Archive for the ‘Tom’s Tidbits’ Category

Lordship Salvation is Confusing

One thing that really bugs me about Lordship Salvation teaching is that the same people who teach that you must “examine yourself” to see if your faith is “genuine” ALSO teach that faith is the gift of God and that God selects only a few people to be saved and all the rest are lost. Now, suppose you examine your life and conclude that your faith is NOT genuine because you lack enough works or maybe you have the wrong motives or perhaps there is a sin that you have not forsaken. Then, according to these teachers, you cannot do a thing about it because you are not one of God’s elect. Can you “believe harder?” Should you go out a do a bunch of works in an attempt to show that your faith really IS genuine afterall? That wouldn’t help.

So if you cannot do anything about it, what is the point in examining yourselft to see if you are “in the faith?” Also, since according to their teaching, “true believers” always have good works, then why would “true believers” need to checkup on their works to see if their faith is “real.” They would already be doing enough works to confirm their faith or they would not BE “true believers.”

I agree that we need to examine ourselves regularly to see if our daily walk with the Lord is in obedience to Him. We need to have a close relationship with Christ, a fellowship with Him. But that examination is not to confirm our salvation or prove our faith is real. The Lordship Salvation teaching denys the fact that a believer can be “beset by sin” and “burdened with weights” and fail to run well in the race that is set before us. (Heb 12:1-4)

Clear presentation of the Gospel

This man makes the Gospel of Christ so clear and understandable.  Give it a listen.

Change your mind about Repentance

They are out there.  You see them now and then if you are watching.  I’m referring to people carrying signs about repentance.  Is that what God wants us to do…. carry a sign?

I rarely use the word repent because traditionally it has come to mean to “turn from sin.”  Repentance is absolutely necessary for salvation .  Luke 24:47 says, “repentance for forgivness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations.” (NASB)  But does it mean “turn from sin?”   If it does, then how many sins would one have to turn from to be saved?  Some? Most? All?  Maybe only the sins you know about?  How do you turn from something that is inside of you?  That is where sins dwells (Romans 7:20).

If you say that the word repent always means to turn from sin, then you will have a problem in the Old Testament because you will find that God often repents. (Genesis 6:6 KJV)  Does that mean he turns from sin?  No.  God is not a sinner.

In the New Testament there are 3 Greek words that are translated repent or repentance,  metanoeo, metanoia, and metamelomai.  The basic meaning of all three words is to “change your mind,”  to think differently.  You must look closely at how the word is used in its context to determine the precise meaning of each use.

To be saved, a person must change their mind about what they were trusting in previously and trust only in Jesus Christ to save them.  To believe in Christ means to realize that Jesus paid for all your sins on the cross and rose again.  Believing always involves a change of mind, that is why it is not necessary to actually say the word “repent” when you tell someone the gospel.  It is included in believing.  The stated purpose of the Gospel of John is to produce faith in those that read it. (John 20:31)  Yet, the Gospel of John does not contain the word “repent”, not even once.  That makes perfect sense if the word repent means to “change your mind.”

If you are honest, you will admit that you have not really turned from ALL your sin.  If turning from it were a requirement for salvation, all would surely be lost.  Sin, to one degree or another, will be right there inside of you until the day you die. (Romans 7:24)  Part of our daily warfare as a Christian is to resist it, turn from it, flee from it, overcome it, and not yield to it. It is a battle.

When God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30), He is not telling them to turn from sin, He is telling them to change their mind and trust in Christ to receive eternal life.

 

Doing things in order

I recently took up “Quilting.”  You heard right, I’m sewing.  When I was a boy, I remember snuggling down under a thick layer of hand made quilts that my Grandmother had made.  In fact, we still have some of them and use them too.  The procedure for making quilts hasn’t changed much through the years, but the tools have changed considerably.  I have been learning a lot about the craft and still have a lot to learn.  Lesson number ONE is that you must do things in the proper order.

Gather your tools, select a pattern, then gather your material and make sure you have enough for the project.  Cut your shapes, lay them out full size according to the pattern.  Next, sew the shapes together until you have completed the “quilt top.”  Lay the quilt top out and apply the batting, and the backing, and the binding using lots of pins to hold it all together.  Sew the binding all around, then finally, sew the quilting stitches in a pattern across the whole surface of the quilt.

The order of events is very important.  If you leave something out or do something in the wrong order you end up with a mess.  Its a “do over.”

The Bible says in 1 Tim 4:13 “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”  Bibles were scarce back then so public reading was very important.  Today, Bibles are everywhere and “personal reading” and study is not only possible but preferred as the primary way to learn God’s Word.

Colossians 4:16  (NET)
And after you have read this letter, have it read to the church of Laodicea. In turn, read the letter from Laodicea as well.
1 Thessalonians 5:27  (NET)
I call on you solemnly in the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

Lots of people that I know try to read the Bible through every year.  There are many “Reading Plans” available to help you do so.  What I am wondering is, “Have you ever read the Bible through in its proper order….its chronological order?”  I don’t think that I have, but I am going to give it a try this coming year.  By “chronological” I mean in the order in which the events of the Bible occurred.   There is some debate about what that order is exactly, but everyone agrees that simply reading from Genesis to Revelation is not the correct order.  Unlike Quilting, reading the Bible in the wrong order is not going to mess anything up.  Anytime you read any of the scripture, it is good.

If you have access to the internet here is a web site that makes chronological reading easy.

http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/

Select your Translation, and click “chronological.”  Next, select your starting date, then click on the actual date and you can read the entire passage for your selected date right on the screen.  You can also print the plan and follow it in your regular Bible.

Rev 1:3
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to
heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

DNA Evidence for God

DNA evidence is often used in criminal proceedings to prove whether or not a suspect was at the scene of a crime.  It is also used to prove that certain convicted criminals were actually innocent.  This can be done because DNA contains unique, meaningful information about the person from which it came.  Coded information.

Meaningful information must come from an intelligent mind, especially if the message is coded or encrypted.  For example, the following pattern is just a random bunch of 1’s and 0’s.  It means nothing and it conveys no message at all.

On the other hand, the next pattern is a meaningful binary code.

It doesn’t look much different but this set of 1’s and 0’s can be decoded and it has a specific meaning that can be read and understood.  It says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”

What is the difference?  The first pattern was made by senseless random tapping of the ONE and ZERO keys of my computer.  The second pattern is a string of numbers, actually in groups of eight, and they were generated by a text to binary converter.  The converter was designed by a programmer and can be used to code and decode information.  This pattern contains a meaningful message that can be read and understood.  It required intelligence to write the conversion program and it required a human mind to compose the message and convert it to binary using the converter.

The DNA molecule is a complex set of chemicals.  It seems impossible that it could accidentally come into being by chance.  But suppose it did, would it do anything?  No it would just be a complex molecule in a pool of primordial soup. Before it could do anything, it would require some support structure to go with it.  But even more important, it would require some information encoded in its structure, some meaningful information.  Where would this information come from?

DNA contains a code similar to a computer code.  Computers uses 1’s and 0’s intelligently arranged in meaningful sequences by programmers using various languages and code compilers.

DNA contains 4 chemicals abbreviated ACGT that are used to code information.  These chemicals are arranged in a meaning code comprised of base pairs.  This code describes the particular life form that carries the DNA in every cell.  The very simplest life form has about 500,000 base pairs of coded information within its DNA.  Human DNA has about 3,000,000,000 base pairs of coded information. This code can be read and understood by scientists who study DNA.  They have even learned how to modify the code to bring about “beneficial” changes in some plants and animals.  This is called genetic engineering.

If the DNA code was just a random pattern of chemicals there would be no message, no meaning.  It would not describe a living being and would not function.  Just like the simple binary code shown above required a human mind to lay it out in a meaningful pattern, a super intelligence (God) was required to create the information contained in the DNA molecule.

When you look at the DNA molecule, you are looking at concrete evidence that God exists and that He created the heavens and earth as he said.  Meaningful information must come from a mind.  The DNA molecule with its complex code of life came from the mind of God.

The Fish that Fried Good Friday

Good Friday will soon be here , the day most Christians choose to remember that Jesus Christ went to the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world. Truly the most important thing is THAT He died for us and rose again the third day and that we can have eternal life as a free gift through faith in Him. However, there is something “fishy” about Friday. Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” This verse plainly says that Jesus would be “three days AND three nights” in the grave. If you count from Friday to Sunday morning, you just cannot come up with three days and three nights, even if you use “New Math.” The following is a non-traditional explanation.

The fish is not the only part of this scaly problem. In these verses, Matt 26:18; Mark 14:14; Luke 22:8-15, the Bible plainly states that Jesus ate the passover with his disciples before he was captured but in John 18:28, it says that the Jews refused to go into Pilate’s palace because they did not want to be unclean and thus miss out on eating the passover, a meal they should have already eaten the day before, the same day that Jesus ate it.

Traditionally, the problem of the three days has been explained this way. The Jews had a tradition that any part of a day counted as the whole day. In the words of Rabbi Elazar ben Axaryah, “A day and a night are an Onah, and the portion of a Onah is the whole of it.” Onah is the Hebrew word for a portion of time. This neatly explains all the verses that speak of “three days,” like Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34; Matt 27:63; John 2:19. It also takes care of verses that refer to “the third day,” Matt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 27:64; Luke 9:22; 13:32; 18:33; 24:7,21,46;Acts 10:40; and 1Cor 15:4.

It gets fishy when you throw Matthew 12:40 into the mix. William Graham Scroggie in his book “A Guide to the Gospels” stated, “When the number of nights is stated as well as the number of days, the expression ceases to be an idiom and becomes a literal statement of fact.” Jesus was to be in the grave “three days AND three nights.” We can’t just throw this fish back.

The time element is also bothersome. There was a lot of activity between the time that Jesus actually died and the time that His resurrection was discovered. There was dialog between the Jews and Pilate about removing the bodies from the Cross. The thieves’ legs were broken. The centurion talked with Pilate about the death of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathaea met with Pilate and requested the body of Jesus and at some point went to the market to buy linen. Nicodemus took time to acquire 75 pounds of ointments for the burial and later met up with Joseph to retrieve and embalm the body. The women went to the market and bought the raw material for spices which they later prepared at home by cooking them. This is a partial list of the twenty different events that took place. All of them took time. If Jesus was crucified on Friday, there would only be about three hours to accomplish it all. Remember, no work could be done on the Sabbath and the markets would be closed.

So, how do we solve the problem of the fish? The answer is in John 19:31. Now it was the day of preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. (John 19:31 NIV)

Jesus died on Passover the 14th of the Jewish month of Nisan, it was the preparation day of the Sabbath. John is the only writer that points out that this Sabbath was a “special Sabbath.” The KJV reads ,”…for that sabbath day was an high day.” The fact is that the 14th could be any day of the week and the day following the 14th was always a Sabbath since it was the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:4-7). To add to our confusion the Jews marked their days from Sundown to Sundown instead of using the Roman calendar. So, using the Roman calendar to aid in our understanding, Jesus ate the passover meal with his disciples on Tuesday evening which to the Jews was the beginning of the 14th. He was crucified on Wednesday the 14th and died around 3 P.M. Joseph and Nicodemus negotiated for His body and He was taken from the cross, wrapped in a single piece of linen cloth ( grk – sindon – Matt 27:59 singular) and laid in the tomb all before sundown. Thursday was the special Sabbath. The women and all concerned had a full day to recover a little bit from the shock of the events that occurred on Wednesday. On Friday, Joseph returned to the tomb and replaced the single piece linen with proper burial bandages (grk – othonia John 19:40 plural) using a separate piece for Jesus’ head. This was when the 75 pounds of ointment were used. The women had time on this day to cook up their spices. At some point, the tomb was sealed and the guard was set. Saturday was the regular Sabbath and every one rested again. Early Sunday morning the women took their spices to the tomb and found it empty on the 1st day of the week.

This explanation solves the problem of the fish in Matt 12:40, and it allows enough time for all the events to take place. Traditionally Saducees dined on the 14th and Pharisees dined on the 15th, which could explain the Jews concern about being unclean. There were also several other special meals during the Passover week that had this requirement.

So… Big Deal… the whole world celebrates Good Friday. Why should we even worry about it. Some skeptics are quick to point out the apparent contradictions in time. Others try to say that Jesus didn’t really die but only swooned on the cross. The “three days and nights” buries that idea. As Christians we should study carefully and have an answer for every man that asks us the reason of the hope that is in us. (1Pet 3:15) Also, when asked for a special sign of his authority, His burial and resurrection is the only sign that Jesus gave. We should know how to properly explain it even though we enjoy our Good Friday celebrations.

Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Passover Chart

Christ was Crucified on Wednesday.

 

 

Evolution’s Tricky Tree of Life

This crude tree of life was scrawled among Darwin's notes

Darwin's Tree of Life

Ever since Darwin published his Origin of Species, evolutionist have been pondering the tree of life.  Scrawled among Darwin’s notes was this crude image of a tree that gave rise to the modern “Common Ancestor” theory of evolution that is now universally held among evolutionary theorists.

They say that we did not come from apes or monkeys. This is obvious because there are too many differences between us and them.  Instead, all living things that we see today, sprang from common ancestors that no longer exist.  Very fancy evolutionary trees of all types and details can now be seen in text books and on the internet, wherever evolution is taught.  The “trees” look impressive, but in reality, they cleverly hide the lack of evidence that there is for the theory of evolution.   Here is an example of a typical tree of life.

 

Typical tree of life from a text book

Example of a tree of life

Science has not always held the common ancestor view.  It was once thought that evolution progressed through a ladder of ascent with man at the top of the ladder having evolved from lower animals.  This rejected theory is now called Orthogenesis.  This method had some appeal because you could line up a bunch of life forms that seemed to show a progression from crude to complex and then convince people that it may have happened that way.   Here is an example of a fallacious Orthogenic tree of life proposed by Henry Fairfield Osborn.  Scientists now agree that none of these animals were directly related.

Typical Orthogenesis tree of life

Fallacious ladder of evolution

There is one thing for sure…..whatever man came from, he had to come directly from it.  I came directly from my dad who came directly from his dad who came directly from his dad in a straight line progression.

Tree of life redrawn to show a straight line

Redrawn tree of life.

Keeping that principle in mind,  look closely at any evolutionary tree of life and you will notice something.  Almost all the life forms are on the outer edges of the tree and where all the branches intersect, there is usually NOTHING.  Each of these intersections represents an unknown common ancestor.  If you will simply redraw the tree and straighten out the lines for any given specie, you will discover an amazing thing.   Those complicated family trees are hiding the fact that evolutionist do not really know the origin of anything.   The figure below is the same as the fancy tree pictured above simply redrawn tracing the evolution of man.  Behold the missing chain of evidence.   We came directly from and unknown common ancestor, who came from another unknown common ancestor, who came from another.

Prominent evolutionist, Stephen Gould once wrote,

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of
paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.” Written by evolutionist and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould (Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University) in his article “Evolution’s Erratic Pace”, in Natural History, Vol. 86, No.5, May 1977 p:13-14

Don’t be fooled by any of evolution’s tricky trees.  Isaiah 45:12 says,
“It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands, And I ordained all their host.

Option Play

I was once invited to speak at a church in Buhl, Idaho as a candidate for pastor.  The reception was warm and I rated my message as an 8.5.  It was a good time.  After the pot luck was over, the elders of the church pulled me aside to talk.  They asked me some more questions about my background and expressed a strong interest in having me as their pastor.  Toward the end of the conversation, one of the elders made a big point that I was not to worry about my beliefs conflicting with theirs.  They said that their church was easy going when it came to the content of the Bible and that they did not care if I believed in all those stories in the Old Testament.  Stories like creation, Adam and Eve, the flood, Jonah and the fish, Daniel and the Lions den etc.  They all nodded and agreed that those things were just not all that important.  I politely told them that there would be problem because I believed that all those “stories” were literally true and that they were very important.  I turned down their offer.

Is it optional to believe all that is in the Bible?  How important are all those stories?  How important are they to you?  It is one thing to be ignorant of the things in the Old Testament, it is quite another to deny them or to regard them as exaggerated “stories” with little importance.

In  Matt 12:39-41, Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here.”  In this statement, Jesus ties the story of Jonah to his own death and resurrection.  He repeats the reference  to Jonah again in Matt 16:4.  Was Jesus misguided when it came to science and history?  Was he using fairy tales to illustrate the important subject of his resurrection?  I think not!  Jesus also claimed to be greater than Jonah.  What good it that?  How great would you have to be to be greater than a fairy tail hero?  No, Jesus was not misguided.  He referred to the story of Jonah as a fact of history.  Since Jesus tied it to the resurrection,  you cannot throw out the story of Jonah unless you throw out resurrection of Christ as well.

In like manner, Jesus referred to creation when in Mark 10:6 he said “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.”  Was Jesus using a “creation myth” to support his argument about the sanctity of marriage?  I think not!  Jesus had a direct hand in creation.  In John 1:3 we are told, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”   In 1Cor. 15:22 Paul links the story of creation to the resurrection when he says “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive..”

The subject of creation can be found in almost every book of the Bible.  One of my favorite passages on the subject is 2Cor 4:6 “For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.”   Think about it.  If you deny that God made the light to shine out of darkness, how can you then believe that He has shined in your heart.

The more you read and study the Bible, the more you will find that it must be taken as a whole.  2Tim 3:16 [NET]  Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

The Curse of Coniah

Technology often spawns new concepts. I was listening to my daughter one day as she was venting some anger about a co-worker. She finished her rant by exclaiming, “Well, I unfriended her!” “Unfriended,” I inquired? She replied, “Yes, she was one of my friends on Facebook, but I UNFRIENDED her.” How symbolic. Reflecting on that recently, I thought, what would it be like to be unfriended by God?

Reading through the book of Kings, you can follow the decline of the kingdom of Judah. With few exceptions, each king became progressively worse than the previous. In Jeremiah 22:24,25, God ends the decline. Using a symbolic statement, He pronounces a curse on Coniah , King of Judah. “As I live,” declares the LORD, “even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on my right hand, yet I would pull you off; and I shall give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. In this pronouncement, God did two things that are much worse than unfriending. He “pulled off the signet ring” symbolizing the removal of Jeconiah from power and at the same time “nicked” his name to Coniah.
(Coniah is a nick name for Jeconiah who was also called Jehoiachen.) The meat of the curse continues in verse 30, Thus says the LORD, ‘Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.’ With this curse, the genealogical bloodline of David through Solomon abruptly ended. No physical son of Coniah, could sit upon the throne. I’m sure the devil must have thought that he had won a great victory.

Jump ahead now to the birth of Christ and notice in the genealogy of Joseph in Matthew 1:11,12 and to Josiah were born Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon, to Jeconiah was born Shealtiel; and to Shealtiel, Zerubbabel;

The bloodline of Joseph had a double curse. If Jesus were born of Joseph, he would not only inherit the sin nature as a son of Adam, but he would also be under the Curse of Coniah and thus could not sit upon the throne of David. He could neither save us nor reign over us.

God had another plan. In Genesis 3:15 He promised that a “seed of a woman” would arise victorious over Satan. When God chose Mary to be the mother of our Lord, it was not only because of her virtue, but also because of her lineage. She could trace her bloodline back to David through Nathan instead of Solomon. Thus Jesus had the legal claim to the throne of David through Joseph, but it was through Mary that the double curse was broken so that Jesus could be both Savior and King.

*Note – the name Shealtiel appears in both genealogical lines. In Matt 1:12 he is said to be the son of Jeconiah but in Luke 3:27 he is called the son of Neri (meaning an Israelite.) Although some think that Neri was another name for Jeconiah , this bump in the geneaology probably indicates that Shealtiel was legally adopted by Jeconiah (who was written childless) to continue the line of David.

Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider, fondly called the LHC, is the largest machine ever built. November 8th, physicists around the world held their breath as their colleagues at the LHC accelerated some lead ions to a speed close to the speed of light and then smashed them together. They then declared that they had witnessed a “Mini-Big Bang,” with recorded temperatures one million times hotter than the center of our sun. They claim that this display was a recreation of what the universe must have looked like one nanosecond after the “Big Bang” that started it all. The computer simulations of the event are dramatic, but it will take years to analyze all of the data and figure out what ,if anything, was really accomplished. One of their stated goals is to discover the “Super Power”, the elusive “Higgs Boson” particle that holds the universe together.

I have always been amazed at the logic behind the use of particle colliders. Suppose that you wanted to learn how Ferraris were made, what would be the best way to do it? I know. Why not take a couple of nice new Ferraris and smash them together in a flat out head on collision and record the results using high speed photography. Then, lets study all the parts that come flying off and make computer simulations based on what we observe. If the results are not satisfactory, keep increasing the speed using rocket packs. If we do this over and over again, eventually we will figure out how the Ferrari was made and why it goes so fast. We may even be able to postulate what the first Ferrari looked like.

On the other hand, wouldn’t it be better just to enjoy the Ferrari and make a trip to the plant and talk to the engineers who designed the car. God created the universe. No amount of atom smashing is going to reveal exactly how He did it. Examining the unnatural wreckage of smashed sub-atomic particles will not lead to an accurate understanding of the engineering that exists in creation.

Hebrews 1:3 states “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. “ (NIV)

Colossians 1:16,17 (NIV)
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, …. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.