Monday, October 27, 2014

Surviving the Holidays

I wanted to let everyone know know about a special event we have coming up this Sunday Afternoon.  The event is called Surviving the Holidays.  It is called Surviving the Holidays.  Please click the link below for more information

Click here for more information.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Movie Review: “Heaven is For Real”

I have been asked several times about my opinion of the movie Heaven is for Real so I took the time to watch the DVD. I will start out with what I liked about the film. 

Overall I thought the acting was good. I like how the pastor is shown before and after the traumatic event of his son’s near death experience, the local church he pastor’s struggle with the situation, and the fact that the movie raises the question of heaven for those who reject the concept. As I watched the film, I was taken back to an event in my life as my son Asher struggled to breath in a children’s hospital. I was told at one point that he wouldn’t make it. Needless to say this movie pulled at my heart strings. I enjoyed how the pastor was shown in a positive light in the church and community. I also enjoyed seeing how the pastor struggled and wrestled with issues in the Word of God. These aspects are very true to life for all pastors and churches. Pastors are humans who struggle with situations and theology just like everyone else. In addition to this, I also enjoyed seeing how the church leaders struggled with the situation. They had given the pastor room to deal with some of his issues, but most didn’t really seem to truly grasp the struggles of the pastor and his family. It is difficult to describe the unique pressures and struggles that ministry places on individuals and families. I felt the film did a good job of showing the tension of an imperfect pastor leading an imperfect church, and in the end both coming out the better. This is a common and important concept for local churches. In addition, I also enjoyed that the question of the existence of heaven after death was raised for those who don’t believe.

Now I will move on to what I didn’t enjoy about the movie. First off, the images of heaven are not biblically based. When Colton goes to heaven, he finds himself at the church building? The Word of God makes no mention of church buildings in heaven anywhere. Even our most beautiful buildings will not even be close to what God has hand crafted in heaven. Second, the attempt at showing a “beautiful heaven” in the church building was cheesy at best, and downright not helpful. Showing angels as these star things that sing? There are many examples of angels in the Word, but none show them as this movie does. In addition to this, the overarching problem with the vision, is the lack of seeing Jesus as the crown jewel! While Jesus is part of this vision of heaven, Jesus plays more of a side character or like a glorified “table host” of cafĂ© heaven in Colton’s vision. At no point does Colton worship Jesus or show that Jesus is King, Lord, and worthy of worship (Revelation 5).

My overall opinion, take this movie with a grain of salt, the images of heaven seem more cooked up by an active four year old imagination than based in Biblical reality. I fear that our need and attention to movies and books along this line, only points to the spiritual immaturity and our addiction to “junk food” Christian entertainment instead of healthy biblical truth. Experiences never dictates doctrine, especially the doctrine of heaven. This movie is simply entertainment, not biblical reality. Keeping in mind this is simply entertainment not something to base a bible study on, I would give this a four on a scale of one to ten.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What does Hebrews 6:4-5 Mean?

4 For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit, 5 tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, 6 and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt.

In the above passage the author of Hebrews is giving us what is commonly referred to as a “warning” passage.  Other examples of warning passages are found in Hebrews (2:1-4; 5:11-6:12; 10:19-39, 12:1-29) Revelation 2 and 3, James and Galatians 4:8-11.  For many years pastors and scholars have spilled a lot of ink in a struggle to understand how the “warning” passages work with the “assurance” passages (like John 10:28-30, Romans 8:28-39, and Philippians 1:6).  I think the key to understanding the meaning to this question arises from two questions about this passage:

1. Who does it address?

2. What is the function of this warning?

When one reads this text, the simplest explanation of who it is written to would be a believer.  If you were to put this passage before a child, they would say it is written to a believer.  The language that is used here of tasted the heavenly gift, become companions with the Holy Spirit, tasted God’s word and the powers of this coming age,”  all point to the fact that we are dealing with some who have a knowledge and experience of the things of the living God of the universe.  It is also important to note that the author of Hebrews never says anyone has fallen away or in verse six the comma does not follow with the clause, “as some have done” or “since some have fallen away”.  But if that is true, and none have fallen away, what is the function of this passage?

I believe there is a weightiness involved in Hebrews 6 that is often overlooked and slighted in an effort to defend the eternal security of a believer.  I would submit to you that this passages is more than a hypothetical situation, but that this is a warning passage that is used as a means of preservation for God’s people.  For example,   if you were driving up towards Butler Bridge and you saw a sign in the middle of the road that says, “Bridge Out Ahead!”  Those of us who are able to read, would turn our cars around and take another route to preserve out life, avoiding the eighty foot plus drop into Watauga Lake.  Or if you were on a tour of the Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina, and the guide said, please do not go down into the cellar there is poison gas down there that will surely kill you.  You would heed the warning of the guide, and be very careful not to go near that cellar!  The warning is more than a hypothetical, the warning is a means that the guide used to save your life.  It is important to remember that only those who belong to God will be able to heed the warning passages God gives.  It is impossible to warn those who don’t know the power of God to be preserved (1 Peter 1:5).  There is a call from Hebrews six to be careful and take heed!

Click HERE for futher study on this passage and other warning passages!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Is the Bible Reliable?

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable…” -1 Timothy 3:16

While there are several historical documents tests to determine the historical reliability of a document, I would like to highlight just a few for you today.  One test is called the bibliographical test. This test looks at several aspects of ancient manuscripts like how many exist right now.  In order for a document to take this test, the originals must no longer exist.  Today, we have close to, if not more than 25,000 copies of the New Testament either in part or whole.  The document that comes closest to this is Homer’s Iliad which has around 643 copies.  Another test looks at the time gap between the oldest surviving copy and the original manuscript.  Again in second place is Homer’s Iliad with a time gap of 400 years from penning of the original manuscript until the oldest surviving copy.  The New Testament has a gap of only fifty years.  There is no other ancient book that matches the textual availability and integrity of the Bible.   Time would fail me if I went on to tell you about how non-Christian historians, like Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, and many others document and validate the existence of the Word of God.  If you haven’t given the Bible much attention lately, I would encourage you to give the most historically reliable book of all time another look!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Are All Christians Hypocrites?

“If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 
– 1 John 1:8

In the English language the word hypocrite gets a lot of mileage! A hypocrite is a person’s whose public statements and life are inconsistent with their private life. The word hypocrite evokes a certain level of distain and distrust in everyone. What many point to as inconsistency among professing Christians is what it appears to be. Even Jesus made the point that hypocrites exist among God’s people. For example Jesus taught us the importance of prayer, fasting, and giving for kingdom advancement. Jesus also gave his harshest warnings and correction to those who did the things he taught from the wrong motivations and for the wrong rewards. Jesus discourages his followers from making long public prayers, making sure that our fasting draws attention to our self-righteousness, and parading our gifts at church and to the poor (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16). Jesus calls these people out for being real hypocrites among God’s people (Matthew 23:13-33; Mark 7:20-23). While Jesus never called his disciples hypocrites, our Lord did make it clear that there will always be hypocrites mixed in among true disciples (Matthew 13:24-30).

So the real question is, how can we know the difference between a true believer and a hypocrite? Both true disciples and hypocrites have sin and inconsistencies in their life. I would encourage you to remember that perfection is the final step in the life of a believer (Romans 8:30). We are reminded by the Apostle Paul that we are being “transformed into the same image (the image of Jesus Christ) from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).” For a true disciple, one is continuing to change each day to become more like Christ. The Apostle Paul reminds us that while we are changing, we will still “stumble in many ways (James 3:2).” I think we must ask ourselves the following questions in order to think correctly about ourselves (Romans 12:3):
  • Do we agree with God about the sin in our life? (1 John 1:9)
  • Are we seeking to fight the sin in our life? (1 Peter 5:4-11)
In World War II, the bloodiest battles for our troops was between D-Day, on June 8, 1944, when we broke the enemies back by taking the beaches at Normandy, France and VE-Day, on May 8, 1945, when we finally defeated the axis of evil. In the same way, Christians will lose many battles and the battles will often be most difficult after trusting Jesus Christ, but if we repent of our sins and truly trust Jesus we will be victorious. So no, not all Christians are hypocrites, but we are honest in our struggle to be more like our perfect, Holy, King Jesus!