There are many who ask what happens when we die. The chart above is a good place to start.
The following article is completely satirical…or is it?
8 Steps To Finding The Right Church
Statistics indicate that if you live near a major metropolitan area, there are literally three million churches in your neighborhood alone, making your choice of where to worship each Sunday that much more difficult.
Thankfully, the variety of churches also means there’s probably a church designed to your exact specifications and built from the ground up to cater specifically to you.
The Babylon Bee is here to help you whittle down the search with this checklist of essentials to look for in a potential church match, and hopefully get you plugged into a congregation sometime in the next decade or two.
1.) Anything less than hand-crafted pour-over coffee is a red flag. Jesus died for the church, and yet they’re only able to muster up an unevenly brewed pot of drip coffee? Puh-lease. This is an indication that they don’t care about the gospel.
2.) Make sure the worship band only plays the genre you like. If you’re into industrial metalcore and the band’s playing late-90s soft rock, it’s time to split. Remember what worship is really about: you and your modern sensibilities and preferences.
3.) If the preacher makes you feel uncomfortable, run. Preachers, above all else, should refrain from sounding preachy. If he starts calling you to self-examination and repentance, make the emergency signal to your spouse, go get the kids, and book it out of there to the nearest restaurant.
4.) Speaking of the preacher: if he doesn’t have at least 20,000 Twitter followers, you’re in the wrong place. You need a church that has a pastor who is not only well-known and cool, but who also specializes in short, sweet, entertaining messages. Look him up on Twitter and verify that he has at least 20,000 followers to confirm both of these attributes.
5.) The youth room must have a fully stocked video game arcade. We’re talking the classics: Galaga, Pac-Man, NBA Jam. This is a non-negotiable if you want your kids to grow up in a Christian environment they love and not walk away from the faith in college.
6.) Shop around for the church with the very best swag to give away. A free donut and complimentary coffee are really the bare minimum at this point. What you’re looking for is a church giving out free T-shirts, stickers, aluminum coffee mugs, carabiners, and those cool pens that can write in space. God gave us every spiritual blessing in Christ—the least the church can do is load up His people with some nice swag.
7.) Pick a church where everyone pretends to be happy. If anyone breaks down sobbing or insinuates that they need prayer for some sort of malady or ill fortune, everyone will understand if you excuse yourself to check out the other church down the road. You want a place where no one will burden you with their personal struggles. You don’t need that negativity in your life!
8.) Remember: it’s not you, it’s them. It helps to keep things in perspective: your specific perception of what a church should look like is probably correct, while their congregation is just jacked up if they don’t fit into that vision. Make sure to let them know this on a comment card or email to the pastor after you leave, so they’ll be edified by your brief presence.
There you have it. Now you have no excuse. Go find your perfect church and get plugged in!
The Babylon Bee is a satirical website dedicated to mocking everyone. I am in no way promoting them. However, this “humor” hits so very close to what you may hear when you ask what folks are looking for in a church. As the “bee” mocks modern day denominationalism, modern day denominationalism mocks God. Every point of error in this article has been preached from this pulpit.
FOOD? What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God? 1Corinthians 11:22
MUSIC? Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16
SERMONS? Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 2Tim 4:2
PREACHERS? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 1Corinthians 3:4
FUN / FROLIC? And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1Timothy 3:15b
BEARING BURDENS? Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
SELF DIRECTED WORSHIP? These things seem to have a sort of wisdom in self-ordered worship [BBE] Colossians 2:23
One of the objections folks will bring against us, in the Lord’s church, is the one about us no longer holding to the commands of the Old Law. They will point to the regulations regarding the Sabbath and say, “it says we must keep it forever, but you say no. Who’s right, you or God?” this line of argument is most often used when we point out that although David used an instrument for worship, that is no authority for us today. They think they have us caught. However, as I will show in this article, it is they who are “caught” and it will be by the very way Jesus corrected the Sadducees; “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Mat 22:29]
When ‘forever’ is not
First, we need to point out to these folks that there are some ‘forever’ things that are not forever.
These things are called “eternal” and “perpetual” in the Bible, yet they have been abolished: The Feast of Unleavened Bread: [Ex 12:17]; Burnt offering: [Ex 29:39-42]; Day of Atonement: [Lev 23:28-31]. According to their logic, we should STILL HAVE ANIMAL SACRIFICES! If we still have animal sacrifices what then was the need for Jesus to die on a cross?! Surely, they have read Hebrews 10:10… “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
If the Sabbath day is to be observed because of the words ‘forever’ ‘everlasting’ ‘permanent’ ‘eternal’ [all of which are translated from the Hebrew ‘owlam’] then we ought also to keep all the Jewish holy days and feasts! Interesting side note, I met a lady this past week who intends on starting a “new” church that will do this very thing, KEEP THE JEWISH FEASTS because they were commanded to be kept ‘forever.’
Setting aside the admonition from Paul that if one keeps one part of the Law they are obligated to keep the whole law, and if they do, they ‘have fallen from grace’ that is, lose their salvation [Gal 5:1-4. (this particular woman has no salvation for she also said that she had asked Jesus into your heart, a primary error needing to be taught more accurately.)
The meaning of forever
We need to examine the meaning of ‘forever’ as well as the meaning of ‘throughout their generations’ as it was used in the Old Testament.
As pointed out above, the Hebrew word ‘owlam’ that is translated forever, everlasting, perpetual, eternal or permanent does not mean never ending rather it means ‘age lasting.’ In Jonah 2:6 Jonah says that he was in the fish forever, but he wasn’t, he was only inside the belly for 3 days!
Another example of ‘forever’ meaning ‘age lasting’ is with a righteous earthly king. It is said that these will have thrones established forever. “The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established forever.” [ Proverbs 29:14] Did they? Of course not, their throne only lasted as long as they were alive.
When God spoke about something being forever, everlasting, perpetual, eternal or permanent in the Old Testament He was limiting it to their generations, that is, He limited it to the Jewish age. The Jewish age stopped when Jesus died on the cross. The Sabbath, the feasts, all Jewish holy days and institutions were ‘nailed to the cross’ [Colossians 2:14].
‘shall surely be put to death’
Here is another problem that comes from ‘not knowing the scriptures.’ Are they going to keep ALL PARTS of the command to keep the Sabbath? You can read about it in Exodus 31:13-17;
“… Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant…” [Exodus 31:13-17] [emphasis mine seb]
I know of no one today who advocates for keeping the Sabbath who will put to death any who don’t. Why follow it at all if you’re not going to keep it all? Which is the point Paul made to the Galatians, “o foolish Galatians” [Gal 3:1].
There are even more examples we could cite that destroys this foolish notion that the Sabbath, the feasts and the holy days be kept forever.
- Will the Earth remain forever [Eccl 1:4; Ps 78:69; Ps 104:5]? Nope! [2Pet 3:10-12; Rev 20:11; Rev 21:1,4,23; Rev 22:5; Heb 12:26-27; 2Co 4:18]
- Shall circumcision remain forever [Gen 17:10-14]? Better not. [Gal 5:1-4; Rom 2:28-29].
- How about tabernacle candles or Tabernacle Shewbread [Lev 24:2-9]? I think not. [Heb 8:13-9:4]
This last one really freaks them out when I say I don’t follow the 10 commandments [Deut 5:1-29 Esp. v29]. Romans 7:1-7 explains how we are dead to the Law to be joined to the body of Christ!
Let’s abandoned all these attempts to bring back the Old Law, our High Priest and King has delivered to us a much better covenant.
Under the better covenant of Christ, He promises eternal life. At the judgement, the last day of this physical realm, Jesus will separate all of humanity into 2 groups;
Mt 25:31-46 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left…And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
It’s at that time that those who have obeyed the Gospel will inherit “eternal life.”
Please, obey the Gospel so that you may enjoy the spiritual blessings promised in Christ. Ephesians 1:3
…to sit on a throne in Jerusalem
On Thursday, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This had been a broken campaign promise of each of the last 3 presidents dating back to the 90’s. With this announcement comes renewed interest in Jerusalem and the supposed 1,000-year reign of Jesus.
Jesus is not coming back…to reign from Jerusalem.
The doctrine that Jesus will reign on a throne in Jerusalem for 1,000 years prior to the Judgement is called “PREMILLENNIALISM.” To understand it requires a lot of squinting and taking very complex liberties with the Biblical Record. As a result, answering this error has been just as complex. Fortunately, it has a very simple solution.
Before we look at the answer, a little bit of background is necessary. Premillennialists hold many variants, but this is the one held by most: Jesus will first come invisibly, unknown by all except the righteous in an event they call the “RAPTURE.” Following this will be a 7-year period called the “tribulation.” After the 7 years the battle of “ARMAGEDDON” occurs and Jesus will visibly return to defeat the forces of evil and to establish His kingdom, physically upon the earth in Jerusalem, and reign as King for 1,000 years from Jerusalem. After this ‘millennium’ Jesus will raise the wicked to face the judgement.
3 Simple Answers
FIRST, it contradicts the prophetic Word of God. If this theory is true, then God goofed when He told Jeremiah, “Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” [Jer 22:30;]. This was a prophecy regarding the last king of Judah, Coniah (also called Jeconiah & Jehoiakim). This man is also found in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:12. No descendant of this man, which would include Jesus, could sit on a physical throne in Israel. At Pentecost, Peter preached, by the Holy Spirit, that Jesus was on a throne and that throne is in Heaven. [Acts 2:34, Psalm 110:1, Mt 22:44; 1Co 15:25; Eph 1:20; Heb 1:13].
SECOND, it has been promised that the next time anyone sees Jesus it will be very visible and incredibly loud. Just before Pentecost in Acts 1, Jesus ascended into heaven. As the Apostles stood gazing at the clouds, 2 men in white apparel said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” [Acts 1:11]. Later, the Apostle Paul wrote: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:” [1Thessalonians 4:16]. The context continues into chapter 5 where it points out that the arrival of Jesus will bring destruction [5:3].
THIRD, all of mankind will be raised to face the judgement at one time. When premillennialists say that only the righteous will be raised, they’re in direct contradiction of Jesus. He said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which ALL that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (emphasis mine) [John 5:28-29]. Paul thought that everyone, the just and the unjust, would be raised at once [Acts 24:15].
I would encourage everyone to continue to study the truth about the 2nd coming of Christ, but I believe these are sufficient proofs. Sometimes the best answer is the simplest.
Bonus answer: Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” [Mark 9:1]. If His kingdom has not been established already, there are some very old folks walking around!
via Biblical Insights, April 2005, pp 20,21
There’s a proverb that says, “a wise man learned from the mistakes of others; a fool learns only from his own.” When asked to prepare a short treatise on my conversion, I jumped at the opportunity to do so. There was a time in my life when I was a lost person who thought he was a saved person, just like Cornelius (Acts 10) and the “many” of Matthew 7:21-23. Anything I can do to help other people who are either personally deceived, or are working with those who are, 1 will always do.
Reared a Good Calvinistic Baptist
My immediate family didn’t attend any church regularly until I was about 12 years old. We began attending church when an associate pastor of the local Baptist church moved across the street from us and invited our family to join them at services. Perhaps realizing that it was not wise to neglect the spiritual development of their children, my parents agreed to go, and my active spiritual life began. Having not really been involved in church earlier in my life, I really knew almost nothing about the Bible. I developed a strong spiritual interest, and I was eager to learn all that I could.
In my late teen years, I began to play guitar professionally in a Christian rock band. Also, I took a job working at the local Christian bookstore. Part of my job requirement was that I’d be very well read on the inventory within our store. As a result, even at the young age of about 18 years old, I had read probably hundreds of books on theology, doctrine, and Protestant church history. I probably understood Calvinistic theology and Premillennial eschatology as well (or better) as the Baptist Church staff I attended. My reading would have been essentially what those in mainline protestant denominations or evangelical churches embrace.
I distinctly remember the day that I told my family of my desire to go to seminary and become a Baptist pastor. They encouraged me in that, and said that people had prayed for generations that a preacher would arise out of the family. The Baptist Church of which I was a member also encouraged me, and I began to do a considerable amount of work within the congregation. Ultimately, I began doing preaching work at Baptist churches, presentations before youth groups, and worked as an assistant to the Sunday school director.
While I was working with the Baptist Church, I was also attending a Baptist University in preparation for my seminary studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (Ground Zero for the modern Premillennial eschatology movement). It was fairly normal for me to give “faith only” invitations, work at evangelistic rallies, deliver sermons and messages, and teach classes involving sometimes intricate areas of Calvinistic theology and eschatology.
To be completely honest, most people attending Baptist churches don’t really know their theology. Baptist theology is deeply rooted in Calvinism, yet most Baptists would deny they are Calvinistic. The entire basis of “once saved, always saved” is that you cannot be lost, because you did nothing of your own accord to be saved in the first place! I was a little unique in that my reading schedule at the bookstore had resulted in me not only knowing what I believed, but also having a thorough understanding of exactly why I believe it. Further, I was extremely zealous and evangelistic in teaching the “truth” of Calvinism, and all that it contained: original sin, the impossibility of apostasy, unconditional predestination, etc.
Although churches with Calvinistic theology are perceived as teaching “faith only” salvation, in truth they teach “nothing only” salvation. A genuine Calvinist would tell you that you have done absolutely nothing for your salvation — you were unconditionally selected before time began by God. A common Calvinistic line is “you did not choose God; God chose you.” Because this essentially makes all evangelistic activities pointless, this element of Calvinism is generally forgotten.”
My Beliefs Radically Changed
I met a young lady who was attending the church of Christ in the neighboring town. We started dating, and I agreed to visit her church on Wednesday evening. When I got there, I was astonished to find that I disagreed with almost the entirety of their doctrine and theology. This was clearly not the “faith only salvation,” “once saved always saved,” unconditional Calvinistic theology that I embraced so dearly. In fact, I had determined that my new goal was to convert the entire congregation to the “truths” of Calvinism, and committed to attending their midweek Bible study every week until I had succeeded.
Because I was now attending their Bible study, the church there began a new Bible study on denominational error. As our study went along, we evaluated characteristic error taught within various denominational churches. Much of the error we were studying were things that I held very dearly as true.
Perhaps the very first element in my theology to fall was the idea that denominations were acceptable. Within most denominational churches, it is often accepted as a good trait that there are so many different churches to choose from. That way, people can always find a church that they agree with. Of course, the problem with this is it sets man as the ultimate arbiter of truth, rather than the scriptures. God’s expectation of us is that we conform ourselves to the truth of the word of God, not that we just move around until we can find people who agree to ignore the same portions of scripture (see Rom. 3:4).
Much to my surprise, I found myself completely unprepared to deal with the rather pointed questions I was being asked about my beliefs. What about men with long hair who claim to be godly? (see I Cor 11:14). This was problematic for me because I was a long-haired hippie type playing in a Christian rock bank. When asked about the frequency of which we observed the Lord’s Supper at the Baptist Church, I could only reply that we did so quarterly, four times a year, for no other reason than “that’s just the way we do it” (see Acts 20:7). When asked why I didn’t teach baptism was essential to salvation, I would rely on passages such as John 3:16, while admittedly ignoring passages such as Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38. I did not understand the principle of homogeny of scripture (John 10:35; Acts 15:15), and was genuinely surprised to learn that I had significant holes in my Bible knowledge.
I had preached. taught. and performed concerts in and around Baptist churches for years. I was attending a Baptist University. I had at this time read extensively on doctrine and theology. I had been formally educated in Biblical languages. But one thing I had not done was actually read the Bible much. Amazingly enough, I had logged thousands of hours in studying about the bible, but comparatively little time actually in the Bible itself I began to see where my studies had almost systematically avoided large segments of scripture. You can imagine my shock when someone read me James 2:24. I think I probably responded somewhat like Martin Luther. and thought to myself, “that just doesn’t belong in the Bible.” I was amazed that I had never seen that before.
I remember sitting in a Baptist worship service when the senior pastor’s wife went to the pulpit and proclaimed, “Many people are proud to be Christians. But I want you to know, that I’m proud to be a Baptist.” I remember exactly where I was sitting. I will never forget it. Never. I was absolutely devastated. I remember thinking to myself, “This is so wrong! We have a woman preaching about how proud she is that we have divided up the body of Christ. I just can’t do this anymore.” I determined right then that I would not be a Baptist pastor. Instead. I changed my plan to pasturing a nondenominational evangelical church. I was making progress, but I still wasn’t there yet.
My plan to “convert” the local church of Christ was not going as I had intended. Instead, I found major tenets of my theology being shot down one right after another. Clearly man had a free will, as God had given men many occasions to make a choice. It was also evident that the Bible taught about a faith that did not save. Even with my Baptist Church invitations, I appealed to Romans 10:10 which teaches the necessity of confession. For years I had managed to miss that faith plus confession did not equal faith only. Our salvation was not unconditional, but was very conditional upon an obedient faith.
And then I had the night at the church of Christ that I will never forget.
I was sitting on the back row, when someone in passing read I John 3:15: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” This was the straw that broke the camel’s back! I remember feeling somewhat shell-shocked at that passage. I had to have been visibly stunned. I turned to the person next to me and said. “Do you realize that this passage says if you are a murderer, you don’t have eternal life?” She said, “Of course, everybody knows that.” I replied, “You’re wrong — everybody doesn’t know that.”
Within Calvinistic theology, once a person has eternal life, it can never be forfeited. I had already determined that man had a free will. Therefore, I knew it was within the realm of possibility for a Christian to choose to commit murder. And if that Christian could choose to commit murder, I John 3:15 said he would not have eternal life. “Once saved, always saved” was not true.
I spoke with a preacher at the church of Christ, and told him my concerns. He pointed out that I took passages out of context in order to support a position I had already decided upon. To avoid this problem. I read through the entire Bible in essentially one sitting over the course of three or four days. Thereafter, I went back to the Baptist Church and told them I was leaving. My final stop that day was for scriptural baptism (Titus 3:5; Col 2:12). I am now privileged to preach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
As were all of you, I was horrified to awaken to the news of the ‘deadliest mass murder in US history.’ We were shocked and we grieved. Then we became angry as those who, ‘never let a serious crisis go to waste’ began the politicization of tragedy. Of course, many of us also prayed. Our thoughts and prayers went out to those affected (one of whom is the granddaughter of one of our own who hid under a table during the rain of gunfire).
With so many thoughts swirling through my mind, and so many arguments being presented, I didn’t know where to begin. But then, a national late-night talk show host said this, “your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.” There it was, the tired argument that often surfaces after a tragedy, just framed with different words. It’s as if to say, “where is your God?”
This argument is not new, David wrote in the 42nd Psalm, “As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” This argument is offered as proof from unbelievers that God is feckless at best and nonexistent at worst. That the wisdom of man is superior to that of God.
“Your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient”
The pure arrogance of this statement. How did he come to that conclusion? Does he have the mind of God? Can this comedian declare the end from the beginning [Isa 46:10]? How did his thoughts become worthier than those of the Almighty?
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]
Prayer is essential
Our God is very clear on this matter, He wants us to pray, but He commands us to pray within His revealed will. For many, prayer is nothing more that the rubbing of a magic lamp so the powerful Genie will grant their wishes, this is NOT prayer. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [James 4:3]
We are to pray…
- According to His will [Matt 6:10; 26:42] which would require us to learn of His will.
- In faith, without wavering, [James 1:6].
- Not to eliminate problems, but for strength to endure them, [Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19].
- For our leaders, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” [1Tim 2:1-8]
- That the word of God may have free course, [2Thess 3:1; Col 4:3]
In a sense, prayer is not enough…
…if not followed up by our own obedience. James wrote, “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” [James 2:16] We are to act, but what kind, for what purpose? The context of the James passage is not benevolence, though individual benevolence is a command. The main context is SALVATION. Note verse 14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”
In all the above passages, there is a connection between prayer and the spreading of the Gospel. The enemies of God want the opposite, hence their mocking, “where is thy God?” So often during tragedy, folks begin to ponder their own future [Ecc 7:2]. Now IS THE TIME TO ACT, it’s the time to lead people to the Love of God found in Christ Jesus. Acting as lights of the world, we need to shine that light into this dark world with the truth of God’s word, the truth of salvation and the truth about Heaven.
Why is there so much evil?
I would be remiss if I failed to remind you of the answer. FIRST, there is no such thing as evil if there is no God. Do we call animal behavior of death evil when the roaring lion kills the infant water buffalo? We are more than animals, we have free will, which brings us to the SECOND answer. Free will has been given to us from God. He wants us to love, but with the ability to love, we can also hate. Without free will, choice, we cannot love. From where do wars, murders and fighting arise? They come from our worldly desires…
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” [James 4:1-6]
But James reminds us of the solution…
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” [7-10]
In other words, the answer to evil is turning to God. Isn’t that accomplished through evangelism? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]
You read that correctly, the question is not ‘who is right’ rather it’s ‘who has rights’. There has been a shift in this country toward the idea that it is GOV that confers (grants or bestows) rights to its citizens. In a recent article, James G. Dwyer said, “…that’s the state that empowers parents to do anything with children, to take them home, to have custody and to make any kind of decisions about that.”1 What he is saying, as well as so many others, is that GOV is the one that gives people rights.
Before we go forward, let me say that this article is intended to help the Christian understand the truth regarding the world around him. We live in a world run by man and overrun with sin. We must live in this world without letting its errors separate us from the truth. [1Corinthians 5:7-10]
As Christians, if we’re not careful, these erroneous ideas will creep in and lead us astray. Therefore, we ask the question…
WHO CONFERS RIGHTS?
Is it true that government (GOV) bestows upon its citizens certain rights? When you examine history, the answer appears to be yes. All over the world, it has been the kings (GOV) that determines what a person may or may not do within its borders. It is this idea that has lead so many into revolution in attempts to regain rights.
Then along came certain men, on this continent, who thought a different thought. They wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”2 Did they come up with this on their own or was this just a new way of thinking about government?
We’re spelling it wrong.
The idea that mankind has rights, from their Creator, did not come from the mind of man, it came from GOD. Our founding fathers had the idea that people have GOD given rights and the role of GOV is to protect them. How did they come to this conclusion?
From GOD’s holy and divine word. If we examine scripture, we will find Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…
- LIFE – Genesis 1:26-27 teaches us that it is GOD who gives Life. The Psalmist wrote, “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments” [Psalm 119:73]. And again, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” [139:14]. GOV has no power to give life, only to take it away. Even then we see it’s limit for Jesus has said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” [Matthew 10:28].
- LIBERTY – This is the idea of free will. We all have the freedom to choose. We know this because GOD gave us a command. By giving a command, it’s automatically known that man has free will. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” [Genesis 2:16-17]. Liberty is the freedom to choose. This doesn’t mean that there are no consequences for our choices, but it does mean that GOD gave us freedom. GOV can try its best to control people, but they cannot control one’s mind.
- HAPPINESS – or rather, the pursuit of it. GOV can never provide happiness, only destroy it. GOD gave us this pursuit, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And GOD said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so” [Genesis 1:28-30]. GOD gave us all things to enjoy. Paul said to those in Lystra, “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” [Acts 14:17]. Happiness comes from GOD, never is it found in gov.
This article can only be complete when we note what GOD says about the ‘RIGHT’ of gov. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” [Romans 13:3-4]. Look closely, it is GOD that gives man his rights and it is GOD who gives gov theirs. The ruling powers are SERVANTS of the most high GOD!!!
‘In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’
“Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.”
2 – Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
For over 2 weeks, hurricane news has dominated this countries attention. It began when Harvey struck S.E. Texas, and the relief efforts, then all eyes quickly turned to watch hurricane Irma.
For many, prayer has been the only thing that gives them comfort, while others are using these storms as evidence that God doesn’t exist, for if He did, then why does He allow such suffering?
One editorial cartoon mocks those who praise God for being rescued.
Many of us became very angry when we saw this cartoon, but when your blood stops boiling, the question about how to answer those who mock us, comes into view. How are we to address those who use natural catastrophe as proof that God is not real? They will pose these 3 problems…
1) “If God is real, why does He allow suffering?”
2) “If God is all powerful, then He must not be all good, because of suffering.”
3) “If God is all good, then He must not be all powerful to allow suffering.”
FIRST, the problem of suffering from natural disasters is not automatic proof that God is not real or uncaring. On the contrary, it offers proof that GOD IS REAL! When someone attempts to disprove God by pointing at suffering, their idea of suffering can only be true if there is a standard of good, and there is someone who sets that standard. That someone is GOD.
If God were not real, there can be no standard by which to determine if something is wrong. For there to be a wrong, there must be a right. For those who reject God in favor of evolution, then every natural disaster is just the result of the continual process of evolution. Therefore, your subjective feelings are the only standard by which you object to natural suffering. You may not like it, but without God, you cannot say that it is bad. It’s just nature doing it’s job.
SECOND, we should ask the skeptic how they would put one of these things (the earth) together. How would they run the world? How would they deal with free will and the problem of sin? How would they create a planet where gravity only works when we place something down, but never breaks bones when a person trips? How would they get heat to cook food and to keep us warm without the possibility of forest fires?
Would they interfere every time something bad was about to happen? If they prevented every injustice, would there be free will? If they stepped in to prevent every death due to natural catastrophe, would the people simply regard that as just the way nature works and be atheists anyway? How would they feel, if they could put one of these together, when their creation considered their benevolent activity as just nature doing what nature does?
LAST, If God were not real, the atheist has no answer for how wrongs are eventually made right. For the Christian, we believe that all wrongs will be righted and that all evil will be dealt with. The word from our Lord says; “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” [Romans 12:19]. We believe that we all must appear before Him and; “…that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” [2Corinthians 5:10].
Here’s another thing, if God is not real, then there is no resurrection from the dead, then Christ has not risen, and if Christ has not risen then we are still in our sins and we are a pitiful people. I thank God daily for the blessings in Christ Jesus. I may not understand all suffering, but I do believe in God and…
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. [2Timothy 1:12]
FATHER’S DAY is upon us, as we take time out to honor our father’s in the flesh it seems appropriate to look at how Scripture describes God as a Father.
It may surprise you to learn that the Old Testament portrayal of God as Father is quite rare. He is referred to as the Father of the nation of Israel [De 32:6; 1Chron 29:10; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 3:4 Jeremiah 3:19; 31:9; Mal 1:6; 2:10]. “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” [Isa 64:8]. It speaks of Him as the Father of certain individuals, [2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chron 17:13; 22:10; 28:6; Psalm 68:5; 89:26], and in other places, the idea of Fatherhood is present although the term is not used [Ex 4:22; De 14:1; 32:5, Isa 1:2; 8:18; 9:6; Hos 1:10; 11:1].
As we survey the New Testament, all that changes. The frequency of calling God the Father increases dramatically. Most likely because Jesus said, “Our Father which art in Heaven…” when He taught His disciples to pray, [Mat 6:9]. Jesus, rightfully so, calls God “Father” nearly 200 times in the gospel (over 100 times in the book of John alone). Another word for Father Jesus used was “Abba,” found only 3 times in the New Testament [Mark 14:26; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6]. In Vine’s Expository Dictionary it says about “Abba”, “It approximates to a personal name, in contrast to ‘Father,’ with which it is always joined in the NT. This is probably due to the fact that, abba having practically become a proper name, Greek-speaking Jews added the Greek word pater, “father,” from the language they used. Abba is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; ‘father’ expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child.” (Vines, W.E., Vines Concise Dictionary of the Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2005 print page 1)
Should we call God “daddy”?
I’ve noticed a trend among some to refer to God as “daddy” as an attempt to make God sound more familiar to them. They suggest that since the Aramaic word “Abba” is used by children and our nearest English equivalent is “daddy” we have liberty. Their reasoning is flawed since the term is used by older children and adults alike. I’m not a fan of that. Although He is called our Father, we still ought to honor Him with respect, He is still the Almighty God.
God is our Father
There should be no doubt that God is our Father. As the Creator of all things which includes mankind, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” [Gen 1:27], He is our Father. Let us never forget that. Our Father, the Creator, provides for His creation, despite our sin toward Him, in this we ought to be very grateful. “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” [Acts 14:17]. Because of His goodness over all mankind through His creation, some make the mistake of thinking that this will equate to salvation. For that we need to consider God in another sense, as a Father through adoption.
God, our adopted Father.
Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4-7 that through Christ we may become children of God through adoption, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” It should be understood that some shall NOT be adopted by God to become their Father, and shall NOT inherit the promises. The question becomes, how do we receive this adoption?
Just a few verses earlier, Paul wrote, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” [Galatians 3:26-29]. Friends, don’t miss that. We can all become children of God, He can be our Father by faith when we obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.