The Gospel Message in the Sermons of Acts

A continuing debate about interfaith dialogues on Twitter often hinges on whether a full gospel declaration was provided. For my undergraduate degree at Liberty University I wrot a paper, “The Gospel Message in the Sermon of Acts,” that first had to define what is in the gospel. If you click on the title, you can read it. 🙂

Cannot Be a Believer Litmus Test

From a post on my personal Facebook account:

Facebook postThis article is especially troubling for two reasons. First, it implicitly establishes a religious test for a government appointment, which is unconstitutional. Second, Russell Vought is unable to flat-out say that you are lost without Jesus (although, in fairness to him, he does mention, multiple times, the centrality of Christ to salvation).

It is pretty much taken as fact that now that faith equals blind faith. That if you don’t believe in scientism and materialism…and instead have a worldview that includes the supernatural…the reason and logic portions of your brain are either shut-off or so heavily degraded that you cannot be trusted to lead in the public realm. Yet, given throughout history, scientists and other great thinkers frequently (most often?) have believed in something beyond that which we can taste, smell, touch, hear, or see…that which we can measure…it proves faith does _not_ equate to illogic and/or unreason. If anything, belief in a God of order (versus randomness)…and a Being who reveals Himself…aided in scientific discovery by adding confidence that the Lord’s ways in the physical realm could also be discovered, converted into scientific theories and laws, and be used as a foundation for more discoveries, theories and laws.

Faith is _not_ equivalent to blind faith. Even in our little church here in Strasburg we stress individual research and reason. The great principles of science are a boon to theology, and theology is not hampered by the philosophical (not scientific) rule that the supernatural is off-limits. We can truly allow the evidence to lead us where it may…instead of setting arbitrary boundaries that hamper truth, not aid it.

Finally, nobody but God knows the eternal salvation of any individual. I have often said we’ll be surprised by who we see in heaven…and who we don’t. But logic and reason also say that, for instance, Islam and Christianity cannot both be right (although they can both be wrong). If Christianity is right, everything that points people away from its God…whether it be Islam, Buddhism, scientism, or <fill in the blank here>…is an impediment to everlasting salvation. Does that mean every atheist or Hindu or Muslim is damned? No. However, it would be quite unloving (and unreasoned and illogical) of me not to tell non-Christians the path they are on leads to eternal death, not eternal life.

However, as Vought tries to point out during his testimony, that does not mean that on this side of eternity I will treat anyone differently based on what path, as horrible as it may be, they have chosen. We are all afflicted with the same disease (sin)…and we are all navigating this troubled, chaotic world together.

God is love. He has so much more to do to my heart to make my love even 1% of His, but I do love you regardless of your faith.

And don’t let anyone fool you…we all have faith in something.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/448393/watch-bernie-sanders-unconstitutionally-impose-religious-test-public-office

Thoughts? Please comment below…

“On Atheism” from a Non-Believer

Although I prefer a less caustic tone, this article about atheism, written by a non-believer is worth a read:

“On Atheism”

This part is especially interesting:

Atheists will argue that atheism is the opposite of religious belief, but that’s what is called a gratuitous assertion. The atheist believes there is no superior being. They have no proof of this as there can be no proof. In that regard, atheism is illogical as it is something that can never be proved. Christianity, in contrast, can be proved. Christ could show up and confirm the tenets of the faith. The same is true of Islam or Judaism. In other words, even though there is no proof now, there could be proof. That’s not possible with atheism.

I do disagree with this earlier thought though:

The believer is willing to accept, without evidence, the truth of some statement, while the skeptic is unwilling to accept statements without proof.

Emphasis mine.

That is blind faith, not faith. There are probably plenty of “blind faith” believers, but Christianity is not devoid of evidence. It is just not convincing for everyone. Additonally, I am definitely a skeptic…including of much of what Christians often believe…and am convinced that is what the Bible teaches us to be (e.g. see Acts 17:11)…not to mention what a God who gave us brains expects.

Acting Like Romans

Roman soldierI ran into a really interesting article tonight thanks to Instapundit about “How Roman Central Planners Destroyed Their Economy.” Although not all enacted by today’s progressives in the United States (yet)…it does seem like Romans created a progressive’s playbook. (Just read the article…think Venezuala…you’ll understand.) Strangling, escalating, damaging control of people and markets.

What got me really thinking, however, was when I recognized the most intrusive emporer’s name because of another reason. He is the same one known for the most extreme persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire:

The Diocletianic Persecution (or Great Persecution) was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman empire.[1] In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding the legal rights of Christians and demanding that they comply with traditional Roman religious practices.

I couldn’t help but wonder, does this anecdotally show a correlation between the progressive affinity for totalitarianism and their persecution of Christians? They’ll tell you how every part of your life is to be lived and will not allow you to worship any other God than theirs. (For instance, it would not be far-fetched to compare “demanding that they comply with traditional Roman religious practices” and basically banning businesses that won’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.) As Dennis Prager says, leftism is a religion.

Either way, random Friday night thought…

So

With life so short
And the world so cold
It should not be so easy
To give up on a friend

King Solomon Versus the Hair Band Poison

King Solomon:

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief (Ecclesiastes 1:18, New International Version).

Poison:

Yeah sometimes I wish I didn’t know now
The things I didn’t know then

Yes, the body of Christ is composed from every nation under the sun, and from folks who grew up with all kinds of different music. 🙂

Poison’s “Something to Believe In” (which includes the line at 4:59 in):

Don’t Stop Looking at the Clouds

Closer view of light on fluffy clouds

There was a period in my adulthood where I stopped looking at the clouds. I do not know for sure, but I think it was the stress of a previous job that led to it. Of course, allowing it to do so was my choice, whether or not I realized it.

Life still has its stresses, sometimes as bad (if not worse) than that period. I refuse to stop looking at the clouds again.

God blessed me with these tonight…

Vew of light on fluffy clouds

I Am Ordinary


Ordinary.

I’ll never walk with God like Enoch.
I’ll never be as righteous as Noah.
I’ll never match the meekness of Moses.
I’ll never show the fearlessness of Daniel.
I’ll never develop a heart like David.
I’ll never attain the wisdom of Solomon.
I’ll never have a voice in the widnerness like John.
I’ll never turn back as whole-heartedly as Peter.
I’ll never teach theology like Paul.
I’ll never know love like John.

Until.

The cry of command.
The voice of an archangel.
The sound of the trumpet of God.

Then.

I’ll be quite extraordinary.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Church in the fallAlthough this year has had its ups and downs (perhaps a bit more on the downs side)…God’s blessings keep the score so far in the positive I have no excuse but…on this Thanksgiving day…to be…

Thankful. 🙂

I am thankful for my family (both biological and church), my employer (and those I work with), the town I live in (and its great residents), and…

The list could go on ad infinitum.

Oh, and I am thankful for you my blog readers and/or sermon/broadcast listeners and/or social media followers. You are truly a blessing from the Lord.

Ultimately, the greatest thing I have to be thankful for is also the greatest thing the world (including you) has to be thankful for…

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17, English Standard Version).

Of course, it doesn’t do you any eternal good if you don’t have faith in Jesus. My prayer is that you will find that trust in the One who gave His life so you could spend eternity with Him.

Regardless of where your relationship with the Lord is…Happy Thanksgiving from Traditores and Traditores Higher Frequency!

The First Tree?

TreeLast Saturday, heading to breakfast at Burger King followed by a haircut, Augie (my eight year-old) and I were chatting…and…I can’t remember exactly why…but the subject of trees came up. That led to a question of the first tree, and Augie said the first one created by God was the Tree of Life.

What do you think? Was he right?

Now, the Bible doesn’t really say what the first tree was. Instead, trees were created at the same time as other plants:

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so (Genesis 1:11, English Standard Version).

Assuming this part of Genesis is chronological (which it may not be), the Tree of Life came into the picture after man was created…which was after trees already existed:

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:8-9).

However, I have to admit that Augie’s childlike view that the first tree was the Tree of Life appeals to me…and I think it makes sense. This is what was said by Paul about the God who created that tree…well, all trees:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3).

Our Lord wants all people to be saved. Even after our original parents (and we) sinned, He wants us to live eternally.  Personally, I think God always intended us to do so, and as such it would make sense that He’d have the Tree of Life ready from day one to help with that. It was only our rebellion in the Garden that prevented ready access to it.

Was the Tree of Life the first tree created? Probably not…but it wouldn’t surprise me given how much God has shown His heart for us from day one. Now, that’s a God I would like to live forever with!

My Christian Belief Does Not Make Me Superior…

Atheist checked off on listDid that title make you think I was going to apologize for the excesses of Christianity…or possibly the reverse…that somehow I imagine I am better than non-believers?

Actually, it was a play of this interesting article I saw a few days ago:

“My atheism does not make me superior to believers. It’s a leap of faith too”

Based on what I’ve seen in social media, a lot of new atheists should read the piece…for instance:

But my conviction that there is no God is nonetheless a leap of faith. Just as we have been unable to prove there is a God, we have also been unable to prove that there isn’t one. The feeling that I have in my being that there is no God is what I go by, but I’m not deluded into thinking that feeling is in any way more factual than the deep conviction by theists that God exists.

I keep this fact in mind – that my atheism is a leap of faith – because otherwise it’s easy to get cocky.

And, after noting that religion doesn’t have a corner on bad attitudes, the author posits:

Perhaps this is not religion, but human nature.

As I once said in a Twitter dialogue with Penn Jillette:

And “blind faith” in anything, religious or secular, is a very dangerous thing…

Sometimes our blind faith is in ourselves…what we “know.” The article’s author, Ijeoma Oluo, probably realizes that too.

I hope she finds the God she doesn’t believe in (yet). Her intellectual honesty can be used within the church…and that God wants her in His fold.

Proving There Is A God, Sodom Found (Maybe), and Scientists Reducing Faith

 NewspapersI saw three interesting articles on the Internet today. The first says there is no way to prove there is a God:

“Why God Cannot Be Proven: A Star Trek Argument”

Basically, it claims you can always posit that anything that seems supernatural is actually just a smarter alien using non-supernatural means that seem magical to us.

I would suggest, instead, it fits my saying that “proof is in the eye of the beholder”—that people will not believe what they don’t want to believe. However, in fairness to the writer, proof of an infinite being might itself be infinite, and we have finite brains. We may have no choice but to have faith bridge the gap…

But that faith would still be based on evidence versus the false modern equivication of faith with blind faith.

The second article says they may have found the biblical city of Sodom: [Read more…]

Doodling Acts 2

I lead my church’s tween/teen class, and I’ve been trying new approaches to keep the Bible studies interesting. The latest addition to my repertoire is personal erasable boards. Although they are for other purposes (that I may explain someday in another post), I allow the kids to doodle…and their team can get points for good ones. The one below (which is actually for Acts 2:15, not Acts 2:14…that’s on me, not the artist) wasn’t the greatest artistry displayed this last Sunday, but I sure liked it. 🙂

Acts 2:15 doodle

In case you aren’t familiar with the story (you have to start at the beginning of Acts 2 to get the complete picture, however)…

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them:“Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day (Acts 2:14-15).

The Lord has blessed me with a class of great kids…

Hateful, Horrible, or…?

I had an interesting interaction with Penn Jillette this afternoon. Thoughts about our Twitter dialogue? Is he right, am I right, or are we both wrong?

In case the tweets don’t come through, here are the text of each: [Read more…]

Truth (Something to Consider)

I’ve developed some great friendships on Twitter.

Wait! What does that say about me if I develop most of my friendships when limited to 140 characters or less?! 🙂

Either way, I’ve developed some great friendships on Twitter, and one of the folks I appreciate most is Jeffrey Guterman, whose Twitter profile describes him as a “mental health counselor and author.” He and I view the world from different angles, but I’ve had some of my most rewarding tweet dialogues with him. Here is an example of how he takes the time to explain difficult concepts (we were discussing contradictions and truth):

[Read more…]