Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Conversation With Russell #2

I just know my 2 readers are waiting with baited breath as to what my second response was. So here it is. I asked him about his view of the nature of the New Covenant as opposed to the Old. I mentioned that his description of the coming Kingdom seems no different than the response of the people of God at Mt. Sinai. I made reference to the Exodus.
Exo 24:3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!"
When he started to respond, I actually thought he might get the Gospel right...for a moment anyway. He started his response by saying that under the Old Covenant, the blood of bulls and goats did not accomplish what is needed. Jesus is a better sacrifice.

I said, "Great! What does this better sacrifice accomplish?" He said the law is now written on our hearts. "We now obey God better" seemed to be the answer.

So I asked him, "So the Good News is we now can obey God's law to achieve salvation? How does that square with Romans 3 which clearly states,
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
He responded with silence. He had no idea how to answer such a question. Why is his response to God any different from the Hebrews' response under the Old Covenant?

Now for some odd reason, since I knew he was coming over, I decided to read Hebrews 8 in preparation for our discussion. It was at this point that I finally had the opportunity to present the Gospel.

I explained to Russell that Jesus is the Mediator of a better Covenant because His sacrifice actually takes away sin. I then explained to Russell that he was a law-breaker and that no flesh will be declared righteous by the deeds of the law. I explained his need for Christ and Christ's work in our behalf to be received by faith alone. I then read to him Colossians 2
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
There it was in black and white. The legal debt of our sins against God is paid for by Christ. I explained that we must possess Christ's perfect righteousness imputed to us by faith alone. That it is by His perfect life we stand before God declared righteous.

He was clearly troubled by this viewpoint. "I just can't believe that. It seems to lead to easy believism."

Of course I then explained to him union with Christ and true saving faith as explained by the Apostle Paul in Romans 6. It seemed that in his 35 plus years as a Jehovah's Witness, he had never really heard of a Jesus that saves and saves sinners perfectly. It seems that he had never truly heard of his true need of a perfect savior.

It was at this point our conversation began to end. No trick up my sleeve would trick him to convert. Nothing I could say would persuade him to say some prayer. I could only trust that the Good News of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit could change this heart of steel.

I will continue to pray for Russell that he would have peace with God by the finished and sufficient work of Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, I hope you would pray that prayer with me as well.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Freedom In Islam To Discuss Truth?

Baptist Press has reported:
During his sermon, Abdul Malik encouraged Muslims while trying to reassure Americans of their support for this country. "I want the American people to know: We love you.... America, this is our country. We are with you," said Malik, a New York imam who plans to move soon to Washington to serve as chief executive officer of Islam on Capitol Hill.

America "is one of the best places in the world to live," Malik said. "What we have done here today we couldn't do in any Muslim country."

Malik made it clear Islam would seek to make converts.

"America, I announce to you, it is my intention to invite your children to the worship of one God," he said. "It is my intention to remove every idol from every place -- nothing physical. It is a confrontation of ideas, because, brothers and sisters, the most powerful weapon you have in your hand ... is truth."
I am curious. If he is so confident in truth, why doesn't he go back to Saudi Arabia and call for a separation of Church and State? Why do the Saudis or any Islamic country not allow freedom of religion?

The answer is simple. Free and open discourse is not possible in Islam. I dare any Muslim or atheist or anyone else to go to a Muslim country and attempt to do what is often done in the West against Christianity. You might last 2 minutes?

My Conversation With Russell

My Jehovah's Witness friend, Russell, finally stopped by Saturday afternoon, and we had a very good visit. We sat on my front porch and the weather could not have been better. He began our conversation with talk about his farm which led to economics which led possible bad times which led to his view of eschatology. Knowing this is where Jehovah's Witnesses go (they are an end times cults group), I sat patiently listening and actually learning something new.

This past week I listened to a Dispensationalist talk about multiple resurrections starting with the Pretribulation Rapture and continuing on through the Millenium. Well, my JW friend had this particular Dispensationalist beat by a 100 times. I learned that there may be many many many resurrections during the millennial reign of Christ.

I also had my memory refreshed on the 2 tier or 2 class system of Christians. Instead of the carnal verses spiritual Christian though, Russell explained that there will be a ruling class of Christians who reign with Christ in heaven, and there will be the rest of humanity on earth that are ruled by the Kingdom of God. With this explanation he said that my question of eternal life from 1 John 5 is for the ruling class. This of course had many interpretive errors within such a claim, but I decided to be patient and wait for another opportunity to ask further questions.

Of course I had to ask how does one get into the ruling class or paradise on earth. His response was that we need to have faith in God and to do what he commands. Over time we will be trained and become more and more like Christ and become perfected. In other words, we must cooperate with God's grace by our free-wills to inherit the earth.

I responded in two ways (the second in the next post). First, I noted to him that his view of God's grace, man and his sin, and faith is fundamentally the same as Rome's view. His response was simple, "That doesn't matter."

Of course it doesn't matter. For the Watch Tower doesn't possess the Gospel either. When you have a man-centered view of salvation, you start with the imperative to get to the indicative. Or you start with obeying God in order to achieve being perfected. The Gospel is completely backwards from this view.

I asked him many times during our conversation, "What is the Good News?" For him, it was the coming of God's rule or Kingdom. For in his view, man is not a dead sinner that needs the breath of God to raise him from the dead to new life in Christ. For him, man is not a lawbreaker needing to be punished legally by a holy God. For him, substitutionary atonement leads to easy believism. Instead salvation is an offer or a chance to obey by faith.

So once again, free-will or even a semi-pelagian view is foundational to man's religions, whether they be Rome, many Evangelical churches, or the Watch Tower Society.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fred Malone To Speak on the Five Solas

Once again I am amazed at my pastor. This year's Reformation Weekend (Oct 30th - Nov 1st.) at First Baptist Church, St. Francis, will have as its guest speaker, Fred Malone.

A short bio from The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies,
Dr. Malone is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary with an M. Div. (1974) as well as Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Ph. D. (1989). He has served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Clinton, LA, since 1993. He also serves on the Founders Ministries Board and the Administrative Council of the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America. Dr. Malone has retained membership in the Evangelical Theological Society for many years. His publications include The Baptism of Disciples Alone as well as many articles. He is happily married to Deborah for almost 40 years, having has three grown children and three grandchildren.
He will be speaking on the Five Solas of the Reformation. If you are able to come, please do!

Click here for location.

Global Warming At the UN

Open Market.org has an interesting article that interacts with President Obama's speech in the area of Global Warming.
“More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive.”

Reality: there is no upward global trend in major droughts. Reversals in large-scale cycles have meant that the southward march of the Sahara Desert into the Sahel has been reversed in recent years and the Sahara is now shrinking.
I would add another reality. The number one reason people are starving is because of dictators. Although there are cultural factors that keep people living in the past and using outdated methods of agriculture, dictators have taxed people for generations and kept them in poverty. This leads to constant revolts and "banana republics".

To blame the American way of life for causing bad weather which in turn causes starvation is more evidence that this is not about Global Warming or the environment. This is all about anti-capitalism. One only need to look at the enemies of the Left-wing Democrats and their rhetoric against capitalism.

As I asked my son the other day, "Have you ever heard of a missionary coming back from a foreign country saying, 'Their way of life is so much netter than ours.'?"

The evidence for capitalism's success is right in front of our faces. Just walk out the front door of your house and look around.

The only Global Warming being caused by human beings is the hot air being blown around at the UN.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Prove It #4 Miracles and Science

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus performing many miracles. These miracles were "signs" pointing to something other than the miracle. In other words, miracles are not an end in themselves, but point us in the direction of Jesus Christ.

On one occasion, Jesus performs a miracle and the author tells us of two different interpretations of the one event. Jesus casts out a demon and here is the latter response from Mark 3.
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.”
So why does this take place? Why would some see Jesus as the Messiah and others see Jesus as a false prophet? Jesus offers us an explanation with Lazarus and the Rich man recorded in Luke 16.
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
If you remember, Dan Barker wanted Dr. White to prove the existence of God using Dan's presuppositions that don't allow for the Christian God to exist. Basically, Dan wanted a miracle done in front of him that he could scientifically verify (yet if he could verify it using the scientific method, then how could it be a miracle?). Yet several times Mr. Barker explained that everything has a naturalistic explanation. In other words, Mr. Barker has defined the existence of God to be impossible because his worldview can not allow it. There is no room for God's revelation to us in Dan's world.

Jesus teaches us from this text that man is not morally neutral. Miracles will not convince those who "are not of God". The Word of God is united. If a man rejects Moses and the prophets, then he will not be able to accept Christ. In other words, if a man will not accept God's revelation through His prophets, then neither will they accept the ultimate revelation of God in Christ. All of God's revelation is united and points to Christ.

The basis for Christianity's Good News is the resurrection from the dead. We primarily know as Christians that the Gospel is true because Jesus was raised from the dead. As Paul explains to us in Romans 1.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ...
If you are looking for a miracle, then God has provided. God has raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. God has demonstrated that Jesus is the Savior of the world through His resurrection. If you will not believe Jesus was raised from the dead, then neither will you believe if one of your own relatives were raised from the dead.

So I plead with you dear sinner to abandon your prideful man-made world of limited reason and look to the Words of Moses and the prophets and the Apostles. See your true need and repent and turn to the resurrected Christ.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Prove It #3 The Fall of Man

I wanted to offer a few passages that support the Biblical view of man. In Genesis chapter 3 we read of the fall of man into sin after being warned of the consequences in chapter 2.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Man in his original state was to represent the image of God fully and maturely. He was to fill the earth and the glory of the Lord was to be seen in man's relationship with God. However, we see both Adam and Eve rejecting God's provision for them and instead decide to attain eternal life on their own terms. Therefore chapter 3 ends with this revelation about the relationship between God and man:
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
I have no doubt that man does not want to be eternally punished for his sin in Adam. I have no doubt that most of us think this is unfair. I have no doubt that if granted the opportunity, mankind would attempt to take from the tree of life, but he would only do so to live unto himself and for selfish gain.

If you notice carefully, the text tells us that it was God who removed man from His garden. It was God who placed a guard to prevent access to the tree of life. It was God who put man to death by removing man from the source of life.

We must be thankful that God has not ended man's existence at that moment. God is patient and long suffering with man. Yet at the same time, we see in this text man's rejection of God and his unwillingness to come to God on God's terms. As Adam responded to God, so today we respond in the same way.
But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
We know God exists. We also know He is our judge and that we have sinned before Him. Instead of humbling ourselves and facing the truth, we hide our nakedness and seek to clothe ourselves with our own righteousness. We instead attempt to bring God's justice under our own. We do as the Apostle Paul writes so clearly in Romans 1,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
How may the Christian prove the existence of God to a creature that will pervert the revelation of God at every turn? How shall we prove the true God when man establishes and makes all kinds of other gods...gods of his own imaginations? The Christian can't. The Christian is to take the revelation of God as the basis of calling men to repentance. We must recognize that in the garden man died. It is the Gospel proclaimed in the power of the Spirit that is able to take dead sinners and raise them from the dead.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
This does not mean we preach the Good News in a mechanical or impersonal way. This does not mean the Christian should not try to reason with man. As Paul says elsewhere,
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
In conclusion, man is made in the image of God. He is able to reason and think. But the Christian is to remember that he is not dealing with a morally neutral man. The Christian is to rely not in his methodologies nor his powers to persuade. He is to rely on the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Quote For the Day

I thought this paragraph from Dennis Johnson's commentary on the third horse in the book of The Revelation further reminds us of the judgments of this age as opposed to the judgment in the age to come.
There is, however, a limit to this judgment, as there is to all God's providential judgments as long as God's patience delays final judgment (2 Peter 3:9, Rom 2:3-4). Limitations of various kinds distinguish restricted, anticipatory expressions of the wrath of the lamb throughout history from the unrestrained display of His judgment at the end of history. Here famine affects grains but does not harm oil or wine. The rider of the fourth horse will be able to inflict death over only 1/4 of the earth (Rev 6:8). At the sounding of the first four trumpets fiery plagues will fall on 1/3 of the earth, sea, rivers and springs, and sky (8:7-12). This feature of limited judgments is an interpretive key and an encouragement to besieged churches. When we see in John's visions restrained and partial judgment, we are being shown symbols of the course of ordinary history between the comings of Christ. The dangers ad disasters that shatter and dismantle arrogant , Rome civilizations (in John's day, Rome), which are symbolized in the four horsemen and most of the trumpets, are the Lamb's providential instruments of prewrath wrath and prejudgment justice, foreshadowing the end when God's victory over His enemies will be total. As Christians see societies crumble and collapse, our response should not be terrified alarm, as though our security were bound up with a fragile human network of law and order, but anticipation and confidence: the Lamb is now on the throne, with God's plan for history firmly in hand.
Revelation reminds us that there is a purpose in the events in history and that all things are uder the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I am very thankful that God's final judgment has been delayed. So while we may witness terrible judgments in this present evil age, as Christians, we know these judgments shall soon pass and give way to the final judgment and the age to come.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prove It #2 The Fool Hath Said

Right from the outset, debating atheism is a tall task for the Christian. The reason is simple but easily overlooked. We live in a culture that has been heavily influenced by philosophical Naturalism and Materialism. Since most of us have grown up going through the public school system, we naturally think the way we were taught. We have been enlightened to think that everything has a naturalistic answer.

Some of us may remember those old Scooby Doo shows. The premise of those shows is that even though things may appear to be supernatural, they are really not. If you listen to Dan Barker's arguments, even things that we know to have been "intelligently designed" is really just a part of the natural realm. So my writing this post is really just a part of the natural worldview. This post is just a product of evolution because the chemicals in my brain caused me to spill these so-called thoughts on to my keyboard.

The problem at the core is that the Naturalist can not justify any of these premises nor can they justify their worldview with their worldview. Naturalism by definition is irrational because it is circular.

For instance, Barker demanded Dr. White should prove God's existence using the scientific method (something that was implied in his arguments). However, how does Barker justify the scientific method? Did he prove the scientific method using the scientific method? Is the method just an evolutionary construct of his brain and other brains might construct something different? Using Barker's own assumptions, would not brains of the past that saw the existence of God necessary be just as valid as his own since they were brought about by evolutionary mechanisms?

What if in the future, the scientific method is rejected by everyone? How could he argue against those living in the future since evolution produced such thinking?

When the Christian decides to defend the Christian faith against atheism, he must recognize that we are not merely arguing evidence. We must challenge the presuppositions and worldview of the atheist. As Scripture says,
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
This must be our starting point. This is not negotiable. The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God."

The fool who says there is no God is a fool not because he is unintelligent, but because he is made in the image of God and lives in a fashion that contradicts what he says. For example, if I were in college and I dropped a term paper on the floor on the way to class, and an atheist walks by later and sees it, he does not say, "What an accident of nature." Instead he opens the paper and looks for the author so that he might return it to its owner.

Why might he do this? Because first he recognizes intuitively that the paper has an author. He never tries to prove this to himself using the scientific method. He doesn't use transcendental arguments or naturalistic ones. He doesn't borrow from the information theory. He doesn't use the "irreducible complexities" explanation. He just knows without even thinking that the paper has an author.

Second, he feels a moral obligation to return the paper. This may only be explained by the Christian worldview. It may only be explained by the truth that man is made in the image and likeness of God.

Of course in the end, you might say that I am being circular. It is true that there must be an ultimate authority and so ultimate authorities are inherently circular. Yet it is not circular to start with God. For I am not proving God. As a Christian I may only demonstrate the truth of the Trinitarian God as the basis for all reality. As a Christian I recognize I am a creature. To cut myself off from my Creator is to cut myself off from the true source of knowledge and life.

Therefore the Christian must engage atheism without cutting himself from the revelation of God, both in creation and Scripture. Only then will he be able to press against the atheist mind his true need.

Prove It

For several years I had a coworker that repeatedly asked me to "Prove it." Prove Christianity is true was his daily chant. In response, I would ask him as to what standard I had to meet in order to "prove it"? To which he responded with nothing. The floating standards or impossible standards of unbelievers is a difficult challenge.

Recently, Christian apologist, James White, debated atheist, Dan Barker, over whether or not the Triune God Lives. At one point in the debate Barker raised the typical argument that if God wants us to believe in Him, why doesn't He just reveal Himself in a way that science can verify His existence. In fact, he claims to have greater wisdom than the God of Christianity in that he would have done things better. You can get the debate here. (You may also get Doug Wilson's debate with Dan over the same topic for free here.)

Over the next couple of posts I'd like to attempt to answer that question from a different perspective than in ways I have answered it in times past.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Race Card Once Again

I am certain by now everybody has heard former President Carter's statement about racism. Here is his quote:
"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African American. I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way and I've seen the rest of the country that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time ... and I think it's bubbled up to the surface, because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country."
Two things need to be said about this ridiculous blabbering. First, polls show that most Americans like Barak Obama personally. They may not like his policies, but they like him. So with what evidence does Carter make this claim?

Carter sees animosity must be on a fundamental level racism. There is nothing in a Liberal's mind that allows him to see another explanation. The fact that millions of people are telling us exactly why they oppose President Obama , and the fact that those reasons are political and Constitutional, does not seem to ever cross his mind.

If you remember my own experience on this Blog with one commenter about homosexuality. The fact that I disagreed, no matter what my reasons were, makes me a homophobe. Why is that? Because the Political Left believes we must reason and think with their worldview and presuppositions. They get to define and frame the debate because they say so.

So here we have millions of Americans explaining in great detail about why President Obama's policies are unconstitutional. Just doing so in the mind of the Left is racism. Never mind that many Americans opposed George Bush with far more extreme hatred.

Perhaps some humor would be better.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time To Repeal 17th Amendment?

A Pastor friend of mine pointed me to this CNN interview with Al, a teabagger.

At about 2:20 into the interview, Al makes a statement that I think is easily overlooked. He mentions that Senators no longer represent their respective States but instead serve special interests.

For all of the hot air John McCain makes about the corruption of congress by special interest groups, I would like to see how he would object to Al's arguments. Perhaps we need a public debate once again on this issue.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Only One?

I didn't watch the President's speech last night. I am just not interested in watching a man speak to a joint session of congress in order to pass a bill. The whole thing is completely arrogant. YahooNews stated,
"The speech galvanized support along the Democratic caucus across the political spectrum, from the progressive caucus to the Blue Dogs, and everybody left determined to get something done this year..."
Here is one problem with this whole thing. The Republicans had no ability to stop this thing. The Democrats continually keep blaming the Republicans when they were in the super majority (until Teddy's death).

So my opinion is that if this is sooooo necessary, just pass it without Republican support. The truth is, if this passes, Democrats will need major cover because as the President admitted in an answer to a skull full of mush,
What happened is that back in the 1940s and fifties, a lot of -- most of the wealthy countries around the world decided to set up health care systems that covered everybody. The United States, for a number of different reasons, organized their health care around employer-based health insurance. What happened was is that the majority of Americans still have health insurance through their job and it's, you know, most of them are happy with it, but a lot of people fall through the cracks.
Yuppers. We are happy with what we have. The President is lying when he says I will get to keep my health insurance. We have him on video lying about this whole thing.

Since it is unnecessary to do any of this, since there are better ways of reforming the problems in our system, since the President's own stimulus would pay for citizens that are not covered, we know there is no reason to overthrow our current system. So why do it? If you have read the Constitution and know why it was written, you know what the answer is.
The night's defining moment — which Democrats hope to transform into a turning point – came when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouted "You lie!" as Obama claimed his plan wouldn't offer free care to illegal immigrants.
So what if one Republican is painted as being an idiot for saying something. The fact that all of the other Republicans said nothing and seem completely unaware of the fact that we are in the midst of a civil war over whether or not the Constitution will be the law of the land is not being missed by their constituents.

Believe me when I say that if there were another party that held to the Constitution as being the law of the land, conservatives would abandon the Republican party today. If more Republicans don't speak up and call the President what he is, then to quote George Lucas back to himself, "Liberty dies with thunderous applause."

So in conclusion, the "night's defining moment" should have been that a hundred Republicans chanted, "You lie!" It is a shame there was only one.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Gospel Is Not My Testimony

On my drive back from my dental appointment in Garden City, I turned on radio and managed to pick a Christian radio station playing a sermon. During this sermon the preacher said something that totally confuses the law/Gospel categories. He basically stated that Christians need to live righteous lives because we may be the only Gospel our unbelieving neighbors ever see.

I am not certain how Christian leaders come to confuse their terminology or theology so easily. My life is not the Gospel in way, shape, matter or form. Now I realize that Christian ministers want their people to live godly for obvious reasons. Yet confusing the Gospel with my personal testimony is to confuse my life with Christ's. Apparently, others have noticed as well.

Read here an editorial at WorldMag.com from Mickey Mclean as he interacts with the White Horse Inn program.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Motorcycling In Western Kansas

Steven takes a break from riding.

Rachel's pictures were out of focus except for the KDX. I wonder if Kawasaki would like this for advertising.

Steven took some fun pics. They look much cooler than the reality they depict.

If you notice, there is plenty of 2-cycle smoke coming out the exhaust. I just love burning oil. Hopefully it won't become illegal anytime soon. Until then, I'll just keep driving the Leftys crazy.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Waldron's Any Momentness vs Immanence

One other aspect to Jesus' Second Coming that I'd like to address is the timing. Jesus said in Matthew 24,
42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
The Christian life is often full of tensions. The Christian must grow in maturity in handling the different teachings of the Scriptures. The Second Coming and its timing is no exception.

The Christian believes in what has been called the immanence of Christ's return. All Christians agree that Christ will come at a time that is unexpected, and therefore, we are to be vigilant and to keep watch. However, for many Dispensationalists, the term immanence has been confused with what Sam Waldron calls, "at any momentness".

In one of Waldron's many internet lectures on the subject, he illustrates the meaning of the example from Matthew's Gospel in a personal anecdote. Going from my short term memory, Waldron explained how he had a friend stuck in an airport due to the fact that a part on the engine broke. Since repairs were needed to be made and the part was being fetched from quite a distance away, it was told to the people waiting to board the plane that there would be a delay in the schedule of their flight. Therefore boarding would be delayed.

It was guessed that the retrieval of the part would probably be a few hours plus the time to fix the part. So no one really knew how long the delay would be. However, the delay was going late into the night. So Waldron's friend felt he had to stay awake, not because the plane could be fixed at any moment, but because he did not want to be asleep when the delay ended and the plane was ready to be boarded. In other words, the friend needed to stay awake as to not miss the flight. This was not because the flight was going to leave at any moment, but because he needed to be alert when the delay came to an end.

Jesus tells us that there will be a delay in His coming again, and He tells us a few reasons why. First, we read in Matthew 24 text that the Gospel must go into all the nations and people groups.
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Another reason may be found in Jesus' parable of the wheat and tares.
"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves *said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' But he *said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
God has His purposes in allowing both the righteous and the unrighteous to grow up together until the end of the age. We see this culminating between the Man of Lawlessness of 2 Thessalonians and Christ's appearance also at the end of the age.
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;
The Shepherd has chosen to use means to find His sheep and is not wanting any of them to perish. According to the Apostle Peter, God is not wanting any of us to perish. So He is patient with us. Aren't we glad He is.

In conclusion, I believe Waldron is right. There is a delay in Christ's coming. There is much work to be done. There are far too many family groups that have never heard the Gospel. Yet we must remain alert for this Blessed Hope. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5,
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Let us live as children of the day, who are sober and vigilant so that the great day will not overtake us by surprise.

Stars Falling In Your Backyard

Jesus said in Matthew 24:29,
Immediately after the distress of those days
'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
The interpretations of Jesus teaching from the Olivet Discourse vary because of the different approaches to Scripture. The Dispensationalist tends to interpret the Bible literally. This is a good thing. As an Amillenialist, I agree we must allow the grammatical, historical approach to be a guide in our interpretations. However, when it comes to prophecy, we quickly see the radical departure of the two positions.

For the Dispensationalist, the method tends to be to interpret prophecy literally when possible and to treat prophecy as if it is a historical narrative. There is also the approach that has been discussed in other places of interpreting prophecy from one of two perspectives. Do we start with the Old Testament to interpret the New, or do we allow the Apostles to interpret the Old in light of Christ and His work?

As for the above prophecy, the Amillenialist recognizes that prophecy often contains elements within the same verses of dual events being recorded together. In other words, prophecy is not a literal historical narrative, but often contains multiple events written together.

What makes recognizing this interpretive method important is the fact that Jesus predicts events to His Apostles that were to occur in their lifetime as well as at the end of the age. This has caused many headaches for us westerners. How many movies have you watched where a skeptic hears about a prediction that he believes will not happen because in his mind it is just not possible? And then it happens!

The Dispensationalist sees the destruction of Jerusalem being tied to the above cited verse. Since the above cited verse happens at the Second Coming of Christ, the destruction of Jerusalem must also happen right before Christ's coming.

The Amillenialist recognizes that Jesus does predict the destruction of Jerusalem in the generation of the Apostles. History tells us that Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70. From here we see that there may be a dual fulfillment. That at the end of the age, there may be another greater fulfillment of this teaching. With this framework, the Amillenialist sees that Old Testament types and shadows of an earthly city points to an even greater fulfillment in the church and her enemy, Babylon the Great Harlot.

The Amillenialist does not need to read newspapers to see if the end is about to happen. Verses are often wrenched out of their context to be applied to our modern newspapers. The Bible is not a newspaper.

Every generation must be watchful. For antichrists come in every generation. Even in recent history, Germany's Hitler fulfilled in some respects the Man of Sin. He claimed for himself the role of deity. Christmas carols were sung to him by Germany's children. Prior to Hitler there were many others. Even some of the Protestant Confessions claimed the Pope as the Man of Sin. Yet the end is still to come.

Not only is prophecy not a historical narrative, it also uses symbolic language to describe the future. The literalist may say that God could darken the sun, but are we really going to say "stars" or other suns are going to fall out of the sky on to the earth? Of course not.

Jesus is quoting an Old Testament passage that was used to describe a major catastrophic event in the life of Israel. In the same way, at the Second Coming, the events of history are being described as catastrophic. What makes the Second Coming different from other events is that it will be worldwide in its scope. So although every generation has its own watch for local antichrists, at the end of the age there will be a worldwide man of lawlessness whom Christ destroys by His Coming.

In conclusion, we all must be watchful. The Christian's hope is not in this age, but in Christ. Christ has left us in this age to contend and struggle with the evil of this age. He has left us here to go and make disciples. We do so knowing knowing full well that Jesus sits at the right hand of God, ruling and reigning from David's throne. Knowing that Christ has all authority in heaven and earth, let us be faithful in going about the work He has called us to do.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What's the Point?

The short answer to the title question is, “No. 2012 will not bring the end of the world.”
What's the point? Well, if he doesn't believe that these events do bring the end of the world, then why write this paragraph?
So what will the 2012 disasters accomplish? I believe that God will use these and other End Times judgments to begin putting the Earth back into the condition it was when He gave it to Adam. Remember, Jesus called the Millennium the time of restoration of all things (Matt. 19:28) and Paul said the whole creation has been groaning in anticipation of being liberated from the bondage it was subjected to. (Romans 8:20-21). And at the beginning of the Millennium God will proclaim, “I am making everything new.” (Rev. 21:5)
Here Kelley admits that he believes these events will accomplish putting the Earth back to its original condition. He even calls these events "End Times judgments". He also writes this paragraph following a prophecy from Isaiah 13. So Kelley has switched from a skeptic just looking at dubious pagan myths to one who believes that God is using these so-called scientific events.

Now here is a major difference between Dispensationalists and Amillenarians. Dispensationalism was formed during an era of date setting in the 1800s. Its history is replete with failed end times speculations with the Millerite movement right on down to the present with Hal Lindsy. Now I must say that simply because one is Dispensational does not mean one is a date setter, nor does it mean Amillenarians are immune from date setting. It is just that one need not look very hard to see the link between date setting and Dispensationalism.

For an example of Kelley's hermeneutic he states,
Remember, Jesus called the Millennium the time of restoration of all things (Matt. 19:28)
He has also stated in another place that he believes in the literal, grammatical and historical approach to interpreting the Bible. Yet could anyone please tell me where in the verse cited above that Jesus says anything about the Millenium?

This is simply not the case. In Jesus' eschatology, there are only two ages. The one in which we currently live and the one to come. Jesus never speaks of an intermediate age of a thousand years. Kelley is doing what so many Dispensationalists do. He is assuming an interpretation of Revelation 20 and Daniel 9, and then forcing that assumption back into Jesus' words.

Allow me to offer some examples of Jesus' teaching on the "two-age model".

In Luke 20,
Jesus replied, "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection.
There is the age of marriage and the age of the resurrection. Nothing is in between nor is there an overlapping age (unless we look at the now and not yet aspects of the Kingdom).

Jesus explains his parable of the weeds with a two-age model approach.
He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
Notice that during this age, the sower sows seed. It is at the end of this age when the harvest happens and the weeds are permanently pulled out. Nothing in Jesus' words shows any temporary intermediate Millenium.

Because Jesus' teaching on end times is so often misunderstood, many have been looking at Scripture from an improper perspective. In my next post, we will look at Jesus' teaching of the signs of the end of the age from Matthew 24.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Planet X Is Coming?

Some weeks ago a friend of mine began telling me about certain things he had been hearing concerning end times from different teachers. One of the things he mentioned was something about a planet that was going to pass through our solar system, possibly causing many of the prophecies in the book of Revelation to come to pass. This planet was referred to as Planet X.

Now I have been getting an email that is being circulated by a friend which mentions this Planet X and also the Mayan calendar ending in 2012. This certainly cannot be a mere coincidence. Every few years, Christians get worked up about end times due to certain political and/or other cultural factors.

This circulated email is a Blog post written by Jack Kelley (read here) forwarded by John Terry, Director of the Revelation Files. On the RevelationFiles website, the author states one of its purposes,
The events foretold in the Bible are coming to pass before our very eyes, and it is an exciting time to be alive. Reading the newspaper or watching global events on the news time and again reveals another piece of the prophecy "puzzle" being put into place. But so much is happening, how do you keep track of it all?

The Revelation Files, we gather news from around the globe that seems to be of prophetic significance, as well as articles of interest to those of the Christian faith. We also share teachings and insights from many Bible prophecy teachers and scholars. Most people see prophecy only in the context of predicting the future, but prophecy can also serve to speak as a "thus saith the Lord" to an individual or the Body of Christ. To prophecy literally means "to speak a truth".
Over the next few posts, I would like to interact with my Dispensational friends from an Amillenial perspective. When Christians are able to cite from sources that are questionable at best, and then think that these sources somehow buttress Christ's teaching, I think it is a little time for discernment.

For instance, after spending several paragraphs explaining Planet X and the Mayan Calendar issues, Kelley concludes as to the importance of this information to date setting.
What’s The Point?

The short answer to the title question is, “No. 2012 will not bring the end of the world.” But without attempting to tie these predicted events to specific prophecies, I think it’s interesting to see how similar the Biblical descriptions of end times judgments are to the scientific view of possible coming events.
This is the problem when "we gather news from around the globe that seems to be of prophetic significance". We end up interpreting the Bible through what has been called "newpaper theology".

Although, as a Dispensationalist, Kelley claims to "subscribe to a literal, historical, grammatical interpretation of scripture", there is nothing in his interpretation throughout the Blog post that even follows that methodology at all. And since in the end, Kelley concludes there really is no point in linking these things together, why go to all of the trouble? The truth is, end times speculation always abounds, especially among folks whose eschatology is linked to newspaper theology/eschatology.

So yes, as an Amillenailist I agree with my Dispensational brothers that we must watch and pray for Christ's return. On the other hand, over-emphasizng end times speculations with our newspapers combined with pagan sources of myths will easily cause us to become imbalanced. Remember Y2K anyone?