Absolute Truth

truthI recently shared some thoughts on Facebook and enjoyed various comments made by my friends. I thought I would carry the discussion on absolute truth over to my blog. Here’s some additional thoughts in response to some of the discussion.

 

Homophobia is not my problem. Sinophobia is. I am afraid of what sin can do in me, in you, in our culture, and in our world. I’ve seen it at work in my life for 52 years, and I see it unleashed in our culture. It is destroying us. One problem is our tendency to ignore sin in our lives. I’ve done it with the best of them. One way we try to ignore it is to justify our actions, ignore our actions or redefine our actions. We justify our actions often times by comparing ourselves to other people. I can always find someone worse than me; therefore, my sin doesn’t look so bad. The problem is that other people are not the standard – God is. Our culture is working to justify actions through talk or predispositions. Some scientists and media personnel are determined to justify an action that is contrary to the Bible by trying to show that a predisposition to a sinful lifestyle is pre-determined by an inborn quality. To say someone has a female brain in a male body justifies homosexual behavior. To say someone is naturally oversexed justifies a promiscuous lifestyle or an addiction to pornography. First of all, there has been no real evidence that someone is born with a predisposition toward homosexuality. The fact is; however, we are all born with a predisposition to sin. Homosexuality is not the only issue. Sin is the issue. The problem is that we do not want to call it sin. If we call our actions sinful, there must be a standard of righteousness. If sin exists, God must exist. If God exists, then we are accountable for our sins. It is easier for me to justify my behavior, whatever kind of sinful behavior that might be, than to be accountable for it.

 

I will hasten to say that Christians feel much better talking about someone else’s’ sinful behavior than their own. It feels more comfortable being critical of homosexuality while ignoring lust. The fact is that sin is sin. Jesus had to die for all of sin. I am grateful that God loves the sinner and meets us where we are, but if we are going to deal with our sin, we must first acknowledge that we are sinners. To acknowledge sin means that we must recognize a standard of moral truth. Is truth relative or absolute? Can something be wrong for me but not wrong for you?

 

There is a such thing as cultural truth. Cultural or geographical truth can be relative. For example, if you live in Great Britain, it is against the law for you to drive down the right side of the street. You are required to drive on the left. In the U.S., we are required to drive on the right. Obviously location is going to determine right and wrong in regard to that particular traffic law. I do believe there are some cultural issues addressed in the Bible, and for that matter, there are some cultural issues not addressed in the Bible. For example, God did not address the morality of slavery in the Bible. Though the practice of slavery was different in the N.T. times than it was in the 19th century, God doesn’t really address the moral issue of right and wrong regarding owning slaves. I have wondered if polygamy in the Old Testament fell into this category. Was it a cultural truth that was descriptive for that time but not prescriptive for all of time? There were more women in that culture than men. Is it possible that God allowed it as a means of taking care of women, but it was not His ideal? We do know that there were some cultural truths related to certain laws. The N.T. helps us to understand that there were some cultural laws that related to just the Jewish people in the O.T. that did not apply to N.T. believers. Peter had been taught not to eat unclean animals, but he then had a dream saying that all things were clean. Circumcision was required for Jewish males, but the N.T. makes it clear that it is not a law for every culture.

 

When I speak of absolute truth, I’m not talking about cultural issues but rather moral issues. Mistreating people is wrong for all people for all of time. Mistreating others is never justified. This is a moral absolute. In a recent Facebook note, I shared a statement about a transgender youth. Sadly, some people responded to her YouTube post with venom and hatred – even to the point where someone said they wanted to kill this youth. That is ridiculous and inexcusable. It is an absolute truth that mistreating people is always wrong. The Bible speaks to many moral truths, and the Bible sets a standard for absolute truth. Does this mean that Christians always have the right attitude about people and sin? No. Do Christians always act in a Christ-honoring way? Absolutely not! Just because a Christian acts ungodly does not mean that it is okay to ignore absolute truth. For that matter, just because a Christian acts wrongly toward you does not justify putting all Christians in the same category or dropping out of church or ignoring the teaching of the Bible. It’s funny that church is one of the few things in society we apply those standards to. For example, I’ve been treated badly at Walmart before by employees and customers. I still go to Walmart. When that happened, I acknowledged that a Walmart employee had a problem or a customer I confronted had issues (or maybe even I had issues), but I didn’t stop going to Walmart. Just because a Christian acts ungodly, I cannot write off the truth of God’s Word. The fact is a Christian’s misbehavior does not cause Romans 6:23 to be any less true for me or you: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

The real issue here has to do with whether or not moral truth is absolute. Regardless of what our culture says, I say that it is. I’ll share some more on this later, but in the meantime, what are your thoughts?

Last Days Questions – Part 2

lastdaysI recently had the privilege of speaking at Wall Highway Baptist Church in Madison, Alabama about preparing to stand firm in the days leading up to the return of Christ. A number of questions were sent to me in response to the message. I answered a few in my last blog post, here’s a few more.

Someone asked whether or not the United States was mentioned in the Bible in regard to the last days. There really is no definite reference to the US in Scripture, or specifically Bible prophecy. Ezekiel 38:13 has a subtle mention of what appears to be the colonies of Great Britain, which obviously could be a small reference to the US: “Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?” The word “villages” literally means lion cubs. With a little imagination, you could say that Tarshish refers to Great Britain and the lion cubs are all of the British colonies. I think this is a bit of a stretch. Others have tried to use various passages to refer to the US, but the bottom line is that the United States does not seem to find a place in Bible prophecy. I believe that is because the United States will be of little consequence in the world by the time the Tribulation Period starts. It pains me to say that, but there really is not another explanation. It could happen through economic failure or terrorist attack. It could happen through a merging of nations (there has been talk of merging the countries of North America into one nation). Regardless of the reason, the Bible does not specifically mention the US in prophecy.

Someone else asked, “If all these things (deception, falling away, etc) are supposed to happen, how then should we pray?” In my book. Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days, I describe the various pieces of spiritual armor and their connection to things that will be happening in the last days. Prayer is a vital part of putting each piece of armor in place. I encourage people to take each principle represented by the armor (truth, righteousness, salvation, peace, faith, hearing the Word of God) and pray over that principle. For example, you could say, “Lord, thank you for your truth that is sharper than a two-edged sword. As I go through my day today, please allow your truth to open up my heart and my mind so I can see myself as you see me. Penetrate even to the dividing soul and spirit as you help me discern my motives and actions today. Help me to act on the truth and apply the truth. As I am confronted with the lies of the evil one today, help me to stand firm on the truth of your word. Please protect me from deception, and help me to proclaim your truth today through my actions and my words.”

I think we should also pray for the church today because the church is under great attack. The spiritual battle will affect churches, pastors, and missionaries. Pray for God’s protection and strength. Also pray for our children. Satan wants our children, and we must fight for their souls and their hearts. Pray that God will prepare us for difficult days that will include economic struggle, persecution, and heartache. Ask God to help us be prepared for the unparalleled opportunities we will face as His return draws near. We must be sharing our faith and proclaiming the good news.

Someone else asked, “How would it change your approach if rapture involved evil leaving and us ruling on earth?” The Bible does say that we will reign with Jesus during the Millennial reign of Christ, but it also says that God’s wrath will be poured out on the earth before that time. I do not believe this will happen just because God is angry. I believe it is in part because God is offering one final opportunity for salvation for those who are unbelievers. Some people believe that things will continue to get better and better, and we will be ushered into the Millennial Reign, but I do not believe the Bible teaches that, and our experience certainly discounts that. I do not believe we can watch hundreds of Christians being murdered by ISIS and think that things are getting better. I could sit and imagine how my approach would be different, but I believe the Bible does not indicate that evil will be raptured. 1 Thess 4:16-18 is very clear that Christians will be raptured.

Someone asked if I think the Antichrist is alive today. I believe the rapture could happen in my lifetime, and if it does, then the Antichrist would be alive today. He may be a little boy being raised in some Arabic community, or he might be a young man serving in some minor political office. It is only conjecture because we do not know when Christ will return. If you believe in an imminent return of Jesus, then you would have to believe the Antichrist is alive. I think the rapture could be any day. I think things are going to have to get worse before the Tribulation Period begins, but this could happen quickly. I do believe the Antichrist could be alive today.

Questions regarding the Last Days

I enjoyed speaking and singing at Wall Highway Baptist Church in Madison, Alabama this past weekend. It was great to meet some new people and have an opportunity to talk about preparing to stand firm in the days leading up to the return of Christ. For those of you who were there, you know that we had a time of questions and answers with the questions being sent in by text. I answered a few questions on Sunday, but I would like to answer all of the questions that were submitted. I’ll answer a few today and finish up tomorrow.

ebolaThe first question related to whether or not I thought Ebola and enteroviruses are end-time plagues. The Bible does talk about plagues during the last days. Consider the words of Luke 21:11, “There will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines…” It will always be easier to look back at events and see them as fulfillment of prophecy than to recognize it is a fulfillment as it is happening. At the same time, Jesus told us to be alert and watchful for the fulfillment of signs. I do believe that the increase of diseases and plagues is a fulfillment of prophecy. It is possible that a number of years from now when there are much greater plagues going on than Ebola, this current situation will not feel like a fulfillment of prophecy. It could be the “beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8) with a growing intensity of plagues hitting us in the years ahead. It is also true that plagues have been a part of life from the beginning. I’m sure that when people were dying by the thousands from the plague known as Black Death in the 14th century, people could have easily thought it was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Actually, it is estimated that around 75 million people died throughout the world from the plague. It is difficult for us to say with certainty that Ebola is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, but I think we can say that if Christ’s return is to be in our lifetime, it is the beginning of birth pains. There is also another angle to be considered. Daniel prophesied that in the last days, a one-world government would be formed. I believe we will continue to see things happening in our world that will draw our nations together to form a dependence on one another. There will be a growing sense of unity and need for one another to solve our problems. It will make a global unification much more palatable to a world that once was consumed with nationalism.

The second question was about the blood moons. If you are not familiar with this topic, NASA has reported that there would be four lunar Blood_moonseclipses over a period of 15 months. These eclipses would make the moon appear to be red, like blood. These blood moons are taking place during Jewish holidays. Acts 2:20 quotes the prophet Joel predicting such a lunar eclipse in the last days before Christ’s Second Coming: “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” I believe John Hagee is a little off with his comments whereby he said that the blood moons are a sign that God is about to do something significant in Israel. He points to the 4 blood moons (tetrad) that happened in the 15th century as a sign for Israel, and there was a great persecution of the Jews in Spain in 1492. He said the next one highlighted Israel becoming a nation in 1948, and then the next tetrad was to highlight the Six-Day war in 1967. The only problem with this position is that the Four blood moon tetrad happened in 1493 and 1949 (a year after these events happened in Israel’s history). The four blood moon tetrad did coincide with the Six-Day war in 1967. In his video presentation about this topic, Hagee predicted the four blood moons in 2014 and 2015 point to the Battle of Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38-39. I would say that the blood moons are unusual and God may be using them as a sign, but I would be careful. If it were to be a sign, it seems like the tetrad would have happened before the event. Ezekiel 38-39 also indicates a few things will need to happen before this predicted war (Gog and Magog). For example, verse 8 of Ezek 38 says that Israel will be living securely at the time of this invasion. Since 1948, Israel’s borders have not been secure. It will take some time for this to happen. I believe we are seeing the beginning of it happening now, but Israel’s enemies (Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, etc.) will have to be minimized before this great battle will take place. It is difficult for me to see that happening in the next few months, though I am aware that it could happen. I do not have a problem with saying these blood moons could be a prophetic sign, but I do not believe we can say so with certainty.  I say that also because there were four other four blood moons before 1492 that did not seem to have anything to do with Israel. Most people believe Israel will do something to protect themselves against Iran, and there is no doubt that this could lead to the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39 at some point in the future. I think we will also see the prophecy of Isaiah 17 (the destruction of Damascus) coming to pass in response to some of this unrest. Let’s be firm about what the Scripture does say, but let’s not jump into speculation and make it appear to be confident truth.