Wednesday, September 19, 2018

THE BIBLE AND TRANSFORMATION BY THE SPIRIT




How do we experience growth and transformation? The Bible consistently claims that growth occurs by the Spirit applying the Scriptures to our lives:

·       Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2; 2 Peter 1:2-4)

According to Jesus, life is about living according to every Word of God, just as the Hebrew Scriptures had consistently affirmed. After fasting for 40 days in the desert, the Devil challenged Jesus to change a rock into bread if He is truly the Son of God:

·       Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)

If Scripture is fully the Word of God, it makes sense that we must adhere to “every word” and not pick only those verses that appeal to us. In fact, Jesus never disparaged the Scriptures. He claimed that the slightest letter had been inspired by God:

·       "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18)

How then does Scripture transform. Peter likened Scripture to milk for the newborn:

·       Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3)

However, Scripture is not merely a matter of head-knowledge. Instead, it is also the Spirit’s tool to encounter us in a transformative way. Paul claimed that “inwardly we are being renewed” each day:

·       Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

When we look towards Scripture, we are looking towards the transformative “unseen” things of God, as the Spirit applies these truths to our hearts and minds:

·       And we, who with unveiled faces all behold the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
On many occasions, I was hurting so that Scripture was my only refuge. During these occasions, the Spirit ministered hope and light into my life in ways I will never forget. As Paul had communicated to the Ephesian elders, Scripture can build us up:

·       "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)

However, this can only happen through the work of the Spirit. After Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He consistently brought them back to the Scriptures, even though whatever He said was the Word of God:

·       He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44-45)

We experience God through His Word. Jesus not only presented them with the Scriptures, He also “opened their minds so they could understand” them. This is something that God continues to do for us as we cry out for the correct understanding of His Word.

This is why the man without the Spirit cannot truly understand the Scriptures. Instead, he scoffs at them:

·       The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)

As we meditate on the Word, having confessed our sins, we are given the “mind of Christ” so that we can understand as the Lord would have us understand.

What does this look like? I will just provide one of thousands of examples. For decades, I had hated myself. Even after coming to Christ, my feelings of self-loathing were so deep that it felt as if God too loathed me. However, the Spirit eventually made this verse so real for me:

·       Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

As a result, I became convinced that God neither loathed nor condemned me. Instead, He loves me with a love that goes beyond human comprehension (Ephesians 3:16-19). Consequently, I now want to praise Him always.

DO WE HAVE USELESS (VESTIGIAL) ORGANS LEFTOVER FROM OUR “EVOLUTIONARY ANCESTORS?”




Do we have now-useless organs that have been left over from our “evolutionary ancestors?” If this is so, it would constitute a powerful case against the Design Hypothesis (ID). Jerry Bergman has written:

·       The standard definition of ‘vestigial’ is an [leftover] organ that once was useful in an animal’s evolutionary past, but that now is useless or very close to useless. The list of vestigial organs in humans has shrunk from 180 in 1890 to 0 in 1999.

This is more than remarkable, since, if Darwinism is a fact, we should expect to find a messy collection of leftover organs that no longer function. Bergman provides example of organs that had once been considered to have no function:

·       The appendix is part of the immune system, strategically located at the entrance of the almost sterile ileum from the colon with its normally high bacterial content.
·       The tonsils have a similar function in the entrance to the pharynx.8
·       The pineal gland secretes malatonin which is a hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm and has other functions.
·       The thymus is part of the immune system, related to T-cells. HIV attacks T-cells, rendering them ineffective and for this reason is always eventually fatal.

Bergman adds:

·       The number of organs that once were believed to be functional in the evolutionary past of humans but are non-functional today has been steadily reduced as the fields of anatomy and physiology have progressed. Few examples of vestigial organs in humans are now offered, and the ones that are have been shown by more recent research to be completely functional (and in many cases critically so, see Bergman and Howe).

Because of this, Bergman is able to cite numerous cases where the definition of “vestigial” is now revised in the hope of salvaging Darwinist argument against ID: “Any organ that during the course of evolution has become reduced in function and usually in size.”

However, even it is true that a certain human organ has a less essential role than the similar organ in a primate, it can no longer be construed as a mere “leftover” to support Darwinism, since it still performs a needed function.

Taking this reasoning a step further – It is remarkable that there are no clear cases where humans carry leftovers from their “evolutionary past.” Even the idea of “junk DNA” has now been overturned. Consequently, it seems likely that everything plays a role.

This serves as a powerful argument for the Design Hypothesis. If macroevolution is a reality, then we should expect to observe a messy collection of incomplete organs and a genome in disarray. However, this is not what we observe. Therefore, Bergman concludes:

·       Evolutionists never have explained how and why so many structures could exist in humans (like the complex structures that enable music, song and dance) that confirm no survival advantage yet delight millions. Only creation can explain this observation. The clear conclusion is that the concept of evolutionary vestigial organs is useless, or largely speculative, and certainly is not good science. https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/vestigial-organs/do-any-vestigial-organs-exist-in-humans/


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

DESTRUCTION OF THE DISTINCTIONS




Choice has begun to prevail over traditional and biological distinctions. You can choose your sex and sexual orientation, and, in many places, raising any counter-arguments has now become a criminal offense. Even scientific distinctions have been discarded in favor of allowing children to choose their own sex and sexual orientation.

How is it that such sexual and biological confusion justified? It is argued that we should not be coerced to conform to an identity that doesn’t feel right or comfortable to us. Instead, we should be free to choose what feels right rather than having a choice imposed.

To illustrate this, I had made a gross generalization between males and females. I stated, when we observe a mugging, the male is more inclined to want to see the mugger captured and punished, while the female is more concerned about taking care of the victim.

However, when my friend heard me make this generalization, he indignantly responded, “I too am more inclined to help the victim.” Evidently, my statement called into question his “maleness,” although I didn’t mean to do so. I just was talking about a general tendency. Of course, many other factors are at play.

In fact, our categories are like scientific laws. For example, gravity operates in accordance with a fixed, elegant, and predictable law. However, gravity makes certain things rise and others fall, relative to the nature of the objects. Lead weights fall and helium balloons respond in the opposite manner, both due to the influence of gravity.

Does this variation mean that gravity is no more than a matter of choice? Certainly not! It merely means that other factors have to be taken into account. Helium balloons rise because of their lack of density compared to the surrounding air, but it goes up because of gravity rather than choice. Gravity is still at play.

Maleness still exerts its influence even in the case where the male chooses to be a woman. However, this male might be responding to many other factors, like his perception of the expectations of society and friends, or even his relationship or non-relationship with his father.

My male friend might have been influenced by his family to honor compassion over justice. However, this factor doesn’t mean that he is any less a male than I am. Nor does the behavior of a helium balloon invalidate gravity. Instead, it merely injects another factor into the gravity equation.

However, many today reject the reality of maleness or femaleness by virtue of the fact that many feel and choose differently. Therefore, they not only want to rid the world of these categories and also of those who hold to them. However, although their maleness still exists, it might have merely been pushed underground by other factors.

Instead, rebelling against these categories is like rebelling against the reality of gravity. They are free to rebel all they want against gravity. However, if they jump from a building, they will pay a dear price for it.

DECEPTION WITH THE HELP OF OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS




A Muslim volunteer at a Mosque book table gave me a tract entitled “Jihad: The Noble Struggle for Peace, Justice, and Truth” to explain what Jihad is all about. It read:

·       Jihad is a struggle to invite all that is (good), enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. [3:104] It is the duty of Muslims to struggle for peace, justice and truth through complete submission to Allah’s Commands.

However, when I looked up this Qur’anic verse, I found that it didn’t address the question of Jihad. Instead, it read:

·       And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.

However, it seems that the Qur’an defines “the good” in a way that most people do not regard as good. Here are several of the many verses on Jihad. None of them ever define Jihad in terms that any non-Muslim would regard as a pursuit of peace and justice:

·       Quran (2:191-193) - "And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing...but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun(the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)" (Translation is from the Noble Quran)

·       Quran (2:216) - "Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

·       Quran (3:151) - "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions [like Jesus] with Allah, for which He had sent no authority".

·       Quran (4:89) - "They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks."

·       Quran (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them."

·       Quran (9:5) - "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them."

None of these verses represent Jihad as the alleged struggle against internal sin or injustice. Rather, these verses represent the Islamic mandate for world domination at any cost. Ibn Khaldun, the 15th century Tunisian historian, states:

  • In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force... The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense... Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.

Here’s the Qur’anic basis for this:

  • “Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion (Islam) reigns supreme, (Koran 8:37)

  • “When the Sacred Months are over, kill those who ascribe partners [like Jesus] to God wheresoever ye find them; seize them, encompass them, and ambush them; then if they repent and observe prayer and pay the alms, let them go their way’.” (Koran 4:5)

  • “…kill the disbelievers wherever we find them” (Koran 2:191) and “murder them and treat them harshly” (Koran 9:123), and “Strike off the heads of the disbelievers” (Koran 8:12, cp. 8:60).

But do not be surprised that when you present these verses to a Muslim apologist, he will refer you to Surah 2.256: “There is no compulsion in religion.” However, he will not tell you that the peaceable Qur’anic verses had been written before Muhammad obtained an army and that these verses have been replaced, according to the doctrine of “Abrogation,” by the superseding and now authoritative Jihadic verses.

Sadly, our elected officials are complicit in this deception.