“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Luke 9:23-24
Consider: self-seeking is self-destroying, and self-denial is the only way to our safety. We were well when we were in the hands of God [in the Garden of Eden before the Fall] and had no need to care for ourselves. But we were lost as soon as we left Him and turned to ourselves. If God cares for you, [then] Infinite Wisdom cares for you — Whom no enemy is able to overwit or circumvent; Who can foresee all your dangers, and is acquainted with all the ways of your enemies and with all that is necessary to your preservation. But if you be at your own care, you are at the care of fools and short-witted people — [who] are not acquainted with the depths of Satan, the subtleties of men, nor the way of your escape, but may easily be overreached to your undoing! If you are in your own hands, you are in the hands of bad men who, though they have self-love, yet are so blinded by impiety that they will live like self-haters!
And this experience fully manifests in that all sinners are self-destroyers; no enemy could do so much against us as the best of us does against himself. If a man hates himself as bad as the devil hates him, he could show it by no worse a way than sin; nor do himself a greater mischief than by neglecting God and the life to come, and undoing his own soul as the ungodly do. Should you sit down of purpose to study how to do all the hurt to yourselves that you can, and to play the part of your deadliest enemies, I know not what you could do more than is ordinary with ungodly men to do, except to go a little further in the same way.
The words of the text which heads this page are few, short, and soon spoken; but they contain great things. Like those golden sayings, “To me to live is Christ,” “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” they are singularly rich and suggestive (Phi 1:21; Gal 2:20).
These three words are the essence and substance of Christianity. If our hearts can really go along with them, it is well with our souls. If not, we may be sure we have yet much to learn.
Let me try to set before my readers in what sense Christ is all, and let me ask them, as they read, to judge themselves honestly, that they may not make shipwreck in the judgment of the Last Day.
I purposely close this volume with a message on this remarkable text. Christ is the mainspring both of doctrinal and practical Christianity. A right knowledge of Christ is essential to a right knowledge of sanctification as well as justification. He that follows after holiness will make no progress unless he gives to Christ His rightful place. I began the volume with a plain statement about sin. Let me end it with an equally plain statement about Christ.
In a culture that demands Christians give up the Bible and accept the secular humanist age of the earth at billions of years, it seems the discussion about 6,000 years vs. 10,000 years gets left behind. Yes, biblical creationists unite to battle the secular dating system and that is the “bigger fish to fry,” but at times, we can’t ignore the little fish in the bucket that needs to be cooked up too.
Where Is the Debate?
Statements of faith from various ministries can range, depending on their ministerial focus—and rightly so. But the foundation of our faith goes back to the early pages of Genesis, so we at Answers in Genesis encourage Christians to take a stand on biblical creation and have a statement to reflect it. Many times we applaud the way these statements on creation are stated, and in other cases we groan.
Some Christians try to avoid the subject by generically stating that God created. Of course that leaves room for Christians who mix their Christianity with certain tenets of other religions like humanism’s origins account. For example, when Christians deviate from the Bible in Genesis and deny biblical origins, they are trading it for secular humanistic origins such as evolution, millions of years, and/or the big bang.
When we talk about the vicarious aspect of the atonement, two rather technical words come up again and again: expiation and propitiation. These words spark all kinds of arguments about which one should be used to translate a particular Greek word, and some versions of the Bible will use one of these words and some will use the other one. I’m often asked to explain the difference between propitiation and expiation. The difficulty is that even though these words are in the Bible, we don’t use them as part of our day-to-day vocabulary, so we aren’t sure exactly what they are communicating in Scripture. We lack reference points in relation to these words.
Expiation and Propitiation
Let’s think about what these words mean, then, beginning with the word expiation. The prefix ex means “out of” or “from,” so expiation has to do with removing something or taking something away. In biblical terms, it has to do with taking away guilt through the payment of a penalty or the offering of an atonement. By contrast, propitiation has to do with the object of the expiation. The prefix pro means “for,” so propitiation brings about a change in God’s attitude, so that He moves from being at enmity with us to being for us. Through the process of propitiation, we are restored into fellowship and favor with Him.
‘ENDEAVOURING TO KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BOND OF PEACE.’ EPHESIANS 4:3
Beloved, religion is the great bond of human society, and it were well if itself were kept within the bond of unity; and that it may so be, let us, according to the text, use our utmost endeavours ‘to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’
These words contain a counsel and a caution: the counsel is, ‘That we endeavour the unity of the Spirit’; the caution is, ‘That we do it in the bond of peace’: as if he should say, I would have you live in unity; but yet I would have you to be careful that you do not purchase unity with the breach of charity. Let us, therefore, be cautioned that we do not so press after unity in practice and opinion, as to break the bond of peace and affection.
In the handling of these words, I shall observe this method: First, I shall open the sense of the text. Second, I shall show wherein this unity and peace consists. Third, I shall show you the fruits and benefits of it, together with nine inconveniencies and mischiefs that attend those churches where unity and peace is wanting. Fourth, and lastly, I shall give you twelve directions and motives for the obtaining of it.
First, As touching the sense of the text; when we are counselled to keep the unity of the Spirit, we are not to understand the Spirit of God as personally so considered; because the Spirit of God, in that sense, is not capable of being divided; and so there would be no need for us to endeavour to keep the unity of it.
As Christians, we are always to be ready to give a defense of the hope that is within us (1 Pet. 3:15). The basis of this hope is our confidence that the Bible is God’s Word. It is trustworthy and sufficient. I’ve put these five points together as something of a quick reference notecard for why I believe the Bible. They can serve as a quick reference for personal evangelism or devotion. That is, they can help you to tell others why you believe the Bible while also reminding you (amid seasons of doubt) why you believe it.
(1) THE BIBLICAL ARGUMENT
By this, I only mean that the Bible claims to be God’s Word. This claim is not just in a remote passage or book but throughout. We read in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The source of the text, the Word, is God himself. There is no flinching on this fact from Genesis to Revelation. The fact that the Bible claims to be God’s Word and proves to be so throughout history needs to be on my mind when dealing my doubts or a skeptic’s.
(2) THE HISTORICAL ARGUMENT
In short, the people and places in the Bible show up in history. When we read of descriptions of times and events we often find these same things in extra-biblical history. Further, when archeologists dig and uncover ancient artifacts it often shows us that biblical events that were not previously discovered were in fact true. And finally, the history of events from within the Bible concerning prophecy, they happen. Consider the Babylonian captivity, King Cyrus, and the details concerning the life of Christ. Within the canon of Scripture, it unfolds with historical consistency.
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works” (Ps. 139:14). The reference there is to the physical body of man, which is the product of Omniscience. “Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep (treasure and submit to) them” (Ps. 119:29). The Maker of man’s body is the Author of the Word and each is alike “wonderful”, evidencing its Divine source. The human body is made up of two halves; two arms and legs, two eyes and ears, two lungs and kidneys etc.; so also the Word is made up of the two Testaments. Each is a living organism: a single and complete entity, yet with many members. Each of those members is necessary to give completeness to the others, and the cutting off of one results in mutilation to the whole. Each of those members has its own function to fulfill and each book in the Scriptures makes its own separate contribution to the sum of Divine revelation. As each physical member is fitted for discharging its own distinctive office, so the substance of each book in the Bible is suited to its own special theme. As there is a real difference between both the texture and purpose of the eye and the ear, so there is between the contents and leading subjects of any two books in the Word.
The analogies drawn between the living and physical body of man and the living and holy Word of God might be considerably extended. The design and functions of some members of our bodies are self-evident even to the layman. But there are others which are understood only by a trained physician. In like manner, the purpose and purport of some of the books of the Bible is more or less apparent to the rank and file of God’s people, but the special character and distinctive features of others is discerned only by the Spirit-qualified teacher. That particular parallel may be extended still further: as there are certain glands of the body which still puzzle anatomists, so there are some books of Scripture the theme of which is by no means certain to the most diligent student. After all the centuries that have passed and all the attention that has been devoted to the human body and the Divine Word there yet remains an element of mystery about the one and the other, and only the blatant or the ignorant will deny it.
My smartphone is my untiring personal assistant, my irreplaceable travel companion, and my lightning-fast connection to friends and family. VR screen. Gaming device. Ballast for daily life. My intelligent friend, my alert wingman, and my ever-ready collaborator.
2. Your smartphone is not all good.
Study after study has shown that too much time on our phones has profound effects on our physical health, including (but not limited to) inactivity and obesity, stress and anxiety, sleeplessness and restlessness, bad posture and sore necks, eye strain and headaches, and hypertension and stress-induced shallow breathing patterns.
The physical consequences of our unwise smartphone habits often go unnoticed, because in the matrix of the digital world, we simply lose a sense of our bodies, our posture, our breathing, and our heart rates.
3. Your smartphone amplifies your addiction to distractions.
We check our smartphones about 81,500 times each year, or once every 4.3 minutes of our waking lives. While our relationships with our phones may not be lifelong covenant relationships (though carrier contracts can feel like it), I would not be the first to suggest that owning a smartphone is similar to dating a high-maintenance, attention-starved partner.
We all know that the world has become pornified, that the internet has made available to all of us an entire universe of pornographic content. Yet many of the statistics we rely on and commonly quote have become outdated. As technology changes and as new generations grow up, the pornographic landscape inevitably changes. I went looking for updated numbers and want to present some of them to you today. All of these are based on credible studies carried out in 2016 or 2017.
In 2016, people watched 4.6 billion hours of pornography at just one website (the biggest porn site in the world). That’s 524,000 years of porn or, if you will, around 17,000 complete lifetimes. In that same time people watched 92 billion videos (or an average of 12.5 for every person on earth). Significance: So many people are using so much porn today that it is really impossible to tabulate. But understanding how much is consumed at just one site can at least help us see that this problem is nothing less than epidemic.
At age 11, the average child has already been exposed to explicit pornographic content through the internet. 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to internet-based pornography during their adolescent years and 22% of the vast quantities of porn consumed by people aged under 18 is consumed by those aged less than 10. Significance: Parents are nothing short of negligent if they take no steps to protect their children from being exposed to pornography.