Charles and Larry Discuss “The Great Extinction”

The Great extinction

L: I just read that the 6th great extinction might be underway as we speak!

C: What do you mean?

L: Well, they said that for example the African elephant population has been cut basically in half since the early part of the 1900’s.

C: Should we be worried?

L: They said a lot of it is caused by humans. I think we should work really hard to stop it.

C: What should we do?

L: I think we need to cut back on carbon emissions, stop clearing so many forests, cut back on the number of kids we have, and so on.

C: And you think that would stop this extinction from taking place?

L: I think it would help.

C: Let me ask you a question. What caused the first five extinctions to take place?

L: I don’t know. It just happens. That’s the way evolution works. The earth changes, species come and go.

C: So why should we worry about this one?

L: Because if our species disappears, we’re doomed!

C: Yea… and what would happen then?

L: I guess new species would develop and…

C: Life would go on. What’s to worry about?

L: But part of this is our fault and we have the responsibility to take steps to slow it down, so that future generations will be able to live the kind of life we live.

C: Future generations of humans or just future generations of something?

L: Future generations of humans.

C: You don’t believe in God, right? You believe in evolution through totally natural causes.

L: That’s right. There is no God planning or guiding or directing what is happening. It just happens because of the laws of science.

C: So evolution of the planet and of life just goes on without any supervision or oversight. There is no ‘ought’ to any of it. Atoms bounce around in certain ways and come together according to nature and over enough billions of years we have the earth as we know it today. Right?

L: That’s right.

C: So my first observation is that the way the earth is today, then, is not necessarily the ideal. It just happens to be the way it is today. Over the course of evolution, let’s say when the dinosaurs were here, they went wherever they wanted and ate what they wanted and there was no God and no people to say, “You shouldn’t go there or do that.”

L: Right

C: Eventually evolution got to human beings. Humans decide to build houses and so they cut down trees. All of a sudden that is a bad thing. Beavers are never accused of destroying trees. It’s just what happens.

L: But we have intelligence.

C: So we chop down trees. We clear land so we can grow crops and we have extended our life span. We’ve invented products to make our work easier. It’s what we do.

L: But we need to do those things carefully and with thought and care for the environment.

C: Who says so?

L: We sort of agree to do that.

C: Not everyone.

L: I know but some people waste things and pollute the environment and it hurts other people.

C: Who says that is bad. Some animals do things that hurt other animals or other species and we never accuse them of ruining the environment.

L: That’s because they can’t think.

C: Thinking about things is an ability we have, but as soon as you suggest that there is an ought, I get nervous because that makes me think that you think that there are rules out there somewhere that we are all obligated to obey.

L: Well there are.

C: Who says so?

L: We just know it. We know that we shouldn’t harm the environment so that other people suffer now or at a later time.

C: Apparently not everyone knows that because if they did, they wouldn’t be doing things that you don’t like.

L: They might not know it, that’s why we need to educate them.

C: But who says your way of thinking is right, just because you believe it or say it.

C: Here’s the thing: If evolution is true, humans are currently the product. The earth is the way it is now, but that is not the ideal. It just is the way it is. So if humans bring a species of plants from China to the U.S., that shouldn’t cause everyone to freak out. It’s just what happens in the course of evolution. Evolution created us and evolution gets to deal with the results of our behavior.

C: There are no “oughts.” Any oughts are preferences of one group seeking to subjugate another group. Right now it seems like those of your point of view are trying to create oughts that people like me are required to agree to and follow just because you have more numbers or power. But that doesn’t make your preferences right.

C: Humans inherently have the notion that what I have just described can’t be right. We believe that people really ought to live in a certain way even if we’re not always sure what that way is. I maintain that the moral sense we have and the conscience we have is evidence that we are not really alone in the universe. We haven’t really just evolved from organic soup by chemical laws. There really is a creator God out there who has the list of oughts and has the right to tell us what to do. We need to find the list.

C: The reality of a creator God is a better foundation for environmental care than evolution. If there is a God who made all this, then we have the responsibility of handling his creation with care and treating all of it with respect.

The Crucial Importance of the Church

The Crucial Importance of the Church

The Church, the body of Christ, is the fullness of God.

….the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him [God] who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22–23, NKJV)

God the Holy Spirit baptizes (places) us into the body.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13, NKJV)

He places us in the body as it pleases Him.

But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” (1 Corinthians 12:18, NKJV)

We then are one spirit with Christ. He is the head. We are the body and share His spirit.

“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17, NKJV)

We also have the mind of Christ.

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16, NKJV)

We also are members of His flesh and bones. Our hands, toes and eyes are His flesh and bones.

For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” (Ephesians 5:30, NKJV)

We are therefore members of one another since we are part of the same body and share the same spirit.

so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” (Romans 12:5, NKJV)

The Holy Spirit gives a manifestation (external evidence, gift, spiritual ability) to each Christian to be used for the profit of the other parts of the body for the overall health and growth of the body.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:” (1 Corinthians 12:7, NKJV)

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11, NKJV)

 

A body is healthy only when all its parts are there and functioning according to their design. When a part of our body is not functioning or is functioning weakly, our body is not healthy and not growing as it should. The same is true of the body of Christ. Every part has a function. Every part is connected to every other part and must be aware of the impact it would have on the other parts of the body if it does not function as it should. There are no individual parts of the body just floating out in space. All parts are interconnected and have the same life and spirit flowing through them.

from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16, NKJV)

But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor… But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
(1 Corinthians 12:20–27, NKJV)

Spiritual Gifts Listed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12

Word of wisdom                                                                          Mercy

Word of knowledge                                                                     Leading

Faith                                                                                                Giving

Healings*                                                                                       Exhortation

Miracles*                                                                                       Teaching

Prophecy1                                                                                       Serving

Discerning spirits                                                                          Administration

Tongues*                                                                                       Helps

Interpretation of tongues*

Many of these characteristics, such as faith and giving, should be present generally among God’s people. But some are especially gifted by the Spirit in these areas.

There may be additional gifts not listed here, but many of these gifts cover a lot of areas. Gifts such as serving, faith, or helps have a broad range of applications.

God gives some men gifts to be used to equip others to do the ministry.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men…. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:7–13, NKJV)

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers….
(1 Corinthians 12:28, NKJV)

The main point to remember is that you as a Christian have been given one or more of these gifts. God has given the gift to be used in and with the local body of Christ. There should be a consciousness and awareness of the rest of the body and how your gifts are serving for the edification of others so that the body is made stronger and healthier “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13). This is to be intentional. It does not just happen. Paul warned the Corinthian Christians about this when instructing them about communion. It wasn’t general secret sins that Paul warned them about resulting in “some are weak and sickly among you and many sleep,” it was not discerning the Lord’s body. The body of Christ, the fullness of God,  with its many members was right there among them and they didn’t see it. They were just interested in themselves and making sure their personal needs were met.

For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (1 Corinthians 11:29, NKJV)

Questions each Christian must ask himself:

  1. What is the gift or gifts the Holy Spirit has given me?
  2. How am I using my gift in the church to serve the Body?
  3. Am I a healthy member of the body functioning and interconnected with others?
  4. How is my gift strengthening the body, building up others in the body and helping the body to grow and mature?

*We believe these were special gifts given to the church to authenticate the apostles’ message and are no longer widely active today. This does not mean that God cannot or does not use these gifts in some special circumstances today.

1By prophecy we mean the Spirit enabled proclamation of the truth of Scripture, not the foretelling the future.

 

Battle Plan – Strategy 7 – The Reason for God’s Wrath

(The list of these strategies in chart form can be found here: http://rogert.me/2w6E0sK )

Strategy 7: I realize that participating in and supporting immoral, sexual activities is making me a part of the reason God’s wrath is coming on the world.

 In Ephesians 5:3 we read the following:

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;” (Ephesians 5:3, NKJV)

Paul continues listing sins and then concludes with this:

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.” (Ephesians 5:5–7, NKJV)

Paul gives another such list in 1 Corinthians:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10, NKJV)

So God is saying that people who live in the life styles listed here will not inherit the kingdom of Christ and God. Now before you get too self-righteous, be sure to notice that he doesn’t include just the sexually immoral. He also includes those who are characterized by covetousness, idolatry, drunkenness, and thievery and swindlers among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Then he goes on (in Ephesians 5)  to tell us why we shouldn’t involve ourselves with these sorts of behaviors. The reason is because these sins are the reason why God’s wrath will come upon the earth. How can we justifiably participate in activities that are the cause of God’s judgment? It doesn’t make any sense for children of God to live in this way.

When we come to Christ there is a basic change in our nature. In this same passage in verse 8, Paul writes:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8, NKJV)

There is a change. We’ve gone from darkness to light. It makes no sense to have fellowship or common bond with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph 5:11).

Priority Goal 7: Today, every time I am tempted to look at or participate in anything that God says is wrong, I will remind myself that it is because of these very things that God’s wrath is coming. Do I want to be a part of God’s reason for judging the world?

Charles and Larry Discuss Sexual Sin, Jesus’ Compassion and Hell

These CL Discussions are imagined conversations between a conservative Christian and a liberal person. The conservative’s name is Charles. The liberal’s name is Larry. These are not real conversations. They are imagined and the conservative views are mine, a fact you would have had no trouble discerning yourself. The opinions of the Liberal are typical of people I have met over the years, but don’t reflect any one person’s point of view. I am not claiming that these discussions are unbiased. I’m using them as a means of organizing my own thoughts as well as possibly helping others clarify their own point of view as well.

Charles and Larry have met for breakfast and have been discussing a wide range of topics when Larry changes the subject…

L: I agree with the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. And I think Jesus would have agreed. He was one to show compassion and not condemn people, don’t you think?

L: Think about the woman who was arrested while committing adultery. Jesus rebuked people for judging saying, “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.”

C: When all of her accusers had left her, Jesus said, “I don’t condemn you either.”  This is just what you said. Somewhere else in the Bible Jesus said, “I have not come to condemn the world but to save it.” But Jesus said more than this to the woman. After he told her that he didn’t condemn her, he told her to go and don’t sin anymore.”

L: Yes, but he wasn’t condemning. And that’s the point. Christians today are so condemning. They’re no better than anyone else and yet they are often so condescending.

C: You’re right. Many of us are. But I think you’re missing an important point in what Jesus is saying. Jesus is not willing to let her go and continue in the life style she was engaged in. He called her adultery a sin. That’s different from the way modern people think. To most people today, adultery is not a sin. It’s a life style choice. But Jesus is telling her to stop. Jesus, the person who loves sinners the most does not want people to continue sinning because doing so will lead to eternal destruction.

L: First of all, I don’t believe adultery is a sin. I don’t really believe in sin as such unless you’re talking about abusing the most defenseless among us. That is sin. It is a sin to not pay people a fair wage and keep people in poverty. But whether someone has sex with someone he’s not married to is a personal matter and I certainly wouldn’t call it a sin. As long as both people are consenting and no one gets hurt, it can’t be a sin.

C: But Jesus thought so, didn’t he?

L: But Jesus lived at a different time. He was under different expectations from his culture.

C: Jesus went against the teachings of his Jewish culture all the time and he certainly went against the pagan culture of his time. And if Jesus was just acting out a part, and if he wasn’t giving actual true truth, then he must not have been God. Because I don’t think God would have played along with either the religious or the secular culture. God would tell it like it is.

L: Maybe so, but at least he had compassion on this woman and didn’t condemn her.

C: But I think you’re missing the point. He had compassion and so should we. But it is not compassion to let someone go without telling them that the path they are on is sinful. The path of sinning leads to eternal judgment in hell.

L: I don’t believe in hell and Jesus didn’t either.

C: Jesus said that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause is in danger of the judgment and whoever calls someone a fool is in danger of hell fire (Matt 5:22).

  1. I don’t believe Jesus said that. He was too loving to have said something like that.

C: It’s in the Bible.

D: But the Bible must not be right at that point. Jesus would not say that!

C: How should we know what Jesus actually said and what he didn’t? Just accept the parts we like and agree with? How are you going to know if any of it is true with that method?

D: No, but I just don’t believe Jesus would threaten someone with hell for calling someone a fool.

C: Jesus also said that if someone causes one of the young believers to stumble, it would be better for that man that a heavy stone be tied to him and be thrown into the sea rather than suffer what he was going to suffer. He went on to say that if your hand causes you to sin, it would be better to have it cut off than to go to hell where the fire is never quenched (Mark 9:42 and following).

C: So it doesn’t sound to me like your Jesus is compassionate in the same way you imagine. Jesus knows that sin is destructive. Sin will keep a person from God. God pleads with people saying, “Turn from your evil ways. Why will you die?” (Ezekiel 33:11).

C: That is true compassion. Someone who knows a course of action will lead a person to certain death and doesn’t do anything to warn them doesn’t love them very much.

Charles and Larry Discussions con’t

These CL Discussions are imagined conversations between a conservative Christian and a liberal person. The conservative’s name is Charles. The liberal’s name is Larry. These are not real conversations. They are imagined and the conservative views are mine, a fact you would have had no trouble discerning yourself. The opinions of the Liberal are typical of people I have met over the years, but don’t reflect any one person’s point of view. I am not claiming that these discussions are unbiased. I’m using them as a means of organizing my own thoughts as well as possibly helping others clarify their own point of view as well.

(Check for further conversations like this on Fridays. Whenever I have a CL discussion, I’ll post it on Friday.)

C: The other day we were talking about whether it was right or wrong for a man to break into a home and rape a 4 year old girl. Somehow we transitioned over to abortion, but I want to stay on this topic for a bit.

L: I’ve been thinking about our conversation and you are just bringing up extreme hypotheticals in order to prove your point.

C: I suppose I am, but sometimes men rape young girls and I am trying to figure out if that is wrong just in certain cultures or if it is wrong in all cultures and at all times.

L: It should be wrong in all cultures at all times, but unfortunately some cultures are more backward or less civilized and so they haven’t come to see that such abuse of children is wrong.

C: That’s what I’m trying to think through. So you think that as cultures develop and become more civilized and more sophisticated, they will see that abusing children is wrong? Is it wrong or is it just uncivilized?

L: I’d say it’s wrong. Cultures that allow such things are doomed to self-destruction.

C: So is child abuse wrong because of its impact on society and the culture or because it’s wrong?

L: I’d say both. It’s wrong because it hurts the civilization and culture. Just like murder is wrong for the same reason. You can’t have a successful culture when people go around abusing and killing each other.

C: So what you are saying is that there is nothing actually wrong with murder or abuse in and of itself. It’s wrong because it is detrimental to the culture and civilization. Do I have that right?

L: That’s right.

C: So purposefully inflicting pain on a child is ok as long it helps a civilization thrive. Isn’t that sort of what was going on with the Nazis?  The world reacted as though there was something wrong with what they were doing.

L: They were wrong.

C: I’m confused. Let me tell you what I think. I think there is a “list” of things that are wrong. They are sins.

L: I don’t believe in sin.

C: Just a minute, hear me out. I believe this because I believe there is a creator who made everything including us and because he made us, he knows what is best for us. Similar to a car manufacturer who gives you a manual that tells you how often to change the oil and so forth. These things are good for the operation of the car. The creator knows what things are good for the flourishing of human beings and he knows what things are damaging to that flourishing.

C: If there is no creator, then there is no list, no operating manual. And if there is no creator, there is nothing that is right or wrong, just as you have been trying to say. But the problem is, we can’t live that way. We all know down deep that there are some things that are just plain wrong and immoral and unjust. We’re all the time demanding that there be justice for certain people who have been wronged or committed wrong. We think there ought to be justice for those who had been in slavery because we believe that slavery is wrong, not just against our preferences. If there is not creator, these ideas are just preferences.

L: I can understand what you are saying, but I’m not sure I agree.

C: That’s fine. I’m just trying to explain my point of view. If there are truly rights and wrongs, then there is a creator somewhere who has the list and we need to find it because there might be things on that list that aren’t on our list. There maybe things that aren’t as clear to us as child abuse and murder. We need to know what’s on that list!

L: So where do we find the list?

Battle Plan – Strategy 1 – Prayer Life

Strategy 1  My prayer life is active and effective.

 

In each of these strategies I put the statement as an affirmative statement of fact. That helps us focus on what the goal is. It is a true or false statement. Within our own hearts we know whether the statement is true for us or not.  Is this true:  My prayer life is active and effective.

 

Every Christian man should have an active and effective prayer life. James 5:16 says:  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

 

At the conclusion on the passage in Ephesians where Paul discusses the Christian armor, he writes, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”  Ephesians 6:18

 

The Bible speaks over and over about the importance of prayer and yet praying is a very difficult thing for us. Our lives are busy and taking the time to pray does not seem to us to be as important as God makes it out to be. And yet it is probably the core of our relationship with Christ along with the reading of His Word.

 

So if we are struggling with temptation, let’s not look to a lot of phony remedies and psychological tricks. Let’s invest the time it takes to really get to know God by spending some quality time with Him in prayer.

 

Priority Goal 1: I am going to invest time in prayer each day to strengthen my spiritual life.

 

If that is your goal, get out your calendar right now and decide when you are going to pray today and add it to your list of things to accomplish.

CL Discussion – Abortion

These CL Discussions are imagined conversations between a conservative Christian and a liberal person. The conservative’s name is Charles. The liberal’s name is Larry. These are not real conversations. They are imagined and the conservative views are mine, a fact you would have had no trouble discerning yourself. The opinions of the Liberal are typical of people I have met over the years, but don’t reflect any one person’s point of view. I am not claiming that these discussions are unbiased. I’m using them as a means of organizing my own thoughts as well as possibly helping others clarify their own point of view as well. Let me know what you think.

(Check for further conversations like this on Fridays. Whenever I have a CL discussion, I’ll post it on Friday.)

C: What do you think of this political campaign. It’s really something, isn’t it.

L: Yeh, I’ve never seen anything like it. But I agree with Hillary. It’s not right to tell women what they should do about their own body when it comes to pregnancy.

C: You think it’s wrong then to pass laws that would prevent a woman from having an abortion?

L: That’s right! Legislators have no right infringing on a person’s right to choose whether to terminate their pregnancy or to go ahead and have the baby.

  1. So you’re saying that it is wrong to pass such laws.

L: Yes, it’s wrong.

C: Do you mean wrong as in personal opinion “wrong”? Or do you mean it’s wrong like it’s wrong to steal or murder someone?

L: Well, obviously your examples are way extreme, but yes, it’s wrong in that sense. It shouldn’t be done.

C: So other countries where they pass laws supported by a majority  of their people blocking abortion, those people are wrong. Right? Or do you mean it’s wrong here because a majority support women’s right to choose, but it’s ok there because those people see it differently?

L: No, they’re wrong too and eventually they will understand and make their law match what is right.

C: So how do we know your opinion is the right one?

L: It’s common sense. Anybody can see that you shouldn’t tell a woman what she should do regarding her pregnancy.

C: It can’t be that common sense because for most of the history of our country and in many other countries, the laws prohibited abortion. So it can’t be because of common sense.

L: Well, no. People who are sort of uneducated and sort of backward in their thinking can’t see it.

C: So there is a certain group of people who are able to see it, but not everyone can?

L: that’s right.

C: How are we able to tell who are the people who have it together enough to know the truth and which ones don’t. By seeing if they agree with you? That’s not the proof of anything. If you’re claiming that some position you are taking is absolutely right and not just an opinion of some people at some particular time in history, then we need to look outside of ourselves somehow to determine what is absolutely right.

L: There’s nothing outside of ourselves. We just have to work it out from within ourselves as a people. You’re trying to get me to admit that there is some absolute standard of right and wrong outside of ourselves. That list of truth doesn’t exist.

  1. If that’s the case, you can’t say it’s wrong to prevent a woman from having an abortion if she wants one. All you can say is, “There are a lot of us who want it to be this way and we’re in the majority.” And you can do that, but it doesn’t make it right or wrong. What if we all agreed it was right for people below the poverty line to go into other people’s homes and take what they want. Would it be right then?

L: I can see what you’re saying, but in this country we base our laws on the constitution and how the supreme court interprets the constitution.

C: Do you agree with all of the supreme court’s decisions?

L: No.

C: When you disagree with them, do believe it’s just a difference of opinion, or do you believe they were wrong?

L: Usually that they were wrong.

C: But they’re not wrong if there’s no list somewhere to tell you what is right or wrong.

L: We’ve already been around this circle. They are interpreting the constitution. It’s the constitution that is what is right and wrong.

C: But you said you don’t always agree they are right. And besides that, it only applies to our country and I would bet that there are things that you think are right or wrong everywhere and not just  because some judges in the U.S. say so.

L: That’s true.

C: So why do we think there are some things that are absolutely true or right or wrong?

L: I don’t know, but I do know that there is nothing that is absolutely right or absolutely wrong at all times and in all places.

C: Was that last statement absolutely true at all times?

Check next Friday for another exciting CL discussion.

Is There Not a Lie in My Right Hand?

Is There Not a Lie in My Right Hand?
(Reprinted from April 2016)

Much has been said and written about modern logic from the Enlightenment forward and how ancient peoples, including those in the Bible, were superstitious and illogical. However, the God of the Bible is revealed as a logical being and those who spoke for this true God spoke with incredible logic.
I was reading from Isaiah 44 this morning. Isaiah lived and wrote about 700 BC which is nearly 3000 years ago. In this passage he is discussing the foolishness of idolatry and he write about the insanity of a person cutting a log from the forest and using half of it to have a fire for cooking and warming himself and using the other half to make an idol to worship. In verse 10 he asks this question, “Who would form a god or mold an image That profits him nothing?” (Isaiah 44:10, NKJV).

Here is the way Isaiah explains the situation beginning in verse 14:
He cuts down cedars for himself, And takes the cypress and the oak; He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. Then it shall be for a man to burn, For he will take some of it and warm himself; Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; Indeed he makes a god and worships it; He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. He burns half of it in the fire; With this half he eats meat; He roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” And the rest of it he makes into a god, His carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, Prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” They do not know nor understand; For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, And their hearts, so that they cannot understand. And no one considers in his heart, Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire, Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; A deceived heart has turned him aside; And he cannot deliver his soul, Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”” (Isaiah 44:14–20, NKJV)

As a modern twenty-first century man, I am astounded by the logic of this ancient writing! The author is incredulous that someone would take a piece of wood and see plainly that it is consumable in a fire and with the other half make himself a “god” that he prays to and from whom he asks deliverance. He rightly asks the question, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

In our modern world we are not likely to carve and image and expect it to help us with our problems. But don’t we do the same thing when we trust in our stuff, our material possessions, to provide us with fulfillment, the esteem of others, and general well-being in life? Aren’t we doing the same thing when we do not give God praise and thanks for the air we breathe and the water we drink or when we do not acknowledge that every good thing we have is due to God’s grace and generosity?

Many are in the position of spending millions of dollars and countless hours of research to produce better cameras for our phones and at the same time argue that our eyes are the result of time and chance. Shouldn’t we as modern people be asking ourselves, “Am I believing and living a lie?  Am I as deceived as this ancient man?”

Psalm 96:4-5 says, “For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the Lord made the heavens.

 

Thoughts on Psalm 104

Take some time and read Psalm 104 thoroughly and carefully. It will help you in your appreciation of God and his might power and creative design. I’m not going to discuss every verse but just reflect on some of the things that stood out to me.

Verse 1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” Take time to talk to yourself. Encourage yourself to be focused on the praise that God deserves. Acknowledge God’s greatness to him. Don’t just rest on the fact that you know it in your mind. Tell him, “O Lord, you are very great!”

Verse 5 “You laid the foundations of the earth…” We realize that the Bible is not a science book per se. We recognize that the earth does not have foundations or pillars to rest on. But its stability is amazing when we think about the fact that it is just floating in space obeying the laws of gravity which God designed for it.

Verses 6-9 speak of God’s control over the waters. This could be a description of creative action at the beginning or of the great flood of Noah’s day. All of this is attributed to God’s active involvement.

Verses 10 and 11 give evidence of God’s active involvement and design and planning to give water and nourishment to the animals. God is not just far away in some corner of heaven. He is involved and aware and observant of all of his creation. Jesus encouraged us not to worry but to trust God because he takes care of the birds and clothes the field with splendor,  Matthew 6:28-31.

Verses 13 and 14: He waters the hills and causes the grass to grow. The earth is satisfied with God’s provision and care. His provision for mankind is included since man is able to bring forth food from the earth with which he can provide himself with bread and wine for his sustenance.

Verse 18 : God provided specific habitats for the creatures he had made.

Verse 19: He uses the sun and moon to mark off the days and seasons and to allow the various animals to follow their instincts for hunting and sleeping. Some sleep during the day and hunt at night. God has created, designed and provided for all of these differences.

Verse 23 shows us that his provision includes man and the provision for him to go out to work and return for a night’s rest. Psalm 127:2 tells us that God provides his beloved sleep.

Verses 24-26: How manifold are God’s works. He created innumerable creatures for the sea as well as the earth. Many of these man has never seen. And yet they are there, playing. I believe God enjoys watching what he has made, even when we can’t see it.

Verses 27-30 explain how all creation waits upon God for their food. Just as in Jesus’ parable, God provides for every sparrow and every other creature as well. We need to learn to trust him. I’m also impressed to see God’s continuous creative process at work. He takes away their breath and they return to dust. He sends his spirit and new ones are born renewing the face of the earth.

Verse 33: The response is one of rejoicing and praise demonstrated by the outburst of song.

 

Do we pay enough attention to all that God s created? Do we meditate on the amazing wonder of his works displayed throughout the earth and sky? Perhaps if we did, we would be more prone to praise and magnify his name and be thankful for all he is and does.

Christian Worldview 4

All of the things we have looked at picture what things were like before time began. It seems to me that if we take a look at what things will be like after time is over, we might get a better idea of The Point. In the whole scheme of things from the biblical point of view, the period of time from the beginning until the end is very short compared to all of eternity before and after. So if we can see what is taking place at the end, we will be able to see what God accomplished during time. That will give us insight into the purpose of it all.

If we could “visit” the end, what would we “see”? First we would find that the Triune God was still there. But we would notice that God the Son now has a glorified human body and further we would notice that that body has been wounded. What Christianity pictures for us at this point is astounding! The Spirit-God of the universe has somehow taken on a human body that had lived a life on earth, died a gruesome death and is now back in heaven with a wounded human, but glorified, body.

Along with the trinity we will see countless other glorified human beings. As we watch and listen we learn that these are one spirit with the Son and of His flesh and bones. We learn that they share in the divine nature, are variously called brothers or the bride of the Son. They are called joint-heirs with the Son putting them basically into the family of God. And furthermore we see that they share in ruling and reigning along with the Son of God. (see Hebrews 2:11; Eph 5:30-33; 1 Cor 6:16-17; Romans 8:17;2 Peter 1:4; Rev 20:4)

We hear countless groups giving praise to God with sayings such as these:

 

Holy, holy holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!

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.

 

You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.

 

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!

 

Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!

 

In addition to these glorified human beings we see other created beings that we would call angels who are serving and ministering. But the sad thing we see is that there is a terrible place of torment where both humans and demons are being punished eternally for crimes they have committed against God.

 

What do we learn from this picture of what is taking place at the end?  1) God created all things for His pleasure, glory and honor. 2) We learn that God is just and must punish evil and rebellion. He doesn’t just sweep everybody in and wink at sin. 3) We learn that God was willing to sacrifice Himself to redeem a people for Himself. 4) We learn that there will be people of every tribe and nation participating. God does not discriminate. 5) His people will rule and reign with Him. 6) Finally, we learn that there will be enduring praise forever and ever for God and the glory He demonstrates in all His ways.

 

So what this tells us is the same thing all of the Bible is telling us. God created and then sent Jesus to redeem a people for Himself for the eternal praise of His glory. That’s why we’re here! As John Piper puts it, “The purpose of God is the ingathering of the nations to worship His Son. The magnifying of Christ in the white-hot worship of all nations is the reason the world exists.”

(Part 5)