Saturday, January 25, 2014

Uniformity Versus Biblical Unity

Uniformity does not constitute unity. When Christian fellowship is dependent upon extra-biblical uniformity, the source of division does not lay at the feet of those who do not abide by these demands, but rather the demanders.

On the other hand, when scriptural directives are pronounced as unnecessary or even wrong, the transcendence of biblical directives are violated. A follower of biblical commands is not immorally factious to dissent to this view (1).

Once we clear the clutter and years of “Christian” prejudice we find the keys that drive unity. That is two simple but profound Christian ethos which are distilled from biblical precepts. The great ethos include becoming a follower of Christ, and learning and following his teachings.

Simplicity of theology and full measures of love and obedience will bring followers of Christ together who have diversity of gifts – there are many gifts but one Spirit. Christ, being perfect, is willing to make us, being imperfect, his brothers and sisters (2). We have no less of a calling. Rather than excluding other disciples of Christ, we are commanded to bring together Christ's bride (3).

(1) 1Co 6:9-11 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 

1Co 5:11  “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” 

2 Jon 1:4-11  “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

(2) Rom 8:17  “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” 

Mat 12:50 “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

(3) Php 4:21 “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.” 

1 Th 5:26 “Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.” 

Tit 3:15 “All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.” 

Joh 17:21 “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” 

Joh 13:34 & 35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Why I Did Not Have A Happy Holiday This Past Year

Did I have great sadness? Was there pain? Was I lonely?

Thanks for asking, but no, these were not the reasons. In fact, I feel fine. However, I still did not have a “happy holiday.” I would rather say I did have a joyful time celebrating the remembrance of Christ's birth.

I hope next Christmas season, you to will use this opportunity to tell others about Christ. Think about it, Christmas is the time of the year when most are willing to hear about Christ. In fact they expect people to talk about him. In fact even unbelievers talk about him.

It is good and biblically directed for us to verbally tell others about our Christ and salvation. However, I would encourage you to have at least one modest goal in eleven months from now. Start thinking about your greeting cards.

If you are creative with art or words use it for Christ. If God did not grant you with those gifts, start looking for cards that are creative, powerful and have a meaningful message for the Gospel's sake.

My question for you is what type of card will you send out? One with the message of Christ, or are you going to have happy holidays with Santa Clause?

The Bible says "There Is No God", It Really Does!

Wow! That should get some people's attention. But wait, the Bible does say that two places (Psalm 14; Psalm 53). Before you say something, this phrase was taken completely out of context. Go look it up!

But this brings up something very important, how to read one's Bible, and for that matter, how to read anything. Let's look at a few reading principles. The below principles on how the read the Bible were used to find the definition of biblical unity.

You have seen the first principle, read in context. This is when one looks at the big picture, such as the main topics of the book, who it was written for and why it was written. Then one keeps narrowing down to the specific chapter, paragraph and then verse and words that are in question. Arbitrarily selecting concepts from Scripture passages and trying to make logical conclusions is poor exegesis. You can see what happens when one does just that, the argument that "there is no God." Sounds silly doesn't?

While the chief principle for proper exegesis is context, another one is correct definition of words. This might go hand-in-hand with context. Many times we can find the definition by the context. Another way is using a lexicon like Strong's or Thayer's. The dictionary could also be used, especially for newer Bible translations, however, for the 1769 version of the KJV, this is not the best because words and definitions have change meaning.

Third, read the passage, paragraph, sentence, or verse with a blank slate. This means that one should try to separate one's self from one's preconceived thoughts on what that passage is saying. Preconceived beliefs are a wall for truth seekers. What we believe or want to be true does not change actual truth.

Forth, give each sentence or paragraph its literal or most straight froward meaning as a whole. Don't add anything or subtract anything. Don't read anything into the text, don't make assumptions. Just read it for what it says.

Fifth, look at every place in the Scripture that applies or even could apply to the concepts that you are looking at.

Sixth, simplify what you learned. Is there any way one could say it simpler? Maybe try using synonyms for some of the words in the text, it might give a slight different perspective on what is being conveyed.

Once what was your question will now be an answer, and it will be yours forever.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Antibacterial, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

While talking to an office manger of a company who purchased, among other things, hand soap, I stated that I had noticed that she bought antibacterial hand soap. From her perspective it seemed better, hey it is antibacterial, bacteria are bad so let's get soap that kills them. However, I can think of three good reasons NOT to use antibacterial products unless in high risk environments.

1) there is excess exposure to not needed potentially harmful chemicals
2) many of the “good bacteria” that help you and protect you from the “bad bacteria” are kill off by these products
3) these products promote antibiotic resistance in bacteria *

However, this subject brings up another issue. In one of my past biology classes, the professor tried to use antibiotic resistance to demonstrate that “molecules-to-man” evolution was correct. However, there were a number of things he left out. He “forgot” to tell us that microbes scientists have been studying within the last couple hundred years have not evolved into a new type of organism, in fact, they have not even crossed the species barrier to become a new type of bacteria. One type of bacteria, E. Coli, has had its genetic structure changed by natural and human cause in the lab. They have been growing in diverse situations in the labs for millions of generations. Amazingly, these bacteria are still E. Coli. They many have different functions, or less functions, but they still have the characteristics of E. Coli.

You see, antibiotic resistance does not demonstrate “molecules-to-man” evolution, but rather highly designed organisms that are able to protect its population. Within its microbial populations, these antibiotic resistant bacteria do not function optimally under normal situations, but in an antibacterial environments they function well and keep the species alive. So that is the reason you should not use these antibacterial products indiscriminately.

* Antibiotic Resistance is a condition when bacteria become resistant or immune to some chemical that is designed to kill them. In other words, you take penicillin, an antibiotic, and it kills the “bad” bacteria. However, if there are bacteria within that population that are not effected by the antibiotic, then those bacteria will grow uncontrolled. Soon, if all the non-resistant bacteria are killed off, only the resistant ones will be alive. Resistance to antibiotics are caused in one of three ways: 1) some germs already had the resistance, in most any population of bacteria there are a very few bacteria that are resistant already to certain antibiotics, this creates a 'safety net' so that the bacteria will continue to survive even through adverse conditions. However some are even resistant before a certain new antibiotic comes out! 2) Resistance can be transferred from one germ to others, this can be achieved multiple of ways. 3) Some microbes can become resistant to antibiotics through mutation. This is when a gene in an organism is changed from highly organized to one that is degraded. This makes it act different, like it does not have a port that would uptake the antibiotic.

A Teachers Perspective on Rules

As I have taught throughout the years, there has been a general trajectory with my rule number. The longer I taught, the less rules I have. In other words I still had rules, but I tried to make them simple yet overarching so my main goal of teaching could be accomplished. One might think that I might have started loosing control of my classes, however this is not the case, in fact I had more control.

As Christians maybe we could learn from this social microcosm. Please do not misunderstand me, I do not promote antinomianism. The Bible gives us plenty of rules, many that people disregard and then make up their own. Here is an example, the biblical writers and Christ himself, all want his saints love and greet one another and fellow-heirs. However, we have come up with artificial, spiritual sounding walls that divide followers of Christ, those who really are obeying Christ. Wouldn't we be better off focusing upon what Jesus and the apostles taught instead of our own opinions?

We need to be really careful and mindful of our present rules, we need to assess their use see if they fulfill important Biblical commands. Were they set up for an issue that has blown over now? If they were, why keep them? We need to think deep when we come up with new rules. We need to think of questions such as do we need them, will they cause more division or will they cause unnecessary dissension? Do they bring biblical unity between Christians? Do they help us with our main goal – the fulfillment of Christ's kingdom? Or is their goal to separate us from other followers of Christ and promote our culture?

Simply Christian

Over the past few years, I have been trying to simplify concepts and focus my attention on the most important things in this complex world of ours. One area that I have tried to do this to is my understanding of what the Bible says Christianity means. Simply put a Christian is one who follows Christ. Following Christ is made up of three main parts.

First, it is Living as Christ said we should live, making our life his. This means we despise sin, Satan and the world. We need to have love and unity with others who are following Christ and exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit, obedience to Christ and the apostle's directives.

Second, we need to help others. We are to help other Christians in need and help our neighbor. We need to visit the prisoner, the widow and orphan. 

Third we need to tell others about Christ. This needs to be done by first obeying and following Christ. How can one expect others to do it if we can't do it our-self? We need to tell others with words, our life and our talents about the gospel. We also need to be prepared to defend the faith, not "casting pearls before the swine" but telling those who really care.

The Biblical Definition of the Word "World"

The world's population is great. Many live in different worlds on the earth of ours, some are followers of Christ looking forward to the world to come, and some are focused on the evils of this world.

No wonder those who are not followers of Christ are confused by the word "world." Also, Christians can be confused, many Christians use it in the wrong context inferring the wrong meaning, thus coming to wrong conclusions.

Many meanings arise in the Bible (see below) when one properly uses the Biblical context to define this word. In "Christian lingo" I think many think they are using it as "Sin" or "Unbelievers of Christ". However, usually this is not the case, most use it instead of the word "culture" or surrounding "society" or maybe "people". It is almost always used in a negative tone, in an attempt to mimic the Bible.

In a sense, "society" or "culture" might have some overlap with"sin" and "unbelievers" but this is a conflation of terms. As far as I know the Bible never degrades the culture or society around believers unless it contradicts Scripture.

If we mean culture, then lets just say culture, if we mean something else, and the word "world" seems to fit, lets make sure it is the correct word for the correct purpose. If we do mean culture or society, lets understand that culture and society can contain sin or ungodliness, but does not mean sin or ungodliness. If it did, God would be in the wrong, because he loved the "world" meaning people or society!

Note: see the other articles that discuss the World: Thou Shalt Look DifferentLove Not the World.
  • World meaning "Earth" 
    • 2 Peter 2:5  "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly"
  • World meaning "Sin"
    • 2 Peter 2:20 "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."
    • 1 John 2:15-17 " Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
  • World meaning all "People" or "Society"
    • 1 John 2:2  "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."
    • John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
  • World meaning "Unbelievers of Christ"
    • 1 John 3:1 "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."
    • 1 John 3:13 "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you."
  • World meaning "Physical possessions"
    • 1 John 3:17 "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" 
  • World meaning "The After Life"
    • Luke 18:30 "Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Who Is My Brother?

In the famous account in Luke 10, a Mosaic law lawyer asked Christ who was his neighbor. Jesus responded by telling him a parable of the "Good Samaritan". What about another question, who is my brother? Now I will not give an exemplum, but I want to discuss what the Bible teaches.

Some feel that only those in either their own Christian congregation or denomination can be called their brother and sister. It is interesting that the Bible does have something to say about this. But first their argument and my rejoinders. Some say that one does not know one outside their fellowship nor have they heard their testimony on what they believe. So they feel that they can't call someone else a brother or sister. First, the Bible nowhere teaches this is needed, at least I know of no a place. However, if this is an issue, than just ask the person in question, if he or she is a follower of Christ, that person would be happy to tell his or her testimony. Also, what great sin was committed if one calls another confessor of Christ a brother or sister in Christ even if one finds out later that it was not the case?

However, what does the Bible say? When one fulfills specific commands from scripture, one is a Christian, a brother or sister of Christ, and a brother or sister to any other follower of Christ (see this article). The Bible also talks about how we are to accept other followers of Christ as seen in Romans 15:7: "Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God."

It also talks about it a number of other places, but the most clear places include Philippians 4:21, 1 Thessalonians 5:26 and Titus 3:15. The first one Philippians 4:21 says this: "Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you." This passage is clear, we are to "salute every saint in Christ Jesus." It does not say only of ones congregation, denomination or group. First Thessalonians 5:26 is just as unequivocal: "Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss." It says "Greet all the brethren." It does not say one has to test it out or prove if that person is a Christian. However, if that person is a follower of Christ you will see fruit. The last one I want to talk about is Titus 3:15, it says "All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen." If we love Paul and all those who were with him at that time and if another does the same, another true follower of Christ, we have a command that we need to greet those people as followers of Christ.

Let not your authority be based foundationally on your own opinion, the teachings of your denomination or local group fellowship. Rather let us be biblical, and let us follow Christ and the Apostle's teachings.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Thou Shalt Look Different

I have heard a Christian a time or two say, "we should look different from the world." In those times I always want to ask, "what do you mean by the words "world", "look different", and "we". In one sense I am fairly sure what is meant by this, however, to be frank, I am not totally sure. I am not even sure if the one who express this knows what he or she is trying to say.

I have two concerns with this comment, first I don't think it's biblical and second it's vague. The writers of the Bible explain that we are to be sanctified, set apart, holy, sin overcomes, modestly dressed, and we need to have the right attitude, to name a few things. They give complete instructions how we are to be followers of Christ, within any culture context, century and society. 

Also, this "sound bite" is nebulous because I can think of a million ways to look different from the "world" (which I am going to assume here as society around about). However, that gives me no definition on how God wants me to be, act, dress, etc. 

Whether or not we "look different from the word" is irrelevant, in fact this should not even be thought about. Our focus should be following Christ, doing what he did and acting like he acted. No, we don't have to wear togas . . . I think you got the point . . . If we are his followers, we will be different, we won't even have to try!

Copy Cat Technology

What do cameras, airplanes, phones, the Eiffel Tower, and submarines all have in common? You guessed it, they all are are copy cat technology artifacts, copied from the designs in nature. This biology to technology mimicry is what we call biomimicry.

Right now there are scientists and technologists who are looking at amazing structures for potential new technology designs. One is a cicada wing that shreds bacteria.

The biomimicry concept demonstrates that a mindful designer put into existence engineering and technology ideas that we are just now seeing the potential for our use. Our use of minds to find these things and put them to use demonstrates the cause of these artifacts, their origins are best explained from an intellect mind.

Reason or Faith?

As if these are antithesis of each other, many, both christian and atheist, feel reason and faith are incompatible. I would argue that they are complementary.

Many times I hear Christians say that we should have a "simple faith," "blind faith," or just "faith to believe." It seems that this is usually referenced against us using our minds. When one uses "reason" one must not be using "faith." I not only find this saddening but also know the Bible does not teach this view, it is unbiblical. Isaiah 1:18 it says "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Here, God asks those people to reason. In fact, in John one we read of Jesus being the "Word." The Greek work for this one is logos, it stems back to the same word that we use in English to mean reason, the word logic. Romans 12:1 Paul says " I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." The last part, "reasonable service" can be translated "logical service". The Greek word is logikos, this is were we get the word "logical". In other words we do have logical expectations to fulfill as Christians.

In fact we did not even have to look at the biblical text, we only have to reflect upon it, and understand that if we did not use logic or reason we could not understand each other, we could not make books, talk, do science, and many other things.

We also could look at the antonyms for these words and see that the opposite of faith is faithless or lack of trust. The opposite of reason and logic is unreasonable and illogical.

In addition, Christianity stands out as a "sore thumb" in the world of religions, why? Because it can be demonstrated. The apostles note several places that it is true because of eyewitness testimony (1 Corinthians 15 and 1 John 1). It can be falsified, if Jesus did not raise from the dead, our hope is in vain (1 Corinthians 15).

For me, I want to have trust in God because it is reasonable. Without reason, I could not even read, understand and follow the Bible!

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STOP: Drop Your Mind Off Before Entering Church

For some Christians, I think they view that a "simple faith" is a building block of Christianity. However, I am not even sure what that means by those who use it. Does it mean we should have no knowledge or reason, or in other words we should be "anti-intellectual"? It seems to me that this is just laziness garbed in spirituality.

Fortunately or unfortunately, it is not only unbiblical, but also antibiblical. We find passages contradict this sentiment, such as “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (1 Corinthians 14:20). We know that knowledge is one of the spiritual gifts from God (1 Corinthians 12:8). Jesus chastised the Jewish lawyers because they took away the key of knowledge (Luke 11:52). Paul praise Timothy for his knowledge of the scriptures since a child because it made him wise unto salvation through Christ (2 Timothy 3:15). Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:11, talks about lasting great virtues and makes this statement: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” This does not sound as if he his against knowledge.

In fact knowledge and wisdom is applauded and foolishness and ignorance is degraded in much of Proverbs (Proverbs 1, 4, 8, 12, and 15 just to name a few passages). In fact knowledge is built upon virtue and upon knowledge is built temperance (2 Peter 1:5-6). James tells us how a wise and knowledgeable person should act; with good behavior, with meekness that is not boasting (James 3:13).

We see that if one infers “simple faith” to be anti-intellectual, than there is no scriptural bases for this, in fact it goes against scripture.

The "Man's Reasoning" Fallacy

I have heard it said by those who are trying to be Christianly pious, in the best sense of the word, that we should not be using "man's reasoning." I assume this is said to sway another from a supposed anti-biblical view. Are they against "man's reasoning"? I think not.

It seems that it is said to one who holds differing views from our pious critic, even if our critic has no scriptural justification to hold that view. Second, many times that person has no good arguments, reasons or biblical precepts to hold to that view, he or she just has assumptions and assertions. Lastly, I see those who express this when they think one is not using supposed "simple faith" (one can use reason and have "simple faith" as the link indicates).

While these types of individuals like to think of themselves as obtaining reasons verbatim from the Bible, in reality they are using "man's reasoning" or in other words, their view. This view has no biblical justification, so unless they can give something other than a string of assertions, they have no case and the argument is self refuting.

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