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Peruse Bible teachings and church happenings

evidences / apologetics

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Tense Conversations & Wise Words

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

In the past 10 days, I’ve been involved in or overhearing close friends in conversations on the following topics: Pride Month, atheism-vs-Christianity, modesty, depression, Christians and martial struggles, Catholicism-vs-Biblical Christianity, and the current state of the Israel-Hamas war. I know I’m stating the obvious here: any conversation on those subjects has the potential for argument, tension, and hurt feelings. They are all places where emotions run high and opinions grow strong.

The combination of all of those has reminded me of the importance of our words. When we speak as Christians, we are called to always speak graciously, with words “seasoned with salt,” so that we have the wisdom to answer each person appropriately in a given situation (Col. 4:6). We’re told that having the thoughtfulness to say the right thing at the right time is like giving the gift of fine jewelry (Prv. 25:11-12). We’re told that speaking the right word at the right time will bring us joy (Prv. 15:23), and that refraining from speaking when it’s right to do that will help us just as much (Prv. 21:23). In any and every situation, Christians are called to be thinking people, so that we will answer in a way that gives true benefit to everyone who hears it.

I’ve been encouraged by the Christians that I’ve heard in these conversations this week. I’ve heard believers speak their convictions, respect the convictions of others, admit mistakes they’ve made, and resolve conflict in healthy ways. I’ve heard them speak up for the truth to others who were holding to spiritual and religious errors. I’ve heard them have the humility to say, “This is what I think, but I could be wrong” when it came to some of the topics listed above. I’ve been encouraged by their examples to speak with wisdom all the time.

I hope and pray that I’ve handled the conversations where I was involved with the grace and wisdom that I should have. And I pray that for all of us—that our speech will always be the kind of gracious, wise, truthful words that Christ himself would speak.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Faith-Building Fridays | The Bible's Own Claims

Saturday, April 06, 2024

The Bible is a collection of things that prophets and apostles wrote over the course of many centuries, all brought together to tell us the story and the system by which humans can come to God through his son, Jesus. It’s a unified work, sewn together with common themes, common purposes, and a common story from beginning to end. And as Christians, we believe that the words contained in it were given by the mind and the mouth God.

We believe that God “inspired” the Bible writers, not in the sense that he just planted a small thought and left it to their best judgment to flesh it out, but that he put his actual words into their minds to be spoken and/or written down for people everywhere. That’s a big claim. One that is hotly contested by many, but one for which there is plenty of evidence.

The first big batch of evidence for this kind inspiration comes from within the Biblical documents themselves. The writers repeatedly state their belief that they are declaring words from the mind of God. Keep in mind that these claims were made by different men from different times and places. They did not claim to have contributed a chapter or a section to the overall work that is the Bible; they just understood that God was speaking a message through them which was relevant to the situation and the people right then. Consider a few examples:

When the Ten Commandments were given, the account began this way: “And God spoke all these words…” (Ex. 20:1)

When the commands in Deuteronomy were being delineated, Moses urged the people to “keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.” (Dt. 4:2)

When King David made his final speech, he opened by making the bold claim that “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.” (2 Sm. 23:2)

The introduction to Jeremiah’s large work begins with how the author got the message which he wrote: he was one “to whom the word of the Lord came.” (Jr. 1:2)

The Bible’s writers often stated their conviction that these words had come from beyond themselves. These words came from God, and that is why they must be heeded and obeyed. We’ll talk more about this same thought in next Friday’s post.

- Dan Lankford, minister

Faith-Building Fridays | Evidence for the Bible

Friday, April 05, 2024

For the past three months, we’ve explored various evidences that point toward God’s existence as Creator and point away from the prevailing explanations for existence touted by other worldviews. It’s our prayer that these have been encouraging to you and have more firmly established your faith in God. Now it’s time to pivot to another area of faith-building apologetics.

In the next three months’ posts, if the Lord wills, we’ll be talking about evidences in favor of the Bible: where it comes from, whether it’s still the same message the apostles and prophets spoke, and why it’s worth following with our whole lives.

We assume that most of our readers are already believers who are committing yourselves to following the Bible, and we hope that these articles will solidify that commitment in your heart.

We also pray that these thoughts will be read and considered by some who don’t know God and the transformative, saving power of his word. And we hope that these writings can bring hearts like those closer to knowing and enjoying the mercy of God too.
In either case, these articles stand as small testimonies to the power of a much greater writing: the spoken and recorded word of the Lord of Hosts.

Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:104-105)

- Dan Lankford, minister

Faith-Building Fridays | The Signature in the Cell

Friday, March 22, 2024

When archaeologists discover markings on walls, tablets, or papers at a dig, how do they determine if what they’ve found was put there by intelligent life or it’s just naturally occurring? How do they know whether what they’re seeing was carved or it’s just striations in a rock? The answers comes down to a combination of two fundamental criteria.

Repetition and complexity show intention. If a picture on a cave wall repeats the actual appearance of an animal or person, then we can tell it was done by an intelligent being. If symbols repeat often in a series of symbols, then we can tell that they’ve been put there deliberately. Additionally, a certain kind of complexity shows intelligence. Simple up-and-down, side-to-side repetition rock strata align with the natural process of gravity, but to find right angles and stacked stones at a dig site shows more complexity than natural processes achieve on their own. 

It's this combination that shows signs of intentionality. And in the natural world, one profound example of this combination points to God’s intentionality in creating it: DNA.

DNA is an incredibly complex code that provides the written language by which every living cell is designed, is built, and functions. It carries all the biological information needed by an organism—colors, shapes, sizes, and process instructions. It does this in a language that biologists are only recently decoding and finding to be remarkably clever. With a vocabulary of 20 amino acids, an unfathomable number of combinations are available, and they all communicate so much intricate design.

The DNA code’s patterns for all of life point backward to the Intelligence which wrote the code, just as the discovery of a written language in archaeology points back to its intelligent writers. It reminds us that all life bears the fingerprints of an intelligent Designer. The signature of design is present in the repeatable and variety-laden language of every cell of every living thing. When we look to the DNA code, we see yet another reason to say with the psalmist: “Your hands have made and fashioned me…” (Ps. 119:73)

- Dan Lankford

Faith-Building Fridays | The Timeframe Problem

Friday, March 15, 2024

My youngest son is about 18 months old, which happens to be the perfect age to start donning those super-cool dinosaur t-shirts. I pulled one out of his dresser the other day when I was getting him dressed. Tan shirt, dinosaur green lettering, white T-Rex skeleton in the center – classic. Then I read the writing, “40 ft long… 7 tons… Could run 20 mph… 60 razor sharp teeth… Lived 65 million years ago.” Ah, there’s the evolutionary propaganda!

One of the most fundamental pieces of evolutionary theory is its immense timeframe. If all the complexity of life on Earth came from one common ancestor, then you need millions and billions of years for those changes to develop. With enough time, anything can happen, right? So, evolutionists claim that life has been billions of years in the making, but how could anyone know that? Prove that? 

How could anyone know that the T-Rex lived 65 million years ago?

Carbon dating is the answer we’re given. Carbon dating is key to the claim that the Earth is billions of years old, and it proves that the T-Rex on my son’s shirt is 65 million years old… or so we’re told. Unfortunately, we’ve not been given the whole truth about carbon dating. 

Did you know that carbon dating is totally ineffective once too much time has passed? Did you know that carbon dating has an expiration date after which it becomes completely unreliable? And did you know that its expiration date is about a few thousand years?

Consider what the renowned atheist, Richard Dawkins, had to say about the limitations of carbon dating, “It is useful for dating organic material on the archaeological/historical timescale where we are dealing in hundreds or a few thousands of years, but it is no good for the evolutionary timescale where we are dealing in millions of years.” 

Evolutionary theory requires an extraordinary chunk of time to back up its claims, but the dating method it uses to establish that time frame is more suspect than a gallon of milk that’s been sitting out on your counter since 2018. I’m not sure they could fit all those words on my son’s shirt, but it’s far more honest than declaring that T-Rex lived 65 million years ago.

- Jonathan Banning
 

Faith-Building Fridays | The Fossil Problem

Friday, March 08, 2024

Did you know that Darwin had reservations about his own theory of evolution? Did you know that there is one piece of data that gave him fits and cast doubt on everything he’d theorized? That piece of data is the fossil record. Last week, we discussed on Evolutionary Theory has a life problem, but it also has a fossil problem. Rather than offering support for Darwin’s theory, fossil evidence unravels everything.

Darwin’s theory proposes that all life evolved from a common ancestor: an alleged single-cell organism that crawled out of a primordial chemical soup. The theory goes on to claim that over the course of billions of years, all life forms gradually evolved from basic and simple to diverse and complex. If that were true, then we should see two things in the fossil record:

First, we should expect the fossil record to be arranged in a certain way. We should find only simple, basic creatures in the lowest layers of dirt, and we should find that the creatures become more diverse and complex as we go up. Second, we should also find millions of fossils of transitional life forms that demonstrate the gradual evolution from one type of creature to another. To offer an example, if we believe that fish eventually evolved into dogs, then we should be able to find many fossils that illustrate how the fish-to-dog transition took place.

Of course, that is not at all what we find in the earth.

The fossil record doesn’t show a gradual progression from simple life to complex life. Instead, there is an explosion of life—both simple and complex—that happens all at once. It’s even called the Cambrian Explosion. Neither does it show millions of transitional forms that catalog the gradual progression of evolution. Instead, we find that lifeforms have remained surprisingly static throughout the layers of sediment. To be fair, we do occasionally find that natural selection has led to some changes within species, but nothing that demonstrates the transition from one type of animal to another.

The fossil record looks nothing like Darwin and exactly like Genesis (Genesis 1:20-27).

- Jonathan Banning

Faith-Building Fridays | Evolution Theory's Fatal Flaws

Thursday, February 29, 2024

It’s so tempting to follow the crowd. It’s so tempting to be swayed by popular opinion. People find great comfort in knowing that they’ve aligned themselves with “The Consensus,” or that they’ve agreed with, “The Experts.” Truly, more often than not, public opinion is accurate, and the experts are correct. However, this is not always the case—there was a time when the public believed the Earth was flat and the experts believed the sun was the center of the universe. 

You shouldn’t always follow the crowd, nor should you always trust the experts.  

We bring this up because Darwin’s evolutionary theory has become the preferred explanation for the origin of the universe among the experts and the masses. The notion that all of life on Earth evolved from a single-celled organism over billions of years is pretty much “The Consensus.” We want you to appreciate that, despite the overwhelming support of the public and the gatekeepers in academia, evolutionary theory has some tremendous flaws. So, we’ll spend the next three weeks highlighting some of those flaws.

- Jonathan Banning

Faith-Building Fridays | Purposeful Design & Our Life Purpose

Friday, February 23, 2024

The work of Christian apologetics largely comes down to arguments for and against certain things. But the necessity of those arguments stems from our responsibility to love and serve the one true God. Creation-versus-evolution is more than an argument to be won; it’s ultimately a discussion of whether we must obey God or not.  This is especially true of the teleological argument: it’s not just about finding the fingerprints of God in his created universe. It’s a demonstration that the universe is not just a meaningless churning of matter and energy; it’s the design of a Creator. And that Creator creates with purpose. And that means that he has created us with a purpose. 

God’s seven-day work of creation reaches its climax in the creation of mankind. The account of man’s creation says these familiar words: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gn. 1:28) There is a broad and deep purpose in those commands; a purpose that God gave to no other creature. Man is unlike all of God’s other creatures. There is a kind of nobility—what Francis Schaeffer called “mannishness”—that is unique to us. Man has a telos—a purpose, a responsibility to labor in God’s world to bring it into full alignment that glorifies Him.

No other earthly creature has such a grand purpose. No other creatures fills a role so important. No other creature has received the favor of God in such a special way. And no other creature has such responsibility put upon them.

This is where the implications of apologetics come into full view. If our arguments for God’s presence are true, then we must ask, “What does believing in God mean that I’m supposed to do?” The answer is that we are supposed to fulfill the purpose for which he made us. We are supposed to live in faithful service to him.

The universe is declaring that you were made on purpose, with a purpose. Go live that today, for the glory of God.

- Dan Lankford, minister

 

 

 

Faith-Building Fridays | Three Demos of Purpose

Friday, February 16, 2024

Last week, we discussed the teleological argument: that a universe which appears to be purposefully designed must surely have a designer. Here are some examples which we believe prove that point.

First: Earth’s placement in this solar system. As many scientists have noted, this is the only planet in the solar system which is suited for carbon-based life forms. Its perfect distance from the sun means we stay warm without baking to death. Its size allows gravity to hold us to the surface without crushing us. Its atmospheric gases are perfectly balanced for countless types of creatures to breathe them. Our single moon has the perfect ratio of mass, distance, and movement to keep the world’s tides moving (which keeps the oceans clean) without destroying life on land. These evident designs point to a Designer.

Second: The nature of many biological systems. Michael Behe coined the term “irreducible complexity” to describe biological systems where the removal of one part would disable the entire system. The principle shows a key problem of Evolutionary Theory, which believes that complex systems come into being one element at a time. But even in single-cell organisms, some things are so complex that they *must* have been designed as a complete system. These evident designs point to a Designer.

Third: The DNA code—a language, written in chains of nucleotides, which is so intricate that were its like discovered in any other setting, we would have no doubt that it had been created purposefully by an intelligent being. This “Signature in the Cell,” as Stephen Meyer calls it, shows another compelling example of purpose in the universe. It is yet another evident design that points to a Designer.

Ultimately, God’s purpose in creation is to glorify himself and share his immense love. He does things on purpose. So, whether we look to the planets and the stars, the cycles of waters and winds, the systems in cells, or our own existence (cf. Gen. 1:26-27), we will continue to see teleology. Reality has his fingerprints on it in so many ways that someone once said, “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”

- Dan Lankford

Faith-Building Fridays | Designed With A Purpose

Friday, February 09, 2024

The truth that God created the universe is of utmost importance to the faith. And it’s no wonder that it continues to be so hotly debated. The logic follows perfectly easily: If God is not the creator, then the world is not his and neither are we, which releases us from responsibility of knowing him. Conversely, if God is the creator, then world is his and so are we, which means we’re accountable for serving him. And so this one fact is of truly great importance. Is God the source of existence, life, and human purpose; or is he not?

We are writing these articles because we believe that he is the creator. One of the reasons for this is the apparent design in the world—the fact that everything from the vastness of space to the precise perfection of the subatomic world bears the marks of purpose, design, and seamless fit. There is function and beauty in this reality that cannot have come to be by the atrophy that characterizes natural processes.

This is the principle of teleology. It’s the principle that says, “If a thing appears to have been designed with a purpose, then there must have been a mind behind that purpose.” This principle stands in direct opposition to naturalistic philosophy, which believes that all reality can and should be explained by unintelligent happenstance in the natural processes.

Evidence of a telos is abundant in the natural world. It is wonderfully ironic that many efforts to discredit divine creation lead us again and again to clearer evidence for its truth.
It’s no wonder that Paul said there are truths about God that can be known by observation of the natural world (Rm. 1:19-21). It’s no wonder that Job was left speechless as God enumerated the unknowable but clearly intentional workings of the natural world (Jb. 38-39). It’s no wonder that Jeremiah felt right in comparing God’s unwavering love to the predictable orderliness of the sun and the moon and the ocean’s rolling waves (Jr. 31:35-36). All of these, and many more besides, show that the function and beauty of reality are the work of an intelligent mind. Do they teach us his will for our lives? No. But they do stand as testaments to his existence and creative work.

- Dan Lankford

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