In March 2013, Christianity Today’s (CT) opinion section, Village Green, asked “three leading Christians” the following question:
A post over at Justin Taylor’s blog on The Loss of Historical Adam and the Death of Exegesis has generated a lot of comments and discussion, some of it being rather tense. I also had an exchange with a guy name Hank who was going around trolling against those who believe in the historical Adam. For those who are interested, the thread of that brief exchange (thus far) can be found here, and he began commenting after he said he read my essay critical of Peter Enns’ methodology. To spare the blow by blow details, my latest response follows below. What else could you add?
3.) “I’m just saying you seem like a young amateur in biblical studies–perhaps an MDiv–but certainly not someone who has written and exposed his ideas to learned and critical scrutiny.”
Response: Let’s say I’m a young amateur. To think this is a refutation is…
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Would you take out a loan that has an annual percentage rate of 391 percent? Yes, I know that sounds absolutely crazy, but millions of Americans do it every single year. The typical payday loan requires borrowers to pay about 15 dollars for every $100 that they borrow for two weeks. That comes out to a yearly rate of about 391 percent. And the payday loan companies know exactly who to target. They have set up thousands of shops in the poorest communities all over the nation over the last several decades. Each year, approximately 12 million Americans take out payday loans and they pay approximately 7.4 billion dollars in interest and fees on those loans. Sadly, once you get hooked on payday loans they are very hard to stop. In fact, one study found that only 13 percent of payday borrowers get two loans or less per year. All other borrowers take out more loans than that. In fact, more than a third of all payday borrowers take out between 11 and 19 loans during the course of a single year. And as was mentioned earlier, the interest rates on these loans are beyond exorbitant. Payday loans are estimated to be about 20 times more expensive than bank loans, with annual interest rates that are sometimes as high as 500 percent. The payday loan companies circle the poor like vultures, because they know that the poor are the only ones desperate enough to agree to such terms. This is why we need to shut them down. The payday loan companies are making billions preying on the misery of the poor and it needs to be stopped. (Read More….)
It’s one thing for no-name pols to work on the fringes. But Paul, at this point, has a lot to lose. Yet here he is, suggesting the current president of the United States is working with “anti-American globalists plot[ting] against our Constitution.” And for what?
…early last year–as the nation was headed toward a presidential election–the IRS issued a “be on the lookout order” (BOLO) for officials in its “Determinations Unit” to ferret out for heightened scrutiny organizations applying for tax exempt status that were involved in educating Americans “on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” The inspector general’s timeline indicates that as early as March 2010 the IRS’s “Determinations Unit” had begun targeting for special scrutiny organizations that used in their tax-exempt applications the words “Tea Party” or “Patriots.”
the crash of the helicopter, which was carrying many men who only 93 days before had aided in the killing of Osama Bin Laden, has “a constant plethora of lies and deceit.”
“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: as soon as its twigs get tender and it’s leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.”
I have often pondered what Jesus was saying concerning the fig tree. What do you think? Let’s look at examples in the Bible where the fig tree was used, as in these scripture passages to prove a point.
Russia Not to Tolerate Further Israeli Attacks on Damascus
TEHRAN (FNA)- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while in Shanghai, was given a sharp dressing-down by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a warning that Russia would not tolerate further Israeli attacks on Damascus and would respond.
Bachmann said the IRS announcement of misbehavior was intended to provoke conservatives and draw their anger and attention.
“I was in that Benghazi hearing,” she told WND. “I think the Obama administration is desperate to spin Benghazi, and they can’t. I think they saved this story up for a day like today so that conservatives would focus on this admission.”
As with many things in life, there are extremes in the area of exercise. Some people focus entirely on spirituality, to the neglect of their physical bodies. Others focus so much attention on the form and shape of their physical bodies that they neglect spiritual growth and maturity. Neither of these indicates a biblical balance. First Timothy 4:8 informs us, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Notice that the verse does not negate the need for exercise. Rather, it says that exercise is valuable, but it prioritizes exercise correctly by saying that godliness is of greater value.
The apostle Paul also mentions physical training in illustrating spiritual truth in 1 Corinthians 9:24–27. He equates the Christian life to a race we run to “get the prize.” But the prize we seek is an eternal crown that will not tarnish or fade. In 2 Timothy 2:5, Paul says, “Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” Paul uses an athletic analogy again in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” While the focus of these Scriptures is not physical exercise, the fact that Paul uses athletic terminology to teach us spiritual truths indicates that Paul viewed physical exercise, and even competition, in a positive light. We are both physical and spiritual beings. While the spiritual aspect of our being is, biblically speaking, more important, we are to neglect neither the spiritual or physical aspects of our health.
So, clearly, there is nothing wrong with a Christian exercising. In fact, the Bible is clear that we are to take good care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). At the same time, the Bible warns against vanity (1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 31:30; 1 Peter 3:3–4). Our goal in exercise should not be to improve the quality of our bodies so that other people will notice and admire us. Rather, the goal of exercising should be to improve our physical health so we will possess more physical energy that we can devote to spiritual goals.
This is a two-part question. The first part is “Did God know Satan would rebel and Adam and Eve would sin?” The answer lies in what the Bible teaches about God’s knowledge. We know from Scripture that God is omniscient, which literally means “all-knowing.” Job 37:16, Psalm 139:2–4; Psalm 147:5, Proverbs 5:21, Isaiah 46:9–10, and 1 John 3:19–20 leave no doubt that God’s knowledge is infinite and that He knows everything that has happened in the past, is happening now, and will happen in the future.
Looking at some of the superlatives in these verses—“perfect in knowledge”; “his understanding has no limit”; “he knows everything”—it is clear that God’s knowledge isn’t merely greater than our own, but it is infinitely greater. He knows all things in totality. Not only that, but Isaiah 46:10 declares He not only knows everything, but He controls everything as well. How else could He “make known” to us what would happen in the future and state unequivocally that His plans will come to pass? So did God know that Adam and Eve were going to sin? Did He know Lucifer would rebel against Him and become Satan? Yes! Absolutely! Were they out of His control at any time? Absolutely not. If God’s knowledge is not perfect, then there is a deficiency in His nature. Any deficiency in God’s nature means he cannot be God, for God’s very essence requires the perfection of all His attributes. Therefore, the answer to the first question must, by necessity, be “yes.”
Moving on to the second part of the question, “Why did God create Satan and Adam and Eve knowing ahead of time they were going to sin?” This question is a little trickier because we are asking a “why” question, to which the Bible doesn’t usually provide comprehensive answers. Despite that, we should be able to come to a limited understanding if we examine some biblical passages. To begin, we have already seen that God is omniscient and nothing can happen outside of His knowledge. So if God knew that Satan would rebel and fall from heaven and Adam and Eve would sin, and yet He created them anyway, it must mean that the fall of mankind was part of God’s sovereign plan from the beginning. No other answer makes sense given what we have been saying thus far.
Now we must be careful to note that Adam and Eve falling into sin does not mean that God is the author of sin, nor that he tempted Adam and Eve to sin (James 1:13). The fall serves the purpose of God’s overall plan for creation and mankind. This, again, must be the case or else the fall of mankind would never have happened.
If we consider what some theologians call the “meta-narrative” (or over-arching story-line) of Scripture, we see that biblical history can be roughly divided into three main sections: 1) paradise (Genesis 1–2); 2) paradise lost (Genesis 3—Revelation 20); 3) paradise regained (Revelation 21–22). By far the largest part of the narrative is devoted to moving from paradise lost to paradise regained. At the center of this meta-narrative is the cross. The cross was planned from the very beginning (Acts 2:23). It was foreknown and foreordained that Christ would go to the cross and give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28)—those chosen by God’s foreknowledge and predestined to be His people (Ephesians 1:4–5).
Reading Scripture very carefully and taking what has been said so far, we are led to the following conclusions:
1. The rebellion of Satan and the fall of mankind were foreknown and foreordained by God.
2. Those who would become the people of God, the elect, were foreknown and foreordained by God.
3. The crucifixion of Christ, as atonement for God’s people, was foreknown and foreordained by God.
So we are left with the following questions: Why create mankind with the knowledge of the fall? Why create mankind knowing that only some would be “saved?” Why send Jesus knowingly to die for a people that knowingly fell into sin? From man’s perspective, it doesn’t make sense. If the meta-narrative moves from paradise to paradise lost to paradise regained, why not just go straight to paradise regained and avoid the whole paradise lost interlude?
The only conclusion we can come to in view of the above assertions is that God’s purpose was to create a world in which His glory could be manifest in all its fullness. The glory of God is the overarching goal of creation. In fact, it is the overarching goal of everything He does. The universe was created to display God’s glory (Psalm 19:1), and the wrath of God is revealed against those who fail to glorify God (Romans 1:23). Our sin causes us to fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), and in the new heaven and new earth, the glory of God is what will provide light (Revelation 21:23). The glory of God is manifest when His attributes are on perfect display, and the story of redemption is part of that.
The best place to see this in Scripture is Romans 9:19–24. Wrath and mercy display the riches of God’s glory, and you can’t get either without the fall of mankind. Therefore, all of the above assertions—fall, election, redemption, atonement—serve the purpose of glorifying God. When man fell into sin, God’s mercy was immediately displayed in not killing him on the spot. God’s patience and forbearance were also on display as mankind fell deeper into sin prior to the flood. God’s justice and wrath were on display as He executed judgment during the flood, and God’s mercy and grace were demonstrated as he saved Noah and his family. God’s wrath and justice will be revealed in the future when He deals with Satan once and for all (Revelation 20:7–10).
The ultimate exhibition of God’s glory was at the cross where His wrath, justice, and mercy met. The righteous judgment of all sin was executed at the cross, and God’s grace was on display in pouring His wrath for sin on His Son, Jesus, instead of on us. God’s love and grace are on display in those whom He has saved (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9). In the end, God will be glorified as His chosen people worship him for all eternity with the angels, and the wicked will also glorify God as His justice and righteousness will finally be vindicated by the eternal punishment of all unrepentant sinners (Philippians 2:11). None of this could have come to pass without the rebellion of Satan and the fall of Adam and Eve.
The classic objection to this position is that God’s foreknowledge and foreordination of the fall does damage to man’s freedom. In other words, if God created mankind with full knowledge of the impending fall into sin, how can man be responsible for his sin? The best answer to this question can be found in the Westminster Confession of Faith chapter III:
“God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established” (WFC, III.1)
What this is saying is that God ordains future events in such a way that our freedom and the working of secondary causes (i.e., laws of nature) are preserved. Theologians call this “concurrence.” God’s sovereign will flows concurrently with our free choices in such a way that our free choices always result in the carrying out of God’s will (when I say “free choices” what I mean is that our choices are not coerced by outside influences).
Wrapping this up, God knew that Satan would rebel and Adam and Eve would sin in the Garden of Eden. With that knowledge, God still created Lucifer and Adam and Eve because creating them and ordaining the fall was part of His sovereign plan to manifest His glory in all its fullness. Even though the fall was foreknown and foreordained, our freedom in making choices is not violated because our free choices are the means by which God’s will is carried out.
There are many areas of the world, such as China, where many restrictions are placed on Christians in regard to when, where and how they may worship. In some countries, Christian worship in any form is not permitted and some repressive governments arrest and kill Christians simply for declaring or exercising their faith. For Christians who live in such areas, considerable effort must be expended to ensure they will continue to grow and mature in the faith while away from any kind of church atmosphere and in a country hostile to God.
For the Christian in a country that allows possession of a Bible or studies on various books or topics of the Bible, diligent daily study of the Word is essential, especially if fellowship with other Christians isn’t possible. It’s essential for those Christians to carve out time each day to study God’s Word and spend time in prayer with Him, asking Him to reveal to them what He wants them to learn and the strength to apply it each day. Prayer is a most crucial component in the Christian life in situations like this and should not be neglected, not even for a day. For those in countries where Bibles are outlawed, if there is open internet access, numerous websites that contain whole word-for-word versions of the Bible are invaluable. There are even online fellowship groups for believers to meet and encourage one another.
Finding other believers in the area can lead to starting a quiet, underground home group where believers get together weekly to study God’s Word and pray with and for one another. The home church movement in China produced a strong and vibrant community of Christian faith in an atmosphere of the worst repression and persecution. Those who started underground home groups in Middle Eastern countries have found a tremendous hunger for God’s Word among English-speaking, foreign workers living in their area. These faithful believers rotated the meetings each week, kept it to word of mouth only, and grew tremendously in their faith during these difficult times.
However a Christian chooses to maintain a close relationship with the Lord while in isolation from other believers, God will encourage them and give them His strength. Believers have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who resides within us (Ephesians 1:13–14) for exactly these types of situations. The history of Christianity is filled with stories of believers who maintained strong faith under the worst persecution and isolation imaginable. The power of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of believers is never to be underestimated.
The word “expiation” does not appear in the New Testament, but it does accurately describe an aspect of the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. Expiation means “to cover sin” and/or “to cleanse sin.” Expiation reflects the idea that the negative and degrading effects of our sin are removed through the grace of God. Another word for expiation is atonement, and truly this is one of the results of Jesus’ atoning death for us.
Through expiation—the work of Christ on the cross for us—the sin of all those who would ever believe in Christ was cancelled. That cancellation is eternal in its consequence, even though sin is still present in the temporal sense. In other words, believers are delivered from the penalty and power of sin, but not the presence of it. Justification is the term for being delivered from the penalty of sin. This is a one-time act wherein the sinner is justified and made holy and righteous in the eyes of God who exchanged our sinful natures for the righteousness of Christ at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). Sanctification is the ongoing process whereby believers are delivered from the power of sin in their lives and are enabled by the new nature to resist and turn away from it. Glorification is when we are removed from the very presence of sin, which will only occur once we leave this world and are in heaven. All these processes—justification, sanctification and glorification—are made possible through the expiation or cancellation of sin.
It is good to know also that there are other benefits of Jesus’ death for us. One of them, not included in the concept of expiation, but just as true and biblical, is propitiation, which is “to appease wrath.” Truly the atoning death of God the Son satisfies the wrath of God the Father against rebellious, sinful humanity (John 3:36; Romans 5:9). Expiation, justification, sanctification, glorification, propitiation, and many more—we have countless reasons to praise God and to run to Him in faith and trust.
Good health is something we take for granted—until we start to lose it. When our health takes a downturn, we quickly begin to question our habits and diet. God has designed the human body so that it is a finely-tuned instrument that is the most resilient on earth. It can endure fractures and adhesions, constant pain and great stretches of tedium.
However, it is a fragile instrument because it is not built to handle excess, whether in the form of nourishment, fuel or additives. Unlike machines, it chokes on poisons when ingested in unending doses and mistaken for fuel. Though it has moving, feeling and thinking parts, they can be misused. God has provided us with an “owner’s manual” that tells us how to operate the human body. That manual is the Bible, a book that contains instructions for proper maintenance. Although it isn’t a medical text, it is God’s Word, and in its pages He reveals many basic principles for good physical, mental, and spiritual health.
A major part of the Bible’s health instruction dates back to the time of Moses. Yet in our day, many researchers and medical doctors are stunned at the accuracy and effectiveness of its many provisions. The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia tells us that the laws given by God to Moses contain remarkable rules pertaining to public health which concerns us even today: water and food contamination, sewage disposal, infectious diseases and health education. These issues were all dealt with in the Mosaic health laws.
The Bible gives us the foundational key to physical and mental health. That key is simply this: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity … This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:1–2, 8). It should not surprise us that obedience to God’s commandments and other laws would promote health. When we obey them, we operate in accordance with His instructions. As our Creator, He knows what’s best for us: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Some biblical statements about health are specific, such as: “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26). The ancient Egyptians suffered from the kinds of diseases that have ravaged mankind throughout history. Autopsies on Egyptian mummies have revealed evidence of cancer, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, tuberculosis, gallstones, bladder stones, parasitic diseases and smallpox. They suffered many diseases because they did not understand the health principles God gave to Moses.
The biblical instructions regarding health, maintenance, and recovery from illness involve application of cause-and-effect principles—based on true science—that were given thousands of years before scientists developed the technology that enabled them to discover germs, bacteria, viruses, genes and the like. Modern medical science has discovered many principles of good health, but they originated with God who designed and created the miracle that is the human body.
What the Bible says about health is that those who follow God will generally be healthy. That does not necessarily mean that those who don’t follow God will always be sick. Nor does it mean that God’s people will be absolutely free of disease. The Bible says: “I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 1:2). Obviously, God is more interested in our spiritual health than our physical well-being, but He does want us to be physically healthy as well. On the other hand, disease is a result of Adam’s sin, and even the most righteous may suffer. After all, Job was righteous, but God allowed him to suffer disease and hardship.
It was not until the modern era that men obtained detailed knowledge of human physiology and medicine. Yet the Creator God, who is sometimes called the Great Physician, knows everything about us and He’s provided the necessary keys to good health. The choice to obey them and reap the resulting benefits is ours to make.
The only way I know we still live in a relatively free nation is that, at times, the truth does come out. The IRS announced that, yes; it did give extra scrutiny to tax returns that included the name “tea party” or “patriot” as part of their exempt applications. Too bad for Boston that the names Tamerlan and Dzhokhar weren’t on that IRS watch list.
The IRS admits its blatantly illegal actions:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney spoke about the IRS’s admission to targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status in 2012, and said the action was not politically motivated and the Administration wasn’t aware of the issue until Friday
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/irs-admits-targeting-conservative-groups-white-house-not-to-blame-says-jay-carney-95701
I have said it often and said it recently, that prayer has always been a struggle for me. It’s not that I don’t pray–I do!–but that I find it a battle to put my theology into action day-by-day and to live out my deepest convictions about prayer by actually praying. I experience little of the joy and sense of fulfillment that so many of the great pray-ers speak of. As often as not, I have to rely on the objective facts of what I believe about prayer more than any subjective feeling or sense of satisfaction.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
In Ephesians 4:29, Paul mentions two kinds of speech: that which builds up and that which pulls down. This verse and the surrounding passage show us ten ways that we can handle conflict well—10 ways to fight like a Christian.
How do we make biblical decisions about entertainment? God’s Word doesn’t say anything specific about what kinds of movies or TV we should watch, or what kinds of music we should listen to. In the absence of explicit biblical instructions, how do we determine what kinds of entertainment are acceptable?
Those are questions most believers face today. In our media-saturated culture, we’re bombarded with entertainment choices and encouraged to pursue every fleeting interest. But how do we submit those choices to the Lord? In light of our salvation and our new nature in Him, how ought we view the endless options for entertainment?
We’ve been considering some biblical principles to help us make God-glorifying decisions when it comes to entertainment. Specifically, we’ve been looking at the nature of Christ’s lordship and how submission to Him ought to shape our entertainment choices. Last week we saw how His lordship demands good stewardship, denounces impurity and worldliness, and determines right priorities. To close out this discussion today we’re going to see how the lordship of Christ defines a proper perspective.
Right priorities and godly passions stem out of a proper perspective—a heavenly mindset that understands eternal realities and interprets this life accordingly. If this world were all there was, we would be wise to amass treasure and search for happiness in the here and now.
But that is not reality; this world is not all there is.
Reality, as revealed by the truth of Scripture, encompasses much more than the temporal pleasures, priorities, and pursuits of this world. God is real. His Word is real. Heaven and hell are real. The gospel is real. Jesus is real. His death, resurrection, and ascension are all real—as is His soon return. The brevity of this life and the certainty of death are real. The threat of eternal destruction is real, as is the promise of future reward.
In contrast, the world of entertainment is not real. In fact, most entertainment is about escaping from reality, not portraying it accurately.
As Christians, our worldview must be grounded in reality, not in the imaginary worlds of Hollywood. People can deny reality, and they can distract themselves with fantasy, but they cannot change the fact that one day they will stand before God (Hebrews 9:27). At that moment, the riches, pleasures, and accomplishments of this world will be of no use to them.
The parable of the rich fool is a striking example of this type of foolhardy shortsightedness. Jesus tells the story in Luke 12:16-21:
The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Jesus’ words ring as a wake-up call for those who profess to know God and yet live as though God were no more real than whatever movie they watched last night. For those who keep hitting the spiritual snooze button, it is time to wake up and focus on what really matters (cf. Romans 13:11). As Christians, our perspective must be eternal in scope. And entertainment, though enjoyable in the moment, is not eternal.
(Adapted from Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong.)
Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B130513 COPYRIGHT ©2013 Grace to You
Central Seminary recently asked Old Testament professor Dr. William Barrick to speak for their MacDonald Lecture series on the topic of Biblical creationism and Biblical authority.
These are hot topics today during a time where people attack the subject of Biblical creation, the historicity of Adam and the hermeneutics of Genesis.
Listen to them, follow along with the PDF document, enjoy it and be equipped!
Question and Answer Sessions
UPDATE: To have this save on your device as a podcast, click HERE.