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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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NO DIFFERENCE IN RELIGIONS?

alistair beggAlistair Begg:

The idea that there are really no substantive differences between religions needs to be held up to careful scrutiny and declared fraudulent. For example, Islam says that Jesus was not crucified. Christianity says He was. Only one of us can be right. Judaism says Jesus was not the Messiah. Christianity says He was. Only one of us can be right. Hinduism says God has often been incarnate. Christianity says God was incarnate only in Jesus. We cannot both be right. Buddhism says that the world’s miseries will end when we do what is right. Christianity says we cannot do what is right. The world’s miseries will end when we believe what is right. (Made for His Pleasure, 126).

Stomping on Jesus

Stomp on Jesus?Christopher White writes:

In early March, Ryan Rotela, a junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, refused to participate in a class exercise in which members of the class were instructed to write the name “JESUS” on a sheet of paper and then to stomp on it. When Rotela complained a few days later to university officials, he was informed he had been suspended from the class for not participating in the exercise.

In recent weeks this story has shocked the nation as reports of this story began to make its ways around local news networks and newspapers. The online website Mediate confirmed that the exercise that Rotela refused to participate in was, indeed, listed in the instructor edition of the college textbook: Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.

Continue reading this article here. . . .

Will there be Remedial Classes in Heaven?

BibleI often wonder about things like, “Will there be remedial classes on reading the Bible in heaven for those Christians who spent little time reading it here on earth?” Maybe in heaven, God has a way to pour the Scriptures into our heads and we are given instant knowledge of its contents. Of course, we had rather have this gift now because we lack the self-discipline to study the Bible on our own.

On one occasion, I walked into a teacher’s classroom after school to discover that she and another teacher were having a lively discussion about whether Christians were the only ones going to heaven. They knew I was a Christian and invited me to join the discussion. I sat on the edge of a table and listened. In the meantime, a third teacher joined us from a nearby classroom as I listened to the conversation. Before I could say anything, the third teacher began to answer their questions by quoting specific verses of the Bible from memory and then explaining the context and meaning of each one. When she had finished, she had said everything that needed to be said and had explained it beautifully. Although I had been ready to take part in the discussion, I was in awe of how the third teacher had answered their questions so thoroughly. I knew, however, that this lady had been a Christian much longer than I; that she read the Bible consistently and taught the Scriptures to women’s classes at her church.

Have you ever avoided a conversation with an acquaintance or colleague on the subject of Christianity because you felt inadequate to defend the Bible? Charles H. Spurgeon once observed, “Defend the Bible? I would just as soon defend a lion. Just turn the Bible loose. It will defend itself.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Often, our reluctance to talk about Christianity in a casual conversation is our lack of familiarity with the Word of God. This is why so many young men and women abandon their faith in their early college years. When impressionable teenagers sit in a university classroom taught by a well-read atheist-Marxist professor, the effectiveness of our youth programs, sermons, and family commitment to Jesus Christ is put on trial. Unfortunately, it is often found wanting. As a parent, I can now see that the Bible should be taught to children early and thoroughly. Teddy Roosevelt went so far as to say, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

The Scriptures transform our minds, but it requires a Holy Spirit disciplined intellectual, life-long pursuit. My soul shudders when I hear church members say that they just can’t find the time to read and study the Bible. These people seem to believe that once they have made a profession of faith and joined a church that all they need is a sermon once a week (which they do not even bother to bring a Bible to). The truth is that as Christians, we never outgrow our need to read and study Scripture. The wealth of Biblical treasure seems to grow more abundant to me after years of study.

All Christians know that the Holy Scripture contains everything necessary for salvation. Our problem is that we don’t act like it. When it comes to setting aside a moment of time to read and study the Bible, we are often dismal failures. How can we expect to be useful servants of God without spending time in His Word? As D. L. Moody once said, “If a person neglects the Bible there is not much for the Holy Spirit to work with. We must have the Word.”

Samuel at Gilgal

Evolution or Design? Part III

Science and Evolution:

(Continued from yesterday. . . .) If Darwin were alive, he would have to explain how the individual amino acids came together to form the first protein. We now know that the amino acids have to come together in a specific way, like writing a sentence with letters, to form the protein. There are at least 30,000 different types of proteins that are constructed from the same 20 amino acids. If the amino acids are not arranged correctly, they don’t form functional proteins!

The odds of these acids coming together in a meaningful, specific way are extremely remote. It is the equivalent of being able to throw Scrabble pieces into the air and a meaningful sentence forming after they fall on the floor. The odds of this happening are remote. The very simplest of proteins are made up of a large number of amino acids. The odds of a simple protein forming spontaneously are less than one chance in 10 to the 65th power (that’s a 1 with 65 zeros behind it)! These odds are similar to the odds of finding the winning state lottery ticket lying in the street and then finding another one the very next day, and every day for a thousand years!

Scientists have estimated that if our planet were covered in “primordial soup” and filled with complete sets of all 20 types of amino acids, the time necessary to assemble a simple functioning protein would be about the estimated age of the universe which is 15 billion years multiplied by 10 to the 60th power. There is not enough time in the history of the universe to form a single protein by chance. Darwin assumed that cells are simple, but he was wrong. He believed that the smallest elements would have the smallest number of parts and processes. Now that we have powerful, modern microscopes we can see the incredible complexity of the miniature universe within a cell. Darwin’s hypotheses was completely wrong at it’s very beginning! (Continue reading tomorrow. . . .)

Cain and Able Were Brothers

No man believed so firmly in the philosophy of development and progress than H G Wells, the novelist. Wells was a scientific humanist who believed that the advance of knowledge, culture, and science would create an earthly paradise. When the Second World War broke out, he wrote his last book with this very significant title, Mind at the End of Its Tether. He simply did not understand what he considered to be the failure of human progress. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains:

This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:27-29 ESV)

I need not tell you that we are meeting together tonight in a time of great confusion, a time of grave and terrible crisis. Everybody is aware of this; you cannot read a paper, you cannot listen to a news bulletin without hearing of some added crisis, some new problem, and some fresh tragedy. The world is in an alarming state and condition. We are truly in an age of exceptional crisis. But I want to put to you that we are not only in a time and age of crisis, we are living in a time when all of us are being tested, and all of us have been sifted and examined and proved. What I mean by that is this, that the state of the world tonight is testing the outlook, the point of view, of every one of us who is in this congregation. Indeed of everybody that is in the world. Everybody has got some view of life, even the most thoughtless people, people who scarcely ever think at all, they have got a kind of philosophy and their philosophy is not to think. What is the use of thinking?’ they say. So they have got their point of view, their point of view is ‘Let us eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’. So I am saying that everybody’s point of view, everybody’s attitude towards life, is on trial at the moment. . . .

So I put that as my first question: Are you surprised at the fact that the world is as it is at this very moment? Or, let me phrase that in a slightly different way: Are you disappointed that the world is as it is? Not only surprised but disappointed, because again there are many people in the world who are grievously disappointed at the present state of affairs. And they are disappointed for this reason, that having adopted the kind of idealistic philosophy, or view of life, which was very popular in the last century – you know that idea that believed in evolution, or progress and development, the view which said that as the result of popular education which came in 1870 and all the marvelous scientific advances and discoveries, more travel, ability to mix with other nations – they were very confident that the twentieth century was going to be the golden century, the crowning century of all the centuries! Did not Tennyson write about the coming of the parliament of men and the federation of the world, of the days when men would beat their swords into ploughshares and war would be no more? War, we were told – and they taught this, not only the poets but the philosophers and the politicians – war, they said, was due to the fact that people did not know one another. . . . They had forgotten, you see, that Cain and Abel were brothers. . . . (“A Kingdom Which Cannot Be Shaken”)

OK to Bully Christians?

The White House anti-bullying spokesman is Dan Savage. Savage is the founder of a pro-LGTB anti-bullying campaign. On April 13th, he turned an anti-bullying speech at the National High School Journalism Conference into an all-out attack on Christians and Christianity. Almost 100 students walked out during Savage’s diatribe. Savage mocked the Bible and anyone who believes it. He also urged the students to ignore the “bull —-” taught by the Bible. He proceeded to then call the students who walked out during his speech “pansy-a—d.” Obviously, bullying Christians is acceptable to the White House.

Read more about this subject. . . .

Now, consider and contrast the above incident with the following quotation from Justice Joseph Story who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1811 to 1845.

[I]t is impossible for those, who believe in the truth of Christianity, as a divine revelation, to doubt, that it is the especial duty of government to foster, and encourage it among all the citizens and subjects. This is a point wholly distinct from that of the right of private judgment in matters of religion, and of the freedom of public worship according to the dictates of one’s conscience. (From Justice Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, January 6, 1833)

[A] malicious intention . . . to vilify the Christian religion and the Scriptures. . . . would prove a nursery of vice, a school of preparation to qualify young men for the gallows and young women for the brothel. . . . Religion and morality . . . are the foundations of all governments. Without these restraints no free government could long exist. (Updegraph v. Commonwealth, 1824)

I find it amazing to see how far from our noble beginnings our government and people of this United States have fallen. Then again; it is always the disposition of the natural man to suppress the truth when it suits his own desires.

The Sexual Revolution

The following consists of excerpts from an excellent article by Michael Wagner which may be viewed in its entirety through the link below:

We all want different things. And because of our fallen natures, many of our wants are for things that will harm us and those around us—we lust after power, sex, other people’s possessions, even revenge. If everyone simply pursued their own desires, it’s hard to see how civilization could survive.

Fortunately for us, God has provided rules for living—the Ten Commandments—that restrict these desires so that they don’t harm others. The Law helps to make harmonious social life possible. Rules make civilization possible—no rules, no civilization.

But many today don’t like rules and this is especially true with regard to sexual behavior. So-called “Victorian” sexual morality has been accused of being the cause of psychological “hang-ups”; Biblical morality is seen as the source of much human suffering. The solution, in this view, can only be found in individual and societal sexual liberation. The “need” to break out of the confining and suffocating constraints of traditional morality was thus a major impetus to what has been called the “Sexual Revolution,” a significant social development in the Western countries whereby modern liberal views of sexual attitudes and behavior replaced the traditional norms of Western civilization. This revolution, and the attitudes and behaviors it promoted, has been embraced by the political, academic and media establishments, as well as many common citizens. It was the Sexual Revolution that led to the legalization of abortion and the widespread acceptance of divorce, promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality and cohabitation without marriage, basically a shopping list of many current social problems. . . .

With the spread of pornography, and at the same time a dramatic increase in the production of adult literature (i.e. immoral literature), came a basically simultaneous liberalization of obscenity laws, often through judicial interpretation. . . .

Divorce went from a necessary evil to a positive good almost overnight”. Promiscuous sex outside of marriage was seen as a major component of “freedom” by proponents of sexual liberation. And as one would expect, such behavior led to a large number of “unwanted pregnancies.”

What to do? Well, kill the babies, of course. The problem was that abortion was commonly restricted or even illegal in most jurisdictions.

Many states in the USA had laws against abortion, for example. So these laws needed to be overturned. The US Supreme Court obliged by striking down all abortion laws in that country in the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. . . .

According to this view of the world, Christianity is the killjoy of life. It compels people to restrain their natural sexual appetites, which can only legitimately be expressed within monogamous marriage. Supposedly this causes Christians to be “repressed,” leading to various social and psychological problems. Sexual liberation (that is, throwing off Christian moral restraint) leads to relaxed, well-adjusted people. And these people can freely enjoy the good things in life—you know, like promiscuity, pornography, divorce and abortion. Isn’t that appealing?

No. The rules stipulated in the Ten Commandments lead to the good life, not a so-called “liberation” from the Commandments. All people are sinful, and so all people experience problems in their lives, including Christians. But those problems cannot be alleviated by throwing away God’s rules for human living. Quite to the contrary, in fact. Biblical morality is a sure guide to the good life. The happiness promised by the Sexual Revolution is a fraud. Surely that should be apparent by now. (“NO RULES, NO CIVILIZATION: The Sexual Revolution left us free . . . to be Miserable”)

Copyright Michael Wagner 2008

Read this entire article from the April 2008 issue of Reformed Perspective magazine. . . .

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