Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another Gospel

Pew Forum recently came out with the finding of a new survey.  The results are very interesting.  The greatest finding was that most people in general in the USA do not know very much about religion.  The finding that most intrigued me is that, according to their report, most evangelicals do not understand the gospel.  

Fewer than one-in-five people (16%) correctly identify Protestantism as the faith that traditionally teaches that salvation comes through faith alone. Most people get this question wrong: 9% say this teaching is traditionally associated with Catholicism, 38% say it is traditionally associated with both Protestantism and Catholicism, 10% say it is not normally associated with either faith and more than a quarter (27%) say they do not know the answer. White evangelicals (28% correct), Mormons (22%) and atheists/agnostics (22%) perform better than other groups on this question. However, even among these groups, many more people get the answer wrong than get it right.6    

Now this is very ironic because the word evangelical is built from the word evangel which is the greek root word that we often translate "gospel" in the Bible.  If anyone should understand the gospel it should be evangelicals.  Without an understanding that we are saved or justified (made righteous) by faith alone in Christ alone one cannot be a true Christian. 

It makes me think of what Paul said to the Galatians:

Galatians 1 (NASB95)

1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 

2 and all the brethren who are with me, 
To the churches of Galatia: 
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 
4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 
5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. 
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 
7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 
9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. 

If you are confused about this issue and wondering how a person can be saved, please visit the Crossroads Bible Church website and click on "Why Am I Here?".  

Posted via email from Caleb's posterous

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Scientific Explanation for the Parting of the Red Sea?

The study, published today in the online journal PLoS ONE, finds that strong, persistent winds could offer a physical explanation for the event, which was made eternally famous by Charlton Heston in the epic film The Ten Commandments.

The article goes on to explain that scientists have used a computer model to test the theory that a 63 mph east wind sustained for 12 hours could have created a land bridge across the Red Sea.  Also, there have been reports of winds doing similar things for a short time in the past.   

I am fascinated that scientist today are looking for ways to explain the inexplicable.  The Red Sea parting is compelling because it was such a significant historical event that it is hard to deny.  What these scientist miss is that a miracle is a miracle precisely because it cannot be explained away in scientific terms.  God accomplished miracles in the Bible so that people would see that He was and is the only true God.  The parting of the Red sea was such a significant event for Israel because it was the capstone of God showing His power over Egypt, the most powerful kingdom on earth at the time.  The Israelites would "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."  as the Egyptian army bore down on them to destroy them.  God would provide a way of escape and crush their enemy without them having to lift a finger!  God was fulfilling His promise to Abraham to make him a great nation, to bless those that bless him and curse those that curse him.  He was going to give Abraham's family the promised land.  More importantly he was going to bring about through Abraham's seed the child of promise:  Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.  The passing through the Red Sea signifies for Israel the start to their journey to the promised land.  For those who believe on Christ the miraculous new birth is the start to our journey to God's promised land.  This too cannot be explained scientifically!  

Ken Ham's response given at the end of the article is very appropriate.  

Ken Ham, president and CEO of the Creation Museum, in Petersburg, Ky., needs no scientific explanation: "The parting of the Red Sea was a miracle," he wrote in an e-mail. "It was an extraordinary act of God. Yet, God used a   
force of nature — wind — to bring about this miracle. But there is no need to come up with a naturalistic explanation of a supernatural event."

Let us stand still and see the Salvation of the Lord in our lives.  Let His miraculous power and not inept scientific explanations thrill our hearts!  

Posted via email from Caleb's posterous

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Burning a Quran is Burning a Bridge for the Gospel

USA Today reports Terry Jones "Pastor" of the Dove Center in Gainesville, FL wants to begin an annual burn a Quaran day on the anniversary of 9/11.   What should Christians think about this?  Since the basic mission of all Christians is to make followers of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20), we need to ask the question:  Does this help us to make more followers of Christ?  Another way of looking at this is to ask "Would the apostle Paul have used this strategy to advance the gospel?"  Dr. Albert Mohler posses this very question.    In this case the muslims are asking us to follow what Christ said "Love Your enemies."  On that point I think that they are right.  Is it loving for individual Christians to publicly burn Qurans in a publicity stunt like this?  Or does it provide an offense that will put up more walls for the gospel and jeopardize humans lives around the world.  I hope that muslims worldwide will be able to tell the difference between Christian behavior and non-Christian behavior.  Don't get me wrong, I am against the teachings of the Quran and I do not believe that it is a Holy book.  The Bible is the one true Holy book given by God that provides the way of salvation and the truth that we need to know for life (John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16).  However, our mission as Pastors is to proclaim the Word of God, not to go out an burn what other people consider to be Holy books!  Let us be about the work of the gospel and not be distracted by non-Christian work.  

1 Corinthians 1:23–25 (NASB95)

23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,

24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Posted via email from Caleb's posterous

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Grand Design

Stephen Hawking is out with his latest book The Grand Design with Leonard Mlodinow.  He summarizes their thinking in an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled  "Why God Did Not Create the Universe."

Here is a pertinent excerpt of that article:

The emergence of the complex structures capable of supporting intelligent observers seems to be very fragile. The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned. What can we make of these coincidences? Luck in the precise form and nature of fundamental physical law is a different kind of luck from the luck we find in environmental factors. It raises the natural question of why it is that way.

Many people would like us to use these coincidences as evidence of the work of God. The idea that the universe was designed to accommodate mankind appears in theologies and mythologies dating from thousands of years ago. In Western culture the Old Testament contains the idea of providential design, but the traditional Christian viewpoint was also greatly influenced by Aristotle, who believed "in an intelligent natural world that functions according to some deliberate design."

That is not the answer of modern science. As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws. That multiverse idea is not a notion invented to account for the miracle of fine tuning. It is a consequence predicted by many theories in modern cosmology. If it is true it reduces the strong anthropic principle to the weak one, putting the fine tunings of physical law on the same footing as the environmental factors, for it means that our cosmic habitat—now the entire observable universe—is just one of many.

Each universe has many possible histories and many possible states. Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist. Although we are puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in a sense the lords of creation. 

Hawking and Mlodinow refuse to accept what is patently obvious:  the complex and intricate design of the universe demands that their was (and is) an intelligent designer.  Their answer--it spontaneously came into being by the genius of nature!  Wow!  Not long ago Hawking was unwilling to acknowledge to talk about a beginning to the universe, but now he is caving to the pressure of explaining how everything could be "fine tuned" for human life the way that it is.  

The Bible tells us why smart men like Hawking and Mlodinow can be so foolish.

Romans 1:18–23 (NASB95)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.   

God is not happy with this rebellion against Him.  men like Hawking are heaping wrath upon themselves as they suppress the obvious truth in unrighteousness.  They know in their hearts that this is a God and nature itself is constantly testifying to this fact, yet they refuse to acknowledge Him.  As they suppress truth their brilliant minds become foolish and they end up worshipping man rather than God!  Notice the last phrase of the quote above: "this makes us in a sense the lords of creation."

Their is only one Lord of creation: the designer of the Grand Design:  Jesus Christ!  

John 1:3 (NASB95)

3 All things came into being through Him (Jesus Christ) , and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.   

Posted via email from Caleb's posterous