Welcome to tomthinking.com Thursday, July 19 2018 @ 07:36 PM UTC

I Was A Heretic Last Week, But Now I’m Better

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For the last few months I’ve been exploring the topic of human origins looking to solve challenges that skeptics hold about Cain’s wife, Cain’s city, and his parents, Adam and Eve. I’m not going to spell out here the details that I was uncovering, suffice it to say that my exploration of this topic ended up with me an inch away from the status of a heretic. I might be a little hard on myself, but, considering how much I hate to be wrong, it’s a big deal for me.

I was exploring the topic of origins looking for evidence in the Bible to support the idea that God created humans other than and in addition to Adam and Eve. I was exploring this because I was looking for answers to some interpretive challenges in Genesis 1-3 and found that the idea of God creating other people who were not in special relationship with him, solved some problems that we encounter in the text. For instance, how many kids did Adam and Eve have? Who occupied Cain’s city? If incest is forbidden, who did Cain marry? And other questions. 

I found myself developing a theology about origins where these questions were easily answered by an interpretation of Genesis 1:27 that, “Them,” in that passage referred to many people and not simply the first couple of Adam and Eve. Starting there I found it was also easy to build a theological model based upon what scripture didn’t say as well as what it did say. Which is essentially to make scripture say something that it never really said at all, just through silence. And my solution to these interpretive challenges made everything very easy. And that, right there, should have been a warning to me. Scripture can be simple, but it’s not always easy.

Basically, I did six things. As you read this list, ask yourself, have you done these in your reading of scripture?


The Prayer To Nowhere

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Sometimes I hate to pray. There. I said it. I know that there are times in my life when I pray that the Lord will confront me with something that needs attention. Why can’t I have the “feel good,” prayers, the “peaceful” prayers, the prayers of “wisdom” and “revelation?”
Today I’ve been reading in Colossians, going through its verses again and again until finally this little passage hit me between the eyes:
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” – Colossians 4:2.
This is not the kind of verse that normally stands out to people. For me the passages that stand out the most are those that describe the majesty, power, or sovereignty of Christ—or passages on ethics and the Fruit of the Spirit. But Colossians 4:2, a simple admonition to prayer? What’s so special about that, that it should take hold of my attention?
Maybe its that little word, “Devote.” Ouch. The meaning here is not simply to perform a function regularly, or to be dedicated. The Greek word used for “devote,” is the word, “proskartereo.” It means, as John MacArthur points out, “to be courageously persistent.”

The Law, The Prophet, The King

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Have you ever considered the significance of the appearing of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration and what it might mean for your life? It may be obvious to some that Moses represented the giving of the Law (Torah) and Elijah represented the giving of prophets to proclaim God’s word. But actually, the meaning of their appearances goes quite a bit deeper than that.

Three times in scripture God speaks from a mountain. The first time was from Mount Sinai when God gave the Ten Commandments. 


Miraculous Healing: Where Are The Former Amputees?

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In 2006, an itinerate evangelist held a series of large rallies in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to share the Gospel. At that time, I was Managing Director of Eagle Television in Mongolia. We decided not to take part in promoting or reporting on the event because I believed the evangelist taught elements of Prosperity doctrine. Thousands of people came to the events, and healing miracles seemed to be happening on stage.

One morning after an event one of my friends reported that her mother had been brought forward for healing. She suffered from bad eyesight and while she could see, her sight was very bad. The evangelist prayed over her and the woman proclaimed in front of the crowd that she was healed. Everyone was excited by this miracle. There was only one problem. She still couldn’t see well. Like many people who come forward for healing, when it doesn’t happen they become too embarrassed to admit that nothing has changed. This can be especially true in a country like Mongolia which is somewhat oriented as a shame-honor culture. The psychological pressure to confess a healing, despite the reality of the situation, becomes overwhelming.

The next day a video crew from the evangelist’s ministry went to her home to record the testimony about her healing for fund raising purposes. The woman was feeling embarrassed by this time because she knew she had not been healed. She admitted to the video crew that she was not healed and still had great trouble seeing. When the crew questioned her further she began to feel embarrassed again and then told them that her sight was just “a little better” in one eye. Naturally, she did not want to lose face—common in Asian cultures. Upon learning that her sight in one eye was “a little better” the producer accompanying the video crew declared that it was miracle too, so they tried convincing her to record a testimony about her healing—a healing that never took place.

Being Gay Is Not The Worst Sin

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In Matthew 11:23-24, Jesus makes a startling statement about the ancient city of Sodom, known today, primarily, for it’s culture of sexual sin. Look at what Jesus said:

“Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Sodom was known for its sexual sin, and for its cultural dedication to homosexuality. Many Christians today use Sodom as an example of all that is truly evil. Yet, if we examine Jesus’ words very carefully we learn this truth: Being gay is not the worst sin a person can commit, not by far.

A New Look At The 10 Commandments: 3 Levels Of Behavior

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The Bible tells us:


1.) What is ideal

2.) What is permissible, and

3.) What is forbidden


#1: “You shall have no other gods before me.”


Worshipping God is ideal.

Honoring rulers is permissible.

Worshipping others is forbidden.

If Forgiveness Isn't From The Heart, You May Not Have Forgiven At All

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Have you ever forgiven someone but had bad feelings about them at the same time? Jesus Christ is our model for forgiveness. It’s hard to image Jesus forgiving someone but holding onto bad feelings about that person. Yet, many Christians have the idea that we can forgive someone practically, that is, from the mind, yet still hold bad feelings about that person. We forgive their sin but if something bad happened to them we wouldn’t be crying any tears of sorrow.

I want to suggest that this kind of forgiveness may not be forgiveness at all. It’s the kind of forgiveness that is dressed up in Christianese language but it isn’t a forgiveness that is fully felt in the seat of our emotions. And if we claim to forgive someone, shouldn’t we feel it in the heart? After all, when we sin we are told that we must repent from the heart. “Rend your heart and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). “David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people” (II Samuel 24:10). “He has sent me to heal the contrite of heart” (Luke 4:18). Throughout the scripture we are urged to repent of sin, not only intellectually, but from the seat of our emotions; from the heart. If this is the case, then doesn’t forgiveness also require an expression of the heart?


Theology, Philosophy, and Science Are All About Truth

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I’ve been reading recently on the subjects of theology, philosophy, and science, especially where issues of cosmic origins are concerned. One of the things that is always brought up in debates over origins are supposed scientific quotes from the Bible, and discoveries in science that would seem to contradict the Bible. Meanwhile, the philosophic try to make sense of both.

I’ve found, in my research, that all three disciplines actually compliment one another. Discoveries in science help shed light when interpreting biblical passages. Philosophy often seeks to help make sense of both sides of theology and science to make some things understandable to the average person. But, there are those who say that theology and science are at war with one another and philosophy is a big bag of wind. However, if we take a complimentary view, we see that all three have a legitimate role to play because all three are essentially a pursuit of truth within the limitations of their disciplines. For instance, science tells us a great deal about the cosmos, biology, and genetics, while theology says little to nothing about such things. 

Allow me to share with you a grid that might help bring some clarity to the disciplines of theology, philosophy, and science.


The Great Commission May Be Fulfilled By 2029

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That headline may seem absurd. But you might think differently once you finish reading this article. 

If you were asked, "What is God doing in your life?" Some of us, diligent in our walk with Christ, would be able to answer. But if you were to be asked, "What is God doing in the world today?" How would you respond? What is God doing in the world, as a whole, today? Let me share with you, my answer.
Based upon the scripture and what we see going on with the gospel around the world, I'd have to say that God is busy fulfilling the Great Commission in our lifetime. In fact, there is no single, more important task that God is engaged in than fulfilling the Great Commission. Let me explain why.
There has never been a better time to get involved with helping to fulfill the Great Commission. Regardless of what you see on the news about the state of our nation or the world, regardless of the many evils we are seeing perpetrated on so many victims, like what is happening the Middle East with ISIS, regardless of the lack of hope that so many people have, there has never been a time more fruitful for the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth, and I want to tell you why. It all begins with the Great Commission.


Mixing Our Message

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Christians need to speak the language of the culture in which they live. But is incorporating the secular diluting the message of Christ? There are many schools of thought on this issue. Here's my take.
I was in my office at Eagle TV having a meeting with a few ministry staff. We were talking about ideas for our ministry programs, trying to make decisions about what we wanted to produce for the next year.
One of the staff raised his hand and asked to speak. He said something that I have heard many times before from people in other ministries. “If we want to be successful,” he said, “then we need to produce programs that focus more on things that people are interested in apart from Christianity. Let’s attract an audience by emphasizing other things in life then when people see that our programs about these things are good they will want to know more about Jesus. But don’t talk about Jesus so much.”
I considered his words carefully. I was living in a culture different from my own. I knew that I needed to be sensitive to the ways that Mongolians think and express themselves. I didn’t want to rush to judgment about his suggestion. However, at the same time I realized that I had heard this line many times before.
In fact, I remember a time in radio in the U.S. when some Christian radio programmers were talking about abandoning Christian music exclusively and instead focusing on what was called “message music.” That is, secular songs that aren’t immoral or sinful. They wanted to mix these with Christian music in an attempt to attract a greater audience to tell them about Jesus. There was only one problem with this idea.
It didn’t work.