May 27, 2012

God Hardened Hearts – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.  Joshua 11:20

One of the most bitter complaints of critics against the Bible is its portrayal of the severity of God, especially in His command to Moses to destroy all the Canaanites.

“When the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee, thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them.” Deuteronomy 7:2.

This seems more severe than ever when we read in our text that God Himself hardened the hearts of the Canaanites so that Joshua could destroy them.

The famous atheist, Richard Dawkins said, “The God of the Old Testament is…a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser…” Richard says he doesn’t believe God exists but seems awfully angry at Him as he calls Him “infanticidal” and “genocidal,” a “malevolent bully.”

But the notion that God ought to be a kindly grandfather figure who charitably overlooks sin, is a self-serving figment of man’s sinful imagination. The New Testament reminds us that “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb.12:29) and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom.6:23).

The idea that God was mean in the Old Testament but is nicer now, is absurd foolishness.

“The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.” Psalm 33:11

“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17

Likewise, the Bible makes it clear that our Savior Jesus Christ, will not tolerate, but will certainly punish un-forgiven sin.

“The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angles, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” II Thessalonians 1:7-8.

As far as the Canaanites were concerned, God had given them 400 years to repent (Genesis15:13-16) but each new generation had gone further away from God than the one before, and they were practicing (as archaeology has revealed) every form of debauchery known to man.

Decreeing their total destruction now was an act of mercy by God toward their innocent children (since death would assure eternity in heaven) as well as toward all those who would come in contact with them in future generations.

They had already irrevocably hardened their hearts toward God, so that God now hardened their hearts against Israel. Thinking they could destroy God’s people, they only hastened their well-deserved end.

Adapted from an article by Henry M. Morris

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May 20, 2012

Responding To Defamation – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:03 am by sranderson0103

Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (I Corinthians 4:11–13).

Bible-believing Christians today, especially creationists, have become the object of intense vilification by the news media and by self-appointed spokesmen for the scientific and educational establishments.

A dramatic example occurred just a few days ago. On May 15, Benjamin S. Carson, Sr.
Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins University Children’s Center, delivered the commencement address at Emory University. Dr. Carson is an internationally renowned scientist (Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States).

http://www.icr.org/article/benjamin-carson-pediatric-neurosurgeon-with-gifted/

Since Emory is affiliated with the Methodist Church, many would expect a supportive attitude toward an eminent scientist, who has publically affirmed that he does not believe in evolution, but is a creationist.

Wrong!

Almost 500 Emory University faculty and students signed a letter, objecting to the fact that their commencement speaker has the audacity to point out flaws in the theory of evolution.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-carson-20120513,0,7835599.story

He spoke in spite of the objections and what a speech! He graciously but firmly denied the published misrepresentations and then delivered one of the most eloquent, powerful commencement speeches I have ever heard.

The natural reaction to slanderous accusations is to respond in kind. But this is not the reaction of one guided by the Spirit.

“Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously” (I Peter 2:21–23).

We not only have Christ’s example before us, but also His direct commandment to respond oppositely.

“Blessed are you when people  insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you” (Matthew 5:11-12 ,44).

The apostles endured far more insults and opprobrium for Christ’s sake than any of us shall ever have to suffer. Yet Paul, speaking for them all, could say:

“Being reviled, we bless; being defamed, we entreat, even though they call us the filth of the world!”

Christians should feel no need to “right the wrongs” inflicted upon them. They don’t have to since God said He would. Our real problem is believing God’s promises.

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

We should know that God’s vengeance is wiser, more just and absolutely dependable.

(With acknowledgement to the late Dr. Henry M. Morris)

 

May 13, 2012

Forgiveness – Jay Adams

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

1. What a wonderful word! Yet, what does it mean?

How do you grant forgiveness; and, for what?

2. As much as Christians talk about forgiveness, you’d think they could tell you all about it.

Yet, there very few who can give sound, Biblical answers.

3. Forgiveness of others is to be modeled on one’s own forgiveness by Christ:  “… forgiving one another just as God, in Christ has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).

Forgiveness must be extended to all who say they repent—even if the offense has been repeated (Cf. Luke 17:3).

But it is only to be granted to those who confess wrong doing, claim to be repentant, and ask forgiveness (Prov. 28:13). In Mk. 11:25, Jesus tells you to forgive those who wronged you when you pray, thereby avoiding bitterness and resentment (Eph. 4:32). But, that is different from granting the wrongdoer forgiveness. You do that only when he repents.

Forgiveness of others must reflect God’s forgiveness; He forgave you when you repented.

Some unthinking Christians advise forgiving another whether or not he confesses sin. But they misunderstood forgiveness. They urge this to benefit the one who forgives. Yet, it was for your benefit that God forgave you. Their self-centered concept of forgiveness is unbiblical. God did not forgive you until you repented, admitted you were a sinner, and believed. Indeed, even now, when God dispenses parental forgiveness, He says, “…if you don’t forgive men, then your Father won’t forgive your transgressions”(Matt. 6:15)

Some think when Christ prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them,” He forgave apart from repentance. But Jesus granted no one forgiveness by those words. He was asking God to forgive. Did God answer? Yes. On the day of Pentecost, thousands of those same people were converted, and their sins were forgiven. But, that did not happen apart from the means. Peter called on them to repent and believe in order to receive forgiveness (Cf. Acts 2:38).

Because in forgiving one promises not to bring up the offender’s sin, to him, to others, or to himself, it is not right to forgive before repentance. Jesus requires you to confront an offender (Matt. 18:15ff) in order to bring about reconciliation. If he refuses to listen to you, instead of forgiving him, you must tell one or two others. If he won’t hear them, then you must tell the church. Indeed, apart from repentance, the matter, must be brought up to an increasingly larger number of persons. Why? Through their aid to win the offender. In love, true forgiveness seeks not to relieve the forgiver, but to deliver the offender from his burden of guilt. Out of concern for the other person, the offended party pursues the offender until the matter is settled before God and men. Any bitterness on his part, Jesus said, must be dealt with in prayer. Because forgiveness is a promise not to refer negatively to the offender’s sin any more, it would be utterly inconsistent to forgive an unrepentant person before Church discipline has been successfully used.

People who try to be kinder than God, end up becoming cruel to others. The kind thing is not to focus on relief for one’s self, by forgiving others whether they repent or not, but by every Biblical means to win offenders. It may seem unkind to bring matters up again and again when an offender refuses to be reconciled, but you must do so, not to irritate, but to help relieve him of the burden of his sin. To ignore him and focus on one’s self, saying, “feel better since I forgave Bob, even though he didn’t seek forgiveness,” is the epitome of the modern, self-centered psychological heresy.

Seeking forgiveness is not apologizing. There is nothing in the Bible about apologizing—the World’s substitute for forgiveness that doesn’t get the job done. You apologize, and say “I’m Sorry,” but have not admitted your sin. The offended party feels awkward, not knowing how to respond. You are still holding the ball. You asked him to do nothing. But, confess your sin to him saying, “I have asked God to forgive me, and now I’m asking you,” and you pass the ball to the other person. You ask him to bury the matter for good. Jesus commands him to say “yes,” thereby making the promise that God does: “Your sins and you iniquities will I remember against you no more.” That brings the matter to a conclusion. Apologizing does not.

Is there someone to whom you should go ask forgiveness? Has someone sought it from you to whom you said “Once, yes; twice, maybe; three times, no!”? Perhaps there is someone whom you have never confronted about a matter that has brought about an unreconciled condition between you. Are any of these problems outstanding? Then you have business to attend to. Why not settle the matter today?

You don’t have to feel like it to forgive. Forgiveness is a promise that you can make and keep, whether you feel like it or not. And, it is easier to forgive another—even when he sins against you seven times a day—when you remember Christ’s great sacrifice for you sins by which He forgave you. And, then too, remember how many times a day He forgives you ever since you have become a believer. One other fact may help. If you have truly forgiven, it isn’t the fifth, or the third; it’s not even the second time. If you have truly buried the matter, truly forgiven—it’s always the first.

 

 

May 6, 2012

The Bible Doesn’t Say, Don’t – Wayne Jackson

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Solomon once wrote that “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecc 1:9). Certainly that saying is true with reference to the arguments that a swelling “progressive” element within the church is employing in defense of the idea that the use of musical instruments is permissible in Christian worship. Or at the very least, they allege, the issue is not one that should prevent fellowship between churches of Christ and denominational groups that use the instrument.

Professors in several colleges are attempting to argue this case, and a number of churches already have begun incorporating the instrument into their services. An even greater number contends that the matter is of no consequence, and there is little doubt that these will have the instrument in the not-distant future.

It once was the case that those who advocated the instrument attempted to make arguments that were at least remotely related to the biblical text. But those arguments proved to be so baseless that most of them have been abandoned. The mantra now appears to be that stale quip, “The Bible doesn’t say, ‘don’t do it.’”

One cannot but believe that with some of these folks it would not matter if the Bible explicitly stated, “You must not use mechanical music in Christian worship.” They would do it anyway, for they are “will-worshippers” (Col 2:23) who are enamored with carnality, rather than truth.

Imagine for a moment the following scenario. A man takes his car into an automotive repair shop. He informs the proprietor that the vehicle is not running smoothly and he wants a tune-up. When the customer returns the following day, he is presented with a bill for more than $2,000. In addition to the tune-up, the repairman installed new brakes, a muffler, a carburetor, a fuel pump, and a new set of tires. The customer is enraged and protests: “I did not authorize these extra expenditures!” “I know that,” the mechanic responds, “but you did not say not to do it.” Suppose the case is taken to court. How do you reckon a judge would rule?

The issue is one of authority. While we recognize that there are many laws in the Bible that are explicitly negative, one may not draw the inference that everything is permitted that is not specifically condemned.

In the table of the Ten Commandments, the Lord said regarding “graven images,” i.e., idol gods, “you shall not bow yourself down to them” (Exodus 20:5). But what if some renegade Hebrew simply “stood” before an idol and prayed? Do you suppose that if he had done such, and made the defense, “He said, ‘don’t bow’; he didn’t say, ‘don’t stand’”? Do you suppose the Lord would have been impressed with such a depraved defense?

Can reasonable people not mentally anticipate the logical consequence of this type of reasoning? It throws wide open the gates of apostasy. Consider the following questions that surely could be posed by modern innovators.

·  Why can’t we pray to Mary and the saints? The Bible doesn’t explicitly condemn it.

· Why can’t we observe communion on Saturday? The Bible doesn’t say not to.

· Why can’t we have Pepsi and pizza for communion? The Bible doesn’t forbid it.

· Why can’t we baptize babies? The New Testament doesn’t censure it.

· Why can’t we smoke marijuana in worship? No text prohibits it.

It has become increasingly apparent that not only do we see a new generation emerging that knows practically nothing about the Scriptures, largely it is a people that cannot reason. Logic, to them, is a like an alien language.

For many, their entire religious emphasis (under a leaky umbrella they call “spiritual”) is one of feelings, self-centeredness, and an appeal to the carnal.