Tag Archives: Sin

The Man Upstairs

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

I am certain that every writer experiences “writer’s block” occasionally. For me, it occurs more often than I would like. Most often it happens when I have neglected spending consistent time in the Word. Since this blog is biblically based, it is important that I remain faithful to Bible reading from which I draw my inspiration.

Those who follow this blog know that I post something every Sunday morning. I have no obligation to write. This blog does not contribute to my livelihood in any way, so if the “well is dry” no harm is done if I skip a week or two. However, when I started this blog, I committed to produce something regularly that would benefit the readers. Besides those who subscribe to this blog, I get readers from all over the world, so I take care to rightly divide the Word of truth[1] knowing that I am accountable to God for the way I handle His Word. I am also keenly aware that not everyone that reads my blog is a born-again Christian. So, I do my best and pray that God will use it for His glory.

Anyway, this was one of those weeks, and I kept praying that God would give me something for subject matter. When I find myself in an empty well, God often gives me inspiration from the most unusual sources.

This week I received it from the evening sportscast. I am not at all interested in sports. Oh, I like to watch a good game now and then, but I am not a fanatic about any sport or any team. However, as I sat in front of my TV set with my reheated Tex-Mex leftovers, paying more attention to my refried beans and enchiladas than to the programming, I caught a brief sound bite from the sportscaster that perked up my ears. As I said, I am uninterested in sports so the details eluded me. He mentioned some football player who was traded for a better deal. The sportscaster attributed the player’s windfall to divine intervention from “the big guy upstairs.” Why did he not just say “God”?

I hear similar epithets for God all the time – “the man upstairs,” “the big guy upstairs,” or just “the big guy” (spoken with eyes cast skyward), etc. It always bothers me when I hear this, but it bothers me worse when I hear it from Christians.

What! You’re embarrassed to say, “God”?

I am sure it bothers me more than it bothers God. After all, judgment day is coming, and that matter will be settled when all creation stands before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.[2] When Isaiah came face to face before God, he fell on his face and cried, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

Perhaps such epithets sprang up from a desire not to violate the third commandment (our verse above)[3] much like Jews avoid pronouncing the name of God, Yahweh. To avoid the infraction, they will say Adoni (“Lord”) or Ha-Shem (“The Name”). However, the intent of the commandment was for us to hold the name of God in reverence and not to cast it about carelessly.

How we use God’s name betrays how we value Him in our heart.[4] The sportscaster could have said that God intervened on behalf of the football player, and it would have been just as demeaning. The reason for this is the assumption that God had anything to do with it in the first place, and the sportscaster’s smirk indicating that he did not believe what he was saying to begin with. (I do not know that for certain as only God knows the heart.)

The practice of using epithets for God violates the third commandment, although not always. Referring to God in any careless way breaks the commandment. Even when one intends to be respectful by not using the name of God, the use of the epithet demeans the name of God. He is not the “man upstairs.” He is not a man at all.[5] He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He is the One who gives life and breath to all.[6] We should never refer to Him lightly or carelessly in our conversation. When we speak His name, it should only be with reverence and in a way that honors and glorifies Him, and we should never be ashamed or embarrassed to say His name. We do this when we testify what great things God has done for us. We do this when we speak of His love for us and for others, how He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. This is how we should use God’s name, and use it often. Do not use His name frivolously, and certainly do not demean His great character by calling Him “the man upstairs.”

Notes:


[1]  2 Timothy 2:15

[2]  1 Timothy 6:14-15

[3]  Exodus 20:7

[4]  Note: “God” is what He is, not who He is. His name is Yahweh and He has other names ascribed to Him that tell us something about His nature – like, God Almighty, God of Hosts, LORD Provider, et al.

[5]  John 4:24

[6]  Isaiah 42:5; John 6:33

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Gospel, Theology

Assault Weapons

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21-22)

All the Demoncrat (misspelling intentional) presidential candidates are campaigning on the platform of banning assault weapons and some even advocate confiscation of all firearms. The push clearly violates the Second Amendment, which exists in part to protect the First Amendment. Their assault on assault weapons presents only one avenue for denying citizens of their God-given constitutional rights. The “Green New Deal” additionally would deprive citizens of anything they, in their reprobate minds,[1] perceive as harmful to the environment. They hypocritically play on the emotions of the ignorant while they surround themselves with armed bodyguards, travel across the country in private jets, eat the flesh of air-polluting bovine, and live in mansions that consume three and four times the energy than the average American family. However, for now I only want to focus on their war against assault weapons.

What is an assault weapon? Dictionary.com defines an assault weapon as “any of various automatic and semiautomatic military firearms utilizing an intermediate-power cartridge, designed for individual use.”[2] However, I would argue that is an incorrect definition. In the first place, we are looking at two words, not one. The first is an adjective modifying the second, so of the two, the second word – weapon – is the most significant.

Dictionary.com defines “weapon” as “any instrument or device for use in attack or defense in combat, fighting, or war, as a sword, rifle or cannon,” or “anything used against an opponent, adversary, or victim.”[3] Here we see that a weapon can be used for offense (“attack”) or defense. We also see no special attention is given to “automatic or semiautomatic military firearms.” A third definition offered is in the area of zoology: “any part or organ serving for attack or defense, as claws, horns, teeth, or stings.”[4] Obviously, a weapon can either be used for defense or assault. Therefore, an assault weapon can also be a defensive weapon depending on its application. However, in order to remain consistent in our theme, we will keep our focus on “assault weapons.”

Since it is the modifier that makes the distinction, we need to know the meaning of “assault.” Dictionary.com defines “assault” as “(1) a sudden, violent attack; onslaught: (2) Law. an unlawful physical attack upon another; an attempt to offer to do violence to another, with or without battery, as by holding a stone or club in a threatening manner.”[5] This definition excludes the use of a weapon. By this definition, even words might be considered assault weapons. One example given is “an assault on tradition.”[6] Clearly, the rhetoric by the Demoncrats constitutes an assault on our liberty and the Constitution.

We have learned that assault weapons can be any instrument, including words, used in a sudden, violent attack upon another person. Since weapons are not restricted only to firearms of any kind, it may be informative to examine the different kinds of weapons that can be used in an assault.

Probably the first and oldest assault weapons known to man are hands. An open hand can land a stinging blow to a victim’s face which can cause contusions and even blindness if the blow lands on an eyeball. A closed hand becomes a club which can break facial bones and even cause death. Hands can be used to strangle the life out of a victim and are capable of crushing the larynx. Hands constitute assault weapons. Feet, knees, and elbows can also be used as clubs and make formidable assault weapons.

Speaking of clubs, these come in many shapes and sizes and are readily available from any sporting goods stores. I am speaking, of course, of baseball bats. Walking canes and sticks make good clubs, and speaking of walking, one can usually find a good assault weapon laying on the ground. We call them rocks.

The average home is full of excellent assault weapons: hammers, knives, scissors, iron skillets, rope, plastic bags, pillows, etc. Some of us carry assault weapons in our shirt pockets and do not even know it. I am talking about ballpoint pens. Jab that thing with enough force into someone’s eye, and it will likely penetrate the brain causing death.

The cars we drive can also be used as assault weapons. Perhaps that is why the Green New Deal would like to do away with them.

If the Demoncrats seriously want to ban assault weapons, think of all the things we would need to give up. No, the Demoncrats do not really concern themselves with assault weapons; they want firearm confiscation because a disarmed populous offers no resistance to their desire for controlling power. The Demoncrats strategically use rhetoric as an assault weapon against liberty by redefining terms. They have redefined “assault weapon” to focus primarily on semiautomatic rifles that resemble those used by the military, like the AR-15, primarily because they “look scary” and because they seem to be the weapon of choice by mass murderers due to their high magazine capacity. However, 2017 statistics[7] indicate that rifles (of which AR-15s are only one of a kind) accounted for only 403 murders while sharp instruments accounted for 1591 murders. Handguns, both revolvers and semiautomatic, accounted for 7,032. Perhaps Demoncrats do not make as big a fuss about handguns because that is what their personal bodyguards carry.

In conclusion, almost anything can be used as an assault weapon. By the same token, an assault weapon can also be used as a defense weapon; it all has to do with the intent of the user. The nature of a weapon depends on the its modifier and its application. I keep several firearms in my home. Most of my firearms are semiautomatic. I also keep several knives with blades ranging in length from two inches to 28 inches (my samurai swords). Most of these weapons stay in their place and collect dust. None of them are used for assault. However, if needed, they can all become defense weapons.

The Demoncrats are disingenuous with their assault on assault weapons, because the problem is not the weapon. The problem is the condition of the individual’s heart. The reason they fail to see this is because their hearts are every bit as perverse as the hearts of those carrying out mass murders.

I started this article quoting a verse from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He identified murder as being a matter of the heart. “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…” (Matthew 5:22, emphasis mine).

Violence in our nation and in the world is increasing at an unprecedented rate, and denying law-abiding citizens their right to self-defense with firearms will not retard the rise. The only thing that can reverse the trend is a healthy dose of the fear of God in every human heart. Considering that the Demoncrats cut God out of their platform and embrace every pagan religion while rejecting Christianity, especially Evangelical Christianity, every form of violence, not just gun violence, will continue to increase. Our only real hope is for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to return and reclaim His creation. When He comes, He will rule with a “rod of iron”[8]  He will rule as the true “Prince of Peace.”[9] In the meantime, let us not be intimidated by the Demoncrats into giving up our “assault weapons.”

Notes:


[1]  Romans 1:28; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16

[2]  https://www.dictionary.com/browse/assault-weapon?s=t

[3]  https://www.dictionary.com/browse/weapon?s=t

[4]  Ibid.

[5]  https://www.dictionary.com/browse/assault?s=t

[6]  Ibid.

[7]  https://www.statista.com/statistics/195325/murder-victims-in-the-us-by-weapon-used/

[8]  Revelation 19:5

[9]  Isaiah 9:6

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Filed under Current Events, End Times, Politics, Random Musings, Second Coming of Christ

The Church

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

Today is Sunday, and June and I just got out of “church.” We enjoyed a wonderful time of worshiping God our Savior, Jesus Christ, and listening to the Word of God exposited by our “under shepherd,” our pastor. Then we gathered in our Sunday school classroom to enjoy family time by fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters and enjoying a time of deeper study into the Word of God. Currently, we are studying the book of Isaiah. We have been in the book of Isaiah for nearly a year, and we are only halfway through the book. I really appreciate our Bible teacher and his dedication to the careful study of God’s Word.

I have said this before, and it is still true. I love church! But what is church? Some people think of a building where people meet on Sundays for some unknown reason. Others have a vague notion that people gather there to sing and listen to some preacher talk. Many Christians consider church attendance as some kind of obligation. It’s just something one does.

Before going into what “church” is, perhaps we should understand what it is not.

“Church” is not a building. The first definition of “church” found at Dictionary.Com says that it is “a building for public Christian worship.”[1] While that may be the modern, accepted understanding of the word, it is nonetheless in error. The second definition says that a church is a “public worship of God or a religious service in such a building.” That comes closer to a correct understanding; however, it is still false.

Some people who attend church services select their place of “worship” based on the style of music that is played. They want to hear stirring music that stimulates the emotions and elevates their spirits to euphoric heights. Many church leaders are keenly aware of this “need” and they go to great expense and effort to tailor music that attracts the most number of attendees. Many “worship” services employ loud, screaming guitars, jungle-beating percussion sets, laser-light shows, and even smoke machines to stimulate the emotions. After 45 minutes or so of ear-splitting, pulse-raising “music,” the speaker comes up to give a 15-minute motivational speech specifically intended to maintain the hearer in a happy state – no talk of sin and the need for the Savior, or the prospect of hell; only talk about God’s love and how He loves you just the way you are (a partial truth originating from the “father of lies”).[2]

No, the church is not a place to be entertained, emotionally elevated, or encouraged in your sin. Even churches that still sing the “tired old hymns” can degenerate into places where we can go to just feel good about ourselves. That is not what church is. Neither is the church intended to attract unbelievers, which the modern “church growth” movement emphasizes.

The word translated “church” in the Bible is the Greek word ekklēsia, and it could be translated the “called out ones.” Immediately we notice that the definition precludes a building of any kind. So, the “church” is not a building. The church is people, and not just people, they are people that have been “called out.” The question that immediately comes to mind is, “called out of what?” Simply put, the church is an assembly of people who have been “called out” of the world. To use a “churchy” term, the church is a body of those who have been “saved” out of the world, out of sin, and out of an eternity in hell.

Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain …” (John 15:16, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “ordained” means “to place” or “to set.” In other words, Jesus has “chosen,” i.e. “called out,” His church and set it in a place to do His work on earth – to “bring forth fruit.” “Bringing forth fruit” does not necessarily mean increasing the number of attendees in a particular church body. Indeed, Jesus said, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). The “call” goes out to all, but only a few will respond. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14, emphasis mine).

Jesus said these things before the church was established at Pentecost.[3] The church, therefore, consists of individuals who are “called out” by Christ through the Holy Spirit, regardless of man-made “branding” – Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, etc. The unifying theme of the Church is a belief in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross in payment for our sin, His resurrection from the grave (after three days), His ascension into heaven and His soon return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, emphasis mine). If one trusts simply in that, that one is included in “the Church.” If, on the other hand, one is trusting in the practices observed by their church, they are probably not included in “the Church.”[4]

The Bible refers to the body of all true believers, the “called out ones,” i.e. “the Church,” as “the Bride of Christ.”[5] This is the Church – not a building or a particular “Christian” denomination. The Church is a body of “called out” individuals who join together to worship God, to “feed” on His Word, to grow and mature in the Spirit, to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, to fellowship and encourage one another, and to work together to “bring forth fruit,” i.e., bring others to Christ.

The purpose of the local church is to build up the body – the Church – for the work of the kingdom. It is not to entertain, nor is it to gain numbers for the sake of numbers. The Church is not confined to a single building; however, the smaller gathering that meets in a “church” building plays a major role as part of the “greater” Church. Therefore, “… let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

One day soon the Church will gather together from all parts of the earth in one great assembly forever to be united with our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. I so yearn for that day! In the meantime, I enjoy the little piece of Heaven God has provided here on earth in my local church with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Notes:


[1]  Church – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/church?s=t

[2]  John 8:44

[3]  Acts 2

[4]  See my articles on “False Religion”

[5]  Matthew 25:1-13; Revelation 19:7-9

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, End Times, Gospel, Hell, Religion, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ, Theology, Worship

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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Draw Near to God

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:8)

What an amazing promise! It is amazing because we know that God is always near. “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18). “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). The truth is that God is present everywhere, and there is no place that He is not.

The psalmist, David, poses the rhetorical question, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:7-13).

If God is everywhere, why should we draw near to Him? How can we draw any nearer than we already are? The separation is not that of proximity, but rather that of relationship. We have all experienced having a strained relationship with a loved one for one reason or another. While we can be in the same room or even next to one another, we feel a separation until we get the matter resolved.

James, speaking to Christians, implies that we may experience a separation from God, not because He is removed from us, but because our sin has erected a barrier that strains our relationship with Him. He still loves us, but there is tension between Him and us. And just like with our human relationships, we must seek to reconcile the rift – “kiss and make up” as it were. Unlike with human relationships, the fault is never with God, but always with us, and unlike with human relationships, God is always ready to forgive and forget. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

“Hands” are the agents of action, and for sin to be sin, it must be acted upon. Earlier in his epistle, James says, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15). So, we need to cleanse ourselves from sinful acts. Thankfully for the Christian, this is not something that we accomplish in our own strength, but through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. However, we still need to call upon that power and submit to His direction.

We purify our hearts and minds through what we “feed” them. If we continue to feed our hearts and minds on the things of this world, our desires will be for those things making us “double-minded.” Double-mindedness is a sad place to live. We want to enjoy our relationship with God and enjoy what the world offers at the same time. Jesus said you cannot serve two masters. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

The old hymn repeats, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” So, when you feel far from God, guess who moved. God is nearby, He is not the one that caused the rift in your relationship. It might be time for you to take a serious self-check.

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Squirrel

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)

Oh! He is so smart! And persistent. And the girth of his plump furry body testifies to the success of his thieving ways!

He showed up at my bird feeder early this spring. I sicced Chico, our “chug,” on him a couple of times, but that only deterred him as long as Chico patrolled the back yard. Once Chico returned inside, he was at it again.

I shooed him off a couple of times, but he never went far. As soon as I went into the house, he was at the bird feeder again. So I thought maybe I should go have a talk with him to see if we could come to an agreement. The next time he showed up I walked up to him slowly in a non-threatening way. When I got within four feet of him, he hopped off the feeder and perched on the fence to see what I would do.

I looked him in the eye and spoke softly. “Hey, Squirrel. I put this seed out for birds, not for squirrels. If I wanted to feed you and your buddies, I would have made it more convenient for you. As it is, you have managed to outwit all the obstacles I’ve employed to keep you off of this feeder. I appreciate your cunning, but I would appreciate it more if you stopped getting fat on the seed I put out for the birds.”

He just stared me, as if to say, “What do you plan to do about it?” I could see that reasoning would get me nowhere with this critter. So, I waved my arms and ordered, “Get out of here, Squirrel!” He left but came back about ten minutes later. That’s it! I dug up my old pellet pistol, loaded it with a fresh CO2 cartridge, and filled the magazine with lead pellets. I went to the back door and slowly walked to a place where I could get a clear shot. Squirrel acknowledged me but kept on eating. I took careful aim and slowly squeezed the trigger. Poof! Nothing happened. Squirrel kept eating. I squeezed the trigger again. Poof! Again, nothing happened. I opened the firing chamber and found that my rounds were jamming in the magazine. This was not the first time this pistol failed me. Now I was more determined to get that pesky squirrel.

Online, I found a nice Glock ™ CO2 pistol. It looks exactly like a regular Glock 40 caliber semi-auto, but it fires pellets rather than bullets. So I ordered the Glock and within a couple of days, I was ready to face Squirrel again. When my package arrived, I went straight to the garage where I keep my “ammo” and picked up the container of pellets to load the magazine. This pistol holds 16 rounds! Eagerly, I pulled out the magazine on the Glock and went to load it. ARG! My pellets did not fit the fill hole in the magazine. This pistol required .177 caliber steel BBs! I placed another online order for BBs and waited another two days. In the meantime, I kept Chico busy chasing away Mr. Squirrel.

When the BBs arrived, I loaded up my Glock and waited. Sure enough, thieving Mr. Squirrel showed up at my bird feeder again. This time I was ready. I stepped outside. Squirrel just looked at me. I took careful aim, squeezed the trigger, and NOTHING! What? The pistol was on safety. Squirrel kept eating. Okay. Safety off, aim, fire! POW! The discharge sounded almost like a .22. The BB found its target and Squirrel didn’t know what hit him. He shot up the feeder, onto the fence and over. When he got to the backside of the fence, I knew I hit him because, as he hung there by his back legs, all I could see was his tail flicking as if to say, “Ouch! That hurt!”

I didn’t see Squirrel again for about a week. However, he must have gotten over the sting of being shot with a BB from a powerful CO2 pistol, because he was soon back to his thieving ways. I suspected that might happen, so I started keeping my Glock on the fireplace mantle by the door. There he was again with his back to me and his face firmly planted in my bird feeder. I opened the sliding glass door and slowly stepped outside. This time Squirrel took off before I could take aim. Oh well! At least I got him off my bird feeder.

About 30 minutes later, I looked out my back door, and there he was again. Fat, fluffy, fur-ball stuffing his face with my expensive bird seed! This time, I slowly opened the door. He was so busy stuffing his face that he took no notice of the door opening. Without stepping outside, I took aim through the open door. I had him square in my sights. I slowly squeezed the trigger. NOTHING!  Dang safety! Squirrel kept gorging. I took the pistol off of safety and this time the BB spat through the muzzle with a resounding POW! Right on target! Squirrel was so shocked by the sting that, instead of running away, he started running toward me aiming for our live oak. I aimed, shot again and missed. He ran straight up the live oak and hid within the thick branches. It took some effort, but I found him and shot him again. This time, he ran down the tree, across the yard, up the fence, and into the alley. That will show him!

It wasn’t long before Squirrel forgot again. Within three days he was back. I watched as he feasted on stolen booty. As I watched, I sensed he knew the cost of his sin. He munched a little and cast an eye toward the back door. Coast clear. Another nibble or two. I knew he was on the alert because he kept looking back toward the door, so I very slowly slid open the door. As soon as the air seal broke on the door Squirrel was gone. But he came back. Now I knew that he could hear the seal break on the door, so I started leaving the door cracked open just a bit. That worked … ONCE. I shot Squirrel again, but in a day or two, he was back again. This time, he mounted the bird feeder from the back side where he could keep an eye on the door while hiding behind the bird feeder. As soon as I open the door, he vanishes. I need to rethink my strategy.

Sometimes, we are a lot like Squirrel. We know certain acts – maybe even sinful acts – result in painful consequences. However, because we enjoy doing whatever it is that causes us pain, we continue the pursuit of “sin” hoping that perhaps this time we can get away with it. When we learn that the consequences persist, we pursue our desires by different means hoping that the next time there won’t be any consequences or that they will not be as bad. Kind of like our proverb says, “like a dog returning to his vomit.” We should learn from Squirrel and not be the “fool [that] returneth to his folly.”

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Harbinger Of Demise

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem, by David Roberts (1850)

That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them. (Ezekiel 23:37)

Ezekiel prophesied to the Jewish captives in Babylon. These were the first carried into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar.[1] Nebuchadnezzar appointed Jehoiakim’s brother, Mattaniah (a.k.a. Zedekiah), as “king,” i.e., figurehead, over the remnants of Judah. [2] It is to these that the words of our verse above were addressed.

God compared Samaria, capital of the Northern Kingdom, and Jerusalem, capital of Judah, to a couple of adulterous sisters, Aholah and Aholibah.[3] The text does not say whether these were two actual women; however, the name Aholah means “her tent” as in a place of worship. Aholibah (Jerusalem) means “my tent is in her.”

The Northern Kingdom had long abandoned the worship of Yahweh for pagan gods like Baal and Molech, and established their place of worship as Mount Gerizim. Jesus encountered this when He spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain [Mount Gerizim]; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (John 4:20). So, Mount Gerizim was where Aholah (Samaria) had pitched “her tent,” but God had placed “His tent,” i.e., the Temple, in Jerusalem.

God places Himself in the position of a jilted husband whose wives persistently commit adultery against Him. This adultery comes in the form of idolatry with pagan gods. The idolatry included the live sacrifice of their babies – they had “caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them” (Ezekiel 23:37). For this, God “put away,” i.e. “divorced,” His wives. Both Israel and Judah went into captivity, and even though Judah returned to the land after 70 years, they never again enjoyed the same relationship they previously had with God.[4]

If God did that with His “chosen” people, what makes us think that the United States of America will fare better in her idolatry? America may not worship the grotesque idols of the ancients, but we do have our idols. Our greatest idol is egocentrism. We worship self. We offer up to self our time, our efforts, our money, and yes, even our babies. Babies are a major inconvenience to our own desires. They can cramp our style, so mothers can “choose” at any time to sacrifice their babies to the god of self. Just as the ancients placed their live babies onto the firey hands of Molech, modern mothers can place their live babies into the murderous and greedy hands of Planned Parenthood abortionists.

That is not all the ancients did. The worship of their gods included ritual sex with temple prostitutes – male and female prostitutes. These were not only for heterosexual sex; the practice included homosexual sex. God considers such acts as abominable.[5] Today, our god of self allows for this practice even to the point of assigning your preferred gender to yourself. This perversion is not only acceptable; it is encouraged. As the decline of social mores rapidly accelerates in decay, the words of Paul to the Romans ring ever truer.

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools … Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves … For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:22, 24, 26-32, emphasis mine).

That is the true state of our union. I was proud of our President Trump in his State of the Union address. His message was positive, encouraging and hopeful. However, in the gallery sat those who applauded only when their selfish interests were addressed. When the President spoke for the sanctity of life, for religious freedom, and against socialism, those same white-clad egotists sat grimacing on their hands. Sadly, these are the ones in power who will thwart every well-intentioned effort by our President.

The light shines brightest when it’s darkest I’ve been told. However, if the dark is a black hole, no light will ever penetrate. If God turned His back on His chosen people, for, arguably, less than our national sin, why should we expect to fare any better? Our only hope is for Jesus to return to reign on earth. From the “signs of the times,” that event can happen any time.

I hope, as you read this, that you are ready for that moment. If you are not sure, please read my page on Securing Eternal Life.

Notes:


[1]  2 Kings 24:11-16; 2 Chronicles 36:5-8

[2]  2 Kings 24:17-19; 2 Chronicles 36:10-12

[3]  Ezekiel 23:4

[4]  The final prophet to speak for God after Judah’s return to the land was Malachi. For 400 years after that, the voice of a prophet was not heard in Israel until “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23) John the Baptist. He announced the coming of Messiah whom the Jews rejected. That rejection resulted in the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the Diaspora that lasted almost 2000 years until the rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948.

[5]  Leviticus 18:22; 20:13

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