Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Questions from Teens (Part 2 - Other People in Genesis)

Today's teenage question is the following:

"In Genesis, when Cain is sent away to other people, who are the other people. I thought Adam and Eve were the first people created."

This question is not only posed by teens but it is a question among many adults. The question, however, is slightly off from Scripture but even in focus it poses the same inquiry. The passage being referred to here is Genesis 4:16-17 which says:

Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ge 4:16–17.]

The question more accurately should read "Where did Cain get his wife from?". The passage does not say that Cain is sent away to other people. It has just been an assumption that Cain had to get his wife from "another people" group. Keep in mind the question arises out of an assumption. This is an important question to answer because it is a key passage that many attempt to discredit the Scriptures from. Therefore, we must make sure we are not making any assumptions and we must know what Scripture says.

In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we see that God created Adam. This creation is the the first man on the planet. In these two chapters we don't see the text that states Adam was the first man, however, that statement is in Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 15:45 we see the following:

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), 1 Co 15:45.] (underline emphasis mine)

Therefore, from Scripture, we can understand there were no other men on the face of the Earth before Adam himself. Now, how about women? Scripture tells us in Genesis 3:20 that Eve is the mother of all living.

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ge 3:20.]

We know that Eve was created from the side of Adam (Genesis 2:22-24) and before this event there was no suitable helper like him found.

So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ge 2:20.]

If Scripture says there was no helper comparable to Adam found on Earth and next we see that God created Eve from Adam's side then we can connect Genesis 3:20 [above] to know that there were no others before Adam and Eve. We also know from Scripture that Eve is the mother of all living. Therefore, we can rightly say that ALL mankind started with Adam and Eve. There were no other people groups.

If there were no other people groups then Cain had to marry a relative, probably a sister or niece. For some of you, reading this article just became troublesome because it immediately raises the following question. Does the Bible say that we cannot marry relatives? The answer to that question is yes it does in Leviticus 18:6-18. This law was not given until much later. We also know that Abraham was married to his half sister (Genesis 20:12), some 400 years before the law in Leviticus 18 was given. Another example was Rebekah, Isaac's wife, who was Isaac's second cousin (Genesis 24:15) (also before the law in Leviticus 18).

Inbreeding was not a problem early in the human race because the genetic line was pure. However, because of Adam's sin, God cursed the world and everything began to decay. Therefore, God established the law in Leviticus 18 to prohibit incest when the genetic decay started to become a problem.  

We also know that in Genesis chapter 5 that Adam had other sons and daughters and he lived 930 years. There was probably a decent selection of girls that Cain could have chosen for a wife. To focus only on Scripture to answer this question they would have all had to be relatives.

Make sure we know how to answer these questions because these are key passages to those who desire to discredit Scripture.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Monday, October 25, 2010

Questions from Teens (Part 1 - Evolution)

As we begin our series "Questions from Teens" we are going to start off with a very tough question. Yes, this is a question from a teenager. This is not the typical question that you would normally hear but it illustrates an important element of what teens face and think about. When you read it, ask yourself how you would answer it.

"Are evolution and Christianity compatible? Are there alternatives to neo-Darwinian evolution in the realm of evolutionary theory?"

First, I want to ask is how a high school student is asking about evolution and neo-Darwinian evolution. To answer, understand that our teens are faced with these subjects starting in middle school and reinforced throughout high school. Some of these terms may not look familiar to you so we are going to define them.

The first term we are familiar with but we must understand there are different facets of the term. In light of the question we will narrow the subject to human evolution and define it from The Encyclopedia of Christianity.

Human Evolution: A very large field that can only be mentioned here is the history of human evolution, which studies the emergence of the human species among the other primate species. This field, which brings together primatology, paleontology, anthropology, genetics, and molecular biology, offers new ways to describe the relationship between humans and other animals.
Even this brief sketch of the range of sciences that deal with evolution indicates that evolution is today one of the most critical and fruitful ideas governing our understanding of human life and thought. Evolutionary science confronts philosophy, ethics, and theology with a formidable range of deeply significant issues. [Erwin Fahlbusch and Geoffrey William Bromiley, vol. 2, The Encyclopedia of Christianity (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill, 1999-2003), 230.]

The next term we will deal with is a rather new term and we will get the definition from the Concise Oxford Dictionary.

Neo-Darwinian Evolution:  Biology relating to the modern version of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, incorporating the findings of genetics. [Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).]

One doesn't hear too much about the second defined term, however, it is something we need to be aware of. Neo-Darwinian Evolution takes the standard evolutionary theory to the next level. Darwin's original theory was presented before the discovery of genetics. This discovery created problems for the theory itself. Therefore, a modified theory was created and is known as the Neo-Darwinian Evolution theory. This new theory adds individual genetic traits transferred to successive generations.  Without getting too involved in the theory's explanation we could add that it includes the differential transmission of alternative gene alleles for species characteristics. These characteristics are passed to the offspring.

If you still have questions in regards to the terms there is plenty of information on the Internet to help see the theories clearly.

Let's answer the questions posed by the teenager. The first question is "Are evolution and Christianity compatible?" My first reply is that evolution does not fit the facts of science. For evolution to be credible science has to support the theory. Look at the following chart from Defending Your Faith by Dan Story:

[Dan Story, Defending Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 146.]

Just the basic elements of evolution cannot be considered factual because the evidence does not support the theory. If we do not have transitional fossils then evolution has a problem. If mutations result in a negative result then evolution has a problem. Thermodynamics and the Anthropic Principle both creates a huge problem for evolution.

Let's look at the second question. "Are there alternatives to the Neo-Darwinian Evolution Theory in the realm of evolutionary theory?"

If the basic elements of evolution are flawed and unsupported by scientific evidence then any building block placed on top of a flawed foundation will also fail. So, the answer to the question is "no".

In summary, I believe the words of Dan Story summarizes it quite well when he said the following:

When all the evidence is in, one fact stands out. Believing in atheistic evolution demands an enormous amount of faith. In fact, in light of the scientific evidence, it takes much greater faith to believe in evolutionism than it does to believe in creationism. Evolution requires us to believe that out of chaos, time, and chance arose order, design, and harmony. It teaches that life came from nonlife, that human ethics and morality came from amorality, that human intelligence came from irrationality. By comparison, creationists look out upon the orderly universe, the design and harmony in nature, human morality and rationality, and see their source in an intelligent, moral, all-powerful, creative God. Which requires the most faith to believe? [Dan Story, Defending Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 150.]

As a student begins to ask questions about what they are learning in school we as parents, ministers, and Christian educators must be ready to understand and discuss the differences between evolution and creationism. Too often we don't have the answer and we don't act like we want to find the answer. Our students and children will see that we don't know and accept the teaching of the evolutionist. Which do you want to happen?

I know that some of you reading this may have adopted the idea of Theistic Evolution (the idea that God started the creative process, and allowed nature to take its course through macroevolution). This post is not designed to answer every element of evolution but to only answer the question posed by the teens. We may discuss the flaws in that theory in the future.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Friday, October 22, 2010

Questions from Teens (Introduction)

Over the next few weeks I want to share with you some of the many questions that teens are asking today. As a matter of fact, the questions that will be posted are questions from my own youth group this year (2010). As I post the question I will also post my answer which will be Biblically based.

I want to take this moment to talk about a staggering statistic that illustrates what happens when teens, who were once involved in church, leave the home. The statistics say that over 60% of teens will leave the church after graduating from High School and entering college. These statistics are not positive on them ever returning.  The question that immediately arises is "why". Why are college students leaving the church at a staggering rate? I believe the answer is very complex but is founded in the fact that we are not answering their questions. First, our families are being torn apart by Satan. He is the father of lies and the Bible tells us that he is a thief who wants to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to destroy the family unit and in the process he wants to remove any "Spiritual" influence from the children.

Families today are in a crisis. Families are dealing with broken homes, a multi-parent workforce, unemployment, debt, and the list goes on. With the high-demand, fast paced, lifestyles that we are living we do not have time to operate as a family unit and therefore offer no Spiritual guidance and assistance to our children. We, in turn, take our children to church hoping the pastor, youth pastor, or Sunday School teacher can change their behavior and lives. We allow the world to influence our children 164 hours a week and hope the remaining 4 hours of "church time" will keep them on track.

Parents, it is time we take the Spiritual responsibility that God has given us (especially fathers) and step up to the plate. We have to answer the "life" questions of our children from a Biblical perspective. If we do not know the answers to the tough questions, we must FIND the answers and be responsible to our children's inquiries. When we do not care to find the answer (Parent, Sunday School teacher, Youth Pastor, or Pastor) then I guarantee the Ph.d professor at the University will offer them an answer. The result is devastating.

So over the next few weeks please allow me to share with you the questions of our teens in today's culture. I hope you take time to see and understand they have questions that need answers. Also, in the meantime a post I wrote recently certainly draws a connection to this subject. It may be worth reading again.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Characteristics of a Godly Person (Part 3 of 3)

Today is our final look at the Characteristics of a Godly Person using Psalm 1:1-3 as a guide. We have already explored the first two verses so now we will jump on the last verse.

Psalm 3:3 states: "He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper." [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ps 1:3.]

This is an interesting verse to compare the characteristics of a Godly person against. We have to remember up to this point that the characteristics of a Godly person included following God's ways and desiring time in God's Word. Now, verse three illustrates the result of the first two verses. This person shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. He shall bring forth fruit in his season and he shall prosper.

A person who desires God's Will and Word for his life, the Bible says, shall be prosperous. Whatever he does (because his desire is God's desire) shall prosper. Keep in mind here that the prosperous part is directly related to a life overflowing with God's desire. God, therefore, will grant the desires and actions of a godly man because he is controlled by God's law. So, if a person studies and meditates on God's Word he should have godly actions. Those actions will prosper because it is what God wanted to begin with.

It is always exciting that God gives us the standard where we can measure ourselves against. Are we prosperous as a result from following God and His Word?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Monday, October 18, 2010

Characteristics of a Godly Person (Part 2 of 3)

Today we are going to look at verse two in this three part series of the Characteristics of a Godly Person.

Psalm 1:2 states: But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ps 1:2.]

We can say that verse one spoke about not being under the influence of ungodly people. This second verse follows by instructing us as to what we need to be under the influence of. We need to delight in the law of the Lord. We need to read, study, and meditate on the Word of God. The word delight in this verse gives us a key to studying God's Word. Delight essentially means to look forward to or to desire. We will not truly study God's Word unless we desire to study His Word.

I am not a big fan of "reading the Bible in a year" type of programs because I don't feel that reading large quantities each day gives you ample time to study and learn. There is a difference between reading to achieve time\quantity goals and studying. Too many times we find ourselves reading to achieve the quantity goals. We read two or three chapters because that is what today's reading guide told us to read and we miss the truths that the Scripture is trying to teach us. We need to take a different approach to God's Word. We need to study it. We need to slowly spend time in a handful of verses each day and seek God's direction on how to apply them to our lives.

When we spend time in God's Word it becomes alive and deals with issues we are facing. Experiencing God's Word within our own lives brings excitement and draws us closer to the Father. That draw essentially becomes our delight. When we begin to experience God's Word we desire it day and night. Our influence needs to be from God's Word.

Another characteristic of a Godly person is that he or she loves spending time in His Word. Who are following today?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Characteristics of a Godly Person (Part 1 of 3)

I was listening to a message the other day on a CD and the individual challenged the listener to read Psalm 1 and determine the characteristics of a Godly person. In reading the first three verses of the passage I believe we can summarize what a Godly person should look like. I have broke the three verses into three different posts. Here is verse 1.

Psalm 1:1 states "Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;" [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ps 1:1.]

Just this one verse has three different examples of someone who is considered to be blessed. The way this verse is setup is that there are three different parallels of the same subject and they intensify the expression of the message.

First, do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. In other words, do not be influenced by ungodly people. Do not be taken in by those who mock Christianity. If others are living their lives in rebellion to God, then don't be a part of it. Your lifestyle need not to be the picture of a dead end road. God has given you abundant life and you need to live a life of hope because He has given that to you.

This verse also tells us not to sit in the seat of the scornful. It is too easy to hang out with others who laugh at the mockery of Christianity. When God saved you, He set you apart for a purpose. That purpose is to glorify the Father. Your life should look different than before you were saved. When others scorn Christianity then you need to take a stand and not give your vote of acceptance by your silence.

Verse 1 is essentially saying that to be a Godly person you have to live a life that is different than the world. You cannot do this on your own but only through the blood of Christ. If He has saved you, then your life should look different than the world. My prayer is that you desire to be more like Christ everyday.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What are you doing here?

I spent some time this week reading in 1 Kings chapter 19. If we know anything about Elijah we know the story of the defeat of the 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. That event happens right before this chapter. Immediately in chapter 19 we are taken to a conversation between King Ahab (King of Israel) and his wife Jezebel (who brought Baal worship to Israel). Ahab tells his wife what just happened and she becomes angry. Her immediate response is to threaten to kill Elijah.

Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), 1 Ki 19:2.]

Elijah, the awesome prophet of God, does something quite unexpected. He flees the area. He runs for the hills. This is the prophet who has just witnessed the hand of God against the prophets of Baal. Why would he do such a thing? I believe that we can ask ourselves the same question. If we have been born again why do we fear the threats of this world? Elijah wound up in a cave on the side of Mt. Horeb. It was here the Word of the Lord came to him and said "What are you doing here, Elijah?". I believe his response is a lot like ours. He replied that he had been working his heart out and he felt all alone and afraid for his life.

A lot of times we feel alone in this battle. We feel that our decision for the Lord sacrifices friends of whom we desire the attention. We, however, must never forget, the one who loves us the most is always there with us. The one who sacrificed His only Son is whispering our name. It was in that "still small voice" that Elijah reconnected with the Father and was told that he was not alone. God loved him and there were seven thousand others that He had reserved in Israel who had not given in to the Baal worship.

What are you doing here? Are you feeling alone? Reconnect with the Father in Heaven through His Word. Listen for His still small voice. Don't walk through this life without the power of God's Word and the Spirit on your life.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where Have You Been?

Sometimes when we talk we don't think anyone is listening. A pastor friend of mine was talking yesterday about preaching a sermon and not feeling as if it was getting past the pulpit. Talking with a friend of mine today reminded me that I have not posted anything in the last few weeks. Was it because I felt as if no one was listening? No, I think it was because I have been a little busy and out of focus. I must say that it is easy to get sidetracked and let things slip away. Do you ever let things you value as important move to the back burner of life?

I do feel that this platform is important in helping others connect better to our Heavenly Father. However, sometimes I let it slide to the lower position of priorities. That is a lot like our Christian faith. Sometimes we let life get in the way. Before you know it, you have sacrificed your daily worship for the "busy" of the day. I wonder how our Heavenly Father feels when we neglect our time with Him. I am reminded of a verse in Acts which says:

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25

Paul and Silas were not in the best of circumstances. As a matter of fact, they were in the center of the jail-house, chained and locked away. If I would have been there, I would have been singing the blues. Paul and Silas, however, were singing hymns. They were in direct communication and communion with the Father. They did not see their circumstances as being such to distract them from their worship. Their love for God was the sole reason they were put away, and they knew that He would take care of them. Do you think the Father heard their prayers and songs of praise? Absolutely!

When life is unfair or becomes too busy, what do you do? Do you cling to the Father or cry in the shower? We can learn a lot from Paul and Silas. Their feet were in the stocks but they still went before the heavenly throne. They were locked in the center of prison but they sang from the pinnacle of their hearts. Their focus was always on the Father, no matter what the circumstances. The result of their actions was a very attentive prison population and a saved family. As a matter of fact, you may never know who is listening or watching. We must always be about the Father's business. It may change a life.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson