Scripture Reading Challenge (#14)

God does not point out our sin to laugh at us or scorn.  Instead, he reveals our issues so that we can deal with them appropriately.  That is, to be cleansed and forgiven.  In the story of Genesis, the brothers need to make a second trip to Egypt.  They will face their sin one way or another.  Joseph is building with excitement to reveal his unfeigned love for his brethren.

Read Genesis 43:1-44:34

Something that should be jumping off the pages of the Bible to us about this story is Joseph is dropping hints to his brothers all the time.  In Genesis 42:18, he says, “for I fear God.”  The word used for God is Elohim, which can be a generic term to identify any God. However, the writer of Genesis uses it to signify the One True God of Israel.  It’s possible that Joseph is letting his brothers know that he fears their God.  We also see in our text today that He knows that his brother’s and father’s God blesses (Genesis 43:23).  This Egyptian is very well acquainted with the Hebrew God.  Egyptians probably had cultic practices and perspectives against Hebrews.  Finally, the individual interest he took in his full brother, Benjamin, and the extra food he gave him (Genesis 43:34).  All I can say is Joseph may have disguised himself from his brothers, but at the same time, he is trying his best to get them to recognize him.

God is doing the same thing.  First Timothy 1:17 and Colossians 1:5 reminds us that God is invisible.  He has dropped hints all the way through the Old Testament about his character in that is it claimed, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1)  The Psalms also teach, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1).  God is fully revealed in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:5).  The Father has made himself known fully in the Son and witnesses in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.  Even more, Christ has left us the Church, His literal body on earth.  First John 4:20 says, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”  It is difficult for me to believe someone has faith in God but does not live in faithfulness with the Church (by participating in

It is difficult for me to understand that someone has faith in God but does not live in faithfulness with the Church (by participating in fellowship with a local congregation).  We have faith in the invisible head of the Church but no faithfulness to the visible body.  God has revealed Himself fully in time past through His Son.  Today, God continually reveals Himself through His people.  Our bodies are the temple His spirit dwells in now (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Not something made with human hands but fashioned by God.  So, again, how are you living out the faith you claim to have?  God has given us the Church as the community where we are to live out our faith.

Scripture Reading Challenge (#7)

How did the Old Testament people receive salvation?  Is Jesus Plan B?  These two questions are given solid answers in this chapter.  You may have heard someone say that the Old Testament was presented salvation by works and the New Testament by grace.  However, salvation is received in the Old Testament and New Testament the same way.  By faith.

Read Genesis 15:1-21

Paul wrote, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31).  Before Paul wrote that, God told Abraham, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1).  God offers us great assurance when we follow Him.  Yes, there are times of trouble, but God is on our side.  It’s a great thing to be on His side.

In returning to Paul, he makes a commentary on Abraham and our salvation in Romans 4:63 and Galatians 3:6.  James 2:23 agrees with Paul’s explanation.  Abraham trusted God’s promise, and God credited him with righteousness.  How were Old Testament individuals given salvation?  By faith, they looked forward in time to the completed work of Christ on the cross.  God added his work to their accounts.

Now, we can answer the second question, “Is Jesus Plan B?”  Our passage implies that Jesus was always God’s Plan A.  The law that will come later in Scripture is simply the “schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).  The law is a tutor that shows no love.  However, it shows us just how loved we are by God, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  A better question for us to answer then, “Are you living by faith?”

Scripture Reading Challenge (#5)

Learning another language can be hard. In our text today, however, we learn that humanity shared a common language. After an act of rebellion before God, we lost that gift. God has ways of reminding us that we are not in control, but that He is.

Read Genesis 11:1-9

This passage unveils basic human needs.  These dwellers in the plain of Shinar (later to become Babylon), looked to attain security and identity.  By building a tower, they were going to have a secure place and no longer be considered a scattered people.  If they could make their name great, gain an identity, they would feel like they had people to which they belonged.  However, they did this as an act of rebellion to God.  In doing so, they refused the security and identity that we can only find in the Lord.

Human ingenuity is also highlighted in this passage.  When God saw man’s rebellion, it was noted that nothing would be held back from them.  People are innovative.  I believe that is because we are made in God’s image, howbeit, distorted and broken.  We still retain some of those qualities.  Such as, God is a Holy Trinity, and we only exist in a web of relationships.  It takes the relationships of others for us to be born and to thrive.  Another area is creativity.  We are creative because we were made in the likeness of our Creator.

The last thing that jumps out to us is the unity of language.  One of the greatest barriers throughout time has been languages.  At the Tower of Babel, there was unity through one language, but the people were rebellious.  On the day of Pentecost, according to the second chapter of Acts, the early believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (languages in the Greek).  They left the upper room where they stayed and went into the streets.  People from all corners of Rome’s territory heard them speak in their languages.  God unified the people in the Church through His Spirit.  We can only imagine that in heaven, people every tribe, nation, and tongue will worship God with one voice, as in the days of our creation.

Reading Scripture Challenge (#4)

Do you know anyone that is absent-minded?  Forgetfulness is something that we have to deal with in this world.  God, however, always has us on His mind.  Psalm 139:17-18 reads, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God!  How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: When I shall awake, I am still with thee.” 

Read Genesis 8:1-9:17

Our Passage says that God remembered Noah in the Ark.  Sometimes we can feel like God forgets about us and where He led us.  Israel thought the same thing in Isaiah 49:14, “But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my LORD hath forgotten me.”  God replied, however, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Behold, I graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me” (vs. 15-16).  The Hebrew writer reminds us, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  God would not leave Noah in the Ark.  He won’t leave you in your situation either.

God gave Noah, his family, and the rest of creation a token to help them remember God’s promise to not destroy the world through a global flood.  God certainly does not need anything to help Him remember.  However, we need constant reminders.  Also, sometimes we need to be reminded that God remembers.  In the case of Noah, the Lord put a rainbow in the sky to tell them and us that He won’t forget.

CFCB Scripture Reading Challenge (#2)

God’s creation included freewill.  Adam could use this freedom to voluntarily choose to love God and obey his commands, or he could abuse this freedom and decide to disobey God.  The reading today focuses on the fall of man and how sin entered into creation.

Read Genesis 3:1-24

In this third chapter, we are introduced to the antagonist to God, Satan.  However, we find him in disguise, as we later learn in Scripture that Satan is called the old serpent (Rev. 12:9, 20:2).  It seems that Satan had possessed the serpent (apparently by freewill as both the Serpent and Satan receive curses in 3:14 and 15).  We also note the method of Satan is to tempt.  It seems to be his favorite approach to influence sin (Gen. 3:1-6; Matt. 4:1-11;  John 13:2; Acts 5:3; 1 Co4. 7:5; 1 Thess. 3:5).  We must guard our life against the trickery of the devil.

Chapter three also displays the consequences of sin.  Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and will take more from you than you ever wanted to give.  Adam and Eve first lost their innocence.  They knew immediately that they had done wrong.  Trust between each other had also been lost.  Sin resulted in the breakdown of the relationship between people.  Sin also resulted in the loss of a personal relationship with God.

The last thing we notice about the consequences of sin is that the results are short and long-term.  The immediately felt guilty.  In the long-term, they also had to bear the weight of a broken world.  However, in the midst of the curses, there is a glimpse of hope.  God promises in 3:15, that Satan would receive a wounded head.  How will that happen?  Another glimpse of God’s plan of salvation is shown in a comparison of coverings.  Adam and Eve attempted to cover their nakedness (their personal sin) with their own works (3:7).  God, however, knew this was not sufficient, and slew and skinned an animal and made them coats.  Our redemption would require the shedding of blood and a covering not made with our dirty hands.

Thank you, Lord, for a glimpse of the great promise.

CFCB Scripture Reading Challenge (#1)

Over the next 100 days, the congregation of Columbus First Christian Baptist is engaging in a Scripture reading challenge. We are using the Essential 100 reading guide by the Scripture Union. I am going to write a daily devotion that goes along with each of the readings. There are 50 Old Testament passages and 50 New Testament passages. I will share the passage for that day and my personal observations.  This purpose of these devotionals is to help the people at CFCB see the Scripture a little clearer and to invite others to join in on the readings as well.

Read Genesis 1:1-2:25

Creation, communion with God, and companionship with others are the topics covered in the first two chapters of Genesis. We start by reflecting on creation, a hotbed issue in society and the Church. Personally, I am a young earth creationist and also believes that science fully informs that direction of my faith. However, whatever your theologically bent is here, creation is beautiful. I remember in a trip to the western states that we had an opportunity to view the Grand Canyon. It was breathtaking. The world that God created is amazing. From our own bodies to the smallest single-celled creature. Psalm 19:1-6 speaks of the beauty of God’s creation. God’s presence is clearly seen in the intricacies of the created world.

God created humanity in His image.  There are so many avenues that we can travel down and explore exactly what the “imagio dei” (image of God) means to us.  However, it enough in this writing to note that God loves us and we are created with freedom of will to love Him back.  First John 4:19 reminds us of this simple truth, “We love him, because he first loved us.

God not only created in us the capacity to have a relationship with Him, but he also created us to have a relationship with others.  The depths of this first relationship is wrapped around human companionship.  I am very thankful for the companion that God placed in my life.  This reality may not be the case for everyone.  However, God has created us for in a web of relations, from which we are able to draw strength and receive encouragement.  So, we do thank God also for all those around us that support us and sharpen our character and faith as well.

Biblical Creation

Within the last few weeks there was released a poll done by the Pew Forum on American adherence to the theory of evolution, theistic evolution, and creationism.  It is disappointing to hear that only roughly one out of every three Americans still believe in creationism.  Let me define these for you…

Evolution – Life as we know it has come to be through natural process over a time span of what is now estimated to about 14 billion years.

Theistic Evolution (old earth creation) – Life as we know it has come through natural process guided by God according to the same time period that evolutionary scientists point to.

Creationism (young-earth creation) – Life as we know it has only been within the last six thousand years and that God created the universe in six literal days.

The real issue for myself is not whether science and faith have a place together.  Of course they do.  Reason and faith really do go hand in hand.  The Christian faith is a reasonable faith, not blind.  Blind faith means there is no reasons for believing.  Christianity has a rich archive of reasons for a person’s faith in God and His Word.  So, I am not arguing over the Christian and evolutionist interpretation of scientific facts in this blog.

The issue that I tackle is that of theistic evolution.  That a self-proclaimed believer in Christ could adhere to evolution as God’s method of creation has always confused me.  The only explanation I could think of was that they pick and choose their scriptures and perverted the rest (which has serious implications on a person have true faith and salvation).  The first experience I had with someone from this camp of thought was with the teacher of a class on reasonable faith.  The course description was that proofs of God’s word through science and prophetic fulfillment in ancient and modern history.  The course description was never fulfilled.

The course ended up being this teachers opportunity to propagate evolutionary theory among creationist under the disguise of Biblical teaching.  In the end of the course he walked people through the evolutionary line.  The ending conversation of the class is this…

 
Teacher: Evolution is God’s method of creation.  We see that with the day-age theory of Genesis 1.
Me: So, God didn’t create Adam straight from the dust of the earth?  You mean it is only a metaphor that he shares the common elements?  That man is evolved from ape-like ancestors?
Teacher:  Yes, that is correct.
Me:  Your saying that God took some ape like creature then and put a soul in them?
Teacher: Yes.
Class then ended very quietly.
 
   That was my introduction to theistic evolution and it was closer to home than I would of ever imagined.  Since then I have come across it in college and seminary.  My question still remains the same.  How could a believer say they believe the Bible and evolution?  I know there are entire seminars given on how to make a harmony between the two.  I read blogs by Craig Adams and Scot McKnight that are scholars on the subject but still never find that harmony or my questions answered.   It could be that my questions are more theological than scientific.  Which is the heart of the blog.  Evolution not only causes problem for science but more inevitably for theology.  Here are my questions.
1. What of the soul of man compared to any other animal if he evolved from them?
2.  If there is more value on man because of an eternal soul then when did man receive it in the evolutionary line?
3.  Is there any real meaning to the scriptural teaching of man being made in the image of God?
4.  If evolution is how God created than when did the ape-like ancestry of man become the image of God?
5.  If we are no different than animals metaphysically than can animals sin?  Do they repent?  Does God forgive them?
6.  If Adam is only metaphorical than when does sin come into the picture?
7.  Is the book of Romans treatment of sin coming by one man to be understood metaphorical?  Therefore, disrupting the understanding of the origin of sin and how each person is born into sin?
8.  Is the Bible trustworthy when it makes statements about the natural world?
    Depending on how those questions are answered one can change the whole framework of Christian doctrine.