READING: WHERE TO START http://olivetonline.com/blog/rss The Death of Truth http://olivetonline.com/blog/the-death-of-truth/ <p><strong>The Death of Truth</strong></p> <p>It all over social media, television and most news outlets the growing concern over “fake news.” There are articles written with concerns about whether the President, congress, news media outlets are actually telling the truth.  I agree that it is deeply concerning when you wonder is anybody telling the truth. Sadly, it has almost become a joke for the media to complain about people not telling the truth.</p> <p>How did we get here?  The simple answer is we no longer live in a Christian nation that affirms a Biblical worldview.  We have replaced a Biblical worldview with a secular worldview. The foundational truth of a belief in God has been rejected culturally and now replaced by a secular materialistic view that says truth is basically how you see it or feel about it. In April of 1966 Time Magazine asked the question of our culture, “Is God Dead?” and now in April of this year they are asking the question “Is Truth Dead?” The logic is right on: a culture that rejects God also rejects objective truth. No God, No objective truth.</p> <p>Let me clarify. I am not saying that secularists/atheists/materials cannot be moral or believe  in truth.  In fact, they can be and many are very moral and truthful people.  In fact, there are people who affirm a Biblical worldview who are not moral and not truthful.  What I am saying is that when one rejects God and embraces secularism, one rejects objective moral truth.  Truth becomes relative: it is simply your opinion.</p> <p>James Emery White  in his 2016 blog called “A Post-Truth World” writes:</p> <p>          Oxford's 2016 Word of the Year has just been announced, and it is equally reflective of our    day: "Post-Truth." "It is defined as an adjective relating to      <br>          circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals."</p> <p>          Yes, it was born out of the recent political season that led to the U.K.'s "Brexit" vote and the    U.S. presidential election of Donald Trump. But it's actually<br>          been long in the making.</p> <p>          A few years back we called it "truthiness," as inserted into our lexicon through the Comedy  Central television network, and specifically through the premiere of  <br>          The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert:</p> <p>               ‘And that brings us to tonight's word: truthiness. Now I'm sure some of the Word Police, the wordanistas over at Webster's, are gonna say, "Hey, that's not  <br>               a word." Well, anybody who knows me knows that I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They're elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn't true, or <br>               what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that's my right. I don't <br>               trust books. They're all fact, not heart.’</p> <p>The idea behind "truthiness" is that actual facts don't matter. What matters is how you feel, for you - as an individual - are the final arbiter of truth. "Truthiness" is the bald assertion that we are not only to discern truth for ourselves from the facts at hand, but create truth for ourselves despite the facts at hand.</p> <p>It seems to me that you cannot have it both ways. If you want to affirm post-truth in which objective facts are less influential than emotional appeals then you have undermined objective truth.  If our culture is going to affirm post-truth then how can anyone be held accountable for what they say because they may simply be telling their version or feeling about the truth? In many cases,  our culture would say the loving thing to do is to not affirm that which we know is  objectively true as true but instead affirm that which is purely subjective and not based in truth.  Our culture defends a secular post-truth reality and then complains if people don’t tell the truth.  That is the problem with secularism: THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE TRUTH. (Sorry about being so redundant).</p> <p>So here is the question? What is truth? Truth is what matches reality, truth corresponds to the facts, truth tells it like it is and matches its object. This has been called the correspondence theory of truth. The idea is simple: If I say, “I am writing with a pencil” that is only true if I am indeed writing with a pencil.  This is by far the most common understanding of the nature of truth and has left the strongest mark on evangelical theology. The correspondence idea of truth has not only been the foundation of evangelical theology but of western thought and this is what is at stake.  The foundation of what we have known as western civilization.</p> <p>White closes his blog:</p> <p>                  But this is precisely what we seem to be losing, and at risk is our sense of revelation itself.</p> <p>This is, to be sure, the heart of the matter. It's the idea that truth exists, and that it stands above human experience. It judges human experience. Truth is, by its very nature, transcendent. It exists independent of our acknowledgment of it, much less our obedience to it. To deny this is to live in not simply a "truthy" world, but a "post-truth" world.</p> <p>But it's not simply that "objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals." It's that we deny the existence of objective truth itself, and make emotion our authority.</p> <p>Yet even a skeptic as hardened as Sigmund Freud had to maintain that if "it were really a matter of indifference what we believed, then we might just as well build our bridges of cardboard as of stone, or inject a tenth of a gramme of morphia into a patient instead of a hundredth, or take tear-gas as a narcotic instead of ether."</p> <p>The bottom line is that truth matters.  Not just your truth or my truth but objective truth.  We need God’s truth.  Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 (NIV). It is only when we embrace the objective truth of the Gospel that we will find real freedom and the life we were created to live. </p> <p>This is why the Biblical worldview matters. I want to encourage you to lovingly live and stand for the truth.  Live in such a way that “the Truth” Jesus himself shines through you.</p> <p>Look forward to seeing you Sunday.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources:</p> <p>James Emery White  “A Post-Truth World”,  November 28, 2016   <a href="http://www.churchandculture.org/Blog.asp?ID=10940">http://www.churchandculture.org/Blog.asp?ID=10940</a></p> <p> Norman L. Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe, Reasons For Belief, (Grand Rapids: Bethany House</p> <p>     Publishing, 2013) 16-17.</p> Mon, 27 Mar 2017 11:04:10 -0500 http://olivetonline.com/blog/the-death-of-truth/ Help! I'm Reading Joshua http://olivetonline.com/blog/help-im-reading-joshua/ <p>As a part of our series in Joshua “Possessing Your Future” I challenged those who were not currently in a daily Bible reading plan to read through the book of Joshua in the month of January.  I am excited to see that so many people took up that challenge.  The other thing I am excited about is the number of questions people have asked me about the book.  The number one question is “What about the violence of the conquest?” “What does this say about the Bible?” “What does this say about God?”</p> <p>This is one of the big questions that we need to answer if we are going to take the Bible seriously.  This is also a topic that many skeptics and especially the New Atheist’s like to use to characterize God as a genocidal maniac.  The first thing I would say is that many skeptics and New Atheists like Richard Dawkins intentionally mispresent the Bible  in order to characterize God in an inaccurate way. </p> <p>On Youtube there are two very brief videos.  One called “Scary Mary” which takes brief scenes from the Disney classic “Mary Poppins” and frames it in a way that make you think it was a horror movie.( <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T5_0AGdFic">Scary Mary</a>) . There is also a version called “If Frozen Were a Horror Film” that takes the Disney classic “Frozen” and does the same thing. The video shows brief pictures of the movie but frame it in such a way that is misrepresents the real picture. (<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eD2UpdhbwA">Scary Frozen</a>)  That is exactly what many skeptics do when they talk about the Bible. In fact, if you want a real in depth look at this subject there are two books you need to check out.  One, Is God A Moral Monster?  by Paul Copan and  two,  DidGod Command Genocide? by Paul Copan.</p> <p>I want to take a brief look at this question in relationship to reading the book of Joshua.  When you read the book of Joshua one has to remember it is about the conquest.  This is God leading the people of Israel under the leadership of Joshua to enter the land that has been promised all the way back to the time of Abraham.  Here are some things to remember.  (This is a brief summary of part of the ninth chapter of Jonathan Morrow’s book Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority):</p> <p><strong>     1.  The Conquest was unique, geographical and temporally limited and not to be repeated.</strong></p> <p> Morrow quotes OT Scholar Christopher Wright on the subject.  It is a long quote but it is worth the read:</p> <p>“The conquest was a single episode within a single generation out of all the many generations of Old Testament history. Of course, it spans a longer period than that if one includes the promise and then completion. The conquest of Canaan was promised to Abraham, anticipated as the purpose of the exodus, delayed by the wilderness rebellion, accomplished under Joshua, and brought to provisional completion under David and Solomon. Even including all this, though, it was limited in the specific duration of the warfare involved. Although the process of settling and claiming the land took several generations, the actual invasion and destruction of key fortified cities took place mostly within a single generation. And it is this event, confined to one generation, which constituted the conquest…Some…other wars also had God’s sanction—especially those where Israel was attacked by other nations and fought defensively to survive. But by no means are all the wars in the Old Testament portrayed in the same way as the conquest of Canaan. Some were clearly condemned as the actions of proud and greedy kings or military rivals. It is a caricature of the Old Testament to portray God as constantly on the warpath or to portray it as ‘typical’ of the rest of the story…So the conquest of Canaan, as a unique limited historical event, was never meant to be model for how all future generations were to behave toward contemporary enemies.”</p> <p>     <strong>2.  Genocide and ethnic cleansing are inaccurate terms for the conquest of Canaan.</strong></p> <p>The Canaanites embraced idolatry, incest, temple prostitution, adultery, homosexuality and bestiality (Leviticus 18:24-25; 20: 22-24; Deuteronomy 9: 5; 12: 29-31).  While they embraced all kinds of sexual immorality they also embraced the deplorable practice of child sacrifice.</p> <p>God had given them 430 years to change their ways but their wickedness finally reached a point where God chose to bring judgement upon them.  Therefore, the Bible pictures the actions of the Israelites in the category not of oppression but of divine punishment operating through human agency.  Old Testament scholar Christopher Wright notes that God as the creator of life has the right to take a life.  While Israel carried out this judgement against the Canaanites their actions were not out of hatred or ethnic superiority.  The bottom line is that God brought judgement on the Canaanites after 430 years of patiently waiting for them to repent.  The judgment was based on their idolatry not their ethnicity.</p> <p>Also, Remember Joshua 2 when Rahab the prostitute who was not Jewish, goes to the Israelite leaders and says I have heard of the great power your God has shown and if me and my family help you will you show us mercy.  She is true to her word and God through the Israelites shows her and her family mercy.  Dr. Barry Leventhal  a messianic Jew who is a professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary points out that we do not know how many times this type of mercy may have played out throughout the time of the conquest.      </p> <p><strong>     3.  The conquest should be read against the backdrop of God’s promise of blessing for all the nations.</strong></p> <p>God decided that his plan of redemption for the world would come through one nation.  Paul Copan states, “National Israel was established by God to help set the religious, cultural and historical context for the saving work of Jesus the Messiah later in history. The ultimate goal is nothing less than God’s salvation being brought to all nations and seeing his righteous rule finally established.”  Therefore, God divinely protected the nation because through them the Messiah would come.  The conquest was one way that God worked to bring the opportunity of salvation to the whole world.</p> <p>I hope that helps as you continue you Journey through Joshua.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p><em>Sources</em></p> <p><em>Christopher, J. H. Wright, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 2004), 333.</em></p> <p><em>Copan, Paul, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010), 74.</em></p> <p><em>Morrow, Jonathan, 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014), 143-147.</em></p> <p> </p> Thu, 26 Jan 2017 11:05:53 -0600 http://olivetonline.com/blog/help-im-reading-joshua/ Bring My Books http://olivetonline.com/blog/bring-my-books/ <p>Bring My Books</p> <p>I love reading the close of the Pauline epistles.  Usually you have a picture of the close intimate relationships that Paul had with brothers and sisters in Christ who were a part of the early church.  You can sense their heart for the Lord, for each other and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.</p> <p>In II Timothy Paul writes what most believe is his last epistle shortly before his own death at the hands of the Roman emperor Nero. At the close he says to Timothy, “When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers.”  II Timothy 4:13 (NLT).  In the context of this passage many of the brothers and sisters in Christ have left and are in ministry in other places and Paul is in a Roman prison and only Luke is with him.  He encourages Timothy to bring him his books. </p> <p>I picture in my mind Paul alone in this Roman prison not only reading the Old Testament but his books for encouragement.  While nothing compares to the God-breathed, inerrant word of God that we have in the Old and New Testament, Christians still need encouragement from a good book.  I am convinced that reading quality, Biblically-driven theology and worldview material is essential to be an effective follower of Christ in our culture. </p> <p>That is why a couple of times a year I want to give you some suggestions for books that you might check out.  These are books that I think will challenge and encourage you in your walk with Christ given the secular culture in which we live.  Here are some suggestions.</p> <p>Devotional:</p> <p>“Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Donald S Whitney. This is a really good book that lays out some of the classical spiritual disciplines that are essential for spiritual growth.  This is the bookthat we recommend for step one in “The Path” at OBC.</p> <p>“Leading on Empty” by Wayne Cordeiro.  This is the story of Cordeiro going from spiritual burnout to balance.  The book not only emphasizes the importance of balance and spiritual health but it also provides some very practical insights into a meaningful walk with God.</p> <p>Culture:</p> <p>“If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas.  This is a great book that deals with how American liberty is tied to religious liberty.  It is a well written history of how religious liberty is essential to who we are as Americans.  The challenge is for Christians to fight for religious freedom for all.  Even those with whom we disagree.</p> <p>“It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and It’s Enemies” by Mary Eberstadt.  This deals with the many different ways in which our culture and even the courts are oppressing religious liberty.  It is a wake-up call for Christians to be aware that it can actually be dangerous in culture to live out your faith in Christ.</p> <p>Apologetics:</p> <p>“The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth and Love” by Josh and Sean McDowell.  The authors show that the influence of cultural tolerance is leading a generation of people to believe that each person creates his/her own moral truth, there is no universal moral truth and we are intolerant if we do not endorse the behavior and lifestyle choices of others.  This book gives practical insight into how to communicate the truth about the God who created moral truth and how to live out a Biblical view of tolerance to people with whom you disagree.  This is a good book for Christian parents and teenagers.</p> <p>“The Intolerance of Tolerance” by D.A. Carson.  This is an excellent book that defines a Biblical view of tolerance as opposed to how our culture has given a new definition to the term.  He also deals with the how a believer can respond to a culture that in the name of tolerance has become incredibly intolerant to those with whom they disagree.  He gives some valuable insight as to how to live out our faith in a world that would believe that a Biblical worldview is intolerant. </p> <p>“The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” and “Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ” by Rosaria Butterfield.  Rosaria tells her journey from being a tenured English professor at Syracuse University and an outspoken supporter of the LGBT in a same sex relationship to Christ and then the wife of a Reformed Presbyterian Minister with children.  Both of these books are very well written.  Rosaria has the ability to speak compassionately to the cultural confusion about sexuality and sexual identity from a Biblical perspective.</p> <p>Happy reading!!</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> Mon, 19 Dec 2016 13:34:04 -0600 http://olivetonline.com/blog/bring-my-books/ Politicked, Religious Liberty and the Moral Revolution http://olivetonline.com/blog/politicked/ <p><strong>Politicked, Religious Liberty and the Moral Revolution</strong></p> <p>I have had people ask me what I think about the current political climate in the U. S. and the only word that I can come up with is “Politicked.”  I am just “politicked.”  It is amazing to me that on both sides it seems that Americans are not really concerned about character.</p> <p>The truth is I have strong political opinions but as a pastor it does not matter to me if our people are republicans, democrats, independents or whatever group they might identify.  My hope is not in any political party.  Even though I am proud to be an American and very patriotic my hope is not in America.  My hope is in Jesus Christ and His kingdom and His church.  Jesus is our hope.  My ultimate hope and trust is in Him.</p> <p>My prayer as a pastor is that our people would be actively involved in the political process of our democracy but do so with a Biblical worldview.  My hope is that Christians would get involved in the political process and vote from a Biblical worldview with a kingdom agenda.  I believe that we are called to be salt and light.  Honoring Christ and His kingdom should be our agenda.</p> <p>As a pastor, I will speak to moral issues as the Bible speaks to them.  If the Biblical position on a particular moral issue is consistent with a political party or agenda, then it is, but I do not speak on the issue from a political perspective.  I speak on the issue from a Biblical perspective.  I have a responsibility to preach the whole counsel of God.   My prayer is that every believer would know Biblical truth and then live, speak , share and serve from a Biblical and Spirit led conviction.. </p> <p>I will speak to issues related to religious liberty.  Because I am convinced the best way for people to come to know the truth of the Gospel is for people to have the freedom of speech and the freedom to believe.  It is important that we as followers of Christ not only speak up for our right to believe but for the rights of others to believe.  We should even fight for the rights of those who disagree with us because to limit their right of belief will eventually lead to limiting our right to belief.</p> <p>My concern with the new Moral Revolution in our day is not just that I disagree with it but I am amazed at its intolerance of anyone who disagrees.    What I mean by the Moral Revolution is the current LGBT agenda related to marriage, gender and sexuality.  The current climate is that if you do not agree with their agenda than you will suffer the consequences  of not agreeing with their opinion.  There is even a willingness to discriminate against those who hold to traditional views of marriage and sexuality that have been held for centuries.  If you hold to traditional views that have been held for centuries, you are now somehow bigoted, prejudicial and discriminatory.</p> <p>This slippery slope of relativism has far reaching effects.  On April 26, Amanda Prestigiacomo writing for “The Daily Wire “ shared the story of a lawsuit filed by Andrew Cash  who was working on his Masters in Marriage and Family Counselling at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri.  As a part of the program he was to fulfill his mandated face-to-face hours of counselling for the program.  Cash volunteered at Springfield Marriage and Family Institute (SFMI), a Christian organization which he had approved by the college.  The school was aware that it was a Christian organization.</p> <p>Cash arranged for a surrogate of the institute to speak to the class as a part of the project.  The counsellor ended up answering questions concerning gay couples and praying: SFMI prays with those who ask, and refers gay couples to other agencies for marriage and counselling per their religious beliefs.</p> <p>“Boyce (Cash’s supervisor at SFMI) explained SFMI’s Christian-based approach to counselling, and indicated that the Christian value foundation of the counseling practice was well known to anyone who came to seek counseling.  A question was asked if SFMI prays with clients.  Referencing an openly displayed, Bible Boyce said that he would pray with a client upon request.  A student asked if SMFI counsels gay couples.  Boyce said that he would counsel gay persons as individuals, but not as couples, because of his religious beliefs, but would refer the couple for counseling to others counselors he knew who did not share his religious views.”</p> <p>This did not sit well with Cash’s teacher.  Cash was informed by the internship coordinator, Dr. Perrymen, that he was no longer allowed to clock his volunteer hours with SFMI; he was told the hours he has clocked thus far were void; he was forced to audit two classes he has already passed with an “A” grade; he was forced on a “remediation plan” seemingly in an attempt to indoctrinate him to reject the tenants of his Christian faith.  Then finishing off this act of tolerance in November of 2014 Cash was informed by the Dean he was booted from the program.</p> <p>This is amazing to me.  What country are we living in? Basically those pushing the Moral Revolution are saying if you don’t agree and even if you hold views that have been held for centuries you are out.  There is no room to disagree with the Moral Revolution which is now supported by our current political climate.  Listen, we must fight for the right of people like Cash to have their Christian views.  We must fight for the rights of those who do not hold to Christian views.  It is a dangerous world that says you cannot hold a different view or you will be punished.  This is absolutely an issue of religious liberty and all citizens should speak out against it.</p> <p>As followers of Christ, we need to remember that we are involved in Spiritual warfare.  We are not at war with people but we are at war with ideas and ideologies that stand against the truth of God.  Paul said, “Stand firm then (have courage-stand for the truth of the Gospel) with the belt of truth buckled around your waist (stand on the truth of the Word of God) with the breastplate of righteousness in place (stand in Christ’s righteousness… we are in right standing with God because of His grace…we remember we are sinners saved by grace.) Ephesians 6: 14</p> <p>Let’s be a church that will prepare for the Spiritual battle before us with COURAGE-TRUTH AND GRACE.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources:</p> <p>Amanda Prestigiacoma, “Missouri Grad Student Thrown Out of Program For Religious Beliefts,” The<br>Dailywire.  dailywire.com. April 26, 2016.</p> Thu, 12 May 2016 11:28:49 -0500 http://olivetonline.com/blog/politicked/ WORDS OF FAITH MATTER http://olivetonline.com/blog/words-of-faith-matter/ <p><strong>WORDS OF FAITH MATTER<br></strong></p> <p>“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  II Timothy 3:16 (NIV)</p> <p>“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” II Peter 1:20-21 (NIV)</p> <p>The only truth that we know about God is what He has revealed to us.  First, God has revealed himself to us in what is called, “General Revelation.”  The truth that God has revealed Himself to us in creation and our conscience (Psalm 19: 1-4, Romans 1: 18-25, Romans 2: 14-15).  Secondly, God has given us “Specific Revelation.”  This is where we learn what God is like and what He has said in his Word, the Bible.  As Paul says in II Timothy 3:16, Scripture is the very breath of God and has a very important role in our life and faith.  It teaches us what is true, rebukes and corrects us when we are wrong and trains us in right living.  The word of God matters because what we know about God is revealed in his word.</p> <p>While that seems like a very basic understanding for most who claim to follow Christ, there seems to be an interesting and yet frightening shift in our culture among some that would claim a Christian perspective.  Here are three recent events in the news.</p> <p>First, a story from Wheaton college, in December Wheaton college professor Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political Science teacher wore a hajib during Advent to show support of Muslim women who face discrimination.  Then she went on to say on Facebook ,  “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian are people of the book and as Pope Francis stated ,we worship the same God.” </p> <p>The school did not have a problem with her wearing the hajib in solidarity for persecuted Muslim women but they took issue with her statement “we worship the same God.”  Hawkins had signed a statement of faith that all teachers at Wheaton, an evangelical Christian college have to affirm to teach at the school.   The schools theological convictions would not support her statement.  When she refused to change her position the school put her on suspension in December and has recently decided to proceed with plans to fire her over her comments.  Wheaton College put out this statement, “While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path of salvation and the life of prayer.” </p> <p>The truth is that the New Testament and Koran have very different ideas about the person, work and nature of Christ.  In the New Testament Jesus claimed to be God (Mark 2, John 1, 8, 14, etc…) and affirmed his deity through his death and resurrection from the dead.  Jesus made claims like “no one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:4) and  the apostles claimed salvation was in Christ alone all through the book of Acts (Acts 4:12) and the epistles.  Muslims would say that Jesus is a prophet not God and that Jesus did not die on the cross nor was resurrected from the dead.  So while Christians and Muslims are both monotheistic , the words of our faith (New Testament and Koran) have a very different picture of Jesus.  The incarnation, resurrection, trinity and atonement of Christ are all rejected by Islam and yet are at the very heart of what Christians believe and affirm. </p> <p>It seems that Hawkins is affirming the cultural narrative of our day that wants to say that Islam and Christianity are fundamentally the same but superficially different.  The truth is Islam and Christianity are superficially the same and fundamentally different.  Implying they are the same is insulting to both orthodox Christians and orthodox Muslims because it is not taking either worldview seriously. </p> <p>Second, a few weeks ago the Anglican Communion which is made of the worldwide national and regional churches that consider themselves Anglican or Episcopalian,  suspended the U.S. Episcopal Church from full participation in the global body because of its decision to perform same sex marriages.  The U.S Episcopal leaders disagreed with the Communions decision.  Micheal B Curry the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church said they would not change their position, “They basically understand we made our decision, and this is who we are, and we’re committed to being a house of prayer for all.” The right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Dioceses of Washing was strong in her stance and said, “That there is a cost for making decisions that we believe are faithful to the love of Jesus is not a surprise to us.”</p> <p>It is interesting these leaders of the Episcopal Church are taking a position about Jesus and his view of marriage that is in conflict with the very words of Jesus.  What we know of Jesus and what He taught is found in the words of Jesus in the New Testament.  Jesus clearly affirmed the biblical teaching that God’s plan for marriage is a man and women in a complementary covenant relationship for life (Matthew 19:4-6).  This view of marriage is consistent throughout the Old Testament (Genesis 2:24), and the New Testament (the Gospels and Epistles).  This has been the Christian view of marriage from its beginnings and is clearly supported by the words of Jesus. The most loving thing the church can do in our day is to not conform to a secular culture but lovingly proclaim the words of Jesus about marriage.  The church must do so with love, grace and compassion.</p> <p>Third, James Emery White wrote a blog about a recent survey of young adults in Iceland.  In this survey they could not find one young adult who said they believed that God created the earth.  Only 20 years ago 90% of Icelanders claimed they were religious believers and now it is less than 50%. </p> <p>The evangelical Lutheran church is still the state church in Iceland.  In an interview with the Washington Post, Solveig Anna Boasdottir, a professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Iceland, notes that scientific progress has changed religious attitudes in the country. But she said that about 40 percent of the country's younger generation still consider themselves Christian – but none of them believe that God created the Earth. "Theories of science are broadly accepted among both young and old. That does not necessarily affect people's faith in God," she said.</p> <p>So these Icelanders would say, “Yes, I am a Christian but I do not believe in a Creator God.”  This in spite of the fact that the first sentence of the Bible says “in the beginning God created…”  It does not say how he created but it clearly says that GOD IS THE CREATOR.  White points out that they reject the great blend of science and scripture that support the idea of an intelligent designer, the idea of God being the instigator behind the Big Bang or even the idea of theistic evolution.</p> <p>White concludes, “This is a key insight into our day. A growing number of people who espouse Christianity do so only through the lens of a settled secularism … they use secular values and dispositions as the filters through which they embrace their faith.”  Therefore if God’s revelation (Biblical truth) conflicts with perceived human knowledge or secular values then human knowledge and secular values win the day. Christianity becomes whatever secularism will accept.  This is what we see in all three stories. It seems we live in a world where words about faith are more important that the actual words of faith. </p> <p>Therefore as follower of Christ in this secular world, it is vital that we renew our commitment to the reliability and authority of the Word of God.  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV).  Yes, THE WORDS OF FAITH MATTER.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources:</p> <p>Kirkland  An. The Washington Post, “Professor ‘flabbergasted ‘over Wheaton’s plan to fire her over<br>worship comments”  January 6, 2016. https://washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp</p> <p>Washington Post (Colbert King)- The Anglican Communions  un-Christian stance on marriage.  January 15, 2016.</p> <p>James Emery White, blog-“The Secular Christian,” Church and Culture.com.  January 28, 2016.</p> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:38:42 -0600 http://olivetonline.com/blog/words-of-faith-matter/ PROOF #6: THE NEW TESTAMENT IS HISTORICALLY RELIABLE http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-6-the-new-testament-is-historically-reliable/ <p><strong>Proof # 6: THE NEW TESTAMENT IS HISTORICALLY RELIABLE</strong></p> <p>While many Christians would not say it out loud, they have questions about the Bible. There are some who might think the Bible is an intriguing book but still wonder if it can be trusted.   Is it really reasonable to believe this is the authoritative word of God?  Has God revealed Himself in this book?</p> <p>I believe it is very reasonable to answer both of those questions with an emphatic yes.  It is reasonable to believe the bible is the inerrant and authoritative word of God and that God has revealed Himself in Scripture.  Honestly, there is so much evidence to support this truth we cannot deal with it all in this blog.  I will give you some sources that would be good to study further at the bottom of this article.  What I want to do is give you an overview of the material that is found in Chapters 9-12 in Dr. Frank Turek and Dr. Norman Geisler’s book called “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.”</p> <p>One of the first questions asked about the New Testament is “Do we have early testimony about Jesus?”    By piecing together the writings of ancient non-Christian historians like Celsus, Tacticus, and the Jewish Talmud there is a story line that is congruent with the New Testament.  We see that:</p> <ol><li>Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.</li> <li>He lived a virtuous life.</li> <li>He was a wonder-worker.</li> <li>He had a brother named James.</li> <li>He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.</li> <li>He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.</li> <li>He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.</li> <li>Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he died.</li> <li>His disciples believed he rose from the dead.</li> <li>His disciples were willing to die for their belief.</li> <li>Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.</li> <li>His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshipped Jesus as God.  (ch. 9 p. 223)</li> </ol><p>In light of these non-Christian sources and references the theory that Jesus never existed seems very unreasonable and is not supported by any credible historian.  The truth here is that non-Christian sources affirm the New Testament.  It is clear that we have early testimony about Jesus from non-Christian sources that are consistent with what we know about Jesus in the New Testament. </p> <p>One of the important tests of ancient works by historians is the number of copies.  There are almost 6000 handwritten Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.  In addition there are more than 9,000 manuscripts in other languages (e.g. Syriac, Coptic, Latin, Arabic).  Some of the nearly 15,000 manuscripts are complete Bibles.  When you compare the number of manuscripts with other ancient documents the New Testament stands out.  You have almost 6000 copies of the New Testament.  In comparison to other ancient works, we have  643 of Homer, 7 of Plato, 20 of Tacticus and 10 of Ceasar.</p> <p>These manuscripts are very early.  We know that some copies of John 18: 31-33, 37-38 are dated between  AD 117-138.  There are some fragments found with the Dead Sea scrolls that are dated between  AD 50-70.   When you compare the New Testament with other ancient manuscripts the time gap between the original and the first surviving copies stand out.  You have a 25 year time gap with the New Testament.  500 years with Homer, 1200 years with Plato, 1000 years with Tacticus and Ceasar. (ch. 9 pp. 225-227)</p> <p>Is the New Testament historically accurate?  We know 30 of the people in the Gospels are confirmed historical people.  60 confirmed historical facts in John and 80 in the book of Acts.  It is also reasonable to believe that most of the books of the New Testament were written before A.D. 70.  Among other things, this is based on the fact that nothing in the New Testament  is mentioned  about the fall of Jerusalem which happened in AD 70.  Sir. William Ramsey of Oxford regarded as one of the greatest archeologist who ever lived examined the biblical record and concluded that the writers of the bible were historians of first rank, what he found in the archeological evidence alone so overwhelmed him that he became a Christian. Dr. William Albright the late professor of John Hopkins said there can be no doubt that archeology has confirmed the historicity of the bible. </p> <p>In Chapter 11 of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” the authors talk about the top ten reasons we know the New Testament writers told the truth. </p> <ol><li>Embarrassing Details.  The tendency of most authors would be to leave out any details that might put them in a bad light.  Yet in the bible at times the disciples were dim-witted, uncaring, cowards…etc).  If you were making up a story would you include those details?</li> <li>Difficult Sayings.</li> <li>Demanding Sayings</li> <li>The authors distinguished Jesus words from their own.</li> <li>Included events related to the Resurrection they would not have invented.  Things like  the burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea a member of the Sanhedrin…Women being the first witnesses of the Resurrection in all four Gospels because  women in general were not considered to be reliable witnesses in the first century…etc.</li> <li>They include more than thirty historically confirmed people in their writings.</li> <li>They include divergent details.  The fact that the eyewitnesses accounts of events in the Gospel tell the same story but may vary in detail reveals they are truly eyewitnesses.  They did not get together and compare accounts.  Just as two eyewitnesses can see the same events and tell the same story but vary is some details.  This is what we see in the Gospels.</li> <li>The writers challenge their readers to check out the verifiability of the facts, even about the miracles.</li> <li>The writers describe the miracles like other historical events; with simple unblemished accounts.</li> <li>The New Testament writers abandoned their long-held sacred beliefs and practices, adopted new ones, and did not deny their testimony under persecution of threat of death.</li> </ol><p>The truth is there is historical, textual, archeological and testimonial evidence that supports the conclusion that the New Testament is God’s word and is historically reliable.  It is His revealed truth to man.  If you still have questions and want to look further into the sources for this information check out the sources below.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources:</p> <p>Dr. Frank Turek and Dr, Norman Geisler.  “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” Chapters 9-11.</p> <p>Dr. Graig Blomberg. “Can We Still Believe The Bible?”</p> <p>Johnathan Morrow.  “Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority”</p> <p>Dr.  Norman Geisler . “Inerrancy.”</p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 10:46:43 -0600 http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-6-the-new-testament-is-historically-reliable/ Proof #5: MIRACLES CAN BE USED TO CONFIRM A MESSAGE FROM GOD. http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-5-/ <p><strong>Proof # 5:  MIRACLES CAN BE USED TO CONFIRM A MESSAGE FROM GOD.</strong></p> <p>A few months ago I had lunch with a young man in Tulsa who said he was an atheist.  We talked about many things but in the course of our conversation I said to him that if someone could prove to me that Christianity were false (like proving Jesus did not rise from the dead etc… ) I would not be a Christian.  He looked shocked and said, “Why?”  I said, “Because it would have been proven to be false.”  He said, “Why would that matter?”  In the course of our conversation I realized that he thought being a Christian was knowingly embracing myths like the tooth fairy or the great pumpkin.  When I shared with him that I was a Christian because I believed it was a factual faith that is based on truth we had a very in depth and meaningful conversation.</p> <p>In looking at the 12 proofs that show that Christianity is true we are giving a rational and factual basis for the Christian faith.  Knowing the truth of Christianity does not make someone a believer but it does give good reason to believe.  It shows that we are placing our faith in a real God who has truly revealed Himself in history in the person of Jesus Christ.</p> <p>Here is where we have been:</p> <p>     Proof 1:  Truth about reality is knowable.</p> <p>     Proof 2:  The opposite of true is false.</p> <p>     Proof 3:  It is true, a theistic God exists.</p> <p>     Proof 4:  If God exists then miracles are possible</p> <p>     Proof 5:  Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God.</p> <p>Even skeptic David Hume acknowledged that miracles could confirm a message from God.  He said, “It is a miracle that a dead man should come to life because it has never been observed in any age or country” (Enquiry 10 pt. 1) The miracles we see in the bible meet the standard of a miraculous confirmation. </p> <ol><li> The events are supernatural</li> <li> The miracles are multiple</li> <li> The miraculous event is connected with some truth claim in the name of God.</li> <li> The miraculous event must be unique</li> <li> There is a predictive element in confirming a divine claim ( i.e. Jesus predicting  his own death and resurrection).</li> </ol><p>All three theistic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) consider a miracle to be a confirmation by God of a truth claim made in his name.  Miracles confirm a message of God through a messenger of God. </p> <p>Miracles In Judaism</p> <p>-          Confirming Moses as a prophet</p> <p>“Then he said to Korah and all his followers: "In the morning the LORD will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him… Then Moses said, "This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea:  If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me.  But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt."</p> <p>As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah's men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.”  Numbers 16: 5, 28-33 (NIV)</p> <p>We have the famous confirmation of Elijah as a prophet of God who shows Jahweh’s superiority over  the false god Baal (I Kings 18: 36-38)  We see it throughout the Old Testament.</p> <p>Miracles in Islam.  The Qur’an records Moses saying of his miracles “thou knowest well that these things have been sent down by none but the Lord of the heaven and the earth as eye-opening evidence.” (Sura 17: 102)</p> <p>Miracles in Christianity.  We see miracles all throughout the Gospels confirming that Jesus is God.  The Gospel of John confirms the ministry of Jesus through a series of miracles.  In John 2 turning the water into wine… In John 4 the healing of the royal officials son…John 5 the healing of the man who had been unable to walk for 38 years.    John says this , “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20: 30-31 (NIV)</p> <p>When the Jewish leaders asked Jesus for a sign, he pointed them to his death and resurrection (Matthew 12: 38-39).  In the book of Acts Jesus ministry was accredited by miracles (Acts 2: 22). </p> <p>It is clear that one of the ways the New Testament confirms Jesus as God by through his supernatural miracles.  The question that needs to be answered then is the New Testament historically reliable?  That is what we will answer in the next proof.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources:</p> <p>Norman Geisler. “Twelve Points That Show Christianity is True: A Handbook on Defending the Christian Faith.”pp. 57-67.  </p> <p>Norman Geisler.  “Introduction to Christian Apologetics” Lecture “Miracles Can Confirm A Message From God”</p> Mon, 21 Dec 2015 15:46:00 -0600 http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-5-/ A MUST READ: A UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT WHO GETS IT http://olivetonline.com/blog/a-must-read-a-university-president-who-gets-it/ <p>A MUST READ:  A UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT WHO GETS IT!!!!</p> <p>In the midst of our world, where many of our universities are more about cultural indoctrination instead of education, more about coddling the mind rather than challenging the mind we have a University president that gets it.  I want to shake Dr. Piper’s hand.  </p> <p> <a href="http://www.okwu.edu/blog/2015/11/this-is-not-a-day-care-its-a-university/">http://www.okwu.edu/blog/2015/11/this-is-not-a-day-care-its-a-university/</a></p> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 08:50:04 -0600 http://olivetonline.com/blog/a-must-read-a-university-president-who-gets-it/ PROOF #4: IF GOD EXISTS, MIRACLES ARE POSSIBLE http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-4-if-god-exists-miracles-are-possible/ <p>PROOF # 4 IF GOD EXISTS, MIRACLES ARE POSSIBLE</p> <p>Eric Metaxas begins his book “Miracles” by citing a 2013 article in The New Yorker about faith and belief, Adam Gopnik wrote “We know that …in the billions of years of the universe’s existence, there is no evidence of a single miraculous intercession with the laws of nature.”  I agree with Metaxas when he states that is an extraordinary statement of opinion. Metaxas goes on to say, “To anyone who has experienced the miraculous or knows people who have experienced it, or who is familiar with the literature of miraculous accounts, it’s difficult to imagine being so confidently dismissive of something that seems at the very least to be entirely possible, and at best to be entirely certain.”</p> <p>In North America, there does seem to be a growing number of people who would say they are “spiritual” (whatever that may mean).  At the same time, there is a growing segment of our population who would call themselves atheist, agnostic or naturalists.  As a result, from this segment of our culture there is a growing skepticism about anything supernatural.  The truth is a rejection of the miraculous is not a new paradigm of thought.  The modern mind is set against miracles primarily because of skeptic David Hume.  His arguments against miracles have dominated the intellectual scene for more than two hundred years.  Norman Geisler summarizes his argument against miracles this way:</p> <p>      (a) A miracle by definition is a rare occurrence.</p> <p>      (b) Natural law by definition is a description of regular occurrence.</p> <p>      (c) The evidence for the regular is always greater than that for the rare. </p> <p>      (d) Wise individuals always base their belief on the greater evidence. </p> <p>      (e) Therefore, wise individuals should never believe in miracles. </p> <p>So wise people do not claim that miracles cannot occur but that they should never believe they happen. </p> <p>The problem with his argument is premise c which is the evidence for the regular is always great than that for the rare.  There are many examples where even the naturalist believes the evidence is greater for a singular event than for a regular one.  First of all, the origin of the universe was a singular event.  Most astrophysicists believe it all began with a Big Bang.  Second, the origin of life was a singular event.  This is a singularity that naturalistic scientists believe did happen and some have used the world “miracle” for it.  The spontaneous generation of first life, most believe life came from non-life in the past and we have no evidence that it is repeating.  Third, Macro-Evolution is a singular happening.  All naturalistic scientists believe in some form of macro-evolution, namely that all life evolved from a common ancestor over a long period of time by natural means without any supernatural intervention.  Yet macro-evolution has never been repeated in nature or the laboratory.  It is an unrepeated singularity to which they believe all evidence points.  According to Hume’s argument against miracles, no wise person should ever believe such singularity of events.  As Geisler points out, “Hume’s argument against miracles is hanged on its own gallows.”</p> <p>So if Christians are going to say that miracles are possible we need to understand what we are talking about when we call something a miracle.  Norman Geisler shows that miracles are not anomalies, they are not providential acts, they are not psychological, they are not magic or satanic.  So what are miracles?  Miracles are a divine intervention in the natural world that produces an event that would not have resulted from purely natural causes.  If God exists one of the greatest miracles has already occurred, the creation of the universe.  In the bible we see the dividing of the Red Sea, Jonah and the Great Fish, Jesus turning water into wine, walking on water   If God exists, then miracles are possible.  Why?  Because they are a supernatural act of God, and supernatural acts can exist only where there is a supernatural Being who can act.  C. S. Lewis said, “If we admit God, must we admit miracles? Indeed, you have no security against it, that is the bargain.”</p> <p>Therefore, to summarize, if God exists- a theistic God- then miracles are possible.  We have shown (Proof 3) there is good evidence that God exists.  Therefore, it follows that miracles are possible and the biggest miracle of all—creation—actually happened.  It makes no sense to say that a God who created the world from nothing is barred from working in the world He has made. He can intervene when He chooses and a God who created life from non-life can raise the dead.  So, the question becomes, if miracles are possible then what is the purpose of those miracles from God?  That is what we will look at in proof five.  MIRACLES CAN BE USED TO CONFIRM A MESSAGE FROM GOD.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources:</p> <p>Eric Metaxas. “Miracles” p. 3</p> <p>Norman Geisler. “Twelve Points That Show Christianity is True: A Handbook on Defending the Christian Faith.”pp. 46-56.   </p> <p>Norman Geisler.  “Introduction to Christian Apologetics” Lecture “If God Exists, Miracles Are Possible”</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 18:04:15 -0600 http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-4-if-god-exists-miracles-are-possible/ Fall 2015 Reading List http://olivetonline.com/blog/fall-2015-reading-list/ <p><strong>BOOKS FOR THE FALL</strong></p> <p>If we are going to be followers of Jesus who make an impact in our culture, we must love God not only with all our hearts but with all our minds. The most important way we develop our mind is by spending time in God’s word.  The most important reading time we have is when we are alone with God and His Word.  The apostle Paul put it this way, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.  It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.” II Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) I want to encourage you to make time for the Lord and His word each day.</p> <p>A second way that we develop our mind is by reading.  Not just reading anything but reading the right things.  Becoming familiar with what we believe and why we believe it is essential as followers of Jesus and reading the right books can be valuable in that process.   I want to share with you a few books that you might want to check out this fall. </p> <p><strong>Apologetics:  “The Historical Jesus” by Gary R. Habermas</strong></p> <p>Habermas takes on directly the contemporary challenges to the historicity of Jesus and then he looks at the historical data for the life of Jesus. He delves into the primary sources, archeological sources, non-New Testament sources to show the overwhelming evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.</p> <p><strong>“The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” By Gary Habermas and Michael R. Licona</strong></p> <p>The authors give the minimal facts.  There are facts that 95% all ancient historians believe to be true.  Those who are believers, non-believers, skeptics will affirm as ancient historical truths.  He shows the historical data for facts that give overwhelming evidence for the resurrection and deals with questions skeptics might have about the evidence.  His conclusion is that most plausible conclusion from all the historical evidence is that Jesus rose from the dead.   If you want to be encouraged in your faith take the time to go through the book.</p> <p><strong>Biography: “The Churchill Factor” by Boris Johnson</strong></p> <p>I love biographies and this is a good read on the life and times of Winston Churchill.  It shows how his leadership not only made a difference in World War II but how his life shaped history. </p> <p><strong>Devotional: “In the Grip of Grace”  by Max Lucado</strong></p> <p>I read this book in preparing for our study through Romans on Sunday night and it is an encouraging book that reminds us of the Amazing Grace of God. It is an easy read and his opening on the parable of the river is very powerful. </p> <p>I hope you will check out our bookstore/library at OBC.  Christie Floyd is doing an awesome job of helping provide encourage Christ-centered reading for all ages to check out.  Our goal is to help you build a library in your life to build and strengthen your faith.  Enjoy your reading.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> Tue, 10 Nov 2015 09:31:04 -0600 http://olivetonline.com/blog/fall-2015-reading-list/ TAKE 5 http://olivetonline.com/blog/t/ <p>TAKE FIVE</p> <p>Jesus was very clear about the mission of the church.  He wanted his followers to understand the reasons they were left here and what they were to do until He returned. Five different times he repeated the Great Commission. </p> <p>“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)…</p> <p>“You are to go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.”  Mark 16:15 (LB)</p> <p>”With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: There is forgiveness for sins for all who turn to me.”<br>Luke 24:47 (NLT)</p> <p>“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  John 20:21 (NIV)</p> <p>“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV)</p> <p>Jesus is saying to His followers, “My mission must matter to you.”  His mission is to take the Gospel message that we have been given and share it with our city, our nation and our world.  At OBC we are committed to the Great Commission. </p> <p>Sometimes it is easier to think of the Great Commission in terms of a mission trip or a mission offering or a service project but how can we be a part of Christ’s mission in our everyday life and relationships.  You might be thinking, I have lived in the same house with the same job around the same people for years.  How can I meaningfully share with people in my everyday life?</p> <p>I want to encourage every member of Olivet to take five for the next five weeks.  Take five is an intentional focus about prayerfully seeking opportunities to invite someone to church/small group Bible study or do an act of kindness simply to be like Jesus to those who are in your network of relationships.  It can be a very practical way to get involved in the Great Commission in an everyday way.   </p> <p>Here is the challenge:</p> <ol><li>TAKE FIVE outreach/truelife cards to give out each week for five weeks.  (October 25-November 29). These cards can be used multiple ways.  It is a card you can just give to someone and invite them to church/small group Bible study.  You can use the card to engage a friend in conversation and if they have questions about the Christian faith or our church simply point out to them the truelife.org website on the card.  The website is a great resource that has great answers to the most pressing questions that people have about Christianity.  You can also use it by doing an act of kindness (paying for a meal… helping a neighbor etc.) and leave a card.</li> </ol><p> </p> <p>      2. TAKE FIVE minutes a day each morning and pray for opportunities and the ability to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit for those divine appointments that the  <br>          Lord brings into your life.  I have discovered that when I am prayerful and seeking opportunities to share with others the Lord brings those divine<br>          appointments into my path much more often.  When I am not prayerful and just on the go, I miss those opportunities. </p> <p>Over the next few weeks there are many opportunities to invite others to at OBC. </p> <ul><li> November   1- Youth/Children connect outreach in small group Bible study @ 9:30 a.m.</li> <li> November 15- Preschool/Adult connect outreach in small group Bible study @ 9:30 a.m.</li> <li> November 22- Freedom Quartet (PM)</li> <li> December  2- Maisha African Choir (Youth)</li> </ul><p>You never know the eternal difference that a simple invitation from an obedient witness can make.  I will forever be grateful for a friend who invited me to a campout at his church.  It was on that trip that I heard and understood and opened my life to the Gospel of Christ. </p> <p>I want to challenge each of us to prayerfully TAKE FIVE over the next five weeks and see what God will do.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Here is a video from <a href="http://olivetonline.com/[file_link,id=1065]" target="_blank">truelife.org</a>  that shows just how easy it is to share with others.  </p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 15:31:04 -0500 http://olivetonline.com/blog/t/ Proof #3: IT IS TRUE A THEISTIC GOD EXISTS http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-3-it-is-true-a-theistic-god-exists/ <p><strong>Proof #3: IT IS TRUE A THEISTIC GOD EXISTS</strong></p> <p>If truth is knowable and the opposite of true is false, then it follows that either a theistic God exists, or he does not exist.  If he does not exist then atheism is true and if He does then theism is true. If theism is true, then Christianity can be true.  If it is not, then the Christian faith is not true since it is a theistic faith. </p> <p>In Western culture there are basically three worldviews about God:</p> <p><strong>Atheism</strong> is a belief that no God exists at all.  Atheists believe there is no God, impersonal or personal or infinite being.  Most believe that the universe is eternal.  There are several associated views.  Skeptics doubt that God exists.  Agnostics do not know if God exists, and Atheists deny that God exists but all do not believe that God exists.  Norman Geisler pointS out that in a broad sense these are all atheistic views.</p> <p><strong>Pantheism</strong> is a belief that God is all and all is God.  It is a worldview that maintains that everything we see—every animal, insect, tree, stream, person—is imbued with a divine god-force.  So nature itself and every living creature is, in essence, part of God.  It is the idea that “There is a god, and you are him.” It is the foundational worldview of those who hold to “New Age” thought.</p> <p><strong>Theism </strong> contends that there is one and only one eternal God who created the entire universe. The universe is not eternal, it has not always been here.  Instead, it came into being “in the beginning” when God spoke it into existence.  Theism holds that there is One Infinite Personal God Who Created the Universe.  The three theistic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam.</p> <p>So the question is, does a theistic God exist?  Is there one personal, moral, and infinite Being beyond the universe who created the universe?  I believe  that there is good reason to believe that a theistic God exists.  Here are three reasons to believe in a theistic God.</p> <p><strong>THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (CAUSE)</strong></p> <ol><li> Whatever had a beginning had a Beginner (cause)</li> <li> The Universe had a beginning.</li> <li> Therefore, the universe had a Beginner (cause)</li> </ol><p>Volumes have been written on this argument but I hope you will check out the sources at the end of the blog because they go much more in depth.    Check out this link.  It is a video done by William Lane Graig and Reasonable Faith.<br><br><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL3gdeV4Rk9EfL-NyraEGXXwSjDNeMaRoX&amp;v=6CulBuMCLg0" target="_blank"><em><strong>THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (CAUSE) VIDEO</strong></em></a></p> <p><strong>THE TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (DESIGN)</strong></p> <ol><li>Every complex design has a designer</li> <li>Everywhere we look in the universe we find evidence of complex design.</li> <li>Therefore, the universe had a designer.</li> </ol><p>Again, I hope you will check out this link from Reasonable Faith that illustrates the argument from design.</p> <p><em><strong><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL3gdeV4Rk9EfL-NyraEGXXwSjDNeMaRoX&amp;v=UpIiIaC4kRA" target="_blank">THE TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (DESIGN) VIDEO</a></strong></em></p> <p><strong>THE MORAL ARGUMENT (MORALITY)</strong></p> <ol><li>Every moral law has a moral lawmaker.</li> <li>There is a universal moral law.</li> <li>Therefore, there must be a universal Moral Lawmaker.</li> </ol><p>Check out this link from Reasonable Faith,<br><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL3gdeV4Rk9EfL-NyraEGXXwSjDNeMaRoX&amp;v=OxiAikEk2vU" target="_blank"><em><strong><br>THE MORAL ARGUMENT (MORALITY) VIDEO</strong></em></a></p> <p>Here are three arguments for the existence of God beyond a reasonable doubt without even using the Bible.  The first two arguments are more scientific in nature and the third is more philosophical.  The Christian faith is not a blind faith but it is a reasonable faith.  That is why I believe it is true that a theistic God exists.  I believe He has revealed Himself to us through creation and the Bible.  God’s revelation to us points to Jesus, who is God in flesh, who lived a sinless and miraculous life, who died vicariously on a Roman cross and rose from the dead on the third day.  This demonstration of love was given so that through faith in Christ and his finished work sinful humanity can have a relationship with God now and for eternity.  Through repentance and faith in Christ we are forgiven and adopted into God’s family.  This is the picture of our awesome and powerful theistic God.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources:</p> <p>Frank Turek and Norman Geisler.  I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Crossways Books 2004.</p> <p>Norman Geisler. Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True. www.BastionBooks.com</p> <p>Norman Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe.  Reasons For Belief.  Bethany House 2013.</p> <p>Norman Geisler and Joseph Holden.  Living Loud Defending Your Faith. B&amp;H Publishing Group 2003</p> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:49:39 -0500 http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-3-it-is-true-a-theistic-god-exists/ A Biblical Perspective on Same-Sex Marriage (Originally Published 10/2014) http://olivetonline.com/blog/a-biblical-perspective-on-same-sex-marriage/ <p><strong>A Biblical Perspective on Same-Sex Marriage</strong></p> <p><strong><em>With the recent ruling from the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, I thought I would repost a blog from last October.  It is important that those who claim to be followers of Christ know what the bible says about marriage and know how to respond with compassion and truth to those who would disagree with the biblical truth about marriage. </em></strong></p> <p>     There is no doubt that one of the most controversial subjects of our day is the same-sex marriage debate.  It seems pretty clear that it has become accepted by the courts and a growing number of people in western culture.  It is relevant to us in Oklahoma because same-sex marriage has become legal in our state. The real question for those of us who are followers of Christ is what does the Bible say about this issue?</p> <p>     Because it is such a hot issue today, I really appreciate pastors and church leaders who have been willing to take a loving and biblical position on this issue.  One of the best brief looks at the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage is by pastor/author James Emery White in a series of six blogs on his website Church and Culture from 2011.</p> <p>     The question you might have is “Why speak on this issue?”  One reason is that the role of a pastor and the church is to lovingly speak biblical truth to culture.  Paul instructed Timothy, “Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not…” II Timothy 4: 2 (NLT).  Paul further gives this description of the pastor’s job, “He must have a strong and steadfast belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with right teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.” Titus 1: 9 (NLT)  It is important that the church speak with love and biblical clarity on the issues of our day.  If we see the Bible as the authoritative Word of God then it is important that we think biblically.</p> <p>     No one would disagree, that sex and sexuality is a big issue today and therefore, the church needs to clarify the biblical position.  If we want to serve the world at this time in history we must speak to the issue even if it is not the popular position.  White cites novelist Elizabeth Rundle Charles, inspired by the words of Martin Luther, who once wrote: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”   Therefore, I want to give you some truths that will help us think biblically on the issue.</p> <ol><li>   There is no room for hate.</li> </ol><p>     There have been people who say they represent Christ and have displayed anger and even hatred toward homosexuals.  THEY ARE WRONG!!!! They do not represent the heart of God, nor do they represent the heart of the Gospel message.   Also, those who share crude jokes or comments about homosexuals do not represent the heart of God.   </p> <p>     If you are gay and have experienced hatred from those who say they represent Christ:  that is a sin against you.  I want you to know that an attitude of hate is not God’s heart toward you. Here is the truth: God loves you and you matter to Him.  God loves you so much that He literally gave His life for you.  He has a plan for your life.  You are created  in the image of an Awesome God.   You matter to the church and you matter to me.   Anyone that states otherwise is not being true to the biblical perspective. (John 3: 16, Ephesians 5:4)</p> <p>       2.    To elevate homosexuality as if it is above other sexual sins is wrong.</p> <p>     It is important that the church speak to the biblical position on sex and sexuality.  To act as if homosexuality is the only sexual sin of our day is just not accurate.  God’s great design for sex is that it is to be between a man and woman in the covenant of marriage.  Anything outside of those God-given parameters is seen as sexual sin. So adultery, pornography, sex before marriage, according to Jesus even looking with lust is like committing adultery in the heart and is outside of God’s design for sex.  So if we are honest, we are all broken sexually. No one is pristine in thought and action.  This means that it is Ok to make judgments about God’s plan for sex but there is no room for a judgmental attitude.  We should respond to one another with humility and compassion.   (I Corinthians 6:9-11, Matthew 5: 27-28, Matthew 7: 1-5)</p> <p>       3.    There is not a single passage in the bible that supports homosexuality.</p> <p>     The arguments that some Gay theologians make is that the passages that speak against homosexuality have been mistranslated, misinterpreted, or misused and so in reality these passages do not prohibit monogamous, committed homosexual relationships.  Yet they cannot offer any new evidence to back this claim since none exists.  Michael Brown points out those who are stating that the bible supports homosexuality, “  have not changed their thinking on the basis of Scripture alone since no new textual, archeological, or philological discoveries have been made in the last fifty years that would cause us to read any of these biblical texts differently.”  Rather than interpreting sexuality through the lens of Scripture many are interpreting Scripture through the lens of their sexuality.</p> <p>     Sean McDowell in his presentation “Homosexuality: Compassion and Clarity” states that: 1. Not a single passage in the bible supports homosexuality.  2. Until the middle of the 20<sup>th</sup> century not a single church leader affirmed it.  3.  The Bible states and assumes male/female union for marriage.  4.  The Ten Commandments assume heterosexual union for marriage and family.  Suffice it to say that every single reference to homosexual behavior in the Bible - Old and New Testament - condemns it.  These passages are not confusing or ambiguous.</p> <p>     One position that is often stated is that Jesus never spoke against homosexuality or same-sex marriage.  Jesus did not speak directly to the same-sex marriage issue because he was never asked.  But when Jesus was asked about marriage he gave a definitive answer.  Here is how he defined it, “Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"  "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'  and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh' ? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" Matthew 19:3-6.   The truth is that Jesus did speak to the issue of marriage and he referred back to the Genesis 2 passage that defined marriage as a relationship between a man and woman in which they become one flesh.  This position of a heterosexual union for marriage is consistent all through the Word of God. </p> <p>     If you have any doubts about whether the text of the bible says what it plainly seems to say about homosexuality, read Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Professor Dr. Robert Gagnon’s book, “The Bible and Homosexual Practice.” This book is considered by those on both sides of the issue the most thorough treatment of the biblical material on the subject you can find.   The biblical conclusion is that God created human beings male and female.  A biblical marriage is between a man and woman.  God’s design is that sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of a biblical marriage.  Any departure from God’s design is outside of His will for our lives.</p> <p>     Now if you think the Bible is wrong or you reject its authority on this issue that is another matter.  But the Bible is clear on the subject.  (Genesis 2: 18, 22, 24-25, Leviticus 18:22, Matthew 19:1-6, Romans 1: 25-27)</p> <p>      4.    TO OPPOSE GAY MARRIAGE IS NOT CONDEMING HOMOSEXUALS</p> <p>     The church should be welcoming of homosexuals but not affirming any sexual choice outside of God’s plan for sexual intimacy.  I reject the idea that the only form of acceptance is affirmation.  The definition of tolerance has changed over the years.  To put it simply, tolerance used to mean we can agree to disagree.  We may have different ideas about faith, politics, etc… but I still value you as a human being created in the image of God.  I will treat you with respect and kindness.  That has changed.  The idea in many circles today is that tolerance means you have accept and affirm what someone else believes regardless of what you think is right or wrong.  And if you don’t affirm and accept their views, then you are intolerant.  So the way this translates in our culture is if you don’t agree with me on same-sex marriage, abortion, politics, faith etc… then you are a hater or labeled something worse.  That is ridiculous and keeps us from having meaningful dialogue in our culture about important cultural issues whether political or religious.  You can disagree with someone and still love, accept and care about the person with whom you disagree.  So to affirm the bible is against homosexuality and the same-sex lifestyle which I think it does, is not the same as saying the bible is against homosexuals which I do not embrace, and neither does the bible.</p> <p>     I agree with the closing section of James Emery White’s blog, “A Gay Awakening”” He states.</p> <p>*We need a new tone and emphasis that focuses on the homosexual lifestyle as we would any other lifestyle that needs to have its deepest needs intersected by Christ. If one believes that the homosexual lifestyle is broken sexually, it must be affirmed that it is no more broken than the adulterer or the person addicted to pornography.</p> <p>*We must put forward a winsome and compelling vision for life in Christ that includes our sexuality; a vision that invites all who are sexually confused and seeking God to come and drink of the living water that Jesus promises to us all (John 4).</p> <p>All to say, the follower of Christ must not be homophobic; they must not hate homosexuals; they must not give in to anger or irrational fear. The follower of Christ must not caricature or demonize anyone. They must not camp out at funerals with signs that say, “God hates fags.”</p> <p>Those that have succumbed to such things must repent and ask for forgiveness.</p> <p>So while I pray for an awakening among those who embrace the homosexual lifestyle, I also pray for an awakening among those of us who condemn it.</p> <p>Namely, that in condemning it, we do not condemn them.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources:</p> <p>James Emery White- blog “Homosexuality: Parts 1-6” @ Church and Culture.org July 2011</p> <p>James Emery White- blog “A Gay Awakening” @ Church and Culture.org February 28, 2011</p> <p>Michael Brown- “Can you be Gay and Christian?”  Article 2014 National Conference on Christian Apologetics Program, Calvary Church, Charlotte, NC</p> <p>Sean McDowell- “Homosexuality: Compassion and Clarity” @ 2014 National Conference on Christian Apologetics, Calvary Church, Charlotte, NC</p> <p>Dr. Robert Gagnon- “The Bible and Homosexual Practice”</p> Sun, 28 Jun 2015 21:14:47 -0500 http://olivetonline.com/blog/a-biblical-perspective-on-same-sex-marriage/ THINKING CHRISTIANLY ABOUT THE TRANSGENDER ISSUE http://olivetonline.com/blog/thinking-christianly-about-the-transgender-issue/ <p><strong>THINKING CHRISTIANLY ABOUT THE TRANSGENDER ISSUE</strong></p> <p>I am actually old enough to remember watching Bruce Jenner compete in the Olympics in 1976.  I was ten years old and remember his success. That is obviously one of the reasons (and being on reality TV with the Kardashian’s) his transgender journey has garnered such attention.  The past few weeks I have read several articles and opinions on the subject.  I have agreed with some opinions and disagreed with others.</p> <p>The biblical principles that should guide Christian thinking are the Gospel principles of grace and truth.  The apostle John said this about Jesus, “For the law was given through Moses; <span style="text-decoration: underline;">grace and truth came through Jesus Christ</span>” John 1: 18 (NIV).   Those principles in mind I want to point you to the best blog I have read on the subject.  It is written by James Emory White on his website Church and Culture.  I think he deals with subject thoroughly (given it’s a blog), and he does so with grace and truth.</p> <p>I hope this helps you think Christian-ly about this subject.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p><a href="http://www.churchandculture.org/Blog.asp?ID=9189" target="_blank">http://www.churchandculture.org/Blog.asp?ID=9189</a></p> Mon, 08 Jun 2015 15:52:48 -0500 http://olivetonline.com/blog/thinking-christianly-about-the-transgender-issue/ Proof #2: The Opposite of True is False http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-2-the-opposite-of-true-is-false/ <p><strong>Proof # 2: The Opposite of True is False</strong></p> <p>The most fundamental law of all thought is the Law of Non-Contradiction.  It states that something cannot both be true and false at the same time in the same sense.  Norman Geisler points out that we cannot deny the Law of Non-Contradiction without using the Law of Non-Contradiction.  If we affirm that “something can be both true and false at the same time and in the same sense,” this sentence makes no sense unless we assume that it is a non-contradictory statement (and the opposite of it cannot be true).  It is saying that “opposites can both be true,” but the opposite of this statement cannot also be true.</p> <p>The Medieval philosopher Avicenna had a brutally practical way of getting this point across effectively.  He insisted that anyone who denied the Law of Non-Contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admitted that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten  and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned!</p> <p>The consequences of the Law of Non-Contradiction are self-evident but forceful: opposites cannot both be true.  For example, “If it is true that God exists, then it is false that God does not exist.  If theism is true, then atheism is false (and vice versa).  This logic goes for anything else in the world.  For instance, if Christianity is true, then anything contrary to Christianity is false. If Islam is true, then any view contrary to Islam is false.  The point is very simple but seemingly hard for our culture to understand.  All views cannot be true. </p> <p>Opposite views cannot both be true.  Since different religions hold different views about God, creation, human beings, Christ and salvation, it follows that the opposing views of various religions cannot both be true.  Most theists believe in life after death and most atheists do not believe in life after death.  Both cannot be true. One must be false.  Some religions believe in reincarnation and others do not but both cannot be true.  Some believe in one God and some believe in more than one god but both cannot be true. </p> <p>Here is the practical point for the culture in which we live.  The law of Non-Contradiction destroys the common belief in religious pluralism.  Religious pluralism is the idea that most if not all religions can all be true in their central beliefs.  The truth is most religions hold opposite views on very important beliefs and opposites cannot both be true. </p> <p>Several years ago on the Oprah there was a Christian minister, a Jewish rabbi and an Islamic Imam.  The show was very good in that is described the different faiths and their views of God.  But the end of the show made no sense.  Basically, the conclusion was that all roads lead to heaven and it doesn’t matter what you believe,   because they are all true.  That just simply cannot be true.  It violates the law of Non-Contradiction.  It violates common sense.  It is possible they are all wrong about God.  It is possible that one of them is right about God.  But it is not possible that they are all right about God because they contradict each other. </p> <p>For instance, Christians, Jews and Muslims are all theists.  They all believe in submission to God.  They affirm the Ten Commandments.  But they have major differences when it comes to how they view salvation and the nature of Christ.  For instance: three Key Christian beliefs: 1. Jesus is God.  2. Jesus has always been God He did not at some point in time become God.  3. Only Jesus is God, people are not God.  Do you realize that every other system of belief contradicts those claims.  Hindus say Jesus was one of many men who became god, worthy Mormons believe they become gods.  Muslims say Jesus was a prophet but not God.  Buddishst’s  say He’s a remarkable teacher. Judaism does not believe that Jesus is God.  So someone is right and someone is wrong.  Therefore, if Christianity is true- these other views are false. </p> <p>Now to say that Christianity is true does not mean that other religions can be true on various things.  Geisler in his book Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True points out, “Many religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Confucianism) believe in some form of the golden rule.  They could all be right on this, even though they cannot all be right on whether there is only one person in God (Islam) or three persons (Christianity).  Clearly, someone is right and the other is wrong on this matter…All the Law of Non-Contradiction demands is that if one religion is the true religion (namely, is right on all basic doctrines), then all doctrines opposed to this from other religions are false.  But it does not follow that there is no truth in other religions.” </p> <p>We are increasingly living in a culture that has an aversion to truth.  Truth is deemed as narrow or close minded.   But even if one were to say “I believe that there is no truth” that is a narrow and close minded statement because it rejects any idea opposed to it.  So truth by definition is narrow because it implies that any opposing view is false.  The truth to remember is that truth does exist and the Christian faith should be examined because it is a truth claim.</p> <p>It claims that there is only one way to be saved.  When Peter and John were before the Jewish leaders of his day, this is what Peter said about Jesus, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12</p> <p>Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” John 14 6</p> <p>The Christian faith is built on the truth about Jesus.  Jesus invites all to come to Him—no one is excluded but only those who place there trust in Jesus and His finished work through His vicarious death on cross and resurrection from the dead experience the truth of eternal life in Christ Jesus. (John 3:16)</p> <p>Next time we will learn that it is true that a theistic God exists.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources:<br>Frank Turek and Norman Geisler.  I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.  Crossways Books 2004.<br>Norman Geisler. Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True.<br>Norman Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe.  Reasons For Belief.  Bethany House 2013.<br>Norman Geisler and Joseph Holden.  Living Loud Defending Your Faith. B&amp;H Publishing Group 2003</p> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 10:09:28 -0500 http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-2-the-opposite-of-true-is-false/ Proof #1-Truth About Reality is Knowable http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-1-truth-about-reality-is-knowable/ <p><strong>PROOF #1 TRUTH ABOUT REALITY IS KNOWABLE</strong></p> <p>The place to begin the search for truth should be the real world because ultimate truth is what corresponds to reality.  Therefore to know a statement is true there must be a real object about which that statement is being made.  The statement, “I am writing with a pencil” is only true if there is really a pencil with which I am writing.  So the search for truth is in the real world.   Ultimately truth tells it like it is, corresponds to the facts and matches its object. </p> <p>You might ask “What does truth about reality being knowable have anything to do with Christianity?”  It is because the Christian faith is a truth claim.  For instance, Christians believe that Jesus was born, lived a sinless and miraculous life, was crucified on a Roman cross, was buried and on the third day rose from the dead.  So if we say that “Jesus rose from the dead” we must back that up with facts in the real world.  So while, the Christian faith is just that, “faith in” Jesus as the Messiah, it is backed with reasonable evidence in the real world that it is true.  That is why I say that the Christian faith is a factual faith.  Therefore, it is true.</p> <p><strong>CONFUSION ABOUT TRUTH</strong></p> <p>There are many in our world today who question truth.  Norman Geisler put it concisely,   “Relativism—denies absolute truth, Agnosticism—denies all truth, Skepticism—doubts all truth, Post-Modernism—affirms no truth, Pluralism—affirms opposite `truths.’”</p> <p>Some people today would say, “Truth is what works.”  If it works then it must be true.  The problem with that idea is that it confuses what truth does with what truth is.  For example, lying may work for us but that does not make the lie true (or right). </p> <p>Some people would say, “Truth is found in good intentions.”  The idea is that if you are sincere then that makes it right.  It does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.  If I told you to get to Olivet Baptist Church you needed to get off Hwy 412 and go south—I might have intended to tell you to go north so according to the good intentionists, it would be correct.  This is illogical.  If truth is found in good intentions then well-meaning atheists would be telling the truth about God’s non-existence and well-meaning Christians would be telling the truth about God’s existence.  Obviously, opposites cannot both be true just because they are sincere.</p> <p>Some would say “Truth is a matter of perspective.”  Truth is decided by the individual.  You hear this all the time, “What is true for me, is true for me and what is true for you is true for you.”  Frank Turek says try this next time you go to the bank.  Say to the bank teller, “I would like to withdraw $50,000 from my checking account.” When the teller says to you, “I am sorry you only have $50 in your checking account.”  Say to them, “That might be true for you but that is not true for me.  I want my $50,000.” If that works, let me know.   If something is true, it is true for all people, at all times, and in all places.  Norman Geisler in his book Reasons for Belief points out that some cultures used to believe a dragon living under the earth (not the movement of tectonic plates) caused earthquakes—that the earth moved when the dragon moved.  It is true that they believed this, but that didn’t make it true. If something is true, it is true whether you believe it or not.  If George Washington was the first president of the United States then it would be true for everyone in all places at all times. </p> <p>Some would say “No one can discover truth.”  That is a self-defeating statement.  The statement “No one can discover truth” is in itself a truth statement.  That whole idea is illogical and self-defeating.</p> <p>Some would say “Truth is what feels right.”  The problem with that idea is that feelings and emotions change.  If that were truth then there would never been any bad news.  I mean bad news never feels right so that would mean that bad news could never be true. </p> <p><strong>WHAT IS TRUTH</strong></p> <p>So what is truth?  Truth is what matches reality, truth corresponds to the facts, truth tells it like it is and matches its object.  This is important to understand because the bible makes truth claims.</p> <p> "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." John 18: 37 (NIV)</p> <p>“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: 6 (NIV)</p> <p>"…If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8: 31 (NIV)</p> <p>“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1: 17 (NIV)</p> <p>Over 78 times Jesus claimed to be speaking the truth.  The Holy Spirit is called “The Spirit of Truth”.  The Bible says the Good News about Jesus is true. </p> <p>Understanding that the truth about reality is knowable is important because the Gospel is not based on myth, legend, fairy tale or even blind faith but it is a reasonable faith based on truth.  The Gospel is life-changing, eternity altering because it is based on TRUTH.  It is THE TRUTH about God.</p> <p><strong>Next time we will look at proof #2:  The opposite of true is false.</strong></p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources:</p> <p>Frank Turek and Norman Geisler.  I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Crossways Books 2004.</p> <p>Norman Geisler. Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True.</p> <p>Norman Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe.  Reasons For Belief.  Bethany House 2013.</p> <p>Norman Geisler and Joseph Holden.  Living Loud Defending Your Faith. B&amp;H Publishing Group 2003</p> Wed, 20 May 2015 11:31:12 -0500 http://olivetonline.com/blog/proof-1-truth-about-reality-is-knowable/ WHY WE KNOW THAT CHRISTIANITY IS TRUE? http://olivetonline.com/blog/why-we-know-that-christianity-is-true/ <p><strong>WHY WE KNOW THAT CHRISTIANITY IS TRUE?</strong></p> <p>Over the past few weeks I had the privilege of having a discussion with three gracious men who claim to hold an atheistic worldview.  When I told them that I was a Christian and that I believed in God because I believed it was true, they looked shocked.  When I told one of them that if it were proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christianity was not true then I would not be one, I was asked why?  I said, “Because it is not true?”  He said “Why does that matter?  Don’t you just have faith?” </p> <p>It became obvious to me that he felt that Christian faith is not based on reason.  In fact, it seemed to me that all of the atheists that I spoke with felt that those who chose to believe in the Gospel were choosing to believe in myths like the tooth fairy or the Great Pumpkin.  It was shocking for them to hear that I was a Christian because I believe that Christianity is a factual faith. After all, Jesus was all about giving convincing proofs of the Gospel.  After His suffering, He showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3 (NIV)</p> <p>Over the next several weeks I want to very briefly share 12 points that show that Christianity is true.  The technical term for what we will be looking at in these blogs is called “apologetics.”  Apologetics is not making an apology for the Christian faith but it is having the ability to give reasons for what you believe.  I mean if you say you believe the Gospel or that God exists or that the New Testament is true can you give a good reason?  That is what Apologetics is about.  So we will begin looking at 12 points that show that Christianity is true</p> <p>I also want to share with you what I think apologetics can do and what I think it cannot do.  I believe the role of apologetics in helping people “believe that.”  In other words, apologetics can give a reasonable foundation to “believe that” God exists, or the Bible is reliable, Jesus rose from the dead.  It can show that believing the Gospel truths is not a blind leap in the dark, but instead there are good reasons to believe it is true.  In fact, every Christian is called to be able to give good reasons for what they believe.  Here are just a few passages:</p> <p>“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”   I Peter 3:15 (NIV)</p> <p>“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” II Corinthians 5:10 (NIV)</p> <p>“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Jude 3 (NIV)</p> <p>“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Titus 1:9 (NIV)</p> <p>As followers of Christ we are called to know, defend and lovingly share the truth of the Gospel.  The role of the Christian as an apologist is to help people see the reasons for belief in the Gospel. </p> <p>Apologetics can help people “believe that” but only the Holy Spirit can enable people to “believe in” the Gospel.  Apologetics can lead the person to the eternal water of the Gospel but it cannot make them drink.  Just knowing all the right things about God does not save you.  “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.”  Even the devil has orthodox views of God but is not saved.  So apologetics is about helping people think rightly about God and gives good soil for the Holy Spirit to do His work.  But only the Holy Spirit can enable people to “believe in” Jesus.  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears…” John 16: 13 (NIV) (John 6: 44)</p> <p>Therefore the goal of the next several weeks is three fold.  First, to help believers understand the reasons we believe the Gospel of Jesus is true.  Secondly, to help believers learn some simple tools in defending their faith in the Gospel.  Thirdly, to give believers greater confidence in sharing the Gospel in the post-modern world in which we live. </p> <p><em>Next time we will talk about why: <strong> TRUTH ABOUT REALITY IS KNOWABLE</strong>.</em></p> <p><em>Sources:</em></p> <p><em>Norman Geisler. Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True.</em></p> <p><em>Norman Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe.  Reasons For Belief.  Bethany House 2013.</em></p> <p><em>Norman Geisler and Joseph Holden.  Living Loud Defending Your Faith.” B&amp;H Publishing Group 2003.</em></p> <p> </p> Thu, 14 May 2015 22:28:01 -0500 http://olivetonline.com/blog/why-we-know-that-christianity-is-true/ A GOD OF MIRACLES http://olivetonline.com/blog/a-god-of-miracles/ <p><strong>A GOD OF MIRACLES</strong><br>Dr. Richard Land President of Southern Evangelical Seminary in his BETC radio broadcast on March 11, 2015,   tells the of the miraculous rescue of 18 month old Lily Grosebeck of Utah who survived hanging upside down in her car seat for at least 14 hours in near freezing temperatures with icy water rushing by just inches below her head through the broken windows of her car.  Her 25 year old mother died when their car hit a bridge and plunged into the waters near a little town called Spanish Fork outside of Salt Lake City. </p> <p>Four police officers who rushed to the rescue once the car was discovered by a local fisherman tell an amazing story.  They could see the body of the driver of the car, the mother obviously deceased but they could not see the baby from their vantage point.   Yet, all four of the rescuing officers heard a female voice calling for help inside the vehicle.  The officers said, “we have gotten together and talked about it and all four of us can swear we heard somebody in the car saying ‘help.’’’ One officer said, “The only people in the car were the deceased mother and the child.”  He said, “They cannot explain it but they have no doubt they heard it.”</p> <p>Dr. Land points out that if you hold a secular or atheistic worldview you cannot explain it but as Christians we can explain it.  If you hold a theistic Christian worldview we acknowledge that fact that because God exists, miracles are possible.</p> <p>We worship a God who spoke the world into existence. (Genesis 1)   Most scientists hold to the “Big Bang” theory.   That means the universe had a beginning and I am convinced the God of the bible is the beginner.   Our Great God spoke the universe into existence.  That was a miraculous cataclysmic event of a God apart from and outside of time, matter and space.  He is the Uncaused Cause. </p> <p>As Christians we acknowledge that there is a convergence of miracles that affirm that Jesus is God, the savior of the world.  First, He fulfilled numerous prophecies about Himself that were foretold centuries before He arrived on earth.  Secondly, He is the only one ever who lived a sinless life and backed it up by living a miraculous life.  Thirdly, He predicted and accomplished His resurrection from the dead after conquering sin and death. </p> <p>Norman Geisler in his book “Reasons for Belief” put in this way, “A God who could create time, space, stars, planets, moons, and all the variety of life on earth surely could perform more simple acts like healing or helping in a time of need.” I have no doubt the God who created and redeemed us chose to intervene by allowing the rescuing officers to hear a voice so they could save the life of this precious little girl.  Let’s thank God and remember that He is still in the miracle working business. </p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources<br>Dr. Richard Land, “Miracles Still Happen” BETC. March 11, 2015.<br>Dr. Norman Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe, “Reasons For Belief” p. 84.</p> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 10:13:15 -0500 http://olivetonline.com/blog/a-god-of-miracles/ Winter Reading List http://olivetonline.com/blog/winter-reading-list/ <p>READING LIST – WINTER 2015</p> <p>I hope you will check out our new library/bookstore at OBC.  Christie Floyd is doing an awesome job in this ministry. Our hope is to provide some good Christian books and classics that most Christian bookstores no longer carry. We want to provide encouragement and direction in building a personal library that will help you share and defend the historical Christian faith.</p> <p>Here are some books you might want to check out:</p> <p><strong>Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority by Jonathon Morrow</strong></p> <p>This actually is our book of the month for January 2015.  We are living in a culture that increasingly raises questions about the Bible’s authority.  Most often they are raising old questions that have very good answers but if you don’t know them it can blow up your faith.  Morrow has written a very readable book that deals with questions that skeptics like Bart Erhman bring up in an attempt to destroy people’s faith in the Bible and ultimately in Jesus. </p> <p>Morrow deals with questions like: Is the bible anti-intellectual?, What can we really know about Jesus?, How do we know what the earliest Christians believed?, Why were some Gospels banned from the bible?, Did the biblical writers lie about their identity?, Has the biblical text been corrupted over the centuries?, Are the Gospels full of contradictions?, Is the Bible unscientific?, Is the Bible Sexist, Racist, Homophobic, and Genocidal?, What do Christians believe about the Bible? And Which interpretation of the Bible is correct? </p> <p>This is a good read for every Christian who wants to be able to share their faith in our post-modern world.</p> <p><strong>Can We Still Believe The Bible?: An evangelical engagement with contemporary questions by Graig L Blomberg</strong></p> <p>In many ways this is a more academic study of the issues raised in Jonathon Morrow’s book.  Blomberg is a New Testament professor at Denver Seminary and approaches the issues like a seminary professor would.  He really goes in depth on issues like can we trust the copies of the bible given to us, what about the books chosen to be in the Canon, can we trust any translation of the bible, what about biblical inerrancy, is the bible historically accurate and what about the miracles in the bible. </p> <p>This book is a tougher read but for those who really want to go in depth on these issues it is a good book.</p> <p><strong>ALL IN: You are a decision away from a totally different life by Mark Batterson</strong></p> <p>I think I have read most of his books and they always challenge me to be more committed to my faith.  This is a book that is easy to read and will challenge you to no longer be half-hearted but go ALL IN for Christ.  The outline of the book states clearly his challenge: NOW OR NEVER, All IN, ALL OUT, ALL IN ALL, ALL OR NOTHING.</p> <p><strong>Grand Central Question: Answering the critical questions of the major worldviews by Abdu H. Murray</strong></p> <p>This is another good book.  Murray is an attorney and a former Muslim.  He looks at the major worldview in our culture.  He looks at secular humanism, Eastern and Western spirituality and Islam.  He addresses the big questions addressed by various worldviews and then explains why Christianity offers the most satisfying answer because it is based on truth.  This is a book that will equip Christians to be stronger in their faith and answer questions for those who are curious about what it means to embrace the Christian faith.</p> <p>May you enjoy your reading and grow stronger in your faith.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:16:07 -0600 http://olivetonline.com/blog/winter-reading-list/ "Can the Bible Be Trusted?" http://olivetonline.com/blog/can-the-bible-be-trusted/ <p>Can the Bible Be Trusted?</p> <p> </p> <p>In the last 10 years we have had an onslaught of books, movies and documentaries like The Da Vinci Code, The Gospel of Judas, The Lost Tomb of Jesus that have raised questions about the validity of the New Testament  and more specifically about the bible’s  accuracy.  Johnathon Morrow in his book “Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority” answers many of the questions that have been raised about the Bible in our culture.  The book is very well written and it is very readable.  I think it is a must read for those who want to share their faith in the post-modern world in which we are living.  In this blog I want to give you an overview of just one of the chapters.</p> <p>In chapter 2, Morrow deals with the question  of how do we know what the earliest Christians believed?  I think this is a really important question that needs to be answered.  He begins with this quote from Bart Ehrman, “Christianity as we have come to know it did not, in any event, spring into being overnight.  It emerged over a long period of time, through a period of struggles, debates and conflicts over competing views, doctrines, perspectives, canons, and rules.  The ultimate emergence of the Christian religion represents a human invention…arguably the greatest invention in the history of Western Civilization.”   This thought process is what you hear over and over from people like Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code), the new atheists and skeptics.  The argument goes something like this.  If Jesus death, burial and resurrection occurred around AD 33 and the bible was canonized in AD 367 how can we be confident the core message of Christianity wasn’t changed, misremembered or distorted along the way?  The argument is that things like the resurrection and the deity of Christ were distortions and myths that grew over time.  Is that true?</p> <p>Morrow examines the question and with good evidence shows that it is not true that the message of the Christian faith was changed, distorted and misremembered along the way.  I think most would argue that Jesus resurrection from the dead is the central claim of the Christian faith.  His first line of argument is that we know that the writings of the NT  were all written within 30 to 70 years of Jesus death burial and resurrection.  This is incredibly early when it comes to ancient writings.  For instance, “the earliest biography of Alexander the Great included by Plutarch in his Lives—wasn’t composed until about 400 years after Alexander’s death?”  So we know that the NT was written early and by eyewitnesses of the crucifixion and resurrection.   This means that there was not enough time  for myths about Jesus to surface because the eyewitnesses to the events in question were still alive.</p> <p>He finished the chapter by answering the question, how do we know what the earliest Christians believed and how were they able to reliably pass core theology down before there was a functional canon of Scripture?  In other words how do we know what happened in AD 33 and what people believed then is what was canonized in AD 367.  Morrow cites the work of Richard Bauckham New Testament scholar from the University of St. Andrews.  Bauckman uses four  S’s to describe the organic process by which orthodoxy was maintained until there was a functioning canon.  Now, I am going to very briefly summarize his points but you will want to read the book.</p> <p>SCRIPTURES- The earliest Christians were Jewish and they saw a continuity between what God had done in the Old Testament  and what God was doing through Jesus the Messiah.  So they read the OT (Hebrew Scriptures) at public worship services.  This means the foundational documents of the earliest Christians was the OT.  This was their theological base.  For instance, this means they had a monotheistic worldview.</p> <p>SUMMARIES- The early Christians memorized and recited doctrinal summaries as they gathered for worship in house churches in the Roman world.  These oral summaries were later written in the NT  and often included technical language like “delivered” or “received” which was how Jewish rabbi’s passed formal tradition to their disciples.  “We have unequivocal evidence, in Paul’s letters, that the early Christian movement did practice the formal transmission of tradition.”  Some of the most famous doctrinal summaries are I Corinthians 15: 3-5, Romans 1: 2-4, I Corinthians 8: 4-6; 11:23-24.  Gary Habermas professor at Liberty University makes a strong argument that there are many more early summary type passages in the NT. In those memorized summaries we have the theological truths that Jesus died as substitute for our sins, was buried and then rose from the dead as promised in the OT.</p> <p>SINGING- The early Christians sang their theology in devotion to God.  You probably did not sit down and memorize “Amazing Grace” but you absorbed it over time.  So when early Christians gathered for worship they sang these great truths about the Messiah back to God.  Two of the most famous are Philippians 2: 5-11 and Colossians 1: 15-20.  These songs not only affirm the death, burial and resurrection of Christ but they clearly proclaim His deity.  Just listen to this song, “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2: 9-11.</p> <p>SACRAMENTS- Morrow points out that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were practiced on a regular basis in the local churches.  They picture the basic elements of salvation and the core theology of the Christian faith.  So you had a theological object lesson every time the ordinances were practiced in the early church. </p> <p>It is important to remember these creeds, songs, and practices predated the NT writings.  It was an oral culture because most people could not read.  Morrow says “Think of the last three S’s as “oral texts” that the earliest Christian community recited and practiced before a completed New Testament existed.  These foundational beliefs established the nonnegotiable core of orthodoxy from the very beginning.”</p> <p>Here is the point:  it is clear that the early Christians, those who were eyewitnesses of the death, burial and resurrection believed that Jesus was God who arrived in flesh.  He died on the cross as their substitute, was buried and rose from the dead.  It is clear the earliest Christian’s saw Jesus as divine and the promised Messiah.  He is the Savior.  These theological truths were not made up 300 years later but were convictions that Jesus taught and later his followers believed from day one.</p> <p>So, can we know what the early Christians believed?  Yes.  Can we know that what we have in the New Testament is credible?  Yes.  If you have more questions, check out Morrow’s book.</p> <p>Pastor Scott</p> <p>Sources<br>Johnathan Morrow, “Questioning The Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority”  pp. 45-55</p> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:13:07 -0600 http://olivetonline.com/blog/can-the-bible-be-trusted/