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On the Origin of Evil In Creation October 12, 2015

Posted by regan222 in Philosophy, Religion.
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This is mainly for me but if it helps someone then I am blessed.  If you disagree, that’s OK also.

On the Nature and Origin of Evil in Creation

The origin of evil has been a stumbling stone almost since the appearance of Mankind on the planet. It is difficult for us to rationalize the existence of a perfect creator God with the existence of imperfection in the universe. Great intellects like Augustine and Einstein wrestled with the question of the origin of evil and many Christians today are plagued by the same quandary. How can a good God, a perfect God, allow evil to be? Did He create it? Where exactly did “evil” come from?

Einstein was a follower of the Jewish faith. As such, he was shaped by his culture just as we all are. He could easily rationalize a creator God because he understood that cause always precedes effect in our universe. The idea that the universe sprang into being from nothing for no reason was as ludicrous to Einstein as it should be to us. However, shaped as he was by his Jewish culture, there was within him a need for rational and logical rules. This can also be seen in Einstein’s abhorrence of the Quantum Mechanics theory. He could not rationalize the existence of evil outside or apart from the creator and yet he could not indict God with the willful creation of Evil.

The answer to the question lies in defining evil. We tend to anthropomorphize evil into a personality. We equate evil with Satan. We give it personality, or at least, existence. The key to the quandary is found here. None of these things are true. Evil is not a quantity, a quality, a substance, or an object within creation. Evil is simply the absence of God. Anything, apart from God, is less than God, and thus, imperfect. We assume that evil is a created thing, when, in fact, it is the absence of something; God.

We can draw a parallel between the appearance of evil in the universe and the appearance of the universe itself. In Genesis we read that

 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

(Genesis 1: 3 – 4)

God created light but he did not have to create darkness. It exists as the absence of light. God perceived the light based on the way it interacted with darkness and in this same way we know that light exists. It was created. Darkness, on the other hand, cannot be created. It is a state apart from light. It does not exist as an entity. Light always banishes darkness because darkness is simply light’s absence.

In this same way, evil is the absence of God. Imperfection is the absence of perfection. God is defined by his nature, just as everything is. He is, of all things in the universe, the only example of perfection. He is a singularity in three aspects. The concept that there is one God only is fundamental to existence.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”

(1 Timothy 2:5)

As a singularity, God was alone in eternity past. He chose, for His own reasons, to share his existence with others (e.g. angels, people, animals, etc.). According to God’s inherent nature, he had three choices.

  1. Not to create at all and continue as a singularity.
  2. Create exact copies of himself, indistinguishable from Himself, and thus, perfect.
  3. Create beings that were not Him, and thus, were, by definition, imperfect.

There are no other options. Perfection is impossible apart from God. Anything created that is not God would be less than God, even if created BY Him, and so, imperfect. Had God chosen to create perfect beings of His own nature, or in other words, to duplicate Himself, it would have violated the nature of God as an eternal singularity, without origin. God’s nature demands that He be eternal. To create others like Himself would seriously rearrange reality and the space/time continuum. God’s only choice then would be to create beings outside of and different from, Himself, who, because they were not of God’s nature, had within them the capacity for imperfection. In this way, “evil” can be considered to exist as the absence of God in creation. Even when created perfectly, the capacity for imperfection exists within the creation because we are not God. Given the existence of the capacity for imperfection within created beings, coupled with the proliferation of creation, it was a matter of time and statistics.

The follow-on question then, is, how can a benevolent God allow evil to continue? The short answer is that He has no choice. We have established that imperfection is a potential inherent in everything that is not God. If God were to sovereignly banish evil He would have to get rid of everything but Himself and become alone again in non-creation. The only option for creation to continue is to allow imperfection to continue. Thus, evil, as the presence of anything “not God”, persists. God, never being without foreknowledge was aware of this condition of creation, and accounted for its resolution within His blueprint. He was aware from the beginning that simply creating would not be enough. He would have to deal with the potential for imperfection. The plan of salvation is as much a part of the plan of creation as “Let there be Light.”

Even Satan is a convert to evil, for he was not always so.

12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

(Ezekiel 28:12 – 16)

Here Ezekiel is commanded to lament for the King of Tyrus but most scholars view this as a description of Lucifer prior to his fall. Lucifer was in Eden. He was, perhaps, second only to God in glory and beauty. He was the covering cherub. He was perfect until he was not. As a created being, not being God, Lucifer had that potential for imperfection. God did not appoint him to the position of evil but God knew of the possibility and chose to account for it in His plan. Had God chosen to destroy Lucifer instead of banish him, then, as eternity progressed, another and another of the created beings would have fallen until, once again, God would have found Himself in isolation. Anything not God is doomed by definition to imperfection. God did not immediately destroy the fallen but instead chose to use him to strengthen and perfect the other parts of creation.

God allows Lucifer/Satan to continue but not indefinitely. At some point, the imperfect will be removed from creation and only the perfect will remain. That is why it was so important that Christ be identified with us as human. As he is like us, we have the potential to become like him, and thus, like God. If we are made of the same substance or type as God, then we can share in God’s perfection. We have now, in the spirit, the same relationship that Christ had with the Father. When we are changed, we will have it in physical reality as well. All that is not God will be removed and only that sealed portion of us that is essentially the indwelling of God will remain. The miracle of salvation is the transformation of created being from “not God” to “God like”. We will see Him as he is because we will be as He is. God will no longer be a singularity but the foremost of a perfect congregation.

And so the final question is this: Where do YOU fit in? As a created being, and not being God, you have that capacity for imperfection. Each day of our lives, we are presented with our own “Garden of Eden” confrontation, both collectively and individually, and each day we fail. Our nature demands it. We are flawed. We cannot exist in God’s presence because we are not as He is. Our only hope is the physical, spiritual, and existential conversion of “not God” into that which is “of the same substance as God”. As imperfect beings we are unable to attain perfection.

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

 (Galatians 2: 16)

We require no less than God Himself, in the aspect of His son, the motive force of creation, to continue that creative process in us. Because the task is so herculean, only God could accomplish it. His nature must be satisfied and yet we cannot. In His infinite brilliance, God created a plan whereby we could exist in Him by existing in us. Thus Christ because one of us for all eternity, that we might become one with Him. The vehicle of this transformation is faith. We can simply choose to identify with Christ and allow him to continue the creation story within us, or we can choose to remain as we are; imperfect and lost.

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Ye Must Be Born Again April 25, 2015

Posted by regan222 in Philosophy, Religion.
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Salvation by Grace

Sunday, April 19, 2015

11:35 AM

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

It has been said that the Preacher’s job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  If you didn’t come tonight to hear about everlasting life through the grace of Jesus Christ then you are exactly who I came to speak with.  I hope by the end of the evening you will be able to take comfort in what I say rather than be made uncomfortable by it.

We will be studying tonight in the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.  The letter to the church of Ephesus was, along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, one of the epistles that Paul wrote while a captive.  Most scholars believe it was during his time in Rome, although some argue that it was during his captivity in Caesarea.  What matters is that in this letter the Apostle Paul, under the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit, pens one of the most doctrinally powerful statements in the entire Bible.  He outlines the path whereby men may be saved from the curse of sin they are living under.

First and most importantly, the Grace of Jesus is Exclusive.  There is not alternative salvation plan.  God doesn’t offer door #2.  The Bible tells us that there is only one name with the power to open the gates of Heaven for you.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Jesus himself was very specific in describing the pathway to salvation.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the waythe truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

The Greek text here has the same absoluteness that God used when He told Joseph to address Pharaoh.  The “I am” of the bible is a very emphatic way of speaking about one’ self.  It is like saying I and only I am.  In this we find what is commonly referred to as the offence of the cross.  This is the aspect of salvation message that the carnal world despises.  Salvation is open to all but it is exclusive in the method.  There is only one way.  Fortunately for us, it’s an easy way.

The Grace of Jesus Christ is not only Exclusive, but finding that grace is Easy.  Sometimes I think that is why it is often rejected.  The prophet told Naaman to wash in the river of Jordan and he would be healed.  Naaman got angry.  He was expecting Herculean tasks and thunder from heaven.

2 Kings 5: 13  And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

We want it to be hard.  We want the glory of the struggle but the glory belongs to God.  The struggle ended on Calvary.  We just have to accept the gift.  Maybe it offends our pride in our sinful nature.  Surely it can’t be that easy after all that we have done, and yet, the grace of Jesus is just that Easy and just that Effective.

The grace of Jesus, the sacrifice of his blood, is the only thing that will wash away the stain of Adam’s fall.

Joke about Don Knotts in the movie (“And they used Bon Ami!!”)

It is completely effective  and effectively complete.  When Jesus cried out “It is Finished” on the cross, he was not talking about his earthly life or his ministry.  He was declaring the work of salvation to be complete for all time.  It is done.  Nothing more needs to be added.  When the regeneration of a lost soul is begun, it is complete within that same instant.  The sins of the lost man are taken so far away that not even God can remember them.

Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be propitious to their unrighteousnesses, and their sins I shall by no means remember anymore.”

He will BY NO MEANS remember our sin or hold it against us.

So, the grace of Jesus is Exclusive; it’s Easy, and it’s Effective, and finally, the need for that Grace is Emphatic.

The Bible is very specific about who needs the grace of Jesus.  Ye MUST be born again.

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

All men are born into Adam’s race and all men suffer Adam’s disgrace.

Ye Must be born again.

All men have sinned and all need a savior.  There is only one who is qualified but Praise God His salvation is enough for all.  And Praise God His salvation is free.  Free for the asking.  One thief on a cross mocked and scoffed and died in his sin but the other was justified; set free from a life of wickedness and sin, just.by.asking.

And now it’s your turn.  Remember what I said earlier about afflicting the comfortable.  This is it.  The gospel demands a response.  There is no middle ground.  Jesus told his disciples that whoever wasn’t for him was against him.

Matthew 12:20 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

If you have never cried out, like the thief on the cross, for mercy, then, when you stand before God, as all men must.  You will not receive it.

Revelations 20:11

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on 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, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

This is what awaits those who would deny the Grace of Jesus.  For those who accept it, like the Thief on the cross, they will spend eternity with the one who died that they might live.

Luke 23:43

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Won’t you join us?

The Purpose of Jesus Christ March 13, 2014

Posted by regan222 in Religion.
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Easter-HeLives-smallThe second in a series of sermons on the Person and Purpose of Jesus Christ.  This sermon was delivered at the Central Baptist Church at Legacy Point in Whitesboro, TX.\

Click Here to Listen

Our author lists three points for this section of the manuscript; the death, the resurrection, and the ascension of Christ.  While these are the seminal events in the life of Jesus, they are just singular points in the ongoing work of Christ; a work that continues today

John 6:38 – For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

We don’t know as much as we would like about the work of Christ prior to his coming to Earth.  As we learned last week, the Father is the architect and Jesus, as the pre-incarnate Word, was the executive or creative force.  The Father spoke and the Word brought creation into existence.  While supremely important to us, surely this was not all that Jesus ever did.

In hermeneutics there is  a thing called the “Full Mention Principle”.  God gives us full details on events or subjects that are vital to our understanding and does not go into detail on things that do not bear so much importance to us.  The Bible gives us little detail about the pre-incarnate or pre-human era in the life of Christ,  The only reference I could find is in…

Luke 10:18 – And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven

Being given so little information about the pre-incarnate Son, we must assume that those events are not the most important elements of Jesus’ work and may safely confine our musings to the events we are privy to.  In any case, it is understandable that our author would limit his scope.  There is just too much material, even in our limited exposure to His life, to truly cover the works of Jesus Christ.

John 21:25 – And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

The Death of Jesus Christ

It is odd to start a story at what seems like the end.  The disciples are crushed and scattered.  Christ is captive of the Roman empire.  Satan appears to be winning.  Looks are, in this case, completely deceiving.  Christ is on the verge of His ultimate victory and our great hope.  The death of Christ was about to accomplish its purpose.

Isaiah 53:5 – But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

He died in our place.  What makes Christianity unique among the religions of the Earth is the doctrine of atonement.  All men recognize the great universal truth.  There ain’t no free ride.  Buddhists practice good works in order to escape the wheel of Karma – a continual cycle of birth and death and rebirth until one’s life is good enough to merit their ascension to oneness with the Buddha.   The fundamental idea behind Islam is to appease Allah by the performance of a rigorous daily routine and so achieve paradise by one’s work.  The Hindu are focused on the four paths or yogas to reach enlightenment.  Christianity is unique in all the religions of Earth as a system of beliefs based solely on the work of another.  Christ did the work and we are allowed to benefit from it.

The death of Christ is tightly tied to the his life.  Without that perfect life, his death would have done us no good.  Jesus Christ lived a perfect and sinless life and did not deserve his fate.  He went willingly to it, however, in exchange for you and I, who did deserve it.

Sin is, apparently, a communicable disease.  It passes from one generation to the next.  It infects every descendent of Adam’s line.  We are all equally guilty under the law of God and deserve death for our sins.  The punishment for sin is always death.  The law has no room for mercy, and yet, God’s purpose for us is to exist in His presence.  .

This is the choice we face.  In order to live forever and be able to exist in God’s presence, someone had to pay the price for our sins.  The scales must balance.  We can either choose to pay that price ourselves or we must accept the sacrifice and the atonement of Jesus by faith.  Merely believing that he was is not enough.  We must purpose in our hearts to depend on his sacrifice as our only hope.  This is the nature of faith.

Romans 10:9 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

It is important to realize that the death of Christ was real in every respect.  He allowed himself to suffer the pain and anguish of his mortality and ultimately allowed himself to succumb to his injuries.  He allowed his soul and spirit to leave his body and follow the path of all men who die.  The flesh died, and no doubt, began the process of decay.  The soul and spirit traveled to hell where, no doubt,  Satan assumed that he would be able to gloat that Jesus had been unable to set up his kingdom.  Satan assumed that with Christ’s death, the kingdom of God was defeated.  Silly Satan.  The Bible tells us that Christ triumphed over hell and death and the grave and led the righteous souls held there to the presence of God the Father.

Colossians 2:15 – And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

I wonder sometimes, if the Devil, who is NOT all knowing, but whom is reputed to be very smart, was surprised at what happened next.  It must be assumed that he thought Christ’s triumph would come in some more direct fashion like setting up a political kingdom and overthrowing the Romans.  I cannot imagine him allowing the cross to take place if he knew what would happen next.

The Resurrection of Christ

Without the resurrection, the death of Christ is meaningless.  It has no power.  If he did not return then he was nothing but an insane and deluded man and there is not hope for humanity but to strive and eternally fail at perfection.

The Bible is careful to list many evidences of the return of Christ.  Once again we follow the hermeneutic principles.  A thing that is most often mentioned and most fully described will be a thing of importance.  The most majestic and powerful of all the verses of the Bible deals with the return of Christ and his triumph over the grave.

John 20:15 – 16 –  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

John 21:1 – After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.

Matthew 28: 1 – 10 – In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

1 Corinthians 15:5 – After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

Why is the resurrection important?  In order to pay our debt, Christ must die for our sins.  As we are now identified with Christ in his death, we, in sinful flesh, will die.  We may only rise if he does.  His triumph over death is our triumph.  The resurrection establishes Christ as God just as his death established him as man.  Now we must establish his resurrection in the eyes of humanity in order to make our witness efforts legitimate.

 

The Ascension of Christ into Heaven

 

The final act in the eternal drama is Christ’s triumphant return to the Father.  The question raised most often is “Why did Christ return to heaven at all?  Why not set up his kingdom?”  In short, because the father wanted more for us than just an Earthly existence.  He wanted fellowship with us for all time.  That can only happen in His presence.  This is what Satan missed.  God never intended for this world to be our permanent home.  He always had in mind that we should be in His presence.

As Christ, now a human forever, can stand in the presence of the Father, we, in Christ by his death for our sins, are also allowed access to the Father.

Christ’s return to the Father signified the end of his earthly works until his return as king.  But it by no means marks the end of his work.  Christ’s efforts on our part continue until his final return.

What is he doing now?  The Bible tells of two tasks that he has set for himself:

He is gone to prepare for our arrival:

John 14:2 – In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

He stands before the Father as a mediator to plead humanity’s case:

1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

He has a place prepared for each of us.  All we have to do is accept it.

 

One in Every Crowd March 10, 2014

Posted by regan222 in General Ranting, Religion.
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sheepMatthew 18:12 – How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

How great the Father’s love for us that He would send His only son to die.  This verse gives us a hint, or as much of one as our limited minds can conceive, of how much God loves each of us individually.  Had there been only one sheep gone astray, still the Shepherd would still have come to Earth seeking to save it.  A wise man wrote, “If I had been the only reason…he still would have died for only me.”  No Christian should ever become discouraged or think that God does not care.  God is actively interested in each of His servants, individually as well as collectively.  Do not become jealous of someone who seems to be constantly involved in serving God and winning battle after battle while you feel like you are sitting on the sidelines doing nothing of value.  This is far from the truth.  Each of God’s servants, if they are doing God’s will, is exactly where the Father expects them to be and each has the Father’s complete attention.  Anytime we feel separated from God or beneath His notice, it is only a short coming on our part.  Pray without ceasing.  Stay in the Word and seek the Will of God.  Separation from God is all one-sided.  He does not withdraw from us, we withdraw from Him.  If you cry out to Him he will find you, as a shepherd seeking a single sheep.  The wise Christian, however, will stay close to the shepherd and not be the one in every crowd that wanders astray.

A Splash of Gratitude December 2, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, General Ranting, Religion.
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A sermon on Gratitude loosely following a chapter from Max Lucado’s book, “You’ll Get Through It”. The sermon was delivered on 12/1/2013 at Central Baptist Church. We need to remember that whatever it is, we don’t own it. We are just borrowing it.

Opposites Attract; – Well, Yeah but not always. September 27, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, General Ranting, Religion.
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Picture if you will…You’re at the lake, floating on an inflatable raft in the cool azure blue. A light breeze tickles your wet skin as you look up to the spotless blue perfection above. As you look down you notice a tiny invader in your serenity. A small insect purposefully striding across the surface of the water toward you. How can this be? Has the insect messiah come to deliver his people to the promised land? I’m gonna say “pro’lly not”.

gerris02The picture to the left is a common Water Strider.  This little miracle operates by Physics and Chemistry rather than by supernatural support, however, they all come from the same source and were created by the same designer so it really doesn’t matter.  What’s important is how the chemistry works in the natural and how the analogy can apply to the supernatural.

Notice in the picture that the insect’s legs do NOT displace any water at all.  If you look closely at the tips of the legs in contact with the surface of the water you will see that the water surface appears to distort where the legs touch, almost as if the insect were walking on a thin film of plastic wrap.  A boat, floating on the water, would sit lower and actually displace a portion of the water.  That is, after all, the definition of floating.

An object floats only if it is buoyant in the substance in which it rests.  Buoyancy is defined as…
“the upward force on a body immersed or partly immersed in a fluid” (http://www.askdefine.com)

The object is supported by the amount of water it displaces because the water produces an upward force as the object sinks in.  If the mass of the object is less than the mass of the volume of water displaced, the object will float.  All of this is not relevant, however, because the object in question, the insect, does NOT float.

Just as on that long ago Sea of Galilee, this little insect is actually walking ON and not floating IN the water.  His mass is very small and the long legs spread the weight out over a large enough surface area that he is able to walk on the surface of the water just as on solid ground.  He does not sink in or displace any water.  He does not depend on buoyancy.  He does depend, however, on the unique chemistry and physics of the water molecule.

Water is composed of one Oxygen atom in a covalent bond with two Hydrogen atoms.  The Hydrogen atoms are composed of a single proton and a single electron.  A covalent bond is one in which the atoms SHARE the electrons.  As you may know,  electrons orbit the nuclei of atoms. The outer set of electrons, called the valence electrons, are used by the atom to bond with other atoms to form molecules.  A covalent bond occurs when the outer electrons orbiting a nucleus begin to spend time orbiting the nucleus of another nearby atom.  When that occurs, a new compound is formed and the chemical properties of the original molecules are changed.  In our case, two gasses bind together to form a liquid with some pretty amazing properties.

The Oxygen atom has many more electrons orbiting its nucleus than do the Hydrogen atoms.  The two electrons from the Hydrogen atoms begin to orbit, sharing time between the Hydrogen atoms and the Oxygen atom.  At any given time there are more electrons around the Oxygen end of the molecule than there are at the Hydrogen end.  This gives the Oxygen end a tendency towards a negative charge.  This results in the Hydrogen end (composed of basically two protons) a tendency towards a positive charge.  When a molecule has a partial positive charge at one end and a partial negative charge at the other, we say that the molecule is “polar”.  It has poles like a magnet.  This condition is the source of all of water’s peculiar properties and it is what gives our little friend the ability to duplicate what only one man has ever accomplished.  (Well actually two managed it but only one was really successful.  The other…well lets just say that he walked further on water than either you or I are ever likely to.)

The arrangement of water as a polar molecule has exactly the effect that you would suspect.  The positive and negative areas are attracted to the corresponding negative and positive regions of the water molecules surrounding it.  Water molecules act like tiny magnets.  This albeit weak, attraction between polar molecules is called Hydrogen Bonding.  It does some very strange things to water.  One of the most unusual is the property of cohesion.  Water molecules tend to stick to each other.

If you have ever waxed a car and then driven into a rain storm you have seen water “bead up” on the hood.  Water forms droplets of considerable size because the molecules are attracted to and hold onto each other with surprising tenacity.  An excellent way to see this for yourself is the following experiment…

You will need a penny, an eyedropper, a bottle of water, and a bottle of some organic solvent (acetone – nail polish remover, or alcohol (90% isopropyl, not that cheap Wal-Mart mix) will work.  Start with the water and see how many drops you can drop on the penny before the puddle you are creating breaks and runs off.  Now try the same with the NON-POLAR solvent.  Having done this experiment many times over with my students from year to year I can verify that it is possible to drop over 100 drops of water onto the surface of a penny before it runs off.  With alcohol you might get 30 or 40 and with acetone, even less.  The non-polar liquids lack cohesion.  The molecules are neutral and not attracted to each other.  In short, those liquids have no SURFACE TENSION.  If you waxed a car and then ran off into an alcohol shower you would find that the liquid would not form beads.  Also the miraculous little creature above would sink helplessly beneath the waves of a lake of acetone, never to rise again.  The liquid would not support him, not because he was too heavy but because he did not have a surface of molecules holding on to each other, to support him.  The boiling point of water, its ability to gather and hold heat, the fact that liquid water is more dense than frozen water, as well as this little guy’s ability to stand on the surface supported only by surface tension; all these unusual behaviors are properties of water’s unique chemical and physical makeup.

“Why”, you ask, “do we REALLY need a lesson in the chemistry of water?”  Perhaps not, but we MIGHT be able to draw some insight from an analogy on the way water behaves.  It is said that opposites attract and indeed, the positive and negative parts of each water molecule do attract each other, but the result is that every water molecule, and each is identical to the others, is attracted to its neighbor.  They have the same nature and so they are attracted to each other; not what you might expect.  As Christians, we have indwelling each of us, the same nature.

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16)

The nature of Jesus Christ is in each and every Christian.  Something in all Christians resonates at the same frequency and THIS force or effect is what pulls us together in His service.

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” (Acts 2:46)

Like the early disciples, we, if we allow Christ to indwell us fully, are held together by His nature.  Because of this attraction we can be more than the sum of our parts.  Just as water boils at a much higher temperature than it should, the Christian can show incredible patience through the most trying of times.  As a thin stream of water will bend away from an oppositely charged object, so the committed Christian can overcome a temptation or obstacle that he or she would, in their own strength, be destroyed by.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here. Sometimes, opposites repel and similar things attract.  However, in order to experience this power you must partake of the nature of the source.  Allow Christ free rein in your life and you will find an incredible source of strength.  You might even walk on water.

 

 

NOW I remember what it was…. September 19, 2013

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I began a missive the other day concerning relativity and time dilation. I lost the thread about half way through and could NOT pull it together. While talking to our preacher earlier this week it dawned on me what exactly I was trying to say. I would like to first caveat my comments by saying that if you are of the Calvinist persuasion you will not like or agree with what I am about to say but I believe I can support my position with scripture.
There is a debate in Christian circles (hah! yeah like there is only ONE) concerning the doctrine of predestination versus the idea that all men are called to salvation. I can see both sides of the issue but I believe there is more scriptural basis for the idea that God calls all men and each has a right to choose, free of any destiny.

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might
be the firstborn among many brethren.

Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom
he justified, them he also glorified.

Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good
pleasure of his will,
Most followers of the Hyper-Calvinist doctrine use at least one of the preceding verses as their justification for over applying the idea of predestination. The doctrine of predestination is generally accepted to mean ” the divine foreordaining of all that will happen, esp. with regard to the salvation of some and not others. It has been particularly associated with the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo and of Calvin.” (Merriam-Webster).

The trouble with that doctrine is that its purveyors mistake intention with foreknowledge. Once again, to define terms, foreknowledge is considered to mean “awareness of something before it happens or exists.” (Merriam-Webster). God is aware of the choices we will make but that does not mean He orchestrates them. The Bible is VERY clear about God’s intentions toward men concerning salvation.
1 Tim. 2:3-4 “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”
 
  2 Pet. 3:9  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”

Salvation is open to “whosoever will”. We are instructed to believe and be saved. God would that all people should abide with him.

Does God have foreknowledge? Is He aware that some will not accept His gift? Yes but does that mean He ordered things to be that way in infinity past? NO. To say that would imply that all things are destined to be and that God’s will can never be thwarted. This is not the case. Our actions can hinder God’s will. It happens every Sunday in churches across America. Someone in the grip of making a decision looks down the aisle as they are preparing to step out during an invitation only to see some jaded, bored Christian texting or tweeting or playing Angry Birds during the invitation. Immediately the devil begins to whisper into the potential convert’s ear about how all these people are hypocrites and he or she should wait until they find a REAL church to be saved. The will of God is thwarted by simple human indifference. The mighty arm of God stopped dead still by some thoughtless child misbehaving.

Psalm 78:41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

1.Matthew 13:58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

It is not only possible but fairly easy to balk God’s will. It is, however, a very dangerous and foolish thing to do, and the consequences are nearly always disastrous.

Finally, We return to the very verse most often used as justification for absolute election to, in fact, justify the more Arminian view (even though we are NOT Arminian and categorically renounce the idea of falling from grace).

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might
be the firstborn among many brethren.

According to Romans 8:29 God predestined those whom He foreknew or had foreknowledge of that they might be brothers of His son Jesus Christ.  Who, if anyone, did God NOT foreknow.  He was aware of all of us from the beginning of time and so all of us are intended to be among the brethren of Christ.  He also knew that some would not accept that offer.  He still reaches out to those with all the power and sincerity that the conviction of the Holy Spirit can muster if for no other reason than to hope that they will change their minds.  Free will is a powerful force in the universe.  We may have no other power to call our own but we always have the power to choose.  God’s view is not limited to one destiny path for all humanity.  There are hundreds of millions of individual threads of possibility each leading inexorably to the same place but each taking a different route through the lives of believers and unbelievers alike.  All of these threads are possible.  All you have to do is choose.  Choose Jesus.

He is the Light; In Him is No Darkness June 2, 2013

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1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

One of the vital and enduring images of God in the Bible is as the ultimate source of light in the universe.  Why does this image appeal to us?  What is the nature of light and why do we find it such a positive and powerful vision?

Science tells us that light is commonly held to be that portion of the electro-magnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye.  The portion of the electro-magnetic spectrum that we can perceive is the gradient of electro-magnetic radiation types that extends from extremely low frequency radio waves to the ultra high frequency gamma radiation or cosmic rays at the other.  In other words, light is a form of energy.  It is not matter (although it may act like it on occasion as we will see.)  I qualify my definition with “that we can perceive” because, as the  only difference between the low end and high end is the number of pulses or waves in a given time unit, the spectrum is for all intents and purposes, infinite.  We can, however, only perceive a fraction of it, and without the aid of special instruments or detectors, only a tiny portion of that fraction.

We have established that light is energy.  Energy is then defined as the ability to do work.  Can light do work?  Any type of energy can be transformed into any other type.  Chemical energy (think gasoline) can be transformed into kinetic energy (think, car driving down the road.)  Light from the sun may be captured by a photovoltaic cell and transformed into electricity, or it may be captured by the chlorophyll in a plant and used to create chemical energy (sugar) for the plant to use or store.  Yes, light is very capable of doing work, almost ANY kind of work you can think of.  In much the same way, the Hand of God is at work in every aspect or our world and our lives.  He is not limited to one avenue or effect.  The power of God is adaptable to any and all situations.  He can be as big or small as He needs to be to accomplish His Will.

While God’s power is adaptable and has infinite application, it can never be defeated.

Job 42:2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee

The Law of Conservation of Energy tells us that energy can neither be destroyed nor created for that matter.  Energy is without origin or ending.  Like energy, God has no beginning and no end.  He is from everlasting to everlasting.

Psalms 103:17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

This psalm tells us what to expect when dealing with God.  He is the alpha and omega.  He is without rival.  There is not struggle for position when we flip on a light switch.  The darkness is immediately banished and light shines forth.  Those who propose a duality or balance in the cosmos between God and the devil would do well to remember this.  There is no contest.  The devil acts because God allows him to.  In God’s presence, Lucifer immediately shrinks and retreats.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

God is compared to the light and is said to be the light of the world.  Light is the portion of energy that we can perceive without aid.  We can see the light using only our own eyes, unless we are handicapped in some way.  God’s entire purpose throughout the history of the world has been to make himself known to mankind, to establish a relationship that is unique and personal to each individual.  We do not need priests or shaman or anyone else to grant us access to God.  He is approachable to anyone and everyone.  We merely have to approach on His terms.

Hebrews 10:18 – 21 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

Any believer may approach the throne of God because, when God observes the believer, He sees the image of Christ in us and upon us.  We are justified in His perception by the sacrifice He paid for us.

Light is a comfort.  Our first steps into civilization involved banishing the darkness with light.  It has been our continual question.  Every child knows the peace and security that a tiny night light brings to a dark and shadow-filled room.  This is not learned behavior, it is wired into the very nature of us.  No matter that we often deny it, we fear and curse the dark and we long for the light.  Even so, the carnal man may curse and deny the existence of God.  Often he scoffs or mocks but in truth, the very vociferousness of the attack indicates the depth of the need in the heart.  The world is vehement in its denial of God because they know, down deep, that they are mislead by the darkness and will soon by spurned by the light.  To admit this would be to admit their lost condition.

Finally, as was pointed out at the beginning, light is energy that can sometimes take on the characteristics of matter.  Energy propagates or moves through any medium in the form of waves.  Waves have the properties of frequency, wavelength, and they may be reflected or refracted as they travel.  Matter, on the other hand, is exactly what we expect.  It is solid (or liquid or gas or plasma) material that obeys all the laws of physics.  Some things or compressible or malleable.  As a gas is compressed or expanded, its temperature changes.  Liquids conform to the shape of their containers.  Matter obeys its nature as does energy and matter, like energy, can never be created or destroyed.  HOWEVER…

Light is unique in that it posses a dual nature.  It behaves as energy as well as having some properties of matter.  Light may be reflected or refracted as it travels from its source.  Setting up a light source behind two narrow slits in a material that will not allow light to penetrate and looking at the resulting shadow and light patterns on a wall will demonstrate that light has the capacity for interference.  Any wave will set up areas of constructive and destructive interference when it encounters other waves along it’s path.  In short, light behaves exactly as we would expect waves to behave.  Light will also, however, demonstrate some very matter-like properties.  According to Einstein, if light were merely a wave then all points along the wave front would be affected equally if they were to pass through, say, a filter that absorbed part of the energy of the light (think sunglasses or tinted windows.)  However, the energy of a beam of white light (a mixture of all the different frequencies or colors of light) is affected differently when traveling through an absorbent medium.  Some frequencies or colors or light have a higher energy than others.  This can be shown using a digital camera and a series of filters.  By using one light source (the sun) to take a picture, and then retaking the same picture through darker and darker filters we would expect the image to gradually darken evenly across the entire spectrum.  This is not the case.  Some colors appear brighter than others in the filtered image because some particles (photons) of light strike the CCD (Charged Couple Device) surface harder than do others.  We can even predict what frequencies will have the most energy (be brighter) by multiplying Planck’s Constant by the frequency of the photon we have singled out.

Why did I just put you through a moderately difficult physics lesson on the dual nature of light?  While energy can not be created or destroyed, it IS possible to change it into other forms of energy and it is even possible to change energy into matter.  Particle accelerators create subatomic particles using the energy of collisions between positrons and electrons.  Eventually it could even be possible to capture those particles and put them together into atoms and molecules (still beyond our technology right now but theoretically very possible).  In that some way, the nature of God was transformed into matter.  He became flesh even as we are.  He became us in the person of Jesus Christ.  While some may deny that Christ is God, the Bible tells us otherwise.

John 1:1In the Beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word WAS God.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us.  This is most important because, as matter may be created from energy (God became flesh) it is also possible for matter to be converted into energy.  If we will allow it, the spirit or nature of Christ can indwell us and transform us into a new aspect of ourselves.

Ephesians 4:22 – 24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

You can be made new by accepting the free gift of transformation that God offers.  Believe the Gospel.  Christ became as we are, he lived as none of us could and then was executed, not for any crime of his own, but for yours and mine.  Acknowledge your inability to satisfy the justice of God and accept instead, His mercy.  Believe.  It is an active choice of the will.  You get to choose.  Choose to depend on him as your advocate and not on your own righteousness.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags

The best we can do on our own is failure but by simply believing that Christ is who he said he was and that he has the power to change us, he makes it so.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

 

What Every Christian Ought to Know about Understanding the Bible April 3, 2013

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The following slides are the sermon notes that accompany my sermon of March 31, 2013. You can follow along in the slides as you listen to the sermon. Just click the link to hear my presentation of a portion of Dr. Adrian Roger’s book “What Every Christian ought to Know.” I was allowed to present the chapter entitled What every Christian ought to Know about reading the Bible. Just click the link below to listen to the sermon as you move through the slides.
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When you click the link it will open in a new tab or page. Minimize the new tab and reopen this tab to follow along in the slides.

Forgive as You Would Be Forgiven: A Lofty Goal February 23, 2013

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Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray. The prayer template that he gave them, although often called “The Lord’s Prayer” was only his by way of authorship. He in no way ever prayed this prayer nor was it meant for him. Also, the model prayer was never meant to be a rote repetition as some have made it. Jesus said, in essence, pray LIKE this or “after this wise” and not “repeat this prayer word for word”. The Lord’s Prayer is meant to be a model and an example.
One of the most important aspects of the Christian life that the prayer models is forgiveness. The model prayer not only stresses forgiveness for the Christian but forgiveness BY the Christian and that is a much harder subject. Hopefully a short scripture study will let us see exactly what God expects from us as far as forgiveness is concerned. Let’s start with the ultimate authority on Christian doctrine, Christ himself, and see what he expects.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

The meaning seems pretty clear. Forgiveness for the Christian’s sins may only be attained if we are also forgiving. We know this is meant for Christians because no lost person can pray this prayer. They are not His children and can not say “Our Father”. Verses 14 and 15 are very direct. If you wish to be forgiven then you must forgive.

How much must we be willing to forgive? Just as verse 12 tells us, we are forgiven as we forgive. Peter tried to put a label on it when he asked how often we should forgive…

 

Matthew 18
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

 

There is no minimum daily requirement for our forgiveness. We must forgive even as God forgives. Now think about that for a moment. God forgives the Christian anything and everything. He would forgive those who nailed his only son to the cross had they asked for it. He would forgive Hitler for the Holocaust. His mercy knows no limits. He knows the sins of every Christian, both past and future, and they are all covered under the blood of Christ. Now ask yourself again, what am I expected to forgive against me and my family? The answer is “EVERYTHING”. No transgression, no matter how large, should be held against someone who honestly comes to you asking forgiveness.

 

Luke 17

3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

 

What was the response to this doctrine? The apostles threw in the towel. They knew it was impossible without help from above. Most of the Christian life is impossible to live without Christ but this one aspect is doubly so. We CAN NOT forgive as we are expected to without the power of Christ in our hearts. The story has been told of a pastor whose son was killed by a drunk driver going to that man’s hospital bed to witness to him in the hopes that he might be saved. THAT is the kind of forgiveness that is expected of us. It goes against every fiber of human nature. Without Christ it would be impossible and yet we can do all things through him. Join me in prayer for that kind of heart that forgives without ceasing.