- Feminism: a young empowered girl, breaks with her father’s patrilineal authority and conservative boundaries to go on an adventure. The father figure is overly conservative, fearful and is benevolently yet misguidedly authoritarian.
- paganism: a “goddess” as “creator”, a demigod, powers etc.
- Bad theology: the “goddess” who “created the world” is destroyed by man’s mistake and must be rescued herself to save human kind and the environment. In fact the “goddess” “creator” becomes the devil and must be saved from herself.
- Humanism: humans made the mistake but human’s rescue the “god[dess]” who has lost her heart and has become evil. Moui (the demigod/human) must learn that self confidence and initiative are the solution to human problems. Humans fix the problems, save the world and get the credit etc.
- Environmentalism: humans have destroyed nature and must self fix the problem. The ocean, in weirdly pagan undertones, is personified and helps the young girl save the world and its creator. The ocean in fact chooses the girl for this mission.
- Disobedience to parents: the heroine disobeys her father’s rule to cross the boundary reef to save the world.
On 16 September 2017, Nabeel Qureshi, a Christian author and apologist passed away a year after being diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. He was 34. An excellent overview of Nabeel’s conversion from Islam and his life’s work is outlined here by the Gospel Coalition. Eulogies in written form and a video from his memorial by his mentor and friend Ravi Zacharias give a powerful picture of Nabeel.
When Nabeel got his diagnosis last August he posted the news on Facebook and I remember reading it in disbelief. “Not Nabeel”, I thought, “he is so young, he has a baby girl, he is doing so much for the kingdom”. As his Facebook post says, he shared his journey with the world via a YouTube vlog. This article is based on his courageous vlog and his sermons after his diagnosis among other sources.
The Bible gives us many examples of people of faith and steadfastness. The example that I think most closely resembles Nabeel, is Job. James 5:10-11, “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” In Job we see a man who was very blessed by the Lord and Satan accuses his faithfulness to God as merely coming from his blessings. Job 1:9-11, “Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” Satan also accused Job of fearing God because he had his health, “Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” (Job 2:4-5). And as we read the book of Job, we know that he did not curse God even though he lost his possessions, children and health. Hence he is such a great example of faith and steadfastness for us. But how does that look like today? Do we see or know of such examples in the modern world? A tangible example, someone we know or know of, our own peer. Such an example is Nabeel Qureshi.
Nabeel shared in sermons and talks that he gave after he received his diagnosis, that at the time of his diagnosis he was pursuing his dream PhD program at Oxford University, had a 1 year old daughter and a baby on the way, was a New York Times best seller and spreading the gospel throughout the world. He emphasised how well things were going for him, how everything he was doing was succeeding. But then he needed some tums for his stomach, that’s only how bad it had gotten and to find out it was stage 4 stomach cancer was a shock. To say that Nabeel was hated for leaving Islam is an understatement and when he announced his diagnosis he was told by some that he was cursed by Allah for leaving Islam. Some went as far as to claim that if he went back to Islam he would be healed. An enormous amount of pressure was applied but he stayed steadfast. He was steadfast when he first got his diagnosis until his death. In his vlog he explained why he wouldn’t go back to Islam regardless of what people were saying and he did this with love, gentleness and precision, like he always did. In one sermon, Nabeel stated that he believed God would heal him, as He’s a healer, but if not he doesn’t care if people laugh at him. Reminds me of Daniel Chapter 3, where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were facing death by a fiery furnace for not worshipping king Nebuchadnezzar’s god, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18). No, he would not turn away from the Lord.
As time went on and the treatment didn’t work, Nabeel held fast to his faith even when the healing didn’t come and the pain got progressively worse. In a sermon 3 months prior to his death he said, “I will not forsake His name in the face of any pain, in the face of any suffering, I will not forsake His name”.
Eating caused him pain, which, as something his friends attested to (one example is Abdu Murray’s piece here) that he really enjoyed prior to stomach cancer. An enjoyment he had was taken away, in fact his enjoyment turned to pain at every meal and the time it took to digest that meal. But he did not complain. In fact, he prayed to thank God on behalf of those who did not feel pain when they ate. At Nabeel’s memorial, his mentor, Jim Tour, who had been with Nabeel nearly daily in the months leading up to his death, spoke about how he didn’t complain about the pain (and that he did not deny Christ). That he only knew of it when the nurse would ask Nabeel to rate the pain he was having. He had been through multiple surgeries, including the removal of his stomach on top of the pain caused by the cancer and yet he didn’t complain. Didn’t say, “why me”?
The most God glorifying moment (in my view) of his vlogs was the one he announced that he was placed in palliative care. In it he said the doctors had given up on treating him and that he was told that his body was in the last stages of life. At the end of the video he prayed and asked for healing and then said, “If it’s not your will, if it’s not your sovereign will at the end of the day… I trust you and I love you anyway”. What an example of faith.
In one of his earlier vlogs Nabeel described a dream he had about Jesus and through it he realised that Jesus was cleansing/purifying him through his trial. I am reminded of James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Nabeel’s trials that he graciously made public for us to witness and his example of firm faith and steadfastness is so needed today as it becomes more and more harder to see real faith in action. May we all also be faithful to our Lord. I am grateful that in the sermons and talks he gave during his final year of life he encouraged the Body of Christ to believe God’s word and to have faith in all of what it says.
Nabeel suffered through the loss of his family due to his conversion and suffered in the end due to cancer but he never wavered once in his faith and love for his risen Saviour. He remained steadfast under trial and received his crown from God. I will close with probably the most quoted Nabeel Qureshi quote, from his book “Seeking Allah, finding Jesus”, which fits his passing perfectly, “All suffering is worth it to follow Jesus. He is that amazing”.
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People everywhere seek satisfaction. Despite this, very few have found the secret of satisfaction. People look for satisfaction in relationships and experiences that make them happy or jobs and enterprises that make them more wealthy. Finding the secret of satisfaction, is something so critical in people’s minds that they invest much of their life in doing it.
A philanthropist is a wealthy person who discovered wealth does not satisfy.
Wealth does not satisfy. Ask a philanthropist. They have spent their days seeking to have ‘more’ wealth, until one day they discovered it was not going to satisfy. Think about how ‘wealthy’ changes meaning depending on who you ask. If you ask a person living in a hut and a person living in a two story house they own with a car and job what ‘wealthy’ means to them and they will give two different answers. Each will explain ‘wealthy’ by describing someone who has ‘more’ than they do. There is no standard for wealth, no point at which you can say ‘I made it.’ The rich man always wants ‘more’. The real meaning of wealth for someone who wants it is ‘more’. It never satisfies and the rich man who finally kept getting more with no satisfaction realises that wealth is a false promise. A philanthropist is a wealthy person who discovered wealth really doesn’t satisfy.
Happiness is an enigma. When you are looking for it, you cannot find it.
Happiness is an enigma. When you are looking for it, you cannot find it. Someone said that seeking happiness is like looking at a distant star. If you look at it directly, it is so hard to see, but if you look at the darkness just next to the star, it shines so brightly. The pursuit of happiness is a dead end because happiness is not found in seeking it.
A person already satisfied tends to find wealth and happiness more easily, through he or she does not care for it. A person already satisfied does not spend their resources on the latest care or gadget because she is not filled with a craving for ‘more’. Because they are not busy spending, buying and amusing, they wast their resources. A person satisfied is not constantly trying to make themselves happy, and thereby being disappointed.
The pursuit of wealth and happiness are mutually exclusive. A person seeking wealth will work, save deny themselves for the sake of ‘more’. A person seeking happiness will play, spend and indulge themselves for the sake of ‘more’ happiness. Proverbs 21:17 says “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”If you seek one, you must forsake the other. Another proverb says, “The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”. (Proverbs 30:15)
The secret of satisfaction is not found in the pursuit of wealth or happiness. These things can only be a by product of some other pursuit, but will only offer an empty vacuum of a wasted life if sought. Satisfaction is found elsewhere.
James 1:11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
The Secret of Satisfaction
The secret of satisfaction is found in a far different place.
God has made us to be satisfied in Him. A the psalmist pleads, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”(Psalm 90:14) The steadfast love of God offers us the satisfaction that will fill us with gladness and rejoicing for ‘all our days’. Real satisfaction leads to lasting joy.
The satisfaction we find in God’s steadfast love impacts how satisfaction in life. As Proverbs 13:25 says, “The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want.” James exhorts us, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8) The righteous is satisfied with what he has, but the wicked man always wants more. The righteous is satisfied and filled. He says “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians_4:11) But the wicked wants more and steals. The want of the wicked is called in the Bible “covetousness”; It is sin.
We are warned “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” (Hebrews 13:5) The “love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). But Jesus who is the steadfast love of God “will never leave you nor forsake you” (John 3:16).
Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Mathew 6:33)
The secret of satisfaction is simple. The steadfast love of God is lasting satisfaction. Seek His Kingdom. Everything else will happen as needed. Find out more.
With church attendance on decline, many parents are concerned about the damage society will wreak on their children’s faith. We’re realising that Christian parenting is, after all, really the responsibility of the Christian parents. But how do we build their faith?
The Vegetales brand
Some Christian parents often sit their children down in front of a television to watch “Vegetales”, a cartoon where your children are trained to think of Biblical people as personified vegetables acting out stories with moral lessons. On the other hand how many consider proclaiming the gospel to be key in Christian parenting? Vegetales may seem like a lot of fun, and the emphasis is always on being kind, but does this really prepare our children for the anti-Christian culture we live in? Can we do something more as parents to keep our children in the way?
What do you mean by “good”?
Being good people isn’t the point of Christianity, it’s the problem. We aren’t good (Romans 3:23). This why Jesus came. As Jesus said, “Only God is good.” We are made good by God in the new birth not by our earthly parents. Are we really meant to raise our children to be good people? We can’t. What can we do then to prepare our children?
Reason why youth live for pleasure – humanist worldview.
Society teaches your children that they must do what feels best for them, to follow their heart. “If it feels ‘good’ then your probably doing it right”, society softly reassures. “It’s wrong when it hurts others”, it moralises. “If it doesn’t hurt you, why are you judging me?” It arrogantly defends. Humanism’s central doctrine of hedonism is founded on its commitment to the evolved human. Darwinism creates the vacuum of morality, boldly proclaiming “survival of the fittest is all that matters”. Darwinism reassures, “you’re just an evolved animal”. With this dogma being rammed down your child’s throat, mere moralising won’t work.
Reason why children don’t act morally – sin nature
There is a second problem, mere morality will not change the heart of the child. As they grow up, their sinfully contaminate human heart (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10) begins to express itself regardless of the moral behaviours you taught them. The problem is they were born into your family, but have not yet been born again into God’s family. You gave them their sin nature. God can give them a new nature. With a heart yearning for sinful pleasure, they begin to act it out. The Darwinian dogma and Humanistic hedonism they were taught at school seem pretty good after all. A good truth foundation will help them confront the wickedness of their heart, even if it won’t change their heart (only God can).
More than morals: Build a Biblical worldview
Biblical morals without a Biblical worldview will simply be discarded. If you teach a child to act differently to how he sees the world, then he will eventually realign with his perception. If you build their moral compass without the correct truth foundation, their moral compass will realign with how they see the world. This moral truth collapses when placed upon the unsupporting basis of humanism.
The question is if you’re not building their worldview, who is? Children acquire worldviews throughout their development regardless of whether parents teach them. Society intentionally imposes it’s worldview on your children through the education system and entertainment. If you’re not working harder than society to instil a Biblical worldview in your children’s minds, your child will have an unstable ‘biblical morality’ built on a humanist foundation. This might just eventually realign to humanism.
Christian parenting calls for building a worldview of the Bible in our children’s minds. It is essential. If we teach our children to be selfless and considerate of others while the school is teaching them that they’re just evolved animals who’s purpose is survival of the fittest, the morality you taught them will collapse before your very eyes. If however you build a strong evidential foundation to doubt evolution (ie. genetics, biochemistry), and you proclaim the truth of Genesis, you’ll find the school’s attempts to instil antiChristian doubt will utterly fail. Oh and learning about genetics and biochemical evidence against evolution means they’ll probably ace science at school as the added benefit of additional knowledge.
But winning the mind is just the beginning. If you don’t win their heart they’ll just adopt a more convenient worldview (John 3:17:21; Romans 1). They need a heart change.
More than morals: Preach the gospel
If you train your child to act morally, even equipping them with a Biblical Worldview, they still have a huge problem. They inherited from you a heart that loves sin. Eventually despite all their trying they will cave in to their desires unless God does a work in them. Exhort your children to a relationship with God. Point them to a better Father. They must be born again (John 3:6). The greatest father on earth, universe, heaven is their Heavenly Father; not you. You gave them sin: massive moral burdens and no ability to lift them. God offers them strength in weakness, with the light yoke and easy burden of Christ. Preach to your children the good news that Jesus came to save sinners, by paying the penalty at the cross and raising again so we can live in him.
Mere morality will produce Pharisees – outwardly clean, inwardly filthy, still sinners. Being born again means a new inwardly clean nature, that works its way outward in our lives.
Satisfaction in the Saviour
Mere morality is humanism without Biblical truth. There are plenty or ‘moral’ dogooders, who live immorally – right in their own eyes. Morals not founded in a Biblical worldview are not Biblical morals. Even ‘biblical’ morals without a Biblical worldview are easily discarded. Morals not expressed in a relationship with God are fake. People aren’t essentially good; if you think they are, you disagree with the Romans 3:23 and what Jesus said, which is “Only God is good”. We can only be good when the goodness of the Saviour indwells us and satisfies us. Raise your children with good morality yes, but found it on a Biblical worldview and exhort them to seek God while He can be found. Teaching a child to behave well isn’t enough. We must build in our children’s minds a Biblical worldview and exhort them to seek God for a new heart.
When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, many in the African-American community trusted him to elevate their standing in America. Now Trump is elected president, many conservatives are hoping he will turn back the liberals and appoint conservative judges.
The Bible however says –
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. … Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. (Jeremiah 17:5-7)
Here we see a blessing and a curse, a blessing for those who trust in God and a curse for those who put their hope and trust in man in the place of God. If we look for human saviors, then this curse comes to bring a barren reward.
I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43:1)
We must not look to human saviors. They are all pretend, because only the LORD is the savior. The futility of trusting in a human savior is dangerously disappointing. Consider how human leaders come into power with a surge of popularity, but then it fades and by the end of their term they have lowest rankings in polls. People routinely look for a human savior and are routinely disappointed.
Just as Barack Obama disappointed so many, all human leaders fail to deliver. The bigger their promises the bigger their disappointment. If all humans are disappointing leaders, why would the next be different?
Thankfully there is a Savior who has fulfilled every promise for every soul who trusted in him. All the promises of God find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
To know more about the wonderful promises of God that never fail, click here.
South Africa’s President Zuma was delivering the Reconciliation Day address when the warm sunny day turned into a huge storm that suddenly lifted the north side of the giant tent he was speaking in high into the air. As attendees fled for cover and Zuma’s bodyguards rushed the President to safety, everything was in chaos.
Reconciliation Day is South Africa’s day of celebration of national reconciliation. Sadly, this national reconciliation falters as South Africa struggles through greed, crime and disunity. Ironically, Reconciliation Day arises on the day of the Battle of Blood River, where many Zulus lost their lives, and the formation of Mkhonto weSizwe (MK), a militant arm of the ANC. Neither event was an act of reconciliation but the day is to look forward to the future, rather than the past.
As South Africa grapples with the legacy of racism in the daunting shadow of greed and crime, it is important to make a few observations. First, South Africa’s focus on reconciliation has been marked by human icons. From Mandela to the MK, human icons have dominated the political and social landscape in South Africa as it strives to make progress to what it sees as reconciliation. Second, reconciliation still seems poorly defined within public dialogue. To some it looks like separate traditional groups remaining separate but equal (how is this different to the old regime?). Others think that the old ways impede progress and are willing to cast aside tradition for what they view as western progress. Another way reconciliation is poorly defined is by adding to the idea of ethnic reconciliation ideas of ‘social progress’ such as gay marriage, abortion and other social agendas. Third, the road to reconciliation is obscured by how reconciliation must be achieved and with whom. It is this last point that this article will concentrate.
When we agree that reconciliation is required, we acknowledge that we were once alienated. Reconciliation is the restoration of friendly relations. To require restoration of friendly relations there must have been some falling out. Some animosity has come about but now they now want peace. Therefore the ‘who’ of reconciliation is enemies or alienated persons.
Therefore, as South Africa strives for reconciliation it must ask itself whom have we alienated and how must we make peace? We need to keep three truths in mind.
The first truth that we need to keep in mind is that God “made from one man every nation of mankind” (Acts 17:26). The Bible says God made each human group from one human common ancestor, unlike the evolutionary philosophy that claims humans have emerged from different nonhuman ancestors. Genetics has recently supported the Biblical viewpoint by showing that all humans have a single common human ancestor only some thousands of years ago. The false philosophy of evolution has supported racism and radical adherence to the Bible has refuted racism. Reconciliation of diverse ethnic groups depends on knowing and affirming the truth. The root of racism is found in false views about where we came from. Truth is the foundation if true unity.
But the above passage does not simply stop there. It continues and gives us the purpose of God’s creation of various human ethnic groups. It goes on to say that He “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.” We have found ourselves separated from God, but he wants us the find reconciliation with him. While “all have sinned”(Romans 3:23), “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” (2Corinthians5:19). This reconciliation with God means that the “dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) is now broken down which once divided Jew and Gentile, Black and White from God.
This reconciliation with God is desperately needed. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” The storm that interrupted Zuma’s speech will be nothing compared with the “day on which he will judge the world”. We must be reconciled with God before he returns to judge. God’s judgment will come more suddenly than the storm that surprised the President. You can’t delay and you don’t know when it will come.
If reconciliation is to be meaningful and real, it must begin with making peace with God. Thankfully Jesus settled the dispute on the cross when he paid the penalty of our trespasses and rose again defeating death, the primary symptom of sin. Since God commands everyone everywhere to “repent”, let us turn to God through Jesus his Son. Abandon your sins and trust in Jesus.
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How did life begin? This is a question that intrigues scholars and the average person alike. Science has shown that the trillions of cells, that make up our bodies, are unfathomably complex with prescriptive information codes at their very core. This issue has two layers that point strongly in one direction: authorship
In medieval times, it was commonly thought that rats, flies and other vermin spontaneously came into existence in certain conditions such as dark and moist cavities (rats) or meat (flies). This belief was handed down from pagan philosophy, centuries before. It was an ignorant and superstitious belief that was largely due to our ancestors’ lack of understanding of life cycles.
Spontaneous generation was soon exposed as false by Rene and Pasteur who demonstrated the doctrine of biogenesis: that life comes from life. The idea that life could spontaneously arise in certain favourable conditions was disproved by robust experiments.
But recently, atheists have revived the old superstition of spontaneous generation and given it a new name. But more about that in a moment.
Chicken or egg? What came first?
Life has many important components but DNA, RNA and proteins (made of amino acids) are essential. Without any one of these three components, life is impossible. DNA is the prescriptive information code that carries the instructions for the blueprint of life. Proteins perform many functions include reading, writing and proof reading DNA and RNA. RNA is a prescriptive information code that is less durable than DNA but more versatile. Proteins transcribe DNA instructions into the temporal code of RNA. A specific type of RNA is used by proteins to produce proteins. But a further type of protein is then needed to fold the proteins so they can function.
Without DNA, there are no instructions or blueprints for proteins. Without RNA, the DNA instructions cannot be translated into proteins. Without Proteins, the DNA and RNA instructions cannot be read, replicated, executed or proof read.
Subscribers to the newly revived superstition of spontaneous generation are trying to cloak superstition with science. Different ideas have been put forward. One idea is that life started when a strand of DNA accidentally formed. Those who push this view point out that proteins require DNA instructions. DNA is exceedingly more stable than RNA. Others argued that, DNA is too rigid, but RNA is more flexible and that is was what spontaneously strung itself together. While some others claim a protein world hypothesis, where a complex protein suddenly formed in a bubbling soup of amino acids. They would point out the RNA is far too unstable to support life.
The fact is they’re all half right. DNA is too inflexible and cannot replicate itself. RNA is incredibly unstable and would not be able to remain stable for long enough to spontaneously generate into meaningful codes. Both DNA and RNA wouldn’t be able to replicate without proteins. And the protein world view is dead in the premordial soup, too, since proteins do not carry their own instructions. Protiens are completely dependant on DNA and RNA for instruction on how to form and function. They all have a deeper problem.
The difference between life and non life is the existence of functionally specified complexity, which is information. This is not any type information either, but prescriptive information. The question “how did life begin?” can be phrased “How did all that prescriptive information get there?”
The information encoded in DNA is incredibly complex. It is not merely functional or shannon information but a very specifically prescriptive information code. It has not only data but also metadata. In fact, there is more metadata than basic data. Much of the data is contingent on the metadata. This is apparent in DNA splicing. DNA splicing is a process where different parts of multiple genes will be cross read to reveal another code. For example, if you took the capitalised letters out of the following words, you would have “creation”: inCRedible Evidence ATtracts thInking Observers Normally. It can do this because of the metadata in the DNA that tells the protein how to read the code. This is just another reason why mutations can’t improve the genome overall, even when beneficial, since one improvement in one gene will inevitably destroy other genes.
Authorship of life
“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Heb 11:3)
The best explanation for encoded prescriptive information is an intelligent author. Human experience, common sense and science supports this.
The Bible teaches all things were made by the word of God (Hebrews 11:3; Genesis 1). So it is no surprise that there is a code in all living things and natural laws that underlie the universe. DNA is a written record of God’s prescription for living things. God made all things by His word and that is why it is so finely tuned!
But something went wrong. We were separated from the Author of life. This led to decay and eventually death. The separation was caused by sin; we had disobeyed the Word of God and so we became separated from the Author of life.
The Author of life
Thankfully, the “Word became flesh”, the very flesh it created, “and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He came to pay the penalty of our sin on the cross so that we could live in him, reconciled with the Author of lIfe. His name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
People rejected and crucified “…the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” (Act 3:15)
Ever heard that your “words have power”? Ever studied how to “declare” blessings in your life? Here are three Biblical principles that will unlock your understanding of the spiritual implications of words.
Declaring your plans
The Epistle of James was written to Jewish believers in Christ in the earliest era of the church. Keep in mind the following passage is speaking to Christians as you read it. It gives us the most important lesson about speaking.
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:13-17 )
When we read, “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring”, we see not only that our words don’t inform the future but they also don’t affect the future. Therefore, if you assert the future with your words reflecting your will “you boast in your arrogance” not acknowledging the will of God.
Conversely, this is where the key to blessing is! As the proverb says, acknowledging God’s will is crucial.
Proverbs 3:5-7 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.”
Rather than arrogantly declaring the future according to your “own understanding” being “wise in your own eyes”, boldly “acknowledge” God and his sovereign will in everything and “he will make straight your paths”. This is the first crucial step.
Jesus gives us a lesson on words
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mat 12:33-37)
Words come out of our heart and therefore reflect the inner condition of our hearts. If we speak lies, our hearts are full of deceit. Conversely, if we are filled with the Word of God, then we will boldly speak God’s words. Out of the heart the mouth speaks.
Because our words demonstrate the inner condition of our hearts, we are going to be judged for our words. Since the fruit of the heart ripens from our lips, we will make our hearts known when we open our mouths. Therefore, what we fill our hearts with is the crucial next step.
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:11-16)
How to speak blessing
The Apostles found themselves in difficulty and challenge and their response is our example. In the book of Acts 4:29, the Apostles prayed asking for deliverance
“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,”.
There are two things to note about speaking here. First, the apostles make supplication not declaration. They don’t boldly declare but humbly beseech. They don’t think their words can affect the future but they do think the One who hears their words can. Secondly, the words they seek to speak are not desired outcomes, positive thoughts or even “words of faith”, rather they seek to speak God’s own word boldly. This ought to remind us “not my will by thine” and not our words, but God’s words. Fill your heart with God’s treasures and he will lead the way.
Gods words vs our words
If I want to turn on the light, I can say “light, turn on.” But if I do not get up and put my words into effect with my actions, then the light will remain switched off. There is a separation between words and effect that is bridged by action and other factors.
God’s word is powerfully like no other. When God said “Let there be light” there was light. God created all things by his word (Genesis 1; Hebrews 11:3). Instantly God’s words caused and affected God’s will. There is no separation between words and effect for God. God’s words carry their own effect. For the rest of us, we must live by God’s word.
“But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'””(Mathew 4:4 )
Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)
The long awaited Olympics is celebrated in a dazzling display of decadent festivity, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
As the sprinter chases down that gold medal, the athlete leaps his way up to his personal glory, and crowd roars in exhilaration, Jesus still says, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
People identifying as “transgender” are praised for their “bravery”, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Masses march to parade their “gay pride” because they exalt their diversity, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Margaret Sanger is celebrated as a feminist hero, although she claimed black people and Jews were human weeds, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Planned Parenthood, who plan the killing of babies, are exalted among society, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
People despise creationists who believe God’s Word but exalt darwinists because they believe men’s opinions, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
People love man-made “peace” and “reconciliation” but don’t want peace with God, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
People love guns and exalt themselves with them, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
A superstar exalted by his grovelling fans, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
The media adores a president working out a humanist peace treaty in an intractable conflict, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
The world will tell you that happiness is everything, ignoring the all-satisfying glory of God, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
What do you exalt that God sees as an abomination? What do you despise that God exalts?
It is no wonder the mob who rushed against the church in Acts 17:6 claimed “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…” The God of the Bible had chosen what the world despises to turn the world upside down.
“so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” (1 Corinthians 1:31)
The New Religion
As I said in my previous post, there is a New Religion offending the separation of church and state. It has the four essential elements of a religion, which are answers to the following four questions every religion seeks to answer:
- who are we?
- how did we get here?
- what ought we to do while we are here?
- who is God?
As it turns out, “Secular” humanism meets all the essential qualifications. It turns out that “secular humanism” is “secular” in name only. Its essential doctrines answer those questions. Secular humanism teaches that (1) & (2) we are “highly” evolved apes [Darwinism, Humanism], which explains who we are and where we came from. It also teaches (3) what we ought to while we are here, which is seek happiness and human advancement [Darwinism, Humanism, Environmentalism, Socialism and Capitalism]. Finally, it answers the question “Who is God?” in some rather lame kinds of ways. It teaches that since there is no supernatural [atheism], therefore either the most evolved must be God, or the universe [mother nature] or aliens who must have seeded life on earth. Note that the definition of “religion” does not need to include a supernatural “god”, or that would exclude pantheism and animism. These explanations are really just pathetic attempts at reviving logically absurd pantheism, which claims the universe is a “god”. This is logically absurd because it postulates a self caused entity.
Separation of Church and State
The Separation of Church and State, was originally proposed by Christians, who wanted the state to stay out of Church affairs. Throughout history, “secular” authorities imposed religion on Christians as a test of loyalty, or tried to control Christian worship and define Christian faith. The Roman Emperors who burned Christians on stakes, fed them to lions, ants and a multitude of wild beasts for mob entertainment. When Christianity spread so fast that the Roman authorities couldn’t kill them fast enough, one Emperor tried to hijack the church through his “conversion” into and then control of the Church. So began the Church State religion that continued to burn Biblical Christians at the stake during the Reformation. Tired of persecution, some Biblical Christians decided a Separation between Church and State was needed to allow for the free exercise of religion. It seemed to work for a time.
Then came along “secular”(in name only) Humanism. This new state sponsored, media hyped, intellectually elite, politically correct religion answers all four of those questions with its basic doctrines. No longer does the state wish to have an official church, but rather an ideology which replaces church with a new ‘secular’ religion. The institutions of society are now hijacked as places for religious education. In the school classrooms, mainstream media, and university lecture theatres, these doctrines are disseminated for the “non-experts” (laypeople). The Clergy of Academics are kept “pure” of nonconformists, since grant applications by scientists for funding are given special attention if they somehow promote socialism, darwinism or some other humanist rhetorical enterprise. In some cases, outright fraud are used to ensure the lapping up of doctrine by the non-elite devotees.
Not only has it hijacked the state, but it also seeks to attack nonconformists. Think wedding cakes and bakers, gender identification and toilets, evangelism and so on. If you don’t want to participate in gay weddings or gender neutral toilets, you will be fined. If you don’t affirm a doctor’s right to kill unborn babies, you will be marginalised and called a bigoted misogynist. If you don’t believe the doctrine of Darwinism, they’ll call you an idiot and laugh you out of scientific grants till you career grinds to a sudden halt because science is funded by grants. If, however, you dare to think you’re persecuted, you must have the “Evangelical Persecution Complex”. They’ll laugh at you for thinking its wrong to be fined for being faithful to your conscience towards God. The New Religion sponsors attacks of Biblical Christianity and laughs at those who call them out.
A History Lesson
The Roman Problem
If we look back into the last multicultural empire that sought to keep order, we find the Roman Empire. The Roman imperial rulers had territory covering all of the Mediterranean, most of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. With this huge territorial expansion, came a complex problem of maintaining unity among the various peoples, languages, religions and cultures as diverse as the Celts of Britain and Gaul, Berber of Africa and the Jews in the Middle East. The Romans were usually “tolerant” of other religions, but desperately needed a way of uniting the Empire behind a common religion. Their solution was the strange practice of Emperor worship. Every person in the empire could worship their own “gods” provided they sprinkled a pinch of incense to an image of Caesar (their emperor) and hailed him and the “gods” of Rome.
The Jews were exempt, providing they sacrificed daily for the Emperor in their Temple. Rome didn’t need an armed confrontation with the Jews. Also the Jews did not try to spread their religion and therefore weren’t likely to inspire other peoples refuse the worship of the Emperor.
There was just one problem. A growing faith, called by their enemies “Christians”, would not sprinkle incense to Caesar. Not only were they unwilling to do this, but they also advocated their message and sought for others to join them in their pursuit of the Kingdom of Heaven. Their evangelism was spreading like a wildfire through the Roman Empire.
One letter written by a governor of the region in what is now known as Turkey to the Emperor Trajan, explains the effect Christianity had on pagan worship. According to the Roman Governor of Asia Minor, the temples were nearly empty and the markets that once bustled around the temples, were now neglected.Christianity had almost wiped out Roman and Greek religion in what is now known as Turkey. Writing about 96-87AD, this Governor noted his confusion.
I am very unsure… whether the name [of being a Christian] as such should be punished even if there is no crime, or whether only the crimes attributed [atheism etc] to this name should be punished. Meanwhile I have followed this procedure with those who are denounced to me as Christians. If they confessed I repeated the question a second and third time and, moreover, under threat of the death penalty. If they persisted I had them led away to their death, for I had no doubt that, whatever it is was they confessed, their stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy certainly deserved to be punished.
After describing his torture of two girls, the Governor then described the impact of Christianity on pagan worship in the province:
For many of all ages, of every rank, and of both sexes are already in danger [of becoming Christian], and many more will come into danger. The contagion of this superstition has spread not only in the cities but even to the villages and to the country districts. Yet I still feel it is possible to check it and set it right. Of this I am sure, that people are beginning once more to frequent the beautiful temples which have been also deserted, …so that fodder for the animals to be sacrificed, for which until now there was scarcly any demand, is being bought and sold again.
Clearly, not only was Christianity seen as a threat to the unity and religion of the empire, but also the economy suffered when the religious sector was hit. Christianity swept through the Roman empire like a broom through a dirty room cleaning out the pagan filth in its wake and the Romans were not happy! Religion has always hated pure faith, and the old religion of Roman paganism was as state building oriented as the New Religion of Secular Humanism has become.
Persecution ensued. Christians were beheaded, burned, fed to wild animals in public places for the amusement of mobs. One essential characteristic of the Roman persecution of Christians involved false accusations of infanticide, orgies and other sins (ironically things openly practised by Romans) yet as the Governor above acknowledged were really known for their love and purity. The Romans were bent to ensure they kept their imperial authority and unity no matter what evil they had to do.
All this was suffered because the early Christians understood that they could not betray Jesus by giving their loyalty to another. They certainly respected the emperor (Romans 16) but would not worship him (Exodus 20).
Today, we live in a multicultural society, again. As in Rome, society is looking for unity in an increasingly fragile and divided world. Once again, the world is looking for a caesar to worship, something for unity. With the external threat of extremist religion and internal disunity, the world looks like the Roman empire as it sought to throw off the Gothic hoards without and remain united within. The solution to the modern unity problem is the New Religion, forced Secular Humanism. It boldly declares “you can believe what you like, but you can’t talk about it and live it out.” We are in the perfect melting pot for persecution.
There is a way to respond to the New Religion. It is the same response that the early church used, which eventually brought down paganism in the Roman Empire without lifting a sword or shedding the blood of others. The Bible speaks of the “accuser” which means the one who accuses us of wrongdoing simply because of our faith. It tells us how to deal with him.
How do we respond?
We respond in the way the Bible declares:
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Bibliography and Further Reading
English Standard Version
Eberhard Arnold “The Early Christians in Their Own Words” (1997) (Plough Publishing House)
Bruce Shelley “Church History in Plain English” (1982) (Word Inc)