Contend Earnestly: July 2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Did God Create Evil

At an unknown college there was a professor with a reputation for being tough on Christians. At the first class every semester he asked if anyone was a Christian and proceeded to degrade and mock their statement of faith. One semester he asked the question, and a young man raised his hand when asked if anyone was a Christian. The professor asked, “Did god make everything, young man?” “Yes, he did, sir,” the young man replied.

The professor responded, “If God made everything, then God made evil, and if we can only create from within ourselves, then God is evil.” The student didn’t have a response, and the professor was happy to have once again proved the Christian faith to be a myth. Then another young man raised this hand and asked, “May I ask you something, sir?” “Yes you may,” responded the professor. The young man stood up and said, “Sir, is there such a thing as cold?” “Of course there is, what kind of a question is that? Haven’t you ever been cold?” “The young man replied, “Actually, sir, cold does not exist. What we consider to be cold is really only the absence of heat. Absolute zero is when there is absolutely no heat, but cold does not really exist. We have only created that term to describe how we feel when HEAT IS ABSENT.”

The young man continued, “Sir, is there such a thing as dark?” Once again, the professor responded, “Of course there is.” And once again, the student replied, “Actually, sir, darkness does not exist. Darkness is really only the ABSENCE OF LIGHT. Darkness is only a term man developed to describe what happens when there is no light present.” Finally, the young man asked, “Sir, is there such a thing as evil?” The professor responded, “Of course. We have rapes and murders and violence everywhere in the world; those things are evil.” The student replied, “Actually, sir, evil does not exist. EVIL IS SIMPLY THE ABSENCE OF GOD. Evil is a term man developed to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. It isn’t like truth or love, which exist as virtues like heat and light. Evil is simply the state where God is not present, like cold without heat or darkness without light.”

The professor had nothing to say…

Have you ever been stumped or trapped like the first student in this story? I have and it’s not fun. I much prefer being like the second student, be prepared and having quick answers. I find myself listening to lots of talk radio just so that I will be prepared when someone asks me some off the wall question or tries to trap me. I Peter 3:15 exhorts us to be prepared to give a ready defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness, and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

In sports there is a saying, “THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE”. This works well in sports because if you don’t give up any runs in baseball, points in football, buckets in basketball or any goals in hockey (note the blatant disregard for soccer here), then you can’t lose the game. Sometimes we think that we need to know how to explain the molecular structure of an atom to prove creation when all we really need to do is defend our beliefs in a quick, clear, and concise manner.

What are you currently doing to make a ready defense? How are your apologetics? Are you so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good?

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Nails In The Post

M.F. Cowdery

From the Civil War Era

There was once a farmer who had a son named John, a boy very apt to be thoughtless, and careless about doing what he was told to do.

One day his father said to him, “John, you are so careless and forgetful, that every time you do wrong, I shall drive a nail into that post, to remind you how often you are naughty. And every time you do right I will draw one out.” His father did as he said he would, and every day he had one and sometimes a great many nails to drive in, but very seldom one to draw out.

At last John saw that the post was quite covered with nails, and he began to be ashamed of having so many faults. He resolved to be a better boy, and the next day he was so good and industrious that several nails came out. The day after it was the same thing, and so on for a long time, till only one nail remained. His father then called him, and said, “Look, John here is the very last nail, and now I’m going to draw it out. Are you not glad?”

“Yes”, sobbed John, “the nails are gone, but the scars are still there.” So it is, with your faults and bad habits, you may overcome them, you may be degrees cure them, but the scars remain. Now, take my advice and whenever you find yourselves doing a wrong thing or getting into a bad habit, stop at once. For every time you give in to it, you drive another nail, and that will leave a scar on your soul, even if the nail should be afterwards drawn out.

We must understand that we cannot take the nails out of the post for forgiveness. Only Christ can remove the nails. We cannot work our sin off. The reality of sin is that there is always a consequence or in this case scars. Some scars are deeper than others and some scars take longer to heal.

Thank God that our Lord does not keep account of wrong doings. Christ’s blood wipes out all our sin thus removing the nails from the post. 1 Cor. 13:5 describes how love does not keep account of wrongs suffered. If God did keep a log we would never qualify for heaven based on our own righteousness. Instead He forgives and forgets.

Whenever you find yourself doing a wrong or getting into a bad habit stop at once. REPENT! Even thou our nails are drawn out, and our sins are forgiven, there was a price. Remember, THE NAILS DRIVEN INOT OUR LORD!

John 20:24-29. Vs. 27 Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

A Little on John Calvin

As I have started to really acquire a taste of biblical history I have noticed that there is only one person whose name you bring up in Christian circles that causes so much controversy it is almost, if not entirely, ridiculous. It is not Satan, Pontius Pilate or Judas Iscariot. It is not Muhammad or Joseph Smith. It is not most of the people you would think of. It is actually the name of John Calvin.

As I have, as most try to do at some point in their lives, tried to pinpoint my beliefs on every major doctrine in the Bible, I can say almost anything on different subjects and will be listened to and reasoned with. But, bring up Calvin and people can get almost violent. Some have tried to just say “I believe the Bible” but so do liberal theologians who would be far from believing Sola Scriptura. So there has to be some extra thought on the individual subjects in the Bible to pinpoint easily what someone believes without spending 4 hours on each subject. Such as, I can tell you that I am a progressive dispensational premillennialist and most know exactly what I believe on eschatology without having to enter an all day discussion on the topic. Which, by the way, would be enjoyable anytime if you would like to discuss.

So, whether we like it or not, there has to be some sort of quick response to soteriology when someone asks, even though most like to skate around the subject if not completely avoiding the topic altogether. I just find it interesting that if I were to tell you that I believe what Luther and Augustine taught on the subject or even what Athanasius believed on the subject most wouldn’t blink an eye. Say I am a Calvinist or I believe what Calvin said concerning salvation and the backlash and disgust will start to pour out. What’s amazing is that most do not even know what Calvin taught or have ever even sat down and listened to his exegesis of Scripture. I have been reading a lot about his background lately trying to understand more of who he was, as have I been reading on Martin Luther as well. My most recent book that I have been reading, The Unaccommodated Calvin, pointed out something that I didn’t know about the man and also should remind us all on some things about these reformers.

The book goes into detail that the reformers were just men who wanted to exegete Scripture and preach and teach it. They were not men out to start controversies and definitely not men who sat out to be called “Lutherans” or “Calvinists.” They actually would have both hated to be called either one of these. Remember these two men, Luther and Calvin, were deep in the Roman Catholic Church and wanted to simply know what Scripture said on different doctrines and dogmas held so closely by the Catholic Church. Most people think that Calvin set out to prove his five points on Grace, commonly referred to as TULIP. What’s interesting is that this acronym is a 20th century term, Calvin was born and died in the 16th century, and he didn’t even come up with the five points, the Synod of Dort did in 1618/1619 to refute the teaching of James Arminius. John Calvin died in 1564. These men, Luther and Calvin and other reformers, were not men out to “die for their cause” they were just exegeting Scripture, following in line of men such as Augustine, Jerome and Athanasius. They were preachers, preaching the truth at the danger of dying for it.

The other part that amazes me and surprises a lot of people is on the subject that gets most people up in arms is Calvin’s view on predestination and/or election of the saints. Guess what, Luther wrote many more volumes on this subject than did Calvin and Augustine and Jerome were the first to really fight against “free will” in the 4th and 5th centuries against Pelagius.

The reason behind this post is just to open our eyes to the early church fathers and also to the reformers. I am not here to promote Calvinism but just want people to calm down on their hate for a man that wanted to preach like Paul preached, Christ crucified. Most of the reformers were either fighting heresies or fighting for the truth. They were not out to put a “stamp” on history, they were ones that stood for truth and that truth is the Bible. So next time when you hear someone mention Calvin’s name, listen to see how they are responding to a man who loved God so much that most of his life was spent trying to be killed for his reformed beliefs against the Catholic church and understand that he was fighting for the same truths and absolutes that we hold so dear today.

When he was nearing his death he often had to be carried to the pulpit so he could preach and also asked that when he died only the initials “J.C.” be put on the tombstone in an uncommon place with no witness or ceremony. He was a humble man who loved the truth and yet many if they saw him today would spit in his face. May we remember those who went before us and study the truths that aren’t theirs, but God’s, in His Holy Word.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Police vs. Paramedic

Last week I was caught in traffic behind an accident. Unfortunately there were injuries so that meant that there were firemen on the scene helping out before the paramedics arrived. Have you ever been in an accident or watched one? It is actually interesting how each department has it’s own function. I don’t know all the specific duties but it seems as though there are some general differences between the function of the policemen and the paramedics.

When the policemen arrive on the scene their main duty is to maintain order. A major part of that order is making sure that an accurate report is made of the accident. We don’t want street justice occurring at intersections across town. Basically the police report is going to take testimony from eyewitnesses of the scene. In essence the report is going to state who was the victim and who was at fault. Although final judgment is not made at the scene, that report is a major factor. The presupposition of the report is that someone is wrong and we’re going to find out who. With that being said the police officers try to take the reports without being prejudice or bias. This tends to create a cold and callous type of interaction. Like Joe Friday would say, “Just the facts ma’am”.

When the paramedics arrive on the scene their main duty is to bring aid to the afflicted. They don’t care who was at fault. Their main concern is who is hurt the worst and tend to the victims in that order. Because of the nature of their function they tend to be gentle and kind as opposed to cold and callous. They try to comfort the victims.

So what type of Christian are you? When a friend of yours blows it (it’s there fault) or something unexpected happens (not their fault) how do you respond. Are you like Job’s friend Eliphaz who told Job that he was getting what he deserved Job 4:8?

I know that true love must be confrontive at times. But what is your basic approach? Can a policeman be gentle and kind? Does he have to be so indifferent? Do you view yourself as the judge of the scene?

Read Matt 18:15-17. How would you title this passage? If you think of this passage as the Church Discipline” passage verses “Biblical Restoration” you may get an idea of where you stand. The point or the goal of the passage is repentance, restoration, and redemption. The goal is not to have someone depart from the faith.

So the next time you’re in a situation where you are at the scene of a personal accident. Ask yourself which function do you want to have. Ask yourself which function is appropriate.

Are you a policeman or a paramedic?

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