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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Butterfly on sunflower 8/13/13 (Ester)
Butterfly (or moth) on Black Eyed Susans
(Photo by Ester)

Please Note: Today's message is a lot longer than usual and will perhaps require a bit more of your thinking cap! We believe it is a much needed teaching. However it is not for the faint of heart or mind. We also expect there might be a few points not all will agree with us but hopefully we will sharpen your thinking. Finally, if after reading this you strongly disagree with us you probably won't benefit from our ministry.

"Dealing With What Is
Falsely Called 'Knowledge'"

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"Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22).
"Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new" (Acts 17:21). "O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called 'knowledge,' for by professing it some have swerved from the faith" (1 Timothy 6:20,21).

Photo of Charles Harris Forty years ago this month we began our Bible College education in preparation for ministry at Central Bible College in Springfield, MO.  In fact we met and started dating in our Freshman year. We are so thankful for our teachers who instilled in us a love and high regard for God's Word. Today we especially consider Dr. Charles Harris who is now in his mid-eighties and still teaching. He seemed old when we began school in our late teens but now we realize he was actually younger than we are now! We're blessed to still be in contact with him to this day.

Although we also had general education and practical ministry courses our college education had a very heavy emphasis upon the study of the Bible itself. Five days a week we also had mandatory chapel services which almost always included a message from God's Word. This chapel hour was not reckoned toward the credit hours needed to graduate.

CBC sign 7/11/13
Many of the classes were named for the Bible books which, after a background introduction, we would study verse by verse, such as "Synoptic Gospels", "the Gospel and Epistles of John", "the Acts of the Apostles", "Romans and Galatians" and so forth. Our Bible College closed last Spring after nearly 90 years of preparing students for ministry. The remaining students (who chose to do so) merged into the liberal arts college across town. We frankly grieve at the direction so much ministerial education has gone in our lifetime with a lesser emphasis on the Holy Scriptures.

Let me illustrate my concern by something I can personally testify to. When we were in Bible College we were taught the Creation account in Genesis as literal truth. Ten years ago I was attending a conference in Springfield and heard a professor from the university that CBC is being "merged" into mock and ridicule the Genesis Creation account as we were taught and he also mocked those who held the traditional interpretation.

Now we certainly appreciate scholarship in the sense of being a diligent student of God's Word
. This certainly may include those with a high amount of education. We are all indebted to those who are well-studied and demonstrate godly wisdom. But this scholarship must be built upon a foundation that holds a high view of Scripture, a belief in the plenary, inerrant inspiration of the Scriptures. The word "plenary" means "full; complete; entire; absolute; unqualified." One aspect of a "plenary" understanding of God's Word is that even the details matter. "Inspired" means God-breathed, God's Holy Spirit directed the human writers in regard to the words. The doctrine of "inerrancy" asserts that the Scriptures are without error.

But in far too many cases scholarship is not rooted in this high view of Scripture, along with a respect for the views of those who have studied and lived for God in previous generations. When that happens anything goes. I am so distressed by an article I just read about a speech given to a scholarly society that in my view has many heretical elements. New, faddish ideas and concessions to the world are celebrated and the pride of this pseudo scholarship asserts that it is above criticism by the stodgy conservatives, who are presented as bullies if they even question these "scholars".

This is nothing new though. The access to information through the internet and other mass media sure has increased the rate in which error can spread.

Our first daily verse describes the human condition, "Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22). It is in a context concerning the human response to God. The Greek and Roman unbelievers boasted of their wisdom and held the rest of the world in contempt, but at the same time their idolatry showed their utter folly.

Modern man claims to be so wise. We are surely the most educated age in history based on years of formal education. Modern humanity feels they are intellectually superior and enlightened compared to previous generations. This is commonly seen in the attitude of the younger toward the elder population.

CS Lewis
C.S. Lewis referred to this attitude as "chronological snobbery". Chronological snobbery is the presumption that the thinking, art, or science of an earlier time is inherently inferior when compared to that of the present. (I find it easier to use the term "generational snobbery".)

By and large the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible are scoffed at or ignored by those in our time who profess to be wise. Modern man has no use for the teachings of the Bible in this "enlightened" age. But the Bible gives a not so flattering, but rather scathing description, "They became fools."

The single verse from Acts 17 is a candid observation of the scholarly in Athens who "spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new." Quite the contrast to the words of an old hymn, "I love to tell the story to those who know it best, seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest".

Finally Paul's first letter to Timothy ends with this solemn caution, "O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called 'knowledge,' for by professing it some have swerved from the faith."
In the seventeen years I have been writing these messages I have often commented on the first part, "O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you."

But I hadn't focused on the final part which includes an important caution,
"Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called 'knowledge,' for by professing it some have swerved from the faith." I ask you to note this phrase, "what is falsely called 'knowledge,'" and consider how it may apply to our time.

Today we encourage you to sharpen your spiritual discernment.  As Paul directed Timothy we use his words to you, "Guard the deposit entrusted to you." This is the deposit of faith in the Bible and the longheld truths of the Christian faith.

In Second Timothy 3:13-17: we read that
"evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

Be encouraged today and stay faithful, contending for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want to prayerfully consider Timothy's warning and realize that evil will escalate in the last days where the wicked and impostors will worsen and deception will be rampant even in the church. This happens when the Holy Bible is not the supreme authority, and is replaced by the popular teaching of those who seek to sway believers as they "spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new." We want to be wise, discerning, and careful to line up that which we hear with the ancient words of Scripture. For You are coming to judge the earth. You will judge the world with righteousness and all the nations with Your truth. Therefore we want to be fully devoted to following Your commandments, contend faithfully to the truth, and guard the deposit  You entrusted to us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Some discernment thoughts in regard to attacks on our faith:
  • Don't be seduced by phrases such as "Modern scholarship says..." You will often see articles with phrases like this in secular magazines attacking the orthodox faith and foundational doctrines of Christianity like the Resurrection. You can find a "scholar" to support about any position imaginable. Self-proclaimed scholars may also use this to silence you and others they deem not scholars. BTW, students in Amish one room schoolhouses are all called "scholars"!
  • In regard to ministry titles they don't necessarily mean anything! A Dr. before a name may mean a true advanced degree but there are many in the ranks of ministry who have doctorates that can be ordered through the mail or internet which may require next to nothing in effort, although usually there is a cost involved! What's more, even a legitimate advanced degree does not mean one has true wisdom, sound knowledge or a commitment to the authority of Scripture! Now let me make it clear there are many who have worked very hard for an advanced degree, including readers of these messages. My point is not to diss them, but rather to give caution that the title does not necessarily mean anything due to the abuse in obtaining these degrees! The Rev. title likewise can be obtained in many ways. Many recall a story from about thirty years ago when my dog was ordained and for $25.00 could have been a doctor! (see here). 
  • "Experts have determined..." Ask what experts and what is their agenda? You can find an "expert" to support about any position imaginable. Note this is also true of expert witnesses in a court of law which both sides may have each holding opposing positions. I personally witnessed this in a trial in northern PA when the defense paid big bucks to pay an expert to concoct some ridiculous theory absolving of guilt. Thankfully the common sense jury in that small town saw through it!
  • "Recent studies or research has determined..." Thank God for ongoing research and new discoveries but just use discernment.
  • "Respected (or reputable) scientists (or theologians) state..." The implication is that if you don't hold to a certain view you are not reputable nor can your view be respected! Many years ago a pastor friend rejected a cardinal Bible teaching and stated, "Respected scientists or theologians do not believe that." I happened to know many scientists and theologians who do maintain Biblical faith on the matter, as well as I. His statement implied they weren't respected and I suppose I wouldn't be either, in his view!
  • "What do I know, I'm just a simple layman"  Too many dedicated laypeople and ministers with a lesser degree of education feel they can't speak on an issue or their viewpoint is of lesser value. God gave you a brain and the ability to think. You have access to the Bible and scores of study resources. I am so blessed by the amount of Biblically solid study resources on the internet. Don't let those with more education, credentials, titles, etc. intimidate you! In addition to this some of the most Biblically informed people I have ever known were not formally trained at all. I consider Rick Masciantonio from the church I served in Massachusetts who is without a doubt the most studied person I have ever known. Or Tom Neizmik, who was a part of our church in northern PA and a very thoughtful student of God's Word although he has no formal ministry training. In our current church we have attended over the last twelve years I recall Eldon Lehman, who is now with the Lord. He was a local farmer with some training at Lancaster Bible College. His earnest teaching from God's Word in our Sunday School class from about ten years ago is something we both still recall. You might consider similar people in your church.
  • "My pastor or my church changed and now hold this view on a matter so it must be so." No, no, no!!! Truth is not determined by what a pastor or church states. Many pastors and churches have departed from the faith and reject key doctrines taught in the Bible and held by our forefathers. You need to stand on the Word of God and think on your own! Any pastor worthy of the name is blessed when people examine the Scriptures like the Berean. (see Acts 17:11)
  • "That viewpoint is so old-fashioned"  So what! The question is, "does it line up with the Bible"?
  • "Most people don't believe that way anymore."  1) Truth is not determined by a poll. 2) Actually this is often just not the case but is intended to get you to reject something under the assumption that you are in the minority. This is used to make you feel foolish for believing a certain matter. You can almost always be assured when you hear this that there are still plenty of people who believe the way you do!
  • "That's a hateful view" This is a new diabolical strategy used in the last several years to promote an agenda. Many of us have seen it in regard to the attempts (which sadly seem to be succeeding in our apostate nation) to redefine marriage. Those of us who maintain the Biblical and historical position on marriage and do not believe it should be redefined are labeled "hateful". Let us be faithful to the truth rather than seek the approval of men!
  • Perhaps thoughtful readers can think of other similar points in regard to using discernment in the attacks on our faith. Please suggest your points here. Perhaps I can share them in a follow-up.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Ancient Words"  Video  Michael W. Smith

Juicy Ecumenism is a blog chronicling the whacky direction of "scholarship" and liberal leanings, especially among the mainline denominations but also sadly increasingly in evangelical circles. It has these articles which are what I alluded to today that distressed me. Here or here.

Ester has taken her Dad's interest in photography and shares several photos today.
We thought we would give an update on our three pets.

Mollie 8/13/13
Mollie is the most recent pet addition to our home and by far the liveliest both due to her age (2˝ years) and breed (border collie) She is probably thinking, "Why don't you throw me something?" She has a video up on YouTube when she was first learning to play Frisbee. Now she can catch it as far as I can throw it in our front lawn although we have to watch her or she will run off!

Roxie 8/13/13
Roxie is a mixed breed mutt. We are told she's part Rhodesian Ridgeback and part Besenji. She will turn nine this October and is beginning to slow down a bit although she and Mollie still enjoy playing together and she is always ready for a long walk. Her days of jumping through the wheatfields are long gone such as on this video.

Dottie 8/13/13
Our oldest pet is Dottie, who turned twelve on May 15. We know the precise date since she was born in the back of our rental home shortly after we moved to Lancaster County from New England in 2001. She pretty much just lays around all day although she does find it exciting to find a new place to lay.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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