January 26, 2013

Fire – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:19 pm by sranderson0103

“For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29)

We are sometimes afforded great insights into our present culture by considering cultures of the past. History reveals that the subject of origins has always been of great interest. Without the testimony of one who was there, efforts to know about this subject are mostly stumbling in the dark, but the efforts are most interesting.

Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235) was perhaps the most important theologian in the third-century church in Rome. He tells us about the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who lived in the city of Ephesus at the end of the sixth century BC (Persian period). This great philosopher was known as a priest, “the fire priest,” even though he was a materialist pantheist who believed the “created universe was its own maker and creator.” He claimed this cosmos was not made by gods but “always was and is and ever shall be ever-living fire.” [Hippolytus 9.9]

How did it all start? The atheistic fire priest had the answer. Fire did it…and is still doing it. Doesn’t that sound brilliant? No, but it does sound familiar. Of course we have a much more scientific answer today. “An explosion did it…the Big Bang.” Ah, much better.

Like those viewing the emperor with no clothes, we are expected not to observe the obvious holes in these supposedly profound answers. What started the fire and where did it come from? What did it have to burn and where did that come from? What started the explosion and where did it come from? What was there to blow up and where did that come from? Those who are brave enough to ask such impertinent questions are condescendingly frowned upon and put in their place by belligerent hand waving.

Explosions and fire are truly fascinating phenomena. They seem mystical and magic but let’s face it, they do not have the power to create something out of nothing. In fact, they are inevitably destructive, not creative. As our young folk would say, “Well – duh!” Or, as the apostle Paul put it, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” (Rom. 1:22)

God reveals that the marvel of fire and the awe of explosions are a part of God’s amazing creation. Both can be beneficial or terrifying, but both inevitably accelerate the downward, deteriorative processes that pervade our universe.

God uses fire and perhaps associated explosions, actually and symbolically, as His means of judgment on sin. The first and last references to fire in the Bible mention both fire and brimstone, used in flaming, explosive judgment on human rebellion against God. First, “…the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven.” (Genesis 19:24) And finally, “the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.” (Revelation 21:8)

Do you think the processes imposed on the recipients of these judgments were imagined to be creative or did they understand them to be destructive?

Our beginning text is a quotation of Moses’ words to the tribes of Israel as they were preparing to enter the promised land after his death. Warning them against corrupting their faith through idolatry, he said: “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:24). Its New Testament context is a grave warning against rejecting God’s Word: “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “ YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.” Therefore…offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-26, 28-29) They were not being warned, “Creation is coming.” Rather, they were warned of the fire of   destruction.

We should remember that destructive fire can be used beneficially, to destroy the dross of sin in our lives. “…in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time.” Daniel 11:35. It is better to be refined with the fire of God’s Word than to be consumed by His judgment of fire.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

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January 19, 2013

What Jesus Said About Hell – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:50 pm by sranderson0103

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)

If it is the Devil’s ultimate triumph to cause souls to be condemned to hell, wouldn’t it be a masterful stroke of genius if he could somehow persuade our powerfully influential majority that it’s not nice and certainly not Christ-like to discuss the reality of people going to hell? (Remember, we have been warned about his “schemes,” Eph.6:11, and his “snares,” I Tim.3:6.)

Our cunning, lying adversary has been able to accomplish this deceit in our society. It is now extremely “impolite” to speak of the reality of those condemned by scripture going to hell. This is especially true of any religious group. Our society does not like to think about hell–especially those who are headed there! But that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

We need to know that the Lord Jesus Himself often warned about the reality of hell. The text quoted above is from His famous “sermon on the mount,” a message often quoted because of its wonderful promises. Hell is mentioned in this sermon three times (also in Matthew 5:22 and 5:30). Additionally, in that sermon, Jesus warned that “the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13) On a different occasion, He urged His disciples to “fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

The best known, most prominent religious leaders of His day and their traditions were not exempt from such discussions. Jesus was speaking of the religious hypocrisy of a particular, specified religious group when He said, ““You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” (Matthew 23:33)

Hell is a place of fire or possibly of some fearful environment that could only be described adequately under the metaphor of fire. “Depart from me,” He will say to the lost souls at His coming judgment, “into the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41) Hell is called a “lake of fire” by Christ and also by John. His vision of Jesus reveals:

“He who sits on the throne said…. ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ …the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, ….” (Rev.21:5-8)

Hell will indeed be very real, it will be eternally real! Since Christ is both our Creator and our Savior, who died for our sins and defeated death by His resurrection, it is foolish for anyone to reject His revelation about hell.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

January 13, 2013

Many Convincing Proofs – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)

The word “faith” communicated a different idea to the first Christians than the terribly perverted idea typical today. It is obvious from the New Testament that the deity of Christ was not an unreasoning leap into the dark… “I feel very deeply that this is true.” Rather, it was a proposition that they could and were commanded to defend… “I have been convinced that this is true by overwhelming evidence. I know that this is true because I can prove it!”

The first statement of “faith” is made by widely divergent protestants, Muslims, even Hindus and Buddhists. The second is dramatically different and illustrates the faith of the New Testament.

The Apostles saw the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the tomb. They saw Him, touched Him, and ate with Him, alone and in crowds, in closed rooms, and out in the open. They were eyewitnesses and their “testimony” was not something they just felt was true. They spoke of what they knew first-hand.

“…we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life —  and  the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify…” (I John 1:1-2)

It is shocking to many to realize that Christians today do not “testify.” We present the viable, defensible testimony of eyewitnesses, along with “many convincing proofs.” This evidence produces a reasonable conviction about things that we haven’t seen. (Cf. Hebrews 11:1) Christians today present powerful evidence but when we call what Christians do today “testimony,” we distort, and greatly dilute the force and power of the real testimony of eyewitnesses.

The term “convincing proofs” translates a Greek word used only one time in the Bible, meaning literally “many criteria of certainty.” The lexicon, by Brown, Driver, Arndt and Gingrich says the word translated “convincing” means, “that which causes something to be known in a convincing and decisive manner, proof.”

Jesus Christ presented convincing evidence to the Apostles that He was the promised Messiah, based on the fundamental fact they witnessed, that He was raised from the dead. This was done with the intention that they would the persuade the honest people of the world with this “convincing proof.” Five verses later He said, “…you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” This is what Peter was doing when he said, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (II Peter 1:16) Paul testified of the Christ “who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4)

It is true that Christians are saved by and walk by faith, but it is nothing like what the world has in mind when they hear the word “faith.” Their concept accommodates the all-encompassing pluralism that dominates our society. Therefore we are told, “They all feel just as deeply as you do.” Yes, yes, but can they establish their conviction with “many convincing proofs?”

Faith in Jesus Christ as God’s promised Messiah, the Son of God is a reasonable, defensible faith, unlike competing “faiths” of the world. Therefore, we can be confident of His exclusive message.

“Unless you believe that I am He,

you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24)

 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. (Mark 16:16)

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

 

 

 

January 6, 2013

Our Leader – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10)

The Lord never asks us to go anywhere that He has not gone before. He is the captain (literally, the “leader”) of our salvation. Thayer’s Greek lexicon defines the actual word chosen by the Holy Spirit (aÓrchgo) to mean:

…leading, furnishing the first cause or occasion: ..

1. the chief leader,…

2. one that takes the lead in anything…and thus affords an example, a predecessor in a matter:

3. the author:

The writer of Hebrews is saying we need follow our divine leader to salvation.

The same word is used in Hebrews 12:2, where we are exhorted to be “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.”  That word is used again in Acts 5:31, when Peter tells the Sanhedrin, “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior,…” The same idea is expressed with different words in I Peter 2:21, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, for you to follow in his steps.”

This characteristic of Jesus is expressed often in various figures. He is our Shepherd, for instance, and He says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;” (John 10:27).  He also illuminates our path. “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’” (John 8:12). He guides us along the way by the comforter he promised, the Holy Spirit. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;” (John 16:13).

With such a dauntless leader, a perfect example, a loving Shepherd, a clear light, and an infallible guide, we are (or should be) happy to follow Him, even if the way sometimes seems steep and hard.

Having set our example, He now leads the way to our goal at the end of the journey. For Him, Paul said, “…I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3. 13-14).

Adapted from Henry Morris