Monday, August 17, 2015

Does God Approve of Sin?

Does God approve of sin? At first, this may seem like an absurd question, but when we consider that much modern day thinking redefines right and wrong and also redefines the very nature of God, the question becomes quite clear. The thinking is something like this:  "God is love, and He wants us to be happy, so He would never hate or even disapprove of the things we want to do if those things make us happy. Maybe God has even changed His mind about certain things as society has changed, and He has moved on into the twenty-first century. Maybe things that used to be called sin are not sin any longer." Such foolishness is contrary to Scripture, violates every level of common sense, and is dangerous to the human soul and to society as a whole.
 
There are several problems with such thinking:
 
First:  There is the assumption that the statement, “God is love,” is a definition of God. Nothing could be further from the truth. Love is not by any means a complete definition of God. Love is merely one of His many attributes. It is important to note that “hate” is also one of His attributes. He has many attributes, including righteousness, holiness, purity, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, etc. “Love” is most certainly not all there is to the nature of God.
 
Second:  There is the assumption that it’s all about us rather than about God. Our alleged “happiness” seems to trump everything else, including doing what is right and bringing glory to God. God has created us for Himself, for His pleasure and for His glory.
 
“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11, NKJV). 
 
"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him" Colossians 1:16, NJV).
 
Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7, NKJV).
 
Third:  There is the assumption that sin brings true happiness. Regardless of how counterintuitive this may be, there are many who fall into the trap of believing that self-gratification is the pathway to happiness. However, both the Scriptures and secular history are filled with examples of people who destroyed themselves in the pursuit of sinful pleasure. Think of King David and his great sin of taking a man’s wife and having the man killed so he could cover up what he had done. This sin led to much grief over the rest of his life. His son, King Solomon, because of his lust for many women, went from being the wisest of men to being one of the greatest fools who ever lived. Sin does not bring happiness.
 
Fourth:  There is the assumption that the things we humans desire are good for us. Clearly, this is in error. Many things we desire are anything but good for us and are in some cases very detrimental and even fatal. For God to approve of things that would hurt us is not love in any way. No parent who loves his children would send them out to play in the back yard if he knew there was a rattlesnake out there, even if his children had an interest in snakes from reading books on the subject. That would not be love.
 
Fifth:  There is the assumption that God never hates. That is an assumption based on human, touchy-feely reasoning, not on the Scriptures. The Bible tells us of many things God hates. Seven of the things He hates are listed in one passage:
 
“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19, NKJV).  God also hates idolatry (Deuteronomy 12:31; 16:22), those who do evil (Psalm 5:4-6; 11:5), and a number of other things that can easily be found with a quick search of the Scriptures.
 
Some may say, “Well, those things are from the Old Testament. The New Testament God is more loving than the Old Testament God.” Is this a true statement? In reality, the New Testament God, in the Person of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, is the Creator-God of the Universe, and is the same God as the Old Testament God. He is the eternal, all-powerful God who never changes. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV).  There are specific references in the New Testament to God hating. Probably the most well-know is found in Romans 9:13. “As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated’” (NKJV).
 
Yes, God IS love, and he DOES love us and want the best for us. If He loved our sin and rebellion, He would not in any way be wanting what is best for us. Just like parents who want the best for their children and set boundaries on their behavior for their safety and well-being, God sets boundaries on our behavior because of His great love for us. His hatred of evil is proof of His love and concern for us. God is not Someone with whom anyone should be foolish enough to trifle. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31, NKJV).
 
Conclusion:  It is not safe ground to believe that God somehow approves of, and maybe even likes, our sin. He has not changed. Sin is still sin and is an abomination in His sight. No matter what society may say about God being an old-fashioned idea and the Bible being out-of-date, God is still on the throne, and He will judge sin. No amount of rationalization and legalizing of sinful acts can make those things good and right. This is the truth, and truth always triumphs over falsehood.
 
Laws have been passed legalizing many things that God calls sin, thereby illustrating the truth that “just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.” Our culture has not only practiced those things which God hates, but government has given official “hearty approval” to many of those things“…who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:32, NKJV) or “…give hearty approval to those who practice them” (NASB).
 
Regardless of the insanity of our present-day culture, God is still doing what He pleased to do. He saves those who come to Him in faith. The Gospel message is just as relevant as it has ever been. Sin is a reality, and unbelievers are condemned without the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NKJV).
 
“...the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, NKJV).
 
“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10, NKJV).
 
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, NKJV).

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Creationist Lunacy?

In a debate over his book, The God Delusion, well-known atheist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins said the following:  “I had a harmless Anglican upbringing. I could never claim that I had religion thrust down my throat in the way it might of been had I been brought up in a more militant faith. Anglicanism as you know is a very civilized version of Christianity. No bells and smells and no creationist lunacy…I went to Oxford after having lost my faith for good of about the age of 15 or 16 and that was because I discovered Darwinism and recognized that there was no good reason to believe in any kind of supernatural creator. And my final vestige, last vestige of religious faith disappeared when I finally understood the Darwinian explanation for life” (reference here).
 
Not only Richard Dawkins, but many other evolutionists have used the term, “creationist lunacy.” So often such things go unchallenged because of the intimidation factor. After all, they have Ph.D. degrees, they are “scientists,” and most of all, they wear white lab coats. Who are any of us mere mortals to challenge the assertions of such people? Frankly, it is time that we did so, and that we did so in vast numbers.
 
Perhaps the best thing to do is to take a real look at the things evolutionists are asking us to swallow. This is especially important because children and young people are being taught these things as absolute fact in our school systems today. Generations are being raised to believe utter nonsense based on nothing but the opinions of those who desperately want these things to be true. What are these things?
 
“Everything must have a naturalistic explanation. There can be no such thing as the supernatural.” It is very interesting to note that there are those who make such a statement and expect it to go totally unchallenged. Who is qualified to say this? In order to dogmatically make such a statement, an individual would have to know everything. Thomas Edison famously said, “We do not know one millionth of one percent about anything" (Reference here). It is interesting that a man of such stature as an inventor would say such a thing, but today we have men of much lesser stature who act as if they know everything about everything and are qualified to make a statement such as “Everything must have a naturalistic explanation. There can be no such thing as the supernatural.”  Even if we could know 10% of everything there is to know, they still fail to consider that perhaps… just perhaps… there could the supernatural somewhere in the 90% of which they are ignorant.
 
All of the matter in the universe came from the Big Bang. The Big Bang is generally presented as follows:  “Somewhere between 18 and 20 billion years ago, all of the matter in the universe was compressed into a tiny space no larger than the dot on a page. This dot spun faster and faster until it exploded, thus creating the Universe and everything in it” (reference here).
 
Of course, the “Big Bang” has fallen into disrepute, even in many scientific circles, in recent years. This idea has so many unanswerable problems that many have abandoned it. Several articles on this topic are found here. There are questions about the origin of the “dot,” the origin of gravity that held it together, the origin of the energy that caused it to spin and then explode, and a host of other unanswered questions. One scientist expressed his frustration by making  the statement, “We don’t do origins.” One must only take this to mean, “We don’t know (‘ignorance’) where it all came from, and we don’t care (‘apathy’) where it all came from. All we care about is what happened after it was here.” That is weak, at best.
 
Life came from non-life. A long-time popular Idea about the origin of life has been that over millions of years, the correct combination of chemicals for the production of life were swirling around in a prehistoric ocean, generally referred to as “primordial soup,” and those chemicals were acted upon by a form of energy, probably lightning, which caused the non-living chemicals to become living material. This material eventually became “simple” (what a joke that is) single-celled organisms, which eventually reproduced and ultimately evolved into all the plant and animal life-forms we see today.
 
Unfortunately for the evolutionists, this process has been repeatedly proven false, and regardless of many denials, it has been conclusively demonstrated that it is impossible for non-life to become life, partially because our atmosphere is incompatible with life coming from non-life. Also, it is beyond absurd to suggest  that the old atmosphere miraculously (oops...no miracles allowed) changed into our present atmosphere at the very moment the first life came into being. Some evolutionists have finally recognized this reality and have come up with another of those “we don’t do origins” solutions. They have postulated that perhaps life came to earth from outer space. Now that is a real solution. First of all there is no evidence whatsoever that visitors from outer space came here and seeded the earth with life. That is just a story made up to satisfy another made up story - that everything must have a naturalistic explanation. Second, this idea does not solve the problem. It merely moves it elsewhere. The issue of life coming from non-life would be no different anywhere in the universe.  This is simply  another case of ignorance and apathy: “We don't do origins. We don’t KNOW where life came from, and we don’t CARE where life came from. We just care about what happened after it was here.” Again, that is very weak.
 
Order came from chaos, and design came from non-design.  This is quite an absurd concept. When we look at the huge universe, the vast array of life on earth, the intricacies of the human body, the microscopic world, etc., intellectual honesty demands that we stand in awe of our great Creator. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well (Psalm 139:14, NKJV).
 
To illustrate this point, we can observe anything we know to have been manufactured in a factory. An airplane, for example has many design features that make flight possible. For anyone to claim that “this airplane must have evolved, because I have never seen the designer, the maker, or the factory” would be an absurdity. No one would take such a person seriously, no matter what degrees they might possess, not matter what their test scores, and no matter how many lab coats they own. Such a person would be thought a fool. Nevertheless, those who are so quick to dismiss the supernatural and claim everything came about  by naturalistic processes are respected in the halls of learning today. Such arrogance and foolishness would be inexplicable were it not for the rebellious nature that all humans possess from birth. The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies (Psalm 58:3, NKJV).
 
Conclusion:  Many more illustrations could be made, but it would become redundant. Richard Dawkins and others refer to creationism as “creationist lunacy,” yet they ask people to lay aside every vestige of common sense and believe some of the most preposterous and idiotic things imaginable. “Evolutionist lunacy” is certainly a more accurate term. This is not to say that all people who accept evolution are lunatics or stupid. Most have merely been deceived by those who have deceived themselves into believing they know the truth. I believe it is possible for very smart people to believe very foolish things. See my article entitled “Can Smart People Believe Stupid Things?” by clicking here.
 
God is not a fairy tale. He is very real. He is there, and He is the Creator. If He doesn’t exist, we don’t either. In reality, it is the evolutionists who would have us believe in fairy tales. My article on this topic is found here. The primary motivation for trying to dismiss the Creator and to buy into evolution is to remove God from our consciousness,  thereby excusing ourselves from any accountability. This does not work.
 
Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,  “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure (Psalm 2:1-5, NKJV, emphasis mine).
 
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting…who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:28-32, NKJV, emphasis mine).
 
The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1), and all creation points to His existence and power (Romans 1:20). Instead of trying, by human wisdom, to figure out where it came from and what it means, sinful man should be drawn to know the Creator.
 
I have written a number of articles on creation and evolution. You can find them by clicking here. 
 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Why Go To Church?

By David Bonebright

I was glad when they said unto me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1).

Since the beginning of the first church nearly two thousand years ago, believers have been meeting together to read and study the Word of God and to pray on a regular basis. They have found strength and comfort in the company of others with whom they share the same belief in God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Their meeting places have varied from monumental buildings that we still see today, to various houses of believers, to open fields.

Throughout many times in church history, congregating in a church was illegal and preaching the gospel was met with very harsh punishment. These churches met in secret, its members were in hiding, and usually only the most devout believers would brave the risk. Understandably, one could assume that these believers took their church attendance very seriously. Often that was the only way to hear the Word of God which they desired so much. They might not have had the ability to read or find a copy of the Scriptures in their own language.

Fast forward to the early days of American history. The printing press had long since been invented, and the holy Scriptures were much more readily available. The country was founded with freedom of religious practice of paramount importance. Small town America usually had a church in the center of town where believers met openly on Sundays. The church building was not only used for church, but for school and for town hall meetings. Church was also the social hub, and believers and non-believers attended alike. Much like today, not everybody attended church, but church attendance was much more acceptable and encouraged in those days.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

Enter the twentieth century with the industrial revolution well underway. Once Americans got used to having television and radio, ministry did not take long to take advantage of technology. Today, a Christian who desires to stay home from church has so many options, from watching their favorite pastor preach during his televised church service, to downloading their favorite sermon on the internet by use of their pocket computers. I have heard Christians say they do not need to attend church because these technological advantages have allowed them to worship God on their own time. Putting skepticism aside that the NFL broadcasting cannot compete with Charles Stanley’s In Touch ministry in the hearts of fallible man and assuming prayer and worship is actually being conducted, is that a viable replacement for church attendance in person?

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).

There is a reason God wants us to congregate together in fellowship with other believers. Anybody who has ever been involved in a battle, confrontation, debate, challenge or even a project knows there is strength in numbers. God does not want us to be "Lone Ranger" Christians. Even the most independent people need encouragement. The enemy would love nothing more than to cause division, to divide and conquer the body of Christ. If we are forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, are we not already doing part of the enemy's work for him? Jesus promised that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is with us in our midst.

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

The apostle Paul discussed the body of Christ, or the church in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. Both passages talk about the diversity of believers within the church.

In Romans 12, Paul discussed spiritual gifts and talked about the diversity of gifts, but more in the context of individual Christian living. The chapter opens with a call to be living sacrifices for God's service and concludes with love for others, even our enemies against whom we should not seek revenge. In the middle of the chapter, from verses 4 through 8, he exhorts us to use the gifts in the course of our daily living. When we come together, these gifts can be used to be a blessing to one another. We do not all have the same gifts by design, so we can work together to bless, comfort and edify one another.

Where Romans 12 discussed spiritual gifts in use during a daily Christian life, 1 Corinthians 12 discussed the use of spiritual gifts in context of a church. Paul makes a comparsion of individual spiritual gifts to that of parts of a body. Clearly, Paul's body metaphor is a call to work to gether as a body of believers. Paul was admonishing us to go to church. If you have a spiritual gift that could be metaphorically compared to an arm or a foot, wouldn't you be depriving the body of that part by staying at home?

By not attending church, you could be depriving the body of a key member. You could also be depriving yourself of a part that you don't have. Some people have more than one spiritual gift. As gifted as you might be, you won't have them all. Wouldn't you prefer to reap the benefits of gifts that you don't have? Wouldn't it be better to build yourself up through the help of others who might be strong in areas where you are lacking?

Another modern day philosophy is the use of small groups instead of a larger, traditional church that meets on Sundays. People have said that they get all they need from their small groups, so they don't need to go to church on Sunday. The iron still sharpens iron, and Jesus is still in their midst as He has promised if they are gathered in His name. If they can get "all they need" from their small group, doesn't that meet the requirement of assembling themselves together?

I love small groups and encourage every Christian to find one. I belong to one. The intimacy of a small group allows the participants to really dig into God's word, to really study deeply. But I believe small groups should be supplemental to church, not a substitute. Small groups by definition are small. They are usually made up of likeminded people of similar backgrounds or stations in life, usually with similar interests. For example, men's breakfast, ladies' Bible study, singles group, youth, etc. That is not a fair representation of the whole church body. There are blessings and lessons that other groups can bring that you might only be able to experience in church.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

Jesus answered and said unto him, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).

And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:17-18).

Ultimately, whether or not you choose to attend church is between you and God. If you have questions about God's will for your life, remember this. You will never be out of God's will when acting in obedience to Him. Jesus told his disciples, "If you love me, keep my commandments." After Jesus' resurrection and before His ascension, He asked Peter three times if Peter loved Him. After Peter told Him that he did three times, Jesus then told Peter three times to feed His sheep. Peter then went on to become one of the human founders of the early church.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

Of course, nothing in this article would mean anything to you unless you have been saved. Have you confessed your sins before God and believed that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son and the one and only way to which you can receive everlasting salvation from your sins? If you have not made this decision to accept Jesus as your Savior and do not have a personal relationship with Him, then church attendance is nothing more than meaningless religious ritual. Church attendance itself will not save you, but please don't take that as an encouragement to stop attending. If you don't remember a specific time in your life when you came to the realization that you need Christ to save you from your sins, then you most likely have not.

Have you found a good, solid, Bible believing church that teaches you directly from the Word of God? If so, good. Get involved and take part in the ministry that God has lead you to do. If not, I would like to encourage you to come to Somis Community Church, a place where we would accept you with open arms. It is a place where we worship the one true God of the Bible. It is a place where we are not perfect, but we worship a God who is.

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David Bonebright is my wife Janet’s oldest son. He is an active member of Somis Community Church. He and his wife Christine and daughter Ashlyn live in Camarillo, California.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Gun's Free Will

I learned about this experiment from my friend Ralph, so I decided to try it for myself.

I took my Charter Arms Bulldog .44 Special revolver out of the gun safe and placed it, along with a box of ammunition and a speed loader on my desk. I told it that it could exercise its free will and do anything it chose to do. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it just stayed where I left it. It did not even have the motivation to load itself.

I took another step and loaded it with five rounds of “Buffalo Bore” hollow point .44 Special ammunition and placed it back on my desk. I again told it to exercise its free will and do anything it wanted to do. What a lazy gun. It did nothing.

Perhaps this speaks to two issues:  1) "Gun control." The fact is that a gun is just an inanimate object. It needs an idiot attached to it to do anything evil.  2) The correct theological definition of free will:  “The freedom to act according to one’s nature.” Just as the gun could do nothing without someone acting on it, so humans cannot be made right with God by their own righteousness. We have none; that's why we need a Savior.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Changing the Meaning of Words

Much could be said, and much will be said and written about the Supreme Court's decision on the "same-sex marriage" issue. The following statement by Chief Justice Roberts sums up the legal situation quite well.

"This court is not a legislature … Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be … The fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a State change its definition of marriage … Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law…" (Chief Justice Roberts).

This statement is well-thought out and well-reasoned. However, it is interesting to note that the Chief Justice used almost the exact opposite reasoning in his opinion on Obama Care. We need justices who will consistently interpret what the Constitution says, not what they want it to say. “Words mean things."

The bottom line on the "same-sex marriage" decision is that no court, not even the Supreme Court, has the right or authority to change the definition of marriage. God originated marriage, and His definition is the only valid one. Our government has now given "hearty approval" (Romans 1:32) to something of which God does not approve, and more than that, He calls it sin.

Truth is not determined by what people like or what makes them feel comfortable. It doesn't really matter if people don't like the truth. Truth is truth. God's Word is truth (John 17:17), and it would be very wise for those in leadership of our nation to heed that reality before it is too late.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Truth Has Perished - by Ed Cardwell

Jer 7:28 NAS

We now live in the modern days of Jeremiah the ‘weeping’ prophet.  Anyone should be able to read this Old Testament writer and see the distinct comparison.  The graphic depiction of the moral climate of his day in the land that once called upon the name of the Lord reads like an indelible graphic of present day society in almost every land where Christianity once flourished.  A summary analysis of his times will show where we are headed.

*          *         *          *          *          *          *

Here are a few of his characterizations of a people who had lost their source of strength and their crown of glory:

To begin, the Divine indictment:
 
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns,
That can hold no water.” Jer 2:13 NAS

1.  They left their God, the One who set them high above all the nations of the earth and who showered them with untold riches and blessed their land beyond compare.  His commandments became tedious and boring, and in time they removed His law from their public institutions, from their seats of learning, from their courts, from their daily activities and amusements – and ultimately from their hearts!

2.  They substituted a moral code more suited to their passions.  They devised fanciful doctrines that appealed to their fallen nature, and they taught them throughout their culture.  They turned to sensuality and sought to become like the heathen nations around them.   

“And they bend their tongue like their bow; Lies and not truth prevail in the land; For they proceed from evil to evil, And they do not know Me.” Jer 9:3

In order to sustain this philosophical perversion that has crept into their once great nation, they must create a culture of corruption of the truth.  In time lies become the mainstay of government, education, and the media.  To prevent their demagoguery from assault, they attack all opposition viciously, and at the same time show themselves benefactors of the populace with mountains of largesse from the national treasury.  To sustain their power they promise lifelong prosperity to all citizenry and by deception mortgage their futures with staggering debt.  Lies are the keystone to their hold on power, and they even brag about their cunning.

“For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely.” Jer 6:13
 
Materialism is rampant and has become the true motive behind every thought, act, and judgment at all levels of  society.  Theft, fraud, and embezzlement are rationalized, even celebrated.

“The wise men are put to shame, They are dismayed and caught; Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, And what kind of wisdom do they have?” Jer 8:9

The ignorance and incompetence of national leaders has become truly daunting.  They speak as if they have the answers for everything, but they have the solutions to nothing.  They are the blind guides leading their constituencies to national ruin.  They offer words of hope, but their words are seductive and devoid of truth.

“And they heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace.” Jer 8:11

Mental disorders, frustration, and despair continue to rise as the ‘good’ life of godlessness remains deceptive and the answers to the problems of the soul illusory.  Enemies sense the resulting weakness and grow ever bolder in their threats to conquer and destroy.

“This is the city to be punished, In whose midst there is only oppression. As a well keeps its waters fresh, So she keeps fresh her wickedness. Violence and destruction are heard in her; Sickness and wounds are ever before Me.”  Jer 6:6,7

 Ignoring the severe consequences of their secular society and refusing to believe that the God of their fathers is even relevant, the spiritual vacuum that has been created invites the Adversary to run amok throughout the land in helping to destroy the very citadels of culture and civilization.  Violence and bloodshed, terror and despair, and confusion and ruination now rule on the streets and in the hearts of men.

“An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: 
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority;
And My people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it?  Jer 5:30-31

As long as the illusion of benefits continues flowing and there are ample amusements for distraction, the lies are tolerated and the consequences of the extermination of Truth are ignored. Annihilation and oblivion will soon follow as night follows day, and there shall be no remedy.

*          *         *          *          *          *          *
 
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. Pro 16:6 KJV

I have forsaken My house, I have abandoned My inheritance; I have given the beloved of My soul Into the hand of her enemies. Jer 12:7 NAS

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Fool and His Folly

It seems that some people spend a great deal of time trying to find contradictions in the Scriptures. It is interesting that those who know nothing about the Bible and its message of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ are the first ones to dig around looking for some kind of contradiction so they can then say, “See, the Bible is full of contradictions, it is unreliable, and therefore Christianity is false and there is no God.”
 
Wow! That’s quite a stretch in logic, especially considering that the alleged contradictions in Scripture come from minds that are full of ignorance about the true content and meaning of the Bible. Some of the “contradictions” are quite far-fetched, but there is one place in Scripture where it seems to immediately say the very opposite of what it just said. Proverbs tells us the following:
 
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes (Proverbs 26:4-5, NKJV).
 
The skeptic will very smugly ask, “OK, which is it? Do we answer a fool according to his folly, or not? That looks like a contradiction to me.” While it may at first glance appear to be a contradiction, it is important to remember that the Bible does not contradict itself. It complements itself. Many examples of this can be seen for anyone who is willing to approach the Scriptures objectively and with a mind willing to deal with spiritual truth. (Note:  It has always been interesting to me that unbelievers can find passages like this that, in their closed minds, seem to fuel their argument, yet they are woefully ignorant of the passages that tell them they are sinners in need of a Savior, and that Jesus Christ is their only hope of salvation.)
 
It is quite clear that there is a time to answer a fool according to his folly, and there is a time not to do so. Discerning when to do each one is a matter of Biblical wisdom and, to some degree, a bit of common sense comes into play. There are likely several possible ways to look at this, but I will consider just one.
 
In verse four, we are told not to “answer a fool according to his folly.” When would it be wise to respond in this way? A simple answer would be to ignore the folly of a fool when that folly is directed at any one of us. Believers are not perfect. Every one of us commits sin, does foolish things, and makes mistakes. Often, we let our ego stand in the way, and we get upset when someone says things about us that are simply not true. The fact is that fools will always say foolish things. Some of these things are nothing more or less than flat-out lies, and other things are simply spoken in ignorance by those who are gullible enough to listen to nonsense.
 
My many years in Christian school administration taught me that people will say all sorts of things that are without merit and without any facts to support them. Some of the things I and other school personnel were accused of over the years by certain students and parents would have been funny if they had not been so pathetic. These things included purposely causing a student not to learn to read, discriminating against a student because of the church he attended, being unfair by enforcing the dress and haircut code, coercing the boys' basketball coach to let a player start because he had two older sisters who had been starters on the girls' team, manipulating who did and who did not represent the school in the speech meet, spelling bee, or art festival, etc., etc., ad nauseam. None of these were even remotely true, and they were not things I would have even considered doing. Funny? Not at all. But laughable? Absolutely!
 
As anyone in Christian ministry knows, it is necessary to develop a thick skin against foolish criticism. I adopted the following statement early in my career in Christian school education as a reminder to myself to pay no attention to the ignorance of foolish people.
 
Keep about your work that God has given you. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do not fool away your time chasing the devil's rabbits. Do your work. Let liars lie, let corporations resolve, let the devil do his worst; but see to it that nothing hinders you from fulfilling the work that God has given you.
 
He has not commanded you to get rich. He has never bidden you defend your character. He has not set you at work to contradict falsehood about yourself which Satan and his servants may start to peddle. If you do those things, you will do nothing else; you will be at work for yourself and not for the Lord.
 
Keep at your work. Let your aim be as steady as a star. You may be assaulted, wronged, insulted, slandered, wounded, and rejected; you may be abused by foes, forsaken by friends, and despised and rejected of men. But see to it with steadfast determination, with unfaltering zeal, that you pursue the great purpose of your life and object of your being until at last you can say, "I have finished the work which You gave me to do (Author unknown).
 
As a former basketball coach, I always admired “The Coach,” John Wooden of UCLA. He said the following:  Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
 
I also adopted the following Scripture to remind me of the necessity of pleasing God, not men:  For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10, NKJV).
 
The Scripture makes it very clear that we are to use the good works that we do instead of verbal arguments in order to silence the insults and lies that may come our way.
 
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men (1 Peter 2:15, NKJV). 
 
having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed (1 Peter 3:16, NKJV).
 
The result of answering a fool according to his folly when that folly is directed at me will be that I will become like him. Nothing is accomplished by getting into a name-calling contest with someone who has no wisdom. There are very smart people who, because of their bias and ignorance, will do and say very foolish things. There is no point in getting into character assassination, no matter what they may do or say. If we do so, we will, in fact, be just like those who are hurling insults at us. I addressed this concept to some degree in my post entitled Can Smart People Believe Stupid Things?
 
Did I ever make a mistake when I was a Christian school administrator, teacher, or coach? Absolutely! The last time I checked, I am a human being with a sin nature and with many weaknesses. Was I ever unfair to anyone? Not intentionally, but more than once, I found myself apologizing to and asking forgiveness from a student, teacher, or parent when I had too hastily jumped to the wrong conclusion. The truth of the matter is that, while I am far from perfect, I “have a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:16), knowing that I operated the best I knew how with the Scriptures as my guide and with a desire to please the Lord.
 
When we come to Proverbs 26:5, it seems to say the exact opposite of what we saw in verse 4. Instead of telling us not to answer a fool, it says, Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. Now we are suddenly to change course and answer a fool, but notice the reason is different. We are not to answer a fool, “lest we be like him.” Here, we are to answer a fool, “lest he be wise in his own eyes.” Those two reasons are obviously quite different.
 
The Scriptures make it very clear that there is a time to stand up and stand against ignorant statements made by others. The purpose is to defend the faith, sound doctrine, and the character of God Himself. I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3, NKJV).
 
There are many passages that encourage us to be strong and to stand firm in the faith. Following is just one. Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13, NKJV).
 
If our own character is maligned, so be it. If the very character of God is maligned, it needs to be addressed. If the character of God is anything less than perfect, then His Word cannot be trusted. If His Word cannot be trusted, then there is no salvation, and we are all, the entire human race, without hope.
 
We see the Old Testament Prophets, the Apostles, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taking it patiently when their character was brought into question, but we also see them standing up in defense of the Word of God and the character of God when it was necessary to do so.
 
The Apostles most certainly set an example for us when they refused to bow to the demands of those who would silence the Gospel. Note the account of Peter and John after they were arrested for their faith.
 
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:12-20, NKJV). These men boldly stood up to the foolish demands of foolish men. They did not defend themselves. Rather, they defended the Gospel message.

Later, even though they had been commanded by foolish men not to preach the Gospel, they continued to do so because it was the right thing to do and it was obedient to the Lord. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us! But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:27-29, NKJV).
 
In both of these cases, the apostles most certainly answered fools according to their folly, and to have not done so would have been to allow them to be wise in their own eyes.
 
Other thoughts on Proverbs 26:4-5 are found here, here, here, and here.