Archive for September, 2011

Bible X-Files, Part 3

September 28, 2011

Title: Bible X-Files, Part 3

Text: John 10:16, Galatians 1:8-9, 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Time: September 24th, 2011

 

Last time I gave a message concerning the possibility of the planet earth having been visited by space aliens in ancient and modern times. I concluded that it’s more likely that the so-called alien visitations are demonic deceptions than they are genuine extra-terrestrial encounters. From a thorough reading of the whole Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, I conclude that there is enough evidence of demonic deception recorded in history that there is no reason to believe demonic deception has ceased in modern times today. On the contrary, the demonic deception recorded in the Bible leads us to believe that it has taken place throughout human history from ancient times to the present. It has taken different forms depending on the different cultural settings, but we’ve no reason to doubt that the Devil, that first and most deadly fallen angel, is any less active today than in the past. And if Satan is active today – which the entire Bible points to is the case – then his modern day deceptions would no doubt take the form that would deceive today’s world. I believe that the popular alien mythology is Satan’s modern day deception to fool people and lead them away from God. But having said that, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps there might possibly be something to at least some of the accounts and testimonies given today by so-called eye witnesses of alien or UFO encounters. Are there other intelligent beings in the universe somewhere, besides angels and demons in the spirit world, and besides the populations of heaven and hell, and besides, of course, God himself? Is there intelligent life somewhere we don’t know about? Or more simply, is there any life, however primitive, anywhere in the universe? And what if there was life somewhere, what impact would that have on our own lives on earth if we found out about it? What impact would the discovery of life beyond our planet have on the Christian faith? I found it interesting that the Roman Catholic church recently made a very public statement that Christianity would not necessarily be effected by any evidence for life beyond planet earth. The current Pope Benedict XVI, the former Joseph Ratzinger, is an intellectual who has written on a wide range of subjects related to faith and culture. It’s interesting that he thought it was important to reassure the faithful that extra-terrestrial life isn’t necessary anything to worry about as far as threatening Christianity. I basically agree with him, although I’d want to qualify my remarks and say, “The discovery of life beyond planet earth, in and of itself, wouldn’t necessarily pose any direct threat to biblical Christianity, but false interpretations of such a discovery might present challenges to the Christian faith.” Supposing we discovered life on other planets or aliens visited the planet earth in the future, I’m not so much worried about what this would mean to Christianity as much as what a misinterpretation of these events might mean. Let me outline my concerns. (more…)

Bible X-Files, Part 2

September 28, 2011

Title: Bible X-Files, Part 2

Text: 2 Timothy 4:3-4, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, 1 Corinthians 10:19

Time: September 23rd, 2011

 

Last year I gave a message that dealt with the subject of space aliens. Why did I take the time to address such a subject? Because the History Channel had just run a five-part series called Ancient Aliens that argued for the validity of the so-called “Ancient Astronaut” theory, that is, the belief that in times past aliens visited the planet earth and made contact with earth’s primitive people. The theory goes on to explain how much of religion and culture can be explained as coming from alien contact. Supposedly, much of our history on earth is due to the influence of space aliens. I felt it important to address these issues from a Christian perspective because what was once considered a part of the “lunatic fringe” is now being mainstreamed by media outlets such as the History Channel. That was over a year ago. Although I was surprised that the History Channel would risk its credibility by airing this series, I thought that for ratings sake they were probably trying to cash in on the popularity of belief in aliens among the population and that their coverage would end as soon as they had exploited the topic for all it was worth during a short time period. But to my surprise I happened to be flipping through the channels on TV and found the History Channel had not only run the initial five-part series in 2010, but it then ran two more new seasons, a second ten-part series and then a third eight-part series also. So far, the History Channel has devoted at least twenty-three separate episodes explaining the evidences for the Ancient Alien theory. The once fringe author Eric Von Daniken is now being given star billing on this television series. How can we explain the popularity of the topic of space aliens in American culture today? And how can we explain how such ideas that were once laughed at and classified as psuedo-science are now becoming a part of the mainstream? A big reason could be that modern people long for and hunger for mystery which an increasingly secular and scientific world is taking from them. The human heart knows that there is more to life than matter and energy as secular science teaches. Unfortunately, there are always figures such as Von Daniken and others who are all too eager to step in and claim to fill the spiritual hole in the soul of modern man with bizarre and mysterious claims of extra-terrestrials. But why should Christians in particular be concerned about the popular alien theories? Because these theories seek to replace historic, biblical Christianity with an entirely new interpretation of God and spiritual truth. Underneath the interesting and attractive alien theories being articulated today there is a subtle — and not so subtle — attempt to explain away Christianity and replace it with a new worldview based on science and New Age philosophy. Therefore, what I’d like to do today is approach the whole topic of Ancient Aliens and the worldview that comes from it, as one big form of deception. I’d like to argue that what is taking place isn’t science but rather a spiritual con game run by the father of all lies the Devil. Yes, Satan himself is inspiring the popular alien mythology that is fast becoming mainstream in the modern world. The Ancient Alien myth seeks to replace Christianity as a worldview. I’d like to expose this deception as much as possible. That’s my task today. (more…)

Was 9/11 Judgment From God For America’s Sins? Part 2

September 26, 2011

Title: Was 9/11 Judgment From God for America’s Sins? Part 2

Text: Isaiah 5:5-6, 24-25, 40:1-2, John 5:13-14, 8:1-3

Time: September 19th, 2011

 

Last time, if you remember, I talked about 9/11 being a judgment of God upon sinful America. I also spoke about how most Americans will not accept that analysis of 9/11 because they will refuse to admit or confess to their sins, and they will also refuse to recognize that God judges sin in this way. But as I also pointed out, the Bible is full of just such examples of God judging and punishing the sins of his people. So in speaking of America under God’s judgment for sin, and by seeing that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were part of God’s judgment upon the nation for it’s sins, I realize that I’m going against the grain of popular American thinking. How dare I or anyone – it started with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson a few days after September 11th, 2001 – to speak of America in such a way? How dare anyone speak of God in such a way either? Well, first off, I’d like to say that nobody is saying the innocent victims of 9/11 – the people in the World Trade Centers who died, or the first responders who tried to save them and died, or the people who died in the Pentagon or in Flight 93 that crashed – nobody is blaming them, or saying that their sins brought upon the 9/11 attacks. Whenever one discusses God’s judgment upon America or America’s sins, no doubt someone will raise the objection, “Those innocent victims cannot be blamed for the tragedy of 9/11. To blame them is unconscionable. You should be ashamed of yourself for even suggesting so.” I want to say in the strongest terms, I’m not blaming any of the innocent victims who died for the attacks or saying that their sins brought the judgment of God upon them or the nation. I’m saying the corporate sins of this nation, it’s abortions, it’s embracing of the gay lifestyle and gay marriage, it’s turning away from God as a society and nation – these are the things that bring God’s wrath down upon a people. Just as one wouldn’t want to blame any individual or individuals in the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, so too, one wouldn’t want to blame any individual or individuals alone for any judgment that comes upon our nation. But having said all that, the Bible clearly outlines that nations are judged by God for their sins, and so, when we look at the nation of the United States, we must say sin brought about and brings about God’s wrath upon a people. A nation is the combined beliefs and activities of its people. If America is judged by God it will be because of what it has done together. Is there any question that America as a nation has moved steadily away from the will of God as outlined in the Bible? Are there no consequences for a people moving away from the will of God? Yes, there are consequences, and I’m saying that 9/11 is an example of God bringing negative consequences upon our nation for its sins – sins it still has yet to acknowledge as a nation. But in case someone is still not sure about this way of thinking, let me explain further. (more…)

Was 9/11 Judgment From God For America’s Sins?, Part 1

September 26, 2011

Title: Was 9/11 Judgment From God for America’s Sins?

Text: Habakkuk 1:5-6, 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, Isaiah 1:4-7

Time: September 18th, 2011

 

Last week, on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I spoke on the reality of evil. The attacks were a public demonstration of the reality of evil, even if a majority of Americans today don’t believe in absolute moral standards anymore. There’s something about the events of 9/11 that convince even the most radical moral relativists among us of the reality of evil. Today, I’d like to go in a different direction in respect to the 9/11 terrorist attacks of ten years ago – I’d like to ask the question, “Was 9/11 judgment from God for America’s sins?” Now this isn’t the first time this question has been raised. If you remember, shortly after the attacks, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson and televangelist Jerry Falwell were discussing the events of 9/11 on the 700 Club television show. Here’s what they said:

THE TRANSCRIPT
Here are their comments in context:
Pat Robertson began the interview asking Falwell what his response has been to the terrorist attacks.  Falwell said there had been a massive prayer gathering of members of his congregation along with students from Liberty University.  He told the TV audience that they had humbled themselves before God, prayed for President Bush and his advisers and for the victims of the attacks.
Falwell then likened the attacks to Pearl Harbor and that at that time, Hitler wanted to destroy the Jews and conquer the world.  Now, “Islamic fundamentalists, radical terrorists, Middle-Eastern monsters” want to destroy Israel and conquer the world.
The two men then talked about religious revival and whether the events of September 11 might spark spiritual renewal in America.
Then Falwell said, “What we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.”
Robertson replied,  “Well, Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the antechamber to terror, we haven’t begun to see what they can do to the major population.”
Falwell said, “The ACLU has got to take a lot of blame for this. And I know I’ll hear from them for this, but throwing God…successfully with the help of the federal court system…throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad…I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America…I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen.”
Robertson said, “I totally concur, and the problem is we’ve adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government, and so we’re responsible as a free society for what the top people do, and the top people, of course, is the court system.”
Falwell added, “Pat, did you notice yesterday that the ACLU and all the Christ-haters, the People for the American Way, NOW, etc., were totally disregarded by the Democrats and the Republicans in both houses of Congress, as they went out on the steps and called out to God in prayer and sang ‘God bless America’ and said, let the ACLU be hanged. In other words, when the nation is on its knees, the only normal and natural and spiritual thing to do is what we ought to be doing all the time, calling on God.”

 

Now if you remember, this caused quite an uproar and both the men were eventually forced to backtrack a little on what they said. But my question is, “Is there any truth to the notion that God could be bringing judgment upon America through the events of 9/11 for her sins?” It certainly isn’t a pleasant idea, but after ten years I think it’s time to go back and really answer the question honestly. I understand at the time, ten years ago,  right immediately after the terrorist attacks, it might have been inappropriate to even bring up the subject of God’s wrath and judgment for sin, but after ten years I think it’s important to go back and re-examine the whole question. Was God trying to get our attention? Obviously God permitted or allowed this terrorist attack to occur – he could have prevented it — but was it for a purpose? Was it in any way as a result of our national sins? Is it even legitimate to talk this way or even raise the question? Ten years ago, it’s obvious from the reaction to Robertson’s and Falwell’s remarks, that Americans thought their remarks were inappropriate.  But what about now? Is it ok now, after ten years, to talk and think about such things? Well, whether it’s proper or not in the eyes of most Americans, I’m going to tackle the subject today, and I’m going to make three claims: first, according to the Bible, God judges nations for their sins and sometimes uses other nations as instruments of his wrath; second, there is cause for God to bring judgment upon America for her sins; third, Americans need to repent of their sins and turn back to God in order to avoid future judgment. (more…)

The Reality of Evil: 9/11 Tenth Anniversary

September 22, 2011

Title: The Reality of Evil: 9/11 Tenth Anniversary

Text: Matthew 6:9-13, 1 John 5:19, John 3:19-20, 10:10, 13:27, 17:15, Acts 1:18, Revelation 12:12

Time: September 11th, 2011

 

Today marks the tenth anniversary since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. It’s a time of remembrance and reflection on those events – and I’m sure most of you will think about what happened and remember by watching television documentaries that relive the events. Our nation has been on high alert since the attacks. We’ve also fought wars as a result, in order to discourage future terrorists from thinking they can succeed without consequences. But one of the positive results of our struggle against terrorism in the last ten years has been the growing understanding and acceptance by more and more people of the reality of evil. Of course, the Bible describes evil from cover to cover, but our modern world has largely forgotten or rejected the biblical teaching about evil. Today, the prevailing view is that there really isn’t anything classified as real or absolute evil, because after all, there are no moral absolutes – in other words, there are no standards of right and wrong that apply to everyone at all times given by divine command through, for example, the Bible. The modern world teaches that all religions are the same, basically, as well as all religious, spiritual and moral values. The world teaches that values are simply what humans value, what are useful to believe or not, whatever is helpful or not, in maintaining society. That’s why our modern, secular government in Washington, D.C. is careful not to mandate any Christian or biblical values in, say, public schools, or in public policy. In modern thinking, values are simply what humans value in their time, in their situations. But these can change from culture to culture. This modern attitude is called moral relativism, and it recognizes no absolute standards of right and wrong. That’s why it’s hard for modern, secular people to admit to or recognize real evil. But when the planes hit on 9/11, modern, secular thinking people were suddenly confronted with a crisis in their thinking. “Do we admit and recognize that this ugly act of raw terrorism is absolute and real evil, or do we go on believing in moral relativism? Do we admit that real absolute evil exists or do we go on believing that evil is only what some people think is wrong or bad given their context and cultural situation?” Believe it or not, there are still some people who try to hold on to moral relativism, the view that no action is really absolutely right or wrong, but it just depends on the situation. For example, certain teachers’ unions were instructing teachers in public schools to not make value judgments as to the rightness or wrongness of the terrorists actions on 9/11, because after all, over in some Arab nations, the attackers are considered heroes, and people consider their actions a great victory of good (the attacks) over evil (the bad Americans). Remember, many Arabs consider Israel the Great Satan, and America as the Little Satan. But most Americans don’t see it that way. Most Americans now realize, if they didn’t before, that there is real evil, absolute evil, and they witnessed it on 9/11. As Christians, we don’t have any problem calling the 9/11 attacks evil, because we know all about evil from the pages of the Bible. But let’s review from the Bible why we believe in the existence of evil and why we believe that the 9/11 attack was evil. Matthew 6:9-13 (read). (more…)

Three Marks of Worldliness

September 22, 2011

Title: Three Marks of Worldliness

Text: 1 John 2:15-17

Time: September 4th, 2011

 

Last week I mentioned that we were covering one of the most relevant and important topics as Christians living in the midst of the modern, prosperous, secular world. We looked at the problem of worldliness. The Apostle John, that senior saint who wrote much of the New Testament including the Gospel of John, the Letters of John and the Book of Revelation, in all of these prophetic writings, which we consider the very Word of God, he warns us Christians about the fallen, sinful world system. Now in the old days, even in this country back before the 60s rebellion against authority and morality, it was common to hear messages in churches warning Christians about worldliness – or the attitudes and actions of the fallen world we live in. Believers were warned against following after the ways of the fallen world. Followers of Jesus were urged to resist the temptations to conform to the worldly crowd. Just because everyone is dancing to certain songs doesn’t mean we need to do it. Just because most people are talking about and going to see certain movies doesn’t mean we as Christians need to be joining the crowd in a mad dash to the theaters. Just because everyone these days is breaking all the old sexual moral and ethical rules doesn’t mean we should. Just because most people are chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and pursuing money and material possessions doesn’t mean we should do the same. In other words, it used to be the case that in the Christian church you’d hear warnings against the worldly life. For example, churches used to warn about the evil influences of Hollywood and certain fashion styles or the dangers of listening to particularly explicit music. It used to be a great concern among Christians, because the Bible warns us in both the Old and New Testaments to avoid the influence of the world. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness. Why? Because Israel was out of Egypt but it took that long to get the Egypt out of Israel. In other words, they needed to give up the worldly ways of the pagan culture of their captivity and to learn the ways of God as a new nation. Then, when the Jews entered the Promised Land they were warned to avoid picking up the sinful worldly ways of the pagan nations. In the New Testament, Christians are warned to “be in the world, but not of it.” Jesus prays for Christians not to be taken out of the world, but that they would resist the evil one, John 17:15-16 – “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” The Apostle Paul warns Christians not to let the world pour us into its mold, Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing out your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – is good, pleasing and perfect will.” So the Bible gives us plenty of warning to watch out for and resist the fallen, sinful world. But today, we don’t hear that much anymore in churches and Christian teachings. It’s not popular. It upsets people. It steps on people’s toes. It offends. The problem is we are a lot more worldly than we admit. We don’t like to be told we are worldly. But it does us good once in a while to hear the warning God gives from the Bible about worldliness. We need to hear it so that we can protect our souls against the corrupt influence of the fallen world. So with that in mind let me read again from 1 John 2:15-17 (read) and focus specifically on verse 16 where three characteristics of worldliness are mentioned. We can test ourselves against these three things mentioned and make corrections wherever we need to in our lives. (more…)

Do Not Love the World

September 22, 2011

Title: Do Not Love the World

Text: 1 John 2:15-17

Time: August 28th, 2011

 

In our study of the Letter of 1st John, we come to a very important passage, especially for us modern people today living in prosperous America. 1 John 2:1-17, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” There is so much to say here, there’s no way I’ll be able to say everything this morning, but I’ll try as best I can. We’ve all heard of the term “worldliness.” As Christians we run into its usage now and again. We hear scholars and experts say things like, “The Christian church in the present age, generally speaking, is very worldly.” What does that mean? Or we’ll hear people talk and describe someone as “worldly.” What does that mean? Parents often worn their college bound children, “Study hard, but don’t get too worldly.” What does that mean? As Christians, we often hear that there are three main enemies of our souls – the world, the flesh and the Devil. The Devil is easy enough to understand; he’s that fallen angel that led an angelic revolt against God long, long ago, and who today is trying to recruit and tempt humans to join his rebellion against God. And the flesh we understand is our sin nature, our inherited sinful corrupt nature that leads us in the direction of sin and selfishness and away from God; that we understand. But what is “the world?” Well, it can mean a number of different things, and not all the definitions apply to this passage. For example, it can simply mean, the whole world of people on the planet earth. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” But what “the world” refers to in our passage today, and what we understand it to mean in connection to “worldliness” is it’s the fallen human system operating that makes sin and selfishness seem normal and that makes God and godliness abnormal. It’s the fallen system of man that makes belief in God difficult, but makes belief in our selves easy to believe. It’s the world system that makes it difficult to pray and read the Bible every day, but makes talking on the telephone and reading the paper everyday easy. It’s popular culture and common sense that makes real Bible faith difficult today, while at the same time making following the crowd and whatever is fashionable easy. It’s a system set against God’s will that we humans find easy to follow; while it makes following God’s will difficult or seemingly difficult. It’s something that the Apostle John wants to warn Christians about. The world is dangerous to our faith and we need to be aware of what it is and how it is harmful to us. We need to know how to avoid becoming “worldly.” Let me make three points from our passage today. (more…)

Children, Adults and Elders

September 22, 2011

Title: Children, Adults and Elders

Text: 1 John 2:12-14

Time: August 21st, 2011

 

John the Apostle is an elder statesman in the Christian church at the time of his writing the Letter of 1st John, so he’s writing as a grandfather might to the family. In today’s passage he addresses three specific segments of the Christian church – children, adults and older people. Or in other words, he addresses the whole church because everyone in the church is probably a child, an adult or an older person. You must remember that back in ancient times it was unusual for the average person to live a long life because there were so many sicknesses, diseases or injuries that could kill prematurely. Today we’ve grown spoiled by modern medicine, doctors and hospitals, but we need to remember that in ancient times they didn’t have these things. What was known as a doctor back then was really someone who knew less than the average person today about treating illnesses. What we stock in our home medicine cabinets is more than the best “doctors” knew or had in ancient times. So that means most people died prematurely in ancient days. The Apostle John, or any older person, was the exception in ancient times. They were looked up to for their wisdom. John especially was respected because he was an original disciple of Jesus and was one of the founding members and a leader in the early church. So this unique status gives John the right to address the whole church in general, and speak directly to certain segments of the church specifically. 1 John 2:12-14, “I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I wrote to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” If we break this passage down we see the three audiences – children, men and fathers. Or, put differently, children, adults and elders. I take this to mean, John is addressing the whole Christian church, because the category “children” would include the youngest members of the church, the category “young men” would represent the typical adult population – still young compared to our adult and middle aged population due to the factors I mentioned before – and I understand the category “fathers” to represent the older members of the church. I can’t imagine John writing a letter to the Christian church and purposefully leaving out any segment. That wouldn’t make sense. So for our purposes today, I’ll be assuming that the Apostle is writing to all the members of the Christian church using these three categories, and that each one of us here today fits into one of the three categories. He has something to say to each of us today whatever category we are in – or whatever category we put ourselves in! Now another possibility is that John is using these three classifications to describe Christian spiritual maturity level, not biological age, and so he’d be addressing different levels of Christians not strictly related to physical age. But I’ll put that question aside for the moment and come back to it later. Let’s assume for now that he’s talking about natural life stages of Christians within the church. Ok, let’s see what he has to say. (more…)