Seven Great Mysteries – Part Two

God has revealed The Seven Great Mysteries of the World to His people. These are:

  1. The Mystery of the Gospel – the Good News of the incarnation of Christ (Eph 6:19; 1 Tim 3:16)
  2. The Mystery of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Col 1:27; 1 Cor 6:17 & 19)
  3. The Mystery of the Body of Christ – Jew and Gentile one in Christ (Eph 3:1-9; 5:32)
  4. The Mystery of the Rapture – the transformation of the saints (1 Cor 15:51-55; 1 Thess 4:15-17)
  5. The Mystery of the Restoration of Israel (Rom 11:25-29)
  6. The Mystery of Iniquity – the son of perdition revealed (2 Thess 2:7-9)
  7. Mystery, Babylon the Great (Rev 17:5)

In my last post I introduced the first Great Mystery and explained that it unlocks the next six Great Mysteries our Creator has revealed. The first Great Mystery is the Mystery of the Gospel (Eph 6:19) – the Good News of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

incarnation smallThe second Great Mystery revealed to the early church was that of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This mysterious blessing is freely available to all people everywhere when they repent of their rebellion towards their Creator and give their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. In a letter to the Colossian church Paul explained:

This mystery has been kept secret for ages and generations, but now it has been revealed to God’s people from all nations. To these people He chose to make known the riches and glory of this hidden mystery – and this is the mystery – Christ lives in you and thus gives you the hope of sharing in His glory. (Col 1:26-27)

John the baptistThe Old Testament prophets had alluded to this mystery (Isaiah 44:3; Joel 2:28-29; Zechariah 12:10) when they mentioned an outpouring of God’s Spirit. In the New Testament John the Baptist was the first to announce the imminence of the outpouring of God’s Spirit when he told his listeners:

I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be His slave and carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Mat 3:11) NLT

Mark (1:8) and Luke (3:16) also give accounts of this speech John the Baptist made when proclaiming the arrival of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.

A Voice From Heaven

Jesus then came to John to be baptized and all of the gospel writers (Mat 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32-33) give accounts of the Spirit coming upon Him after His baptism. Matthew, Mark and Luke also add that a voice from heaven testified that Jesus was God’s much beloved Son, while John’s record is a testimony from John the Baptist. John the apostle writes:

Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon Him. I didn’t know He was the One, but when God sent me to baptize with water, He told me, ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that He is the Chosen One of God. ” (John 1:32-34) NLT

This event heralded the end of John the Baptist’s mission and the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and journey to Calvary (Luke 3:23).

bread and wine
Because Jesus had not yet ascended, when He spoke of this Great Mystery, a complete understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was yet to be revealed. However, when He announced that He was the Living Bread that had come down from heaven, He told His listeners that they needed to feed on Him (John 6:48-56); that is, be indwelt by His everlasting life (John 6:63). At the Last Supper Jesus returned to this metaphor when He introduced the remembrance ceremony of the bread and the wine, which He said were symbolic of His broken body and poured out blood (Luke 22:19-20).

The Comforter Will Come

Jesus teachingJesus further fleshed out this teaching when He told the disciples, near the very end of His earthly ministry, that He was going to send them a Comforter – the Holy Spirit – and that through the Spirit the Father and the Son would make their abode in God’s people (John 14:23). This is indeed a Great Mystery.

The very last instruction Jesus gave His disciples while He was on earth was that they should wait in Jerusalem until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5, 8). After giving His followers this command He ascended to heaven to be with the Father (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9). Jesus had earlier explained to Nicodemus that:

….. no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:5-7) NLT

We are all born naturally of the amniotic waters; we were in our mothers’ wombs and our lives were totally dependent on our mothers’ bodies to nourish and accommodate us. But when people are born again, they are born of the Spirit of God; they are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit and His very life gives them new life. It is because God lives in us that we are made fit to live eternally in God’s presence. After the ascension the disciples waited for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit and Luke tells us:

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. (Act 2:1-4)

pentecostThis incident created quite a sensation as onlookers gathered around to see what was happening. They were amazed to hear the believers speaking in a number of different, recognisable languages.

The Christian Church Is Born

In the midst of the assembled crowd Peter stood up and told the gathering that this event had been foretold by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16). Peter went on to remind them that God had raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 2: 32), thus revealing Him to be the Lord and Messiah they had long been hoping for. This was the very same Jesus they had just crucified (Acts 2: 36). Peter’s words struck thousands of onlookers to the heart. As Luke records:

Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” (Act 2:37-39) NLT

Peters sermonAbout 3000 people believed Peter’s words that day and were baptized and joined the Body of Christ (Acts 2:41). This was the beginning of the Christian church. Following this event new believers were directed to repent of their rebellion against God, after which they were baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 8:15-18; 10:44-45, 47; 11:15-16; 19:2-6; 1 Cor 12:13: Titus 3:5).

There is some controversy over the meaning of the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” in the church today. Many people believe certain gifts of the Spirit are evidence of the baptism of the Spirit, but Paul taught that there are many gifts and not all people have all gifts (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Heb 2:4). Peter summarised this when he wrote:

God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God Himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to Him forever and ever! Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

The apostle Paul explained to the Galatians that we receive the Spirit by faith (Gal 3:14), when the Father sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (Gal 4:6). He also instructed the Galatians to live in the Spirit and walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:25). It is only then that God’s people will produce spiritual fruit. Paul described this fruit when he wrote:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23)

At the end of his instructions to the Galatians Paul wrote:

If you think you can fool God, you are only fooling yourselves. You will harvest what you plant. If you live to satisfy your sinful self, the harvest you will get from that will be eternal death. But if you live to please the Spirit, your harvest from the Spirit will be eternal life. We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up. When we have the opportunity to do good to anyone, we should do it. But we should give special attention to those who are in the family of believers. (Gal 6:7-10) ERV

Paul also directed the Ephesians to be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18). He reminded them that the baptism of the Spirit enables believers to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which all have been called; and with humility, gentleness and patience, bear with one another in love, making sure to keep the unity of the Spirit (Eph 4:1-3).

The Father Equips Us For His Service

Our Father poured out His Spirit upon us to equip us for the work of ministry and to build up the body of Christ (Eph 4:12). We should therefore be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom we are sealed for the day of redemption (Eph 4:30).

Paul was writing to believers in both of these epistles and it is a good reminder to all of us who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. As our Lord said:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Mat 5:16)

candleGod has poured out His Spirit upon His people to bring glory to His name. May we each walk in a manner worthy of the high calling we have received from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is not so much an issue of assuring high moral standards in the unsaved (although these are very important to their wellbeing), it is an issue of us loving as He loved us. May our Father find us loving even our enemies, because He has given us His Holy Spirit to enable us to do just that. As the apostle John pointed out:

If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also. (1Jn 4:20-21) GNB

Nothing else reveals the Mystery of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit so much as our ability to love. Our love for those we meet is the undeniable evidence of God in us and His work through us. God is Love ( 1 John 4:8) and as He indwells us by His Spirit we are made willing and able to express this most essential aspect of His nature to all those we encounter throughout our lives in this broken world.

Love is

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Strangers in a Strange Land

Christians truly are a strange lot. In a sense we’re a bit like Moses, who fled into the land of Midian, after killing an Egyptian slave-master. We are, as Moses then declared himself, strangers in a strange land (Exodus 2:22).moses kills egyptianWe don’t really fit snugly into the modern world, but then it’s understandable that Christians have always been out of step with the rest of the world. Even when the western world was nominally Christian, those who believed in Jesus and His message of loving their enemies (Mat 5:44) but hating sin, were never in the majority.

It may appear difficult to hold love and hate together harmoniously, but that’s what Jesus tells us is the hallmark of a Christian. Once we step over into belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and His biblical message, we are a people filled with contradictions. Yet everything makes perfect sense because our new life is in Christ. Jesus once said:

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:16)

Christians understand these words of Jesus to mean, “We are in the world, but no longer of the world.” We live within our human communities on planet Earth, but now our focus is on the Greater Reality and the things of this world are no longer as they once were to us. Although we live in mortal bodies and dwell in a finite world, we now have an eternal perspective.

As Christians we have learned that it is wise to fear God (Psalm 111:10), but we are never afraid of Him. When we spend time with God we are in awe of His great majesty and blessed by His overwhelming reality. There is nowhere else we would rather be than in His presence.worshipOur first and greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ, even though we have never seen Him with our human eyes. And although we understand how spiritually poor and lowly we truly are, we can talk freely about the most insignificant details of our lives with the One who is King of all kings, Lord of all lords and Creator of heaven and Earth, without ever feeling any incongruity in doing so.

Christians believe that in Christ we died, yet we are more alive than ever before and fully expect to live forever (Romans 6:8). We base this belief on the sure and certain knowledge that, because we have accepted God’s free gift of eternal life, the second death will never touch us (Rev 2:11).

When we come into the presence of our holy God we are painfully conscious that in our sinful nature dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18) and yet we understand that we are cleansed from sin. We are at peace knowing He accepts us completely because we are now in Christ and covered by His righteousness. And so we live our new and wonder filled lives surrounded by contradictions. Paul told the Corinthians that as new creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17):

We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. (2 Cor 6:10)

We have not been miraculously transformed into supernatural beings, yet we live our lives in the presence of the Heavenly Father and are filled with wonder at His awesome power and everlasting love. We understand that in our own right and our own strength we are undeserving and have nothing of any merit to offer, yet we know without question that we are the very apple of God’s eye (Deut 32:10) and that for each one of us the Eternal Son became flesh and died on the cross of Calvary.

© Carlos Lozano /Licenced from Dreamstime.com

© Carlos Lozano /Licensed from Dreamstime.com

When we look at that cross we are completely pessimistic, because we know that the same judgment that fell on the Lord of glory condemned in that one act all nature and all of humanity. We are heartbroken as we contemplate this truth, but we reject every human hope that is not centred on Christ, because we know that all of humanity’s noblest efforts are only dust building on dust.

Yet we are calmly, restfully optimistic. If the cross condemns the world, the glorious resurrection of Christ guarantees the ultimate triumph of good throughout the universe. Through Christ all will be well at last. Thus the Christian confidently awaits the consummation of all things through Jesus Christ who died and victoriously rose again. The great love and mercy of God will be manifest throughout all the world and He will ensure justice and mercy prevail. It is with absolute assurance that we watch and wait for His return.

© Marinv | Dreamstime.com

© Marinv | Dreamstime.com

When we think about what Jesus did for us on that cross we remember that, as Paul put it:

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. (1 Cor 1:18)

Paul goes on to explain:

As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters?

God makes the wisdom of this world look foolish because God, in His wisdom, saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom and He has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven and it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews find it an offensive obstacle and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. (1 Cor 1:19-23)

School of Athens by Raphael

School of Athens by Raphael

God knew the spin the “philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters” would put on the knowledge of this world, but He ensured we could all have access to His Truth (John 14:6). And this Truth has nothing to do with the amassing of knowledge; it has nothing to do with having the IQ of a genius – this Truth is a Man like no other that has ever walked the Earth. But we are easily caught up in the wisdom of this world, it’s seductive.

However, in God’s universe it is His wisdom that is true wisdom. The wisdom of this world is a poor relation. Paul declared that:

….. if anyone thinks they know anything, they know nothing yet as it needs to be known. (1 Cor 8:2)

After reading some of Nietzsche’s works, he appears to me to be the epitome of a person who has become so enraptured by his own intelligence and the wisdom of this world, he is completely deaf to the things of God. The pure irony, and one would have to say the absolute tragedy of Nietzsche’s life, is that he lost his mind. His great treasure slipped away from him and he was reduced to insanity and died when he was only 56 (as I’m about to turn 65 this seems awfully young to me). All our greatest intellectual achievements cannot give us what we were truly destined to become – eternal people living in a loving relationship with our merciful Father.

When we take our place in God’s eternal family we are no longer Earth bound, our values, our hopes and our beliefs are not those of this world, they came by revelation and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Our new life in Christ can be difficult to navigate at times, but we also know that when we are weak, then we are at our strongest, because Jesus said:

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

God created a universe filled with opposites and unredeemed humanity wants to reject this reality. It seems today people want a universe that is filled with 50 shades of grey. We don’t want anyone to tell us that something is wrong and something else is right. We demand the right to decide these things for ourselves. We don’t like the fact that God created life and death, light and darkness, good and evil, we want everything to be somehow naturally neutral.

shades of greyGod knew this would be the case. He knew we would want to be our own gods and decide our own destinies. And He has allowed us to do just that. We must each decide for ourselves whether we want to be part of God’s eternal family and take our place in His new universe after He destroys sin and death. No person is capable of creating an entirely new universe that will run along the lines they think God should have set in the first place. Instead, doubters have created a myth which pretends nature made this present creation without supernatural agency and people are therefore free to live their lives exactly as they choose.

Some people actually like to think that one day humanity will be able to control light and dark, good and evil and life and death. No matter how much people want to believe this they cannot change God’s program now and they never will be able to, because this is God’s universe and we are His creation. God designed the universe to run according to His laws and we must either accept His Way or forfeit our eternal destinies.Jesus preachingIn the gospel of John, chapter 6, Jesus explained to His listeners that He is the bread of life that came down from heaven. He likens Himself to the miraculous manna that God gave to Moses and the Israelites to sustain them as they traveled through the wilderness.

For 40 years the children of Israel fed on the heavenly bread, or manna, in the dessert; it gave them life and strength for that day. Once they’d collected the manna they could not store it up, they had to gather it afresh every morning and it was sufficient for that day’s needs (Exodus 16). Christians are like the Jews following Moses and the signs God set before them around the Sinai Dessert. As each new day dawns for the followers of Christ we go to Him for our life and strength. He has directed us to “feed on Him” as we sojourn in this wilderness world.

mannaThis is the basis of the Christian otherworldliness and the reason our understanding of life, our worldview, is foolishness to those who reject Christ’s message. Our focus is on the Man who is like no other man. He was born into the human community, but He was unlike any other person who has ever lived.

  • He came from heaven,
  • lived a sinless life for 33 years on Earth,
  • preached a new commandment,
  • introduced a new covenant,
  • was judicially murdered,
  • rose to life after three days in the grave,
  • walk and talked throughout Israel for 40 days,
  • then ascended to heaven to take His place with the Father in a transformed human body.

Once a person knows, understands and accepts the message Jesus came to impart to humanity, an entirely new awareness of human destiny fills their being. It is as if a door opens up that shows us a different world. This other world sits alongside the natural world but it is a Greater Reality; it is the eternal world that can only be perceived and entered through the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father by the Holy Spirit. There is no way to comprehend this eternal world through the physical senses and human reason. God has limited access to this Greater Reality to those who have their eyes on His Son.

For the Christian, while we walk on this Earth, we are seated with Christ in heaven (Eph 2:6) and though we were born on Earth we find that since being born again we are no longer completely at home on this beautiful planet. We are indeed strangers in a strange land awaiting the return of our Lord.

©Review & Herald Publishing/ Licensed from GoodSalt.com

©Review & Herald Publishing/ Licensed from GoodSalt.com

He will come again and He will deal the final blow to death, pain and suffering, ultimately bringing about the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan and purpose for humanity. He is reaching out to each and every person born onto this benighted world (John 12:32; Romans 8:20-23), graciously offering each one a place in His new, eternal creation (Rev 21:1). Can you see Him? Can you hear Him? He’s calling you!

infinity1
The inspiration and some of the words in this post came from INCREDIBLE CHRISTIAN! by A.W. Tozer

Pick Your Epic

The history of the world is an epic story, no matter which version you choose to believe. The most popular epic in our modern western culture begins with pond slime and leads us through primitive life forms to the present time, where human beings have traveled to the moon and sent rockets into outer space. astronautThis grand epic has become very dear to the many people who see themselves at the apex of the ascent of life. Without thinking too deeply about why they believe this tale, many people fantasise about the next chapters in the great evolutionary saga as they envision humanity reaching out to the stars and colonising other planets, thus continuing the heroic epic of the human species.

Throughout the last 100 years or so, this ancient evolutionary story has superseded the age old Judeo-Christian epic that had been the western world’s accepted saga for thousands of years. The biblical epic was generally acknowledged as a unique revelation that came directly from the Creator when He purposefully disclosed His plan and purpose to His image bearers (Gen 1:26). Until the middle of the 19th century most people were able to comfortably accommodate a scientific outlook with a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the epic He had endorsed (Mat 19:4).

In fact many of the great pioneers of science were Bible believing Christians who also believed in a literal 6 days of creation and a worldwide Flood. Carolus Linnaeus, the founder of the science of taxonomy, was one such person. Linnaeus and numerous other scientists like him accepted the biblical epic as their base assumption and working from this premise went on to develop revolutionary scientific principles.scientists old

On one hand we have the newly revived ancient Greek myth, which has been fleshed out in the modern era to give us the new evolutionary epic. This story claims life arose unguided from inorganic matter through random chemical reactions and then gradually, by chance mutations and natural selection, developed from simple to more complex life forms. On the other hand we have the biblical epic, which sweeps through history from creation to the recreation of heaven and earth, with an all powerful, supernatural being as the first cause. One epic lays claim to science supporting its grand tale while the alternative has been painted as merely a religious construction.

A common concept today amongst idealists, who hold to the new version of the ancient Greek tale, is that when people understand that humans are just one of many species that have evolved on the planet, they will inevitably be more humane towards other species. However, many who see themselves as the top of the evolutionary tree (although we are now informed this tree is more like a bush) find no reason for treating the lesser species humanely. To these people survival of the fittest means just that, the tougher you are the more likely you are to survive. They point out that extinction is simply part of the long process that has resulted in the evolution of humans.

Francis Galton

Francis Galton

Hitler and other eugenicists like Charles Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton followed this train of thinking when they proposed the “culling” of the people they considered of less value in an effort to assist the evolution of humanity towards a super race. This leads us to the question, “Where does moral and ethical behaviour fit into the evolutionary epic tale?”

The currently emerging science of morality has contributed to the evolutionary epic by claiming that humans have not only evolved physically, they have also evolved spiritually and ethically. This is not an entirely new idea. French philosopher Auguste Comte, who was a founder of the discipline of sociology, published works in the mid 1800s claiming there were three stages of human thought.

  1. The first was the religious or theological stage where humans invented gods and devils to explain their origins.
  2. Following this he proposed a second stage, which was the metaphysical stage, when humans tried unsuccessfully to discover their origins by philosophical abstractions.
  3. Finally, he outlined a third or scientific stage, when humans, using scientific observation and experimentation, would reach the positive truth.

    Auguste Comte

    Auguste Comte

Many who subscribe to the evolutionary epic would find Comte’s theory quite convincing and it could well be argued that we are presently in the age of Scientism. Wikipedia defines Scientism as:

…..a belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints.

In the 21st century we find that more often than not scientism goes hand in hand with naturalism, which is the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms without recourse to spiritual or supernatural explanations. Naturalism holds that reality consists of nothing but the physical, material world governed by nothing but natural law; it is an alternative belief system which, like Christianity, is based entirely on a particular set of unprovable assumptions.

We cannot prove or disprove the existence of God using the scientific method, but philosophical naturalists appear to find this fact proof for their beliefs. As naturalism denies the possibility of spirit, and spirit is by definition beyond nature, ipso facto naturalism is disqualified from making any judgment on the possibility of the existence of a spiritual realm.

Adherents of philosophical naturalism must also accept that the distant past can never be observed and events of past history are unrepeatable. Therefore, any theory that postulates an assumed history as science can never be experimentally tested. Consequently, attributing the label “scientific” to the evolutionary epic and “religious” to the biblical epic is totally fallacious.

Intellectuals of the 18th and 19th centuries developed and cultivated the notion that belief in the miraculous was unscientific, thus many 20th century theologians who wanted to be seen as “scientific” thinkers, felt they needed to compromise their beliefs by denying large portions of the biblical epic. We now find that in the 21st century many people who claim to believe in the miraculous work of Jesus Christ as Saviour openly reject His miraculous work as Creator.

As Enlightenment thinking took hold in Europe, and philologists like German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche revived interest in ancient Greek ideas, the new evolutionary epic gradually began to take shape. In our present time this complex saga includes the notion that humanity has reached a point where we are able to understand, communicate and codify ethical behaviour, because we also understand that the survival of our species is dependent upon the survival of other species and the habitats that support those species. elephantsThe development of cybernetics and the concept of biofeedback have now given rise to the belief that ethical behaviour is an inherent part of our survival, whereas moral behaviour is viewed as a more arbitrary consideration.

In the late 1800s, Friedrich Nietzsche, maintained that it was not the content of their beliefs that made people groups superior or noble, but rather the act of valuing. He asserted that the values of a community are not as important as their collective will to act on those values. Thus, in his view, it is the process of creating and working towards values that is the vital aspect of creating cohesive, civilised societies, while the values themselves become less important and may differ from one people group to the next. Although it might not be directly attributed to Nietzsche, the idea that one value system is neither more nor less worthy than the next, has become a common premise in the modern social sciences.

In Nietzsche’s view, morality led to mediocrity. He held that to stand beyond good and evil was to rise above the herd and would inevitably lead to higher and nobler civilizations. Nietzsche’s contribution to the evolution of ideas that led to our modern approach to morality was quite significant. Underlying his approach to morality was his challenge to the epic of his father, who was a Lutheran pastor. He conscientiously rejected Christianity, arguing that historical research had discredited its central teachings.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche

When he was only 20, Nietzsche wrote to his deeply religious sister about his loss of faith. This letter ended with:

Hence the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire…

This sentiment has almost become the hallmark of our modern age. However, Nietzsche had created a false dichotomy; he proposed that the way that embraces “peace of the soul” and belief in a greater reality precludes inquiry. This false supposition now permeates our culture and has caused the uniformed to assume that those who reject the evolutionary epic are not interested in research, inquiry and discovery. It is interesting to note that although Nietzsche was a recognised progressive thinker of his time, unlike many other intellectuals and academics of the late 19th century he openly questioned Darwin’s ideas. He wrote:

That species represent any progress is the most unreasonable assertion in the world: so far they represent one level. That the higher organisms have evolved from the lower has not been demonstrated in a single case.(1)

Nietzsche rejected Darwinism, but he also rejected the traditional Christian epic, which he did on the basis that historical research had discredited its central teachings. The research he alluded to was the product of Enlightenment thinkers who had strongly influenced German scholars. Following the Enlightenment a tradition of higher or textural criticism developed within German theological circles and those who saw themselves as being at the forefront of rational thinking scorned traditional approaches to Christianity, claiming that belief in the inerrancy of the Bible and the miraculous was now redundant. Some theologians even claimed that philosophy was destined to replace religion, thus completing the development initiated by the Reformation.

Georg Hegel by Schlesinger

Georg Hegel by Schlesinger

Another German philosopher, Georg Hegel, who died just before Nietzsche was born, was critical of the fact that the pre-Christian Hebrew religion demanded the acceptance of ‘positive’ religious beliefs and practices. He declared that the Hebrew religion was inferior to that of the ancient Greeks, who were not restricted by fixed doctrines, but were individually free to speculate concerning their beliefs. Speculation and the notion of open-mindedness became almost synonymous, as Christianity was delegated to the realm of inferior thinking because it held to certain fixed ideas. The concept of certainty and the notion of absolutes were viewed as backward thinking by modern philosophers who set sail upon the open seas of moral relativism.

Within this climate of anti-Christian philosophy Darwin’s pseudoscientific alternative to the Christian epic took root and grew. People found new ways to overlook Nietzsche’s observations and logical objections to Darwin’s ideas on the species evolving, and although there remains no empirical evidence that “the higher organisms have evolved from the lower,” the new epic has taken hold on a large majority of thinking people, because the alternative epic it has replaced is now openly ridiculed and censored. And so, along with the disparaging of supernatural agency, the great Darwinian epic myth grew and throughout the western world we are taught from childhood – everything came from nothing by natural processes and pure chance.

In the evolutionary epic the miraculous is explained away by so-called natural processes, and when there is no empirical evidence to support a supposed work of nature (as with the origin of life itself) we are informed that this will eventually be found. While natural selection is attributed with miraculous powers of creativity, the existence of a loving Creator is dismissed out of hand. In fact it is only when coupled with hypothetical information-gaining mutations that natural selection could truly be creative.

As I watch the prominent priests of this new naturalist religion weave their myths, using spectacular visual footage of God’s miraculous creation, I am forced to concede it is an overwhelmingly convincing epic, because it has been concurrently constructed through numerous inter-related disciplines. However, they all rest on what geneticist Dr John Stanford calls the Primary Axiom, that is:

Man is merely the product of random mutations plus natural selection.

Ardent promoter of the evolutionary epic, David Attenborough, confidently tells us that millions of years ago dragonfly wings turned into beetle wings, and most people would assume there is empirical evidence for such change. I see the look of wonder in Attenborough’s eyes as he spins his tale and I can’t help but admire the complexity of the epic. It’s a grand story, but it’s just as faith based as the biblical epic.

Image from Wallpaper Converter

Image from Wallpaper Converter

Attenborough sincerely believes “the higher organisms have evolved from the lower” without any empirical evidence to support this notion. His stories are based entirely on one major unproven assumption. Science has never observed a mutation that added novel genetic information to a single organism, thus the scientific basis for his belief is absent and must simply be assumed. Without this basic mechanism Attenborough’s whole house of cards collapses and his epic is revealed as just another faith based tale.house of cardsBible believing scientists use the same scientific data as evolutionists to support their theories, they simply approach the data with an alternative set of faith based assumptions. People who accept the biblical epic believe that this magnificent tale has been revealed by a loving Father, who has also unveiled a merciful end to the pain, suffering and death that is an indispensable aspect of both epics.

The biblical epic explains the undoubtedly horrific presence of suffering and death by informing us that it is not the way of the Father, it is the indisputable consequence of humanity abusing the gift of free will. The climax of the biblical epic has the Son of God dealing conclusively with death and pain and ultimately removing both from the human community forever. However, the future for the evolutionary epic is not actually one of beauty and splendour. Genetic entropy is the logical conclusion to this tale.

Dr Stanford has written extensively on genetic entropy and he proposes that the scientific data point to the fact that un-selectable deleterious mutations are continuously growing a genetic load within the human community. He states:

Kondrashov, an evolutionist who is an expert on this subject, has advised me that virtually all the human geneticists he knows agree that man is degenerating genetically.

Dr Stanford also points out that:

…….near-neutral deleterious mutations generally escape selective removal and lead to continuous and linear accumulation of genetic damage.

He further explains:

It is obviously true that human longevity has increased in recent centuries, but that is not due to evolutionary advance. It is clearly due to improved diet, sanitation, and modern medicine. We have figured out how to keep people from dying in infancy and extended the life expectancy for those who catch many diseases associated with middle-age. Thus, the average has gone up. The maximum possible lifespan has not gone up. This is a simple concept.

When accused of ignoring the presence of beneficial mutations Dr Stanford points out:

Where are the beneficial mutations in man? It is very well documented that there are thousands of deleterious Mendelian mutations accumulating in the human gene pool, even though there is strong selection against such mutations. Yet such easily recognized deleterious mutations are just the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of deleterious mutations will not display any clear phenotype at all. There is a very high rate of visible birth defects, all of which appear deleterious. Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Why are no beneficial birth anomalies being seen? This is not just a matter of identifying positive changes. If there are so many beneficial mutations happening in the human population, selection should very effectively amplify them. They should be popping up virtually everywhere. They should be much more common than genetic pathologies. Where are they?

hereditary diseasesThose who subscribe to the evolutionary epic point to adaptation as the mechanism that drives the evolutionary process. With sleight of hand they propose that adaptation is evolution in progress, but adaptation is not evolution. It is, however, an important component of the biblical epic. Adaptation simply enables different species to adapt to new environments. This is what Darwin observed on the Galapagos Islands, but it is not what we mean when we talk about the ancient Greek idea that fish became humans.

We can observe adaptation occurring today and we know that it is a designed for purpose mechanism. As physical chemist Dr Jonathan Sarfati explains, when an isolated population of dogs adapt to colder environments, they loose the ability within that population to produce short fur. This ability can only be regained by introducing a short haired variant into the long haired gene pool. Dr Sarfati states:

• They are now adapted to their environment.
• They are now more specialized than their ancestors.
• This has occurred through natural selection.
• There have been no new genes added.
• In fact, genes have been lost from the population—i.e., there has been a loss of genetic information, the opposite of what microbe-to-man evolution needs in order to be credible.
• Now the population is less able to adapt to future environmental changes— were the climate to become hot, there is no genetic information for short fur, so the dogs would probably overheat.

NZ_SamoyedGod made sure that the original creatures had enough variety in their genetic information so that their descendants could adapt to a wide variety of environments as they spread out over the face of the earth. Biblical creationists also recognise that speciation occurs; it is a vital aspect of the creation model, but this process has never been observed to add new genetic information.

Speciation has nothing to do with what most people mean when they talk about evolution, because adaptation and speciation involve sorting, shuffling, loss and occasionally duplication of existing genetic information, rather than the gain of entirely new information. For a flipper to turn into a hand an incredible amount of entirely new genetic information would be required and we have never observed any mechanism that could produce this new information. Dr Stanford points out:

Adaptation explains fine-tuning to an environment; it does not explain the astounding internal workings of life. It does not begin to explain the mystery of the genome.

scientists newScience no more supports the evolutionary epic than it does the biblical epic, both rest upon faith based assumptions. However, the biblical epic offers us hope of a new heaven and a new earth where pain, suffering and death will be no more. This epic has been overshadowed by an epic that offers no real hope and no future for humankind. God stepped into history to give us hope through His Son, He also made sure we had access to the epic that holds the key to eternal life.

The Father has given us a wonderful gift, we have free will and we can choose the epic we find most convincing. Ironically, many people who have accepted the notion that the biblical epic is not scientific, have never taken the time to open-mindedly examine the scientific evidence for biblical creation; they then accuse biblical creationists of being close-minded and not open to speculation. These people do not appear to understand that there is great freedom to speculate within the biblical epic.

Well trained and qualified scientists in a variety of fields, who also accept the biblical epic as the most scientifically convincing history of the world, are constantly conducting research and investigating God’s majestic creation. Understanding the intricate complexities of the natural world has driven scientists of both persuasions for centuries to inquire. For some scientists this research goes hand in hand with the study of God’s revelation to humankind, which He has carefully provided to reveal His Way and Truth.

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton and numerous other qualified scientists throughout history found belief in a Creator only enhanced a rational, scientific approach to life. We do not need to think too hard to appreciate that humans are far more than simply the chance combination of chemicals. We have been carefully designed and constructed and we each have the potential for a unique and eternal future. The choice is in our own marvelously designed hands. Many people have denied the biblical epic without ever really understanding its narrative. It would seem the most sensible approach to an understanding of life would include a careful study of both sagas before we choose which epic is the most convincing.

(1) Nietzsche, F., The Will to Power , section 685, trans. by W. Kaufman and R.J. Hollingdale

The Voice

I’ve watched the TV show The Voice a few times and the visual impact of the contestants singing to the backs of four large red chairs is quite powerful. In the Australian version of this franchised reality show, four judges are seated with their backs to aspiring singers, while they listen carefully to the performances of each contestant during a blind audition.

singer

Throughout the auditions the judges must decide, simply on the sound of each voice, which contestants they will select to join their team and be coached by them for the duration of the contest. If the singer meets with their approval, the judges turn their chairs around to see the performer for the first time. If more than one judge turns their chair around it is then up to the performer to decide whose team they want to join.

The set for this show provides strong visual imagery and it caused me to think about how we listen to others. This set is a potent reminder of just how much our present culture is influenced by appearances. It is always interesting to watch the faces of the judges as they turn their chairs around and see just what the person they may be coaching looks like. The blind audition is also a powerful reminder to me of the way we judge the God who has revealed Himself to us from the beginning of time.

Many people sit in judgement with their backs to God, but they generally do not listen intently as these judges do. The Voice judges make it their business to listen carefully. However, more often than not, people pass judgement on God without ever taking the time to listen to Him. Instead, they listen to the audience’s opinion of God. Their attention is focused on what is in front of them, not on God.

back to godSadly, some people who actually do turn around and look at God don’t see what they want to see, so they give up and turn away again. They can’t make God into what they think He should be so they reject Him, without ever understanding His plan for humanity. Rather than taking the time to discover who God really is, they inform the God they claim they don’t believe exists that He doesn’t run His universe according to the way they believe it should be run. This attitude, although rather astounding when you really think about it, is becoming a very prominent part of our modern culture.

I could not count the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “If there was a God how could he allow so much suffering?”

This is a fair question, but in reality the majority of the people who ask it are not really asking a question, they are telling us that the God they believe the Christian world is presenting is not someone they are interested in getting to know. The problem with this attitude is that the so-called “Christian world” is not God.

inquisitionThere have been many people throughout history who have presented themselves to the world as representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, but they have quite clearly demonstrated by their actions that they are not in fact what they claim to be. John’s first letter (1 John) explains how Christians can discern true followers of Jesus Christ. We can know a person is a fellow believer by their ethics, by their declaration that Jesus is indeed God incarnate and by their love. Through the presence of these indicators we can clearly recognise a true believer.

The most famous of the great pretenders would have to be Adolf Hitler. Although at times he called himself a Christian, Hitler was actually anything but a Christian. In 1937 a number of Protestant churches issued a manifesto objecting to Nazi policies, and the Nazis retaliated by arresting 700 pastors. No matter what he claimed, the truth is that Hitler and his henchmen were actually set on destroying the Christian church.

Although history is littered with pretenders, it’s not difficult to make a list of people who have been remarkable Christians. Some have even changed the course of history. But these people are still simply that, they are people, and they had or have their faults and failings.

Great Christians

When Jesus walked the earth He gathered to Himself a small group of men and women who spent hours listening to Him. He then selected from amongst His apostles an even smaller group who would commit His teachings to writing. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit that this select group recorded God’s Word or personally passed on their knowledge to be recorded by a disciple. In due time the Father used another group of people to ensure these writings were preserved and collected together so that He can speak to us today and inform us of His plan for humanity. We will never understand why God has allowed suffering to be part of the human reality unless we learn to listen to Him through His Word.

God does not communicate to the people of the world with a loudspeaker. He tells us in His Word that He uses a calm, small voice or a gentle whisper to speak to us. When He was speaking with the prophet Elijah we find:

And God said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by and a great, strong wind tore the mountains and broke the rocks into pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. But after the fire there came a calm, small voice.

And when Elijah heard it he covered his face with his robe and went out and stood in the entrance to the cave. Now the voice came to him saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1Ki 19:11-13)

People have to listen intently to hear the voice of God speaking to them. Listening quietly is not something people do well these days. The world is filled with noise, but God is not to be found in all this noise. God has not been silent but people want Him to dance to their tune. However, God has chosen to communicate to us through His Word and we need the Holy Spirit to enable us to hear Him as we study His scriptures (2 Peter 1:20).

The viewing audience would not be impressed if the judges on The Voice simply listened to the audience and judged the aspiring competitors by what the audience thought. Nor would the judges be doing much of a job if they never actually listened to the competitors at all but just listened to what they were told about the performances. But this is often how people make up their minds about God.gossip

When a person tells me they believe God is a masochistic, genocidal maniac, it is as though that person is sharing a degrading, slanderous story about someone they have never met, when the individual they are talking about is actually my best friend and I know the opinion of the gossip is all lies. It’s a sad situation that the majority of people who sit in judgment on the God of The Bible have never really taken the time to listen to Him, they simply listen to the audience’s opinion of God, and in reality, this opinion comes from other people who don’t know God.

Even people who know God can never know everything about Him. People will always be flawed and therefore there is no one who can truly reveal God apart from His Son. God had a reason for allowing people to become murders and terrorists, rapists and tyrants, but He has assured us that this situation will only endure for a season. He has revealed His program for change and His rescue plan for humanity and those who know Him also know He will bring pain and suffering to an end.

The incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ was the turning point in humanity’s sad history. Those of us who know Him know we will be with Him in eternity and this time of sorrows will be put into a new perspective. Jesus said this can be compared to how a new mother feels about her labour when her baby is in her arms (John 16:21). Our Father is birthing a whole new creation where the pain of this present world will pale into insignificance in the light of the glory ahead.

Without knowing Jesus we can never know God. This is the way God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. He sent His Son to show us His Way and make it possible for us to come into His presence. Through Jesus we have a mediator who can take us into the presence of our awesome Creator. Because He lived a human life Jesus understands our weaknesses and can help us through life’s difficulties. He is always knocking at our door asking to be allowed in. He says:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me. (Rev 3:20)

In this verse Jesus tells us that we must hear His voice; it is truly the only voice that will make any difference to us eternally. Our eternal destiny is dependent upon hearing this voice and it is virtually impossible to hear Him if we don’t take the time to listen to Him. From The Bible we know that Jesus is God’s Word or Logos (John1:1). This Greek word, Logos, means expression or communication and so we understand that Jesus is God’s expression in human form, it is through Him that we can hear God.

Many people who have refused to listen to God have a sort of twisted theology. In their view, the God of The Bible has done a terrible job by allowing pain and suffering into this present creation and they would rather not have anything to do with Him. This is a sort of negative theology. It’s the theology you have when you refuse to have a theology because you refuse to listen to the God you refuse to believe in.

I think of this as tantrum theology. I have an image of people standing before God on the Day of Judgment stamping their feet and yelling, “You did such a rotten job why should I have taken the time to listen to you?” And the Father will simply reply, “I died for you and constantly reached out to you, but you never ever took the time to listen to me. How could you possibly make such a judgment, you don’t know anything about me?”

Tinkering With Truth

Sojourner Truth was a woman one can only admire. The youngest of 12 children, Sojourner was born into slavery in 1797 in Ulster County, New York State and given the name Isabella Baumfree by her African-American parents. Like most of her siblings, Isabella was sold and separated from her family at the age of nine; then sold again and again, until, in 1826, she took her baby daughter and walked away from her life as a slave and into a life of challenging the status quo.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Isabella, or Belle, appears to have had a questioning mind and not only did she question the establishment of her day, she spoke out boldly for truth and justice, matching her words with actions. Isabella was a woman with passion. She passionately believed in her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and she passionately believed He had made all people equal, no matter what colour they happened to be. When addressing a predominantly white crowd in Battle Creek, Michigan she once said:

Children, who made your skin white? Was it not God? Who made mine black? Was it not the same God? Am I to blame, therefore, because my skin is black? Does it not cast a reproach on our Maker to despise a part of His children, because He has been pleased to give them a black skin? Indeed, children, it does; and your teachers ought to tell you so, and root up, if possible, the great sin of prejudice against colour from your minds…..Does not God love coloured children as well as white children? And did not the same Saviour die to save the one as well as the other? (2)

In her narrative she recounts an experience that occurred in 1843, on the day of Pentecost, when she was called by the spirit, who instructed her to leave New York, a “second Sodom,” and travel east under the name Sojourner Truth. Sojourner based her new first name on the biblical verse:

We are here for only a moment, strangers and sojourners in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. (1Ch 29:15)

In her narrative we also find:

Truth adamantly believed that all humans are sojourners waiting for the second-coming of the Lord who will welcome all into eternal life. She took her responsibility as a Christian disciple and prophet seriously, dedicating her life to spreading the word of the gospel alongside her messages of racial equality and women’s rights. The surname Truth is somewhat self-explanatory for a born-again Christian and street preacher, but Truth has published various accounts of how she chose her last name. (1)

One of these accounts is recorded in her narrative where she explains:

…… her surname had always been the name of her master. Now that she served only God, she served the Truth, and took that as her last name.” (1)

lecture poster

Under the name Sojourner Truth, Isabella set out to travel east of New York, through Connecticut and Massachusetts and as an itinerant preacher she determined to tell the truth and work against injustice. She saw her mission as teaching people “to embrace Jesus, and refrain from sin.” And she saw quite clearly that enslavement was a terrible sin. Selling fellow human beings as though they were nothing more than a flock of sheep was a sin against their Maker, who had created them in His own image.

Sojourner’s strong faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ gave her the power to rise “above the battlements of fear” as she stood against slave masters and other slaves who counselled her to accept her lot and submissively pray for good masters. She saw the inhumanity of slavery for what it was; an evil that followers of Jesus must work to eradicate. At the end of her narrative she takes great joy from hearing that one of her slave masters had also reached this conclusion.

Although Sojourner was illiterate, she had a clear and incisive mind and she often sat for hours discussing topics with fellow believers. As she could not explore ideas through her own reading, she took advantage of her time travelling and when she found groups who held differing views she would spend time discussing The Bible with them. Her narrative tells us she had:

….. no preference for one sect more than another, but being well satisfied with all who gave her evidence of having known or loved the Saviour.(1)

She also had people read to her from The Bible, but she preferred that children perform this task, as adults tended to add their own commentary. She said:

Children, as soon as they could read distinctly, would re-read the same sentence to her, as often as she wished, and without comment;—and in that way she was enabled to see what her own mind could make out of the record, and that, she said, was what she wanted, and not what others thought it to mean. She wished to compare the teachings of the Bible with the witness within her” (1)

Rather than submitting to the prevailing worldview of the people around her, Sojourner spoke out against racism and sexism with Jesus as her “soul-protecting fortress.” Although she spoke English as her second language, her first language being Dutch, she was able to hold the attention of English speaking audiences with her ability to cut to the point, her strong voice and her powerful songs.

lincoln and truth2It is remarkable to find that despite the fact that she was an illiterate, female slave, on October 29, 1864 she had an audience with President Abraham Lincoln at the White House and later met President Ulysses S. Grant. Even today this would be an amazing feat for any person of such humble origins. But Sojourner believed she had a mission and she gave her life to work for those things she felt the Lord had put on her heart to change. She lived her life working tirelessly for truth and justice and ended her life with the words “be a follower of the Lord Jesus.” She believed that this meant following Jesus’ teachings and I believe she would acknowledge that it was through His power and strength that she was able to accomplish all that she did.

If an illiterate slave woman of the 19th century could live out her faith and fight for truth and justice, despite the dreadful situation she found herself in, surely believers today who claim to follow the Lord Jesus Christ can do the same. However, I believe God’s people are hamstrung by one terrible doctrinal error. The prevailing opinion of Sojourner’s day amongst the ruling class was that slavery was acceptable and slaves were commodities. Even people who claimed to be Christians held to this age old idea. Sojourner refused to look at life in that way because she knew it was not God’s truth. The Bible taught that:

There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there is no slave nor freeman, there is no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28)

Sojourner could see no reason why this truth should not be acted upon. Even though Paul had taught caution to the slaves of his day (Eph 6:5), Sojourner understood that the inhuman slavery practiced in her time was not something her Lord would allow to continue. She once admitted to an audience that she had at one time hated white people, but she went on to say that when she met her final master, Jesus, she was filled with love for everyone. When slaves were finally emancipated she knew her prayers had been answered.

Today, there are many people who claim The Bible teaches the doctrine of eternal torment. These people look to tradition and suggest that those who see The Bible as teaching a different destiny for the unsaved are not following the clear teachings of the church. This horrific doctrine has never appeared to be biblical to me, no matter how long the church has held to this view. There are many theologians today who have also changed their minds on this issue after a closer look at God’s Word.

I believe we are tinkering with the truth when we refuse to look at the overall teachings of The Bible concerning this issue and we are also slandering our Father, who has declared He is Love (1 John 4:8). It is my contention that people who accept this doctrine have a warped understanding of the nature and character of our Creator. They believe Him to be vindictive, whereas He is working to save as many as possible from the destruction that will come on our present creation. This destruction will be the outpouring of God’s wrath on sin and its consequences, death, pain and suffering and its entire purpose will be to eliminate these corruptions of God’s original creation.way of god

Had Sojourner Truth and William Wilberforce simply accepted that one verse told the whole story (Eph 6:5), without taking the overall teachings of The Bible into consideration – as many people do with a particular understanding of Matthew 25:46 – the church might still be championing the cause of the slave holder. But we know better than to base our understanding of the nature of God on one word in The Bible. We have many verses in both the Old and New Testaments that declare the ultimate destiny of the unbeliever is that they will perish, or be eternally destroyed.

Many people claim Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians supports the case for eternal torment, but this verse tells us quite clearly that eternal destruction – which means a final, eternal separation from the Creator by this destruction – awaits those who refuse God’s rescue plan. Paul tells the Thessalonians not to worry about the people who are persecuting them. God is not going to allow people to inflict pain on other people forever, He will bring this world and all it’s pain and suffering to an end. Paul writes:

And to you that are troubled, be at ease like us, because when the Lord Jesus comes from heaven with the angels of power and with flaming fire, He will bring forth punishment on them that do not see God, and do not listen attentively to the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will themselves be punished with eternal destruction, and removed from the face of the Lord and from the worship of His might. (2 Th 1:7-9)

Indeed the punishment for those who refuse to listen to the gospel, and therefore cannot see God, will have dire eternal consequences. Unbelievers will be eternally removed from the Lord’s presence by the eternal destruction (or the eternal punishment mentioned in Mat 25:46) awaiting this present creation. The Father wants to save everyone from His final elimination of death, pain and suffering (2 Peter 3:9), but there will be those who have refused to listen to Him and accept His rescue plan. These will suffer the final punishment, which is the second death in the lake of fire (Rev 20:15).

As Sojourner reminds us:

Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. (1Ch 29:15)

Like so many other people who had not been subjected to traditional teachings, Sojourner rejected the concept of eternal torment, stating that:

I have found out and know that God’s brightness and goodness and glory is hot enough to scorch all the sinners in the world. (2)

God is probably not going to send an angel declaring the imminence of the destruction of this present creation until the very end (Rev 14:6), so people need to start listening now if they want to be part of His new creation. Have you taken the time to examine God’s message to you? He sent His only Son to proclaim the Good News. He is going to destroy death, pain and suffering, but to do that He will need to destroy all that is outside of His rule and reign. There is only one way to be part of the new creation He will bring into existence after the final destruction of this corrupted creation and that is to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Redeemer.

truth to hate

(1) Truth, Sojourner (2004-07-01). The Narrative of Sojourner Truth [with Biographical Introduction] . Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition.

(2)  http://www.sojournertruth.org/Library/Speeches/

Choice Is a Fine Thing

Our ability to make choices is a powerful part of what it is to be human. Every day each one of us makes numerous choices about a range of different issues, some are relatively trivial, while others can have far reaching ramifications. Raising children is an area in which we must make momentous choices, as the alternatives we examine and select, can – and often do – affect the sort of person they will become.

baby sleeping

Teaching children how to make wise choices for themselves is also a vital part of good parenting and part of this process is helping them to understand that it is always prudent to examine a range of alternative positions, so that they can have a full picture of just what they are choosing between.

The very concept of choice presupposes this process of analysis. Without examining alternative possibilities we are actually forfeiting our ability to choose. We are simply either selecting the dominant or most widely used choice in the culture surrounding us or defaulting to something that happens to take our fancy at the time, and admittedly, in many situations this is all that is needed.

Image from wed

Image from web

These less important choices might involve food, clothing, or even aesthetic taste and for these choices many of us would simply go with our gut feelings or individual predilections. Historically, for many people, availability of alternatives or the dominant culture of their geographical location dictated many of their personal choices for them. However, in today’s world, our dominant culture is shaped by new processes. We live in the era of the sound bite and the newspaper headline. Many people go no deeper in thinking about the more important choices they make than basing their beliefs on 30 seconds of on-line video or a half hour TV program that presents a neat, no-questions-needed package.

With the advent of world media and ease of travel, the formation of a dominant culture has taken a new direction. Instead of traditions and military might being the most powerful drivers of national culture, we now have new forces in play. We have international media empires and political parties, controlled by strong philosophical biases and economic theories, working to narrow our range of perceived choices to those that will benefit their own set of preferred options.

satellite

Apart from all the choices we each must consider as we make day to day decisions, we also have one life-changing choice to take into account that will affect many of our other choices. This choice is not bound by personal preferences or national culture, it is something that is relevant to every human being on the planet and it is the most important choice any person will ever make. This is the only choice we will ever face that doesn’t just affect the time we have in this life. This choice will reach out beyond death and the grave; it will not only impinge upon how we live our lives in the here and now, it will also have a powerful influence on our eternal destiny.

The Creator had a plan and a purpose when He designed and produced the universe and all of the life-forms within it. One of His most powerful gifts to humanity was allowing us to choose whether we accept this truth, or whether we reject it and choose to believe the rather simplistic alternative, that is, that the universe created itself and it has no true purpose, it simply exists. This would mean that all of the intricate, clearly designed systems that make up our cosmos merely bear the appearance of detailed design and our brains are nothing more than the product of unplanned chemical reactions.

We know these brains are so incredibly complex that even after thousands of scientists have spent hundreds of thousands of hours working on designs to duplicate them, they have only managed to scratch the surface in creating a machine that can do what our brain does, let alone make one that can maintain and renew itself, while at times rerouting signals and neurological (digital) pathways when necessary. And our brain is only one component of a larger body that can, with the help of a uniquely designed sexually complementary partner, actually produce a new, but different version of itself.

Image from web

Image from web

Using this ingeniously designed organ, we might choose to believe the universe made itself. If this is the case, then we must also choose to believe that each and every minute detail of everything that exists came into existence, from nothing, by pure, blind chance. This process would entail literally billions of incidents of blind, random chance miraculously working together to create this mind-bogglingly interrelated, interactive, interdependent system, which functions with precise timing and perfect order.

Any scientist worth his or her salt would have to admit the universe is a superbly fine tuned system, with incredible interdependencies that could never function as individual, independent applications. As more evidence comes to hand some scientists have actually been forced to admit just that. However, over the years evolutionists have created an elaborate set of just-so stories to explain the series of random happenings they claim worked together to produce our universe and the life forms that inhabit it. But these stories are actually just that, elaborate stories carefully crafted by carefully crafted human brains.

To accept that these billions of random incidents happened at exactly the right time in exactly the right order, by chance, involves nothing more than blind faith, because this belief system is based entirely on incidents people choose to assume happened millions or billions of years in the past which means, naturally, that no one has ever observed a single one of these incidents as they occurred.

What we have observed in the world today are catastrophic geological events rapidly reshaping the surface of our planet. The Mt St Helen’s volcano, which erupted in 1980, produced 7.6 meters of finely layered sediment in a single afternoon. Thus we realise that deep layers of rock sediment do not need millions of years to form. We have also observed life forms adapting to new environments, but this is not evolution, this is part of God’s original design that enabled creatures to fill new environmental niches as they filled the Earth (Gen 8:17).

We are told evolution involves natural selection acting on random mutations that have added new genetic information to an existing life-form. What we actually observe, over and over again, are mutations that decrease genetic information within organisms and reduce genetic variability within populations. We also know that the vast majority of mutations cause harm to organisms and even though a handful have benefited populations, they have also been the product of information loss, not gain.

In other words, we have only ever observed a reduction in genetic information. Therefore this mechanism has never been observed or proven to do what evolutionists claim it can do. It is simply pure speculation that lies behind this powerful modern myth.

Many well educated people consider a far more reasonable faith is founded on belief in the God who has continuously revealed Himself to humanity throughout history – through His people, His Spirit and His Word. This alternative story was brought to its climax when Jesus Christ was born into the human community to deliver His Good News and save humanity from destruction. It is also scientifically reasonable to accept His account of God’s special creation as the most viable explanation for the origin of the universe.
nativityIt appears many people never consider looking objectively at the choices they make concerning why we are here, where we came from and where we are going; that is, the choices we make about the very meaning of our lives. Instead, they take the path of least resistance; they simply accept the dominant cultural paradigm as though they were selecting a new pair of shoes. The latest fashion is to accept the evolution story of origins. This is incredibly short sighted, when one considers how much time some people spend deciding what to eat or what they should wear.

It takes a determined effort to objectively examine the popular belief that our gloriously complex universe simply created itself out of nothing. In our postmodern culture, progressive thinking outside the dominant cultural paradigm risks ridicule on a grand scale, as we have taken pseudo-intellectual arrogance to new heights when it comes to evolution. Almost everyone with a TV has seen David Attenborough, Stephen Fry or Professor Brian Cox describe how life came into existence and changed over time. We are brainwashed with philosophical naturalism and educated into blind acceptance of a theory that has well concealed, but gaping holes in its credibility. And despite the fact that naturalist scientists boast about their field being founded on questioning and examining evidence, we are actively discouraged from questioning evolution or examining the evidence for creation. They prefer us to believe there is no choice when it comes to the question of origins.

no choiceAlthough many people have been convinced by 21st century popular culture that there is no choice when it comes to the question of origins, and social and cultural pressures often steer people away from examining the evidence for creation, The Bible tells us there is yet another very powerful reason why people choose to believe in this questionable theory. From the pages of God’s Word we learn that ever since The Fall (Gen 3) humanity has had an innate tendency to oppose the Creator’s rule over their lives. For me, Stephen Fry is the epitome of a person who has taken this reality to new heights, as he broadcasts his version of truth to the four corners of the world. As Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans:

God shows His abhorrence from heaven against all the ungodliness and wrong things that people do. Their unrighteous lives hide the truth God has revealed to them; they have been clearly shown what He is like by their own existence. Yes, God has made it clear to them that He is their Creator. Although there are things about God that people cannot see – His eternal power and all that makes Him God – they really have no excuse for ignoring Him, because ever since the beginning of the world, those things have been easy for people to see and understand. They have been made clear in what God has created. So people have no excuse for their unrighteous lives.

People know God, but they do not honour Him as God, and are not thankful towards Him. Their ideas are useless as they have left the path of wisdom. There is not one good thought left in their foolish minds. They claim to be wise, but they became fools. Instead of honouring the divine greatness of God, who lives forever, some of them traded it for the worship of idols – things made to look like humans, who get sick and die, or like birds, animals, and snakes. Some people wanted only to follow their own lusts so God left them and let them go their own sinful ways. And so they became completely immoral and used their bodies in shameful ways with each other. They traded the truth of God for a lie. They bowed down and worshiped the things God made instead of worshiping the God who made those things. He is the one who should be praised forever. Amen. (Rom 1:18-25)

Paul has put his finger on the reason people deny creation right here. The creation story reveals the reality of a Creator. People who deny God need to have an explanation, not only for the miracle of their own lives, but for the very existence of the universe. The explanation that it all made itself was just one of many ideas the Greek philosophers toyed with well before Jesus was born. The modern theory of evolution is just another version of this ancient myth.

Despite our innate tendency to reject God’s way, a growing number of people in the world today are realising we do have a choice when it comes to the scientific evidence for origins. There is a constantly expanding body of robust scientific evidence that can be examined and analysed, and once we strip away the philosophical naturalism and look objectively at the data, the evidence reveals a very strong case for special creation. And if creation is a reality, then the next choice we need to make is whether we want to listen to our Creator and follow His guidance. He has given us choice and He won’t take this gift away. It was because of this great gift that mortality and suffering entered our world, but He also tells us that they are not a permanent part of His great creation project. He has a plan to eliminate them.

Image from web

Image from web

God allowed death, pain and suffering to enter His creation at the very beginning of human history and we can only speculate on why He did so. Although one reason that has been put forward is that He did so for there to be the possibility of true love between the Creator and the people He made in His own image. Humankind was created with free will; God gave us the ability to make our own choices and He does not manipulate our choices, but He has prescribed the consequences of those choices.

We can actually reject God’s love, but this will mean we will never have a relationship with Him. True love is only possible if this is the case. Love that is not voluntary is not love at all and as God has determined that love will be the foundation of the relationship we have with Him now and throughout eternity, only those who choose to love Him and accept Him as their Creator and Redeemer are given the gift of eternal life and can be part of the new creation the Father has described in the final chapters of His great revelation to humanity.

God is constantly reaching out to those who have not as yet seen and understood His great love for them. People who open-mindedly take the time to think through the issues and examine the alternative choices fully, often choose to become part of God’s eternal family, but even when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem He warned His listeners that few were finding the path to life. He said:

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The road to destruction is broad, its gate is wide and many people are choosing that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few are finding it. (Mat 7:13-14)

The Father wants to pour out His Spirit into each human life (2 Peter 3:9) so that everyone might receive the gift of eternal life. However, unless we make the choice to accept His truth we will remain mortal and be destined for the final destruction that is coming upon this broken, fallen world. He has revealed to us that it is the simple minded who scorn His Word and choose the path to destruction. As Solomon said:

How long will you love simplicity, simple ones? And will scorners delight in their scorning? And will fools hate knowledge? Turn at my warning; behold, I will pour out my Spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. But I called and they refused; I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; instead they have despised all my advice and would have none of my warning. Therefore I also will sneer at their trouble and I will scorn their fear; when their fear comes as a wasting away and their ruin comes like a tempest, when trouble and pain come upon them, then they will call upon me and I will not answer; they will seek me early, but will not find me. They have hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would have none of my counsel; they despised all my correction, and so they will eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own desires. For the turning away of the simple kills them, and the prosperity of fools destroys them. But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. (Pro 1:22-33)

This crucial choice is in our own hands and the Creator God has clearly explained what this choice involves. Will you be part of the new creation God is going to bring into existence when He destroys death, pain and suffering and the broken creation we now inhabit? It may not be tomorrow, it may not be in the next 100 years, but it will happen, and when it does, all those who have ever lived in this fallen world will have had the opportunity to be part of an eternal creation where there will be no more pain, suffering or death. God’s righteousness will reign supreme in this new creation (Rev 21).

It seems like a no brainer to me, but I know many extremely intelligent and compassionate people who appear to believe they have made the right choice in rejecting God’s Way to eternal life. What I always wonder is whether they have actually made any choice at all, or whether they have simply accepted the dominant cultural paradigm and gone with the popular notion of reality, instead of taking the time to examine the alternative, who is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and He wants to give eternal life to each and every person on His planet. He died to make this possible but He has left it in our own hands to choose which road we take.

Wilful Ignorance Is No Excuse

In our postmodern world, many non-Christian people view Christianity as a religion that is obsessed with sin. Numerous modern media presentations have depicted the Christian faith as a cold, kill-joy, moralising institution, while the church is regularly referred to as the haunt of hypocrites, who prey on the vulnerable, as they preach moral standards that are no longer considered necessary by large portions of contemporary society. It is not unusual to find Christian leaders caricatured as twisted or corrupt characters in modern dramas on television or in books and movies. But perhaps believers have nurtured this understanding. The reality of sin is frequently presented by institutional churches as simply the things we do that do not line up with a particular set of moral standards, and sadly, many people who claim to be followers of Jesus do anything but follow His teachings.

The prophet Isaiah summarised the reality of sin by telling us:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and Jehovah has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

© Marinv | Dreamstime.com

© Marinv | Dreamstime.com

From God’s perspective, sin is a momentous problem. I can say this with absolute authority, because God has revealed this truth in His Word. But what is sin? Isaiah spelled it out – sin is “each one” going his or her “own way”. This concept presupposes that there is a God and that He has revealed He has a particular way He wants us, His creatures, to live. And indeed this is the core of the Christian gospel.

The Christian faith is not an inherited set of ideas and ideals, it is a belief system based on God’s revelation of Himself through His Son and His Word by His Holy Spirit. The Creator has given us this revelation so that we can be informed about His Way and Truth. Through His Word God tells us that we have all inherited a tendency to do our own thing.

If God had not created this universe with specific intentions this might not be a problem, but the Father has revealed a very definite plan and purpose for His universe and it is incumbent upon us to make ourselves aware of His revelation to us. God gave us intelligence and He reaches out to us through His Son, His Spirit and His Word. Wilful ignorance will be no excuse when it comes to our eternal destiny.

When Jesus came into the world the Father had carefully prepared for His incarnation, He came with a message and a specific plan and purpose. God had called out a nation of people to live according to His way and it was into this nation that Jesus was born. Today we live in a world where His message has, for centuries, been broadcast, published and spoken out into towns, villages and cities all over the world. If we choose to ignore or ridicule this message we seal our own fate. As Jesus put it, we are condemned already, because we choose to do our own thing and reject God’s way by choosing not to believe in the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18), who is the Way (John 14:6).

The Father sent the Son into the world to save humankind from the condemnation we are each under because of sin. This condemnation will eventually result in the total destruction of this present creation, which is plagued by sin and its consequences – pain, suffering, death and decay. Christians call the time when Adam and Eve chose to do their own thing rather than follow God’s clear directions, The Fall. It was because of this historical event that humanity was set on a path to destruction.

Adam and Eve 2From the first human couple that God created we inherited our mortal condition (1 Corinthians 15:22) and a sinful nature (Romans 5:12). If we choose to ignore God’s message to us concerning these historic truths and turn away from His Word, we will not only miss our Creator’s clear communication to us, we will also find it increasingly difficult to discern His Truth.

Ever since The Fall pain, suffering and death have been part of the human condition and the universal presence of the hereditary sin nature meant that the entire human population would always fall short of God’s eternal, holy standards (Romans 3:23). Since the first humans made their devastating choice, the mutations that entered the human race have been inherited by all subsequent generations and every individual born of our race has been subject to death. The other dreadful consequence from that earth-shattering decision was that humanity gained a new master. Instead of submitting to God’s guidance, sin now masters us (Romans 6:13-18).

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© Valentino Visentini | Dreamstime.com

In His Word God has revealed He has a rescue plan for humanity. He wants to save us from the final destruction that is coming upon His corrupted creation. He is going to create a new heaven and a new Earth filled with God’s righteousness (2 Peter 3:13), where there will be no sin, pain, suffering or death (Rev 21:1-4), but only those people who are prepared to accept God’s Way can be part of His new creation. We cannot be part of the eternal, holy family God is preparing without His Holy Spirit, and we cannot be filled with His Spirit without accepting Jesus Christ as our Master and Saviour. It is only then that we can receive the gift of eternal life and can live our lives according to God’s plan, rather than going our own way and doing what is right in our own eyes (Prov 21:2-3).

The reality of sin is all around us, but sin is our problem, not God’s. The Creator could simply wipe out all that He created if He chose to do so. He had the power and ability to bring the universe into being from nothing and He could reduce it to nothing in an instant.

Image from Smithsonian

Image from Smithsonian

Thankfully, He has revealed to us that this is not His intention. Human history is interwoven with God’s merciful outworking of His rescue plan. From the moment after Adam and Eve rejected God’s way He set that plan in motion and at the right time He came to Earth to deal with the problem humanity had created, the problem of sin. He did this by taking upon Himself the penalty for the sin of all humanity (1 John 2:2; 1 Tim 2:6; Heb 2:9).

God is holy and He sees sin for what it is, it is a corruption of His way and it leads to pain, suffering and death. Sin must attract a severe penalty to truly indicate just how destructive it really is. To dismiss it lightly would be to trivialise its consequences.

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© Janaka Dharmasena | Dreamstime.com

God decreed that death was the just penalty for sin (Gen 2:17; Romans 6:23). And as soon as Adam and Eve chose to do their own thing rather than obey God, corruption and death entered the world. In a very real sense this was a merciful act on God’s part. For a human being to live eternally with a corrupted nature would be unendurable.

The Father also made it possible for our penalty to be passed on to His Son (Romans 3:24-26). Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection we each have an opportunity to be saved from the just penalty we would otherwise rightly incur. When we have been redeemed by the only Saviour the world will ever know, we can be part of the new creation God will make after He destroys this present fallen one.

Giving our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and accepting Him as our Saviour is only the beginning of the journey. We all know that Christian people are not perfect. Christians still sin. Until God changes us from mortal to immortal and from corruptible into incorruptible beings (1 Cor 15:53), we are still susceptible to our sinful tendencies rising up and overwhelming God’s Spirit within us. At times we still want to do our own thing rather than God’s. Christians can allow hate and revenge to take hold of them rather than love and forgiveness. As The Bible puts it, they can walk in the flesh rather than in the Spirit (Rom 7:5; 8:4-14). Many Christians get stuck on a particular doctrine or follow a particular church’s beliefs, refusing to budge from their position, even though The Bible clearly teaches a different way. Christians can still choose to be blind and do their own thing rather than submit to the authority of God’s Word.

However, those who are true followers of Jesus will be making every effort to walk in God’s Spirit and not follow their old ways (Romans 8:1; 13; Eph 4:24; Col 3:8-15). Jesus’ message is revolutionary, He commands us to love even those who hate us (Matt 5:44). He also expects us to live holy lives so that we might be fit to be God’s people in His new creation. Although we are still part of this fallen creation God has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us and His Word to guide and direct us, and His followers should make every effort to understand and walk in God’s way.

God fully intends to deal with the problem of sin and its consequences – pain, suffering and death – but to do this He has revealed He is going to start again (Rev 21). This is the message our Creator has clearly given to humanity. Why would anyone choose to remain ignorant of the message Jesus came to unveil? Our eternal destiny is in our own hands, but we must act, we must take the time to be properly informed and then we must make a choice. We must choose whether we want to be part of God’s eternal creation or perish along with the old one that will most definitely pass away.

The Bible is filled with passages about the finite nature of this present creation. The apostle Peter wrote:

Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of His command, and He brought the Earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then He used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and Earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the Day of Judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the Day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the Earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, He will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new Earth He has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight. And remember, the Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. (2 Peter 3:3-15a)

God is patient, but He won’t wait forever. The day is fast approaching. He has given us all the information we need to make a wise choice. We each have a personal philosophy on which we base our lives. Wilfully choosing to be ignorant of God’s clear message to us is a very bad choice, as is remaining blind to the fact that even those people who choose to reject the notion of God have their own set of biases, beliefs and base assumptions. Surprisingly, these beliefs and assumptions are often unexamined and unconsidered; they have simply been taken on because they are part of the dominant cultural paradigm. Wilful ignorance is often simply blind faith in a naturalist philosophy.

God has given us intelligence and He expects us to use it to examine His revelation to us. Unless we are prepared to carefully examine the evidence for Jesus’ worldview, we cannot make a wise choice and we may well find ourselves amongst those who are destined to perish rather than benefit from God’s gracious gift of eternal life (John 3:16).

gone astray

Image from HDR Creme

Who Am I?

Since social media sites hit cyberspace I have occasionally joined groups and contributed to discussions, but after a rather interesting participation in one particular group, I realised that people are often not what they claim to be. Although I use a pseudonym on this blog (for reasons that will become evident shortly), I’ve always been pretty open and mostly honest with people. When you believe, as I do, that a benevolent Father is watching over you, it is difficult to disappoint Him by telling blatant lies. However, it seems people who believe they are on their own, people who have no sense of a Greater Reality, can be capable of the most unbelievable deception.

One of the groups I joined was on facebook. The group was called Creationism and I thought it would be interesting to discuss scientific issues relating to the creation/evolution debate with other Christians who were interested in this topic. I chose not to join an evolution group, as I’m not really interested in conflict, but I do enjoy discussing topics from differing points of view. The first thing I noticed in this group was that most of the posts were very negative towards creation science. Posts placed by the administrator were all rather airy-fairy and didn’t ever address anything to do with Creationism or present any scientific information relating to creation science. They centred more on positive thinking and being thankful for the beauty of nature. That did rather surprise me, but then I thought that perhaps the administrator was not well educated on the subject, even though s/he was a believer in biblical creation.sunset

I decided I’d contribute by raising topics of interest to biblical creationists, after all, that is what the term Creationism is all about. The response was unbelievable. The crude, personal assaults from anti-creationists were so disgusting it took my breath away. At one stage someone called Randy posted a photo of a piece of human faeces in a glass with a caption stating that this was a photo of my brain. It was after this incident that I decided I would try to remain more anonymous in cyberspace. Gradually, I came to realise that no one else in the group ever contributed from the creation side of the debate, and eventually, I was barred.

It finally dawned on me. In reality, the person who set up the group was an evolutionist. This person knew nothing about biblical creation and precious little about the science behind the theory of evolution. I was the only person to post anything that supported creation science, so I guess that’s why I was barred, people who posted anything resembling scientific evidence for creation were inevitably barred. I am now totally convinced the administrator was not a Christian, but rather, a particularly dishonest mischief maker. The group’s whole aim was no doubt to falsely represent Christians who believe in biblical creation, whilst opening them up to ridicule and personal abuse.

I have since come to believe that another site I have contributed to (God of Evolution (GOE)), may also be run by a person whose claim to be a Christian is false. Like the facebook group, this site appears to be dedicated to attacking people who believe in biblical creation. The owner of this site claims he is a believer, but once again, I wonder whether his motives are what he claims them to be. He is very fond of making claims about the so called beliefs of what he terms “young earth creationists” (YECs), and then attacking those claims. He presents straw man arguments, and as his readers seem to be generally ignorant of the true arguments creation scientists make for biblical creation, he effectively attacks his straw men, thus creating the illusion of having completely refuted any biblical creationist propositions by completely misrepresenting his opponents.

Image from Pirate Times

Image from Pirate Times

This person never attacks well qualified and trained creation scientists, instead he chooses less informed creationists and lay people to quote, people who are far less capable of presenting information effectively. He also uses sweeping generalisations, lumping everyone who believes in biblical creation together under his YEC banner and if one sneezes, everyone has a cold. Whatever one person has been heard to say (he seems to particularly dislike Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis) he uses as part of his data bank of “things all YECs believe” and fuel for yet another attack article.

The interesting thing is he doesn’t appear to venture into any specific scientific issues. He links to a number of evolutionist sites that claim certain scientific evidence points to evolution as the most convincing theory for the origins of all that is, but virtually all of these claims have been robustly answered many times over by reputable scientists who believe in biblical creation, and these rebuttals never see the light of day on his site. In fact his site appears to be set up for the sole purpose of denigrating people who believe the biblical account of creation, while having very little to say about evolution, other than it happened – full stop.

I find it difficult to believe someone of faith would want to spend so much of their time vehemently attacking specific individuals just because their approach to The Bible is different. There is no attempt to examine issues, it is people who are being attacked. This is character assassination on a grand scale, with very little promotion of the gospel. This is not something I can imagine Jesus doing and therefore I doubt this person is actually a follower of Jesus. Jesus reserved this sort of personal attack for hypocrites. Perhaps this site’s owner believes all YECs are hypocrites. However, after my earlier experience with facebook, I suppose I’m actually less naive, one might even say more cynical. I have recently begun to wonder just who the owner of this site actually is. Is he who he claims to be – a follower of Jesus? Is he even a real person? He may in fact be nothing more than an avatar representing a non-Christian group who hate biblical creationists.

This leads me to the issue I wanted to discuss in this post. Who are we? Am I the person I think I am, or the person my family thinks I am? Am I simply someone who was born of English, Irish, Polish and German stock, in the middle of Sydney in the middle of the 20th century; only to have 80 or so years (if I’m lucky) of life experience? How can we know who we really are? We appear to spend a great deal of our lives trying to be someone, but is that someone who we are essentially?

This question began to distract me in my teens and for some time I entertained the idea that we may be reincarnated, that we may have lived on Earth many times before and have already had a number of different personalities. After someone pointed out the mathematical difficulties with this concept I was less inclined to see reincarnation as a possibility. It is likely that the present population of people on Earth is equal to, or perhaps even exceeds, the total number of people who have ever lived on the planet in the past. Also, believing in reincarnation didn’t actually address the big question I had – Who am I anyway?

Our friend over at the GOE site states that:

When I engage with other Christians who disagree with me on evolution, I have never sensed in them much of a longing for nonbelievers to experience the joy and salvation of knowing Jesus. I more often tend to encounter a deep animosity and mistrust, especially toward scientists.

Is that me? It certainly doesn’t seem to have anything to do with me or any other biblical creationists I’ve met, particularly as a number of them are PhD scientists. So are we what others tell us we are? Sadly this can sometimes be the case. As a primary school teacher I worked with children who were having difficulties with reading. A number of my pupils had been virtually told by adults that they would never learn to read, and some of them began to believe this assessment. Other children I encountered had been told they were “thick”. These kids often decided that if they couldn’t be good at school, they’d be good at disrupting school – and they often were. This is frequently referred to as fulfilling negative expectations. My approach to this problem was to try to remove the negative expectations and replace them with positive, achievable goals. Thankfully, this approach nearly always had positive outcomes.

After many years of thinking over the issue of just who we are, I came to the conclusion that we must be either one of two possibilities. Either we are an accident, or we are a part of a bigger plan. Naturally (sorry about the pun), the accident adherents follow the creed of evolution, that is, we are all the product of random, unplanned, haphazard chemical reactions. Our life journey is simply a combination of what nature gave us genetically at birth, the environment into which we happened to be born and what we do throughout life with the cards we were dealt. Our personalities are nothing more than chemical reactions in our brains, and we have nothing to look forward to beyond the grave, other than becoming compost.

I find this a very depressing outlook and have wondered if it might be at the root of a lot of the depression that so plagues our modern culture. Is it possible that some children, who were raised with this sort of concept, somehow, through lack of use, turn off certain neural pathways in their brains that lead to hope and optimism? After all, what is there to hope for under this scenario? It is no surprise that so many people are working their way through a bucket list. If we are not born with genius or beauty, under this scenario we are simply part of the herd, striving to make a life amidst the chaos and confusion of the modern world. Some people do a better job than others at enjoying themselves and loving life and those around them, but ultimately, surely we are more than this small life we each live. Deep inside each one of us is a sense of so much more.

When we choose to believe the Creator’s version of life this is only the beginning of the journey in the opposite direction. We are no longer striving to satisfy personal needs (even if these needs may have included altruism or philanthropy), our attention is directed towards our Creator and His plans and purposes. This path is nevertheless a steep learning curve. My friend over at GOE opens his site with the verse:

“Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” 1 Cor 14:20 (ESV)

No doubt he is inferring that a mature Christian would follow his way of thinking and believe in evolution, accepting a rather confused hybrid between my two possibilities. He doesn’t make much of an attempt at convincing us or explaining why we should believe in evolution; he simply informs us that everyone who is even slightly intelligent, and all the people he respects, believe in evolution. When I was an infant Christian, evolution is exactly what I believed in, but it seems very clear to me today that once one starts to really look at the issues, examine the evidence, and read both sides of the argument thoroughly, it is far more in keeping with rational thought to believe The Bible’s straightforward account of creation. To me this is far more likely to be the product of mature thinking.

Being a biblical creationist is counter-cultural; this is the journey that is less directed by culture and more by the Word of God. It takes a certain sort of determination to question the dominant cultural paradigm, but the journey once begun is startling in its clarity.

The Bible’s version of who I am is also uplifting in its purity. Through His Word our Father has revealed that He wants us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 4:18; 5:7), He wants to have a deep spiritual and personal relationship with each one of us – He created us for this very purpose. God has a definite plan for each and every person born onto this very special planet.

Master_Universe_by_ANTIFAN_REAL

Master Universe by ANTIFAN REAL

To begin with, there is good evidence to demonstrate that our planet is at or very near the centre of the universe. We are not living on an obscure little blue blob lost in a vast array of cosmic bodies. When God stretched out the heavens (Is 45:12; Jer 10:12), creating time and space, He was opening a new chapter in His eternal existence. He is the “cause” of all that is (Rev 4:11) and the reason we exist (Col 1:16). Our Father chose to create a family for Himself and consequently He created a stunningly breathtaking environment for us to physically inhabit.

When He created Adam and Eve in His own image as two unique individuals, He knew every single person who would come from their genetic material, as humanity filled the Earth (Gen 1:26-28). Each and every one of us is known to our Creator and He has an individual plan for each of our lives. We are no accident! We are the intentional, miraculous creation of the eternal, omniscient, omnipotent God, who has made it possible for each one of us to become part of His eternal family.

Image from The Exponent

Image from The Exponent

Who we are can only be fully realised in the context of who we will become when we are given the gift of eternal life. When we accept this gift, which cost the Father the life of His Son, we embark on a journey of discovery that will go on into eternity. During this journey we will find our true selves and be given our true names (Rev 2:17). No longer will we be the person we were told we are, or the person we think we should be, we will discover who our loving Father created us to be as His unique, individual, immortal child. As our brother John pointed out:

See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. (1John 3:1-2)

This must be one of the most hope filled, life giving promises in The Bible. Not only are we assured we are the much loved children of the Creator of the Universe, we also know that we will be like Christ – we will be immortal, we will be sinless, we will be the objects of unimaginable love – and that love will rise up in us and become our very own nature. We won’t be clones of Christ, anymore than we have been clones of Adam and Eve, but we will inherit His righteousness. The sin nature we inherited from our natural parents will be gone and because we have been born again of the Spirit we will no longer be subject to this fallen nature. Thus we will be fit for God’s eternal kingdom (John 3:3, 7). The apostle Peter tells us:

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. (1Peter 1:2-6)

We can have great expectations because we are offered a priceless inheritance, and this inheritance is within reach of every person who has ever been born on this specially crafted planet. God is producing an eternal family and each one of us can be part of that family. That is what we can be, that is who we were designed to be. We can be immortal people living in a truly loving family with an omnipotent, omniscient, eternal Father who loves us and will care for us throughout eternity. He will enable us to realise our unique potential, and it is only through His Son that this is possible. To find out who we really are we must take hold of what we can be through the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Peter explains:

Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because He raised Christ from the dead and gave Him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. (1Pe 1:21-23)

Sincere love for brothers and sisters is not what I encounter when I go to the GOE site. This causes me to wonder whether the owner is the person he claims to be. He writes with such vehement animosity towards people he states are his brothers and sisters, people who happen to be biblical creationists, that I am forced to doubt him.

If he is a Christian I can only hope he takes the time to properly look at what he is attacking, not the people (we all have faults), but the substance of the scientific research. Then he might begin to understand why so many fellow believers have taken hold of creation science, having realised that the scientific evidence actually does point to biblical creation as the most convincing model for the origin of our universe. He too can join the Christian Counter Culture and stand against the great deception of evolution, with its naturalistic annihilation of human eternal potential. Perhaps then he will be a true follower of Jesus and express that deep love for his fellow believers Peter talked about. If he is what I suspect, another fabricator of elaborate lies, I can only pray he will find his hope in Christ, because then he too will discover his own personal, eternal potential and come to know who he truly is.

It All Just Happened

There are some things people just choose to believe, but I’m afraid I’ve never been very good at blind faith. I started asking “Why?” when I was about two years old, and over 60 years later it’s still one of my favourite words. One of the most incredible ironies in the modern world is that an enormous number of well educated people are blind to the fact that their worldview is based almost entirely on blind faith. Without really asking why, they believe in evolution as the origin of everything they can see, touch, smell, hear and taste; in reality what they believe is “it all just happened!” And yet they point to people of faith and say they do not use empirical evidence to come to their conclusions about the origins of all that exists in the material world.

Image from Smithsonian

Image from Smithsonian

From my years of observing the world around me I know without a doubt that everything that happens has a cause, nothing happens without a cause. It takes an incredible amount of blind faith to believe the universe simply burst into existence from nothing and then slowly, without any rational or intelligent external agency, became the superbly complex, intricately interdependent system we observe it to be today. Granted this faith is placed in experts, but these experts are just people, and scientists have been proven wrong many thousands of times before.

If I’m going to place my faith in something or someone, I want to have good reasons for believing. Over the years I’ve discovered the best way to understand the issues involved in any area is to look at it from as many perspectives as possible; to examine the data, or evidence, from as many angles as possible. Many years ago I decided I would not totally discount the idea that there is a spiritual world without examining it more thoroughly. It seemed obvious to me that if there really was a spiritual world it would never be possible to discover it through physical experiments – that just didn’t make sense. So I set out to investigate through study and observation of a number of different systems of belief. I must admit I was rather sceptical to begin with, but the 60s was also a time when anything goes, so I went with it.

rare_photographs_of_640_67

The Beatles with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

People like Timothy Leary and The Beatles were doing it so it wasn’t an unusual pastime in the 60s to look into otherworldly ideas. But I think I approached it as a researcher, I really wanted to know if there was “another dimension” of reality. I suspended disbelief and threw myself into exploring the spiritual claims of as many concepts of a greater reality as I could find. What I found was a person, a trans-dimensional person who had lived on Earth, but had ascended to another plane of existence. He came to Earth as the only extra-terrestrial to be born on our planet and He changed the course of history. He also completely changed the course of my life.

It was many years after I met Jesus that I started to question my belief in evolution. After all, it had been proven, hadn’t it? But then, with my fondness for weighing up evidence, I asked myself why I had not looked at both sides of this debate, now that I realised there were two valid sides to the argument. It wasn’t long before I jumped ship. The more I read, the more I realised the evidence was just too strong to cling to such a flimsy film of science fiction. Following the rules of making the theory fit the facts, and not the facts fit the theory, I decided biblical creation was the most scientifically convincing view of the origins of life and the universe. Evolution is a carefully crafted story, but it is a story that really only holds water if you have already decided there is no God, and by that stage of my life I knew from the results of my earlier research that there is a God and He is very real.

The next jaw dropping realisation I made was that there are some Christians who seem incapable of letting go of their belief in evolution. They not only choose to hold fast to this scientifically unsound doctrine (nobody has ever observed evolution, we have observed adaptation, but that isn’t evolution), they refuse to even take a serious look at all the scientific evidence for biblical creation. If one is prepared to suspend disbelief in creation science, it does not take long to discover that the scientific support for the theory of evolution is extremely poor, and just like the fossil record, it is composed of more gaps than empirical evidence. Consequently, it would appear a belief in evolution is actually more a philosophical or religious belief, which creates a biased set of assumptions from which all data is interpreted.

Those who believe in evolution cannot look to sound science as the basis for their belief, they must place their faith in unobserved, hypothetical biochemical mechanisms to explain life, because of a prior commitment to philosophical naturalism. Unlike the founders of modern science, who had no problems with the idea of a creator God, science has now embraces a total commitment to naturalism. Why people who claim to be Christians should align themselves with this philosophical stance is a mystery to me. As Canadian science philosopher Dr Michael Ruse admitted:

….. at some very basic level, evolution as a scientific theory makes a commitment to a kind of naturalism, namely that at some level one is going to exclude miracles and these sorts of things, come what may.

Although he later defended evolution by stating that, in his view, it works, nevertheless he also said,

evolution, akin to religion, involves making certain a priori or metaphysical assumptions, which at some level cannot be proven empirically (1).

Those who are absolutely committed to a belief in evolution usually insist that it is only through purely materialistic science that we can hope to arrive at real truth in our understanding of the universe. This is philosophical naturalism, a metaphysical stance which has its roots in ancient cultures. The majority of evolutionists would contend that their ideas are modern, whilst insisting biblical creationists are simply adhering to outmoded concepts. These same adversaries would no doubt insist that biblical Christianity is now a “disproven relic of the past.” This understanding is far from the truth.

An old edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica gives an interesting insight into the religion of the Mayan people, who lived around 600 BC. They believed:

…themselves to be of one blood, descendants of a common ancestor. … Thus, the Turtle clan of the Iroquois are descended from a fat turtle, which, burdened by the weight of its shell in walking … gradually developed into a man. The Cray-Fish clan of the Choctaws were originally cray-fish and lived underground, coming up occasionally through the mud to the surface. Once a party of Choctaws smoked them out, and, treating them kindly … taught them to walk on two legs, made them cut off their toe nails and pluck the hair from their bodies, after which they adopted them into the tribe. But the rest of their kindred, the cray-fish, are still living underground. The Osages are descended from a male snail and a female beaver (2).

It is possible that evolutionary thought began with the Hindu concept of reincarnation, and there is also reason to believe the Greek philosophers built on this idea, or perhaps the ideas of even earlier cultures (3). The Greek philosopher, astronomer, statesman and mathematician, Thales of Miletus (640–546 BC) proposed the idea that life originated in water (4), while his student, Anaximander (611–547 BC), developed his tutor’s proposals further, concluding that humans evolved from fish or fishlike creatures. He also suggested that these fish-men eventually cast off their scaly skin and moved to dry land.

Thales of Miletus

Thales of Miletus

Sadly, theistic evolutionists choose to ignore the philosophical bias of evolutionary teachings and generally refuse to look at the masses of evidence for biblical creation. There are even websites set up by these sadly deceived people, who are trying to encourage others into their unholy compromise. I am at a loss to know why they would want to cling to something that is so patently false. The only explanation I can find is in Jesus’ words:

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders; so that, if possible, they will deceive the very elect. (Mat 24:24)

Jesus does not say it is impossible to deceive people who choose to be deceived. And with the wonders of modern technology, those who are not prepared to accept the authority of The Bible are inevitably going to fall prey to the passing ideas of human society. The great signs and wonders of the modern age are the complex pseudo-scientific stories we are told from childhood, which are now accompanied by, not just elaborate charts and graphics, but convincing computer modelling and animations. We are even presented with robotic replicas of dinosaurs, which we are authoritatively told went extinct millions of years ago, despite the fact that some of their fossils still have tissue and red blood cells clinging to their bones. We are also instructed by the dictators of modern science that these magnificent creatures lived long before humans became humans. This leads me to the reason I am certain theistic evolution is an unholy compromise.

Although there are hundreds of reason for believing the earth is less than 10000 years old, the dominant geological paradigm has so smothered dissent, there is now almost no opportunity to be taken seriously when we try to present an alternative perspective on the age of universe. Not only is an alternative perspective smothered, it is also censored, so that the majority of people don’t even realise there is a viable alternative view.

This is why I am confident in calling this whole complex lie unholy. If it were of the Light it would welcome scrutiny, but even Christians who hold this perspective will rarely consent to discuss the topic with evolution sceptics. I have always followed the principle that if something is sound it stands up to any amount of scrutiny. However, whenever I have tried to join in discussions with people who are committed to a belief in evolution, rather than stay on topic, they inevitably resort to personal attacks or say they don’t really want to continue the discussion. As Paul told the Ephesians:

But all things being exposed by the light are clearly revealed, for everything having been revealed is light. (Eph 5:13)

Presenting evolutionists with robust scientific evidence that clearly points to biblical creation usually ends the discussion, shutters go down. It seems to me they prefer to keep any flaws in their theory in the dark. Even theistic evolutionists refuse to suspend disbelief in biblical creation long enough to examine their belief in evolution. Why choose to cling to something that is based on a philosophical bias that is diametrically opposed to a belief in God and needs so much blind faith to accept, while refusing to properly examine scientific evidence for biblical creation and a biblical timescale?

Despite the fact that well trained and qualified scientists all over the world have compiled tomes of robust, scientific information on biblical creation, some Christians have never taken the time to give it a second glance. Why these people should blindly place their faith in naturalism’s creation story is a mystery to me. Is it pseudo-intellectual pride? Fear of man? Fear of rejection by naturalist peers? Or just genuine, misplaced trust in “people who should know”, who assure them evolution is the truth?

The very nature of the Father we present under the theistic evolution lie is that of a god who was happy to use death and destruction in the creation process. Many creatures would have died long before Adam had developed to the stage where this god was prepared to call him man. To create a being in his own image, this god would have presided over millions of years of pain, death and suffering before he was ready to breathe his spirit into a creature ready for his purpose. This scenario clearly places physical death millions of years before Adam and Eve sinned.

We need only examine the life of Charles Darwin to understand how a father’s heart is torn by the physical death of his child. If our Father chose to encompass death, pain, decay and suffering in his creative process, He must have planned this as an integral part of the human experience from before the foundation of the world. No person who has experienced the death of a child could say this is “wholly good” (Gen 1:31). This is not part of the plan revealed by the Father in His Word, The Bible clearly states God created perfection. Adam and Eve were created fully and perfectly human, with vast amounts of genetic variability. Humans have been humans from their first appearance in the fossil record. The biblical account is clear, God created each kind and the first two humans without the need for any death to precede their appearance. Then the Creator gave Adam and Eve an enormous responsibility, along with enormous privilege, they were to have dominion over the creation (Gen 1:26), but they abused God’s trust.

God warned His new humans of the consequences they would face if they chose to ignore His only negative directive. They believed Satan’s lie, followed Satan’s guidance rather than their Creators, and death entered God’s magnificent creation. It could no longer be called “wholly good”, it was corrupted by sin. Adam and Eve, and all the other living things within their dominion began to die.

Some theistic evolutionists point to the death and destruction God brought about in the Old Testament (OT) and propose that death is not such a big deal to God. Once again they besmirch the character of God (Ezekial 33:11) and they also reveal a very limited understanding of God’s revelation. All the physical death in the OT was the direct result of people’s sin. Again and again this sin threatened to derail God’s plan to bring a human community to a point at which He could be born into their midst. God wanted only to bless and heal, but sometimes people had simply gone too far for Him to bring them back (Hos 6:4-7:2).

Despite thousands of years of careful preparation, Jesus was threatened almost immediately after His birth and His parents had to flee and hide Him away from danger. Finally, when He grew to manhood, many of the leaders of His own people contributed to His death. But the Father had worked hard to create an environment where there were enough people who would recognise their Messiah to carry on spreading His message of salvation to humanity. Since the birth of Jesus our Father has never called for the death of a single person. His mission has been accomplished.

Jesus carries the crossTo present the Father as one who is complacent about death, is to totally miss what it cost Him to send His Son and the teachings in the Bible’s bookends. Genesis begins God’s revelation to humankind by showing us that physical death is an enemy (1 Cor 15:26) that entered God’s creation because of sin (Gen 2:17; Ez 18:4; Ez 18:20; Rev 21:8), while Revelation reveals that God will eventually destroy death and recreate His universe without death or the accompanying pain and suffering that sin also produced (Rev 21:4). Death will be swallowed up in victory (1 Cor 15:54). If Christians try to add evolution to this revelation they completely compromise this message and belittle the physical death Jesus suffered on our behalf.

I believe theistic evolution is an unholy compromise. I don’t expect any theistic evolutionists to challenge this statement, as I have discovered neither they, nor their atheistic fellow believers, are open to discussion on the topic. They prefer to keep it in the dark away from the light of scientific scrutiny, whilst systematically besmirching both those who believe in biblical creation and the reputations of the scientists who carry out research from a biblical base, as opposed to a naturalist base. May our Father open the eyes of the brothers and sisters who have been deceived by this complex lie. It didn’t all just happen, our Father has given us a very accurate record of exactly how He brought His creation into existence.

1 National Center for Science Education, PO Box 9477, Berkeley CA 94709–0477, USA
2 Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Werner Co., New York, Vol. 23, p. 467, 1898
3 Osborn, H.F., From the Greeks to Darwin, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, p. 54, 1929
4 Birdsell, J.B., Human Evolution, Rand McNally, Chicago, p. 22, 1972

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Knowing, Caring and Praying

I’ve been reading Amy Carmichael’s book Lotus Buds. In this book she tells the story of her work in India as a missionary and how she found herself rescuing young girls, sometimes babies, from being dedicated to the Hindu temples. The inevitable fate of these innocent little souls was to become temple prostitutes – their sexual services would earn a living for the priests.

8.7.14_amy-carmichael1From a western perspective, it’s difficult to understand how parents could believe this was a choice they could make for their little ones. But circumstances sometimes forced them to give up their babies and this was one of the most acceptable ways of ensuring they would be “looked after”. No doubt, for some, it also held the hope of favourable treatment from the gods. Temple prostitution was banned in India in 1948 and I have no doubt that it was through the work and prayers of people like Amy that this came about. To undermine such a deep, culturally accepted custom, it often takes someone from outside the culture to point out the injustice involved in an entrenched practice.

Amy was a great prayer warrior and she wrote:

…..we write for those who believe in prayer—not in the emasculated modern sense, but in the old Hebrew sense, deep as the other is shallow. We believe there is some connection between knowing and caring and praying, and what happens afterwards. Otherwise we should leave the darkness to cover the things that belong to the dark. We should be for ever dumb about them, if it were not that we know an evil covered up is not an evil conquered. So we do the thing from which we shrink with strong recoil; we stand on the edge of the pit, and look down and tell what we have seen, urged by the longing within us that the Christians of England should pray.
Carmichael, Amy (2011-03-24). Lotus Buds (Kindle Locations 924-929).Kindle Edition.

As Christians we need to take seriously the battle that is raging for the souls of people lost in other faiths. Some people feel it is wrong to go against the entrenched culture of a nation. When Amy went to India, part of the culture of that nation was to give baby girls to temples to become prostitutes. She had to fight long and hard to free the children she saved from this fate. We are not our cultures; we are far more than our cultures. We have each been created in God’s image and He has a great desire to bring us into His eternal kingdom, through His one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

photo from http://www.carigold.com

India 1900 photo from http://www.carigold.com

False religions are simply cultural – they have nothing to do with the Creator of the universe. They have grown out of humanity’s ideas about God. They stand opposed to God’s revelation of Himself. To say that all religions are basically the same is to admit ignorance of the truth. It is like saying all economic systems are the same, because they are all about economics. No one, who took the time to look, could believe that a command economy and a free market economy are the same. They might use similar terminology, but they are very different approaches to the same issue. We need to be prepared to speak the truth about the uniqueness of Christianity, it might use similar terminology to other religions, but it is not just another path, it is the only true path to an eternal relationship with our Creator Father.

I pray God will show us how to become prayer warriors like Amy Carmichael and that the Christians of the world today should also pray in that deep way she talked about. It breaks my heart to think of the way many Christians have accepted pluralism in the 21st century. But the reality is, The Bible teaches us that, like the Muslim faith, the Hindu religion is another stronghold of darkness. These are not alternative paths to God, they are terrible strongholds of darkness and deception. Amy did not go to India with any sense of cultural superiority, she loved India and its people. She wrote:

We think of the real India as we see it in the thinker—the seeker after the unknown God, with his wistful eyes. “The Lord beholding him loved him,” and we cannot help loving as we look….. We see the spirit of the old land there; and it wins us and holds us, and makes it a joy to be here to live for India.

The true India is sensitive and very gentle. There is a wisdom in its ways, none the less wise because it is not the wisdom of the West. This spirit which traffics in children is callous and fierce as a ravening beast; and its wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. . . . And this spirit, alien to the land, has settled upon it, and made itself at home in it, and so become a part of it that nothing but the touch of God will ever get it out. We want that touch of God: “Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.” That is why we write.
Carmichael, Amy (2011-03-24). Lotus Buds (Kindle Locations 919-924). Kindle Edition.

Amy understood that despite the fact that Jesus is the only Way, God was still able to work in the hearts of people who had never heard the name of Jesus. She wrote:

We form no hard, presumptuous creed as to how the God of all the earth will deal with these masses of mankind who have missed the knowledge of Him here; we know He will do right.
Carmichael, Amy (2011-03-24). Lotus Buds (Kindle Locations 585-586). . Kindle Edition.

But 100 years later it is almost impossible to “have missed the knowledge of Him.” There may be a few remote outposts of the world where the name of Jesus has not been heard, but the real battle today is to stand against a watering down of the words of Jesus. He said He is the only Way to enter the eternal kingdom, there is no other Way. To give in to pluralism is to give in to these false, cultural claims about God. God has clearly revealed His Truth and we need to lovingly bring people to an understanding of this Truth.

the way1

This brings me back to the need for prayer. When we realise “the connection between knowing and caring and praying, and what happens afterwards,” we can do nothing other than be moved to prayer. Amy reminded us that we “stand on the edge of the pit, and look down and tell what we have seen.” What we have seen is that there is only one Way to the Father, and this is through His Son. And so we must pray for the masses who are yet in darkness. As Amy put it, our prayer must be, “not in the emasculated modern sense, but in the old Hebrew sense, deep as the other is shallow.”

We know there are billions of people in the world today who have heard the name of Jesus, but have no understanding of His Truth. These people are not only deceived by false “religions”, they are also deceived by materialism, atheism and pluralism. They may be known to us or unknown, well educated or uneducated, wealthy or poor. We may not be able to take ourselves to the mission fields, but every Christian alive today can pray. We don’t need to pray for revival, we need to pray for the lost, those who are at risk of losing their eternal destiny in the Lake of Fire.

We don’t need entertaining, we don’t need formulas and steps to follow, we just need to get down on our knees and lift our hearts to our Father and pray. Pray for the billions of souls who may forfeit their eternal destiny because we were too busy, or too tired, or too troubled. Start with the people you know, all those people in your life who don’t, as yet, know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Make sure you pray for them every day. God will lead and God will guide, but we must make ourselves available. Brothers and sister let us all give ourselves to prayer for the teaming masses of lost souls who share our planet this very day. Do it now and do it often – pray.

For the terrible day is almost here—the day of the LORD! It is a day of clouds and gloom, a day of despair for the nations. (Eze 30:3)

Photo from Lotus Buds by Amy Carmichael

Photo from Lotus Buds by Amy Carmichael