Iron Sharpens… March 27, 2020

read-this-before-you-make-a-knifeIn the late ‘90s, when I was the associate pastor here at BRBC ->WOGF, we took the whole church through an intensive gifts discovery program.  During that process my primary gift was identified as “faith” rather than teaching, and that conclusion was buttressed by the fact that my faith was actually strengthened and sharpened throughout my public school and public university experience.  Of course, that’s all to God’s glory; I have nothing about which to boast!

I bring it up because I keep seeing articles about how we as churches aren’t equipping our kids to deal with the stuff they see on the internet and hear in college.  (Upwards of 80% are walking away during those years.) And it’s true I didn’t have the internet when I was in college, but I did hear all the same arguments against Christianity, the same assumptions that we would put away fairy-tales now that we were at university.  And yes, my faith never wavered…. But I wonder now if it was not as much a spiritual gift so much as that I came from an era when we were taught to think.  Beloved, belief in Jesus is a matter of faith.  The exclusivity of our belief in Jesus, which is the primary line of attack the enemy uses, is only logical.  Consider this overview of the argument from a Giesler lecture:   

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (by Christian Post reporter Jessica Martinez)  – Evangelical scholar and Southern Evangelical Seminary co-founder Norman Geisler spoke on the pluralistic aspect of Christianity at the school’s 20th annual Christian Apologetics Conference last weekend and answered the question of whether there are several ways to God.

Religious pluralism is the belief that all religions are true and that all faith-based roads lead to heaven.  Geisler focused his message on the Biblical passage of Acts 4:12, which states that salvation is only found in Jesus Christ and no one else.

“Jesus is the only way because the Bible says it to be true,” said Geisler. “Why? Because only He can bridge the gap between God and man; there’s no other way.”

He said that, although it seems narrow to suggest that Jesus is the only way, the notion holds true while adding that it is logically possible, historically probable, biblically necessary and morally justifiable that He is the only way to heaven.

“All views can’t be true because all views are opposite; this is the logical aspect. For example, Islam says we are good in nature; Christianity says we are born in sin. Islam says God is a man; Christianity says He is more than a man, He is God, all truths can’t be the same,” said Geisler.

Historically speaking, Geisler said Jesus is proven to be the only way to God because Christianity is a form of exclusivism, meaning the belief that only one religion is true and others opposed to it are false. He emphasized that the Bible has been the world’s bestselling book, and that Jesus has the most followers in the world compared to other religious figures. In addition, he noted that Jesus’ principles have been admired by people, including non-Christians, for many years.

“Only Jesus has prophecies made hundreds of years in advance made literally true. Only He did miracles. Only His immediate followers claimed He died and rose from the dead, so in comparison, He comes out superior to other great religious leaders,” said Geisler.

The SES co-founder also said that any person who believes in the Bible needs to believe that Jesus is the only way because the Bible itself mandates all of God’s followers to uphold its teachings.

Regarding moralism, he said there are several moral objections that exist regarding Jesus as the only way to God, including the view that Christianity as an exclusive religion is unjust. However, Giesler said everyone has the light of God, the general revelation in nature and in conscience, to know that His truth is morally righteous.

“Pluralism is denied logically, inclusivism is denied scripturally, and that leaves us with exclusivism… You have to know that Jesus died and believe in it in order to be saved,” said Giesler.

Beloved, we have to teach our kids (and ourselves) to think logically and then we have to teach them this type of logic.  Yes, it’s important that they love Jesus and it’s important that they know Scripture but, if they can’t think, don’t send them to college or even let them surf that web unsupervised.  I’m dead serious! 

Feelings are fine for love songs and poetry, but they are too easily manipulated to be in the driver’s seat of our lives.  – Jeremiah 17:9

Pastor Scott – post-pandemic thoughts

Pandemic Thoughts – March 20, 2020

CovidLike you, I’ve been a little obsessed with the news these last few weeks.  And, also like you, perhaps, I find myself a little fearful (nervous) for my older loved ones, not to mention the stock and job market!  I am also a little skeptical that we are treating this event SOOOO much bigger than anything in my lifetime; and a little curious if there isn’t some eschatological ramification here that we may be missing.  As I interact with other believers online and personally, I gather we all have some mix of fear, skepticism, and end-times curiosity.  

I think we’ll deal with the fear/worry component on Sunday.  The skepticism component is a luxury of a democracy, but at the end of the day we are responsible to obey God by submitting to the governing authorities; if they are playing political games they will answer to God.  So what about a sign of His coming?

This pandemic brings together two threads for prophecy watchers:  

#1) In Matthew 24 Jesus predicts the times getting worse and worse; both in terms of persecution and natural disasters.  Paul in Romans 8:22 calls them birth pains, and this Novel Coronavirus appears to be a massive contraction. But in Matthew 24 it peaks with the Abomination of Desolation – which, from Daniel, we know will occur in the middle of the Tribulation (and I take the position that the Church will be raptured before at least 3.5 years before that event).  So thought #1 – the contractions seem to be getting bigger and therefore the rapture is getting closer!

#2) In Revelation we see that the world is under one government.  As the nations appear to be uniting to fight this virus and especially as there has been talk about how cash could be a means of transmission…  many prophecy watchers see the ground being laid for the Antichrist, his government, and his mark. Thought #2 – the Antichrist is an adult when the Great Tribulation starts and technology is in place; the Rapture could be the event that launches him to power…. It’s getting closer.  🙂

Even as the end gets nearer, let’s remember that the Biblical injunction is to look for our “blessed hope!”  Let’s keep our eyes and our thoughts on Jesus….  Who is always near to us!

Pastor Scott

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace” – March 13, 2020

1069006This piece, written by Matt Smethurst of TGC on March 12, 2020, has already been re-posted a number of times,  I thought it was worth re-posting here:

It’s now clear that COVID-19 is a deadly serious global pandemic, and all necessary precautions should be taken. Still, C. S. Lewis’s words—written 72 years ago—ring with some relevance for us. Just replace “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus.”

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

— “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays

Clarification – March 6, 2020


On Sunday, March 1, I preached on the Baptism and Temptation of Jesus.  For some reason (and yes, I have a few guesses), I was pretty “off my game” during the whole first sub-point of the message.  At one point during my sermon (and yes, I went back to listen), I said that the Jews John was baptizing were saved and, therefore, just needed to have their sins forgiven “like we do.”  Well, I had intended to use a simile there, but I did, indeed, misspeak and use it in the wrong spot. I was trying to distinguish John’s Baptism of Jews looking toward the cross, preparing for the coming Messiah, with ours looking back to the cross, identifying with Christ who died for us.  I’m sorry for any confusion my wrong word choices caused!

Tolkien said in The Hobbit that shortcuts often lead to long delays, and that is also true with trying to find a verbal shortcut!

Please accept my apology!

Pastor Scott