Pastor Phil's Blog

 

August 10th, 2017

Machines Who are Made in Gods Image

I didn't think this would have to be addressed years from now, but I was wrong. Nearly 20 years ago I thought about the possibility of robots being made more realistic, more like us, human and the consequences that would follow.

My view at the time and still is, that to the degree that the robot is like us, we should treat that robot with respect. Now many of you Star Trek fans will remember the episode "The Measure of a Man" on Star Trek Next Generation in which Star Fleet is determining if Data, an android has any rights at all, beyond being Pinocchio or an advanced toaster.

So I once again considered the possibility that one day robots would be very realistic, very human. So what makes a human, human? It is that thing we all know as being made in the image of God.Perhaps it's that part of you that is able to create ideas out of your own imagination. Perhaps its that sense of justice, to rationalize or understanding right from wrong. Even to love, to pray or create pieces of art and write literature. But even these things are in limited supply among some humans whether by tragedy or choice.But nonetheless we are very unique individuals who in large part have the capacity to think and act with a will; to communicate with depth and friendship.But what if you program a robot to do many of the things that I have just listed that make us human?After considering the unique position we carry with God as being made in His image; it is my contention that if a robot is made more human; then it is made more in the image of God. Therefore if a robot is made to be human, it is a dishonor to our own humanity and even to God to misuse or abuse such a creation of man whose humanness is patterned after the image of God.The article, https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/35300/  is a good example of how we have already crossed the line with dishonoring ourselves and God. There are robots, even child robots that are being made very realistic to be raped and abused. What is next, creating black slave robots to cater to KKK members? Yes, the robot may be a glorified toaster, but it is more than that if it is made like us, made in Gods image. Once again, I didnt think I had to address this, but we are making huge strides in the creation of human like robots. We must develop an ethos that raises the questions that will ultimately determine how we view and treat ourselves.To create human like robots to abuse is to dishonor ourselves and ultimately to dishonor God who made us in His image.

April 19th, 2017

1 John 2:6 "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked."

…. it says that if we say that we abide in Him we should walk in the same way Jesus walked. How did Jesus walk? We will know how Jesus walked by truly considering what He said and did among the people in the gospels. This is why it is so important to let the words of Christ sink into your hearts and minds. Consider what He taught in such a manner as to not just admire it, but imitate it in everyway, to live in His teachings.

We see this in some young people who begin to admire a particular rock musician by not only buying their music with every last dollar, but they listen carefully to the music to see what the musician believes and feels and values. This person might even try to dress and act like the musician, get their posters and elevate their particular rock star to a status of being everything to them. Even to the point that they are willing to lose anyone in their life who will take them away from their devotion to their rock star, including their friends or parents.

This is actually a fairly good description of what should happen to a new believer in Christ when we are told that we who believe that we abide in Him should walk just as He walked.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

April 6th, 2017

Barry Manilow came out as gay today. When you look at his early life you will find he was dating girls and he was even married to a woman for a couple of years. You will also find that he never really knew his biological father. All of this to say is that sexual orientation is fluid when the fallen nature is in charge. Sometimes men desire men because they are still looking for the love of a father or at least a man. Sometimes men seek out men because their first sexual encounter was with a man, whether consenual or not. But it doesn't stop there. In like manner some of these victims will spread their brokeness on others, only to feed the brokeness that is already in those they encounter. Sin has consequences.
Humans are born broken because of our fallen nature. Children do not need to be taught to be liars or rebellious, they are already living in their fallen state even when they are cute and cuddly. Barry is no different.
I liked his music back in the 70's and still believe that he is a very talented muscian. He has been defined by his music, but he is still a broken human. His musical career won't save him, only Jesus can. His relationship to his so called husband can't mend his broken heart, only Jesus can.
We too must have compassion on those who are broken and lost. It isn't enough to call someone a sinner or denounce their sin; as that would be like telling a drunken drowning man that he is drowning. Jesus wants us to throw them a real life preserver of hope and salvation, Himself. Jesus Christ was sent into this world to save sinners and this was mainly motivated by the love of His Father. May we too be motivated in this world by the love of the Father?  As Jesus said to his disciples "For I did not come to destroy mens lives, but to save them."

February 28th, 2017

Our intentional fallenness, the eternal cure through the loving intention of God Almighty. One of the most powerful passages in all of the Bible that we should meditate on and seriously allow it to implant in our hearts.
John 3:14-21 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

February 13th, 2017

Essentials of the Christian faith are non negotiable, orthodox truths backed over and over again by the Word of God, i.e. death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, virgin birth, sacrifice of Christ for our sins, diety of Christ...etc. Whereas, non essentials of the faith can be negotiated and are up to discussion and revision, even though they might have some scriptural backing.
To know the difference, will decide whether you fall into heresy or just have a leaning toward a belief that is helpful to your own view of the faith.
Many times you can tell whether a non-essential doctrine is at least helpful to the faith by the fruit it bears. Even a non-essential should be tested by the Word of God. But it is a dangerous thing to make a non essential of the faith to be a non negotiable essential; as one would make it a point of whether you are saved or right with God; if you do or do not practice it.
As believers, I am glad that we are able to unite with other believers who share the Biblical essentials of the faith and hopefully along the way we will consider the non essentials of other believers with a bit more grace and understanding; because we serve the same Lord and Savior who is drawing us into a deeper faith.
If we are all the body of Christ; i.e. those who hold to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior within Biblical theology; then it makes sense that we really do need each others gifts. That kind of body life is to be found all around the world.

February 7th, 2017

What does real love look like? Look at Jesus!

John 15:12-13 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends."

We see in verse 12 that Jesus gives us one of His commandments. Notice that the beneficiary of this commandment is not Christ, but others. We are also instructed to follow the example of Christ’s own love towards them. Christ defines the greatest kind of love is that which gives up one’s life for His friends. In verse 13 Jesus not only sets the standard for what His love is like, He is also revealing the reality of that love when in the near future He will die on a cross for them and for the whole world.

But what does this love towards others look like when we consider His sacrifice? Perhaps His sacrifice is a template for the love we should have for each other. What do we notice about Christ giving up His life for us?Jesus willingly gave up His life because He knew of the eternal benefit His death would have for so many. Isn’t this something we should consider when we die to ourselves in service to others?

Jesus was motivated by loving others and putting them before His own needs. As He said, “for the Son of Man came to serve and give His life a ransom.” This is something that we will constantly be challenged in our love for others in putting others first, looking to their needs. This is an ongoing challenge for all of us!!

Jesus even did an eternal good for others who will never accept the gift and in fact, will reject it. Doesn’t this mean that we should do good to others even if we will not receive thanks or do not see a possible return for our efforts on behalf of others?

Jesus left everything behind that was glorious in heaven for us. This speaks of the kind of love that is willing to leave everything behind so that others will be saved. Jesus was more occupied with saving the thief on the cross, than being occupied with His own suffering; which was horrible. This should challenge us to put our focus on the lost more than on what we feel we are sacrificing for God in our service of Him. Jesus’ words of “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” should be a challenge to love others and forgive them. If Christ could utter these words of those who were nailing Him to a cross, we can offer this kind of gracious response to those who hurt us a great deal.

I think I could go on about more examples of what Christ’s sacrifice means to us in our own lives on a practical level, but I think you have some better ideas where I am going with this. We should lay down our lives for one another for this is the kind of love that Jesus wants us to live out. This will be the most beneficial love that we can express for others.

Hebrews 12:2 "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

January 12th, 2017

Here is a portion of my sermon today regarding the question about discerning new teachings, doctrines or spiritual experiences.

Acts 4:7 "And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”"

The rulers and elders own inquiry demanded to know by what power or by what name Peter has healed this man who was lame from birth. It’s actually a good question, a very good question. If anyone makes a theological assertion, performs a miracle or even makes an outrageous assertion regarding someone being raised from the dead, it should be questioned. The Bible even instructs us to use discernment regarding those things that are miraculous or what might appear to be a new teaching or doctrine.

1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

The sad thing about the rulers and elders of Israel is that they simply reacted against the words of Peter, rather than testing them to see if what he was saying was true. How do we test those spiritual things that people believe to be from God? I have listed 7 things that I believe are good for the discernment of doctrines and practices that some might promote or teach.

1. Probably the easiest way is to search the Scriptures to see if something that someone says or practices in the name of God is truly something that is godly. After all, God will not promote something that is evil or sinful.

Titus 1.1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness.

1 Timothy 6:3-4 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions.

2. Also use the Scriptures to see if God actually commands us to do the very thing that the person proposes as being from God.

3. Or use the Scriptures to test if what is being practiced or believed is actually condemned in the Word of God.

1 Corinthians 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.

Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. 6 Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Deuteronomy 12:32 Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

The Word of God should not be far from what we teach or practice. This is known as ‘sola scripture’ which means “scripture alone”. It should be noted that there were even many early church Fathers who subscribed to the idea of ‘sola scriptura’. In other words, the Scriptures alone were authoritative in Christian doctrine and practice. Anything beyond this is subject to question.

4. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment in the matter. You can know, if what you are sensing in the Spirit is true by the fact that it doesn’t contradict the Word of God. It also conforms to the wisdom from above as stated in James 3:17.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

1 John 2:27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

1 Corinthians 2:13-15 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

5. Test the fruit of what is being proposed or believed. Jesus said you would know them by their fruit. We know that if God is exhorting us to consider a teaching or doctrine that it will conform to the what we know to be the fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

6. Is the proposed belief simply based on a personal experience or by the Word of God? Personal experience can be deceptive in discerning the things of God. Feelings can seem to be quite right and experiences seem real, but do they conform to the Word of God?

7. As far as the miraculous, on a practical note, do your own investigation to see if what the person believes actually happened. This is what these rulers and elders should have done as the resurrection of the dead was already known in the Old Testament.

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