It was nice to be back at Ottawa First yesterday. Whenever I'm away, I miss my church family. Last Wednesday we began a discussion on the "Days of Creation," we are going to continue that today. I would encourage you to check out the rest of this series first, if you haven't already read them.
21 God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
There is a big difference between the KJV translation of the creation account and the NASB translation of the creation account. At first glance, it may not appear that big, but in actuality, it's quite sizable. It was the KJV that theologians used to come up with the most literal creation theory-that the world was created in 6-24 hour days. If we read the creation account out of the KJV, it is understandable that one would think this is true. I've compared the verses in a previous blog, but let's look at them again real quick:
And the evening and the morning were the first day. KJV
And there was evening and there was morning, one day. NASB
First, let me tell you, the NASB is actually the better translation from the original Hebrew text (I encourage you to check this out yourself). That said, what is the difference between saying "the" and "a". Time for an English lesson. The word "the" is what is called a "definite article," while the word "a" is an "indefinite article". A definite article indicates something very specific, for example "the car." An indefinite article indicates something non-specific, for example "a car." Now, the NASB leaves out the word "a", but it omits the definite article "the." This is important. Many scholars believe the word "a" should have replaced the word "the." The NASB does the next best thing by not including either "a" or "the." Why is this important? This is important because the NASB opens a couple of possibilities: 1. That God did not use "the" 24 hour day we have today or 2. That lots of time passed between "the" days of creation. Either way, it is likely that the world is a lot older than many Christians profess-and are willing to defend, to the point of being ridiculous.
Perhaps you are asking, why is pastor Erik taking so much time talking about something that is not talked about very often amongst fellow Christians? The reason that understanding the creation account is important has little to do with our own faith, rather, it is all about being able to provide answers to those who do not believe. Many Christians have put up unnecessary roadblocks between themselves and unbelievers by insisting that the Bible teaches that the earth is only 10,000 or so years old. The purpose behind this blog series is to show you how that "roadblock" is not necessary.
Day 3 of our "days of creation" discussion. I want to encourage you to do your own research in this area. For many people, the idea of asking questions about God's word can be difficult. Whether we realize it or not, we do it all of the time, mostly subconsciously though.Rarely do we ask these questions in a formal way. Today, we are continuing to look at
12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. 13 There was evening and there was morning, a third day.
Today, we are going to get into some subjective questions and answers. I posed some of these questions yesterday, like "what was the original intent of the creation story?" Did God intend the creation story to be a scientific text of how the world was created, or did God intend to simply give the Israelites an answer as to how the world came into being? When Genesis was written (or, when we believe it was written) there were a few different creation accounts already around. Although the Israelites are an ancient people, there were plenty of civilizations that existed before them. Pretty much all of these civilizations worshiped a god or gods-and a few of them had their own account of how the world came into existence. Allow me to submit to you, that the reason our Heavenly Father gave the Israelites the creation account was to push back against the other creation accounts that existed at the time. The main difference between the creation account found in Genesis, and those found in the pagan accounts is the idea that there is a singular being who spoke the world into existence. That the "one true God" preceded everything else-He had no beginning and has no end. This was a vastly different idea , never before thought of. What God wanted the Israelites to understand was that Yahweh preceded all of creation and was therefore greater than His creation. For example: many cultures worshiped a "sun god." Except, why would we worship the creation, instead of worshiping the creator. God was always trying to get the Israelites to understand that worshiping the creation (like a golden calf) was a slap in the face to the One who created all things (including us). This is why God would not allow images of Himself, this is also why God warned against idolatry. The Israelites were surrounded by cultures that practiced idolatry, and worshiped the creation, rather than the creator. This is why it was so important for the Israelites to have an account of how all things were created-to be reminded to worship the creator and not the creation.
So, am I saying that the creation account in Genesis is simply a fanciful story? Absolutely not! This is where theological academia has gone off the rails (in my opinion). They will look at the historical context of the creation story, then conclude that it it simply a "story," meant to put forward an idea, to help curb idolatry amongst the Israelites. This assessment is wrong, and over allegorizes scripture. We can ask good questions of scripture, but still believe that what God says is "yes and amen." We will continue our chat tomorrow. God Bless. Tomorrow we will look at the difference between the KJV account of creation vs. the NASB translation-and explore the significance of the word "the."
God bless friends and family. Laura, myself, and our dog are finally back home from our trip to visit Sam (our son and his wife) and Abby. We were supposed to come back to Illinois on Wednesday afternoon, but decided to stay an extra day. We had a great time together. Sam and Abby are doing very well-enjoying their new lives as husband and wife.
Today we are going to continue our conversation about how God created the heavens and the earth, as found in the first chapter of Genesis. If you have not read my blog entry for Wednesday, I would encourage you to do so, as this entry is a continuation of that discussion.
Genesis 1:8 NASB
8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
Regardless of what you believe about the creation story, if you are a follower of the Lord, and believe (as I do) that God's word (the Bible) is perfect, and without error, then you believe that God created the earth and everything in it (including us). Perhaps you have never thought, in a serious way, about the creation account in the book of Genesis-and if that is you, that is ok. My goal is not to convince you that the earth is old or young. My goal is to spark in you, a desire to learn. There are certain passages in God's Word that leave a lot of questions-the creation account is one of these (in my opinion). We should never be afraid to ask questions of God-it is not "disloyal." The Lord does not desire empty, robotic believers, that just accept whatever they are told without exercising their own critical thinking. Of course, there are certain aspects of our faith that require, well...faith. I have faith that our Lord is a good God because my life experience tells me it's true.
I grew up believing that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 consecutive, 24 hour days. There were no alternate ideas presented. We were told that everything science told us (about how old the world was) was demonic propaganda, meant to destroy our faith in God. Perhaps God did use our modern, day and night cycle and created everything in 6 days. It's for sure that our Father has the ability to do so. He didn't even need 6 days-He could have created everything at one time-with a single thought-so, why didn't He? Why didn't God simply create everything all at once? I do not have the perfect answer to this question; but, I ask us this question to get our minds going in the right direction. Why did the Lord have Moses (or whoever wrote Genesis) record the creation account the way He did. What was the original intent of the creation story? This is one of the most important questions that a person must ask themselves when interpreting scripture-any scripture: "what was the original intent of the author." Of course, this question is not asking if it's true-we believe that Scripture is true-from Genesis to Revelation. The question of intent is more about: what does God intend you and I to learn from a passage, vs. what did God intend the original recipients of the scripture to learn. Often times it's the same, but sometimes it might be different. For example, the story of Christ dying on the cross has the same intent across all time and cultures. However, the account found in Revelation means something different to us than it would have the early church-the truth of Christ returning for His bride is the same, but it is clear that Revelation was written for a more technologically advanced society-John couldn't even understand the things he saw. The truth of Revelation does not change-but it's intent and purpose might.
These are some deep questions-we will continue tomorrow. Pray about these things and ask the Lord to give you wisdom.
Laura and I (and our dog) have had a wonderful time visiting our son and his new wife (married in June). They were blessed to get into married housing at Evangel University. We have been running (not literally) all over the place-making sure to make the most of our time together. I miss the time Sam and I spent together-not just as father and son, but best buddies. I pray that he has the same experience with his own kids one day.
The next few day, I want to focus on something I've been learning in school. I will say at the outset, I am not an expert in the areas I am going to bring up-but I've found the research I've done compelling enough to want to learn more (on my own time). The reason I want to talk about his today is because of the (seeming) massive divide between the Biblical account of creation and the scientific account of creation. We will not dive into too much detail here-I plan on doing a Wednesday evening series at Ottawa when our mid-week services start back up. I also want to point out that these are not salvation issues-no matter what you believe about how the world was created-it's faith in Christ that brings Salvation-not our creation theory. Because this is a blog, and not a novel, today I will simply introduce my idea, then expound on it little by little over the next few entries. God Bless.
Genesis 1: King James Version.
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Most of us know, and have read the creation account many times. I chose to use the KJV here, because I want to show you the difference between the latter part of vs. 5. In the KJV, it says "And the evening and the morning were the first day." Yet, the NASB reads: And there was evening and there was morning, one day. To be honest, I never noticed the difference-until I had to write a paper on the creation account found in Genesis. One of the articles I came across was by a man named Harry Lee Poe. I researched him, and found that I agreed with some of his stuff and disagreed on others. I found an article he wrote on the days of creation-and it fascinated me. So, for the next few days, I want to share with you some things I've learned-and are still learning. For so long, faith and science have been at odds when it comes to how old the earth is. Of course, we believe God created the heavens and earth-and everything in it (including us). This article does not question that at all-it only sheds some light on how these verses were written, and why the KJV and NASB are worded differently. I am including the article, so you can read it.I look forward to (trying) to explain what I've learned. The article is lengthy, but worth the read.
I can't remember the last time I was not in a church service on a Sunday morning...well, actually, I can remember...it was yesterday-but I think you get my point. I can honestly say that I missed being in God's house-I missed being with my church family. It will be nice to get back to my normal routine when I am finished visiting my son in Missouri.
Psalm 119:114 (New American Standard Bible 1995)
You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word.
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the entire Bible. I could do a multi-week series on the different ideas that it discusses. For today though, we will settle with vs. 114. The idea of our Lord as a "hiding place" and a "shield" are seen in a few different passages throughout scripture. In essence, the Psalmist is saying that the Lord is his protector; a "hiding place" in times where fear causes him to flee, and a shied when it's time to fight.I picture King David at different times in His life-first when he was fleeing Saul, but also, when he faced Goliath. In both senerios the Lord protected David. I wonder how often we view the Lord this way in our own lives? Can we confidently say that we rely on the Lord as our "hiding place" and our "shied"...or do we try to fight our own battles and always figure things out on our own? I know I am guilt of that way too often. The Psalmist finishes by saying "I wait on your word"-meaning , I will not make a move, without first knowing my steps are being ordered by the Lord! It's for sure that I try and order my own steps way too often. I think that I am clever enough to figure things out all by myself. More than once I have gotten too far ahead of where I'm supposed to be, or, I've fallen behind due to fear. My prayer today is that I can read this Psalm, and really apply it to my own life; to live confidently, as though the Lord is my protector, and to make sure I am in step with His will for my life.
Midweek is here! For those of you who attend a Wednesday evening service, I pray you have an encounter with the Lord. At Ottawa, we are beginning our midweek services in September. I am looking forward to meeting up with my church family a second time during the week (other than Sunday). Today we are going to look at:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Admittedly, I am not much of a runner (not to overstate the obvious or anything :). However, my wife (Laura) was a very accomplished long-distance runner. She was given a full-ride scholarship to Southern Illinois University, based upon her running acumen. After she graduated SIU, she got a job teaching at a public high school. For the first few years of teaching, Laura was the track coach for the long distance runners. She could tell you stories about the hard work and dedication of her fellow runners in high school and in college. I bring this up because in this passage, the author reminds the followers of Christ to not give up...to keep running the race.
Our walk with the Lord is not a sprint, it is more akin to a long distance marathon. Imagine if a marathon runner started a long race with a 5lb weight attached to each ankle. At the start of the race, the person might not notice too much-but as the race moves on, those 5lb weights would become very noticeable. Then, imagine the runner takes those weights off half way through the race. Do you think the runner will notice an immediate difference? Absolutely!
Our relationship with the Lord is similar. We are trying to live for the Lord, but we notice that we have a had habit or a personality issue that is starting to weigh us down. We decide to unburden ourselves, and give that weight to the Lord. We are no longer encumbered by that weight...so our journey just got much easier. Each of us are running with unnecessary entanglements and weights...we must lay them aside to continue our race to the finish line.
Happy Monday, I pray everyone had a great day in God's house yesterday. Our service in Ottawa was fantastic. We talked about the Biblical definition of success vs the worldly definition of success. This got me thinking about the importance of reading God's word. after all, how are we supposed to know the One who gave their life for us if we do not spend time with Him. For those that have spent time in the Bible, you know that it offers us answers to all of life's difficult questions...like "what is success," for example. Today we are looking at
2 Tim. 3:16
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Here are a few very commonly asked questions:
What is the purpose to life? Where did I come from? Is there life after death? How do I get to heaven? Why is the world full of evil? Why do I struggle to do good? In addition to these "big" questions, the Bible gives much practical advice in areas such as: What do I look for in a mate? How can I have a successful marriage? How can I be a good friend? How can I be a good parent? What is success and how do I achieve it? How can I change? What really matters in life? How can I live so that I do not look back with regret? How can I handle the unfair circumstances and bad events of life victoriously?
Looking at all of those questions can seem overwhelming for sure. Good news though: God's word holds the answers to every one of these questions. Christians and non-Christians alike have asked these questions through the ages. We are a broken society that calls evil, good and good, evil. No wonder we are so confused-wondering around like a chicken with its head cut off. We do not have to live like that. We can turn to the very One that created us to receive answers. The Bible is not some ancient book full of good advice-it is our instruction manual for life- a true, victorious, life.
Hello friends and family. It is already Friday...the week has goin by very quickly for me. I've had much going on with school and church. I pray that you all are well and had a great week. Today we are turning to the book of Matthew.
Matthew 16: 13-16
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
In this passage of scripture, the disciples have already spent a good amount of time with Jesus. They have seen countless miracles and observed how Jesus interacted with the religious leaders. Jesus had given them every thing they need to believe that He is the Messiah. Yet, many of them struggled...only Peter was bold enough to proclaim His divinity. It is easy for us to look at this situation an think that we would have been different...but more than likely, we would have been just like most of the disciples. Even Peter, although he did speak first, when push came to shove, and Peter had to make some tough choices-he chose to deny Christ.
If you observe a little child, when they first start walking, they are not at all skeptics-they run head-long into danger without batting an eye. Life has not taught them to fear or be skeptical of things that could hurt them.
We must approach our relationship with the Lord with the same fervor that a child has, when they first attain the ability to walk. We must know that Christ is the Messiah-we must trust that He will be there to catch us when we fall, and carry us when the road becomes too rough. For adults, this is difficult, as life has taught us to fear and protect ourselves from vulnerability. Thank the Lord that He gives us many opportunities to learn. He is a good Father-He loves us more than we could ever know.
Happy Monday, perhaps the most dreaded of days for those who work a regular work week. For pastors, Monday is normally a relaxing day. I pray all of you are well and had a great day in God's house yesterday. Today we are going to look at:
Psalm 119:7 (NASB1995)
I will praise you with an upright heart, as I learn your righteous laws.
We are not 100% sure who wrote Psalm 119, most scholar's believe it to be one of 3 people: David, Ezra, or Daniel. I do not know enough about the Psalm to draw my own conclusion, although I tend to lean toward David as the author. In this verse, the Psalmist makes clear that he(more than likely) seeks to learn the righteous law of the Lord, and stresses the importance of doing so with a pure, clean heart-free of sin and iniquity.
As fallen man, it is impossible for us to ascribe to ourselves righteousness. There is nothing in this world that is righteous-the closest possible thing would be a new born baby-but even then, as precious as the baby is, they are not righteous. The only thing in this universe that is righteous is the Lord-everything thing God does is righteous, including His law.
In our own lives, we should always have the desire to learn more about the Lord and His righteous law. This is why we can declare that Jesus is the only way to heaven-because He is the only source of righteousness.
For most of you, it's probably been a while since you have been in school. A couple of years ago I enrolled in the Evangel University adult studies correspondence program to finish my degree. I've been working diligently since then to earn the best grades possible. At the start of last semester I started a math class called Statistics. Turns out...statistics is very hard. Over the previous 10 weeks I have worked hard, and ended up with a "B" in the class (I took my final yesterday). Undoubtedly, this was a miracle...:) I digress!
I pray all of you had a productive week and are looking forward to the weekend. Today we are looking at another passage from Nehemiah Ch. 8.
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
This was a great time of revival for the people of Israel, they had rebuilt the temple and wall in Jerusalem after it had been destroyed. In this chapter of Nehemiah, Ezra and Nehemiah are together in one place, celebrating. Ezra reads the law of Moses to the people; meanwhile, Nehemiah assigns priests to go around and explain what is being read. The law of Moses had not been read publicly for a very long time.
I think it is significant that Ezra and Nehemiah thought it was important that the people understood what was being read. For these two men, the law of Moses was more than a set of instructions-the law was "life." It was the only connection they had to the God of their ancestors...so it was very important. They did not want to horde the knowledge for themselves, rather, they wanted everyone to know of the goodness of the Lord. Of course, we now know that the law of Moses was intended to point to Christ. You and I have access to the life giving words of God's word anytime, day or night. Let us not forget just how precious God's word is.