How Should Christians Respond to the Recent Violence?

Our nation has once again been stunned by outbursts of unthinkable violence. Acts of terrorism and mass shootings are happening far too frequently. Murder remains a regular feature on the evening news. Every time someone shoots up a church or unloads into a crowd Christians are confronted with the need to address these tragedies with compassion and thoughtfulness.

Christian love demands we show genuine concern for all affected by these awful crimes. Whether the victims be Christians in Syria, partiers in Paris or abortionists in Colorado, the Christian should respond with heartfelt compassion for all who suffer at the hands of others. At no time should the child of God act like a victim got what they deserved. Murder is despicable no matter the morals, character or wickedness of the person murdered. The wanton taking of a human life is always a horrible evil because every person is created in the image of God. To harm a person is to attack the image of God. Every murder is a direct affront to the dignity and glory created in every person by God. Christians must clearly denounce any murderous act as a horrible evil without attempting to justify, excuse or mitigate the wickedness of the attack.

Horrendous deeds remind us the corruption of sin has filled this world with evil. Even those who might be inclined to deny any moral absolutes are forced to admit mass shootings are a terrible evil. The Christian need not argue about whether the problem is caused by guns, mental illness, religion, lack of religion or the shooter’s upbringing. The Biblically informed believer can say with confidence that whatever the immediate contributing factors to individual acts of violence, the tragedy occurred because everyone is corrupted by sin. The present excess of violence, hatred and destruction shows that sin is all too real.

The problem of evil drives us to seek a solution. The Christian knows the only hope for mankind is Jesus. Gun control, mental health solutions and better education may be worthwhie goals, but they are unable to solve the problem of sin. Those with murder in their hearts will find a way to execute their desires. The heart is only transformed by Jesus. In Christ evil desires begin to be replaced with good. Only in Jesus does humanity find hope for genuine righteousness and an end to the evils of this world.

Above all else, the Christian must never forget that in the end God’s righteous kingdom will be victorious. Psalm 2 says, ” Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD . . . He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Wicked men will rage against God and man, but in the end Jesus will punish all evil and will establish His righteous kingdom.

Advertisements

Why is Life Miserable?

In May the pastor’s roundtable began to discuss the book of Ecclesiastes. We will be recording a total of six conversations about this book. The roundtable discussion airs the last Sunday of the month on WRUP 92.7 FM. As part of the discussion of Ecclesiastes, Pastor Chambers’ sermon on the same part of Ecclesiastes will air the following Sunday. You can listen to both broadcasts below.

July 28 Pastor’s Roundtable

Pastor Dave Chambers
Pastor Joe Herr
Pastor Tom Schierkolk
Pastor Dave Ryerson
Pastor Dave Sexton

August 4 Radio Show
Who is in Charge?

Pastor Dave Chambers

What is Relativism?

Relativism is the philosophy that truth and morality are dependent upon the perspective of the individual. Absolutes that transcend time, culture, society or personal opinion do not exist. No one can rightly say the Christianity of Western Europe is right and the animism of central Africa is wrong, or vice versa. Relativism views truth and morals as products of their time. For example, according to relativism, the wrongness of homosexuality was just a product of Victorian and Puritanical cultures which sought to repress human sexuality.

According to relativism, truth and morality are determined by the individual, the culture, and the particular situation. What is right for one person is not necessarily right for another. Relativism is the foundation of the postmodern world view, and is one of the most dominant views of truth in America today. Because of relativism, all truth is negotiable. Even truths which were once strongly held by many people can now be set aside if they are deemed inconvenient, unpopular or unpalatable. According to relativism, all truth claims are to be tolerated and doubt is a virtue. The only real sins in relativism are being dogmatic, too certain or attempting to force a particular view of truth upon someone else.

Relativism is evident in the ancient fable of the blind men and the elephant. The different religions of the world are like three blind men trying to explain an elephant. The one at the front holds the trunk and declares an elephant is a thick, muscular cylinder able to move about in all directions and grasp things. The one at the back disagrees quite strongly. He feels the tail and decrees an elephant is a thin, rope like object which is able to move rapidly. The one in the middle says they are both wrong. He touches a leg and describes the elephant as a thick, strong, leathery pillar. All determined truth based upon their perspective. Each defined a part of truth, but none were entirely right.

Christianity does not dispute the inability of individuals to fully see and understand truth. A Biblical worldview affirms that perceptions of what is true and right are affected by the perspective of the individual. What makes Christianity unique, and contradictory to relativism, is the assertion that truth is absolute and is given by One outside humanity. Reality, truth, justice and oughtness are defined by One who is above mankind and human culture.

Sin has damaged man’s ability to understand and apply truth to life. But human inability to see truth does not lessen its truthfulness. The blind men of relativism are limited by their inability to see and comprehend the entire elephant, but the elephant is still an elephant. Their mis-definition does not change the reality of the elephant. If a sighted zookeeper described in full detail the true nature of an elephant, the blind men would be obligated to accept as true the expert testimony of one who knows. The rejection of the authoritative declaration of what is true for a limited, incomplete understanding is folly.

How many judgments will there be?

“It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) The Bible contains a number of references to coming times of Divine judgment. The references are scattered between the Old and New Testaments, prophetic literature and letters to the churches. Because there is no single passage which lists all the judgments, many wonder how many judgments there are going to be.

The Bible describes one judgment that takes place at the return of Jesus and two judgments that people will face after death. When Jesus returns, there will be a judgment dividing “sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:31-46) At this judgment those who survived the Tribulation will be separated into two groups. Those who trusted Jesus for salvation are the sheep that will be brought into His kingdom. Those who rejected Jesus are the goats that will be cast into eternal punishment.

After death, Christians will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10) At that judgment believers will be given rewards based upon what they have done in this life. Each Christian will be examined for how he has lived for Jesus. The Judgment seat of Christ is not a judgment of sin. If we were to be judged for our sin, then we would all be condemned. All of the believer’s sin is covered by the blood of Jesus.

The judgment seat of Christ is an examination of service. The works of believers will be tested to see how they stand up in the light of eternity. If we have wasted our time, served wrongly or selfishly then our rewards will be lost. If we have served in obedience, with faithfulness and for the glory of God then we will have great reward in heaven. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)

The last judgment will take place at the end of all human history. The unsaved will be judged at the Great White Throne. (Revelation 20:11-15) All who are judged there will be condemned by God because they have not obeyed the gospel. The criteria of this judgment is simple. Have you believed Jesus is God who died on the cross for your sin? Have you cried out to Him to take away all your guilt? Have placed all your hope of forgiveness, heaven and eternal life in Jesus alone? If not, you are not saved. Your name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of LIfe. You will stand before the Great White Throne of Judgment and be condemned. I plead with you today to turn to Jesus and cry out to Him to take away your sin.

All who stand before the Great White Throne will be punished according to their deeds in life. Jesus’ words to the cities of Bethsaida and Chorazin indicate that rejection of the knowledge of Christ is treated more severely than gross sin. Those who have heard the gospel and have heard the Word of God will suffer a greater penalty. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrha were wicked, violent and immoral. They were destroyed by God for their wickedness, yet they will be treated less severely in the day of judgment than the cities that were eyewitnesses of Jesus and rejected Him. Those who hear the gospel and reject it will face a harsher punishment at the Great White Throne than even a murderer who never heard the Word of God.

With all the other gods in the world, how do we know the God of the Bible is the only true God?

A couple weeks ago a child asked a challenging question as she left the Sunday morning service. Here question was this, “Since many people worship many different gods, how do we know the God of the Bible is the only true God?” She is not alone. Many people struggling to understand the claims of the Bible ask the same question.

Some may be surprised to learn the Bible never attempts to prove the existence of God. Scripture assumes God exists and declares that only the foolish or willfully rebellious deny the existence of God. Though the Bible never offers proofs that God exists, it repeatedly argues that God is the only God and all other deities are fraudulent products of man’s wicked imagination.

The creation of the universe is the supreme proof given in the Old Testament that God alone is God. This author does not possess an exhaustive knowledge of all the gods worshiped in the history of the world, but after extensive research and study of many different religious traditions he is aware of only one other god who claims to have created everything out of nothing. Aside from Allah, no other god claims to have created everything. The great gods of Canaan- Baal, Molech or Dagon- were local deities who ruled over crops or regions. They were never seen as creators. The gods of Egypt were not credited with creating everything out of nothing. The great gods of western mythology- Zeus, Jupiter and Odin-never claimed to be creators. Only in the Old Testament do we find a Deity who claims to have made everything.

God’s uniqueness as Creator is used in passages like Jeremiah 10 to show the folly of worshiping the pagan gods. After a lengthy description of how the gods of the nations are carved by men out of wood, covered in gold, fastened down so they do not fall over and are incapable of seeing, hearing or doing anything at all, God is presented as the maker of all things. He is the only One who rules over all spiritual beings. He alone is uncreated and Creator of All. “Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” (Isaiah 43:21) All other gods are the creation of human imagination.

God’s claim to be the Creator was verified by His displays of power over creation. When God sent the plagues upon Egypt it was so the entire world would know He is God. (Exodus 9:16) When God drove the Canaanites before Israel it was prove He alone is God. (Joshua 3:10) God’s glory was present in the temple of Jerusalem as a testimony to the entire world He is God. (1 Kings 8:41-43)

Jesus is the greatest evidence that God is the only God. Jesus claimed to be God the Son and the God of the Old Testament. (John 8:58) The miracles of Jesus verified the truth of His claims (Acts 2:22). Finally, the resurrection declares Jesus is God the Son. (Romans 1:4) Since His mighty miracles and His resurrection from the dead verify the claims of Jesus, then all the claims of the God of the Old Testament must be true. Jesus is proof there is no other God.

Who is in Charge Here?

In May the pastor’s roundtable began to discuss the book of Ecclesiastes. We will be recording a total of six conversations about this book. The roundtable discussion airs the last Sunday of the month on WRUP 92.7 FM. As part of the discussion of Ecclesiastes, Pastor Chambers’ sermon on the same part of Ecclesiastes will air the following Sunday. You can listen to both broadcasts below.

June 30 Pastor’s Roundtable

Pastor Dave Chambers
Pastor Joe Herr
Pastor Tom Schierkolk
Pastor Dave Ryerson

July 7 Radio Show
Who is in Charge?

Pastor Dave Chambers

How do I know the Bible is true?

The Bible makes astonishing claims for itself. The Bible claims to be the Word of God given directly by God through men specially chosen by Him. The Bible claims to be free from all error. The Bible presents a history of the universe that is very different from the one taught in most science classes. The Bible speaks of places unfamiliar to us, with names that are foreign and a culture that is at times perplexing. All of which took place thousands of years ago. Many of the Bible’s claims cannot be directly verified. We have no direct evidence outside the Bible that proves it was written by apostles or prophets. But the lack of direct evidence does not mean belief in the truth of the Bible is a blind leap of faith.

The Bible is filled with historical details and descriptions that allow researchers to measure the accuracy of the Bible. For example, the Bible says Abraham had herds of camels (Genesis 24:8). Were camels in the Middle East during the time of Abraham? If they were not, then it undermines the reliability of Scripture. The same can be said of specific towns, villages, rulers, customs, laws and many other similar details mentioned in Scripture. If it can be proven that even one of these details is not an accurate historical record, then the Bible is not what it claims to be.

A word of caution, though. The absence of positive evidence does not disprove the Bible’s claim on a subject. Because we may not have archeological or other historical evidence verifying that ancient Israelites followed a leader named Joshua does not mean the Bible is false. History has repeatedly shown that evidence may yet be discovered which supports the Bible. Archeologists used to claim the Old Testament’s references to the Hittites was evidence the Bible was in error because no such people existed. Then they discovered evidence of the Hittites. The absence of confirming evidence is not proof the Bible is in error. Many details of Middle Eastern history are yet to be discovered and many will never be discovered.

One of the strongest evidences for the reliability of the Bible is fulfilled prophecy. Scripture contains hundreds of specific prophecies which include particulars like names, times and places. The Bible also sets a standard for prophecy. For prophecy to be from God it must be 100% accurate. One wrong prophecy overthrows all the right ones. If the Bible misses just one of its hundreds of prophecies, then it is not the Word of God. A careful examination of the propehcies of the Bible reveal it has never erred, not even once. The Bible prophesied the name of the king who would issue the command to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (Isaiah 44:28). The Bible prophesied where Jesus would be born (Micah 5:2) and when He would die (Daniel 9:26). It foretold the death of David’s baby (2 Samuel 12:14), and the division of Israel after Solomon’s death (1 Kings 11:11-13). These and the many other detailed prophecies which have been fulfilled show the Bible is exactly what it claims to be.

Other evidence can be offered for the reliability of the Bible, but in the end you have to believe the Word. Those looking for a reason to doubt Scripture will always find one. Even those who desire to believe will face things they cannot fully explain. This is not proof the Bible is in error, but a reminder of our inability to fully understand God and His Word. You can and must believe the Bible is what it claims to be: God’s perfect Word.

Does Your Life Matter?

In May the pastor’s roundtable began to discuss the book of Ecclesiastes. We will be recording a total of six conversations about this book. The roundtable discussion airs the last Sunday of the month on WRUP 92.7 FM. As part of the discussion of Ecclesiastes, Pastor Chambers’ sermon on the same part of Ecclesiastes will air the following Sunday. You can listen to both broadcasts below.

May 26 Pastor’s Roundtable

Pastor Dave Chambers
Pastor Joe Herr
Pastor Tom Schierkolk
Pastor Dave Sexton

June 2 Radio Show
Does Your Life Matter?

Pastor Dave Chambers

Why is Prayer is So Hard?

Christians recognize prayer as a wonderful privilege. Through prayer the individual can speak directly to the God of creation and Ruler of the universe. An invitation to the White House or a visit with the Queen of England is trivial in comparison with the opportunity afforded those who pray. Yet many find prayer to be difficult. Distractions, uncertainty of what to say and difficulty making time for prayer make a serious habit of talking with God a challenge for many Christians. Since prayer is such a glorious privilege, why is it so difficult?

Prayer is conversing with our Heavenly Father, but prayer is also warfare. When the Christian prays he is opposed by an array of enemies who actively seek to interfere. Daniel 10 gives a glimpse into the spiritual realities of prayer. Daniel prayed and God immediately sent out an angelic messenger to answer his prayer. However, an evil spirit opposed the messenger of God and delayed the answer to Daniel’s prayer by three weeks.

Other indications of this spiritual warfare are found in the New Testament. Paul told the Thessalonians that he would have returned to them, “but Satan hindered us.” (1 Timothy 2:18) The apostle Peter describes Satan as, “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) The believer’s prayers are actively opposed by the enemies of Christ. Prayer is less like a pleasant conversation between two family members and more like a lieutenant on the battle field radioing his father and commanding officer during a firefight while the enemy attempts to jam the radio signals.

The spiritual enemies of the Christian are aided and abetted by the many physical distractions of this world. The abundance of entertainment and the constant demands of instant communication make it very difficult to silence the noise outside us and practice a silent discipline like prayer. But, one simple habit can help overcome some of the distractions. Praying out loud can help keep your mind on track as you converse with God.

Sin in the person’s life will be a significant hindrance to prayer. When the believer is holding onto sin, he is not going to want to pray. Those clinging to sin are not going to desire a serious relationship with God through prayer because as the Christian draws closer to God his own sin becomes more evident. The conviction of the Holy Spirit and the realization of the need to be growing in holiness discourages some from developing a strong prayer life. Unconfessed sin makes prayer more difficult, but those who love God deeply will be willing to forsake sin so they may have unhindered converse with Him.

Prayer is an essential part of a relationship with God. Through prayer the Christian talks with his loving Father and King. A life of prayer that is serious, disciplined and faithful willnot be easy. But the privilege of prayer is worth any difficulty endured to speak directly with the God of the universe.

What is the Shekinah Glory?

The Old Testament mentions many times the glory of which God appeared visibly to the nation of Israel. When the Israelites fled from Egypt, God’s presence was seen by the entire nation. He led them from Egypt to Mt. Sinai in the form a great cloud and a pillar of fire. At Mt. Sinai the glory of God covered the mountain in fire and smoke.

The shekinah glory is the visible manifestation of the presence of God. The phrase is not found in the Bible, but was coined by ancient Jewish teachers long before the birth of Christ. In the Shekinah Glory, God presence was made evident to His people. God told Moses that His glory can not be fully seen, “No man shall me and live.” (Exodus 33:20) Yet, in His mercy God gave a visible evidence of His presence with His people.

Once the tabernacle was built, God’s presence in Israel became directly connected with the tabernacle and the temple. Exodus 40 tells how God’s glory filled the completed tabernacle. When Israel committed idolatry God told Moses to move the tabernacle outside the camp because He would not be in the midst of a wicked people. Later, when King Solomon built the temple of God in Jerusalem the glory of God entered into the temple. God’s presence in the place of worship was a constant reminder that He was with His people. Much later the book of Ezekiel describes the glory of God leaving the temple because of the Jew’s continual disobedience against God. After the book of Ezekiel there are no other historical references to the glory of God visibly present with His people.

Several of the minor prophets promise that one day the glory of God will again be visibly present with His people. In Haggai God promises, “I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts” and in Zechariah He says, “For I, saith the LORD, will be unto (Jerusalem) a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.” Habakkuk prophecies. “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” In the future, God’s glory will fill the earth. His Shekinah glory will be eternally present among His people.

God’s presence is not seen today, but He still dwells with His people. The Christian today is the temple of God. He dwells just as truly within Christians today as He did in the temple in Israel. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1Corinthians 3:16) “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16) God’s glorious presence is still with His people today.