googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: January 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What do liberal news media have in common with clowns?

I'm going to take a short break from my series to interject my thoughts about the alternative media – aka “fake news outlets,” aka CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, The NY Times, The Washington Post, et al.

Do I need to say that these supposed news organizations have a liberal bias? I mean, really? Everybody knows it. And yes, I mean EVERYBODY knows. I know it. You know it. Anyone who watches these shows knows it. Their fans know it. Their critics know it. Elected officials know it. Democrats know it. Republicans know it. Even the so-called journalists who report on these shows know it. Do you understand what I'm saying? EVERYBODY knows these organizations are liberal. But what is absolutely hilarious is that they keep trying to pretend they're unbiased.

Pretend for a moment that President Trump holds a press conference and a reporter shows up wearing a clown nose.
President Trump asks, “Why are you wearing a clown nose?”
The reporter stares back straight-faced and says, “I'm not wearing a clown nose.”
Trump presses him, “Look. You're sitting right there wearing a clown nose. Everyone can see it. Why are you trying to deny it?”
The reporter begins talking over the President, “Why are you trying to pivot off the subject by talking about me? No one is wearing a clown nose. You're just trying to avoiding answering the hard questions.”
Trump throws up his hands in exasperation. Shaking his head, he humors the reporter, “OK, what's your question?”

Doesn't that sound ridiculous? I'm telling you that it's not that far-fetched. When these so-called “news networks” try to say they report the news objectively, they sound to me as ridiculous as a reporter denying he's wearing a clown nose. It's so obvious that their denial just makes them seem all the more foolish.  After a certain point, you just can't take anything they say seriously.

I don't get it. You are all liberal. You KNOW you are. If you want to be cheerleaders for leftists, then be the cheerleaders. I'd understand that and some people like to hear the cheerleaders for their cause. But please, please, please, stop the charade. Why do you all continue the farce? You're not fooling anyone and it's becoming embarrassing. I know you're not embarrassed, of course, but I'm embarrassed for you.

Just stop. OK?

Rant over. Carry on!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Can a person lose his salvation? Part 3

Salvation is given by God. Can we all agree on that? I didn't earn it. I don't deserve it. God would be perfectly just to judge me according to my sins BUT because He is loving and merciful, He has made salvation possible through the shed blood of His only Son. By believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus and by accepting Him as my Lord, I am saved (Romans 10:). End of story....

or is it? You see, there are some people who believe that, while salvation may be a free gift, we have to work to keep it. So even though some call it a “free” gift, they still believe it comes with a lifetime of conditions. We could be the most vile sinner ever and be saved, right? But once we're saved, we'd better become sinless or we will meet the same fate we faced before coming to Christ. Before I even get into the Scripture, let me say that something about that just doesn't sound right. Christ will forgive a wallowing pig but will condemn a dirty sheep? Hmm.

In my second post of this series, I talked about the transforming nature of salvation. When we become saved, we are a new creature. Our old selves are passed away and we are born new of the Spirit. That is the picture of salvation given in the Bible. If we believe that we could lose our salvation, it makes salvation seem more of a status – something that could change. It's like going to work for a new company; as long as we work there, we enjoy the benefits of our employment but we could be fired or we could leave and then we would be the same person we were before. In this light, salvation isn't transforming but, rather, is conditional.

If we can all agree that salvation is given by God, my next question would be to ask who is responsible for keeping our salvation? Those people who believe we can lose our salvation obviously believe it is up to individual believers to keep their salvation but I don't believe such an idea can be found in Scripture. Instead, I think the Bible is clear that God not only saves us be He keeps us. Consider the following verses:

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 1:7-8)

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25)

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1Peter 1:3-5)

You can see from these verses that the same God who saved us also keeps us. We aren't kept by feeble works of the flesh any more than we were saved by feeble works of the flesh. How can we possibly reconcile the idea of losing our salvation with the idea that our salvation is kept by the power of God? Is God able to save us but not keep us?

Jesus Himself often testified that He keeps those that the Father gives Him.

And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.... Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:39-40, 54)

The flesh and blood in this passage is a reference to the crucifixion, where Jesus give His life as an atonement for the sins of the world. By “eating” His flesh and “drinking” His blood, Jesus says we have eternal life and with that He makes another promise - “I will raise him up at the last day.” There is nothing about that verse that is ambiguous.

Our salvation is not a “one and done.” The sacrifice of Jesus didn't only forgive some of our sins – those committed before accepting Him. His blood covers all of our sins, those we have committed and those we will commit. This is expressed in several familiar passages but I believe some people don't grasp what is being said. David said, “mercy will follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6). John said, “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace (John 1:16).

I wasn't just forgiven once; I'm forgiven continuously. Every day is new mercy. Every day is new grace. Every day God pours out new blessings upon me, not because of my obedience but because of Christ's obedience. Am I so vain that I think I can obey God in my flesh? Is my opinion of Christ's sacrifice so small that I believe His blood will not cover my next sin? Will I rob God of His glory by claiming it is my works that keep my salvation and not Him? No, no, and no!

Read the entire series:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Can a person lose his salvation? Part 2

When we try to describe who someone is, there are certain qualities that are transitory and some that are permanent. I could describe a person as a teller at a bank. That's a transitory quality because he may not always be a teller. Next week, he could be working at a department store.

It's not always easy to decide if a quality is transitory or permanent. Take apples, for example; there are some varieties that are green, like Granny Smith. In that case, being green is a permanent characteristic of the apple. However, we sometimes use the word “green” to describe fruit that isn't ripe. So the phrase, “That apple is green,” is ambiguous. It could mean the apple isn't yet ripe – a transitory quality that could change as the fruit ripens or it could mean the apple is a Granny Smith – a permanent quality that will not change.

If we say that someone is saved, we must determine if that is a transitory or permanent condition. We can do this by examining passages in the Bible that describe the nature of salvation. We'll start by considering 2 Cor 5:17:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

In light of this verse, it's hard to imagine how salvation could be transitory or temporary. When we become saved, our old self ceases to exist. How then can we go back to being that person? This verse describes salvation as a fundamental change to who we are. It gives the strong impression that salvation is a permanent condition rather than temporary. Of course, we should never take a single verse as a proof text on matters of doctrine. Instead, we should always interpret any passage in the context of the entire Bible. Consider also the following verses:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23)

Salvation is clearly being described as a change to our essential nature. We have passed from death to life. We are born again of incorruptible seed. These verses, and many others like them, see to affirm that the most obvious understanding of 2 Cor is indeed the correct one. Being saved means a fundamental change in our very nature. Jesus Himself described salvation as being “born again.” Read His conversation with Nicodemus regarding the subject:

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:1-6)

Nicodemus scoffed at the idea a person could be born a second time. He was right in a sense because a second physical birth is impossible but Jesus wasn't talking about a second physical birth but a new birth – a birth from the Spirit. What would it mean to be born a second time of the flesh? You're already born so it would mean nothing new or different. Furthermore, how could a person ever become “unborn” of the flesh or “lose” his birth of the flesh? It doesn't make sense. When Jesus compared our spiritual birth to our physical birth, I believe He intended many of these parallels. If we could lose our salvation, what does that say about our spiritual rebirth? Do we become “unborn again”? It doesn't make any sense.

Are we agreed that salvation is a description of who we are? Next we will consider some passages that describe the permanency of our salvation:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28)

Think about that verse for a moment. Jesus gives us eternal life and says His sheep will never perish. If you received eternal life, then lost it and perished, you have made Jesus a liar. There are many more verses along these lines.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. (Romans 11:28-29) You might want to look up the definition of “irrevocable.”

Take special note of the words the Bible uses: eternal life, you will never hunger, God's gift is irrevocable. How can have eternal life and then not have it? It's like saying I used to be immortal but now I'm going to die. The use of these kinds of words suggests permanency of our salvation.

I believe people who think we can lose our salvation have the understanding that salvation is like a status, a condition that can change. It's as though being saved is like being a bank teller – you're a teller until you quit or until the bank fires you. I think this is an incorrect view that is contrary to Scripture.

Read the entire series:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Can a person lose his salvation? Part 1

There are some theological issues I won't debate with other Christians because I believe they are of little consequence. An example is the question of predestination (aka, election). God clearly commands us to share the gospel so I will share the gospel. What's the use of debating whether a person has the free will to respond or if God gives him the ability to respond?

There are some issues, of course, where I take a definite position and this includes the question, can a person lose his salvation? In my opinion, what a person thinks about losing his salvation reveals how he thinks a person is saved. If someone thinks a person could lose his salvation by sinning, for example, it may be because he thinks salvation is earned by good works. What's more, if it is possible to lose my salvation, I want to be sure I know if mine is at risk.

Concerning losing salvation, one website offers this analogy:

Suppose a friend gave me a brand new car which he paid out of his own money, and simply gave me the title and keys and said, "It's yours, Tom. Enjoy it." All I can do is reach for the keys and title and say, "Thank you!" Let me ask you a question. Is the car a free gift to me or did I have to earn it? It's free, right! But let me ask another question. Is it going to cost me money to keep and maintain the car? Sure it is. I'm going to have to put gas, change the oil, give it tune-ups, wax the car, and so on. The car is costly to keep, but it was free when I received it. Salvation works the same way. I can't earn it. God freely gave me my salvation since Jesus paid for it through His sacrifice on the cross. But once I receive it, I must take care of it.

Really good analogies are scarce. I think this analogy fails on a single point: If the car represents salvation, at the end of the day, would he still have the car or not? If he didn't put gas in the car, he may not get the full benefits of it, but he still owns the car, doesn't he? Suppose the person who gave him the car said, “I'm going to give this to you but if you don't take care of it, I'm taking it away.” In that case, did he ever really own the car? It's more like the true owner is just letting him drive it for a while. Rather than demonstrating how a person keeps his salvation, I believe this analogy better illustrates the misunderstanding some people have over the issue.

I want to make a short series about the subject where I present my argument against the possibility of a Christian losing his salvation and then rebut some of the more common arguments in favor of it.

This subject came up once in my Sunday School class when we were studying Hebrews. The verse that prompted the discussion was Hebrews 6:4-6:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Many people cite this passage as Scriptural support for the idea one can lose his salvation. However, I believe the passage is vague. Read the passage again carefully and consider what it is saying. 1) It clearly says, “if they shall fall away,” it would put Christ's death on the cross to open shame. 2) It clearly says “if they shall fall away,” it is impossible for them to become saved again. What is not clear from the passage is whether or not it is actually possible to “fall away.” I can see how one might have the impression it's possible but it isn't overtly stated from a straight reading of the text.

I admit some passages in the Bible are a little difficult to understand and I think it's dangerous to build doctrine on passages that are difficult to understand. In order to understand a difficult passage, we need to seek out other passages that discuss the same subject and aren't difficult to understand. We can then use the clear reading of the other passages to help us better understand the more vague ones.

For the record, based on my understanding of the clear passages in the Bible, I interpret Hebrews to mean something like, “If a saved person could fall away from the faith, it would make a mockery of Christ's death and it would be impossible for them to become saved again since Christ only died once on the cross.” Over the next few posts, I intend to offer clear, Scriptural support for what some have called, “eternal security.” Please stay tuned!

Read the entire series:

Part 2

Part 3
Part 4

Friday, January 6, 2017

Not so simple beginnings

Richard Dawkins has said this:

If the alternative that's being offered to what physicists now talk about - a big bang, a spontaneous singularity which gave rise to the origin of the universe - if the alternative to that is a divine intelligence, a creator, which would have to have been complicated, statistically improbable, the very kind of thing which scientific theories such as Darwin's exists to explain, then immediately we see that however difficult and apparently inadequate the theory of the physicists is, the theory of the theologians - that the first course was a complicated intelligence - is even more difficult to accept.... Complicated things come into the universe late, as a consequence of slow, gradual, incremental steps. God, if he exists, would have to be a very, very, very complicated thing indeed. So to postulate a God as the beginning of the universe, as the answer to the riddle of the first cause, is to shoot yourself in the conceptual foot because you are immediately postulating something far far more complicated than that which you are trying to explain.

Dawkins tends to be a little wordy so let me simplify it: he is saying that the explanation for any phenomenon should be less complicated than the thing it tries to explain. Can I say that I find it humorous and somewhat ironic that he would use so many words to explain how things should have a simple explanation? Anyway... according to Dawkins, God would necessarily be far more complicated than the universe and so a Supreme Being as the First Cause is not a satisfactory explanation for the universe. It's a stretch, I know, but he makes this point frequently so he must think it's compelling.

Dawkins' argument suffers from a flawed premise. What objective, testable, scientific principle exists that requires a cause to be less complicated than its effect? He is trying to make a logical argument but it's more like philosophical “wishful thinking.” I utterly reject the notion that an explanation must necessarily be less complicated than what it explains. Such an idea runs contrary to everything we observe.

Consider a painting on a cave wall. How did the painting get there? It's not rocket-science: someone must have painted it on the wall. But isn't a human being more complicated than than the painting? So, according to Dawkins' reasoning, a human painting a picture on the wall isn't a satisfactory explanation.

Of course, Dawkins is not so easily stymied. He's heard this rebuttal before. He claims that the human who made the painting is, himself, the product of simpler beginnings. Through a billions of years long chain of events, the human has evolved from more primitive creatures, which evolved from a single celled creature, which rose naturally from non-living matter, which was fused together from simpler elements, which ultimately came from hydrogen atoms in the big bang. It's a sort of cosmic “butterfly effect” where an expanding cloud of hydrogen in space becomes a painting on a cave wall. How convenient.

The death knell of Dawkins argument lies in our understanding of cause and effect. We've learned that every phenomenon we've ever observed must have sufficient cause to explain it. In every case, the cause is not simpler than the effect but rather is always greater than the effect. In other words, a big bad wolf cannot huff and puff and blow a house down; it takes something like a hurricane or tornado to blow a house down. A ship cannot float unless the weight of the water it displaces weighs more than the ship itself. A bird cannot fly unless the shape of its wings creates more lift under its wings than the bird weighs.

Now, no system is perfectly efficient – there is always wasted energy. If a little input could create a greater output, then something like perpetual motion should be possible. It's not. The cause is always greater than the effect. Always! Therefore, the universe could not have come from nothing. Nothing can only produce nothing. It could never produce something – not even a single atom. The cause of all the matter and energy in the universe must necessarily be something greater than all the matter and energy in the universe.

Dawkins' rhetoric is really nothing more than clever semantics. There is no reason to expect the cause of the universe must be something less complicated than the universe. The exact opposite is true. God creating the universe is by far the most reasonable explanation.