A blog about everything about teaching the Bible. "And still I will show you a more excellent way..." (1 Corinthians 12:31).

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Should We Support Chick-Fil-A?

I plan to join you all to eat at Chick-Fil-A this Wednesday, August 1st, to show my support of the man at the top of the company, ninety-one-year-old Truett Cathey. Recently he said he supports the Biblical definition of marriage. The community of folks opposed to the Bible’s “narrow” views became incensed that a man would have the audacity to agree with God in this “enlightened” age. Forgive the sarcasm there, but that’s the gist of it. So, a call to boycott the restaurant on August 1 has rung out across the land. In response, radio personality Mike Huckabee (and others), issued a call to “buy-cott” on the same day to show support and appreciation for Mr. Cathey’s stand for truth. I’m with Huck!

On the other hand, a recent article on The Christian Chronicle website by Bobby Ross Jr. quoted a blogger’s disagreement with us. The blogger said, “Chick-fil-A-Gate has reminded me how easily we Christians can get our knickers in a twist. When something doesn’t go our way (and why should things ever go our way in a world that largely does not share our faith and values?) we tend to get just as “loud and proud” as the next “victimized” group... We whine, cry foul, and vehemently insist on our rights, all at the expense of gutting our witness as followers of Christ.”

There have been times when things have come up in which I would have agreed with the blogger, but in this case I think he misses the mark. This isn’t a political decision Christians are demonstrating about. It’s not the world’s rejection of gospel truth that’s got out “knickers in a twist.” Mr. Cathey spoke his mind to a Baptist Newspaper, and those who would support that which God calls an abomination decided to boycott his restaurant because they cannot allow the man the freedom to hold to his own beliefs! I’m not sure how Christians can avoid “gutting our witness” with those determined to support what the Bible calls blatant sin. Do we pretend things are right when they’re wrong so that people will think we’re for what we’re against? There’s no way to trick folks into loving Jesus, and standing for truth will only turn off those who’ve seared their consciences with evil. I think we should eat chicken Wednesday, and I hope to see you there! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

EVIL (Aurora Shooting--Who's to Blame?)

By now we all know there was another senseless shooting in Colorado. As soon as I heard, the gears started turning in my mind. I felt compelled to write something, but what to write? My first impulse was to vent feelings of indignation toward those in America who have turned from Christ to the gods of wealth, pleasure, entertainment, and self-absorption. I don’t think that would be very helpful, though. These pointless massacres are an evil of the present era of sin in which we live and I’m convinced the false gods just mentioned are major contributors, but, the preceding era had its own characteristic sins, and the next one will too, unless the Lord returns first. It’s not a social epidemic. It’s not society’s fault. It’s nobody’s fault but the murderer’s. The problem is evil.

There’s no good explanation for evil. Psychology’s ongoing attempt to understand evil as if it makes sense is futile! Why would someone do such a thing? Ask the question about any sin and I defy anybody to show just cause. In The Christian Counselor’s Manual (Zondervan, 1973, p.9), Jay Adams says, “There are, in the Scriptures, only three specified sources of problems in personal living: demonic activity, personal sin, and organic illness. These three are interrelated. All options are covered under these heads, leaving no room for a fourth: non-organic mental illness.” There are poor souls with organic mental illnesses, but the warped people psychiatrists call mentally ill without physical cause are more correctly diagnosed as sinners. The problem is evil.

So, what do we do about evil? First, we have to accept the fact some free-willed people in this sin-cursed world will choose sin—sometimes to the harm or killing of innocents. God will set it all right in the end. Faith is the victory that enables the Christian to live free from fear of evil (Matthew 10:28). Second, we have to avoid the temptation to meet evil with evil. The Bible says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). We overcome evil with good by comforting those who’ve suffered the effects of evil. It has blessed my soul to read stories of Christians reaching out with God’s love to the families of those harmed in the recent shooting. We overcome evil by being willing to reach out and share the gospel even with the perpetrators of evil. John 3:16 says “whosoever,” and Mark 16:15 says “every creature.” God’s gracious willingness to forgive the evil man if he turns to him in repentance doesn’t mean earthly justice can be overlooked. Good people overcome evil with good by supporting and demanding justice (Isaiah 1:17; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Acts 25:11). Let’s all band together and pray for those affected, for the evil man who did this—who alone bears the guilt, and for the nation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is Religion What's Wrong With Christianity?

I continue to hear some in the world around us (and a few in the church) complain that the problem with Christianity today is religion. They say Jesus is great; religion is bad. This isn't new. Some have said similar things in every generation in living memory. The question is, are these complaints right?

The word religion comes from Latin and means devotion that re-aligns man with God. We're all aware of God's perfect standard of goodness and that we don't live up to it, but we need to come to terms with what that means about our relationship with God. It’s broken by sin. The Bible says, "All have sinned and fall short of God's glory" (Romans 3:23). So, we all need to be reconciled with the God we’ve spurned through sin. What God requires of us to be reconciled with his glory is religion. You can't be saved without it. The simple relationship some of the religion-haters claim to want IS religion.

Some complain about "organized religion" as if religion were merely a matter between God and me to be handled only in my closet. There are at least two major problems with that.

First, everybody else is severed from God by sin just like me. If I have found the way to be reconciled with God, I’m morally bound to share it. If a group of us have found reconciliation (i.e. a church), we ought to band together to try our best to share what we’ve found with as many as possible (i.e. organization). This is, in fact, what Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20).

Second, sin that separates us from God also separates us from our fellow man. The stuff James (1:27) calls "true religion" is taking care of other people. It's community stuff. Any effort intended to positively affect community requires organization. What good is disorganized religion? The complaints against the bogeyman of organized religion are unfounded. Christianity is religion, the one true religion, and it's organized to reach the whole world with the good news. Religion's not the problem. Wrong religion or no religion at all is what's wrong with the world. Get religion, and get it right!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Original Sin

Many people in believe in Original Sin. It’s the idea Adam’s sin so tainted his soul as to cause it to be passed on to his descendants from generation to generation. The Roman Catholic Catechism states: “[Adam] transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted… which is the ‘death of the soul.’ Because of this… the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin” (Catechism, 1994, 1997, p. 102). On the same page we read, “How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam ‘as one body of one man’… By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.” This doctrine led to unbiblical infant baptism. Roman Catholics “baptize” babies to free them from the condemnation they believe flows from Adam’s sin to all his descendants.

John Calvin’s take on Original Sin (“Five Point Calvinism”) is often remembered by the acrostic: TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints). It’s rooted in this idea of babies born into a fallen state—unable to choose the right path. If we’re naturally unable to choose right, but God still wants us in the right, it would take a miraculous effort on his part to get us there. If this “unconditional election” to saving faith is an act of God, who can resist it? If only those chosen for such a miraculous grace by God can have faith, and it follows that not all have faith, then we would have to believe Christ did not die for everyone—thus, “limited atonement.” If faith is a miracle worked in man’s mind without regard to his willingness then it follows apostasy is impossible. Some Calvinists baptize babies; others wait for a conversion experience which they believe to be evidence of unconditional election before baptism.

What’s the problem with the doctrine of Original Sin? First, it’s unbiblical. Paul wrote, “
For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:19 ESV). The passage doesn’t mean Adam’s sin passed on to his children, but that through him sin had its introduction into the world. His act and example paved the way that all have willingly followed (Rom 3:23)—all but one. Jesus’ righteous act and example paved the way for everyone who will choose to follow him, not just a limited few who come to him whether they want to or not (Jn 3:16; Act 10:34-35, 17:30; 2 Cor 5:15; Col 1:28; etc.). Second, the doctrine condemns innocent children who’ve never done anything! In Ezekiel 18, God made it clear he doesn’t condemn children for their parents’ sins—period! Passages like Matthew 19:14 and Mark 10:15 show us God doesn’t see children as tainted or condemned. The doctrine of Original Sin is false. Let truth endure forever!