Today is Memorial Day and we had outreaches at two parades. In a conversation at the first parade a man told me that he’d only believe in a God who obeyed the Ten Commandments. That makes a lot of sense.
Allah says that it is acceptable to lie, if it advances the cause of Islam. The true God says do not lie. (Many of the cults also say it is okay to lie if it advances their religion. The Mormons, for example, call it “lying for the Lord.”)
Hindus have many gods… over 330 million. Which is the “best?” There are many opinions and some Hindu gods are chosen by more Hindus than others. God says have no other god before me.
Name your religion, and whatever “god” or “gods” that religion has, that “god” violates the Ten Commandments.
Buddhism has no “god,” but is all about glorifying self. In reality that’s a lot of gods. And each is placed “above” the true God, whose existence is denied.
Catholics put tradition above scripture… putting man above God.
Only Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. He never violated even one of the Ten Commandments. He never disobeyed God… not once. He did something no man can do, nor can any of man’s gods. A lived a perfect, sinless life.
Christians are not perfect. Christians struggle with sin. But God is perfect. The Ten Commandments are not something that God obeys, they describe who God is. That’s how you can identify gods created by mankind vs. the one true God, creator of the universe. Man creates imperfect gods.
Dr. Twongyeirwe from Uganda
Dr. Julius Twongyeirwe, the National Director of “The Proclamation Task” in Uganda, will be coming to Cannon Beach to speak about “Thinking Biblically In Diverse Cultural Contexts.” Dr. Twongyeirwe is an expert in cultural diversity and how Christianity is understood in diverse cultures.
Dr. Twongyeirwe will be speaking at the Cannon Beach Bible Church (264 E. Hills Lane ) on April 14th. The public is invited. He will speak at the regular Sunday morning service at 10:45 AM in English. He’ll also speak at the evening service at 7:00 PM. The evening service is in Spanish.
More information is available at Cannon Beach Bible Church web site.
Uganda is a country with a long Christian history and claims to be 85% Christian. But, in many ways similar to the U.S. the way people in in Uganda live does not reflect their Christian beliefs. Does does culture impact Christianity? And should how Christianity is expressed be a reflection of the culture? Or should the culture show the lifestyles in alignment with traditional Christian beliefs. Dr. Twongyeirwe will sort out diversity, culture and Christianity as he uses real-life examples from Uganda to illustrate culture and Biblical Christianity. Should orthodoxy (what is traditional understood as being Biblical ) or orthopraxy (the way things are) be the guide to the way we live our lives. This is a key concern of Christian leaders in Uganda, and a growing concern in America.
What has happened in Uganda? How should Christians view diversity? Do Christians in Uganda have lessons they can teach us?
On April 14th Dr. Twongyeirwe will bring his unique perspective on the challenges of understanding the Bible, and living a Biblical lifestyle within a culture of great diversity, to the Cannon Beach Bible Church. Dr. Twongyeirwe brings to life a Ugandan culture that is not familiar to us, and will show us how we can apply lessons learned in Uganda in our daily lives.
Dr. Julius Twongyeirwe’s Testimony:
I was born and raised in Uganda. At the passing of my mother in 1980, I struggled to understand how a loving God could allow such a painful loss. After months of trauma, a possibly helpful idea came to mind: if I convinced myself there is no God, then I would have no one to blame for my mother’s death. So I embraced atheism and sought to stamp out religion whenever and wherever I could. On one occasion, a group of six of us set out to disrupt an evangelistic crusade in Kampala. For clearly spiritual reasons, our plans were unsuccessful. Our group permanently disbanded that same day, and one week later (February 27, 1985) I dedicated my life to Christ.
Posted in African Christianity, gospel, human nature, progressive christianity, scripture
Tagged africa, biblical, christianity, cultural diversity, culture, diversity, Uganda
What is the most critical need people have?
A good job? Health care? A good place to live? Having a father in the home? These are all important, but they address temporary needs. Our time in this world is like a wisp of smoke in the wind. We’re here for a moment and then its an eternity in either heaven or hell.
The greatest need people have is the need for the gospel. The gospel makes a difference for eternity.
Move To Assurance, a Portland area international evangelism and training ministry has been involved in sharing the gospel for over ten years. You’ll see us at parades and parks. You’ll see our booths at street festivals, fairs and carnivals. But, our goal is not for us to be sharing the gospel alone, it is to get every Christian involved in using the gifts God has given them to share the gospel with the lost, needy and blind.
I’m pleased to report that in recent years I’ve seen more Christians sharing the gospel. I’m sad to report that at most locations we are the only people sharing the gospel. What’s sadder still is that most churches are not leading, training and motivating the body to obey the great commission locally and share the gospel Biblically. There are some shining stars, and I’m sure there are some I don’t know about. Maybe there is a large, invisible underground movement of sharing going on through individual personal relationships. But I see many Christians gossiping about politics and few sharing the gospel – when the gospel is actually the answer to the political problems.
In visiting with church staff I’ll hear statements such as, “Our people know how to share the gospel and they are doing it on their own.” But when I ask one of their people to share with me as though I was an unbeliever, many stumble around, tell long stories, and usually don’t get to the point. They know the gospel, they know what sin is, but expressing it in a clear, concise manner that can be understood by an unbeliever is a struggle. And getting the courage to share the gospel, and the skill to turn a secular conversation to a spiritual conversation, is not there. So the conversation about the gospel typically never starts.
What is the answer?
Just as a musician trains and practices, practices, practices so as to perform well… just as a soldier trains and practices, practices, practices so they can perform well under fire, so also sharing the gospel requires training and practice – lots of practice.
That’s the point of our ministry, Move To Assurance. We exist to provide training, but more importantly to provide safe opportunities for Christians to practice, practice, practice sharing the gospel; to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes; to try out different approaches, so they can see what fits their personality and gifts. A Sunday school class about evangelism is fine, but just like everything else in life, getting out and practicing what you’ve learned is an absolute necessity. An guess what, when you practice, the gospel is being shared!
Not everyone has gifts appropriate for meeting people on the street and telling them about Christ. For our outreaches we need all types of people. For example, in our street outreaches at parades we need people to take photographs, pack water and carry tracts. As our support people walk along with us, sometimes people will approach them and ask, “I see you are with this group. What are you doing?” That’s their opportunity to share the gospel. We have different gifts, but we’re all called to be prepared to share the gospel.
Summer’s coming. People will be outside. It’s the best time to meet people and share the gospel. Are you ready? Are the people in your church ready? Are they trained to be Biblical when sharing the gospel? Have they practiced so much that sharing the gospel has become a habit? Are they using their gifts to share the good news about Jesus Christ and be a participant in God’s plan to bring people into the kingdom of God?
I was just reading in a Russian newspaper about an aluminum-magnesium alloy section of a gear found in 300 million year old coal. The alloy and the gear could only be made with modern technology. Yet it “has to be” 300 million years old because, based on evolutionary thought, that is how old the coal is. There was no way for the gear to be produced recently and then be embedded in the coal.
The article also points out, “Nowadays, finding a strange artifact in coal is a relatively frequent occurrence. The first discovery of this sort was made in 1851 when the workers in one of the Massachusetts mines extracted a zinc silver-incrusted vase from a block of unmined coal which dated all the way back to the Cambrian era which was approximately 500 million years ago.”
You can read the article in English here: http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_01_19/300-million-year-old-UFO-tooth-wheel-found-in-Russian-city-of-Vladivostok/
Many objects have been found embedded in coal in the U.S. However, for more than 50 years coal in the U.S. has been mined using automated machines. After it leaves the mine most coal is smashed into chunks and ground into a powder to be burned in huge furnaces to generate electric power. It’s all done with automated high speed equipment. People no longer see things that might be embedded in the coal.
However, in places were coal is still burned in homes and loaded into home furnaces by hand, out-of-place artifacts (OopArt) are still being found. These are called OopArt because they are artifacts showing modern technology, but they are found in rock layers, or coal beds, that are supposed to be hundreds of millions of years old.
The usual conclusion by the popular press is that they must have come from advanced aliens visiting earth hundreds of millions of years ago. You don’t hear that theory from mainline scientists. They know that the statistical probability of life arising any place in the universe is zero. So it is incredibly unlikely for life to have arisen on earth. For life to have formed spontaneously twice… that’s just too much for even evolutionary scientists to believe. So, for them it is a conundrum with no explanation.
But, the Bible says there was a world-wide flood about 4,500 years ago. The evidence, and common sense, says there was an advanced civilization before the flood. Artifacts from that civilization continue to show up in the materials we commonly dig out of the ground, such as coal. The Bible has never been shown to be wrong. Yet “science” is constantly shown to be wrong, and evolutionary theory must be revised several times every year. Believe the Bible instead of the myth of evolution – it’s what makes sense.
Yesterday was an busy day. The type of day that gets you thinking about important things.
It started with a trip to my doctor’s urgent care. I was surprised. They saw me right away, did a EKG and the next thing I knew the doctor was giving me four baby aspirin and recommending an ambulance be called to take me to the emergency room.
The hospital is not far away, so my wife drove me. The emergency room was expecting me and I didn’t spend more than a few moments at the check-in desk. I was quickly in a room and they were hooking me up to an IV, doing another EKG, blood tests, and x-rays. It took a couple of hours, but the emergency room determined that I was not in danger of immediately dying (their words). So the next step would be to see my family practice doctor.
Getting a family practice appointment usually takes a couple of days or maybe a week, but this time the doctor saw me just a couple of hours after I left the emergency room. He looked at the test results, did some poking and prodding, and concluded that something was wrong, but the cause was unknown. He arranged for a appointment with a specialist in two days. He also suggested that my wife and I start discussing end of life issues.
That’s a day that’ll get you thinking about what is important.
So what is important? What is going to happen after you die? Nothing (we just become worm food)? Heaven? Hell? Annihilation? Reincarnation?
Last Saturday two Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. I had one question for them. How do you know what you believe is true? They couldn’t answer that question. Essentially they said, “Let me check and we’ll get back to you.” And we made an appointment for them to return this coming Saturday.
How do YOU know that what you believe about what happens after you die is true?
Jesus Christ told us that if we repent and trust Him to pay the penalty we’ve earned for breaking God’s laws, He will pay our penalty. If we don’t accept His gift, He will not force it on us and we’ll pay the penalty we’ve earned ourselves (hell – the lake of fire). 2000 years ago He died to pay our penalty. Then on the third day He rose from the dead, showing us that what He promised is true. There is life after death. Muhammad did not provide any proof. Buddha did not provide any proof. Only Jesus Christ demonstrated that what He said was true by showing us there is life after death. It’s a historical fact. I’ve chosen life through Jesus Christ. Who have you chosen? Are you trusting yourself or God?
As I follow the publication of scientific papers, I’m starting to notice a very interesting trend. The scientific evidence demonstrating that evolution cannot be true is becoming so strong that microbiologists and geneticists in particular are turning away from evolution. What was a trickle is growing into a significant stream. In particular in genetics, the scientific evidence has become so strong against evolution that the only reasonable conclusion is that evolution is not the mechanism that got us to where we are now.
I worded that last sentence very specifically. The science community is not concluding that, since evolution is not true then the Bible must be true. What they are concluding is that evolution is not true, so there must be a different, unknown mechanism that resulted in the life we see around us today. Some say that crystals carried life from other star systems, bringing t it to earth. But, there is no evidence for that and it leaves open the question, where did that life in another star system come from?
God has told us what He did and how He did it. But, God also tells us that we love our sin so much that we’ll reject His truth and replace the one true God with gods we create for ourselves… gods that are more to our liking. Gods that do not hold us accountable for our actions.
I’ve not had some days off since last May. So it was nice to recently have a couple of days to catch up on my reading. I finished volume one of John McCarthur’s two volume commentary on Revelation and Dawkin’s book “The Greatest Show On Earth” which claims to once and for all answer all questions and dispel the “myth” that God created everything. But, all it does is reveal evolution (and Dawkins) as being empty, using nothing but smoke and mirrors in a desperate attempt to support the dying hypothesis that has been called evolution. But, the most interesting reading has been in the area of genetics and molecular biology.
A paper published in Nature presents the results of a five year research program by ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) that has revealed that 80% of the human genome is functional. This does away with the evolutionary myth of junk DNA. Predicted by evolution, junk DNA was supposed to be the remnants of mutations that did not work out and became non-functional sections in our DNA – thus it was just junk. But, the more we learn about DNA, the more complexity we see. The idea of junk DNA has just been tossed in the trash bin (as should the theory of evolution). On the other hand creation predicted exactly what has been found in our DNA – complex functionality.
There are also some scary things happening in genetic research. One of them is the ability to edit DNA to produce people without defects. This will eliminate genetic defects – so no more genetic disorders such as Downs syndrome or haemophilia. It can also be used to eliminate people who are genetically susceptible to becoming alcoholics. In fact, personality traits can be selected. Some people are talking about using this ability to select for people who are docile, calm, non-aggressive and compliant. The reason is so that “ordinary” people will stop fighting the elites, who know what is best for them. In other words the few who are in charge will genetically manipulate the masses, so that the masses will never again consider revolting against their “betters.”. This isn’t science fiction. It is seriously being discussed and it is expected it will be possible in less than five years. Welcome to a new world.
To understand even what little we can understand about God, we need to look at who God tells us He is. Every attempt to explain the Trinity seems to start with our understanding of human things. Of course that isn’t going to work. In trying to understand God we need to focus our efforts on God.
God tells us quite a bit about Himself. For example, here are three well-known and undisputed characteristics of God.
- God is omnipresent. That means God is everywhere all the time.
- God is omniscient. That means God knows everything. “Everything” means everything. There is nothing that God does not know.
- God is omnipotent. That means God can do anything that is consistent with His character.
In addition, from scripture we know that God does not have a physical form we can see and that God created everything, including all matter, energy and time. (God exists outside of time.) We also know God is Holy. That God is love. That God is perfectly good. God is perfectly just. And God is forgiving and merciful. I will show where scripture describes God as having these characteristics in a future post.
As a starting point let’s do a thought experiment in which assume there are three separate gods. Each has the three “omni” characteristics.
That means they each are everywhere at all times. They always exist together everywhere at all times. They would be with you right now. And they would be with me right now. They are in Indonesia. And they are in the Crab Nebula. They are in each other. That’s what omnipresent means. They are everywhere… everywhere without exception.
They each also know everything, even the others’ thoughts. There is nothing that one knows or thinks that the other two do not know. Their knowledge is exactly the same and is all-knowing and all-encompassing.
Include the other attributes such as holiness, perfect goodness, love, mercy, eternality (and more) and what we have is that each one always perfectly knows what do and what decision to make. There is perfect agreement and harmony among the three.
What is the difference between them? There is no difference. They are exactly and perfectly the same. Their thoughts are the same. Their actions are the same. Their feelings are the same. They perfectly communicate, and so they can share tasks, with one doing this and another doing that – although sharing is not necessary. One could do everything and it would be as though they all did everything. Are they one or are they three separate Gods? From our human perspective observing what we can of this, we can’t tell. We can only say that they (the three gods) are one, with the caveat that our comprehension and language cannot describe this oneness, because the “oneness” is far beyond our understanding.
This is the Trinity with one difference. It’s needs to be reversed. Instead of starting with three gods, we start with the fact that there is one God who is eternally existing (Ps 90:2) in three persons (Mat 28:19; 2Cor 13:14). The three persons are equal in every divine attribute, but they execute distinct but harmonious roles. How can you have three separate persons, if they are each everywhere all the time? They are not separate. And they each have all knowledge – including knowledge of each other? Their thoughts are not separate. If we start thinking that way we are imposing our human limits on God. What we need to recognize is that it is the same incomprehensible situation I described above.
God is one God who exists as three persons. It is God who defines the role of each for themselves. Does that sentence make sense? It shouldn’t. Because we are trying to describe God using language that cannot describe God… and we are using a mind that cannot even understand how far above us God’s thoughts are.
God has given us His Word which tells us a lot about Himself and what He is like. From what we read about God in scripture we can know how much greater He is than us. Satan promises we can be gods. But, God shows us who He is and we can understand He is who we can never be.
The fact that the Bible clearly describes God as being three persons in one God is used to discredit the Bible. How can it be that three things are one thing? An example I’ve heard is that if you have one bucket of water, and then a second bucket of water, and a third bucket of water, can the three be combined to be just one like the first one? No they can’t.
But that is attempting to describe God in physical, human terms. God is nothing like a bucket of water. To understand God, to the limited extent that we can understand God, we need to look at His characteristics. Not the characteristics of physical objects. We’ll do that in this series of posts.
First we need to recognize that anyone who claims God is not a trinity (three persons in one God), is claiming to have the ability to fully understand God, and that is a claim to be god yourself. What they are saying is that, since I cannot understand this, it cannot be true. It is interesting to note that in all religions, except Christianity, god can be understood. Mormons will tell you about their god, completely described in understandable human terms. Muslims have confidence that they understand Allah and that the Christian God is not real because He cannot be fully understood. In religions such as Buddhism, that claim to not have a deity (in reality they worship themselves), the claim is that people can become a Buddha and attain an understanding of everything.
We make our own gods. Gods that we can understand… and define to our own liking. But, how can the created fully understand the creator? To have understanding you must be greater than that which you are understanding. But, the creator is always greater than the created. To say that we understand everything about God means we are claiming to be greater than God. That is one characteristic that sets Christianity apart from all other religions. Christians do not make the claim that other religions try to force upon Christianity. The claim that we can fully understand God.
Is that the proof? I say we cannot fully understand God, so that means the Trinity must be true? No. Christianity is not a blind faith. God has given us His word so that we can learn about Him. His Word is true and without error.
The first proof that God is a Trinity is that the Bible describes Him that way in both the Old and New Testaments. One of my favorite examples is Isaiah 48:16 which says, “And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with His Spirit.” Who is talking here? Start reading in Isaiah 40 and you see it is God and He describes Himself as the one and only God who created everything. Isaiah 48:16 says that God was sent by the Sovereign LORD (the name YHWH) is used here). So this is talking about God the Father doing the sending. And this verse says that He was sent along with YHWH’s Spirit. What we have is God the Father sending the SON and the Spirit. The Trinity.
Even Muslim scholars – and these are people who most definitely do not believe in the Trinity nor Christianity – agree that the Bible describes God as a Trinity. That is one of their main arguments for the Bible having been corrupted. They say the Bible describes God as something that cannot be, three persons in one God. So the Bible must be corrupted. They claim to understand the nature of God so well that they can say it is a fact that God cannot exist as three persons and one God. That’s quite a claim. And as we will see in part two, a false claim.
In national and state parks we are warned to not feed the animals. It makes them dependent on food handouts so that they no longer can take care of themselves. And it changes their behavior in a negative way. The “humane” thing to do is to not to feed the animals, even when they beg for food. What is the more loving things to do? Should we not treat people the same way? Are not people more important than animals?
Yes, we should help those who are unable to help themselves. Those closest to people who cannot help themselves — family, relatives, friends, neighbors — should be the first to help. They are the ones who best know what type of help is needed. Churches are called to be involved and provide help for those with no family or friends. But, as Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 3:10
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
Pay attention to scripture. We are not being loving by feeding those who can work. It is more loving to teach people how to fish than to give them a fish. It is more loving to find ways to provide work than it is to give away food.
Notice that scripture says “unwilling to work.” There are people who are willing to work, but are not able to find work. People who are truly looking for work and willing to take any work they can get. They deserve our temporary help — starting with those closest to them being the ones to provide the help.
On the morning after Jesus fed the 5,000 the people were hungry again, but he fed no one. He did not come to feed hungry people, but He came to feed hungry people – the spiritually hungry. Are you doing that? Are you sharing the gospel, bring the good news that feeds the spirit? Are you truly being a loving person?