A perfect illustration of why I still believe in Intelligent Design

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/cosmologist_on_a_tire_swing.png

This comic is a pretty good summary of why I still believe in Intelligent Design. I shared another article on Google+ that is along a similar vein.

I cannot comprehend our Universe without an intelligent Creator to have set it in motion. The Internet and its infinite array of information has not caused me to question my faith. It has caused me to study it, however. And the more I read from non-believers, the more I am sure there is one true God, immeasurable in ability and unnumeral in days, whose Word set the Cosmos in motion and who sustains it to this day. When I read God’s retort to Job, I see humanity has not changed, we still are incapable of fathoming the excellence and superiority of the Lord, and are as children in His presence. We don’t understand the basic underpinning of life with clarity, yet we believe the Universe magically popped into existence of its own volition, and somehow, contrary to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, order has evolved from chaos. Granted, feeble and limited as my mind may be, I am aware of no empirical evidence to support the Big Bang.

It seems to me, the adherent to the religion of Science (not to be confused with practical and honest application of the scientific method) is required to employ just much faith to accept the un-intelligently designed, godless Universe as I am an Intelligently Designed Universe. 

Where does your true citizenship lie?

I’ve posted several times[1] in the past on the topic of the supremacy of the Kingdom of Heaven over any earthly government, but despite that, I still get too absorbed in the affairs of man when things seem to be askew. I even allowed my frustration in the matter to be vented when I asked “Are we the Baddies?“.

Last night, I heard an excellent sermon that put things in perspective for me. The sermon was titled Simon the Zealot, and is available as a podcast here. Thanks to Bro. Greg Chandler for his presentation of it.  Having young children to tend to, I was distracted during parts of the sermon, but my take of it was this: Rebellion against earthly principalities is futile. Our energies are better utilized in service to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven transcends the temporal governments established on Earth. During the life of the Christ, and shortly thereafter, we have examples of Roman centurions[2] recognizing the power of the one true God, even as most of the Jews of the era rejected Him.

So my question to myself is this: Should I be concerned about changing the things that are wrong with the world today, or should I focus more on preparing my soul for entering its home for eternity?

~~~

[1] My past posts related to the supremacy of the Kingdom of Heaven:

[2] References in Scripture to godly Roman Centurions:

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.”But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. (Matthew 8:5-13, ESV)

~~~ 

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”(Matthew 27:51-54, ESV)

 ~~~

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour,and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness thateveryone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. (Acts 10, ESV)

The Book of Eli

I recently watched The Book of Eli. I don’t want to spoil the story, but it is about a man who has been wondering the world for thirty years following a catastrophe that caused civilization to collapse. Two things that are very scarce in this dystopian future: water and books. And one book in particular was blamed for the fall and purged from the Earth. It was a powerful book, some might have believed it to have magical incantations that could control the minds of an uneducated generation of men who had lost the ability to read. NB: The story was a bit tainted by that fixture of modern cinema, profanity. I guess it was necessary to reflect the vulgarity of a fallen, barbaric culture, but the story would have been just as powerful without it. 

So what was this book? It was a copy of the King James Bible, and I agree, it is the most powerful book in the world. In this story the world was dying of thirst, both spiritual and physical. Men guarded their sources of physical water with all their might. Eli guarded the source of spiritual water with his life.

So the question is begged, what if there were only one copy (or few copies) of the Bible left on Earth? Would we protect it with our lives? Would we memorize it like John, and metaphorically eat the whole book? Would we stand for the Word, even if it mean martyrdom, like Stephen, or would we turn away sorrowfully, like the rich young man?

In real life, as in this movie, the Word of God has survived through great tribulations. We are told in the second book of Kings that there was a time when the people of God had been without His Word and it was found:

8 And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found ithe Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

If we were to hear the Word of God for the first time, would we respond like King Josiah or the Ethiopian Eunuch and recognize the power of the Word? Or would we respond like so many of our time and disregard it or outright hate it?

Hero Worship

Below is an article that was published in the Nineties in the Guardian of Truth Magazine with regards to hero worship:

Hero Worship:
By Olen Holderby

Some twenty-five years ago I made a few notes from a book, Heroes And Hero Worship. I do not recall the author’s name; and, I have had no luck in locating the book. Perhaps the notes can still serve a good purpose.

First, the author argued that all idols of heathen worship were once living men or women. Then, he points out that these men or women made their mark in society; they had made some notable achievement and were admired by many. They became heroes to some; and, following their death memorials were erected to them.

After a time people were inclined to forget their vices and remember their virtues. Then, after the passing of several generations they came to be honored religiously.

I do not argue for the accuracy of this theory; but, after observing some present-day hero worshipers, I am inclined to accept the theory as fact. The Bible, itself, has given us a few examples of hero worship; let us notice a couple of those.

Matthew 17:1-9, the record of the transfiguration, offers our first example. Peter had a taste of hero worship; he would include Jesus, but equally so with Moses and Elijah.

Moses had no equal in his accomplishments for God’s people of old. He gave us the first reliable account of the creation and history of the world. He led over a million Israelites to their freedom from slavery, and angels were his pallbearers when he died. Why not erect a memorial to him? And, this is what Peter wanted to do.

Elijah was the one who defeated the prophets of Baal, and called God’s people back to the true God. He escaped death by riding a fiery chariot to heaven, the only man to so do. He had not been gone as long as Moses; but now, with Moses he makes a brief visit to earth. Why not recognize his achievements with a memorial? This is Peter’s suggestion.

The circumstances, here on the mount, may well suggest that they were horrified; sometimes we say or do things under pressure that we might not otherwise say or do. Moses and Elijah had been talking with Jesus concerning his impending death at Jerusalem. Now they both disappear, obviously wanting no part in Peter’s suggestion. They were not equal with the Son of God and would not accept any preeminence that belonged to him. The record reveals nothing of what Jesus thought of Peter’s idea.
God raises his objection to the idea by saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” When they raised their heads, they saw “Jesus only”; God, calling their attention to the only one worthy of such honor.

Some of them held to Paul, others to Apollos, Peter, or even Christ. This strife soon turned a happy congregation of God’s people into enemies of Christ. Paul was deeply grieved and wrote one of the most devastating epistles ever written to them. He pictures himself as going among them with tear-filled eyes; their gross carnality having now established that they were hero worshipers.

According to verse 10, Paul demands that they all speak the same thing, be of the same mind, and have no divisions among them. No “unity-in-diversity” can be found here. When Paul finished preaching Christ to them, they knew exactly what to do to rid themselves of sin, and they did it. Further, their continuing respect for the gospel was expected. John puts it like this, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Their respect for the Word is what made them Christians to begin with; and, their continuing respect for that Word would keep them in God’s favor.

Having looked at two Bible examples of hero worship, let us make a few observations. Many have their own little “mount of transfiguration.” Some great preacher, some great educator, some great student of Scripture, some deeply respected friend, or even our own feelings are exalted to being equal with Christ. We have forgotten their past vices, and remembering their virtues, they have become our heroes. We listen to them, even above what the Son of God has to say; we take their word on a subject and pervert God’s Word in our efforts to uphold them. Do you know anyone who does this? When the writings of our heroes are brought forth, we reverence them as if it was God’s Word. My brethren, these things ought not so to be!
Truth is truth, a perversion of truth is no longer truth; the gospel is still the gospel, and a perversion of it results in it being no gospel at all, as preached by Paul (Gal. 1:6-7). I am making no effort to discredit any of our fellows who happen to have outstanding abilities, or have done an out-standing work. I have nothing but admiration and appreciation for such. I am, however, trying to discredit the thinking of many toward such men. When we become modern hero worshipers, we are no better off than the ancient pagans who did the same. May God help us all to distinguish between his Word and the words of men; and, to recognize that only his Son is the real hero, and worthy of such honor. “Hear ye him.”

Guardian of Truth XLI: 7 p. 1
April 3, 1997
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First off, a lot has changed in one’s ability to locate lost texts since 1997. I believe with a fair amount of certainty that the book in question is On Heroes, Hero-Worship, & The Heroic In History by Thomas Carlyle. Mankind loves to explain the past through stories which are often embellished from story-teller to story-teller. A modern example of this would be the tales of Beowulf, Brutus of Troy, or even George Washington. Take the painting of Washington in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building, sitting as a god in the seat of power, surrounded by mythic characters:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apotheosis_of_George_Washington.jpg

How many centuries after the collapse of American culture will it take for Washington and the other Founding Fathers to be viewed by some future archaeologist to be the pantheon of the Americans? Is this not how we perceive the legendary Roman founding brothers Romulus and Remus? In their own time, they might have just been noble men, but those who followed them sought to elevate them to deity.

I agree with Bro. Holderby’s statements on hero worship, but I would like to add another dynamic for your consideration: heroes of old could have been based on the veneration of fallen angels and their offspring.

My addition is hinged on one’s interpretation of Genesis 6. Take a look at the word meanings as provided by Strong’s Concordance. This is easy to do when reading the scripture online via eBible.com.  Here is the breakdown of key words by verse:

  1. 1 And it came to pass, when men (‘adam) began to multiply on the face of the ground (adamah), and daughters (bath) were born unto them,
  2. that the sons (ben) of God (‘elohiym) saw (ra’ah) the daughters (bath) of men (‘adam) that they were fair (towb); and they took (laqach) them wives (‘ishshah) of all that they chose (bachar).
  3. And Jehovah (Yhovah, YHWH) said, My spirit (ruwach) shall not strive with man (‘adam) for ever (`owlam), for that he also is flesh (shagag) * (basar): yet shall his days (yowm) be a hundred and twenty years.
  4. The Nephilim (nphiyl) were in the earth (‘erets) in those days, and also after that, when the sons (ben) of God (‘elohiym) came unto the daughters (bath) of men (‘adam)  and they bare (yalad) children to them: the same (hem) were the mighty men (gibbowr) that were of old (`owlam), the men (‘enowsh) of renown (Shem). (ASV)

I humbly submit to you that I am writing as an amateur and not a scholar, and the message of the Gospel of Christ does not stand nor fall on whether the ben’elohiym are decendents of the line of Seth as some interpret this passage, or sons of God, fallen angels, as the translation seems to imply. However, we are told in Jude verse 6 that:

And angels (aggelos) that kept not their own principality (arche), but left (apoleipo) their proper (idios) habitation (oiketerion), he hath kept (tereo) in everlasting (aidios) bonds (desmon) under darkness (zophos) unto the judgment (Krisis) of the great (megas) day (hemera).

Are these the sons of God from Genesis 6? I don’t know, but whatever they did was go grievous that they are have been imprisoned since their fall until the day of Judgement.

So for the sake of this discussion, we will assume that ben’elohiym is referring to fallen angels. We do not know when these unholy marriages began occurring, but we know that at some point God allowed the earth 120 years until it would meet its destruction. In mythological terms, the offspring of angels and humans would be demigods, which is a concept that fits with various mythologies. Consider how these “men” were described, using Strong as a reference:

  • Nephilim (nphiyl): feller, bully, tyrant, giant
  • Mighty Men (gibbowr): warriors, tyrants, champions, chiefs, giants, or valliant men),
  • Men (‘enowsh): men referred to in a less dignified sense than (adam)
  • of renown (shem): having made a name for themselves, remembered
It is human nature to recount the stories of ones life, and I imagine that to be the case with Noah and his family as well. Noah was six hundred years old during the flood. What had he seen in all those years? His sons were nigh well centenarians themselves at that point. When they got off the ark and started repopulating the earth, how great the stories must have been that they told their children about the ben’elohiym and their offspring, the Nephilim, the mighty men of renown? How did the generations that followed them embellish these stories, and deify those of whom they were told, making them in their own cultures into gods and demigods?

I think that if we look back at that point in time at some of the gods of ancient cultures, we start to see similarities. Compare AdonisOsirisAttisHadad (Ba’al)Tammuz (Dumuzid), Zeus, and Jupiter. Also consider the female Ishtar, Isis, Astarte, and Aphrodite. There are some interesting theories on the Internet that these two represent the Biblical Nimrod and his wife Semiramis (I don’t want to endorse any of them with a link at this time, though).

As thought provoking as this might be, we mustn’t allow this talk of false gods and hero worship distract us from the truth. Jehovah, though His prophet Jeremiah said:

11 Hath a nation changed [its] gods, which yet are no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. 12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith Jehovah. 13 For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 6: 11-13, ASV)

To the point of Bro. Holderby’s original article, we must not be like Israel was and forsake the one true God, Jehovah. We too must forsake our idols, be they Ba’als, Mammon, or George Washington.

Is there ever a time when no one is looking?

Below is an interesting article from Bruce Schneier:

Honor System Farm Stands:
Many roadside farm stands in the U.S. are unmanned. They work on the honor system: take what you want, and pay what you owe.

And today at his farm stand, Cochran says, just as at the donut shop years ago, most customers leave more money than they owe.

That doesn’t surprise social psychologist Michael Cunningham of the University of Louisville who has used “trust games” to investigate what spurs good and bad behavior for the last 25 years. For many people, Cunningham says, trust seems to be at least as strong a motivator as guilt. He thinks he knows why.

“When you sell me something I want and trust me to pay you even when you’re not looking, you’ve made my life good in two ways,” Cunningham tells The Salt. “I get something delicious, and I also get a good feeling about myself. Both of those things make me feel good about the world­ that I’m in a good place. And I also see you as a contributor to that good ­ as somebody I want to reward. It’s a win win.”

I like systems that leverage personal moral codes for security. But I’ll bet that the pay boxes are bolted to the tables. It’s one thing for someone to take produce without paying. It’s quite another for him to take the entire day’s receipts.

I’ll take a different spin on this: many people are honest when no man is looking because of a belief that there is never a moment when no one is looking; either God Himself, or His designated watchers, see and record the acts of man.

Consider:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers: But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The wicked are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous; But the way of the wicked shall perish. (Psalm 1)

David understood the actions of man to be recorded:

Be merciful unto me, O God; for man would swallow me up: All the day long he fighting oppresseth me. Mine enemies would swallow me up all the day long; For they are many that fight proudly against me. 3 What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee. 4 In God (I will praise his word), In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid; What can flesh do unto me? 5 All the day long they wrest my words: All their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, They mark my steps, Even as they have waited for my soul. 7 Shall they escape by iniquity? In anger cast down the peoples, O God. 8 Thou numberest my wanderings: Put thou my tears into thy bottle; Are they not in thy book? 9 Then shall mine enemies turn back in the day that I call: This I know, that God is for me. 10 In God (I will praise his word), In Jehovah (I will praise his word), 11 In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid; What can man do unto me? 12 Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render thank-offerings unto thee. 13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: Hast thou not delivered my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living? (Psalm 56)

David understood that all his actions are observed:

1 O Jehovah, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising; Thou understandest my thought afar off3 Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, And art acquainted with all my ways4 For there is not a word in my tongue, But, lo, O Jehovah, thou knowest it altogether5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, And laid thy hand upon me6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain unto it. 7 Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall overwhelm me, And the light about me shall be night; 12 Even the darkness hideth not from thee, But the night shineth as the day: The darkness and the light are both alike to thee13 For thou didst form my inward parts: Thou didst cover me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My frame was not hidden from thee, When I was made in secret, And curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: When I awake, I am still with thee. 19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: Depart from me therefore, ye bloodthirsty men. 20 For they speak against thee wickedly, And thine enemies take thy name in vain. 21 Do not I hate them, O Jehovah, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred: They are become mine enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139)

We are told that the Christ is the judge:

22 For neither doth the Father judge any man, but he hath given all judgment unto the Son23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father that sent him. (John 5:22-23)

And:

35 The good man out of his good treasure bringeth forth good things: and the evil man out of his evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:35-37)

 Daniel wrote concerning the Judgment:

9 I beheld till thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit: his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened11 I beheld at that time because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given to be burned with fire. 12 And as for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. 13 I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:9-14)

And:

1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. 4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. 5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on the brink of the river on this side, and the other on the brink of the river on that side. 6 And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? 7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. 8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my lord, what shall be the issue of these things? 9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but they that are wise shall understand. 11 And from the time that the continual burnt-offering shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand and two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. 13 But go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and shalt stand in thy lot, at the end of the days. (Daniel 12)

John wrote thus in the Revelation:

1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished: after this he must be loosed for a little time. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years5 The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years7 And when the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 and shall come forth to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up over the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. 15 And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20)

And:

22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof. 23 And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb. 24 And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. 25 And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day (for there shall be no night there): 26 and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it: 27 and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27)

So, based on the assumption that the Creator has created mankind is His image (Genesis 1:27), records the actions of mankind in a book (or books), and will use contents the book(s) to judge mankind, does it not also make sense that mankind would have a hardwired moral compass? And that he could chose to follow this compass or ignore it just as he can a magnetic compass? Such is the free moral agency granted that is granted to humanity.

Give It Your All

Another great article from the archives of Truth Magazine:

Give It Your All:
By Luther Bolenbarker

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl. 9:10).
One of the saddest commentaries of our age is the ever increasing fashionable attitude of “I don’t care.” This attitude is manifested by a disposition of lackadaisical sloppiness. This is reflected in our speech, our manner of dress and our general demeanor. This attitude is seen in the store when someone knocks an item off the shelf or clothes rack and doesn’t bother to pick it up, in the litterbug who throws trash from his car, or the one who parks the car in two parking places, or the one who is habitually late for appointments. Business’ biggest headache is finding employees who will get to work on time, who will not call in sick when they just want the day off, and who display a real interest in their work and a genuine concern for people.

Ask for volunteers to help with just about anything (PTA, scouts, little league, etc.) and a general attitude of indifference on the part of many is found. If the “I don’t care” attitude is sad in the temporal world, how much more so in the spiritual world of the church! What kind of interest, enthusiasm and concern does it demonstrate to disrupt Bible classes or worship by habitually coming in late? Or how about the one who commits himself to a task and doesn’t do it? Or the teacher who leaves town without making any arrangement for his class? Or the member who willfully forsakes the services of the church?

The Lord’s comment about this sort of attitude is found in the Revelation letter to the Laodicean church. He wishes that the Laodiceans were either cold or hot, but because they were lukewarm, He will spew them out of His mouth (3:14-16). If the cause of Christ is really the most important reality in the world (Mt. 6:33) then let us be about His service with all our might.” “Give it our all. “

Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 4, p. 115
February 16, 1984
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The Weapons of Our Warfare

This article from Truth Magazine may be old, but the wisdom it is based on is timeless:

The Weapons of Our Warfare:
By Leslie Diestelkamp

Paul wrote, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal . . .”). (2 Cor. 10:3, 4). Today it may be possible that some of us are putting too much trust in a physical weapon to help us win a spiritual victory. To allow ourselves to be thus misguided would be like trying to win a Navy victory with trucks and tanks, or like trying to win a football game with tennis balls. By use of a gun or a club a woman would seldom win the love of a man, for the weapons of her warfare in the battles of love are not those that involve violence. Just as surely as God “Dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshiped with men’s hands” (Ac. 17:24, 25), likewise His people cannot fight His battles with those things that are material in their nature. just as certainly as the mountains of Samaria and the temple at Jerusalem would both be unimportant for true worship to God, for true worship must be “in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:21-24, likewise today acceptableness to Him and fruitfulness in His service is determined by our use of those things that are spiritual and not carnal.

Are We Really Soldiers?
It often may be wise for us to be reminded that we are indeed engaged in a very real warfare. Every Christian is a soldier in the Lord’s army. We are all volunteers for the Lord does not conscript us. Yet, though we be altogether willing soldiers, we are, nevertheless real warriors, and we must accept the weapons God has given, train ourselves in their proper use, and wield them with vigor and courage.

Our enemy is Satan and his soldiers are those people who are subjects of sin and victims of deception and false doctrine. Satan’s soldiers need no special qualifications, and  transgression, ignorance and wilfulness are perhaps the three most potent snares he has to gain and to keep his soldiers. John wrote that sin is transgression (I Jn. 3:4). God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee” (Hos. 4:6). In 2 Peter 3:5 the Holy Spirit teaches us about those who are willingly ignorant of God’s ways and God’s word, and how that such brings destruction. Satan’s army is full of men and women who have all transgressed God’s word and who go on in transgressions, either ignorantly or deliberately. These are the soldiers against whom God’s army is arrayed. The task of God’s people is to eliminate ignorance and to try to provoke the willful ones to surrender to the Lord.

Throughout all the centuries past the faithful have been engaged in a warfare, and indeed “truth is stranger than fiction” and the stories of the battles fought in behalf of truth and righteousness are the greatest stories ever told. Because he walked so closely with God and pleased Him so completely Enoch was spared the ordeal of death and was thus given a very significant “decoration” for his victory over Satan. Abraham’s battles were fought by faith and it (the faith) was counted unto him for righteousness (Rom. 4:3). Elijah overpowered the prophet of Baal through his faith in God. John the baptizer lost his head to a wicked woman but even in death portrayed victory in righteousness. Jesus the Christ emerged as the greatest warrior of all time, for he not only demonstrated power over the winds of the sea, over the afflictions of the flesh and over the forces of gravity, but most significantly he exhibited himself to be master of sin and of death and of Satan. For us today, the example of Jesus is truly convincing, for he did his warfare entirely with the spiritual weapon, the word of God which it has also pleased Him to give to us for our use in the same kind of warfare.

Perhaps we should each ask ourself if we really qualify as a good soldier in the army of the Lord? Are we really trying to win a victory in the hearts of men and women for our Saviour and theirs? Let us remember that it is not enough for us to just volunteer, but we must fight! We are indeed added to the Lord’s army when we obey the gospel of Christ (Ac. 2:47), but such does not constitute us as truly good soldiers unless we go on from that beginning to engage ourselves in battle against sin, Satan and error.

Choosing Our Weapons
When Paul tells us that the weapons of our warfare ire not carnal, he was surely stressing the truly spiritual nature of the Kingdom of Christ. He was suggesting that the ordinary means used by men to gain their objectives in this life are not to be used in opposing Satan and in defending truth. I take it that he not only meant to forbid the use of unscrupulous ways and means but that he would also have us know that material things, even those that are honest and good in themselves, could not win spiritual victories. We need so badly
to learn this lesson today. Let us notice some ways in which we may be inclined to forget Paul’s words and lean too heavily upon fleshly, human means:

  1. The power of the old-fashioned gospel, unadulterated with the fancy phrases of modern theology, is still God’s only way to bring sinners to salvation. Paul himself said that he was sent to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of non effect – I Cor. 1 :17, and that his speech and his preaching was “not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (2 Cor. 2:4). And so today there is an evident need for the truth that will make men free, and for preaching that possesses no theological ambiguity. The cultured words of man’s wisdom may fill the church houses of our day, but only the unvarnished truth of God’s word will concert the sinner from the error of his way. The fancy technology learned in the speech classes, the illustrations and quotations from the newest and best of men’s literature and the “good mixer” qualities learned in the psychology classes (and from Dale Carnegie’s book) may all combine to make us successful “church builders,” but only the sharp, two edged sword of the Spirit separates sinners from sin and brings them to the Lamb of God to be washed in the blood He shed.
  2. Under the guise of a means to a worthy end we build great and expensive church buildings today, spending huge sums of the Lord’s money, adding much that is entirely of vanity and human pride instead of building only that which is a necessity for proper assembly. Strangely and sadly we note that so many Christians today hardly recognize the existence of the church in any community until a church building is erected. At least many do equate the presence of a church building with the existence of a church. And after the building is erected still more and more funds are poured into the “physical plant” in the form of additions and improvements. In most places any sum suggested can easily be had to pay for these physical things. But out in the destitute fields of the world the people in sin and ignorance are starving for the bread of life and the preachers of the word are often sacrificing significantly while their pleas for help fall upon deaf ears. Ask many churches for a thousand dollars for a carpet for the aisles and the rostrum and it will be forthcoming immediately, but ask the same church for one hundred dollars for support for a preacher in a new field and the appeal is not only rejected but often ignored.

    We need to remember that not one soul was ever won to Christ by a church building, either fancy or ordinary. Let us not forget that pews and carpets, air-conditioners and nurseries and all other such material things appeal only to the fleshly and not to the spiritual. When plain, commodious church buildings are filled with godly, consecrated men and women and when the Lord’s money is expended freely and abundantly for more and more spiritual food and when less and less is used for physical advantages, we will then be more closely imitating Paul and his companions of the first century.

  3. Slides, films and projectors may certainly have their place in the teaching activities of God’s people today, but such mechanical things will never replace consecrated Christians and devoted students of the word. The problem here is not so much regarding the item used but in the attitude toward it. When people must “see a show” in order to study the word of God their attitude is wrong and any action they take will likely be from a wrong concept or motivation, also. (Let this not he construed as a criticism of visual aids is such, but only as an effort to point out abuses. The same is true of former paragraphs regarding education and church buildings).

Truth Magazine, III:10, pp. 10-11
July 1959
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