Forgiveness—The Biblical View

There is a very common misunderstanding among Christians that says forgiveness is not for the offender but the victim—to give him peace of mind and heart. I have some problems with this notion. As the word implies, ‘for–give–ness’ is a gift. Every gift must have a receiver as well as a giver. Giving always makes a person feel good. But the gift does the intended recipient no good if he does not accept it with a contrite heart.

Verse after verse in the Bible says that forgiveness is contingent upon repentance. Sinners do not get a free pass to heaven because Jesus forgave their sins on the cross. They must repent in order to receive that forgiveness and obtain eternal life. Only then will their sins be completely exonerated. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins he will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Think of forgiveness as providing an opportunity for the sinner to repent. That is exactly what Christ meant when he asked his father to forgive those who crucified him. His words did not guarantee them a place in heaven. Only the thief on the cross next to him received that promise when he repented of his unbelief. At Pentecost Peter made it clear to his listeners that they were guilty of crucifying the Son of God and would be held accountable, “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross ” (Acts 2:23).

Anger Is Not Always Bad
In the book of Jeremiah, God says,  “I will not be angry with you forever. However, you must confess that you have done wrong, and that you have rebelled against the Lord your God. You must confess that you have given yourself to foreign gods under every green tree, and have not obeyed my commands” (Jer 3:12–13). Although God promised not to be angry with his people forever, he did send them into exile because they would not repent. He later showed his mercy by bringing them home after they had come to their senses.

Anger has an appropriate place in the Christian life. It is the natural response to injustice. It is what fuels our sense of outrage and moves us to take action on behalf of the oppressed. Denying our feelings of righteous indignation would short–cut the grieving process and leave a reservoir of unresolved emotions. That does not mean we should feel justified in harboring resentment, however.

Cheap Grace
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, World War II era German theologian, maintained that the triumph of unconditional forgiveness, which he called ‘cheap grace,’ led to the German Christians’ failure to stand up to Adolph Hitler. They lost the ability to recognize and confront evil. He said, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance …absolution without personal confession.”(1) ​
​
Many modern Christians think that forgiving even the most unrepentant sinner is the loving thing to do, but Bonhoeffer disagrees, “Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin.”(2)

To offer absolution to unrepentant sinners trivializes sin and cheapens the grace of God. If not confronted, un-confessed sin can have terrible consequences. On the other hand, we should be perfectly willing to forgive anyone who has wronged us, no matter how grievously, if that person has genuine remorse and a determination to make things right.

The Biblical Process
In the Bible there is a process for dealing with unrepentant sinners. It involves confronting the individual privately with his transgression, then bringing a witness along to confirm his rebellion if he refuses to repent, and finally, bringing the matter up with the church and excommunicating him if he persists in his sin. This process is outlined in Matthew 18 verses 15-19. Yet this process of confronting sinners is seldom if ever practiced in the church. Why is that? Isn’t failure to repent just as sinful as failure to forgive?

In Luke 17 Jesus says, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Lk 17:3) The first step in the restoration process according to this verse is to confront the sinner. Most Christians overlook this part entirely and move right on to the forgiveness portion of the verse. But confronting evil is clearly a precondition for repentance.

This same idea is repeated in Matthew 18 but without any mention of the words, ‘rebuke’ or ‘repent.’ “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.'” (Mt 18:22) Has Jesus removed the requirement for repentance from Matthew 18? If that were true, he would be contradicting himself. No, this is just Matthew’s abbreviated version of the same conversation.

Take this verse, for example, “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them” (2 Cor 5:19). No mention is made of the need for repentance in this verse, yet to suggest that everyone receives a ‘get out of hell free’ card regardless of his or her attitude towards Jesus Christ would contradict the clear teaching of the Bible and make Jesus’ suffering and death a meaningless tragedy as far as many people are concerned.

Today’s church leaders often avoid confrontation in a misguided attempt to preserve harmony at all costs. But the Apostle Paul made it very clear to the Corinthian church that they must remove a sinner from their midst. He would not settle for any half–measures. He expected the church to put up a unified front in dealing with this man so there would be no doubt in his mind that what he was doing was wrong. But Paul also counseled them to do it gently, not with a spirit of superiority, always being mindful of the fact that they could fall into sin themselves (Gal 6:1–2). The motive for confrontation is not just to reconcile two adverse parties, but to restore the brother or sister to a right relationship with the whole body of believers.

The Bible Emphasizes Repentance
The New Testament uses the words, ‘repent,’ ‘repentance,’ ‘confess,’ and ‘confession’ over sixty times with reference to sin. But the words ‘forgive,’ and ‘forgiveness’ occur less than forty-five times. The emphasis on repentance should come as no surprise given the holiness of God and the human tendency to minimize sin. Those who urge forgiveness with no strings attached do so because they don’t appreciate the severity of sin and because unconditional forgiveness is the easy way out. Today’s brand of forgiveness requires nothing more than an attitude adjustment. It does not necessitate confrontation of the sinner or resolution of the conflict. It never balances the ledger of justice or corrects the misbehavior.

Repentance is so important in the Bible that Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Reach agreement quickly with your accuser while on the way to court, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the warden, and you will be thrown into prison.(Mt 5:23-25)

Remarkably, I have heard Christians say that this verse is addressed to the victim, not the offender. As far as they are concerned, it is the responsibility of the victim to take the initiative in reconciling. But clearly this passage is addressed to the one who committed the offense—the one who faces prison. Furthermore, the words Jesus uses are ‘be reconciled.’ That means to make things right, and the victim cannot do that. It has to be the offender because he made them wrong in the first place. God’s grace would never place the onus for reconciliation on the shoulders of the victim. But that is exactly what so many Christians do today.

If the sinner does not repent, he will ultimately receive God’s punishment. If Christians were as concerned about the welfare of the sinner as they are about his victims, they would urge him to repent and escape God’s wrath. However, the way things are in the church today, repeat offenders see that there are no consequences for bad behavior. Their numbers multiply and the body of Christ suffers correspondingly. This is one of the reasons today’s church has many of the same problems as the rest of society.

It’s All About Reconciliation
The goal of repentance and forgiveness is reconciliation between two parties who have been alienated from one another by the actions of one or both. While it is true that the victim must come to terms with his or her feelings of bitterness and anger and give up all claim to revenge, that is not the sum total of forgiveness. That is only half the transaction.  The other half is confession of sin and repentance by the sinner. This is the part that the church so often chooses not to address. Forgiveness lifts the burden of anger and bitterness from the victim. Repentance provides restoration for the offender and healing for the whole body of Christ by rectifying wrongs and keeping them from multiplying.

In the gospels, Jesus tells the story of the unjust judge who refused to listen to the complaints of an aggrieved widow until she pestered him so much he could take it no longer. Jesus was making the point that if this woman could obtain justice from an uncaring judge, his followers could certainly expect a loving Heavenly Father to show them mercy. He never implied the woman should have just let go of her penchant for justice in the name of forgiveness.

Conclusion
Perhaps the reason it is so easy for Christians to overlook sin in the postmodern age is a lack of belief in moral absolutes. George Barna says:

A large majority of both adults and teenagers, Christian and non–Christian, contends that there is no absolute moral truth. More than two out of three adults and more than four out of five teenagers argue that truth is always relative to the individual and the circumstances. While most of these people describe themselves as followers of Christ and say that the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings, they nevertheless believe that truth is based on feelings, experience or emotion.”(3)

In our day, postmodernism has blurred the lines between good and evil and turned black and white to shades of gray. Choices are not right or wrong. They are value neutral. What is right for me may not be right for you. However, to look the other way instead of confronting sin out of a misplaced desire to withhold judgment disables our critical faculties and emboldens the sinner.

How often has your church excluded someone from fellowship because he or she has persisted in rebellion against God? In over forty-five years as a Christian, I have never seen it happen once. But I have seen people who have been wounded by the heartless acts of others counseled over and over again to simply ignore their wounds.

Footnotes

1. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. “The Cost of Discipleship.” p. 47. 1937.

2. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. “Life Together.” p. 107. 1939.

3. Barna, George. “Barna Identifies Seven Paradoxes Regarding Americas’ Faith.” Barna Group. December 17, 2002.​
 http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/87-barna-identifies-seven-paradoxes-regarding-americas-faith?q=evangelism

 

 

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More Things Evolution Cannot Explain

It Can’t Get Any Simpler

Charles Darwin said, “…Natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great and sudden leap, but must advance by short and sure, though slow steps.”1 Thus, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”2 Any organisms whose individual parts are all essential for functioning could not have evolved piece by piece. Such organisms are called ‘irreducibly complex.’ Remove any part and the organism would fail. According to Darwin himself, the human eye is a good example of an irreducible organism. He said, “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.3

The Unchanging World

The Bible says creation stopped on the sixth day and that God rested on the seventh day. That means that there have been no new plants or animals or planets or stars since day six. Indeed, we do not get reports of new species of living things nor does history record the appearance of new stars in the night sky. The same stars Columbus used to navigate to the new world are the same stars we see in the sky every night. But evolution should continue unabated.  History should record new species of plants and animals and new stars forming in the night sky as time goes on. Sure we can see additional stars as technology improves and we can look deeper into space, and every so often someone may discover a plant or animal that no one else has ever seen before, but there is no evidence that those things did not exist long before they were ever observed.

Circadian Rhythms

All living things were built for a twenty-four hour cycle of day and night. The plants and animals that live today could never survive long ages of dark and light. They would die. Their ancestors were certainly no different. If they were not created in close succession, how could they have developed such intricate interdependence? For instance, it takes bees to pollinate flowers so they can reproduce, green plants to provide oxygen for animals so they can breathe, animals to provide carbon dioxide for plants so they can breathe, etc., etc. Had these plants and animals and insects evolved separately over eons of time, such interdependence could never have occurred. Everything would have died long before it had a chance to survive.

Reproduction

It is hard enough to believe that a human being capable of rationale thought and feelings of right and wrong could evolve from a single celled organism. But how unthinkable is the idea that another cell could evolve independently along the exact same lines at the exact same time but with a reproductive system that was completely complementary so that the two  could produce offspring with the same genetic characteristics! How would the two know how to recombine DNA? This dilemma would have to apply not just to human beings, but to all living things that reproduce sexually!! Where would the spark of life have come from in the first place? How does something that is inorganic suddenly become a living thing? How does that living thing then acquire intelligence? Where does a sense of spirituality come from? The Bible says that life comes from life and spirit comes from spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. ” (Jn 3:6) It takes a living Being to create life and a living Spirit to create another spirit.

There are no True Unbelievers

The book of Psalms says,

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.” (Ps1:1-4)

In other words, the witness of creation to the handiwork of God is universally understood, no matter what people say to the contrary. Everyone knows there is a God and that He created the universe. They may not admit it. In fact, they may adamantly deny it. But deep down they know there will come a time when they will have to stand before that Creator and give a reason why they refused to believe in Him. And for them that will be a day of great terror as they realize it is too late to change their mind.

Paul elaborates on this theme in the book of Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools,  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Rom 1:18-23)

People choose evolution not because the scientific evidence leads them there but because they refuse to acknowledge and worship the Creator. They will not yield to the Lord of the Universe, but insist on having their own way. The consequences of such willful disobedience is to finally be separated from God for all eternity.

The Bible describes the place that God has prepared for those who refuse to acknowledge Him as a fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of outer darkness (Mt 8:12; 25:30; 13:42; 13:50; 24:51; 22:13). There will be no relief forever (Lk13:28). That is not the place you want go. So if you insist on clinging to a belief in evolution despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, today would be a great day to reconsider before it is too late.

Footnotes

1. Darwin, Charles. “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.” 1859, p. 162. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Origin_of_Species.
2. Ibid. p. 158
3. Ibid, p. 155

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Evidence of a Young Solar System

Scientists estimate that the supply of hydrogen available to the sun should last for about ten billion years. Since they put the age of the sun at 4.6 billion years, it should have used about half its supply of hydrogen. If this were the case, the sun should have become twenty-five percent brighter as it converted to a nuclear reaction of hydrogen at its core, raising the temperature of the earth about 18ºC. The average temperature of the earth today is 15ºC, so back when life was beginning, it would have been below freezing and completely inhospitable for the formation of life. Water on the earth would have been frozen into great glacial masses that would have cooled the earth even further as sunlight was reflected from its surface. However, at the same time the earth was cooling, there is evidence Mars was warming. Obviously, both scenarios cannot be true.

There are three ways to measure the age of the sun. One is to sample the neutrino flux — the emission of neutrinos from the sun. Neutrinos are extremely small particles that are cast off in the conversion of hydrogen to helium. The level of neutrino production should indicate how much helium the sun has created. For the past twenty-five years, Raymond Davis of the University of Pennsylvania has been recording neutrino levels deep in the Homesteak Mine of South Dakota where other particles are filtered out. The levels he has found are consistent with the short time frame for creation posited by the Creationists.1

Science holds that as stars age they gradually collapse and develop extremely dense cores, converting from helium production on the surface to a hydrogen-fueled nuclear reaction at the core.  The formation of these dense cores causes stars to oscillate, or ‘twinkle.’ A team of Russian astronomers measured the oscillation of the sun in 1976. They found that the degree of oscillation along with the level of neutrino flux was consistent with a young, homogeneous star no more than 7500 years old.2

All but about one percent of the sun’s supply of lithium has been consumed. It would take a mere 7500 years for this much lithium to be used up at a temperature of three million degrees, the temperature at which it is destroyed. Beryllium, on the other hand, is destroyed at a temperature of four million degrees. It exists in abundance on the sun. So the sun’s temperature has to be between three and four million degrees, not the fifteen million degrees expected of a star that is 4.6 billion years old – more evidence that the age of the sun can be no more than 7500 years.3

Moon Dust

When astronauts first landed on the moon, they expected to sink deep in cosmic dust that had accumulated over billions of years. What they found was the thin layer bearing their boot prints that you have seen in pictures. When NASA scientists analyzed the moon rocks that the astronauts brought back with them, they found that only one-and-a-half percent were coated with material from vaporized meteorites, material high in nickel content. The amount of “cosmic dust” from vaporized meteorites should have been far greater if the moon is in fact billions of years old.4

The Day the Sun Stood Still

In Joshua 10:13 God displayed His power over the sun and moon by bringing them to a complete stop for a whole day while Joshua finished defeating the Amorites. The historical accuracy of this event can be demonstrated with astronomical data. Reckoning forward from the first recorded solstice in the ancient Egyptian calendar to the date of this battle, it occurred on a Tuesday, but if one works backwards from the most recent solstice, it occurred on a Wednesday. These two days share the same date.5

Conclusion

Science and archaeology confirm the truth of God’s Word. Yet sometimes the stigma attached to creationism by secular scientists is so strong that Christians feel foolish admitting to our beliefs. We are told science is based on empirical evidence and allows no place for faith. But evolution is certainly no less a matter of faith than creationism.  It has a basic set of beliefs predicated on the denial of a Creator. It posits that the universe is self-creating and self-sustaining, a belief that certainly takes more blind faith than belief in an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator. The only reason for positing that long ages are necessary for evolution is that vast amounts of time must be necessary for a single cell organism to become a complex human being capable of abstract thought.

The word “creation” implies that the universe was fully formed from the beginning, just like the fish that Jesus created to feed thousands of  people.  They were not evolved while the crowd sat on the ground waiting to be fed. They just appeared instantly. Creation by definition does not start from point zero, but at completion. The Bible says, “God said, …let there be… and it was so.” All it took was a word to set the earth spinning, the stars shining, the plants and animals growing, and man and woman breathing. Stars already appeared to be light years away just like Adam appeared to be a fully grown young man and Eve a fully developed young woman.

Today’s living things are all descended from their original ancestors. None of today’s creatures could survive much more than a 24 hour day. How could their ancestors have done so? How could so many things that are so interdependent have evolved independently of one another? Everything had to be created in close succession.

Nonetheless, because of the fossil record some Christians still find it necessary to suggest that long ages were necessary for God to complete the job. But the fossil record is a record of death and destruction.  Therefore, death must have entered the world before Adam sinned. So belief in theistic evolution undermines the gospel message. We don’t need to be saved from our sin if death is not the consequence of sin.

The Bible says that God finished His work of creation on the sixth day and rested on the seventh. According to the Bible there is no more creation taking place today. But evolutionists believe that everything is still evolving just as it always has been. If evolution is true, the night sky should be constantly changing as we see the light from new stars and even more distant stars appear. When is the last time you heard the announcement of a new star (one that we can see with the naked eye). There is no evidence that Columbus used different stars to navigate to the new world than we use for navigation today.

We are willing to believe that an inanimate, impersonal universe is more capable of producing human life than Almighty God, yet we freely offer prayers to God asking Him to shape events on our behalf and we hold firmly to a belief in the human soul and an afterlife. We embrace the notion of survival of the fittest, yet we ask for mercy for our weakness. We believe that a process called natural selection spawned life out of chaos, yet we depend on the world to be predictable and hospitable every morning when we get out of bed.

If the scientific and historical accounts in the Bible are true, then the commandments, promises and penalties are true as well. Disobeying them brings disaster. Believing them brings rewards. Yet we trade away our spiritual integrity for man’s approval and as we do, we gradually erode our ability to distinguish right from wrong and to turn back in repentance to God. We simply have no idea how this refusal to take God at His word hinders the kingdom of God and imperils our own eternal destiny.

Footnotes

1. Bahcall, John N. Institute for Advanced Study, Olden Lane, Princeton, New Jersey; and Davis, Raymond Jr., Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. “The Evolution of Neutrino Astronomy.” http://www.sns.ias.edu/~jnb/Papers/Popular/Millennium/paper.pdf.
2. “Creationism vs. Evolution, Evidence From Our Solar System.” http://www.biblestudymanuals.net/k02.htm.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Riss, Richard M. “The Long Day of Joshua,” Christian Evidences,
http://www.grmi.org/Richard_Riss/evidences/7longday.html,  November 30, 1

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Things Evolution Cannot Explain

There are many things only creationism can explain. For instance, the remains of some one hundred forty mammoths were found in one pile in the Siberian tundra, indicating they had been swept away by a powerful current. Despite the arctic climate, their stomachs were still filled with fresh vegetation.(1)

John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris answer this perplexing question in their book, The Genesis Flood. Whitcomb studied geology and paleontology at Princeton, University, and Morris is a hydraulic engineer. From the account of creation in Genesis, these two men were able to reconstruct a picture of the pre–flood world. They postulate that in the beginning the earth sat straight up on its axis because the Bible makes no mention of seasons until after the flood when God said to Noah, “While the earth continues to exist,
planting time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease” (Gen 8:22).

At the time of the flood the earth must have somehow been suddenly shifted on its axis to create the 22.5° tilt of the earth that produces the four seasons. The book of Genesis also refers to a water vapor canopy that covered the sky. Genesis 1:6 says, “So God made the sky and separated the water under the sky from the water above it.” This water vapor canopy would have created a global greenhouse that filtered out harmful radiation allowing for much longer life spans and the growth of lush vegetation from pole to pole.

What Caused the Flood
In Genesis 7, the Bible says, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month—on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And the rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights” (Gen 7:11-12). Whitcomb and Morris surmise that the event that triggered the flood was a collision with a giant asteroid that tipped the earth on its axis and fractured its crust, creating the tectonic plates on which the continents rest and releasing warm waters from deep beneath the earth’s surface. Volcanic eruptions caused by sudden and extensive tectonic plate movement would have begun spewing ash into the atmosphere, obscuring the sun, cooling the earth, and bringing torrential rains.(2)

Michael Oard, author of Frozen in Time says, “Inter-bedded within the sedimentary rocks is evidence of incredible volcanic activity that has no parallel today …It appears that at the end of the flood the world was covered by huge volumes of volcanic ash and gas that had spewed into the atmosphere. The abundant ash and gas trapped in the stratosphere would act as an ‘anti-greenhouse.’ Instead of warming the earth, it would have reflected sunlight back into space and cooled it.”(3)

At the same time, ocean temperatures would have been warmed by waters released from deep within the earth. As warm air over the oceans met cool air over land, huge snowstorms would have formed. This cooling trend would have lasted for many years,
lowering average annual temperatures enough that ice would have continued to build in the polar regions even during the summer months, creating the mile–high glaciers of the ice age.

Interestingly, a massive crater can be found off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The Chicxulub crater is one of the largest confirmed impact craters on earth at more than 110 miles in diameter. The asteroid that formed the crater was estimated to be at least six miles in diameter.(4) This may have been the asteroid that precipitated the flood.

Sudden Climate Change
In an article entitled “Sudden Climate Transitions During the Quaternary,” Jonathan Adams, Mark Maslin, and Ellen Thomas say, “Even the burial in ice of the prehistoric
mummified corpse of the famous ‘Iceman’…coincided with the initiation of a cold period
(Neo–glaciation) after the Holocene climate optimum. This sudden cold spell could have
occurred …at most on a timescale of a few centuries, sometimes decades, and perhaps even just a few years.”(5) Or, as creationists contend, almost immediately after the flood.

Scientists admit that one of the main contributing factors for the sudden drop in temperatures might have been a sudden change in water vapor levels in the atmosphere, “the geologist W.S. Broecker suggested that water vapor may act as a global messenger, coordinating rapid climate changes, many of which seem to have occurred all around the world fairly simultaneously, or in close succession.”(6)

Creationists would say that the event to which Dr.Broecker refers was the collapse of the water vapor canopy at the time of the flood. Under this scenario, the woolly mammoths trapped in the ice with the fresh vegetation in their stomachs would have been drowned in the flood and then frozen by the sudden cooling of the earth that occurred immediately afterwards.

So Where Did All the Flood Water Go?
According to the biblical account of the flood, all the floodwater subsided within a year after the rains began. The book of Genesis says, “the water receded steadily from the earth.” Where did it go? It could not have evaporated that quickly. It is likely that tectonic
activity deepened the ocean basins enough to accommodate the excess water. Given the median depth of the ocean at 15,000 feet and the median height of dry land at 2250 feet, the ocean basins could have easily absorbed enough water to drain the entire landmass of the earth. In fact, if the surface of the earth were level, water would cover all the land to a depth of more than 1.6 miles.(7) If the ocean basins and mountain ranges were a consequence of the flood, then the waters that fill today’s oceans are the same ones that covered the earth prior to their formation.

Displacement of Land & Ocean:

Displacement_of_Land_and_Ocean.png

Old Bones?
Another example of something evolutionists cannot explain is the discovery of elastic blood vessels in fossilized dinosaur bones. Jack Horner, a leading paleontologist and authority on the dinosaur, recently unearthed a B-Rex dinosaur in the badlands of Montana. Paleontologists estimate this species to be about sixty-eight million years old. However, his colleague, Mary Schweitzer from the University of North Carolina, an expert on the internal makeup of fossilized bone, accidentally discovered elastic blood vessels when an experiment went awry. She did not want to publish her findings for fear of ridicule from the scientific community, which would never have believed that soft tissue could survive un-fossilized for so long. But when she was able to repeat her results time after time, she decided to go public. The question that now puzzles her peers is how blood vessels that are supposed to be some sixty-eight million years old escaped fossilization. The real question is, are these fossils really sixty-eight million years old or possibly much younger? (8)

The Real Rationale for Evolution
Despite numerous anomalies such as these, scientists cling to the idea that the universe is billions of years old. The real reason they are resistant to the idea of creation is that they would have to embrace the idea of a righteous God who punishes the wicked if they believed in a universal flood. This passage from 2Pt 3:3-7 explains why they deny the flood: “In the last days blatant scoffers will come, being propelled by their own evil urges and saying, ‘Where is his promised return? For ever since our ancestors died, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For they deliberately suppress this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water. Through these things the earth was deluged with water. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, by being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

The phrase, “all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation,” is an expression of the concept of uniformitarianism, the foundation of evolutionary science. It says that the forces that shape geology, astronomy, physics, and all the other sciences are continuous and unchanged—that there was no creative act and there was no universal flood. They deliberately choose this position not because their observations have led them there, but because they cannot accept the alternative—that they are accountable to a holy God who judges sin. Because evolutionists choose to believe man was an accident of nature, they also reject the notion of the human soul. Therefore they have no hope of heaven nor fear of hell.

End Notes

1. “Woolly Mammoth.” Wikipedia. July 20, 2001,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woolly_mammoth.

2. Whitcomb, John C. and Morris, Henry M. “The
Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific
Implications.” Wikipedia. March 16, 2011.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Genesis_Flood:_The
Biblical_Record_and_Its_Scientific_Implications

3. Michael Oard. “The Genesis Flood Caused the Ice
Age.” Answers in Genesis, Chapter 7. October 1,2004.
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/fit/floodcaused-
ice-age.

4. Chicxulub Crater. Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicxulub_Crater.

5. Adams, Jonathan; Maslin, Mark; Thomas, Ellen. “Sudden Climate Transitions During the Quaternary.” Research Abstract from the Oakridge National Research Laboratory.
http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/transit.html.

6. Ibid.

7. “Earth.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth#Hydrosphere239.

8. Stahl, Leslie. “B-REX.” 60 Minutes. CBS. December 26, 2010.
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7186263n.

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More Reasons to Believe the Bible

Linguistic Evidence
The oldest written language in the world is Chinese. It dates back 4500 years, just shortly after the biblical account of the Tower of Babel, and consists of thousands of characters. Each of these characters is composed of individual symbols that represent the natural order.

Chinese Create Character.png

Create
The Chinese character for ‘create’ combines the symbols for ‘speak,’ ‘dust,’ ‘life,’ and ‘walk’ to tell the Genesis story of how God fashioned man from the dust of the earth and then gave him speech by blowing the breath of life into his mouth (Gen 2:7)

Chinese Charracter for  Happiness.png

Happiness
The Chinese character for happiness contains the symbol for God on the left side. On the right side are the symbols for one, mouth, and garden. The Chinese symbol for ‘mouth’ often represents a person. One mouth or person alone in the garden with God is the way the Chinese depicted happiness (Gen 2:8).

Chineses Character for Garden.png

Garden
The Chinese character for garden contains the symbols for enclosure, dust, breath, and a person with another person coming out of his side. This is a pictorial representation of the biblical account of the Garden of Eden where God created man from the dust
of the earth, blew the breath of life into his mouth, placed him in the garden, and then created woman from one of his ribs (Gen 2:21-23).

Chinese Character for Forbidden.png

Forbidden
The Chinese character for forbidden is comprised of the symbol for command along with the symbol for two trees, referring to God’s command to Adam and Eve not to take from the fruit of either the Tree of Life or the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the middle of the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:16-17).

Covet.png

Covet
The character for covet tells the story of Eve, Adam’s  wife, succumbing to the temptation to take and eat fruit from one of the two forbidden trees (Gen 3:6-7).

Chinese Character for Boat.png

Boat
Ancient Chinese history contains an account of a universal flood that closely parallels the one in the book of Genesis. The Chinese character for boat depicts eight mouths in a vessel. In the biblical account of the flood, Noah and his family, eight people in all, rode out the deluge in a big boat they built according to God’s instructions (Gen 7:11-13).

Chinese Character for Righteousness.png
Righteousness
The character for righteousness sums up the whole Bible message in just thirteen strokes. The top half of this character is the symbol for sheep. The bottom portion represents me. In the Old Testament, righteousness could only be imparted by covering the sinner with the blood of a sacrificial lamb. As a mere symbol of Christ’s sacrifice, the sheep’s blood was nothing more than an empty ritual and had to be repeated over and over again. In the New Testament, the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, fulfilled that same function. But Jesus’ sacrifice was a perfect sacrifice that took away sins forever (Heb 10:8-12).(1)

Why Is There A Universe?
Evolutionists maintain that all living beings originated from single cell organisms that grew in complexity through a process of natural selection over millions of years. According to them, there was no creator; the world somehow appeared in a big bang. Of course, there are myriads of problems with this theory. It violates some of the most basic laws of science like the law of cause and effect, which says that for every effect there must be a cause. Well, the Big Bang Theory says the universe has no cause and leaves unanswered the question of ‘Why?’ Richard Dawkins, noted proponent of evolution,says, “The essence of life is statistical improbability on a colossal scale.”(2) He nonetheless maintains that the laws of nature simply favor life. Francis Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA, believed that the only explanation for the rapid appearance of life on earth was the deliberate seeding of the planet. But who did the seeding?

The biggest problem for the evolutionist is how to explain the emergence of living organisms from inert matter and the human spirit from a living organism without the involvement of a pre-existent Spirit. John 3:6 says, “What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.

What are the Odds of Evolution?
Steven Hawkings, author of A Brief History of Time,  compared the probability of life evolving to a horde of monkeys producing one of Shakespeare’s sonnets by randomly pecking on typewriter keys. The likelihood of that happening would be minuscule. Even
the odds of simply spelling out the poet’s name would be scant. If the monkeys had one random peck for each of the ten letters in the poet’s name, the chance that the first typed letter would be ‘s’ would be one in twenty-six. The chance that the second letter would be ‘h’ would also be one in twenty-six. The likelihood that the first two letters taken together would be ‘sh’ would be one in 26×26 and so on for the rest of the name. So the probability that a monkey could type just the word ‘Shakespeare’ by randomly pecking on the keys of a typewriter is less than one in a trillion. Would you bet on those odds? (3)

Suppose that, against all odds, a living cell did emerge over time. Without a fully evolved and functioning reproductive system, it would never be able to pass on its attributes. Furthermore, since cellular processes are essentially the same in all organisms, evolution would have to produce the same results over and over again by chance against enormous odds.

Dr. Gerald Schroeder, double Ph.D. in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former consultant at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission says, “It is time to lay to rest the misguided, but popularly believed un–truth that in our world, gradual, step by step random mutations could have climbed the mountain of improbability and produced the magnificent abundance of the Earth’s biosphere.” (4)

Simon Conway Morris, professor of evolutionary paleobiology at Cambridge University and Fellow of the Royal Society of England, is one of the world’s leading paleontologists. In his book, Life’s Solutions, Dr. Morris says, “Life is simply too complex to be assembled on any believable time scale,” but then goes on to say, “Evolution has the uncanny ability to find the short cuts across the multidimensional hyperspace of biological reality …” So rather than ascribe the order and intricate balance of life to an all–powerful, all–wise God operating with a plan, he chooses to attribute it to an impersonal, unconscious force acting aimlessly. (5) That would be like stumbling upon a perfectly functioning Rolex watch lying on the beach and assuming the action of wind and waves had assembled it over eons of time.

The following diagram represents the likelihood of life occurring by chance as compared to design:
Creationism vs Evolution Diagram.png
Occam’s Razor
Sir Isaac Newton said, “We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Therefore, to the same natural effects we must, so far as possible, assign the same causes. ”This principle is known as ‘Occam’s Razor,’ otherwise known as the ‘Law of Parsimony’ or ‘Law of Economy.’ It means that natural phenomena are best explained in terms of the hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions.(6)

Ruling out some causes because of a bias against the simplest and most logical explanation is not consistent with this principle. Explaining origins in terms of the acts of a creative and almighty God requires far fewer new assumptions than supposing the universe and all living things emerged spontaneously of their own volition. Where would the volition come from, anyway? Neither is the notion that mutations can cause improvements in a consistent progression borne out by science. Quite the opposite, mutations ordinarily cause a loss of information or sometimes a transfer of information, but they never cause an increase in information. There is no evidence that organisms become more complex over time. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Organisms become weaker, life spans become shorter and species die out, as you would expect in a world that has been cursed by sin because, “By sin death entered into the world” (Rom 5:12).

Evolution or Devolution?
According to the book of Genesis, people lived for almost a thousand years before the flood. The only survivors of the flood were Noah and his sons,  Shem, Ham and Japheth. These three were the progenitors of all the races of modern day mankind. Genesis chapter 11 traces the descendants of Shem because he was the father of the Semite nations from which Abraham and the Jewish nation came. Shem was 100 years old when the flood came. He lived another five hundred years after the flood. Abraham was born 290 years after the flood. At that time, Shem was 390 years old. Abraham lived to the ripe old age of 175, but Shem did not die til the age of 600! He outlived Abraham by 35 years!! They both lived under the same environmental conditions after the flood. They probably ate the same foods. The only difference was their genetic makeup. Shem was born just 1500 years after creation. Abraham was born 390 years later, 290 years after the flood. Over that period of time, the curse of sin had so weakened the human genome that lifespans had decreased by a whopping 70%! (7)

Timeline Noah to Abraham.png

1. Kong, C.H. and Nelson, Ethel. “The Discovery of Genesis“. P. xiii.
2. Richard Dawkins. Brainy Quote. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/richarddaw391955.html.
3. Hawking, S.W. “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.” p:123. Bantam Books. NewYork, 1988.
4. Schroeder, Dr. Gerald. “God According to God.” Harper Collins. 2009.
http://www.creationdefense.org/06.htm.
5. Morris, Simon Conway. “Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe.” Cambridge University Press. 2003.
6. “Occam’s Razor.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Parsimony.
7.  https://www.understandchristianity.com/timelines/genesis-genealogical-charts/

 

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Another Mega Church Bites the Dust

Targeting Other Churches
I have been reading up on the controversies going on at Harvest Bible Chapel and its affiliates on https://theelephantsdebt.com/author/theelephantsdebt/ and I am not surprised at what I see. I attended the Naperville branch when it was meeting at Glenbard South High School. I can still vividly remember the pastor making the point that HBC was a church for people dissatisfied with their own church. I have since learned about their reputation for cannibalizing other churches in order to build their own congregations.

Unaccountable Leadership
I also remember the pastor making an issue of the fact that the congregation has no input into decision making. Right away I began to wonder about leadership accountability. Then I learned that the founder of the organization has a half million dollar salary in addition to hundreds of thousands in other funds that he has come by questionably. The congregation was young, self-absorbed, and affluent. In fact, one Sunday morning I watched as a member pulled up in his pickup towing what must have been a thirty-five foot yacht. He undoubtedly was headed for an afternoon outing on Lake Michigan after the service. It reminded me of Isaiah 58: 13-14: “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth.

I got the sense that Harvest Bible Chapel was all about kingdom building. Not building the kingdom of Christ, but the kingdom of the pastor and his leadership team and that meant accommodating its members’ pleasures.

Getting Theology Right
Since that time I have discovered reformed theology through the preaching of men like R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Allistair Begg, Albert Mohler, Steve Lawson, Sinclair Ferguson and other godly men. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!! I learned the doctrines of grace including total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and the preservation of the saints. I learned about the sovereignty of God in salvation, that from beginning to end it is entirely His work.

I have found that the preachers who belong to this tradition all have certain things in common. They are keenly aware of their own sins and shortcomings. They are not self-promoters. They preach a gospel of repentance unto faith. And they are all tender, kind-hearted, compassionate shepherds rather than powerful corporate executive types. They honor the sabbath to keep it holy and encourage their members to do the same thing.

The Joy of Christ-Centered Worship
And the greatest blessing of all occurred just over a year and a half ago when my wife and I found Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Pastor Craig Troxel, just a few short miles up Naperville Boulevard from Highpoint Church where that former Harvest Bible pastor now has his own mega church. Every Sunday is a banquet of feasting on the Word of God and lifting up Christ in worship. There are no big egos on staff. Worship is simple and unadorned by fancy media presentations or strutting pastors. The word of God takes precedence through preaching, music,  prayer and the sacraments. Every element of the service is directed upward, not outward.

I would encourage you to listen to one of our pastor’s sermons. You will find your heart stirred by a greater appreciation of your own sinfulness and a deeper understanding of the grace of God towards us in Jesus Christ.  You won’t hear a single “how to” sermon on dealing with life’s issues, but you will find a deeper devotion for Christ that will cause all other things to fall into place naturally as subservient to salvation (1)

Please give a listen to this message and you will understand what I am talking about. https://youtu.be/2-CZCjGxdI4

(1) Heidelberg Question 1:

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live.

 

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Where Seeker Friendly Ultimately Leads

Where Seeker Friendly Came From
The Seeker Friendly phenomenon had its genesis with Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame. It was first popularized in his book “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Two of his first disciples were Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, creators of the modern Mega Church. Hybels coined the term “Seeker Friendly” to describe an approach to evangelism that was high on self-esteem and low on contrition for sin. He turned the church from a house of worship into an auditorium replete with all the latest media technologies, a coffee shop, bookstore, and even indoor waterfall. In so doing, he drew thousands of people to Sunday services and various programs designed to appeal to their needs and tastes. But many of these people have never come to a realization of their need for forgiveness of their sins.

Mega Churches in Trouble
The founders of both the Crystal Cathedral and Willow Creek Community Church have since run into serious trouble. The Crystal Cathedral amassed over $57 million in debt and was sold to the Catholic Church in 2010.(1) This is sad because Schuller originally based his teaching at least partially on the doctrines of John Calvin, one of the great Protestant reformers.

Bill Hybels has recently been asked to step down over allegations of sexual misconduct. (2) Ironically, a woman will be taking his place as head pastor. Willow Creek’s troubles are clearly not over since it is now taking a new direction that contradicts the clear teaching of scripture. 1 Tim 2:15 says: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

Softening the Demands of the Gospel
I once attended a Bible study with some members of Willow Creek Church. One of the women strongly objected to the idea that unbelievers should be confronted with their sins when presented with the gospel. She said she never would have come to Christ had she been faced with her sin before she heard the benefits of the gospel. This false belief is at the very heart of the mega church. It betrays a lack of understanding of the sovereignty of God in salvation. The Bible says that the natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit. (1 Cor 2:14) So of course no one will react positively to the charge that she is a sinner. But Jesus says that at the moment of conversion the Holy Spirit brings new spiritual life and the ability to repent. That is what it means to be born again. That is the whole point of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. (Jn 3:3-8)

At the point of conversion, we are born again. We are raised from death unto life and given the ability to respond to Christ in repentance and faith.  (Gal 2:13; Eph 2:5) God the Father draws us to Christ. (Jn 6:37) We do not choose Him, He chooses us. (Jn 15:16). Therefore, it is not necessary to soften the demands of the gospel in order to encourage faith in Christ. Those whom God chooses will not be offended. They will be irresistibly drawn to Christ.

John the Baptist, Jesus and the apostles all began their appeals with a call to repentance. None of them soft-pedaled the severity of sin. In fact, at Pentecost Peter accused his listeners of killing the Son of God Himself, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:23). When the people realized what they had done, they were so horrified they exclaimed, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  In other words, “Is there any hope for us after the awful thing that we have done?“(Acts 2:37) Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38) And three thousand people were added to the church that day!

Where Disobedience Leads
At a conference I recently attended, Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Convention and astute commentator on contemporary society, made the point that when a church departs from the clear teaching of scripture, certain consequences naturally follow. In the case of Willow Creek Community Church, when a body of believers rejects the teaching of scripture on the role of women in the church, that church ultimately embraces all the modern trends toward gender neutrality – that is gay rights, transgenderism, and gender dysphoria. Why? because it has undermined the basic authority of the Bible on these matters and replaced it with secular relativism.

Having departed from orthodox doctrine on soteriology and now embraced modern sexual mores, let us see where Willow Creek Church ends up next.

1. Crystal Cathedral Founder Robert Schuller Dies, USA Today, April 2, 2015, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/02/robert-schuller-obit/70824954/

2. Hybels Steps Down From Willow Creek After Allegations of  Misconduct, Chicago Tribune, Sunday, April 17, 2018, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-hybels-willow-creek-resigns-20180410-story.html

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