Monthly Archives: May 2010
“You don’t think the Bible is historically accurate, do you?”
“Moses didn’t cross the Red Sea. It was the Reed Sea, only a couple of inches deep.”
“Jesus was a good man, but the Son of God, born of a virgin, resurrected from the dead? Come on!”
“I just can’t buy that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament.”
“Creation took place in six, literal, 24 hours day? Who believes that?!”
These are some typical questions people ask, and increasingly they are being asked by professed Christians as well as agnostics and atheists. The concept of a truly limitless God doing the incredible in the unfolding of history and His plan of salvation troubles many.
But there seems to be an inconsistency if not a contradiction with many of these doubters. They will aver that they, their family or their friends have had many encounters with the paranormal. They have seen ghosts or UFOs. They have communicated with “the dead” with Ouija boards or séances. They go to palm readers, read Tarot cards and tea leaves, or religiously scour their horoscopes to get a bearing on how to plan their future. They put complete trust in psychics and spiritualism.
They are willing to swallow every fact spouted by humanistic, evolutionary scientists. In fact, a good number of things are simply assumed to be true because of the sources themselves.
Why do these glaring inconsistencies exist? Because some of this deals with the heart and motives, one must be careful in assessing the whys.
However, it is manifest that such a reality prevails. The Bible talks about the mindset that leads one to put faith in the fanciful all while rejecting the reasonable explanation of God and his ways found in scripture. Certainly, we can treat the claims of scripture as fairly as we can a crystal ball or a Himalayan guru.
The pagan mind of the average Roman citizen was susceptible to the mystical and the cultic.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Romans 1:18-23).
Ironically, with that worldview as a foundation, immorality of the grossest varieties followed (Romans 1:24-28) as well as unrestrained, chaotic behavior that was violent and destructive (Romans 1:29-31).
Tucked into the middle of this latter list was the fact that such were “haters of God”(30). Could this be a viable factor? People might not articulate their personal philosophy in such pungent terms, but what is the consequence of their belief system? They reject out of hand the idea of the incarnation (literally, “God in the flesh”), a vicarious death (an innocent one dying for the guilty), an objective, normative and authoritative divine revelation (i.e., that the Bible came from God’s work in guiding men to write down his will to guide all people of all time) and such Bible themes as sin, repentance, redemption, a universal judgment, heaven, and hell.
Could it be that mankind is disturbed by the thought of accountability and submission? Would we rather have our fancy tickled by clairvoyance, black magic and Martians than have it all explained by special revelation brought about by an Uncaused Cause who not only set things in motion but takes an active role and shows active concern in our individual lives even today?
I cannot speak for what drives a person to choose the ethereal over the eternal, but I can counter the fanciful with some basic facts of faith.
Our morality, our spirituality, our drive to have standards of right and wrong and our yearning to adore and worship cannot be satisfactorily explained by evolution, synapses of the brain or even inexplicable chance.
In our desire to titillate ourselves with apparitions and interpreting space noise, we have aimed infinitely low. If we will look up and put our trust in the all- powerful, perfect God and live our lives from that perspective, we unlock for ourselves the portal to peace and the pathway to purpose.
In our heart of hearts, we know that belief in God is the better explanation. To that end, may we follow our hearts.
Here are some new concerns for the “Boomer generation”:
Then: Long hair
Now: Longing for hair
Then: Acid rock
Now: Acid reflux
Then: Moving to California because it’s cool
Now: Moving to California because it’s warm
Then: Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Elizabeth Taylor
Now: Trying not to look like Marlon Brando or Elizabeth Taylor
Then: Worrying about no one coming to your party
Now: Worrying about no one coming to your funeral
Then: Rolling Stones
Now: Kidney stones
Then: Obsessing over PSATs
Now: Obsessing over PSAs
Then: Passing the driving test
Now: Passing the vision test
Then: Parents begging you to get your hair cut
Now: Children begging you to get their heads shaved
Then: Getting out to a new, hip joint
Now: Getting a new hip joint
Most things change with time. We grow old, gain wrinkles and lose hair. People around us move away and die. You may change jobs, and move from city to city every few years. Ever gone back to the place where you grew up to see what it looks like now? Things change. And life can be very unsettling if it is not grounded on something that does not change through the years.
Fortunately we have this assurance: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8).
Even if we become faithless, he remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13). When all others let us down, his love will still be there for us. You can count on it. What comfort and assurance that gives us! Praise be to God for his unchanging nature!
Introduction lesson on the rich man and Lazarus:
1. Prior verses – emphasis on those who “love money” (verse 14).
2. Warning against loving God and mammon (verse 13).
3. This chapter describes one who was “rich” (verse 19).
4. Many refer to this account as a parable, often to deny what is taught.
5. If a parable, it is the only one that specifically names a person (verse 20).
6. Parables have an *explanation* (Lk. 8:11), so what is the explanation for this story?
7. Parables are normally identified as such in Luke:
8. 5:36; 6:39; 8:11; 12:16; 13:6; 14:7; 15:3; 18:1, 9; 19:11; 20:9; 21:29
9. Even if this could be called a parable, parables are always based on truth.
10. Attempts to dismiss this account as an account of what happens after death.
11. Verses 24-25; rich man allegedly represents Antipas or the Jewish nation.
12. Some things in the Bible are certainly figurative – God’s “eyes and hands.”
13. I do not contend that every detail in this story is literal.
14. Verse 22 – is the eternal spirit literally “carried” by “angels”?
15. Verse 23 is likely not literal. Neither is the “tongue” or the “flame” in verse 24.
16. The information about Lazarus and the rich man is not primarily about the afterlife—about wealth.
17. What is taught in this chapter about the after-life is true.
18. This chapter teaches that man continues to exist beyond the grave.
19. People immediately know their relationship with God when they die.
20. 16:19-21 – why not mention rich man’s name?
21. Description of rich man’s clothing. Gen. 41:42; Ex. 28:2-5.
22. No “big sins” associated with this man.
23. Word “beggar” is almost always translated “poor” in the NT.
24. Who took Lazarus to the rich man’s gate?
25. Lazarus’ condition (21-22).
26. Crumbs – our typical definition of this word is wrong.
27. Why take Lazarus to this same place day after day?
28. It seems the rich man ignored Lazarus.
29. Lazarus’ fine character is implied in this account.
Repentance is “a regret for the ill done in that past, and out of all this a change of life for the better” (Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 259).
Do you have any good “tips” or suggestions for preachers? If so, please list them here. I am looking for various “preacher tips” or “ministry suggestions” that help ministers be more effective in their work. If things go as planned, these “preaching tips” will be published at a later time.