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Atheism does not follow from a lack of evidence for God’s existence

A great post by Jason Dulle, especially the conversation in the comments section. Check it out.

Theo-sophical Ruminations

No evidence equals atheism When you ask an atheist why they are an atheist, it’s not uncommon for them to respond, “Because there is no good evidence that God exists.”  If that is their only justification for atheism, they have made a gross logical blunder.

In the case of genuine dichotomies (such as God’s existence: God exists, or God does not exist), the lack of evidence for A is neither evidence against A, nor evidence for B.  In order to conclude that A is true or B is true, one must have positive evidence for the truth value of A or B.  The absence of evidence for both A and B simply means that we must suspend judgment.

Applied to the debate over God’s existence, even if one wants to argue that there is no good evidence for theism, it does not follow that theism is false, and it certainly does not follow that…

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We’re Moving!

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WhateverForeverAmen will be relocating to http://www.apologiesaccepted.org. Here’s the description:

We are dedicated to glorifying Jesus Christ and the promotion and defense of the Christian Gospel, Apostolic doctrine, and Biblical theology. We address a variety of issues included abortion, atheism, culture, evolution, Islam, politics, relativism, universalism, (and much more) with a Christian apologetics approach. We use the Bible as the final standard of truth in order to defend and promote Christianity.

Christian apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, “speaking in defense”) is the discipline of defending the Christian position through the systematic use of logic, reason and information. And that’s exactly what we offer, a “Decisive Defense to Scoffing Skeptics”. Once you hear our apology (offer of defense) we will be glad to accept your apology (acknowledgement of offense). Let the apologizing begin.

All of our contact and your comments have been transferred to the new location.

Thanks for reading here at WhateverForeverAmen, join us at Apologies Accepted.

 

Breakfast with Ravi Zacharias Tomorrow

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Tomorrow morning I will be attending the Iowa Prayer Breakfast where apologist Ravi Zacharias will be the keynote speaker. I am greatly looking forward to hearing him in person. I plan to take notes and blog about the experience. Check back tomorrow!

Norman Borlaug: Why He Saved A Billion Lives

borlaug99 years ago on this day, Norman Borlaug was born near the town of Cresco, Iowa. He is one of only six individuals to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He is also referred to as the Father of the Green Revolution and “The Man Who Saved A Billion Lives.”

Having grown up in Iowa, I was very familiar with the name Norman Borlaug. He was a reoccurring topic of discussion in science classes in middle school and high school. As such, I think I kind of took for granted how incredibly important this man was to the world. As an agriculture research scientist, Borlaug developed a high-yeilding variety of wheat in Mexico and later India.

What I find incredibly interesting about Dr. Borlaug is his motivations for his work. Most of the information that can be found about this incredible man does a great job covering the Who, What, Where, When and How facts about his life, but in order to understand Whys about his work, require a little cultivating.

From 1975 to 1980, Dr. Borlaug served as an early trustee for the organization know as Bread For The World, which is described as “a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.” After Dr. Borlaug’s death in 2009 Bread For The World distributed a press release, “Bread for the World Mourns Passing of Norman Borlaug.”

‘Dr. Borlaug, a man of faith and compassion, was an advocate as well as a scientist. He convinced many political leaders to do their part in reducing hunger,” said (Bread for the World President) Rev. Beckmann, who will officiate during Borlaug’s memorial service in Dallas.

We can find more about this “man of faith” from his 1970 Nobel Prize lecture, in which Borlaug quotes the Bible 5 times and speaks of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden as literal, historical realities. He also spoke about hunger as an issue of social justice:

Almost certainly, however, the first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind. Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world. Yet today fifty percent of the world’s population goes hungry. Without food, man can live at most but a few weeks; without it, all other components of social justice are meaningless. Therefore I feel that the aforementioned guiding principle must be modified to read: If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace.

He expounds on this at the end of his lecture:

The recognition that hunger and social strife are linked is not new, for it is evidenced by the Old Testament passage, “…and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their King and their God. …”

Then, by developing and applying the scientific and technological skills of the twentieth century for “the well-being of mankind throughout the world”, we may still see Isaiah’s prophesies come true: “… And the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose… And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water….”

And may these words come true!

Wikipedia tells us that:

Borlaug was the great-grandchild of Norwegian immigrants to the United States. Ole Olson Dybevig and Solveig Thomasdotter Rinde, from Feios, a small village in Vik kommune, Norway, emigrated to Dane, Wisconsin, in 1854. The family eventually moved to the small Norwegian-American community of Saude, near Cresco, Iowa. There they were members of the Saude Lutheran Church, where Norman was both baptized and confirmed.

Dr. Norman Borlaug is the epitome of Isaiah 28:23-29:

Give ear and hear my voice,
Listen and hear my speech.
Does the plowman keep plowing all day to sow?
Does he keep turning his soil and breaking the clods?
When he has leveled its surface,
Does he not sow the black cummin
And scatter the cummin,
Plant the wheat in rows,
The barley in the appointed place,
And the spelt in its place?
For He instructs him in right judgment,
His God teaches him.
For the black cummin is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
Nor is a cartwheel rolled over the cummin;
But the black cummin is beaten out with a stick,
And the cummin with a rod.
Bread flour must be ground;
Therefore he does not thresh it forever,
Break it with his cartwheel,
Or crush it with his horsemen.
This also comes from the Lord of hosts,
Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.

There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Borlaug was instructed by God in right judgment as God taught him. The saving of a billion people was not done by bread along, but by the Word of God.

Thank God for Dr. Norman Borlaug, who, when faced with the problem of overpopulation and world hunger in a malthusian world, rose to the challenge by creating more food rather than advocating for the creation of fewer mouths.

A Trifecta of Truth in the Duel of Delusion

Sky Question MarkIs there really a God? How do you know He exists? Can you prove His existence?

These questions are often asked in battle of ideas. I believe that these and other questions of the existence of the God of the Bible can be answered with well-reasoned intelligence. We can know that God exists is because He has said as much, and has revealed Himself to us. If God were silent, there would be no value to us for Him to exist, but fortunately for us this is not the case. Not only has God communicated to us the fact that He exists, but He has also told us all about who He is, what He is like and what His plans are for us.

Revelation Through Creation

The first way that God has revealed Himself is through His revelation. Some might say that this position commits the logical fallacy of begging the question, or assuming the point which you are trying to prove. But this is not the case, as we will see.

As the Jewish King David stated that:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
There line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4, NKJV)

In other words, nature — specifically, the sky above — testifies of the existence of a Creator. Ancient civilizations confirm this notion. In every part of the world, archaeology has shown that ancient cultures believed that there was some kind of deity connected to the sun, moon and stars. Through their observation of the heavens, they concluded that there must be something beyond themselves.

The Apostle Paul echoed David’s sentiment:

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-21).

But the problem with all of those ancient civilizations is that they arrived at the wrong conclusion. Paul continues and explains this error:

[B]ecause, although they knew god, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things (Romans 1:21-23, NKJV).

All of the deities these ancient civilizations were worshiping resembled something within the natural realm. Their gods were modeled after things they were familiar with. Their gods were created in their image, as opposed to them being created in the image of their God. Of all the ancient civilizations only the Hebrews were able to discover who the Creator really was.

Revelation Through Scripture

According to Hebrews 11:6, this fundamental understanding of the existence of God is primary for us as we approach God. Secondarily, we must diligently seek Him and believe that He will reward our search. This is where we go beyond a universal revelation of God, to a special revelation of God. The Jews were rewarded because of their diligent search for God, specifically the search of the patriarch Abraham when he left his home and followed after the voice of God. As a result, to Abraham’s decedents — the Jewish people — “were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). Their faith in God’s existence through general revelation led to God rewarding them with special revelation.

We refer to this special revelation as the Bible. The Hebrew Scriptures were God’s way of revealing Himself to mankind. The Bible is more that a mere book; it is the Word of God. The evidence for this claim is quite convincing if we approach it with an open mind.

The Bible itself makes numerous claims that could be considered outrageous if it were not the Word of God. As a result of those claims, many have tried to destroy this book. Martin Luther stated:

Infinite potentates have raged against this book, and sought to destroy and uproot it — king Alexander the Great, the princes of Egypt and of Babylon, the monarchs of Persia, of Greece, and of Rome, the emperors Julius and Augustus — but they nothing prevailed; they are all gone and vanished, while the book remains, and will remain for ever and ever, perfect and entire, as it was declared at first. Who has thus helped it – who has thus protected it against such mighty forces? No one, surely, but God himself, who is the master of all things.

The French philosopher and skeptic, Rousseau, saw the uniqueness of the Bible:

I must confess to you that the majesty of the Scriptures astonishes me; the holiness of the evangelists speaks to my heart and has such striking characters of truth, and is, moreover, so perfectly inimitable, that if it had been the invention of men, the inventors would be greater than the greatest heroes.

Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter—no errors. (The remaining 500 or so reach into the future and may be seen unfolding as days go by.) Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 102000!

Revelation Through Incarnation

Another way God has revealed Himself is by appearing to us in human flesh. Jesus was the almighty God that became a man. The Apostle John testified of this fact. In the introduction to his account of the life of Jesus John references the opening of Genesis and the creation account. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Then, a few verses later, John explains that “…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we behel his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father…” (John 1:14). And John makes it unmistakably clear that the purpose of Jesus coming to earth was to “declare” and reveal who God is and what He is all about (John 1:18).

If anyone ever had a question about what God is like, they would only need to look at Jesus. As Lord Byron said, “If ever man was God or God was man, Jesus Christ was both.”

Through fulfillments of prophecies in His birth, life and death, His miracles, His resurrection, and His ascension, Jesus proved that He was God in ways that no other person or supposed deity ever has or ever will. There is no need to look for another God, because Jesus has established His superiority as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

Through this trifecta of truth; the observable creation, the Biblical revelation, and demonstrable incarnation, we have three very strong reasons for the existence of God. A case that no other religious or philosophical system is able to provide, thus there is no reason to look any further.

Happy Birthday to Nicolaus Copernicus! The Most Misunderstood Man in the Universe

CopernicusOn this day in 1573, a man was born who would alter the universe, in a somewhat literal way. Nicolaus Copernicus, a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who devised a heliocentric model of the universe which positioned the sun at the center of the universe as opposed to the earth.

Just prior to his death in 1543, Copernicus published his findings in a book entitled, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelstium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres). In the dedication of his book, written to Pope John III, Copernicus stated:

I CAN easily conceive, most Holy Father, that as soon as some people learn that in this book which I have written concerning the revolutions of the heavenly bodies, . . . they will cry out at once that I and my theory should be rejected.

Copernicus understood that his discovery would completely change the way humanity would view the world. The idea that the earth was at the center of the universe had become a central tenet of the Catholic church, and any theory that challenged this idea would have disastrous effects. And as a Catholic priest, by publishing his conclusions Copernicus was taking a huge risk on more than one level, but this was an occupational hazard that he was willing to face.

In reading his introduction, we see that Copernicus was stressing that his discovery was of a physical nature (relating to the science of physics), but his subsequent detractors only saw the metaphysical implications. And just as his contemporary readers misunderstood this discovery, so do modern readers. In his Implications of the Copernican Principle for Our Future Prospects, Richard Gott III states:

The Copernican revolution taught us that it was a mistake to assume, without sufficient reason, that we occupy a privileged position in the Universe. Darwin showed that, in terms of origin, we are not privileged above other species. Our position around an ordinary star in an ordinary galaxy in an ordinary supercluster continues to look less and less special. . . . The Copernican Principle works because, of all the places for intelligent observers to be, there are by definition only a few special places, so you are likely to be in a nonspecial place.

Gott’s “nonspecial” argument is a non-sequitur. How he (and other modern atheists) draw this conclusion from the Copernican Principle is complete and utter nonsense. The fact that the universe is not physically the center of the physical universe does not mean that the earth is not a specially designed planet on which intelligent life exists. In fact, if one looks at the necessary conditions that are required for life to exist on a planet, there are one of two possibilities, either earth was created by an intelligent, powerful, pre-existent being, or, as a physics professor at Iowa State University stated in a class I took, earth is an “extremely lucky planet”. Really?! Luck?!

When I was a kid, I used to fantasize about life on other planets and the possibility of moving to the moon or perhaps some galaxy far, far away. Perhaps that was because my mom used to let me stay up past my bedtime and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation, or perhaps it was because I was introduced to the awesomeness that is Star Wars at the young age of 7. Those fantasies are long gone (but my nerd-status love for the aforementioned sci-fi fantasies are still very near), and as we learn more about the Universe in which we live and the planetary systems therein, the chances of extra-terrestrial life being a reality have become slim to nil.

My hope was built upon the theory that since there are so many stars and so many planets out there, surely there is one that can support life. I believed as astronomer Robert Jastrow did, “The university is populated by innumerable earths and, perhaps, innumerable forms of life.” But there are two sides to every equation and inequality. And the other side of that theory is the reality of the conditions that are needed for a planet to be deemed habitable. Here are some of the necessary factors for planetary habitability:

Within Galactic Habitable Zone
Orbiting a main sequence G2 dwarf star
Protected by gas giant planets
Within circumstellar habitable zone
Nearly circular orbit
Oxygen-rich atmosphere
Correct mass
Orbited by relatively large moon to stabilize planetary axis
Magnetic field
Plate tectonics
Ratio of liquid water and continents
Terrestrial planet
Moderate rate of rotation

All of these factors must exists at the same time and place in the universe. And it just so happens that earth is that place and now is that time. Lucky? I think not.

Some really smart people devised a big long math problem and discovered that the mathematical probability for all of the factors for the sustainability of life existing in the same place at the same time is about 1/1,000,000,000,000,000 (a conservative number, by the way). When you compare that number to the 100,000,000,000 stars in the galaxy, the likely hood of another earth-like planet existing in our galaxy is improbable. In fact, it is 10,000 times less likely for another habitable planet to exist in our galaxy. (For more on this, check out Dr. Donald Brownlee’s bestselling book, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe.)

When you consider those number, our planet really is special. The mathematical improbability for a habitable planet to exist in our galaxy tells us that we were no cosmological coincidence, rather we are an astronomical anomaly! If those like Richard Gott III and my ISU astronomy professor understood this, perhaps they would not have drawn an improper conclusions from the Copernican Principle, or, perhaps if they would have just read Copernicus’ dedication they would not have committed this non sequitur.

In his book, The Sleepwalkers, Arthur Koestler referred to Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus as “the book that nobody read”. Perhaps it should instead be called, “the dedication that nobody read”.

The Bird and The Fish Fell In Love

 

Valentine’s Day, in our consumer-driven society, has become a day set aside where the male of the human species is made to feel guilty if they don’t buy flowers and chocolate and take their significant other out on a nice date in an attempt to express our love toward them.

My feeble attempt at this tradition was the classic dinner-and-a-movie approach. I thought that the movie Fireproof would be quite fitting for such an occasion (and Family Christian Bookstore had it on sale for $5!). If you have never seen it, I would recommend it. We laughed, we cried, we ate microwave popcorn.

Bird Fish DuplexPrior to the movie portion of our date night, we ate at one of central Iowa’s premiere seafood and sushi establishments. As we waited for our table, being the people-watcher that I am, I was observing all of the “love birds” in their natural habitat. This combination of birds and fish brought to mind the story of the bird and the fish that fell in love, but had no way to express themselves. In other words, “A bird and a fish can fall in love, but where would they live?”

The question then becomes, how can two entities from two vastly differing perspectives love one another?  The question for the bird and the fish becomes, “How do the two of us live together?” The fish lives in a reality in which the bird would drown, and the bird breathes something that would choke the fish.

This is the exact predicament that led Jesus Christ to the Cross of Calvary. In Ephesians 3, Paul attempts to help us understand God’s expression of love toward us:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saintswhat is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Eph 3:14-21).

The first three chapters of Genesis shows this love crisis between God and mankind.  This picture cannot be understood if your vision of God is as someone seated in Heaven looking down and seeing the Fall of mankind but not caring about it.  It is impossible to understand the love story of the Bible until you recognize that our God is a passionate God and that is passion is direct toward you!  He is not just a sovereign, majestic being who sits on a throne and executes judgments without feeling or compassion.  If we did not have a God who is passionately interested in us, none of us would be here right now.

We will never truly appreciate the dynamics of who God is and what He has done in our lives, until we do recognize that the Cross and all God did that preceded it are one big, amazing, unbelievable love story.  It is all about a God who fell in love with man, about Holiness falling in love with humanity, about the Celestial touching the terrestrial, and about the Majestic touching the mediocre.

Paul was so passionate about people coming to an understanding of the Love of God that he prayed that the Ephesians would “be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph 3:18-19). Paul was essentially saying, “I want you to know something that you cannot even know, because your finite little mind will never be able to grasp the height, the depth, the breadth, the length — you will never find a measurement by which to measure how much God loves you!”

I have asked the questions many times: “How can God possibly love a person like me? Knowing all the bad stuff about me, knowing my failures, my secrets, my sins.  Whatever could possess Him to even think about me?  How can He even stand me?!”  David felt the same way.  He wrote in Psalm 8:3-5:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,

The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

What is man that You are mindful of  him,

And the son of man that You visit him?

For You have made him a little lower than the angels,

And You have crowned him with glory and honor

And this is the situation that is found in Genesis chapter 3.  God had built this love cottage called Earth and a honeymoon suite called the Garden of Eden, then set a man and a woman in a controlled environment where He would express His love.  And it is from this lofty height of Heavenly love that man fell into this pit of sin and despair which takes that real, genuine, authentic love and replaces it with lust.  Man gave up the opportunity to have eternal bliss in a perfect relationship with God for a few moments in rebellion with something in the flesh.

And the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:’ Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life (Gen 3:22-24).

Have you ever had a good relationship go bad?  Have you ever invested passion and love and intensity and enthusiasm into someone from whom it was not reciprocated?  Have you ever loved someone with all of your heart and soul who turned you away for another lover?  The mourning produced by this experience is often greater than that of the experience of the death of a loved one.  The death of a romantic heart is so painful, bleeding, glaring, and degrading that it often requires therapy to overcome the sense of rejection.

I think that might have been how God felt in Genesis 3.  God annuls the relationship He had with humanity, His very own Creation, and a divorce of sorts had been finalized. The rejected God looked at the fallen man and woman, and in the wrath that is only known by a rejected lover, He said, “Get out!”  Out of the depths of pain that Adam’s rejection had produced in the heart of God, He commanded that Adam leave the Garden.  “Take Eve, take your stuff, and get out!”

Adam and Eve, ashamed to look back, walked away from eternal life to eternal loss, trying to fill the void that love left with things that do not satisfy and it is that same void that every human being is trying to fill today.  Many times to our own destruction.

In His omniscience, there are very few things that God does not know. He knows the end from the beginning, and He knew us before He formed us in our mothers’ bellies.  But the Bible does state that there is one thing God did not know — He knows no sin.  So Adam fell into something for which God had no point of reference.  “Adam, where art thou?  You just did something that I have never experienced, you have gone where I have never been.  I love you, and I want to be reunited.”

The man had fallen into a sinful place where God could not live. God lives in a holy place where man cannot come. The bird and the fish fell in love, but where will they live?

This is our story.  Adam got us into this situation, and God wants to get us out! And when we could not get to God, God came to us!

The Bible is one big love story. God’s courtship with man began with Abraham and continued through the nation of Israel.  From the land of Egypt and the captivity of Pharaoh, God took Israel into the wilderness so He could “date” them.  All the wilderness experience was about God dating Israel.  At the beginning of the date, He showed them how strong He was.  When Israel was hungry, God became bread of heaven; when Israel asked for meat, He called for the quail to literally fly into their camp; when Israel became thirsty, He became water out of a rock.  When we are on a “date” with God, sometimes He does stuff for us to show how cool He is, and how we don’t need any other lover to provide for us.  That is exactly what He did with Israel.

In the middle of the wilderness is where God dated Israel.  He instructed Moses to build a tent in the middle of the desert, because I am going to date Israel in the wilderness. God gave Moses an exact plan for the building of the tabernacle as well as the furniture inside the tabernacle, and He promised that the tabernacle would be “where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee” (Exodus 29:42).  All of the tribes of Israel set up their tents around the tabernacle, and right in the middle of there desert God decided to throw a party, a place of redemption, as a picture of what Jesus Christ would accomplish one day.

Right there in the tabernacle, in the middle of the desert, God planned a special date with Israel.  The glory of God fell on the Holy of Holies and all the tribes of Israel were around it. Exodus 40:34-35 says that “a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” They could not get close to God because there was still a huge divide between them.

Like a bird and a fish, God and the Israelites could not connect.  God said, “I will get as close to you as the blood of a goat will allow, so you can see My glory from a distance.”  So the Israelites sat in the doorway of their tents and looked at a God they could not touch.  Intimacy was not an option.  Sin had created a problem.  In the metaphor of the bird and the fish, a bird looked down and saw a fish, but the bird could not swim.  The fish looked up and saw a bird, but the fish could not fly.  So they tried to be happy just being “close”.  God was finding a way to get close to man, because man could not find a way to get close to God.

What the tabernacle was in the Old Testament abstraction, Jesus is in New Testament reality.  Instead of a tent made out of goat-skins, Jesus Christ’s body was the tent made out of human flesh, and glory of God dwelt in his body rather than sitting out on the rooftop.  John makes it very clear for us in the opening chapter of his Gospel: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

When Jesus came they did not know what to call Him.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

But for the purpose of God restoring us to Himself, there is a name that sticks out.  Matthew 1:23 says, “And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” “Emmanu-” means “with us.” “El” refers to God. Emmanu-el is “God tabernacled WITH us” — not above us or somewhere close.

You need to be in a relationship WITH God!

It has been said, “What Adam got us into, only Jesus can get us out of!” But it could also be said, “What Adam got us out of, only Jesus can get us into!”

By the way…all of US are included in the “us”.  God desires to meet us in a specific place.  Emmanuel is God’s reconnection with humanity.  Jesus is the place where we meet God.  Emmanuel literally means “the tent of meeting” and it refers to the Old Testament tabernacle in the wilderness which was a shadow or symbol of which Jesus Christ is the realization.  “God tabernacled with us,” our Emmanuel.

Jesus came, and He died. And when Jesus “cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost,” the veil that hung between the Holy of Holies and the Most Holy Place in the temple “was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27:51).  Like the tabernacle, the temple was also a shadow or symbol of which Christ was the reality.  When Jesus took His last breath the veil was ripped where no human hand could reach, because what the veil was in the shadow, Jesus was in reality.

The veil in the temple was ripped, not so God could get out but so that we could get in!  The door was opened!  What Adam had gotten us out of (the presence of God), Jesus has gotten us back into!

God tore the veil so we could have intimacy with Him!  The door is wide open!  We need to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16).

This is what the Gospel is all about, being reconnected with the God who made us for His glory.

If you feel like something is missing in your life — maybe like you have a void like the one we talked about earlier — and nothing you have tried has been able to fill that emptiness inside your life.  You’ve tried this and that and the other, and it has not worked.  Maybe you have even tried church, but there is a difference between trying a church and trying Jesus.  It’s not about the church.  It’s not about the preacher.  It’s not about the music.  It’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ!  It’s about the fusing of your spirit with the Spirit of Almighty God.  It is about Jesus dwelling IN you and you in Him. He’s waiting for you.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or how bad you feel, Jesus has torn the veil and the door of access is open to God  All that the first Adam had given away Jesus Christ, the 2nd Adam, has restored.

Obama’s 2nd Inauguration: Calling Evil Good and Good Evil, Part 1

Obama Inauguration Word CloudYesterday was the 2nd inauguration of President Barack H. Obama. I listened to it on the radio and watched a few parts that were of particular interest. One of the most interesting parts of the inauguration for me was the President’s speech.

The theme of Obama’s speech was that of a journey. A journey that he referred to as, “never-ending”. A journey that began with the founding of these United States and continues today. And, in playing on his most recent campaign slogan, a journey that we must move forward.

The President made mention of the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, yet his ideology completely contradicts those unalienable rights. With his words, he exalts the founding principles of this country as good, but his actions seem to imply that he actually views them as evil.

Life or Death?

Obama claims that “We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.” Really, Mr. President? What about the baby in the womb of the woman at the abortion clinic? Where is that citizen’s basic measure of security and dignity? One of the least secure places in this country for a child today is in the womb of its mother. Where is the dignity for the child that dies at the hands of an abortionist or that is burned to death by a chemical abortion? Mr. President, if it is so good for us to provide security and dignity to every American, why do you enable the evil of abortion to continue?

While he does not believe in protecting the rights of the unborn, Obama did assert his firm belief in protecting the environment, vowing to “respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”  Is this really a country that values the environment more than the lives of the innocent unborn? How is killing 1.5 millions children every year not the most betraying action we could take on our future generation? Mr. President, if you really think it is so good to protect the planet for our children, abolish the evil of abortion now!

Obama then added a classic non-sequitur. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.” But who is the real science denier? The medical and biological case against abortion is clear. Every new human life begins at conception. None can avoid the devastating impact of raging forceps and crippling saline abortions. Glossing over homicide and calling it “choice” and therefore good does not make it any less evil.

Obama even went so far as to invoke God as the one that commanded us to care for and preserve our planet. What about the innocent unborn? Does God not command us to care for them? Is mother nature more important than the unborn child? If God’s commands are so good, let’s follow all of them, shall we?

As he continued on his “journey” theme he declared that “our journey is not complete until all our children, rom the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.” What about the unwanted children of unplanned pregnancies. Do we care about them? Will we cherish them? With abortion, the ultimate harm is their ultimate end. Mr. President, you seek to deny the basic right of self-defense by voicing your concern for children, and you call that good, but you continue to deny the basic right of life to the defenseless, and those that would extend charity and security to the unborn, you call evil.

Until the words of this president line up with his actions, he is merely “call[ing] evil good, and good evil . . . put[ting] darkness for light, and light for darkness . . .” (Isaiah 5:20), and to that, God says, “Woe!” Or, as another translation puts it, you are “as good as dead” (New English Translation).

QOTD – 01/21/13

MLK

‎”I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

In other words, speak now or forever hold your peace. And “forever” includes the day when we stand before the Supreme Judge of the world.

Blank Inside?

Valentine’s Day is less than a month away. Don’t worry, if you forget, your local stores will be sure to remind you. It is very likely that in the next few weeks many of us will be visiting our local Hallmark store to purchase a nice card for that special someone in an effort to make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Walking into a Hallmark store reminds me of a bit by my favorite comedian, Brian Regan:

In the clip, Regan talks about the “Blank Inside” section of Hallmark. These are cards that must be filled in with a personal note from the buyer to the receiver. Regan jokingly says that he writes, “Sorry you feel so blank inside” on the cards. Sometimes, people need a blank-inside card. Their lives are empty. They are lacking. They need something to fill the void.

In Col 2:8-10, Paul addresses this problem:

Beware lest anyone spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.

In verse 8, Paul warns against being spoiled. The word in the Greek literally means “carry you off as a captive”. The implication here is that we can become a spoil of war through false teachings. How is it possible for false teachers to capture people?  The “captives” are ignorant of the truths of the Word of God.  They become fascinated by the philosophy and empty delusion of the false teachers. Not all philosophy is bad, however. Philosophy means the love of wisdom (Philo = love, sophy = wisdom). When a person does not know the doctrines of the Christ he can easily be captured by false religions. The NIV states that the philosophy of false teachers is “hollow and deceptive”.

Tradition is that which is handed down.  Traditions aren’t all bad either. Traditions from God are good, but traditions from men are not all good. We need to make sure that any traditions that we might follow are godly traditions.

The phrase “rudiments of the world” meant the elementary spirits of the universe, or the angels that influenced the heavenly bodies.”  It was an idea of the religious astrologers of the day (Col 2:16).  Horoscopes, astrological charts, ouija boards the zodiac system and other spiritual practices are contrary to the teaching of the Word of God. We need to avoid these things at all costs.

In Verse 9, Paul presents the doctrine of Jesus Christ in contrast to false teachings. It is a magnificent description of the Incarnation, for it emphasizes both the true deity and true humanity of Jesus Christ. Let us examine each major word of the verse.

  • “Him.” The antecedent is “Christ” (verse 8), or more fully, “Christ Jesus the Lord” (verse 6).
  • “Dwelleth,” or lives. The word is in the present tense, meaning that the fullness of God continues to dwell in Jesus Christ. The union of deity and humanity in Christ is permanent.
  • “Godhead” (theotes): the Deity. This Greek word appears only here in the New Testament. It is “the abstract noun for God . . . and includes not only the divine attributes but also the divine nature.” The word refers to the state of being God, to the sum total of God’s nature. The identity of Jesus as God would be established if verse 9 simply said, “In Him dwells the Godhead,” for by definition “Godhead” is the fullness of absolute deity.
  • “Fulness” (pleroma): plenitude, totality. The same word appears in Colossians 1:19. To be as clear as possible, the verse says “the fulness” of the Godhead dwells in Jesus, although the Godhead can never be less than complete and absolute.
  • “All.” To underscore the deity of Christ even further, the verse says “all” the fullness, although by definition anything less than all would not be fullness. Lightfoot explained that “all the fulness” means “the totality of the divine powers and attributes.” Thus verse 9 uses three words to declare the absolute deity of Jesus in the strongest of terms, although one would have been sufficient to express the point.

“In him” is emphatic. It is in Christ, and nowhere else, that one is to find “the fulness of the Godhead.” In him the fullness “dwelleth,” that is, has its permanent abode. This “fulness” means the unbounded powers and attributes of God. The word “Godhead” denotes the essence or content of divine being, that indeed which constitutes God. Here in most absolute terms Paul states not merely the divinity but the deity of Christ. The word deity, and its corresponding word in the Greek, denotes the “being God.” Christ is not only Godlike; he is God.

John 1:1, 14 is a parallel passage: “The Word was God. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

All the roles, titles, and attributes of God are invested in Jesus. Whatever God is, Jesus is. He is the incarnate God, Father, Word, Spirit, Lord, and Jehovah. Jesus Christ is the incarnation of the one God, and this truth is foundational to our faith.

Now, we get to my favorite part of this passage, verse 10, the practical application of verse 9. The deity of Jesus Christ is not merely an abstract theological concept; it has profound implications for our daily lives. Just as Jesus is the fullness or completeness of God in flesh, we are “complete” in Him. “Complete” here comes from the same Greek root word as “fulness” in verse 9. Some translations use the same English word in both verses to make the connection clear: “And you have been given fullness in Christ” (NIV). “And you are in Him, made full and have come to fullness of life—in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead” (Amplified Bible).

Greek scholar, Kenneth Wuest put it like this, “And you are in Him, having been completely filled full with the present result that you are in a state of fullness.”

When a person is born again into the family of God, he is born complete in Christ.  Our growth does not come by addition, but by nutrition.  We grow from the inside out.  Nothing needs to be added to Christ because He already is the very fullness of God.

In short, we have everything we need in Jesus. If all we know is Jesus, we know enough to be saved, healed, delivered, protected, and preserved, for when we have Him we have everything that God is. Even if someone does not understand the doctrine of God or has never heard of the Holy Spirit, he can repent of his sins by confessing to Jesus, have his sins washed away in the name of Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus) by calling upon Jesus in faith. For example, Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit when they repented and believed the simple message about Jesus, and then they were baptized in Jesus’ name (Acts 10:36-48). Repentance, the remission of sins at water baptism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit all come through the name of Jesus (Luke 24:47; John 14:26; Acts 2:38).

Just as John 1:1, 14 parallels Colossians 2:9, so John 1:16 parallels Colossians 2:10: “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” Ephesians 3:17, 19 is

also a parallel: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith . . . that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

So as we open a new year, if you are feeling “blank inside”, perhaps you should examine yourself and find out if you are in Christ, and Christ is in you.