googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: April 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Following Jesus

As a blogger, I can appreciate the sense of accomplishment one feels when people "follow" your blog. However, I don't ever want to forget the reason I blog which is to show people the need to follow Him!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Passion Week: Resurrection Sunday

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

(Matthew 28:1-6)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Passion Week: Saturday

Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

(Matthew 27:62-66)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Passion Week: Friday

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

(Isaiah 53:1-12)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Passion Week: Thursday

The events of this day revolve largely around the eating of the Passover meal; this is what has become known as, “The Last Supper.” Tradition says that the meal was eaten in an “upper room” in the house of Mark's parents. After the meal, Jesus gave His disciples the bread and wine, explaining that these were symbols of His body and blood (Matthew 14:12-26; Luke 22:17-23) now known as, “The Lord's Supper.”

A lot happened during the meal: Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, He told Peter that he would deny three times that he even knew Him, and He announced that one of disciples would betray Him. At some point, Judas left the meal to commit his act of treachery.

Jesus also gave a very long discourse recorded in John chapters 13-17. There's far too much detail in the discourse to share here but He tells His disciples that He is returning to the Father, He commands them to love one another, He encourages them for the trials they are about to face, and He prays to the Father concerning them.

Here is a dramatization of the discourse.

After leaving the upper room, Jesus leads His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane where He prays alone, passionately to God. Later, Judas arrives with the authorities; Jesus is arrested and the disciples flee. Jesus is tried and condemned by the Jewish authorities in an illegal trial.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Passion Week: Wednesday

The Scriptures are silent on what happened on Wednesday of the Passion Week. We can deduce that Jesus might have rested after his confrontation with the Pharisees on the previous day and also made plans to observe the Passover. Certainly the upcoming events were weighing heavily on Jesus' mind so He may also have been in much prayer on this day.

There is much debate over which day Jesus was crucified. Tradition, of course, holds that Jesus was crucified on Friday. However, there is a significant minority of people who hold that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday. Their position is derived largely from Matthew 12:40 where Jesus said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” It is a simple argument that there are not “three days and three nights” between Friday and Sunday. Advocates of this theory argue for a strict understanding there must be 72 hours between the crucifixion and the resurrection.

I tend to not agree. The Bible says in many more places that Jesus rose on the third day. If the Wednesday crucifixion were true, it means Jesus would have been raised on the fourth day.

If the Scriptures are ambiguous concerning the day of the week the crucifixion occurred, them I am happy to remain uncommitted. I have my opinion, but ultimately the question of which day it was is of no consequence. It is sufficient to know that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Passion Week: Tuesday

The Bible records a lot of events happening on this day of the Passion Week. In the morning, as Jesus comes into Jerusalem, He sees a fig tree full of green leaves. However, Jesus finds no fruit on the fig tree and so He curses it and it immediately withers. It's a haunting picture of an unfruitful people.

Later that day, Jesus confronts the Pharisees. These supposed keepers of the Law are like the fig tree: they may seem to be green and productive, but they do not bear fruit. Jesus' condemnation of the Pharisees is dramatized very well in this adaptation of Matthew 23:1-39.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Passion Week: Monday

It was on Monday of the Passion Week that most scholars agree Jesus drove the money changers from the Temple. Actually, the Gospels record what seems to be two occasions where Jesus did this – once at the beginning of His ministry (recorded in John 2:14) and again during the Passion Week (recorded in Matthew 21:12 and Mark 11:15-18). The three years between the events is a reasonable enough time to assume the practice had resumed. This video is actually a dramatization of the account from John. However, it's so well done that I'm using it now.

I hope you're blessed by it. Check in again for more videos leading up to Easter!

Additional reading:

The Passion Week: Tuesday

The Passion Week: Wednesday

The Evolutionist's Empty Demand For Evidence

I've discussed the nature of evidence more than a few times. In a nutshell, evidence is neutral. It's doesn't “tell” us anything and it doesn't endorse any theory. Instead, theories are created to help make sense of the evidence. It's a classic example of circular reasoning when evolutionists invent a theory to explain the evidence then claim the evidence supports their theory but I'm not here to talk about that right now. Rather, I'm going to explain why the evolutionists' demands for “evidence” are nothing more than special pleading.

Since most physical evidence is neutral, whenever an evolutionist asks for “evidence” for creation, he can only be asking for the creationists' explanation of the evidence. After all, I live in the same world as he so I have all the same evidence that he does. But we already know that the evolutionist rejects the creation theory in advance because he has already accepted his own theory as the explanation for the evidence. When he rejects our “evidence,” he is merely restating his preexisting acceptance of the evolutionary explanation of the same evidence. For example, if a creationists suggests that rock layers are evidence for a global flood, the evolutionist rejects this “evidence” because of his own understanding of how the rock layers were formed. In other words, it's yet another example of circular reasoning where the evolutionist says, “These rock layers were not created by Noah's Flood because they were created by gradual processes over millions of years.” He might as well say, “Creation is false because I already know evolution is true.”

Now, there's more going on here than a demand for evidence. Within the evolutionist's demand, there is an assumption that knowledge can be gained only by evidence and observation. This is a philosophical worldview known as empiricism. However, such a worldview is self-refuting. How, for example, can the empiricist prove by his worldview that truth can only be attained via evidence and observation? Such a principle cannot be observed! Thus, when they claim they only consider “scientific evidence” they are contradicting themselves because they have begun with a presupposition that was itself not derived by scientific evidence.

Of course, a clever empiricist might say, “OK. Maybe I'm starting with a philosophical assumption about evidence but even so, you're still required to have evidence for your theory.” At this point, the evolutionists has become arbitrary. He claims on one hand that he is only persuaded by the evidence yet he contradicts himself on the other hand by admitting he has made a philosophical assumption that cannot be supported by the evidence and yet still seeks to place the burden on the creationist to provide “scientific” evidence for creation! Hence I said it is special pleading.

Creationists might be asking at this point if I'm saying we don't need evidence to believe creation. In fact, I do believe there is evidence for creation. Even considering all “scientific” evidence, I believe the strongest evidence for creation is the Bible. If the evolutionist doesn't consider that as evidence, that's his problem. Now he is being arbitrary in how he chooses what will be considered as “evidence.”

Evolutionists are irrational for supposing that knowledge can be only by observation. Even if that were true, they could not really know anything because they cannot observe everything. However, our belief is rational because we have the revelation of the One who does know everything. He told us how He did it. He told us about the creation. He told us about the Fall. He told us about the Flood. To me it makes far more sense to trust in the One who knows everything than to quibble with an irrational person who, by his own reasoning, cannot ever really know anything.

Finally, a very clever evolutionist might be one who claims to believe in God and evolution (a theistic evolutionist). Such a person might state that he believes in an omniscient God but that science has shown that the creation account in Genesis cannot be taken literally. This is still an irrational argument that faces the same dilemma faced by the unbelieving empiricist. The theistic evolutionist is still making the assumption that knowledge ultimately comes from the evidence so he is being inconsistent in his worldview. Perhaps without realizing it, the theistic evolutionist is placing the limited knowledge we gain from observation above the revealed word of the God who, we all agree, knows everything.

We need not be intimidated by irrational arguments. Dr. Jason Lisle gave this analogy: what if an evolutionist said that we had to defend our theory without using words? How silly would we be if we proceeded to act out our argument in charades? Don't limit yourself to the evolutionists' rules. If I may paraphrase Proverbs 26:4-5, don't answer a fool by acting like a fool. Instead, we need to show him how foolish his argument is.

Further reading

The Cool Thing about Christianity

The Funny Thing about Science

The Science of Right and Wrong

Friday, April 15, 2011

Liberals Have it All Backwards

In my last post, I talked about how liberals think that when the government cuts spending it costs you money. The reality is that since it's our money they're spending, we're truly saving money when they spend less. This got me to thinking; liberals have a backward way of thinking about a lot of issues. Here are a few other examples.

I could go on but there's no need. These few examples more than prove my point. I'm not a psychiatrist or anything but liberalism seems to be a mental disorder. I'm reminded of Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” I guess Isaiah had liberals even back in his time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How Liberals Think that Deficit Reduction Costs Us Money

So, I'm in McDonald's yesterday eating a $3 breakfast from their value menu because I can't afford a breakfast buffet anywhere because gas is almost $4/gallon... Anyway, McDonald's usually has their TV tuned in to CNN Headline News or some other liberal, morning show. This day, they were talking about the debate going on in Washington over the budget. As they cut away to a commercial, the reportette teased the upcoming segment by saying something like, “Medicare. When we return, find out what the deficit reduction plans will cost you.”

I sat there for a minute chewing on my sausage biscuit and thinking about what I just heard. Let me get this straight: are they saying that Washington spending less money is going to “cost” us something? Perhaps someone needs to be reminded that it is our money that is being spent! If the Feds spend less of it, then we are saving money! If I'm spending $90K/year but am only making $50K per year, I would obviously save money if I cut out the $40K/year excess. Duh! Maybe I was doing some really fun things with that extra $40K. but doesn't matter. I can't afford to forever spend nearly twice what I make.

I believe the liberal attitude that a savings is really a cost turns over the understanding of the word “our.” Is this “our” money? When a liberal says, “our” he means, “us liberals.” This isn't everyone's money; it belongs only to the elite folks in Washington and the people to whom they choose to dole it out. This is why they always invoke class jealousy. Most of the people who receive government benefits don't pay any taxes so it isn't “their” money being spent. Instead, if we reduce our spending, they might receive less in benefits. This is why liberals say that a reduction in spending “costs” them.

Along those same lines, when Obama talks about “everyone” having to sacrifice, he really means that rich people have to pay more in taxes. Never mind that only 50% of the people are already paying almost 100% of the taxes; to him, they (that is, “we”) are not paying enough. If liberals are forced to spend less on their favorite causes, then the “rich” (which means anyone who pays taxes) have to pay more in order to be “fair.”

It's been said already that the federal government doesn't have an income problem. It has a spending problem. We need to cut spending. Saying that it's going to “cost us” to have deficit reduction is a shameful attempt by liberals to stir up the support of the recipients of wealth redistribution to fight back against conservative calls for fiscal discipline in Washington. Hopefully, enough people have grown tired of these class-warfare arguments by now that they won't listen anymore.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What Monty Python Can Teach Us About Reading the Bible

You normally wouldn't think we could learn much about theology from Monty Python. In most cases, I wouldn't recommend that we try. Of course, if you can look past a little bad language and irreverent humor, I have to admit that Monty Python is one of the funniest comedy groups that I've ever seen. And every once in a while, they strike upon a bit of philosophy that is a real gem.

The guard scene from the movie, The Holy Grail, is one such gem. Here are two confused guards who can't seem to understand a very simple order. Take a minute and be amused.

Does this remind you of anyone? For the longest time, I didn't didn't get the connection but just recently it dawned on me. This reminds me of people who claim to believe the Bible AND also believe in evolution. Let me explain.

Genesis is a very straight forward and plainly written account of the creation. Even a simpleton could read it and plainly see that it says God created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh. The creation event was a week long. It wasn't millions or billions of years. It wasn't a long progression of creation events over countless generations. There isn't a catastrophe and reconstruction wedged in between verses one and two. It's a simple account of a miraculous event. It's hard to misunderstand.

Yet despite the fact that it is so clearly written, there are millions of people out there that don't seem to be able to understand the clear meaning of the words. “How long is a day?,” I've heard them ask. Next they will say, “The Bible only tells us that God did it and science tells us how.” Excuse me? Are they reading the same text as me? The Bible says that God spoke and it happened. He created light on the first day, the sky on the second day, the dry land on the third day, etc. Each day is punctuated with the phrase “evening and morning” and marked with an ordinal number (“first day”, “second day”, etc). Could it really be more clear?

If you believe that the Genesis account of creation really means God created via something like evolution, then let me ask you a question: if God had meant to write that He created everything in six days, how might He have said it any more plainly? Why is it that the word “day” is easily understood the other few hundred times it is used but suddenly is “vague” when we read it in Genesis? Why should we even look for a different meaning other than the plain one? To me, people who read the Bible and then claim Genesis means something other than what it clearly means sound about as silly as the guards in the video.

The sad part is that the guards in the movie are trying to be funny.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spiritual or Physical Death?

Just a quick post today.

This stems from an online conversation I had the other day with a theistic evolutionist. Many people who claim to believe the Bible and evolution argue that Adam only died spiritually at the Fall. Worse yet, many people claim there was no real “Adam” but that the person of Adam in Genesis 2 is merely of representative of mankind and that his Fall represents the spiritual death of man in general.

Of course it's true that there is a spiritual death which comes from sin. The Bible describes this as the “second death” (Revelation 21:8). Yet it is a gross error to suggest the second death is unrelated to the first death. The Bible says that God cursed the ground for Adam's sake (Genesis 3:17). Romans 8:22 tells us that the entire creation groans and travails under the Curse. Therefore, we know with certainty that the Curse is not only spiritual but also has a physical aspect.

Let me ask a simple question: did Jesus die physically? Did Jesus rise physically? The answer to both is a resounding, YES! The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). If that only means a spiritually death, then why did Jesus have to physically endure the cross and physically die for our sins?

Death is not an intended part of the very good creation. Death is the enemy. Death (both physical and spiritual) is the judgment for our sins. It is a mockery of God's justice to say to say that our physical death was always intended by God and has nothing to do with our sin.

Friday, April 1, 2011

National Atheists Day

April 1st is traditionally recognized as April Fool's Day. Over the last few years, some non-atheist people (excuse the double negative there) have relabeled April 1st as National Atheists Day. It's a play on Psalm 14:1, which says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” It seems at least a few atheists have adopted the intended slur and celebrate the day as a sort of “in your face” to Christians.

I thought I should make a few comments about the event and I thought about what might be an original angle to take. I didn't want to merely rehash the same points that another 1,000,000 bloggers are making today. Sometimes, when I'm trying to decide what to write, I search Google images to find inspiration. It was there that I came across this gem.

Atheists are such a tiny minority that they qualify as “fringe” by any standard. However, they seem to be louder than their tiny numbers would allow. How? When I see things like this cartoon I see how. It's because they can be some of the most brazen and outrageous liars you could ever find. Is this serious? Almost none of the people on the graphic were atheists. I almost thought this was somehow trying to paint atheism in a bad light by showing some brilliant men who were theists only it didn't quite work; of course, Carl Sagan was a devout atheist and so that doesn't make sense (I'm not sure of the religious leanings of Hemingway or Clemens). So what is the point of the pic? That Lincoln was an atheist? That's absurd! In his proclamation given during the Civil War, Lincoln called people to prayer saying:

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in Holy Scripture, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And what about Ben Franklin? Is he an atheist too? Might I remind you of his call to prayer during the Constitutional Convention where he said:

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel:

Jefferson, Einstein, and even Darwin – though not necessarily born-again Christians – were certainly not atheists. But you know what, so what if they were? I mean, what does it prove? Lincoln was an atheist so then atheism is true? This is a type of an appeal to authority (argumentum ad verecundiam). It's a logical fallacy that attempts to say something like, “This brilliant person believes this so therefore this is true.”

Though the Bible says fools don't believe in God, I believe atheists do a fair job of making themselves look foolish. Why did they attempt to portray several committed theists as though they were atheists? Couldn't they find enough prominent atheists to make the same point? Now that I think about it, who could they get? Dawkins? PZ Myers? Mao Tse-tung? Pol Pot? And even if they could find some truly inspiring atheists, the entire point is a logical fallacy anyway. This graphic, meant to be persuasive, is demonstrative of the foolishness of their arguments.

I think Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens – portrayed in the pic as an atheist) said it best: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

I'm tempted to wish everyone a happy Atheists Day but it's really too sad to be celebrating. Maybe we should make this day the National Pray for an Atheist Day!