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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sunspots 472

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Computing: According to Forbes, Amazon is hiring people to work in its delivery by drone sector. I'm going to start looking out the window when I order something from them . . .
Gizmo's Freeware suggests installing Wiser for people with Android Smartphones that are a little too complex for those users.

Health: National Public Radio tells us that we are still eating way too much fat and salt, even on our vegetables.
Humor: (And Education) National Public Radio gives advice on the content of a good commencement address, with examples.
Science: Fox News reports on a list of the 10 most interesting new organisms discovered in 2013.

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Should a Christian iron his clothes?

The title was almost "What would Jesus iron?" but that seems to come perilously close to a violation of the third Commandment, and there's too much of that already.

This is musing on the topic. Don't expect any firm, easy answers. Sorry. Similar musing could be applied to lots of other activities, such as, but not limited to: mowing the grass, washing the car, cleaning the windows, assorted grooming, vacuuming, weeding, painting, straightening the cupboards, getting the toys organized, sending Christmas cards, and even to doing an especially good job on homework. All of these are legitimate activities, but where should they fit in our priorities?

Test 1: Is there something more important to do?
In Luke 10, Jesus had some words for Martha: 10:38 It happened as they went on their way, he entered into a certain village, and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she came up to him, and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister left me to serve alone? Ask her therefore to help me.”
41 Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (All scripture quotations are from the public domain World English Bible.)


We can't be sure of all that is going on here, because we weren't there, and couldn't have read anyone's minds, if we had been. But it seems that Martha had her priorities wrong. Jesus didn't say that it was wrong to fix a meal, but that there was something more important going on at the time. Perhaps He would have pitched in in the kitchen Himself, after He had talked to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Perhaps he would have performed a miracle, and fed them, and whoever else was around (probably a dozen or more disciples). Perhaps they would just have eaten later than they were accustomed to, or fasted through one mealtime.

It's always important to pray, witness, worship with others, and read the Bible. But if that's all we do, we won't keep a job, and our dwelling places, autos, and other possessions will suffer from neglect, and, perhaps, finally become unusable. At some point, Mary should have gone to the kitchen and helped. (Probably Lazarus should have, too.)

Test 2: Do we need to fit in?
In 1st Corinthians 9, Paul said this: 19 For though I was free from all, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. 

If everyone in our apartment complex keeps the front door and the back porch looking attractive, and is careful to park in her own parking spot, perhaps we need to, also, or our neighbors will think poorly of us, and may say, "Well, if that's the way a Christian acts, I don't want any of it." To a large extent, we should try to fit in, if we want to reach those around us with the Gospel.

Clearly, there are limits. We shouldn't steal from the grocery store, or go on alcoholic binges, so as to fit in with our unbelieving relatives, neighbors, fellow students, or co-workers who do such things.

Test 3: Is it beneath our position?
The apostles believed that they shouldn't be taking care of food distribution for the widows:
Acts 6:1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, a complaint arose from the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily service. 2 The twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not appropriate for us to forsake the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore select from among you, brothers, seven men of good report, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 6:4 But we will continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word.”

But see John 13:12 So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You say so correctly, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, neither one who is sent greater than he who sent him. (World English Bible, public domain)

My guess is that the twelve weren't declining to "serve tables" because it was beneath them, but because they knew they had more important things to do, and others could serve in this way.

See also Philippians: 2:5 Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

By example, and by His explicit teaching, such as in Luke, Christ taught us that mowing the grass, washing the dishes, or changing the oil, for the sake of others, is not beneath us: Mark 9:33 He came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing among yourselves on the way?”34 But they were silent, for they had disputed one with another on the way about who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If any man wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.”

However, even with a Christ-like servant attitude, it may still be possible, as in Acts 7, that it is more important to be doing something other than serving.

Test 4: Is it a requirement for our job?
If what routine maintenance, or care in our appearance, we are doing is really required for our jobs, then we ought to do this maintenance, or be sure that we appear presentable. We should probably do standard grooming before going to work, in most cases. And most of us who are able should have a job. John the Baptist, who preached a strong message of repentance, didn't tell Roman soldiers to leave the army in Luke 3:14, but to use their position fairly, and to be content with their wages. Jesus didn't upbraid the apostles who had gone fishing after the resurrection, and tell them to stop immediately. As far as we know, they didn't remain fishermen for long, though. They truly became the "fishers of men" that Jesus had originally envisioned for them. (Matthew 4:19) That new job was one of higher priority than the old ones.

But note the next test:

Test 5: Are we doing this so we'll look good?
I may get fired if I don't wear clean shirts, or I may turn off people who need to see Christ in my life. But I don't have to wear $250 shirts, or send them to an expensive cleaners, to do either. I probably won't even need to iron them. I should probably paint the kitchen every few years, but I shouldn't need to paint it every six months. I should mow the grass, but I shouldn't be trying to out-do the neighbor across the street. Why am I trying to look good, or be thought well of? If it's for my own sake, that's wrong. If it's to please other people who aren't worth pleasing, that's wrong.

James had something to say about fancy dress:
2:1 My brothers, don’t hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory with partiality. 2 For if a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, comes into your synagogue, and a poor man in filthy clothing also comes in; 3 and you pay special attention to him who wears the fine clothing, and say, “Sit here in a good place”; and you tell the poor man, “Stand there,” or “Sit by my footstool”; 4 haven’t you shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers. Didn’t God choose those who are poor in this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which he promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Don’t the rich oppress you, and personally drag you before the courts? 7 Don’t they blaspheme the honorable name by which you are called? 8 However, if you fulfill the royal law, according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors.

Although Jesus didn't say anything explicit about ironing shirts, He had something to say about trying to look good:
Matthew 6:1 “Be careful that you don’t do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don’t sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does, 4 so that your merciful deeds may be in secret, then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
5 “When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

And more:
Matthew 6:25 Therefore I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you of much more value than they?
27 “Which of you, by being anxious, can add one moment to his lifespan? 28 Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin, 29 yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. 6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won’t he much more clothe you, you of little faith?

6. Is it hard on the environment?
It's impossible to completely keep from affecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil and living things around us. But we can be careful, and do as little damage as possible. Are we consuming more energy than we need? Ironing, and hair drying consume quite a bit. Are we using products that give off harmful chemicals? Are we destroying the habitat of other living things, directly or indirectly? See here for more on environmental stewardship.

7. Is it good use of the resources God has given me?
Should I be saving for my offspring, or contributing my time and resources to ministries to the poor, or to people in third-world cultures, rather than keeping my car washed and polished, or my lawn edged, or my wardrobe updated?

After answering all of the questions above, the Holy Spirit can help us know what Jesus would do. A couple of cautions are in order, though. First, it's much easier, in terms of effort, to spend a half hour meditating on the above questions, and at least pretending to pray, than it is to really get at that algebra homework, or the dirt on the windows. If we don't establish guidelines, and good habits, we'll be spending too much time musing about what to do. Second, we mustn't expect fellow believers to agree with us on all points. Their circumstances may be different, or the Holy Spirit may be leading them to act and think differently from us. God may want some of them to iron their shirts, when He doesn't seem to require that we do so.

Thanks for reading. Think about the appearance of your shirts!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 36



A person who is saved is not a habitual sinner.

What is sin?

Note: To some people, sin is anything short of perfection – to them, honest mistakes, and memory lapses, are sin. However, I am using a more restrictive definition, as found in the Free Dictionary:
1. A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when deliberate.
2. Theology
a. Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God. b. A condition of estrangement from God resulting from such disobedience.

Newly saved people don’t instantly become mature Christians. The Holy Spirit works to develop us. (Psalm 86:11a “Teach me your way, Yahweh.”) By the definition of sin given above, a new, undeveloped Christian who doesn’t know that behavior X is required of believers is not a sinner because of this, unless she becomes aware that such behavior is a requirement, and deliberately decides not to do X, whatever X might be.

There are sins of omission – things that we should do, but don’t – as well as sins of commission. See James 4:17 and Matthew 25:40-45.

Here is some scripture about the possibility of deliberate sin in the life of the believer:
1 John 2:1 My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have a Counselor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. 2 And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.

1 John 3:3 Everyone who has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins also commits lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and in him is no sin. 6 Whoever remains in him doesn’t sin. Whoever sins hasn’t seen him and doesn’t know him.
7 Little children, let no one lead you astray. He who does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. To this end the Son of God was revealed: that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever is born of God doesn’t commit sin, because his seed remains in him; and he can’t sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the devil. Whoever doesn’t do righteousness is not of God, neither is he who doesn’t love his brother.

John doesn’t seem to really mean that a believer never sins, which he seems to have said in 3:9, because, in 1 John 2:1, and also in 1 John 1:9, he indicates that there can be forgiveness for a believer who does sin. But we aren’t supposed to sin, and one aspect of that is that we are to “do righteousness.” (3:10) Not doing righteousness is a sin of omission.

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 May it never be! We who died to sin, how could we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 But if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him; 9 knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no more has dominion over him! 10 For the death that he died, he died to sin one time; but the life that he lives, he lives to God. 11 Thus consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore don’t let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 Also, do not present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? May it never be!

The passages above strongly discourage sin in the life of a believer. However, should that occur, there is a remedy. That remedy is repentance – being truly sorry for our sin, asking forgiveness, and asking God to help us avoid sin in the future.


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, which began this topic, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will continue the topic of this post. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Evidence for the Big Bang, 50 years ago

As the recent movie, God's not Dead, put it, "Let there be light" in Genesis 1 is a description of the Big Bang. (The argument between the fictional atheist philosophy professor and the fictional outspoken college student, in the movie, was not over whether there was a Big Bang or not, but over whether or not there was a God who created the universe, using the Big Bang as part of His creative action.)

A few days over 50 years ago, Penzias and Wilson discovered background radiation from the Big Bang. (See here for the Wikipedia article on the Big Bang.) National Public Radio has a good report, commemorating the event, and points out what Penzias and Wilson originally reported, namely that they discovered this evidence by accident -- they weren't looking to prove that there was a Big Bang. The report apparently is partly based on discussions with Penzias and Wilson, who are still alive.

There is other evidence for the Big Bang, principally the shifting of light spectra towards the red, with this shift being greater, the further the object observed is from the earth. This is believed to be because the universe is expanding, as you would expect if there had been a cataclysmic explosion at its beginning. Red shifts were discovered before the discovery by Penzias and Wilson.

Although the background radiation and red shifting may not seem like a lot of evidence, they are an amazing amount of support, considering how long ago the Big Bang occurred.

Reasons to Believe, a Christian organization, claims that the Bible describes the Big Bang, especially in passages that use the phrase "stretched out" to refer to the starry sky. Perhaps. Perhaps not. I'm not an expert in the original language. "Stretched out" may mean expanding. It may merely mean that God created the starry sky. I don't know. Whichever way it was, the Big Bang was not a surprise to God, and required God to create a universe such that it could occur.

Thanks for reading.





Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sunspots 471

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

The Arts: There really is a book named Amish Vampires in Space. And, according to this review, it's not nearly as bad as the title would suggest.

Christianity: Ken Schenck discusses the matter of disagreements between Christians.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware points us to a service that lets you selectively print only the parts of a web page that you want printed. It also lets you save the important parts as a .PDF file.


The Huffington Post reports on producing your own make-up -- yes, lipstick, and whatever else -- with a 3-D printer, and what that might do to the cosmetics industry.

Google, in Spain, has lost a court battle that may influence the results of "googling" someone. It may affect the whole world.

Science: Wired reports on moths that look like wasps.

The Panda's Thumb reports that scientists have taken the first steps toward adding to the possibilities of the genetic code -- adding two new Nitrogen bases, in addition to the usual A, C, G and T.


Image source (public domain)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Two amazing organisms from South America

National Public Radio, and other news outlets, have reported on the discovery of bones from what seems to be the largest dinosaur ever found. The discovery was in Argentina.

NPR also reports on a living organism, a weird plant that looks like what would happen if you sprayed green shaving cream over one or more large beach balls. These slow-growing individuals could be the oldest higher plants on earth. They are related to carrots, but they certainly don't look like them in the photos. They are found in the Andes, including in Chile.

Amazing stuff! Read the articles, and look at the photos and videos.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 35

A person who is saved bears fruit of salvation
Matthew 13:18 “Hear, then, the parable of the farmer. 19 When anyone hears the word of the Kingdom, and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes, and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown by the roadside. 20 What was sown on the rocky places, this is he who hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while. When oppression or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 What was sown among the thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of this age and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 What was sown on the good ground, this is he who hears the word, and understands it, who most certainly bears fruit, and produces, some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.”

Matthew 7:16 By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ 23 Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. 2 Every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already pruned clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you.

Jesus does not explain what “fruit” is. But He calls it “good fruit,” and says that we must remain in Him in order to produce it. The fruit is probably two related things: 1) influencing people to be converted, (See Chapter Three) and 2) the Fruits of the Spirit, described in Galatians 5, which also describes bad fruit:

Galatians 5:19 Now the deeds of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let’s not become conceited, provoking one another, and envying one another.


The above material is an excerpt from my recently 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, which began this topic, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will continue the topic of this post. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Did living things come from a common ancestor, or were they created separately?

The title asks an important question. It's also a broad question. Let me re-phrase it, more narrowly:

Do some living things resemble each other because of descent from a common ancestor, or because they were created to be similar?

Some people do not believe that the earth is old enough for there to have been distant common ancestors. They might believe that, say, cows and bison came from a common ancestor, or at least that all the breeds of cows did, but that cows and deer could not have, because there wasn't enough time. Some people, often the same ones, believe that the language of Genesis 1 indicates that God created the varieties of organisms by separate creative acts. Some people, usually the same ones as mentioned above, do not believe that humans and non-human primates share any common ancestry, because they believe that the language of Genesis 1 indicates that humans were created specially from non-living material. On the other hand, there are Bible-believing, God-fearing Christians, who are not so sure of all of this, and believe that the earth is very old. Such people may also believe that God especially endowed some pre-existing primate with the image of God (whatever that is) and that, therefore, non-human primates were distant biological ancestors of humans. Billy Graham has said that that may have been what happened.

If humans and chimpanzees were created separately, then how do people who believe this explain the similarities between the two? In particular, how do they explain the genetic similarity? The usual response is that, in order to function properly, genes have to fall within a narrow range of structural constraints. Therefore, human genes, and chimpanzee genes, were created to be much alike. Although we aren't really sure that there is only one way to make, say, an Oxygen-carrying molecule like hemoglobin, this argument of those who believe in special creation has some plausibility. But not enough.

A recent article, by a scientist who is a Christian, and well-qualified to discuss the matter, examines a situation where genes don't function. And, in this case, vitamin C production, it turns out that non-functioning genes of humans and non-human primates are very similar. The only reasonable explanation seems to be that humans and non-humans inherited their genes for vitamin C production from an ancestor which had lost the capacity to produce enzymes that could synthesize vitamin C. Thus neither humans nor orangutans can produce vitamin C, but both have the apparent remains of the genes that produced it in the presumed common ancestor, and these remains are almost identical.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sunspots 470

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

The Arts: One of my brothers is an excellent photographer. Two of his recent offerings are a photo of a moonbow (a rainbow caused by moonlight) and one of "ghosts" walking on a stairs -- see his explanation.

Christianity: Ken Schenck discusses Calvinism and Arminianism, including the question of free will.
Computing: (sort of) a picture, a visual comment on some of us and our information utilities.
Humor: A video, about two minutes long, of a crow, playing in the snow on top of cars.
Politics: The New York Times report on a study of how individual Supreme Court justices voted in free speech cases.
Science: Scientific American reports on a report in Nature that migratory birds are confused by electronic signals given off by us, at least in places where there are a lot of us.
Image source (public domain)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Science and Christianity are compatible

Michael Gerson, a columnist with The Washington Post, has recently written about the tension between science and some Christians, and says, correctly, that it is quite unnecessary. Real scientific findings don't threaten Christian belief, and it's too bad that so many Christians think that they do. Also, Gerson says, I believe correctly, that this stance will hurt the Christianity of the future, because the children of Christians are being asked, wrongly, to choose between their religious belief and the findings of science.

Gerson says it better.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 34

Are there clues to help decide whether someone is a Christian or not?
Clue 1: Bearing fruit of salvation
Matthew 7:16 By their fruits you will know them.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Clue 2: Keeping Christ’s commandments
John 14:21 One who has my commandments, and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him.”

John 15:14 You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you.

1 John 1:3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. 4 One who says, “I know him,” and doesn’t keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth isn’t in him.

Clue 3: Not being a habitual sinner
1 John 2:1 My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have a Counselor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 May it never be! We who died to sin, how could we live in it any longer?

Clue 4: Keeping a relationship with Christ, and with other Christians
John 15:4 Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Hebrews 10:24 Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good works, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.

In other words, a Christian grows to be more and more like Christ.

The material above is shown in the following graphic. You are free to use that graphic for any non-commercial use.


Evidence for Being a Christian

The above material, except for the graphic, which was not in the book, is an excerpt from my recently 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, which began this topic, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will continue the topic of this post. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Sunspots 469

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:
Christianity: Weekend Fisher reminds us to be careful what we say.
Humor: photos (some photomanipulated, some apparently using some clever carving) of some amazing fruit turned into animals.
Wired reports on some really scary amusement park rides.
Science: Wired reports on a Australian mammal that has amazing, and death-inducing, sex orgies.
National Public Radio reports that a newly pregnant mother's diet can alter expression of her child's genes throughout life.

NPR also reports that laboratory rodents may react differently, depending on the sex of their handlers. This may cause re-thinking of a lot of behavioral research.


Image source (public domain)

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 33



What is the evidence for belief in Christ as savior and Lord?

The next chapter will consider the controversial matter of whether or not a saved person can lose that salvation. That’s an important question. But the subject of this chapter should be considered first. It is important to determine what a Christian, or believer, really is.

Who is saved?

We cannot save ourselves, and the church cannot save us.

Salvation from sin is a supernatural event, the result of God’s grace. We can ask forgiveness for sin, and accept the sacrifice of Christ’s blood, which paid the penalty for our personal sins. We can believe in the power of the resurrection. We need to do these things. But salvation is God’s work in us. (Ephesians 2:8 “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, that no one would boast.”)

Raising our hands, saying a prayer, kneeling at a mourner’s bench, shaking a preacher’s hand, testifying to being saved, being baptized, or having our names on a church roll do not and cannot save us, in and of themselves. (There is nothing wrong with these acts, or similar ones, and most converts ought to do most or all of them, especially baptism, but they don’t save us.) In other words, no one is saved because she thinks she is, or because he joined a church 15 years ago. If she or he is saved, it is because of God’s forgiveness:
Titus 3:4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love toward mankind appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit

Whether we are saved or not is ultimately a question that only God can really answer. I once heard a Southern Baptist pastor say that about 50% of the people on the rolls of his church weren’t really saved. Why did he say that? Because, although they had participated in one or more of the acts listed above, they showed no evidence of salvation. Most Southern Baptists believe that, once you become a Christian, you cannot lose your salvation. In other words, this pastor believed that about half of the people who were members of his church had never been saved. Southern Baptist churches are by no means alone. All too many church members, of whatever denomination, show no evidence that they are following Christ in salvation.

We are not the judge of this matter, God is. However, it may be helpful to examine our own lives, in light of scriptural clues that indicate that a person is a believer. Paul recommended such an examination:
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine your own selves, whether you are in the faith. Test your own selves. Or don’t you know as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I hope that you will know that we aren’t disqualified.

The Bible never provides a list of signs that a person is actually saved, but there are clues. Perhaps the material below will be helpful. (To be continued)


The above is an excerpt from my recently 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, which concluded a series on End Times prophecy, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will continue the topic of this post. Thanks for reading.