Does the Church that Jesus Built Still Exist?

Does the Church that Jesus Built Still Exist?

 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matt. 16:17-18

It seems that an increasing number of people with whom I talk believe that the visible church that Jesus built does not exist anywhere on the earth today. They believe that the church only exists today in a spiritual form. Some of this confusion could come from people failing to make a distinction between the spiritual kingdom of God and the church. The church is made up of people who have the kingdom (rule of God) in their hearts so they are members of the kingdom, but they are not the whole of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is made up of the whole family of God seen and unseen, those in the heavenlies, and those on the earth. The territory or the realm of His kingdom is the entire creation.

The church is the physical manifestation of those who have the rule of God in their hearts and have accepted the call of the Gospel to come out of the world and into Christ. In the Bible, the church is never a building, but is always a people. In this, you could say that the church is the vestibule of the kingdom. It is made up of those who believe and are baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38-41). Its chief characteristic is that it looks like Christ, and it has a passion for Christ and for all in the family of God. Therefore, it does not imagine or image itself as an institution, but rather as a loving family. From a worldly point of view, it is a rag tag group of nobodies. Like its Lord, it has no form or comeliness that would cause worldly men to seek it, i.e., it is not big, powerful, or ostentatious (Isa. 53:2-3). It quietly does the work of God on earth without bringing any attention to itself or its work. It works like leaven in dough, doing its work but unseen by the world. It points people to Christ and bears witness to Christ as the Spirit in it does. “The Spirit and the bride say come.”

The visible church understands through the Spirit which Christ breathed into it, that for it to be the church which Jesus built, it must model Christ in loving one another the way Christ loved His disciples. It works continuously to build itself up in love by expressing the love of Christ to each other. It also speaks the truth in love and has a passion for the truth of God, through the spirit of truth that dwells in it.

It worships the Father in spirit and truth by serving one another in love. It gets together to build each other up in love so it can in turn bear witness to Christ by doing good works that bring praise and honor to Christ and His Father (Eph. 2:8). In this, its worship is always God-centered and at no time self-centered and never ostentatious. It seeks to win people to Christ through living and speaking the love of Christ and not through entertainment or using the marketing methods of this world.

It understands that the true love of Christ can only grow and be expressed in community and fellowship. Therefore, it seeks out other believers to share and grow with. There are few “lone ranger” Christians in it for it loves all those whom Christ died for and by its very nature seeks them out. It is constantly getting together to celebrate Christ and the birthday of the new creation as commanded by Christ. The Bible and history tell us that the early church did this every first day of the week (Acts 2:42, 20:7, 1 Cor. 11:20).

It is often confused with the Christian religion, which shares some of its outward characteristics but lacks the inward essence of the Spirit of Christ. It has often been persecuted by what might be called mainline Christian churches. However, it is protected by God and is hidden in the wilderness of the Christian religion. It has no earthly head or mediators that stand between it and Christ; each of its members is a priest and serves God directly through Jesus the Christ (1 Pet. 2:9, 1 Tim. 2:5). In this, it has no separate class of holy men or clergy for all its members are holy men. Remember, it is not an institution but rather a family and like all families, it has its elders and children, but it has no clergy or separate priesthood.

Does this church exist? Yes, but it is hard to find for it is hidden by all the religion that surrounds it. However, those who are diligent can find it or plant it by sowing the seed of the kingdom, which is the Gospel of Christ. When the seed is planted in good ground, it will spring unto life, and there you will have the Church. It may not be large or powerful in the eyes of the world; it may only have two or three people, but in the eyes of God, it is precious and for Christ, it is His bridge. What else matters? LD

What About Gay Marriage?

Gay Marriage

In the last few months, I have had a number of people call me to ask my opinion of gay marriage, and they attempted to change my mind when I told them I did not think it to be a good idea. I listened to them politely and then shared with them my opinion.  The following is that opinion.  In this article, I have purposely tried to avoid any argument based on religion or morality.

Recently, I received a number of telephone calls asking my opinion on gay marriage.  In actuality, the calls were an attempt to convince me to vote for the state of Maine to approve gay marriages.  In some respects, I could care less as to whether the state approves or disapproves of gay marriages, as it will have no impact upon my thinking about it.  To me, the truth about any matter is not established by a mob or by counting noses.  However, I do feel it will most likely have an impact on my freedom of speech in this country.  As we see in Canada and Europe, after gay marriage was accepted, it became illegal to speak against it publicly. In Canada, clergymen are not allowed to speak against sodomy and homosexuality except in their churches and cannot even post a biblical verse in public that condemns the practice.  So, I guess as a preacher, I should speak my mind now, before my liberal friends put me in jail.

I also believe that once gay marriage is accepted by the state of Maine or our country as a whole, public schools will be forced to teach it as an acceptable lifestyle, therefore normalizing sodomy as a lifestyle that is not morally or religiously accepted by the majority of Americans.  Proponents of same-sex marriage say that this will not happen.  However, in many cases this is purely a lie for they know it is already happening in most states that have accepted same-sex marriage (California has already passed such laws).  It seems that most states that have enacted this law, find it impossible to merely be neutral on this issue.  In view of this, I do not believe we should give the state of Maine power to force the gay agenda on the rest of us.  Of course, I also know this is exactly what our progressive liberal friends want to do.

For those who will call me a homophobic, I want to point out that I have a number of gay friends with whom I have discussed this matter.  Some of them like the idea of gay marriage, while others hate it, and many are indifferent.  They seem to reflect the same feelings of the general population.  Therefore, rejecting the idea of gay marriage does not mean that one hates gays.

Is It a Civil Right?

One of my callers informed me that marriage is a basic civil right.  I strongly believe in civil rights, but I also believe that those rights can and should be limited by one’s culture, common sense, common decency, and respect for others’ customs and traditions.  When these things are violated, the government has the right to place limits on people.  Just because I want to do something does not mean that it’s my civil right.  To be a civil right, the thing I what to do should be civil.  I don’t have the right to go into the ladies’ room no matter how urgently I have to go.  Should I have the attitude that if women don’t like it, then that’s just too bad?  They’re just bigots.  They’re just hung up with a social taboo called modesty.  Maybe we could change the definition of modesty or do away with it all together?  Would that be civil?  Should I start a movement demanding that everyone be gender blind because our culture has a law that says that I have the right to use a men’s room?  Does my not being able to use the ladies’ room violate my civil rights?  I just do not believe that marriage is a civil right any more than a man going into a ladies’ room is a civil right.

The Cost of Gay Marriage

I also have some serious questions about the cost of redefining marriage in our culture.  One of the callers assured me that it would have no financial impact upon the culture.  How can that be when it has the potential of bringing millions of uninsured people into the system at a lower rate?  Someone will have to make up that difference.  Will it be heterosexual married couples or will it be single people?  Why should a single person pay more for insurance than gays?  Gays want the same rights as married couples but more rights than single people.  Is that fair?  They want the state government to do to singles what they say the state has done to them by giving married heterosexual rights that they do not have.  Moreover, what about the cost of changing all the marriage forms to accommodate gay marriages?  That should be good for a few million dollars.

I do not know about you, but I am personally weary of paying for the so-called civil rights of minorities and special-interest groups.  Recently, the U.S. Navy retrofitted their jet planes to accommodate women pilots.  This little project cost the American people millions upon millions of dollars so a handful of women could be happy and fulfill their dream.  Those modifications also disqualified males over a certain size because they could no longer fit into the cockpits.  What about their rights?  Is that fair?  Can we any longer afford such extreme policies to make a few people happy?  Recently, the government mandated that every motel in the country that has a swimming pool must also have a mechanical elevator in their pool to accommodate handicapped people.  This little law will cost the American people billions of dollars and will only be used by very few people.  How many handicapped people traveling will actually use these pools?  Would it not have been smarter to give tax breaks to motels that would install these machines, giving those motels an advantage over their competition?  Should we provide escalators up all the mountains so everyone can climb every mountain?  Is it not their civil right to have equal access?  Yes, if it is within reason and common sense, which it seems some Americans no longer possess.

Do you see where all this is going?  The concept of civil rights has morphed into a catchall term that means “the government must make me happy.”  My response is—nonsense.  If you want to climb a mountain, and you cannot walk up it, get a friend to carry you or change your desire.  If you want a contract with your partner, get a lawyer to draw it up.  Enjoy your gayness, but do not force it on my children or me.

Is Same-Sex Marriage Fair?

One big problem with gay marriage is that it is not fair for the gays to be treated as though they are a third sex.  Why should their feelings for someone give them some special rights over other single people that are not sexually attracted to the same sex?  Why shouldn’t people who are good friends of the same sex, who do not have erotic feelings for those friends, not have the same rights as married people and gays?  Because of the insurance and tax benefits of marriage, I could see in the future all single people claim they are gay in order to get the benefits.  In view of this, one would have to conclude that gays are not asking for equal rights, but special rights.  Let’s do some clear thinking and come up with a system that will protect everyone without changing a human and religious tradition that has been around for thousands of years. 

You see, the thing that people are missing in this debate is that marriage was never about adults meeting their need for sexual fulfillment or even companionship; it was for the children.  Its primary purpose was for procreation and the raising of children.  Therefore, people can be friends and love each other without being married.  We can also give everyone the same rights of married people without calling their relationship marriage.  Why restrict the word marriage just to gays?  Why not apply it to all relationships where people want a legal contract to define their relationship?  However, the real question is why use the word marriage to define a relationship that religion and Western culture have held for eons to be between a man and a woman.  Why divide our culture over a word?  What the gay movement is doing makes no sense, and I suspect a large number of unspoken motives are behind this agenda.  I personally believe that if we use the word marriage to define a gay couple’s relationship, we are well on the way down the road to destroying the concept of traditional marriage, which has been defined by nearly all religions for over two thousand years as between a man and woman.

Picking a Fight

When the gay movement chose marriage as a term to denote their relationship, they should have had the foresight to see the battle that they would have with conservatives, traditionalist, and religious people.  Their attitude has been—to hell with them.  We want the world to change and give us special rights.  Why would anyone believe that people should change a tradition that has existed for as long as human history without debate and resistance?  What kind of people would do that, other than radical liberals and progressives?

As a traditionalist, the gay movement has given me no overwhelming or compelling arguments for me to change my thinking about marriage.  All I hear from them are little sound bites like “It is the fair thing,” or “It is our civil right,” or just name-calling to intimidate me.

What is Next?

I asked one of the callers what was next.  He responded with “What do you mean?”  “Well,” I said, “if people that love one another should be able to get married, what about polygamy?  His response was that would be stepping out on the slippery slope.  I then asked him if same-sex marriage might be a similar step.  His response was, “It is different because more people think polygamy is wrong.”  I then asked him if his statement would not have been true ten years ago about gay marriage, before the gay movement began their PR campaign to normalize their brand of sexuality.  There was silence.  The truth is from a rational point of view there is no difference between same-sex marriage and polygamy or for that matter, incest.  Why would it be wrong for a boy to marry one’s mother if they love each other and are sexually attracted, assuming it was impossible for them to have children?  Is not incest like homosexuality, just one of those past taboos of ancient man?  Once people embrace utilitarianism and relativism, there is nothing left but a slide into the abyss.  We are already on that slide.  Of course, there are those who think sliding down a slide is progress.

The Government and Same-Sex Marriage

The young man who called me stated he did not believe that the state should be involved with marriage.  However, from my point of view, petitioning and lobbying the state to approve something is not getting the state out of it, but rather an attempt to get the state on your side of the issue.  Whenever this is done, it is for using state power to force one’s agenda on others.  You can be assured that the militant gay leaders have an agenda for state power.  Could it be to use the public school system to normalize homosexuality?  It may be a good idea to get the state out of the marriage business altogether, and I think I would support the gays in that effort, but I really do not think that is their goal.  In defense of the state (an institution that I do not like too much), I believe it was quite rational for the state to favor marriage over singleness.  Marriage produces families, and families produced good citizens; consequently, they passed a number of laws to help people in their marriages for this in turn strengthens the state.  So, I believe the state was acting in good faith and for the general welfare when it gave married couples certain privileges.  I still have no problem with that position.

A Dangerous Experiment

One of my main concerns about same-sex marriage is that there has at no time been a culture in the history of the world that has accepted, or notwithstanding, proposed same-sex marriage.  Even the Greeks and Romans in the height of their perversion never suggested the acceptance of same-sex marriage.  Is it really a wise idea to undertake such a huge social experiment without a lot of thought and debate?

Marriage has been from the dawn of civilization between a man and a woman.  Even our language is built around that supposition.  When I refer to my wife, people instinctively know that I am taking about a female partner.  If we legalize gay marriage, men will have to be called wives and woman will have to be called husbands.  If we don’t do it, the politically correct police will probably sue us or call us homophobic.  Will the male playing the female partner in a gay marriage be able to go into a lady’s room, or will we have to build another set of bathrooms?  Remember, we cannot put any traditional norms on people without violating their civil rights.

I mentioned something along these lines to my callers, and their reply was that we are more moral and progressive in our thinking than the Romans and Greeks.  From my study of history, there was a time in Rome and Greece when the people would have thought that we were the barbarians, and they would have been right.  Only a radical liberal could believe and apply the concept of progress to Western culture in the last few decades.  Western culture in the last one hundred years has been sliding into the worst declension the world has ever seen.  In the last century, there has been more genocide, abortion, and war than all the rest of humanity has perpetrated together from the dawn of time.  In business and government greed and narcissism reigns.  Addictions have enslaved millions of individuals.  Sexual perversions have escalated beyond the imagination of Greeks and Romans.  Yes, we have come a long way, baby.  Liberals and progressives need to face the fact that the high humanists of the Enlightenment are dead and gone, and all that remains are a new hedonism and paganism cloaked by a thin veneer of liberal self-righteousness.

The Real Source of Gay Marriage

What the gay movement is attempting is far beyond anything that could have been imagined 20 years ago.  What changed?  The change did not begin with the gay movement.  What is happening in our culture is the fallout of a philosophical movement called postmodernism, which began in our universities a few decades ago.  Those involved in this movement are called deconstructionist (for a good reason).  Out of this group came our radical feminists, radical environmentalists, and our radical gays.  This movement and those involved believed that our culture and institutions are so corrupt and flawed that they must be destroyed and replaced with something totally different, even though they cannot quite yet define what the other looks like.  One of the larger contributors to this movement is the radical feminist who believes that the institution of marriage was created for establishing and continuing male dominance over women.  This means that in their brave new world, marriage between a man and woman must go.  It also means that our culture must become gender neutral.  This means same-sex marriage, same-sex bathrooms, same-sex classes, and same-sex dorms.  This movement will continue to force same-sex norms on the world until the world is gender neutral.  Their goal is a sexually vanilla world.  (It sounds pretty yucky to me, if not purely boring.)  The ACLU is one of the promoters of the deconstructionist movement.

Let me make a few observations, the first one being that I do not believe that postmodern ideology is going to usher in any kind of utopia.  Those who believe this are naïve and outright foolish, as most central planners seem to be.  Based on our past liberal utopian experiments, the odds would indicate that we are heading toward another fiasco of epidemic proportions, like the loss of our civilization.  This, however, does not bother the deconstructionist for they believe that the system must collapse so the unknown can take its place.  The problem is they don’t know what the new looks like, but they do believe that they will be in power to shape its future.

When you understand that nature is not very forgiving, it should be obvious that Western culture should be extremely selective about the roads it travels.  This includes changing the meaning of marriage.  It takes thousands of years sometimes to build a civilization, especially one like Western civilization.  However, civilization is fragile and can be destroyed easier than most could imagine.  We need to be very much aware of the deconstructionist among us, and there are many.  They are angry and often hateful people bent on destruction.  Unfortunately, a lot of nice naïve people get duped into aiding them in their mission.

Where Does This End and When Will It Stop?

When does this all stop?  If our culture compromises common sense and morality for every group that can organize and create some civil unrest, where does it end?  Does the culture have to surrender its civilization to be liberal?  Do we have to stop thinking to make people happy?  Can a culture make everyone and every lifestyle equal?  Should we accommodate the North American Man/Boy Love Association, which wants to lower the age of consent in order for older men to have sex with boys?  Their group is growing.

Canada is an example of a liberal government trying to make a moral-free culture where no one can make a negative judgment about other people’s lifestyle.  A judgment-free culture is not a culture, and it will not be a free culture for very long.  In order for a culture to be judgment-free it must restrict the free flow of information and restrict freedom of speech as they have done in Canada.  In fact, with all the reading I do, I have not seen one honest debate on homosexuality or gay marriage.  Why?  I’ll tell you one reason—homosexuals and advanced liberals intimidate any dissenters by calling them homophobes and other names (as one of my callers did).  I personally think it is time to draw a line in the sand and take a stand on traditional marriage.

Before you vote for gay marriage, please take the time to think through the issue very clearly.  Take into consideration all the consequences and implications of voting for it.  Do not be swayed by propagandists’ arguments based on emotionally charged expressions like: “It is only fair.”  “It is the right of two people who love one another to get married.”  Remember, the gays I talked to do not believe that people should have the right to enter a polygamist relationship.  So they really do not believe that everyone that loves each other should have the right to get married.  Why not?  Where is the fairness?  Polygamists love one another as much as other people.  Is it not fair to put limits on their relationships?  What about the brother and sister who love one another?  Should we deny them the right to get married?  Why not, if they love one another and do not have children or for that matter, why not a mother-son marriage?  Do we really as a culture want to open up these debates?

My Conclusion

 My conclusion is that we should be cautious about legalizing gay marriage.  If this cultural experiment fails, it may be extremely hard to correct it.  I ask you to exercise prudence and caution in voting for gay marriage.

I have purposely left out of this discussion any appeal to religion or any discussion about the myths created by the radical gay community to justify homosexuality and gay marriage.  However, for those interested in an exchange that I had with a pro-gay marriage person in which I do bring religion into the discussion, please drop me an email, and I will send you a copy.

Why We Need the Church and the Bible

Why I Need the Church and the Bible

Some people wonder why they would ever need the Church or the Bible.  Why not just go for a walk on the beach or climb a mountain and meet and worship God there?  Can you not experience God as well or perhaps even better in nature than at Church or from reading the Bible?  I do not doubt for a minute that you can experience God in nature, for I have done that myself.  Nature has a way of opening the human spirit to the Divine.  Our experience of God while in nature often seems more real than anything that we may experience at Church or from reading the Bible.

I have found that when I wish to travel to a place, I want to know everything about it. I will read everything I can about it, and I will try to find people who have been there and are able to answer questions about that particular place.  I find myself filled with questions.  What is the best way to get there?  What should I see?  What should I avoid?  What should I wear for clothing?  You see, I do not want to be surprised.  I want the best trip possible.  I especially do this when I go for a hike in the mountains, for I do not want to get lost.  The harder the climb, the more research I do.

Going to church and reading the Bible are like the research one would do for a journey unto a very high and often dangerous mountain.  For me, it seems only natural to talk to as many people as possible who are on or have made the journey.  I once went to Africa and climbed Kilimanjaro.  I called everyone I could find who had made the climb, even complete strangers, and asked them about the mountain and the trails.  I wanted to be ready for anything.  I wanted to make it to the top.  When Christians gather at church, it is mainly to talk about the journey and to study the map.  They consider their map to be the Bible.  The strong and knowledgeable ones among them who have been on the journey a long time do not attend church solely for themselves, but also to help the young and weaker ones among them.  They want everyone to get to the top.  They share with them the trails to avoid and the ones to take.  They make sure that the young ones know the map and the right and best guides who can help them on their journey.

Let me say something about the map.  It is true that sometimes people get the map mixed up with the real territory.  When that happens, people often spend more time reading the map than moving on in their journey.  I know some people who are always reading and talking about the map, but never seem to get too far along on the journey.  They seem to have confused reading the map with the journey.  This is truly sad because it confuses people about the reasons for the journey and the purpose of the map.  Of course, on the other side of the coin are those who feel they can do okay without a map, compass, or a guide.  These folks often end up in a briar patch lost, cold, and hungry.  They often spend a great deal of time backtracking and wandering around aimlessly.  However, some of the stronger ones seem to get along fairly well without the map, but when asked where they are, they often do not seem to know.  The little ones and weak ones without the map and compass often just die or quit.

Because the journey is often long and hard, the map at times can be quite hard to read.  It does have a lot of details about the journey.  It is there to help and is very important.  However, it can be confusing to someone not too skilled in map reading.  When the journey gets difficult, it is then a person needs to remember the training in which the guides taught him about how to use the map.  It is even better if travelers have cell phone, so they can call a guide for further directions on how to make best use of the map.  We always need to remember that the map is a piece of paper that only reflects the territory.  It is not the territory.  We also need to remember that the map was made by a lot of people who have made the journey and left us their story about it.  When we read the map, remember that those who wrote it were all on the same journey, but not all used the same trail and all did not make it to their destination.  Like in nature, some trails are better than others and a bad choice can cause you to lose your way or even perish.  Yes, some died on the journey without making it to top or back home.  This is another reason why we should study the map; we want to know that we are on the very best trail.

If you are not a member of a church, let me suggest that you find someone, maybe some of your friends who are on the journey and ask them about the church they attend.  Ask them if they study the map and if its members are excited about the journey.  If they say yes to both questions, you might want to check it out.  You can also begin the journey by getting a Bible and start becoming familiar with what it teaches.  You do not need to understand everything—just start reading it.  A good place to start is the Gospel of John.  If you do not know of anyone who is able to help you, you can write me, and I will be glad to help.  I often have map reading courses at my office or even in people’s homes.  If you would like to attend one, let me know.  You can reach me at

Is Faith in God Reasonable?

Is Faith in God Reasonable? 

In many cases, faith is the most reasonable thing you can embrace.  Say that you were climbing a large mountain and it grew dark.  Now suppose that because of the difficulty of the climb that it would be impossible to retreat off the peak at night.  The problem worsens when you learn from your radio that a storm is coming that would make the conditions hopeless to survive the night.  As you huddle on the mountain waiting for death, you remember a story told by an old man in the camp the week before.  He had mentioned that there was a hidden outcropping of rocks that forms a small ledge just below the summit and off the ledge was a small cave that one could go into to escape the weather.  He said it was marked by a small pile of rocks just a short distance beneath the summit.  However, to reach it you must jump down about ten feet, which is a large first step.  Now here is the problem.  It is dark, and you have found the marker.  However, you cannot see the ledge because it is dark.  The jump requires a leap of faith based upon the testimony of the old man.

In view of the conditions, is the leap reasonable or is more rational to be pessimistic and do nothing?  Would it be logical not to make a choice?  It seems that to both the pessimist (atheist) and the indecisive (agnostic),  a leap of faith is not the reasonable thing to do.  Both would have to choose to die on the mountain.  In this case, not to choose is to choose.  It is to choose death over the possibility of life.  What I am saying is that in some circumstances, the reasonable thing to do is to act on faith.  Sometimes reason tells us that it is not time to use reason.  In some cases, moving forward in faith is the most reasonable thing you can do.

Once the disciples of Jesus were listening to the Master, and when they turned around the crowd was walking away murmuring that they just could not believe what the Teacher was saying.  When the Teacher saw the despair on the faces of the disciples, He asked them, “Are you going to leave too?”

Their answer was their leap of faith in the midst of despair.  “Where shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

Maybe you are on a mountain in the dark and in a state of despair.  Maybe the way out is to make a leap of faith in God.  If you do, you will find that it is not a leap into the abyss, but onto the Rock of Ages Who has saved millions of people.  I guarantee that you will begin to see everything differently. LD



The Atonement

The design of the atonement was not to furnish a ground on which God would save men, but rather on which He could save men. [i] 

I have had a few people ask me about the idea that God has forgiven sin—past, present, and future.  If this is true, how can God hold a person accountable for sin that is already forgiven?  The statement that God has forgiven sin—past, present, and future may be true, but it needs to be clarified.  For example, what about those who are not Christians?  The Scriptures say that Christ died for the sins of the world (John 1:29).  Therefore, all men have had their sins forgiven in the atonement.  However, few Christians would say that all non-Christians are going to be saved.  But why not, if all sin is forgiven by the atonement (1 John 2:1, 2 Cor. 5:19)?  We must conclude from this that it takes something more than the forgiveness of sin to be saved.  The atonement simply opens the way to God and keeps the door open; it does not guarantee salvation.  The atonement simply allows one to approach God.  This was symbolized at the death of Christ with the tearing of the temple veil, which showed that the way to God was now open.  If we go to Scripture, we find a number of things other than forgiveness that are required to be saved.  The main requirement other than forgiveness seems to be faith.  “By grace are you saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8).  And again, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6).

A biblical example of the above is the story of the lost son.  The son went into the far country, which represented sin and a nonexistent relationship with his father.  However, his father had forgiven him, but even with his father’s forgiveness, he was out of relationship and was still dead in his sin.  The father’s forgiveness was only a part of the equation; it was not the total.  It only opened the way for his son to return.  The son had to recognize his state and return to the father (repentance). If the son would have stayed in the far country, he would have had his father’s forgiveness, but he would not have been saved. Salvation was in the father’s house and not in the far country (Luke 15:11-24).

If forgiveness of sin is a gift of God in the past, present, and future, it seems it must be accepted through faith in the past, present, and future.  Again, if God is the eternal “now,” i.e., outside time, it would seem logical to believe that faith must be maintained in the now in order for a person to accept the forgiveness of sin for past, present, and future sin. This simply means that one must stand or abide in faith or Christ to remain in a forgiven state. Being in Christ is being in the Father’s house.[ii]  Those who say you can live in the far country and be saved by the finished work of Christ, simply do not know what they are talking about. Does not the Bible say that Christ died once and for all for sin? Yes, everyone’s sins are forgiven—believers and unbelievers.  However, that does not mean they are saved. The atonement means they now have access to the Father through their faith relationship with Christ. Through faith and baptism they are put into Christ (The Fathers house) where there is forgiveness of sin and salvation (Rom. 6:1-3, Gal. 3:26-27, Acts 2:38).

In view of the above, we should be cautious how we use the expression that “our sins have been forgiven—past, present, and future.  This teaching is not expressly taught in Scripture and needs much clarification.  Because of the fuzzy thinking in the Christian movement, I personally would avoid using it.

[i] Rom. 3:25-26  Elect in The Son  by Robert  Shank page 37.  Robert Shank is a Bible scholar who has written two fine books, which I highly recommend: Elect in The Son and Life in The Son.

[ii] John 15:5-8    “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” NIV

Are You There, God?

Are You There, God?

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.  About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matt. 27:45-46

The traditional view[1] of the above section of Scripture says that when Jesus was dying on the cross God forsook Him because God could not look upon sin, and on the cross Jesus was bearing the sins of the world. Thus the question was asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The reader might be surprised to learn that there is another interpretation which I believe is more in line with the context of the Scriptures and with the relationship that Jesus had with His Father. The alternative interpretation says that Jesus was simply crying out for God to respond to His suffering. In other words, it was a cry for God to come and help Him. Jesus was asking God, “Are you there? Where are you? Wake up. Keep your promise that you will never leave me nor forsake me.”[2]

The expression “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is a quote from Psalm 22, a Psalm that is a plea or a cry for help.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;

O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword,

my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;

save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

Notice in the Psalm that David not only asked for help but asked for help to come quickly. Jesus, like most Jews, would have had this Psalm memorized and would have seen His situation as paralleling that of David. Now the question is, did Jesus understand the Psalm as a cry for help or a statement of fact that God had forsaken Him? My contention is that Jesus understood the Psalm as a cry for help and quoted it as a plea to His Father to help Him. Moreover, in the Psalm David did not believe that God had forsaken him.

24 For he has not despised or disdained

the suffering of the afflicted one;

he has not hidden his face from him

but has listened to his cry for help.

In this verse, David confirms his faith in God and when Jesus used it on the cross He was doing the same thing, i.e., confirming His faith in God; faith that God would deliver Him and that He would be alive to praise God among His brothers. “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.” (Ps. 22:22) Verse 22 is a prophecy of the resurrection and pointed to the greatest rescue operation that the world has ever seen. However, the Scripture clearly says that God did not hide His face or turn away from David or Jesus.

When Jesus prayed this prayer for God to come quickly to help Him, the Scripture tells us that He cried out, “It is finished.” and God took His spirit. In other words, God send His angel to rescue His Son and in doing so answered His prayer immediately. This is in keeping with the relationship that Jesus had with His Father. He knew that His Father always heard His prayers.[3]

Moreover, a close examination of the accounts of the death of Jesus will also show that people at the foot of the cross understood Jesus cry as a prayer for help. “When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘He’s calling Elijah.’ The rest said, ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.’ ” (Matt 27:47-49) Well, we have seen that God did send Elijah to rescue Him from the hands of His enemy and in three short days from death itself when He raised Him from the dead.

There seems to be little in the text or the context to support the interpretation that God literally turned His face away from Jesus on the cross because He could not look upon sin. Did not God, in the person of His Son, eat with sinners? Does He still not do it every time His church gathers to eat the Lord’s Supper?

What we have is a traditional interpretation that is based on a theory of the atonement versus one that is based on a plain passage of Scripture that says that God did not turn His face away from Jesus. One view tells us what happened at the crucifixion and the other is a hypothesis of what was going on in the mind of God and why He had to atone for sin in a certain way.[4]

How does God speak to us through this section of Scripture? I believe He is telling us that what seems to be, only seems that way and what appears to be, only appears to be. It may appear to others that God has forsaken us and we may even feel He has forsaken us, but appearance and feelings are not reality. What is real is the Word of God and His covenant promise that says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” The next time you feel that God has forsaken you, talk to God about it. Ask Him for help and remind Him of His promise. You might even tell Him to wake up and hurry up. He will answer and He will surely understand your impatience.

23 Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep?

Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.

24 Why do you hide your face

and forget our misery and oppression? Ps. 44:23-24

Above all remember the covenant promise of God for God has said

5“…Never will I leave you;

never will I forsake you.”

6 So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.

What can man do to me?”

Heb. 13:5-6


[1]  The traditional view of this passage is tied to the penal substitution theory of the atonement, which was first taught by Anselm of Canterbury in 1098 AD in his book, Cur Deus Homo (Why a God=Man?) and was popularized by John Calvin. Note: A Better Atonement by Tony Jones.

[2] Deut. 31:6, Josh. 1:5 The covenant promise was made to the nation of Israel and to its leaders. Jesus would have taken the promise made to Joshua personally.

[3] John 11:42 “I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

[4] For many the penal substitution theory of the atonement is Scriptural and some go so far to make it a part of the gospel. However, it is only a theory and there are no plain passages of Scriptures that teach that. The Scriptures teach that Jesus died for our sins, but does not go beyond that statement. It does not tell us why He had to die. Throughout church history there have been a number of theories trying to explain the “why” of the death of Christ. If you are interested in knowing more about these theories, I recommend Tony Jones’ book, A Better Atonement.

The Magical Twins- Science and Magic

The Magical Twins

“Those who have studied the period know better. There was very little magic in the Middle Ages; the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are the high noon of magic. The serious magical endeavour and the serious scientific endeavour are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve. But they were twins. They were born of the same impulse. I allow that some (certainly not all) of the early scientists were actuated by a pure love of knowledge. But if we consider the temper of that age as a whole we can discern the impulse of which I speak.[1] C.S. Lewis  

I was reading C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man and ran across the above excerpt, which sparked the question as to how science and magic are similar. Of course, raising such a question will immediately cause indignation on the part of those who are involved in scientism, i.e., those who have made science into a religion or ideology. These folks believe that science is above reproach and criticism, which is itself the very proof that they have accepted it as an absolute in their lives. Absolutism is one of the characteristics of a religion, not science, at least real science. Authentic science is a body of knowledge that is constantly changing and expanding. One way it expands is through falsification and criticism. When a belief system is closed to these things, it can no longer be called science; it must be called scientism.

One of the things that science and magic have in common is that they both have magical dust, which we might call fairy dust. Fairy dust is magical dust that makes magical and unbelievable things happen. The magician can throw fairy dust on something and make it appear or disappear with a bang and a lot of smoke, which keeps the audience from seeing what is going on behind the scenes. The audience believes because it wants to believe in magic and the skill of the magician at creating an illusion. However, there are always a few in the audience who seem to have x-ray eyes that see through the illusion.

I know some are getting a little curious as to what the fairy dust of science is. Well, it is the fairy dust of time. When some scientists have a problem with explaining and justifying certain theories, they simply sprinkle some fairy dust of time on it to make it work. For example, when evolutionists came up against some very large problems of not having enough time for their theories to work, they simply sprinkled some of their fairy dust of time on the theory and made it work. When it came to the origin of life and the huge problem of probability, they simple used their fairy dust and say that with enough time anything is possible, even life coming from non-life. Now, that is a greater miracle than having someone resurrected from the dead. The more astonishing thing is that these folks tell us they do not believe in miracles. However, they do believe in fairy dust.

We have some magicians, or should I say scientists, who now are saying that, given enough time, something can even come from nothing. Now, this is the ultimate magic trick, for if the big bang created space-time, it means that there was no fairy dust (time) before the big bang or the beginning of the universe. So what we have is a rabbit being pulled out of a hat without any fairy dust. How could this be? You cannot work miracles without the fairy dust of time. Well, when you run out of fairy dust, there is only one thing to do; create a brand new kind of fairy dust. The new dust is call necessity dust. This dust is only used when you run out of fairy dust and any or all reasonable answers. Necessity dust is made up of convoluted and nonsensical theories which have the appearance of intellectual vitality but in actuality is nothing more than nonsense. However, it often works if the audience wants to be deceived.[2]

In recent years science has run out of time in this universe. In other words, they have run out of fairy dust when it was discovered that the universe had a beginning. The time in our universe can only be stretched so far for it has a beginning and an end. So what can they do? They must make some more fairy dust. Now, that is a tall order. How in the world can you make more fairy dust of time? Well, like most magic, you dream it up. You make another universe or a multi-verse. Remember the story of Peter Pan. Peter lived in Never Never Land. Then there is Alice, who lived in Wonderland. Both worlds had an abundance of fairy dust. The big question is, can the scientific imagination create another worlds or universes to get more fairy dust to prove their theories? I think the answer is yes, for they have come up with a multi-universe theory (string theory) which does not have one shred of scientific evidence to support it. Yet, it is embraced by a consensus of scientists. However, its creation is a matter of necessity. For without it there is no more fairy dust, which means everyone wants to believe in it whether real or not. For what in the world would we believe in if we ran out fairy dust? Maybe God? Of course, science got rid of the God of gaps[3] and replaced Him with fairy dust. So now, where shall they go? Never, Never Land or maybe Alice’s Wonderland?

Some will charge me with being anti-scientific. However, I vehemently deny this charge. What I am against is pseudoscience that claims to be science and the men who abuse science, making it into something it is not. I especially am against those who attempt to use science to prove that there is no God and in so doing, subvert true science to support their unbelief.

For those true believers in scientism, let me challenge you to read Lee Smolin’s book, The Trouble with Physics, which is an objective view of the string theory.[4] I read Smolin’s book after writing this paper and found his book to confirm much of my thinking about the string theory and other new theories of modern science. The book is worth reading solely for its in-depth study of the history of the string theory.


[1] Lewis, C.S. The Abolition of Man

[2] In 1996, American physicist Alan Sokal submitted a paper loaded with nonsensical jargon to the journal Social Text in which he argued that quantum gravity is a social and linguistic construct. You can read the paper on the internet. When the journal published it, Sokal revealed that the paper was in fact a spoof. The incident triggered a storm of debate about the ethics of Sokal’s prank. However, the truth was that the debate was about whether or not it was right to show how easy many scientist are deceived.

[3] “The claim that, given time, science will explain everything is simply the atheist’s version of the God of the gaps. The gaps in our knowledge can be plugged, they say, by future (but as yet unknown) scientific advances; thus the God of the gaps is simply replaced by the future science of the gaps–same gaps, different deity. It’s what philosopher of science Karl Popper called “promissory materialism.” (Who Made God? Searching for a Theory of Everything by Edgar Andrew)

[4] Lee Smolin is a theoretical physicist who has made influential contributions to the search for a unification of physics. He is a founding faculty member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. His previous books include: The Life of the Cosmos and Three Roads to Quantum.