led them to where they are.

In conclusion, this suggests only two logical possibilities. Either we are wrong about the character of God or Jesus is a sinner. If Jesus is a sinner, that negates the entire message. Since all of these attributes are clearly seen from the creation of the world when it is viewed in reality, I say that we are missing the mark in understanding who God really is. He is not the mealy mouthed namby pamby transexual god that people are imagining in their heads. Jesus was never like that. That is not God Almighty and His entire creation and Word declares that to everyone.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Evolution and the Age of the Earth

Another thing that I want to point out is that evolution and the age of the earth are not synonymous terms. In a very deceptive manner, the YEC will make a sarcastic remark in passing equating these two things as though believing the facts of the age of the earth means that one has to believe in the whole package deal of naturalistic evolution. That is just downright deceptive and evil.

Now that I know the truth, I sit back in amazement at how these Christians do not question what they are being taught and how these people manipulate their audience. I personally believe that the YEC do not capitulate over these things, that they know because they do investigate what is being said, because of money. These people have mega-ministries that bring in a lot of income for the YEC.

Christians flock to these organizations for support because they do believe in the Word of God. They further need proof that what they believe is true. So they come to these folks for the answers they need to share with the people they are trying to win to the Lord and most importantly, with their children. All the while, they have no idea that what they are actually doing is building up a case that the atheists can come in and use as a means to point out the lies and deceptions of YEC and another atheist is born.

Here again, we have a very disingenuous matter because in reality, everyone believes in evolution. The YEC believes in evolution. All the models include evolution and when these folks finally get down to brass tacks, they tell you this fact. But before that, in passing, they will make this remark to set the stage so that most Christians will easily fall prey to their lies.

Let's take the dog, for example, because I think that canines exemplify evolution. All dogs are related to a wolf type dog. Then they "evolve" to be poodles, dalmatians, great danes, and chihuahuas. Obviously, there does come a point where a couple of these can no longer logistically mate. But it is still a dog. The species did not grow a new organ or become more complex. In fact, animals lose complexity through evolution.

The YEC claims that all the animals that have ever been were on Noah's Ark. Then after this, they diversified. This takes evolution to a whole new level because there are billions of animals that have lived over the course of this earth's history. Did you know that 99% of all animals that have ever lived are extinct? According to the YEC model, all these animals super evolved from a "common ancestor" after Noah's flood. They will even show you a picture of the two dogs believed to be on Noah's Ark. What the unsuspecting Christian doesn't realize is the incredible amount of evolution that would have had to take place in 6000 years to create all this diversity.

Do you see how deceptive they are being at explaining these facts to the average Christian who has no clue what the whole YEC model looks like? They falsely accuse the OEC of believing in evolution, when their version of evolution leaves everyone else's version in the dust.

The naturalist does the exact same thing. They say that even Christians believe in evolution. And my response is that everyone believes in these microevolutionary changes over time such as we see in the dog. This is very evident in nature. Natural pressures can cause DNA changes so that new generations of a particular animal will survive. It is more proof of a Creator God in creation who has built into us an ability to adapt.

There are two areas where evolution is not remotely evident. One is the idea that non-living substances can self-organize to become living cells. The primordial earth was very harsh. There were cataclysmic events including a deluge of asteroids that seeded our planet with a rich assortment of minerals. As soon as life could exist on this planet, it exists. There is not enough time for a self-organization and there is certainly no reason to assume that these elements could organize under these conditions. The experiments done to show that life could be created in this way only further show the necessity for God.

Then we are led to believe that animals became more and more complex. No experiment has ever validated that assertion and the fossil record doesn't show this either. What we see is long periods of stasis and then a new ecosystem comes into play unlike the one before. This fits perfectly with what we are told in Psalm 104:29-31.

What is happening is that microevolution is assumed to have caused these huge leaps incrementally over time. They would suggest that these tiny changes accumulatively could create something entirely new that couldn't mate with the original. Only this gradualism is not demonstrated in the fossil record.

Now as I've already pointed out, we do see microevolution and atheists will show you that all kinds of animals can evolve like this. But they have never been able to prove that these built in mechanisms to ensure the survivability of animals could produce more complexity.

In both cases, talking to the YEC or the atheist, I feel like I'm talking in circles of mass confusion. Both groups share their points leaving out pertinent details and they mislead the public. Is it any wonder that our young people walk into these colleges and universities and are quickly evangelized to atheism with ease? Christian young people sit in classrooms listening to these professors give their anti-Christian messages, but the young Christian has no ammunition to tear down the arguments. Couple this scenario with the hypocrisy of the modern day church and it is a recipe for tragedy. These young people begin to cling to science as their only source of truth. Science becomes their Bible and man becomes their god. This then leads them to homosexuality, just as the Bible tells us in Romans 1.

Because the Christians have dogmatically told these people that the only way that Genesis can be understood is the way they understand it, these young people now doubt the authenticity of the Bible and they are full of mocking and sin. They approach Christians from the perspective of a total lack of respect because they see them as people who do not think through these issues. Have we lost our ability to be Bereans? Have we really gone that far?

Many Christian parents will not send their children to college because they have seen that most young people that attend college lose their faith. My son, with the knowledge that he has, effectively stood up against the atheists at his college. So what a dilemma we have here. We have few young Christians coming up in the ranks of these higher education fields. This further makes Christians look as though we are the less educated people of the world or the bumpkins. It is tragic.

I'm not saying that education is good or evil. What I'm saying is that we are losing the skeptics to the devil because we refuse to be Bereans.

Continuing on with creation

In the book, A Matter of Days, Dr. Hugh Ross gives examples of the early church fathers taking a less dogmatic view of this issue in terms of whether those days were earth days or God days. This is important because many people are misled, once again, by YEC that teaches that the early church fathers were emphatic on this point, when in fact, they weren't.

In addition, the YEC will bring up some pieces of scientific evidence as well that they believe are inconsistent with an old earth model. They are things such as whether or not the Oort Cloud exists or whether all the layers of rock can be explained by a global flood. The Oort Cloud is not a misty cloud. It is apparent because of the way comets enter our solar system.

Also, YEC mislead people by telling them that the reason the geologic record has dinosaurs on the bottom and other animals on top was because of their weight. That is the most ludicrous argument and so easy to tear down by any atheist.

Firstly, there are plenty of small animals in the geologic record where we find dinosaurs and there are a whole slew of large animals found above it such as mammoths. Secondly, there is a layer of iridium that separates the dinosaurs from these mammals. Along with this, they have found shocked quartz, which is only found in our time at nuclear test sights.

Iridium is a heavy metal. If we were to believe what the YEC is telling us, we would have to assume that iridium floated above some of the layers that were much lighter. No dinosaur is found above this layer and for the most part, there are no placental mammals such as cattle or rabbits found below it.

This fits perfectly with the Genesis account where birds, sea serpents and dinosaurs, and ocean dwelling creatures are found on Day #5 and cattle and man are found on Day #6. It is remarkable how these creatures were killed in a day and then a whole new set of ecosystems and animals comes to life directly after this leading to mankind.

It is only when you start investigating this topic, that you begin to understand how many lies and deceptions are being taught to Christians to encourage them in this belief of 6 literal twenty-four hour days. Most evangelical Christians do not want to know the truth on this matter. They are very comfortable believing what they consider is the "plain reading of the text." The problem with this is that there have been plenty of times in church history where we misunderstood what the Bible was saying in regard to our natural world.

Psalm 19 is a classic example. If you read it closely, firstly it tells you that there is knowledge in the heavens. So this idea that everything is illusory does not fit that passage. Then it also tells us that the sun has a circuit around the heavens. Well, the early church thought this meant that the sun was traveling around the earth. Certainly, from our perspective, it seems that way. Galileo, who was a Christian, was deemed a heretic for suggesting that the earth was traveling around the sun because it went against what we thought the Bible was telling us. Remarkably, the fact that the sun does have a circuit around the heavens in the Milky Way is an incredible proof that the Bible is true. But many people totally miss that point.

This is the same mistake we are making with the age of the earth. And the most discouraging part of this is that it clouds our understanding of who God is. If we believe that God is an all-loving God who is always gentle or we have a misconception about His character, we then act on that belief, just like Eve, that God would never follow-through on His judgments.

We live in a universe where God is not seen outright. It is clear that Eve and Adam, when they fell, were not looking at the face of God. They were in the same parameters we are in. They allowed sin to enter the world and thus death by sin to beings who were so far above the animals because we are created in the image of God. They were expelled from the beautiful garden that God had built for them into the harsh elements of this world to fend for themselves.

They were now like Him because they had the knowledge of good and evil and they also gave some authority here to satan. Had they stood against satan, it would have been good. Nevertheless, Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world. Death was in place to accomplish this and the whole point of this was to defeat satan once and for all. It is finished. He did it!!