Category Archives: Religion

Age of the Earth

“And the earth was without form and void” (Genesis 1:2)

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:11)

Many Christians find it difficult to believe that the universe and the earth are only about 6000 years old. After decades of assault from all sides by evolutionists touting that billions of years of evolution are well-established scientific fact, Christian scholars, intimidated by the prospect of appearing uneducated while at the same time desiring to uphold the veracity of the Bible, seek compromises that attempt to “shoehorn” evolution into the simple text of the creation account recorded in Genesis.

Several of the compromises exist today even though solid biblical and scientific scholarship has shown them to be false. The Gap Theory,[1] for example, attempts to squeeze billions of years between Verse 1 and Verse 2 of Genesis 1 supported only by vivid imaginations and extra-biblical Jewish writings and traditions but offers zero biblical backup. The Day-Age Theory mistranslates the normal meaning of “day” into indefinitely long periods of time. The Day-Age Theory, when examined carefully and critically presents several problems. Then there is Theistic Evolution that makes out God to be some cosmic tinkerer or experimenter as if He could not get it right the first time.

Other compromises probably exist, but recently I heard a new one. Someone wrote in with the perfect solution to the age of the earth problem. He said:

I believe that the earth is young, 6000 years old, but when I look at Genesis 1: 9-10, I see that what God called the earth is DRY land, not the whole planet. In other words, it is the DRYNESS of the land that is sticking up above the surface of the seas that God had just made that is young or new or 6000 years old. This isn’t my opinion, the Bible describes this. So verses 1 and 2 plus Day 1 and Day 2 need to be interpreted using what Moses says the earth is. So you see trying use dates given by dating techniques to work out how old the ‘earth’ is a waste of time. I personally doubt that it would be possible to date the age of anything. This is because I think anything God makes would always be ‘as new’, until we get to when sin occurred here and then the flood. Using the context approach, entirely within chapter one, it is easy to see what ‘heaven’ is as well. The universe was made instantly by God’s word for sure, but that wasn’t Moses’ focus in Genesis. Another question to ask using the context approach is, ‘Why did God do what He did in Genesis One, the climax of which is Adam and Eve?

What the writer suggests is that the first two days were long periods of time – millions or billions of years, but the appearance of land on the third day is the starting point for counting the age of the earth. I can commend him for taking a hard look at Scripture, however, his disadvantage, it appears, is that he is relying strictly on the English translation of the Bible. The original language, Hebrew, makes things very clear. The Hebrew word for “day” is yôm. Yôm, in the Old Testament nearly always refers to a normal 24-hour day, especially when it is associated with an ordinal number: first day, second day, third day, etc. If that were not clear enough, God clearly defines what a day is: “And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5). So, one cannot add extensive periods of time to the creation account without doing harm to the text.

Genesis 1:9-10 is another place where the English language fails to translate the Hebrew precisely. In my King James Bible, the word “land” is in italics meaning that the word was inserted in the text for clarity to the English reader. Literally, the phrase should read, “let the dry appear: and it was so. And God called the dry Earth.” (vv. 9-10). The Hebrew word translated “earth” is ‘erets, and it can mean soil, ground, land (as in a plot of land or as a region like “the land of Egypt), and in a greater sense, the planet Earth. Context determines the meaning, which makes me wonder why the translators capitalized the word “Earth” when the context is referring to the “dry land” and not to the entire planet. The conclusion that it is only the “dryness” that is 6000 years old contradicts the definition of yôm given in Verse 5 (and the rest of Scripture).

Reading in its normal context, giving the words their normal meaning, the creation account recorded in Genesis 1 clearly states that God created the universe, the earth, and everything upon the earth in six 24-hour days. One must either accept that or reject it, but woe to them who attempt to add to or take away from that Word to make it fit the whims of sinful men (Deuteronomy 12:32; Revelation 22:18).

Since the writer was convinced that the 6000-year age of the earth started with the appearance of dry land, I did not expound any further on the age of the earth. However, some of the readers of this blog may still doubt since “experts” in the field of anthropology place the beginning of human history between 8000 BC and 5000 BC with “civilization” beginning around 3000 BC. According to biblical chronology, creation happened around 4000 BC, and man was “civilized” from the beginning. Many biblical scholars question this date because they fear appearing ignorant among the “experts.” The Bible presents a straightforward chronology in the “begats” cited in Genesis 5. Biblical scholars that doubt the accuracy of this chronology suggest that there may be gaps of hundreds or even thousands of years in these generations. However, a careful examination of the text reveals no such gaps. The years recorded in Genesis 5 are from event to event – from the age of the father to the birth of that son. For example, Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born or conceived (Genesis 5:3); that is 130 years from Creation. Seth was 105 years old when Enos was born or conceived (Genesis 5:6); that adds up to 235 years from Creation. Enos was 90 years old when Cainan was born or conceived (Genesis 5:9); that adds up to 325 years from Creation and so on. The table below breaks down the timeline.

Image Credit: Institute for Creation Research

[2]

Add to these the genealogies recorded in Genesis 11 (included in the table above), and we learn that Abraham was born between 1,948 to 1,985 years after Creation or around 2018 BC. The year of Abraham’s birth is pretty well established +/- 100 years, so given the chronology recorded in Genesis, all of Creation is not much more than 6000 years old. Of course, many will argue that, but their argument is against Scripture. Personally, I would be careful about challenging God on the accuracy of His Word. To question what we do not understand is one thing. To deny the veracity of God’s Word is something else altogether. According to Scripture, the Earth is only about 6000 years old.

Notes:


[1]  “No Gap” https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/10/18/no-gap/

[2]  JAMES J. S. JOHNSON, J.D., TH.D, “How Young Is the Earth? Applying Simple Math to Data Provided in Genesis” – http://www.icr.org/article/how-young-earth-applying-simple-math-data-provided/

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The Devil

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

A 2003 Gallup poll concluded that 70% of Americans believe in the existence of the Devil.[1] A 2009 Barna survey stated, “A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement,”[2] i.e., that Satan is a real entity. I could not find a more recent survey, but my observation tells me that most either do not believe in the existence of the Devil or they are unaware or indifferent of his existence. On the darker side, there is a rise in Satan worship and the occult.[3]

Regardless of survey results or prevailing thought, Satan – the Devil, Lucifer, the Serpent the Dragon, the Accuser – exists. The Bible introduces him first as the conniving serpent in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1).[4] The Book of Job identifies him as the Adversary (Job 1:6; 2:1) – “Satan” means “opponent or adversary.” Isaiah describes his pride and arrogance and his elevated position among God’s angels before his fall (Isaiah 14:12-15). The prophet Ezekiel offers a similar description (Ezekiel 28:11-19).

That the Devil is powerful is clear. However, his power is limited; he is not omnipotent (all-powerful) like God. He is not omniscient; therefore, he has to guess at what God will do. He knows the Bible better than most highly educated theologians do, but he cannot discern God’s ultimate plan; although he realizes his time is growing short.

The Devil is not omnipresent. He is a created being; therefore, he is constrained by time. God’s transcendence allows Him to exist both outside of time and at every point within time (past, present, future) simultaneously. The Devil cannot do that. The Devil must operate in the present, and he can only be in one place at a time. However, who knows how many demons he has working for him! To say, “The Devil made me do it” is probably a false accusation.

The Devil and his angels are immortal; therefore, they know a lot of “history” which is why they can reveal things about people in the past to “psychics.” However, they can only guess at the future.

All that said, the Devil is not to be trifled with. He hates God, and he hates God’s most prized creation – you and me. More than that, he hates God’s people – Christians and Jews – and he wants to do all he can to destroy them. He also thinks he can overthrow God. He thinks that by destroying God’s people, or by attempting to thwart God’s prophetic promises, that he can somehow subvert God. For such an intelligent creature, he really is stupid.

We need not fear the Devil. The Bible assures us that “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Our leading verse reminds us that we must be “sober.” The Greek word nēphō means to “abstain from wine,” but it implies that we must keep a clear mind. There are many things besides drugs and alcohol that can cloud our thinking – anything that dominates our thoughts at the exclusion of God qualifies as insobriety. We must be “vigilant.” The Greek word there is grēgoreuō, and it means to be “watchful,” to be “on guard.” We are not watchful when the things of this world – things that are insignificant in the light of eternity – constantly and consistently distract us.

The Devil “walks around” (because he is not omnipresent) looking for whom he can devour. Christians cannot be eternally destroyed by the Devil, but he can surely make a mess of our lives if we let him. Therefore, we must be “sober” and “vigilant” and resist him when we remain “stedfast in the faith.” The Devil is a formidable opponent but not unbeatable. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, emphasis mine).

Notes:


[1] “The Devil and the Demographic Details”  https://news.gallup.com/poll/7858/devil-demographic-details.aspx

[2]  “Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist” https://www.barna.com/research/most-american-christians-do-not-believe-that-satan-or-the-holy-spirit-exist/

[3]  “What the Hell? Satan worship on rise in America” https://www.rt.com/op-ed/357523-what-hell-satan-worship-america/

[4]  “Why Satan?” https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/11/02/why-satan/

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How Long, O Lord?

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? (Revelation 6:9-10)

I still have my head on my shoulders. I have not lost it or even had the threat of losing it over my faith in Christ. The verse above describes the Tribulation saints martyred for their faith. However, it makes me wonder about the many of our brethren that have died for their faith in other parts of the world. Are they asking the same question? “How long, O Lord do you not judge and avenge our blood?”

I have nothing about which to complain. I see persecution of Christians increasing in our nation, but it has not reached the level of imprisonments or beheadings – yet. Still, I wonder, “How long, O Lord?” How long must we wait for Jesus to come and call us home? How long until He returns to earth with His saints to set up His early kingdom for a thousand years? How long before we can experience true peace on earth? How long, O Lord?

The stage is set. Israel dwells in relative peace in her land of “unwalled villages” (Ezekiel 38:11). She has been there for 70 years. Because of her presence, the desert rejoices and blossoms as a rose” (Isaiah 35:1). Seventy Jubilees have passed since Moses received the commandment on Mt Sinai (Leviticus 25:10). Russia, Turkey, and Iran position themselves for the war described in Ezekiel 38-39. There have been “signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25). In reality, not much else needs to be fulfilled. How long, O Lord?

Last week, the Feast of Trumpets came and went uneventfully. I really hoped to hear the Lord shout, “Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1), but nothing. Nothing says the Lord must come at the Feast of Trumpets or any other “special” time, for that matter. However, as I have written before, there is a good reason to consider these “high watch” days. This week brings the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32) which is immediately followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-44). These are “Feasts of the Lord.” They are His divine appointments; therefore, it is not unreasonable to consider these days more likely than any others. However, we need to keep in mind Jesus’ words, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Some debate about what that really means. The fact remains that we do not know. So, we wait. The time is near, but how long, O Lord?

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Still Listening Again

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

Every year for at least the last decade – ever since I learned about the Feasts of the Lord[1] – around this time of year, I start getting a little anxious with excitement wondering if this will be the year that Jesus will call His bride home.[2], [3], [4], [5], [6] This Monday, September 10, the Feast of Trumpets comes around again. For those of us who look forward to the Rapture of the Church, this is a “high watch” day. The reason for this, as I have explained in the past, is because this is the next Feast not fulfilled by Jesus’ First Advent. Therefore, it stands to reason that Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of Trumpets) would be a good time for Jesus to summon His Bride, the Church, home. Every year as I have waited, the day has come and gone, and we are still here. You might think that eventually I would experience “Rapture Fatigue” and give up on the whole idea. However, I still have oil in my lamp and even some extra! (Matthew 25:4)

Some will criticize and remind us that Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). The Rapture is imminent. It could happen at any time, and we ought always to be ready. Nothing prophetically remains unfulfilled for this event to take place. Israel celebrated her 70th rebirthday this past May. We live in the generation that witnessed the “fig tree” bud (Matthew 24:32-33). This year wraps up the 70th Year of Jubilee since Moses gave the ordinance 3500 years ago. Israel is the focal point of end-times prophecy, so our attention must focus on current events in the Middle East. The stage is being set for what “prophecy watchers” call the “Ezekiel 38-39 War.” At the time of this writing, Russia, Turkey, and Iran are meeting concerning their involvement in Syria. Damascus almost resembles the ruinous heap described in Isaiah 17:1.

Will these things happen before or after the Rapture? We cannot tell. No man knows the day or the hour, but we sense that the time is near. Will the Rapture take place at the Feast of Trumpets? Perhaps. The Feast of Trumpets is celebrated over two days because it is based on the verified appearance of the new moon. Since the exact time of the appearance cannot be accurately predicted, the Feast of Trumpets is known as the feast of which “no man knows the day or the hour.” This year the watch is set for Monday and Tuesday, September 10 & 11 beginning at sundown on Sunday, September 9 (the date of this posting).

Will Jesus call for His Bride in the coming weeks? I do not know, but I hope so, and I am ready! How about you? If you are unsure, read my pages on “Securing Eternal Life” and on “Heaven.”

Notes:


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

[2]  “Still Waiting!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/24/still-waiting/

[3]  “Now’s A Good Time!” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/09/17/nows-a-good-time/

[4]  “Coming Soon!” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/07/09/coming-soon/

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

[6]  “Still Listening” https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/09/20/still-listening/

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Merit-Based Salvation

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

There exists a common misconception among non-Christians and, sadly, even among some Christians, that when it comes time to meet our Maker that we can gain entrance into the celestial realm based on our merits. As our lead verse suggests, “God shall bring every work into judgment … whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” If challenged, those who hold that view almost always see themselves as better than most. They may admit to “small” sins like telling a “white lie” now and then, stealing a pack of gum, failing to correct a cashier when given too much change, or something equally innocuous. By their estimation, their “good” works will outweigh their “evil” works on the cosmic scales, and God will say, “Good enough!”

To some extent, it seems that the Bible teaches merit-based salvation. Our lead verse teaches that God looks at every work, both good and evil. Superficially, one may get the impression that He weighs the two – good on one side, evil on the other. First Peter 1:17 says that “the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work…” (emphasis mine). Indeed, at the end of time when Christ’s millennial reign on earth has ended, a scene unfolds where all who ever lived appear before the judgment seat of Christ. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:13).

It indeed appears that people will be judged according to their works. Should this be cause for hope for those counting on their own goodness? Taking a closer look at our leading verse, note that God scrutinizes “every work” and determines whether it is good or evil based on His standard of goodness. God made man in His image (Genesis 1:27), and for that reason, God deemed man “very good” (Genesis 1:31), but man messed that up in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Beginning with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7), man’s attempt at covering up his sin always falls short of the perfection he possessed before the Fall. Only perfection qualifies for entry into the presence of God. “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27, emphasis mine). Interestingly, I cannot find the word “sin” in the book of Revelation, but there are several synonyms: anything that defiles, whatever works abomination or makes a lie. All of that is sin, so whether one has a little sin or a lot of sin, one is disqualified from entering heaven.

The Great White Throne Judgment scene in Revelation sees “books” opened, and the “dead” judged by the content of the books “according to their works” (Revelation 20:12). Evidently, there are “ledger books” recording both the good and evil deeds of every person that has ever lived. Since NOTHING that defiles “shall in no wise enter,” no one qualifies. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). However, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). There the guilty sinner stands before the Righteous Judge, “and another book was opened, which is the book of life … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Reader, is your name written in the Book of Life? Do not think you are good enough – that your sins are minor compared to someone else. Only perfection gains entry into heaven and no one qualifies. However, there is a way. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

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Being Gods

Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?       (John 10:34)

When Satan met Eve in the Garden of Eden, he charged that by His prohibition against eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God denied Adam and Eve of something good. “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 3:5, emphasis mine).

Being gods remains mankind’s greatest desire. We all want to have complete, unfettered control of our lives with no one telling us what to do; and we want, as much as possible, to exert influence and control over others. The latter becomes more apparent daily as we witness the radical left’s efforts to alter the course of our nation. The strong desire to force upon our society their radical agenda manifests itself in unprecedented violence across our land. They want to be the gods that dictate what we all should do.

However, this is not a new phenomenon. History records the rise and fall of numerous demagogues. Bringing it closer to home, we might be tempted to deflect the guilt to them and deny that we harbor the same desire to make our own rules and impose them on others. We all like being gods to one extent or another.

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders wanted to be gods, although they would never admit to that. They were the keepers of God’s law, and from their self-perceived superior position, they sought to impose their perception of God’s law on others. They enjoyed their position of control. They were being gods without knowing it. However, they met their match with Jesus. Him they could not control, so they sought to destroy Him.

It was the winter before His crucifixion around the time of Hanukkah (John 10:22). The Jewish religious leaders surrounded Jesus with the hope of finding something with which to accuse Him of a capital offense. “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24). Jesus referred to His countless miracles, of which no doubt they were familiar, in His defense. Nevertheless, the clear evidence escaped these “blind guides” (Matthew 23:16, 24). Their incapacity to perceive the truth centered on the question of ownership. They were not Jesus’ sheep (John 10:26-27); they were their own “gods;” therefore they could not recognize His authority or submit to His direction.

Since the clear evidence eluded them, Jesus plainly told them what they wanted to hear, “I and [the][1] Father are one” (John 10:30). That was plain enough. Jesus made it clear that not only is He equal to God (the Father), He is the same as the Father. The message came through loud and clear. “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (John 10:31). They got what they were after. He deserved to be stoned “for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:33).

Jesus then quoted from Psalm 82, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34). The psalm begins with this declaration: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods” (Psalm 82:1). Considering the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, “the mighty” and “the gods” are the same.[2] To “the mighty” and “the gods” God challenges, “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?” (Psalm 82:2). Then He charges, “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4). These mighty gods are none other than the leaders of the people – ordinary men in extraordinary positions of power and authority. Yet, according to the psalm, they are ignorant of God’s laws and supplant them with laws of their own devices, so that “all the foundations of the earth are out of course” (Psalm 82:5). To these demigods, God says, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes” (Psalm 8:6-7). God confers the appellation of “gods” on these rulers in that they are “children” of God. As such, they are God’s representatives on the earth, “princes” to carry out God’s will on earth. However, they are not more special than other men. They will die just like every other man.

The psalm ends with a cry for God to, “Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations” (Psalm 82:8). In the end, the One true God will reign over all the earth, and here He was standing before the Jewish leaders. God accused of blasphemy by the little gods.

Solomon rightly lamented, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, emphasis mine). We still try to be our own gods – set our own rules and impose our will on others. Since the Garden of Eden, we continue being gods, even if only in our minds. The sooner we learn to let God be God, the sooner we can enjoy the peace and rest that only God can give. To all who are tired of being gods, Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour [at being gods] and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Notes:


[1]  The KJV inserts “my” in italics where the Greek text (Textus Receptus) used the definite article “the” before “Father.”  εγω και ο πατηρ εν εσμεν

[2]  Michael S. Heiser, in his book The Unseen Realm, suggests that the elohim (gods) in this psalm refers to the “congregation” of the bene elohim (sons of God) that make up the council of God.  These include both God’s angels and Satan’s angels as seen in Job 1. That idea is not implausible, however, based on Jesus’ reference to it, it can also apply to mankind.

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Three Fingers Back

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

I often hear the charge, “that’s not very Christian” coming from non-Christians when a Christian acts or speaks in a manner which the non-Christian deems inappropriate for a Christian (as if they would know what is or is not appropriate for a Christian). I get that. They make those judgments based on their humanistic worldview that determines right or wrong according to their contrived values. It is a relativistic worldview that authorizes the individual to make value judgments as he sees fit. “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Everyone has his/her own value system. Everyone has his/her own “truth.” One can say or do whatever one wishes as long as it is legal and “it does not hurt anyone else.” That rule applies to everyone – except for Christians. Christians are judged by a different measure. That measure is the subjective preconception of how a Christian ought to behave.

While I understand the source of the non-Christian’s warped perspective of how a Christian should behave, I am really taken aback when I hear the exact criticism coming from another Christian. What is up with that! One would think that all Christians should present a united front. That was Jesus’ desire for us. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word [that be us]; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-21, emphasis mine).

Now when the Mormons come knocking on your door, this is one fault they like to point out. “Why are there so many religions when Jesus wanted us all to be one?” When someone asks me that question, I quickly agree and say, “I think we should all be Baptists!” I am joking, of course. I understand most of the denominational differences, but as Christians, we should all have one thing in common that unifies us. Salvation is through Grace alone, through Faith in Christ alone. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We can discuss our differences on how we view baptism, communion, predestination vs. free will, glossolalia (speaking in tongues), eschatology (end times), creation, etc. We can even debate over those issues – in love. However, we must keep those discussions based on Scripture, not on personal opinion or the opinions of others. What does the Bible – God’s Word – have to say about it? There is nothing wrong with that, and there is much right about that. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).

However, questioning the Christianity of another Christian – especially in a public forum like Facebook – is wholly inappropriate. That very act is “un-Christian.” The familiar axiom – “When you point the finger at someone else, you have three fingers point back at you” – is true. Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). However, in saying that, He was not prohibiting value judgments. In context (Matthew 7:1-6), Jesus referred to making a condemning judgment against someone else. The Greek word translated “judge” is krinō, which means to condemn. Only Jesus can properly judge an individual because only He knows the heart and the motives of the person. We do not possess that ability. We can, however, judge actions – what can actually be seen – and determine whether those actions are right or wrong from the rubric of God’s Word. We can determine if a brother’s actions are not in keeping with God’s Word, but we have no right to accuse him of not being a Christian. We know neither his heart nor his motives.

Jesus makes it clear that we must make judgments. In the same passage, He said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6). Determining who the “dogs” and “swine” are demands a judgment. “That which is holy” and “your pearls” is the Gospel message we have to offer. Some people will reject the message and treat it as a dog treats a rag toy. The message will offend others to the point that they will attack you – either verbally or physically. Either way, their actions determine whether you continue to share the Gospel with them or not. When that happens, Jesus said to “shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them” (Mark 6:11). You have made a judgment.

Jesus later offers another example. He said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:15-16). How does one recognize a false prophet without making a judgment? One must judge! By what standard do we make that judgment? We make that judgment based on the Word of God. When the prophet speaks, do his words match up with the Word of God? You have to make a judgment! Jesus further points to the actions – fruit – of the false prophet. If that prophet talks like a Christian but behaves like the devil, then perhaps you are right to point at the “bad fruit.” If the prophet’s message is inconsistent with the Word of God, then he should be called out for his false teaching but be sure you are standing on firm, biblical ground. Also, be prepared to take on fire.

Again, we cannot judge the heart or the motives of another believer, or anyone for that matter. It is possible, though doubtful, that the false prophet is a Christian. I have known false prophets who spoke the truth, right out of God’s Word, but their lives told a different story. The truth of God’s Word remains, though the messenger may be faulty. Here is where we must be careful in making judgments. The false prophet may or may not be a true believer. I have heard testimonies of pastors that preached behind pulpits for many years before realizing their own lost condition and turning to Christ for salvation. It can happen! Jesus cautioned, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? … Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3, 5).

Before accusing a fellow believer of not being Christian, we must examine ourselves – critically – to make sure we are not at fault. Moreover, I cannot emphasize it strongly enough; our judgment – even our self-examination – must be based on Scripture, not personal (or “expert”) opinion. We should be willing to judge ourselves more strictly than we do the errant brother. Then, with our conscience cleared by the Holy Spirit, we can judge the “actions” of that brother – never, never the heart or motives. When we find a brother in err, Jesus said, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matthew 18:15). What if he will not listen? Read the rest of the passage.

There is another danger in Christians accusing Christians of non-Christian behavior. If you do this, you are playing for the wrong team. There is one who constantly brings charges against Christians before God. He is known as “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Scripture first introduces him to us in that role in the account Job’s life (Job 1:6-7). His name is Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12), but his title is Satan – accuser. Of this one, Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). When we wrongly judge another Christian – especially in a public way – we are guilty of slander. Another word for slander is character assassination, i.e., murder. When you do that, you are doing the devil’s work for him. Do you really want to go there?

Judge, but judge with righteous judgment. Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). The only way to carry out righteous judgment is by the standard of God’s Word – not your feelings, not your opinions, not the opinions of “experts,” and especially not by the ever-changing standards of the world. God’s Word is the only measure by which to judge righteously. When you feel tempted to judge a fellow believer, take a very close look at yourself and “first cast out the beam out of thine own eye.” You may find that you are the one in the wrong, not your brother. If your brother is in the wrong, take him aside and lovingly help him see his error from Scripture. Don’t point out his error on Facebook or some other public forum; that is what Satan would have you do because Satan’s goal is to destroy the Christian witness however he can. Don’t help him; he does a good job of that on his own. Remember, when you point the finger, three are pointing back at you.

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