#DareToHope Grace Orlando

#DareToHope Grace Orlando

#DareToHope Grace Orlando

Saturday, I “followed” pastor Mike Adkins and his wife Kelly on Twitter and tweeted the blog post, The Freedom to Speak or Be Silent, to the pastor of Grace Orlando as a sort of heads-up to this sermon review.

Kelly Adkins was kind enough to take the time to read and respond to Saturday’s blog post early Sunday morning. While I was poking around on the church website, I visited the About page and learned something interesting:

Three of our four campuses are in local schools, and that gives us a huge opportunity to directly impact the lives of families that our neighborhood churches serve. Much of our rent can be paid through in-kind gifts to the school, including computers, educational assistance and sports uniforms. Our Christmas offerings have also served local students in Seminole and Orange County Schools by providing food, tutoring and resources to students in need who stay after school for extracurricular activities. To date, Grace campuses have given more than $300,000 for student assistance at our specific school campuses.

In The Church Has Left the Building, First Baptist Orlando Makeover, and similar blog posts, I’ve strongly suggested that the money believers currently spend on church buildings could be better spent in community ministry. Kudos to Grace Orlando for getting this right. But believers meeting in homes or coffee shops can avoid many of the pitfalls of big church (a weekly one-speaker-many-listeners setting), which leads to my next point…. Grace Orlando has home meetings:

We believe that the local church — a connected, intentional group of believers who worship, learn and serve together — is the primary way God accomplishes His mission in the world. At Grace, we connect people in ministry teams who serve each other on Sundays and in Grace Communities who serve and connect with each other in homes throughout the week.

This could be a good thing, or it could be more of the same-old-same-old, depending on this:

Scripture is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. This church recognizes that it cannot bind the conscience of individual members in areas where Scripture is silent. Rather each believer is to be led in those areas by the Lord, to whom he or she alone is ultimately responsible.

Using scripture as the “final authority” sounds pretty simple, until you stop and consider the fact that disagreement over how to interpret scripture has resulted in tens of thousands of denominations of Christian believers. And let’s not forget our ugly, not-too-distant history. The “final authority” of scripture was used to justify slavery. I find it promising that Grace Orlando sees each believer as led by and ultimately responsible to the Lord, but I find it equally unsettling that this insight is only applied to “areas where Scripture is silent.” In other words, if scripture says anything at all about a subject, even something hotly debated among believers, the leaders in this institutional church feel they have the authority to bind the conscience of individual members. In this case, the home meetings are just smaller versions of big church, where members appear to be free to follow their Shepherd into green pastures, but the final authority on any disagreement is given to the pastor and perhaps a handful of other leaders who intend to keep the flock confined within the fold of orthodoxy. For more about this, read Out of the Fold, Into the FlockBigger Fences for the Fold, and most importantly, Uses and Applications of the Word FOLD. I’m considering attending a home meeting for while. Best case scenario, I find myself welcomed into a community of believers who meets regularly, believers who may disagree with me, but want me around anyhow. Worst case scenario, I find myself the target of spiritual police who make it their mission to unwelcome me as quickly as possible in order to preserve their pseudo-authority to “bind the conscience of individual members” to their particular interpretation of scripture. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted.

The Easter Sunday Sermon #DareToHope

When I first heard that the scripture for this sermon was in 1 Corinthians 15, I got pretty excited to hear what Adkin’s take on that chapter would be. But then I realized that Adkins would be preaching on verses 1-11 only. Read the rest of the chapter, people. Adkins introduces the sermon:

We’re going to be looking at an unconventional passage of scripture to talk about the resurrection of Jesus, because for some of you, you come on every Easter, and you hear the exact same scripture and the exact same message. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to mix it up a little bit here this morning. What I’d like to do is I’d like to talk through two different ways in which we tend to think. Now, this doesn’t have anything to do with whether you’re a religious person or not. You might have been invited here today by somebody who attends this church on a regular basis, and you were invited here because they love you and they want you to hear this truth. Alright?

 

An interesting side note:

The week prior, everyone in the congregation had been instructed to invite three people to church for Easter. Anyhow, Adkins says,

But, what we’re about to talk about, at least at the first part of this, doesn’t have a whole lot to do with whether you’re a Christian or not Christian, it has to do with the way we think, and the way we’ve been programmed through culture to think. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to read the scripture passage for today, and then I’m going to run through these words up here that you’re probably wondering about.

There’s a large, white cross in the middle of the stage. A thin rope extends from the cross to the left and the right with words hung on each side. Adkins continues,

This part of 1 Corinthians was written […] 55 AD, twenty-five years after the resurrection of Jesus. So this is actually widely known in scholarly circles as one of the early creedal statements about the church and about what we believed about Jesus. So, how early in church’s history did they believe that Jesus was God? Well, for us, we recognize that the apostles taught it and those that walked with Him taught that Jesus was God, but also within twenty-five years they had formalized these statements, and I’ll show you what they are.

 

Another interesting side note:

In my twenties and early thirties, I spent years — many hours over the course of a decade+ defending the doctrine of the Trinity against Jehovah’s Witnesses in weekly “Bible” (NTW/Watchtower) studies. One of the ways to demonstrate the deity of Christ is to point out that Christ didn’t correct people when they worshipped Him, which implies that if He were not God, then He was a blasphemous at best and a liar at worst. I figured the Jehovah’s Witnesses, when presented with the three possibilities, would reconsider their belief about the non-deity of Christ. This was difficult to demonstrate, though, because their NWT Bibles were translated in such a way as to appear that Jesus did NOT receive worship. For example, Hebrews 1:6 in my NIV says,

And then, when God presents his firstborn Son to the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

whereas the NWT says,

But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: “And let all of God’s angels do obeisance to him.”

It was blatantly obvious to me that since the Greek word proskuneo in reference to the Father was consistently translated “worship,” but in reference to Christ the Son the same Greek word was translated “obeisance,” there was some translation bias going on. The Jehovah’s Witnesses simply believed what they were taught in church and what they read in their Bibles, like good Christians do. I got a hold of a revised 1961 version of the NWT that still had proskuneo translated “worship” (oops! leftover from the 1950s version, which I wasn’t able to obtain), demonstrating that it wasn’t all that long ago that the Watchtower organization changed their translation to fit their doctrine. Soon after I showed them this, the weekly visits stopped. Apparently I had been red flagged.

IMG_0207

Hebrews 1:6, New World Translation, 1961

The funny thing is, I naively believed that the practice of hiding important information and shunning people who bring up uncomfortable discussions about said hidden information was limited to cult organizations. A few years later I discovered these practices were also alive and well within my own tribe.

Now back to the sermon.

Adkins reads verse 1.

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.

Then, he pauses to explain,

So he’s preaching the gospel right now to people who already believe the gospel. Now, the reason why he does that is because when we follow Jesus and we enter into a relationship with Jesus, we don’t move on from the gospel and learn deeper things about God, the gospel itself is the deep things of God.

Adkins makes an incredibly important point here, so let’s not gloss over it.

The gospel = “the deep things of God.”

Earlier in this letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells them that he can’t teach them deep spiritual truths, but that he has to treat them as if they were not-yet-believers. He compares them to milk-drinking babies who can’t handle the meal of a mature adult. Why? Because they were seeing themselves as part of Paul’s group or Apollos’ group instead of seeing themselves as belonging to Christ alone. Paul explains that, “no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ,” not Paul, not Apollos, not any fallible human being, no matter how many theological credentials he or she may possess. Even though the believers in Corinth “have the mind of Christ,” Paul can’t treat them as such because they are “mere infants in Christ” who were “not yet ready” for the deep things of God.

Do you know what this means?

It means that it is possible for people to be believers of the gospel who are “not yet ready” for the deep things that are there to be discovered within the gospel message. So, what, exactly, is the gospel? According to What Motivates Us Most, an article on Grace Orlando’s website, the gospel is ‘a word from the Bible that means “good news.'” The article asks and answers:

What’s so good about it? The gospel means we can have a relationship with a holy and perfect God — not because of anything we do (which could never be good enough), but because of His Son, Jesus, who died to give us life. Jesus paid the penalty for sin and died in our place to make us right with God. We are friends with God all because of what Jesus has done and nothing that we have done. The pressure’s off.

So, if that’s the gospel, why is it so hard for not-yet-believers AND BELIEVERS to understand the gospel? Paul answers this question:

If anyone builds on this foundation [which is Jesus Christ] using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

The foundation of the gospel is Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished for humanity. Then, people come along and build on that foundation. Some of what they build has real spiritual substance. When it is placed under the light of scrutiny, it stands. Some of what they build is worthless junk. Spiritual babies rely on the stuff people build rather than relying on the foundation. They get distracted by the junk. Keep these things in mind as we continue to examine Adkins’ sermon. Adkins reads verses 2-11:

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

 

Adkins pulls another snippet of wisdom from the text. He explains,

Paul has a problem, and that is, that he is plagued by his past. He is plagued by the fact that he persecuted the Church of Christ. And this is not something that we can have… that is very difficult for us to kind of imagine, I mean, just last week, a Kenya university was pillaged, and literally, the terrorists that walked through this school asked one after another, “Are you a Christian? Do you accept Christ? Will you renounce Christ?” “No. No. No.” Boom. Boom. Boom. Gone. And so persecution is not something that existed in Paul’s day alone, it exists even to this very day, and yet we think sometimes those people are beyond redemption.

Adkins calls this “before the cross” thinking. The irony of this is that Adkins can identify “before the cross” thinking but does not recognize it in his own sermon. Keep reading. You’ll see what I’m talking about. He attaches the word “if” to the string of words on the left side of the cross and explains that if-this-then-that kind of thinking “leads us to all kinds of problems in our own personal lives, in our relationships with others, and in our spiritual walk with God, Himself.” After expounding on this idea for a bit, Adkins says that people tend to be bound by the tyranny of “if this, then that,” which “works, until it doesn’t.” He says,

For some of us, this is the very reason why we have trouble with God. Because we’ve thought to ourselves, “If, God, I can just obey You, then, that means you’ll love me.” And the problem happens, not in the fact that God doesn’t love you, but the problem happens in the fact that we fall short in the “this.” I can’t obey him. I fall short of obeying Him.

I would take this a step further. For example, you might say, “If, God, I can just believe the gospel, then Jesus Christ will be my Savior.” And the problem happens, not in the fact that Jesus isn’t your Savior, but the problem happens in the fact that you fall short in the “this.” You can’t believe. You fall short of believing. Adkins says,

What we want you to do, is we want you actually to not skate along the surface, but we want you to think deeply about your situation. We want you to think deeply about your families. We want you to think deeply about your relationships. We want you to not be bound by the tyranny of the if-this-then-that mentality that unconsciously most of us live with. Because if we are not able to live up to “this” then, then that means that we have trouble on the other side [of the cross].

This resonates with me, especially what he says about being “bound by the tyranny.” What Adkins calls the if-this-then-that mentality is what Paul calls “the law of sin and death,” “the flesh,” or just plain “dead.” This is the reason Christ willingly gave himself over to the violence and hatred of His enemies. He shows us a radically different way of overcoming the if-this-then-that mentality. But I’m getting ahead of Adkins…

And not to mention us personally, but the if-this-then-that mentality ends up causing us, watch this, trouble with other people, because if you think as I think, then that means we can be friends. If you do the things I want you to do, then we can be in relationship. […] The problem is, you’ve basically said to the other person, “You’re God. And I’m going to put all of my eggs and my happiness in the basket of your response to me.” And I want you to think about this for a moment, because if-this-then-that mentality can turn around hurt you, because you and I don’t live this out right all the time. We fall short of it. We call it sin. And some people hate that word. They hate the word, because they think it means that we’re just calling them bad people. But actually what we are doing is we’re describing the human condition when we use the word sin. We’re saying, not you specifically are a horrible person, we’re saying that every person on the entire planet is a sinner. So, what we’re talking about is not actions; we’re talking about conditions. We’re not talking about behaviors; we’re talking about a condition that wells up in the human heart.

While we are looking at the human condition, it is important to note that there’s not a damn thing any of us can do about it. I’m glad that Adkins spends so much time driving this point home. But we have to ask ourselves, isn’t unbelief also a symptom of the human condition?

The Bible says that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and who can cure it? Out of the heart flows life, and it’s broken. Your heart is fundamentally broken. I mean, whenever you’ve tried to live perfectly and do the right thing, the more energy and the more effort you put into it, first of all it collapses on you, eventually, because you just can’t bear the weight of always trying so hard to do the right thing. And then it collapses, you fall short, you’ve sinned, and you have nothing to do other than to go back and say, “Well, okay, I’ve done that, so if I do this, maybe it will make up for that, and then I’ll have a good future. If I do this good thing, then God will love me, and I’ll have that great future.” And then it turns around on you. For some of us, we have some really bad stuff going on. The “that” of our life is just falling apart, and so we reverse-engineer this unconscious thought process that we have, and we start thinking, “You know what? I’ve got cancer, so that, that means, this: God must be angry with me. And I’m not being the person that I really want to be. I’m sleeping with people I shouldn’t be sleeping with. I’m drinking too much. I’m doing this. I’m doing… And that means, clearly, that God is not with me.” But this is some broken thinking on this side of the cross that needs to be gotten rid of if you’re ever to find a relationship with Jesus. And if you are ever to find healthy relationships and not be a person of judgment and condemnation, you have to recognize that there’s no capacity that any of us have to constantly, forever, consistently do this [if-this-then-that]. We’re broken. And it’s ironic, because while this is the opposite of what the world tells you, which is you have everything inside of you necessary in order to be this great person, the church comes to you and says “You’re broken,” and here’s the beautiful thing about it — now you have awareness, now you have understanding, now you know why you do these things — because there’s a part of you that is broken.

Okay. We get it. We’re not perfect. And if perfection is what God demands, then we’re all screwed. Now what? Adkins attaches the word “because” to the right of the cross. Now it says “because that, then this.” He explains that we no longer have to be bound by “if this, then that,” because Jesus died and rose again… Adkins says,

…we now have the capacity and the ability to live beyond the if-this-then-that mentality. We no longer have to be bound by “If I’m good, then God will love me.” God will love me because that cross then freed this person to be whole, and that, that, that is the gospel, and that’s what makes such a major difference in everyday spirituality. That’s what makes a difference in everyday life… The good news is Jesus lived a sinless so that you would not have to live a sinless life. Jesus died for your sins so that He could take all of His goodness and transfer it into your account.

But then Adkins adds, “All it requires on your part is to say yes.” Wait just a minute. Is Adkins saying what I think he’s saying? Something is required of us? We have a “part” in our own salvation? What Motivates Us Most also says,

The gospel is not religion. Religion says “I obey, therefore I’m accepted.” The gospel says “I’m accepted, therefore I obey.” Religion is about what you do; the gospel is about what Jesus has done. Religion leads to pride for keeping the rules or despair for failing to keep them, but the gospel leads to peace because Christ has kept all the rules for us.

So if I understand Adkins correctly, and I understand this article correctly, then there’s a contradiction that needs to be resolved. Because it sure sounds to me like religion: “I say yes, therefore I’m accepted.” Religion is about fulfilling requirements. Religion leads to pride for doing my “part” in salvation. Perhaps Adkins will resolve this contradiction, I say to myself. After all, he’s only been preaching for 15 minutes. To draw conclusions 15 minutes into a sermon would be like walking out half way through a movie and then complaining about how the bad guy wins. Let’s continue to examine his sermon to see what he does with this. Adkins says,

All it requires on your part is to say yes, yes, I’m willing to think your thoughts, God, not mine. I’m willing to recognize that the feelings I feel sometimes are broken, and I want to feel your feelings. I want to do different things, yes, and I’m disempowered to do so without you.

Aha! I see a glimmer of resolution with “I’m disempowered to do so without you.” This is what salvation is about on the deepest level. We spiritually dead, blind, deaf, and powerless people are naturally inclined to move away from God, not toward Him. This is as disempowered as it gets.

See, when we say yes to Jesus, what we’re saying is, “Yes, I’m letting God do inside of me what He will do inside of me, no matter what that is.” It may be radically different than you right now. I hope it is. I hope that God comes sweeping into your life and brings you joy and peace and patience and kindness, not the stuff of this [if-this-then-that], but the stuff of that [because-that-then-this], because the cross looms larger than your sin.

But what happens if one is disempowered to say yes?

For us, people who are followers of Jesus, we recognize that it is the one thing that we have in common, which is brokenness. It is sinfulness. And we’re not coming to you and saying, “You’re terrible people who don’t belong in the church.” That is this [if-this-then-that] kind of thinking. And many of you brought that into the room with you today. If I don’t attend church very often, then that must mean I’m a terrible Christian. If I’m not obeying, then that means I have no place in Christ’s church. It’s not true. It’s not true.

My one takeaway from this bit is “…we recognize…” Spiritually dead people don’t recognize anything that has to do with God or salvation. They are DEAD. If one recognizes anything at all spiritually, including their need for a Savior, or even their own unwillingness to say yes, then that person is ALREADY ALIVE spiritually. It’s only a matter of time until God finishes what He started in them. “So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing I sent it to do” (Isaiah 55:11).

No matter if you were walking in the room today and you felt like the whole room was going to collapse down on top of you because of your sin, the Bible says that Jesus’s righteousness looms larger than the depths of the deepest depravity. And the beauty of that, the beauty of that, is that He offers it freely to you. All He simply says is, “Will you let me do inside of you what I want to do inside of you? Will you let me make you a different person?”

Let’s imagine the depths of the deepest depravity. Move down through the layers of greed, envy, selfishness, and the like. Way down at the bottom, you’ll find the one sin that you can keep hidden from Jesus’s righteousness. You won’t let Jesus go there, to that place where your desire to never be subjected to Him reigns. Jesus is able to conquer all sin except the one that matters most. Or so it seems. Adkins goes back to the scripture passage to point out that Jesus wasn’t metaphorically killed. He physically died. Then He rose again and appeared to 500+ people. This is what sets Jesus apart from the rest of us — living a sinless life enabled Him to be resurrected. Adkins says,

[The Father] says, “Now, I give [the Son] the ability to give your righteousness and your goodness to anyone who asks for it.”

But here’s the tricky part. A symptom of an unrighteous heart is an unwillingness to want or ask for righteousness. It’s a catch 22. If you have to ask for it or want it before it can be given, then why do some ask and want while others don’t? If the gospel changes us from the inside out, as Adkins says it does, shouldn’t that be the first thing to change? If we are saved by the grace of God, then shouldn’t the grace of God start at the deepest point of need? If Christ sets us free from the power of if-this-then-that, doesn’t He also set us free from if-we-believe-then-we-will-be-saved?

I believe that Adkins message is overall good and beneficial, except for one seemingly insignificant but incredibly important point.

Because-that-then-this. Because Christ has set us free, then we believe. Because Christ changed the desire of our hearts, then we said yes. Because Christ opened our eyes to our need for Him, then we accepted His free gift of righteousness and goodness. The work of Christ accomplishes anything and everything necessary for a not-yet-believer to become a believer. This is one of those deep things upon which some believers choke. If this is too much for you, go drink some milk. It’s okay. I don’t expect you to agree with me. I don’t see you as any less than me, because I used to choke on spiritual meat and potatoes, too. God chooses to reveal these things in His own time and His own way. However…

…if you want to know why you’re choking on this, keep reading.

It’s all fine and good that salvation is entirely the work of Christ until we stop and consider that in the scope of human history the majority of mankind did not or does not believe, say yes, accept the gift, etc. This raises a question that demands an answer. Why would Jesus save just a handful of people? Wasn’t His mission to seek and save the lost? Somehow, it’s easier for believers to wrap their brains around the idea that salvation is at least a tiny bit dependent upon us fallible human beings. That way God doesn’t look like a cruel monster for that eternal torment in Hell thing.

As Adkins winds down, he shifts gears to address “dechurched” people:

 

It’s impossible to love God and hate the church. Now you can be realistic and say, “The church is flawed. The church is faulty.” And yes, it is, absolutely because it has you in it, and because it has me in it. And we are sinners saved by the grace of God. Watch this. You are sanctified and grow the most in your life, not when you look at other believers and get judgmental and say, “I don’t want to be like them, so I’m out.”

First, know the difference between church and Church. I hate the church. It is a system prone to corruption. It is not a person or people, it is an if-this-then-that machine. But I love the Church. It is an organic system with the head of Christ and a body of believers with many different roles and functions. It destroys corruption. It grows and gets more beautiful with each passing decade and century. Adkins says,

You grow the most when you sit there next to the guy who is being condemning and judgmental or hypocritical, and you say, “I’m going to walk this through with you and tell you the truth, bro. You’re off track. I’m a sinner, too. You’re a sinner. And we’re going to walk together.” And as you walk together those edges get polished off and become smooth.

What happens if you sit there next to the guy and he gets up and walks away? What do you do when you begin to say, “I’m going to walk this…” and he interrupts to say, “Don’t speak to me.” How do you tell the truth to someone who has so little regard for you that he (successfully) goes around convincing other believers to imitate his shunning behaviors? Please tell me how it is possible to walk together with people who refuse to be seen with you in public and turn private meetings into bullying sessions? This is the kind of behavior (fruits) the church produces in otherwise decent, loving people. This is what it looks like when believers “believe in vain.” And it’s time that the Church brings the church into the light. Adkins says,

But it takes you in relationship with other believers who will fail you, but failure is not a problem, unless you think like this [if-this-then-that]. Failure is not a problem for this person [because-that-then-this]. Because I recognize that this cross has then set me free from the need to condemn and the need to be perfect. […] If He has accepted you, how can I not accept you? If He says you are righteous in His sight because of Christ, how can I then condemn? How can I say that you are less than me, if we are both broken, if we both recognize that our need is for the gospel and not for perfection and not for an image and not to pretend, but simply to trust that Jesus’s love was enough, and being enough, He made a difference.

I’ll tell you how a believer can reject someone God accepts — by believing God doesn’t accept that person. A believer can justify condemnation by imitating the god of eternal condemnation. A believer can reason that not-yet-believers will die in unbelief because they aren’t good enough, or smart enough, or willing enough. In this way the not-yet-believer becomes a less-than. A believer can feel that his/her trust in the love of Jesus is misplaced, if it turns out that Jesus’s love was not enough after all, and that it made very little difference in the fate of humanity. Since I am in full agreement with Adkin’s closing remarks, I will borrow them to use as my own closing remarks. (But please check out the videos when you’re done reading.)

So here’s what I want to do, for those of you who want the happy ending, because the word gospel is a happy ending, it means “good news.” The good news is not that you’re going to make it on your own, the good news is that He did it on your behalf. And that is the difference between religion and the gospel, the difference between spirituality and faith in Christ, the difference between man’s approach and God’s approach. Let this [if-this-then-that] go, guys. It’s gotta die. Let it go.

Comments
  • Mary Vanderplas April 9, 2015 at 6:12 am

    The Bible, paradoxically, affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility when it comes to the gift of salvation. No effort is made to (superficially) harmonize the two. There is a tension here that, in my view, must simply be accepted and lived with. Baptists tend to subordinate the divine sovereignty texts to the human responsibility ones. Others in the Reformed tradition tend to subordinate the human responsibility texts to the divine sovereignty ones. To cite an example on the human responsibility side, what could Acts 16:31 possibly mean other than an affirmation of human decision and responsibility when it comes to receiving God’s gift of grace? Having said this, though, I don’t disagree with what you assert about our not being free to choose God apart from God setting us free, that any choosing that we do is the result of God’s initiative and his doing. And I agree that it’s wrong to make God’s acceptance of us dependent on our believing and receiving his gift, that God’s acceptance and love precede any act on our part, including belief.

    I disagree with his statement that God’s love for us is a result of Jesus’ sacrificial death. The cross reveals the depth of God’s love; it doesn’t secure that love.

    This is all I have time for right now.

    • Alice Spicer April 11, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      God put the tree in the Garden and gave the command not to eat from it, knowing we would eat from it. God gave the law, knowing we would not keep it. God gives salvation and commands us to believe it, knowing that apart from His grace, we can’t (no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit – we can assume that the people in Acts 16 believed because the Spirit enabled them, so there isn’t a contradiction). I can see why it appears to be a paradox, but if you look at the pattern, it is progressive, gradually bringing closer and closer to the conclusion that we need Him completely and utterly.

      • Mary Vanderplas April 14, 2015 at 5:10 am

        The response to the jailer’s question about what he must do is not, “There is nothing you can do. From beginning to end, salvation is God’s doing. Just relax; God will give you the gift of faith.” Instead, the response is “Believe on the Lord Jesus,” implying that the jailer has the ability and the responsibility to do something. There is nothing in the text to suggest that the jailer can’t do what he’s being instructed to do. There is nothing here to suggest that God is commanding him to do what God knows he is unable to do in order to teach him a lesson about dependence. Taken for what it says instead of for what it “must” say, the text affirms human decision and responsibility.

        • Alice Spicer April 14, 2015 at 11:30 pm

          We agree that people must believe in order to be “saved” from the consequences associated with unbelief. The jailer asks, “What must I do to be saved?” And the response is, as you said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus.” The inverse, that is, you will not be saved if you don’t believe, seems like a reasonable assumption. However, many believers also add to this idea: You will NOT EVER be saved if you don’t believe BEFORE YOU DIE.

          Suppose there had been no miraculous earthquake, the locked cell doors were not opened, and the prisoners remained in their chains. Would the jailor still have believed? On one side of the earthquake, we see an average joe following orders and falling asleep. Suppose God hadn’t orchestrated circumstances that would drive the jailor to the brink of suicide. Would he have even cared to ask the question, “What must I do to be saved?” It seems to me God is up to His elbows bringing the will of the jailor into subjection to His own will.

          In another blog comment you mentioned there are scriptures that absolutely affirm God’s sovereignty and scriptures that absolutely affirm human responsibility, and that we shouldn’t try to resolve the tension by subordinating one set of texts to another. I disagree with this idea, because in my view, one set of scriptures (human responsibility) is inherently subordinate to the other set of scriptures (divine sovereignty). The latter informs the former. Divine sovereignty is what secures the success of human responsibility.

          A man asks Jesus a similar question to the one the jailor asked Paul, “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have life age-during?” Jesus could have said, “Believe on me,” but instead He expounds on the nature of the word “good” and then says, “if thou dost will to enter into the life, keep the commands. He rattles off a list of commands, and then tells the man, “If thou dost will to be perfect, go away, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.” Notice the operative words, “If thou dost will…” It quickly becomes apparent that the man does NOT have the will, or “want to” to give up his own plans for the future and follow Christ. The man’s own “want to” is getting in the way. Jesus deconstructs believe-on-me when he emphasizes the impossibility (camel through the eye of a needle analogy) of one bringing his/her own will into subjection to Christ. Jesus isn’t just talking about rich people wanting to keep their money, He’s talking about the human condition. If you think I’m reading into this, notice the disciples’ response, “Who then can be saved?” is about everyone, not just rich people.

          Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” When Paul says to the jailor, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household,” we can reconcile the apparent paradox: the impossible command (human responsibility) is made possible by God, Himself (divine sovereignty).

          A side note – It’s so comforting to see the pattern in this story of how God not only sets captives free, but sets captors free.

          • Mary Vanderplas April 15, 2015 at 5:29 am

            There are texts that affirm divine sovereignty and texts that affirm human responsibility. For every text one finds that emphasizes that salvation is wholly God’s doing, there is at least one other that emphasizes the necessity (and possibility) of our free decision (e.g., John 3:16, Acts 2:21, Revelation. 3:20). No attempts are made by the biblical writers to harmonize the two sets of texts. It is only our own need for logical coherence and theological consistency that drives us to read one set of texts in light of the other or to ignore one set of texts altogether, thereby dissolving the tension. I don’t dispute your contention that God’s action precedes and enables the human action of believing and that, in the case of the jailer, God was at work to bring him to a point of recognizing his need (if only, initially, to be saved from the threat of execution) and to enable his believing. But I think it’s a mistake to subordinate the human responsibility texts to the divine sovereignty ones simply to satisfy our need for a logically-coherent, theologically-consistent system. Rather, we need to read both sets of texts for what they say and to ask how they function. In the case of human responsibility texts, they function in one way to prevent a fatalistic mindset that says that it doesn’t matter what we do because it’s all up to God. They also, I think, reflect the human temporal perspective of being aware, at the moment of decision, that we are free and responsible to decide, while later recognizing that it was God who brought us to this point and enabled the decision.

  • Lanny A. Eichert April 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Alice, It’s gotta die. Let it go. You will not progress until you do.

    It’s all fine and good that salvation is entirely the work of Christ until we stop and consider that in the scope of human history the majority of mankind did not or does not believe, say yes, accept the gift, etc. This raises a question that demands an answer. Why would Jesus save just a handful of people?

    You don’t yet have the correct answer. It’s gotta die. Let it go. Before you get the correct answer.

    Thank you for acknowledging in the scope of human history the majority of mankind did not or does not believe, say yes, accept the gift, etc.

    Now will you believe Jesus’ words in Matthew 7: 13 & 14?
    Remember Moses and Elijah in the Transfiguration ruins your universal reconciliation theory.

    • Lanny A. Eichert April 9, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and MANY there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it.

  • Mary Vanderplas April 9, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    While the Bible affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility, it doesn’t present salvation as a cooperative enterprise – i.e., part God, part us. Rather, it affirms both things absolutely. There is a paradox here, to be sure, but I don’t think the answer is to try to dissolve the tension by subordinating one set of texts to the other or by simply pretending that one set of texts doesn’t exist. I think we need to recognize the tension and live with it, acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers and seeking to discover what truth we might learn from the two different sets of texts.

    I do agree, though, about the problems with asserting that we must turn to God in order to be accepted by him. I agree that this view overestimates what we are free and able to do of our own volition (“…isn’t unbelief also a symptom of the human condition?”) and that it makes salvation ultimately dependent upon us (and therefore uncertain). Salvation becomes self-salvation – occasioning fear or, alternatively, boasting. This understanding also has the effect of reducing God to an impotent deity whose ability to save is made effective by the human decision for him. Further, by portraying God as loving us and acting to save us only if we first choose him, this view makes him less than the unconditionally-loving, initiative-taking God revealed in Jesus Christ. So, I agree with your rejection of the view that makes salvation dependent upon our first choosing God and opening ourselves to him.

    I don’t see any self-salvation in this sermon. The statement, “All it requires on your part is to say yes,” doesn’t necessarily mean we must say yes to God in order for God to accept us. What is likely meant, in light of the context, is that God has already accepted us by his grace in Christ; we need only to acknowledge this truth, to trust God’s love for us. To put it another way, faith isn’t a condition for God’s acceptance of us, but rather a consequence of it and a response to it. It is “required” not as a way to earn the gift or to make it effective, but as a means to experience and enjoy it.

    I agree with what you say/imply about recognizing God’s love and acceptance of all people being the prerequisite for our accepting others and reaching out to them in friendship, rather than judging and separating ourselves.

    I agree with what you say about scripture needing to be interpreted and with the implication that no one can claim final certitude for his/her interpretation – and therefore that church leaders should not (even if they could) require that members conform to their beliefs. However, I think that it’s fair for churches to affirm certain basic teachings based on a broad consensus among believers throughout history about what the Bible teaches and to recognize that the Bible is the normative revelation whereby we come to know God and his Son. I don’t think that it’s necessarily wrong – an abuse of authority – for church leaders to talk about freedom of conscience except in matters where scripture is clear, such as the person and work of Jesus Christ (though there are differences in understanding when it comes to the scope of his saving work) and the will of God that we live in love for God and one another. But I agree generally with what you say about the freedom of the conscience captive to the Word of God as opposed to being bound by claims to authority and possession of ultimate truth on the part of church leaders – and being ostracized for daring to voice alternative understandings.

    • Lanny A. Eichert April 9, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      Mary, you should have quit while you were ahead with your 6:12 am morning comment.

    • Alice Spicer April 11, 2015 at 4:27 pm

      Thanks, as always, for your thorough and concise response. Regarding this portion of your comment… God has already accepted us by his grace in Christ; we need only to acknowledge this truth, to trust God’s love for us. To put it another way, faith isn’t a condition for God’s acceptance of us, but rather a consequence of it and a response to it. It is “required” not as a way to earn the gift or to make it effective, but as a means to experience and enjoy it…

      If God has already accepted us by His grace, if this is the truth to be acknowledged, then it must actually be true before it is acknowledged or even if it is not acknowledged. In other words, the truth of it doesn’t depend on our fallible perception of or response to it. And if it is true (which I believe it is), then how does it become NOT true? According to orthodoxy (or as you might say “broad consensus among believers throughout history”), if a person does not acknowledge that truth before he or she dies, then he or she is no longer accepted by His grace, but utterly rejected. In this case, the truth to be acknowledged only becomes true IF it is acknowledged. So I don’t necessarily think that when a pastor/preacher/teacher like Adkins says, “All you have to do is…” believe/accept/say yes, etc. is wrong, if the outcome is as you said: It is “required” not as a way to earn the gift or to make it effective, but as a means to experience and enjoy it. But the unspoken outcome isn’t limited to missing out on the experience and the joy, the unspoken outcome is ALWAYS and FOREVER missing out on the experience and the joy, with no hope of ever believing/accepting/saying yes. Do you see the difference?

      • Mary Vanderplas April 12, 2015 at 5:18 am

        I see what you’re saying. While some believers would argue that if a person doesn’t acknowledge and accept God’s love for him/her, the person thereby ceases to be accepted by God, not all would argue this. Some would contend that the alienation is solely on the side of the person who persistently resists God’s gracious advance, that it is not on the side of God, who remains steadfastly gracious toward the person. I don’t think that God ever stops loving any of his human creatures, but neither am I inclined to think that God coerces anyone to embrace his grace. So, while I would hope that in the end everyone will receive his saving love, I think that it is at least possible that some will forever reject the gift and live in unending isolation from or hostility toward God and other people. Even so, it isn’t that God ever ceases to love, forgive, and accept them.

  • Mike Adkins April 9, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Alice,
    Wow! That was quite a review. I can’t believe how much work you put into that. First, thank you. Thank you for thinking deeply about the message, scripture and Christ’s church. If you would like, I would be glad to sit down with you and talk further about it. Just so you know, I would enjoy that. You have my email. Thanks again.

    P.S.
    Mary, in your second post, I think you captured exactly the heart of what I tried to communicate for salvation. Saying “yes”, isn’t a means to make God love you. Because of our being dead in our trespasses that is impossible. Saying “yes” is a consequence of God’s great love.

    Blessings to you both,
    Pastor Mike Adkins

    • Mary Vanderplas April 11, 2015 at 6:40 am

      Pastor Mike Adkins, Thanks for your comment. I liked your sermon, by the way – pointing to the God who knows how hopelessly messed up we are and who acted in Christ to make us right, and calling us away from thinking that leads to anxious attempts to make things right ourselves or to despair in our inability to do so.

    • Alice Spicer April 11, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      Thank you for reading and publicly acknowledging that this sermon review exists. Its more than any pastor has ever done in the four year history of this website. I would love to sit down with you — here and now in cyberspace — to talk further about it. I prefer not to email or have a closed meeting, because one of the purposes of this website is to provide a platform for free and open public discussion about subjects that are restricted (or even prohibited) within the institutional church.

      • Lanny A. Eichert April 19, 2015 at 4:45 pm

        Alice, it has been nearly ten full days since Pastor Mike Adkins agreed to dialogue with you, so who’s going to take the initiative to start to your discussion?

        • Alice Spicer April 19, 2015 at 8:54 pm

          I think I already did.

          • Lanny A. Eichert April 20, 2015 at 12:45 am

            Alice, perhaps Pastor Mike Adkins doesn’t think so, because you haven’t suggested a starting point. Maybe you should email him and direct his attention to your suggestion.

            • Alice Spicer April 21, 2015 at 6:15 pm

              I did.

              • Lanny A. Eichert April 21, 2015 at 8:34 pm

                Alice, I’m curious to know what you asked him to address as a starting point. I won’t substitute myself for him. I certainly wanted to be a spectator to that dialogue. It does seem to me that he would rather keep the dialogue personal and private because it works more profitably that way.

                • Alice Spicer April 22, 2015 at 7:24 pm

                  What do you mean by “works more profitably”?

                  • Lanny A. Eichert April 22, 2015 at 11:57 pm

                    Perhaps “productively” might have been a better choice of words, but the profit would be less tedious discussion since care for the public audience would not be a consideration and you two could be bluntly forward.

                    You didn’t answer my primary inquiry: what did you asked him to address as a starting point. Did you at all offer him a specific issue upon which to begin the discussion?

                    • Alice Spicer April 29, 2015 at 7:31 pm

                      I just told him that I replied to his blog comment. I wasn’t interested in starting an email discussion so I kept it incredibly brief.

                    • Lanny A. Eichert April 30, 2015 at 12:58 am

                      Alice, {Hebrews 7: 7} And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. When you ask for a dialogue you abide by his terms, not yours. You are the lesser and he is the greater.

  • Lanny A. Eichert April 11, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Alice, consider God is present everywhere, even as you dispute “the absence of God” being a false definition of Second Death.
    I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. {Matthew 22: 32}
    If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. {Psalm 139: 8}
    For in Him we live, and move, and have our being {Acts 17: 28}
    Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD. {Jeremiah 23: 24b}
    he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb {Revelation 14: 10}
    knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord {2 Corinthians 5: 6 & 8} willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord
    the Father hath life in himself {John 5: 26}

    Therefore those who physically die continue conscious existence in another form as demonstrated by Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. They were actually there contrary to Kevin’s claim that makes Jesus a Trickster and a Fraud. They hadn’t yet been resurrected since Jesus is the Firstfruit of the resurrection meaning nobody gets resurrected before Him. They didn’t time-travel since they then could not have that conversation with Jesus about His death yet to come; and besides time-travel is fiction as is non-linear time. Their actual post-mortem presence there ruins your post-mortem reconciliation by a real demonstration of conscious life after death, does it not? It demonstrates that the rich man and Lazarus of Luke 16 is an actual real life event told by Jesus, Who knows reality and the persons of whom He spoke.

    • Alice Spicer April 11, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      You’re probably sitting at your desk right now. Did you know that you are actually moving more than half a million miles per hour? You don’t notice the movement because everything around you (the solar system –> galaxy) is also moving. For you, your movement is minimal, sitting at your computer desk. For someone observing you from a stationary point outside the galaxy, you are zipping along at an incredible speed. Similar weird concepts apply with time.

      Like I said before, Moses and Elijah appearing in the transfiguration proves one thing only – that death is not the end. We could both talk ourselves black and blue about Moses’ and Elijah’s perception of time and end up right where we started. But consider this: You base your ideas on a linear, Newtonian, constant cosmological view, which is accurate enough to get a rocket to the moon, but is limited in accuracy to non-relativistic speeds and low gravity. An observer positioned in non-relativistic speeds and low gravity (in other words you and I, physically existing here on earth) will experience time differently than an observer positioned elsewhere. Since we have no way of knowing or measuring the conditions of Moses and Elijah, we can’t prove anything about how they perceive or experience time, but we can say with certainty and have verifiable evidence to prove an actual (not theoretical) difference between the amount of time that passes between two events for us than for the amount of time that passes between those same two events for an observer who is not bound to our non-relativistic speeds and low gravity.

      • Lanny A. Eichert April 11, 2015 at 11:27 pm

        Alice, Moses and Elijah were with Jesus and His three disciples, just like you and I are about 2500 miles apart. There’s no significant time variation between Jesus with His three disciples and Moses or Elijah. You’re fooling yourself. Get real and stop imagining.

      • Lanny A. Eichert April 11, 2015 at 11:44 pm

        Alice, you are theorizing pure fantasy and ignoring the Book. The New Testament writers had no problem with Moses and Elijah actually being there with Jesus and His three disciples. You have in the Bible three eyewitness, three Gospel writers, and the Apostle Paul’s chapter 15 of his first epistle to the Corinthian church accepting the real presence of Moses and Elijah there. Jesus Himself did not explain anything different than what actually happened there. Do you see that at a minimum you dispute Jesus, Peter, James, John, Paul, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Your excuse for not believing them is what you think “modern science” has discovered which has been wrong frequently enough to not be trusted very far. The Christian is to trust His Bible above the world’s wisdom. Why aren’t you doing that? I’ll tell you why: because you are not yet a Christian. That I’ve told you time and time again. Face it.

        • Alice Spicer April 11, 2015 at 11:58 pm

          Lanny, this is exactly why I am hesitant to engage further in this discussion. I never said Moses and Elijah were not actually there. You really just have no idea what I’m talking about. Maybe I’m not communicating well. Maybe you don’t understand what part time and relativity have in this discussion. Maybe it’s a combination of both. I’m wondering why you feel the need to carry this discussion over here from another blog post comment section from days (weeks?) ago into this blog post comment section, though.

          • Lanny A. Eichert April 12, 2015 at 12:04 am

            Alice, Moses and Elijah are not observers at all, but they are participants. This STILL relates to your universal reconciliation theme and you are still way out of context. All the NT writers accept the reality of Moses and Elijah actually existing in an intermediate conscious glorious existence affirming conscious life after physical death. That means the burning punishment of rejectors and supports everlasting punishment contrary to your post-mortem reconciliation. Can I be any more clear for on-going discussion here or anywhere else on your site.

          • Lanny A. Eichert April 12, 2015 at 12:16 am

            Alice, you certainly have not communicated well, but have been vague as can be by only implying time and relativity play on any number of unspecified things, leaving me to guess what you mean. Obviously you know what I mean, so get specific and detailed. For me the obvious conclusion is that you don’t know about what you are presenting, especially because relativity is still just theory like non-linear time. In case you don’t want to admit it, theory is just unproven ideas of the imagination.

          • Lanny A. Eichert April 12, 2015 at 12:39 am

            Again, Alice, God’s believers are required to believe God’s Holy Bible as the final authority of faith and practice. That means believing conscious existence after physical death: in everlasting bliss for the believer and in everlasting torment for the unbeliever. I have reminded you that is the accepted position of the Biblical writers and FYI they wrote not a single word that was not inspired by God even to its correct spelling. Since the NT writers never disputed Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, the account stands as proof of conscious post-mortem exisentce refuting your soul-sleep and post-mortem reconciliation of the damned.

            Anyone not believing that is not one of God’s believers. They certainly are not Christians.

            John was the last to write and the Bible was settled when he finished the Revelation. It is a settled Book and no scientific discoveries are able to change its meaning, because it means the same as it did when it was completed. Theories have come and gone, but the Bible remains the same.

          • Lanny A. Eichert April 12, 2015 at 1:57 am

            Alice, it is especially needful for me to carry over this discussion for Pastor Mike Adkin to see how evasively vague you are and unwilling to respond to challenge that obviously proves your ideas insufficient. Moses and Elijah are not outside observers of their own inside interview with their Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. That you should have gotten when I discussed how they could not have been there resurrected talking of Jesus’ upcoming death because none can be resurrected before Jesus, the Firstfruit. Non-linear time cannot explain it, because non-linear time is not real, but just an imaginary theory. Time travel is likewise fiction. You are left without excuse, but you rebel against God and will not accept the Biblical account (of Moses and Elijah) as proof of conscious post-mortem existence, because it means conscious post-mortem everlasting torment for unbelievers. If you’d only use common sense in interpreting an ancient Book within the confines of the culture of ancient writers you would avoid applying modern technological theory to your interpretation. Context does include the environment in which the writing occurred. Time and relativity have no part in this discussion. Time and relativity to which you make vague reference are still unproven theories, which as such prove nothing, whereas the Bible itself, taken literally and perfectly, proves conscious post-mortem everlasting bliss and conscious post-mortem everlasting torment. Stop rebelling and submit to the simple understanding of the Holy Bible. I’ve told you often that you make it far more complicated than it is.

      • Lanny A. Eichert April 14, 2015 at 5:11 am

        Alice, please note in “non-relativistic speeds and low gravity” Peter, James, John, and Jesus climbed the Mount of Transfiguration breathing the same air, hearing, and making the same sounds. Then Peter, James, and John heard the same air vibrating with the words of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, because they were all in the same “non-relativistic speeds and low gravity.” That’s the only way they could have heard and identified the conversation. Your implied fantasy doesn’t work and you are left with Moses and Elijah proving post-mortem consciousness validating both blissful conscious glorious post-mortem existence of saints and post-mortem conscious torment of sinners before and after their resurrections. Your post-mortem reconciliation is ruined, wouldn’t you say?

        You have no explanation because Moses and Elijah are participants, not observers; am I not correct? Am I not correct in writing your post-mortem reconciliation is ruined by the presence of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration? Why are you not able to explain otherwise in layman’s terms? Isn’t it because it could not actually work according to theory the way you hoped?

        You want dialogue on this your site, but you’re not engaging it. That leaves me to believe you are just a false irritation and that’s all you intend to be: just a complainer defiling God’s church. Prove me wrong.

        • Alice Spicer April 14, 2015 at 8:39 pm

          I appreciate your comments, Lanny. When I have some time, I’ll go to the thread where this conversation originated and continue the conversation there.

        • Alice Spicer April 14, 2015 at 11:47 pm

          I was going through the comments, trying to find your first mention of Moses and Elijah, specifically, to see the discussion that prompted you to mention them, and I’m having a hard time figuring it out. I’ll look further, but I thought to mention the problem to you, because maybe you remember exactly what it was and can save me the time and energy of continuing to search.

  • Lanny A. Eichert April 16, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    FYI Evolution is proven false regularly, but not published. Here’s one identified in 1910 (to see the picture check it out at http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/science/fruit-fly-with-the-wings-of-beauty.)

    When most people look at a photo of the Goniurellia tridens fruit fly, they think it must have been created by a talented Photoshop artist. No, this fly with images of ant-like insects on its wings is no accident of nature. The images were put there by a Master Designer.

    Dr. Brigitte Howarth, the fly specialist at Zayed University in the UAE who first discovered G tridens, said that the image on the wing is absolutely perfect. She adds that a closer examination of the transparent wings of Goniurellia tridens reveals a piece of evolutionary art. Each wing carries a precisely detailed image of an ant-like insect, complete with six legs, two antennae, a head, thorax and tapered abdomen. When threatened, the fly flashes its wings to give the appearance of ants walking back and forth. This confuses the predator, allowing the fly to escape.

    As expected, the story and pictures of G tridens were soon flying all over the Internet. Evolutionists rejoiced, claiming that the fruit fly was a beautiful example of natural selection. But we have to point out that there is no evidence whatsoever to support that claim. As usual, evolutionists simply assume that evolution is true. What they fail to do is show how those images of ants got on the fly’s wings.

    Creationists don’t need to provide a step-by-step explanation of how these extraordinary wings developed. The fact is, the design is in their genes! God designed them that way!

    Notes:
    http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/science/fruit-fly-with-the-wings-of-beauty. “Fruit fly with the wings of beauty”, A. Zacharias, TheNational, 6/28/13. Photo: This is the photo that appeared with the story in TheNational.

    So let’s distinguish between common sense fact and fiction, between reality and theory in our dialogues.

    • Alice Spicer April 22, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      I read through the old comments on Moses and Elijah. Let me ask you this. What is it that you think I believe about the nature of post-mortem humanity? I think a lot of your comments are based on inaccurate assumptions about what I believe. And the other point I wanted to make, regarding fact and fiction is that there are some aspects of time dilation that are considered FACT, supported by verifiable evidence that can be repeated over and over again with the exact same result. Comparing this to the study of evolution, a scientific discipline that relies heavily on interpretation of data and information gleaned from the remnants of things that happened long ago, is a sloppy analogy.

      • Lanny A. Eichert April 22, 2015 at 11:34 pm

        Alice, considered FACT, but certainly is not fact. There’s a big difference between the two. Evolution is assumed by many to be fact, but it certainly is not. Primarily, though, dear Alice, is context. The Bible is ancient writing and you are not permitted to interpret it according to modern thought, not even western thought. It is oriental in mentality and so must be considered.

      • Lanny A. Eichert April 22, 2015 at 11:44 pm

        Alice,, why do you just DEFINE your ideas about the nature post-mortem humanity? Then you can point out HOW I am barking up the wrong trees.

      • Lanny A. Eichert April 23, 2015 at 12:31 am

        Alice, you think a lot of my comments are based on inaccurate assumptions about what you believe. Prove it by here and now DEFINING what you believe is the nature of post-mortem humanity, both sinners and saints before their resurrections, and showing HOW I am barking up the wrong trees with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.

      • Lanny A. Eichert April 23, 2015 at 1:57 am

        Alice, again I repeat: theoretical time dilation is between “observers” not participants. Moses and Elijah are participants with Jesus and His three disciples. They are inside the system and therefore not outside observers of the system. They cannot be both at any time. Why aren’t you facing that fact?

        Again, forget western modern scientific thinking which is foreign to the Biblical writers and readers.

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