Saturday, December 24, 2016

“Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human  teacher. He has not left that open to us. He didn't intend to.”                                                                            
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

During this season which has traditionally been celebrated by the Christian world as the time when Christ was born, it is a good time to ask ourselves the very question Jesus asked the apostles. The world seemingly has as many ideas about Jesus as it has people. Many don’t give Him a second thought. They go about their days with thoughts captive to the proverbial rat race and getting "ready" for the holidays. In their minds, getting ready means preparation for a holiday meal, perhaps spending time with family and the ubiquitous gift giving that our society is known for. Others will give Jesus a cursory thought—witness how much fuller our churches become on Christmas day if, as it does this year, it happens to fall on a Sunday.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Doing God a Favor

Have you ever heard an unbeliever, especially an atheist, talk about God and His sovereignty? They will often tell you that, if the God of the Bible is the true and living God, then they don’t want to worship and serve such a God. This in reaction to the fact that the Bible, in unmistakable terms (Romans 9; Ephesians 1; etc.) declares that God is sovereign over His creation and that nothing takes place without His guiding hand. It is as if they are telling God they will do Him the “favor” of serving Him if only He were not so… tyrannical!!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

"Ye are all one in Christ!"

The other day I heard an internet program where the host played an interview of an individual who self-identified as a black reformed Christian. During the interview, the speaker decries the fact that Donald Trump won the election and what he perceived as the happiness that his white co-church goers felt at such a result. According to the individual, the fact that those folks were allegedly happy at the result of the election, made him very uncomfortable. In fact, he went so far as to express feelings of outright fear and the idea that he didn't feel safe worshipping with his co-religionists who are of the white race.

Monday, November 14, 2016

This video is a perfect example of how people can convince themselves of anything. The lady insists that her evolutionary worldview somehow contains, in her own words, inalienable rights. The Bible says "in whom[Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). It is extremely sad to see people such as this lady who are suppressing the knowledge of the truth of God while at the same time borrowing from God's truth to try and justify the barbarity that is abortion. May God have mercy on all of us!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Why Genesis Matters

The last time I gave an introduction as to why the account of creation in Genesis matters and why, if it is not true, our trust in the whole of the Bible is on shaky ground. This time, I’d like to finish with five more reasons as to why Genesis matters and why those who claim that we can be believers without believing in the creation account are misguided.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Happy Reformation Day!

Monday will mark the 499th anniversary of the beginning of what can be considered the most momentous event that took place in the church since the first century: The Protestant Reformation. I like to celebrate Reformation Day simply because it reminds me that, where it not for the courageous men who took on the Roman Catholic establishment, we today may not know half of what we know about the Bible. Up to that point, the Catholic hierarchy had so suppressed the knowledge of the Scriptures, that few were in the know about some of the cardinal doctrines of the faith.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Sweet Face of Death!

“What was once condemned must now be accepted. What was once accepted must now be condemned. Those who were at one time condemned must now be celebrated.” J.A. Hobson
As anyone who listens to or watches news broadcasts, especially CNN or FOX, knows, our American society is increasingly becoming “Europesized.” Europe long ago abandoned any pretense of being a “Christian Society” and is now more and more sold out to the progressive agenda of sexual freedom and anything goes morals. Of course, as with so many who are sold to sin, the mounting problems European countries are encountering, from the Islamic sectors’ failure to assimilate to the ever more common terrorist attacks, are blamed on everything except their obvious reason: sin.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Love For Our Countrymen

My wife and I had a little date night recently and as I contemplated the folks that we saw during our time out, an interesting thought came to my mind. I was reminded of Paul’s heartfelt cry in Romans 9:1-5: “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Not by Works!

“What right do mortals have to decide of their own accord in a matter that is far above the world?”  
John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion

One thing that all man-made religions have in common is their insistence that man’s own works are what makes them acceptable in the sight of God. Islam demands that man do good works if he expects to gain God’s favor. Unless a man’s good works outweigh the bad, he is not likely to be saved. And even then, God can decide at the last minute that he does not want to accept the man and he will be eternally lost. Thus, a Muslim is never sure whether he has been accepted by God or not. The Eastern religions are no less work-centered. Since an individual needs to work out his karma from one existence to the next, what he does becomes the center of whether he will progress or digress in the various stages of enlightenment. All the same, if you cannot remember what you did in a previous life, how can you know whether you’re progressing or not? Not only that, you can never know just how far along the path you’ve gone since there’s no objective standard that guides your actions.
As the quote at the beginning of this article attests, man is always seeking to determine for himself what God will accept. Paul tells his readers in the first chapter of Romans that man became darkened in his understanding and went after a myriad of false gods even though God had clearly manifested himself in creation. Today, the pursuit of eternity continues apace, and although the methods that man has devised in his pursuit of eternity may have changed, they all have one thing in common: man is the final arbiter of what is good and what is not. But an immediate problem raises its head in this model. If man is the final determiner of what God is to accept, then man becomes God. If he can dictate to God what God must accept and what he must approve, then God is at the mercy of man and not the other way around. Thus, humanity places itself at the center of creation and shouts to God orders he expects God to follow!
The Bible clearly tells us that God is sovereign and that we are his creation. The psalmist declared it in words that cannot be improved upon “Know that the Lord he is God. It is He who has made us and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalms 100:3). But instead of acknowledging that fact, man has decided that he knows better. Witness the ascent of secular humanism with its belief that man can attain great heights of morality and goodness without an objective standard outside himself. Try as they might, they are unable to ground their beliefs simply because, without God, there cannot be any such thing as objective morality. What is good and proper today, will not be so tomorrow. And even today, what is good in one society will not be in another.
Everyone who is even slightly acquainted with the Bible (and anyone who has watched more than a couple of minutes of a football game) no doubt has read John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Imagine how foolish that scripture would be if the rest of the gospel of John gave the impression that anything will get you to heaven. Paul told the Galatians in chapter two of his book that “if righteousness comes by the law (i.e. doing good works), then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:21). Again, the point that the apostle is making is that, without Christ, no salvation can be attained. If we leave it up to today’s crowd, what Paul really should have said was “pick something that appeals to you and sounds good and run with it.” People just do not want to contemplate the foolishness of their “whatever works for you” philosophy. In no other realm of life is that attitude usually entertained, but when it comes to spiritual matters, that’s exactly how many feel.
Let’s do a thought experiment. Since anything goes, how about Islam? The primary tenet of Islam is Tawhid, the oneness of God. It further explains that God is one and that he is supreme and sovereign. No one can come into his presence and He alone determines whom He will accept. Thus, Islam is an exclusive religion that demands the worship and service of Allah for his own sake. Okay, so Islam is too restrictive. How about Buddhism? Buddhism does not accept the existence of a personal, living God. Rather, it speaks of the divine spark that resides within each of us and in the end seeks to be absorb into the great spark in the sky, so to speak! Well, Islam and Buddhism are contradictory and are not compatible. How about Judaism? With Judaism, you’re still awaiting your Messiah. Not only that, but the Jews consider themselves the exclusive people of God. If you want to be accepted by Yahweh, you will have to be circumcised, if you’re a male, and become a proselyte. Nothing else will do.
In our pluralistic society we’re so used to seeing Muslims, Buddhists and Jews, among many others, who are only nominally such that we have come to believe that that is what those religions are all about. Since the majority of what passes for Muslims, Buddhists or Jews in America are of the “anything goes” variety (and I hasten to add, many so-called Christian also fall into this category), we believe that it must be okay to have that mindset. Unfortunately for those who so think, the truth of the matter is that those religions are just as exclusive as Christianity when followed to their logical end.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of those who build idols to themselves to worship. In chapter 44 he spoke of idols built out of wood and stone which can neither see nor hear. The great Greek Writer Homer wrote of the foolishness of those who make a chair out of wood in the morning, and then in the afternoon build a god out of whatever material is left. When we seek to build a “religion” in our own image, we are no less idolatrous than those Isaiah and Homer spoke about. We may not build the image, but in our souls we have decided that the gods we build to our own liking are superior to the only true and living God. On the day of judgment, it is not those “tolerant” gods you will have to face. It will be the great and terrible God you have been avoiding!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Does Rome Have the Gospel?

I heard a Christian apologist recently say that, as our freedom of religion becomes more and more restricted, that which is called Christendom will become more and more expansive. What he meant by that is that the restrictions on religion will cause those who call themselves Christians to be lumped together into an ever expanding lump. Thus, you will have all kinds of so-called Christians becoming the victims of persecution for their beliefs. Some will go underground and stop proclaiming the message of the cross openly. Others will become more and more accommodating and will seek to be “all things to all people” not discerning where to draw the line and not compromise with sin. And then there will be those who will stand on the truth of the gospel because they know that standing for it, regardless of the cost, is worth any price. John F. Kennedy said during his inaugural address in 1961 that the United States should “pay any price, oppose any foe, support any friend” in the pursuit of liberty and democracy. I wonder how many of us will be willing to have that mindset as we face opposition to our faith.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

“Chosen Before the Foundation of the World”

There are few doctrines in the Bible that as misunderstood as the doctrine of election. There are those for whom the doctrine cannot possibly mean what it clearly describes since that would make God an “unfair” God who chooses whom he wishes and fails to choose whom he wishes. Then there is the other side which acknowledges the necessary difficulties with the doctrine, but that nonetheless acknowledges and understands that what God has chosen to do and what he has revealed in his word is entirely within his own will and purview. After all, He said to Moses that he would have mercy on whom he wished to have mercy (Exodus 4). An injunction that is repeated by Paul in Romans nine to make the point that God indeed determines the course of history, going so far as to use the imagery of the potter and the clary to make his point.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

"Let Us Go On to Maturity"

Recently my wife and I decided that we would begin meeting with a different church group than the one we had met with for decades. Although we have changed physical locations many times since we met in the early 80’s, we have attended and been members of churches of Christ for the entirety of our 32-year marriage. Thus, it is not lightly that we came to the conclusion that God wants us where we are now meeting (Grace Baptist Church) rather than continuing to be members of the church of Christ. And the reasons for our change of heart are rather simple to explain, but were immensely difficult to accept.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Mythology of the Mayas

The other day my wife and our family went to visit the Witte Museum in downtown San Antonio. We spent about an hour or so touring an exhibit in the museum called “The Mayas.” As the title would indicate, this exhibit has to do with the Mayan civilization that dominated great portions of Mexico and Central America during the pre-Columbine era. Although not a very extensive exhibit, it did contain the highlights of a civilization which spanned over two millennia and which left an indelible imprint on the culture and the society of the Americas. It was not until the Spanish invaded the New World, that the Mayan civilization began to wane and, eventually, disappear. Although there are still many people who claim their ancestry from this once proud civilization, the empire was quickly devastated and eventually absorbed by the unstoppable wheel of progress.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Importance of Church History

To hear some say it, you would think that the history of the church began at whatever point their particular denomination came into existence. If you’re a Baptist, then it began sometime in the 17th century. If you’re a Lutheran sometime before that. And if you’re a church of Christ member, then it began in the 19th century with Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone. Every denomination has its own particular reference point when their history began and beyond which the rank and file member seldom goes. But the fact of the matter is that, if the church began in Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago, then church history is that old. Since the church did not begin with the reformation, its history did not begin there either. And it behooves those of us who call ourselves Christians to understand that history because, like it or not (or admit it or not, for that matter), that history does have a certain influence on who we are as a church in the 21st century.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Liar, Liar!

I heard on a recent apologetics show, that there was a study conducted earlier this year that children learn to lie at a very early age. By the time the child reaches the age of three, the study concluded, about half have learned the “value” of lying. This takes place when they realize that others are unable to read their minds. By the time children reach the age of five or six, about 90% of them lie habitually. This should come as no surprise to those of us who are parents. Sometimes we wonder how it is that our children can lie with such ease. But the answer, and this should surprise no one who is a believer, is to be found in the fact that the world, and everything in it, is subject to the corrupting influence of sin. Our children are not immune from the insidious effects that sinfulness exerts over our world.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

And Such Were Some of You

The other day I was listening to a webcast where the speaker was dealing with Leviticus, specifically its prohibition of same sex sexual relations. According to this particular scripture, God prohibited sex between two men giving as a reason for such prohibition the actions of the nations surrounding the Jews. In other words, God wanted his people to abstain from doing things, such as same sex relations, that were being done by those who did not know Him and who were being judged for such behavior. In light of the recent shootings at a “gay” nightclub in Florida, it may seem insensitive to broach such a subject. But unfortunately, sinful behavior does not take a vacation. The fact that we have such things as “Gay Pride Month” and LGBTA Summits, attests to the sad reality that our world is not only confused beyond understanding about its own sinfulness, but also that it has taken the practice of calling evil good to new heights (Isaiah 5:20).

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

I recently finished reading a book by renown Christian author D.A. Carson entitled “The Intolerance of Tolerance” (I have included a link for it in the recommended books section; a very worthy read). The thesis of the author is how the new “tolerance” has become a monster that has swallowed up our society. In the name of tolerance, we have become averse to anything that may even hint of moral absolutes. We can’t judge anyone based on anything anymore because that may make us guilty of the greatest sin that our society believes can be committed today: offending someone. Thus, the relativism of the postmodern world has been injected with a dose of valueless steroids that have taken it to new heights.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Tyrants at the Door!!

Every generation seems to think that theirs is the worse yet. And when it comes to children, there isn’t a generation in history that has had the boorish, rude and generally obnoxious children that this particular one has. Or so the thinking goes. You may have heard the famous saying, attributed to Socrates that goes something like this: “Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.” No need to remind you that Socrates lived over 20 centuries ago!! Come to think of it, the great philosopher was killed by those whom he taught; probably the children he spoke of who had become adults by that time!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Society’s Cognitive Dissonance

Fox News recently reported about a city ordinance that is now being considered by the Wisconsin legislature. According to the report, the city is considering fining parents if their children act as bullies. The fines were not specified, but the idea is that the city police force will enforce the statutes and, as the report put it, come to your house if necessary to ensure that you pay the penalty for your children’s bad behavior. Of course, if we know anything about parenting at all, it is that parents not only should be held accountable, but are in fact accountable for their children’s behavior.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Holy Spirit: The Seal of Our Redemption

There are many believers who are of the mind that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian, but only to the extent that the Word of God dwells within us. In other words, the Holy Spirit is not literally within the heart of the believer, but rather He works through the Word in order to guide us. I believe that this is an erroneous idea. I propose that the Spirit, literally, effectually dwells within the heart of the believer. To be sure, He works through the Word to guide and help the Christian. But I believe that the Scriptures witness to the fact that the Spirit does more than that.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

What About Inspiration?

There are many good apologetic methodologies that seek to defend the faith that, in the words of Jude, “was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Of those, the evidentialist methodology seems to be gaining more and more adherents, likely because our current skeptical society seems to be incapable of being convinced about the truth of much at all. Among the more famous of its adherents you will find people such as William Lane Craig and Mike Licona. These two individuals have engaged in a multitude of debates against all sort of unbelievers, from Muslims to Atheists and everyone in between.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Jeremiah: The Success of Failure

Have you ever presented the gospel to someone, or maybe a lot of someones, and at the end of that presentation you felt like a complete failure? There are times when it seems that we have expended a great deal of energy and passion proclaiming the word, only to receive a polite, but firm brush off by the hearers (and sometimes not so polite!). We are so convinced that what we have to say is so important and timely, and indeed it is, that we have trouble understanding how anyone could not embrace the gospel we preached the minute they hear it. That must be how Jeremiah felt.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Fabric of Morality: Being Torn From Top to Bottom

“Gay [female] pastor reads at White House prayer event;” “Feds ease access to pill for abortion;” “Stars entering cannabis business.” Those are just some of the headlines that surprised me today as I read the newspaper. Now, I don’t usually read newspapers. I really have little time to do so, but since I’m traveling away from home and away from the family, I have much more free time on my hands than I usually do. And today’s headlines, such as the ones above, reinforced my distaste for reading the news.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Satan and the Distracted Mind

Have you noticed how distracted we all are these days? Seems we need to be entertained or occupied every minute of the day or we feel something is missing. Parents run themselves ragged with activities for their children, from soccer practice to chorus to debate club and on and on it goes. And then you have sports venues. When I was growing up you could conduct a conversation with the person you went to the game with because whenever there was down time during the game, there was silence enough for you to hear each other. At most, there may have been an organ that played soft, soothing music. No longer. Now every second is filled with noise. The only silence you have is during the actual action when the loudspeaker is finally given a rest and you actually have to pay attention to the action!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Church and the Example of Hilkiah

As many of you know, I am currently in an undergraduate program of study in Bible with the Sunset International Bible Institute. This is a college run out of Lubbock affiliated with the Church of Christ. In my latest studies, I’ve come to the book of Jeremiah. Some of you may be unaware, as I was, that Jeremiah is actually the longest prophecy, by number of words, in the Old Testament. (Isaiah has more chapters, but contains less words.)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Do Your Best and Forget the Rest?

One the many fond memories I have of my time growing up, is the fact that my parents were always willing to support me in my many activities. When I played baseball, they were there offering their support and encouragement. And when I began to exercise with weights in my mid-teens, my dad was willing to get out of his nice, warm bed at 5AM to help me with my workouts. To this day I remember going into his bedroom to wake him up so he could assist me. He did so with nary a complaint, a lesson that I should have learned much better than I did in my own parental life.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Traditions and the Word of God

 One of the issues that so preoccupy the church in any era is the role that tradition plays in its life and practice. To some, such a thing as oral tradition is on par with the written Word of God as authoritative and determinant. To others, tradition is a good thing, but not necessarily essential to our understanding of what God expects from His people. But I submit that there is a third way which, in my opinion, is the correct one.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Of Multiverses and Floating Brains!

Now and then I read books or watch programs that deal with evolution and the origin of life on earth. The other day I was watching a debate between a young earth creationist and a so-called theistic evolutionist. As the program developed, it became evident that the theistic evolutionist had very little of the theistic and a lot of the evolutionist in him! One of the ideas he held was that you can be a Christian and believe that the account of creation as found in Genesis is completely wrong.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

What Really Happened at Nicaea?

In the last article, I mentioned how the Bible is constantly under attack even by those who set themselves forth as its most ardent defenders. Among the religious, many feel the need to attack the reliability and accuracy of the Bible in order to support their errant doctrines. Those who so do, run the gamut from those who declare that the Bible is inspired and inerrant, but nonetheless not enough for our salvation, to those who have multiplied the number of their sacred “scriptures” as an addendum to the Bible. The additional writings will never fail to add to, and always contradict, what the Bible has to say.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Bible: Always Under Attack!

Have you noticed how often the Bible is under attack by those who purport to be its defenders? Think of how just about every Christmas, you will see television program producers, blog and magazine article authors and others on social media, tell us that they will set the record straight and tell us the “real” story of the Bible. From the Newsweek article of Christmas 2014 to the Mormon missionary knocking on your door, they all are out to disabuse you of the notion that the Bible you have in your hands is the faithful, inerrant word of God. Then you have the countless internet articles that seek to tell us what “really” happened at Nicea, code word for “Constantine changed the Bible and that is why we have the books we have today.” After all, didn’t the Davinci Code set the record straight?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Christian and the New Year

It is inevitable: the New Year comes and out come the new year’s resolutions. It is human nature, I suppose, that we have the tendency to look at the turning of the calendar as a new beginning even though the first day of January doesn't look any different than the last day of December. What we failed to do in the year that went by we hope we will be able to accomplish in the New Year. And conversely, what we did that we perhaps don’t feel too good about, we hope we won’t repeat in the year that has begun. But, what about our spiritual lives? Do we think about improving our spiritual health the way that we do our physical health? Do we want to drop bad spiritual habits the way we want to drop excess pounds?