Daily Archives: January 12, 2014

A Wallet, A Dollar, the Existence of God (Part 1-3 – The Case For Theism)

A Wallet, A Dollar, the Existence of God (Part 1 – The Case For Theism)

An argument for theism based on the existence of our caused, limited universe. We take the first step toward Christian Theism by using a wallet and a dollar to illustrate the point. Can naturalism account for the sudden appearance of space, time and matter? Why must we stay inside the natural environment when the evidence here does not provide us with any answers? – See more at: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/a-wallet-a-dollar-the-existence-of-god-part-1-the-case-for-theism/

A Wallet, A Dollar, the Existence of God (Part 2 – The Case for Personal Theism)

An argument for personal theism based on the philosophical truth that the first, uncaused, cause of this caused universe had the ability to “decide”. We take the second step toward Christian Theism by using a wallet and a dollar to illustrate the point. Can an impersonal force account for the sudden appearance of space, time and matter? If the force that caused the universe is also caused, how did this cause come into existence? – See more at: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/a-wallet-a-dollar-the-existence-of-god-part-2-the-case-for-personal-theism/

A Wallet, A Dollar, the Existence of God (Part 3 – The Case for Christian Theism)

An argument for Christian theism based on the nature of moral behavior. We take the third step toward Christian Theism by using a wallet and a dollar to illustrate the point. If God is personal and made a decision to create us, doesn’t it make sense that he would care about our condition? What kinds of faith systems allow for true moral behavior to be fostered and developed? – See more at: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/a-wallet-a-dollar-the-existence-of-god-part-3-the-case-for-christian-theism/

No One Who Does Good (Romans 3:12)

 

Romans 3:12

“All have turned away, they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good, not even one.”

I do not know why God should bother to speak to us about something more than once, like a parent trying to correct a naughty child: “Johnny, get out of the mud. Johnny, stop climbing in the tree; you’ll fall. Johnny, don’t speak like that to your sister.” But God does speak to us again and again; and it is good he does, because we need it. Indeed, most of us have trouble hearing him even then.

To my knowledge, nothing in the Bible is repeated as frequently or as forcefully as the words summing up mankind’s sinful nature, which we find in Romans 3:10–12, particularly verse 12. Psalm 14:2 and Psalm 53:2, where a question is posed by the psalmist, form the basis for the apostle’s answer in verses 10 and 11. Verse 12 is a verbatim quotation (from the Septuagint). Psalm 14:3 says, “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Psalm 53:3 almost exactly repeats that charge: “Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Now, in Romans 3:12, the words are written out for us one more time: “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

You would think that we might begin to get the message at this point. If God says something once, we should listen to what he says very carefully. If he says the same thing twice, we should give him our most intense and rapt attention. What if he repeats himself a third time? Then surely we should stop all else, focus our minds, seize upon each individual word, memorize what is said, and ponder the meaning of the saying intensely, attempting to apply the truth of God’s revelation to our entire lives.

A More Manageable View

Yet we do not do this, and the reason we do not is that the revelation of God is too intense, too penetrating, too devastating for us to deal with it. What we do, even as Christians, is blandly to admit what God is saying while nevertheless recasting it in less disturbing terms.

I remember as a child being taught a Sunday-school lesson about sin. The teacher used a blackboard, and she began the lesson by drawing a yardstick in a vertical position on the left side of the blackboard. The yardstick was labeled “the divine measure,” and a verse was written beside it: Matthew 5:48 (“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”). A line was drawn across the top of the blackboard at the point to which the top of the yardstick reached. This was the standard. The teacher then asked, “Has anyone ever lived up to this standard?”

After a few suggestive hints, one of the students answered, “Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ lived up to it.”

“That’s right,” said the teacher. So she drew a line parallel to the yardstick, reaching from the bottom of the blackboard to the line at the top that represented perfection. She labeled this line “Jesus Christ.”

“Has anybody else lived up to this standard?” she continued. We agreed that nobody else had, although, as she pointed out, some people have done better than others. To show that some persons are better than others but that no one had reached perfection she drew a number of vertical lines, all of which fell short of the “perfection” standard. There was a line labeled “98 percent” for very good people, lines labeled “90 percent” and “80 percent” for fairly normal people, and a line labeled “40 percent” for pretty bad people. Then Romans 3:23 was added, the teacher pointing out that although some people are better than others, with God “there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of [his] glory.”

As I look back on that lesson I do not doubt that it taught some very valuable things, primarily that although some people look quite good to us by our standards, all people nevertheless fail to please God and need a Savior. As a tool for teaching this, the lesson was effective.

But the illustration on which the lesson was based has one great weakness. By putting the lines representing “98 percent” people, “90 percent” people, “80 percent” people, and “40 percent” people parallel to the line representing Jesus Christ, the diagram inevitably suggests that human goodness is essentially the same as divine goodness and that all people really need is that little bit of additional goodness which—added to their own efforts and attainments—will make up the required “100 percent.” That error needs to be repudiated.

Is that what Psalm 14:3, Psalm 53:3, and Romans 3:12 teach us? Not at all! If we are to express the teaching of these verses by our diagram, we must either eliminate the lines representing human beings from the diagram entirely or else represent them not as lines stretching upward in the direction of divine perfection, but downward in varying degrees of opposition to God and his righteousness. God does not merely say that people fail to live up to his standard, although that is also true and is one way of expressing sin’s nature. He says rather that we have all “turned away.” We have “together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

All, Like Sheep …

I suggested earlier that when God says something more than once we should pay the most rapt attention to it, memorizing and pondering each word. I would like to do something like that now, taking one phrase of Romans 3:12 at a time. The first is: “All have turned away.”

This phrase is expressed in just two words in Greek: pantes, properly translated “all,” and exeklinan, a past form of a verb meaning “to deviate,” “wander” or “depart” from the right way. That “right way” is outlined in the opening chapter of Romans; it is to recognize God’s eternal power and divine nature and then to glorify, thank, worship, and serve him (vv. 21, 25). But it is precisely from this right way that we have deviated. Instead of seeking God and worshiping him in thankful service, we have suppressed the truth about him and gone our own way, inventing false gods to take the true God’s place and finding our intellect and morals to be increasingly debased as a result.

This indictment includes every human being. At the beginning of the verse the inclusiveness is expressed positively by the strong word all. At the end it is expressed negatively by the words not even one. One commentator writes, “As respects well-doing there is not one; as respects evil-doing there is no exception.”

But Paul’s words do not only draw our attention to Romans 1, where the departure of men and women from the right way is spelled out. They also make us think of that well-known verse in Isaiah, where sinners are compared to sheep who cannot find their way: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way …”(Isa. 53:6). Ah, that is the problem! Not only have we not gone God’s way, we have not even gone in ways marked out by other people. We have each gone our own way. Consequently, each of us is basically set against all others, and we pursue our own well-being and desires to the neglect or hurt of other people.

I like some words that the great Swiss theologian Karl Barth offers at this point in his famous commentary on Romans, for they suggest that Paul’s condemnation of the race is not merely a matter of biblical revelation but is the judgment of history as well. “The whole course of history pronounces this indictment against itself,” Barth begins. So “how can a man be called ‘historically minded’ if he persistently overlooks it?” He continues:

If all the great outstanding figures in history, whose judgments are worthy of serious consideration, if all the prophets, psalmists, philosophers, fathers of the church, reformers, poets, artists, were asked their opinion, would one of them assert that men were good or even capable of good? Is the doctrine of original sin merely one doctrine among many? Is it not rather, according to its fundamental meaning … , the doctrine which emerges from all honest study of history? Is it not the doctrine which, in the last resort, underlies the whole teaching of history? Is it possible for us to adopt a “different point of view” from that of the Bible, Augustine and the Reformers? What then does history teach about the things which men do or do not do?

Does it teach that some men at least are like God? No, but that—There is none righteous, no not one.

Does it teach that men possess a deep perception of the nature of things? or that they have experienced the essence of life? No, but that—There is none that understandeth.

Does it provide a moving picture of quiet piety or of fiery search after God? Do the great witnesses to the truth furnish a splendid picture, for example, of “prayer”? No—There is none that seeketh after God.

Can it describe this or that individual and his actions as natural, healthy, genuine, original, right-minded, ideal, full of character, affectionate, attractive, intelligent, forceful, ingenuous, of sterling worth? No—They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one.

Commentator Robert Haldane says, “The Prophet here teaches us what is the nature of sin [and] … what are its consequences. For as the man who loses his way cannot have any rest in his mind, nor any security, it is the same with the sinner. And as a wanderer cannot restore himself to the right way without the help of a guide, in the same manner the sinner cannot restore himself, if the Holy Spirit comes not to his aid.”

Corrupt and Useless

The second phrase in Romans 3:12 is also composed of just two Greek words, and the impact is similar. The first word is hama. It means “together.” It is the equivalent of “all” in phrase one. The second word is ēchreōthēsan, the past tense of a verb meaning “useless” or “corrupt.” I say “useless” or “corrupt” because the word in Greek (the language in which Paul is writing) and the word in Hebrew (the language in which the word occurs in Psalms 14 and 53) have these two closely related meanings respectively. Together they say what Jesus meant when he described his followers as “the salt of the earth,” adding, “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matt. 5:13).

What do you do if something is corrupt or useless? You throw it away and start again. I remember a scene from the movie on the life of the great renaissance painter Michelangelo, called The Agony and the Ecstasy, which made this point. Michelangelo was unhappy with his first attempt at painting the Sistine Chapel, and he was mulling the problem over in a local bar. The bartender served a flagon of wine drawn from a new barrel, but the wine was sour.

“This wine is sour, bartender,” shouted Michelangelo.

The bartender came to the table, tasted the wine, and then spit it out. Very decisively he went over to the wine barrel, struck the bung from it with a wooden hammer and allowed the many gallons of wine to pour out into the street. “If the wine is sour, throw it out,” he retorted.

Michelangelo mulled this over and then applied the principle to his first inadequate designs. He went back to the Sistine Chapel, destroyed his original frescoes—and began again.

“Useless!” “Corrupt!” We do not like to hear those words applied to ourselves, but they are God’s verdict all the same. We must accept them. However, when we do, we can know that God does not merely pour us out like wine to be trodden on by passers-by. Rather, like Michelangelo, he begins again and produces a brand-new work of art. He begins anew in order to make us entirely new creations, like Jesus Christ.

No One Who Does Good

The last of Paul’s phrases is the most straightforward. Indeed, it is so precise and outspoken that we can hardly miss what he is saying: “There is no one who does good, not even one.” No one at all does good—no one!

This verse always takes my mind back to the Old Testament, to Genesis, where there appears a similar statement of man’s utter inability to please God by any human effort: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5). That verse says not only that men and women do not do good, as God counts goodness; they do precisely the opposite. They do evil and that continually. I have pointed out, in a detailed exposition of this text in Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, that Genesis 6:5 teaches that sin is internal (rising from the “thoughts” and inclinations of the “heart”), pervasive (affecting our “every inclination” so that our deeds are “only evil”) and continuous (that is, operating “all the time”).

I suppose there are people who might recognize the truth of these statements, at least in the sense that they accurately express the opinions of Paul and of Moses (who wrote Genesis). But they might dismiss them as merely the harsh and gloomy thoughts of these men. Paul had been a Pharisee—and Pharisees thought poorly of everyone, didn’t they? And Moses? Well, he was the great lawgiver, so he might be inclined to pessimism. What about Jesus? What did he think? Wouldn’t the gentle, loving, and compassionate Jesus have a more uplifting outlook?

I think here of a section of an address given at one of the Philadelphia Conferences on Reformed Theology by Professor Roger R. Nicole of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. It was called “The Doctrines of Grace in Jesus’ Teaching,” and the pertinent section stressed Christ’s view of human evil. Nicole wrote:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, with all the concern, compassion and love which he showed to mankind, made some very vivid portrayals of man’s condition. He did not mince words about the gravity of human sin. He talked of man as salt that has lost its savor (Matt. 5:13). He talked of man as a corrupt tree which is bound to produce corrupt fruit (Matt. 7:7). He talked of man as being evil: “You, being evil, know how to give good things to your children” (Luke 11:13). On one occasion he lifted up his eyes toward heaven and talked about an “evil and adulterous generation” (Matt. 12:39), or again, “this wicked generation” (v. 45). In a great passage dealing with what constitutes true impurity and true purity he made the startling statement that out of the heart proceed murders, adulteries, evil thoughts and things of that kind (Mark 7:21–23). He spoke about Moses having to give special permissive commandments to men because of the hardness of their hearts (Matt. 19:8). When the rich young ruler approached him, saying, “Good Master,” Jesus said, “There is none good but God” (Mark 10:18).…

Jesus compared men, even the leaders of his country, to wicked servants in a vineyard (Matt. 21:33–41). He exploded in condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees, who were considered to be among the best men, men who were in the upper ranges of virtue and in the upper classes of society (Matt. 23:2–39).

The Lord Jesus made a fundamental statement about man’s depravity in John 3:6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” He saw in man an unwillingness to respond to grace—“You will not come to God” (John 5:40), “You have not the love of God” (v. 42), “You receive me not” (v. 43), “You believe not” (v. 47). Such sayings occur repeatedly in the Gospel of John. “The world’s works are evil” (John 7:7); “None of you keeps the law” (v. 19). “You shall die in your sins,” he says (John 8:21). “You are from beneath” (v. 23); “Your father is the devil, who is a murderer and a liar” (vv. 38, 44); “You are not of God” (v. 47); “You are not of my sheep” (John 10:26); “He that hates me hates my Father” (John 15:23–25). This is the way in which our Lord spoke to the leaders of the Jews. He brought to the fore their utter inability to please God.

Following another line of approach he showed also the blindness of man, that is, his utter inability to know God and understand him. Here again we have a whole series of passages showing that no man knows the Father but him to whom the Son has revealed him (Matt. 11:27). He compared men to the blind leading the blind (Matt. 15:14). He mentioned that Jerusalem itself did not know or understand the purpose of God and, as a result, disregarded the things that concern salvation (Luke 19:42). The Gospel of John records him as saying that he that believed not was condemned already because he had not believed on the Son of God (John 3:18). “This is the condemnation, that … men loved the darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (v. 19). He said that only the one who has been reached by grace can walk not in darkness but have the light of life (John 8:12). The Lord Jesus emphasized that it is essential for man to be saved by a mighty act of God if he is to be rescued from his condition of misery (John 3:3, 5, 7–16). Even in the Lord’s Prayer the Lord teaches us to say, “Forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12). And this is a prayer that we need to repeat again and again. He said, “The sick are the people who need a physician” (Matt. 9:12). We are those sick people who need a physician to help us and redeem us. He said that we are people who are burdened and heavy-laden (Matt. 11:28).…

The people who were most readily received by the Lord were those who had this sense of need and who therefore did not come to him with a sense of the sufficiency of their performance. The people he received were those who came broken-hearted and bruised with the sense of their inadequacy.

After such a review of Jesus’ teaching, Paul’s words in Romans seem almost mild by comparison.

Grace that is Greater Than Sin

But they are not mild, of course! They are devastating, as I indicated at the beginning of this study. Why? Why does God speak to us in these terms? The answer is obvious. It is so we might see our true condition, stop trying to excuse ourselves or whittle down the scope of God’s judgment, and instead open ourselves up to God’s grace. For that is what we need: grace!

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin.

We have this grace in Jesus Christ. He alone can save us from our depravity.[1]

 


[1]
Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: Justification by Faith (Vol. 1, pp. 305–312). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Characters in the Bible: What Should We Learn from the Life of Deborah?

 

Deborah was one of the judges of Israel during a time of oppression. She is called a prophetess and the wife of Lappidoth. The Lord spoke through her as she held court under a tree called “the Palm of Deborah” in Ephraim. The Lord also used her to set her people free and defeat the king of Canaan. Deborah’s story is found in Judges, chapters 4 and 5.

Deborah was Israel’s only female judge. Some scholars have suggested that her position as judge was itself a judgment on the weak-willed men of Israel. Because Israel’s men were unfit to judge, God chose a woman for the job, partly to shame the men who should have taken the leadership. Other commentators believe that Deborah’s role as judge was a sign of God’s comforting presence in the midst of His oppressed and downtrodden people.

When Deborah became judge, the Israelites had been subjugated for 20 years by Jabin, king of Canaan. The commander of Jabin’s army was named Sisera, and he had 900 iron chariots—formidable weapons against Israel’s foot soldiers (Judges 4:3). The Israelites were treated very cruelly by Sisera and his army, and Israel’s spirits were very low. Deborah describes the hardship of living under Jabin and Sisera this way: “The highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be” (Judges 5:6–7). In other words, people feared to leave their homes; traveling was very dangerous.

God’s word comes through Deborah to a man of Naphtali named Barak. The message is that he will lead the revolt against Sisera. Barak’s response is, “I’ll only go if Deborah goes with me” (Judges 4:8). Everyone was afraid of Sisera, including Barak. Deborah agrees to accompany Barak, but she also prophesies that the honor for the victory would belong to a woman, not to Barak (Judges 4:9).

When the time came for battle, God again spoke through Deborah, who prompted Barak to marshal his forces. The Israelites came against the army of Sisera, and God granted the victory. The mighty Sisera himself was brought down by the hand of a woman, just as Deborah had said. As the commander rested after the battle, a woman named Jael drove a tent peg through his head.

What can we learn from the life of Deborah? We can see that God’s power is what matters, regardless of the instrument He chooses to use. Man or woman, strong or weak, confident or hesitant—all are strong when they are moved by God’s Spirit and filled with His strength. We can also see in Deborah a picture of God’s tender care for His people. As a mother cares for her children, so Deborah led and nurtured Israel (Judges 5:7).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Creation: How Does Young Earth Creationism Handle the Evidence for Millions of Years in the Fossil Record?

 

The “fossil record” is a term used by paleontologists to refer to the total number of fossils that have been discovered, as well as to the information derived from them. The problem with interpreting the fossil record is that most paleontologists also subscribe to the theory of evolution. They interpret the fossil record in the terms of a particular theory of evolution, inspect the interpretation, and note that it confirms the theory, which is not a surprise considering the starting point. Creationists, on the other hand, ascribe to the biblical account of creation. How, then, do creationists interpret the fossil record?

To answer this question, we need to begin with the premise that it is impossible for the Bible to contradict true science as God is the author of both. When a fallible human scientist’s interpretation of a finding does not correspond with the clear teaching of the biblical texts, we should never reinterpret the Bible, as God’s written Word is the final authority in all matters that it addresses. Yet that is what many in the church, as well as others in the Christian community, have been doing for far too long—reinterpreting Scripture to accommodate scientific findings. Consequently, we see a continual erosion of faith in the authority of Scripture.

Clearly, the many contributions made by the scientific community are staggering indeed. In one way or another everyone undeniably has benefited from their research and technological discoveries. However, the fields of paleontology and fossilology are highly prone to error. In the last century we have witnessed countless examples of “ground-breaking” discoveries that have ultimately been proven wrong. Recall, for example, the Coelacanth. Declared extinct for about 70 million years, this fish was thought by scientists to have been the fish that first walked out of the ocean on its way to becoming the ascendant of modern man. One can only imagine the disappointment in the scientific community when a fisherman caught one off the island of Madagascar in 1938. No lungs, no legs. Interestingly, many evolutionists believed the reason this fish disappeared from the fossil record is because they evolved into land-dwelling tetrapods. And here they are, still swimming in and around the Indian Ocean. No lungs, no legs. Yet how many fossils were dated to be roughly 70 million years old simply because their fossilized remains were found in the same strata as the fossilized remains of the “70 million-year-old” coelacanth. This is one example why using the geologic timescale to date the age of the Earth does not work.

Next, recall the “Nebraska Man” debacle. In the early 1920’s a scientist found one single tooth from which he was, amazingly, able to draw an entire picture of what this particular “ape-man” looked like. The scientific community was ecstatic. In fact, this tooth was used in the 1925 Scopes trial as proof for human evolution. Two years later, however, other parts of this very same “Nebraska Man’s” skeleton were found. It was determined that “Nebraska Man” was actually an extinct wild pig!

The vast majority of these discoveries come from a worldview that excludes God, the author, creator, and sustainer of life. Any scientific findings, at least those relative to God’s creation, made outside the purview of a Christian worldview are suspect from the onset. As the principal methods for dating the fossils and rocks begin with a pre-suppositional paradigm that entails some form of evolution, its findings will often make sense biblically only if we alter Scripture to make them fit. The truth is that our vast fossil record is and always has been compatible with the global flood which God used to send judgment on the Earth. The flood was a violent geologic upheaval with enormous destructive power that not only destroyed all land-dwelling, air-breathing life (Genesis 9:21–23) but also changed the landscape of the entire planet. And the tens of millions of marine fossils found inland on practically every continent certainly dispels the notion of this deluge being “local,” as some have argued.

Now, here is what we do know. Fossils represent death. And we further know that sin and then death came about as a result of Adam’s disobedience, “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin” (Romans 5:12). Now, there is some discussion as to whether or not there was plant and animal death before Adam’s sin. However, that debate can be laid to rest when we consider that the last creative work of God was the making of man (Genesis 1:27). And when God finished His work and looked at “all that He had made” He deemed it all to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Now, as numerous fossil discoveries have clearly revealed violence and sickness and disease and even cancer, how possibly could our great and perfect Creator have declared a world filled with such abundant sickness, grief and “frustration” (see Romans 8:20) to be “very good”?

We further know that Jesus Christ told us Adam was made at the beginning of creation (Mark 10:6), and the genealogical lines given to us in Genesis 5 and 11 reveal the Earth to be roughly 6,000 years old. Accordingly, we can say with God-given confidence that the vast and abundant fossil record we have today was laid down within the last 6,000 years. Indeed, every fossil ever found, then, must have begun the fossilization process after Adam’s sin introduced death and decay into our world. Now, of course the secular scientists would certainly deny this, but keep in mind they, for the most part, deny the occurrence of the biblical flood, even though God spent more time talking about it than He did in talking about the creation of the world or the fall of man.

Those who abide in the truth of God’s inerrant Word are not the ones who need a paradigm shift. Nonetheless, the world will do its level best to shake us from our beliefs by teaching that truth is only knowable through the changing concepts of science. As Charles Haddon Spurgeon said in 1877: “… You and I are to take our Bibles and shape and mold our belief according to the ever-shifting teachings of so-called scientific men. What folly is this!”[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Holy Spirit: What Is the Spiritual Gift of Interpreting Tongues?

 

Along with the gift of speaking in tongues, another spiritual gift mentioned in the list found in 1 Corinthians 12:10 is the gift of interpreting tongues. The gift of interpreting tongues is the ability to translate a foreign language into the language of the hearers. The gift of interpreting tongues is always alongside the gift of speaking in tongues. It is a separate gift, but it is always used in conjunction with the gift of speaking in tongues.

A person with the gift of interpreting tongues could understand what a tongues-speaker was saying even though he did not know the language that was being spoken. This is what distinguishes the spiritual gift from the natural gift of being able to understand and speak a variety of languages. The tongues interpreter would then communicate the message of the tongues speaker to everyone else, so all could understand and benefit from the truth being spoken. The tongues were known languages, not to ecstatic utterances. According to the apostle Paul, and in agreement with the tongues described in Acts, speaking in tongues is valuable to the one hearing God’s message in his or her own language, but it is useless to everyone else unless it is interpreted/translated. His concern is edification of the church (1 Corinthians 14:5, 12).

Paul’s conclusion regarding tongues that were not interpreted is powerful: “But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19). There is no benefit to others in hearing something they cannot understand. More importantly, there is no benefit, and much harm, done in churches where the speaking and interpreting of a tongue brings forth that which does not line up with Scripture or which cannot be verified in Scripture.

Paul was also concerned about order in worship. His concern was that everything is done for edification of the church. He goes on to say that there should only be two or three speaking in a tongue and one should interpret. If there is no interpreter present, then one should be quiet (1 Corinthians 14:26–28). Because of the temporal nature of the gift of tongues, it assumes that the gift of interpretation of tongues was also of a temporal nature. If the gift of speaking in tongues were active in the church today, it would be performed in agreement with Scripture. It would be a real and intelligible language (1 Corinthians 14:10). It would be for the purpose of communicating God’s Word to a person of another language (Acts 2:6–12), and it would also be in accordance with 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Theology: GOD IS TRUE

GOD IS GOOD

Goodness is often equated with the benevolence of God. Goodness is “…..the quality or state of being good…..” (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam- Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.) Benevolence is the “…..disposition to do good…..an act of kindness…..” (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam- Webster (registered) Dictionaries.)

Again the definition is limited, because in God there is not a state of being good (which holds forth the possibility of not being good), He is good by nature and is never anything else. He is incapable of anything else. Within the definition of Benevolence there is also a problem if applied to God. Disposition gives the idea of maybe good, maybe not good. He is GOOD.

The use of benevolence, if it is to be understood in light of the Dictionary definition, is not appropriate for God. God is “GOOD,” and there is no possibility of disposition, because with Him there is no maybe. Psalm 25:8, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore will he teach sinners in the way.” (Read also the following texts: Psalm 33:5, Psalm 52:1, Psalm 103, Mark 10:18, Romans 2:4, Romans 11:22.)

Goodness covers two areas, what God is in and of Himself, and what God is to His creatures. In other words goodness covers His character and the expression of His character.

His Character: Holy, True, Love

 

His Relation To Others: Righteous, Faithful, Merciful, mercy, tender mercy, kind, kindness, loving kindness, pity, pitiful, good, goodness, compassion, grace, gracious, and longsuffering.

There is no opposite for this side of God. He is Good, and He cannot be bad.

Some might question this concept in relation to the fact that He will judge and condemn the lost to hell. There is no divine attribute of wrath. Wrath is the logical and needed result of the attributes of holiness, truth, love and justice. The violators of His ways will feel this wrath. Within all of this is the fact that He is doing good. He is preparing the creation for eternity. This includes the removal of all evil.

Does this study bring new meaning to the idea that all things work together for good? He is in the process of doing good in your life, no matter how bad things seem to get. His work in you can only result in good.

GOD IS TRUE

 

Another term you may run into in this study is veracity. Veracity is “…..devotion to the truth: TRUTHFULNESS…..” (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam- Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.)

 

God is called the true God. John 17:3,

 

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

God is called the God of truth. Psalm 31:5, “Into thine hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Isaiah 65:16,

“That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth, and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth, because the former troubles are forgotten, and

because they are hidden from mine eyes.”

Strong tells us, “In virture of His veracity, all His revelations to creatures consist with His essential being and with each other. In virtue of His faithfulness, He fulfills all His promises to His people, whether expressed in words or implied in the constitution He has given them. (Strong’s Systematic Theology)

Ryrie mentions that God is consistent with Himself. This illustrates truth. We are true to ourselves when we are ourselves.

“True” can be used of the character of an object as well as the knowledge about the object. A gun barrel can be true or straight. We can also know about a gun barrel and know of it’s true, or straight nature.

A man can be a true scientist by nature, but we may know nothing about the man except lies that someone has spread about him. We can know him to be true in nature because of his credentials but not know him truthfully because we know only of the gossip.

God is the true God for He matches the true God that is revealed in the Word. We can know there is a true — real — God, yet not know Him, or know much about Him. We need to understand BOTH.

God is the truthful God, for His knowledge conforms to His nature, or more exactly IS true knowledge. He is completely accurate, and there can be no inaccuracy.

All truth extends from Him and all truth conforms to Him. He is the ultimate standard of truth for He is truth. (Psalm 31:5, Psalm 119:126-128, Psalm 119:160.)

God’s truth is related to many of His other attributes and characteristics. I will just list these for your further study.

Truth and light. Psalm 43:3

Truth and kindness. 2 Samuel 2:6 Truth and goodness. Exodus 34:6 Truth and uprightness. Psalm 111:8 Truth and righteousness. Jeremiah 4:2 Truth and peace. Jeremiah 33:6

Truth and grace. John 1:17 Truth and life. John 14:6

You will see that truth is defined in many ways as you live and learn. For example, Mary Baker Eddy stated that if something was real, then it was truth. The fallacy of this can be illustrated in the fact that Hitler was real but he wasn’t truth.

 

APPLICATION

 

1. God is total truth so there is no lie within Him. Every promise and every Word are truth and to be trusted implicitly.

 

2. By a bit far off application, we might run along the following lines for a moment. When we ask the Lord what He wants us to do in a certain instance and He tells us, there is never any need for us to question His answer for one split second. We know He wouldn’t josh us. He is totally and completely Honest, And He Will Never Lie Or Mislead Us.

 

3. He will respond to us in all that is truth in the manner of our worship and prayers. John 4:24, Psalm 145:18.

 

4. His judgments will be entirely based upon truth. No one can trick Him into letting them into heaven or out of hell. Psalm 54:5, Romans 2:2.

 

5. The holiness and truth of God should dictate our ethics as men and women of God. I fear ethics are out the window in the ministry today. I would like to illustrate this in a number of ways so you will know what some good ethics are.

 

a. I was waiting in the office of a large evangelical church in Oregon. I could hear the business manager and the church secretary arguing. They were not heated, though voices were being raised. The high level of volume forced me to hear that the secretary thought that the church board should operate with business men of the community, in a manner consistent with Christian ethics. The business manager stated flatly that they should not operate with Christian ethics. That business manager knew little of proper ethics.

 

b. I have observed and heard of many pastors that leave a church in a small town and start another church in the same town. When on deputation, I had a meeting in a town of four hundred people with two fundamental Baptist churches. There is no need for two churches, two buildings, two budgets, two pastors. What a waste of God’s money.

 

c. Most churches have a clause in their doctrinal statements and bylaws requesting that the pastor leave if he finds himself in a doctrinal difference with the congregation. There are men who remain, and continue to teach wrong doctrine. Some actually lead the congregation off into their false doctrine.

 

d. I have observed a pastor moving into an area and encouraging disgruntled people in a church to split, and then assuming the pastorate over their new church. (There were no doctrinal differences involved.)

 

e. Accepting a church they know they have differences with in doctrine and practice without telling them.

 

f. Candidating in three churches at one time and then choosing the best one that call’s you. I have seen this more and more in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

 

g. Flying to one church to candidate and candidating at another while you are there on the other people’s money.

 

h. Accepting a church in one fellowship of churches while planning to take it into another fellowship.

 

i. Counting churches in your fellowship when the church hasn’t had any association in years. When on deputation I found an address for a church in a fellowship directory. I was able to set up a meeting with the pastor. Upon arrival at the church the pastor asked me where I had heard about his church. I told him of the directory. He stated that the church hadn’t been with that group in more than ten years.

 

 

j. Setting up a candidate appointment and calling two days before your date to speak and telling them you have accepted another church.

 

I trust that pastors, missionaries, and Christians in general will consider how they live their lives. I feel confident in saying that I believe God is embarrassed with His people, in this generation. Many Christians are less than truthful in their personal lives.

 

May we strive for the holiness and the truth of God in our personal and church lives.[1]

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.