Monday, April 27, 2009

Nonessential Nonsense

Those who know me know I like to play with words. Someone handed me a clipping from the Yakima Herald Republic that contained a number of puns. I especially liked the following:

· The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

· A pessimist’s blood type is always B-Negative.

· Corduroy pillows make head lines.

· A bicycle can’t stand on its own because it’s two tired.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Crowning Jewel of All Creation

Shortly after my first wife Sue went to be with the Lord, I sat down and put a number of thoughts on paper. By the time I was finished, I had a book. It was very helpful to me to do this, and I am hopeful that if the book is ever published, it will be a source of encouragement to other believers who have lost their spouses.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chapter 5
The Crowning Jewel of All Creation

I love the account of creation in the book of Genesis. In the beginning God created time, space, matter, and natural law. Exodus 20:11 tells us that “in six days the LORD made the Heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them.” He created this beautiful earth on which we live; He created the sun, the moon, and the stars; and He created plant and animal life. On the sixth day, God did something very special. After creating the land animals, He formed man from the dust of the ground, breathed life into him, and gave him authority over the earth.

After man was created, God did a marvelous thing for him. He made woman, the most beautiful, gentle, and special part of His creation, and He instituted marriage, the foundation stone for society.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:18-24).

We tend to save the best for last. Even in this day of instant gratification where we so often hear, “Eat dessert first,” it is still far more enjoyable to eat it last. God most certainly saved the best for last. I absolutely believe that He created Eve last because woman is the crowning jewel of all creation. She was the finishing touch that made everything, especially man, complete. She was the balancing factor, the gentle touch that man needed in order to be a whole person. Without women and all they have to offer, this world would be a very lonely and miserable place.

Women are very special. Regardless of all the trappings of modern society that have tended to define us all as “persons” while blurring the distinctions between men and women, those distinctions are very real in the mind of God, and they ought to be very real in our minds as well. Some would deprive men of their manhood and women of their womanhood, but this is not pleasing to God because it is not consistent with His master plan. Men and women have distinctively different roles, and when those roles are confused, there are ugly consequences.

Some have accused Christianity of putting women down and making them little more than slaves. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are world religions that do just that and worse—essentially making women into little more than the personal property of their husbands—Christianity has done more to elevate women to the position God intended than any other belief system.

I have many times shared the following quote with students because it is so meaningful to me, and students have generally reacted very favorably to it.

“Eve was made by God not out of Adam’s head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved” (Matthew Henry).

Jesus Himself had great respect for women, and women were some of His most faithful followers. As Christian doctrine developed through the writing of the New Testament, godly womanhood was lifted to an unprecedented level of respect. One of the misunderstandings people have about the roles of men and women is the perception that different roles somehow imply superiority and inferiority. They tend to read into the text of Scripture the idea that men are somehow superior to women, and women are to be subservient and are not allowed even to think. Such an idea might appeal to some men, but it certainly has little appeal to women, and it is not what the Scripture teaches.

We need to look at the fact that men and women have been created by God to be different physically and emotionally and that He, as God the Creator, has every right to do it that way. “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). However, when men and women accept their God-given roles, the basis for harmonious marriages and families is in place. None of the necessary parts are missing when men and women accept their appropriate biblical roles.

There are specific Scriptures that some today have difficulty with, and that is really too bad because these passages give us the basis for God’s order in marriage. For example: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them” (Colossians 3:18-19). Notice that there is a command both for the wife and for the husband. The husband is never commanded to demand submission from his wife. That would be tyranny. Unfortunately, many husbands operate in this manner. Instead, husbands are instructed to love their wives with the same kind of love that Christ has for His people. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

The Lord tells us what we need to hear. Men need to be reminded to love their wives, because men can tend to be less loving than women. Notice too that this is to be an unconditional love that causes a man to be willing to go so far as to give up his life for the object of his love. Any man who is not willing do die for his wife does not really love her in the manner the Lord would have him love her. Women need to know they are loved, and men therefore need to show that selfless kind of love to their wives in order for the wives to feel secure.

The other side of the coin is that women are not reminded to love their husbands in these passages. Women naturally tend to be loving, and such a reminder would be, for the most part, unnecessary. However, there can be a problem in the area of submission. God told Eve after she and Adam had sinned, “Your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). As sinners, we tend to rebel against God’s Word, so it is natural for submission to be difficult, and a tendency against it must be overcome by an act of the will with the help of the Lord.

While men are not in any way instructed to force their wives into submission, women are instructed to actively and intentionally submit themselves to their husbands. It is an act of the will on the part of the wife, not an act of tyranny on the part of the husband. Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” This does not mean to become his slave; rather, it means to place oneself in the proper position relative to the husband’s God-given role of leadership. If the husband is wise, he will most certainly seek input from his godly wife rather than making all decisions on his own like some sort of dictator.

I honestly believe that the ball is in the man’s court. If a man loves his wife with the kind of selfless love that makes him willing to die for her, it will be an easy task for her to submit herself to his godly leadership in the marriage and family. If a woman is out of control and refusing to be submissive in the marriage relationship, in many cases, the problem may lie with the quality of the love the husband is showing for his wife. Men, love your wives as if there were no tomorrow—there may not be. Love and adore your wives as if when you say goodbye and head off for work, you may never see her again—you may not. Cherish each day with her so there will be no regrets should the Lord choose to take one of you home very soon, as He well could do. Never take your spouse for granted. We have no guarantee of tomorrow.

It must be pointed out that submission on the part of the wife does not mean becoming a doormat. Solid marriages are based on mutual trust and mutual decision-making rather than dictatorial edicts. It really comes down to the man accepting his role as leader of the family and the wife walking with him in support of that role. This is what God intended, and it is the only formula for marriage that is according to His plans; and therefore, it is the only one that can really work properly. Obviously, those who follow God’s stated pattern are much more likely to have success in any area, including marriage.

I am very thankful that God made woman to be the crowning jewel of all creation. The gentleness that women can add to any situation is a great balance to the nature of men as a whole. God made us to balance each other, and that is why He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). A husband and wife form a complete team—neither is really complete without the other.

I am so very thankful for the years I had with “the crowning jewel of all creation,” my wonderful wife Sue. Without her and her great wisdom, I would likely have made a mess out of my life. She made me complete. I praise her for being a blessing to my life, the lives of our sons, and the lives of so many others.

“…and let her works praise her...”
(Proverbs 31:31)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chapter 5 of Let Her Works Praise Her: A Life that Counted, Copyright © January 2002 by Ron Livesay.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures quoted in this book are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Men Have Forgotten God

“…if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: ‘Men have forgotten God.’”

(Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)

The Bible at the Center of Education

I saw the following on the website of the Association of Christian Schools International in 1998. It briefly describes where Christian schools have been and ought to be. Things are changing rapidly, and when it becomes no longer true that the Bible is the center of the schools, the last best option for Christian parents is home schooling.


…Christian schools are among America's oldest traditions. It may surprise some that Christian schools have many more years of tradition in America in educating the public than any other form of education. Christian schools predate state-funded government schools by 207 years.

Christian school educators maintain the long-standing tradition of placing the Bible at the center of our schools as the standard by which we educate and train the next generation. Noah Webster said it well: "Education is useless without the Bible." Those are strong words in today's educational environment. America's twenty-sixth president, Theodore Roosevelt, would have wholeheartedly agreed with that idea. He said, "To educate a child in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society."

(ACSI Website, http://www.acsi.org/)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nebuchadnezzar: The Unthankful King

by Ron Livesay

In spite of all our great blessings, there are those who are never satisfied, even blaming God Himself for what they perceive as their lack of things. The Scripture is very clear that failure to honor God as God and failure to give Him thanks is a sure path to failure, judgment, and destruction.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…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...” (Romans 1:18-22, 28, NKJV).

Many have been unthankful, but there is no greater Biblical example of this truth than King Nebuchadnezzar as seen in the book of Daniel.

The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Daniel 4:30-32, NKJV).

Nebuchadnezzar suffered exactly the judgment the Lord pronounced on him, and he absolutely deserved it. The average human being pays little attention to God and gives little or no praise and thanks to Him. Most people spend far too much time with their mouths open and their Bibles closed. That needs to be reversed. May we who know Him never be guilty of such negligence in the area of thanksgiving as was Nebuchadnezzar.

A Few ot Satan’s Lies

Satan is the father of lies. He tells many lies to young people (and older people, too). Here are a few of them.

· If it feels good, it's OK.

· You have a right to your opinion.

· The world owes you.

· You are a victim.

· It's not your fault. Someone else is to blame.

· God has no right to make demands on you.

· You are your own person. It is your right to do as you please.

· Do whatever is best for you.

· We all worship the same God.

· There are many ways to God.

· Just one time won’t hurt.

· Christians want to take away all your fun.

· God didn’t really say that.

· There is no hell.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Help! I am in "Dial-up Land"

Help! I am in "Dial-up Land" until the end of April! And my cell phone is acting as if it is going to die. If it gets any worse, we may have to make the rest of our trip by stage coach and send our mail by pony express. What did we ever do before technology? This blog may be quite skimpy for a while.

Why I Quit Using the NIV

by Ron Livesay

I am not one who clings onto any particular English version of the Bible as if the Scriptures had been originally written in English in my version of choice. Obviously, the Bible was originally penned primarily in Hebrew and Greek. I am particularly attached to the King James Version, because I grew up with it and memorized many passages from it. I still teach Sunday school from the KJV. I also use the New King James and the New American Standard, because they are literal (word for word) translations as opposed to dynamic equivalence (thought for thought) translations and paraphrases (translator interprets rather than translates). Both of these latter two are far more susceptible to error and bias in translation than any of the literal translations, including the three I have chosen to use.

I taught for a few years in a Christian school which used the New International Version as its approved translation. I knew very little about it other than it was a popular translation of the dynamic equivalence type. Wanting to be a team player, I purchased a NIV and used it in my high school Bible classes. I determined that, rather than reading evaluations of it, I would see what I found in it before deciding if it was a translation I could legitimately use. After a very short time, I began finding things that just did not seem right and which did not square with sound biblical doctrine. While I did not find a large number of these things, the ones I did find were certainly serious enough that I lost all confidence in the NIV and could no longer trust it. I know there are many people who use and love the NIV, and I am sure many people have come to the Lord through the preaching of the NIV, but I believe that when any translation undermines sound doctrine, it is time to back away from it.

Following are the key issues I found:

1. The NIV gives a beginning to Jesus’ position as God the Son. Look at Psalm 2:7 in four different versions:

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." (NIV)

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (KJV)

I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You." (NKJV)

I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You." (NASB)

Question: On what day did God the Father "become the father" of God the Son? The NIV says that such a day actually happened. If that is the case, then the Second Person of the Godhead was not eternally the Son of God but at some point became so. Of further significance is the fact that the Book of Acts makes it clear that this passage actually has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Rather, it refers to His resurrection. He is the "firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:18). This makes the reference to God the Father "becoming the Father" of God the Son even more ludicrous. No matter what you do with it, the NIV is teaching that God the Father "became the father" of God the Son either at His birth or at His resurrection. Either position is absurd.

Following is Acts 13:33 in four translations. This should clarify the error in the NIV.

…he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." (NIV)

God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." (KJV)

God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You." (NKJV)

That God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, "You are My Son; today have begotten You." (NASB)

Dr. J. Vernon McGee addressed this issue in his Thru the Bible Commentary. He says the following:

"The reference in the second Psalm is not to the birth of Jesus. He never was begotten in the sense of having a beginning. Rather, this is in reference to His resurrection. Christ was begotten out of Joseph’s tomb. Jesus is the eternal Son of God, and God is the eternal Father. You cannot have an eternal Father without having an eternal Son. They were this throughout eternity. This is their position in the Trinity. It hasn’t anything to do with someone being born, but it does have something to do with someone being begotten from the dead. It has to do with resurrection…the New Testament makes it very clear Jesus Christ is not a creature. He is…the God-man. Psalm 2:7 sustains this doctrine."

This same error is evident in the NIV in several other places, including Hebrews 1:5 and Hebrews 5:5, thus giving the impression that there was a specific time at which God the Father became the father of God the Son.

2. The NIV gives a beginning to the Lord Jesus Christ, thereby making Him a created being. This is the passage that more than any other caused me to turn away from the NIV. Note Micah 5:2 in the same four translations:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (NIV)

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (KJV)

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting. (NKJV)

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity. (NASB)

The Son of God had no beginning. He came from eternity, not from ancient times. An origin means a beginning. That is the ancient heresy of Arianism, which is held today by a number of cults. It reduces the Lord Jesus Christ to a created being and demotes Him from His rightful position as the Creator God, the Sovereign Lord of the universe.

Dr. McGee commented on this passage as follows:

"Isaiah, a contemporary of Micah, verifies this: ‘…Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ (Isa. 7:14). And he has more to say of this coming one: ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…’ (Isa. 9:6). 'A child is born’ – that’s His humanity. ‘A son is given’ – not born, because this speaks of His divinity. The ‘child’ was born in Bethlehem, but the ‘Son’ was ‘from everlasting.’ The Psalmist mentions this: "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world. even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God" (Ps. 90:2). The Hebrew language expresses this very vividly: "from the vanishing point in the past to the vanishing point in the future, thou art God." Just as far back as you can go in your thinking, He is God. He came out of eternity. He is the eternal Son of God…Before there was any creation, He was God; yet into creation He came, at the appointed time, into a little out-of-the-way town, Bethlehem."

3. The NIV casts doubt on the Biblical doctrine of eternal security. Please note 2 Peter 3:17, again from the same four translations:

Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. (NIV)

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (KJV)

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked. (NKJV)

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness. (NASB)

Of all the precious doctrines of grace, none surpasses the truth that our salvation is eternal, and we are eternally secure in Him. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one" (John 10:27-30, KJV). The NIV teaches that we who know Him can fall from our "secure position." This is utterly different from falling from or "own steadfastness," which has to do with our walk with and service for Him rather than our positional standing in Him.

Some might say, "But you have only given three examples of problems with the NIV." To that I would respond that any one of the three would be sufficient reason for me to never again use the NIV, because they affect major doctrines. I have to conclude that if I found these problems while studying to teach high school Bible classes and not even looking for problems, there are likely many more. I simply do not trust the NIV. As a matter of fact, I took my NIV and burned it, not wanting give it away and have someone be affected negatively by it.

One of the arguments presented to me by those who wanted to adopt the NIV while I was in school administration was, "But it’s so readable." I have always taken the position that accuracy is far and away more important than readability. If I am assembling a lawnmower, I would much rather have accurate instructions that are a little bit difficult to understand than inaccurate instructions that are extremely easy to understand. In the same way, if I want to understand what God has said to me, I would much rather read what He actually said, even if I have to work at it a bit, than to read some human’s tweak on what God said in His Word.

I don’t know enough about those who translated the NIV and their motives to know if these inaccurate statements in the NIV are intentional distortion or simply sloppy translation. The reality is that it doesn’t really matter. A bad translation is a bad translation, and believers should chose one or more good, literal translations for their serious Bible study.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Christian Philosophy of Education Must Be Based on a Christian World View

James M. Bramblet is my father-in-law and a true pillar of the Christian school movement. I had heard of him long before I met and married his daughter and even long before my first wife went home to be with the Lord. Although we have a bit of fun jabbing at each other over a couple of issues: Bible versions and the difference between 4, 4½, and 5-point Calvinism, I have the utmost admiration for him and his work. He has contributed a great deal to Christian schools over the past half-century, and he has contributed a great deal to my ministry as a Christian school administrator and teacher over the past several years. He is one of my heroes in ministry.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

A Christian Philosophy of Education Must Be Based on a Christian World View
by James M. Bramblet

When we speak of philosophy, we speak of a worldview that includes all knowledge in a unified whole. Our minds are so constructed that we instinctively shy away from over-against positions. When we are confronted with over-against ideas, we seek to understand them more fully so they can be harmonized in our own minds. We each have our tidy little system of thought that is really our philosophy or life view. When information comes to us that disagrees with our philosophy, we must reject it, adjust our philosophy to accommodate it, or ignore it. As Christians, our philosophy should be in harmony with God’s revelation in His Word, the Bible. We need to be clear concerning our Christian view of things in general before we apply these views in the field of education.

A part of Dr. H. W. Byrne’s definition of the Christian Theistic Worldview is as follows:

"The Christian Theistic World View, formally stated, starts with God. The existence of God is the key truth of this view. His existence provides the foundation upon which to build this philosophy. Since philosophy is the search for unity and Ultimate Being, the reality and existence of God provides both unity and being. All things are related understandingly to God and are derived from God." (Byrne, H. W., A Christian Approach to Education. Milford, Michigan: Mott Media, 1977, p.45.)

Dr. Mark Fakkema says the same thing more succinctly. He states, "Christian philosophy is the romance of seeing all things as one whole with God as Ultimate." (Fakkema, Mark, Christian Philosophy, Its Educational Implications. 1953, p.5)

Both of the definitions above use the word "ultimate" in referring to God. If it is true that all of life and all truth form one unified whole, then there must be something or Someone Who coordinates all things. It is apparent that there can be nothing equal to or beyond that which coordinates all things. This point of coordination of all things beyond which we cannot go, is the ultimate. As Christians, we believe that God is ultimate.

Included in the ultimacy of God is the fact that He is eternal. The Bible starts with, "In the beginning God" (Gen. 1:1) and it speaks of Him as being eternal. "The eternal God is thy refuge" (Deut.33:27). The human mind cannot conceive of a time when there was absolutely nothing, so the materialists say that "matter" is eternal. Some say that "energy" is eternal. The Bible clearly teaches that only God is eternal and that matter, energy, and everything else that exists came from Him.

The Evolutionist would not only deny Scripture but also deny many discoveries of science in telling us that the beauty and order that exists in the world today came about by natural forces apart from the creative hand of God. We all know that if we do not clean our house it gets dirtier and dirtier. If we do not weed our gardens, they become weedier and weedier. If we do not control the breeding of our pets, their offspring become "muttier" and "muttier." Order does not naturally come out of chaos, but without diligent attention, chaos soon comes from order.

The Deist makes a similar mistake when he claims that God created the universe in the dim and remote past and then left it to operate according to the laws He established. In other words, they believe that God is a bystander that takes no interest in the present affairs of this world. Since both the Evolutionists and the Deists attempt to write God out of the script, they end up with philosophies that are materialistic and humanistic.

Those of us who believe the Bible are called Christian Theists. Like the Deists, we believe God is transcendent, but we also believe that He is immanent. In other words, He is interested in the affairs of our lives, hears and answers our prayers, and providentially provides our needs. Ephesians 4:6 clearly states, "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Excerpted from Chapter 2 of An Introduction to the Christian School by James M. Bramblet, Copyright © 1985 by James M. Bramblet

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Losing Our Literacy

Daisy made the following comment on my post, "An Easy Read is Not Necessarily a Good Read." I thought it was important enough to put it here were more people might see it and follow the link she put in it.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
We are losing our literacy. Children's books like Treasure Island are now classified as adult literature. Newspapers are dying out. Video blogging is in, txt msging is shwg up in trm paperz. What kind of society will we have when no one remembers how to read OR worse the only ones who can read, read The Shack?

Here's an interesting article on "The Twilight of Books."

Friday, April 17, 2009

An Easy Read is Not Necessarily a Good Read

"Only the itching of corrupted fancies, the boldness of darkened minds and lascivious wanton wits, in venting new-created nothings, insignificant vanities, with an intermixed dash of blasphemy, is that which I desire to oppose; and that especially considering the genius (if I may so speak) of the days wherein we live; in which, what by one means, what by another, there is almost a general deflection after novelty grown amongst us" (John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, page 15).

People don't write or talk that way any more, but it is kind of a shame, because for the most part, people don't write with such depth anymore, either. Believers ought to be reading such books as this, or The Bondage of the Will, by Martin Luther, or other such books, instead of so much of the mindless drivel that is being published today.

An easy read is not necessarily a good read, and a difficult read may well be worth the effort. I had a student tell me that she couldn't read the King James Bible because she couldn't understand the "thee's" and "thou's." What? I think maybe they both mean "you." There are probably better reasons to choose a Bible translation than that. In the same way, many people don't want to read old books by the great theologians of centuries gone by. Isn't it interesting that Shakespeare is still read in schools?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Christian Teaching: A Spiritual Ministry

by James M. Bramblet

Some Christians view the work of a Christian school teacher, principal or other Christian school worker as somehow less spiritually demanding than that of a pastor, missionary or evangelist. Perhaps this notion comes from comparing Christian school teachers to public school teachers where the work is purely scholastic and secular and does not include a spiritual dimension.

This idea is far from the truth. If there are Christians who want to be in full-time Christian work but do not consider themselves spiritually minded enough to work in a church or on a mission field, they should not think of Christian school work as a less spiritually-demanding field. Satan is attacking Christian schools and Christian school workers as much as or perhaps more than he does churches and church workers.

It is not easy to maintain Christian standards in a Christian school. Because of the proximity of public schools, there is constant pressure to allow unchristian and even antichristian activities that are taking place in public schools to be brought over by students, parents and even former public school teachers into the Christian school. In spite of careful screening, there are always a few students in Christian schools who still think of school as a place to escape their Christian home and church and satisfy their fleshly desires.

This means that Christian school workers need to be men and women of prayer, dedication and Bible knowledge or they will be overwhelmed by the pressure to secularize that is always present in a Christian school situation. The work of teaching is demanding and time consuming in any school, and the spiritual demands in a Christian school are added to that load.

For this reason, teachers who have only secular training or who are of mediocre spiritual caliber are not suited for Christian school work. This is why the training and screening of Christian school teachers is so important. Christian school teachers can no more be trained in a secular college than can pastors or missionaries be trained in such a college. (Emphasis added.)

Christian school teacher candidates not only need to learn what to teach and how to teach it, but as the Apostle Paul said, they also need to, “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11-13)

"Teacher" or "Learning Facilitator?"

More and more, the word "teacher" is being replaced by other terms, such as "educator" or "learning facilitator." This just seems to be one more symptom of the not-so-great changes that are taking place in education, including Christian school education.

"Teacher" implies that there is someone who actually knows something and imparts that knowledge to others who do not know it. Of course, that means we have to admit that students don't already have all the answers inside of them, and that wouldn’t be very politically correct.

“Learning facilitator" implies that instead of teaching, what goes on in the classroom is the pooling of ignorance. I guess that is probably true.

In light of this, I can certainly say, “Eye use to kuddn’t even spel “ejukader,” and now eye are wun.

Self‑Esteem or Christ‑Esteem

by James M. Bramblet

All through the history of Israel and the Church, God's people have erred by adopting terminology and ideas of the world which are contrary to the Word of God. Today when God is allowing mankind to explore and understand so many of the secrets of His universe, we are especially suscep­tible to ideas that appear to be scientific and practical. If such ideas are in the area of philosophy, psychology, or some other pseudoscience, it is easy to be deceived before we become aware of the anti‑Biblical nature of the teachings.

Modern humanistic psychology has developed the hypothesis that in order for a person to be psychologically healthy, he must have a high opinion of himself. This favorable opinion of oneself is called "self‑esteem" or "a good self‑image." This teaching did not begin in the Church or any Chris­tian Bible study, but in the psychology of the world. A number of Christians who are also psychologists have picked up this teaching in their psychology studies and have brought it over into their church‑related Christian instruc­tion. Unfortunately, these men are psychology students rather than Bible students, so they fail to see the contradiction between this teaching and the teaching of the Bible. It should be mentioned, however, that there are a few Christian psychologists, such as Jay Adams(1), who have not been deceived by this error.

Since the final result of a Christian experience is a good feeling about ourselves as new creatures in Christ, it is easy to confuse this feeling with the worldly concept of self‑esteem. The world, however, attempts to build this good self‑image outside the Christian experience and thus imposes on people a monstrous lie that everything is "OK" when it really isn't.

Many Christians also emphasize the human desire to feel better above the Biblical admonitions concerning justification and regeneration. On almost every hand in Christendom, people are using the terms "self‑esteem" and "a good self‑image" with the assumption that these are desirable traits. Few seem to recognize that these are worldly terms and have no foundation in Scripture. In Bill Gothard's notes, the first division is "Self‑image." He handles the subject better than most, but he does use the humanistic rather than Biblical terminology.(2)

The subtitle of James Dobson's book Hide or Seek is "Self‑esteem for the Child." For 155 pages Dobson presents the current humanistic psycho­logical thinking concerning self‑esteem. Only in the last four pages does he make a belated effort to reconcile these thoughts with Biblical truth. There he admits that "The need for self‑esteem becomes more demanding as it is gratified,”(3) but he still does not advocate repentance, regeneration, or justi­fication.

In a (June, 1983) publication of the Fundamentalist Journal, (Jerry Falwell's magazine) an article was included entitled "Help Your Child Develop Self‑Esteem." The author is Daniel Barlow, Professor of Education at Liberty Baptist College. Without referring to Scripture, Mr. Barlow assumes that self‑esteem is a good thing. An inset in bold type gives the key to his thesis:

"It is of critical importance to understand the two ingredients needed to help your child develop self‑esteem: a perception of personal worth, and perception of having some control over what is happening to him."(4)

A comparison of this statement with Genesis 3:6 will reveal a startling similarity. Eve became convinced that the forbidden fruit would make her wise and thus help her develop a perception of personal worth. She took control of her personal life by eating the fruit and gave some to Adam. In taking control of her life, she attempted to remove God's control.

The above‑mentioned writers are fine Christian men who have inadvertently used the terminology of humanistic psychology rather than the words of Scripture. But there are also pastors who have fallen into the same error. Robert A. Schuller, senior minister of Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, has written a book entitled Self‑Esteem, The New Reformation. Dr. Schuller does understand theology, and he carries the self­-esteem doctrine through to its logical conclusion. He believes that the Protestant Reformation based on justification was fine for that time, but that we now need a new reformation based on self‑esteem. He is desirous of breaking down the tension which exists between theology and psychology. In order to establish this new theology, he finds it necessary to redefine many Biblical terms. The Biblical doctrine of human depravity (Jeremiah 17:9) he cannot reconcile with self‑esteem so he denies it as follows:

"The core of original sin, then, is LOT – Lack of Trust. Or, it could be considered an innate inability to adequately value our­selves. Label it a 'negative self‑image,' but do not say that the central core of the human soul is wickedness. If this were so, then truly, the human being is totally depraved. But positive Christianity does not hold to human depravity, but to human in­ability."(5)

He redefines the new birth in this manner:

"To be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self‑image – from inferiority to self‑esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust."(6)

Following such a new birth he says that we can now pray the Lord's Prayer thusly:

"Our Father in heaven, honorable is our name."(7)

If brothers Gothard, Dobson and Barlow could see this logical result of the self‑esteem teaching, they would brand it heresy as does the writer of this paper.

Much of the present day emphasis on family problems and child training is permeated with this humanistic heresy concerning self‑esteem. We often encounter this teaching at Christian school conferences, and the practice of some Christian schools has been altered to meet the self‑esteem standards. If it were true that high self‑esteem is good and low self‑esteem is bad, then one would expect to find such teaching in the Bible. By using a concordance you will find that the derivatives of the word esteem are used in the English Bible a total of twenty‑two times. There is only one verse where "esteem" is used in conjunction with the word "self," and that is in Philippians 2:3 where it says:

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves."

This verse is really speaking of other‑esteem rather than self‑esteem. The "lowliness of mind" recommended in Philippians 2:3 appears to be just the opposite of the kind of self‑esteem being recommended by modern psychology.

When Christ was on earth, there was apparently a similar heresy among the Jews of that time. In Luke 18:9-14 we read a parable which is prefaced by, "And he spoke this parable unto certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous." In other words they were people with high self‑esteem. In the parable He tells about two men who went to the temple to pray. One of the men had a very high self‑esteem. When he prayed he listed off the good things about himself. He was not an extortioner or an adulterer and he often fasted and always tithed his income. Perhaps then as now there were psycho­logical sessions to build self‑esteem where patients took turns expressing their virtues. Or perhaps he had been taught as a child what a good little boy he was, with as little mention as possible of his faults. In any case, he had learned his lesson well for he certainly had a good self‑image and was able to list his many virtues.

The other man was a despised tax‑collector, and he had a terrible self‑image. He stood far away from the Pharisee. His head was hanging and his eyes cast down. He smote his breast in anguish, and the only prayer he could muster was, "God be merciful to me a sinner."

The Lord's comment on this parable was that the second of the two men was justified but not the first. Notice that He used the word justified rather than how they felt. No doubt the man with the self‑esteem still felt very good about himself, but the word justified refers to God's opinion of them. The tax‑collector asked for God's forgiveness and received it. The Pharisee's self‑esteem was so great he felt he did not need forgiveness, so he failed to ask for it and thus never received it. He went down to his house feeling great, but lost.

This story points up a number of errors that stem from the self‑esteem doctrine:

1. Self‑esteem therapy works as well for unsaved people as for Christians. Getting people to feel better about themselves brings them no closer to salvation by the blood of Christ. The Pharisee came into the temple unjustified and he left unjustified. It is difficult to practice self‑esteem therapy and be a soul winner.

2. Self‑esteem therapy does not lead to repentance. The better we feel about ourselves the less we feel the need to repent of our sins. This, of course, is in direct conflict with the teaching of the Bible. Both John the Baptist and Jesus began their teaching with "Repent ye" (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). Peter, preaching at Pentecost, instructed the people, "Repent ye" (Acts 2:28). When David's terrible sin was brought to his attention, he confessed and re­pented (II Samuel 12:13). When Christians sin they are instructed to confess their sins (I John 1:9). But repentance does not make one feel good. Repent­ance is humiliating and very hard on our self‑esteem. But God says, "Repent."

3. Self‑esteem therapy does not lead to justification. Justification is a legal term indicating that God has declared the sinner righteous because of the work of a crucified Savior. God's grounds for justifying sinners is stated in II Corinthians 5:21, as follows:

For he hath made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

Our salvation is dependent on God's opinion concerning our righteousness. Many people with high self‑esteem will be cast into hell unless God sees them as "in Christ."

4. Self‑esteem therapy leads to self‑righteousness rather than God's righteousness. The Apostle Paul, like Christ, wrestled with the self‑esteem cult among the Jews of his day. He said concerning them:

"For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3).

Christ also indicated that the kind of self‑satisfaction or self­-esteem advocated by the Pharisees was not enough when He said:

"For I say unto you that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20).

Having a good self‑image may make us feel better, but it falls far short of meeting the righteousness which is required of God. Only the im­puted righteousness of Christ will meet that standard. The Lord Jesus re­served His most scathing denunciation for the scribes and Pharisees. He said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…" (Matthew 23:13‑15, 23,25,27,29). After each of these exclamations He explained why He considered this outward righteousness so despicable: It was an outward show and in their hearts they were filled with extortion and excess. Following the heresy of self‑esteem will produce this same kind of self‑satisfaction based on personal pride which covers a heart of sinful desires and godless rebellion.

5. Self‑esteem therapy tends to break down Biblical, God‑given moral standards. Since the goal is to make each individual think more highly of him­self, it becomes necessary to explain away or condone his misdeeds. The alcoholic is sick not sinful. The homosexual has made a different sexual preference which should not be condemned. Many counselors speak of sexual partners rather than husband and wife so as not to give a guilt complex to adulterers. Some churches have softened the Scriptural teaching concerning divorce and remarriage, and if the self‑esteem heresy continues to grow in Christendom, we will see a breakdown of Biblical moral standards in other areas as well.

Philippians 2:3 recommends other‑esteem rather than self‑esteem. It teaches that self‑esteem will result in strife and vainglory. From this verse it is easy to predict what will happen to Christian people if the self‑esteem heresy is allowed to grow in our midst. Actually, it is what we have seen happening among people of the world since self‑esteem therapy was introduced. Deliberate self‑aggrandizement among Christians will result in:

1. An increase in family discord, separation and divorce. If there is any relationship where other‑esteem is essential, it is in the family relationship. Family living requires love and a loss of indi­viduality. The "I" life must give way to the "we" life. The Bible says that God hates divorce or "putting away" (Malachi 2:16).

2. Disobedient and runaway children in Christian homes. Children are told in the fifth commandment to "honor thy father and thy mother" (Exodus 20:12). This command assumes other‑esteem rather than self‑esteem. Parents are told to "Provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). Here again other‑esteem is essential. Strife and vainglory in the home is dis­astrous to the relationship of parents and children.

3. Conflict among Christian people in our churches. Other‑esteem in the church is particularly referred to in the Bible as follows:

"And we beseech you, brethren, to know them who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves" (I Thessalonians. 5:12‑13).

This verse refers to having esteem for pastors and other leaders in the church. It clearly indicates that the result will be peace. Self‑esteem, however, will result in strife and vainglory among church members which will in turn lead to church fights, church splits, and general chaos. I Corinthians 3:3 indicates that this comes about first with envying, then with strife, and finally with divisions. Anyone who has been through a church fight knows the suffering and hurt that ensues. If the self‑esteem cult is allowed to grow in our churches, it will result in more and more unhappiness in the place where we should find peace – the local church.

4. Dissension and divisions in our Christian schools. What was said above concerning churches is also true concerning Chris­tian schools. Schools are particularly susceptible to the self‑esteem heresy because this thinking has been so strongly promoted by modern secular educa­tors. Many Christian school teachers and administrators pick up the self‑esteem teaching in their secular college classes and bring it over into the Christian school without realizing it is contrary to Scripture. Also, some speakers and writers in the field of education who espouse the self‑esteem doctrine are professing Christians, so their influence affects the thinking in our schools. If this is allowed to continue, we will see a continual escalation of student rebellion, teacher dissatisfaction, board strife, administrators continually moving from school to school, and schools dividing because of strife. In other words, there will be an increase in the "strife and vain­glory" mentioned in Philippians 2:3.

It was earlier mentioned that the final result of a Christian exper­ience is a good feeling about ourselves as new creatures in Christ. The Bible speaks of a Christian having "joy" (John 15:11) and a "conscience void of offense" (Acts 24:16). Is this not self‑esteem? The answer is “No.” The Christian feels good about himself, not because of his own righteousness but because he is "In Christ" (II Corinthians 5:17) and he is fully aware that:

"In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, who is head of all principality and power" (Col. 2:9‑10).

This is not self‑esteem but Christ‑esteem. We need to seek not for a good self‑image but a good Christ‑image. Instead of self‑esteem therapy, we need to practice the Christ‑esteem therapy advocated and abundantly illustrated in the Bible.

Christ‑esteem demands that we accept the physical, mental, and emotional characteristics with which Christ has created us. "But by the grace of God I am what I am . . . " (I Corinthians 15:10). Christ‑esteem also causes us to be satisfied with the financial, social, and vocational situation in which He has placed us. "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (I Tim. 6:8).

The Bible instructs each of us "Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). The Lord tells us that any man who follows Him must "deny himself" (Matthew 6:24), but He nowhere mentions that His followers must esteem themselves.

The Apostle Paul in writing to Timothy warns that in the last days, "men shall be lovers of their own selves" (II Tim. 3:1‑2). In the verses that follow he lists the unfavorable traits that result from this self love. Today we are being taught the very doctrine that the Bible says will prevail in the last days. Verse five tells us that this teaching will lead to "a form of godliness, but denying the power of it." From such doctrine and practice we are told to "turn away" (II Tim. 3:5).

Although self‑esteem is taught by many Christians, it did not originate in the Bible but in the thinking of godless, humanistic psychologists. Many of these psychologists call themselves counselors. The Psalmist begins the Psalms by saying, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly" (Psalm 1:1).


END NOTES:

1. Jay Adams, The Christian Counselor's Manual, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1973, p.145.

2. Bill Gothard, "Self‑Image," Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, Pages 1‑8.

3. James Dobson, Hide or Seek, Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1971, p.157.

4. Daniel Barlow, "Help Your Child Develop Self‑Esteem," Fundamentalist Journal, June, 1983, Vo1.2 Number 6, p.29‑31.

5. Robert H. Schuller, Self‑Esteem, The New Reformation, Waco, Texas: Word Book Publishers, 1982, p.67.

6. Ibid., p.68.

7. Ibid., p.69.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

James M. Bramblet was my late father-in-law and a retired Christian school administrator.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why I Believe in Biblical Education

Valerie Hixson is Ralph and Kathy Petersen’s daughter, a graduate of a Christian high school, a former public school teacher, the wife of a public school principal who is also a graduate of the same Christian high school, and a home school mom.

-------------------------

Why I Believe in Biblical EducationValerie Hixson, May 2007

Proverbs 22:6 is an often quoted verse that has words of instruction and promise for us. “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” God has given this responsibility to parents, not to the state.

I am a mother of three children. I am constantly challenging myself to train my children, not just teach them. My dictionary says to train means to prepare for a contest. It means to instruct by exercise. It means to drill. It means to form to a proper shape. It means to discipline for use. I can teach my children the way they should go and then someone else can come along and teach them a different way to go. I need to do more than just teach those godly ways; I must train them all day every day. I am surprised at times to see people spending so much time and money training their dogs to sit, heel, and stay, yet their children run wild. It is my God-given responsibility to train my children in the way they should go. I need to train them to fear the Lord as long as they live by keeping all His decrees and commands. I need to impress God’s ways on their hearts, talk about them when we sit at home and when we walk along the road and when we lie down and when we get up (Deut. 6:2-9).

Knowing the importance of training my children, I am certain that Biblical education is the only education I will have for my children. I have experienced public school education for five years at the University level and was a public school teacher in San Jacinto for five years. My parents made the sacrificial decision to train me in the way I should go and put me through Baptist Christian for my schooling. I am very grateful for their decision during my childhood because when I went to college, I did not depart from the way I should go. I quickly learned that public education is an open door for Satan. Children are great sponges for absorbing worldly views. In college, I was forced to take classes such as “Human Interpretations and Values,” “Perspectives on Genders,” and “Moral Choices for Life.” As I was teaching, I came across homosexuality, witchcraft, drugs, and violence in my first grade classroom.

I had my students for seven hours a day. I knew that I would teach them the best that I could for seven hours a day. I trusted myself as a teacher, but I would never put my child in my classroom. Other kids can teach ungodly things. Textbooks contain ungodly things. You may ask, “Are you going to protect them from everyone and everything?” Obviously I cannot do that but I will try, to the best of my ability, to protect them from ungodliness and instill Christian values as long as I have them in my care.

Training my children is important to Christ. Jesus emphasized the importance He placed on children by saying, "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea" (Mark 9:42). I have a great promise that lies ahead. “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This life is short. We are here for one purpose - to glorify God. I desire to train my children through Biblical education. I recognize that home school is the best form of Biblical education, but I have promised my children that they could go to school. My children will still be trained at home, and I look forward to Baptist Christian School coming alongside of me and assisting me in their godly training.

-------------------------

Note: Valerie is now the mother of five. Her twin sons were born in January 2008.

The Ministry of Christian Education

by Ralph Petersen, March 2008

Most Christian schools were originally established on the scriptural principle that Christians are responsible to educate their children consistent with and based on God’s Word.

Therefore, Christian schools were never intended to be in competition with public education. They were not designed to provide a nicer or safer environment for Christian children to receive a comparable education. The difference between Christian and secular education is foundational. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7)

Nor should Christian schools be perceived as places where children are sheltered from the real world. In fact, as a friend of mine has articulated so many times, “The real world is the world that includes God rather than legislating Him out of existence. A student given an education that does not include God has no idea what the “’real world’ is” (Ron Livesay, Christian school administrator). Consequently, that student cannot be adequately equipped to survive in the real world.

Christian schools start with God because He exists, He has spoken, and His Word cannot be ignored. He created us, He is the center of life, and He will accomplish His sovereign purpose.

By contrast, secular schools start with the premise that there is no God, that the Bible was written by man, and that there is no moral authority higher than ourselves. The universe and life as we know it came about over billions of years by chance, and we are masters of our own destiny.

So then it seems incumbent on us that we should not look to the world for the qualifications of school administrators and teachers; we must look to the Word of God for the qualifications of appropriate steward for this kind of ministry.

They must hold biblical convictions that a God-centered education is an absolute necessity. They should be full of godly wisdom, scripturally qualified, spiritually gifted, called of God, and adequately experienced for the important ministry of guarding against the influences of an ungodly world and training children according to a Christ-centered world view.
-------------------------
Visit Ralph Petersen's Blog, “Well-Meaning Gentlemen with Different Ideas."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Love of God

by Ron Livesay

In the day and age in which we live, it is easy to ask why God puts up with all the sin and foolishness of the human race. Why does he not just put a stop to it all and judge the sinfulness of man? In contrast to some who believe the only attribute of God is love, we know that God is also a God of justice, holiness, righteousness, and that He will judge sin. Nevertheless, we still need to remember that, while there is much in the world that is abominable to God, He is a God of great love. He loves us beyond all human understanding. Human love is little more than a shadow of His love for us.

How much does God love us? John 3:16 uses one small word to express an infinite love. That word is “so.” “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.” This small word tells us that He loves us “in such a way” that He gave everything for us. God the Father gave His only Son so that we might live. God the Son gave up the glories of heaven to become a man and die the death of a criminal for us. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8, NASB)

There are those who actually express the idea that God somehow owes us something. “If God will show me He loves me, then I will believe in Him,” they say. Such thinking totally ignores the fact that He has already done more than enough to show us He loves us. How much more could possibly be necessary to prove His love? How dare we expect Him to do more? He has taken us from the depths of sin and condemnation to the heights of being His children. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1-7, NASB)

The amazing thing about the love of God is that He loves those who hate Him. He loves those who are His enemies. He loves the unlovely. He loves those who disobey Him. He loves the ungodly. He loves sinners. This love defies all human logic and human comprehension. “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8, NASB)

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Refrain:
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

“The Love of God”
Fred­er­ick M. Leh­man, 1917

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quotes by Martin Luther

“The authority of Scripture is greater than the comprehension of the whole of man's reason.”

“I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount.”

Monday, April 6, 2009

Some Common Sense Reasons to Believe in Creation and Reject Evolution

by Ron Livesay, 1996
 
I recently saw, for the third or fourth time, the beginning of the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. It did not take me very long to realize why I have never watched more than just the beginning – it is not my kind of movie – so I turned it off, just as every other time I have started to watch it.

The beginning section, which is entitled “The Dawn of Man,” once again brought to mind the essential foolishness of the philosophy of mankind today. A number of apes, who were supposed to be “ape-men” or whatever name is in vogue for the mythical creature which has been imagined to span the gap between animals and humanity, fought over possession of a pool of water. Great progress was made in the evolution toward human civilization when one of the creatures discovered that a bone could be used to crush a skull. Hence, the first weapon was invented. The scene then cuts to space travel, obviously skipping quite a span of time in the alleged evolutionary process.

The opening scenes of this movie, which was made in 1968, serve only to underscore the false assumption that all people swallow the story of evolution. This assumption is simply not true. Those who pretend to be scientists by passing off a very silly and absurd story as science do not speak for the majority of people, and when the average person, educated or not, looks at the claims of evolution, the sensible response is, “Give me a break!”

I believe the Bible is 100% true. However, I understand that the same average person, who very naturally sees the absurdity of evolution, is not necessarily a Bible-believer. Therefore, to appeal to the Scriptures to such a person often produces the same skeptical response as the evolution myth produces. On the other hand, while the average person may not understand spiritual truth, he is also not stupid. An appeal to common sense makes creation by God a much more sensible answer to origins than the absurdity of evolution.

Following are a few common sense reasons, which are neither scientific nor theological, for accepting creation and rejecting evolution:

Creation requires miracles performed by a miracle-working God. Evolution requires miracles performed by blind chance, which means miracles performed by no one.

Creation requires that a designer be involved in the production of intricate design. Evolution requires that intricate design has been produced without benefit of a designer.

Creation requires a great “first cause” of all things, which is God Himself. Evolution requires that there is no “first cause.” Either matter itself is eternal, having never had a beginning, or matter was somehow created by accident out of nothing by no one.

Evolution is mathematically impossible. Chance could never intervene into natural laws to the extent of producing the universe, life, and all living things. Only the Creator could do that. If He did not do so, then we do not exist. There is a famous quote which says, “I think. Therefore, I am.” Even more true would be the statement, “I am. Therefore, I was created. If I was not created, then I am not here.”

Creation requires faith in God. Evolution requires faith in blind chance, matter, Charles Darwin, etc., all of which are much less than God.

Creation is a positive teaching, elevating man to a special creation of God, and placing him in a position of responsibility. Evolution is a negative teaching, degrading man to the status of an animal which was produced by accident, removing all responsibility from him, and ultimately leading to anarchy. There can be no law or civilization without God and His laws and principles.

That all having been said, it remains true that, for the Christian, the very best reason for believing in creation is the fact that God says He created, and we ought to take Him at His Word. It is tremendous that the scientific evidence, when viewed honestly, points to creation and totally refutes evolution. However, even if we did not have that, we know that creation is true, because God, who cannot lie, has told us so. “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3, NASB)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Books

Today, many Christians are spending their time reading all sorts of books other than the Bible. There is nothing inherently wrong with reading extra-biblical sources, but it is very important to be sure such books are doctrinally sound and consistent with the teachings of the Scriptures. Far too many Christians spend their time reading feel-good drivel, taking in spiritual baby food, or perhaps spiritual poison, instead of “the meat of the Word.”

The last three books I have read are Faith Undone, by Roger Oakland, The Shack, by William P. Young, and What in the World is Going On?, by Dr. David Jeremiah.

Faith Undone is a very insightful commentary on the current “seeker-sensitive” and “emerging” types of churches. Bible believing Christians need to be aware of these false systems. The danger they pose to biblical Christianity is very real. If I had to select one book, other than the Bible, to recommend that all believers read, Faith Undone would be it. The book is available on Roger Oakland’s website, “Understand the Times.”  (
http://www.understandthetimes.org/)

Dr. Jeremiah’s book, What in the World is Going On? is a well-organized and well-presented look at eschatology in light of current happenings in our world. Many today are encouraging Christians to ignore prophecy and concentrate on making the world a better place. This is contrary to the teaching of Scripture. Our hope is not in this world. Our “blessed hope” is “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. (Titus 2:13, NASB). Dr. Jeremiah’s book is an easy read that helps put all this in perspective. I can certainly recommend it.

I will not comment further on The Shack, other than to say that I cannot recommend it. My complete review is found elsewhere on this blog.

(http://buffalonoise.blogspot.com/2009/03/review-of-shack.html).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

John Bunyan – A Great Example of Doing Right

by Ron Livesay

John Bunyan, best-known as the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, was a man who set a tremendous example of standing for right, an example from which all Christians can certainly learn. In 1655, Bunyan became a deacon and began preaching with great success. In 1658, he was indicted for preaching without a license. The authorities were fairly tolerant of him for a while, and he was not imprisoned until November of 1660, when he was taken to the county jail and there confined (with the exception of a few weeks in 1666) for 12 years. After his release, Bunyan became a pastor and was again imprisoned for preaching publicly without a license, this time for six months.

John Bunyan was married with children to support, and he could have walked out of the jail a free man at any time if he simply promised to stop preaching publicly without a license. He adamantly refused, recognizing that His calling and authority were from God, not from the government. He chose to do right, regardless of the consequences.

When the Lord Jesus Christ was on the earth, He did not seek permission, approval, licensing, or accreditation from those in power at the time. He did not ask permission to preach from the Jewish religious leaders, the Jewish king, or the Roman government.

After His ascension into heaven, the apostles began the great work of evangelizing, and they likewise did not ask for anyone’s permission, approval, licensing, or accreditation. When confronted, they gave that classic answer, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)