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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Faith And Science

genome crossWritten by Ken Connor:

Religious bigotry is alive and well in the scientific community, as evidenced by its response to President Obama’s decision to appoint Dr. Francis Collins as the head of the National Institutes of Health. Though renowned for leading the team of scientists that successfully mapped the human genome, Dr. Collins is making headlines for something else: his faith. In spite of his professional qualifications and accomplishments, many in the scientific community are less than enthusiastic about the President’s decision to appoint a self-described evangelical Christian to lead the world’s leading organization for scientific research.

This skepticism results from a prejudice against a theistic worldview that has become entrenched in the scientific community—an irrational attitude born of historical ignorance and intellectual myopathy that is increasingly dismissive of moral questions and ethical concerns.

The idea that a tension exists between science and theism is relatively new. The most brilliant philosophical minds of the western intellectual tradition—dating all the way back to the time of Plato and Aristotle—operated on the assumption that our existence came into being through the actions of a divine creator, described as the First Cause or Unmoved Mover. For centuries after, theology reigned as queen of the sciences, and scientific inquiry was animated by the belief that human reason was a gift imparted by God so that man might gain knowledge about Him, His attributes, and the laws which govern His creation.

Without this belief that the physical world is the result of an intentional design governed by fixed laws—laws which we discover through reason and experience—there would have been little cause to engage in scientific pursuits. Faith in the goodness of God’s creation and the intelligibility of its design inspired history’s great minds to forge ahead into new worlds of knowledge and discovery.

Continue reading. . . .

Columbus And His Voyage Of Discovery

christopher-columbusFrom the pen of Stephen McDowell:

Writings in Columbus’ journal reveal his primary motives for sailing were his Christian convictions. He had a desire to preach the gospel throughout the nations, and in particular to take Christianity to the Great Khan of eastern Asia. About 200 years before Columbus’ voyage, Marco Polo, who had traveled throughout parts of Asia, brought word from the Khan of a desire for missionaries to be sent to his empire. Other Khans who had ruled since Polo’s time had also made this request. Columbus had studied the writings of Marco Polo’s travels and was also familiar with more recent requests for missionaries to be sent to teach the Christian religion. . . .

After reaching land, which he thought were islands off the east coast of Asia (or India), Columbus saw many natives, whom he called Indians. He spoke often of his desire to convert them to Christianity.

Friday, Oct. 12th…”As I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted and became wonderfully attached to us… I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion.”

Tuesday, Oct. 16th…. “They have no religion, and I believe that they would very readily become Christians as they have a good understanding.”

Monday, Nov. 12th… “Your Highnesses should therefore adopt the resolution of converting them to Christianity, in which enterprise I am of opinion that a very short space of time would suffice to gain to our holy faith multitudes of people…”

Sunday, Dec. 16th… The Admiral ordered every civility to be shown them, “because,” as he observes, “these are the best and most gentle people in the world, and especially as I hope strongly in our Lord, that your Highnesses will undertake to convert them to Christianity, and that they may become your subjects, in which light, indeed I already regard them.”

Continue reading. . . .

John MacArthur Asks “Is The Doctrine Of Election Biblical?”

John MacArthur

John MacArthur

Among the most hotly contested and persistent debates in the history of the confessing church, the doctrine of election is perhaps the greatest of all. The question goes like this: Does God choose sinners to be saved and then provide for their salvation? Or, Does God provide the way of salvation that sinners must choose for themselves?

This question of choice is called “election” because of the Greek word for those who are chosen – the Bible calls them eklektos. There are many such uses in the Bible (cf. Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 5:21; Tit. 1:1; 2 John 1), but one of my favorites is in Romans 8:33: “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” The answer is, “no one,” but why? Is it because I chose God, or is it because God chose me?

One passage that is critical to the discussion is in the opening chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Immediately after his customary greeting, Paul launches in Ephesians 1:3-14 with a great song of praise. It’s only one sentence-but, with 200 words in the Greek, it may be the longest single sentence in religious literature.

Paul touches on all the great biblical themes in that hyper-complex sentence-sanctification, adoption, redemption, and glorification-and all of them rest on one foundational doctrine, the doctrine of election. The most superlative spiritual blessings stand on Ephesians 1:4-“He chose us [elected us] in Him before the foundation of the world.”

So the doctrine of election is biblical, but what does that passage really teach? I want to help you get a better grasp of that by pointing out what Paul teaches about election. If you are a believer, you can equip yourself for your next conversation on this topic. But more important, as one of His elect you can rejoice in the astonishing kindness God showed you before the world began.

Paul’s song is essentially his reflection on the amazing truth that God “blessed us with every spiritual blessing … in Christ” (v. 3). And how did He bless us? “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

God didn’t draw straws; He didn’t look down the corridor of time to see who would choose Him before He decided. Rather, by His sovereign will He chose who would be in the Body of Christ. The construction of the Greek verb for “chose” indicates God chose us for Himself. That means God acted totally independent of any outside influence. He made His choice totally apart from human will and purely on the basis of His sovereignty.

Jesus said to His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). And in the same Gospel, John wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”(1:12-13, italics mine). And Paul said, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13).

Those statements defining God’s sovereign choice of believers are not in the Bible to cause controversy, as if God’s election means sinners don’t make decisions. Election does not exclude human responsibility or the necessity of each person to respond to the gospel by faith. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

Admittedly the two concepts don’t seem to go together. However, both are true separately, and we must accept them both by faith. You may not understand it, but rest assured – it’s fully reconciled in the mind of God.

You must understand that your faith and salvation rest entirely on God’s election (cf. Acts 13:48). And yet the day you came to Jesus Christ, you did so because of an internal desire – you did nothing against your will. But even that desire is God-given – He supplies the necessary faith so we can believe (Eph. 2:8).

Think about it-if your salvation depends on you, then praise to God is ridiculous. But, in truth, your praise to God is completely appropriate, because in forming the Body before the world began, He chose you by His sovereign decree apart from any of your works. The doctrine of election demonstrates God being God, exercising divine prerogatives. For that we must praise Him.

Continue reading. . . .

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