Sunday, July 31, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Wildfire of Sin
Fire is essential to human survival. The sun itself, by which we receive some of God's life-sustaining energy, is to us a perpetual hydrogen-fueled cauldron of purifying energy. A small controlled fire in our house or out in the field can give us light and warmth. But, fire can also be destructive if not controlled. It can and will consume everything in its path, leaving behind nothing but ashes.
One example of uncontrolled fire is a wildfire. A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire that they takes place outdoors in areas of grassland, woodlands, bush land, scrubland, peat land, and other wooded areas that act as a source of fuel, or combustible material. A wildfire differs from other fires by its extensive size, the speed at which it can spread out from its original source, its potential to change direction unexpectedly, and its ability to jump gaps such as roads, rivers and fire breaks. The four major natural causes of wildfire ignitions are lightning, volcanic eruption, sparks from rock falls, and spontaneous combustion. However, many wildfires are attributed to human sources such as arson, discarded cigarettes, and sparks from equipment, etc. Wildfire is used as a metaphor for things that spread, circulate or disseminate quickly; typically negative, such as: rumors or diseases.
Negative attitudes and behavior can also spread like a wildfire if not corrected immediately. It seems that such was the case with Nadab and Abihu. As we recall Nadab and Abihu were Aaron's sons; as such they were called to be priests. They were part of the solemn ceremony to be consecrated as priests. Next to Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu had stood highest in Israel. They had been especially honored by the Lord, having been permitted with the seventy elders to behold His glory in the mount (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 359). Assisted by his sons, Aaron offered the sacrifices that God required, and he lifted up his hands and blessed the people. All had been done as God commanded, and He accepted the sacrifice, and revealed His glory in a remarkable manner; fire came from the Lord and consumed the offering upon the altar. The people looked upon this wonderful manifestation of divine power with awe and intense interest. They saw in it a token of God's glory and favor, and they raised a universal shout of praise and adoration and fell on their faces as if in the immediate presence of Jehovah (Leviticus 9:22).
At the hour of worship, as the prayers and praise of the people were ascending to God, two of the sons of Aaron took each his censer and burned fragrant incense thereon, to rise as a sweet odor before the Lord. But they transgressed His command by the use of "strange fire." For burning the incense they took common instead of the sacred fire which God Himself had kindled, and which He had commanded to be used for this purpose. For this sin a fire went out from the Lord and devoured them in the sight of the people.
According to Ellen White Nadab and Abihu were not disciplined men. They were lacked self-control. Habits of self-indulgence, long cherished, obtained a hold upon them which even the responsibility of the most sacred office had not power to break. They presumed to be favored of God for the privileges God gave to them. They apparently flattered themselves that their privilege allowed them to do as they wish without being punished. This attitude drove them to drink until they were partially intoxicated. The judgment clouded, they were not able to distinguish right from wrong. The Lord's judgment by the prophet Isaiah fell on them,
Isaias 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Isaias 5:21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Isaias 5:22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
Isaias 5:23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
Isaias 5:24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Let no one deceive himself with the belief that a part of God's commandments are nonessential, or that He will accept a substitute for that which He has required. Said the prophet Jeremiah, "Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?" Lamentations 3:37. God has placed in His word no command which men may obey or disobey at will and not suffer the consequences. If men choose any other path than that of strict obedience, they will find that "the end thereof are the ways of death." Proverbs 14:12.
Less anyone else in the camp thought that the conduct of Aaron's sons was permissible, the Lord destroyed them. The influence of the two was would have been too strong. Their Sin would have spread like wildfire among the children of Israel, with no easy way to stop it. So God showed that service rendered to Him is not to be taken lightly like Nadab and Abihu did. The same applies to us.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
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Monday, July 25, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Years ago an article was written to commemorate a milestone
anniversary of the publication of Albert Einstein's articles on the
theory of relativity. The author of the article discussed how
Einstein's theory was instrumental on the development of Quantum
Physics (QP). This is the science that studies subatomic particles
present in all atoms. (Everything is made of molecules. Some
molecules are larger than others. A water molecule is smaller than a
protein molecule. But, all molecules are formed of atoms. All atoms
are formed of subatomic particles such as: neutrons, electrons,
protons, and other particles. It is these particles that QP studies.)
These particles are so small no one has seen them. But, their
existence and presence can be calculated and measured. The thing
about these particles is that they also act like electromagnetic
waves, such as light. So, it is hard to isolate these particles to
study them. In the macro-world, if I see an object with the right
instruments I can tell you where the object is, where it is headed,
and how fast it is going. You cannot do that with these quantum
particles. They appear to be skittish. They show up and disappear.
In fact, the author of the article said that in the theory of QP you
can conclude things that contradict the law of conservation of mass -
matter cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed. In
essence, according to the author, in QP you can conclude that matter
can be created out of nothing, and he added, "This cannot be!"
Is it that hard to believe that it is possible to create matter out of
nothing? To an evolutionist it is. They believe in gradual progress
and transformation. To an evolutionist things cannot happen
immediately. The slowly develop from simple to complex, and
gradually improving. So to them God cannot speak things into being
that are complex and "good."; which is exactly what the Bible says the
Lord does. Psalms 33:9 says that "... He spake, and it was done; he
commanded, and it stood fast." The Lord spoke and the thing happened.
In Genesis chapter 1 it says that God spoke and it was so, and "He
saw that it was good." Paul says in Colossians that Christ created
all things. Let us read,
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in
heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be
thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were
created by him, and for him:
Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
The Hebrew word for verb created - bara - refers to action by God
only. Humans can build things, make things, crate things, and form
things, but God alone can bara. Only God can create space, time,
matter, and energy - all part of the material world in which we exist.
It is all here, only because God bara-ed it. So, it should not be
hard to a Christian to believe that subatomic particles appear as if
out of nowhere. Paul adds in Hebrews 11:3,
Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed
by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of
things which do appear.
What we see, says Paul, was made out of things that were not in
existence before. God created matter out of nothing. Any Christian,
who does not believe this, is an evolutionist, not a real Christian.
We will take this a step further: if we believe that God can create
things, it should not be hard to believe that when Christ spoke for
people to be healed and resurrected, the thing happened. Anyone that
does not believe this is an evolutionist, not a real Christian. When
God speaks the thing happens; it is reality. So, when Christ says,
"you sins are forgiven," they are forgiven; for when He speaks the
thing happens; it is reality. Anyone that does not believe this is an
evolutionist, not a real Christian. Let us consider the story from
Luke 5 of the man taken by palsy. His friends let the man down the
rooftop in front of Jesus, "And when he saw their faith, he said unto
him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee" (Luke5:20). We are told in
verse 21 that, "... the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason,
saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins,
but God alone?" We read in the following verses what happened next,
Luke 5:22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said
unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?
Luke 5:23 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to
say, Rise up and walk?
Luke 5:24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon
earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say
unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.
Luke 5:25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that
whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
Christ proved in this story that He can heal and forgive. The man
accepted that he had been forgiven; therefore it was no stretch for
him to believe he had been healed. He did not question Christ. He
did not ask for a sign. However, with one act, Christ proved to the
unbelievers that He could do the other. "...With men this is
impossible; but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
Here the question is, "do we believe this is true?"
Friday, July 08, 2011
What is religious syncretism?
Syncretism, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is "the reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief." This is most evident in the areas of philosophy and religion, and usually results in a new teaching or belief system. Specifically, Syncretism in Religion is the combining of often mutually contradictory religions or belief systems, many times on the basis of political expediency, personal taste, or whim. As with many morally or theologically dubious notions, rationalizations for syncretism are easy to come by. Religious syncretism often takes place when foreign beliefs are introduced to an indigenous belief system and the teachings are blended. The new, heterogeneous religion then takes a shape of its own. This has been seen most clearly in Roman Catholic missionary history. Take, for example, the Roman Catholic Church's proselytizing of animistic South America. Threatened with the fear of death, natives were baptized into the church by the tens of thousands without any preaching of the Gospel whatsoever. Former temples were razed, with Catholic shrines and chapels built on the same spot. Natives were allowed to substitute praying to saints instead of gods of water, earth and air, and replaced their former idols with new images of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet, the animistic religion the natives had formerly practiced was never fully replaced—it was adapted into Catholic teachings, and this new belief system was allowed to flourish.
This is nothing new. It has been going on for a long time. We will see that the incident of the Golden calf was syncretism, not outright apostasy. In Exodus 19:8 the Israelites were certain that "All that the LORD hath spoken we will do." But, we read in Exodus 32: 1 – 8 what happened a few days after,
Exodus 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
Exodus 32:2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
Exodus 32:3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
Exodus 32:4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
Exodus 32:5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.
Exodus 32:6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
Exodus 32:7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
Exodus 32:8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
Notice how quickly and easily the Israelites compromised truth in their worship. Notice how quickly they adopted the local culture and this turned them away from the true God. The passages (vss. 1, 4) in which the people are said to have asked Aaron to make gods for them and then praised these objects as the gods who brought them out of Egypt. But we also have verse 5, in which Aaron refers to the impending festival as "a festival to the Lord" (NIV), literally Yahweh. Taken together, all this suggests that at least some of the people thought that while still honoring Yahweh they could have gods similar to those of their neighbors. They would have this riotous pagan (sexual) orgy, but by dedicating it to the Lord, they would somehow make it acceptable to God. So, what we really observe in these passages is not so much open apostasy as it is syncretism. The Israelites and Jews struggled with this throughout their whole history. Other examples are the attraction the people and kings of ancient Israel had with the Asherahs, the Balls, and Baal worship.
More recently, religious syncretism can be seen in such religious systems as the New Age, Hinduism, Unitarianism, and Christian Science. These religions are a blending of multiple different belief systems, and are continually evolving as the philosophies of mankind rise and fall in popularity. According to some scholars, the Western evangelical church has had a fatal attraction to contemporary consumer culture and made a fateful alliance with it. The attractions are not unlike the one like ancient Israel's subtle entanglement with the local pagan cults. Many evangelical Christians, including many postmodern adherents, have seen the power of the gospel dwindle in their lives and their churches because they have gone whoring after the false gods of spiritual and material consumption. Just as the ancient worshipers at Jewish shrines could not differentiate between worship of the one God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and local fertility rites, contemporary Christians frequently fail to distinguish between worship as self-surrender and as self-gratification.
Because of how subtle it is, syncretism is very deceptive. You can think you are worshiping God, when in truth you are far from doing that. The problem with Syncretism is that it relies on the whim of man, not the standard of Scripture. A "Thus saith the Lord" is replaced with "I think…" or "I believe…" We adopt things that seem harmless and even useful, but are not according to God's will. These things eventually open the door to more syncretism, thus leading farther from the truth. We hear: "there is nothing wrong with that," "it is just a different style," "a little bit will not hurt," "you are just closed minded," or, "you are old fashion." Sadly, God is never consulted about what He prefers and pleases Him. Perhaps the greatest evidence that syncretism is not of God, is that those who participate in it are not converted. If anything syncretism encourages and rationalizes Sin, while claiming closeness to God. Oh, that we allow the Lord to open our eyes. Only, God can protect us from the trap of syncretism. Will we allow Him?