Category Archives: Apologetics

Criticism

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:4)

Have you ever been around a critical person, one that seems to find fault in almost everything? A person like that can look at a beautiful work of art and notice only that the frame hangs off plumb. They may listen to a beautiful solo sung in church and notice only that the singer was slightly flat on some of her high notes, or perhaps her dress seemed inappropriate for performing before a church audience.

A critical person rarely offers any positive comments. When you encounter a critic, it does not take long before you begin to avoid that person. If forced by familial relationship to be around a critic you soon learn to keep quiet to avoid criticism. If you work with a critic or work for a critic you stop offering ideas or suggestions, and the critic will soon squelch all your creativity. We avoid critics. No one can put up with criticism for very long. Critics are not people we want to be around.

Criticism can be positive if the critic has your interest at heart. That kind of criticism is usually solicited. For example, when I write, I usually submit my writing to my editor, my wife, for review and critique. She usually offers some very helpful suggestions, which I gladly consider. Another example is when a researcher will submit a research paper for peer review to solicit critical input from his peers. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). That is not the kind of criticism I refer to here. The kind of criticism to which I refer serves only to bring others down, not to build them up.

Some Christians behave as though criticism is one of the “gifts of the Spirit.” They pride themselves in finding fault and conflate criticism with discernment – the ability to distinguish truth from error. When we examine the two, we find that they are not the same at all. One definition of “discernment” includes “discrimination; acuteness of judgment and understanding.”[1] Criticism, on the other hand, is “the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything, or the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.”[2] While both include “judgment,” discernment requires “understanding;” criticism does not.

The Apostle Paul provides a short list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in his first letter to the church at Corinth.[3] These include administration, diversities of operation (different kinds of work, the ability to get things done), the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discerning of spirits, the ability to speak in other languages, and the interpretation of other languages.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul adds prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, and mercy.[4] To the Galatians, Paul gives a list of “fruits of the Spirit.” These include love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.[5]

Nowhere in the Bible is criticism seen as a good thing. Criticism may be a fruit of the spirit, but not of the Spirit of God. Looking back to the Garden of Eden, we hear the serpent criticizing God for withholding something good from the first couple. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).

If you find yourself being critical, stop. Rather than finding fault, look for the good. Paul encourages the Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Instead of criticizing someone, look for the good in what they do and encourage/exhort (“build up”) that person. If they suffer due to the consequence of some sin, rather than criticize, show “mercy” and “minister” to that one. You may earn the right to “teach” that one by your example and through your words and by your “gentleness, goodness, and faith.” Criticism helps no one. Criticism is not a “gift of the Spirit,” but rather it is a “tool” of the devil. Don’t be a critic. Be an encourager instead.

Notes:


[1]  https://www.dictionary.com/browse/discernment

[2]  https://www.dictionary.com/browse/criticism?s=t

[3]  1 Corinthians 12:4-11

[4]  Romans 12:5-8

[5]  Galatians 5:22-23

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Filed under Christianity, Religion, Apologetics

The Days of Noah

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:37)

Last weekend was a sad time in American history. First, a mass murder took place at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas followed by another in Dayton, Ohio. The nation reels in the aftermath of such senseless violence groping for elusive answers to a problem with no apparent solution. The left blames the President claiming that his rhetoric is divisive and that it fans the flames of hatred. Others on the left blame the guns, and they want to ban all scary-looking rifles. Others want to legislate stricter gun laws. Even the President now calls for better background checks for gun purchases. Mr. President, we already have background checks for gun purchases. I had an FBI background check for every firearm I possess. Background checks will not stop wackos from getting their hands on firearms or from committing mass slaughter.

Several have accurately identified the problem as a problem of the heart, however, they fall short of coming up with a solution. As a Christian, I know the solution to the problem in every case. The answer is Jesus indwelling every individual heart, or at the very least, a clear understanding of who God is and every person’s accountability to Him. But that is out of the question. God is off-limits in our schools, our institutions of higher learning, in the public square and in our government. As long as that remains true, there is no solution to the growing violence in our nation.

This is a sign of our times. Jesus said that the days nearing His return would be like the days of Noah. What were the days of Noah like? Genesis Chapter Six suggests that fallen angels (sons of God) were somehow “breeding” with human women and producing demigod-like creatures known as the Nephilim (“giants”).[1] Today transhumanists[2] seek to evolve humans to a higher level through gene manipulation. These people, undoubtedly guided by the same “sons of God,” are unwittingly doing the same thing that was going on in Noah’s day.

However, that is not all that took place in Noah’s day. The Bible tells us that people had become exceedingly wicked and violent.[3] Our world grows increasingly evil and violent. The LGBT… movement has forced its way into our society demanding not only tolerance but that we accept their deviance as “normal.” However, that is not enough, they want our children trained at a very early age that such behavior is normal and acceptable. Not only that, but children are encouraged to follow their examples. If this were not bad enough, we have those in our government that promote and encourage this perverse movement, and if we protest, we are the “haters.”

The violence continues. Not only do we have mass shootings, but we are seeing more “peaceful protests” against our elected (Republican) officials that are anything but peaceful. We are living in the “days of Noah,” and Jesus said, “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:38-39). I have heard many sermons preached on these verses and they all minimize the significance of the text. Yes, Jesus said that the people during this time would be conducting their lives as normal, clueless of the impending doom. What these preachers omit is that in the days of Noah, the world was filled with wickedness and violence with much demonic activity taking place.

We should not be surprised or amazed when we see these things taking place, nor should we think that we can solve the problem through any human measure. The only remedy for our sick world is for Jesus to return to set things right. He is the only answer. He is our only hope. Our days are as the days of Noah. That should alert us to Jesus’ imminent return. The time is right. Are you ready? If not, find out how to get ready by reading my page, “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 6:1-4

[2]  Transhumanism – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism

[3]  Genesis 6:5, 11

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Second Coming of Christ, Theology

The Gap – Not the Store

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)

For almost 200 years, well-meaning theologians have attempted to defend the veracity of the Bible against the current scientific discoveries that cast doubt on the truth of God’s word. Rather than taking a firm stand for what the Bible plainly teaches, they try to find ways to reconcile what the Bible says with what scientists say by way of compromises. One such popular compromise is known as the Gap Theory.

Because many theologians have been duped into believing that scientists have proven that the earth is billions of years old (4.5 billion to be precise), they need to find a place in Scripture to account for that vast amount of time. They recognize that biblical chronology only accounts for approximately 6000 years of earth history. They face a dilemma. How do they remain faithful to a literal interpretation of biblical creation and still maintain good rapport with the scientific community? They solve the problem by placing a gap of unknown time between verses one and two of Genesis 1.

However, with what does one fill a gap of billions of years while maintaining some credible ties to Scripture? According to Hugh Ross (who has his own issues with a young earth), “A few Bible scholars of the seventeenth century, wishing to establish the timing of Satan’s fall and the angels’ rebellion, had proposed a narrative gap (hence, a time gap of unspecified duration) between the creation of the universe (“the heavens and the earth” of Genesis 1:1) and the events of the creation week (Genesis 1:3-27) … Eighteenth century advocates of this view placed the gap precisely between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, suggesting that Earth began, perhaps eons ago, as the abode of angels who ravaged and ruined it when they fell.”[1]

Genesis 1:1 refers to God’s initial perfect creation. Everything that God made was beautiful, there was no sin anywhere. Verse two, on the other hand, assumes that a great catastrophe occurred that caused the earth to become in a chaotic state through the judgment of God. According to the Gap Theory, the formless and void state, as recorded in Genesis 1:2, is in direct contrast to the perfect initial creation. Something happened between the first two verses of Genesis to cause the earth to become desolate and uninhabitable after having been made perfect. Those holding the Gap Theory contend that this state of ruin could have possibly lasted millions of years … The judgment is usually spoken of as a flood because of the statement of Genesis 1:2 – the earth was covered by water. This judgment is also known as the Luciferic flood named after the angel who became the devil. The cause for the judgment is usually given as the rebellion of Satan or some pre-Adamic race that sinned. All of the inhabitants of the earth were judged by God, leaving behind fossil remains.”[2]

When one reads the text of Genesis 1:1-2 and following verses giving the words their normal meaning in their normal context, it becomes obvious that much imaginative speculation must take place to insert millions or billions of years between verses one and two. From where did these ideas originate?

According to Dr. John D. Morris, “This particular compromise didn’t just appear; it’s been around at least since the early 1800s when old-Earth ideas were floated by James Hutton and Charles Lyell. Many theologians, under the mistaken impression that scientists had proved it, rushed to incorporate an old Earth into Scripture, hoping to maintain credibility with secular scientists”[3]

Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1876) “was a Scottish geologist who demonstrated the power of existing natural causes in explaining Earth history. He is best known as the author of Principles of Geology (1830-33 and later editions), which presented for a wide public audience the idea that the Earth was shaped by the same natural processes still in operation today, operating at similar intensities … The combination of evidence and eloquence in Principles convinced a wide range of readers of the significance of ‘deep time’ for understanding the Earth and environment … Building on the innovative work of James Hutton and his follower John Playfair, Lyell favoured an indefinitely long age for the Earth, despite evidence suggesting an old but finite age.”[4]

Confronted with such “evidence,” theologians quickly came to the Bible’s rescue. “Gap creationism became increasingly attractive near the end of the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries, because the newly established science of geology had determined that the Earth was far older than common interpretations of Genesis and the Bible-based flood geology would allow. Gap creation allowed religious geologists (who composed the majority of the geological community at the time) to reconcile their faith in the Bible with the new authority of science … From 1814, gap creationism was popularized by Thomas Chalmers, who attributed the concept to the 17th-century Dutch Arminian theologian Simon Episcopius.”[5] Chalmers’ “view was popularized by the Plymouth Brethren writer G. H. Pember in his book Earth’s Earliest Ages in 1876.”[6] “It gained widespread attention when a ‘second creative act’ was discussed prominently in the reference notes for Genesis in the influential 1917 Scofield Reference Bible.”[7]

Others came along later like Harry Rimmer (1890-1952). Rimmer “was an American evangelist and creationist. He is most prominent as a defender of creationism in the United States, a fundamentalist leader and writer of anti-evolution publications. He was the founder and President of the Science Research Bureau, Incorporated, a corporation set in Los Angeles, California, whose purpose he established as to prove the veracity of the Bible through studies of biology, paleontology and anthropology.”[8]

Surprisingly, many who profess to defend the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible still hold to the Gap Theory and an old earth. One that I closely follow for his teachings on end-times prophecy is Gary Stearman of “Prophecy Watchers” based in Norman, Oklahoma.[9] In all other respects, Stearman is an excellent Bible teacher, but in this one area, he stumbles. He is not the only one. Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum founder of Ariel Ministrires[10] and excellent O.T. scholar says,

I do believe there is a gap of time between verses 1 and 2, but we must be very careful not to ascribe a gap there for the wrong reasons as people have done so often. They have also used it as a convenient place to fit in such things as the geological ages, the fossil record, dinosaur space, and the like. I do not believe the gap allows for dinosaur space because the Bible teaches that there was not any kind of physical death until Adam’s Fall. Rather, the gap is there for only one reason, the fall of Satan that will, in turn, account for the chaos described in verse 2. Hence, the gap need not be very long at all.[11]

Since so many respected theologians defend the Gap Theory, is there any biblical support for their position? As stated before, those who hold to the Gap Theory have been convinced by secular geologists that the earth is billions of years old based on their interpretation of the geologic column, the fossil record, and radiometric dating. Another factor that often comes into play is the distant starlight problem. Faced with these challenges, their inability to respond intellectually, and their strong conviction of the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word, they try to accommodate God’s Word to fit what the secular scientists are saying. In a word, they compromise.

Genesis 1 records creation in six 24-hour days and Gap theorists defend this position. However, biblical chronology, beginning with Genesis 5, limits the age of the earth to only about 6000 years. So how does one account for the 4.5 billion year age of the earth that secular scientists claim? Gap theorists found a way to squeeze billions of years between verse one and verse two of Genesis 1.

Genesis 1:2 says, “And the earth was without form, and void…” The Hebrew word translated “was” is hâyâh. Strong’s defines hâyâh as to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary). Gap theorists interpret hâyâh as “became;” therefore, “And the earth became formless and void.” Furthermore, the Hebrew words translated “without form and void” are tôhû (to lie waste; a desolation, formlessness, confusion, unreality) and bôhû (emptiness, void, waste, or ruin). According to the Gap Theory, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), for an unspecified length of time and then the earth became tôhû and bôhû. God created a perfect world, and then the earth became tôhû and bôhû. What happened?

Rather than to simply admit they do not know what happened, they look to Scripture to fill the Gap. Ken Ham quotes, Weston W. Fields in his book, Unformed and Unfilled (page 7), “In the far distant, dateless past God created a perfect heaven and perfect earth. Satan was ruler of the earth, which was peopled by a race of ‘men’ without any souls. Eventually, Satan, who dwelled in a Garden of Eden composed of minerals (Ezekiel 28), rebelled by desiring to become like God (Isaiah 14). Because of Satan’s fall, sin entered the universe and brought on the earth God’s judgment in the form of a flood (indicated by the wafer of 1:2), and then a global ice age when the light and heat from the sun were somehow removed. All the plant, animal, and human fossils upon the earth today date from this ‘Lucifer’s Flood’ and do not bear any genetic relationship with the plants, animals and fossils living upon the earth today.”[12]

They had to fill the gap with something, but all their attempts to reconcile Scripture to science amount to nothing more than conjecture and speculation.  For example, the idea of “soulless men” is inconsistent with God’s character and the notion of “Lucifer’s Flood” finds no biblical support. Their appeal to Scripture with regard to Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 does have some merit as they do speak of Satan’s fall. However, neither of these passages gives any hint of time, other than to imply that Satan’s fall occurred early on after Creation. “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God…” (Ezekiel 28:13) According to Genesis 2:8, God planted the Garden of Eden on Day Six for Adam’s habitation; therefore this cannot refer to some unknown past.

One major hermeneutical problem with the Gap Theory is with the translation of the Hebrew verb hâyâh. “When this word [be] is printed in italics in the common English version, there is no corresponding word in the original text; when it occurs in common type [i.e., not italicized], it is generally the representative of hayah, havah, hava, “to be” in Hebrew.”[13] Sometimes hâyâh is translated “become or became” for ease of reading more than anything else. For example, Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). In this case, “became” could just as easily be translated “was” and it would still make perfect sense. As soon as God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, the man was a living soul. So the Gap theorists do not have a Hebraic leg to stand on in translating hâyâh as “became.”

Another problem with the theory is that the conjunction at the beginning of the sentence (Hebrew vav or waw) is an indication of the continuation of what came before. Had the Author (God) desired to show a break in events, He could have used the conjunction ‘âz (“then”) as in Genesis 4:26, “And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” The grammar in Genesis 1:2 gives no indication of a break in thought. There is no grammatical “gap.”[14]

Then comes the matter of the earth being “without form and void” – tôhû and bôhû. We have seen that the earth did not “become” tôhû and bôhû, but rather that it “was” tôhû and bôhû. In Verse 1, God created the universe with all its elements: time (the beginning), space (the heavens), and matter/energy (the earth). At this point, the “earth” (matter/energy) was formless and empty. God had not shaped it into anything yet. The second half of Verse 2 informs us that God at this point started shaping the raw materials. We find no hint of destruction and reconstruction in these verses.

In spite of their well-intentioned effort to reconcile the Genesis creation account with modern science, Gap theorists unwittingly create some serious theological problems. First of all, the Gap Theory calls God’s integrity into question. God’s assessment of His finished work would have to be found faulty. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31). Sin, death, and destruction in some unknown past do not qualify as a good creation, much less a “very good” creation.

Secondly, sin did not enter the world through Adam as the Bible claims (Romans 5:12) because it was present at Satan’s fall. Furthermore, death could not be the result of sin if death was already in the world.

Thirdly, the death penalty for (Romans 6:23) sin makes no sense when death preceded Adam’s sin.

Fourthly, if sin and death preceded Adam, then Jesus dying to pay the wages of sin for man seems pointless.

I grew up as a poor preacher’s kid. The greatest lesson my dad ever taught me was that the Bible was true and faithful even when it is difficult to understand. Whether we understand it completely or not, we can trust it to be true. God’s Word does not need to be reconciled to man’s way of thinking. Man’s thinking needs to be reconciled to God’s Word. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Later on, the Apostle Paul says something very similar. “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). Gap theorists forget this principle; they sway to the “strength” of fallen men rather than hold fast to the “foolishness” of the pure Word of God.

Notes:


[1]  Hugh Ross, “Closing the Gap: A Scientist’s Response to the Gap Theory” – https://www.reasons.org/explore/publications/facts-for-faith/read/facts-for-faith/2001/01/01/closing-the-gap-a-scientist-s-response-to-the-gap-theory

[2]  Don Stewart, “What Is the Gap Theory? (The Ruin and Reconstruction Theory?)” – https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_654.cfm

[3]  John D. Morris, Ph.D., “How Does Old Earth Thinking Affect One’s View of Scripture’s Reliability?” – https://www.icr.org/article/how-does-old-earth-thinking-affect-ones-view-scrip

[4]  “Charles Lyell” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Lyell

[5]  “Gap Creationism” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gap_creationism

[6]  Hank Hanegraaff, “The Gap Theory of Genesis 1:2 by Lee Irons” – https://www.oneplace.com/ministries/bible-answer-man/read/articles/the-gap-theory-of-genesis-12-by-lee-irons-16836.html

[7]  “Gap Creationism” – Wikipedia

[8]  “Harry Rimmer” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Rimmer

[9]  Gary Stearman, Prophecy Wathers – https://prophecywatchers.com/gary-stearman/

[10]  http://www.Ariel.org/

[11]  Arnold Fructenbaum, “THE SEVEN DAYS OF CREATION: GENESIS 1:1 – 2:3”, p.10, article available in PDF format from the Ariel Ministries website.

[12]  Kenneth Ham, “Closing the Gap” – https://www.icr.org/article/closing-gap

[13]  Robert Young,  Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans Publishing, 1970), 73.

[14]  Ernesto E. Carrasco, “No Gap” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/10/18/no-gap/

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Filed under Apologetics, Bible, Christianity, Creation, Origins, Religion, Satan, Science, Theology

Some Shade of Brown

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts 17:26)

Recently, a deacon brother and I were discussing the Hispanic ministry of our church. He mentioned that there were several married couples from different South American countries. For example, the wife might be from Venezuela and the husband from Peru. I asked if there were any in the country illegally, and he said that most members of our Hispanic mission were here legally, but some were not. I commented on how sad it would be if married couples from different South American countries were here illegally and got deported, each to their country of origin. Worse yet, what if they had children born here in the United States? How tragic that would be! Talk about breaking up of families!

Our hearts ache for those caught in that situation. We sympathize as we think about our own families and consider how we would feel if we were torn away from our loved ones. However, that happens thousands of times a day. Families are torn apart daily through imprisonments, divorce, death, and deportation. Yet deportation of illegal aliens, a.k.a., “undocumented immigrants,” seems to garner all the headlines.

The Demoncrat (misspelled on purpose) Party labels President Trump as a racist for wanting to build a barrier to abate the influx of illegal entries through our southern border. In doing so, they hope to incite the American Hispanic population to action against the President. The ultimate goal of their nefarious scheme is to “import” a throng of needy people, provide them with housing, healthcare, education (i.e., indoctrination), and basic income in order to raise a generation of loyal voters for the Demoncrat Party. Using a certain class of people for one’s own gain seems more racist than Donald J. Trump wanting to build a border wall for the purpose of national security. Of the top ten countries of origin for illegal aliens, Mexico provides over 50% of the invaders.[1] However, Mexico is not a “race;” it is a nation, and, like the United States, its population is composed of people from all over the world – Europe, Asia, Africa, and “Native Americans.” All Mexicans, like Americans, are some shade of brown.

The claim that securing our southern border is racist is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is not only Mexicans that violate our sovereign border. Many come from nations hostile to the United States, and it just so happens that the porous border between the United States and Mexico provides the path of least resistance.

The Demoncrat may consider that point and suggest that a border wall is racist because it presents an attempt to prevent “people of color” from entering the United States. I get so sick of anyone using the “race card” to bludgeon any opponent for any perceived offense. It does not matter what the conflict, when reason and logic fail, play the race card.

I was mildly amused earlier this week when Speaker Pelosi attempted to reign in her maverick freshmen congressmen (women) for making controversial “tweets.”[2] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) immediately accused the Speaker of racism for picking on the four young women “of color.” What I find amusing is that the race card is the Demoncrats’ favorite weapon to wield against their opponents and here AOC employs it against her boss! It’s funny!

Alright! Let’s stop all of this right now! All God’s chil’en are “of color.” First of all, white is the reflection of all colors of the light spectrum. Black is the absorption of all colors and the reflection of none. In other words, black is no color at all. Secondly, no human, not even an albino, is perfectly white; neither does the human exist that is perfectly black. All humans bear the color of the dust from which we were formed.[3]

All humans are some shade of brown. There exists only one race – the human race. The Bible recognizes nations, people, and tongues from the time God scattered the people throughout the earth from the Tower of Babel,[4] He set the boundaries of their habitation. Borders are God’s idea, and God is not racist.

Any time man goes against God’s design, tragedy follows. People within their borders develop their own cultures, their own way of looking at the world, and their own physical features. However, when they breach their borders and encroach upon foreign lands, they will experience conflict with the culture of the land which they invaded. To flourish in the new land, they must assimilate with the new culture or isolate themselves and remain in conflict. The latter benefits neither the immigrant nor the land to which they immigrate.

Historically, the United States has welcomed immigrants from other lands. Every American’s roots extend to other lands. Even “Native Americans” (I hate that term) migrated to this land from elsewhere, so, really, they have no special claim. What makes Americans American is the common culture that we share. Every immigrant from the past carried the desire with them to become American. If they wanted to remain British, Irish, French, Italian, Japanese, or what-have-you, they would have remained in their country of origin. But they came to America, learned American English, adopted the American way of dress, and accepted American music. They blended into the American culture and the United States became the “melting pot” of the world.

No more! People come here from all over the world seeking “asylum” yet refusing to give up their ties to the “old world.” They isolate themselves in communities of like culture. They continue to dress like they did in the countries from which they came. Many reject the American way of life and American law and insist that their law, regardless of how oppressive, be respected and followed even insisting that the American culture conform to accommodate theirs. These do not want to be American, they only want to live in America and reap the benefits.

If I am offended by them, it is not because their skin is browner than mine. I am offended because they reject my country, and they find my God offensive. That is not racism. If anything, it is nationalism. President Trump is a nationalist, not a racist.

The Demoncrats favor open borders. Their interest is not for the nation. They favor the fragmentation of our culture and society. They pit one ethnic group against another. They strive for division – black against white, poor against rich, law against the lawless. Their goal is to make the United States of America the Divided States of America, and when they achieve that goal, they will be positioned to rule. It is the Socialist/Communist strategy to gain totalitarian control.

Circling back to the issue of illegal aliens and the breakup of families due to deportation, there was a news story this week about an illegal alien pleading her case before Congress. This woman, who testified in Spanish before Congress, was being deported due to her illegal status. She resided in this country illegally for several years. She married an American man and had several children by him born here in the United States. Now she was caught and pleaded for mercy. I apologize for my lack of sympathy, but she broke our law by entering illegally. I do not know if she crossed our southern border illegally or overstayed her visa, either way, she broke the law. She attempted to circumvent the law by marrying an American man and giving birth to his children in the United States. In all that time, she did not attempt to gain legal status (options do exist for such cases), nor did she bother to learn the language. Now she is being deported and expects special pleading. She broke the law!

Demoncrats take advantage of cases like this to play on our emotions. However, emotions should not play a part in situations such as this. At one extreme, our country would be overrun with “asylum seekers” because we pity their desperate state. At the other extreme, violence could erupt from vigilante groups taking the law into their own hands to defend our borders.

Lady Justice wears a blindfold for a reason. The law must be upheld without prejudice and without emotion. If the law is flawed then the law should be changed, but in the meantime, it must be upheld. The Demoncrats that advocate for open borders, rather than wasting time litigating against the President, should spend their time rectifying the immigration issue in a way that suits them. But they are hypocrites. They do not want to change the law; they just want to prevent the President from enforcing it.

My father came into this country illegally from Mexico under an assumed name at the age of 18. He met and married my mother and became a Christian. About the time I came along his conscience started to bother him knowing that as a Christian he was responsible to obey the laws of man as well as the laws of God.[5] He returned to Mexico and served two years in the Mexican army to fulfill his obligation to that country. In the meantime, he worked on gaining legal entry into the United States. For years he carried a “green card” and diligently kept his status current. He finally became a citizen late in life. On return from one of our trips to Mexico, I can still recall the smile on my father’s face and the pride in his voice when he answered, “American citizen” to the Border Patrol officer at the crossing. He was not Mexican anymore. He was, “American citizen!” Even before that, my father stood with pride at the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of our National Anthem, and he would slap us on the back of the head if we forgot to remove our cap when the American flag passed by during a parade.

So, I find it very difficult to sympathize with illegal invaders who suffer the consequences of their lawbreaking. There is a thing called responsibility, and all rational adults should understand what that word entails. I also find it very difficult to sympathize with illegal invaders who protest our immigration laws while trampling the American flag and waving the flag of their country of origin. It has nothing to do with race. It IS all about nationalism, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is no black or white. We are all some shade of brown and we are all created in God’s image.[6] But if you hate America and everything for which America stands, please do us all a favor and go back to the homeland you love so much. If you want to stay in America, then get to know and love America. Learn her real history, her form of government, her language, and her culture. Be an American.

Notes:


[1]  “Demographics of Immigrants in the United States Illegally” – https://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000845

[2]  “Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez clash drags on, threatening Democratic unity” – https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/11/nancy-pelosi-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-feud-1407292

[3]  Genesis 2:7

[4]  Genesis 11:1-9

[5]  Romans 13:1-7

[6]  Genesis 1:26-27

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Building Up the Temple

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, (Matthew 21:12)

Last week I wrote about a special assignment[1] I was given for the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. An ICR benefactor donated a Life of Christ diorama for exhibition in the Discovery Center. The set contains thousands of pieces – buildings, tents, people, animals, furnishings, etc. – fabricated mostly by an Italian company, and it often hints of Catholic influence.

One of the scenes will be of Jesus cleansing the Temple before His crucifixion. The “temple” that came with the set is patterned after Greco-Roman architecture. It in no way represents the Temple that Jesus would have known. Perhaps visitors to the Discovery Center will not notice the discrepancy, but others, like me, will see the flaw. That bothers me. We cannot allow anything to distract from the Gospel message.

Determined to correct the error, I took the dimensions of the Temple given in the Bible[2] and converted the cubits to feet and the feet to inches.  Then I measured the width of the set “temple” to get the scale the footprint for the model I would build of the Temple. As it turned out, a scale model would be 58 inches tall and would probably cause a greater distraction than the building that came with the diorama. So, I scrapped my idea and resolved to use the incorrect building that came with the set.

When I told Henry, (the MIC) of my decision, he encouraged me to follow through with my idea. He reminded me that the Temple model did not need to be an exact scale; it just needs to “look” like the Temple of Jesus’ day. Pictured above is the beginning of what will be the Temple model. To see the completed model, you will need to visit the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History when it opens this September (2019).

Jewish religious life revolved around the Temple and Jesus, being an observant Jew, followed all the laws regarding it. When He was just eight days old, His earthly parents presented Him along with the required sacrifice to the priests at the Temple.[3] He had His bar mitzvah in the Temple at the age of 12,[4] and as Scripture points out, He went to the Temple each year for the Passover.

In His final week of life, He exercised the practice of ridding His house of “leaven” in preparation for the Passover by cleansing the Temple of the illegal trade that took place there. “And [He] said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13, emphasis mine). The Temple was His house.

The Temple bears the shape of a cross. At the foot of the cross is the altar where the sacrifices are burned. Jesus gave His life as our eternal sacrifice. Beyond the altar resides the laver or mikvah where the priests would wash before entering the Temple. Jesus is the “living water” that cleanses us from all sin.[5] The Temple has only one door through which the priests can enter. Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9, emphasis mine). Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). As one enters through the door of the Temple, on the left stands a seven-branch menorah. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine). On the right is the table of the “showbread.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst,” (John 6:13, emphasis mine). Directly ahead stands the altar of incense which represents the prayers of the people going up to God. Jesus said, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

Beyond the altar of incense rises a heavy curtain from floor to ceiling that separates this holy place from the Holy of Holies where the very presence of God resides. Inside that sanctum resided the Ark of the Covenant, covered by the Mercy Seat upon which the sacrificial blood was spilled on behalf of all the people. This place was so holy that only the high priest could enter and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement,[6] Yom Kippur.  When Jesus died on the cross, He carried His own blood into the heavenly Holy of Holies spilling it on God’s mercy seat. “And, behold, the veil [the curtain] of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:51, emphasis mine), and the way into the presence of God was opened for us.

Today every true believer is the Temple of God[7] because we have His presence within us.[8] The model temple I am building is a simple replica of the one that used to be. But the real Temple is me and anyone else who has invited the Lord to save them and take up residence within. I want to build an excellent model for visitors to the Discovery Center to enjoy, but even more important is the maintenance of the Temple in which God now resides.

If what I am saying sounds strange, visit my page on Securing Eternal Life.

Notes:


[1]  “On a Hill Far Away” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2019/05/12/on-a-hill-far-away/

[2]  1 Kings 6:2

[3]  Luke 2:22-24

[4]  Luke 2:41-52

[5]  1 John 1:7

[6]  “Rosh HaShanah” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[7]  Living Temples – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/18/living-temples/

[8]  1 Corinthians 3:16

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On A Hill Far Away…

And Other Biblical Misconceptions

 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: (John 19:17)

With the forthcoming opening of the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History, I and a co-laborer (whom I cannot name because I did not request his permission) have been honored with the task of creating the scenery for the Life of Christ Diorama that will reside across from the Empty Tomb exhibit. An ICR benefactor donated the diorama for exhibition in the Discovery Center. The set contains thousands of pieces – buildings, tents, people, animals, furnishings, etc. – fabricated mostly by an Italian company. The extensive collection cannot all fit in the space allotted, so our leaders determined only to display pivotal scenes in the life of Christ.

Not to give away all the details of the diorama, I want to focus on the crucifixion scene. Where to position the crucifixion scene came into question. Should it be elevated on top of a hill or should it be placed on a lower level between the road and the hill? As Christians, we know the familiar words of the old hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.” The lyrics say, “On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross…” I do not know if it is due to the lyrics of the beloved hymn or due to some other handed down tradition, but we all imagine that Jesus was crucified at the top of Mount Calvary. However, musical lyrics or timeless tradition should not be the basis for what we believe. What does the Bible say?

And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull… (Matthew 27:33)

And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. (Mark 15:22)

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. (Luke 23:33)

And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: (John 19:17) (Emphasis mine)

The Bible does not often provide specific detail of events, but very often it does. The language of the Gospels is Greek. The Greek word for “hill” is either oros or bounos; the latter used only in Luke 3:5, and the former used in several passages in the N.T.[1] Furthermore, Greek prepositions indicate precise positions. The Greek preposition for “on” or “upon” is epi. It means “superimposition,” that is, to be “over” or “upon.” None of the four Gospels give any indication that the crucifixion took place “on a hill called Mount Calvary”[2] regardless of what the song lyrics say. Furthermore, the public spectacle of crucifixion[3] intended as a deterrent against lawlessness took place in the most public of places, usually, a busy roadside where passersby could get a close look at the suffering victims.

I researched, albeit not extensively, information about the location of the crucifixion. Most of the information[4] argues about three possible “places,” and most shy away from making dogmatic statements. The possible locations offered are, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher (which supposedly houses both the crucifixion and burial sites), The Garden Tomb[5] area (which is very near a limestone formation whose face features two prominent grottos that look like the eye sockets of a human skull), or just some unknown place outside of the Old City (of Jerusalem) designated by the Romans for public executions. All of these resources spoke of the “place” but none ventured to suggest whether the crucifixion took place “on” the hill or “by” the hill, but all agreed that it was “at” Golgotha/Calvary.

The “experts” fail to commit to “on” or “by”, but all four Gospels omit the preposition epi (on). To me that says that Jesus was crucified “at” Calvary, not “on” Calvary. My conclusion led me to determine that the diorama will feature the crucifixion scene near the road with a skull-shaped hill in the background. Besides scriptural reasons, there are practical reasons for my decision. A crucifixion on top of a hill, while it might be visible to all, could easily be ignored by passersby thus defeating the deterrent factor of the event. To get a close-up view – and who would want to – would require extra effort making it a disincentive for gathering a crowd, thus defeating the intended purpose of the Romans. However, if the crucifixion took place on a busy road, the only way to avoid the spectacle would be to take the long way around to enter the city. A roadside crucifixion makes more sense to me.

What does that have to do with salvation? Nothing. Jesus dying for you and me on the cross and rising again on the third day matters more than the place or the position. However, there are many non-believers who will find fault with any perceived discrepancy in Scripture. As Christians, we need to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Controversies like these will come up. For example: “Jesus said He would be in the grave three days and three nights.[6] There are not three days and three nights between Friday and Sunday. The Bible is wrong!” Another example is the anointing of Jesus. “All the Gospels give accounts of Jesus’ anointing, but they are all different”[7] How would you respond to this challenge? A careful study of Scripture will reveal that there were three separate anointings; Matthew and Mark refer to one before the crucifixion, Luke recounts one before the Transfiguration, and John records one by Mary after Jesus raised her brother Lazarus after four days dead.

Other examples can be cited, but the point is that we need to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15) rather than relying on song lyrics, traditions, or human scholarship. Do not just read your Bible, study it!

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 5:14; Luke 1:36, 65; 3:5; 4:29; 9:37

[2]  “I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=OPByLTzkctc

[3]  “Crucifixion” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion

[4]  “Where Was Jesus Crucified? – Golgotha ‘the Place of the Skull’” – https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/where-was-jesus-crucified.html

[5] “Jesus’ crucifixion site? (A ‘Skull’, Garden & Tomb)” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=-7fHnnqre1o

[6]  “Three Days, Three Nights” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/07/13/three-days-three-nights/

[7]  “Jesus Last Days” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/25/jesus-last-days/

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Dog Evolution

Nacho: “What! You’ve got to be kidding!”

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. (Genesis 1:24)

I came in late from work the other night, warmed up my dinner and joined my wife in front of the television set to watch the last half of “Hawaii 5-0.” I enjoy this show mostly because I do not need to exert much mental capacity to see through the incredible (a.k.a. “unbelievable”) plots.

After the show, June switched the channel to some animal show. She enjoys all kinds of animal shows, veterinarian shows, and weird shows like “Dr. Pimple Popper.” That explains why I do not watch a lot of T.V. Anyway, the channel she landed on dealt with dog evolution. That piqued my interest, so I stretched out on the couch to watch the rest of the show.

The program started out claiming that all dogs “evolved” from wolves. Evolutionists conveniently conflate two distinct forms of evolution and lump them all together and call it all evolution. However, there is a clear distinction which the evolutionists work hard to blur. They would have us believe that microevolution, minor variations within species, is evidence for macroevolution, which teaches that all life forms, i.e., sea creatures, plants, insects, animals, birds, etc. all sprung from a single-cell creature that resulted from some freak chemical reaction of inert material in some primordial pond. Many problems exist with that notion that would prevent anything to come close enough to where microevolution could take place. Evolutionists cannot explain how macroevolution happens, but they know it did happen because we observe microevolution take place. So, let’s just remove the confusion and call it all evolution.

Setting that debate aside, let’s just play along. Evolutionists want to explain the existence of life without a Life Giver and design without a Designer. If everything just popped into existence, perfectly designed to fill all kinds of environmental niches, there is no need for God.

So the T.V. program proclaimed that all dogs evolved from wolves. I agree with that, only I prefer to say that all dogs descended from wolves – two, in fact, the two Noah carried onboard the Ark. “And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive” (Genesis 6:19-20, emphasis mine). That “kind” is the same “kind” that God created back in Genesis 1. We may understand “kind” by the taxonomical term of “family.” Within a “kind,” there exists enough flexibility in the DNA to allow for variation and “speciation.” So from the “wolf kind,” or “canine family” we can get wolves, foxes, jackals, hyenas, dingoes, etc., and our loving canine companions – dogs.

Evolutionists assert that evolution is progressive and that life forms improve through the process, and that weaker forms die off. That is called “survival of the fittest.” However, a close examination of dog evolution shows that the descendants of the pair carried on the Ark, have lost many of the characteristics of the first wolves. Their DNA looses information rather than gaining new information; therefore, it is impossible to breed back up the chain to make wolves out of Chihuahuas.

I found it amusing how the show’s producers discussed breeding programs to “evolve” other varying breeds of dogs. They seemed completely unaware that what they called evolution, which supposedly is a random and purposeless process, actually involved specific purposes determined by an intelligent designer, i.e., the breeder. Great Danes did not just “evolve;” they were bred to be Great Danes by intelligent human beings. Yet somehow, that minor fact seemed to elude the producers of the show.

Wolves did not “evolve” from any other animals. They were created by God in the beginning as the “canine kind.” Dogs and other canine species did not “evolve,” but rather “descended” from wolves (the original canine kind). And the reason we have so many varieties of dogs is that humans, who are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), exercised their God-given intelligence to selectively breed dogs for specific purposes. So much for dog evolution!

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