9/8/15

From Mark Copeland... "GOD’S WILL FOR YOU" Motivation To Do God’s Will

                          "GOD’S WILL FOR YOU"

                      Motivation To Do God’s Will

INTRODUCTION

1. In this study, we have considered...
   a. Things explicitly stated as God’s will for you
   b. How to be transformed to discern God’s will in general

2. In this lesson, we shall talk about motivation...
   a. Why we should want to do God’s will
   b. Reasons given in the Scriptures for wanting to do the will of God

[Let’s begin by turning to Jesus, Himself highly motivated to do the
will of His Father in heaven (cf., Jn 4:34; 6:38).  In His sermon on the
mount, He offers one compelling reason to do the will of God...]

I. TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN - Mt 7:21-23

   A. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN...
      1. Broadly defined, it is the rule of God in or from heaven
      2. Manifested today in the reign of His Son - Mt 28:18; Ep 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22; Re 1:5
      3. Experienced in the lives of those who submit to Jesus, i.e.,
         the church - Col 1:13; Re 1:9
      4. A reign with both present (the church) and future (heaven)
         aspects - 2Ti 4:18; 2Pe 1:11
      5. Its future aspect described in various ways
         a. As a great house with many rooms - Jn 14:1-3
         b. As a great marriage feast - Rev 19:9
         c. As a new city in a new heavens and new earth - Re 21:1-22:5

   B. TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN...
      1. We must do the will of God - Mt 7:21
      2. It is not enough to simply believe on the Lord or confess Him
         as Lord - ibid.
      3. Nor to do many wonderful and amazing things in His name - Mt 7:22-23

[On another occasion, as His physical family drew near to speak to Him,
Jesus gave another reason why we should want to do the will of God...]

II. TO BE A MEMBER OF CHRIST’S FAMILY - Mt 12:48-50

   A. THE FAMILY OF GOD...
      1. Not every person is a member of God’s family
         a. We may be God’s creatures, so in one sense part of the
            "brotherhood of man"
         b. But not everyone can rightly call God their "Father" - Jn 8:42-44
      2. Those in God’s family enjoy wonderful relationships
         a. With God as their heavenly father - Mt 6:9
         b. With Christ as their brother - He 2:11-12
         c. With Christians as their brothers and sisters - Mk 10:29-30;1Ti 5:1-2

   B. TO BE A MEMBER OF CHRIST’S FAMILY....
      1. We must do the will of God - Mt 12:48-50
      2. We must become disciples of Jesus Christ - ibid.
      3. Which involves baptism followed by discipleship - Mt 28:19-20
      4. This places us in the body of Christ, His church - Ac 2:41,47;1Co 12:13
      5. Which church is the household or family of God - 1Ti 3:15

[On yet another occasion Jesus spoke of the value of doing God’s will as a means...]

III. TO GAIN ASSURANCE - Jn 7:17

   A. ASSURANCE OF SALVATION...
      1. One can easily have a false sense of assurance
         a. There is a way that may seem right, but be wrong - Pr 16:25;
            e.g., Ac 26:9
         b. It not within man’s heart alone to know what is right - Jer 10:23
      2. But the very meaning of the word ‘hope’ implies assurance
         a. Hope means desire plus expectation
         b. And we have been saved to have hope - e.g., Ro 5:1-2; 8:24

   B. WE GAIN ASSURANCE...
      1. As we do the will of God - Jn 7:17
      2. Such as keeping His commandments - 1Jn 2:3-5
      3. Especially to love one another - 1Jn 3:18-23

[Jesus certainly gives us motivation to learn and do God’s will.  And so
do His apostles.  For example...]

IV. TO RECEIVE THE PROMISE - He 10:36

   A. WHICH PROMISE...?
      1. We have exceedingly great and precious promises - 2Pe 1:4
      2. The promise of eternal life - 2Ti 1:1; 1Jn 2:25
      3. The promise of a heavenly rest - He 4:1,11
      4. The promise of Christ’s coming - 2Pe 3:4,9-12
      5. The promise of the resurrection - Ac 24:15; 1Th 4:13-18
      6. The promise of a new heavens and new earth - 2Pe 3:13

   B. WE SHALL RECEIVE SUCH PROMISES...
      1. After we have done the will of God - He 10:36
      2. With endurance, faith, and patience - ibid., He 6:12

[Finally, in the words of John the beloved disciple, we are given
another motivation to do God’s will...]

V. TO ABIDE FOREVER - 1Jn 2:17

   A. WHAT WILL ABIDE FOREVER...?
      1. Not this world, nor this universe - 1Jn 2:17; 2Pe 3:10-12
      2. The words of Jesus will abide forever - Mt 24:35
      3. The one who believes in Jesus - Jn 11:25

   B. TO ABIDE FOREVER...
      1. We must do the will of God - 1Jn 2:17
      2. Which involves not loving the world or the things in the world
         - 1Jn 2:15-16

CONCLUSION

1. Here, then, are five reasons to motivate us to do the will of God...
   a. To enter the kingdom of heaven
   b. To be a member of Christ’s family
   c. To gain assurance
   d. To receive the promise
   e. To abide forever

2. Are not these sufficient motivators...?
   a. To seek out the will of God for our lives?
   b. To learn what is explicitly stated as God’s will for you?
   c. To be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may
      discern His will?
   d. To do that which has been proven time again to be the good,
      acceptable and perfect will of God?

I pray that in some way this series of lessons is encouraging you to
want to do the will of God, starting with obeying the gospel of Christ
if you have not yet done so... - cf. Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:38; 22:16; 2Th 1:7-9

   "...for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." - 1Th 5:8

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

Questions and Answers: The Passion of the Christ--Biblically Accurate? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=638

Questions and Answers: The Passion of the Christ--Biblically Accurate?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Q.

Is the Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of the Christ, biblically accurate?

A.

Hollywood rarely, if ever, represents the Bible accurately when it ventures into the arena of biblical history. Its depictions of Bible events usually are adjusted and supplemented with extrabiblical details. Nevertheless, Mel Gibson’s blockbuster recreation of the final hours of Jesus’ life on Earth depicts the major events quite credibly. The movie is particularly accurate in its cinematic portrayal of the attitude and actions of Pilate, the Jewish hierarchy, and the Jewish mob. Both the scourging scene and the actual crucifixion match substantially the extant historical reports of these Roman forms of punishment and execution—with perhaps one exception, i.e., the placement of the nails in Jesus’ hands (cf. Harrub and Thompson, 2002).
However, the movie does contain several nonbiblical allusions. For example, a single squadron of Jewish guards arrests Jesus in the garden, whereas the gospel accounts include a large angry mob with the Jewish officers (Matthew 26:47; Mark 14:43; Luke 22:47). After His arrest, Jesus is shoved off a bridge to dangle from a chain. As He is hoisted upward, He sees one of the disciples (Judas) hiding beneath the bridge. Mary Magdalene is linked with the adulterous woman of John 8. After Christ’s scourging, women sop up Jesus’ blood with towels provided by Pilate’s wife. Mary, experiencing a flashback to Christ’s childhood, comforts Jesus as He transports the cross to Golgotha. Simon of Cyrene, the man chosen by the Romans to assist Jesus with the cross, is given considerable dialogue. Mary is given an exaggerated role, and frequently is addressed as “mother,” in keeping with Catholic tradition (Gibson is Catholic). A raven pecks the eye of one of the thieves hanging beside Jesus. Yet the Bible says nothing of these details. Perhaps a more serious deviation is Satan’s attempt to discourage Jesus from subjecting Himself to the ordeal. In contrast, the New Testament depicts Satan as a central instigator of the event, apparently unaware of the ultimate spiritual and eternal implications for atonement (Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 12:1-5).
Despite such alterations to the biblical record, Gibson is to be commended for achieving his primary purpose: to give the viewer a deeper awareness of the suffering of Christ.

REFERENCES

Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2002), “An Examination of the Medical Evidence for the Physical Death of Christ,” Reason & Revelation, 22:1-7, January.

Implications of Atheism [Part II] by Kyle Butt, M.A.


https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1288

Implications of Atheism [Part II]

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part I of this two-part series appeared in the July issue. Part II follows below, and continues, without introductory comments, where the first article ended.]

SEXUAL DEVIANCE AND PERVERSION

Not only does atheistic evolution devalue human life, it also taints many of the most important areas of human interaction. Sexuality is one area of human behavior that has been completely disrupted by the erroneous concepts of evolution and atheism. In a work he titled Ends and Means, atheist Aldous Huxley wrote:
I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently, assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find reasons for this assumption.... For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom (1937, pp. 270, 273, emp. added).
Following Huxley’s argument, if we assume that the world was not created by God, and that there is ultimately no real meaning to human existence, then we can have sex with whomever, whenever, and in whatever way we choose. Evolutionary atheism offers sexual deviance a blank check to be filled out in whatever way each “naked ape” chooses. Numerous examples can be shown in which atheistic evolution is used to explain and defend sordid sexual perversions.

Rape and Evolution

Working under the assumption of naturalistic evolution, and knowing the ethical implications of such, Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer co-authored a book titled A Natural History of Rape, published by the MIT Press in 2000. In their preface they stated that they “would like to see rape eradicated from human life” (p. xi). A noble thought—to eradicate such a detestable practice. Their self-professed purpose is to educate their readers as to the causes of rape. They feel this education will help their readers understand rape better, and be more fully equipped to initiate programs that will prevent rape more efficiently than the current programs.
Yet, as noble as their suggested aim may be, Thornhill and Palmer embarked on an impossible task. Since they apply naturalistic, evolutionary thinking to rape, they are forced to say, in essence, that there is really nothing ultimately wrong with the practice (although they do not like it and want to see it eradicated). In the third chapter, titled “Why Do Men Rape?,” the authors note: “The males of most species—including humans—are usually more eager to mate than the females, and this enables females to choose among males who are competing with one another for access to them. But getting chosen is not the only way to gain sexual access to females. In rape, the male circumvents the female’s choice” (2000, p. 53).
Comparing humans with animal species, the authors view rape as a natural way for males to circumvent the selection process. In fact, they claim: “Human rape arises from men’s evolved machinery for obtaining a high number of mates in an environment where females choose mates” (p. 190, emp. added). They further state that “[e]volutionary theory applies to rape, as it does to other areas of human affairs, on both logical and evidentiary grounds. There is no legitimate scientific reason not to apply evolutionary or ultimate hypotheses to rape” (p. 55).
In their proposed “scientific” reasons why men rape women, Thornhill and Palmer suggested that in some cases heavy metals such as lead “disrupt psychological adaptations of impulse control,” which may lead to a “higher rate of criminality” (p. 58). They stated: “Lead may account for certain cases of rape, just as mutations may” (p. 58, emp. added). Thus, rape may simply be caused when a male of a species is exposed to an excess of some type of heavy metal like lead or by mutations. Sam Harris added: “There is, after all, nothing more natural than rape. But no one would argue that rape is good, or compatible with a civil society, because it may have had evolutionary advantages for our ancestors” (2006, pp. 90-91). Joann Rodgers quipped: “Rape or at least rape-like acts clearly exist in many species, giving additional weight to both rape’s ‘natural’ roots and its ‘value’ in our biological and psychological legacy” (2001, p. 412). She further commented: “Even rape, fetishes, bondage, and other so-called aberrant sexual behaviors are almost certainly biologically predisposed, if not adaptive, and may therefore be what biologists call ‘conserved’ traits, attributes or properties useful or essential to life across all cultures and genomes” (p. 11, emp. added).
The fallacy with this line of thinking is that it flies in the face of everything humans know about moral decisions. Furthermore, it transforms a vicious, morally reprehensible activity into something that may occasionally be caused by mutations or other phenomena that exempt the rapist from taking responsibility for his actions. Such “scientific” explanations for an immoral action like rape are absolutely appalling. When boiled down to its essence, as Thornhill, Palmer, Harris, and Rodgers, have so well illustrated, proponents of naturalistic evolution can never claim that any activity is wrong in an ultimate sense. This being the case, any action that a person chooses to do would be considered just as morally right as any other action, since all human behavior would be the by-product of evolution. As Darwin himself said, “A man who has no assured and ever present belief in the existence of a personal God or of a future existence with retribution and reward, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones” (1958, p. 94, emp. added). If a man follows his impulse to rape a woman, atheists cannot say, and more and more will not say, it is wrong.

Homosexuality

In the section dealing with abortion (in part one of this series), we noted how evolutionists often appeal to nature to justify immoral behavior. They claim that if animals can be found to exhibit a certain behavior, it is then moral for humans to engage in that behavior as well. Evolutionists have followed this line of reasoning in their defense of homosexuality. For example, the Oslo Natural History Museum opened the world’s first exhibit documenting cases of “homosexual” behavior in nature. One of the statements in the exhibit reads: “We may have opinions on a lot of things, but one thing is clear—homosexuality is found throughout the animal kingdom, it is not against nature” (Doyle, 2006).
In a Live Science article titled, “Animal Sex: No Stinking Rules,” the author wrote:
Animals flout established rules when it comes to the game of love and sex. In fact, the animal kingdom is full of swingers. Bonobos are highly promiscuous, engaging in sexual interactions more frequently than any other primate, and in just about every combination from heterosexual to homosexual unions. Mothers even mate with their mature sons.... Bonobo societies ‘make love, not war,’ and their frequent sex is thought to strengthen social bonds and resolve conflict. This idea could explain why bonobo societies are relatively peaceful and their relatives, chimpanzees, which practice sex strictly for reproduction, are prone to violence (n.d.).
Of course, the fallacy of such thinking has already been exposed. Immoral behavior cannot be justified by referring to animal behavior. Furthermore, homosexuality is certainly “against nature,” that is, the natural way that God designed humans to function. The inspired apostle Paul condemned homosexuality:
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due (Romans 1:26-27, emp. added).
Homosexuality controverts human nature in at least two fundamental ways. First, on a basic physical, anatomical level, homosexuality disregards the natural use of the sexual organs of men and women. Males and females were designed to be sexually compatible in order to reproduce and bear offspring (see Genesis 1:28). If homosexuality was a natural, genetic occurrence (which it is not—see Harrub and Miller, 2004), the genes responsible for it would quickly disappear due to the inability of same sex couples to reproduce. Second, God designed men and women to be capable of a relationship, in marriage, unlike any other human relationship. When a man and a woman are joined together, they become “one-flesh,” a biblical phrase that describes the epitome of intimacy and compatibility (Genesis 2:23). God specifically designed Eve, and all future women, to be perfect helpers suitable for Adam and subsequent men. And, while it is true that sinful humans often fail to achieve the intimacy and oneness designed by God, it is not because of faulty design, but of people’s sinful decisions. God designed men and women to be naturally compatible both physically and emotionally. Homosexuality circumvents that inherent compatibility.

Sex Behind the Bike Sheds

In the United States of America, one would be hard pressed to find a person who does not understand that teenage pregnancy among unwed mothers is a colossal problem in this country (as well as many others). Contributors to the official Web site of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, explain: “Despite hitting the lowest level in 30 years, 31% of teenage girls get pregnant at least once before they reach age 20” (“The National Day...,” 2008). The site further informs its readers that 750,000 teens per year get pregnant. In order to curb this destructive trend, the government sanctioned a day designated as “The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy,” the seventh annual of which occurred on May 7, 2008. Organizations that partnered in this effort included The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the March of Dimes, the National 4-H Council, and a host of other well-known groups.
In the official Teen Discussion Guide of “The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy,” the authors noted: “Sex has consequences—both physical and emotional.” They further stated: “Not having sex is the best and safest choice to prevent pregnancy...” (“Teen Discussion Guide,” 2008). In a section of the guide titled “Fact or Fiction,” the authors wrote: “Fact: Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy” (2008). It is abundantly clear that the general population of approximately 300 million people in the U.S. recognize teen pregnancy as a problem and would like to see it stopped.
The only sure solution to teen pregnancy is equally clear—total sexual abstinence among unmarried teenagers. When thinking about ideas or philosophical frameworks that would encourage such abstinence, where would one turn? The obvious answer is to the New Testament. The Bible repeatedly stresses the need for sexual purity, and condemns sexual activity outside of the marriage bond. Hebrews 13:4 makes that point abundantly clear: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” The apostle Paul admonished his readers to “put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5, emp. added; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:18). The New Testament clearly and consistently presents sexual guidelines that, if followed, would prevent 100% of out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy.
When attention is turned to the philosophy of atheistic evolution, the situation is much different. Not only do the logical implications of evolution not prohibit teen pregnancy, they actually encourage and justify it. In June 2006, Dr. Lawrence Shaw, deputy medical director at the Bridge Centre in London, spoke at the 22nd annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (“Teenage and 60-Year-Old...,” 2006). In his speech, he explored the alleged evolutionary history of humans, and how that heritage affects present human behavior. Speaking directly to the issue of teen pregnancy, Shaw stated:
Therefore, before we condemn our teenagers for having sex behind the bike sheds and becoming pregnant, we should remember that this is a natural response by these girls to their rising fertility levels. Society may “tut, tut” about them, but their actions are part of an evolutionary process that goes back nearly two million years; whilst their behaviour may not fit with Western society’s expectations, it is perhaps useful to consider it in the wider context (as quoted in “Teenage and 60-Year-Old...,” 2006, emp. added).
Shaw’s rationale is in complete harmony with the implications of evolution, while at the same time completely at odds with what is morally justified. In Sex: A Natural History, Joann Rodgers wrote about a high school sophomore who was longing to entice the local football star into a “few stolen kisses” or a sexual “backseat tumble.” Concerning this teen, Rodgers wrote:
Her physiological need, her reproductive status, and her strategies are not altogether removed from that of the Florida black beetle, Lara the bonobo, or the castle-bound Guinevere longing for Lancelot. Athleticism and body building, one-night stands, romantic love, and jealousy, along with infidelity, monogamy, and homosexuality, are so universally demonstrable across species and cultures that they have long been presumed in large measure to have been drawn through the filter of sexual evolution and biology” (2001, p. 11).
According to evolution, promiscuous teenagers are not morally responsible for negative sexual behavior. They simply are programmed to pass on their genes to the next generation. Teenagers who are getting pregnant might not fit into “Western society’s expectations,” but they are not doing anything immoral or wrong—according to the theory. They are simply acting on their evolutionary impulses that span back some two million years, just like black beetles and bonobos.

Evolution and Adultery

Why would a person make a solemn vow to be sexually faithful to his spouse in a committed marriage relationship, but then break that vow and commit adultery with another person? Is there anything morally wrong with adultery? As with other deviant sexual practices, evolutionary theory explains adultery in purely naturalistic terms, absolving adulterous perpetrators of any moral delinquency. In her article titled “Are Humans Meant to be Monogamous,” Jeanna Bryner said: “Evolutionary psychologists have suggested that men are more likely to have extramarital sex, partially due to the male urge to ‘spread genes’ by broadcasting sperm. Both males and females, these scientists say, try to up their evolutionary progress by seeking out high-quality mates, albeit in different ways” (n.d.). Bryner quoted Daniel Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, who said: “We’re special in this regard [the tendency to be monogamous—KB], but at the same time like most mammals, we are a polygynous species.” Bryner then explained: “Kruger said humans are considered ‘mildly polygynous,’ in which a male mates with more than one female” (n.d.). According to atheistic evolution, adultery is not a morally debased breach of a marriage contract, but rather simply the outworking of the “evolutionary urge” to pass on one’s genes to the next generation in the most effective way possible.
Joann Rodgers noted: “Indeed, lifelong monogamy appears to be as rare in us as in the animal world, at least among the so-called alpha or most powerful males and females” (2001, p. 341). Rodgers further stated: “Other evidence for a natural tendency to infidelity emerges from how easily and simply our behavior and our biochemistry can be subverted to the game” (p. 341, italics in orig.). She paralleled human sexual behavior with studies done on birds, such as the reed warbler, bluebirds, and the pied flycatcher, as well as other animals, such as primates and prairie voles. Concerning these studies, she said that “evidence for the prevalence and reward of promiscuity in females is considerable” (p. 342). Rodgers concluded:
And in humans and most animals, adultery and infidelity—what Fisher calls “nature’s Peyton Place”—are widespread, common, tolerated, and in fact reinforced by our biology. Only if promiscuity really maximizes a woman’s reproductive edge is it worth both the risk and her having evolved those subtle deceits such as hidden ovulation and the capacity to hide or fake orgasm (p. 343).
Notice that Rodgers takes it to be a matter of fact that humans naturally commit adultery. She reasons that such is the case because adulterous females maximize their reproductive “edge.” In fact, she is so bold as to state that if adultery were not evolutionarily productive, it would not exist, and the fact that it occurs so often, both in humans and in animals, is evidence that it is beneficial as far as evolution is concerned.
What does Rodgers have to say about the feelings of guilt and shame that often accompany adulterous relationships? She admitted that “[g]uilt and shame always seem to be part and parcel of sexual cheating” (p. 341). But she suggested that “shame, guilt, and concepts of sexual morality evolved just as surely as our tendency to stray” (p. 379, italics in orig.). Analyzing adultery, then, from an evolutionary standpoint, it is simply a natural, inherited behavior, that is often accompanied by the evolved emotions of shame and guilt, but it has several practical, reproductive advantages and that is why it persists. According to such evolutionary thinking, humans should hardly even attempt to regulate sexual activity or apply moral constraints to it. Rodgers quipped: “What seems to be the case is that human societies do best when they live and let live, up to a point, in order to keep our social responsibilities and our biological drives in some balance” (p. 353, emp. added).
Such thinking is debased and illogical. Sexual misconduct is not a product of evolution, it is the product of selfish decisions made by the parties involved. Society cannot clear its bespattered conscience with a single swipe of the evolutionary eraser. We must face the fact that we as a society are acting immorally, and we must resolve to teach the one philosophy that can remedy the situation: there is a God in heaven and we must live according to His Word.

Pedophilia

Since sexual behavior such as promiscuity before marriage, adultery, and homosexuality are generally viewed by atheistic evolutionists as “mainstream” and harmless when involving consenting adults, most evolutionists have no problem openly declaring them to be products of evolution. Yet it is difficult, though not impossible, to find an “honest” evolutionist that will extend the logical implications of atheistic evolution to fringe, grotesque sexual behaviors such as pedophilia. In truth, if adultery and promiscuity are nothing more than the outworking of evolutionary urges, are not all sexual behaviors? Who is to say which behaviors are “moral” and should be maintained, or which ones are “immoral” and wrong? Such is the quagmire into which evolutionists have plunged themselves.
In a chapter titled “Bad Sex,” Joann Rodgers wrote: “In addition, even the criminal justice system is coming to recognize that while pedophilia and other forms of exploitive sex must be punished in order to protect victims, the perpetrators may also be victims—not necessarily of any abuse but of their biological predispositions” (2001, p. 429, emp. added). She then quoted psychiatrist Fred Berlin, who said: “Nothing in the research suggests that perversions are ‘volitional’ or that their expression is a failure of self-control” (p. 429, emp. added).
Notice the implications involved in these statements. Pedophiles allegedly are victims of their biological predispositions. Furthermore, their actions are not “volitional” (based on their own choices or freewill), nor are their actions a failure to control their urges. One has to wonder why, then, such behavior should be punished. If it is not volitional, or controlled by a person’s will, we cannot expect punishment to alter the behavior. Furthermore, if pedophilia is not a lack of self-control, why would we expect punishment to hinder those contemplating committing such acts in the future? If pedophiles are biologically predisposed to sexual perversion, cannot will themselves in any other direction, and are not suffering from a lack of self-control, punishment can neither change their behavior nor discourage them (or others) from future involvement in it. If evolution is true, then all sexual behaviors, including pedophilia, homosexuality, necrophilia, bestiality, polygamy, and promiscuity are equally “moral” options. As Rodgers wrote:
In the origin and development of species, no surviving component of sex, can be considered unnatural or unnecessary. All aspects of sex observable in animals today, no less than sexual reproduction itself, are what biologists and psychologists call “highly conserved.” All aspects of sex are the evolutionary winners across the eons of natural selection, of trial and error. They persist in us and every other creature precisely because of their importance in survival (2001, pp. 4-5, italics in orig.).

ATHEISTS’ SEXUAL AGENDA

Not only is sexual perversion and promiscuity a direct and logical implication of atheistic evolution, but such sexual laxity is one of the primary aims of the atheistic community. In 2007, atheistic writer Christopher Hitchens wrote a book titled god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Hitchens has been critically acclaimed as “one of the most prolific, as well as brilliant, journalists of our time,” according to the London Observer. The Los Angeles Times stated that he is a “political and literary journalist extraordinaire.” In god is not Great, Hitchens repeatedly argues that biblical sexual purity and monogamous sexual fidelity are not only undesirable, but actually destructive. In his list of four irreducible objections to religious faith, he included that faith “is both the result and cause of dangerous sexual repression” (2007, p. 4). Just six pages later, he wrote that it is absurd to think that someone could know that there is a God and “to know what ‘he’ demands of us—from our diet to our observances to our sexual morality” (p. 10). Later in the book, Hitchens wrote:
The relationship between physical health and mental health is now well understood to have a strong connection to the sexual function, or dysfunction. Can it be a coincidence, then, that all religions claim the right to legislate in matters of sex? The principle way in which believers inflict on themselves, on each other, and on nonbelievers, has always been their claim to monopoly in this sphere (p. 53).
In opposition to the “sexual repression” that Hitchens assigns to all religions, he stated: “Clearly, the human species is designed to experiment with sex” (p. 54). He also stated: “Sexual innocence, which can be charming in the young if it is not needlessly protracted, is positively corrosive and repulsive in the mature adult” (p. 227).
In his final chapter titled “The Need for a New Enlightenment,” Hitchens concluded his book with a plea to banish all religions. He wrote:
Above all, we are in need of a renewed Enlightenment, which will base itself on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man, and woman.... Very importantly, the divorce between sexual life and fear, and the sexual life and disease, and the sexual life and tyranny, can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse (p. 283, emp. added).
From Hitchens’ writings, it is abundantly clear that one of his primary purposes for getting rid of God is so he, and those who adopt his atheistic propositions, can “experiment” sexually as evolved animals without any fetters of conscience. [NOTE: Many of the religions that Hitchens discusses are guilty of approving unbiblical injunctions regarding sex that deserve denunciation, such as forbidding to marry. Hitchens’ point, however, is clear: all religions, including New Testament Christianity, should be abolished so that no sexual restrictions hinder unregulated sexual experimentation.]
Hitchens is certainly not alone in his desire to see atheism propel human sexuality into an unregulated realm of experimental promiscuity. Militant atheist Sam Harris, in his Letter to a Christian Nation, attempted to explain to Christians that sexuality has nothing to do with morality. He wrote:
You [Christians—KB] believe that your religious concerns about sex, in all their tiresome immensity, have something to do with morality.... Your principle concern appears to be that the creator of the universe will take offence at something people do while naked. This prudery of yours contributes daily to the surplus of human misery (2006, p. 26).
Harris further commented that “any God who could concern Himself with something as trivial as gay marriage...is not as inscrutable as all that” (p. 55).
Other atheists have advanced the banner of sexual anarchy into realms such as pornography. David Mills, in Atheist Universe, titled chapter nine “Christian Fundamentalists and the ‘Danger’ of Internet Porn” (2006, p. 190). In that chapter, Mills extrapolates from his atheistic philosophy that pornography is harmless and morally neutral. He stated: “When viewed in historical perspective, it is difficult to believe that teenage males are genuinely harmed by sexual images.... No credible sociological or psychological study of this question has discerned any harmful effects whatever of a teenage male’s viewing photos of nude women or of adult copulation” (p. 197). Mills further proposed that senseless religious moralizing is to blame for the fact that pornography has ever been stigmatized as immoral. He brazenly asserted: “When all the religious and moralistic blathering is dismissed, opponents of internet porn have failed utterly to document any empirical ‘harm’ to teenage males...” (p. 198).
Mills is demonstrably wrong in his assertion that no documented empirical evidence verifies that teenage males are harmed by pornography. Numerous studies document that, among other deleterious effects, viewing pornography “can lead to anti-social behavior,” “desensitizes people to rape as a criminal offence,” and “leads men and women to experience conflict, suffering, and sexual dissatisfaction” (Rogers, 1990). According to one study of rapists, half of those surveyed “used pornography to arouse themselves immediately prior to seeking out a victim” (1990). In addition, heavy exposure to pornography “encourages a desire for increasingly deviant materials which involve violence, like sadomasochism and rape” (1990).
Mills, Hitchens, Harris, and many of their fellow atheists are attempting to strip away all moral “regulations” from human sexuality. Make no mistake: atheism justifies sexual conduct of any kind, and those atheists who understand this point are demanding that all societal regulations on sex be abolished. As Joann Rodgers aptly summarized:
Animals, insects, and bacteria, with their multiple desires, mutinous genders, alternative sex lives, and sometimes violent mating habits, behave in ways that we humans, in our arrogance, consider graceless if not immoral. And yet what we may consider profane in nature is indeed profound.... With evolutionary biology as our guide, however, we are better able to see what has long been concealed in our nature and nurture, and that the profound is not at all profane (2001, pp. 40-41, emp. added).

THE ATHEISTIC OBJECTION

Of course, atheists do not sit idly by while their philosophy is accused of grotesquely immoral implications. They fire back with the idea that millions have been abused, tortured, and murdered at the hands of “Christians.” Atheistic apologists then proceed to detail horrible crimes that took place during the Salem Witch Trials, the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition. David Mills wrote: “The Crusades, the Inquisition, the witch burnings, the torture of ‘infidels’ were all carried out in the name of the Christian God. While it is unfair to hold Christianity responsible for perversions of its teachings, it is nonetheless indisputable that, historically more people have been slaughtered in the name of the Christian religion than for any reason connected to atheism” (2006, p. 48). Hitchens’ book god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything contains copious examples of crimes against humanity perpetrated in the name of religion. The second chapter of his book is titled “Religion Kills.” In it, he discussed several countries he visited. He stated: “Here then, is a very brief summary of the religiously inspired cruelty I witnessed in these six places” (2007, p. 18). The paragraphs that follow that statement document multiple tortures and murders done in the name of specific religions.
Hitchens and others can easily document atrocities performed in the name of religion. But does this prove that all religion is false, and that if a person can spot a flaw or comprehend a fallacy in one religion, then he has effectively disproved the validity of all religions? Absolutely not. Can you imagine what would happen if this type of argument were used in other areas of life? Apply such thinking to food: since many foods are poisonous and have killed people, all foods should be avoided. Apply the thinking to electricity: since many people have died while using electricity, all electrical use is detrimental to society. Or apply it to activities like swimming: many have drowned while swimming, thus all swimming leads to drowning and should be avoided. What if the logic were applied to surgery? Since it is true that thousands of people have died during or as a result of surgery, then all surgery should be avoided, because it leads to death or is in some way physically detrimental to society. Obviously, the ridiculous idea that all religion is detrimental to society, simply because it can be proven that some religions are, should be quickly discarded by any honest, thoughtful observer.
New Testament Christianity does not stand or fall based on the validity of competing religions. In fact, Hitchens and others are right in asserting that many religions are detrimental to society. But they are wrong to lump true Christianity in with the rest of the useless lot. New Testament Christianity is unique, logically valid, historically documented, and philosophically flawless. It does not crumble with those religions that are filled with “vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20). Instead, New Testament Christianity, as personified in the life of Jesus Christ, shines forth as the truth that makes men free (John 8:32).
Furthermore, it should be noted that atheism is not discredited based on the behavior of its adherents. Some atheists are kind to others, hard-working, and considerate. Does this prove that atheism is true? No. On the other hand, some atheists shoot their classmates because they consider them less fit. Does the brutal, immoral behavior of these individuals discredit atheism as a philosophy? Not necessarily. No philosophy can be correctly assessed based solely on the behavior of those who claim to follow it. Hitchens correctly stated: “The first thing to be said is that virtuous behavior by a believer is no proof at all of—indeed is not even an argument for—the truth of his belief” (2007, pp. 184-185).
Having said that, we must hasten to state that a philosophy can be correctly assessed by considering only the behaviors which are based on the correctly derived, logical implications of the philosophy. In regard to the crimes done in “the name of Christianity,” even atheists admit that such crimes were justified by twisting the teachings of the New Testament. Notice that Mills conceded: “While it is unfair to hold Christianity responsible for perversions of its teachings, it is nonetheless indisputable that, historically more people have been slaughtered in the name of the Christian religion than for any reason connected to atheism” (2006, p. 48, emp. added). Harris made a similar statement: “You probably think the Inquisition was a perversion of the ‘true’ spirit of Christianity. Perhaps it was” (2006, p. 11, emp. added). An honest reading of the New Testament lays bare the lucid fact that activities such as the witch hunts and inquisitions were not behaviors based on the logical implications of the teachings of Christ in the New Testament. Jesus taught people to treat others with love, kindness, and respect—the way they, themselves, wish to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
Notice, however, that the behaviors and views decried in this series about the fruits of atheism are directly derived from a proper understanding of atheism, and are propounded by the atheists themselves. Who said that atheistic evolution destroys all moral absolutes? Who stated that parents should have the option to kill a child a month after it is born? Who proposed that humans are no better than bacteria, and that 90% of the human population needs to be eliminated? Who suggested that sexual promiscuity, teen pregnancy, rape, and homosexuality are natural products of the evolutionary process? Evolutionary atheists are the ones promoting these ideas. Radical Christian fundamentalists are not building rhetorical straw men by concocting outlandish, grotesquely immoral behaviors out of thin air. On the contrary, the immoral actions and attitudes arising from atheistic evolution are clearly spelled out and advocated by the atheists themselves. If a person who claims to be a Christian kills a one-month-old child because the child is a hemophiliac, that person violates every principle derived from an accurate understanding of New Testament teaching. If an atheist does the same, he does so with the full force of a proper understanding of atheistic evolution justifying his behavior.

CONCLUSION

The concept of God is the only rational basis for an ultimate moral standard. When the concept of God is eradicated from a philosophy or society, that philosophy or society cuts off its ability to make moral decisions. In turn, it forfeits the ability to “eradicate” such actions as rape, theft, murder, or any other immoral vice. As John Paul Sartre appropriately commented, “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself” (1961, p. 485). When the Bible succinctly stated, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’ they are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good” (Psalm 14:1), it offered accurate, divine commentary on every person, society, or philosophy that would abandon the notion that God exists—“They are corrupt.”
In truth, the false philosophy of naturalistic evolution fails on many accounts, not the least of which is its inability to provide a foundation for ethics. The denial of a divine, ultimate standard of morality throws one into hopeless confusion about how actions such as rape should be viewed. Naturalistic evolutionists who are honest with their theory’s implications can say they do not “like” things like rape, or they think it is best that rape be stopped, or that they think it might be more beneficial to the majority for the action to be limited or eradicated, but they have no grounds on which to say it is absolutely, morally wrong.
In stark contrast to the foundationless ethics of naturalistic philosophy, the concept of God provides the perfect rationale on which to base moral determinations. There is a God who sees both “the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). He will call every person into account for his or her actions (Revelation 20:12-15). Therefore each individual is responsible to that God for any actions he or she commits in violation of His moral standard found in the Bible (Ephesians 3:3-4). Rape, murderous abortion, school slayings, genocide, and other such heinous crimes against humanity are not biological, evolutionary by-products passed down to humans from some mammalian precursor, nor are such crimes biological “malfunctions” caused by mutations. Such actions are sinful, morally reprehensible crimes against humanity and God by individuals who have chosen to ignore the ultimate moral standard God manifested in His Son Jesus Christ and recorded in His Word, the Bible.

REFERENCES

“Animal Sex: No Stinking Rules” (no date), Live Science, [On-line], URL: http://www.livescience.com/bestimg/index.php?url=&cat=polygamous.
Bryner, Jeanna (no date), “Are Humans Meant to be Monogamous?” Live Science, [On-line], URL: http://www.livescience.com/mysteries/080319-llm-monogamy.html.
Darwin, Charles (1958), The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, ed. Nora Barlow (New York: W.W. Norton).
Doyle, Alister (2006), “Birds and Bees May Be Gay: Museum Exhibition,” [On-line], URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061012/sc_nm/environment_homosexuality_ dc;_ylt=AhEiR4DtDaCUi1h7KCssWvms0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3ODdxdHBhBHNlY wM5NjQ-.
Harris, Sam (2006), Letter to a Christian Nation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf).
Harrub, Brad and Dave Miller (2004), “This is the Way God Made Me: A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the ‘Gay Gene,’” Reason & Revelation, 24[8]:73-79, August, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2553.
Hitchens, Christopher (2007), god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve).
Huxley, Aldous (1937), Ends and Means (London: Chatto & Windus).
Mills, David (2006), Atheist Universe (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).
“The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy” (2008), [On-line], URL: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/national/default.aspx.
Rodgers, Joann (2001), Sex: A Natural History (New York: Henry Holt).
Rogers, Jay (1990), “The Documented Effects of Pornography,” The Forerunner, [On-line], URL: http://forerunner.com/forerunner/X0388_Effects_of_Pornograp.html.
Sartre, Jean Paul, (1961), “Existentialism and Humanism,” French Philosophers from Descartes to Sartre, ed. Leonard M. Marsak (New York: Meridian).
“Teen Discussion Guide” (2008), [On-line], URL: http://www.stayteen.org/quiz/assets/2008_ND_teen_guide.pdf.
“Teenage and 60-Year-Old Mums are Consequences of Evolution” (2006), European Society of Human Reproduction & Embryology, [On-line], URL: http://www.eshre.com/emc.asp?pageId=795.
Thornhill, Randy and Craig T. Palmer (2000), A Natural History of Rape (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

Critical Thinking About the Geologic Column by Kyle Butt, M.A.


https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=3503

Critical Thinking About the Geologic Column

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

Modern evolutionists often appeal to the fossil record in their efforts to convince us that all life forms have evolved from lower life forms. Evolutionists insist that there exists an obvious progression of “earlier” forms of life transforming over billions of years of geological time into more complex, “later” forms of life. The words “earlier” and “later” are vital to understanding their reasoning. Evolutionary paleontologist Neil Shubin, in his national bestseller Your Inner Fish, wrote about how evolutionists approach the geologic column: “The working assumption, which is easy to test, is that rocks on the top are younger than rocks on the bottom” (2009, p. 6). This is often called the Law of Superposition. At first glance, this statement seems intuitively correct. Even from a creationist’s standpoint, the layers on the bottom, generally speaking, were laid down before the layers on the top.
A very serious problem arises, however, if the same assumption is applied to fossils. The evolutionary community often assumes that the fossils in the lower rocks represent animals that are older than the animals represented by fossils in the layers above them. For instance, in Shubin’s discussion of a fossil fish known as Tiktaalik, he mentioned certain joints in the fish’s fins. He stated: “Earlier, these joints did not exist. Later, we find them in limbs” (p. 41). What does he mean by “earlier” and “later”? He is using those words to mean lower in the geologic column (earlier) and higher in the column (later). Notice how he assumes that animals lower in the column must be “older” than (or been alive before) those in the higher layers. Throughout his book, you read about the “earliest creatures” or “most primitive living fish” (p. 55). These references all assume that the sequence of fossils in the layers manifests a temporal relationship between those creatures. The problem with this line of thinking is that it is patently false, as Richard Dawkins has so eloquently shown in his latest work, The Greatest Show on Earth.
In chapter six of his newest book, Dawkins claims to provide numerous “missing links” or transitional stages that “prove” evolution to be true (he does nothing of the sort, but that is beside the point). In an attempt to explain the Cambrian Explosion from an evolutionary perspective, he insists that the fossil record is incomplete because the process of fossilization is sporadic and leaves many creatures with little or no representation in the fossil record. To illustrate, he mentions Platyhelminths, or flatworms. He stated: “They are common, both in water and on land, and presumably have been common for a very long time. You’d expect, therefore, to see a rich fossil history. Unfortunately, there is almost nothing. Apart from a handful of ambiguous trace fossils not a single fossil flatworm has ever been found” (2009, p. 149). In his attempt to use the lack of fossilized flatworms to explain the Cambrian Explosion, he completely undermined the way that evolutionists use the fossil record.
Let us think through his example of flatworms. According to evolution, flatworms should be millions, or billions of years old, yet in all that time we have found no fossils of them. If we did find a fossil in a “late” layer that is supposed to be only a few thousand years old, would that mean that flatworms are less primitive than all those creatures below them? No. It would simply mean that they did not fossilize, and that when they do appear is no indication of their “age,” but only indicates when certain fossils of the creature were laid down. So, when we find a fossilized dinosaur, for instance, in a part of the geologic column that evolutionists say is 65 million years old, does that mean that the creature did not live before that, or did not live after that? No. All it means is that we happen to find a fossil of the creature in a certain layer of the column [NOTE: The vast ages of millions or billions of years are not scientifically accurate, and have been shown to be false (see DeYoung, 2005). I refer to them only as a reference point for how the evolutionists view the column]. It is clear, therefore, that the column cannot tell you when an animal lived in relation to any other animals. All it can tell you is in what layer you happen to find a fossil of that animal. Just as no evolutionists would suggest that flatworms, since they are not found in the fossil record, evolved only a few hundred years ago in modern times, neither can they correctly suggest that fossils can offer any evidence as to which animals are more primitive, earlier, or later living than any other animals. When reading evolutionists writings, be on the look out for animals that are said to be “primitive,” “early,” “late,” or “modern” based on their fossils. In reality, these types of temporal words have no relationship to the fossil record.

REFERENCES

Dawkins, Richard (2009), The Greatest Show on Earth (New York: Free Press).
Shubin, Neil (2009), Your Inner Fish (New York: Vintage Books).
DeYoung, Don (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).

Hate Crimes, Homosexuality, and Preaching the Gospel by Kyle Butt, M.A.

https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1055

Hate Crimes, Homosexuality, and Preaching the Gospel

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

In Acts 7, Stephen informed the Jewish leaders of his day that they had killed the Son of God and resisted the Holy Spirit. Stephen’s audience became so infuriated at his preaching that “they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him” (Acts 7:57-58). They simply did not want to listen to what God had to say to them. They wanted God’s mouthpiece silenced.
From the beginning of time, the devil has attempted to silence the Word of God, and dissuade those who hear that Word to ignore the import and moral consequence of it. In today’s society, Satan has continued his attack on God’s divine Word and His righteous requirement for human morality. Of late, it has become increasingly popular for the officials of governments all over the world, including the United States, to support the homosexual lifestyle and to enact legislation to that effect. Despite the facts that homosexuality is not a genetic condition (see Harrub, et al., 2004), and that it is a sinful practice condemned in the Bible as such (see Butt, 2003; Miller, et al., 2004), homosexuality is being lauded as an alternate lifestyle that should enjoy the same privileges as other “inescapable” personal traits such as ethnicity and gender.
In fact, in the past few years several nations and states in the United States have passed laws that, in essence, make it a “hate crime” to preach what the Bible says about homosexuality. For instance, in 2003, Ake Green, a Swedish Pentecostal preacher delivered a sermon in which he stated that homosexuality is “abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumor in the body of society.” He went on to describe homosexuals as “perverts, whose sexual drive the Devil has used as his strongest weapon against God” (as quoted in Robinson, 2004). Because of these comments, he was arrested, charged with inciting hatred against homosexuals, and sentenced to serve 30 days in prison.
On April 29, 2004, Canada adopted a bill similar to the one established by Sweden, in which speech against homosexual behavior was added to the list of hate crimes (Robinson, 2004). Sadly, the United States has begun to “follow suit” by adopting comparable legislation in certain states. On December 3, 2003, Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schwiker signed a bill that included homosexuality as a sanctioned lifestyle protected from “hate crimes” (crimes that could technically include preaching from the pulpit against the practice). The Gertrude Stein Club (a non-profit, pro-homosexual group) labeled the bill as “the first piece of pro-gay legislation to become law in Pennsylvania.” In the same article, the club mentioned that 27 other states and the District of Columbia have laws that protect homosexuals against “hate crimes” (“LGBT Victory”). While preachers are assured that these bills were not passed to stifle their freedom of speech, the implications and technical reading of the bills provide for the prosecution of preachers who teach publicly God’s Word concerning the sin of homosexuality. The Swedish trial of Ake Green testifies to that.
Will the New Testament Christians in our nation sit by idly while laws are passed that protect the sin of homosexuality from public condemnation? The great statesman Edmund Burke well said, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” It is high time that we “preach from the housetops” God’s saving message of Christ, and His condemnation of sins such as homosexuality. Today we are free to do that; if we do not seize the day, tomorrow we might be convicted of a “hate crime” for telling a lost world what God requires of them.

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2003), “Homosexuality—Sin, or a Cultural Bad Habit,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2291.
Harrub, Brad and Dave Miller (2004), “ ‘This is the Way God Made Me’—A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the Gay Gene,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2553.
Miller, Dave and Brad Harrub (2004), “An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2577.
“LGBT Victory! PA Hate Crime Bill Signed by Governor” (2003), [On-line], URL: http://www.gertrudesteinclub.org/news.htm.
Robinson, B.A. (2004), “Canadian Hate Speech—Sven Robinson’s Private Member’s Bill C-250,” [On-line], URL: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_hat6.htm.

From Jim McGuiggan... How do you feel, Habakkuk?


How do you feel, Habakkuk?

He asked me how I was feeling and I grinned a little—only a little—and said, "Aw, you don’t wanna know." He nodded like a man that knew from experience what I meant and he grinned a little—but only a little. We were silent for a moment and then he said, "And how’s your faith?" It lights me up when I think of my response—a genuinely felt and deeply grounded response. I said something like, "Now that’s a whole different story! Nothing seems ever to affect that." I’m not overly confident that I would be able to say that if I were living under extreme circumstances for a very long time. As it is, I have my share of troubles and disappointment, but I don’t live in Darfur or Zimbabwe or big city streets or other such models of purgatory.
But aren’t our feelings a gauge of how healthy our faith is? Um...not really! The notion that if you truly trust God you won’t feel pain or loss or disappointment is silly. Trust in God doesn’t exempt a man or woman from hurt or frustration or anxiety. Yes, I know we hear preachers and read authors who say otherwise and I know they can quote texts while they’re doing it. And worse—because it’s more plausible— they tell us when the roof falls in on us we shouldn’t stagger under the burden. Faith is supposed to take the pain out of the pain and the weight out of the load, don’t you know. (Faith in God through Jesus Christ is not the burdensome thing. It’s an easy yoke and a light burden; but in a fallen world it generates the stress of swimming against the current. Click here.)
Imagine one of the glib ones asking Habakkuk, "How are you feeling?" "Awful!" Habakkuk would tell him. "I just heard a message I don’t like. I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled." (Habakkuk 3:16) If a modern believer answered this way, a modern triumphalist response might well be, "Oh, that’s too bad. I thought you really trusted in God. If you did you wouldn’t feel this way." Had someone said that to Habakkuk he would have said, "Oh, but I do trust! Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no fruit, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights." (3:17-19)
This is one of the loveliest, strongest confessions in the entire Bible and he makes it while he trembles and while his legs can hardly support him. The same pounding heart and quivering lips that confessed his awful anxiety defied the anxiety he felt. This is not an unusual case; but even if it were, it would make the case that fear and anxiety can exist in the presence of the profoundest faith.
I can imagine someone coming to the Garden of Gethsemane, hearing Christ sobbing his heart out and asking him how he feels. The Christ would say, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." Peterson renders Mark 14:33-34 this way, "He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. He told them, ‘I feel bad enough right now to die.’ " The major versions speak of Christ as deeply distressed and agitated. A shallow view of faith in God would find this inexplicable in Christ. "Oh, and here I thought you were the one human above all humans that trusted in God. Instead I find you an emotional wreck at this point." Hebrews 5:7-9 and Acts 2:25-28 add their own comment to Christ’s Gethsemane and cross experience.
It’s clear from scripture (and life) that tribulation and peace, faith and fear can exist together in the same persons. The Christ said, "In the world you will have tribulation but in me you will have peace" (John 16:33).
Faith doesn’t obliterate feelings. In truth, sometimes faith sharpens the pain. Questions like "why me?" seem more appropriate coming from those who trust God and are faithful to him. This point needs further development and there’s a lot to say that moves in this direction.
So we shouldn’t think we’re faithless because we’re sensitive to pain and frustration and disappointment. Faith defies these realities but they are realities. The believing person feels them, may have more than his or her share of them, but the presence of his or her faith denies lordship to them!
I think we should work to ease the pain of people—this we’ve been called to—but whatever else we’re called to, we’re called to deepen one another’s trust in God. Maybe having genuinely enquired after the situation and feelings of some poor believing soul that we should then major in grounding, deepening and enriching their faith. Faith defeats fear and anxiety not always by obliterating them (though surely there are many situations in which it does just that) but by rising above them in the name of the God and Father of our Lord Christ.

From Gary... Bible Reading September 8


Bible Reading  

September 8

The World English Bible



Sept. 8
Psalms 49-51

Psa 49:1 Hear this, all you peoples. Listen, all you inhabitants of the world,
Psa 49:2 both low and high, rich and poor together.
Psa 49:3 My mouth will speak words of wisdom. My heart shall utter understanding.
Psa 49:4 I will incline my ear to a proverb. I will open my riddle on the harp.
Psa 49:5 Why should I fear in the days of evil, when iniquity at my heels surrounds me?
Psa 49:6 Those who trust in their wealth, and boast in the multitude of their riches--
Psa 49:7 none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give God a ransom for him.
Psa 49:8 For the redemption of their life is costly, no payment is ever enough,
Psa 49:9 That he should live on forever, that he should not see corruption.
Psa 49:10 For he sees that wise men die; likewise the fool and the senseless perish, and leave their wealth to others.
Psa 49:11 Their inward thought is that their houses will endure forever, and their dwelling places to all generations. They name their lands after themselves.
Psa 49:12 But man, despite his riches, doesn't endure. He is like the animals that perish.
Psa 49:13 This is the destiny of those who are foolish, and of those who approve their sayings. Selah.
Psa 49:14 They are appointed as a flock for Sheol. Death shall be their shepherd. The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning. Their beauty shall decay in Sheol, far from their mansion.
Psa 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah.
Psa 49:16 Don't be afraid when a man is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased.
Psa 49:17 For when he dies he shall carry nothing away. His glory shall not descend after him.
Psa 49:18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul-- and men praise you when you do well for yourself--
Psa 49:19 he shall go to the generation of his fathers. They shall never see the light.
Psa 49:20 A man who has riches without understanding, is like the animals that perish.
Psa 50:1 The Mighty One, God, Yahweh, speaks, and calls the earth from sunrise to sunset.
Psa 50:2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
Psa 50:3 Our God comes, and does not keep silent. A fire devours before him. It is very stormy around him.
Psa 50:4 He calls to the heavens above, to the earth, that he may judge his people:
Psa 50:5 "Gather my saints together to me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice."
Psa 50:6 The heavens shall declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Selah.
Psa 50:7 "Hear, my people, and I will speak; Israel, and I will testify against you. I am God, your God.
Psa 50:8 I don't rebuke you for your sacrifices. Your burnt offerings are continually before me.
Psa 50:9 I have no need for a bull from your stall, nor male goats from your pens.
Psa 50:10 For every animal of the forest is mine, and the livestock on a thousand hills.
Psa 50:11 I know all the birds of the mountains. The wild animals of the field are mine.
Psa 50:12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
Psa 50:13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
Psa 50:14 Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Pay your vows to the Most High.
Psa 50:15 Call on me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you will honor me."
Psa 50:16 But to the wicked God says, "What right do you have to declare my statutes, that you have taken my covenant on your lips,
Psa 50:17 seeing you hate instruction, and throw my words behind you?
Psa 50:18 When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and have participated with adulterers.
Psa 50:19 "You give your mouth to evil. Your tongue frames deceit.
Psa 50:20 You sit and speak against your brother. You slander your own mother's son.
Psa 50:21 You have done these things, and I kept silent. You thought that the I was just like you. I will rebuke you, and accuse you in front of your eyes.
Psa 50:22 "Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you into pieces, and there be none to deliver.
Psa 50:23 Whoever offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifies me, and prepares his way so that I will show God's salvation to him."
Psa 51:1 Have mercy on me, God, according to your loving kindness. According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.
Psa 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity. Cleanse me from my sin.
Psa 51:3 For I know my transgressions. My sin is constantly before me.
Psa 51:4 Against you, and you only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight; that you may be proved right when you speak, and justified when you judge.
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity. In sin my mother conceived me.
Psa 51:6 Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts. You teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Psa 51:7 Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psa 51:8 Let me hear joy and gladness, That the bones which you have broken may rejoice.
Psa 51:9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all of my iniquities.
Psa 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.
Psa 51:11 Don't throw me from your presence, and don't take your holy Spirit from me.
Psa 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psa 51:13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways. Sinners shall be converted to you.
Psa 51:14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation. My tongue shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
Psa 51:15 Lord, open my lips. My mouth shall declare your praise.
Psa 51:16 For you don't delight in sacrifice, or else I would give it. You have no pleasure in burnt offering.
Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psa 51:18 Do well in your good pleasure to Zion. Build the walls of Jerusalem.
Psa 51:19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, in burnt offerings and in whole burnt offerings. Then they will offer bulls on your altar.

 
Sept. 8
1 Corinthians 4

1Co 4:1 So let a man think of us as Christ's servants, and stewards of God's mysteries.
1Co 4:2 Here, moreover, it is required of stewards, that they be found faithful.
1Co 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you, or by man's judgment. Yes, I don't judge my own self.
1Co 4:4 For I know nothing against myself. Yet I am not justified by this, but he who judges me is the Lord.
1Co 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each man will get his praise from God.
1Co 4:6 Now these things, brothers, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to think beyond the things which are written, that none of you be puffed up against one another.
1Co 4:7 For who makes you different? And what do you have that you didn't receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
1Co 4:8 You are already filled. You have already become rich. You have come to reign without us. Yes, and I wish that you did reign, that we also might reign with you.
1Co 4:9 For, I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last of all, like men sentenced to death. For we are made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men.
1Co 4:10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You have honor, but we have dishonor.
1Co 4:11 Even to this present hour we hunger, thirst, are naked, are beaten, and have no certain dwelling place.
1Co 4:12 We toil, working with our own hands. When people curse us, we bless. Being persecuted, we endure.
1Co 4:13 Being defamed, we entreat. We are made as the filth of the world, the dirt wiped off by all, even until now.
1Co 4:14 I don't write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
1Co 4:15 For though you have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the Good News.
1Co 4:16 I beg you therefore, be imitators of me.
1Co 4:17 Because of this I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every assembly.
1Co 4:18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.
1Co 4:19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord is willing. And I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power.
1Co 4:20 For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
1Co 4:21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?