Deeper Waters Podcast 1/20/2018: Scott Henderson

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Usually we will all visit a government office sometime and get asked if we want to be an organ donor. For most of us, it seems like a simple decision. When I’m dead, what do I need my organs for? They might as well go to someone else who can use them. That’s not a bad way to think, but while we can support organ donation, could we be inconsistent with how we do it at times?

If we are pro-life does that mean that we only value the life in the womb, or does it mean we value life outside the womb? Should any life be used for some utilitarian purpose? Could it be that perhaps sometimes people could say the line of “I’m not dead yet!” and mean it? Maybe they’re not capable, but maybe they would want to. Could some people be allowed to die early and without a clear criterion of death just for the sake of their organs?

It might seem like a strange question to ask, but questions are worth exploring. To discuss this question, I have decided to bring on someone who did his dissertation on the topic of organ donation. While he does support organ donation, he does have some concerns about the methods that we use to get the organs and maybe by our practices, we are not being consistently pro-life. His name is Scott Henderson.

So who is he?

Apologetics Program Coordinator, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics, Luther Rice College & Seminar

B.A., Florida Bible College; M.A.A., Southern Evangelical Seminary; M.A., Franciscan University of Steubenville; Ph.D., Duquesne University

Scott Henderson joined the Luther Rice faculty in the fall of 2008. He teaches courses in apologetics, philosophy and ethics. Henderson has spoken on numerous topics in apologetics and bioethics at various venues and was a contributor to Norman Geisler’s Baker’s Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics and Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Moreover, Henderson has served in hospitals in Ohio and Pennsylvania as an in-service lecturer and policy writer and was an adviser and research assistant for the start of Franciscan University’s Institute of Bioethics in Steubenville, OH. He has also lectured at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania and at the Ewangelikalna Wyzsza Szkola Teologiczna in Wroclaw, Poland.

Henderson holds degrees in Biblical Education, Apologetics, Philosophy, and Bioethics as well as professional memberships with the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity and the Evangelical Philosophical Society, each at which he has presented conference papers. His research interests include issues in apologetics, ethical issues with the end-of-life, defining death, and organ transplantation.  He, his wife Kathy, and their four children currently reside in Cumming, GA.

Organ donation is something rarely talked about in pro-life circles and I hope you’ll be listening to this show. We will be discussing how it is that organ donation relates to pro-life and the criterion of death. I also hope you’ll go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s always a joy to see!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Where Science and Gnosticism Meet

Do these two contradictory views have anything in common? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Gnosticism was one of the first great heresies of Christianity. Since the time of Plato, the material world had been downplayed in comparison to the immaterial world. Gnosticism continued this and it had a real problem with Christianity. Christianity held that God became incarnate in a body. Gnosticism was the view that all of matter was evil. When it met Christianity, it tried to say Jesus came to set us free from the lesser evil god who created matter and that lesser evil god was the God of the Old Testament.

Today, we have a movement that seems to be quite different. This is the idea that science is the supreme gateway to truth and science studies the material world. The material world is the real one and we need to get past any mention of anything that is so-called supernatural. (I question the use of the term)

I have been reading Nancy Pearcey’s excellent book Love Thy Body and started thinking about this. I can’t claim credit for everything then as her writing has been something that got my mind thinking about this. There will be a review of the book when I’m done and she is going to be on my show later this month.

Interestingly, where all of these meet is always connected with sex in some way. At this point, many of our friends in the sciences suddenly start to deny science. Let’s take a look at how.

Abortion is one of the first ones. If we look at the scientific evidence of what is in the womb, we have a human being. However, this is something very inconvenient for many people since it interferes with free sex and other such things, so something has to be done. Well, it might be a human, but it’s not a person. Scientific basis for the difference between a human being and a human person? It doesn’t exist. All of a sudden, many of our skeptical friends promoting abortion are interested in metaphysics and philosophy.

The next area is in homosexuality. You don’t have to be a super genius to tell that the man and the woman go together sexually. Simply put, A goes into B very well. Yet once again, we have an anti-scientific mindset going on here. Now I have no problem with people wanting to do research to see if there is anything genetic that leads to homosexuality or a proclivity to it, but there is one problem and one that Pearcey brings out very well.

When a person abandons a straight orientation and goes to a homosexual one, they are said to have found their true selves. Keep in mind that when doing this, they can sometimes leave behind a spouse and kids in tears and broken, but they do it anyway. This is looked at with applause as the person has realized who they really are. If a person ever abandons a homosexual orientation for a straight one or is a homosexual but lives married to someone of the opposite sex, they are said to loathe themselves and be denying themselves. Never are they celebrated as having found their true selves.

Question. What is the scientific test for the true self? Answer. There isn’t one. How is it known? It is based on how the person feels and on the reigning paradigm of the moment.

Despite all of this, I really consider the last one the most bizarre.

Now we get to the transgender movement. Often in apologetics, I find it amazing the things that one has to defend that one never thought they would have to defend. A few years ago I was stunned that we now have to actually convince people marriage is between a man and a woman. Today, we have to convince them that the man and the woman really are the man and the woman. The sign of bigotry today is to say that a man is actually a man.

In all other cases, we could look at the body and see how it works, but even here, we can just look and see what the body is. All the evidence that is physical for someone says that their DNA is male (or female) and their body is that of a male. This is the true scientific evidence. Unfortunately, all of this is denied. Why? The feelings contradict.

When these two contradict, one will have to be worked on and even if never fully altered, it will need to come under the control of the other. It will either be the body that determines the identity and we change the feelings, or it will be the feelings that determine the identity and we change the body. It is quite amazing that many in the scientific community, particularly internet atheists, think that the feelings are where the person’s true identity lies and you must change all the material reality to fit their feelings.

In this, they are like the Gnostics of old. We could say that transgenderism might be nothing new. It is just an old heresy wrapped up in new terminology and presented in a new way. Deny the reality of matter and go with the immaterial. The person’s feelings reign supreme.

Where does this end? Who knows. It was bizarre enough to redefine marriage, but now a person’s feelings are given more and more precedence and once that starts, I really don’t know how that will end.

Keep in mind, none of this says anything about how we treat such people in itself. People who are struggling with these issues do need to be treated with love and compassion. However, they also need to be worked with to accept reality. One will never have good results if they try to go against reality.

It’s also interesting that Christians that hold to a biblical view on all of these are the ones that are going with the science and yet, we’re seen as bigots for doing that. Could it possibly be that those who want to champion science are just extremely selective where they want to champion it? Could it be some really aren’t interested in following the evidence where it leads?

How we deal with this is what Pearcey tells us to do. Love thy body. The body is not an evil thing. It is a gift to be treasured and cherished. This is especially so since in Christianity, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit and God Himself became incarnated in a body.

Consider this thought. Suppose that Jesus is crucified and dies and is buried. The tomb is found empty on Sunday, but instead, Jesus is now appearing as a woman named Joanna. This would be something unusual, but I don’t think we could call it Christianity anymore. It would deny that there is something essential to the body. It can be changed to be whatever you want. It would bring into question the notion of identity. Was this truly Jesus? Is the fact that He was a man something accidental to who he is as a person or is the identity something that can be changed?

Throughout the incarnation, Jesus was Jesus and the body that went down came up again. Yes, it was new and glorified, but it was still the body of Jesus. So it is for us. Our bodies are not accidents. They are the first line of evidence we have of who we are. Start with the feelings and you can justify most any belief. Start with the body and you’re limited to reality.

I think I’ll go with reality.

I have no wish to be a science-denier.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Don’t Use Porn

How can we best honor the women of the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I say this, I do realize that porn is not just a man’s problem. It is something that more and more women are engaging in as well. Nothing is meant to discount their struggle, but I can only write from my own position as a man.

Many times, it’s often assumed that if you’re a man, you’re watching porn. It could be an understandable assumption, but it’s also a false one. Being a man does not necessitate that you engage in pornography. Perhaps it could mean sexual sin is more of a struggle for you, but it is something that can be overcome.

Before my marriage, my Dad had been working somewhere where his fellow co-workers were sadly quite raunchy. He spoke about my upcoming wedding and somehow in the midst of the conversation it came out that he was proud of his son and his daughter who were saving sex for marriage. He was immediately told his kids were lying to him. They were doing that on the side and just not telling him about it.

No hesitation there. His kids weren’t lying.

We weren’t.

My eyes are reserved for Allie alone and she is the only woman I share that sexual intimacy with. Now as a guy, I will definitely say that that intimacy is awesome and getting to see Allie’s body is getting to see the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. It’s amazing what a guy can be motivated to do just by a little flirtation from his wife.

So if that’s something I enjoy so much, wouldn’t it make sense to see porn? No. Not at all. Here are some reasons why.

I don’t use porn because Allie is more than enough woman for me. I don’t need any other woman to satisfy my desires. I don’t want any other woman to do so. Viewing porn would be wrong because it would be telling Allie that she is insufficient as a woman.

I don’t use porn because a woman is not just a body. She is a person as well and when I view her as just a body, I do not love her as a whole. It is not loving to the women of the world to treat them as just bodies and I certainly don’t do that with my own wife.

I don’t use porn because it’s really fake. Why would I change a woman who is really interested in me for the chance to see a woman who doesn’t know me and doesn’t care about me? My wife’s chasing after me is more than enough for me.

I don’t use porn because it cheapens sex. Sex is indeed the union of two bodies in a holy embrace, but those are the bodies of persons and the persons are affirming a powerful commitment of love with that act. I choose to not use my body to lie so with my body, I honor my Allie.

I don’t use porn because the fake can’t match the reality. There’s nothing like really touching one’s own wife and experiencing her touch. Nothing in media can compare with the real deal. The passion that can exist in the bedroom is a sacred passion.

I don’t use porn because I want my eyes filled with only Allie. Why would I want to delight in another man’s wife or in a woman I can never have? Is the one that God has given me just not enough for me? Of course, she is.

I don’t use porn because I don’t want to ever give Allie any hint that she’s insufficient for me. She is not in competition with other women. When I proposed to her, I told her she won the grand prize in my eyes and I wanted to be with only her forever and when I married her, I made that a public statement.

I don’t use porn because sex is something beautiful. When I treat it as something common and outside of the sacred bounds of marriage, I cheapen it. Sex is so holy that there’s a whole book of Scripture about it. I have no wish to diminish it.

I don’t use porn because it teaches me that women just exist for my sexual pleasure. I am to seek to give to my wife. While it is true she is to give to me and a priority of hers should be my desires, it is a two-way street.

I don’t use porn because it would dishonor my God. God made sex to be treasured and all these human beings are made in His image and to be treasured, whether they are married or not and whether they plan to marry or not. No person is to be treated as an object.

I don’t use porn because I want to be my intimacy in this life to come because Allie is affirming me as her man. I don’t want to go to other women I don’t know for just something that makes me feel like a man. I would rather go to my wife and be the man that she loves.

I don’t use porn because sex isn’t just a hobby. It’s not like a sport that two people can play together and it doesn’t really matter who the participants are. It’s an exclusive act I share with only one person who I love in an exclusive way and while what we do together is certainly a lot of fun, it’s also a building of that great love that we have together.

I don’t use porn because as far as I’m concerned, no one on Earth can compare with my wife’s beauty. Allie is the only beauty that drives me wild and pushes me to want to be a better man. She is the woman whose pictures I look at with longing romantic love and desire in my office (I have pictures of other family members in here), she is the picture on the desktop on my computer, and she is the picture that I see when I turn on my phone. My wife makes my world a much better place.

Ultimately, I don’t use porn because I love Allie and I love God. I seek to do nothing to dishonor either of them. The love of both in my life is a gift of grace and I choose to live holy in gratitude of that great gift.

And yes, I do love both. If you read this Princess, that means you specifically. Your husband loves you very much and you need no fear of competition.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Jesus Crisis

What do I think of David Farnell and Robert Thomas’s book published by Kregel Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In The Jesus Crisis, we have a look at a book oft-cited in the Inerrancy debates. I had heard a lot of negative statements about this book, but I decided to go in with an open mind. Some things starting off aren’t so bad. There is some serious questioning of the two-source hypothesis and since I’m skeptical of Q as a source, I have no problem with this. I do agree with the authors that when we look at the authorship and writing of the Gospels, we do need to take the church fathers seriously. Certainly, they’re not infallible, but we don’t need to ignore them.

I was also surprised to see David Farnell’s style of arguing in this. In many of his writings, he has often looked as one in a hysterical panic. This was a side that was much more reasonable and measured and the kind that I would have preferred to have seen more often.

Ultimately, insofar as we’re talking about the origins of the Gospels and looking at various forms of criticism, I could agree with some matters. I wonder what the editors would think of Richard Bauckham talking about the death of form criticism. That being said, the further one gets in the book, the more there are areas of concern.

The problem often is that Inerrancy is taken as the starting presupposition and while the writers make an effort to knock down historical methodologies of today, which is fine if they want to do that, they give nothing in the place of how history should be done. The only way seems to be with starting off with the idea that the Bible is the Word of God. Of course, while from a confessional statement I would agree with that, I do not start that way. After all, why start with that book instead of the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon?

There is also a fixation on what Michael Bird would call the American Inerrancy Tradition. (AIT) This goes with the perspicuity of Scripture in that everything should be plain. The question is why should we think this? Peter wrote in 2 Peter (If you think he wrote it) that there were many things in Paul’s letters which were hard to understand. This shouldn’t surprise us. Not everything in Scripture is clear.

Also, the writers insist that we have to have the exact words of Jesus. Why should we? It’s possible that Jesus spoke Greek, but it could be less likely that the common populace spoke Greek and if they did, then one wonders why Matthew would write out a form of Matthew in Aramaic. If he wrote a Gospel in Aramaic and one in Greek, he obviously had to translate some words. One could say some things could have been said on multiple occasions. It is doubtful that Jesus only gave a great parable one time.

However, some things were only said one time. What did Jesus say when He was on trial and when He was on the cross? How many times did Jesus give the Great Commission? If Matthew wrote a Gospel with both of these, one text at best would have the exact words. The other would have a translation. Also, paraphrase would not be a problem since even in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 5 gives a paraphrase of the Ten Commandments which were said to be written by the finger of God.

The writers may think it puts us in a panic state to not have Jesus’s exact words, but it really doesn’t. I also don’t think historical scholarship is in fact destroying the testimony of Scripture. I would contend the more we are doing good historiography, the more we are affirming Scripture. If one is scared to put sound historical methodology to use for Scripture, could it be one is scared of the outcome?

The saying has been that you treat Scripture like every other book to show that it is like no other book. I am not scared of applying the methodology of history to Scripture. If one wants to show a method is invalid, they need to show it and do so without question begging.

Ultimately, had we just had something like say the first half, this book could have been fine, but the more one gets into the text, the more one sees the panic button being pushed. What if? What if? What if? If one is worried that research of some kind could disprove Scripture, it says little about the Scriptures. It says a lot about them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Is The Bible Literally True?

Should we take the Bible literally? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Someone sent me an article from the Huffington Post recently on if the Bible is literally true. The article is by a Steve McSwain who is described as a speaker, author, counselor to congregations, Ambassador to the Councilor on the Parliament for World’s Religions, and Spiritual Teacher. No academic credentials are listed. He does also describe Christianity as his faith so he claims at some level to be a Christian.

He does say at the start that while he values the Bible, he doesn’t believe it to be divinely dictated or a sacred text without error. I don’t know any evangelical today who really holds to the dictation theory. No doubt, there are some in the rank and file who do, but not the majority.

He goes on to say that if you are a Biblical literalist, that this bothers you. You believe that everything must be literal and it must be error-free. At this, I have a problem. What is meant by literal? It’s a term that’s often used and yet few people really define it. Most people do not think Jesus is literally a door or a vine when He uses that language.

Sadly, McSwain is probably accurate when some people think that if they risk undermining the text or questioning it, they could undermine all of it. Everything goes out the window then. This is the all-or-nothing thinking that many Christians do have and amusingly, many skeptics have that as well. I recall one person on Unbelievable? asking a guest on the show that if the Bible doesn’t agree with how Judas died, then how can we trust that Jesus was crucified?

McSwain goes to the flood accounts and says that they obviously contradict. He points to the differences between verses 2 and 15 of chapter 7. Let’s go and look at what they say.

Verse 2: Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate

Verse 15: Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.

Look. I know that there are possible claims of contradictions and such, but this is not a good one. All that is said in verse 15 is pairs came. It doesn’t specify how many and how many of each kind came. In that case, give the benefit of the doubt to the author instead.

He goes on to say that,

The real Moses never wielded a staff with supernatural powers, the tip of which, when dipped into the Nile, turned the river into a cesspool of blood. Or, when dipped into the Red Sea, caused it to part so Israelites could pass to the other side on dry, not muddy, ground.

None of these Biblical stories, including the ones where Jesus is depicted as defying the laws of nature and performing miracles… as in, walking on water or giving sight to the blind or, most amazingly, raising dead people back to life were recorded as factual, or literal, eyewitness accounts. And, even if they were, they cannot be depicted as such today, if you want any of it to be believed… to be respected… or, to be read with any seriousness.

For the sake of argument, this could be true, but the problem is McSwain gives us no reason to believe any of this. I also have to wonder what kind of Christian he is if he denies any miracles at all. Again, McSwain’s case could hypothetically be right, but he has given us no reason to think so, that is, unless you just come out and agree that miracles don’t happen, but that is the very thing under question.

As for the idea of eyewitness accounts, it would be nice to see some interaction with scholarship, such as Richard Bauckham, but we can suspect that won’t happen. Statements of faith are problematic no matter who says it. Unfortunately, mayn people will read McSwain and believe it because, well he’s in the Huffington Post, and do so without any real reason why they should believe it.

What matters to McSwain is how the stories have shaped the lives of those who hear its message. This can sound good, but while it’s great that people have their lives changed, do we want to enforce the Noble Lie? If Christianity is not true, then there is truly no resurrection, no heaven beyond this world, no hell to shun, no forgiveness of sins, no real love of God.

It’s hard to believe that the early church was really excited about that.

McSwain has a watered down faith. Note I have not said he has to embrace inerrancy, but he seems to have just embraced that Christianity is all about being a good person and the truth of the Bible does not matter. If anything, the truth of the Bible matters abundantly. If it is true that God lived among us and that Jesus died and rose again and there is real forgiveness and a heaven to gain and a hell to avoid and eternal life in resurrected bodies, I should think we would want to know it. If it is not true, then who really cares? But if it is true, it matters greatly. As has been said, if Christianity is not true, it is of no importance. If it is true, it is of the utmost importance.

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/13/2018: Dr. George Delgado

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Choice is awesome! Right? We’ve all been granted supposedly the freedom of choice. We have abortionists marching down the street talking about a woman’s right to choose. Now we have come so far that there is even an abortion pill. Who needs to go to a Planned Parenthood? Just be at home and pop the pill and boom, problem solved.

But what if you have regrets?

For instance, if you talk to people who have survived a suicide attempt, many of them have regretted the move immediately after they made the attempt. By then, it’s too late and measures must be taken to save them. What if you take the pill and down it and then think, “Oh my. What have I done?” Can there be anything done to help you?

Fortunately, Dr. George Delgado has a technique to reverse the effects of the abortion pill for those in need. That way, a child can be saved. Naturally, we know the pro-choice crowd has been thrilled with this because choice is such a wonderful thing and…

Wait.

You say they’re not?

That’s interesting.

Anyway, Dr. Delgado will be talking about his work and his organization this Saturday with me. We will have a one-hour podcast where we will discuss what we can do to further stop abortion. Of course, for that, we need to know more about who Dr. Delgado is. So who is he?

                                                                                   

According to his bio:

Dr. George Delgado is the medical director of APR and Culture of Life Services (COLFS) in San Diego County. He received his medical degree from the University of California, Davis and completed his residency at Santa Monica Hospital/UCLA. He is board certified in family medicine, hospice and palliative medicine, health care ethics, NaProTECHNOLOGY, and the Creighton Model for Natural Family Planning (NFP). He has been practicing family medicine since 1988.

Be warned since we’re talking about the abortion pill and such that this could contain some graphic information so if you have children around, you might want to hold off on this podcast until later.

We’ll be talking about what the pill is and what it does. Then we’ll be talking about Delgado’s plan to reverse the effects of the pill. What does it do and how does it work and are there any side-effects? Are we seeing healthy babies that survive the pill as a result of what Dr. Delgado is doing? What can be done to further help this project and why is it that the people on the left are upset about this? Are they not the people who are always saying that they support a woman’s right to choose? Why be upset if a woman decides to choose to reverse the effects of the abortion pill?

I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast and please considering going on iTunes and leaving a positive review of the show. I really delight in seeing what you think of the program. Hope you enjoy it!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Is Your Pastor’s Job?

What is your pastor supposed to do? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about how our churches are not equipping us. Someone replied at a place where I posted it saying an hour a week on Sunday is not enough. This is absolutely true. Even if we added in Sunday school and Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services, it still can’t compare to the media onslaught most of us get every day.

As I reflected on this, I thought of something else that is often not mentioned. Evangelism is not the pastor’s job per se. Now all of us are meant to be evangelists to an extent, but what I mean is that we often have an odd view of how to get people to come to Christ.

We go out and we meet a neighbor who is an unbeliever. What do we think the plan is? Oh! Well, you invite them to church and then when in church the pastor gives a message and the person is convicted and they repent and come to Jesus. This can happen, but this is not the way it really is supposed to happen.

It sounds like a stretch to some, but really, the person who is supposed to bring that person to Jesus is you. A pastor should certainly when giving a message keep in mind there could be unbelievers in the audience and be willing to offer them the chance to come to Christ, but that is not his main role. His main role is indeed to equip the saints further.

Our methodology today often absolves us of any responsibility. We get them to church and then the pastor takes over. Your pastor, no matter how good he is, cannot be Superman. He cannot do everything. He has his limitations on him as well.

Consider it as a coach. A coach wants players to be able to make the decisions as if he wasn’t even there. Sure, a player can go to a coach for a strategy if he needs one, but a coach will not be supportive of a player who goes to him for everything that he is thinking about. The player needs to learn how to play as much as possible without the coach.

This means that when you do evangelism, you might actually have to learn how to answer questions yourself. You might have to learn how to dialogue yourself. You might actually have to do some bizarre things. This could include such things as reading the Bible on your own, praying on your own, reading devotional literature or studying theology, apologetics, church history, or anything else on your own.

In other words, your Christianity might require some work on your part.

“But I don’t have time!” I hear as you sit down to watch the rerun of that show you’ve seen 27 times so far. I hear it as you sit down to follow your favorite sports franchise that you can’t seem to live without. I hear it as you do whatever is that you’re doing during the day.

The problem is that if something is truly important to you, you will make the time for it somehow. If your Christianity is important to you, you will make the time for it. If it isn’t, you won’t. You will find some excuse and go back to what is really important to you.

Your pastor should help you along the way, but that’s not what he’s there. He’s there to equip and encourage, but like a teacher, he’s also there to help you so that you won’t need help eventually. Hopefully, at that point, he will be like a wise mentor that you come to only periodically.

When the church is producing people who are ultimately teachers of the Gospel themselves and evangelists themselves, then the work is being done. When it is just producing people who think their only job is to bring unbelievers to the pastor, it is not, at least on that front. It is my hopes we will see more and more equipped churches where the huge majority is truly growing in Christ.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Are Our Churches Teaching?

Are we really being equipped in our churches? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently on my show, I interviewed Clinton Wilcox, a pro-life speaker. He spoke about how if the church got really serious, we could end abortion. This was in the middle of a discussion about why this kind of topic is not normally talked about in churches. I realize there are some that do teach on such serious topics, but the majority I am afraid do not, at least in America.

You see, I can easily predict what you’re hearing in churches most often. Here’s how you deal with guilt. Here’s how you get along with your neighbor. Here’s how you become a better spouse. Nothing wrong with these messages to an extent, but they’re also nothing really unusual to the church. You can get a lot of these from self-help books.

What you can’t get from those is the Gospel. I mean more than just the forgiveness of sins, as great as that is, but also what difference does Christianity make and why is it true? These are questions that are asked every day in our culture. All we are doing often is presenting Christianity as if God is a means to be a better person or a means to get to Heaven.

Let’s talk about some examples. There’s a saying that one in three men in the church struggle with pornography. If you’re a man and you look to the right at church and see a man and he’s okay and to the left and see another man and he’s okay, you could be in trouble. A number of pastors even struggle with pornography. Question. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the sin of pornography and overcoming it?

Along those lines, we live in a culture where more and more young people are living together before they get married. Even older people getting divorced now are doing that. Question. When was the last time you heard a sermon on a Christian view on sex and marriage and why it matters and how you know it’s true?

Go even further and you have issues of homosexuality and transgenderism. This is being spoken of on the news most every day. So what of it? When was the last time you heard a sermon that tackled these issues?

Some could say that with abortion, some pastors could be scared because some women in the congregation have had abortions. Sure. You teach it anyway. Of course, how you teach it matters. A good pastor when teaching will indeed preach on the wickedness and evil of sin and won’t sugarcoat abortion. Yet at the same time, he will teach the awesomeness and greatness of grace and that healing and forgiveness are available for all.

What about other belief systems. It used to be that most people would never encounter an atheist. Now most all of us encounter them and if we don’t, we certainly see them in the media. Are you being told why you should believe that God exists? What difference does it make that He does? Are you being told about the historicity of the New Testament?

What about other belief systems. Now this could depend on your area to be fair. If you are a pastor in Utah, you had better be informed and preaching on Mormonism. It might not be the same in the suburbs of Detroit, but you do find whatever your congregation is most likely to encounter and speak on it.

All of this is simply discipleship. It’s helping us learn not just what we are to do but why we believe we do what we do. Do we do good just to do good? Is Christianity just about being a good person?

We live in an age where and more of our youth are going to college and falling away and more and more people are encountering objections they can’t answer. The church meanwhile is just becoming a social club. You go on Sundays because, well, that’s just what you do. It’s more of a tradition than an actual commitment to Christ.

Yet what if what Clinton said is true. What if we could end abortion if all the churches in America got serious? Is it worth it? Is it worth you getting serious? It’s great to have goals you want your church to accomplish, but what do you want to do yourself even if the church doesn’t go along?

Maybe you should do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

What the Bible says about the Antichrist

What does Scripture say about this figure? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I have been reading 1 John at night lately. She’s a futurist, though not one who believes in a rapture, and I’m an orthodox Preterist. We don’t really debate it at all. If she comes to Preterism, I want it to be because she studied the Scripture and not because I pressured her. Anyway, reading the Johannine epistles leads to talk about the antichrist at times.

So what do the epistles say about this figure?

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18

Something to note is that it says antichrist is coming and not THE antichrist is coming. That might seem like a small distinction, but it is still something. There is no speaking of one figure in all of this as the antichrist. In fact, many have come and because they are here, we know it is the last hour. John says this twice. He doesn’t want you to miss it. The last hour is here now because many antichrists have come.

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22

At this point, we do have the antichrist, but what does it say about the antichrist? The antichrist is he who denies the Father and the Son. In other words, anyone who denies Jesus is the Christ is the antichrist. This fits in with what Jesus said. You are either for Him or against Him. You are either pro-Christ or antichrist. There is no middle ground.

and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 1 John 4:3

And now antichrist is referred to as a spirit. The antichrist spirit is the spirit that does not confess that Jesus is from God. Note also that once again, this is in the world already. That which is opposed to Christ is already lined up in opposition against Him.

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 2 John 1:7

And here we have more of the same. Anyone who denies that Jesus Christ came in the flesh is the antichrist and deceiver. This would be the way to see the Gnostic and docetic heresies of the time that denied the bodily incarnation of Jesus.

But I know some already have objections.

What about the beast in the book of Revelation?! What about the Man of Lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2? What about Daniel 9:24-27? What about the abomination that causes desolation?

Good questions. Here’s why we don’t look at those.

Nowhere are these figures described as “The antichrist.” Now they could possibly be a figure known as the antichrist, but someone who thinks that needs to show it. You don’t just jump over to 2 Thess. 2 and assume this is the same figure talked about in the Johannine epistles. If you think it is, then you need to demonstrate that.

Ultimately, something that bothers me so much about people caught up in end times paranoia is that they spend so much time focusing on the antichrist that they seem to lose sight of Christ. Too many are so busy trying to figure out who the antichrist is that they don’t take the time to think about who Jesus is. What the Bible says about who Jesus is blows out of the water anything said about who the antichrist is. Which one should our focus be?

Which one is your focus?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

For Young Newlyweds

What advice would I pass on? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently while surfing Facebook I found someone asking how old people were when they got married. After that, he decided to ask what advice would be given to young newlyweds. I had to chime in and say something. Back within the past couple of years, I had a friend who I called and we always asked if he was dating someone. He told me he was and it seemed pretty serious. Then a few months later I get a call and he asks me how it was that I knew that I wanted to marry Allie. Yep. Knew where this was going. A few months after that he calls me late in the evening. I waited for him to say what I knew it was, but I was tempted to answer and say “Congratulations on your engagement!”

When Irma struck Florida, we had someone come and stay with us who was evacuating the area. He was also an Aspie like my wife and I. While he wanted to learn some about apologetics, I made sure to model for him what I think a man should do as a husband. That even meant that when I went to a dentist who would do my root canal work for a cheaper price, which meant a drive about an hour or an hour and a half away, he came with me. No need to risk the appearance of impropriety. It made an impression on him.

One of the greatest compliments I get is to be complimented on the kind of husband I am to Allie. Anyone can read books and study and learn things, and you should. To learn character and virtue though requires more than that. You can be a wicked and evil person and still be very smart.

So as I saw this post last night, I thought of some things. I don’t remember exactly all I said, but here are some things.

First off, barring abuse by your spouse or infidelity, divorce is not an option. When you marry, you marry for life. Don’t go in thinking it’s just like any other relationship. It isn’t.

Your first priority is to God. After that, your spouse is the next person in line. If you do have kids, don’t put your kids before your spouse. Let them know that your marriage relationship is the most important relationship of all.

Get rid of selfishness. It has no place in a marriage. If you look out for #1, you will often do so at the expense of your spouse. It is not about how much you get in a marriage, but it is about how much you give.

Never stop pursuing and chasing each other. It can often be thought that you put your best foot forward when you date, and then when you marry, you can kick back and take it easy. You shouldn’t. Be the person you were when you were dating.

On that, keep in mind romance looks different for men and women. For a woman, it can be any number of things. My wife likes gifts the most. Many a wife wants some quality time or likes it when her husband helps take care of things around the house. It doesn’t have to be big and grand gestures. It can be simple little things.

For men, it’s much easier. Men can like that, but for most men, it’s sex. Deprive a husband here and he won’t be able to function as well nearly anywhere else in the world. Keep him happy here, and he will be thoroughly happy and have his mood improve everywhere else he is.

By the way, along those lines women, keep in mind your husband does not just want duty sex. It sends him a very dangerous message when he knows you’re having sex just because you think you have to and you have no real interest in him. Men would rather have a Plain Jane who was absolutely crazy about them in the bedroom, than to have a supermodel who was entirely passive and acted along the lines of “Well are you done yet?”

Always try to assume the best of your spouse. Don’t let distrust be the default position. Instead, let trust be the default position. Your spouse is a fallen sinful human being and will mess up at times, but always be willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

While women have this problem, this one is largely male. Avoid pornography at all costs. It will not enhance your marriage and if you’re single and planning to marry, get rid of porn. There are some men today who are in their 20’s and need to take Viagra because the sight of a real woman doesn’t arouse them any more. Let your mind be filled with the thought of that one woman and let her know she has no competition.

Be Christian together. Pray together and read the Bible together and go to church together. You each must also cultivate your own spiritual devotion, but make sure to build one another up.

Avoid sex before marriage. Don’t live together before marriage either. Keep things for the wedding night as much as you possibly can.

Along those lines, something I advise is when you go on your honeymoon, bring no books save your Bible. Do not go on Facebook or check email. Ask both families to not get in touch with you. Don’t go on social media sharing wedding pictures or seeing what people said. Those responses will be there when you get back. They can wait. Checking all of that is like bringing other people with you on your honeymoon. Spend that time focused on one another.

Have fun as well. Try to find hobbies you enjoy together or TV shows you want to watch together. Each of you will likely have some of your own interests, but make sure there are things you’re interested in together.

Forgiveness is always huge. Be willing to forgive quickly. I tell people that marriage is one of the best ways to learn it. You will spend a lot of time giving or receiving forgiveness and I would say I’ve spent a lot more time receiving.

Marriage is hard work, but it is certainly worth it. It’s been an incredible adventure for me. My life is all the better for having Allie as my wife in it.

By the way, always let them  know it. You can never tell your spouse “I love you,” too much. You cannot hold them too much. Love is always mandatory.

In Christ,
Nick Peters