Saturday, December 20, 2014

Creature Worship

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 01:24-25, NKJV).

Rather than acknowledging the truth of a Creator, rebellious humankind have exchanged that truth for “the lie”, and in consequence have inexplicably, and historically, worshiped the work of the Creator (the creature) rather than the Deity whose power is the source and origin of all Causality.

This creature worship includes not only living things, but the planet itself, investing it with attributes of life and consciousness that flies in the face of all demonstrable fact and experience. This break with reality would be labeled insanity in a sane world, but in ours it is termed, “spiritual”.

Know this, when God is purposefully divorced or exiled from our thinking, vacuous irrationality ensues. I know from personal experience.

Gaia (Mother Earth) Worship is an example of this, and is as prevalent today in some circles as it was millennia ago. There are otherwise intelligent men, women and children who have forsaken God, replacing Him in their irreverence with an inanimate, non-living lump of rock orbiting a nuclear furnace.

Certain proponents of AGW (Anthropological Global Warming – the unproven theory that human activity is changing the planet's climate) are unapologetic Gaia Worshipers. Their sometimes unexpressed, but implicit belief system is that Mother Earth would be infinitely better off without human beings (presumably, except for themselves).

The Bible teaches the diametric opposite: that earth was created expressly for humanity and that we are to take dominion over it. Before the Fall in Eden, that stewardship was expressed as Adam “tending” (not exploiting or ravaging) the Garden. The intent was for humans to use their God-given intelligence and abilities to responsibly use planetary resources to maintain and imprint (put a uniquely human stamp on) earthly life.

I can only imagine what this would have entailed without sin having corrupted the plan. Perhaps ancient mythical tales of magnificent and almost magical kingdoms and realms comes closest to what it might have been, but the reality is quite different.

Fallen humanity has taken this directive of dominion and perverted it. Instead of responsible stewardship, there is exploitation, instead of “tending”, there is destroying. So the impulse of Creature Worshipers, while utterly without foundation, is nonetheless understandable. It is an expression of that divinely instilled desire to have the earth be as God intended.

Ironically, while this impulse comes from the Creator, its outworking in this pagan religion is the denial of the very God who made the heavens and earth and all the creatures in it.

There is a profound spiritual principle involved in this outcome, and it's this: the most brilliant human intellect becomes imbecilic without God. And the corollary is this: the most noble human impulse, without God, becomes idiotic.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that this replacement of the Creator with His creature is done through irremediable ignorance. It is willful arrogance and pride. The heavens themselves declare the glory of God, unmistakably. It takes work to look at the complexities of existence and attribute them to time and chance, or to the Universe itself, rather than to a Transcendent Intelligence and Power.

But what alternatives do the pagans or naturalists have? If they let the evidence of Creation speak for itself it can only lead to God, and that is entirely unacceptable.

As Harvard biology professor Richard Lewontin, speaking for the scientific community, famously remarked, “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Note that last remark: we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

And materialism, like Earth Worship, is just another instance of substituting that which is created – in this case matter and energy – for its unfathomable Source.

All this would all be excusable except for two things: one, every human being is endowed with an inherent certainty that there is Something beyond him or herself. This is seen by the innate desire each of us has to worship that something – either imaginary gods, intellect, materiality, or ourselves in some mystical sense. Secondly, God's self-revelation, both through the canvas of existence, and the gift if His Word, leaves us without excuse.

As Paul wrote in a previous verse... Professing to be wise, they became fools.

Love,


Dad

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Lie

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 01:24-25, NKJV).

It is interesting that Paul uses a definite article to refer to a singular falsehood that humankind has exchanged for the truth of God. Whatever outward form of that lie was prevalent 2000 years ago, I believe its essential nature has been the same since shortly after the Fall of Man. It's this: God is not the Sovereign Ruler and Author of Life and Creation.

Today that falsehood is encapsulated in the Theory of Evolution and it has powerful deceptive properties and ramifications. For me, it was the single most significant obstacle to my becoming a believer. Evolution, along with its corollary of Long Ages directly opposed the plain truth of Scripture, especially the foundational book of Genesis.

Do not think that Evolution was invented by Darwin. The first recorded instance of it was by the ancient Greeks centuries before the birth of Christ, and the bedrock of its appeal then and now is Materialism, and Naturalism. Its seductive delusion is that nothing exists that is not material (meaning there is no spiritual realm and therefore no life after death), and the only things that can exist come from Nature (and thus nothing Supernatural – like Deity – is allowed in the picture).

I have discovered in life that these two basic premises, Materialism and Naturalism, actually underpin the unspoken philosophy of many who consider themselves religious. By this I mean that many people who claim to believe in God, hold a kind of unexamined belief, based on their own imaginations and largely materialistic upbringings, that conceives of God as having invented the Universe and then having mostly sat back and let things unwind.

This is Deistic thinking at heart, along the lines of Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, with a token mixture thrown in of conditional Supernatural favoritism bestowed by “the man upstairs” upon those He favors. This is not Christianity, and for most purposes of living, is not very far removed from purely Naturalistic Evolution.

And the pervasive Lie, is the same: God is not the God revealed in the Bible, who is the Creator, Judge and Sovereign Ruler over all that is.

Today, most professional scientists are atheistic Evolutionists. It is a virtual prerequisite. And the vast majority of College graduates are, as well. This is in large part due to the fact that The Lie of Evolution is the only thing allowed to be taught in government schools.

Make no mistake, Evolution, with its insistence on Long Ages and Survival of the Fittest, is a philosophy that enables unspeakable evil. It views Life, including human life made in the image of God, as an accident of chance over time, and thus no different in value from any other life.

It facilitates genocide and ethnic cleansing, and what the Nazi's termed “Life Not Worthy of Life”. It makes abortion not only acceptable, but despairingly logical. It gives permission for any and all human behavior because it removes God's transcendent authority completely from all moral equations.

Evolution is a brilliant and effective scheme of the enemy, and plays right into mankind's inherent rebellious hatred of God, and self-justifying pride.

I have heard the following said by “highly educated” men. “The problem with the world is all these religions and all the violence associated with people trying to impose their religious beliefs on others.”

This is demonstrably and historically false, especially within the last 100 years. In reality, far more people have been killed – millions more – by atheistic communist states than all the “religious wars” throughout history combined. Furthermore, in the world today there is only one “religion” that proclaims conversion or death (the ultimate imposition), and that religion is most emphatically NOT true Biblical Christianity.

We will see what this reductionist view of human life leads to more thoroughly in subsequent posts, but know this, it is impossible to logically and consistently believe in the salvation offered through Jesus Christ unless the book of Genesis is understood to be literal history.

To many this is an utterly shocking statement, instantly relegating me to a lunatic fringe of religious fundamentalism, but do not read into my words in the previous paragraph more than their literal meaning. I am not saying that those who deny Genesis but believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are doomed to Hell.

I am saying that their belief in Jesus and the need for Him as Savior is inconsistent with a non-literal view of the origins of the Universe, humankind, and sin as recounted in Genesis. Thankfully, consistency is not a requirement for salvation, only sincere faith in the Person of Jesus Christ.

But consider this as well. It is obvious that Jesus viewed Genesis as actual history. Examine His statements in the gospels about Creation, Adam and Eve, sin and marriage. Consider also the fact of His Deity (a necessary tenet of true Christianity).


If the Lord Jesus rejected The Lie of Evolution, and embraced Special Creation, then so should we.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Foolish Wisdom

Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. (Romans 01:22-23, NKJV).

There was a time in Western history when Biblical truth and principles served as the foundation of civilized society. In fact, Christianity was the driving force behind the societal, philosophical, humanitarian, and scientific advances of Western civilization for the past 19 centuries.

This is incontrovertible reality, despite screeching cries of protest from modern academia. And the current climate of rebellion against such statements is of no importance, aside from it being a showcase for the tortured reasoning put forth to support such anti-Christian foolishness.

Multi-degreed scholars from once-Christian institutions of higher learning, like Harvard, Yale and Oxford, are often the poster-boys (and girls) of this revisionist movement, standing at the forefront of what the Bible describes here as those who professing to be wise...became fools.

This is not to say at all that formal education is, in and of itself, the cause of intellectual devolution. Rather, it is the corrupted heart behind those in academic power who decide what is, and is not, “accredited” and legitimate focus of study.

None of this is new, of course. There has always been a long human war against God, from Eden onward, but what is new is the pervasiveness of the anti-God propaganda put forth as scholastic wisdom – and the means to propagate that message through media, cyberspace, and popular culture.

It is virtually impossible to avoid being inundated by it, and the only effective remedy to all the vaunted deceit is to be inoculated with the truth. This means being so well-versed in Scripture that even diabolically subtle attacks on Biblical wisdom can be detected from a long ways off.

We are to be prepared to rationally, reasonably and comprehensively give an answer for the reason for the hope that is within us, and be able to do so with respect and consideration.

And all this intellectual opposition does not mean that we are to squirrel ourselves away in monastic cloisters, shunning confrontation or argument, and figuratively holding up the Bible in front of us as some talisman against evil thinking.

It means simply that we are to prepare our own hearts and minds daily in order to be equipped for the fight.

Later in Romans, Paul well tell us...

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, NKJV).

That intellectual renewal is an inherent part of Biblical Christianity. Mindlessness has no place in a follower of Jesus. Neither does lock-step conformity to some outward appearance of righteousness.

Unity can only come from truth, properly understood and lived out. That is why the foolishness of the world is in such fragmented disarray, and cannot withstand the scrutiny of critical thinking.

Here are some examples of foolish wisdom:

The earth is billions of years old despite perfectly reasonable evidence to the contrary.

There was no global flood. (Ignore those marine fossils on the mountaintops of the Himalayans.)

God did not create the Universe with Intelligence and Design, it all just “happened” via a quantum singularity that simply exploded out of nothingness, and, well, here we all are. And while it is inarguably true that Causality seems to be organized around very granular principles of physics that are remarkably friendly to sustaining human life, that is all just a coincidence.

There is no absolute morality or truth, except for this one statement about there absolutely being no absolute morality or truth.

Human life does not begin at conception, meaning, I suppose, that until the moment of delivery we can never be sure just what species will emerge. Consequently, “products of conception” are disposable at anytime prior to birth for any reason as a human right. (That this makes abortion legal and acceptable is an abomination far surpassing the Nazi Death Camps of World War II.)

Tolerance of contradictory religions and philosophies is a sign of a mature society, except we cannot tolerate any religions or philosophies that claim to be sole proprietors of the truth; especially Biblical Christianity.

Heterosexual marriage is fundamentally a “cultural phenomena”, despite the obvious biophysical compatibility of the male and female of the species apparently perfect for just such a monogamous union.

All of this wisdom is currently popular and preached from the ivory towers of higher learning.

It is all equally foolish, and counter to common sense and observable evidence.

It is also diametrically opposed to the truth revealed in God's Word.

You will undoubtedly be bombarded with it (and worse) throughout your precious life, so be prepared.

But the outcome of this battle is not up to us. It is up to God.

And He has already won.

Love,


Dad.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Excuses

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 01:20-21, NKJV).

Like deception, excuses abound in this world.

Yet, the God of the Bible has ensured that His existence - what this passage describes as His invisible attributes, eternal power and Godhead - has been undeniably revealed by the things that are made, so that everyone who disbelieves is without excuse.

Notice that – His existence is understood by the things that are made.

As a former evangelical evolutionist, someone religiously committed to debunking the need for Deity to explain anything, let alone my personal existence, I proclaimed Darwinian theology with enthusiasm and zeal.

It left me free to do whatever I wanted without fear of Judgment – and to believe that none of it mattered anyway, since I was just a product of random chance over time.

As I matured beyond infantile thinking, and was exposed to the latest “controversial mysteries of evolution”, I went along with whatever the latest revisionism called for because, as has been said, the only alternative was to allow a Divine foot in the door.

It was a philosophy of living embodied by a classic beer commercial: “you only go around once in this life so grab all the gusto you can!” What freedom!

Oh yes, freedom! Freedom from meaning and purpose. Freedom to self-destruct and destroy others without guilt. Freedom to realize that there was no ultimate point in any effort or cause. Freedom to come to the inevitable conclusion that there was no reason in living at all.

There is not enough beer in the Universe to prevent a thinking atheist from reaching that conclusion.

It is therefore unsurprising that youthful suicide has now increased to epidemic proportions. That euthanasia and abortion are seen as merciful acts in a merciless reality. That society in this post-Theistic era is disintegrating to the point where that beer commercial is the unsung mantra of the last three generations of humanity.

And it shows. Those of us in the West are seen as utterly debauched and evil by those who, in roughly half the rest of the world, have embraced a religion that glorifies death and martyrdom in reaction to the despair of modern godlessness.

Then I became a Christian, and it was if I had been blind, but now granted sight, and I looked at the evidence of Creation around me and was stunned – absolutely stunned – about what it said of God.

Even without the aid of telescope or formal astronomical training, it is clear from the night sky that the Universe is a vast place. Add to that perception all the technological advantages of current instrumentation, and that initial comprehension of size is increased a million-fold.

Life itself, once thought to be blobbish, nearly inanimate protoplasm magically melded together into functional form has been shown to be immeasurably complex. There is, in reality, no such thing as a “simple” life form. Even the most “primitive” living cell is a miniaturized city of organic self-replicating and self-repairing bio-mechanical factories beyond the scope of any possible “accidental” creation.

Of course these facts have not, and will not stop, the denial of those who hate God. Increasingly far-fetched, yet scientifically sounding theories will be proposed that attempt to explain the “appearance” of design as anything but, yet in the end, these are all feeble excuses that cannot stand scrutiny.

And those who promote these fantasies under the guise of scholarship and enlightened philosophy are, under all that multisyllabic sophistry, the same ones who know that God exists but refuse to acknowledge Him. They have become futile in theirs thought, and their foolish hearts are darkened.

Yet they are still without excuse.

Underneath their willful unbelief is a lack of thankfulness.

Paul is saying that ingratitude breeds ignorance.

In the end, what you come to know is founded upon what you come to believe. I thought I knew many things, but looking back, it is clear that I knew virtually nothing of the nature of reality, and even less about the God I claimed did not exist.

It is only by God's unfathomable grace that my worldview – previously built upon unregenerate selfishness and ingratitude – has been transformed by the knowledge of the truth of God as contained in His Word.


What Paul wrote to the Roman church 2000 years ago applies perfectly to the world today.

Love,
Dad

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What May be Known of God

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 01:18-19, NKJV).

The gods of most religions wrap themselves in mystery, and are said to be unknowable. The pantheon of gods in ancient Greece, Rome, and Scandinavia, and in modern Hindi, as well as other religions new and old, are not only mysterious, but changeable and unpredictable. New Age deities are likewise mysteries and riddle-ridden. And for those erroneous religious philosophies that preach that we humans are gods, the required quest is one of discovering one's own “inner avatar” through fruitless meditation and aimless (or even dangerous) thought experiments.

The God of the Bible is none of those things. He is knowable and unchanging, and most importantly, He desires us to know Him in the same way that one person knows another. That is why He sent His Son to become one of us, living life among us, and going steadfastly to the Cross to remove the barrier of sin between us and our Creator.

So then, what may be known of God?

Everything needful.

He is living,

He is eternal.

He is transcendent (present everywhere and living beyond time and space).

He is deserving of honor and glory.

He is all-powerful.

He is all-knowing.

He is a Person.

He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

He loves us.

He is our Judge.

He cannot abide sin or unrighteousness.

He is merciful, gracious, and slow to anger.

He cares for us, and thinks innumerable thoughts about us that are good and not evil.

His ways are above our ways.

He knows everything about us.

He works all things together for good to those who love Him.

He provides for us through His goodness, a future and a hope.

These are just a few of the things He has revealed about Himself in His Word, and the truly beautiful aspect of this is that the more we study the Bible, the more we know God.

Notice that – it is not just the more we know of God.

Reading and studying His revelation to us in Scripture enables us to know Him personally. Like human beings come to know each other.

There can be no greater pursuit of knowledge.

Jesus said this, as recorded by John:

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3, NKJV).

It is self-evident that there can be no loftier goal than seeking eternal life. This is every heart's innate desire whether admitted or not, for life, by its very nature, seeks to remain alive. This is clear in even the most “primitive” living cells, and is exponentially true in us, who are self-conscious beings made in the image of our Creator.

Ironically, we are made to be immortal, and will live into eternity no matter what, for God has made us so that we cannot be unmade. But where we spend that eternity, in Heaven with God, or in Hell forever separated from God, is the key issue of our existence.

And that key issue is resolved by what we do with our knowledge of God.

Hebrews summarizes it this way:

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God
must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV).

God's purpose in Creation is fellowship with us. He desires our company, and delights in giving us the desires of our hearts – hearts (emotion, intelligence and will) which He Himself designed and made.

It is likely that we may spend the rest of eternity in exploring the why of it all (why He wants to be with us, why He made the earth, the heavens and the Heaven of heavens for us), but that He did so is incontrovertible according to His Word.

He made us for His good pleasure. Attaining knowledge of Him is the most satisfying endeavor we can undertake, and unlike the gods of other religions, He is knowable and wants to be known. He does not change. His words are true. He is faithful.

Everything about us is primed to finding out what may be known of God, and it is that knowledge, and what we do with it, that will either save us, or leave us condemned.

Paul's prayer for the Ephesians (and for us) is...

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:17-20, NKJV).

Love,



Dad

Monday, December 30, 2013

Suppressing the Truth

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 01:18-19, NKJV).

We live in a world filled with lies like the sea is filled with water. There is no escape. Truth is rare and precious and to be valued as a priceless gift from God, sought after and held onto like a rope dangling over the edge of an abyss.

For without truth, there is only darkness.

One of the things I remember most vividly when I first became a Christian was the fury I felt when I realized that my whole life up until that time had been based on deception. The things that I was taught by the world, lived by, and believed, were lies originating from the Father of Lies.

What was most infuriating was that most of these falsehoods were how I defined myself; they were the basis of who I thought I was and for 40 years I had been a willing dupe, an effective and compliant participant and coconspirator in my own blindness.

I believed that humans were accidents of chance over time, that the earth was an ancient piece of luck and nothing more. I believed that unborn babies were parasites, not persons, and that we adults were doing them a favor by allowing them to be born. Or perhaps it was no favor at all.

I believed that God, if He existed, was uninvolved and cruel, whether intentionally or because He lacked the ability to meaningfully control anything or anyone.

I believed that every human was born, lived and died, blinking out of existence at the end like a meaningless blob of incidental life that just happened for no reason, and no purpose.

And above all I believed and lived as if I knew the real truth of things, and all who thought otherwise were either ignorant, insane, or childish.

There was deep inside, however, a small part of me that rebelled against these beliefs, that longed for something different, that frantically searched for something that would give me the one thing that my religion of lies could never provide: hope.

Looking back, it is a wonder that I survived as long as I did, for I often behaved as if my life, and the lives of those around me, had no value at all, and I would be better off dead. Or more precisely, that it really didn't matter whether I lived or died.

To emerge from that entrenched darkness into the light of the knowledge of Christ is a miracle. It is a release from prison, a gifting of sight to the willfully blind, and when it happened the scales of deceit fell off and I saw, for the first time as an adult, Truth.

You must not think that I had anything to do with my own transformation. There was nothing special or redeeming about me that enabled my release from the prison I was in, nor did I seek some “better” path. For what I did was exactly what Paul describes above. I “suppressed the truth in unrighteousness”.

Everyone, everywhere, has an innate knowledge of God. It is part of our essential being. He builds it into us. For want of a better word, we call it a “conscience”, and there is no naturalistic explanation that accounts for its existence. It does not aid our physical survival, or the survival of our species. In fact, acts of conscience are very often diametrically opposed to mere survival.

We have it from our beginning, and it is placed there by a merciful and gracious Creator who desires that we come to know Him, and walk with Him so that we may live forever, and not die.

But because we are also born as rebellious sinners, descendants of our sinful forebears, genetically incapable of righteousness and godliness, we practice burying that part of ourselves that knows right from wrong, that speaks to us in the language of God.

And the world helps us do that in every way it can. It promotes deceit, removes God as far away as possible, and aids us in believing the lie that we are accountable only to ourselves.

Its methods are subtle and ingenious. When it cannot completely destroy a person's innate awareness of God, it undermines that awareness by misdirection and illusion, appealing to the one ally that each us carries around like a congenital (from birth) tumor – our self pride.

In and of ourselves, we are no match against this campaign of deception, and as we mature, we become willing traitors, crushing the impulses of our conscience, searing them with the fiery heat of practiced sin and encouraged lusts.

Instead of resisting, as we age, we feed the enemy, allowing it to gain more and more ground in our hearts and minds until we reach the point where we cannot do anything different, when we are confirmed in our evil alliance beyond hope of redemption.

For every man, woman and child, that point of no return is known only to God. We cannot know it in ourselves or in anyone else, and often the person whom we deem to be utterly beyond salvage is the very person that God transforms before us in the miracle of rebirth.

For it is God who opens the eyes of the blind, who gives light in the darkness, who replaces a hardened heart of sin and pride with a new heart that longs to follow after Him. Our part in this transformation is that we come to the end of ourselves and admit that we are beyond help and hope.

It is only then that we begin to cease suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. It is only when we catch a glimpse of who we really are in ourselves that we seek a Savior, and everything we encounter in the world fights against such self-surrender, and rabidly seeks to prevent it from happening.

Understand the three primal forces arrayed against you in this life, seeking to turn you away from God who is your only hope. Each of these enemies has one powerful weapon in common, deception, and is practiced in using it with ruthless effect.

First, and most intimate, is your own “old nature”, the being who you are “naturally” without God in your heart. It is she that haunts your every waking thought and can invade your dreams, and who will be at war with you all the days of your life on this earth. She is what the Bible calls the flesh, and she desires dominion.

Her two allies, the world and Satan, will use every lie at their disposal to embolden your flesh, to strengthen it in the battle, to provide her with ammunition and power to overcome that part of you made new in Christ.

The battle will sometimes seem hopeless. It will often be that you will feel utterly defeated and helpless, but that is also a lie, for you are never alone in the fight. Christ has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. He has promised to be with you even in the darkest night, and is far more powerful than all of your enemies combined.

But it is a war waged every moment. You will be tempted to turn away, but He will provide an escape for every temptation (1Co 10:13).

And remember this above all else, that the only protection against this pervasive deceit is immersion in the truth, and the only source of truth is Christ, who is “the way the truth, and the life.”

So my beloved...

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints-- (Ephesians 6:11-18, NKJV).

Love,


Dad

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Revealed from Heaven

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 01:18-19, NKJV).

While in this context what is “revealed from Heaven” is God's wrath, the concepts of Heaven and divine revelation are worthy of discussions in and of themselves, and much could be said about both.

First, our full knowledge of God is dependent upon His revelation of Himself. While it is true that Creation, in all of its immense and microscopic complexity, speaks of His power and intelligence and glory, it says little about His innate character.

Many ancient, so-called primitive cultures recognized that power and glory by observing the world and sky around them, but their conception of the Being (or beings) behind it all was limited by their own feeble imagination. They guessed, but could not know, and in their guessing they devised fantastic and nonsensical tales that attempted to explain everything they observed and experienced.

Interestingly, every culture throughout human history has at least two mythologies in common: Creation; and at least one instance of global destruction. Even naturalists recognize a beginning of things, and call it the Big Bang, and admit to evidence that geological catastrophe occurred in the past on a more or less global scale. Usually, this devastation is attributed to a “natural” event, as in a meteoric collision.

The Bible's explanation of these two events is the only ancient account that is ordered and logical. Creation being explained by four immensely profound words, “In the beginning God...”, and the global devastation by the catastrophic flood which God caused to occur during Noah's time.

Both these explanations have lost favor during our lifetimes, but that is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. The point is that we could not know what happened with any precision without Someone providing an eyewitness report. For us, that eyewitness is God Himself, who inspired His Word to be recorded and preserved for mankind throughout the ages.

Which brings us to a very important subtext (underlying theme) of divine revelation, called Inspiration.

Ask yourself this question, if an all-powerful God exists, could He cause information to be known about Him in any way He chose? The obvious answer is, yes.

Given that, if this same Being ordained that faith is the vehicle by which His fallen creatures could return to Him, then how could that information come about that would both inform, and not invalidate that required faith?

While it is true that God could declare His existence unequivocally by ripping open the fabric of the Universe and stepping into Causality unmistakably at any time, (something He has promised to do in the future - Ro 14:11; Php 2:10), that act would absolutely negate faith. It is impossible to have faith in what is actually seen (Ro 8:24,25).

So then, what method of communication meets the requirements of accuracy without negating the opportunity for belief? The answer is the written word penned by holy men of God empowered (inspired) by the Holy Spirit.

The written word is objective and persistent. It is there for all to see throughout time and not subject to the vagaries (unexpected change) and miscommunication of the spoken word. The fact that these “oracles of God” were men does not in anyway detract from the claim that their writings were of supernatural origin; that they were, in fact, words “revealed from Heaven”.

God inspired these men to record exactly what He desired recorded.

Now this “inspiration” is not at all similar to what occurs in occult practices where a human claims to be “channeling” a non-material entity. When such happens in reality, and it undoubtedly does, what is taking place is not inspiration, but a type of possession.

That is not how God works at all. When the prophets who wrote our Bible operated under God's inspiration, these men were not possessed, but directed. They retained their own consciousness and identity, and wrote as God instructed of their own free will. They in no way became God, nor were they any less themselves, but instead faithfully recorded the words or visions God gave them.

Now can we prove that this happened? No, not in the scientific sense, but we can in an evidentiary sense in that much of what was given was history recorded beforehand (prophecy), so that the authenticity and origin of the information would be confirmed.

In fact, the Bible, by some reckoning, is more than two-thirds prophecy, and all of these that have been so far fulfilled have come to pass literally, just as foretold. The most verifiable among these are those 300 or so directly related to the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, all detailed centuries before taking place in time and space exactly as predicted. No other holy writings come close to such a track record, and no other writing stakes its claim to authenticity and its reputation on such prophecy. And given the accuracy of the events already fulfilled, there is no reason to conclude that the remaining, as yet unfulfilled, prophecies will come about in anything other than an equally literal sense.

One final point to make here is that this inspired revelation, like God's wrath, originates from Heaven.

Heaven is discussed at some length in Scripture, not perhaps as exhaustively as we would like, but with enough details to provide us with the following:

  1. It is the abode of God.
  2. It is a real location somehow apart from our four-dimensional reality of time and space, at least for the here and now.
  3. Between here and there is a separation impossible to cross in a physical sense, and requires either physical death or an explicit translation by God.
  4. At some future date, Heaven will emerge into our reality, and what has been separated, likely since the Fall of Man, will once again be reunited.
  5. It is a place where evil cannot abide.
  6. It is where a believer's true citizenship resides.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind from the above list is this: Heaven is where God is, and is therefore the Source from which our own reality emerges. All that we see and experience in this life is but a pale shadow of what there is in Heaven.

Whatever beauty exists here comes from there. Whatever joy and satisfaction we may encounter here is but an echo of the joy and satisfaction we will experience there, if we believe in Christ.

Remember, Dear One, we are finite creatures who live on the edge of the Infinite. God has provided us from Heaven all that we need to know of Him now so that we can choose to believe in Him and abide with Him eternally.

Is it possible to understand fully what all that means? No, but it is enough to exercise our God-given reason to understand enough of Him to evoke rational faith sufficient to bring us into His presence forever more.

Love,


Dad

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Wrath of God

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 01:18-19, NKJV).

God reveals Himself as an emotional Being. He has feelings and expresses them, and because we are made in His image, we are emotional beings, as well.

Yet, it would be a mistake to presume that we fully understand what or how God feels, in much the same way that it would be a mistake for a young child to presume the same about his or her parent. There is a depth of experience and being that the child is simply not equipped to plumb.

Along this line of reasoning then, there is at least one very prominent emotion of God that we barely know - His wrath.

Do not mistake human wrath for divine wrath. Humans tend to have outbursts of wrath. These are impulsive eruptions of anger that are entirely based on circumstance and are always harmful. The Bible unequivocally condemns such explosions and summarizes their effect by denouncing their impact:

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19, 20, NKJV).

God's wrath, in contrast, is neither impulsive nor circumstantial. It is based entirely on His character and is directed against only one thing, although that thing is huge and has far-ranging consequences. Its target is sin.

God's wrath is His inevitable and settled response to all things that are in antipathy (opposed) to Him. It is His wrath that will, one day, cleanse all of Creation from that which is not of Him, and until that day, it is His love that delays that final act of Judgment.

It is God's righteous wrath that makes His mercy that much more miraculous and astounding. It is His wrath that makes His grace that much more measureless.

In fact, if we understand, at least in part, the vehemence and power and comprehensiveness and righteousness of His wrath, we will that much more appreciate His patience in allowing time for our repentance from sin, and the unimaginable lengths He has gone to in making that repentance possible through faith in the sacrifice of His own Son on the Cross.

It is God's chosen response to His wrath that makes His justice available, for in His wrath against sin He ordained the penalty of sin – eternal death – while, in His mercy, providing His Son as a vessel to contain that wrath.

However incomprehensible it may be to us, God appointed His Son to suffer the consequences of our rebellion. He has made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become His righteousness in Him.

His wrath demands our eternal punishment, since we, in rebelling against Him and His eternal goodness, rejected His gift of eternal life. By His design, the only alternative remaining to us is the torment of eternal death.

As the one is unknowably blessed, its opposite is unthinkably severe. We cannot therefore fully comprehend His kindness until we more fully comprehend what His kindness protects us from – His wrath.

Now the world hates God, partly because it has an instinctive understanding of its accountability to Him, and of the fact that we are rightful targets of His judgment. It alternately dismisses Him as a figment of collective imagination, thinks of Him condescendingly as the sin-excusing “Man upstairs”, or pictures Him as a bloodthirsty God of petulant vengefulness.

Obviously, He is none of those things, but is a holy, righteous, loving and patient Being with all power and knowledge. He is all that is good, and nothing that is bad. Scripture describes Him as someone in whom there is no variation or shadow of darkness.

His purity and goodness annihilates all that is impure and evil. By definition, to be in any state of opposition to Him is to be subject to that judgmental destruction.

And I believe that the most needful component in understanding God's wrath is to place it in the context of His deferring that judgment until the time of His choosing is fulfilled. That deferral, that containment, that temporary refusal to pour out that which would destroy evil forever is what He has described in His Word as His wrath.

In postponing Judgment, He has altered the otherwise instantaneous cause and effect of sin and cleansing, and is storing up the consequences of mankind's rebellion. He has named that trove of judgment, wrath, and will release it onto a Christ-rejecting world when the time is right, because to do otherwise would be to make His goodness and mercy a lie, and to undermine the purity and immutability of His love.

Without choice their could be no love, without Hell no Heaven, and without the judgment of God's wrath, there could be no everlasting life in His presence.

Do not fear His wrath for yourself, daughter, for Jesus has taken it upon Himself in your place, but fear it for the sake of the unbelieving world, and look upon unrepentant sinners as doomed prisoners of their own willful ignorance, destined for the fires of Outer Darkness.

Your job as an ambassador of Christ is to see them as He sees them, and by your love, show them His, so that they might also come to repentance and live.

Love,


Dad

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Just Shall Live By Faith

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 01:17, NKJV).

This highlighted phrase appears four times in the Bible; once in the Old Testament, and three in the New (Hab 2:4; Ro 1:17; Ga 3:11; Heb 10:38).

It has been said that the prophet Habakkuk introduces the concept, contrasting those who live by pride; that here in Romans Paul defines who “the just” really are; that in Galatians he explains how the just should live; and in Hebrews what “faith” means.

Now, the word for “just” conveys two meanings, “righteous”, and “acceptable to God”, and is therefore the perfect summation of a believer's standing in Christ. We are made righteous by Jesus having taken our sin upon Himself at the Cross, and, in exchange, He gives us His sinless righteousness. Because of that transaction, we are cleansed and made acceptable to God.

But, and this is extremely important, we are made righteous and acceptable by faith, and this is in direct opposition to the idea that we earn our way into eternal life.

Do you see how magnificent those six words truly are, now. Think of it as both a promise and a command. We are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, and because our sins have been forgiven through His death on the Cross, we are no longer under the penalty of death. We shall live, and not die.

But there's more. Faith is not only the means by which eternal life is granted to us, it is how we are to live now, day by day.

What does this mean, living by faith?

Paul says it this way:

For we walk [live day by day] by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7, NKJV).

Proverbs puts it another way:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6, NKJV).

And again in Corinthians, Paul writes:
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18, NKJV).

This echoes how Hebrews defines faith itself:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV).

To live by what we believe rather than merely by what we see or experience is the distinguishing characteristic between believers and unbelievers.

When we allow the Spirit of God free reign in us, our view of the world and of our circumstances goes beyond what is obvious and apparent, and focuses on the underlying purposes and meaning of even of all the events surrounding us.

We understand that nothing is by accident, and that all things work together for good, although we may not be in a position to see that good all the time.

That is why in the New Testament and throughout church history we read of men and women who undergo horrendous pain and loss and yet find themselves able to praise God for His grace and mercy.

It is not that we Christians are masochistic (deriving pleasure from one's own pain), but that we, living by faith, see past the moment into eternity.

I have lived life from both sides of this equation, as a non-believer and as a believer.

I can attest from years of personal experience that there is no comparison between living by sight versus living by faith. The latter is so far superior to the former that the contrast is almost inexpressible.

And this is not something that I have achieved through my own puny efforts. In fact, it has often been despite my natural tendency to focus outward on my circumstances rather than upward upon my Savior – the author and finisher of our faith.

I believe that faith sees the truth of things underneath everything, like a kind of x-ray vision, or what artists see when they look at a simple bowl and observe so much more than the bowl itself, but also light and patterns and shadow and infinite color.

C.S. Lewis thought that until Heaven, we live in something he called the Shadowlands. It looks real enough and full-bodied, but once seen in the True Light, it becomes as vapor and silhouettes.

And this is what the gift of faith provides, True Light, not as some magical incantation, but as the ability to perceive as we have always been meant to perceive; as Adam and Eve did in the Garden before The Fall.

And one day, perhaps soon, that kind of sight will be as natural as breathing again, as much a part of us as our skin.

Until then, He gives us glimpses into the True World, like Gehazi, Elisha's servant:

And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17, NKJV).

Remember this, Little One, His love for us knows no bounds. He is noble and virtuous in ways and to a depth that we can only imagine.

But living by faith, we come close to seeing who He really is, and in seeing that, our hearts are filled with joy that never fades.

Love,


Dad