(Podcast 7.5.18) Message: “Ministry Fire: The Role that the Holy Spirit Plays in Ministry (Acts 19:1-22)

Source: (Podcast 7.5.18) Message: “Ministry Fire: The Role that the Holy Spirit Plays in Ministry (Acts 19:1-22)

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(Podcast 7.5.18) Message: “Bringing Up Future Leaders” (Acts 18:24-28)

Source: (Podcast 7.5.18) Message: “Bringing Up Future Leaders” (Acts 18:24-28)

Did God Create Evil?

Source: Did God Create Evil?

By: Brian G. Chilton | July 3, 2018

After Bible study one evening, a good friend of mine and I discussed the problem of evil. He asked an excellent question, “Did God create evil?” I said, “No, I don’t think he did.” However, my friend objected because he said, “God created everything, so he must have created evil.” This conversation was quite good, and we found common ground by the end of our discussion. This article relates some of the issues that we discussed.

One of the first issues we needed to define was the nature of evil. What do we mean when we say something is evil? He was using the term to define any type of disaster or bad thing. I was using to term to define immoral behaviors, such as torturing babies. How do we answer this question? Did God create evil? In this article, I would like to look at four common tricky areas that need to be dissected in order to answer the question.

 

Ontology and Epistemology of God and Evil. The terms ontology and epistemology are philosophical terms but are important to this area of conversation. One cannot neglect philosophy because bad philosophy often leads to bad theology. First, let me define the terms and how they play a role in this discussion.

Ontology is the study of the nature of being. It deals with how we know something exists. For instance, does a pizza exist? How do we know a pizza exists? These are ontological questions that deal with the nature of pizza’s existence. And oh, how tragic life would be without the existence of pizza!

Epistemology deals with the theory of knowledge.[1] This area deals with how we know something to be true. What is the nature of such and such? To use our illustration of pizza, ontology would ask, “Does pizza exist?,” whereas epistemology would ask, “Is pizza good? Can we know that pizza is tasty?” So, a created thing would deal with the area of ontology, whereas the nature of the thing would deal more in the area of epistemology more or less.

When we talk about God creating all things, we must understand that God created everything that exists including the potentials to do certain things. However, if we grant the existence of human freedom, then God is not responsible for the actions that people take. Yes, God provides the means and conditions that can lead to a person’s actions and God knows the free actions that a person will take, but the person is responsible for his or her own actions.[2] Therefore, God created all things and created the conditions where a person could do good or evil. But, God did not create evil, because evil is not a thing to be created. It is not like a virus or slab of concrete. Evil is an attribute. It is a personal rejection of the good, the good which is an attribute of God.

 

The Moral Character of God. God is thoroughly identified in the Scriptures as being the ultimate good. John tells us that God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). Scripture also indicates that God is absolutely holy, which means that he is set apart and absolutely pure (1 Sam. 2:2; 6:20; Ps. 99:9; 1 Cor. 3:17; Rev. 4:8). Since God is the absolute good and absolutely pure, it is false to claim that God does evil. James says that “No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself does not tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death” (Jms. 1:13-15). James answers the question for us in great detail about God’s relationship to evil. God cannot do evil because God is the absolute good.[3]

So, how do we know what is evil and what is good? If you are driving down a highway, you will see a sign that posts the speed limit. In town, the speed limit will most likely be 35 miles per hour. How do you know that you’re breaking the speed limit driving 55 miles per area in that zone unless there is a speed limit posted stating that one should only go 35 miles per hour? The law must exist before you can know if you’re breaking the law. Moral standards must exist before one can know that he or she is doing evil. Objective moral standards come from God. Again, evil is not something to be created. Evil stems from a rejection of God’s moral goodness.

 

Ra’ah, Disaster, and Evil. Let’s face it. Biblical interpretation is tough especially when it comes to the original languages. Some individuals have spent their entire lives seeking to master the biblical languages but are still left with questions. If that is the case, should those of us with less training in the biblical languages not have much more humility when it comes to such terms? I think so.

Often, Hebrew words can take several different meanings depending on context. I remember when taking Greek that Dr. Chad Thornhill would often emphasize context, context, context when interpreting a confusing term. In Hebrew, one such example is the confusion that occurs with the term ra’ah. Ra’ah describes a disaster but it can also be used to describe something evil. Ingrid Faro explains with the following:

“For example, the Hebrew root “evil” (ra’ra’ahr’ ’) occurs 46 times in Genesis and is rightly translated into English using at least 20 different words, and nuanced in the Septuagint by using eight Greek forms (11 lexemes). Yet English-speaking people often incorrectly assume an underlying meaning of “sinister, moral wrong” and interject that into each use of the Hebrew word.”[4]

In Amos 5:3, it is noted that “If this is a judgment announcement against the rich, then the Hebrew phrase עֵת רָעָה (’et ra’ah) must be translated, “[a] disastrous time.” See G. V. Smith, Amos, 170.”[5] Thus, the term ra’ah can indicate a disaster that has befallen a group of people and does not necessarily mean “evil” as some older translations have indicated.

But, doesn’t disaster indicate something evil? If God brings disaster, does that not indicate that God does something evil? No, not at all! God is holy. If a people are unrepentant and are unwilling to stop doing evil, then God is completely justified in bringing judgment. The disaster is not evil if it is due justice. Like a parent disciplining a child or a judge executing judgment against a convicted criminal, disasters are sometimes the judgment of God poured out upon an unrepentant people. I think it was good that the Allies stormed into Germany to overtake the evil Adolf Hitler. Likewise, it is actually good for God to bring judgment as it coincides with his holy nature.

 

Evil Allowed to Permit the Ultimate Good. So, the final question that must be tackled is this: If God is good, then why would he allow evil to exist in the first place? Why would he create a condition where evil could exist? The answer to this is quite simple. God’s allowance of evil is to allow a greater good. What is that greater good? Love. For love to truly exist, it must be free. It must be freely given, freely received, and reciprocal between both parties. God could have created us as robots or automatons. But, that would not provide true love. The ultimate love was given in Jesus, who experienced the horrors of torture and experienced the just punishment that we deserve. He did so that we would have life eternally. The penalty of our eternal punishment was paid on the cross at Calvary. God lovingly confers his grace to all who would willingly receive. His grace is freely offered and is freely received. This kind of love would not be possible if God had not allowed the conditions that would allow evil to exist. A greater good has come. One day, those who have trusted Christ for their salvation will no longer need to worry about evil because evil will be vanquished. The redeemed of Christ will be transformed. We will experience the bliss and glory of the heaven that awaits us. To God be the glory!

So, did God create evil? It depends on what you mean. God created the conditions for evil to exist but did so to allow a greater good which is the free love that is experienced between the Lover (God), the beloved (us), and the spirit of love between the two. Evil is not a thing to be created. Rather, it is a condition that exists when a person or group of people reject God’s goodness and his holy moral nature.

Notes

[1] “Epistemology is the discipline that deals with theory of knowledge. The term can be broken down into epistem-ology (Gk. episteme, “to know; logos, “study”). It is the study of how we know.”[1] Norman L. Geisler, “Epistemology,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 215.

[2] In Ezekiel, God notes that each person is responsible for his or her own actions. “But suppose the man has a violent son, who sheds blood and does any of these things, though the father has done none of them . . . [The son] will not live! Since he has committed all these detestable acts, he will certainly die. His death will be his own fault” (Eze. 18:10-11,13). It is true that God has control over history and the like. But remember, a person is responsible for his or her actions. God’s sovereignty does not negate human responsibility. God does not force a person to do anything. His Spirit may woo a person to receive his salvation, but he will not force a person to do so. Unless otherwise noted all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

[3] The Bible makes clear that God cannot operate in a manner that betrays his moral nature. For instance, Paul writes, “God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Ti. 1:2).

[4] Ingrid Faro, “Semantics,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[5] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Am 5:13.

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

Silence and Sovereign Sounds

Source: Silence and Sovereign Sounds

By: Brian G. Chilton | June 25, 2018

During a class on Paul, Dr. Leo Percer noted how people often bombard themselves with noise to keep from hearing the voice of God. As I began thinking about Percer’s statements, I found him to be absolutely right. Some will say, “But if God speaks, everyone will know it.” While that is true to a degree, one must realize that God does not always speak to a person with thunder, lightning, and booms from heaven. More times than not, God speaks to a person in a still, small voice. How ironic! The greatest power in heaven speaks with sweet simplicity. Note three ways how silence helped the prophet Elijah to hear God’s voice more clearly.

Silence Allows Us to Focus our Acknowledgement of the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:9-13). I wish I had the voice of Adrian Rodgers, booming from the depths of a rich, clear, bass voice, a voice that could be heard without a microphone. I am cursed with a soft-spoken voice, one that requires a microphone so that the harder-of-hearing are able to understand what is said. People often associate deep, rich voices with power and authority. While it is true that God sometimes speaks with a thundering voice that roars likened to the voluminous rushing of water down a mighty river (Rev. 1:15), at other times God’s voice is likened to a softly spoken whisper bringing peace and comfort to a troubled soul.

The latter was the case for one prophet named Elijah. Elijah was troubled, as we shall soon see. God directed him to the wilderness, away from the sounds of the city. Elijah was to climb a mountain and wait of God to speak to him. A mighty wind came through, perhaps something comparable to a tornado, but God was not in the wind. Then, an earthquake occurred that shook the feet of the prophet and everything around him, but God was not in the earthquake. A fire then broke out on the mountain, but God was not in the fire. At this point, I think I would second guess whether I should be on the mountain, but not Elijah. He waited for the Lord. Then, God came to Elijah in a soft whisper. Elijah acknowledged the soft-spoken nature of God’s voice.

The trouble with being hyper-busy is that we do not take the time to acknowledge God’s voice. Perhaps that is the reason why some people stay as busy as they do. As Percer said, “When we bombard our lives with noise, we keep ourselves from realizing that Someone else is there.”

Silence Allows Us to Focus our Attention on the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:3-4). Going back to verses 3-4 of the passage, one will note that Elijah was frightened and depressed. Elijah had just victoriously defeated the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He was outnumbered 450 to 1. If Las Vegas had existed then, Elijah would have been called a strong underdog. Yet, Elijah was victorious! God has shown his power through the prophet! The false prophets were met with destruction. Elijah had been victorious, but his celebration was short lived. Ahab and Jezebel wanted his head. Elijah had overturned the political focus on Baal. History has taught us that standing opposed to a ruling political power can be hazardous to one’s health.

Elijah was afraid. This prophet who boldly stood in Yahweh’s name was frightened. He was depressed and suicidal. He wanted God to take his life (19:4). Yet, God told him that he needed to go to the mountain where he would meet the prophet. Elijah needed to get away from the sounds of the city and focus his attention not on his fears but on the Sovereign God.

How do we attempt to solve our depression and problems? Some will try to bombard themselves with entertainment, digging one’s nose deeper into the screen of a tablet, a phone, or the television connected to a gaming system. Others try to solve their problems with the bottle. Others still try to solve their issues with the needle or joint. More likely, people will drown themselves in noise and busyness. Yet, the real solution is to take time with God. Take time to be alone with God. You may find that if you take away all the distractions of life that you will hear God most clearly.

Silence Allows Us to Focus our Acceptance to the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:14-18). Elijah heard from God and he had a clear direction on how he must proceed. Elijah was about to anoint future kings and future prophets. Elijah’s fears subsided. He focused on God. He didn’t focus on his problems, on his presuppositions, or on his station in life. He focused on God and accepted what God had him to do.

Silence allows us to put things into proper perspective. We can hear from God and direct our attention to do what God would have us do. When we are immersed with God’s Holy Spirit and directed to a particular task, we may find that we will have clearer direction than we ever could imagine. A pastor friend of mine will take annual hikes on the Appalachian Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He has told me numerous times that he has a greater sense of direction from God when he returns.

The Deep Quiet Zone at Liberty University’s Library

Let me close with this. In a loud and busy world, it is difficult to settle in with silence. When I was at Liberty University, I took some time to read in the Jerry Falwell Library on campus. The library has three sections: the regular section where people can talk normally, the quiet section where people are allowed to only whisper, and the deep quiet section where no one is allowed to make any noise at all. I chose to read in the deep quiet section. To my surprise, it took me ten to fifteen minutes to be able to focus on the book I was reading because I was not used to that level of silence! Perhaps, we would be much better off if we lived quieter lives—lives not so much that desire to be seen, but to see; lives that desire not so much to speak, but to listen; and lives that no so much desire to be in the limelight, but rather in the background. It is far better to be in shadows of the Sovereign God than in the spotlight of self.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

(Podcast 6.15.18) Flashback Edition: “From Cambodia to the United States, Part 1” (w. Siv Ashley)

Source: (Podcast 6.15.18) Flashback Edition: “From Cambodia to the United States, Part 1” (w. Siv Ashley)

(Podcast 6.8.18) Message: “Bringing God Glorification through Saintly Unification, Part 2” (Acts 15:36-41)

Source: (Podcast 6.8.18) Message: “Bringing God Glorification through Saintly Unification, Part 2” (Acts 15:36-41)

The Need for a Reformation in the SBC

Source: The Need for a Reformation in the SBC

By: Brian G. Chilton | June 4, 2018

The prophet Micah reminded the people of Israel of what the Lord required of them: “to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8).[1] It seems that we need to hear these words once again. I have been quite troubled over the past few weeks and debated on whether I should even comment on the issue. The Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination in which I serve as a pastor, is facing a crisis. An identity crisis. A moral crisis.

You have probably heard about the scandal that has rocked the Southern Baptist Convention and two of its seminaries: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, North Carolina. The scandals are based around Dr. Paige Patterson who allegedly failed to report charges of rape at both SWBTS and SEBTS to the proper authorities and furthermore was claimed to have told one victim that it was good that she had been raped.[2] While there have been claims that the whole ordeal has been blown out of proportion,[3] evidence continues to surface that seems to suggest that the claims are indeed true. It does not help that Patterson has admitted to counseling abused women that they should stay in the physically abusive home, with one case resulting in a woman being given two black eyes by her abusive husband.[4] In addition, Patterson used very questionable language in referencing a 16-year-old girl.[5] While the latter was said in jest, it is still quite questionable.

The actions of Patterson have led to his dismissal from the presidency of SWBTS, even to the point that his President Emeritus title has been removed.[6] Many of us in Southern Baptist life are quite hurt by the things that have transpired. We wonder what is going to happen to the denomination. Understand that the previous was not written to bash Patterson, but to simply convey what has already been published. I hope that everyone is praying for Patterson and the people he has hurt.

In full disclosure, I am writing this as a conservative, non-Calvinist, SBC pastor. I think that if the SBC is going to move past this tragedy, there must be a reformation within our denomination. This reformation must occur in five different ways.

 

The SBC must reform its view of women. The SBC needs to elevate its view of women. I am not referencing the complementarian/egalitarian debate. Rather, I am talking about the SBC’s view on women. Have we elevated the status of women to where Christ has? Milton Hollifield, Jr., the executive director of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, has said much of the same. Hollifield noted, “Women should know and believe that if God has raised them up, they will be given the opportunity to serve on committees and certain places of leadership.”[7]

As an apologist, I cannot tell you the times that women have expressed concern that they have no place in Christianity. Some have even taken an erroneous view of Paul’s beliefs about women which probably came from a pastor or denominational leader who himself espoused such a view. I think we must let women know that they matter and that they are of value.

 

The SBC must reform its view of morality. One of the most disturbing aspects of this entire debacle has come from fellow Christians who seemingly support the idea that abused individuals should stay in the home and expose themselves and their children to the abuser’s assault. How is this justified? All in the name of a hardcore stance against divorce! While the Scripture indicates that God’s intentions are for a man and woman to remain married, there are exceptions given.[8] How are we to truly seek justice, as Micah says, if we allow bullies of the home to continue to abuse their spouses and children? Where is the justice in that interpretation?

 

The SBC must reform its view of justice. As a pastor, I realize there are certain issues beyond my level of expertise. If someone is suffering from a heart condition, I will refer them to a cardiologist. If someone is suffering from bipolar issues, I would refer them to a psychologist. How could we not refer a raped victim to the proper authorities? I understand that we should try to keep things in church as much as possible. But when a person’s life is threatened, it is time to allow the due process of law to take place. Doesn’t Paul tell us that our officials can serve as God’s arm of justice (Rom. 13:4)?

 

The SBC must reform its view of leadership. A good friend of mine used the phrase blind allegiance to describe those who accept what a leader says without question. However, as a community of faith, should we not hold our leaders accountable? I am not saying that we should find every nit-picky thing wrong with a leader. Nor am I saying that we should take apart every word that is said. However, when our leaders fail, we hold them up in prayer, but also hold them accountable for their actions. This does not mean that we do not forgive. Forgiveness is a core element of the Christian faith. Yet, when a person’s advice comes to the level of being dangerous, or even lethal, to the person receiving the advice, it may be time to have a serious discussion with that leader. The SBC needs to be able to hold its leaders accountable, no matter whom they are. These political power struggles need to be replaced. Perhaps, there needs to be some restructuring in the denomination. Whatever the case may be, SBC members need to have a voice from both small and large churches.

 

The SBC must reform its view of unity. As noted earlier, I am a non-Calvinist.[9] Even still, I am dismayed at the hostilities that exist in SBC life between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Is it not possible that we can get along so long as both sides agree on the necessity of evangelism? When this came out, the non-Calvinist side claimed that the Patterson ordeal was nothing more than a political stunt by the Calvinist branch of the SBC. If we cannot find a way to work together, there will be a major schism in the denomination sooner rather than later.

 

Not all Southern Baptists will agree on everything. That is a given. But, if we as Southern Baptists cannot find a way to work together, there will not be a denomination left. Furthermore, God will not bless an institution that permits abuse. On that, I am quite sure. Jesus said it best, “If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand” (Mk. 3:25). If we cannot find a way to fix these problems and unite under the banner of Christ, then the SBC will eventually be nothing more than a passing memory. Lord, help us learn to “to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with” you (Mic. 6:8).

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and currently serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

[2] Sarah Smith, “Southern Baptist leader told alleged rape victim it was ‘good’ she was raped lawyer says,” Star-Telegram (June 2, 2018), http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article212356699.html.

[3] Sharayah Colter, “Untold Truth,” NormanGeisler.com (May 2018), http://normangeisler.com/the-untold-truth-about-paige-patterson/.

[4] You can hear Patterson’s whole statement at https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Farchive.org%2Fdetails%2FPaigePattersonsbcAdviceToVictimsOfDomesticViolence&h=ATNM6NPPUNICW5RLKEsD_b_efsKDBUwrXm4uW5HnNYVIcdbuebvDTXIKv6Ivc0M3duQd8kjNEoD4pyzzdqHXNmXs6W8qqEzMC14S_A_Rsd7e6fH31NmUcL9yinNnIyYOdw&s=1.

[5] You can hear the controversial statement here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDRUVmcaQ3k.

[6] Jody Brown, “Patterson’s Role as Seminary’s President Emeritus Short-Lived,” OneNewsNow.com (May 31, 2018), https://onenewsnow.com/church/2018/05/31/pattersons-role-as-seminarys-president-emeritus-short-lived

[7] Milton Hollifield, Jr., in K. Allan Blume, ed, “Hollifield Calls Next SBC Leader to Advocate Dignity of Women,” Biblical Recorder (June 2, 2018): 13.

[8] Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 19:8-9; 1 Cor. 7:15. A good friend of mine shared with me John Chrysostom and Martin Luther’s interpretation of 1 Cor. 7:15. They argue that abuse is a proper reason for separation and divorce according to 1 Cor. 7:15. I concur.

[9] To be exact, I am a Baptist Molinist. See Brian G. Chilton, “What is Molinism?,” BellatorChristi.com (May 15, 2018), https://bellatorchristi.com/2018/05/15/what-is-molinism/.