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, NKJV).
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 ( 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.