Friday, June 2, 2017

June 3, 2017

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:18-21

This portion of Scripture has a lot to say about how to benefit from the Word of God. Today I am thinking of Jesus' parable about the sower and how when he sowed the seed it fell on four different types of soil and resulted in four different types of results.

From these verses here in James, as well as in Jesus' teaching it is clear that for the teaching of the Word to be effective there must be some preparation on the part of the hearer. The seed of God's Word can only produce fruit if it falls on fertile soil.

When prepared hearers interact with a prepared teaching the result is a spiritual harvest.

James is presenting a point of view quite different from the mindset of modern church-goers. He is placing the responsibility on the hearers of the Word to make sure they are spiritually prepared when they show up for the teaching. It is apparent that he understood the power was in the truths being taught not in the techniques of the teacher.

The modern church is characterized by a vastly different attitude and approach. Many 21st century believers come to church unprepared and expect the preacher to move them with his presentation and oratory skills. No wonder there are so many anemic Christians and unhealthy churches.

Certainly, the more skillful a communicator is the easier it is to receive his teaching, but even the most skilled teacher can only sow the seed and the seed is subject to the soil upon which it lands. It is the duty of any preacher or teacher of the Word to show up well prepared and to work hard to continually hone his communication skills. That is a given. But the listener shares an equal responsibility to show up prepared.

A healthy church is a place where a well-prepared teacher of the Word interacts with properly prepared hearers in the power of the Spirit. In that atmosphere the preaching gets better and the people get better!

How do you prepare?

James gives a couple of insights on that!

First, prepare your attitude. He specifically mentions the problem with anger. Angry people don't learn well for a host of reasons. I think there are people who come to hear the Word for inspiration. They want the teaching or the sermon to make them feel good - or bad - who knows? But coming to church just to get moved emotionally is not healthy. The Word is about instruction not just inspiration. It is your responsibility to come with an open mind and a teachable spirit. James suggests the attitude of humility.

Second, come prepared to actively involved yourself in learning. Bring your Bible. Bring your pen to jot down notes. Expect to hear from God and to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. Understand that growth results from obedience. James says the Word is like a mirror that will show you the spiritual flaws in your life. If you are not prepared to take an objective look at your soul, save yourself the hassle of coming because once you hear the truth you are responsible for what you do with it.

Spiritual growth and health are the result of prepared teaching connecting with prepared hearers. When the seeds of truth are planted in good soil your get a spiritual harvest!

Want to help your preacher be better? Be a better hearer! Expect him to be prepared so you come prepared.

Creation Vs Theory of Origin

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Hebrews 11:1-3

To believe in creation requires faith. Accepting the evolutionary theory of origin also takes faith. Because faith is defined as "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see". Neither creationists or evolutionists have seen their "first cause" each is certain of its existence. Creationists put their faith in Scripture while evolutionists put their trust in science. Which do you think forms the best foundation?

Frank Crick is a Nobel-prize winning biologist who helped with the discovery of DNA. He is a man who has devoted his life to science and has invested great faith in it. Here is a quote from him relating to the origin of the universe, "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to almost be a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have to have been satisfied to get it going."

Science journalist and author, Charles Siefe observed, "It seems like a tremendous coincidence that the universe is suitable for life."

Coincidence? Miracle? Random chance occurrence? What is the origin of our universe?

One thing is sure, the tolerance for error in the beginning of the universe was extremely slight. Astro-physicist, Lawrence Krause, for instance, wrote that if the force of gravity were changed by 0.0000000000000000000000000000000001%, both the planet Earth and the sun would be nonexistent.

Honest examination of the facts and the evidence and the mathematical probabilities strongly favor supernatural creation as the origin of our universe. But your final answer will come down to where you place your faith. And faith is based on what you hope to be true.

Evolutionists hope that God does not exist and that the universe spontaneously exploded into existence. Why would they not want God to be the Creator of the universe?

Again, I hearken by to my two main reasons offered previously:

1) They want to be in control of their own lives.
2) They want to sin without having any consequences.

If, as Scripture records, God is the Creator, then He is in control and we are accountable to Him. But, if the scientific theory of the "Big Bang" and evolution are correct, then their is no God and we are in charge.

That is the essence of sin. St. Paul expressed it this way:

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:19-21

I would caution you against hoping God away from the creation process. If there is no God and if all that we see in our world and universe is an incredible coincidence, then where is our security? If it all came together via a random occurrence of matter and energy, what is to keep it from all coming apart? How can you have hope in the midst of that uncertainty? If we can only be certain of the moment in which we live then what is the purpose of living? If we are gods, what has our deity gained us?

If you are trusting in science, has science ever been wrong? Are you sure that you want to pin your hopes on something as inexact as science?

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for...." 

Be careful what you hope for.