Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Does God Change His Mind?

In a recent blog posting by Ray Comfort at Comfort Food he makes the case that God does not change His mind. The key verse that Ray uses is found in Genesis 6:6 "And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart."

Now you need to know that Ray is a bit of a masochist. He has nicknamed his blog "Atheist Central" as an attempt to share the Gospel with people that would otherwise never step into the church. It is his virtual soap-box on the Internet.

Well, just like a pack of wild dogs the atheists pounced on Ray's explanation. They did not buy it at all. And since this is an objection that you are likely to face one day let me add my understanding and exegesis of this text.

There are a couple things that you need to know about this passage. First, God often speaks using anthropomorphic terms of expression that we can understand. God is far above all of us and all together separate. So we see that He often speaks using language to express emotions that we can relate to.

Second, God cannot change ( Malalachi 3:6, James 1:17 ); He is perfect in all His ways, so there must be a way to reconcile this seeming contradiction.

Third, you need to understand that Genesis was not written in English, it was written in Hebrew. So it is a mistake to take a word like "repented', as seen in Genesis 6:6, and plug it into an English dictionary. You can not take a Hebrew word, translate it into old English, then try to apply its semantic range in modern English. That is making a translation out of a translation out of a translation. Funny, that this is often the accusation that is thrown at those of us who believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture.

Now usually the word for “repent” that we see in the Old Testament is the word שוב (shuwb). It means to turn away from or to revoke or reverse. This is not the word that is used in Genesis 6:6. The word that is used in this passage is the word נחם (nacham).
Nacham means to be sorry, to grieve. It means to draw breath forcibly, to pant. Do you remember as a kid sobbing so badly that you found it hard to catch your breath? That was Nacham. What Moses was telling us in Genesis 6:6 was that God was so grieved because of the world’s wickedness that it was as though God was unable to grab His breath. This interpretation is further supported by the word עצב (‘atsab) found in that same verse. “It grieved the Lord” or “it ‘atsab the Lord” ‘Atsab means to carve. So the disobedience of the people that God had given so much was like a knife carving His heart.

Have you ever loved someone who did not return your love? Imagine yourself showering that person with love, affection and many gifts; only to have those gifts ignored or destroyed. Think about how you would feel after all of your invested time and money were treated with total disregard. Would you be nacham? ‘Atsab?

Man’s heart is only evil continually. This was the condition of humanity before the flood and what it is today. God knew that He would one day grieve over His creation. He knew that the ones to whom He had given everything would treat Him with utter disrespect and total disregard. Yet He loved them, and us, so much He created us anyway. And He knew that while many would suffer under His omnipotent wrath that some would one day be reconciled to Him. So He gave everything in the death of His Son Jesus Christ.

Now tell me; if you had given everything, even the life of your child, to reconcile a rebellious people and they treated it with absolute disdain, what would you do?

*Do not be surprised if the Numbers 23:19 comes back at you when rendering this exposition.

"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"

The word "repent" found in Numbers 23:19 is nacham. However, it should be noted that the context is clearly speaking about His word not His actions. God will never regret what He has said but He is clearly grieved by the rebellion that is manifest by His creation. (Isaiah 63:10, Ephesians 4:30)
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Monday, November 24, 2008

How to Make Your Child a False Convert.

Read the follow up article How to Not Make Your Child a False Convert.

Check out Tony Miano's thoughts on this video at The Lawman Chronicles.

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How to Not Make Your Child a False Convert.

I am constantly amazed at my son Noah. He is only 2 years old but already he can count to 20 and with a little help can even count to 10 is Spanish. He knows the alphabet, his colors and shapes, he knows animals and he has an amazing memory. When I read him his children’s books at night he will often finish the sentences because he’s heard the story already and when we sing songs together he can finish the line if I stop singing. He is really doing well for being only two years old. Of course, I am probably just like any proud father who believes his child is advanced beyond his peers. But truth be told, I think that dads like me are impressed with our children not because the child is necessarily advanced for their age but because we just underestimate how intelligent our children really are.

Jeff Foxworthy’s television show Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader has proven to be a big hit over the last couple of years. The show’s success probably has to do more with displaying how foolish grownups can look than being a stage for how bright the children are. Unfortunately, I believe that many parents do not understand how smart their young child really is and how much potential they have for understanding and doing hard complex things. This seems to be a late development in the evolution of our society. Did you know that John Hancock entered Harvard University when he was 13 years old, that Samuel Adams completed his master’s degree before he turned 21 and that Thomas Jefferson frequently studied 15 hours a day during his time at the College of William and Mary?[1] There truly has been a fundamental shift in how we raise and educate our children.

By misunderstanding a child’s ability to learn and understand hard and complex ideas a parent can potentially stunt their child’s intellectual and cognitive growth. I think this can happen in a couple different ways. The first way a parent can bring a child’s development to a crawl is by speaking and teaching the child below his or her current stage of development. The second, which is really just the flip side of the first, is done by not challenging the child beyond their current stage of development.

So right about now you may be asking, “What does this have to do with leading a child to Christ?” Well I will tell you. I believe that we do a serious disservice to our youth and blaspheme the Lord by contextualizing and dumbing down the Gospel for our children. Children can handle much bigger ideas and concepts than you think. They can understand their depravity, their need for salvation and that God’s wrath was satisfied through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. They need to understand Heaven and Hell, faith and repentance. Serious harm can and has been done by offering a pseudo-gospel to children. Unfortunately, today our Sunday Schools and Vacation Bible School programs have become the breeding ground for false converts. Our kids are being fed an impotent gospel that, in reality, is no gospel at all.

Another issue, which does not relate to our underestimation of our children’s ability to understand and reason, is the problem of leading a child in the decision for salvation. Children can be manipulated very easily and it does not take much effort to persuade them in any one direction. So parents and teachers we must be very careful not to be overzealous and usurp the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is His job to convict a person of sin and the work of the Father to draw them to Jesus. Children are prone to make false professions simply to please their overzealous parents or teachers. Let us not make this grave error of pressuring our children to make a decision; the result of which can have damnable consequences. Leading a child, or any person for that matter, in a decision for salvation can give a false sense of security. A person’s faith should not be put in the raising of their hand, the signing of the card, the baptism, or the sincerity of their decision; it should be in Christ alone. If the child is genuinely converted then they have become a new creation in Christ and will henceforth bear fruit in keeping with their repentance. Also be wise in your language. Avoid evangelical jargon such as “ask Jesus into your heart” or “plead the blood”. These terms are not only confusing but they are often unscriptural.

In closing let me just add that while I am not a trained psychologist, and my advice should not be treated as if I were, it would appear to me that what I have shared is grounded deeply within truth and logic. Your children are smarter than you think and you should treat them that way. Treat them as fools and that is what they will become. Train up a child in the way that they should go and when they get older they will not depart from it. Find the balance of using age appropriate language when sharing the Gospel with your child without compromising on those areas that are hard and that sting. And finally, don’t fret. Remember salvation is of the Lord and He is sovereign over your child’s election. Now let the truth of that knowledge guide you as you as you disciple your little ones and point them to the cross of Jesus Christ.

[1] The Rebelution
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Stepping on the Box.

I suppose it has been about 3 years now since I was walking in the West End of downtown Dallas. Last I was there I saw a young man standing on a step stool preaching. To that point, in my 30-some years of life, I don't think I had ever witnessed anybody ever preaching in the open-air. I had seen people in the past wearing sandwich boards or holding up signs but never had I heard a person preach in public outside of a church. I had certainly heard about people doing this in the past; I had even heard a few preachers talk about what they use to do back when they had "zeal without knowledge". But I had never seen it myself.

Oddly, one of my initial responses to the preaching of the Gospel in public was embarrassment. The difficult part to understand though is that the embarrassment was not necessarily for the man yelling from the stool, it was for myself. I felt strangely uncomfortable, like every eye in the gathering crowd might at anytime turn toward me. It was kind of like watching a television program where the characters are in a very awkward and embarrassing situation and somehow their embarrassment is transmitted to you. I always end up watching those shows through cupped hands. That is how the preaching made me feel.
There was also a hint of anger that I felt toward the preacher. I thought he sounded arrogant, angry and hateful. His message was true but somehow it lacked the love that I knew Christ held for the lost. After about 10 minutes of watching the preaching we left and jumped into the car. I am quite sure we ridiculed that poor guy the entire ride back to Duncanville. I think we all felt that the preacher was courageous but he lacked love and was likely ineffective.
As I lay in bed that night and considered everything that I had witnessed that evening I became honest with myself. Honest about my embarrassment and honest about my angry reaction toward the preaching. Ultimately, I had to concluded that my embarrassment and anger was due to a singular fact; I was ashamed of what the man was saying and I was mad that I lacked the courage to do what that man did. I certainly believed in what he was saying and I had up to that point even dared shared my faith with non-christians. But something within me that night wanted to find a shovel, dig a hole and jump in.

One thing I was absolutely sure of that night was that I would never do what I saw that man do.

Fast forward about a year, my good friend Chad Cossette, who I actually led to Christ in high school, gave me a message to listen to; Hell's Best Kept Secret by Ray Comfort. I instantly loved it, but what I did not realize at that time was that one message would have more impact on me than any other message I had ever heard. That message altered the course of my life. As I began to seek out more teaching by Ray Comfort I discovered that his ministry had a daily two hour radio show called Way of the Master Radio. The radio show often played clips of Ray Comfort preaching open-air. I absolutely loved it and it didn't take me long before I started to fear that I would one day soon find myself preaching from on top of a box.

This past July, a mere two years after I swore my oath of never publicly proclaiming the Gospel, I did it. This Independence Day I stood on a concrete barrier and preached the very same message that had once caused me so much embarrassment. It was my Independence Day, I was exercising my liberty and freedom from the bondage of shame, anger and pride. Since that July 4th I have preached in the open air about 15 times and was even blessed with the opportunity to be personally trained by the man whose message had meant so much to me. Preaching in the public square has proven to be the most terrifying thing that I love to do.

I now find myself in a very privileged line of preachers, Ray Comfort, Todd Friel, Tony Miano, David Wilkerson, Dwight Moody, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, John Knox, Stephen, the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, Jesus Christ and it is my hope that you will one day join me and experience the absolute pleasure of heralding the Good News of Salvation!

"No sort of defense is needed for preaching out-of-doors; but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meetinghouse. A defense is required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of them." C. H. Spurgeon

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Noah's Flood - Part III

Genesis 5 is a rather boring chapter in the Bible. It is one of those chapters that is often skipped because of all of the begats. However, there is something very interesting hiding just beneath the surface; and unless you know it’s there you’d never see it. So let’s take a close look at these otherwise overlooked names and their respective meanings. The following I give credit to Chuck Missler.


The first name, Adam, comes from adomah, and means "man." As the first man, that seems straightforward enough.


Adam's son was named Seth, which means "appointed." When he was born Eve said, "For God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew."


Seth's son was called Enosh, which means "mortal," "frail," or "miserable." It is from the root anash: to be incurable; used of a wound, grief, woe, sickness, or wickedness. (It was in the days of Enosh that men began to defile the name of the Living God. )


Enosh's son was named Kenan, from which can mean "sorrow," dirge," or "elegy." (The precise denotation is somewhat elusive; some study aids unfortunately presume an Aramaic root synonymous with "Cainan.") Balaam, looking down from the heights of Moab, employed a pun upon the name of the Kenites when he prophesied their destruction.


Kenan's son was Mahalalel, from mahalal, which means "blessed" or "praise"; and El, the name for God. Thus, Mahalalel means "the Blessed God." Often Hebrew names included El, the name of God, as Dani-el, "God is my Judge," Nathani-el, "Gift of God," etc.


Mahalalel's son was named Jared, from the verb yaradh, meaning "shall come down." Some authorities suggest that this might have been an allusion to the "Sons of God" who "came down" to corrupt the daughters of men, resulting in the Nephilim ("Fallen Ones") of Genesis 6.


Jared's son was named Enoch, which means "teaching," or "commencement." He was the first of four generations of preachers. In fact, the earliest recorded prophecy was by Enoch, which amazingly enough deals with the Second Coming of Christ.


The Flood of Noah did not come as a surprise. It had been preached on for four generations. But something strange happened when Enoch was 65, from which time "he walked with God." Enoch was given a prophecy that as long as his son was alive, the judgment of the flood would be withheld; but as soon as he died, the flood would be sent forth. Enoch named his son to reflect this prophecy. The name Methuselah comes from two roots: muth, a root that means "death" ; and from shalach, which means "to bring," or "to send forth." Thus, the name Methuselah signifies, "his death shall bring."And, indeed, in the year that Methuselah died, the flood came. Methuselah was 187 when he had Lamech, and lived 782 years more. Lamech had Noah when he was 182.7 The Flood came in Noah's 600th year. 187 + 182 + 600 = 969, Methuselah's age when he died.It is interesting that Methuselah's life was, in effect, a symbol of God's mercy in forestalling the coming judgment of the flood. It is therefore fitting that his lifetime is the oldest in the Bible, symbolizing the extreme extensiveness of God's mercy.


Methuselah's son was named Lamech, a root still evident today in our own English word, "lament" or "lamentation." Lamech suggests "despairing." (This name is also linked to the Lamech in Cain's line who inadvertently killed his son Tubal-Cain in a hunting incident. )


Lamech, of course, is the father of Noah, which is derived from nacham , "to bring relief" or "comfort," as Lamech himself explains.

Now let's put it all together:






Mahalalel--------The Blessed God

Jared------------Shall come down

Enoch----------- Teaching

Methuselah------His death shall bring

Lamech----------The despairing

Noah-------------Rest, or comfort

“Man is appointed mortal sorrow but the blessed God shall come down teaching that His death shall bring the despairing comfort.”

Here is a summary of God's plan of redemption, hidden here within a genealogy in Genesis! You will never convince me that a group of Jewish rabbis deliberately "contrived" to hide the "Christian Gospel" right here in a genealogy within their venerated Torah!
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Noah's Flood - Part II

Catch this, do you know what biblical typology is? Simply put typology is an interpretive practice of taking a person, thing or an event and defining it as symbolically representative of something yet future. So we can look at people, things or events in the Old Testament and see that they are prophetically symbolic of people, things or events fulfilled in the New Testament, or even in our future.

A classic example of this can be found in John 3:14 where Jesus says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” In this case we see that the serpent that was lifted up foreshadowed the healing that would come to all those who, through faith, look upon the God-man that was lifted up on the cross.

We also have a type of Christ in the Flood account. It probably is pretty clear but for the sake of making my point I will go ahead and lay it out. The flood waters represent God’s justice and wrath and the ark of Noah represents salvation in Christ. Here is the cool part that I want to point out; in Genesis 6:14-16 God gives Noah the blueprints for constructing the Ark. Let’s look just at verse 14, and we will look at it in the KJV because the translation is more precise. “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch."
Now I just want to focus in on the two words in this passage that are translated “pitch”. The word translated “and shalt pitch” is kaphar and the word “pitch” is kopher. Pitch was used in the construction of this boat for two reasons; first, to act as a preservative so the timbers would not rot and secondly, to act as a sealing agent, to prevent water from coming in. Now I will let the Hebrew speak for itself:“and shalt pitch” (kaphar) - to cover, purge, make an atonement, make reconciliation, cover over with pitch“pitch” (kaphor) - price of a life, ransom, bribe, asphalt, pitch (as a covering)

Isn’t that amazing? The sealing and preservative agent of Jesus Christ, the antitype of the Ark, is His blood. Remember, you were not redeemed or ransomed by corruptible things like silver and gold but by the precious blood of the one who came to give His life a ransom for many.

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Noah's Flood

I lead a weekly Bible study at my home here in Tacoma, Washington and we have been going through the "Story of God". The Story of God is basically teaching the Bible in story-form (I will write on this in the future). We started at the very beginning at the creation and we have been working our way forward. We've gone through Beginnings, the First Humans, Separation, Cain and Abel, The Flood and we just finished talking about the Covenant this past Wednesday.

While I was studying for the story of Noah I dug up some old notes and did some new research that I though I would share with the group. It was received very well by them so I thought you might like it too.

When did the Flood of Noah occur? Did you know that the Bible tells us? Let's see what Moses has to say about it; you might be very surprised!

Genesis 7:6-11
6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth.7 So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, 9 two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

Keeping in mind that Noah was under the Civil Hebrew Calendar and not the Ceremonial, which was not instituted until the time of the first Passover; the rains started on the 17th of Cheshvan – That falls on the 15th of November this year.

Genesis 7:12
And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
40 days after the 17th day of Cheshvan (15th of November) is the 28th of Chislev – That falls on the 5th and middle day of Hanukkah. It is believed by many that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Hanukkah. That is, that the Light of the World came into the world during the Festival of Lights. This year the 5th day of Hanukkah falls on December 25th, Christmas day.

Genesis 7:24- 8:4
24 And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days. 8:1 Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. 3 And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. 4 Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.
This happened on the 17th day of Nissan. This is the Feast of First Fruits, the day that Jesus raised from the dead. So our new beginning in Christ was on the anniversary of the Earth's "new beginning" under Noah! The 17th of Nissan falls on the 11th of April in 2009.

Genesis 8:13
By the first day of the first month of Noah's six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth.
The first day of the first month is the 1st day of Tishrei. The 1st of Tishrei, is Rosh Hashanah and thought, by Jews, to be the anniversary of the creation of the earth. It is also Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets. The 1st of Tishrei falls on the 19th of September in 2009.

Another interesting fact is that the judgment of God began with the 600th birthday of Noah and in its totality lasted through into his 601st birthday. So, the transitional event from Noah's previous 6 centuries and the beginning of his 7th was the judgment of God in the Flood. We are now closing out our 6th millennium and are on the verge of our 7th. I wonder, is there is some transitional time of judgment on our near horizon?

Interesting how God put this book together, eh?

This past Saturday was the anniversary of God's judgment in the Flood.
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