Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Do We Care For Our Own Any More?

August 29, 2014

How can the church be the salt and light to the world if its abandoning some of its chief responsibilities? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

This is about a friend.

This is about a friend who is in need.

This is about a friend who is in need and the church is silent.

I wish I could say that this kind of thing is an anomaly, but it’s not.

When you go to church, part of worship is giving some of your tithes and offerings to the church. Now why do you do that? Is it because the church is full of money-grubbing people and that’s all that they want? No doubt, this is true of some churches, such as in the case of a lot of people you will see on a station like TBN, but I have hopes that most churches are not really like this. Most churches have ministers that are trying to do the right thing. Of course, I think too many of them are unequipped and have no business being in ministry, but that does not mean they’re in it for the money.

What all does a minister have to do? Off the top of my head, here are some duties.

Preaching a sermon.

Preparing for a sermon.

Personal study to learn about what to preach.

Church administrative duties.

Counseling.

Visiting people who are in the hospital.

Attending church events.

Could possibly be teaching some classes.

Remaining on-call for anyone in the congregation in need.

And from there, the list goes on. Keep in mind a good minister also has to have his own personal time for prayer, Bible study for himself, and if he’s married, he has to have time for his family. Furthermore, no minister can remain working 24/7. He’ll burn himself out. He needs to have some time to relax and enjoy himself in leisurely activity.

When you pay your pastor’s salary, what you are essentially saying is that the work he does is so important that you don’t want him to have to work elsewhere so that he’s not capable of doing all of that. You are pretty much paying him so that he can be there full-time in order to help meet the needs of the body.

Ideally also, a good pastor will be training others under him to be leaders and thus giving him less that he absolutely has to do, consider the example of Moses in the wilderness who trained others under him to answer questions and left all the really difficult matters to Moses. Had Moses not done this, he would have burnt himself out and been unable to lead the people.

Now what else is your money going towards?

It could go towards other staff members as well, but also, your money is going towards the maintenance and care of the building or the place that is rented and to getting materials such as Bibles that can be used for purposes of evangelism. A church has to make sure that it is taken care of after all.

Beyond that, what?

Good question.

These can go into a savings for when the church has an emergency, which is just fine, and they can also go to ministry projects, which are feasible and can be carried out, but another need of these funds is to care for those who are in need.

And in this last one, we have failed big time.

I am one who has been unable to find work in this economy for a long time. That’s the way it is. What do I do in the meanwhile? I do work for my in-laws and they help provide for us in return and we do have some government aid.

Hello. Did you hear that?

Yes. Government aid. Ideally, Christians would be giving this kind of support, but they too often don’t. Instead, it becomes the job of the government. The government should not be in the charity business and the fact that the government is the organization taking care of the poor, especially the Christian poor, is proof that the church has failed in an important aspect of its mission.

I said this was about a friend at the start. Let me use that as an example.

Meet Marc.

Marc is a friend I know through the Christian Apologetics Alliance where we are raising up funds for him. I would love to donate, but seeing as I have no real income, I’m incapable of doing that. Yet as I thought about this last night, it just got me angry. 

Now I’m not one of those people who condemns the rich. If you are wealthy, you have a gift from God if you use it right. It is no sin to have money. It is a sin for money to have you. If you have the money and can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with buying a Mercedes or going on a nice vacation or living in an expensive house or enjoying many of the finer things in life.

Of course, if you’re doing all of that and you’re stingy with your money towards the poor, that is a problem.

There are too many Christians who are like that.

Note also in this that I am not making a message of socialism. I am a capitalist. I don’t think the role is that government should force you to give your money to the poor. Rather, God loves a cheerful giver. It should be that you will want to give to the poor because they are people in need of your support.

So let’s go to my friend Marc. What’s his story?

“Not long ago my car needed to be repaired for a leaky transmission. Since I’ve been out of work I couldn’t afford the work. Some people offered to pay for the work, and so my car was towed (because it was not running) to a local dealer. The mechanic there drove the car and blew the engine, then the dealeship said they don’t do replacement engines and that was that. The dealership took the $1600 for the work they claimed they did. I was desperate and took some bad advice that I could get enough money through a student loan. That didn’t happen. So now I owe a different mechanic $3414 for a new engine plus labor plus lot fees, and he’s filed a mechanics lien. So I will lose my car that I had already paid for. Since becoming unemployed I’ve ran through all my savings, and just recently (after the whole car mess) became homeless. I won’t even have my car to sleep in. If you can help, please do. The money goes to Dave’s Automotive in Carbondale, Illinois

Plus, having a car again GREATLY expands where I can apply for jobs.”

This Christian has been going through a hard time including doubt and anger. It’s been a real struggle, and I think one of the biggest struggles is that Christians are not helping out.

And sadly, this is common.

You see, I happen to have a great interest in math. Let’s suppose you have a church of 200 people. That’s a fairly decent number of people to be in a church. Let’s suppose this church wanted to help Marc out. One Sunday, everyone in the church gave $20. Now it’s quite likely that no one will be breaking the bank, but you know what they will do?

They’ll break Marc’s debt.

Can’t do it that way? Okay. Picture a month with four Sundays. Each Sunday, every person gives $5.

The same result happens.

You see, most of our money in the church is really wasted. My ministry partner wrote an excellent article on this here. Churches get started in huge elaborate building projects and never finish them. That’s money that could have been used for the Kingdom of God gone to waste. Following the principle of Luke 14 and counting the cost before you start something, that’s also an embarrassment. 

We also spend money on projects that aren’t worth the investment. Again, another example of that is here. I have seen so many churches with these Family Life Centers and I can’t help but wonder how many of them are really being effective in ministry. Looking at the way the church is going in the world and how many people are falling away, I’d say they’re extremely ineffective. 

Let’s compare that to a ministry like this one here, the ministry of Deeper Waters, an apologetics ministry.

Now I’m not one who really cares about having a lot of money. I care about having enough. In fact, if I generally have extra money, aside from buying books, the main thing I’m thinking of is how can I do something nice for my wife. Can I take her out to dinner or buy her something that would put a smile on her face? We also would like to be able to give on our own to ministries like Voice of the Martyrs.

So here is pretty much what I’m doing most of the day. I wake up and I check my emails and Facebook and see what needs to be done. Then, I go about writing the blog. The rest of the day is spent in many cases reading and studying and often times, answering questions that come in from various people. Throughout the week, I’m also preparing for the weekly podcast where I hope to bring the best information to people. Also, I am regularly sent books by groups like IVP to review and in addition to that, many people will come to me asking about a book and if I can find it at the local library or if they’re willing to send me a copy, I will read it for them and tell them what I think. They can send me web sites or YouTube videos or things of that sort that they need addressed. Lately, there has been more public speaking going on for me too.

None of these I am paid for generally. Some people do donate, but not money.

Just like ministry in the church, when you donate to an apologetics ministry, what you are telling the person is “I value the work that you give so much that I want you to continue doing it.” Often times, I think apologists are seen as villains in the church because we do that wicked “debating” and “arguing” and we are so caught up in the life of the mind that we are missing out on the true essence of worship which is all about our passions.

Supposedly….

Just ignore that little part about loving God with all our minds.

Sometimes, I think it’s like being the police force. The apologist shows up and the church members are like “Oh great. Here comes that guy who wants to make sure we’re all walking in line and that all of our beliefs add up correctly.” In some sense, we are. We want to make sure the church is not straying into heresy. This doesn’t mean eliminating every wrong belief. It means eliminating those that are so serious they put someone’s salvation in jeopardy.

At the same time, we’re also like a military force. You know why many of you can sit safely in church and worship? It’s because people like the apologists among you are out there in the front lines and are busy taking bullets on your behalf. We’re the ones that are engaging the atheists and cultists and such in the hopes that they will leave you alone. (Of course, we also hope they will come to Christ, but many are just not open yet.)

Unfortunately, the church has had a habit of neglecting the apologists in its community and the work they do and supporting those that are parasites on the community. Think of how many people pay to go see Joel Osteen for instance. I have said before that when Michael Licona, N.T. Wright, William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga are names every Christian knows and Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and others of that ilk are out there trying to get support, we will have a much more equipped church ready to handle the challenges.

The question is, do you really value the apologetics work that is done or not? When you see people who are serving, do you want to help them with preparing the ground for harvest, or do you just want the fruit of the garden? Now some people are unable to donate, and I understand that. If you’re in that camp, offer prayers and support. This includes your own pastor too. If your pastor does a good job with what he does, let him know. Pastors often go extremely unappreciated. For us, we pray for our pastor every night. We want our church to be prepared to fulfill the Great Commission.

This also doesn’t just apply to Deeper Waters. I do hope you will donate to us. (If you do, just click the donate button and then email me or Mike and Debbie Licona and let us know that you want the donation to go to us.) There are several several other ministries that could use your support. Of course, there are major ministries like Risen Jesus, Reasonable Faith, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, and others that need your support. There are also several starting up that need your support. J. Warner Wallace has gathered a list of tent makers and they could use your support. That list can be found here.

Also, I am certainly not saying to support only apologetics ministries. Support ministries that give to the poor of your community. Support ministries that are doing overseas evangelism. Just don’t lose sight of the ministries that are right outside your front door. These ministries involve people who are giving their lives to the kingdom in service.

With people like Marc being among us and in desperate need of help, it is a scandal for the church that we are unable to care for them. It is certainly true that we will always have the poor among us, but if we abscond our responsibilities to the government, what message are we sending? We’re giving the government the go-ahead and saying “The church of Jesus Christ is incapable of meeting the needs of the people around it and ask that you in the kingdom of this world help us out.” 

If we are to show the love of Jesus to the rest of the world, we have to be able to show it to those who live among us. While the passage is written to Israel, I do think it applies to us. In Malachi 3, God asks the people of Israel to test Him. Can’t He rain down blessings so they will not contain it? If God loves a cheerful giver, is it not likely He will enable that person to keep giving? No. This is not prosperity Gospel. This is not give to get. This is give so you can keep giving. 

Remember also, start with your local church. That is the immediate body that deserves your help. If your local church is not worth giving to, then you need to find a new local church. In our day and age, it can be hard to find a good church that really seeks to uphold the truth of Scripture and encourages discipleship. Keep looking. They’re out there.

From there on, move to other ministries that you think are worth supporting. Think Deeper Waters is worth supporting? Then support us. If not, then don’t. Remember, this is not just me. There are several others. I linked to Wallace’s article with some. There are also ministries like that of my ministry partner, tektonics.org, and ministries like Adam’s Road, a ministry to Mormons that gives all of their music away for free. 

Also, please help out someone like Marc. If anyone among us is fallen and in need of help, we are obligated to help him. Remember, if any one of our body suffers, we are all suffering. It would be awesome to have Marc get this taken care of as soon as possible and know that the body of Christ was behind it all. 

Another point that needs to be made is I am in no way telling you to give what you don’t have. I’m not interested in grandma cashing in her Social Security and sending it all in. You must take care of yourself and if you don’t have the resources, you can always pray and encourage. That is more of a blessing than you know.

I wrote this because Marc is a friend in need, and Marc is an example of the way the church is failing to do its job. By all means, we must continue our ministries of reaching people who have not heard Christ and tending to the sick and feeding the hungry, but we must also help those in our own household who have fallen and can’t seem to get up. We must also support those out there who are doing the work that not everyone is capable of doing or has the time and resources to do so the rest of us can rest easy at night knowing the Christian faith is secure.

If you have the resources, please consider being generous with them and helping out those who are seeking to do what they can to help the Kingdom.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Why Does Virginity Matter?

May 28, 2014

Does virginity really mean anything in our society any more? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I have been on Unbelievable’s Facebook page in a debate about Tim McGrew vs. Peter Boghossian and saw another thread asking what the big deal is about virginity. The poster stated that he was on a bit of a “sex kick” (This is also translated as being a healthy male). This was a thread that I decided I should certainly play a part in.

Now to be sure, virginity is not to be valued for the sake of virginity itself. If one chooses to have a celibate lifestyle, one should choose that not because they value celibacy, but they should choose it because they value something else and are giving up sex throughout their lives for the sake of that something else. Celibacy should not be seen as a means to itself. It is sacrificing a good for what one thinks is an even greater good. One should also not practice chastity (Chastity being waiting until marriage instead of abstaining your whole life) for the sake of chastity. One practices chastity for a greater good.

For some, virginity is not that big a deal. Sex is just another biological activity. In fact, these think that you should sleep with the person you’re dating before you get married to them. After all, you need to make sure that you are sexually compatible. As you can imagine, I reject this view entirely.

Quite amusing also was to read that virginity is a way to control women.

Yes. Because if men wanted to control women, the best way they would do it would be to make sure that men had to wait until they married a woman until they could have sex with her. Because, hey, we all know that we men are notorious about setting up barriers to keep us from having sex.

Of course, no one would deny that sex is a biological function. It does fill a necessary gap in enabling the human species to reproduce. It also serves other purposes. One obvious purpose that we tend to think of immediately is pleasure. There is nothing like the joy that comes from the unity of the male and the female together in this way. While we can say we disagree with the sexual morality that we see on TV shows and movies today, we certainly can understand the pleasure aspect of it. If sex was not a lot of fun, there would not be so much of a drive to do it.

Sex also serves another role. It serves to unify and solidify the love between a husband and a wife. Let’s face it. If it wasn’t for sex, men would quite likely not get married and the human species would die out. A woman costs time, money, and effort. What benefit would the guy get for that? Well in sex we have an answer. Now does this mean a woman’s only good is sex? No. It just means that this is the initial draw between a man and a woman.

This draw in fact is to build up the love. When the man unites with the woman in this way, then he is put in a position where he will desire to please the woman because she has done so much to please him. The relationship builds more and more that way. The woman will also in turn grow to trust and to love the man. That will in turn lead to more sex which will in turn lead to more sex and the cycle grows and grows.

The reason that we guard the sexuality of ourselves is not because sex is dirty or sinful. May it never be! I’m a married man. Does anyone really think I’m going to say sex is sinful? Heck no! But it is because sex is something sacred. It is on its own terms something more powerful than any nuclear weapon. It is something that you’d better handle with care because if you go wrong with sex, the ramifications are deadly.

Sex is also the way a woman determines what she’s worth. Generally in a relationship, the woman makes the decision about when sex will be, although the man sure does try to let her know when he wants it. (Hint for women: Always.) So what is a woman worth? Is she worth dinner and a movie? Is she worth a week? Is she worth a month? Is she worth half a year? Engagement? Or is she worth a lifetime commitment? I have written about this elsewhere.

Now someone might say “Well would you buy a car without taking it for a test drive.” No, but here’s the point. People are not cars. The car will not care if you don’t like it and take it back to the lot. The car will not have hurt feelings. The car will not call up all of its friends and ask why it is that it was not found pleasing in your sight. People are not machines and they do not behave like cars.

When I think back to when I proposed to my wife, I can just imagine the reaction had I made a similar suggestion with her. “Well, I’d like to spend the rest of my life with you, but let’s have sex first and then I also plan on having sex with other women. After all, I want to make sure you’re the best fit for me. If you end up passing the test, then you and I can go on with marriage plans.”

She would have rightly rejected my proposal then and there and her parents would definitely make sure I never crossed her path again.

Now someone could ask that if you have zero experience, doesn’t that make things difficult possibly? Do you want to go to the honeymoon without experience?

But we all have to start doing things without experience. The first time you drive a car, you do not have experience. When you go to college for the first time, you do not have experience. When you become a parent for the first time, you may have experience with babysitting, but you do not have experience in directly taking care of your own children.

And that’s one of the joys of waiting until marriage. You and your spouse learn together. Sure you’re going to make mistakes and not be the best right at the start and will get better and better over time. That’s okay. You laugh and learn about the mistakes that you make and learn more and more about what pleases you and what pleases the other person. (And yes, it is not selfish to know what pleases you. How else can your spouse best love you unless you know what it is that brings you the most joy?)

My wife is not a test object. She is not an object period. She is the woman I pledge my life and love to until death do us part. She is not just someone I go to when I want to have my pleasure and then disregard the rest of the time. The desire for sex is not just a desire for a pleasurable sensation, but a desire for spousal unity and to be open entirely with the woman that I love and to give and receive love without walls between us.

Naturally, men and women have different attitudes with sex. For men, sex is usually seen as a necessary aspect of the love. For the women, love is seen as a necessary aspect of the sex. This is not to say men are opposed to love in sex. We know love should be a part of it in marriage as well. Women also know that sex is a part of love in marriage. It is just in the ranking. A man cannot really imagine a time of great love and affection with him and his wife that does not have sex. A woman could much more easily.

All of this much more easily flows in marriage. In marriage, there is a system whereby sex can happen and happen without risk. There is to be no fear of rejection. No person is being tested. You are to know that when you wake up the next day, the other person will still be there.

In our culture, we have treated sex like a common good. Sex is not cheap. It comes at the price of the totality of a human being being given to another. That is not cheap. Sex is sacred because people are sacred. People are sacred because they are created in the image of God, the most sacred one of all. Our sexuality should reflect the nature of God in how we behave. God made us sexual beings and made us to enjoy that gift, but He made it to be enjoyed on the right terms and when those terms are followed, the gift will be the best of all.

So is virginity something worthwhile? Yes. The person who holds their virginity for someone is making a claim about themselves and for a Christian, they are making a claim about God. We have had this strange idea that God is separate from many of the things that we do in our lives. In reality, God has something to do with everything in our lives and I agree with Peter Kreeft. We need more and more a theology of sex.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Love Still Wins

September 30, 2013

Do I think Tony Watts has a case against Rob Bell. Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I was sent an advanced copy of the book “Love Still Wins” for a review. In preparation for debate as I told the author, it would have to wait. I had one other book before it and then I was able to get started on this one.

It was a topic I take very seriously. My wife had been a great admirer of Rob Bell for some time and I’d heard some of his videos which I thought had excellent points. I had also read Love Wins and while there were some valuable ideas in there, overall, the theme was dangerous. The biggest problem I had was I don’t know where Bell stands. If he’s a universalist, could he just come out and say it? He never does. Of course, I find it even more problematic that he’s not come out in support of redefining marriage.

I appreciate that Tony Watts, the author of Love Still Wins, has written a response to Rob Bell. Watts and I reach the same conclusion in that Bell’s teaching is wrong. I’m not sure if I’d go as far as Watts to say heresy. I have seen the debate several times as to whether or not universalism is a heresy. This has even been among conservative Christians who don’t hold to universalism.

Despite our agreement on the conclusion, I did think there were some matters that were lacking in the book. First off, I do think the style that Watts writes in is not going to be one that reaches people who are followers of Bell. Watts writes in a more “preachy” manner than anything else using biblical terminology. You see terms throughout such as referring to the regenerate and unregenerate. I know what that’s talking about, but I wonder how many readers who aren’t as skilled theologically will catch on. It is terminology one doesn’t often hear used today and terminology that I think will be a turn off.

Second, I find some of Watts’s language to be ambiguous. Watts writes on page 19 about popular culture and I was a bit puzzled at this. Popular culture was never defined. For instance, if a message is made that is geared towards sports fans, is that using popular culture? Is it wrong? How about books that have come out about the Gospel According To X, where a pop culture series is looked at for Christian themes. Would Watts have a problem with this? I don’t know.

Third, some of Watts’s case itself in hermeneutics I found to be troubling. Watts tells us that we need a plain or literal interpretation that would be according to the ordinary sense. But plain and ordinary for who? A 21st century American? A 19th century Englishman? A 17th century Japanese man? A 12th century Frenchman? A 5th century German? A 1st century Jew? All of these will have a different idea about what the “plain meaning” of the text is. (It’s also worth pointing out that the term literal really means “According to the intent of the author”.)

In fact, this gets us into the other big problem I had with this part. Watts says an important part of a sound hermeneutic is to have a distinction between Israel and the Church. As an orthodox Preterist, the reasons I found given to make that distinction were incredibly lacking. Most any Preterist would be able to explain these easily. In fact, I find the dispensationalist hermeneutic to be one incredibly damaging. Consider how many people are said to be “prophecy experts” today and yet when they speak about Middle Eastern events, they always turn out to be wrong. How many people have come and gone that were “The Antichrist”? Yet at the same time, these same people will go after the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and rightfully so, and use as one of their arguments that their prophecies are always wrong. Of course, I believe all prophecies of Scripture are true, but I don’t agree all interpretations are true. Because of this idea being put in there, which I find completely pointless to the overall scheme of defending the doctrine of Hell, I found myself unable to appreciate much thinking that I did not really trust Watts’s hermeneutic and wondered that if these passages were being misapplied, how many others were?

In fact, some statements he put up of Bell’s along these lines I found myself agreeing with. He claims that Bell thinks any view that claims objectivity is warped and toxic, with this quote especially. “The assumption is that there is a way to read the Bible that is agenda- and perspective- free…. When you hear people say that they are just going to tell you what the Bible means, it is not true, they are telling you what they think it means.”

Now the only part I disagree with is that they could be telling you what the Bible means. Some interpretations are right after all! Yet if Bell’s point is that we all come to the text with prior agendas and perspectives, he is absolutely right! I as a Preterist am tempted to read passages that way and interpret them according to that prior framework. The same for a dispensationalist. It also applies for a Calvinist or an Arminian and for a Young-Earth Creationist and an Old-Earth Creationist. We will never learn from Scripture if we come to it always presupposing our interpretation is correct. One part of good objective Bible Study is to try to see past your own culture. (That includes seeing past your idea of what the plain and normal sense is.)

Another passage he gives where I agree with Bell is when he says that Bell writes that “To think that I can just read the Bible without reading any of my own culture or background or issues into it and come out with a ‘pure’ or ‘exact’ meaning is not only untrue, but it leads to a very destructive reading of the Bible that robs it of its life and energy.”

I agree with this. The Bible was written in a high-context society. When Paul writes his epistles, there is already an oral tradition going around that did not need to be repeated. The Bible is written assuming you understand much of the culture, language, figures of speech, geography, etc. Consider the book of Revelation. Revelation rarely rarely quotes an OT Scripture, but it has been said that about 2/3 of the book is alluding to various OT passages and if you do not understand the genre of apocalyptic literature, you will horribly misinterpret Revelation, especially if you go by what the “plain sense” of it is.

This doesn’t mean that objectivity is not possible. It means that if we want to be objective, we must work at it. We must seek to understand the culture of the Bible even better. (Something most critics also fail to do.) When I learn about the world Jesus lived in even more, I will better understand the NT.

I find this in contrast to Watt’s view where he writes about Sola Scriptura on pages 20-21. I hold to this view if it’s properly understood. If by Sola Scriptura, you mean the Bible is the final authority, which Watts does say, and that nothing that we hold in Christianity to be true can contradict it, no problem. If you mean though that the Bible is sufficient in itself for understanding, I disagree. Reading the Bible in a cultural vacuum will get messages out of it that the authors never intended.

Fourth, I found that it seemed to me like Watts was often saying “It just is” in response to a question of “How is it right for God to send people to Hell?” On page 137 we read “God has spoken on the matter of hell, and despite our inability to reconcile it with what we might call ‘love’ does not matter.”

Well actually, I think it does matter a great deal. This kind of reply I think is just a silencer saying “Even if we can’t reconcile it, He’s God and He’s love and He can do what He wants.” I happen to think the charge is real and one that is worth answering. I wrote in the side of the book at this point “How does love win?” Does love win just because we say it does and wins by definition then? Why can’t Bell say the same thing? He’s right by definition. He can say “Love does not do this. Therefore, love wins.”

I wonder what kind of view Watts has. For instance, he says on page 123 that more will be lost than saved. This is based on Matthew 7. Yet what about Revelation 7? Revelation presents us with a great multitude no man can number. I consider Matthew 7 to be based on an immediately reply to Jesus’s ministry and not to the long term. Note that even in the next chapter Jesus talked about many coming from all directions to the feast of God. With Watts having a multitude going to Hell, I found myself wondering “How does love win?” Add in that this is especially so that this is because of the “divine decree.” Does that mean for Watts, God has decreed that more would be lost than saved. Why?

I also found myself unsure about Watts’s stance on those who’ve never heard. My position is simply that the judge of all the Earth will do right. Watts rightly emphasized the importance of preaching and pointed to Romans 10 with “How can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Yet a verse Paul quotes there is this one:

“Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”

This is from Psalm 19. What is the voice in that passage? That voice is the voice of general revelation. I find pointing to a passage like Acts 4:12 to be problematic. No one can be saved apart from the authority of Jesus Christ, which is what is meant by the name. Does that mean they have to know the name entirely? I’m honestly not sure. I keep these facts in mind.

The Bible tells us we are to do the Great Commission. There is no justification for not doing it so we can’t use the idea that God can get a message out another way as an excuse.

The Bible also says that the judge of all the Earth will do right.

What about those who’ve never heard? Get them the gospel as soon as you can, but at the same time, realize that if there was no way we could have done it, He has His own ways. (This has been seen in dreams and revelations in other places.) In the end, no one on the last day will be able to say to God “It was not fair.” I conclude ultimately God will rightly judge based on the light each person had.

A final concern is that I would have liked to have seen more scholarly interaction. For instance, some references in the book were based on class notes. Surely one could have gone out and found an academic book with the same idea that would present the case just as well? Watts says he studied under Gary Habermas on the historicity of the the resurrection at Southern Evangelical Seminary. If that’s the case, why not read some of Habermas’s material on this and use it, such as in “Beyond Death”? There are other great books on this such as “Hell Under Fire”. Why were not any of these kinds of works consulted to get a more evangelical position on Hell? (For instance, I got the impression on page 135 that Watts believes Hell is really a place of actual fire) I would have much more appreciated seeing scholarly interaction to critique Rob Bell.

In the end, I do appreciate Watts’s desire to deal with what Bell has said, but I think that the ways that I’ve given would be important steps to consider in making the ideas more marketable for people who are in agreement with Bell.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Worth of a Woman

August 19, 2013

Can you put a price on a lady? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I recently wrote a post in response to someone arguing about why we should have abortion laws as they are and not tightened and one aspect he included was that your sex life is at stake. The link to that post can be found here.

A good friend of Deeper Waters (And I mean that sincerely. This is someone whose opinion I value highly) has raised some concerns about some statements I made. I think I see what the concern is and I would like to address it.

The idea that I presented in the piece is that a woman is going to determine what she’s worth. I think the problem is that I was not clear as to whether I was talking about subjective worth or objective worth when I was writing.

So let’s state it clearly. A woman is worth everything. In fact, so is a man. In medieval times, it was said the life of one human being was worth more than the entire universe. After all, humans bear the image of God. The universe doesn’t. The universe is made for us. We are not made for it.

Each person who lives is someone who Jesus Christ loves and, in my opinion, contrary to a Calvinist position and no, I’m not debating that here, died for. Of course, when I say that, I wish to emphasize that it is not because Jesus has some need of any one of us. He doesn’t. God could exist just fine without us. We cannot exist just fine without Him. It is His abundance of love that we are to respond to.

Yet while each of us has this great worth in us, many of us do not see this great worth that we have. Thus, when I said that a woman is going to determine what she’s worth, it was not an objective sense, but rather in a subjective sense.

In economics, value is seen as relative. A shopkeeper can set up a price for an item. Will you buy that item? You will buy it if you have the resources, it is something you desire, and if you think that that object is more valuable than what you pay for it.

If you’re at the food court at the mall, you might really want a slice of pizza, but if the store was selling them for $10 a piece, you would probably not buy. Why? Because you like pizza, but you think that price is over-priced! You could go over to Subway or Chick-Fil-A instead and get something that you might desire less but is more reasonable with your budget.

On the other hand,you might want that big screen TV and it could even be on sale, but if you do not have the resources in order to get it, you should hold off on it.

Finally, there could be an item to you that’s really interesting and you do have the resources, but right now, it just really isn’t something that’s as desirable as another object so you won’t pay the price on order to get it.

Prices change in the market in response to many factors like cost of production, how many of that item are left, etc. In some places, like EBay, one can get more out of an item because someone who wants it more than anyone else is going to be willing to pay more for it.

None of that determines any objective worth on the item, but it does work with a subjective worth. Many of us have probably paid more for an item than it’s really worth simply because we wanted it so badly and didn’t want to have to risk someone else getting it. Some of us might also have haggled for items at garage sales before and places like that.

So now let’s take this over to the worth of a woman.

A woman’s objective worth in the eyes of God I do not think changes. Her subjective worth however, does change, depending on how she sees herself. If a woman sees herself as no good, she is more prone to put a low price on herself.

This is evidenced, for instance, in girls that want someone they can love and so freely give themselves to men just so they can get pregnant and have a baby to love. They can often go to homes that care for women in need and as soon as they leave, they’re out there trying to get pregnant again.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a woman wanting to get pregnant, but we do see a problem with the behavior of these women. It is not thinking about what is good for the child, but what is good for their own benefit. That child is a huge responsibility and needs to be treated as such.

If a girl thinks the only good she can do is to bring pleasure to a man sexually, then she will also be more prone to sleep around. After all, in her eyes, that is what she is worth. There are women who through various forms of abuse suffer with this kind of mindset where they have been treated as a sexual object and soon see themselves as just sexual objects.

This should also be a warning to married man. We dare not take up the attitude that the only purpose our wives have in our lives is to give us sexual pleasure. I make it a point when talking about Allie to people to point out that Allie is my partner, but I don’t just mean sexually. I mean she is my life support. She is my encouragement. She is the one that I rely on. The only one who ranks above her in my life is God Himself. As has been said by someone I saw recently, marriage is two people sharing one life. Men. We must ALWAYS be living our lives in honor of our wives and if we treat them as just sex objects for our pleasure, we are not honoring them the way Scripture says. Of course, we should enjoy the pleasure of being with them, and they should enjoy the pleasure of being with us, but they do not exist just for that.

My contention is that if a woman sells herself at a low price, subjectively, she is making a statement about herself and how she is to be valued. That statement can lead when done enough to a statement about all other women. After all, if a guy can buy the big screen TV at one store for $1,000 and the exact same one at another store for $800, all things being equal, which one will he go with? If the guy is just interested in sexual pleasure and woman A has the price of “marriage” while B has the price of “a good month of dating”, which one will the guy go for?

Women. Please always watch the guys you are dating and find out what they really want. If all they want from you is just sex, then this is not marriage material for you. If they really want your sex, then they should be able to pay the price. If they’re not willing to pay the price of marriage, then do they really want your sex?

Of course, this does not mean mistakes might not be made by people who have the full intention of waiting until marriage. After all, we will ALL be tempted in the dating relationship. Certainly when I was dating Allie, there were times when I was very tempted, but I had to learn to control myself and wait for the proper time for those desires to be fulfilled.

So what happens if a couple makes a mistake?

In the Christian system, you repent and move on. It doesn’t mean you break up, but you make a vow then to practice chastity until marriage and wait. You seek to forgive one another and anyone else you might have wronged. If pregnancy is the result, you accept full responsibility. Of course, the Christian worldview condemns abortion so that’s not an option. In that case, I definitely think marriage should be done since that child needs their mother and father both and the child is best raised by its biological parents.

Let us make no mistake. We are all worth more than this universe, but we often don’t see it. One of the greatest blessings that could come in the Christian community I think is to see our proper relationship to God through Jesus Christ. We need to move it beyond the “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Jesus is not just a friend you make like any other friendship. He’s the sovereign Lord of the universe. We need to figure out who He is first, then figure out who we are in Him, and live our lives truly as if we are in Him, something we all work on when we struggle with our own worth in this world.

So again, could the solution be that we just need good doctrine and good application of that doctrine? Has the church missed something by just having application without a foundation in it? Is this the way the church is failing in sexual ethics? We just have a position that says “Don’t do this sexually” and we have it floating in air that we don’t know why we hold it when temptation comes? Of course, the added danger is that if we also float doctrines like the resurrection in the air without telling people why they should hold it, if we dispense with the former, the latter is certainly on its way out the door.

I hope this does clarify my position for all involved. Certainly, every woman, regardless of the mistakes she has made in her life, is priceless. The problem is that simply people just don’t know how much they’re really worth. It’s no surprise they sell themselves short.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Marriage and the Learning of Grace

January 14, 2012

Could it be that your marriage will actually help you to learn to have more grace? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I wrote recently on Margaret Sanger and her view of sexuality after a friend shared with me a book that had been put out advancing the Eugenics view recently. In communicating with my friend late at night, I started discussing the topic of marriage and what a difference it makes.

If you ever want to learn about grace, one of the best lessons in experience that you can ever have is to get married.

When you live with someone else, like a college roommate, you can learn a lot about how you relate to other people and traits you need to work on. The difference with a college roommate is that you can by and large up and walk out if you need to and there is no lifelong commitment. Besides that, chances are that if you’re a Christian, that relationship with a roommate won’t involve sharing a bed and having sex.

Marriage is different. You marry someone for life as a start. There is no backing out once you seal the deal. Second, you marry someone of the opposite sex which means you need to learn to relate to someone who has a totally different way of thinking than you do. Third off, your relationship is far more intimate than any roommate relationship could be.

It is in this that grace is learned.

How so? In the dating period, we all put our best foot forward, but when we marry, we soon come to learn that there are a lot of negative traits that person has. Oh sure, we saw them some when we were dating, but now, they can be written large and they are before us constantly.

My wife can point it out to me when I am showing pride at times, for instance, and in the marriage relationship, I am far more aware of when I am being prideful than I was before. I find I have to constantly monitor myself even when she’s not around and ask “Am I participating in a thought pattern or activity that will make me be less the man that my wife needs and less of an example to her?”

Grace especially works when we find the other person’s faults however. It’s quite amazing that for most of us, our problems are small and simple and we can take care of them, but that other person! They have to get things right! We can put their mistakes under a magnifying glass and say that ours are not really such a big deal after all.

This can become a reality in prayer and makes me think of the passage in 1 Peter 3 about your prayers not being hindered. If my wife does something that I think is wrong, I can come to God and ask what am I supposed to do in this situation and how can my wife do whatever it is that was done?

Now I do not believe in God speaking to me, but I can often picture it as if He would say in response “And how is that different from all the times that you’ve done if not an identical a similar action to me? Are you saying that I should just overlook all you did to me and you don’t do the same for your wife?”

Ouch. That hits home. That makes grace a reality. Men. Here is the challenge to us. We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church. I really don’t understand it these days when women complain about how hard the Bible is on women when we are told as men that we have to follow a command like that for our women.

Let’s face it men. A lot of times, love is work. It really is. It’s easy to be loving when your wife is in a romantic mood and she wants you to be with her. It’s not so easy to be loving when you’re in the middle of a disagreement and you’ve got that zinger on the tip of your tongue and you know you sure as heck better not say that since that will leave some serious scars.

Now to get back to both of us, women can also complain about their husbands. Mrs. Peters has her own concerns about me that she shares sometimes. I know sometimes I get so caught up in my own world that I’m not giving her the attention that I should. That is something I need to work on. A lot of men do that also with such things as the TV remote.

In all these cases, we sit back and wonder what it will take to change our spouse. We can pray for that change to happen. Now in a sense, I don’t have a problem with this. I think we should pray for the good of our spouse and even give God our input. The message that needs to be conveyed at this point is that of Gary Thomas’s in Sacred Marriage. In that book, he tells us that a lot of spouses say that a partner needs to change in the marriage. They’re absolutely right! They just have the wrong one in mind!

You can only change your spouse indirectly, but there is one spouse you can change directly, and that is yourself. If I want Mrs. Peters to do something or to have a certain kind of attitude, I try to ask myself “Am I doing this or am I manifesting this attitude?”

And thus, marriage makes it so that I have to see my own failures highlighted before my eyes. I can look at myself constantly and say “Wow. That is the way that I really am! I need to work on that!” When I see those failures in myself, on what basis can I sit in judgment on my spouse? To do such is even to treat myself as a superior, when I try to make it a constant point to say that we are life partners and she and I are on the same level.

What am I to do in all of this? Seek to be more holy. My own pastor could tell you that on the day of my wedding, a Saturday, he took me to a little room in the church about ten minutes before I walked down the aisle and said “How can I pray for you today?” I told him my honest request straight from the heart. “I need to be holy.” I understand that he even commented on that in the sermon. (OF course, I wasn’t there. We were too busy heading out on our honeymoon.)

Dying to self takes on a whole new reality when you realize there is someone else in your life who depends on you. It’s not one-way of course. Anyone who knows us would say that I depend on Mrs. Peters as well. She is my encouragement and support when the rest of the world doesn’t make sense and the one who has done the most to increase my confidence. Anyone who has known us can tell the remarkable impact that this woman has had on my life for the good.

It means also not just your sanctification but the others. Do we men have relationships with our women that she could think that she’s married to Christ? Christ was not only holy himself, but He is making His bride holy and His work is to present us to the Father blameless and without blemish.

As Christ loved the church. Remember that men?

If you’re married now and not intimidated by that, you’re not taking it serious enough.

For we men, a definite way to do that is to watch our relationships with other women. I make it a point to try to avoid even looking. Now some might say that’s paranoid. Well I would rather be that way rather than even risk anything happening in my marriage, since it all begins with what goes on in the mind.

Every action done in love also inclines one further that way. The more you act in love, the easier it is to love. The more you go against your own selfish desires, the more you are disciplining yourself to think selflessly and the more you do that, the better and better you are at being a spouse and not only at being a spouse, but being a Christian.

When those wrongs happen however, you learn to forgive. You are to forgive as you have been forgiven. This forgiveness does make one learn all the more about grace. Not only do you learn to show it, but you learn all the more about the grace that has been shown to you by God.

It’s all work, but it’s also a blessing. Marriage is a great adventure, something I want my single friends who seek to get married one day to recognize, but it’s also a lesson in holiness. The best advice I can give to you is to do all you can to work on that now.

And really, shouldn’t you be doing that anyway?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Greatest Of These Is Love

July 27, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to finish up our series of looking at 1 Corinthians 13. I hope that it has been helpful to you.

Paul tells us in the last verse that three remain. Those are faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. Why is love the greatest?

Faith, contrary to what some think, is not blind faith. It is trust given to that which has been shown to be reliable, and being shown to be reliable means that it is based on evidence of some sort. Not all evidence is the same and some evidence is better than other evidence, but it is still evidence. Christians are not called to believe in Jesus blindly. It is fortunately landing in the right place, but it is not a virtue to be paraded about as some Christians do.

However, even with that faith, there is still trust. It can be easy to sign a doctrinal statement at a church, but it is a whole lot harder to live it. We all believe that God is the supreme judge when we sign those statements, but when it comes to making that a reality in our lives, our struggle with sin shows that it has not fully become a reality to us.

That is where we need more trust in what has been said and the ability to act on it. James is of course right when he says that faith without works is dead. What good is it to say that you trust that God is the supreme judge, but then you don’t live accordingly? Even the demons know that He is, and they tremble. Should not we?

Of course, when we stand before God, we will not need that faith anymore. We will know as we are known.

What about hope? There are two things specifically that Christians hope for and these are connected. The first is the vision of God which I also believe is part of the return of Christ for when Christ returns, we shall see God. The second is the resurrection. Even if we are alive when Christ returns, we will get new bodies.

None of these are hopes in the sense that we wish they would happen, like one might hope to meet their future spouse or one might hope to win the lottery. These hopes are treated as realities coming that we eagerly anticipate. Of course, once they happen at the end, there will be no hope as there will be no faith, for we will have what we have hoped for.

What about love? Well love is that which will remain throughout all eternity as love is of the nature of God. God invites us to enter into that love for all eternity. However, as we close this series, I ask that you keep in mind that Paul introduced this chapter talking about the most excellent way. Love is not just an object of thought, but a way of life. So the question is, are we treating it not just as a lofty idea, but a way of life? Are we living love?

Only you can answer for yourself.

Through The Looking Glass

July 26, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at 1 Corinthians 13 where we will be further looking at the view of love from the apostle Paul. We’re almost through this chapter and already I have two more series in mind at least at this point.

Paul talks about looking through a mirror at this point and this is something the Corinthians would have known about as their city was famous for their mirrors. Paul tells us that we look through a mirror dimly at this point. We are not really seeing what is there to the best of our ability. While the mirrors were good back then after all, they were not as good as they could be and it would be rare to find a Christian who could afford one of a good quality.

The idea is that we will always have partial knowledge here and so it is with love. We will not know what love is fully in this lifetime. As beautifully as Paul has described it, he has only scratched the surface. We rightfully find it incredibly awesome when we read what he said, but we must remember that even the biblically inspired author in holy writ cannot fully do justice to his topic.

Well if we will not know it here, when and where will we know it? Paul tells us that we shall know as we are known and that is when we are face to face. Paul does not have to spell out what he means by this. The wonder of prophets like Moses were that they supposedly spoke to God face to face. For Paul, all Christians will have what Moses had and in fact will have even better. This means that when we read about what happened to Moses and others with fantastic experiences, we should realize that we will have the most fantastic experience one day of seeing God.

And this is in fact the highest good of man. Man was designed to know God. The highest knowledge one can think about is the knowledge of God. This is not just knowing about what God does and has done and will do. This is about knowing Him as He is. Unfortunately, for many of us today we only look at God in the capacity of what He does or more importantly to us, how He makes us feel. Too many of our worship services are about how we feel about God rather than about God himself. In this way, worship can be more self-directed at times than God-directed. Now there is a time to talk about our response to God, but this is after we have talked about who He is.

But as was said in an earlier blog, if this is the way that we will end, with the knowledge of God, we might as well start preparing for that now. Too many churches are filled with too many people, including the pastor, who have never taken the God question seriously. I frankly wish more Christians would be tempted with atheism because at least I can see that they’re taking the question seriously and trying to determine what difference it would mean to their worldview if God was removed.

We’re nearly through. What remains in the end? Well next time Paul will tell us and I will then wrap up our look at 1 Corinthians 13.

Childish Ways

July 25, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. For those who are interested, the Mrs. and I had a very nice anniversary. We stayed at the Hampton Inn we stayed at on our wedding night and we had excellent treatment from them we greatly appreciate. Now that I’m back here, I’ll be continuing our look at 1 Corinthians 13 with talking about childish thinking.

It has been said that men never really grow up. Their toys just changed. If you look at professional sports, that’s certainly an example. A little boy who develops a talent with hitting a ball with a stick can eventually become a sports icon playing major league baseball. Is that what Paul is speaking against?

If you walk into arcades, though few are around, you will often find grown men in there playing games still. Indeed, many owners of video game consoles are adults. We happen to own quite a few around here. Why? We like to play games. Is this what Paul is speaking about?

When we are younger, we often have highly active imaginations. We feel out many situations and like to dream big and think about doing something great for the world. We are often told later on that we will grow up and get out of that phase and come to realize that we just need to accept our place in life. Is this what Paul is talking about?

No. Paul is talking about a mode of thinking more than anything else. He is not talking about something that is emotional. He is talking about something that is entirely rational. He is not telling us to abandon childlikeness as we should all be like little children in our wonder and trust of God. He is telling us instead to abandon childishness, and we all recognize the attitudes of childishness, and especially can usually recognize them in ourselves. We often still have this idea that reality ought always to go our way.

Paul gives a similar warning in 1 Corinthians 14:20. The Corinthians were acting like children in many ways with their attitudes and their constant one-upmanship and chasing after something grand for them rather than seeking that which is for the good of the body, a lesson we all need to learn. The question is not what good can the church do for you, although the church should support its own, but what good you can do for the church.

We should all have the wonder of children, but we should all seek to constantly be improving our thinking. When we think about God for instance, are we thinking just about what He does for us, or are we thinking about what we can do for Him and who He is? Much of our worship today seems to be about us rather than about God. We can often define a good worship service as one where we leave feeling good, when in reality, it could be some of the best worship services are the ones where we leave feeling miserable because we’ve been convicted of our sin and know we need to do better.

Christians should be about good thinking. It’s a shame that in our world today, the church has often been seen as abandoning rationality and indeed, many churches pride themselves on that. The more you can live by blind faith rather than actually believing something for a reason, the better you are.

I actually am of the opinion that if it seems many people today even outside the church have crazy ideas and are abandoning reason, it’s because the church did it first. Much like we led the way with many universities, we are also leading the way with many ignorances because we allowed childish thinking to come in.

Let’s follow Paul’s words and be adult in our thinking. It’s the loving thing to do for future generations.

Partial And Complete

July 23, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I can assure everyone that I will not be on tomorrow night. If you remember where we were a year ago, I had announced that actually I was to be married and tomorrow, the Mrs. and I celebrate our first anniversary. We think everyone who’s helped us both prayerfully and financially and we hope you will continue to do so. For now, let’s return to 1 Corinthians 13 and see what Paul has to say about love.

Paul tells us about the partial in verses 9-10. What we do in part, and we know about this. The more you think you know about something, the more you will come to realize that you do not know. The more knowledge we have of a topic, the more that we are amazed at that topic.

This includes our knowledge of God and if there is anything we do not understand to the maximum, it is definitely God. This is a topic we need to wrestle with. For instance, with the Trinity, we can show the Trinity from the Bible, but have we really took the time to think out what those texts mean if they’re true? If the Trinity is true, what does that tell us about God? If the Trinity is a topic that doesn’t leave you with questions, then you can be sure that you do not understand the Trinity at all.

Paul tells us that we speak in part, probably because that is all the knowledge of God that we can have, partial. When we get to the complete however, we will not know in part. We will know completely.

What is completeness? There are many debates on this topic, but I am inclined to think based on the later words of the passage that it refers to when we get to the point where we see God. When that happens, we will know completely. Of course, this will be commented on more as we get further into the text.

What does this mean for love? It does mean that our love is incomplete at this point. We can never fully love someone here as we ought. This could be seen as saddening for some of us, but I would prefer to think of it as exciting. But how can it be exciting to know that our love is incomplete?

If what we have now is complete love, we are quite lacking in many ways. Instead, think of how it will be when you reach eterinity. You will love your friends, family, and your spouse and children in ways you never could before because your sinful nature is gone. Look at those relationships that you have now and think of how different they will be when you get that perfect love.

For now, that means that we are to grow in the love that we have more and more, as to grow in love is to grow to be more Christlike. What are we going to do today to be more loving?

Love Never Fails

July 21, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re currently going through 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing what the apostle Paul has to say about love. Tonight, we are going to discuss the topic of “Love Never Fails.”

Love is permanent. Whatever else is going on in the world, love will always be there. Why? Love is of the nature of God and the nature of God will never change or pass away. The apostle points to this side of love in distinction to other things that will pass away, things that the Corinthians were priding themselves on.

Prophecies. Prophecy was one thing Paul was proud of as well. Paul told the Corinthians to seek prophecy and that it was the greatest of gifts, but yet, prophecy will pass away. When humanity stands before God and sees Him as He is, there will be no more need of prophets to act as conduits between God and man. Man will have direct experience of God. In that day, prophecy will cease.

Tongues? The same principle applies. If tongues are a prayer language meant to allow the person to pray to God in an unknown tongue, there will be no need of that as the person will communicate with God on a whole new level. If tongues are a known language meant for the spreading of the gospel, there will also be no need of that as there will be no spreading of the gospel message in Heaven. All will know about the goodness and grace of God immediately.

What about knowledge? Well obviously in a way, knowledge will not cease since God is omniscient and we will know God, but knowledge of things that are temporary and changing will have a problem. We will know things not by knowing the objects, but rather by knowing God. Imagine how it will be when the day comes and you see your neighbor through God. No wonder there will be such immense love between people in Heaven.

In contrast to all of these, love itself will not fade. It will last forever. The community of Heaven will be one of love. People there will have a great love for one another. It has been said that the six activities that are done in Heaven are knowing and loving God, knowing and loving ourselves, and knowing and loving our neighbor. If these sound boring to you, then the problem is with you as not realizing how vastly interesting God is, you are, or your neighbor is.

The challenge to the Corinthian church would apply to us today. If this is how we are to be in the end as a community of love, then why are we not living it out now? Do our churches really come across as places of love or places of condemnation? The Corinthians had the error of being too condoning, such as allowing people to be drunk at the Communion services, suing one another, and a man marrying his father’s wife. Our problem would be that we are too strict at times. The people of the world often don’t want to come to church because they’re a bunch of judgmental hypocrites and frankly, we’ve deserved that a number of times.

Our command is to love one another, the way Jesus’s disciples were to be recognized even. Are we doing that? Do we need to practice what Paul says?