The Dynamic Gospel Encounter

November 7, 2017

By: Ronnie Rogers, Pastor
Trinity Baptist Church Norman, OK

“So Jesus said to them, ‘For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.’ These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them” (John 12:35–36).

These two verses give a clear picture of what is happening during the gospel encounter. The news of Lazarus being raised from the dead had created quite a crowd of both Jews and Greeks (12:9, 17–22). Vs. 34 reveals that Christ’s claims were met by more questions, but the time to answer such questions had passed; it was time to share the gospel. Continue reading

Playground Joys

November 6, 2017

By Walker Moore
Awestar Ministries

The other day, my wife and I were walking into a toy store when she commented that Titus the Honorable and Cohen the Goodhearted are about the right age for a swing set. At the sound of those two words, “swing set,” my mind took me to a fond place in the distant past. How much fun I had on a swing set as a child!

Now, that old swing set wouldn’t come close meeting today’s safety standards.  As I describe it, some of you will say, “Oh, my!” while the rest will say, “I had a swing set just like that.” The first thing I remember is that the legs weren’t anchored. As you swung back and forth, they would rise one at time and then drop back down, as if the swing set were prancing on the lawn. If you could get the timing just right, it would gallop like a wild stallion.

But to my brothers and me, swinging was secondary to the set’s main purpose as a well-crafted child-launcher. We would have a contest to see which one of us could go the highest and farthest. You had to be a master of physics to know the appropriate time to let go so you could sail through the air. Any miscalculation and … let’s just say it would end painfully. The object was to land as far away from the swing set as possible and remain upright on your own two feet.

If you’re like me, maybe you remember some of the other pieces of equipment from the playgrounds of your youth. First was the slide that wouldn’t slide. You would go an inch, screech to a stop, and then you would have to screech and scoot the rest of the way down. I knew how to fix that. All we needed was a can of WD-40 ad a pair of gunny sacks, and the slide would turn into yet another child-launcher.

And the merry-go-round? I won’t even begin to tell you what my brothers and I did on that instrument of torture, but our goal was to avoid having it become a child-launcher, too.

What about the teeter-totter? It wasn’t just for teetering or tottering; it could be repurposed as a tightrope. We would balance ourselves with arms out, walking to the other end and feeling like one of the Flying Wallendas. The teeter-totter could also be used to play paddle ball, where I was the paddler and the lighter brother on the other end was the ball. I loved to see how many times I could bounce him.

As I write this, I have help from a beautiful, talented 10-year-old writer, Emiley Watkins from Kingfisher, Oklahoma. She reminded me of the other dangerous piece of playground equipment: the monkey bars. Emiley should know. She broke her arm on the monkey bars at school and sprained her ankle going down a slide.

Yes, the playground has risks. But back in the day, the joy in our play was to take something simple and transform it into something better. And better meant more joy!

Did you know God also finds delight in helping you find His joy? People often think of Him as a cosmic killjoy whose purpose in sending His only Son was to make you more religious. But that is as far from the reality and the truth of God as you can get. God is not into religion, but a relationship. That’s why He sent Jesus: to set you free. In the exchange of your life for His, He will give you a new way of thinking.

 The older we get, the harder it is us for us to change our way of thinking. But with Jesus, our disappointments become His divine appointments, earthly problems are exchanged for divine solutions and tragedies are traded for triumph. Old things become new.

 You can view the Bible, God and His Son Jesus in one of two ways. Those who haven’t begun a relationship with Jesus see these as a prison wall—to contain and to oppress, to give you a set of rules. If you don’t play by these rules, you will be punished. But to those who have a living, loving relationship with Jesus and His Word, the Bible, God and Jesus are a fence around a playground, and inside is where the joy abounds. Prison wall or playground fence—it all depends on which side of the fence you stand.

 God paid a price so you could enter the playground: the death, burial and resurrection of His only Son. If you have not done so, would you make a choice to start following Him today? “The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there” (Zech. 8:5).

Foreknowledge Doesn’t Require Predestination

November 2, 2017

By: Dr. Leighton Flowers,
Director of Apologetics for Texas Baptists

An event can be certainly known without necessarily being determined by the one who certainly knows. To suggest otherwise is a modal fallacy which conflates certainty with necessity. (William Lane Craig explains more here.) 

You and I may know for a certainty that I posted this very article at on September 17, 2017, but only one of us determined to do that. Knowledge of the event does not necessarily have a causal link to the determination of that event. 

But what about events known in the future by an omnipotent Creator? Are all events that God foreknows only foreknown because He Himself has determined them to come to pass, as many Calvinistic scholars imply in their argumentation? I do not believe so. Allow me to explain why. 

Consider this passage as just one of many examples:

“David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” Then David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will surrender you.” Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.” -??1 Samuel? ?23:9-13? ?ESV??

The passage above proves that God foreknew of an expedition that did NOT come to pass, therefore demonstrating that exhaustive divine foreknowledge of all things does not equal exhaustive divine predetermination of all things. 

A Calvinist may rebut by saying, “But God also foreknew David would ask these questions and leave the city after being told Saul was coming.” 

I would respond by saying, “so what?” The fact is that God foreknew an event that did not come to pass. That is all that is needed to establish that foreknowledge doesn’t necessitate determinism. Plus, the point of our contention is not over whether or not God foreknew of David’s questions and his response, the real contention is over whether the knowledge itself necessitated or determined David’s choices. There is nothing logically or biblically to suggest that it did. After all, God foreknew of Saul’s expedition and that never came to pass. 

Biblical translator for Logos Bible Software and Phd in ancient near east languages, Dr. Michael S Heiser, teaches more on this point for those who are interested: CLICK HERE.

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