Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Bible Questions and Answers ]

Lonnie Branam

Thank you for being with us for another study of the Bible. I take it that those who log on to this website accept the Bible as the revealed word of Almighty God. I think I speak to people who recognize that the very foundation of our country and the civilization in which we abide rests upon our faith, confidence, respect and reverence for God's word. Will you, therefore, with David White and myself study some of the things that might be interesting, helpful and profitable regarding this wonderful volume of divine truth which we have in our possession?

David: We have seen a series of scandals in government, among television preachers, in sports, education and business. Is morality on the decline in America?

Lonnie: All of these developments you mentioned reveal a lack of integrity in people in general and even among many of our nation's leaders. Not only is morality on the decline, but we are in the midst of a crisis in morality. Crime rates have soared because the law is too easy on criminals, and as a result we see a decline in respect for human life and human rights. Abortion has been legalized, and this shows a frightening disregard for the value and dignity of human life. From a moral viewpoint, abortion is no longer a big deal for most people. Pornography is becoming more and more acceptable. Divorce rates have escalated, people live together without benefit of marriage; and it is no longer considered immoral to be unfaithful in marriage. It is an indisputable fact that there is an obvious decline in moral standards in the United States and other parts of the world.

David: How do you account for this decline in morals? What do you consider to be the cause of this crisis in morality in our generation?

Lonnie: In my judgment, one of the causes is the unprecedented expansion of scientific knowledge in the 2ist century. We are all indebted to science for the blessings it has brought to mankind by way of improved knowledge, health, wealth and comfort. In addition to these things the sciences have increasingly helped to define our century's views of mankind, Science presents a view of man which differs radically from the traditional view which Americans have held ror centuries. The traditional view of man is the one the. founders of our country had. They believed in the biblical view that man was created in the image of God and that man had a dignity and importance that animals do not have. Furthermore, because of his closeness to the Creator and his divine nature he is obligated to be a highly religious and moral being. The God of Christians says, “You shall be holy because I am holy.” The word holy is a synonym for purity, goodness and justice. Historically, Western Society has deriyed its belief in the dignity of man from its Judeo-Christian heritage that man is the glory of God, the highest of all His creatures. Americans have held this view for many centuries, and it has greatly affected our view on human rights and morality.

Please note these great words from The Declaration or Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” America has always believed that all men are endowed with inalienable rights by the Creator God. An inalienable right is a right which cannot be taken away from us. This implies that there is a moral law, an absolute standard of right and wrong which God has placed over all nations and cultures and that there are rights which he has given us which no nation or power can rightfully take away from us. It is a historical fact that from the founding of our nation, Americans have believed there is a code of morality which exists independently of the state or government. The founders of our country believed that right and wrong have a validity apart from government decree. Our forefathers founded this country on that belief.

David: Lonnie, don't Americans still hold to the belief of our founding fathers that the God who made has given us an absolute standard of right and wrong which is universally binding on all mankind?

Lonnie: David, a great change has taken place in the thinking of Americans in all levels of society. The traditional view of man, based on the Bible, is not the scientific viewpoint. Many educated people in the Western world have abandoned the traditional view of man and replaced it with a more contemporary scientific view. It is a view that promulgates a less exalted view of man. This more scientific view says that man was not created; he evolved. There is no all powerful being called the Creator, and from a strict scientific viewpoint man has no special dignity or position above the animals. Man is here by an accident of nature, having evolved from the lower animals. Only man's material complexity distinguishes him from the other biological structures that inhabit the universe. Now this view has a powerful impact on the subject of morality. If this be the true view of man's origin and place in the universe then there is no absolute standard of morality, and no absolute code of morals should be imposed on him, except such moral laws as each government or culture sees fit to impose on him. If there be no moral Ruler over all mankind, then each nation or culture has the authority to determine what is right and wrong. According to this idea, morals are relative to each culture and may vary from culture to culture. This view on morality is known as relativism. This is opposed to the biblical view of absolutism which says God is the ultimate source of authority on morals.

The traditional view of man says that God is the authority on morals and all mankind is accountable to His standard of morals. The scientific view says that man is the authority on morals, since there is no higher authority in existence. Hence, each culture has the right to determine its own code of morality. Morals are relative to the each culture, and no culture has the right to impose its code of morals on another culture. With this new view of man gaining in popularity in our public schools and by our political leaders, it is not surprising to learn that there is an obvious decline in the moral standards of our country. Everybody is doing what's righ in his own eyes. He feels he has the right to do his own thing. A good illustration of what happens when this new view of man is accepted in a culture is seen in the communist nations of the world. Under communism, the idea is rejected that man has inalienable rights given by the Creator. Espousing Atheism they accept the modern scientific view that man is simply an accidental development out of the animal world and that he is here by no special design or purpose. Under communism all rights are granted by the stat and no rights from God are recognized. Right and wrong have no validity apart from govenment decree. The government decides what is right and wrong. This scientific view is gaining momentum in the world that says each culture has the right to decide its own moral laws, and no other nation has a right to moralize or decide what is right or wrong for another nation. Some countries believe communism is better than capitalism and that it is quite moral to take over other countries and impose communism on them. This is their thing, and they think it is best for all nations. This is a moral belief of their culture, and they think no other nation has a right to condemn them. With this new view of man, it is a matter of the survival of the fittest. The culture with the greatest military power can impose its moral views on the weak. There is indeed a crisis in morality in this country, and the standard of morality given mankind in the Bible is the only hope of the world.

David: There is a great deal of confusion about where heaven will be. Will the future home of the saved be in heaven or on earth?

Lonnie: Some modern religionists are teaching that this earth is to undergo a process of cleansing and renovation following the final judgment, and after that the earth will serve as the eternal home of the redeemed. Their hope is, therefore, an earthly rather than a heavenly hope. However it is important that Christians believe in and teach one hope. Eph. 4:4 declares there is one hope. The Bible sets forth but one hope, not two, nd the one hope of scripture is heavenly. Furthermore scripture affirms that the future destiny of the earth will be destruction and extinction, In Mark 13:31 Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away,” The heaven of this passage is the atmospheric heaven and the starry heaven. Peter gives a graphic description of the earth's end and complete destruction by fire in 2 Pet. 3:7-10. He states that the heavens will pass away with a great noise and melt with fervent heat. In addition, he informs us that the earth also and the works therein shall be burned up. There is not one iota of scripture ~evidence to support the belief that the earth will rise from this catastrophic destruction, be renovated and then become the eternal home of the saved.

David: Some think what you just said contradicts another statement in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 1:4 which says, “One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever.” If the earth is to be destroyed, how can it abide forever?

Lonnie: There is no disagreement between these two passages when we remember that the Hebrew word translated “forever” often had a temporary significance. It often meant ‘throughout the appointed time” or “until the end of the age.” Gen. 17:13 declares that circumcision is an everlasting covenant. Here it means age-lasting. It was God's law for Abraham's descendants during the patriarchal age and Israel during the Jewish age. However circumcision was removed and abolished at the death of Christ. Christians are not commanded to circumcise their children. Exodus 12:14 states that the Passover observance of the Jews was to be an everasting ordinance. This did not mean it was to last till the end of the world; it was to last only as long as the Old Covenant lasted. The law of Moses was nailed to cross and ended at the death of Christ. Christians do not observe the Passover, for it commemorated the deliverance of Israel from the land of Egypt. Christians are under no obligation to observe the Passover. The New Testament abounds with promises that the saved will live forever in heaven. Colossians 1:5 speaks of the promise which is laid up for Christians in heaven. The apostle Peter describes the eternal inheritance of Christians as an incorruptible inheritance reserved in heaven for them(IPet. 1:4.). The one hope. therefore, of all Christians is to live forever in heaven with God, Christ, the Holy Spirit and all the holy angels.

David:Is lying wrong in itself, or is it right or wrong according to circumstances?

Lonnie: Lying is wrong per se. Let us grant that there are extenuating circumstances and that there are degrees in culpability for deception. However, the question is asked here directly< "Is lying wrong in itself?" And for this question there is only one answer, Lying is wrong.” The Bible teaches that liars shall not go to heaven(Rev. 22:15).

David: Which is the true Bible, the Old or the New Testament?

Lonnie:The Bible which we hold to be true and the inspired word of God is composed of what we know as the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament was given first, but the New Testament or New Covenant is mentioned in the Old Testament as being in the future plans of Jehovah. In about 600 B.C. the prophet Jeremiah said. “Behold the days are coming. says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt..”(Jer. 31:31,32). The New Covenant which God made with Israel was the religion of Christ which had its beginning in 33 A.D. The 27 books of the New Testament give all the laws of this new covenant which first began with Israel and then was extended to the Gentile nations of the earth.

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