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John MacArthur on Straight Answers About Creation

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johnatdeskI spotted a trend in the earliest days of this campaign season. You may have noticed it, too.

Throughout the debates and interviews, the news media kept raising questions designed to shame and embarrass candidates who self-identify as Christians, often leading to some awkward moments. The “gotcha” questions go something like this:

Do you believe that God created humans and other animals in their present form, or do you believe that humans and other animals evolved biologically over time?

Do you believe the earth is 5,000 years old?

Do you believe the Bible story of Adam and Eve is literally true?

The point of that sort of question is clear. Those asking it want to make public whether the candidate thinks scientifically, or submits his or her reason to theology. That’s precisely how the world distinguishes itself from Christianity: You can either be reasonable and think scientifically, or (if you are woefully behind the times) you can do what biblically minded Christians do and cling to doctrine and theology. The assumption is that Christian belief is unreasonable, irrational, and unscientific—a relic of the Dark Ages.

That is the dominant, dogmatic position held today by a large portion of our population, including those in influential fields such as entertainment, business, the news media, and education. As a result, if it becomes known that you believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis 1, you’re likely to be subjected to some questions. Questions perhaps prompted by genuine curiosity—but perhaps motivated by straight-up hostility. You may encounter coworkers, friends, family members—maybe even members of your congregation—who embrace evolutionary theory and relish challenging your beliefs. Or perhaps you or someone you know has been intimidated into silence, convinced that Scripture doesn’t have adequate answers and can’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. Either way, the questions are myriad and not always easy to answer.

Yet what we believe about creation—how we answer those questions—matters a great deal.

If you deny the literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation, you’ve undermined every major doctrine of the Bible, including the sovereignty of God, the inerrancy of Scripture, the depravity of man, and the gospel itself. If Genesis is not divinely, authoritatively, and inerrantly true and sufficient, all moral obligations to God are null and void. It’s no coincidence that fornication, adultery, and homosexuality are being celebrated today. We live in a Romans 1 world where people have suppressed the evident truth about God’s reign as Creator. The result is that God has given them over to their lusts. The unrestrained, disastrous plunge into sin we’re witnessing is both the cause and result of God’s judgment.

Back in 2014, I was invited to preach on the pivotal issue of origins at a conference hosted by a highly respected, Christian-led creationist organization. Because the issues at stake are so monumental, I want to share with you the message I gave.

“Straight Answers About Creation” is a timely lesson that gets to the theological, doctrinal foundation of the creation-evolution question. It will help firm up your confidence in Scripture and your convictions about its veracity, giving you a bold, clear approach to answering the skeptics. I know you’re going to find it encouraging and helpful.

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Alistair Begg on Church Membership

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Alistair Begg

Last month, more than 1,200 church leaders and pastors joined us for Basics 2016 and we were grateful for the opportunity it provided to help strengthen the local church.

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” –Acts 2:44-47

Building up the local church was fundamental to our mission when we began teaching the Bible through Truth For Life over 20 years ago. Our emphasis on supporting and encouraging the local church is now more important than ever before. As churches across the country, and around the world, become emptier (or abandoned altogether) on Sunday mornings, we find many of our friends and neighbors asking, “Why does being a member of a local church matter?”

The truth is, for us as believers in Jesus, church membership does matter. We’re called to be united “in Christ” as one body—this is the instruction in the New Testament. And it’s also in keeping with the Old Testament where, in Isaiah, God “tends his flock like a shepherd” (not a singular reference, but a corporate one). There are many reasons to be an active member of a local, Bible-teaching church, not the least of which is because it’s where we worship our Creator, discover our gifts, offer ourselves in service, share in fellowship with other believers, and discover if we ourselves are called into missionary work or pastoral ministry.

The Apostle Paul used the body as a metaphor to explain the vital relationship between the church and its members: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:12-13). In the early chapters of Acts, the pattern of becoming a Christian followed a progression: believers put their faith in Jesus, then were baptized, and then were joined to the Church (Acts 2:41 – 47).

I hope that you’re presently an active church member and enjoying all of the responsibilities, fellowship, and benefits of being part of a local body of believers in your community. And if you’re not, I encourage you to make it a priority to find a Bible-teaching church where you can wholly engage yourself and your family.

If you have additional questions along these lines, our resource this month will be a great help. How Church Can Change Your Life by Josh Moody is an insightful handbook that helps readers better understand why church membership matters and what attributes to look for when selecting a church to join. It’s a good book to pass along to a friend or family member who has found other things to do on Sunday mornings.

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Upcoming Highlights for Truth for Life with Alistair Begg

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Truth for Life - What is the Church

What is the Church?

May 30 – June 17
Scripture: Various
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Who or what is the Church? Some might think there are more pressing issues to address in today’s world, but there’s no question that the word “church” conjures up all kinds of images. Indeed, it is a word which is very often misunderstood.

By examining passages from several books of the New Testament, Alistair Begg provides clarity on topic of the Church by explaining the nature, origin, and leadership of the Church, the relationship of individuals to the Body of Christ and to local congregations, and the marks of a healthy church fellowship. In all of these areas, we are reminded that Christ Himself is the head of the Church, and it is only in submission to His authority that the Church functions as it ought and flourishes as He intends. Whatever our starting point, this series of studies will bring us to realize just how vitally relevant and crucial the Church is for the 21st century.

Truth for Life - Standing Firm in Shaky Times

Standing Firm in Shaky Times, Volume 2

June 20-July 6
Scripture: 1 Peter 2-3
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First Peter is a handbook for Christian Living. All of the foundations necessary for building lives of spiritual maturity are contained in these chapters. Peter’s readers were geographically scattered and in the face of all kinds of challenges, they needed to be theologically grounded. Jesus had given Peter the task of feeding and strengthening the sheep. This compelling, practical, vital letter is surely part of the response to that directive. Peter is clear about his purpose: to stimulate their faith, to assure them of the reliability of God’s word, and to encourage them to stand fast in God’s grace.

Volume two of this series challenges us to consider the Bible’s calling to Christians as citizens and as partners in the bond of marriage. Alistair Begg encourages us to stand firm on the foundation of God’s Word and to embrace the understanding that a life in Christ will be no stranger to suffering.

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Upcoming Highlights for Just Thinking with Ravi Zacharias

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RZIM

Program Highlights for Just Thinking June 27 – July 1, 2016

Are you really a unique creation designed by God or just the result of random events? What is it that sets you apart from other creatures and how can you fill the emptiness in your heart? Can others see the difference Christ is making in your life? Ravi Zacharias looks at the privilege you have as a Christian and how that should be affecting your life. That’s this week on Just Thinking.

Monday, June 27, 2016

“The Christian Privilege” Episode 1

Are you really a unique creation designed by God or just the result of random events? If you understand the human body does that mean you understand what it means to be human? Listen as Ravi Zacharias tackles these difficult questions on Just Thinking.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

“The Christian Privilege” Episode 2

How would you describe human value to someone else? What is it that sets you apart from other creatures? How do you answer these questions surrounded like a culture that embraces humanism? Ravi Zacharias examines the nature of mankind from God’s perspective to find the answers on today’s Just Thinking.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

“The Christian Privilege” Episode 3

Are you struggling to find your identity in this world? Do you feel disconnected from God? Today on Just Thinking, Ravi Zacharias examines the importance of glorifying God and how that can affect every part of your life.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

“The Christian Privilege” Episode 4

What’s your goal in life? Money, fame, success? Will those things fill the emptiness of your heart? Is there anything that can fill that emptiness? Ravi Zacharias answers this question as he examines the beauty and uniqueness of God’s love. That’s on today’s Just Thinking.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Christian Privilege” Episode 5

Where is Christ in your life today? Can others see the difference He is making? Are you sharing the Gospel of Christ to those around you? Today on Just Thinking, Ravi Zacharias shares the privilege you have to know Christ and to share the Gospel with others.

Program Highlights for Just Thinking July 4-8, 2016

How you come to terms with things that are now troubling our culture? Can there be any good in a world where you are surrounded by evil? Why do you have to define goodness before you can really recognize evil? Find out the answers to these questions as Ravi Zacharias looks at the mystery of Evil and the Sovereignty of Good. That’s this week on Just Thinking.

Monday, July 4, 2016

“The Mystery of Evil and the Sovereignty of Good” Episode 1

Have you ever wondered how you come to terms with things that are now troubling our culture? Is evil real and if it is, what does that do to our understanding of good? Tune in as Ravi Zacharias looks at the problem of evil and suffering on today’s Just Thinking.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

“The Mystery of Evil and the Sovereignty of Good” Episode 2

Can there be any good in a world where you are surrounded by evil? How do you define evil? How did we get to a point where evil seems to be so prevalent? Listen as Ravi Zacharias answers these questions on today’s Just Thinking.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

“The Mystery of Evil and the Sovereignty of Good” Episode 3

Why do you have to define goodness before you can really recognize evil? What is the key to having an existence with values? Ravi Zacharias continues to explore what good and evil and he looks to the book of Genesis to find the answers. That’s on today’s Just Thinking.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

“The Mystery of Evil and the Sovereignty of Good” Episode 4

How do you combat the evil in the world? Ravi Zacharias concludes his message about good and evil as he shares the three principles God wants you to govern your life by. Hear what those principles are on today’s Just Thinking.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Micheal Coren Q&A II” Episode 1

Have you ever been surprised when a non-Christian world exhibits non-Christian behavior? Why is that? Why can experiencing shame be a good thing? Tune in as Ravi Zacharias tackles these difficult questions on today’s Just Thinking.

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