Category Archives: Truth

Evil Versus Providence

This morning I read an article that everyone should read. You can find it here.

The article reminds us that God’s providence is greater than the evil we endure. Moreover, God uses the evil we encounter to move us to the place, and shape us into the people he wants us to be. It’s fine to speak about Sanctification. The reality, though, is that we have become comfortable in our faith. We are couch potato Christians who wait around for some miraculous effort on the part of the Holy Spirit to do God’s will in us.

The road to sanctification is narrow, steep, and rocky. On it, our Father places obstacles. However, he does not intend for us to stumble over them but to adapt and overcome, to quote the USMC.

Psalm 121(ESV)

A SONG OF ASCENTS.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

How can we deny God’s providence? It is always in action. Yes, there are many who deny the thought of a providential God who even exists. Yet that is the beauty of God’s providence. It’s not about them; it’s about us.

When I was a seminary graduate seeking ordination in the Church, Psalm 121 was assigned to me to use as the foundation for a sermon to be presented and evaluated. I wish I knew then what I know now. But that is God’s providence. All these years later, I have the experiences through which God by his Spirit has led me, taught me, and shaped me. It has not been easy. However, I can say now that I would not have changed a day of pain into a day of comfort, because they brought me to many days of joy.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:4–5, ESV)

Older is wiser only if you are in the hands of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is no other source of wisdom. The greatest Christian men and women in my life, those I admire as examples of humility and holiness, are the saints who have suffered the most either in quantity or degree or both. I say this not to suggest that we should seek suffering. I say this as an observation of those who have suffered.

What is injustice compared to the providence of God? What is disease compared to the providence of God? What is death compared to the providence of God? Nothing. I pray that every Christian preacher catches the truth of God’s providence and not shy away from preaching uncomfortable sermons. I pray that every congregation gathers to worship not simply to be uplifted, built up, or made to feel good. Instead, the gathering for worship means entering into the presence of a Holy God by a people who are on the path toward holiness.

God is love. God is grace. God is mercy. These things, and others, cannot deny that God is also holy, righteous, and just. He is not these things in the way that we might define them. All of the attributes of God are prior to us. The creation was determined according to God’s plans and providence. Why should we think that the creation could define the creator?

We take comfort in the truth of God, who he is, what he does, and what he has said.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, That I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11, KJV 1900)

And we find comfort in the knowledge that everything we encounter today will, by God’s work, prepare us for tomorrow.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Psalm 30:11–12, ESV)

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To Tell the Truth

An article on the Epoch Times today was a bit startling. It began:

FacebookTwitter, and YouTube removed videos of a press conference on July 27 held by a group of doctors, citing violation of their policies. Members of the group, called “America’s Frontline Doctors,” had spoken in support of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine in treating and preventing COVID-19, and alleged that there is widespread misinformation about the drug. [1]

I am aware that these “public” formats may remove anything they want. Maybe they should stop calling themselves public. Nevertheless, they do have policies to remove offending information, ad I use the term “offending” very loosely. What bothered me about this article, though, was the reason given for the removal of the post:

A Facebook spokesperson said that it removed the video “for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” and told CNN that it instead will show “messages in News Feed to people who have reacted to, commented on or shared harmful COVID-19-related misinformation that we have removed, connecting them to myths debunked by the [World Health Organization].”

My question is, who are they (the Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube executives to determine what is medically correct or not? What information do they have beyond the early closing of trials by the WHO? There are many studies that contradict the WHO. One example is from the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan.

“Our analysis shows that using hydroxychloroquine helped saves lives,” neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Kalkanis, senior vice president and chief academic officer of the health system, said in a statement. “As doctors and scientists, we look to the data for insight. And the data here is clear that there was benefit to using the drug as a treatment for sick, hospitalized patients.” [2]

Is the doctor lying? Is there malice in either organization? I would think not. I believe that the WHO is sincerely concerned and trying to help in this medical crisis. They gave up early on testing because they were not seeing sufficient data suggesting people with COVID-19 were being helped. However, in my limited knowledge and experience, I thought the scientific method was to present a theory and test it against empirical evidence. If the evidence does not support the theory, does that mean the theory should be abandoned?

“We attribute our findings that differ from other studies to early treatment, and part of a combination of interventions that were done in supportive care of patients, including careful cardiac monitoring,” Zervos said. “Our dosing also differed from other studies not showing a benefit of the drug. And other studies are either not peer reviewed, have limited numbers of patients, different patient populations or other differences from our patients.” [3]

If the theory is not sustained by the evidence, what part of the theory is wrong? some of it? All of it? Science is a tool for learning. It is not the ultimate determination of an idea. Where did the saying “Go back to the blackboard” come from? From errors made that need to be tweaked to discover the truth. If the WHO is willing to give up on the idea of hydroxychloroquine, the Henry Ford Health Center is not. There are many who are not giving up either. If this was the way institutions looked for the cure of cancer, we could have stopped trying. However, those doctors and researchers have not given up and because of that, they have made progress, significant progress.

I am certainly not trying to disparage the WHO. However, the actions taken by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are foolish. Censorship is not conducive to a free society. It is a free society that has paid the employees of these “public” forums. But they are not public. They allow some people to use the vilest language and publish the most hateful messages while censoring others dedicated to helping. My sadness is that the law does not even hold the “platform” responsible for that which is published on it. Their censorship is purely political. Legally they cannot be touched. Morally they are contributors to the condition of our current mess.

COVID-19 is a problem. However, the rioting is more of a problem. If you don’t think that the current attempts to erase history create their own form of hell, you haven’t read George Orwell’s 1984.

The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.” (Psalm 89:11, ESV)

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!” (Psalm 33:8, ESV)

The nonsense going on today rejects the idea of YHWH, the creator of all things. It rejects the truth of Jesus the Christ for whom all things were made and by whom all things are sustained. It rejects the reality of the Holy Spirit who has given life to all people, and who can take it away at any time. I am not a doomsday prophet, but the world as we know it is coming to a change that is going to be difficult and painful. If America falls, it will only be because those of us who know how to reason, those of us who have diligently read, studied, and hidden the whole counsel of God in our hearts, and those of us who have the responsibility of bringing the Kingdom of the Most High God to the earth have remained silent. We have failed to tell the truth to this world, to our government, to our leaders and their followers, to every human being we are capable of reaching.

I wonder if we in the Church have hidden our light under a bushel. It’s not their fault that they are confused and bitter. It is ours for not loving them with a true love, a love that refuses to back down, a love that reveals the evil in the schemes of mankind. That means all evil whether Republican or Democrat for there is plenty to go around. Whether white of black for there is plenty to go around. It does no good to hate, destroy, kill, and be killed if there is nothing to build after the revolution.

Psalm 49 (ESV)

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

1 Hear this, all peoples!

Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,

2 both low and high,

rich and poor together!

3 My mouth shall speak wisdom;

the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.

4 I will incline my ear to a proverb;

I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.

5 Why should I fear in times of trouble,

when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,

6 those who trust in their wealth

and boast of the abundance of their riches?

7 Truly no man can ransom another,

or give to God the price of his life,

8 for the ransom of their life is costly

and can never suffice,

9 that he should live on forever

and never see the pit.

10 For he sees that even the wise die;

the fool and the stupid alike must perish

and leave their wealth to others.

11 Their graves are their homes forever,

their dwelling places to all generations,

though they called lands by their own names.

12 Man in his pomp will not remain;

he is like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;

yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah

14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;

death shall be their shepherd,

and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.

Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.

15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,

for he will receive me. Selah

16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,

when the glory of his house increases.

17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away;

his glory will not go down after him.

18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed

—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—

19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,

who will never again see light.

20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

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From Below

He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23, ESV)

The eight chapter of John applies to us very nicely, in my opinion. It begins with the religious leaders of the day (the self-proclaimed righteous) bringing a woman to Jesus for judgment. He is told that this woman has been caught in adultery. Now they pose a question to Jesus which none of them could possibly answer. This is not because they wanted to know the truth, but because they knew there were only two ways he could answer, and in their thinking, either answer would be wrong.

So, they present the following dilemma to the Lord of heaven and earth: The Law of Moses required that a woman caught in adultery must be stoned (their phasing of the Law, not God’s). So if Jesus refuses to stone her he is supposedly in violation of God’s Law. However, if he does stone her, he is in violation of Roman law. Aha! They’ve got him!

The first flaw with their trap is a legal one. The Law in Deuteronomy and Leviticus demands that the man and the woman who commit adultery together must die (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:20-24). In this accusation, where is the man? Jesus need not do anything without both defendants. Furthermore, we only have the Pharisees word that she was an adulterous woman but there are no legally required two witnesses. Without knowing it (though they should have) the testers have trapped themselves as not really knowing or applying the Law correctly.

Yet Jesus is not one to let a learning moment go by unanswered. Neither does he fall into a debate with those who have already convinced themselves that they are right. So, Jesus drives home his point silently. He bends down and writes on the ground with his finger. No speculation here is warranted. If God wanted us to know what Jesus wrote, it would have been recorded. Whatever it was, the Pharisees demand an answer and continue to badger him with repeating the question over and over.

Thus, Jesus stands back up and gives an answer that no one, not even the woman expected, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Ouch! Not at all what the expected or wanted to hear. Another human foolish testing of God fails. After they all leave, Jesus graciously addresses the woman and gives her forgiveness. Though I am sure the Pharisees didn’t learn their lesson, I believe she learned hers. It’s what Jesus did repeatedly, cast down the proud and lift up the humble.

But that is only the beginning of the chapter, and though I will not spend time on everything worthy of reflection and study, later Jesus addressed the Jews who had heard him teach and believed in him. “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:31–32, ESV)

I have heard the last phrase repeated often in religious and non-religious circles. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I first want to note that I lose patience with those who deny God and Christ and who repeatedly quote him as if all of a sudden they believe. Please stop it.

However, those who confess they believe do something I consider far worse. In the first case, unbelievers only reveal their duplicity and hypocrisy. But believers steal a phrase out of context to justify something they want to be true, even if it is not. The freedom of truth is not unconditional. Jesus gives two conditions to knowing the truth: 1) “If you abide in my word,” and 2) you are my disciples.

None of us can or do know truth apart from the Word of God. While Jesus walked this earth, the Word of God included the Scriptures (Old Testament) and himself! (John 1:1) Now, the Word which is Christ is recorded and kept for us today in the New Testament. The easiest way of stating this is, if you want to know truth, you have to know all of God’s word.

The objection I hear to this is that there are many brilliant people who know much about the world through science, math, medicine, and more, who do not believe in the Bible, God, or Christ. You have no argument with me. God has revealed himself in his word from the very beginning: “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3, ESV) The sciences in their purest form are the study of this world that God created. But the recognition of God through the sciences is another matter altogether. Not only can it be done, but it should be done if one is seeking truth.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19–20, ESV) Paul doesn’t hedge about the truth, “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” Sounds a lot like the Pharisees in John 8.

Any discipline that does not reveal God and Christ is not the fault of the truth but of the one practicing the discipline with a presupposed believe that there is no God or Christ. This is the problem with all public education and in most universities. They start with a denial of God and then claim to be interested in truth. This is in itself a lie.

The second qualification to truth must therefore be emphasized, “you are truly my disciples.” Abiding in the the word means a constant relationship of word to life, and this is what defines being a disciple. A disciple is a follower, one committed to someone or something.

The issue I have with many social justice issues in general and Black Lives Matters in particular is that they are dishonest attempts to find and apply truth. They are dishonest in that they begin with a position that is prejudicial against all other positions. They are dishonest because they are not open to discussion or debate about the idea or the facts used to make their version of the truth win out. They are dishonest because, knowing they do not have truth on their side, they abandon the truth and fall into the fallacy of name calling destroying their opponents and the destruction of their property and lives.

In America today, it is nearly impossible to have intelligent discussions about abortion, traditional marriage, real discrimination, racism, politics and a whole lot more. It is impossible because one side tends to abandon reason, debate, and logic and defer to outbursts, shouting, overbearing accusations, and more. A most obvious example is the failure of our universities which are supposed to be safe havens for seeking and testing truth but have become impenetrable fortresses of one position and one position only. If you disagree with the agenda, there is no room for debate. Worse, if you are on the wrong side, you are not even free to speak.

Many are upset by the destruction of statues, monuments, etc. honoring people who were instrumental in founding and running America. Such destruction is only a symptom of the real problem: they have already destroyed the principles of government established by the greatest of our fore-fathers.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” (The Declaration of Independence)

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (The Constitution of the United States of America)

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln~November 19, 1863

We who are of this world will never be able to resolve the issues that face us until we become disciples of he who is from above. Peace only comes from the Prince of Peace.

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