The Mind and Heart of the non-Christian

The Person who is not saved, not born again in Christ …
… regardless of their upbringing or how they think of themselves, the following can be said of that person:
  …
Romans 8:7-8 (paraphrased)
(7)…the mind (the thinking) of the sinful person is hostile (at war, in enmity toward, is arguing) with God (and His Word).  that kind of mind is NOT subject to God’s law, neither can it be. (nor does it want to be…)  (8) Those who are in the flesh (those who are not saved) cannot please God.
  …
Romans 8:5-8 (NKJV)
(5) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh,
but those who live according to the Spirit, on the things of the Spirit.
(6) For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
(7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  (8) So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
  …
1 Corinthians 2:14
But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit (such as God’s Holy Word, the Bible), because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.
  …
QUESTION to those not in Christ:
Do you find yourself being the EVALUATOR of  God’s Word, the Holy Bible?
Do you say, “maybe I like this part of the Bible, but not that… maybe that part or that biblical author I call into question”?
Do you argue with God and His Word about what is written in His Word?
Then you have put yourself in the place of God and you are the Judge of God and His Word.
You are telling God that you are in charge, and that you are ENTITLED  and that you are God’s Judge.
 –> Romans 3:4 – “… let God be True but every human being a liar. …”
  …
When you are in that place of not submitting, not surrendering to God and His Holy Word as your full ultimate authority of your life, you are in a very dangerous place.  Your Creator Created you, then He “potentially” redeemed you … by sending Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for your sins (past, present and future).  He rose from the dead, proving that He is both God and Man, the perfect man, the Redeemer and Savior of all mankind, etc.  Only by fully surrendering to Him, trusting in Him AND His Word, the Holy Bible, are you Genuinely Born Again.
  …
God’s Word is Genesis thru Revelation, all of it. Yet the non-Christian will NOT believe this. Why?
  …
Here are some verses from the book of Proverbs that address persons who have their own ideas about life, but those ideas are not grounded in or rooted in God’s Holy Word.  The Bible calls that person a “fool” and that person does not want to be subject to God nor His Holy Word, nor His Wisdom and Understanding, etc. (also see Psalm 14:1 and 53:1)
  …
Proverbs 18:2
–> A fool has no delight in understanding, but only in revealing his (or her) own opinion. (WEB)
–> Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. (NLT)
–> A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his (or her) own heart. (NKJV)
–> A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his (or her) own mind. (NASB)
  …
Proverbs 12:1
Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but the one who hates correction is stupid.
  …
Proverbs 12:15
The way of a fool is right in his/her own eyes, but the one who heeds counsel is wise.
  …
Proverbs 13:1
A wise child heeds his/her father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke/instruction.
  …
Proverbs 13:10
By pride comes nothing but strife
  …
Proverbs 14:3
In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride…
  …
Proverbs 14:9
Fools mock at sin (i.e.: mock at the concept that they are sinners)
  …
Proverbs 14:14
The backslider in heart will be filled with his/her own ways
  …
Proverbs 15:5
A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he (or she) who receives correction is prudent.
  …
Proverbs 15:12
A scoffer [or “mocker”] does not love one who corrects him (or her), nor will he (or she) go to the wise.
  …
Proverbs 16:2
All the ways of a human are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirits.
  …
Proverbs 17:21
He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy.
  …
Proverbs 17:25
A foolish child is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him.
 …
  …
Thus, we see the root of this Rebellion against God is sinful pride, boastful pride and arrogance … that kind of person is Judge, Jury, and Executioner against God.  That person is entitled and thinks he/she deserves certain things, benefits, resources, etc.  That person doesn’t realize that he or she deserves ONLY the Wrath of God (see John 3:16-21; 36; Romans 3:23; 5:12; 6:23, etc.) when a person is outside of a redemptive relationship with Christ.
  …
How Do you want the LEGACY of YOUR LIFE to Be?
One that is fully Selfish, Self-Centered, Far From God, Rebellious to God and His Word? Following all the philosphies of sinful, fallen mankind, with mixtures of whatever hodgepodge fits the whim of society at the moment? (Colossians 2:8)
  – OR
One who is Fully Assured of Her Eternal Salvation and Relationship with God in Christ Jesus, Forever,  AND is Pleasing to God, Living For God, in which Jesus Christ is the REASON for Your Living  Jesus Christ is your Lord, King, God, and Savior ? All of which is based upon God’s Holy Word, the Bible, alone.  Jesus said, “I AM the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE, no one comes to the FATHER, but through ME.” (John 14:6)
  …
The Choice is yours.
There aren’t really any other choices that are viable these days.
Be careful, the Consequences of your Choice are Eternal in impact.

Ask yourself which WAY actually brings the real Peace and Joy that we are all really looking for?

Sincerely,

Pastor Andy Thomas
https://NLFJI.org
luvjcnow@yahoo.com

The Sinful Depravity of Man and Salvation in Christ

This topic can be controversial and can bring much debate within church circles, to be sure.  And, may I add, it is good for healthy, vigorous, level headed, respectful debate on such issues as these which are core Christian beliefs. The aim should be to dig deeper into God’s Word and find out the answers and to love one another in the process.

The controversy is not “we are sinners”. We know, that since Genesis 3, all of mankind has been plunged into sin.  Once Adam and Eve sinned, it affected the whole human race. We are their descendants, therefore we inherited their sinful natureRomans 5:12 makes this abundantly clear.  Adam sinned, therefore all have sinned, in Adam, and we all inherited the sentence of death, as well.  But what about those who have never heard?  What about those who are so far away from hearing about God, the Bible, Jesus, the Gospel, etc.?  Shouldn’t they be exempt from the Wrath of God that is coming upon the world?  What about babies and young children, etc.?  This is where the controversy exists.  How do we address these things?

Regarding babies and young children, Paul the apostle addresses this in Romans 7, in his own personal story of his life growing up as a devout law-keeping Jew.  He states that there was a time in his life when the Law of God did not affect him, while he was young. But there was a day or time in his life in which the Law of God became effective and engaged into his life and because of sin, it killed him (see Romans 7:9 – read the context of Romans 7:7-12). Thus, there is a time of innocence, clearly, in which God’s judgment is NOT engaged. Yet, there is a time in all of our lives that the LAW engages, and we are judged.  This illustrates that pre-born, infants, and young children are exempt from God’s Holy Wrath and Judgment. Unless a child only lives that long, we all tend to grow up into adulthood.  That is the focus of the rest of the passage: When sin takes hold. Our sinful nature is inherited from Adam, and we did not choose this, we inherited it.

The fact that the whole Human Race is under God’s Wrath is clearly stated in a couple of passages – 1. John 3:36 – on those outside of Christ, “the wrath of God abides on [them]” … 2. Ephesians 2:1-3 – Christians used to be, and the lost are –> sons of disobedience and children of [God’s] wrath.  So, combined with Romans 5:12 and the above verses, the human race is under the sentence of God’s Wrath and Judgment because of sin (Adam’s and their own, each individual’s sin).  One more verse seals the deal, so to speak, John 3:18 – those who are NOT believers in Christ are “condemned already”.  So, when did that condemning occur?  Did it occur when they heard the Gospel of Christ and rejected it?  The passage does not say that.  If a person is in the state of non-belief in Christ, they are condemned already.  That is what it says, that is the best rendering of that passage.  In verse 17, Christ states that He did not come to condemn, but to save. Then He reveals the condition of humans in John chapter 3, verses 18-21: 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:18-20 – NKJV)

So, here is the test.  If you go to some far away country and talk to someone who has never heard about Jesus Christ, His Life, His Ministry, His Crucifixion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection … and point blank ask that person if he or she believes in Jesus Christ, we know what the answer will be: NO.  That person does NOT believe in Jesus Christ.  So, even before the message of the Gospel is even presented, we can predict that the person you are talking to is an “unbeliever” … thus  that person is “condemned already”  …
test completed.

We know, clearly from Jesus Christ and the rest of the New Testament documents that God, now, ONLY Saves the Lost through the preaching, teaching, sharing of the Gospel of Christ (see Acts 17:30-31).  That is the Only way He saves lost sinners, now, during the Gospel Age / the Church Age.
1 Corinthians 1:1717 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (NKJV)
…  ….
1 Corinthians 1:2121 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message [i.e. the Gospel] preached to SAVE those who believe. (NKJV ; emphasis added)
…  ….
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures

Therefore, it is abundantly clear, from all the scriptures we seen above that lost sinners are already condemned.  They are not choosing to go to hell or to their final destination, the Lake of Fire of Eternal Judgment and Wrath of God.  They are not choosing to go there. If they do nothing, choose nothing, choose a new pair of socks … they are still going there. We all inherited this fate of eternal judgment the second that Adam and Eve disobeyed God. The whole human race was “condemned already” at that point

It is also abundantly clear that God ONLY Saves Lost Sinners through the Gospel.  The only “CHOICE” that RESCUES them from this fate is choosing to Repent and Trust in Christ’s Finished Work of Redemption (i.e.: His Crucifixion, Death, Burial and Resurrection – per  1 Cor. 15:1-4)  When a person chooses Christ they are Rescued and Condemned No Longer (2 Cor. 5:17; Romans 8:1) . They are no longer under God’s Just, Right, Correct, and Holy Wrath and Judgment but are placed in Christ in which dwells God’s Love, Righteousness, Mercy, Grace, Forever Forgiveness of sins, and Relationship with God, forever.  Repent and Trust in Christ and His Finished Work of Redemption and a lost sinner is saved, born again, receives Eternal Life, etc.  RESCUED!!!

God Demonstrates His own Love toward us, in that while we were still SINNERS, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)  This verse echoes the Truth that we are all CONDEMNED SINNERS under the Wrath of a Holy God, YET God providedWAY OUTthrough the One Who is the Only Way, the Only Truth, and the Only LIFE – Jesus Christ (John 1:14).

This is Truth, bedrock Sound and Pure Doctrine regarding the sinful depravity of mankind. There are some schools of thought and doctrinal camps that will take these solid Biblical Truths further in various directions. I did not want to go into those camps, but stay in the Simply Biblical middle ground of Doctrinal Sanity.

This Truth should URGE us onward with tremendous URGENCY to Spread the Gospel at break-neck speed, since the time is short, and shorter every second.  Once the Rapture occurs, the church’s job of sowing seeds of the Gospel, Plowing, Cultivating, and Bringing in a Harvest of Souls for Christ will be complete.  Until then, we need to be vigilant and diligent – seeking the Lord of the Harvest for more laborers and for us, personally to be the best laborers we can be, in Christ, for His Glory … so that the lost are saved … before the Wrath of God comes in full force.  We must warn them of the coming judgement before it is too late.

Pastor Andy Thomas
PastorAndy@NLFJI.org
https://NLFJI.org

 

LIFE in Christ – LIFE in the Spirit – Romans 8:1-17

LIFE in Christ – LIFE in the Spirit
Romans 8:1-17

You can LISTEN Online to this teaching by Pastor Andy Thomas of New LIFE Fellowship – Johns Island, SC

You can listen to the message Online at: https://NLFJI.org/msgs/?DID=199
You can also download the PowerPoint Presentation along with the Bible Study Notes.

 

God Bless y’all 🙂
Pastor Andy Thomas
http://www.NewLifeFellowship.us
luvjcnow@yahoo.com

Why I am Convinced that the Bible is the Only True Word of God and that the God of the Bible is the Only Real God and Creator of the Universe – Part 2

Why I am Convinced that the Bible is the Only True Word of God and that the God of the Bible is the Only Real God and Creator of the Universe Part 2

ring-galaxy

As a former atheist, Bible-rejecter, and God-rejecter … I am now convinced of the truth of the Bible and the God of the Bible. If you have not read the first installment in this series Part 1 … please do so now by clicking here. Then, please come back and continue with this Second Installment … of why I am Fully Convinced.

In this installment, we are going to test the “truth claims” and the multiple premises of “atheism.” I put that word in quotes, as I will need to qualify what I mean by “atheism.” We will look at the general and/or common understanding of atheism as what most people understand it to be: there is no god, no personal creator being (or beings), the universe came into being by random chance with no purpose, nothing exists except for matter, energy, the laws of the universe and the universe and that is all there is, etc.

Atheism’s “truth” claims:

  1. no gods, no goddesses, no deities, no creator(s) exist … never have, do not now, and never will.
  2. materialism: all that exists is the physical universe, subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, chemicals, energy and the laws of nature
  3. the universe came about randomly, with no purpose via some sort of evolution (i.e.: various theories of origins and evolution of the universe, stars, galaxies, planets, life, etc.)
  4. when people die, that is all there is, we just cease to exist … there is no survival of the “soul” or consciousness after physical death.

This sums up the basics of common atheism held by most atheists, world-wide. Of course, there are variations, but this sums up what would commonly be accepted by a super-majority of atheists, world-wide, etc. These “truth claims” of atheism creates a Predictive Model or a set of Predictive Models from which to test. A Predictive Model brings us to this place –> if it is true, what would we expect to see in reality around us? Testing the truth claim of “no gods exist.” At first, on the surface, this supposed truth claim may seem to be something which we would not able to be tested. Well, this is a truth claim of fact. Since, this is a conclusion of proving a negative, one cannot possibly prove that something does not exist. To “prove” that no god, no gods, no goddesses exist, as an absolute claim would mean that a “tester” (a person) would have to investigate every nook and cranny of every part of the universe, just in case he/she missed something. This “truth claim” implies that some human being has gone throughout the whole universe and has fully investigated every part of the universe and found that there is no evidence of any creator god. Again, how can one prove a negative, especially something of this magnitude and import?

 

NoDesign_RichardDawkins

On the converse of this, all that a Theist has to do is prove some sort of evidence of the existence of any type of creator deity, even if it so very slight and the “truth claim” there is “no god” flies out the window.

FrancisCrickPanSpermia

 

So, if there is no god, no creator, no personal deity then we would expect never to see any hint of “engineering design” in anything we see. And, any time there is any hint of any recognizable DESIGN in Biology, Chemistry, Physics … it must be denied as having any sort of intelligent source (the atheist must defend his/her world-view at all cost). BUT, when we, as humans, see design in anything else that was created by humans, even a small child automatically recognizes and detects such design. In fact, if there is “no god”, the question comes to mind, why do we find recognizable design in nature? Why do we see Design in nature, literally and physically, everywhere we look? This is especially seen within living cells and within the DNA/RNA system. Yes, even using the word / concept “system” implies design and one more concept: Prescriptive Information.

DNA_InfoStorageSystem

Prescriptive Information ONLY comes from an intelligent source. In our normal, every day experience, all prescriptive information comes from an intelligent agent. The task order you filled the other day, that recipe you used to bake a cake, that Red Light and your turn signal. These are all examples of some sort of prescriptive information per their respective contexts. No one would ever think that any of those “examples” happened by accident, with no purpose. They imply that intelligence was behind all of those examples of Prescriptive Information. With this in mind, when we look inside living cells and within the DNA/RNA genetic systems, design and prescriptive information abounds. This is not denied, but it is dismissed as any evidence of any Creator God. Something that is more complex than anything any human has ever made, is denied that it has an intelligent source in any way. Unbelievable. Yet, I used to believe this way. I had to find some way to excuse this obvious sense of intelligent design in nature.

dawkins_genetics_became_information_science

DNA_StupidAtoms_PaulDaviesQuote

All there is, is just the Physical Universe, matter, energy and the Laws of Nature. It all happened by accident, of course. It all had some sort of origin, but the atheist cannot give the answer of where or how the universe came about from nothing. Can this premise be tested? This can easily be disproved. All I have to do is find anything that is not just materialistic, such as any metaphysical reality, and this premise goes away. Here are some non-material realities (meta-physical realities):

  1. consciousness
  2. thought
  3. ideas
  4. truth

Some may argue that these things really do not exist. Again, how can a human, that according to “atheism” is just an organized set of biochemical molecules, argue about anything? How can a randomly existing, purposeless, bag of molecules argue, have rational thought, have a sense of morality, have a sense of justice and of any sense of right and wrong about anything? If all we are is an assemblage of molecules without rhyme or reason, why does any of this matter?

Brain-waves

If consciousness is just something that is a byproduct of the biochemical processes of the physical brain (and that is all it is), then we can cut open the brain and find it, right? If all there is, is just materialistic reality, then everything, I mean everything, can be reduced down to chemical reactions, etc. We should be able to cut open anyone’s brain and find the “mind”, his/her thoughts, and ideas. They should be measurable, detectable, and quantifiable via some sort of scientific instrument, correct? But, we cannot find those things. Those real things by cutting open the physical brain, cannot be found. What is an idea? What is consciousness? What is ‘self-awareness’? These things are real. We know they are real, because we use them, encounter them in other people, react to them, etc. We take them for granted in our everyday routines without a “thought”, pun intended.

TRUTH. If all that exists are gazillions of atoms, sub-atomic particles, molecules, chemicals, etc… then how can there be a way of determining Truth? How can a randomly, purposeless, accidental set of chemicals determine or discern if something is true or not? How can a materialistic, random set of chemicals know if something is a lie? Remember, in the beginning Nothing accidentally, randomly, with no purpose at all, became the universe as we have it today (if atheism is true). Then, some sort of evolution occurred and somehow chemicals got together for no reason or purpose and became the first living system, randomly (if atheism is true). Would we expect to be able to know what truth is, if atheism is true? No Purpose, Random, Accidental . . . does this seem to suggest a basis for Truth or determining Truth, a sense of justice, morality, etc.? Of course it doesn’t. So, when the atheist says that something is not true, or that is not moral, or that is not just or right … that atheist has no basis, according to his or her worldview. No basis . . . for judging any other belief system. We are just bags of chemicals . . .

AtheismHasNoMoralityNativeToIt
HuxleyAldousAgainstGodQuote1
DawkinsAtheismHasNoMoralityButRichardDoes
AtheistViewOfLife
Evolution: it is the only game in town left to the atheist. Some sort of materialistic form of evolution had to have happened, if atheism is true. Origins … how did the Universe come to be, out of nothing, from nothing, without purpose or meaning? This is entirely untestable via the scientific method. No human can go back in time and document how everything happened. So, this untestable framework has developed. It is filled with mystery and magic. It is outside of real scientific testing. If it did happen, it happened so long ago and cannot be repeated or observed. Therefore, it is outside the realm of the scientific method. It is beyond the bounds of theory and thus, it is mere speculation. This is the most expensive speculation in all of history, as most of the federal tax dollars used by NASA is to explore the universe to answer the question if there is life “out there”. That search only makes sense if one believes in evolution of life all over the universe. If evolution of life happened on earth, therefore life must have evolved on other planets, as well. Yet, no solid, scientific proof of any type of mechanism or sets of laws that would even cause the first life to have sprung forth from non-living matter have ever been discovered here on earth. Why would they think that it might be discovered on some other planet in the universe? It is NOT testable, not repeatable, not observable, therefore it is NOT scientific. It is just a fantasy, a story.

 

LAWS: Once a creator is removed from the equation, all that is left is matter and energy. So, where did the Physical Laws of nature come from? Where did the Biochemical and Genetic Laws of livings systems come from? Where did any of the laws of the universe come from? Laws? Yes, Highly Structured, Highly Mathematical Laws. They exist and are NOT the product of the universe. They are NOT a product of the matter of the universe. They exist and govern the various aspects of the physical universe. All of these laws can be explained via mathematical equations. Why? How did that happen? Why are these laws mathematical? How can they be so delicately interwoven with other related laws so that the universe exists and works? How did all of that just happen by random, no purpose, an accident? With everything else we relate to in everyday life, laws always implies law giver. With everything else we are used to, information, design and laws all point to intelligence, all the time we normally draw the conclusion of “someone did this” … NOT – wow this happened by accident.

MaxwellLawsOfNature
When I was an atheist, it was the following question that got me thinking that “maybe there is something out there but maybe it just created everything and went away or something” ==> “Where did the highly structured mathematical laws of the physical universe come from?” Questions like these have no answers from the atheistic worldview. Why do we find order, laws, consistency, and the ability to send space probes to the edge of our solar system? We could NOT send astronauts to the Moon, probes to Mars, put up “stationary” orbiting satellites, and fly faster than that speed of sound unless we could rely upon the consistency and the universal stability of the laws of physics here on earth and throughout the entire universe. The same highly structured, interwoven, highly mathematical laws of physics exist and are experienced here on earth, just like they are on the moon, on Mars, and wherever we may go within the entire physical universe. This would NOT be expected if atheism is true and if the universe started from nothing randomly with no purpose, and then randomly expanded with no purpose guiding its expansion or creation.

No purpose implies no laws, which implies only random chaos. Why do we have Laws at all? How is it that humans can discover them, quantify them, and articulate them via Mathematical Formulas and Equations? How is that even possible in a randomly evolved universe. Why do we have stars? Why do we have galaxies? Why do planets and their associated satellites have predictable, mathematical orbits like clockwork? What we actually see, test, evaluate, use, etc… all of it points to delicately interwoven, highly structured, and highly mathematical universal physical laws that govern all aspects of the physical universe. This is real reality. This is ONLY expected in a Theistic Model of Reality (and in particular a Biblical Worldview). The atheistic worldview just says, “well, somehow, it all came to be … it exists, doesn’t it?” There is no answer as to how these Laws came to exist in the first place. And, these physical, universal laws had to exist prior to the first physical atom – so, that the atoms, molecules, chemicals would all behave correctly according to those laws … NOT the other way around. The laws come first, then the universe. That is real science. What is the atheist’s answer? –> I know what mine was, “well, maybe there was ‘something’ out there, but I don’t know …” Once, I ruled out that there might even be a personal, creator God who created everything for a purpose, I was left with vain speculations that could not be tested and a worldview that did not line up with reality.

As to “After we DIE, we cease to exist”: if atheism is true, even in this aspect, and all atheists know that they are going to die, then what’s the use of living, even for one second longer? Those are thoughts I wanted to avoid at all costs when I was an atheist. I wanted to be free of those thoughts, because those types of ideas would make me think about ultimate reality. I wanted to avoid such things. For the atheist, there is NO HOPE. Atheism is a very SAD belief system:

AtheistViewOfLife
The leaders within the realm of atheism actually sing a consistent chorus that is consistent. Some are “evangelistic” about it, especially regarding the amoral and immoral aspects of their so-called “freedom”.  Since, there is no god to answer to, they think that they have Freedom (see Psalm 2) … then we might as well just live the way we want to. But, as to ultimate reality, death is looming and then I cease to exist, no more thoughts, no more dreams, no more living, no more (fill in the blank). Morality, is absent regarding individual behavior, but when judging the God of the Bible, it seems that atheists are the most moral.

How does Hope relate to Morality? Both imply something greater than just mere existence as an assemblage of chemicals (matter and energy, etc.). As a former atheist, I was able to defend my atheism quite well, until I was confronted with these questions of reality, especially ultimate reality … where did the physical laws of the universe come from? and what happens to me after I die? Those types of questions caused me to ponder and think deeply, since my worldview had no answers. Atheism provided me with No Hope! I was Hopeless and Purposeless. Critiquing the world-view and subsequent “expectations” regarding atheism does matter. With this kind of worldview invading every aspect of our society, from education to entertainment to government . . . it does affect all of us.

AtheismHasNoMoralityNativeToIt

 

MORALITY and Atheism’s History? We know what happened when atheism came to its full power in the USSR, in Maoist Communist China (the Cultural Revolution), with the killing fields of Cambodia under Pol Pot, North Korea, etc. multiplied millions upon millions were slaughtered by those regimes that were atheistic in nature. Atheistic Humanism and Atheistic Socialism have the same ideological roots as those of the regimes mentioned. If the root is about an ideal utopia of atheistic beliefs, then anything that opposes it must be eliminated. We’ve seen this movie before. Atheism whenever it is allowed to have full power it is the most destructive evil force in all human history. Because of Atheism, over 250 million people were slaughtered. No other ideology has slaughtered so many people in all of history. Just think about the implications. Today, a nicer version of “atheism” is being put forward, but it borrows its social “ideals” of “equality”, “goodness”, “live and let live”, etc… somewhat from the Judeo-Christian worldview (or least partially). Since, atheism has no basis for morality, no basis for any sense of justice it must pull from some other set of ideologies, such as Christianity. For an atheist to have moral outrage about anything is contrary to his/her worldview.

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socialism-red-flags-socialists1c

 

Atheism is ultimately hopeless, purposeless, moral-less (amoral), and unable to provide any real answers to most of the questions that most humans have about life. It is, ultimately, fully selfish, careless (without any care of others), and self-centered … and may I add, dishonest. It pushes a worldview that is dishonest. It purports to be the answer or the conclusion because no “religion in the world” has the answers … especially the Bible and the God of the Bible. In fact, of all the “religions” of the world, atheists are the most militant against the Bible and the God of the Bible. It amazes me that, even in my own life, as with many other atheists today, most do not care about Buddhism, Shintoism, Daoism, Hinduism, even Islam. Their main “enemy” is the Bible and the God of the Bible. I think this is very interesting indeed.

atheism-hopeless

The Worldview that Matches Reality is NOT Atheism, but Biblical Theism . . . and we will continue this discussion in our next installment

If this is helpful, please spread the word … … so that more folks can benefit and be in encouraged in the LORD … and have more confidence in His Holy Word, the Bible.

 

🙂 May God Richly Bless you and yours

 

Pastor Andy Thomas
(843) 814-1110
http://www.NewLifeFellowship.us
luvjcnow@yahoo.com

The Law and a Young Pharisee Romans 7:1-25 06/07/2015

The Law and a Young Pharisee

Pastor Andy’s most recent msg at New LIFE Fellowship – 06/07/2015 –
Paul the Apostle’s testimony of coming to the End of himself because of the Law of God exposing his depraved sinful nature. He was a failure in trying to keep God’s Law perfectly… and found out that ONLY through Jesus Christ could he be rescued from God’s coming Judgment because of his sin.

Romans 7:1-25 
… for more – go to :  http://goo.gl/2NQtKe

 

neh_8_2_ezra_the_priest_brought_the_law      NavBridge

 

God’s “MUCH MORE” in Christ

Pastor Andy’s most recent message (05/03/2015)
God’s “MUCH MORE” in Christ …
God, in Christ, is MUCH MORE than any SIN, our past, our shame, our (fill in the blank) . . .

Romans 5:12-21

Please, download it now at http://NewLifeFellowship.us/sermons

 

God Bless y’all

🙂

Pastor Andy Thomas
http://NewLifeFellowship.us
PastorAndy@NewLifeFellowship.us

God DEMONSTRATES His LOVE in Christ – part 2

God DEMONSTRATES His LOVE in Christ – part 2

Contrasting The World’s Love to God’s Love … no comparison, no competition, God’s LOVE wins!!!

Romans 5:6-11

Doctrinal Foundations: Romans
04/19/2015 ID #:191
Please, Go to this LINK to hear it online: http://www.newlifefellowship.us/sermons
You can view the PowerPoint and Notes, as well as Hear the Message (MP3 Audio)

If God has blessed you because of this message, please let me know and please pass this on, so that others might be Equipped in His Word (Ephesians 4:11-16)

God Bless y’all

🙂

Pastor Andy Thomas
(843) 814-1110
http://www.NewLifeFellowship.us
PastorAndy@NewLifeFellowship.us

Why I am Convinced that the Bible is the Only True Word of God and that the God of the Bible is the Only Real God and Creator of the Universe – Part 1

Why I am Convinced that the Bible is the Only True Word of God and that the God of the Bible is the Only Real God and Creator of the Universe – Part 1

Simply put, I believe the Bible is True and the Only Word of God, and believe that the God of the Bible is the Only, Living and True God … because of Truth and that these beliefs I hold to fully Align with Reality.  I will explain this much deeper as we go along, but we need to address a few assumptions before we get into digging deeper into the set of Reasonable Reasons for Faith in God and His Word. In all discussions of seeking Truth, or seeking to Find the Truth, we must, FIRST, all have a common starting point.  We must all have some “planet-wide”, human, common, base assumptions.  Since, we are all humans (i.e.: we are all related to each other genetically) there must be some sort of common assumptions we all have. Throughout history it has been clearly seen that there is an overwhelmingly simple set of common assumptions that all humans have used and continue to use today to “Find the Truth” about anything they are seeking in normal, everyday living. Again, we are starting with a base assumption that all humans have, even young children.

IsBibleReliable_cropped

We must have a base assumption or idea of what we mean by “Truth” or if something is “True”. That concept or idea relates to the concepts of consistency, integrity, faithfulness, and something that can be tested in some way (i.e. can be verified) in most cases.  The best definition I have found regarding telling the “TRUTH” is: “the accurate reporting of reality and/or of the actual facts”.  Truth is always about REPORTING something, about some event or about someone. If I tell you a LIE, I am either “twisting the facts”, “holding back some of the facts”, “suppressing some of the facts”, “not telling you the ‘whole story’”, or “I am making up something entirely NOT aligned with the facts or reality of the situation, etc.” I am not talking about making a mistake about forgetting some of the facts, in this case, but being intentional about misleading someone about what happened, etc.  Thus, I would be “reporting to you NOT what really happened” – I would, intentionally, NOT tell you the Truth about what happened, about the character of a person, or about something. We would all agree, a LIE –> is Telling or Reporting something that is NOT Aligned with Reality, NOT Aligned with the Facts as they Really happened, etc.  Once the “Facts” of the “situation” are “found out”, people can determine if the “story” or the “reporting” lines up with Reality or the Facts.  That is when folks find out that what was told to them was a LIE.  Therefore, from this base, common assumption regarding “Truth” … we can see that TRUTH is the Opposite of LIES. Yes, it is “Black and White”, always.  Again, we are not talking about shoe style preference here, but Truth compared to Lies.  “IT” is either TRUE or FALSE.  There are no GREY areas regarding TRUTH.  This is why the Judicial Courts of most countries in the World want witnesses to Tell the Truth.  Have you ever wondered why Judges do not just ask the witnesses, “please, make up a believable story about ‘such and such’, we are not really concerned about ‘The Truth’”?  I know that sounds ridiculous, but I think you see my point, here.  When “push comes to shove” we demand the truth, especially from other people.

Thus, in everyday life, we are confronted with and deal with a myriad of choices and situations in which we must DISCERN Truth compared to Lies or that which is False.  In most cases, within those situations, the Truth is obvious and the FALSE or LIES are also obvious.  The base sense we have of “does this match with reality or of the facts presented?” … “Truth” therefore is Discover-able, Observable, and Experiential, in most cases.

neh_8_2_ezra_the_priest_brought_the_law  

The next “concept” is: PREDICTIVE MODEL.  A Predictive Model tends to be a Principle, a Premise, a Statement, a Conceptual Framework, and/or a Report of a Historical Event that “says” that it is TRUE and REAL.  A PREDICTIVE MODEL typically produces an Expectation or a Set of Expectations.  Here is an Example that I hope will illustrate this concept of “PREDICTIVE MODEL” ==> “If you put your unprotected hand in the fire or in a flame (not quickly) it WILL get burned to some extent.” OK, so we see that this is a Principle or a Premise that is “spoken” or “written” and can be understood. It is TESTABLE. It gives us the Expectation that if I disobey this WARNING … ==> If I actually stick my unprotected hand in the flame of fire then I should get burnt by the fire. So, I can test this. If I put my hand in the fire, very, very quickly, only my hair gets singed. But, upon a deeper, microscopic view, I do see some of a few skin cells did get slightly damaged. So, this PREMISE, this PREDICTIVE MODEL is correct and lines up with Truth. The Expectations it presented are testable and we can see by verification that it is true. So, I can explain that predictive model this way … “I expect to see my hand to get burned in some way if I put my hand in the flame”. In the same way, the Bible is a PREDICTIVE MODEL or presents many PREDICTIVE MODELS within its text, from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21. Not everything can be “Scientifically Tested” within a laboratory, but many of its PREDICTIVE MODELS it presents, their sets of Expectations can be tested in some way… the TRUTH can be Discovered.

JudgmentForTheBible

Let me give you an example of what I mean when I say that the Bible presents Predictive Models. Let’s look specifically at the case study of the Flood during the time of Noah. We can read about this purported historical account in the book of Genesis, in chapters 6 through 9. Parts of Chapters 8 and 9, also, contain the accounts of what happened after the Boat (i.e.: Noah’s Ark) landed and the 8 people (survivors) and all the animals aboard the Ark came out, etc.  The focus we are going to look at right now is the contents of information that relates to the actual Global Flood.  Genesis 6 – 9 makes the claim that God flooded the whole world with a World-Wide, Global Flood of Water. Genesis 7:11-12 records: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.” In this passage it seems to point to an exact Calendar day in which certain events occurred. It mentions “all the fountains of the great deep burst open” and the “floodgates of the sky were opened”.  It wasn’t just rain, it was “fountains of the deep” What are fountains of the deep?  We still have them today, deep on the ocean floor.  They pour out subterranean super-heated water, gases, and lava (or other materials that make up normal “soil”, etc.).  When the passage mentions “all the fountains of the deep burst open” … this expresses violence and explosive power.  We can study, today, rain causes massive erosion of mountains and hills.  This action can be seen today. We watch news stories all the time on TV regarding massive flooding in various areas of the world because of hurricanes bringing in massive rains for several days.  We can see the devastating effects.  Multiply this millions of times more massive, just the rain aspect of Noah’s flood. Now add to this the effective of all the millions of ocean floor volcanoes (and maybe those above the water line, on land) all exploding at the same time all over the world.  This would be a massive, chaotic, watery, muddy mess.

noahs-flood-judgment

So, what would I expect to see today, IF the “story” of Noah’s Flood is true, as recorded in Genesis 6-9?

  1. I would expect to find billions, if not trillions, of dead things, in sedimentary layers of rock all over the world. Massive amounts of fossils created quickly because of the layers of mud flowed quickly and covered many animals before they had a chance to decay or be eaten by other creatures, etc.  I would also expect to see more aquatic creatures than land animals in these layers of mud that turned into sedimentary layers of rock.  I would expect to find fossils of ocean creature on the top of the highest mountains (do some research regarding the amount of and the kind of fossils found on the top of Mt. Everest and other very high mountains, you’ll be amazed).
    FossilsWithOriginalTissues  FossilsWithSoftTissueList
    Also, I would expect to find “fossils” that would still be “young” enough to have remnants of collagen, blood cells, blood vessels, bone, Carbon-14 and other remnants of living material. This would be expected. And guess what? This is what has been found, over and over again. see the following links for more on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMsIqmdvUMs ,  http://kgov.com/dinosaur-soft-tissue , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UIStXAmSyw , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eoxZvV6YY8 . Collagen can only last around 30,000 years (best case scenario): http://www.icr.org/article/how-long-can-cartilage-last/
    DNA and bone cells found in dinosaur bonehttp://goo.gl/DCa99c
    …  
  2. I would expect to find Mountain Ranges that have not had much erosion on them (i.e.: new mountain ranges) and some remnants of “older” Mountain Ranges that have had a lot of erosion
    … 
  3. I would expect to see massive Inland Seas, or remnants of them (think: the Great Lakes; think: of the “Great Basin” and parts of Utah that were clearly “ancient” inland seas)
    … 
  4. I would expect to see massive Canyons carved out of soft sedimentary rock beds, but have now hardened into sedimentary rock (think: the Grand Canyon. The river did not form that canyon over millions of years… the Canyon was formed while it was still moist and massive water drained out of the inland sea like a damn bursting, that action caused the canyon to be gouged out in one or a few events, quickly. This same type of event was recorded on film in the Mt. Saint Helens area, etc.)
    … 
  5. I would expect to see sedimentary rock layers that have bends in them, unexplained bends … because they were bent and reshaped while they were all still fresh and moist (i.e. bendable)
    (ref.: https://answersingenesis.org/geology/rock-layers/rock-layers-folded-not-fractured/ )
    BendingSedimentaryRockLayers
    … 
  6. Polystrate Fossils: I would expect to see upright and upside-down Trees in many layers of sedimentary rock, since those trees were stripped by the flood and then re-deposited in new locations. Some with roots in tact, other with no roots (such as what we find in “petrified forests” all over the world) [ many images: http://goo.gl/Soxb7d ]
    Polystrate7_zps6a5db13b
    … 
  7. I would expect to find more water deep under the ocean floor. I would expect to find all the water necessary to have a world-wide global flood as described in Genesis 6 through 9. (see http://www.weather.com/science/news/oceans-water-discovered-deep-beneath-north-america-20140613 for proof of more than enough water necessary)
    DeepOceansUnderground
    … 
  8. I would expect to find Genetic issues regarding humans. Thus, if some skeletons of people are discovered that are from the time period of before the Flood, they would be people who did not make it onto the Ark. Their descendants didn’t continue on after the Flood. So, their Genetic lines, Genetic nuances and Genetic differences would NOT make it into the present Human Race. The present human race, according to the Bible, is descended from the 3 sons of Noah and their wives.  We are their genetic descendants.  We are NOT the Genetic descendants of those that did NOT make it onto the Ark. Thus, if some skeletons of people are found in some caves, hunkered down, large and old looking, etc…, and they are found as if they are hiding from something, they could be those that were fleeing from the Flood but died in the Flood.  We might find some skeletons with some testable DNA in them. If scientist do find such skeletons, they would test positive as humans, but might have Genetic nuances, Genetic markers that no human today has. That would be expected if the Bible’s Account of the Flood of Noah is true. If certain skeletons are found that have no relationship with the 8 survivors of the Ark (i.e. Noah and his family), they quite possibly could have many Genetic nuances that just are NOT seen in our Human Genome, today. Yes, this would be completely expected.
    (although this link points to a study by atheistic, evolutionary scientists… this article exposes the truth regarding missing DNA from modern humans compared to this recently discovered skeleton found in Russia that is “Neaderthal-like” … proves that some “ancient” human DNA sequences from these “ancient” skeletons cannot be found in any human alive today … http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/11/37000-year-old-russian-skeleton-has-neanderthal-dna-thats-gone-missing/ , again this is fully expected if the Flood during Noah’s time actually took place as described in the Bible)
    DNAMissingAncientHumans

Some of the expectations that we just discussed above, Atheistic Evolutionists have no explanation for, based upon their worldview, using their theories or Predictive Models. Just to let you know, I also used to be an atheist. So, I know what I am talking about. I know their arguments for proving “atheism”, very well. The findings discussed, above, Evolutionists would simply call them ‘anomalies’. But, the Biblical Expectations regarding the world-wide flood of Noah’s time fit perfectly with what we actually do find, in reality. Regarding the rest of the Bible, what would be expect to find, if it is really true? Regarding the various Theories of Evolution, if any one of them are true, what would we expect to find? Remember, each (i.e.: The Bible or “Evolution”) presents its own set of PREDICTIVE MODELS from which we can test to see if their respective Expectations line up with reality. They are TESTABLE.
ScientificTesting

In our next few installments, in this series, I will enumerate and explain my reasonable reasons regarding why I believe the Bible is the true and only Word of God, and that the God of the Bible is the Only True and Living God, the Creator of the Universe, etc.

If this article was helpful, please spread the word
… so that more folks can benefit and be in encouraged in the LORD
… and have more confidence in His Holy Word, the Bible.

🙂

May God Richly Bless you and yours

Pastor Andy Thomas
   (843) 814-1110
   http://www.NewLifeFellowship.us
   luvjcnow@yahoo.com

What can we learn from Paul’s use of the Altar to the “Unknown God”? (Mars Hill, Athens Acts 17:22-31)

What can we learn from Paul’s use of the Altar to the “Unknown God” (Mars Hill, Athens Acts 17:22-31):

This is a great case study in the Book of Acts of sharing the Gospel with people who have no Biblical background or worldview.  We can learn some things regarding this from this passage that might help us in our Gospel efforts.

Many Christians will read this passage and have no idea of the Amazing and Miraculous History behind the scenes regarding the “altar to the Unknown God” that the Apostle Paul used to his advantage to Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This background history blew me away when I find out. So, I encourage you to click this link, read the article and then come back for the rest of this study. The Historical background to Acts 17:22-31 – go to this link for more historical background:  http://christiansincrete.org/news/to-an-unknown-god/

Let’s analyze and see how Paul handles this golden opportunity to share the Gospel:

  1. Paul the Apostle had an opportunity to speak to the pagan Philosophers and other Stoics about Jesus Christ, about the Gospel of God. Those he was talking to would have no basis or understand very little of the Israeli/Hebrew Bible of their day.  These hearers of Paul did not have a Biblical Base from which to draw from.  Paul could have quoted directly from Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc., for Example:
    “Athenians, in Isaiah chapter 7 verse 14 God says… a virgin will bring forth a son… “
    Paul recognized their basis for their World-View, in which Quoting the Bible would be meaningless, in their case.
  2. Paul does not quote the Bible (any of the Old Testament) in this passage.  He does use Biblical Concepts/Principles in his Speech to them on Mars Hill. He mentions God is creator, that we all need to repent and believe in the Resurrected “Man” who will Judge the world, etc. Paul does not shy away from Biblical Concepts, but he does not quote directly from the revealed Word of God to his hearers.
  3. Paul understands their Culture and History and knows of a real, historical event (mentioned above, please go the link above for more on this)
    Paul uses that artifact in their midst, something irrefutable, something undeniable: the “altar to an unknown god”  as his launching point to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them.  He used something well known in their cultural and historical consciousness as a place to START with them.
  4. How does this passage help us, in our Post-Biblical, Post-Literate, Nintendo society? How can it help us in spreading the Gospel?
    FACT: We live in a society that is NOT like the society in which our Christian, God-fearing founders of the USA lived. They used and respected the Bible in all aspects of life (home, family, politics, business, etc.)  Those “founders” lived in a Bible-saturated society and culture.
    We no longer live in that kind of society, today.  We can wish things would go back to the “good old days”, the way it used to be, but until then, we have to live in the NOW. Yes, it is sad, but we need to face reality. We are, today, very much like Athens was during the time Paul was preaching the Gospel to them.

What are some things we can learn from Paul on Mars Hill in Athens (Acts 17:16ff):

  1. We should understand the people, the culture and the history of those we are attempting to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with. No need to stress out, just learn and relate to folks in the process.
  2. It would be good to find something in their personal culture/history or our shared culture/history that they/we can relate to that is irrefutable and undeniable… in which God has intervened.In our Western World culture, such as in the USA … our cultural worldview is very much influenced, more and more by anti-christian, secular, humanistic, atheistic values… with Evolution as its basis. This is why I find myself using, increasingly, the Truth about The DNA / RNA / Protein Information System within our Cells when I attempt to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. I found that I can help a person agree with the 10 Commandments, that they may have broken them, and they might be considered “sinners”.  But, when I move to the next step: to God’s Authority over us, based upon the Bible, that is when things tend to go south.Most folks tend to disagree that the Bible is the Word of God, and thus, God and the Bible have NO authority over them, nor are they accountable to God because of the Bible, etc. So, it seems to be almost futile to try to “prove” that the Bible is the True Word of God at that point… but I can use something that “speaks” about God, who to them, might be the equivalent to being an “unknown god”. This “unknown god” has a history and has intervened. Introducing the “unknown god” in their midst … by using the DNA / RNA Information System.

    This SYSTEM is in all living cells and is undeniably Designed by Intelligence.  Prescriptive Information ALWAYS comes from Intelligence. Always!  This can be an “altar to an unknown god” – a starting point in our culture, right now. Today, we find almost every Police/Crime Drama on TV uses “DNA Evidence” in almost every episode.  The concept and the word “DNA” is everywhere in our culture. DNA and Genetics are talked about all the time, such as with people trying to find their ancestry, ethnicity, etc. and folks are using DNA Testing for Medical reasons, etc.

    Because DNA is used so much in our culture and so many folks use “Evolution” as their excuse to reject the Bible … I use this as the “altar to an unknown god” for our Gospel advantage. I ask folks who deny that the Bible is true and authoritative
    “Where does the Highly Complex and Ordered Information in our Cells, in our DNA, come from?” — Then I just wait for their answer.  If they don’t have a clue, I help them a wee bit.

    If this is over their head, I try to find something else as a starting point … I find out why they are rejecting God and the Bible, etc. But, it seems, increasingly, more people are understanding the implications of DNA regarding INFORMATION.The overwhelming reason folks REJECT the Bible today, in the USA, is because of “Evolution”“Evolution” is the Main EXCUSE used by those who REJECT the Bible … so if they are going to use that Excuse then…
    ==> Ask them for Evidence to support their premise.
    Then be armed with some basic facts about DNA such as “it is a Digital Software Information System” – it might be good to memorize that phrase.

    A famous quote to use is one by Bill Gates (if they don’t know who he is, ask them if they ever heard of Microsoft Windows or just Microsoft – then let them know Bill Gates is the founder, etc.)
    Bill Gates said: “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”

    billgates_dna_computerprogram

    Then ask them, to explain how an “Advanced Computer Software” designed itself by accident and then somehow found its way into all of the 100 trillion cells of their body and in all of the living organisms all over the earth.
    God might use this undeniable, irrefutable TRUTH to cause them doubt in their own atheistic, evolutionary belief system (God willing), if they are honest with themselves.

    DNA_StupidAtoms_PaulDaviesQuote

    Then, if they respond with humility and honesty ==> “I am not sure …” or “Maybe something or someone did this…”  we may have brought them, face-to-face with their “altar to an unknown god” and they might actually see it standing right in front of them (ref. Acts 26:18).

    The next step is to help them with the concept of this “unknown god”, that He is knowable and He designed and created the whole universe, not just LIFE, but everything that is.

    At each step, we need to pay attention to how they respond. If they respond with humility and honesty, move on to the next step…:

    ==> God created us to have relationship with Him, but our original parents sinned against God and we, today still suffer the consequences of that sin, we inherited that sinful nature, etc.
    God must judge sin, because He is holy (you can ask,” does this make sense”?)

    If these truths do make sense to them, then you can use the 10 Commandments and go through a few of them, just to help them see that they, indeed, are sinners, etc. If there is a real God who created everything (as seen in DNA), then He has the right to want us to obey His rules.  Since, He created and owns the Universe, it is His Universe, He calls the shots, etc.  These concepts might be hard for some folks.

  3. If the person is at the point of agreeing that God exists (some sort of “unknown god” but He created everything, etc…) and he/she agrees that he/she is a sinner and that God is Holy and will Judge sin…
    Then, and only then, share the Gospel, the Good News about Jesus Christ … His Person and His Crucifixion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection, etc… (sufficient sacrifice for our sins, etc.).
    That is when a person can receive the Truthcan Repent (“… God commands everyone everywhere to repent …”)… and Trust in Jesus Christ for his/her salvation, etc.

We live in a culture and time in which it is almost parallel with Athens on Mars Hill at the time Paul the apostle preached to those Stoic Philosophers in the AreoPagus.

Instead of bowing down to statues (idols, formal, religious idolatry), today, we have a new Idolatry: today we call it “Evolution”. This new Idolatry is a new religion in which their “creator” they worship is themselves (humanity/humanism), worship of our “ape-like ancestors”, worship of four footed creatures, birds, crawling creatures and pond scum, etc. All of this happened by accident, with no purpose, with no intelligence behind it… all of these things are our “Evolutionary Creator” (ref.: Romans 1:18-22).

So, in our sharing of the Gospel, we must find those points of irrefutable, undeniable interventions of God in which the hearers we are attempting to reach can relate to and agree with, in some way. Paul did this really well as recorded in Acts 17:22-31… Therefore, we, too, can do the same, in Jesus’ Name.

Also, a bit of a WARNING … when a culture is at that point (like ours is today) …  NOT many may respond (real repentance and faith in Christ, etc).  If you read the rest of that passage in Acts 17, just a few responded to Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you read Acts 17:16-21 – Paul had already Reasoned with Many folks in the local Synagogue and in the Open-Marketplace in Athens prior to his time up on Mars Hill.  Of all that work and effort he did, not many responded to the Gospel he was preaching and Reasoning with, etc.

Tidbit of Info:
Reasoning implies, personal conversations with people.  Reasoning does NOT imply Open Air Preaching (a one way monologue/shouting/preaching) on a Soap Box in a town square.

What opened the doors for Paul to be able speak to that special group of “Philosophers” up on Mars Hill in the Areopagus? It was all that work Paul was doing in town in the Synagogue and in the Open-Marketplace, prior to Mars Hill. Someone in the “club” of the Areopagus (i.e.: Mars Hill) heard Paul speaking about God (theos) and the Resurrection (anastasis) and those philosophers who overheard Paul thought Paul was spreading a new religion about 2 new gods (i.e.: theos and anastasis).  So, Paul was invited to the Areopagus to speak to that exclusive group.  Thus, he was invited to speak there, because of all his effort prior to that event, as recorded in Acts 17:16-21.  Paul did NOT go up to Mars Hill, on his own, plop down his soap box and start open-air preaching (uninvited).  It was the Prior Work that started earlier… when Paul arrived, he saw the city full of idols.  Paul was heartbroken for the folks of Athens because of their massive and open idolatry and I think he was praying, as well because of that heart-brokenness.  This compassion is what motivated him to go out and Reason in the Synagogue and in the Open-Market place with folks … which then led to the Mars Hill speech of Acts 17:22-31.

THE LESSON: each one of us might want to have some sort of ministry or some sort of “service unto God” that starts out large, hugely successful, fully mature, big, explosive at FIRST.  BUT, in most cases, it is the unseen, prior, faithful work, the plowing, while not wanting any glory for one’s self (but only for the Glory of God) that eventually leads to God opening up opportunities that leads to reaching more people, effectively.  Paul was faithful “out of sight” BEFORE God opened up the next doors.  Awesome lesson.

This passage, I am sure, has many more golden nuggets to find… search it out and share them with others and obey what you learn.

 

I hope this was encouraging to you.
If it is, please, pass this on to others.
God Bless y’all   🙂

Pastor Andy Thomas
(843) 814-1110
   New LIFE Fellowship
   luvjcnow@yahoo.com

Was Jesus really “a friend of sinners”?

Was Jesus really “a friend of sinners”?

We’ve all heard this “Jesus was a friend of sinners, so you, as a born-again Christian, need to befriend sinners before you share the Gospel.”  This is what I’ve been told for many, many years in churches, by nice, good church going folk.

Let’s examine this Statement or Premise a little deeper.

The implications here, seem to force Christians to get to know and befriend sinners.  This does not mean just as “hi how are you doing” kind of passing acquaintance, but something like a real friendship is implied here.  Once that is established, at some undetermined point in that relationship the Christians is to somehow, in a nice, congenial way, share the Gospel in a loving, nice and the least offensive way.  That seems to be how this Premise stands. Yes, most Christians, Evangelical Christians, have heard it this way.

First off, I do believe we should be nice, loving, kind, and friendly toward those who are outside the faith, Always.  Yes, to those we work with, our neighbors, our close family members, extended family, friends, and strangers.  The Premise is that I, as a born again Christian must “earn the right” to share the Gospel, to get a “hearing” with my new friends, etc.

It is true, that a majority of those who are going to church and have received Christ for Salvation, it was usually through a close family member and/or friend that they trusted, etc. — and it is someone, now, whom they would consider a “close friend” or “close relative”.

I wanted to see if I could find any examples of this “Premise” in the New Testament. I looked throughout the New Testament Documents and I could not find any command, principle or example of Jesus Christ or his apostles doing anything like this.  I could not find a command, a precept, a principle, nor any clear example of anyone in the New Testament doing this (become a close friend, and seek to earn the right to share the Gospel, etc…)

Let’s first think about what we mean by friend, today, in our culture in the 21st Century.  A friend is someone whom you genuinely like. You genuinely like to hang out with that person and have some shared, common interests.  You like to do things together. You like to converse with that person and just be around one another.  Again, in this loose definition we are NOT talking about heterosexual marriage (i.e.: biblical marriage) … but a simple friendship-relationship.  I know of relatives, cousins, 2nd cousins, aunts, in-laws … etc… close and extended family members that could be considered friends.  Also, we all know of and probably have some degree of friendship with those we work with or have worked with in the past.  Friendship takes the investment of time and effort but it is always rewarding.  We can see friendships in the record of Scripture, and one of the most famous is the close friendship between Jonathan and David.  But, again, is this what we are commissioned to do by Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-20, and Luke 24:46-47?

Examine this, lets say (hypothetically) there is a supposed “friendship” that is composed of

  1. a person who is fully opposed, may even be hostile towards Christ, the Bible, and the things of God
    — AND —
  2. a person who is fully sold-out, fully surrendered and on-fire for Christ and Christ is the center and LORD and KING of everything in his/her life …

No matter if they both have a ton of “common interests” there will always be something that will seem to be pulling that friendship apart: –> how each person relates to Jesus Christ.
The #1 friend above will not want to talk about anything related to the Bible, Jesus, etc…  the #2 friend, that is all he/she wants to talk about all the time.
How can they, really, be friends even in the most “loose” definition?

They can be “some-what” friends or acquaintances with some common interests, such as, “fishing” or something like that, but God’s Spirit will always be compelling the Christian to share the Gospel with his “lost” friend.  This doesn’t mean that the Christian doesn’t want the non-Christian to be his/her friend, but in many cases we see the non-Christian finding excuses more and more as time goes by, to avoid the Christian, more and more… until the friendship fades.  Jesus said that those who sin and love it, are in the darkness, they don’t want to come to the light, because that light will expose that their deeds are sinful and full of darkness (see John 3:18-20).  In that kind of relationship described above, the Christian is the Light (Jesus is the Light through that Christian) and the non-believer is in the darkness and loves the darkness.

So, did Jesus commission us to befriend sinners?
If we look at the actual texts that this “concept” comes from,  Jesus is being accused of being “a friend of sinners”.

The main texts … It starts with Jesus calling of Levi (Matthew) to be one of His disciples: read Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:27-32.
Then, Jesus talks about John the Baptist in Matthew 11:16-19, Luke 7:31-35.

Luke 5:27-32: After these things Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.
Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. And the scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” [NKJV]

The context: Levi (Matthew) and his Friends gave Jesus a party or feast. It was a celebration focused on Levi being called by the Rabbi Jesus (that’s what most folks thought Jesus was, a Rabbi).  The Feast was for Jesus, it was to honor Jesus. Levi and his friends were friendly toward Jesus and His disciples. Levi and his friends were not enemies nor were they hostile toward Jesus, His disciples or His teachings.  They were happy about Jesus and about Levi becoming one of His disciples.

This does NOT mean that Jesus and His disciples were close friends with Levi or Levi’s many friends (tax collectors and sinners) [they just met Levi and his friends].  This DOES mean that Levi (Matthew) and his friends were fully open to Jesus and His teachings. They wanted to learn, to follow, to know Jesus and His teachings.  In essence, because of the first action by Jesus in His calling of Levi, Levi’s current friends (not any new friends) came to be followers of Jesus.  Jesus said, in their hearing, that He is the One calling sinners unto repentance.  That meant, Levi and his friends were those specific Sinners and that Jesus was calling them unto Repentance.  None of Levi’s friends got angry at Jesus when He said such a thing to them in their presence.

The only people who were hostile toward Jesus and his disciples were the Scribes and the Pharisees. They were the ones asking the questions, seeking to undermine Jesus’ ministry and authority.  I’ve been at gatherings in which the non-religious “friends” were quite hostile toward me, the Bible, the Gospel, and Jesus Christ, etc.  Really everyone except the Christians, were pretty hostile.  But, in the case of Jesus Christ and Levi, and Levi’s friends … Levi and his friends were NOT hostile toward Jesus Christ. Only the Scribe and Pharisees were.

In Matthew 11:16-19: Jesus described how wonderful John the Baptist was and the sad state of affairs of those who opposed him and  of those who also were opposing Jesus.
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”  [NKJV]

Notice that the well-known, public accusations and rumors about Jesus were not just that he was a “friend of sinners”… notice the full accusation…
“Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”
The Full Accusation: Jesus was a man controlled by gluttony and He was a drunkard, as well as being a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

Again, in context in all the passages regarding Jesus being a “friend of sinners” … it is really a nasty accusation, NOT something for us to get warm fuzzies about inside our tummies.

As we examine this, just a wee bit deeper, let’s look at what is actually happening.

It seems that if Jesus is invited to a feast or a party or get-together or wedding, whatever it is… He attends.  We see this throughout the Four Gospels.  Starting in Cana of Galilee, at the Wedding, the beginning of His ministry and miracles (John 2).  Jesus is not shy, He attends a supper with a Pharisee, hangs out with tax collectors, goes to a wedding He is invited to.  Notice, He is NOT crashing any parties.  He is going ONLY when invited.  He does not try to find a way to get invited to parties.  But, when He is invited, He goes.

He is our example. So, if someone invites you to some event, party, celebration, etc., as God leads you, prayerfully, consider attending.  Use Godly, Biblically-based wisdom, of course, but if God is leading you to go, then obey Him. God may use you in some way to open the way for the Gospel, now or in the future, etc.  It may not happen at this specific event, but it may open the way or doors for some future conversation that can lead to a complete Gospel presentation with one or more people who are there at that event.

It does NOT mean that you have to become best buddies with everyone or anyone at that party or celebration.  It DOES mean that you are on a mission, the Great Commission and you should seek to be nice, friendly, loving and kind to those you meet.  Prayerfully, as you converse with folks, seek God as you chat with folks. Your aim should be to lovingly direct the conversations toward God and/or the things of God, as possible, in a gentle way, being intentional.  Again, you are on a Gospel Mission (all the time), your whole life is the Gospel Mission until God takes you home.  So, use these opportunities as Open Doors from God for the Gospel as He leads you.  It DOES NOT mean that you have to find a pulpit and start Preaching Hell, Fire, and Brimstone … but you should look for opportunities for further points of contact with folks to discuss Jesus, if you can’t fully do so that evening or at that event, etc.  If you have a card leave it with them and/or  get their phone number, email or other contact info, if they are willing.  Seek to build bridges for the Gospel. Again, I am not suggesting that you have to “earn the right to share the Gospel” … you already have the right and the Great Commission from Jesus Christ. All you are seeking is to work out the Logistics of doing the Great Commission toward real people who may not know that they are sinners, bound to sin and going on their way to the Lake of Fire, living under the Wrath of God, etc.

Be in prayer before the event, on the way to the event, and have many other folks pray for you and for the people you are going to be with, as well.  It may be that you may just mention that you are a part of a church, or looking for a church (as the case may be) or something that relates to something in the Bible and then see how they react. Remember, we are called to be “fishers of men/humans” … so cast it out and wait and see if there is nibble.  If there is a nibble, then pull it in a bit … or change your bait and try again. It is an interactive process and finding out what works with different folks.  Sometimes you just have to use a lure with no bait. The lure might be something God is doing in your life or has done in your life, that relates to some struggle they just mentioned in your conversation. Be gentle, loving, kind, considerate, listen a lot, but remember to be proactive and intentional, as well.  And, be Prayerful while you are there at the event.  Enjoy yourself … be filled with God’s Spirit and abound with the Fruit of His Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Remember it is the Kindness of the LORD that leads us to Repentance (Romans 2:4).

I know in my own adventures with folks, sometimes it isn’t at the event, it is after the event in a one-to-one situation in which we can talk a little more freely without peer pressure being involved.  That is when things are easier to talk about the Gospel, sin, God’s Wrath, Salvation, the Bible, etc. It is in the “bucket” moments, not when the fish is struggling on the line, that the fish is really yours.  So… Remember to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16)

If a person comes to Faith in Jesus Christ, fully Repentant, etc… then real, deep, close friendship can happen since the CORE of our Interests are wrapped up in Jesus Christ.

So, the sinner becoming a “saint” in Christ, that is our Goal, not Friendships.

Friendships, in Christ, are one of the after-effects or fruits of Salvation in Christ Jesus our LORD and Savior.

 

May God Bless you Richly….

 

Pastor Andy Thomas
luvjcnow@yahoo.com
http://www.NewLifeFellowship.us
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