Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fear and Hope Are Opposing Faiths

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” What does it mean that “perfect love casts out fear?” Does the average Christian truly grasp the practical depth of that verse in their daily lives? If you experience fear of anything other than God, have you "not been perfected in love?" The first thing to note about this verse is that the love it speaks of is not generic human love, but “perfect love.” That is an important distinction. This verse can’t be applied to any other love but God’s love for us and through us, because that is the single and only love that is truly perfect. Christian, as you consider the implications of this verse, do you ever experience fear? If so, does having fear mean you lack perfect love? The truth is that perfect love produces the opposite of fear – it produces hope.

What do fear and hope have in common? Both fear and hope are exhibitions of faith - opposing faiths. Fear is faith in false promises spoken by the wrong voices. In contrast, hope is faith in the promises of God. To the extent that we as Christians find ourselves in a state of fearing something other than God, this is precisely where our faith in God is weak. Such fear is an exhibition of faith in the promises of God’s enemy. In everything, God has made and kept enough promises such that if we believe Him, we will always have hope, and not fear. When we realize the depth of God’s love, and survey His sovereignty over all things, we will cling to His promises like spiritual life support and hope will always be the result. But, in today’s culture dominated by swarming, misleading voices pouring from social media, do we give God’s promises the time of day? (I posted further on this subject here: [Agreeing With Faith Over Fear].)

A great example of these opposing faiths is seen in opposing reactions to a prodigal child from a Godly home. When parents have trained their child in the faith, only to see the child exit the faith upon arrival at college or some other layer of adulthood, this creates a juncture of faith for the parents as well. At that point in time, there is no way of knowing exactly how this will turn out. So, we as parents can choose to believe one of two possible outcomes – one of two faiths. We can choose to believe the voices of the enemy and have fear over our child’s impending, yet hypothetical doom. Or, we can have faith in the promises of God. For this example, in Proverbs 22:6 God promised, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Isn’t that promise worth believing? Which faith we choose will display what and who we truly believe. Believing the enemy will produce fear. Believing God, who dearly and perfectly loves us, will cast out fear and produce hope. And, that hope will be a shining testimony to the very prodigal who needs to see it most. On the other hand, the prodigal will interpret fear as further indictment of the very faith that he walked away from – and apparently a faith that his parents abandoned as well.

God's promises is why, in the face of the greatest afflictions we can still have hope. This is because God has promised to raise us up out of all affliction. Romans 5:3-5 says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” This truth is the witness of those who daily bathe and trust in the promises of God. This is the daily confession of those who claim and cling to the promises of God. Do you know His promises? Do you read them as daily spiritual nutrition? To the extent that you have ungodly fear in your life, your spiritual consumption is out of balance.

Before we leave the subject of perfect love, consider the great love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter outlines what perfect love is. And, notice how the chapter ends. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 says, “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” In the end, there is only room for these three things: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love – perfect love. And, notice that there is no room for fear. That is because the perfect love of God has produced a faith that produces hope instead of fear.

Lastly, Christian, as we consider the task of defending the faith, that defense begins with hope. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Apologetics starts with having hope. Hope only comes through believing God’s promises in faith. When people see that we fear anything in life other than God, they see the opposite of hope. They have no reason to ask us about the reason for our hope. Ungodly fear invalidates what we defend and indicts what we believe.

Last month, our family mourned the passing of a great man of God, Pastor Ed Dobson, who died after a long struggle with ALS. I had the honor of knowing this man personally and sitting under his teachings during my formative years. To the end, he testified of this hope borne of faith in God’s promises. I will never forget his influence over my life. In fact, upon my High School graduation, Dr. Dobson gave me a personal graduation gift that I still keep and cling to today. He gave me a leather-bound book, “God’s Promises For Your Every Need.” This book exclusively features excerpts from the Bible that reveal the promises of God to us, His children. The book categorizes God’s promises for every type of circumstance that you face. So that, as a reference, when you begin to be tempted by fear in a certain circumstance, you can refer to God’s promises to inspire faith in hope for that circumstance. I will forever be thankful for this, the greatest graduation gift that I ever received.

Christian, do you know the promises of God today? Do you meditate on God’s promises every day? Do you fear anything in your life other than God? Do you realize that God, the Holy Spirit resides in you? You have every reason to hope. God’s perfect love is carried out by His keeping His promises to us, His children in the midst of every storm that He allows. And, His perfect and loving faithfulness replaces faithful fear with faithful hope. I recently saw a meme that sums this up perfectly: The devil whispers “you cannot withstand the storm.” The warrior replies, “I AM the storm!”

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

No God = No Freedom

The preamble to America's Declaration of Independence reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” From these words America was born. But, does the average person know what it means that our Rights are unalienable? Do you know what that means? The word unalienable is defined as simply “not alienable.” That means that these rights can never be made alien to any person. Nor can any person be made alien to these rights. The two can never be logically separated from each other. There are no circumstances on this earth whereby these rights can be logically treated as not innate to you. The dictionary defines unalienable as “not transferable to another or capable of being repudiated.” “Unalienable” in this sense means those rights which cannot be destroyed or taken away. They are so much a part of the human identity that no person, even the king of England, has the authority to abridge them. Unalienable means entirely objective and inseparable from the person due to their nature being human (“created equal” or “endowed”). The concept of “unalienable Rights” is essential to the whole argument in favor of freedom.

But, if there is no God, no “Creator,” or Giver of these rights, how can such a claim of such “Rights” being unalienable be true or even supported? Is freedom possible without God in America? Is freedom possible without God anywhere? John Adams made a similar claim: “Liberty must at all hazards be supported.” Adams declared this because all people had a right to freedom, derived from our “Maker.” In fact, it was the freedom that God gives all mankind that inspired our Founders to pen these words to the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, especially Thomas Jefferson. It is because of Judeo-Christian influence that we have freedom of religion, speech, etc. enshrined in our Constitution. And, without such influence, the opposite would be true as it is in almost every nation that rejects Judeo-Christian influence and the God it represents. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

To really make this point clear, all we need to do is ask a few very simple questions. If we remove the recognition of God, who will we credit with the giving of rights that we recognize? If there is no God standing with authority above government, then isn’t government the supreme authority? Are rights granted by God or granted by government? Does government recognize rights or do they give rights? Upon what grounds may a person stand before a king, Congress, or the president and say, “You have no right to take away my freedoms”? If government is the giver rights, then they can certainly take them away. If you see where this reasoning is headed you have grave reasons to be very concerned since this is where our culture is forcing us.

Militant atheists respond with one of two responses (or both). (1) Freedom ought to be granted because there is some sort of inherent, natural right to it granted to all creatures, or (2) people ought to be free because freedom is a more efficient and effective system for society. Both responses are entirely inadequate, not authoritative and lacking in providing any form of comfort. Allow me to explain. With regards to the first response, who is to say that humans should have more freedom than other “creatures,” likes cows for example? Also, since other creatures freely kill each other even over trivial reasons, who is to say which freedoms should exist naturally or not? By what authority can atheists make such a claim? This first atheistic response breaks down even in the common daily practice of living by every atheist.

With regards to the second atheistic response, we agree that freedom is clearly the most efficient and effective system for society. But, that by no means is an authoritative reason to demand and call such freedom unalienable. Do the names Hitler and Caesar ring a bell? After all, the American Revolution was a revolution against King George of England who begged to differ, and effectively so – at least until we defeated him. Tyrants don’t necessarily respect efficiency over their lust for power at all cost.

In conclusion, at the risk of sounding trite, no God results in no freedom. In fact, to know God, is to know freedom. Christianity is worth defending because with God, all people can know freedom as an unalienable right. Without God, there is no such claim.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Adaptation, Mutations and Selective Reasoning

In October of last year, a startling finding was published in several scientific journals regarding drug-resistant bacteria being found in Andean mummies that were over 1,000 years old (link to the related abstract is at the end of this post). This was startling because it was entirely unexpected. However, when it was suggested logically as evidence unfriendly to macro-evolution, the discussions got irrationally ugly. It is important to note that this was startling because drug-resistant bacteria are big heroes, at least significant workhorses, for macro-evolutionary dogma. That is because drug-resistant bacteria are widely held as an example of small variations or mutations in bacteria DNA over time such that they would beneficially adapt through natural selection to the extent that they would resist our modern attempts to exterminate them. But, what this archaeological discovery clearly demonstrated is that these bacteria did not evolve as advertised. Rather, they existed long before we even discovered penicillin in 1929. And, apparently penicillin did not mutate their DNA.

Such logically inferred suggestions were instantly met with accusations of scientific heresy. How dare anyone defame the man-made evolution god! Without hesitation, and certainly without discipline, the selective arguments were shouted downward until the heretics were once again silenced. The arguments raged but nobody stopped to ask why this archaeological discovery was so unexpected. After all, if what we understood about adaptation and mutations included this possibility, those arguing vociferously should have expected it to the extent that no argument should ensue. The fact that they did not expect such a finding reveals much about the selectivity of their reasoning and their arguments. The selective arguments generally took the form of condescendingly explaining adaptation separate from mutation. However, macro-evolution does not work without both working together. Ironically true adaptation absolutely fits in a creation model. But, in the macro-evolution model adaptation needs more than just adaptation. Evolution requires that adaptation and mutation work together. The problem, and well-kept secret is that they don’t. Allow me to explain by sharing the definitions of both adaptation and mutation.

In biology, an adaptation is any alteration in the structure or function of an organism or any of its parts that results from natural selection and by which the organism becomes better fitted to survive and multiply in its environment. In other words, largely through interbreeding, more species of bacteria emerge. And, the handfuls of species that ultimately are resistant to modern drugs survive and become more plentiful in a population of bacteria such that they dominate and persist. The weak bacteria, or those that are not drug-resistant, die off. Thus, this is an example of survival of the fittest. And, thus, adaptation is used to illustrate small changes over time. The problem is from this archaeological finding, adaption is just selection from among various species that already existed, not species that took long periods of exposure to evolve. In fact, drug-resistant bacteria just might have existed from the beginning of bacteria. That is a problem for those who blindly follow the blind in believing that bacteria slowly evolved into, say giraffes, over long periods of time. This is also a problem because it flies in the face of declaring that the introduction of a drug caused the bacteria’s DNA to be altered. Apparently, the DNA already existed long before 1929.

Now, let's define mutation. In biology, a mutation is a sudden departure from the parent type in one or more heritable characteristics, caused by a change in a gene or a chromosome. Adaptation works, but adaptation is not mutation. They are not synonymous. And, mutation works if the goal is to prematurely kill the organism. Adaptations are a result of natural selection among already existing species. But, mutations are not the fuel of new species, but genetically fatal species (not stronger species). Contrary to popular myth, mutations are weaker than the original. In fact, the vast, vast majority of mutations are generally fatal. When pressed to identify beneficial mutations, science is reduced to two in just the human species alone. And, both of these examples are arguably barely beneficial and definitely specious as they present fatal diseases. A fatal disease that presents a minor benefit of some obscure immunity is still a fatal disease.

Most people just assume that adaptation and mutation either work together or they are the same thing. Neither is apparently true. A commonly used stretch from the bacteria example is that of giraffes (which is why I abruptly introduced them earlier). The example holds that long-necked giraffes survived as stronger mutations since their long necks allowed them to eat from tall trees while the shorter-necked variety died off for lack of competitive access to ideal food sources. But, there are more than a few problems with this stretch of imagination. To illustrate, let’s ask some pointed questions. Why are there no short-necked giraffes in the fossil record? Despite the lack of fossils, and assuming short-necked giraffes actually did exist, why would short-necked giraffes not find food closer to the ground? Are we to believe that all short-necked giraffes died off (without being fossilized) because they were ill-suited to survive eating greenery closer to the ground despite the fact that there are other animal species alive both then and now that survive as herbivores in like environments? We could ask a lot more questions, but over-responding to foolishness further associates the response with the foolishness it addresses. Proverbs 26:4 says, "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself."

Furthermore, there is more than just one big difference between bacteria and giraffes other than simply size. There are approximately 10,000 species of bacteria. Using bacteria as a macro-example for adaptation is convenient because there are so many species of them and they exist in such enormous quantities (3.2 million per square inch of space in a toilet bowl, for example). But, once you get out of the world of tiny, the number of known species of larger animals is much fewer and the quantities are almost non-existent by comparison. By the way, none of the 10,000 known species of bacteria are actually macro-evolutionary mutants (something other than bacteria - there are not organisms that are part bacteria and part other species). And, while there are 9 subspecies of giraffe, there is only one macro-species of giraffe. And, all of them have long necks. And, all of them thrive across the African continent in varied ecosystems.

While we are not afraid to address these errant "scientific" interpretations, we are not hesitant to adventure to offer our own. Therefore, we will offer an interpretation of what archaeology has conveniently proven for us regarding adaption by way of this recent discovery. Mutant bacteria are generally weaker bacteria, but still bacteria. The non-mutant bacteria are ideal for survival as they were originally designed to be. There are thousands of species of bacteria apparently existing long before the advent and proliferation of modern drugs. And, some of the already existing bacteria were already resistant to drugs, but we did not discover this until we later invented drugs that would challenge their non-resistant cousins (and the invention of microscopes that allowed us to observe them). And, yes, through natural selection, the non-resistant cousins die off when presented with the right drug, while the drug-resistant species survive, thrive, multiply and dominate. Yes, this is "adaptation" in that the stronger species survived. But, these stronger species did not self-alter their own DNA. Nor was their DNA environmentally re-designed by the presentation of modern drugs over time. Rather, their DNA was already designed to resist the related drugs. How is this interpretation not reasonable?

At least our interpretation is supported by both observable biology and observable archaeology. This discovery defies neo-Darwinian evolution, especially macro-evolution. This does not bode well for explaining how bacteria evolved into something other than bacteria. That is because it is probably more likely that it never did.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.