What Good is That?
This is one of the things that I love about the Bible. God has a sense of humor, that is for sure, and under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, James authored this phrase (‘what good is that?,’ see quote below).
I had one of my ah-hah moments the other day at dinner with my wife. Something has been weighing heavy on my heart. I have made some personal struggles I am having public on FaceBook, these stemmed from my health and income crisis. I have found that others tell me they are blessed when I share my struggles, but the down side of that is the world reads my comments and cannot reconcile them with Christianity because they see it from a human perspective alone.
The problem with natural men (unbelievers) is that they can not recognize, let alone, understand the things of God. They see a Christian struggle and they respond, ‘…ah-ha! Got-ya; you see, I told you He wasn’t real.‘ The atheist has no knowledge how God works nor how Christianity operates. He sees struggle and suffering and cannot understand how God is at work within all of that. There is a deep mystery, almost a secret code of sorts that can only be deciphered by a Believer. The unregenerate see the writing, they can read what is says, but they cannot decipher it because they cannot interpret it. It is ‘folly(1 Cor 2:14)’ to them.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. Ro. 8:28
I am one of those who have ‘been called according to His purpose.” So why does God allow a Christian such as myself to go through misery and suffering? Why would a Child of God be allowed to experience so much anguish and anxiety? Why do Christians suffer health crisis? Why would He call a man to quit his job and enter graduate school in a Seminary, only to then let him have so much strife and misfortune in his and his wife’ life that while serving at a church where they serve part time they become known as the ‘Job Couple.’
The atheist knows nothing about how God works. How could he? The believer walking in the faith understands the answer, but our unregenerate friends cannot.
“…the God of all comfort., who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted with by God. 2 Co 1:3
Our atheist friends have no knowledge or understanding of how God works. It is as though they were reading a coded message without the cipher key. The Christian understands the message because we have that key. The Key is the Holy Spirit. They are unaware that Scripture explains why:
The natural person does not accept the things of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor 2:14
I have been burdened recently and stressed over current health issues and their resulting financial crises. So I shared my struggles for several reasons. The main one is so my Christian Brothers and Sisters can know how to pray for me. Being transparent I have learned helps other people. I’ve received many notes from people thanking me for sharing my heart, because they struggle likewise, and just knowing others are out there dealing with similar issues makes them aware that they are not alone (2 Cor 1:3).
For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal. Jer 30:17
God no longer speaks verbally to man. No burning bushes, no voices from the mountain saying this or that, no angels holding a sword in their hands. The book of Hebrews clearly teaches:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power…”
God HAS SPOKEN…past tense. God today only speaks to man through the written Word of God. The Canon of Scripture is closed. All God has to say to man is recorded now in Scripture. Jesus finished the job that was the meaning of his statement “…it is finished…”; He died for my atheist friend so that he could be brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ [God become man], who became flesh & blood to die specifically for this atheist.
So backing up a bit, this atheist responded to my followup comment on my main comment:
“James 5:14-15 That should fix things.”
Quoting that verse,
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
So in case you are not spiritually inclined, he is challenging God. And he takes a passage out of context completely ignoring the circumstances of the man by asking what were his ailments.
You see he mocks God for several reasons. And one of those reasons have to do with the 25+ Christians who have made responded. The atheists’ out there are watching Christians. Our lack of response when God reveals a need speaks volumes – but what the spiritually bling atheist doesn’t understand is that no matter the response from humans, who often let us down, God is always faithful and always working in the background.
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, oh Lord have not forsaken forsaken those who seek you.
God never fails us, while men usually do. God brings about everything in such a way as to bless us. (Romans 8:28). Another passage that says this fact is this:
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man…
I have always been a ‘put feet to your prayers’ sort of guy. Years ago, a couple we knew in our church group were having financial difficulties and among other things needed a car so the husband could get back and forth to work. The prayer request from the couple was made and the class prayed. About the time we were about to move on to our lessons, I stood up and said, “wait a minute. Lets not just pray for them, lets take up a collection for them in this class right now and put feet to that prayer. Over $500 was in the offering – and within days the couple had a car.
James 2:15f covers this:
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So in a way our atheist is more perceptive than most Christians.
The Truth about the Battle for the Beginning
First of all, let me start out by stating that I believe wholeheartedly in the Inerrancy, Infallibility, Authority and Total Sufficiency of the Christian/Judeo Scriptures. I am as conservative a Christian as you can find.
Lets define the debate using Wikidepia:
“Young Earth creationism (YEC) is a form of creationism which holds as a central tenet that the Earth and its lifeforms were created in their present forms by supernatural acts of a deity between approximately 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. In its most widespread version, YEC is based on the religious belief in the inerrancy of certain literal interpretations of the Book of Genesis. Its primary adherents are Christians who believe that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days in contrast with old Earth creationism (OEC), which holds literal interpretations of Genesis that are compatible with the scientifically determined ages of the Earth and universe.
The question is not whether God is powerful enough to have created the Cosmos in seven 24 hour periods of time or not – the question is did he. Also, the question is not whether or not God created the universe, or did some other deity create the universe or could it have just spontaneously happened?
Creating the earth and the whole universe and everything that was in it was merely the stage for the plan to unfold. You say, “Well, was it necessary to do all that creation?” Sure. Because that creation spoke about God and who he was, and it told man of his greatness and his glory and his power, didn’t it? The heavens declare what? The glory of God. The firmament7 shows his handiwork. In Romans 1 says you look at the earth and you can see that God exists so that his invisible nature is manifest by his visible creation and we’re without excuse. All that was to reveal who God is.
Concerning the times we live in, scripture states:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1)
So what does scripture mean when it says some will depart from the faith? Well, first of all you have to define just what “the faith” is. There are basic tenants of the Christian faith that are non-negotiable and have been held and defended by the Church for many generations. You cannot deny any of these tenants of the faith and be a Believer. Scripture warns us that this would happen in the last days.
We are warned in 2 Cor 13:5:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves…
Michael Bradley listed the absolute tenants of the Christian Church as: (Slight revisions by me):
1. Jesus Christ is the Only Way To Eternal Salvation With God the Father
2. We Are Saved by Grace Through Faith – Not by Works
3. Jesus Christ is the Son of God
4. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ (through Jesus, God became flesh and assumed a human nature and became a man in the form of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the second person of the Trinity). He was truly God and truly man).
5. Resurrection of Jesus Christ
6. The Ascension of Jesus Christ
7. The Doctrine of the Trinity
8. The Holy Bible is the Inspired and Infallible Word of God
9. Baptized With the Holy Spirit at Salvation
10. Renewed – Regenerated By Holy Spirit
11. The Doctrine of Hell
12. The Return of Jesus
I personally wonder why Creation has not been added to this list? Why, specifically, is the Glory of God as testified in the creation of the universe omitted from the basic tenants of the Christian. I am not sure I have any answers for you on this one…
However, Colossians makes clear that Creating the earth and the whole universe and everything that was in it was merely the stage for the plan to unfold. You say, “Well, was it necessary to do all that creation?” Sure. Because that creation spoke about God and who he was, and it told man of his greatness and his glory and his power, didn’t it? The heavens declare what? The glory of God. The firmament shows his handiwork. In Romans 1 says you look at the earth and you can see that God exists so that his invisible nature is manifest by his visible creation and we’re without excuse. All that was to reveal who God is. .” Col 1:16-17 reads
Anyone who denies any of these 12 things is not a Believer: these are absolute and have been decided upon by Christian Church Fathers for generations. They are not open to debate or negotiation. I note something I am going to have to do some homework myself on, why Creation is excluded from this list?
Under the 12th item on the list comes one of the two greatest disputes in Christianity – the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is returning, but that is all it teaches on the subject of the 2nd coming. It does not define how or when he will return. So anyone who places a stipulation that the Dispensational pre-tribulation rapture theory is an absolute doctrine of Christianity and that you are not a Christian or somehow a lesser Christian if you believe in another system of Eschatology is teaching false doctrine…anyone. It and the method of Creation, young earth (Macarthur, Dr. WE Bell) or old earth (me, Dr. Hugh Ross), are the two most passionately debated doctrines in Christendom. Interesting when you realize neither of them carry any weight whatsoever on the validity of Christianity or the spiritual condition of any individual on either side of the fence.
You will find that note that both subjects are taught exactly as MacArthur teaches on the subject of Creation – you believe this as I interpret (and teach) it or you are one of two things: lost or a lessor Christian.
We live in an age where people want some sort of spiritualism. Spiritualism is cool – just as long as it is not Christianity or anything Bible related. People seek the supernatural, that is why people are so obsessed with UFO’s and Ghost hunting. We happily welcome in Islam and eastern religions, but anything Christian is strictly taboo.
The Bible predicted this very thing, and it describes such people. Note that it charges them with “…having a form of godliness, but denying its power.” 2 Ti 3:4
As I write this treatise, I do so in Caney, Oklahoma, looking out the back of our Casita travel trailer. I am sipping coffee from my NASA cup “I Need My Space,” and wearing a T Shirt Psalm 19:1 Ministries T-shirt quoting Psalm 19:1-2. In sight to my south east is the dome of the 16 inch Meade SCT telescope of the Texas Astronomical Society.I have been here 3 days now doing science and growing spiritually and scientifically. As a matter of fact, as I write this I am collecting scientific data – in this case meteorological data collection.
Along with the science of Astronomy, I am a weather geek. I serve as a county coordinator for the Community Collaborative Rain Snow and Hail Network, and collect data for NOAA and the National Weather Service and NOAA. Thunderstorms are passing through, so I am collecting data on the number of Thunder claps at this location. So far, I have logged 15.
I respect and enjoy most of the teachings of John MacArthur. Notice I said most…
The finest Theologian that I have ever met was Dr. William E. Bell of Dallas Baptist University. I’ve found few since that come remotely close to Dr. Bell. He is the single most person in Christianity that is responsible for my Theology and Conservatism to this day.
I was sent piece by John MacArthur on FaceBook, and I guess I have no choice as a Christian Apologist than to respond and expose John in this teaching as a false teacher. Yes, you read that right. Any time that a Christian teacher teaches something that leads people astray and away from the truth of the Scriptures that person is a false teacher, me included.
I also believe strongly that we who teach the Scriptures have a tremendous burden laid upon us (“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness…” James 3: 1), and that we are to hold fast to truth.
John has a series on his website entitled “The Battle for the Beginning.” Normally I am on board with most of John’s teachings. However, in this piece he published he has committed numerous biblical fallacies. So let’s dissect his key points here.
Johns first paragraph sets the stage to what follows in his teaching on Creation.
1. “My friend, Ron, handed me a little article out of the Los Angeles Times from Friday, June 25th – just a couple of weeks ago. It says a Delta two rocket carried a NASA telescope off Cape Canaveral Thursday on a three year, $204 million mission to try to discover the origin of the universe. Now that’s $204 of your million dollars and mine to try to find out what’s in the first chapter of Genesis. Amazing.”
Note the tone – ending in “Amazing.”
Yes, John. We spent 204 million dollars studying the Natural Revelation of God in creation: have YOU NOT READ IN SCRIPTURE “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them?” Psalm 111:2
2. Satan is the archenemy of God.
I am in complete agreement John. Satan hates the truth of God. the world lives under pervasive deception and falsehood.. Preach on brother.
Skipping on down: “We believe the universe as it is right now was created by God and is sustained by God and ruled by God. We do not believe that truth is relative. We believe truth is absolute and it it absolutely revealed on the pages of scripture, which is the revelation of God.”
On down a bit, he denies that life is random, etc. Fully agree John – Preach it!
Fallacy # 1:
Genesis chapter 1 does away with all evolution [I am not an Evolutionist, but how did he come to this conclusion?], establishing the fact that God is the creator of everything as it is. And we also, by accepting at face value the teaching of Genesis chapter 1, are countering the attack on the Bible as the Word of God [Huh?]. We believe the Bible is the Word of God, not matter what it says, whether it’s talking about history, morality, or creation. [Ah, John, then why do you have the title Doctor in front of your name, if we only need to take Scripture at face value, as it is written you are out of a job pal]?
These teachers in Eschatology and Creation all do this. The downplay the importance of the education of others while teaching we should exempt their own degrees and studies from the discussion. You don’t need anything else, just take the bible Bible at face value – John, if we do that we don’t need you, Dr. MacArthur).
“…and those who are theistic or humanistic evolutionists, in any case, any evolutionist at all, whether he believes there is a God or not, in order to espouse evolution, has to deny Genesis chapter 1). Ok John, then does this mean that you deny Genesis chapter 2 ?, (we’ll come back to that question).
See, dumbing down our congregations by teaching people to take the Bible at face value puts themselves into a contradiction issue, they cause scripture to contradict scripture. You should take scripture at face value, excepting that people like John MacArthur need a Dr. Title to tell you so…
There is no need for further education of any teacher if all that is involved is to read the bible at face value.
Here comes the huge false teaching and fallacy in this teaching: He [i.e. me, Hugh Ross, many others] has to deny, then, that God created the universe as it is [if God created the Universe as it is then how can scripture state that the Universe is expanding (being stretched out?)] and that the record of that creation as contained in scripture is infallible, inerrant, and true [One question John, where are you finding this, we are still taking the Bible at face value, aren’t we, John? Where did you get this – chapter and verse please – or are we to excuse your teaching here from the ‘face value’ statement and take your interpretation as “…infallible, inerrant, and true]? John continues, “We’re really running across the grain of these two great deceptions. Because Genesis 1 affirms God as the creator and it affirms that the account of that creation in the Bible is in fact infallible, inerrant, and true.”
Ok John, lets pause here and run a test of your interpretation that we are to take ALL Scripture “at face value.” Lets not quote the whole 1st chapter of Genesis 1 – everyone knows that it says, God created the Cosmos, us included, in 7 literal, 24 hour days. How, then, do we deal with the contradiction between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2?
These are the generations [???] of the heavens and the earth,when they were created, in the DAY when they were created… Genesis 2:4
Now remember, John says we are to take the 2nd chapter of Genesis “at face value” (Literally, is what he means just as he did in Genesis 1).
Are you starting to see a problem here? You should. Now I know many are going to be shocked at this statement, the KING JAMES version of the Bible, nor the ESV, are the inspired, inerrant Word of God. That’s right – I said it! They are TRANSLATIONS of the inspired inerrant Word of God. If you have to take scripture at face value, you do not have then to translate it into another language. When you say the Old Testament Scripture is inspired and inerrant, you are talking about documents written down by men in Hebrew, not English. And you cannot translate Hebrew or Greek EXACTLY in to English.
If you take a Hebrew text and translate it into English, you must understand Hebrew and English are not translatable with any exactness. Translators have to choose between a word for word translation, or a thought for thought translation. Are translators then violating Deuteronomy 4:2, and other similar passages? If so, all new translations as far back as King James are invalid.
So, John has a bit of a problem here. If we take Scripture from Genesis 1 “at face value,” he has to read the text in Hebrew, not English (oh, and by the way, he also has to find the exact text written down by the Author, not transcriptions by others, – those are extant).”
So how do you read the Bible translated into English and take it at face value (if he is referring to the ESV, TNKJV, KJV, NIV or whatever, it is impossible and is an oversimplification)?
MacArthur continues, “A truly Christian view is that the Bible is the Word of God and God exists and has in scripture revealed himself [I completely agree]. A truly Christian view, then, is that God is the creator, God is the moral law giver, and the universe around us is the work of his creative hand, and the Bible is the revelation of his moral and spiritual law. [I couldn’t agree more]. We believe that what Genesis 1 says is as true as any other part of scripture.” Does he include Genesis 2 then when it says, pretty clearly, that the word in Gen 1 translated Day is the Hebrew word ‘yom’ – and is the same Hebrew word in Gen 2 translated more than a 24 hour day?
I have to agree with John on one thing here, I believe that Genesis 2 is as true as any other part of Scripture, including Genesis 1. And I concede we have a problem here as there appears to be a contradiction between the first chapters of Scripture. Saying we believe the Hebrew word ‘Yom” is a 24 hour period of time in Gen 1 but a longer period of time in Gen 2 is a biblical fallacy. Something has to be wrong here…
I agree with John on this: ” [Genesis 2] is just as true as any other and every other part of scripture [including Genesis 1 – and I also believe scripture cannot contradict scripture .”
Is Scripture then not inerrant? That is the real question. Scripture is inerrant – meaning there is no error within the text of the Bible. If you find one, especially one so blatant as this one between Gen 1 & 2, then the error is not in Scripture, the error is with your interpretation. Teach your error and you teach false doctrine – I don’t care how good intentioned you were in doing it. And you will be held accountable as stated “will be judged with greater strictness.”
John just goes on and on with one Biblical Fallacy after another. He states: “wouldn’t deny the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. They wouldn’t deny the gospel of grace and the need for the new birth. They wouldn’t deny other things in scripture. But they do deny the clear teaching of Genesis chapter 1.” I believe every word in Genesis one, just as I believe every word in Genesis 2. I disagree with your interpretation of Genesis 1.
I “studied to show myself a man approved of God…
John babbles on and makes this inflammatory statement about me and every other student of Scripture who defend the Scripture from teachers, many well know ones like MacArthur, who mistreat scripture. Because we defend scripture from misleading teachers he gives us the title of “so-called Christians.”
John babbles on “It’s unthinkable to me that so-called Christians would deny Genesis.” I agree John, why do so-called Christians such as you deny Genesis chapter 2?
“This is the Word of God. But Satan has managed to be extremely successful in getting his evolutionary lie out, so much so that most professing Christians by far would deny the simple, straightforward testimony of Genesis 1, that God created the entire universe as it is now in 6 24-hour days [could it be that we studied to show ourselves approved by God, and question errant teachings from teachers such as himself who gloss over their self imposed contradictions in scripture?]. And that, about 6,000 or 7,000 years ago.
Here we have the introduction of the concept that God is a liar. God is the author of truth, all truth. Be it the truth from Special Revelation concerning Salvation or the truth in science regarding Natural Revelation. The Psalmist says that we are to study natural revelation (“…studied by all who delight in them).” So we study the Cosmos discovering the vastness of the universe God created but God is just playing with us by misleading us to think a 7,000 year old universe is actually 13.8 billion years old.
“Now no part of the evolutionary lie is more loudly proclaimed or more widely believed than the evolution of man.” I agree, I am not a biological evolutionist.“
The evolution of man and the ‘evolution’ of the Cosmos are two very different and in many ways unrelated things. Scripture calls the day of Genesis two ‘generations.’ Then it groups all the creative acts of God into ONE DAY. The concept John is calling evolution here (in relation to the universe, including you and me) is that Big Bang cosmology is teaching evolution, grouping biological evolution and the ‘evolution’ of the universe into one single act. No wonder our kids leave the Christian church and get eaten alive in secular colleges, universities, and society in general. We send them out completely unprepared with truth because of such teachings as John is doing here. We do not prepare them in science and faith because we are too busy defending undefendable presuppositions held by well meaning, howbeit wrong teachers like MacArthur.
The Big Bang theory is the strongest validation of the authority of Scripture outside of Scripture we will ever find, anywhere.
The Big Bang theory teaches that “a singularity” suddenly started inflating (expanding). Today we see the results of that expansion as a Universe we’ve measured as 13.8 Billion years old. In it’s simplicity, the universe is expanding…and likewise the Universe was created.
The Bible teaches that God created the universe, including you and me, spreading forth the Universe in the process. Expanding Universe, Spreading Universe. They are synonyms for the same concept. Science, the universe is expanding – the Bible, the universe is spreading…
Now, I’m skipping the biological evolutionary discussion, I also do not believe in that system and have questions regarding the science involved.
But MacArthur suddenly makes a remarkable statement, “Now you and I know that the whole thing was done about 6,000 or 7,000 years ago, but they’ve got their own uniformitarian dating systems…”
No John, I do not KNOW the whole thing was done 6,000 or 7,000 years ago.
John babbles on, “…why they don’t want to accept a clear record of Genesis…(maybe because your interpretation of it is not true can unnecessarily causes scripture to contradict scripture?).
Pretribulation eschatology and the age of the universe are similar in that its teachers do not encourage you to look elsewhere (aside from their teaching) and find out if what they are teaching is true or not. In contrast, the bible says,
“…but test everything; hold fast what is good (true).“
John continues by saying “
“Creating the earth and the whole universe and everything that was in it was merely the stage for the plan to unfold. You say, “Well, was it necessary to do all that creation?” Sure. Because that creation spoke about God and who he was, and it told man of his greatness and his glory and his power, didn’t it? The heavens declare what? The glory of God. The firmament shows his handiwork. In Romans 1 says you look at the earth and you can see that God exists so that his invisible nature is manifest by his visible creation and we’re without excuse. All that was to reveal who God is.””
John is spot on in those statements. The entire creation – the Cosmos – especially man – was for the sole purpose for the working out of the divine plan of Salvation. But there’s more.
Creating the earth and the whole universe and everything that was in it was merely the stage for the plan to unfold. You say, “Well, was it necessary to do all that creation?” Sure. Because that creation spoke about God and who he was, and it told man of his greatness and his glory and his power, didn’t it? The heavens declare what? The glory of God. The firmament shows his handiwork. In Romans 1 says you look at the earth and you can see that God exists so that his invisible nature is manifest by his visible creation and we’re without excuse. All that was to reveal who God is.
This is a work in progress so come back often for revisions and continuations.
My background includes many years of education and experience serving in Churches working in such areas as Youth and Single Adults. I always found myself drawn to work with youth, that calling started actually while I was still a youth myself!
I attended Dallas Baptist College (which then became Dallas Baptist University) with that in mind.
Common Question: Is it OK for a Christian to _____?
My all time favorite Theologian/Professor ever was Dr. William E. Bell. who taught at Dallas Baptist University. Dr. Bell created a matrix where-by you could answer this question following a simple flow chart.