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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sunspots 480

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:
Christianity: I have re-done a blog post on "Lying, deceit and dishonesty in the Bible."
Relevant Magazine has an article on "What's the Big Deal with Porn?"
Computing: Wired reports on a conference about some of the moral challenges posed by the increasing use of robots, including drones. One of the more amazing ideas was to provide pedophiles with child robots, sort of like we provide some drug addicts with a substitute. It was pointed out that this possibility is a potential moral quagmire.
Science: National Public Radio reports on a study that indicates that our friends are more genetically like us than the population at large is.
Wired reports that many large mammals in zoos are given prozac, or similar drugs.


Image source (public domain)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 44



[Concluding a discussion of whether or not a believer can lose her salvation.]

A person who does not believe in eternal security has to cope with quite a bit of scripture indicating that God is able to save and seal for eternity. Those who don’t believe in eternal security defend their position by claiming that nothing in those promises rules out a choice by a believer to stop believing, and to stop acting like a Christian. God can keep, but we can choose not to be kept, they say.

On the other hand, a person who does believe in eternal security has to cope with quite a bit of scripture indicating that a believer, even one who has been one of the “partakers of the Holy Spirit,” and “tasted . . . the powers of the age to come” can fall away. There are statements that enduring to the end is important. The usual strategy for reconciling the scriptural warnings with a belief in eternal security is to claim that the warnings are actually warnings to non-believers. Here’s a rather lengthy scholarly article which does that. The article even explains the seeming description of a believer in the warning in Hebrews 6 (warning 4, in the list above) as actually being of an unbeliever.

There are two errors that we could make about this area, both dangerous. First, we might believe that God is eagerly waiting to catch us in sin, so He can condemn us. That’s not true. God the Son died for us, and loves us. He’s not trying to trip us up. Second, we might believe that God will cheerfully ignore all sorts of deliberate habitual sin. That doesn’t agree with the New Testament, either.

In conclusion, I’m not going to resolve the seeming contradiction. There is nowhere in the Bible that says that we must have absolutely correct doctrine in order to serve God. That’s good, because, if that were true, no one would measure up. (This is not an excuse for not trying to understand what God is telling us!) There is nowhere in the Bible that says that all our questions have to have a firm and exact answer. There are some questions that God has chosen not to answer.

The previous chapter discusses a topic that is far more important than settling arguments about eternal security, the question of who actually is a believer. I need to trust Christ for my salvation. I need to examine my own life. I should be sure that my life shows evidence that I am actually saved.


The above material is an excerpt from my self-published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, which is in the public domain.

The previous post in this series, on the topic of whether a redeemed person can lose their salvation, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will consider a different topic. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sunspots 479

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:
Christianity: Relevant offers some thoughts on following God's will.
Romans Ten Fifteen has a tongue in cheek list of ideas on how to get rid of a pastor.

Science: Wired reports on a squirrel with a really big tail.
National Public Radio reports on a study that indicates that watching too much TV news, especially watching repeating footage of disasters, leads to stress.

NPR reports that we seem to be approaching a crisis -- we don't have enough variety in the antibiotics available to us, because so many bacteria have evolved resistance to them.

NPR reports on the history of ocean waves. They last for a long time, and move long distances.

The Atlantic reports that various kinds of childhood trauma may cause the children involved to be misdiagnosed as ADHD.



Image source (public domain)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 43



[The previous post had excerpts from the book of Hebrews, which indicated that a believer's salvation might be lost.]

Other passages, in other New Testament books, that may also be taken as supporting the possibility that a believer can lose salvation:

Matthew 24:10 Then many will stumble, and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray. 12 Because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end, the same will be saved.

(This implies that there will be those who do not endure to the end.)

Romans 2:5b God; 6 who “will pay back to everyone according to their works:” 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory, honor, and incorruptibility, eternal life; 8 but to those who are self-seeking, and don’t obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will be wrath and indignation

Romans 11:22 See then the goodness and severity of God. Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

1 Corinthians 9:25 Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore run like that, as not uncertainly. I fight like that, as not beating the air, 27 but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.

1 Corinthians 10:1 Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5 However with most of them, God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Don’t be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Let us not commit sexual immorality, as some of them committed, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell. 9 Let us not test the Lord, as some of them tested, and perished by the serpents. 10 Don’t grumble, as some of them also grumbled, and perished by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them by way of example, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall.

Galatians 5:4 You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace.

Colossians 1:22 yet now he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without defect and blameless before him, 23 if it is so that you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the Good News which you heard, which is being proclaimed in all creation under heaven; of which I, Paul, was made a servant. (Note the "if." This is one of the verses used in the Southern Baptist document!)

2 Peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the defilement of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Revelation 2:26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps my works to the end, to him I will give authority over the nations. 27 He will rule them with a rod of iron, shattering them like clay pots; as I also have received of my Father: 28 and I will give him the morning star.

Revelation 3:2 Wake up, and keep the things that remain, which you were about to throw away, for I have found no works of yours perfected before my God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If therefore you won’t watch, I will come as a thief, and you won’t know what hour I will come upon you.


The above material is an excerpt from my self-published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, which is in the public domain.

The previous post in this series, on the topic of whether a redeemed person can lose their salvation, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will consider the same topic. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Extant, with Halle Berry, on CBS

In case you have wondered what TV stations do for advertising revenue, now that the political primaries are over, wonder no more. They put up promos for upcoming shows. At least the Upstate South Carolina CBS station has done so, over and over.

One such program, promoted heavily, is Extant, starring Halle Berry. If you have watched CBS recently, you already know this much: Somehow, Berry's character, an astronaut who has been on a solo mission for over a year, discovers that she is pregnant, on her return. You probably also know that the astronaut and her husband, a robotics expert, are raising a robot as their elementary school-aged son. I will try not to give anything else away.

I have seen the pilot. Two important science fiction themes, namely, the moral status of robots, and their interaction with human society; and encountering aliens (if that's what happened to the astronaut) are considered. They are among the most important in science fiction, and have been used over and over. No doubt they will be, again. So far, they are considered without violence -- no ray guns or robot murderers.

One other important theme of science fiction, also explored, is "what will the future be like?" There are plenty of interesting, sometimes amusing, vignettes of a possible future in the first episode, including a self-driving auto, 3-D presentations, a bathroom mirror that also serves as an information appliance, and a really amazing garbage disposal system.

Berry is a fine actress, which is not surprising, considering that she is an Academy Award winner. In one part of the episode, she does not say a word, but expresses lots of emotion with her facial expressions and body language. (Berry remains fully, and tastefully, clothed throughout, except for a discretely foggy shower scene with her husband.)

An interesting start to this series, which may become one of the best ever in the science fiction genre. I hope so.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Sunspots 478

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:
Computing: Gizmo's Freeware on how to search Twitter feeds without having a Twitter account.
Health: National Public Radio reports that prescriptions of strong painkillers vary widely from state to state, indicating that they are being seriously over-prescribed in some areas. The report also indicates that overdoses of prescription drugs kill more people than traffic accidents.

This is not to belittle stress -- it can be all too real. But it turns out that two of the most widely known areas of research into stress were funded by tobacco interests, which, way back in the 1930s, hoped to show that stress, not smoking, caused cancer and heart troubles, NPR reports.

Politics: NPR reports that the, er, Ethics Committee of the U. S. Congress has made it more difficult to find out how many trips members, or their staff, take, which are paid for by lobbyists or special interests.
A Christian commentator, in Relevant, points out that Hobby Lobby is selective in acting out the Christian beliefs of the owners, and, perhaps, even hypocritical.

Science: Wired tells us why the earphone/mouse/power/whatever cords get tangled so often.
My wife and I saw our first monkey puzzle tree. It looks weird, and that's a great name.



Image source (public domain)

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 42




Biblical evidence that a believer can become lost
Biblical evidence that a believer can fall into unbelief is in this section.

There are six “warning passages” in Hebrews, which have often been used to argue that a saved person can, indeed, become lost.

Hebrews was written, apparently, to Hebrew Christians. The warnings were probably, at least in part, warnings against turning back to rely on the Jewish Law for salvation, but are also more general warnings against turning back from relying on Christ’s sacrifice.

1) Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to pay greater attention to the things that were heard, lest perhaps we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense; 3a how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation

2) Hebrews 3:12 Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God; 13 but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called “today”; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

3) Hebrews 4:1 Let us fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest. . . . 11 Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.

4) Hebrews 6:4 For concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again, and put him to open shame. 7 For the land which has drunk the rain that comes often on it, and produces a crop suitable for them for whose sake it is also tilled, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and thistles, it is rejected and near being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
9 But, beloved, we are persuaded of better things for you, and things that accompany salvation, even though we speak like this. 10 For God is not unrighteous, so as to forget your work and the labor of love which you showed toward his name, in that you served the saints, and still do serve them.

5) Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries. 28 A man who disregards Moses’ law dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think he will be judged worthy of who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

6) Hebrews 12:14 Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord, 15 looking carefully lest there be any man who falls short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and many be defiled by it; 16 lest there be any sexually immoral person, or profane person, like Esau, who sold his birthright for one meal. 17 For you know that even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for a change of mind though he sought it diligently with tears.


The above material is an excerpt from my self-published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, which is in the public domain.

The previous post in this series, on the topic of whether a redeemed person can lose their salvation, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will consider the same topic. Thanks for reading.