As the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation approaches, the spotlight of interest in Bible-believing circles is focusing on the principal teachings of the Reformers, particularly regarding Biblical authority and the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.Read More
Abraham is often called the “father of the faithful.” As he is introduced to the Bible story, Abraham’s faith is demonstrated by his obedience to God’s call to leave the thriving metropolis that was Ur of the Chaldees and travel toward an unknown destination. We read of this demonstrative faith on Abraham’s part in both the Old and the New Testaments:Read More
Abraham’s life consisted of many episodes of faith (Gen 11:29-25:8), with each episode serving an example to Christians (1Cor 10:11). Among these episodes is one that seems to give him a unique identity perhaps among other Patriarchs. This particular episode has to do with his very name “Abraham.”Read More
When you share your testimony about what you’ve seen, heard, and experienced, both in your life before and after knowing Christ, you are a first-person witness. That’s why Christians call the act of telling their story “witnessing.” You can’t give your testimony if you haven’t witnessed Christ.Read More
As I read negative reports in publications such as Spectrum Magazine and articles from SDA Kinship, there is something quite blazingly apparent to me. The accepted rule of faith and practice appears to be that of “political correctness” and “conventional thinking” rather than a plain “thus saith the Lord.”Read More
On Friday, April 17, Sacramento Central SDA church will begin hosting a weekend of presentations on righteousness by faith. The presentations begin 7 p.m. Friday and continue all day Sabbath until 7:30 PM. Presenters include Dennis Priebe, Mike Lambert, Larry Kirkpatrick, Christian Berdahl, Allen Davis, and others. Bring something to share for fellowship lunch. Children’s program Sabbath afternoon. Book, CD, and DVD sale after Sabbath. For more information call the church office at (916) 457-6511.Read More
You might have heard the adage “That which does not kill me makes me stronger (1).” However, I imagine that for most of us, it isn’t difficult to think of instances in which this has not held true for us. Physically, we suffer many injuries that leave us weaker for life than we would have been otherwise, and as we age, many diseases threaten our mental capacities.Read More
Why did I believe so firmly in the stability of my chair that it didn’t even occur to me to check it before I sat down to type? Is that the same as faith?Read More
Some people certainly seem to have more faith than others. The famed British theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking caused a stir once again this week as he made a presentation at the California Institute of Technology.
Individuals anxious to hear him began lining up 12 hours before his lecture was scheduled to begin, the line growing to more than a quarter-mile long. A second auditorium was arranged with a video feed, but still there was not enough room for the throngs that wanted entrance. One man was observed to be offering $1,000 for a ticket, to no avail. A huge jumbotron was set up outside on the lawn, where an estimated 1,000 listeners clambered for a view.
And what did Hawking have to say? The main point of the presentation seemed to be his continued insistence that the universe came into existence without the help of God. He joked about God’s supposed power and omnipresence. He ridiculed contemporary religion’s approach to science, citing Pope John Paul II’s insistence that creation was a holy event, and beyond the scope of observational science. “I was glad not to be thrown into an inquisition,” Hawking joked.
For someone who doesn’t believe in the existence of God, Hawking certainly does bring him into the discussion surprisingly often. As I have read Hawking’s materials, and noted his frequent pejorative references to the idea of God, I’ve been struck with how his conception of God differs so drastically from mine.
To be absolutely frank, I would have to admit that the God that he has rejected, I reject as well. I think if I were to ask him to describe the God that he doesn’t believe in, he would be surprised to learn that a Christian pastor doesn’t believe in that God either. Even in Tuesday’s presentation he poked fun at the idea of an eternally present God with the quip, “What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?”
Unfortunately for Hawkins and many others, their perceptions of God are based upon the imperfect representations that we as Christians have made of him. We claim to be disciples of Jesus, but too often our own spirit and attitudes and ways of treating others are nothing like his.
Through the centuries, traditions and doctrines, sometimes borrowed from pagan philosophies and superstitious deities, have supplanted the Bible’s clear revelation of the character of God, until thinking men and women are led to reject these caricatures, thinking they are rejecting God. But back to Hawking’s theoretical question: Was God whiling away his pre-creation eternity scheming the demise of his detractors or doubters?
Quite to the contrary. If Hawking would only learn about God from the Bible, the written word of God, and from the life of Jesus, the incarnate Word sent to reveal God to mankind, he would not be asking such foolish questions. In fact, the Bible does not present the picture of a God who in the beginning was selfishly scheming to punish those who might doubt or even reject his existence. The God revealed in the Bible foresaw the plight of humanity fallen in sin and proactively planned to save mankind even at a tremendous cost to himself. Rather than being the egocentric God that Hawking’s question presumes, defensive of himself and punitive towards those who don’t appreciate him, the Bible reveals instead a God who unselfishly loved, and unselfishly gave. And who planned to do this if necessary even before the world was created.
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish or spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (1 Peter 1:18-20)
Referring to Jesus, John the revelator calls him the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) Not that Jesus actually died before the world was founded, but the decision was made in the heart of God that even should man rebel, God would save mankind at any cost to himself. Rather than scheming the demise of Stephen Hawking (and you and me, for all have sinned and gone contrary to the ways of unselfish love), God was selflessly planning to save mankind at any cost to himself, even to the point of giving his only son to perish in our place (John 3:16).
Does it take faith to believe in such a God? Certainly. But it’s not faith without evidence. There are good reasons to consider the Bible trustworthy, dependable. There is striking evidence in favor of intelligent design. And most of all, the evidence of divine power to work changes in my own heart and in the lives of others strengthens belief in my God and his word. I believe that you and I are here today because a loving God intentionally and intelligently created us (John 1:1-3) and still sustains us (Colossians 1:16, 17).
But it also takes faith to believe in other theories of origins. Hawking’s preferred view of why we are here, as he explained Tuesday evening, involves what’s known as M-theory. It posits that the big bang not only created the universe — it created multiple universes, increasing the odds of a universe being capable of sustaining life. The problem is that the likelihood of an unexplainable event creating multiple universes seems less likely than that of it creating only one. This theory is an admission of the improbability of life coming about on its own through naturalistic means, and in order to increase those odds it assumes even more faith in the accomplishments of the big bang. It’s simply a transference of improbability to an event they make no claim to understand anyway. It’s like they’ve been confronted with the fact that an explosion in a print shop is not likely to form a fully accurate dictionary, and responded with the theory that the explosion must have created many, many dictionaries, increasing the odds of one entry in one of them being accurate.
Some people certainly seem to have more faith than others.
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” – Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord. Waiting is one of life's most difficult challenges. Impatience is a common thread in the history of humanity, and in today's fast-paced society addicted to instant gratification, waiting even just a little bit has become agonizing. We often grow tired of waiting and either give up whatever it was we were waiting for or try various other methods to achieve the result we wanted.
This mindset can leak into our spiritual life, and impatience in spiritual matters can pose a threat to our faith and trust in the Lord. The longer we wait, the greater the opportunity for our courage and conviction to waver. The human heart, after all, is a frail thing.
There are some among us who are waiting on the Lord to work in our life. It could be guidance with which college to attend, what degree to pursue, what career to enter, or what man or woman to marry. It could be help with broken relationships, health problems, financial issues. During the wait, we may struggle with a wide range of high and low feelings, such as confidence in the Lord and discouragement when He seems to be quiet. We know from the Scriptures that the Lord hears us when we pray to Him. In Isaiah 65:24, the Lord promises: "...before they [His people] call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." We know this, of course we know, but there are times when our weak humanity overwhelms us and we feel lost, alone.
Waiting is hard, even for the Christian.
So what do we do? Do we give up? Give in? God forbid!
Waiting is never easy, but there is always a reason. Even though we cannot see it while we are in the present, the Lord knows exactly what we need and when. If we look back over those times in our lives where we thought the Lord was not answering our prayers, when the waiting seemed to be unbearable, we are able to see the Lord's hand guiding us through. That alone should give us courage to push onward and endure any future waits.
However, if you struggling right now, perhaps you will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Whatever it is you are going through, others have experienced it and, through the strength of the Lord, overcame the agonizing wait (Philippians 4:13). Some testimonies have been recorded in the Scriptures. In 1 Corinthians 10:11, we are told: "Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
For those waiting for a life-changing event, remember that exiled Israel had to wait 70 years for the fulfillment of the Lord's promise through the project Jeremiah to bring them out of exile. (Jeremiah 29:10-13)
For those waiting for the right marriage partner, Isaac was forty-years-old when he married Rebekah according to Genesis 25:20.
For those waiting for a child or struggling with infertility, Sarah, Hannah, the mother, of Samson, and Elisabeth all endured the agony of infertility before the Lord blessed them with a child. And according to 2 Samuel 6:23, Michal, the first wife of David, never had children.
Whatever it is that you are waiting on the Lord for – no matter how long it seems that silence is your only answer, no matter how dark your current situation may seem – hold fast to the promise of Romans 8:28.
Real quickly I want to diverge onto a tangent, and this is very important. There are three things that we, humans, tend to do that make waiting worse: worry, coveting, and running ahead of God.
Let's look at the first: worry. Worry has a way of getting inside our minds and taking root very deeply. Some individuals, for whatever reason, are more pre-disposed to anxiety than others, and anxiety often has more than just psychological effects. Some people experience physical pain associated with high anxiety. Worry, anxiety, is not healthy physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It causes us to chronically view life from a negative perspective, overlooking all the blessings by focusing in on only the bad things. If left unchecked, this anxiety can damage our relationship with the Lord as well as our relationships with others. The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi with these encouraging words: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
The second, covetousness, is similar. Covetousness often begins with a harmless, passing thought, perhaps along the lines of: "I wish I had a good job like that." or "Why not me?" It settles into our hearts and minds and pumps out poison into our lives. Without realizing it, we grow dissatisfied with what the Lord has done for us and greedily long for the blessings the Lord has bestowed on others. James 1:14-15 gives us insight into how this transformation occurs in the heart and mind. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Like worry, this discontent will weaken our faith and trust in the Lord.
The third way we tend to worsen our situation is by running ahead of the Lord. After waiting a certain amount of time, our impatience leads us to doubt the Lord or come to the faulty conclude that the Lord must be waiting for us to act first. It is just like that saying, which is often erroneously attributed to the Bible but actually originating from ancient Greece, “God helps those who help themselves.” We use human logic and reasoning to talk ourselves into doing something that is not guided by the Holy Spirit. The end result often only complicates the situation. For example, after waiting for years and years with no apparent answer from the Lord, Abraham and Sarah tried to bring about the Lord’s promise of a child themselves: Abraham took Sarah’s handmaiden Hagar as a second wife. The history of God’s people was complicated by the misunderstandings and hatred that sprung up between the descendants of the son of promise, Isaac, and the son of man’s way, Ishmael. Proverbs 3:5 tells us clearly “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” and Proverbs 14:12 warns: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
So how do we strengthen our faith and deepen our trust in the Lord while we are waiting?
I believe the key to this is coming to understand that even though we may be waiting for the Lord in whatever situation of our life (family, career, health, whatever it may be), we cannot be idle. The apostles, in the upper room, were waiting on the Lord but while they waited, they were not idle. They put away their differences, selfish desires, earnestly drawing together and pouring our their hearts to the Lord in prayer. And the result? The Holy Spirit fell upon those waiting and many were reached for the cause of Christ.
Even though we may be waiting on the Lord, we need to have faith that He has a plan for our lives. We need to keep our faith in the Lord on fire NOW through studying God’s Word, praying, fellowshipping with believers, witnessing to those within our sphere of influence, and living every single day for the glory of the Lord.
Remember, it is the little moments that happen every day that often make the biggest difference. We often wait for the Lord to give us a grand mission—a call to ministry, an opening as a missionary to a far-off place, whatever the dream may be—and while He may do that, He also expects us to live every day in faith. That includes sharing the Gospel in any capacity that we are able to in the "short term". We have an individual personal responsibility to witness for Christ NOW, not tomorrow or in ten years.
Think of it this way: the Lord has placed you in this exact time and place for a reason, even if you cannot see it. In Acts of the Apostles on page 109, Ellen White spoke of "a large class [of people] who need to be taught by such missionaries as Philip—men who will hear the voice of God and go where He sends them. There are many who are reading the Scriptures who cannot understand their true import. All over the world men and women are looking wistfully to heaven. Prayers and tears and inquiries go up from souls longing for light, for grace, for the Holy Spirit. Many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in."
The first priority in our life should always be sharing the message of Christ with those in our sphere of influence: our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and community. Let nothing else, not even what we may be waiting for, get in the way of this prime directive. In the end, having a career, marriage, children, etc. will mean absolutely nothing if we did not use what the Lord blessed us with to win souls to Christ. And what a glorious message we have to share! No other branch of Christendom has been given the privilege, and responsibility, of sharing the first, second, and third angels' messages.
In Evangelism, page 119, we read: "In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light-bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import,—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention."
And in Christian Service on page 145, we are told: "Let every Seventh-day Adventist ask himself, “What can I do to proclaim the third angel’s message?” Christ came to this world to give this message to His servant to give to the churches. It is to be proclaimed to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. How are we to give it?"
Even though we may be waiting on the Lord to move in our own lives—whether it is help with finances or health issues, concerns for wayward children, which person we should marry, or what job to take, we cannot forsake our duty to share the good news of Jesus with those around us today, right now.
While the fanatical belief that God will always heal us if we have enough faith is a ditch on one side of the straight and narrow path, an extension of this “ditch” is the fanaticism of presumption which is based on the erroneous idea that God will only work through natural means and miracles but not through the care of the physician. Consider the extreme beliefs of Breatharianism. These individuals believe that one of God’s eight doctors, sunshine, can provide them all that is necessary for life.Read More
Following God’s health principles can have amazing benefits for our health and to list them here would take quite a bit of time. In fact, we have filmed an entire television series doing just this, and yet in doing we so we have only barely scratched the surface of the blessings that God has available for us, if we avail ourselves of them. Because of this a few individuals have stated that if we “listen” to God and follow all of His health laws we will never be sick. In fact, some have gone so far as to define health as listening to God or obeying God, and disease as a lack of faith. While it is true that following God’s prescription for health can and often will prevent and even reverse many health problems, does keeping God’s health principles guarantee us good health? In this article we will explore this very important question. If the above definition of health and disease were right, how would we explain why our close personal friend who eats very healthfully, without overeating, never eats any sugar, rarely eats a third meal, hikes three or more miles per day, never goes to bed late and spends quality time with His Maker each day ended up with a recent diagnosis of melanoma, a very serious form of skin cancer.
According to the above definition, if disease is best defined as a result of not listening to the voice of God, then our friend is forced to either feel as though he is breaking some unknown law of God, or he is rejected of God. The result of this is often despair and loss of trust in God—the exact opposite of God’s eight doctors!
A biblical example that must also be considered is the case of Job who developed boils or abscesses containing puss all over his body. Without doubt, these must have been very painful, and likely were associated with fevers and other symptoms of systemic inflammation. Despite Job being very ill, God Himself described Job as one who feared God and eschewed evil (Compare Job 1:1-2 with Revelation 14:6-7). In other words, in God’s eyes, Job was righteous, and yet he still subsequently became very sick.
Given cases such as these, one is forced to ask the question, “Is something else at work which can explain the presence of disease?” In Job’s case, reading all of chapter one reveals that sometimes, to further God’s glory and reveal His character, God allows His children to suffer at the hand of the enemy, if it will bring more children into His kingdom. So, if we are suffering or persecuted despite living up to all the light we have, we can take courage that we are in good company.
But what about Exodus 15:6, in which God promises the children of Israel, if they will listen to His voice, and obey Him explicitly, that He will put on them none of the diseases which He had brought on the Egyptians? How do we balance such statements with the story of Job? First of all, the text is true, and if we choose to follow God’s eight natural doctors, science has proven that lifestyle related diseases can often be prevented and treated. But, if we forget that we live in a sinful world, where “our adversary, the devil is prowling around seeking whom he may devour,” we can go too far and we can fall into fanaticism, or irrational zeal.
The Jews of Jesus’ day leave us a dangerous example. They believed that anyone who was sick, or even poor, was in that condition because they had incurred the disfavor of God. The sick were believed to be sinners who were suffering God’s punishment. Jesus worked to dispel this belief in His response to His disciples, after they asked, “’Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him’” (John 9:2-3). In other words, God did not make the man blind, but allowed the illness so that His power could be manifested to others.
On the other hand, lest we think that we have no role to play in our own personal health, the Scripture also clearly points out that our sins can and often do have consequences upon our health. One example is the passage in Luke 5:17-26 that speaks of a man with palsy (paralysis). In this story, Jesus first dealt with the man’s greatest desire, forgiveness of his sins. Then, almost as an afterthought, He dealt with the result of the man’s sin, paralysis. By healing the paralytic, Jesus proved that he had the power to forgive sins. The lesson here is that our greatest need is to be cleansed of our own sins, rather than to have some miraculous divine intervention for our physical health. See also Desire of Ages, chapter 27.
While Jesus healed many people of their physical ailments when He was here on earth, it is not always the will of God for us to be healed. Paul, the greatest evangelist who ever lived is a good example. After seeing the brightness of the glory of the Son of God on the road to Damascus, his eyes were damaged. Afterward his eyesight was very poor. He made reference to this in his appeal to the Galatians in chapter four of his letter to them. Although he had this physical ailment, the Galations loved him so much that they would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him if they could have (see vss. 4:13-15). His bad eyesight was the thorn in his flesh, or infirmity, that God allowed him to keep so that he would not become proud with his revelations from God and his success as an evangelist (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9; see also 14MR:56-57). Rather than healing Paul, God’s answer to Paul’s repeated prayers was, “Speak to Me no more of this matter. My grace is sufficient. It will enable you to bear the infirmity.” Here, we can see that despite having even the faith in Jesus that Paul had, it did not heal Him as it was not God’s will that he be healed.
In most cases, strengthened by God’s grace to follow His eight doctors, all the while asking His blessing, we can hope for restoration of our health, but it is not always God’s will for us to be healed. Because of accidents and hereditary conditions, physical ailments will continue until Jesus returns. However, one thing is certain, we can trust our physical condition and our entire beings in the hands of Jesus. He promises to give us sufficient “grace” or strength to continue to walk with Him in peace regardless of the outcome.
Many people have experienced trauma in their lives, and as a result of this trauma, they are trapped in a downward spiral of negative behaviors and thought patterns. When they seek help, they are introduced to the solution that the world offers. This solution is called self-help, and it promotes the idea that you can change yourself if you implement certain actions into your life. The problem with self-help is that it teaches the necessity of changing oneself. God’s Word, however, teaches us that self must die. Gaining victory over the destructive habits that enslave us does not involve making our best effort to gain control over self. In order for victory to be gained, self must cease to exist. “I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” (1 Corinthians 15:31).* “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). So what does it mean to die to self? The answer to this question is found in the following two verses. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20). “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). The word “crucified,” which is found in both of these verses, is the key to understanding what it means to die to self. Jesus demonstrated the process of dying to self by His death on the cross. There is a specific reason why it was in God’s plan for Jesus to be crucified. Jesus could have died in many ways, and if we were to take our own lives—although I certainly hope not— we could do this in a variety of ways. But it is physically impossible for a person to crucify himself. The process of crucifixion can be accomplished only if a person submits himself to the will of another. The same is true when it comes to our spiritual growth. If we want to die to self, to be crucified with Christ, we must submit our will to the will of God. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Dying to self does not involve trying really hard to force ourselves to do something good or trying really hard to resist doing something bad. In the words of Moris Vendon, “Restrained badness is the worst kind of goodness.” Even if we did manage to make ourselves do good things and restrain ourselves from doing evil things, this external behavior would not change our hearts, because changing the heart is something only God can do. This is why Ellen White made the following statement in Christ’s Object Lessons, found on page 159. “No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work.” Notice that James tells us to resist the devil, not to do battle with the devil. If we try to engage the devil in battle, not only will we be utterly defeated, but we will be fighting a pointless battle, because Jesus has already fought the battle with Satan and won. Christ has rendered the devil powerless. Rather than fighting the devil, we are to resist the devil, to defend ourselves against his attacks, but this can be accomplished only by submitting our will to God. If we submit to God, He will empty us of self, impart to us the mind of Christ, and give us victory over sin. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). When we surrender our hearts to God, the mind of Christ within us will empower us to resist the devil.
It is through the process of submitting to God and receiving the mind of Christ that self is crucified, spiritual life is imparted, and freedom from sin is attained, but in order for this work to be accomplished, death must precede life. In John chapter 12 verse 24 Jesus uses the following analogy to describe what He had to endure in order to redeem humanity and establish His kingdom. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” Just as a grain of wheat must die beneath the earth in order to produce more grain, Jesus had to be crucified and buried before He could rise again and expand His kingdom by transforming the lives of all those who would accept His gift of salvation. In the earthly ministry of Christ, death had to precede life, and the same is true with us today. In order to be restored into the likeness of Christ in body, mind, and spirit, we must follow Christ’s example. “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Just as Christ had to die before He could live again, we, too, are to take up our cross and die to self by being crucified with Christ if we want to be resurrected to spiritual life through the power of God’s healing grace. The process of dying to self is a continual process. It involves coming to the foot of the cross on a daily basis, accepting God’s gift of salvation, reckoning ourselves to be dead indeed to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:11), and asking God to give us the mind of Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Every day we must choose to lose our life in order to save it. Ellen White explains this concept very clearly in a statement she made in Christ’s Object Lessons, found on page 163. “As the sinner, drawn by the power of Christ, approaches the uplifted cross, and prostrates himself before it, there is a new creation. A new heart is given him. He becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus.”
In 1 John 3:14, John describes what happens when we transition from death to life. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” As long as self remains alive, we are spiritually dead. There is no love in our hearts, because we abide in death. When we pass from death to life, self dies, we are given spiritual life, and the new heart God gives us causes us to love God and love others. If we choose to walk the road that Jesus walked by allowing God to take us through the process of transitioning from death to life, we will experience God’s complete healing. “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:5-7).
This message of hope is the message that we as Christians must take to those whose wounded lives have entangled them in the snare of sin. Jesus not only died for our sins, but He also died for our suffering. The same Jesus who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities also bore our griefs and our sorrows. He took our pain, as well as our sin, to the cross. “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:16-17). If we were to witness to people who have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, would it minister to them if we told them that Jesus died for their sins, or would it minister to them if we told them that Jesus died for the pain, the anger, the fear, the shame, and the powerlessness they experienced during the trauma they endured? Not only did Jesus bear our pain to the cross, but He also lived a life of hardship and suffering on Earth and can personally identify with us in every trial we face. If we could choose the course of our lives, how many of us would choose to be born in a barn, grow up in a ghetto, and bear the stigma of being considered an illegitimate child? How many of us would choose to go through the heartache of being slandered, falsely accused, misunderstood, unfairly judged, rejected, abandoned, and betrayed? How many of us would choose to endure the shame and humiliation that results from having our physical boundaries violated? How many of us would choose to endure the physical agony of being tortured, as well as the emotional agony of being separated from God? How many of us would choose to die by means of one of the most cruel and barbaric forms of execution ever invented by man? Jesus endured all of these things when HE lived on Earth. Since we are all born into a sinful world, we all endure things over which we have no control, but Jesus did not have to experience any of the things He experienced while living on Earth. Incredibly, He chose to experience these things. He lived as a man, enduring temptations and trials so that He could identify with us in our temptations and trials. He overcame all of this by relying on His Father’s power so that He could pave the way for us to overcome. Then He died and rose again so that He could set us free from our pain and sin. “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:14-18). “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
The only thing that self-help has to offer a hurting world is a futile attempt at gaining control over the sinful self, and if the world is not presented with a better alternative, it will plunge deeper and deeper into a hopeless state of decay and ruin. As God watches people desperately trying to gain the mastery over self through their own efforts, He desperately longs to cause them to die to self so that He can give them a new life of joy and freedom. As God’s ambassadors on Earth, we are called to introduce the world to a real and tangible God who not only identifies with them in their pain, but also longs to remove their pain by setting them free. This freedom can be attained only by passing from death to life, and since the process of passing from death to life can be frightening at times, people who are hurting need to be shown that God is someone they can trust because He can relate to the pain they are going through. When they see God for who He really is, when they realize that they are safe with God because HE knows them and identifies with them, they will be ready to move forward by taking up their cross and following after the God they have learned to trust. Rather than trying to maintain control over their lives by attempting to change themselves, they will allow God to take control. The sinful self that they were previously trying to change through their own effort will be crucified with Christ, and they will pass from death to newness of life. This is what freedom is all about, and God is willing to give all of us this miraculous gift of freedom if we let Him.
*All Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) For those who trust in the written record of the Scripture, this verse contains the essence of our belief in the way the world formed. God chose to reveal aspects of creation in His Word that we take at face value because we have faith that what the Bible says is true. Special creation, finished in seven days, cannot be proven empirically because the entire concept revolves around a God bringing forth life and matter, and belief in God always requires faith. Does evolution require belief? One of the psychological advantages employed by evolutionists (including Darwin himself) is to say they base their theories on science and on facts that can be tested and analyzed. They ridicule creationists as ignorant fools trusting in an unconfirmed God. They maintain they can prove everything they say without resorting to belief in the Divine. Is this true, or do they need as much (or more) faith in non-provable assumptions?
In the Beginning For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. (Psalm 33:9)
According to evolutionists, life began when certain chemicals joined according to the theory of spontaneous generation, in which life arises out of inactive matter. Experiments undertaken in the 1950's to replicate the origins of life are often cited as proof, but they used false environmental conditions (oxygen-free atmosphere; no natural ultraviolet radiation) and still were unsuccessful in generating cell life.(1) Never has life been assembled in the laboratory; thus the entire foundation for evolution is defended as follows:
One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are--as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation.(2)
Cells are the basic elements of life, yet the more we learn of them the more complex they appear. When Darwin first proposed his theory he offered this falsification test:
If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.(3)
Modern research on the structure of cells has revealed an answer to his test. One evolutionist discovered:
As biochemists have begun to examine apparently simple structures like cilia and flagella, they have discovered staggering complexity, with dozens or even hundreds of precisely tailored parts.... As the number of required parts increases, the difficulty of gradually putting the system together skyrockets, and the likelihood of indirect scenarios plummets.(4)
Micro-evolution vs. Macro-evolution
From these extraordinary beginnings life evolved from stage to higher stage until humans finally arrived. But an important distinction must be made that is often forgotten. There are two definitions of evolution that consist of quite different principles. The first can be called micro-evolution and involves changes of color, structure, and behavior caused by external pressures from isolation, climatic change, and other species. The second is macro-evolution and involves the major changes from one class of species to another, such as from fish to amphibians and from reptiles to mammals. This also includes major changes that would result in new families like the development of feline and canine families from some common ancestor. These two very different concepts are often blurred together by evolutionists and misunderstood by creationists. Please note that I am using the original—and correct—definitions for these terms as they were historically understood. Recent attempts have been made by some to change these terms to hide the issues that they expose.
Micro-evolution is occurring all around us in every species of life. Species with extensive ranges show little variety as their gene pool is large and intermingles regularly. But animals and plants on islands or in isolated habitats are different from similar species elsewhere. These differences can be minor (unusual colors; flowers with more stamens), or major (flightless birds; carnivorous caterpillars). In North America, the Mountain Lion is split into populations that no longer connect. Those in Florida have been isolated long enough to be considered as a subspecies that has distinctive behaviors and characteristics from the widespread form found throughout the western states. The two subspecies could still breed together if they ever met now, but if their isolation continues long enough they would eventually be incapable of interbreeding and would thus become separate species. An example of the latter is the two species of Gray Squirrel, Eastern and Western.
Built into all life is the ability to adjust slightly through successive generations to meet the demands of the surroundings they inhabit. Without this there could be no colonization of new areas or survival when unexpected changes occur. It is crucial to note though, that all such changes occur within the strict confines of the same kind of organism. In other words, rattlesnakes develop into different species of rattlesnakes and orchids into different species of orchids. For thousands of years we have bred domestic animals into a bewildering plethora of forms, but never has a dog become anything other than a dog, even though the shapes and personalities nearly defy comparison.
Macro-evolution takes the next step and says that at some point the dog will become something entirely different. It will become a new form of life that will someday change again and eventually be so distinct that no obvious resemblance is detectable between its ancestral form and itself. This is supposed to account for the massive differences between turtles, jellyfish, and humans, and indeed between every life form, since animals and plants come from common ancestors. Supposedly macro-evolution produced everything alive today, but it doesn't seem to be occurring now. It has never been documented in the wild or in the lab.
What mechanism could account for the incredible progression from algae to armadillos? The answer given is natural selection, by which successful adaptation survives and poor adaptation becomes extinct. Evolutionists give natural selection amazing qualities, including a nearly conscious power to propel evolution forward:
Natural selection converts randomness into direction and blind chance into apparent purpose. It operates with the aid of time to produce improvements in the machinery of living, and in the process generates results of a more than astronomical improbability which could have been achieved in no other way.(5)
This places inestimable importance upon natural selection as the key force behind all the variety and specialization of life. Without it evolutionists have no explanation for how things are, so we must examine it carefully.
Every species' offspring has differing traits since no two organisms are identical. If a specific trait helps an individual survive, then it is usually passed on to its offspring. If a trait does the opposite, then an individual has a greater chance of dying and not passing on that trait. As generations proceed the individuals that survive are the ones best suited for that particular habitat. This is especially true when a species is thrust into a new habitat such as landing on an island. Nearly every island in the South Pacific has its own species of gecko, each adapted to survive there. So natural selection can explain micro-evolution. But what about macro-evolution?
If natural selection can produce entirely new life forms, then it should be testable under controlled conditions. But a century of fruit fly studies have not produced anything other than fruit flies with the minor variations of micro-evolution. As for natural conditions, Darwin knew there was trouble when he stated:
There are two or three million species on earth. A sufficient field one might think for observation; but it must be said today that in spite of all the evidence of trained observers, not one change of the species to another is on record.(6)
Since we cannot find living transitional forms, the fossil record is studied to find the links needed between each class because they must be there for macro-evolution to be true. But they are not there. All the fossils found have been members of established classes and the transitional forms needed have not appeared. One fossil reptile was thought to be an answer, but it has more problems than solutions:
(Archaeopteryx) was a small...flying animal with hollow bones and feathers usually described by paleontologists as a dinosaur on the way to becoming a bird. Most ornithologists, however, disagree.(7)
Archaeopteryx is no more a link between reptiles and birds than Pterodactyls (flying, furred reptiles) are links to bats, or Plesiosaurs (swimming, flippered reptiles) are links to dolphins. They share common traits as do many unrelated animals. The search for the "missing links" continues.
There is a theory that macro-evolution is caused by sudden mutations (leading to such humorous conclusions as one day a dinosaur laid an egg and when it hatched, out flew a bird). A prominent evolutionist states:
Obviously...such a process (multiple, simultaneous mutations) has played no part whatever in evolution.(8)
With all these problems, and many more, we ascertain that natural selection could not result in macro-evolution and so the following conclusion is reached (by the same evolutionist):
It might be argued that the theory (of natural selection) is quite unsubstantiated and has status only as a speculation.(9)
Envoy Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. (Hebrews 11:3)
The genius of Darwin was discovering on the Galapagos Islands and elsewhere the principles of micro-evolution. The hubris of Darwin was inventing without evidence the principles of macro-evolution. The duplicity of Darwin was combining the two and calling them both by the blanket term evolution. The grave error of the Church was to oppose everything Darwin said as heresy. Supporters of evolution could then club the church into humiliation with countless examples of micro-evolution in action, and then slip in macro-evolution as the same thing. The church couldn't tell the difference and made claims as inaccurate as the evolutionists', forever damaging their credibility on this issue. Ever since, evolutionists have made the case of science refuting blind faith but the truth is that one form of error was replaced by a different form. To this day, scientists cite examples of micro-evolution adaptation and use them as "proof" of macro-evolution, without ever using those terms.
What we believe we must not pretend to know. Is evolution a belief? Evidence is not proof, as the same bit of evidence can have multiple explanations. Evidence for evolution has always stopped short of proof and is interpretable in a creation framework. Evidence for creation also exists, such as polonium halos in granite,(10) the "mitochondrial Eve,"(11) and the shallow sedimentation of the ocean floor.(12) But creation cannot be proved either. So we are left with two models of the world. Both require faith in different forces, on the one hand God and His controlling hand, and on the other chance and the biochemical predestination of natural selection. The mathematical chances of life existing have been calculated repeatedly and they always show astronomical impossibilities needed. Life's beginnings and its development cause perpetual dilemmas for evolutionists, who have endless theories to explain but no proof to confirm. In essence, evolution has become its own religion in which its disciples trust in miracles contrived by human intellect. And why do they struggle so persistently to maintain an unproved hypothesis?
Because we have a prior commitment to materialism. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.(13)
We are left with the question of what we hold as our authority. Do we believe in the Bible as the written Word of God, or do we place human intellect above it. (See Proverbs 3:5) If the latter, than my opinion is as good as yours or the next person's and eventually we find there are billions of chaotic voices all saying something different. (Welcome to the peace and joy of post-modernism, where 2 plus 2 can equal 5.) There is either one clear Voice or the cacophony of the intelligentsia; either implicit confidence in the vagaries of human reason or complete assurance that God did as He said. Given these options, which worldview really requires more faith?
- Javor, "The Origin of Life", Liberty, Sep./Oct., 1993
- Wald, Scientific American, Aug., 1954
- Darwin, On the Origin of Species
- Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, Free Press, New York, 1996
- Huxley, Evolution in Action, pp. 54-55
- Darwin, Life and Letters, Vol. 3, p. 25
- Behler, Wildlife Conservation, July/Aug., 1993
- Simpson, The Major Features of Evolution, p. 96
- Ibid., pp. 118-119
- Gentry, Creation's Tiny Mystery, Earth Science Associates, 1988
- Science, January 2, 1998
- Nevins, "Evolution: the Ocean Says No!", Ministry, March, 1977
- Lewontin, quoted in Freedom Alert, Summer, 2000
A review of the deep questions students, teachers, and many others face in the origins conflict. Icons will include: the origin of life; age of the universe, the earth, and life; as well as the sequence of the fossils. This presentation will serve as an introduction of the 1,268 slide presentation prepared especially for the students and teachers in Adventist schools.
Greg was a close friend in late high school years. Our fathers knew each other well and had forged a relationship largely over their study of the Bible and some shared personal struggles. Greg had grown up in a fractured home and had early turned to substance use as a way to escape the chaos of his environment and the emotional pain he found unbearable.Read More