Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

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MALADY OF THE EXPERT – May 16

May 16, 2014

“Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.” John 8:49

Hello my name is Expert
We live in a land of experts.

If we have a disease, we go to the hospital’s experts.
If we want knowledge, we go to the University’s experts.
If our car maintenance light glows, we go to the car dealership’s experts.

Tax issues – specialist in accounting.
Court issues – specialist in law.
Building issues – specialist in engineering.

We expect our specialists to have answers. We pay them for answers. Often, specialists are cast aside until we find the one who agrees with what we want to do. Even if we can get the answer we want, a bad response is often better than the uncertainty of  “I don’t know.”

We want to know.

This expectation of answers has probably always been at the bedrock of religion. We want answers for our questions of the physical world and we want answers to our questions of the spiritual world.  I recognize the expert’s attitude exerted against Jesus by the Pharisees in chapters 7 and 8 of the Gospel of John. That similar attitude seems to echo through the theological debates of our time. They provided reason and rationale as to why Jesus was not the Christ.

The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” (John 7:20)

But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from. (John 7: 27)

…But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” (John 7:41)

They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” (John 7:52)

So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” (John 8:13)

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48)

The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be? (John 8:52-53)

Yet, these proclamations of experts proved to be false and misguided. Their expertise in the Law failed them because it was not based on complete understanding. They were applying flawed, sinful understanding to a manifestation that was without precedent. They rejected the Christ because He did not fit the model in which they were so convinced He would appear. Jesus did not come as they expected, therefore, he could not have been the Christ. Their expertise did not adequately provide the understanding to inform them of the events that were transpiring around them.

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (John 8:43)

I read the Pharisees’ objections to Christ and can uncomfortably relate to their self-assured theological knowledge. They were the experts of theology for their day and based on their knowledge they had answers. It just happened to be horribly wrong answers based on a lack of understanding.

Calvinism vs. Arminianism
Infant Baptism vs. Adult Baptism
Charismatic Gifting vs Cessationism
Sunday Worship vs. Saturday Worship
King James Only vs. ESV Only vs. NASB Only
Traditional Service vs. Contemporary Service vs. SOMA Service
Premillennialism vs Postmillennialism vs Amillennialism

How much of the rhetoric from these debates is honoring to our Father?

I have studied these issues and I have my opinions. However, I also know that those who do not share my opinions can advocate their position from scripture. I don’t know of a better illustration of this fact than the debate moderated by John Piper between Jim Hamilton, Doug Wilson, and Sam Storms. (An Evening of Eschatology – Piper, Hamilton, Wilson, Storms)

Three capable theologians, who love and follow Jesus, came to three different conclusions based on their understanding of scripture. The fact is that two or maybe all three are wrong. Someone has made a wrong decision based on flawed understanding. Yet, churches have split over these issues in ways that I view as dishonoring our Father. It is the malady of the experts.

Since we are all subjected to the same malady, the only cure is grace.

crossChrist was perfectly clear in His teaching to the Pharisees about who He is.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you before Abraham was, “I am”. (John 8:58)

The further away we get from that central teaching – Jesus Christ and him crucified – the more grace we need to show our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. As we mature in our faith, we should delve into the “secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” (1 Cor. 2:6) However, we must resist the arrogance of the experts.

We must show grace in our theological assertions for our more immature brothers and sisters so that their faith “might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:5)

We must show humility in our debates, understanding our inherently flawed understanding of the mysteries of God.

Imagine how glorifying God’s church would be, if our debates were dominated by experts of humble grace rather than experts of flawed understanding.

PRAYER: Father, you know that I am inclined toward the attitude of the expert.  Forgive me for caring more about winning a theological argument than showing grace to a fellow heir in Christ.  Forgive me of the dishonor that has been wrought when love was not my foremost objective.  Lord, make me into an expert of humble grace.  Give me wisdom in delving into your wonderful mysteries.  Remind me of my continuing lack of understanding to keep me humble.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

A man should never be ashamed to admit he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
~ Alexander Pope

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“LIARS LIE” – Nov 29

November 29, 2013

“And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”  Revelation 12:9

Promise?

I have known a woman who was a liar.

She did not stretch the truth.
She did not exaggerate.
She did not take liberties.
She did get confused in the grey areas.

She lied.

Her years of elaborate deceptions finally fell apart when the pieces of her puzzle failed to come together.  Once a few of her tales came into question, the remainder of her web quickly crumbled under closer examination.

We found that most of what she portrayed was an elaborate ruse of half-truths and misrepresentation.  She was a magician at distortion.  She understood human behavior like few that I have met at her age.  Her skill allowed her to merge truth and untruth in an amalgam of distortion, misdirection, and outright fabrication.  She created these fantastic fairy tales that were designed to manipulate those who cared about her.

When we picked through the ashes of her falsehoods, we found that she lied even when the truth would have sufficed.  It seemed that the purity of the truth was never sufficient.  She could not allow an unadulterated word pass her lips.

She was a liar.

It is difficult to deal with a liar.  I want to trust people.  I am inclined to believe what I am told.  I easily grant the benefit of the doubt to the spirit behind the words.  However, those tendencies are foolish to convey to someone who struggles with lying.  They thrive on the temptation of the trusting.  A true liar deceives and manipulates the naïve often without them even realizing it.

Only the simple or foolish will blindly trust the words of a liar.  I am on my guard when I am dealing with a message that comes from a liar.  I am cautious of being mislead.  I am inquisitive of underlying assumptions and redefinition of words.  I am hesitant to blindly follow the promises of one tempting my confidence.

I am reminded of the words of the French poet, Charles Baudelaire:
The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist.

I am continually amazed by the lack of discernment that is shown to the messages of the world.  What do you think is the source behind the common message espoused through various media outlets?

What spirit do you think is behind Richard Dawkins message that there is no God?
What spirit do you think is behind Jon Stewart’s message that Christ is not the only way?
What spirit do you think is behind Rob Bell’s denial of hell?
What spirit do you think is behind Oprah Winfrey’s spirituality?
What spirit do you think substituted Santa for the manager?
What spirit do you think substituted the easter bunny for the Cross?

I am not making aspersion about any person nor am I presuming their motivations.  However, I believe there are spiritual forces in this world that have a strategy of deception.  We are told that Satan is the master of the false message.  The spirit of the great liar is infused into the messages from the world he controls.  His purpose is to lead people astray.  He can manipulate the unsuspecting into advocating an underlying message without ever revealing himself.

Do you believe that? 

I believe that.  It is why I believe that it is critical to judge the spirit behind all the messages that we are persuaded to believe.

Does the message teach that all spirituality must be consistent with the Bible?
Does the message teach that salvation comes by Christ alone?
Does the message teach that all glory is due to God?
Does the message affirm the teachings of prophets, Christ and the Apostles?

We live in a world filled with messages from conflicting winds.  These winds originate from opposing poles.  What you believe will determine where you are blown.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, SO THAT we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  (Ephesians 4:11-14, emphasis added)

Hands holding cross

Those who are not in Christ will be blown about by the deceptive spiritual wind of Satan.  They do not have the Spirit of Christ within them to guide them.  They have not been equipped by the teachings of the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.  They do not have the knowledge of the Son of God.

Therefore, we must be wise when handling their messages.  We must be discerning.  We must be on our guard.  We must be cautious of being mislead.  We must be inquisitive of underlying assumptions and redefinition of words. We face a liar behind all these messages who is bent on deceiving us.

If you believe that, then you should live in that reality.

We need to learn to trust the reality of the world revealed through scripture and not the one obscured by a liar.  We need to trust the words of the faithful servants of God who are a gift to our souls, given to keep us from being blown astray.

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for giving us the tools to recognize the message of our enemy.  Thank you for teaching us how to stay close to You.  Thank you for you Spirit who you have sent to guide us.  Lord, open my ears to hear.  Strengthen my heart against all the enticing messages from this world that will blow me astray.  Write your word upon my heart.  Give me wisdom to discern your Spirit.  Grant me understanding to know You.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Sources:

Charles Baudelaire Quotes
Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Jon Stewart on Religion – Morality
Love Wins a Review
The Church of Oprah Winfrey

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“ALLOW ME TO COMMUNICATE” – June 2

June 2, 2013

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.”  1 Corinthians 2:1

Some of the contestants in the Scripps Nationa...

Some of the contestants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a new spelling bee champion just crowned.  The new champion is Arvind Mahankali, a 13 year old from New York City.  He won the competition by spelling “knaidel”, which is a German-derived Yiddish word for a matzo ball.  I am annually amazed at the words that get spelled at the Scripps National Spelling Bee that I did not know even existed.

We all have vast list of words that we can choose from in our communication.  I am surprised by the number of times I listen to a speech and wonder what in the world they are talking about.  The speaker will throw in words that are so unfamiliar that I am lost in his terminology.  The result of his word selection has been for me to not fully understand what he was attempting to communicate

Whose fault is the failure to communicate; the listener or the speaker?

It is the communicator’s job to communicate.  If that person fails to explain their ideas in an understandable manner, then they have not done an adequate job in selecting their words.  The process of word selection is not to impress your listeners with your vocabulary.  We should select our words in order to present our ideas in the most interesting, stimulating, and understandable manner.

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

The use of a vocabulary that alienates the listener is rude. 

It may be due to the speaker not even thinking about his audience.  It may be due to a desire to appear intelligent.  We all can get caught up in using words that are very familiar to our profession or expertise but are not universally understood.  I was instructed when I began my engineering career on how to speak in front of our clients.

My job is to communicate engineering principles and recommendations in an understandable manner so that our client can make an informed decision.  It is easy for me to talk over their heads.  I can use words and terminology that are not familiar to them.  I can talk in a way that will make me appear very intelligent.  I can communicate in a manner that frustrates or makes them feel dumb.

However, I will not have done a very good job communicating to my client.  They are not paying me to make a performance of my intelligence.  They are not paying me to make them feel dumb.  They are paying me to help them understand.  Therefore, I will choose my words based on my audience.  I will select words from my vocabulary that will be most effective in helping them understand.

I wonder how much of the rhetorical techniques used within our religious circles have more to do with appearances than actual communication.  I listen to some Christian speakers and wonder at their word selection.  It seems to me that much of the terminology that gets bantered comes from a desire to fit into philosophy departments than with real communication within Church. We should be constantly thinking about our audience as we communicate.  We cannot expect a person with limited or no Church background to understand our strange terminology.  We should care enough about them to select words that are an aid to understanding and not a stumbling block.

Our goal should be to make known Jesus Christ and Him crucified throughout this world.

There are enough stumbling blocks to faith.  May the words we select not be among those stumbling blocks.

PRAYER: Lord, I know that there are so many stumbling blocks in this world.  Forgive me for those times when I have not been gracious enough to select my words carefully.  Forgive me for selecting words that build me up but do not help others understand.  Lord, may your Spirit work past all of my failures to communicate.  Thank you for not relying upon me to pick the perfect word.  Help me to be more conscience of what comes out of my mouth.  Give me a compassion for others that leads me to think about the words that I use.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“CYNICISM OF THE RULED” – May 22

May 22, 2013

“But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?  Will what is molded say to the molder, “Why have you made me like this?  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?”  Romans 9:20

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Scandal and politics seem to go together.  I don’t know if there has ever been a US President that did not have to battle some sort of charges of wrong-doing or abuse of power during their administration.   Several political scandals are currently rocking the US Presidential Administration of President Obama.  President Obama will be making the case over that next several months that he can still be trusted despite these accusations of impropriety.  President Obama will have to make the case to his supporters that these wrong-doings were isolated instances and that they can still trust their government to protect their interests and rights.  The president has to make the case that he can be trusted with power.

We will see how successful he is in the next several months.

The US government was created with checks and balances to curb the abuse of power by the government.  Have you thought about why these checks and balances are needed?  They are needed for the very reason that there are political scandals in every presidential administration.  They are needed because a government places the governing into a position of authority over the governed.  The very nature of that authority is ripe for lording over those subjected to the laws of the land.  There is no cornucopia of trustworthy leaders in history who have handled this authority well.  That is why we need checks and balances between the various branches of government.  That is why we need a free press.  That is why we need free and open elections.  We need all these mechanisms because our leaders are mere men and women and we can be corrupted by power.

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

Men and women cannot be blindly trusted with authority.  It does not matter how wise, intelligent or great they may seem to be.  I am cynical of any politician or leader who tries to persuade me to just trust them.  However, what if they were completely trustworthy?  What if they were completely good?  What if they were completely loving?  What if they were completely honest?

Absolute power in the hands of someone like that would not be corrupting. 

I think that our correct cynicism of human rulers has a tendency to corrupt our view of God.  We want some sort of checks or balances in God’s power over the ruled.  I don’t find Paul’s explanation of God loving Jacob but hating Esau, before they were born, very satisfying in my human mind.

What shall we say then?  Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. Romans 9:14-15

Many people are unsettled with this concept of  “if God does it, that means it is not illegal.”  However, this is when we need to fight against putting our human characteristics and flaws upon God.  We only need checks and balances when the one in authority is corruptible.  That does not define God:

God is good;

God is trustworthy;

God is faithful:

God is honest;

God is love.

It is by faith in the character of God that we can drop our cynicism of his rule.  If God does it then that does mean that it is good, right, legal, fair, and loving.

I know that this is a very simplistic answer to a very difficult passage.  There have been many books written on the implications of Romans 9.  I think the study of the sovereignty of God and man’s free will is good and beneficial.  However, we can over-complicate the issue in pursuit of an answer that will satisfy our sense of fairness.  Our sense of fairness is built upon the premise that the ruler is corruptible.

There are particularly difficult doctrines that require a child’s faith. 

I don’t like the thought of those “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.”  However, I accept that with the faith as of a child.  If God has done that then it is not against His character; it is not unfair; it is not wrong.  This world is not about us.  It is not about the creature.  This whole world was created to make much of the Creator.

God can do whatever He wants and that does not make him a tyrant.

He is not a tyrant because of who He is.

He is the Creator who is not corruptible by absolute power.  He does not need His power checked.

We just need to learn to trust Him in all things…as a child.

PRAYER: Lord, there are a lot of things that I do not fully understand.  Help me to be faithful to who you are as I wrestle with the deep truths about You.  Father, keep me firmly fixed on the foundation of your Son as I seek to know you more.  Lord, keep me from arrogance in the doctrines that I believe to be true.  Give me the faith of a Child.  Preserve that child-like faith throughout all aspects of my life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“FORM AND SUBSTANCE” – April 19

April 19, 2013

“And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the Lord, “With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.”  And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph.  The Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 2 Chronicles 18:10-11

I wonder if Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah was touted by the commentators of the time as, “An innovative prophet who communicates the word of God in a creative and fresh manner that resonates with our generation.”

The problem with Zedekiah’s dramatic presentation was that it did not resonate the word of God.  It appears that he was very creative in how he prophesied.  It appears that the rulers and religious of the highest levels followed his prophesy.  The innovative manner and creative way that Zedekiah prophesied did not change the validity of what he said.  He was still uttering false words.  It appears that he was a very dynamic and entertaining false prophet.  His form was more than his substance.

We would be foolish to think that there are not modern versions of Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah.

the word of GodI am not against innovation and creative ways for preaching the good news of Jesus Christ.  Read this blog – that is exactly what I am trying to do.  I try to write in a way that helps me and hopefully you, to think about the truths of scripture and our wonderful God in new and deeper ways.  However, my or any person’s unique and innovative presentation should never shroud false, incorrect, or misleading teaching.

It is the communicator’s job to make sure that he is communicating a message that is fully supported by the word of God.  I am endeavoring to communicate with you.  It is not your task to have to try to figure-out what I am really saying.  It is my problem if you don’t understand what I am attempting to communicate.  If you are listening to someone and have to justify their message with, “I know that is what he said but that cannot be what he meant”, then the communicator has failed to do his job well; no matter how captivating his presentation was.   One must conclude that He is either not a good communicator or he is trying to mislead you.  Neither is a good conclusion.  Now, no teacher is perfect and they will make misstatements.  However, it is a problem if misstatements or misrepresentation of the word of God are a chronic occurrence.  That is when you need to ask yourself why you are listening to this person.

Do you care more about the form than the content?  Do you want a creatively and freshly presented message more than a message based on the Word of God?

The message is what matters.  Presentations will always change.  What was creative and fresh to my parents is mundane to me.  What is creative and fresh to me will be tired and traditional to my children.  It is the message that matters.

Let’s enjoy how an innovative presentation of the truths of God’s word can bring encouragement and conviction to our souls.  However, we must remember that it is the word of God – the message – that is bringing the edification.  Never trade truth for presentation.

PRAYER: Father, please give me discernment and a clarity of mind.  I know that I like multi-media presentations and dynamic speakers.  I am easily fired-up by a charismatic speaker.  I like to be fired-up.  Father, ground me in your word; give me eyes to see through all the smoke and light of these teachings so that I can understand the truthfulness of their
message.  May I only be fired-up and edified by your true Word coming through their presentations.  Grant me wisdom and understanding to reject all that is false.  Amen.

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“WORDS FOR ALL” – Mar. 22

March 22, 2013

“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:34

1993 reprint of Chafer's Systematic TheologyI love theology.  The study of theology is a wonderful tool to help us dive deeper into the depths of our Lord God.  It was not until I started scratching at the edges of theology that I realized the immense wisdom of God that has been given to us. (1 Cor. 2:7)   I love theology because that is the main tool by which the Spirit teaches me about the depths of God.

However, there is a difference between theologians and those who love theology.  I have found that those who claim the title of theologians tend to speak in a strange and confusing language.  There is a vast array of terms, titles, “isms”, and religious talk in the language of a theologian.  When a theologian speaks in their special language, the majority of the population has no idea of what they are talking about.

I find the language of theologians wearisome.  I often forget what the terms mean.  I get hung up on the words written in Hebrew or Greek, which it is assumed that I know.   The intellectual tone can often be intimidating.  I once subscribed to a theological quarterly journal.  After a period of time, I let my subscription lapse because the authors of the journal articles were clearly not writing for such a person as me.  They were writing for other theologians.  I have no problem with that.  An author has to know their audience and write accordingly.

The problem for theologians, those who love theology, and those who have been in the Church for decades is that we often forget our main audience.   We use this strange language that the vast majority of the population does not understand.  We talk about atonement, redemption, propitiation, pneumatology, born-again, justification, sanctification, eschatology, predestination, ecclesiology, salvation, righteousness, etc.  The majority of the people who we will interact with will not know what those words mean or will not know what we mean by those words.

The language of the religious can become wearisome to the lost.  Our intellectual tone can be intimidating.  We can make some people feel excluded because we are talking to an audience who they are not a part.  We all have a tendency to let the simplicity of Christ be masked by the deeper truths that the Spirit has taught us in the maturing of our faith.

What must any person do to be saved?  This is a question for the masses.  Every person walking the face of the earth has this same question.  I love that God has given us an answer that does not require a special academic background, knowledge of terminology, or intellectual ability.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

In that one sentence, God has given us salvation; distilled in simplicity so that all of humanity can understand it and at the same time containing a depth to which His followers can spend a lifetime plunging into its revealing glory of God’s secret and hidden wisdom (1 Cor. 2:7).

May we all stand humbled before our Lord; always ready with the clear understandable word of the Lord crafted for the audience our Father has given us.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for making your salvation understandable to me and all of humanity.  Thank you for making it so profound the wisest of men will never comprehend.  Thank you for every trace of maturity that you have provided to my faith.  Father, keep my heart away from any pride that may develop due to any understanding I have been given of your wisdom.  May I never seek to know You more due to a desire to win a debate or to impress others.  May I always seek to know You from the heart of a son who loves his heavenly Father.  Help me to speak clearly and plainly.  Help me to proclaim your salvation in manner that those whom You have given me will understand and be saved for your glory.  Amen

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“PICKING THE THOUGHTS OF GOD” – Mar. 20

March 20, 2013

“But some believers, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees, rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” Acts 15:5

Stretching before the 2006 NCAA Men's Division...It is the first day of spring.  Spring brings a very sacred time at the office where I work.  The first day of spring inaugurates March Madness and our office NCAA Basketball Tournament pool.

I stare at my bracket in befuddlement.  There are some schools on there that sound more like some bureaucratic anachronism; LIU Br/JMU, is that a college or some new pharmacological wonder.  My problem is that I have not followed college basketball very closely this last season.  My interest in college basketball has waned down to March Madness.

Therefore, I have very limited information upon which I can build bracket certainty.  I default back to what is familiar:

Duke, Kansas, and North Carolina – they are always good

Pac-12 Teams – they usually choke under the tournament pressure

Gonzaga – I have a soft spot for the small, Northwest school

Butler – Do they have some magic for another run?

I know that the bracket that I complete will be wrong.  There will be some Cinderella team that comes along and ruins a whole branch or the quality that I assume in some teams will be based on decade old traditions and misplaced.  Here are my  picks.

My bracket is made up of some knowledge and a lot of wishful thinking.

It seems like that many folks approach their faith much like the NCAA Tournament.  They pick out what they are going to believe based on a little bit of knowledge and a lot of wishful thinking.

We have enough evidence in the physical world around us to inform us that there is a God.  Beyond that, what can we really know about God?  Man’s rational approach to reasoning is based upon man’s own experience.  We apply evidence from our senses and make logical inferences to broader meanings and principles.  What if the truths that we seek are beyond our experience?  What if the true reality of the universe is beyond our senses?

God is beyond any man’s experience and senses.  Therefore, it is impossible for man to discover God.  A scientist will never be able to conduct an experience and proclaim, “I have discovered God.”  God had to reveal himself to us.  That was the only way for us to know him in a way beyond the fingerprint of creation.  God made himself known to mankind through His prophets and apostles by his own initiative.  He preserved that sacred revelation in His scriptures.

We get ourselves in all sorts of trouble when we think we can know God on our own.

The reality is that we will sometimes have strong debates about the revelation of God.  The early Church had such debates.  We are told that the early Church engaged in “no small dissension and debate” (Acts 15:2) and “much debate” (Acts 15:7).  These were debates between believers.  There was Paul and Barnabas on the one side and believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees on the other side.  The debates in the early Church were resolved by those who had received the direct revelation from God – the Apostles.  They relied upon God’s revelation.  We no longer have the apostles but God’s revelation through them is now within the wonderful texts of our Bibles.

There is much debate in the Church today.  There are people who assert that which the scripture calls sin as mere cultural remnants of an ill-informed past.  There are people who preach theological gymnastics to support realities that are clearly denied in the scripture.  They are creating a faith based on a little information and wishful thinking.  They have much less hope of discerning the thoughts of God than I do of picking the NCAA Basketball Champion.   I might get lucky; they won’t.

The debates that arise in the Church can be resolved in one place and one place only – the revelation of God.

Sola Scriptura – by scripture alone.

Any argument that runs counter to what is clear in the scripture is built on the foundation of human reasoning.  Those who follow their own knowledge and wishful thinking do so at their own peril and the peril of those who follow them.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for your word.  Thank you for the scriptures that You have preserved for me in my Bible.  Father, do not let my pride lead me to beliefs and understandings that are not grounded in your revelation.  I know that it is by your grace and mercy that anyone can know you.  Thank you for revealing yourself to us, your creation.  Father, continue to protect your Church and your people from those who try to lead many astray by their own knowledge and wishful thinking.  Amen

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