Ask the Pastor…

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask and I will respond to you via this page. When I respond, I will NOT reveal your name as the individual asking the question. That will stay anonymous. If you have a personal question for me and don’t wish this question to be shared, please tell me so and it will stay between us and I will not put it on the page.

Please email me at: nelson@agapehomefellowship.org and I will respond to your question as soon as I can. Once I have responded and the answer is on this page, I will notify you.



 

The questions: What is an Atheist? Is it A Religion? How do I know who wrote The Bible?

An “atheist” is a person who believes that God does not exist. Whether or not it is a religion depends on who you ask. An atheist would never say they are a religion. If we look at technical definition on what a religion is, we see that a religion can be a “belief in a god or in a group of gods.” However, we can also define a religion as “an organized system of beliefs” or “an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.” An atheist would use the first definition of religion to prove they are not a religion. However, atheists have an organized system of beliefs” and those beliefs are “very important” to them. 

An atheist believes in the theory of evolution. Notice it is a theory…not a fact or a law. A theory requires belief since a theory is “an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events.” In order to have an idea, we must apply cognition to the thing being proposed. We must, therefor, believe.  A belief is “a feeling of being sure that something is true.” In this case, the something they believe to be true is the origin of mankind being a purely chance occurrence that had no outside assistance by a creator since it is their belief there is no such thing as a creator. So, by the strict definition of what a religion is; atheism is a religion. It is a system of belief that are intended to prove the lack of God. They are convictions and ideas that are intended to explain what they perceive and believe is a fact. That  fact is that there is no God. That is their system of beliefs and since it is a system of beliefs, it is a religion.

I took many biology classes when I was doing my undergraduate work at Texas A&M. Between “Biology I and II,” “Physiology and Anatomy I & II,” and various exercise physiology classes, health classes and psychology classes, I have over 35 hours of classwork devoted to the physiological and psychological makeup of man. I have often said: “If I did not believe in God before all of these classes, I would now.” An honest look at the complexity of single cell organism, much less the immense complexity of the human body with its systems and back-up systems, only leads to one possible answer: There is a creator. In my opinion it takes MORE faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in a creator.

When we examine the intricacies of scripture, it is difficult to come to any conclusion other than a divine authority inspired it. The intricacy of the Bible further proves, to me, the existence of a designer; a creator. The Bible was written by over 40 different authors over a period of 2,000 years. However, when we look at it as a whole, we see an intricate continuity woven throughout its pages. Now, the atheist would never come to this conclusion since they are not interested in reading the scripture for enlightenment. They only read the scripture to the extent they believe they can disprove it. But when we read the scripture with the idea of it being written by one author, the Holy Spirit, we easily see how the fabric is woven tightly together. We see how the passages rest on each other, overlap and support each other. This would be a difficult task for even the most accomplished writer. But when we remember that fact that it is written by over 40 different writers, that task is impossible. 

Now, remembering that the Bible was written centuries ago (the last book-Revelation-was penned around 95 a.d.), by ancient men, we must wonder how they had the insight they did. How it is that ancient men wrote:

The earth was round? Ancient men believed the earth was flat. Scientist used to teach the earth was flat. Some cultures taught the earth was flat and riding on the back of a tortoise (the “Geoterrapinism Theory,” which was believed and taught by native Americans and some in Asia (Indian and Chinese cultures). In fact, some people still adhere to a flat earth theory. However, Isaiah 40:22 says “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth.” The Book of Job, perhaps the oldest book in the Bible written 1,000 years before Isaiah, said “He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness” (Job 26:10). In the middle of these two ancient writers is Solomon who said “When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep” (Proverbs 8:27). Scripture clearly teaches the earth was round. The horizon, as seen from space, where the boundary of light and darkness is circular. It’s curved. This is something Isaiah, Solomon or Job should have known nothing about, but yet they did. They only explanation for their writing is the inspiration of the creator. 

Have you ever wondered why God said He separates our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12)? Well, the east and west will never tough each other. If you could fly a plane eastward, you would never get to the point where you turned west. If He has said “as far as the north is from the south” that would have been a finite distance. You can only go north so long before you turn back and head south (or vice versa). That happens at the north pole. God tells us that the separation from ourselves and our sin is an infinite distance.

About air currents? Ecclesiastes 1:6 says, “The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.” Here we not only see the concept of a round earth (the wind heads south until it hits the south pole and then turns north), but we also see the cyclonic nature of storms. It wasn’t until the time of Benjamin Franklin that man even thought of the cyclonic nature of storms and wind. It was Franklin who conducted the first experiments to prove it in the 18th century. However, about 2,500 years before Franklin conducted his experiments, we see God telling us, through Solomon, that the winds follow a cyclonic course that goes round and round. Indeed modern science has improved on the theories of Franklin and our modern tools, observations and satellite images, prove that the winds truly go “round and round” on their course. There is a branch of meteorology that deals with this specifically and it is called “streamline analysis.” If you will Google or Bing “streamline analysis,” you will find a mountain of images of the winds moving in their courses and round and round. It’s only through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Solomon could have written about this phenomenon 2,500 before Ben Franklin discovered it. 

About plate tectonics? The discovery that the earth moves on currents of molten lava is relatively new. It is what we commonly call plate tectonics. However, Job 28:5 says, “As for the earth, out of it comes bread, but underneath it is turned up as by fire.” This is an exact description of plate tectonic theory. The top of the earth is solid and we are sustained by it, but below its surface, the earth is turning and churning due to great heat. The earth is literally “turned up” by the tectonic process, with parts of the earth being pulled underneath other parts and parts of it being thrust upwards. Underneath it all is fire; hot, liquid fire we call magma. The idea that this was the process by which the earth churned is only a couple hundred years old and really wasn’t proven as fact until the last 100 or so years. There is no way to explain jobs knowledge of it thousands of years ago other than through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

About trenches in the sea?  For most of history, man considered the seafloor as uniform in depth. It was not until the last 200 years that man discovered there were deep tranches in the sea. The Bible spoke of such things long before mankind discovered it. In Job 3816, God asks, “Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?”

About Pangaea? Within the last hundred years or so the theory of “Pangaea” has been proposed by scientists. That theory states that the earth used to all be one landmass. However, Moses (the writer of Genesis) spoke clearly about that almost 4,000 years ago when he wrote “the earth was divided” in the days of Peleg (Genesis 10:25).

These are but a few examples of how scripture teaches science long before science even understood these mysteries. For more examples of how Scripture proves science, you can go here or here.

If the Bible is not inspired by God (in its original writings – the “autographs”), then truth is relevant. The postmodern world will say this is true or that is true. If we do not have an accurate measure by which truth can be determined, then no religion is better than another. If the scriptures are a lie, then the foundation of all Christianity will crumble. We believe, with faith, that God’s word is true and inspired. 2 Timothy 3:16,17 says: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (ESV).” We believe the Word of God is our only rule for faith and practice.” It governs what we believe and how we live our lives. When we look at passages of scripture (as seen above) that teach scientific facts long before they were theorized, and when we look at the continuity of scripture as a whole and how it is woven together in an infinite fashion, we are left with no other conclusion. That conclusion is: “There is a creator and that creator is the author of the book we call ‘The Bible.'”

 



The question: Does the Deuteronomy 28 blessing apply to the believer today and if it does, do the curses of Deuteronomy also apply?

What a good question! And a hard one too. It’s certainly a question that we need to address given the number of churches who routinely claim the Deuteronomy 28 blessing during a service. As I always say, we need to keep everything in context and we have to look for universal application. If it’s a true immutable law of God (IOW-the law or promise can never be changed and has universal application), it will always be proven true when tried. So let’s look at it from that angle.

Some in the Word of Faith movement have made the Deuteronomy 28 blessing literal…meaning it applied to individuals under both the Old and New Covenant. One of the problems I’ve always seen with this is they never talk about the curse. Because of the context of the passage, you can’t have it both ways. It’s either all or none. If we are going to hold up our Bibles in the air and claim the blessings of Deuteronomy 28, we must also submit to the curses of Deuteronomy 28. After all, the blessing portion of Deut. 28 only takes up the first 14 verses. However, the curse portion of Deut. 28 is 54 verses long. That means there is 3x as much emphasis placed on the curses of disobedient than the blessings of obedience. Therefore, the whole of the chapter is more devoted to cursing and disobedience rather than blessings from obedience. To focus only on the blessing is to take the passage out of context and we should never do that.

We have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal 3:13), that is certainly true. However, we have not been freed from the sin penalty. We also know the Lord chastens those who He loves (Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19) …and that chastening can look a lot like the Deut. 28 curse. God loves His children and even though we have been redeemed from the curse of the law, we have not been redeemed from the disciple of God. God disciplines those He loves. So, if we are to say God will bless you according to the Deut. 28 blessing, we must also warn people that God will discipline them if they disobey God’s Word and that discipline could take the place of the curses in Deut. 28. So, in some aspect, the curse of disobedience is similar to the discipline for disobedience.

The principle of blessing is the same in the Old and New Convent and in a way it is tied to obedience. God blesses those who love and keep His commands but that blessing, many times, is a heavenly reward…not a reward we reap immediate and tangible benefits from here on earth. We get into a lot of trouble when we look for physical, tangible blessings from obeying God’s commands. If this is always the case, God owes a LOT (millions) of apologies to all the faithful believers throughout history. There are countless numbers of individuals, throughout the Old and New Testaments, who obeyed God without fail and yet they never saw their enemies driven before them…they never abounded in prosperity…they never had tangible blessings from their obedience. Instead, they were sawn into…killed…crucified….starved to death…beheaded. If Deut. 28 is to be taken literally and is for individuals, God owes a lot of apologies to a lot of people.

To keep it all in context…you need to read Deut. 27 and Deut. 29. When we read it all, we see that Deut. 28 was for the nation of Israel…not individuals. Deut. 29:1-3 says,  “These are the words of the covenant that the LORD commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that He had made with them at Horeb. And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders.”

Did you see that? : These (Deut. 28) are the words of the “covenant that the Lord commanded Moses to make WITH THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. Deut. 27 and 29 have some individual blessings and cursing’s…but Deut. 28 is for the entire nation. Deut. 28:9 says, “The LORD will establish you as a people holy to Himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.” This is plural, not singular. Therefore, in the context of the passage, the blessing and curse is for a PEOPLE…plural…not individual persons.

This blessing and cursing covenant was made with the WHOLE people…not the individuals. There were always Godly men and women who were obeying the law and doing all that was in the curse. Think of Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah: They were diligent to obey ALL of these commands…but their enemies did not flee from them 7 different ways. These men were taken captive…starved…lied in poverty…all according to the curses of Deut. 28. So…if Deut. 28 was for individuals…why did these Godly men suffer so and why were they taken captive? Why did their lives look like a life under a curse without any tangible earthly rewards? Where was their prosperity? Where was their victory? Where were they the head and not the tail? We don’t see these blessings for these great men of God who penned much of our scripture.

Think of Isaiah. He certainly obeyed ALL of the law…and was certainly diligent in obeying Deut. 27-29…every little bit of it…yet his enemies (which were his own people) killed him. If we apply Deut. 28 to the individual…then it would appear that Isaiah (and Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Amos…well…ALL of the old testament prophets) was under the Deut. 28 curse…but we know that cannot be…so the only way to reconcile the two is to understand that Deut. 28 applies to the entire nation of Israel as a whole. And when we do that we understand that even though some individuals were obeying the law…the nation as a whole was not…and the whole nation was cursed.

NOW…BACK TO THE NEW TESTEMENT:

We can apply the same principles to NT saints. If the Deut. 28 blessing (and I am speaking of interpreting it very literally) can be applied to the NT Christian…then someone will need to explain how Paul got his head chopped off by his enemies. He was certainly obeying God totally, as were the other apostles, yet none of them reaped any of the Deuteronomy 28 blessing. All throughout the New Covenant time, believers have been persecuted and killed. This is in direct contradiction to the blessings they were supposed to receive.

So, how do we prove a promise from God is “tried and proven true?” By examining the evidence. If the promise is universal, it will ALWAYS be proven true in every case. If a promise is universal, there should be no evidence to the contrary. Those who teach (mostly in the Word of Faith movement) that the Deuteronomy 28 blessing is to be taken literally and is for individuals today (and many WoF churches will recite this during service) have a lot of evidence to explain away. If prosperity, abundance and safety from one’s enemies are part of God’s immutable laws (unchanging over time or unable to be changed), then why have so many millions of Christians over the last 2000 years been killed by their enemies? Why did Paul praise the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:1, 2), who were extremely poor? If being poor is a curse of disobedience, then why are they praised? If they WERE obedient, then why are they poor? This is contradictory evidence and if Deuteronomy 28 is an immutable blessing for everyone, how can these contradictions be reconciled? How do we explain the thousands of Christians today, who by all accounts are devoted and obedient to God, who are starving to death and defeated (physically) by their enemies.

You can’t. There is no way to reconcile these contradictions and given the evidence from scripture and from experience, the only interpretation is that Deuteronomy 28 is not for individuals. Period, be it Old or New Testament. Those who teach the Deuteronomy 28 blessing as literal to the believer today have a lot of explaining to do. They have to come up with answers that explain all the examples of poverty and hardships we see in the scripture and even today.

The simple answer is this: Our rewards are never supposed to be earthly…but heavenly. Jesus explains this very clearly in Matthew 5:12. Paul echoes this in 1 Corinthians 3 when he makes it clear that our reward will be given to us at the judgment seat of Christ. If we are to believe the Deuteronomy 28 blessing is for each of us individually, then we have to concede the earthly blessing is sporadic at best. If it’s sporadic, then it cannot be an immutable promise.

I hope this helps,

In Him,

Br. N