Human Plight and God’s Solution: Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, October 18, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

The dead condition of humanity resulted from following its own evil inclinations in response to the spiritual ruler of the fallen world. God owes humanity nothing except the judgment and destruction which they have earned. Yet, God remains profoundly merciful, providing the gift of salvation and a new destiny for those who follow Christ.

Because of the Fall, humanity was plunged into death as Paul says, “By the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man” (Romans 5:17). According to Pauline theology, Adam is the representative head of humanity, and his sin caused an inescapable addiction to sin. Adam’s sin predisposed the entire human race to reject the reign of God and accept the reign of sin. Each person decides to be an authority for themselves. Paul describes this morbid state as the normal condition under which the entire human race suffers.

There are three observations that come to mind concerning this ongoing death in which humanity continually suffers. First, this dead condition is universal. When Paul says, “All of us also lived among them” (Ephesians 2:3), he leaves nobody out of the equation.

The second observation is that all humanity is complicit in this deadness; it does not fight against the deadness of it all, but rather has gotten used to it. The phrase, “and we were children of wrath by nature, as also the rest of them were” (Ephesians 2:3) seems to insinuate that the descendants of Adam may not be the prime originators of this fallen condition in the sense that Adam was, but neither are they completely passive—or acted upon—by the transmission of Adam’s death.

It is not as though aside from Adam’s sin, we would all be innocent. Rather, the murky corruption in which everyone is born conveys death to each one. And each person is also complicit in this corruption and willfully accepts and relishes in the morbidity it conveys. Humanity delights in their dead, rebellious condition; they thrive in death. Adam may have plunged the human race into sin, but humanity stayed there willingly.

It is alienation and separation from God. It is a wretched condition caused by our own sins. This creates a cycle of death, because sin increases an appetite for more sin; death unto death. But even if mankind chose the reign of sin and death rather than the reign of God, his addiction to sin is no excuse. Each person is accountable to God for their rebellious heart. All this creates a deadness to God and a deadness to life.

Everyone “lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). Adam followed this ruler when he was enticed by Satan; his children still follow this ruler as they live in Adam’s death. Also like Adam, they chose to live out their lives in the cravings of their flesh, “indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind” (Ephesians 2:3). Hence, each person has lived in a manner controlled by the world, the flesh, and the devil. They have chosen to be ruled by the devil himself, rather than God.

The third observation is that this death is total. It is idiotic to ask how fatal this death is. There are no degrees of fatality. Humanity is utterly hopeless in ever reversing this death brought about by its own transgressions and sins. No one can raise himself from the dead. Everyone lives to gratify the cravings of this fallen nature. The only impulse that dead humanity possesses is the impulse to follow the ruler of this age into further gratification of the sin nature.

Not only is humanity taken captive by the ruler of the spirit of the air, but even if humanity could free itself from the chains of sin, it would not exercise that freedom. It has earned its judgment, ratified its intention to live independently from God’s ways, committed itself to vile tastes, and receives its sustenance and energy from the ruler of this present age, the evil one.

Humanity is a corpse ball looking for fresh enticements. Long dead lay the world, enticed to dark appetites by the ruler of this present age. Each person has lived to establish his or her own sense of what was right, instead of the standard of right and wrong being God’s unchanging holiness. Therefore, the world chose anarchy and alienation from God. It chose the serpent over the Savior.

The cycle of sin and death imprisoned every person; no one could escape. Somehow, someone from the outside had to break in and bring deliverance. Jesus Christ did that.

Though God owed nothing but judgment and damnation to those rebels, He Himself opened a way of salvation so that they might have opportunity to escape. He did this by virtue of Christ’s merit applied to those who received His gracious gift. He did it in order to blot out the traces of rebellion and shame. This act of God was based solely on God’s own mercy and Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, since it could not be earned by anyone.

God made believers alive in Christ. He gave them a completely new identity, gave them victory over the ruler of the spirit of the air, and gave them a new status all to showcase His great kindness and grace.

None of these things were earned by the recipients of grace, so that none of them could boast of any merit of their own. God offers each of us this gift of salvation. Make sure to catch part 2 next week.

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What Does the Bible Say About Hell?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 16, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Last week, we discussed what the Bible says about heaven, and we briefly touched on the idea of hell. Today, we’re looking a bit more into hell and what the Bible says about it.

One of the primary texts we have regarding hell is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Lazarus goes to heaven and is by Abraham’s side, but the rich man goes to hell and is in constant suffering there. What is hell like for him? Well, a drop of water to cool his tongue sounds to him like the most amazing thing he could ever have. I’ve gotten pretty thirsty at times, but that sounds pretty severe! He is also tormented by the fact that his family members will likely suffer the same fate as him, but there’s nothing he can do about it. Finally, the icing on the cake so to speak is that we know he can see heaven. That would be like being so close to that refreshing water in a time of extreme thirst, and even seeing someone else being refreshed by the water, and knowing you can never have it.

So why was hell created? We don’t see it listed in the original Creation account of Genesis 1-2, but that’s because it wasn’t really needed then. God created everything to be perfect (Genesis 1:31), so there was no need for a place for evil to dwell. Hell was prepared as a place for the devil (the first fallen angel) and his angels to dwell (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4). Hell is the place for those who have done evil, so they can face their condemnation there (John 5:28-29; Revelation 21:8; Matthew 25:46; Matthew 13:50; Psalm 9:17).

The devil is not necessarily in charge of hell, but he has been banished to live there forever (Revelation 20:10). Hell is eternal fire (Mark 9:43) and will destroy both body and soul (Matthew 10:28). We know that God cannot be and is not present there (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Those who dwell in hell are living in a place that is completely without God; we can only imagine the horror that that would be, since God does dwell and work in our world, even if we don’t acknowledge Him.

How do we get to hell? Well, it’s the opposite of how we get to heaven. We get to heaven by believing in Jesus as our savior, so we get to hell by NOT believing that. Unfortunately the way to heaven is much narrower than the way to hell. Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Hell is a real place. What are you doing in your life to make sure you’re going through the narrow gate to heaven, and escaping the eternal torment of hell?

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The Faith of Abraham - Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, October 15, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Like many people, I’ve had seasons of my life when, now that I look back on them, I can see that I was settling. One such time was after I graduated college. I had grown up in Pennsylvania and knew that God was calling me to go to seminary and eventually be a pastor, but that meant moving to a faraway land known as Findlay, Ohio, for a minimum of three years. That was going to be very uncomfortable. I’d have to move away from my family, lose a lot of friendships, and go where I had no network of support and little money. I had been preaching for many years and there was no doubt about my specific calling, but for the first time in my life I would have to seriously walk by faith and trust God. Needless to say, I decided against it.

Many of you who know my story are thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought he did go to seminary and live in Ohio." It’s true that I did, but I’m here to tell you now that I delayed my move quite a bit. And let me just tell you, when God calls you to something and you have no doubt about it whatsoever, never delay! I searched for comfort in relationships with women, in a good-paying job, in friends, in my social life, and in setting up ways to make sure all MY needs were met. But the more I resisted what God was urging me to do, the more I felt uneasy and unsatisfied. It wasn’t until a friend and leader in the church called me out on my sin of settling and told me I would continue to lack purpose and passion until I obeyed God that I finally decided to do so. Had I not gone to Ohio, I probably wouldn’t be a pastor, wouldn’t have met my wife, and wouldn’t even know what Worldview Warriors is, let alone be writing for them!

A man who we know as Abraham, who was originally named “Abram,” was prone to settling at one point in his life. Yet, he learned to obey God and walk faithfully. We will spend the next three weeks talking about this man, as there is much to learn and apply to our own lives. Hebrews 11 has more to say about him than anyone else. Our foundational verse of Hebrews 11:3 certainly applies to him. Abram was given a promise without many specific details, yet he knew that a God who formed the entire universe out of what is not seen could handle the details. That first step is basically where I got hung up before I followed the call. I was worried about all my needs and so many details that God had already figured out since before the world was created! If you’ve experienced such a time in your life, you can learn from Abraham’s faith.

Hebrews 11:8-9 tells us that Abraham “obeyed and went” when God called him to a place where he would receive what was promised “even though he did not know where he was going." We also see that he had to live as a stranger in a foreign land and basically camp in tents. He didn’t even have a house for crying out loud! Talk about trusting God for your needs! To make sure we’re all brought up to speed, you can learn about the promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1-7. First, he is told to leave his home, his native land, his friends, and even his father’s household, but he is not provided with the destination. He is simply told that God will show him a land. God probably knew that Abram wouldn’t go just based on that alone and would just chalk it up to bad wine or a weird dream. So, God adds the incentive by promising to make Abram into a great nation and to bless all peoples through him. Let’s face it, we’re all promised things from time to time. The promise alone is irrelevant unless we believe we can trust the “promise-r” to fulfill it. Abram had to leave all of those comforts and trust God even though God wouldn’t even tell him where he was going. God wasn’t forcing him. He could have rejected the call and then went about his business. But he probably would’ve found, like I and maybe you did, that settling for less than the best God has for you only brings discontentment. Maybe he already knew it.

I find it interesting that we read this story and always tend to focus on the fact that Abram was not given a destination. We think God is being a little unreasonable with this call and we wonder how we could ever respond the way Abram did. But what if I told you that it’s not always about where you’re going? Sometimes, it’s about WHAT you’re leaving behind. Look again at what God says to Abram in Genesis 12:1. God does nothing by coincidence, so you better believe that he wanted to remind Abram of what he needed to leave rather than put his focus on where he was going to end up. Many biblical scholars believe that Abram’s father and his native people were big into idolatry. While we don’t know that for certain, I always think about the fact that we read about the faith of Abram but not of his father. In fact, that’s true about most of the heroes of our faith. But I have a free piece of advice for you: if you are currently operating in an environment that encourages participation in anything that you know is not acceptable in God’s eyes and it is bringing you down rather than bringing you up, I can promise you that God is “calling” you to leave that environment. He wants you to RUN, not walk, away from sin.

Not doing what God commands is sin. And Abram’s father showed him how to sin in this manner. Acts 7:2-3 tells us that the call to head to the land of Canaan came to Abram while he was still in Mesopotamia. Abram’s family lived specifically in the land of Ur in that area, and Genesis 11:31 tells us that his father, Terah, took the family and set out from there to go to the land of Canaan. This was the actual Promised Land that God would give Abram and where Israel is still located to this day. But that same verse shows us that they came to Harran and “settled” there. When Abram followed God in Genesis 12:4, he set out from - guess where - Harran! That means it was only after they had settled for less than God’s best that Abram chose to follow God as he should’ve in the first place.

The name “Terah” means “delay." Friends, you may have learned to settle and even been encouraged to settle by your parents or those around you. But God wants so much more for you. He has promises for you. Abram’s name, which meant “exalted father,” was changed to Abraham, which means “father of many,” only after he began to trust God for his basic needs and also that what God promised would all come true. We’ll dig into this more next week, but keep in mind that we cannot get what we want in this world by trying to “exalt” ourselves and make sure WE are taken care of. 1 Peter 5:6 tells us that only AFTER we humble ourselves before God will he “lift (us) up in due time." Abram learned the idols of SELF and SETTLING from his father, but received the promise and the praise from God after he humbly obeyed and trusted him. In whatever area you know you are currently settling because you are worried about meeting your own needs, I urge you to trust the God who made everything you see from that which you cannot see. He will not fail you and he never breaks his promises!

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Why Do I Trust the Bible?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 14, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

This may be a very short blog post for me, but it represents decades of experience, research, study, and certainty formed from uncertainty.

My trust in the Bible starts first and foremost with the fact that nothing else I have ever read, studied, researched, or examined has ever passed examination. Nothing, not Eastern Mysticism, not Islam, not Hare Krishna, not Mormonism, not Jehovah's Witness, not Nihilism, not Gnosticism, not secular humanism, nor atheist philosophy, nothing has passed scrutiny beyond the most basic of tenets. Rational, philosophical, historical, archeological, scientific, and experiential proof is cohesive and astounding within the Bible, from the most basic of historical references to the most dramatic miraculous fulfillment of prophecy.

My trust is deepened by the fact that scientific method, social justice, racial and gender equality, freedom (from the most basic to the most misused), and law and order all begin with the roots of morality established in Judeo-Christianity. Then you add in those who grew up in cultures directly averse to the Bible, or those who have tried to prove the Bible wrong, who end up coming to faith in Jesus Christ. These are people like Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, and the list goes on.

My trust is galvanized by experiences where I have encountered God and heard his voice. It is ratified by events that can only be explained by the presence of unseen spiritual beings (angels, demons, the Holy Spirit). It is verified by speaking or praying that resulted in miraculous emotional and physical healing. And it is multiplied by the lives of people who have been recreated from who they thought they were into who God always intended them to be.

When I read the Bible, the Word of God, I realize again and again that He is reading me. God's Word reaches into the depths of my brokenness and rebellion toward desires and destruction and calls me to freedom and life. I cannot disprove it, I cannot deny it, I cannot rewrite it, I cannot forget it, I cannot abandon it, I cannot stand against it, I cannot get around it, I cannot get past it, I cannot go beyond it, I cannot fake it, and I cannot escape it - BECAUSE "[His Word] is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Why do I trust the Bible? Because I have tried everything and everyone else, and His Word is the ONLY one that never fails. 

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The Parable of the Sower

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 13, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The Parable of the Sower is likely Jesus’ most famous parable, in part because it is one of only two he actually explained in detail about what it means. It is also the one Jesus said would be the key to understand all the other parables. If you can grasp the Parable of the Sower, you will understand what all the others are about: true and false conversion.

I first heard that remark from a preacher in a Q/A session and that thought has been stuck in my mind: most, if not all, of the parables deal with true and false conversion. I began going through in my head all the parables I could think of and I have had a hard time thinking of any of Jesus’ parables that fail to illustrate the difference of what a true and false believer will be like. The Parable of the Sower is the key, according to Jesus, to recognize this.

I am not going to review the parable itself here, however if you are not familiar with it, please examine both it and the explanation Jesus gives. There are four types of soil: path, rocks, weeds, and good. Three of these failed to produce fruit, and only the last made it. When I have heard most people preach on this parable, they will typically suggest the path is non-believers, the rocks and the weeds are failed believers, and the good soil are the solid believers. I must disagree with this understanding. I have come to understand that all four of these soils are those who claim to be followers of Christ, but only one is a true one.

The path is a type of ground that is hard and compact. Seeds placed onto the path will not easily grow because they will not get buried into the ground. It is too hard. And because it is hard, the seed is exposed and the birds can come and take it away. Jesus described this soil as the kind of person who hears the word but the enemy comes and takes it away before it can take root.

Every one of us have dealt with hardness of the heart internally. How do I know? How often do we hear a great sermon on Sunday morning and get home and have no clue what it was about? I have a collection of 80 sermons and counting on my flash drive I listen to in the car. I choose sermons that are worth re-hearing, are dealing with issues I am working on, and are good reminders for me. However, I’ll hear a great comment in the sermon and by the time I get home, I lose track of what it was. Those birds are hungry, looking for any chance to take away a good word that can affect our lives. How much more do we hear a legitimate word from God and before the day ends we lose what it was, let alone attempt to take action on it? That is when we have an area that has become a hard, compact, trodden path.

Rocky soil is the kind where the seed initially takes root because there is some good soil, but a lot of hard material for the roots to cut through. The roots are shallow and do not have a firm grip. Because of the lack of grip and lack of access to the ground water, when the hot sun comes up, it does not have the strength to endure. Jesus likens this to people that are eager to jump into the fray, however because they have not been established, they fail.

Eric Ludy has a sermon called “Five Smooth Stones” in which he spends almost half the sermon talking about growing trees. It is about leadership and developing missionaries, and his main point is that in early years, trees are extra vulnerable to pests and diseases. The tree needs to get established and firmly rooted before facing the storms.

The enemy wants to get after us before we get established because he fears what we could be if we continue to be obedient to the Lord. So the moment we start to show growth, he’s going to come after us. Many people who are rocky soil are fickle. They tend to jump ship quickly at the first sign of trouble and then try to find another safe place. They are unwilling to go through the storm because of fear of failure among other things. Those who jump churches the moment something doesn’t go their way fit in this category. Now some do need to leave the churches they are in, but when they church hop each time they are offended, they need deeper roots. Rocky people like this also tend to be gullible because they are so quick to change direction each time the winds and waves of society shift.

Weedy soil is the type of soil where people serve two or more masters. You have competition for the nutrients of the soil. Weeds tend to grow en masse without any care, whereas good crops take heavy hours of maintenance to keep growing. These are the people that want one foot in with Christ and another foot still in the world. We are to be in the world but not of it. That does not mean we cannot watch a football game, play a video game, or watch TV and movies, however, which tends to dominate your thought life? Could it be possible that these entertainment venues is taking your energy and your thoughts away from God?

Crops CAN grow in weedy soil, however their fruit will be weak, the vine will be sickly, there will not be as much fruit, and the soil will be weaker for the next set of crops. There are a number of weeds that look at LOT like good crops, and that is what the Parable of the Wheat and Tares is about. The tares are false converts that suck away nutrients from the wheat and keep the wheat from being able to produce. When the tares leave, the wheat feel much better and freer to grow and develop.

Good soil is the real deal. It is well plowed and broken up before the Lord. Seeds are able to bury themselves into the dirt, die, and rise as a fruit-bearing plant. Rocks are broken up and the tap root is able to hit the ground water. The roots go deep, and while a tornado could bend the tree over, it will not uproot it because it has a firm grip. It is clear of weeds, and the sin and worldly things that entangle us are removed. This soil is able to bear good, rich, numerous fruit.

God wants to make us into good soil. Each of us start as path, rocky, or weedy soil but as a good gardener, he knows how to clear it, plow it, and prepare the soil. Let us be good soil, so God’s word can grow, take deep root, and have such a grip on our lives that no matter what storms come it will not let go.

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God's Provision: From Ohio to Houston, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 12, 2017 0 comments

by Steve Risner

After some time to rest and reflect, I thought it would be nice to write a blog post about the trip my wife Michelle and I took to Houston, TX. If you follow the Worldview Warriors Facebook page (which you should if you don’t already), you would have seen about a month ago that Michelle and I responded to the call to take supplies down to Houston following the aftermath of hurricane Harvey. I'll share the whole story.

Michelle's brother Jono and his wife April felt led to take a truck and trailer full of supplies down to Texas for disaster relief. He and his wife were going to stay for a few days to help in whatever way they could before returning to Ohio. In the process of collecting supplies—food, water, cleaning supplies, etc.—they acquired more they they could take. This led them to believe they needed to turn people away if they wanted to donate. This is where Michelle and I came into the picture. Hearing this, we felt strongly that God was asking us, “Why can't you take the rest?”

You see, one of my passions is helping. It's just the way God made me. I love giving a hand, providing some help or finances, letting someone use a machine or tool I have, etc.. Whenever I would hear of these events like Harvey or when Joplin, MO was hit by a gigantic tornado and those sorts of things, I feel like we should act. As followers of Christ and, quite frankly, as decent people, we should be moved by such things and try to help if possible. But anytime the need seemed to arise, it was difficult to find others who were willing and able to participate. And, truthfully, with owning our own business and having a family of 7 to deal with, it was easy to find excuses for not getting involved. We might send a donation here or there, but we rarely got our hands dirty so to speak. Honestly, it never occurred to me to act on my own until my brother-in-law jumped at the chance. I appreciate him for that. Sometimes we need to be shown something before we realize it's possible.

Jono was having some issues with the ministry he had chosen to contact to help with (understandably, they are very large, heavy with red tape, and were in the middle of a crisis). I have a friend in Houston that I was sure would have some contacts or at least an idea of where Jono could find direction. Dr. Ramirez got us in touch with Pastor Kellen at the Worship Center in north Houston. This was a terrific blessing and made the job of connecting down there much easier. Eventually, my brother-in-law did get word from Samaritan's Purse and he did do some clean-up work with them.

So Michelle and I announced fairly sluggishly on Thursday, August 31st that we, too, would be making a trip down to Houston to provide supplies. We didn't mention it to many people until the following Tuesday when everything broke loose. Let me explain: I stood up in a Business Network International (BNI) group I'm involved in—Flag City BNI—and told them about our plans. This seemed pretty benign at the time. However, after hardly mentioning it to anyone else until Sunday at church, I received a message from a friend in this BNI group. On Tuesday, September 5th, Chase of Findlay Warehousing informed me that his company would like to donate a semi truck, 53' trailer, and driver for the trip! This was terrifying! What am I supposed to do with a semi truck? I thanked him and immediately got the wheels in my head turning. How am I supposed to fill up a 53' trailer? In my mind, I had already determined it was not possible and told Chase we may just need to use a box truck if that was available. But we moved on.

That day, a very nice woman I know stopped in my office. I hadn't seen her for a few weeks as was her custom. But she stopped in and I just happened to mention what had transpired earlier that day. It turns out Patty knows everyone within a 50-mile radius (or so it seemed) and immediately started in with, “Have you talked to this organization? I'm good friends with the president. What about this company? I know their CEO. How about this radio station? I know the guy in charge over there really well.” And thus a firestorm began.

Michelle and I had placed a video on Facebook on Labor Day. Within 24 hours, that video was shared about 70 times and clicked on some 2500 times! It was unbelievable and I thank everyone who participated in that. However, it seemed like that was the end of the enthusiasm. After all of that, still no donations were coming in. I was concerned.

I contacted the United Way here in Findlay, OH, to see if they had some help they could provide. They could not. They were trying to fill their own two semi trucks and, therefore, did not have any resources available. However, they advised us to take the truck to Tiffin, OH where, as far as they knew, there was no coordinated effort. I did just that. I contacted a friend, Lenny, who knows the mayor of Tiffin to see if he had a suggestion for getting in touch with him. He helped me out and Mayor Montz and I got connected. Patty, again, went to work and got us a place in the Tiffin Mall parking lot where Mayor Montz and I met for some pictures. He used those pictures on his social media to get the word out. That was picked up by WTOL, a local television station out of Toledo, OH. That helped in getting the word out, but to be honest, I believe the majority of the donation we accepted from Saturday, September 9th to Sunday, September 10th were by passers by who saw us. My children, Zeke and Judah, held large, bright yellow poster boards up saying, “Help us help Houston!” and “Help us fill this truck for Houston.” People responded. But the task was huge and I still was not sure. But by the time we finished in Tiffin on Sunday, after my parents and my aunt and uncle worked with me for about 6 hours, the truck was about two-thirds of the way full (though I believed the pros at the warehouse would likely get that packed a little tighter than we did).

I called a friend, a local business owner and pastor of a local church, and asked if he may be able to help. His response with very little hesitation was, “Would $5000 help you out?” Of course, I was shocked and very appreciative. That with all the other donations we received totaled over $7000! The bulk of that went through New Beginnings Assembly of God in Tiffin although some cash was used for the trip down and back. But this leads to my next big deal!

I was at the truck in Tiffin while donations came and decided, because I had the help of some wonderful people from our church—Don, Cathy, and Lisa—that I would run down to Lowe's and see if they would be willing to give a discount on any building materials for me. I had talked with Pastor Kellen and he gave me a short list of important items. I started my truck and saw someone pull in out of the corner of my eye. “Another person bringing a donation,” I thought. I waved and put my truck in gear before I realized I knew this person. So I put the truck back in park and got out. It was Josh, a friend of mine for nearly 20 years and of my wife's family for much longer than that. We got to talking and I told him I was heading down to Lowe's to see about getting a great deal. “Oh, I'm really good friends with the store manager down there. Let me go talk to them for you,” he said. That was a huge relief. He came back to tell me they'd help however they could! This was after the store employees had stopped by with about 30 flashlights, batteries, and about 50 pairs of work gloves, among other things.

I went down to find that Steve, the manager on duty, was an excellent guy. He gave me whatever I wanted at cost! So I decided to purchase 238 sheets of drywall, 588 2x4's, 4 wheelbarrows, 100 lbs of drywall screws, and 50 batts of insulation. In so doing, with their discount, I saved nearly $3000. Because of some confusion with the semi truck, I had to get a trailer to haul this stuff to Findlay Warehousing on my own. This was about 17,000 lbs of materials! I got to the store an hour before closing and left an hour after closing. It took a quarter of a tank of gas to drive the 30 miles to the warehouse! They unloaded me in an hour and I got that trailer, generously donated by Ogg Brothers Concrete in Sycamore, OH back to them around 1am on Wednesday. While at the warehouse, the guys I was working with were excellent. They were nice and helpful and didn't seem bothered by the fact that I was there interrupting them. My wife had the same experience as she stopped in there several times with a truck load of stuff as we acquired it. We had locations in Tiffin (Heritage Lanes, New Beginnings church, and Heavenly Pizza), in Upper Sandusky (AJ's Heavenly Pizza), and in Findlay (Risner Spinal Center, Heavenly Pizza, and Flashover Indoor Sports). This was starting to come together really well. “We might fill this truck after all,” I thought.

We will complete this recollection of our journey next week. I greatly appreciate you reading and your prayers and support for our trip to Texas. God moved and lives were changed, including my own.

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Bell and the Dragon

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, October 11, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

I’ll begin with an over-simplification of an important issue: One cannot know who Jesus is without accepting the Bible as the absolute, inerrant Truth. The Sadducees missed Him, as did the Pharisees (though not all), and you will miss Him too if you do not accept the Scripture as without error.

By debasing the validity and accuracy of the Scripture, its authority is undermined. Once the historical validity is sufficiently weakened, just about any concept of who God is and who Jesus is can be set forth. This is a great comfort for those who don’t want to follow the Jesus of the Bible.

Current society likes to emphasize only the love of God. Rob Bell declares that in the end, love wins. Bell departs from the Bible in many ways, having decided beforehand how God will act. He then superficially imports his view of God onto the Bible, even in contradiction of the Bible itself! This is simply idolatry: making a god for myself. In Rob Bell’s concept of the Bible, Jesus is a good guy, the Bible is whatever readers make it, hell doesn’t exist, and everyone goes to heaven or whatever because God is just that awesome. But Rob Bell misunderstands God because he does not understand or believe the Scriptures.

The real situation that the human race finds itself in is that we are a fallen creation. Humanity has made an “appalling commitment to usurp the Creator’s place” (page 46 of this book). This commitment destroys every relationship, whether with God or the people who bear His image. As ridiculous as a mouse shaking its fist in the face of a giant is the maniacal assertion of mankind that “I shall be God!”

This is a prideful, rebellious stance and it strikes at the very heart of who God is. God opposes the proud. God is sovereign, but humans insist on deciding for themselves what is right and wrong. This is the stance of humanity: “We don’t care, God, if our ways produce death—we judge for ourselves! If you don’t like it, we will make our own gods! Gods that will love our death and decay—gods like us!”

So what is a God who loves His own creation to do? Creation belongs to God, all of it! It is for this reason that all of creation remains under God’s righteous wrath. Shall God allow death to reign in His own creation or should He destroy the works of the devil?

God is sovereign and therefore creation OUGHT to reflect the character of its Creator. But creation stands in suicidal opposition to God. Creation persists in darkness, death, and deceit. God is none of these things; He is truth, light, and life! As John wrote, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:5-6).

Lucifer is an ideal god for fallen man! He promises knowledge divorced from God, freedom from God’s moral law, power to utterly destroy one another in an all-or-nothing bid to be the ruler of the world. Fallen man uses this arcane knowledge to wring every drop of the human essence out of his fellow man with a lust for more. They are wrung out in turn by the devil himself, consumed by the god of this world. This is the way fallen humans like it; it suits our nature.

But creation belongs to a good and benevolent creator; it does not belong to the usurper nor his small-hearted conspirators. God has now become the judge. He can’t just sit and watch the world burn; He will not allow this “bondage to decay” to continue. The Good News is that God Himself has initiated the salvation of the whole world in Christ. The world must “be reconciled to God.”

But the individuals in the world do not want God nor His plan of redemption. They prefer to make their own gods and their own way of salvation.

This is where the trouble that people have with the Bible arises. The Bible comes pre-interpreted. You either accept God’s point of view or you do not. Jesus Christ is the “exact representation of [God’s] being” (Hebrews 1:3). The Bible expressly testifies to the person and work of Jesus Christ, God the Son. The Bible confronts us in our sinfulness and lostness. Jesus Christ comes into the world confronting the world in its evil. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5).

The distance between Creator and creation is seen in heart-shattering clarity in the opening lines of John’s answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?” He writes, “The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him” (John 1:9-10). God is fully aware of this gap and has opened the way for us to reconcile to Him.

Unfortunately, however, the Christ that Rob Bell and other post-evangelicals invoke is not the Jesus of the Bible. They have reimagined Jesus, and he bears little resemblance to the Word made flesh! Alas, Jesus is in the world, but Rob Bell cannot recognize him. Among other diversions from the Bible, Bell’s view is that essentially Jesus changed God; Jesus reconciled God to sinful humanity.

In spite of the deficiencies of post-evangelicalism and their selective reading of Scripture, the Gospel writers did not exclude God’s justice, holiness, or perfection. They call sinful humanity to repentance and agreement with God’s righteous condemnation of fallen humanity. We must reconcile to God, not recreate Him in our own fallen image.

Rob Bell and other post-evangelicals insist that there is no hell-fire, that no one is ever judged. But the Bible says that Jesus Himself will be “revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near; this is the reality to which Jesus reconciles us.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.