Know Your Bible

VOL. 14                                                                                                                         January 22, 2017                                                                                                                            NO. 45



Today many sincere religious people talk about “witnessing for The Lord.” You might hear this expressed in different ways. “I was won to Jesus by witnessing.” Or “I must take the time to witness to others.” Or “I’m the only witness at my job.” Though the motives of such people are often pure, they misunderstand how the Bible uses the terms “witness or testify.” This might seem harmless. Yet, there are serious spiritual consequences when we misuse the idea of witnessing for Christ.

The Bible uses “witnessing” in a special way. Jesus once met a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. He asked her for some water and a conversation ensued. During their discussion, our Lord revealed to her secret things about her life. He convicted her of sin but she could tell he genuinely cared for her. She became thrilled with Jesus’ words, ran into the city, and persuaded many to hear Him. “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’” (Jn. 4:39) On another occasion those who watched Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead “bore witness” to it. (Jn. 12:17-18) Witnessing was not describing how they felt but what they had seen and heard. John testified that he and the other apostles had seen, heard, and handled The Lord. (1 Jn. 1:1-2)

God empowered certain people to witness by their words or through miracles they performed. John the Baptist was filled with The Spirit from birth. (Lk. 1:13-17) After our Lord’s baptism, John saw The Spirit descending as a dove upon Him. This act identified Jesus as divine. “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (Jn. 1:32-34) God, The Father, proclaimed Jesus’ deity through “miracles, wonders, and signs.” (Acts 2:22) Jesus even cast out demons by the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 12:28) Special revelation can make one a witness of Jesus Christ.

What are the dangers of misusing “witnessing?” First, it can convince people that they can be saved in ways other than God’s way. Many today teach we must simply ask Jesus to “come into our hearts and make us Christians.” They then want to “witness” to others about their salvation “experience.” Peter preached that repentance and baptism will take away sins. (Acts 2:38) Salvation is not primarily about “feeling” but obedience. Next, it makes God look like the author of confusion. He is not! (I Cor. 14:33) Many religious people testify to false ideas. Faith only and present day possession of spiritual gifts are not supported by God’s Word. God isn’t the one confused; we are. Finally, the “witnessing” concept diverts us from the message to the experience. It is true that the Ethiopian eunuch went on his way rejoicing but that was after he had been taught and had obeyed the gospel. (Acts 8:30-39) Remember, only witnesses can witness.

—Gary Henry

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The hoopla in recent years regarding global warming has reached a frenzied state. As Al Gore declared in his 2006 book An Inconvenient Truth:

“Not only does human-caused global warming exist, but it is also growing more and more dangerous, and at a pace that has now made it a planetary emergency.... [H]umans are the cause of most of the global warming that is taking place.... [W]e are hearing and seeing dire warnings of the worst potential catastrophe in the history of human civilization: a global climate crisis that is deepening and rapidly becoming more dangerous than anything we have ever faced” (pp. 8,9,10, emp. added).

Of course, the boisterous allegations of the climatologists have been fraught with self-contradiction. Today we are being told that due to human interference, global warming and the “greenhouse effect” are occurring, and that the Earth’s temperature is increasing (cf. Sagan, 1997, pp. 105ff.). Yet we have also been terrorized with the notion that our actions are “lowering the surface temperature of our planet” (Sagan, 1980, p. 103). Ironically, a 1974 article in TIME magazine reported a three decade long cooling of atmospheric temperatures and other “weather aberrations” that “may be the harbinger of another ice age” (“Another Ice Age?”). Insisting that “telltale signs are everywhere,” as expected, one of the culprits responsible for the threat was identified as man, since “dust and other particles released into the atmosphere as a result of farming and fuel burning may be blocking more and more sunlight from reaching and heating the surface of the earth” (“Another Ice Age?”). The 1974 article concluded:

“Whatever the cause of the cooling trend, its effects could be extremely serious, if not catastrophic. Scientists figure that only a 1% decrease in the amount of sunlight hitting the earth’s surface could tip the climate balance, and cool the planet enough to send it sliding down the road to another ice age within only a few hundred years” (“Another Ice Age?,” emp. added).

So which is it? Ice age or global warming? Since yesterday’s science is today’s superstition, how wary ought we to be regarding the bold claims of today’s “science”?

The truth is that God created the Earth to be self-sustaining until it has served its purpose. It is self-healing, resilient, and restorative. It actually rejuvenates itself. The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon set into place by God. God designed gases in the atmosphere, like carbon dioxide and water vapor, to remain in balance and warm the Earth, creating a stable climate for the support of plant, animal, and human life. Without these gases, Earth would be 40 to 60 degrees colder—essentially a frigid desert (cf. Climate Change..., 1990, p. xxxvii).

The Earth is not “fragile” when it comes to human interference. Humans cannot destroy the Earth (let alone the Universe). Humans cannot eliminate the ozone layer. Humans cannot cause permanent, life-threatening global warming. Human ability to pollute, contaminate, and destroy the environment cannot begin to compare with the destructive forces of nature itself: volcanoes, tornados, hurricanes, drought, typhoons, earthquakes, and floods. The 1991 volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines introduced 20 to 30 megatons of sulfur dioxide and aerosols into the Earth’s atmosphere, with those materials completely encircling the Earth in some three months (Sagan, 1997, p. 107). Satellite data collected indicated that, as a result, “the ozone levels had depleted by about 15 percent” (Rickman, 1997). In fact, as a direct result of the large amounts of stratospheric sulfate particles from the Mount Pinatubo eruption, “record low global ozone levels were recorded in 1992 and 1993” (“Environmental Indicators...,” n.d., emp. added). NASA concluded: “Stratospheric aerosols such as those produced by major volcanic eruptions are thought to be important catalysts in the chemical processes leading to the observed ozone losses” (“NASA’s Ozone Studies,” n.d.; cf. “Incomplete Recovery...,” 2006). Humans cannot begin to compete with nature’s impact on itself. We humans have an inflated sense of our own importance if we think that we determine whether the world goes on after we are gone.

Sadly, while so much of the world’s attention is directed to physical concerns, America’s most important role of pointing the world to spiritual concerns, specifically, the truth of the Christian religion, has fallen by the wayside. Instead of being preoccupied with the future of the Earth—the God-designed, temporary abode of human habitation (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)—our foremost concern ought to be with where we will spend the afterlife: heaven or hell. As God warned the Romans: “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10-12). To the Corinthians, He explained: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).

The world will last for just as long as God intends—regardless of how much environmental damage humans inflict on the planet. The Earth’s environment will remain intact until it fulfills the purpose for which He created it. When that day arrives, then, yes, global warming will most definitely occur—but it will be divinely instigated and exceed anything humans can even imagine. Here is God’s own description of that day:

But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.... The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:7-12).

—Dave Miller, Ph.D.


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