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.

Battle Plan – Strategy 3 – Sin and Satan Defeated

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

Strategy 3 I am reminding myself of the fact that sin and the devil are defeated and God will not allow me to be tempted above what I am able.

These truths are not designed to make us complacent. They are given to us by God to strengthen our resolve and assure us that victory is possible on a daily basis.

Meditate on these passages of Scripture:

Hebrews 2:14-15 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Colossians 2:14–15 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Romans 6:6, 14 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

From these passages we can see that sin and Satan have been defeated. God is actively engaged in preventing us from being tempted more than we are able to deal with. The power of sin has been broken. It might not feel that way, but the Bible tells us that this is the truth and so by faith we are to believe it and claim it to be true and to respond accordingly as we face the various temptations that come our way.

Priority Goal 3: Today I will claim the fact that sin and the devil have been defeated and that the power they claim to hold over me is a fraud. God has taken away their power and authority and I am able to overcome whatever temptation is coming my way.

Thoughts on Ephesians 1:1-6

Ephesians 1:1-6

1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

There are many things to think about just in these 6 short verses. My goal is to choose a few topics which speak to my heart and may also speak to yours. In the process, I’ll pose a couple of questions also which might be able to stimulate some discussion and thought.

Much could be made out of the fact that Paul addresses these people as saints even though they were undoubtedly normal, failure-prone people. When God declares us righteous, we are righteous. The really amazing thing to me though is that in verse three, Paul tells us that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. God is not stingy. I don’t know how many spiritual blessings there are, but it seems like there must be close to an infinite number. God has blessed us with every one. And then I think about the fact that it is not others who have been blessed in this way, it is “us”. I’m included in that.

Then, unlike us, Paul is not afraid to tackle a big issue without batting an eye. He tells us that we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. I have thought about these things a lot and am convinced that even though we don’t understand how this all fits together with our responsibility for what we do, God is the one who chose us for himself long before we were born. What an amazing thing!

Some Questions:
What are some of the “benefits” we receive because of our adoption as sons?
What are some of the spiritual blessings we have been blessed with?

What can we do to become outwardly more of what we are positionally, that is holy and blameless?

(Originally published in 2005)

Christian Worldview – 9 Who Am I? Part 3

So far we’ve seen that God, through the Gospel, has promised to remedy what the fall did to our being. Our spirits are brought to life (Ephesians 2:1), our bodies are promised a resurrection, and the damage to our souls begins to be restored through the work of His Spirit and Word.

Last time we looked at some passages of scripture that show us what has happened to our mind. We are described as foolish, blinded, and darkened. Our ability to understand truth has been compromised to such a degree that the natural man does not receive the things related to the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Our will has been damaged in the sense that we don’t will the right things. People are always arguing over free will. In one sense the fallen will is perfectly free in the sense that it can choose whatever it wants. The problem is it doesn’t want the right things. Until the will is repaired by a sovereign act of God and provided with the right motivation to choose rightly, the will is in bondage to its own fallen motivations.

Emotions have also been damaged by the fall. Godly emotions are listed for us as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Because of the fall these have been lost to the natural or soulish man. The natural man is pulled downward by his own natural fleshly tendencies which are described for us in Galatians 5:19-21 as the deeds of the flesh. Even after we have trusted Christ, the old habits and patterns imprinted in our emotions keep surfacing and this sets in motion the battle between the flesh and spirit.

For example, as we have grown up in our homes, we did not always respond in healthy ways to what is going on around us. The people around us are also fallen and so their decisions and their emotional state affects our own. So as we grow we develop habits and ways of thinking and reacting that may not be helpful to us. We won’t realize it, but events in life create unhealthy dependencies, bad habits, poor judgment and emotional scars. Because our thinking is also damaged, we may not be able to see what is happening and take corrective measures.

However, when we trust Jesus Christ for salvation, He begins a renewing work in our lives. This is called Sanctification. It is the process of making us more and more like Jesus who, since He is God, has perfect thinking, perfect emotions and perfect motivation for the decisions of His will.

This process is not an instantaneous one. It takes time. We first need to learn to be skeptical of our thinking. I read the other day someone wrote that we should not believe everything we think. Our minds need to be renewed (Romans 12:2). This occurs when we take the time to meditate on the Word of God, the Bible. The Bible says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1–3, NKJV)

So this is an important process. As you do this, you begin to recognize your habits, ways of thinking and reacting and attitudes that are not right and healthy. As God continues to work in your life, He will help you see that you need to put off what the Bible calls the “old man.” These are all of the old ways that are sinful and damaging and therefore not healthy for you emotionally, spiritually and relationally. Along with putting off the deeds of the “old man” should be the process of putting on the new ways of thinking and behaving, the deeds of the “new man” or the deeds of the Spirit. That means agreeing in your mind that what God says is true no matter what you may feel, and then behaving accordingly. Acknowledging the truth should come first, then faith in that truth which involves acting on it and then allow the feelings follow after. Most of us make the mistake of allowing our feelings to be the engine that drives the train. Let truth be the engine and let feelings be the caboose.

Let’s try a practical example. Let’s suppose that the children are having a bad morning and there is a lot of screaming and arguing going on. You feel like you are not going to be able to handle another minute of this. You are tempted to scream back at them, maybe even throw things yourself. But you have been meditating on scripture and most recently the passage that reads: “No temptation (or trial or test) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV).

Accepting this verse as the truth, you recognize that this is not a test greater than you can handle. So you take that truth and you believe it, you trust it and you act on it. “I guess I can handle this after all!” you say to yourself. Now you consciously set aside your anger, impatience, and whatever other sinful attitudes and actions you feel coming on. You do this because you recognize that these attitudes are not from the born-again you. They are part of the system of responses that the natural you has developed over time.  You consciously set them aside. Then with God’s help you replace them with God’s peace, love, patience, longsuffering, etc. Depending on what the children have done there might be the need for specific discipline, but it should be motivated by the holy character of God and not by frustration and anger.

Now I realize it is not as simple as one short paragraph. But this is the idea of what needs to take place in our lives. It needs to be practiced moment by moment throughout the day. If I’m late for work and a traffic light turns red, I feel impatience coming on. So I reject the impatience based on the truth that God is at work on the day’s schedule for me. Then I consciously take patience in its place.  I think one of the best summary passages for this process is the following:

As the truth is in Jesus, that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:21b–24, NKJV).

 

Worldview 2 – Agreement between God the Father and the Son

Continuing our discussion of the big picture questions, we find out in John 1:1 that something called “The Word” was with God in the beginning and also was God. This Word, or logos, is God the Son who ultimately became a man and lived here on earth among us as Jesus Christ. Jesus told his disciples that He had shared glory with the Father before the world began (John 17:24), and that the Father had loved Him before the world began (John 17:24).

The Bible indicates throughout that the three persons of the Godhead counseled and planned together concerning the creation of the world and the redemption of a people to be God’s personal possession. If you have time you might check out some of the following passages of Scripture: Psalm 33:11;  Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 46:9-10; Matt 25:34; Eph 1:4, 9-12; Eph 3:9-11; 2 Tim 1:9; Rev 13:8.

Even though this plan was an eternal plan before the world began, it was implemented in time, at the right time: Galatians 4:4; Romans 5:6; 1 Peter 1:20; Titus 1:2-3; 2 Tim 1:810; Ps 139:16

Because God is trinity, there was an agreement or covenant among the members of the trinity, agreed on before time began, as to how our redemption would be accomplished. Among other things the Son agreed in participating in the creation of the world and mankind. He would become a man and assume human nature (John 1:14; Gal 4:4-5; Heb 2:10-15). He would be placed under the law, obey it perfectly, and yet die in order to pay the penalty for sin (Ps 40:8; Matt 5:17,18; John 8:28, 29; John 10:18; John 17:4;  Gal 4:4,5; Phil 2:6-8; Heb 10:7-9). He would provide believers with forgiveness and renewal of their lives through the new covenant (Luke 22:20, John 17:12, 19-22; Heb 2: 10-13 7:25). He would give His people eternal life (John 17:2). And also that He would be the representative of a people (1 Cor 15:45; Heb 9:24).

(Part 3)