“I Did Not Eat the Sprinkles”

The little 3-year-old Johnny is too cute when faced with the evidence of his actions.  Despite a face full of sprinkles he insists he did not eat any!  He does not budge, he does not blink, he does not flinch while lying. He believes it! 🙂

Delight in Truth will take this opportunity to demonstrate that sin is inherent to human nature from birth, and we are not immune from it even at an age before we can discern between right and wrong.

It is evidently clear that no parent in his or her right mind will instruct their toddler to lie.  Even those without Christ have a moral code which typically includes moral laws against lying; whether they follow those laws is a another matter.

This begs the question… if we do not teach our children to lie how do they learn to lie as early as age 2? Why do they exhibit unholy qualities such as shame, anger, jealousy, and revenge as early as 3 years old?

The answer is that these qualities do not have to be taught, they are inherent to our human nature. For this reason I disagree with many philosophers who along the centuries have taught either that humans are basically good, or humans are neutral, neither bad nor good.

Besides the evidence we see in children who are capable of cruelty and evil acts which have not been specifically taught to them, the Bible also holds that human nature is depraved in the worst possible way.

This depravity begins at birth as Psalm 51:5 tells us “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (NIV).  The LORD declares in Genesis 8:21 “every inclination of [man’s] heart is evil from childhood.” And specifically for lying, Psalm 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies”

And this continues into adulthood as Paul teaches in Romans 7:18 “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”

But I do not want to make a cute little video into a damper for your day… Lets end on a positive note!

Despite our sinfulness and depravity we have the opportunity to become righteous by faith in Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 2 :4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”  Amen!

Why are Young People Leaving Religion?

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According to the latest data from Pew Forum on Religion, one in five US adults have no religion affiliation, while that figure rises one in three young adults who consider themselves part of the “nones.”  Nones are now a group that encompass atheists, agnostics, skeptics and open theists.

One in three!!! These are staggering statistics!

At the same time, NPR published an interview with six young people who have abandoned their religion, and I will paste some highlights here:

Miriam Nissly, 29, was raised Jewish and considers herself Jewish with an “agnostic bent.” She loves going to synagogue.

“I find the practice of sitting and being quiet and being alone with your thoughts to be helpful, but I don’t think I need to answer that question [about God] in order to participate in the traditions I was brought up with.”

Yusuf Ahmad, 33, raised Muslim, is now an atheist. His doubts set in as a child with sacred stories he just didn’t believe

“Like the story of Abraham — his God tells him to sacrifice his son. Then he takes his son to sacrifice him, and he turns into a goat. Today if some guy told you that ‘I need to sacrifice my son because God told me to do it,’ he’d be locked up in a crazy institution.”

Kyle Simpson, 27, raised Christian. He has a tattoo on the inside of his wrist that says “Salvation from the cross” in Latin.

“It’s a little troublesome now when people ask me. I tell them and they go, ‘Oh, you’re a Christian,’ and I try to skirt the issue now. They go, ‘What does that mean?’ and it’s like, “It’s Latin for ‘I made a mistake when I was 18.’

“I don’t [believe in God] but I really want to.

“I think having a God would create a meaning for our lives, like we’re working toward a purpose — and it’s all worthwhile because at the end of the day we will maybe move on to another life where everything is beautiful. I love that idea.”

Melissa Adelman, 30, raised Catholic

“I remember a theology test in eighth grade where there was a question about homosexuality, and the right answer was that if you are homosexual, then that is not a sin because that’s how God made you, but acting upon it would be a sin. That’s what I put down as the answer, but I vividly remember thinking to myself that was not the right answer.”

Rigoberto Perez, 30, raised as Seventh-day Adventist

“While I was younger, my father drank a lot. There was abuse in the home. My brother committed suicide in 2001. So at some point you start to say, ‘Why does all this stuff happen to people?’ And if I pray and nothing good happens, is that supposed to be I’m being tried? I find that almost kind of cruel in some ways. It’s like burning ants with a magnifying glass. Eventually that gets just too hard to believe anymore.”

Lizz Reeves, 23, raised by a Jewish mother and a Christian father. She lost a brother to cancer.

“I wanted so badly to believe in God and in heaven, and that’s where he was going. I wanted to have some sort of purpose and meaning associated with his passing. And ultimately the more time I spent thinking about it, I realized the purpose and meaning of his life had nothing to do with heaven, but it had to do with how I could make choices in my life that give his life meaning. And that had a lot more weight with me than any kind of faith in anything else.”

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What do all these young people have in common?  Their answers prove how ineffective formal religion is at addressing their need for a Savior.  They have all been exposed to empty religious practice which can never save.  Even the four who had contact with Christianity do not mention the center of Christianity: Jesus Christ.

Everything in their universe is focused on themselves.  They are the authors of their future and no one will stand in their way.

They have tried to find answers in religion and they could not.  Now they will attempt to find answers in the philosophy, meditation, and human wisdom.  They will fail with these as well…

Until they find “the folly” of the cross, and the Savior who was crucified on it.

1 Corinthians 1:21-25 “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”

End-of-Life Comfort Care is not Euthanasia

Euthanasia or physician induced suicide is drastically different from comfort care in the final days or weeks of someone’s life.

Here are some clarifications:

Euthanasia – the intentional physician induced killing of a person for his/her alleged benefit.  The physician ensures that the act is not “botched,” and is typically done by physician or nurse-administered lethal injection.  This is currently legal in a some countries but it is illegal in all the States in the Union.

Physician aid in Dying (PAD) or assisted suicide – here the physician prescribes the lethal injection while the patient self-administers it.  Some form of this practice is legal in Oregon, Washington and Montana.

End-of-Life Comfort Care or Hospice Care – the palliation or alleviation of symptoms at the end of life for terminally ill patients.  The physical goal here is to treat pain and respiratory distress using narcotics which ease the dying process.  Emotional and spiritual care are typically a part of hospice as well.

I have made the argument (here) that euthanasia (and suicide assisted in any way) is a crime against God because we do not have the right to give or take life.  But it is important to realize that comfort care given to a patient who has arrived in the final stages of illness is NOT an assisted suicide.  Comfort care is a compassionate act aimed at making physical and emotional pain manageable in the last few hours to weeks of life.

What about administering narcotics like morphine or fentanyl to patients with end-stage illness?  Doesn’t that directly lead to the patient’s demise?

The answer is NO.  They help ease the patient’s passing, and they are not meant to actually kill him.  The disease pathology ultimately causes the patient’s demise.

As pneumonia or airway complications are usually the final road to passing in many terminally ill patients, the narcotics used in comfort care also help in alleviating the respiratory distress that can become a problem in the last day or two of life.

Anyone who watched a loved one pass away from terminal illness can probably attest that comfort care is almost a polar opposite to euthanasia.

Our God is a God of love, mercy and compassion.  His children must demonstrate and practice these communicable attributes we have received from Him. Compassionate care for terminally ill is in line with these godly attributes.  I do not think it is a stretch to apply this verse to the goal of comfort care at the end of our patients’ lives:

“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Cor 1:3-4

Is Human Free Will Really Free?

Which pill will you swallow?

Which doctrine will you embrace?

The one which teaches that God is sovereign in all details including the deepest crevices of the human soul?  Or the teaching that human free will is ultimately responsible for our decision to follow Christ?

I would argue using the Bible that for believers, their freedom and free will is hidden in God’s sovereignty.  Paul tells Christians in Colossians 3:3: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  Discussing the “when” this happens is a matter of technicality… we know that from God’s perspective the past, present and future matter not.  From His point of view, which ultimately is the only point of view of importance, our choices, our decisions, and final outcomes are hidden with Christ in Him.

When it comes to free will, I believe that absolute human free will is not found on the pages of the Bible.  But interestingly, human responsibility is found on every page of the Bible.  If absolute free will were found in the Bible, then we would also find our ability to NOT sin.  If a man or woman had absolute freedom of choice, they should be able to choose to NOT sin!  But sadly this is not the case.

There is a multitude of biblical texts showing that while unregenerated by the Holy Spirit, we are enslaved to sin, captured and bound by our sinful nature, and the only freedom we have IS to sin.  Any attempt to rid ourselves of sin is unsustainable.  That is biblical truth.  Then how can anyone say that they have absolute free will?

I personally know people who live in sin and cannot stop sinning even though they know the depravity of their actions.  They know the truth to a large degree.  Paul tells us in Romans 1 that such people know the truth but they are suppressing it.   No matter how much these people want to give up sin in theoretical terms, they are unable to do it.  They do not have the absolute freedom to do it because they are not free.  They are chained.  Their will is not free at all.

What the children of God have is not an absolute free will but a will that is subordinate to God.  Paul teaches this in Philippians 2:13 “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  And the previous verse implicates the human responsibility: “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…”

Our free will is subordinate to God’s sovereignty while maintaining personal human responsibility.

So, the next time you think that your own freedom of choice lifted you out of sin and unto salvation, meditate on our incontestable inability to break the chain of sin on our own.

This is the mystery of all ages, the way God the Father draws his children unto Him through the work of God the Holy Spirit, all made possible by the death and resurrection of God the Son.  And to see that He found it appropriate to reveal to us this great mystery of salvation makes us stand in awe.

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An Approach to the Problem of Evil

The so called “problem of evil” is a favorite among Philosophy 101 professors in attacking the faith in an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.  If God is all-powerful and all-good, then why does evil exist?  Their argument points out that the existence of evil cannot be reconciled with the existence of such God.  This “problem” argues that God is either not all powerful and therefore is unable to stop evil, or He is not all good and therefore He allows or even causes evil.  This argument is nothing more than a philosophical weapon in the armamentarium of depraved humans “who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18).

Here is how pastor Voddie Baucham approaches this question, in an entertaining but powerful way.  Enjoy 🙂