Saturday, December 15, 2012


            The hearts of all decent people, not only in America but around the world, ache along with the parents, family members, classmates and friends of those precious children and others slain in Newton, Connecticut.  Our sadness is mixed with a sense of outrage that these senseless mass murders continue and nothing seems to be able to abate them.  Instead, they are increasing in frequency.

            As expected, gun control advocates scream for “action” to control gun ownership, as though the guns were what motivated that troubled young man to do what he did.  While we in America tend to compare this tragedy with previous ones in our own country, notably Columbine, we should not forget the mass murder of young people on the Norwegian island of Utoya by convicted mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.  Before going on his shooting spree on the island, Breivik set off a large bomb in central Oslo.  Altogether, Breivik killed at least 91 of his countrymen, many of them young people.  (The Observer, Saturday, 23 July 2011) Yet Norway, along with most of Western Europe has strict gun registration and control laws, which include the prohibition of high-capacity ammunition clips, the kind Breivik used.  Breivik shopped the world for his arsenal.  In a 1,500-page manifesto written the day of the massacre, Breivik wrote: “e-Bay is your friend.”

            No, the problem lies not in the weapons, but in the killers themselves, and more precisely, in what drives them to such atrocities.  Now at this point our secular world will turn to psychology, psychiatry, and sociology for answers, and wishfully, for solutions.  But those disciplines, useful as they may be within their limits, have failed to discover the real source of the problem – evil.  Indeed, it is not fashionable in our post-modern (or is it post-post-modern?) era even to acknowledge the existence of evil, or sin.

            The Bible has the answer, but it’s not a popular one:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  (Romans 5:12) 
            That “one man” was our first father, Adam.  Genesis 5:3 informs us that although Adam was created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26, 27), his children were born “in his own image,” a distortion of the character of God, twisted by sin!

            So we are all by nature sinners, capable of horrible acts that we dare not imagine.  But, wait a second!  We may all be sinners, but we are not all mass murderers, child killers!  True, but left in our natural state, apart from the grace of God, we are vulnerable to the manipulation of Satanic forces.  Paul describes that condition in his instructions to his young protégé Timothy:

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.  (2 Timothy 2:24-26 Emphasis added)

            Those who have not received the grace of God in the gift of His Son, are vulnerable to the devil’s influence and manipulation.  And those who pursue the occult invite further demonic control.  Jesus told us that the devil was “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44), and he moves people to murderous acts.

            Thankfully, God has given us a cure for both our inherent sin and the influence and control of Satan.  Paul continues in Romans 5 –

For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  (Romans 5:17)

            Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind.  His grace is the cure for evil.  And as for Satan, the devil, the enemy of God and man, the Apostle John sounds his judgment:

 The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.  (1 John 3:8)

            The solution to the problem of evil is a personal relationship with God through faith in His Son as Lord and Savior.  Everything else is a bandage on a deadly spiritual cancer.  


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How Badly Do I Really Want to Know?

I have noticed lately that many professing Christians, even some pastors, have given up trying to understand some of the more difficult passages of Scripture.  There are many reasons for this, more than we can deal with in this article, but one question we should all ask ourselves if we claim to believe that the Bible is the Word of God: How badly do I really want to understand God's Word?

Daniel received some visions and prophecies from God that were difficult even for him to understand.  Chapters 9-11 are among those passages that many preachers these days gloss over with generalizations, if they treat them at all.  But notice Daniel's attitude toward understanding the Word:

Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession . . ."  (Daniel 9:3-4a)

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.  (Daniel10:2-3)

To Daniel, as it was to Job (Job 23:12), the Word of God was more precious than food or sleep!  Daniel knew that the only true interpreter of Holy Scripture was (and is) God Himself!  He knew that through earnest prayer and confession, God would grant him understanding.  Since Daniel was a prophet receiving special revelation, God sent an angel to explain the vision and prophecy.  Believers today have a constant divine companion and Comforter to guide us in our understanding of Scripture -- the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20, 27)

While the Holy Spirit moved upon Daniel to give us inspired Scripture (2 Peter 1:21), every believer has that same Holy Spirit to illuminate and give us understanding of those Scriptures.  Again, the question is, How badly do I really want to understand?

Daniel's determination paid off!  God sent His angel who had to fight off demonic forces to get the message through to His choice servant. 

And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come."  (Daniel 10:11-14) 

Let's not shy away from deep passages of Scripture; let's seek the guidance of God's Holy Spirit for understanding.  Let's also study the whole Bible more diligently because the best commentary on Scripture is Scripture.  Remember, we have one thing that even Daniel did not have:  a complete Bible!   

So "Be diligent to show yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."  (2 Timothy 2:15 NASB)