Author Archives: Mike Kilcrease

Inspiration and Inerrancy

I had an interesting experience yesterday, one that I had prayed for. As I was reading my Bible in the park, a curious jogger stopped to ask why I was reading the Bible and if I truly believed that it contains the answer to life’s problems.

First of all, I had to recognize that I have some presuppositions about God and the Bible that this jogger might not share with me. So I wanted to be careful in how I shared my beliefs compared with the jogger’s doubts.

I started with how I view the Bible as a whole. I believe that the Bible has authority. According to H. D. McDonald, “[T]he Bible has a real authority in itself as the authentic embodiment of God’s self-disclosure.” I believe that because the Bible is the Word of God, and because God Himself is the ultimate authority, His Word has authority in the same manner as God has authority over me and my life.

That led me to talk about inspiration. The jogger was skeptical about the Bible, saying that it was written by men no different than you and me. I explained to him that he was partially correct about the authorship of the Bible. It was penned by men, but that those men were led by divine inspiration. God Himself guided the men and the words that were written. The Bible says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV). The Bible is not a work of the human mind, but the very words of God.

The jogger then asked a difficult question, “How can the Bible be accurate if it was written by men?” I told the jogger that I believe the Bible is inerrant. To me, inerrancy simply means that God is incapable of anything short of truth and perfection, and therefore, His word contains no errors or false claims. The Bible says, “it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged” (Hebrews 6:18, NIV).

I explained to the jogger that I learned about some arguments that have been made about the Bible being inerrant. The Slippery Slope Argument says that “some see inerrancy as so fundamental that those who give it up will soon surrender other central Christian doctrines.” I believe this to be the weakest argument to convince an unbeliever because the belief is based on a structure that is foreign to an unbeliever, the doctrines of the church. The Epistemological Argument says that the claims of the Bible’s inerrancy can only be certified by proving its claims. While we can verify many of the things the Bible claims, we cannot prove them all, because not all things have come to pass or the evidence of other claims no longer exist. The Biblical Argument uses Scripture itself to show that it is inerrant and infallible. The best example of this is the previously mention verse, 2 Timothy 3:16. The argument that I would consider the strongest is the Historical Argument. This argument says that the inerrancy of the Bible “has been the view of the church throughout history.” At first glance, this argument may seem overly simplistic. But it is a view that carries tradition and a long lineage of believers who were intent on sharing a view of God’s Word as it is, inerrant and authoritative. This view is founded by eyewitnesses to Biblical events. And then it was shared through generations. This argument shows a history of people, sinful humans, who have heard the message and accepted it and built their lives in Christ according to what each person saw in other humans. It is our greatest witness to the lost of our time.

The inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible are complimentary. Elmer Towns states that, “Inerrancy recognizes that what God revealed and inspired is accurate, reliable, authoritative and without error.” Because the Bible is inspired by God, the nature of God is a part of the Bible. The Bible is Truth. It is accurate. It is reliable. It has authority. It’s attributes are synonymous with God’s.

Because I believe that the Bible was inspired by God and therefore, carries the authority of God, is inerrant and infallible, I believe that what the Bible teaches has real meaning for me. I must study the Bible in order to know how I should live a life that is pleasing to the Creator. I must obey the commands of God that are found in the pages of His word in order to receive the blessings He has promised to His people.

Be Transformed

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Have you ever found yourself doing something that you know you probably shouldn’t? Ever struggled with a bad attitude? We have all fought with negative behaviors at one time or another. At times, we can be unaware of the problem. Or perhaps, we recognize the issue but are unwilling (or feel unable) to change. So we go on doing the same things over and over again. For those of us who come to the point where we actually want to change or want to improve, it can be a struggle to figure out where to start. Well, the Bible gives us a clear picture of what we need to do in order to change.

In Romans 12:2, Paul tells us that we must be “transformed.” He doesn’t tell us to be transformed by doing the exact same thing we have always done. He doesn’t tell us to be transformed by blaming others for our troubles. Paul says that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Our minds are a battleground. The world wants to have us pondering violence, unrestrained sexual pleasure, self-gratification and enmity towards others. But the Bible calls us to help the weak and downtrodden. That means we may have to change our attitudes toward the less fortunate. The Bible calls us to purity. That means that we have to reject and avoid sexually immoral images and themes.

Romans 12:2 is a key verse for the Christian walk and how we are to avoid being overly influenced by the world. But it goes on to remind us that a transformed mind prepares us to hear God and obey His will. A mind that casts off worldly influences is better able to embrace what is good, acceptable and perfect.

If you are stuck in constant quarrels or arguments, seek a transformed mind. If you are stuck in an endless cycle of bitterness and negativity, seek a transformed mind. If your outlook on life is bleak, seek a transformed mind. Jesus came to bring us life, not misery. Let us embrace Him and be transformed by Him.

Low Battery

I was sitting at a conference just a few weeks ago, enjoying the fellowship and the message, when this feeling hit me. After weeks, even months, of planning for the conference, after months of traveling up and down the state, after years of living life, raising a family, serving in church, working a job, and all that comes with life in general, I realized that I was worn out. It was more mental than physical, but it was there nonetheless. I was beginning to experience a spiritual valley, a low battery.

Many times in life, we get beat up, tossed around, hurt, confused, depressed, worn out and just plain tired. We may think that we have no right to feel this way. We may try to hide our hurts and feelings. We may feel guilty for being tired and worn out. But the reality is that we are imperfect creatures. We have good days and bad. We have energy then we have none. We are able to face the biggest obstacles on one day and on others the smallest bump unravels our entire being.

I have to say that it’s okay to be worn out. It’s okay to get tired. It’s okay to struggle. After all, we are only human. But we don’t have to stay there. We have a heavenly Father who seeks to lift us up. Our God wants us to turn to Him in our tough times, in our broken times, in our worn out times. Consider the words of the prophet in Isaiah 40:

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Although I sat at that conference realizing I was worn out, I knew that The Lord was there. I knew that He is faithful to His children. I knew that in His time, He would renew my strength and send me on to do His will. As I considered my spiritual fatigue, I was encouraged to know that God delights in my weaknesses because He would be glorified by His work in me. I praise God for my time in the spiritual valley. He is good. He is faithful. He is still, and evermore, God.

We were never meant to go through this life, with all of its bumps and bruises, apart from the Creator. We tend to panic when our cell phone batteries get low. We know that we must plug into a power source to sustain it. Well, we must remember that The Lord is our strength when our own has failed. Let us remember to plug into Him and wait on Him in our time of need.

The Unbridled Tongue

I got mad today. I mean really mad. I reached a point that I just couldn’t take anymore. Over the course of a few days, I have heard about a couple of situations where people in the church hurt other people in the church. And that alone is not why I got angry. The thing is, these people that were hurt, and we are talking about a deeply significant emotional hurt, were hurt by the WORDS of others. For some reason, many Christians still have not learned to just keep their mouths shut. I wish that I could just tell people to “shut your mouth,” “be quiet”…or the old adage, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”

James 3:6, 9-10 warns us about the deadly nature of the tongue, saying “6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

These things ought not to be so! Brothers and sisters, we have members of our family in pain and unsure of their place in the church family because some have unbridled their tongue. We have some folks who have left our church family because other people have torn down other Christians in their presence. This is shameful. It is detestable.

Consider for just a moment, IF you had said something that hurt someone deeply, would you care? Would you feel awful and want to make things right? It is time that we stop gossiping. It is time that we stop talking bad about others. No one should be acting like this, but these things are even worse when we do it in front of new members and young Christians!

If your tongue has been out of control and you have hurt others, repent! Then get on your knees and beg for forgiveness. Humble yourselves. And remember, if you wouldn’t smack someone in the face then you shouldn’t gossip about them. It’s pretty much the same thing.

Stand Against or Stand For

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Last night (August 6, 2015) was the first opportunity to see the latest field of presidential candidates in a debate. And in true political fashion, these candidates spent more time articulating what they stand AGAINST than explaining what they stand FOR. More and more I see people who are willing to speak out against things, whether it be human trafficking, abortion, religious persecution or violent behavior. And those are things that Christians SHOULD stand against.

But when we spend more time telling people what we oppose or the things we don’t like, we are presenting a negative image of ourselves. It reminds me of my teenage years in church. I would hear about what movies we shouldn’t watch, what books we shouldn’t read, and what clothes we shouldn’t wear. And, again, I am not saying that we shouldn’t stand against those things even today. It is relatively easy to stand against something. You see something you don’t like or don’t agree with and start vocalizing your opposition. And there is always something to stand against. It would seem that our culture thrives on opposition. But there is danger in just being against things. We can get to a point where we just don’t know what our foundations are. And Ephesians 4:13-14 comes to mind, saying we should strive for unity and fullness in Christ, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness and deceitful schemes.” We shouldn’t be so quick to jump on the world’s bandwagon of condemnation.

Sometimes, I just want to know what a person actually stands for. Like the politicians I watched last night, I see people standing against things without knowing what they stand FOR. In the Christian life, those who only stand against things run the risk of alienating the very people we are called to serve in love. The Bible regularly tells us to stand for something. The Apostle Paul tells us to stand firm in the faith (1 Cor. 16:13) and to stand firm in Christ (2 Cor. 1:21). People should know that we stand for God and His Word, that we stand for the Gospel, the ultimate act of love found in Christ Jesus, and that we are committed to demonstrate that love to the world through humble service to those in need.

Beauty in the Desert

This week, I was talking to a man about his family’s trip to Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert. I, too, have made some trips out there recently, although not for a vacation. We both made comments about how there is a beauty to the desolate landscape. There is a peace there. Beautiful colors abound, especially as the sun rises and when it sets. Despite the barrenness, there is a section I have traveled through that has a hint of green from the thousands of Joshua trees that dot the landscape, adding to the allure of the desert landscape.

Most people don’t look forward to a trip to the desert like they would a trip to the beach or even the mountains, although some people do prefer Palm Springs over Pismo Beach. The high temperatures and remote locations aren’t that appealing. And when it comes to our spiritual lives, we prefer to be ministered to, preached at, and praised for our good works, like a nice comfortable trip to the beach or a high end resort.

But we shouldn’t avoid those trips to the spiritual desert. Christians need to spend some time developing self-discipline in their spiritual lives. Over the last few weeks, I have personally been studying and digesting some lofty Christian ideas, such as holiness, discipline and obedience. However, these thoughts come at a price. I find myself realizing that I have become lazy and comfortable in so many areas. I have compromised my own spiritual walk in order to be comfortable and entertained. Where I should be getting up earlier to spend time in the Word and prayer, I hit the snooze button and waste more of my time in bed. Where I should be calling people who need encouragement and prayer, I procrastinate so I don’t have to hear other’s problems.

I know I am not the only one who struggles with these things. We all battle against the flesh every day. Let us stop our pursuit of luxury, but let each of us resolve to pursue Christ with more intensity. As Paul reminds us in Romans 6:19, “Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness” (NIV). We have made a commitment to Christ and vowed to serve Him and others. Let’s honor that commitment through our actions in obedience to the Word of God. Let us enjoy a little time in the desert.

Frustrated with the World

More and more, our nation continues to treat Christians and the Christian mindset with disdain. Atheists are more aggressive in their opposition to Christian belief. Social activists continue to ridicule biblical family values. And the so-called sexual revolution has led to countless issues, including teen-pregnancy, disease and unhealthy attitudes and desires.

Sometimes, these kinds of things can get Christians so upset that they do and say things that are not very Christ-like. The church’s attitude toward homosexuality and same-sex marriage is a good example of how Christians can become hateful and intolerant in their own right. We tend to take our philosophical battles into the realm of personal attacks and character assassination.

Just this week, my frustrations were heightened by the attention received by Bruce Jenner. His transgender transformation is being celebrated and even called courageous! My initial reaction is to ask, “What is so courageous about a man ‘hiding’ for decades only to come out when the social climate makes it more comfortable to do so?” Yet Christians across the globe continue to die for their beliefs. And there are no celebrations, no awards, for them.

This shouldn’t surprise Christians. Rather than get upset and aggravated, we need to remember that unbelievers don’t think the way we think. They don’t believe in the things we believe in. To get mad at them is like getting mad at a dog for acting like a dog. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Unbelievers don’t understand why we do things the way we do. They think we are crazy. They think we believe in make-believe. 1 Peter 4:4 says, “They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.”

Let us resolve to be Christ-like in all that we do. No matter what the world does, we must realize they are acting as unbelievers. We are called to be separate from the world, yet love. We are called to love those who are broken and confused and defiant.

The Question of Evil

One of the most common questions (and stumbling blocks) about God and Christianity is “Why is there so much suffering in the world?” It is a valid question that deserves to be answered by those who promote faith in Christ. We don’t live in a vacuum. We live in the real world where questions about faith should be answered to the best of our abilities. A simple “just because” does not explain away the tough questions. And besides, God is big enough to handle some tough questions.

Recently, a radio program described how the United States has enjoyed unprecedented prosperity. There has never been another nation that has accomplished what our nation has in all of history. It is because of the drive of the American spirit. And the unprecedented freedom we enjoy. But with that freedom comes a level of crime and violence that is hard to fathom. There are some who believe the way to curb crime is to restrict freedom.

Consider that God Himself has given mankind a freedom that at times can boggle the mind. We are free moral agents. We are allowed to choose whether we will follow God and His ways or rebel against Him and choose our own path. Our freedom allows us to choose to do good or evil, be a helper to those in need or exploit and victimize others. Should God then restrict the freedom of men in order to prevent evil from effecting our lives?

While God maintains ultimate control over all things, it is clear that He has decided to let humans choose their own fate and determine their own actions, whether for good or evil. It is the basis of the human experience to be able to choose a life spent devoted to the Lord and His ways or a life devoted to rebellion against the Creator. In allowing men to have freedom, He has allowed evil to exist in this world. But we must remember that the evil that exists in our world will not be seen in heaven. This life is but a passing shadow and as such, the evils that exist are fleeting and will pass away in the final judgment.

Evil exists for a short time. As believers, we must stand against it, minister to those affected by it, and ultimately remember, that God is not the author of it, but desires to help His children get through it. So when you begin to question why God could possibly allow evil to exist, remember that He is a good and merciful God who loves us and wants to deliver us from the evil of this present world, and ultimately make heaven our home.

The Good Earth

One of my favorite books is “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck. The book tells the story of Wang Lung, a poor farmer who has a love for the land, but a desire for prosperity and prestige. Throughout his life, Wang Lung faced troubles, like famine and poverty, but also experienced tremendous success, and eventually became one of the most influential men in his region of China. But Wang Lung never lost his love for the land. Despite the demands his success placed on his life, he always desired to return to the land. The most vivid mental picture I have every time I think of this book is of Wang Lung, walking among his farmland, with his bare feet sunk into the soil. He was never so happy as when he was able to commune with “The Good Earth.”

As Christians, we go through so many different seasons in our lives. We experience the euphoric high of salvation. The great weight of sin is removed from our shoulders and we experience the peace of Christ for the first time. Then we go through life. We experience financial troubles, family issues, conflicts at work, and health issues. We also experience great blessings, such as having children, being successful in our occupations and fulfilling lifelong dreams. For many, life takes us away from the fertile soil we find in Christ. As we celebrate the greatest event in history, where Christ gave Himself up and paid the price of our sin then overcame death, let us remember that we will never be so happy as when we have firmly planted our feet in the foundation of our belief in Christ. Matthew 13:23 says, “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” We were once sinners, saved by grace and promised eternity in heaven. No matter what our struggles or successes on this earth may be, we are assured that God loves us. And that is a “good” that is beyond measure.

Twitter, Trolls and Taming the Tongue

This week, former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling made headlines when he stood up for his daughter and her honor while trying to share a proud moment on Twitter about her being accepted into college. Some disgusting characters took the opportunity to make vile comments about this 17 year old girl. Schilling had enough and tracked down a couple of the guys who made some of the horrible comments. He exposed them online and one of them was punished by his employer and while the other was suspended from the community college he attended.

These online bullies hid behind the supposed anonymity of their computer screens and thought they could say whatever came to their twisted minds, tearing down someone they didn’t even know. These guys almost perfectly fit the description for Gentiles (unbelievers) found in Ephesians 4:18-19, “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.” Their actions on Twitter revealed their true nature.

Our society continues to spiral downward. Lewd conduct is celebrated. Disgusting language seems to have become the norm. In many areas, our society lacks self-control, civility, and decency. 1 John 2:15-17 warns us not to love the world or anything in the world. Even in secret or behind the illusion of safety behind our computer screens and smartphones, we must reject the desires of the world and turn our desires to God and chase after His will in our lives.

As we consider that we are to live our lives among those who would pervert everything that is pure, we must remain separate in our attitudes and actions. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” We may not “troll” people on Twitter. We may not shame people on Facebook. But if you are tearing people down (even those you don’t know), you are not edifying others. You are further enabling those around you to engage in verbal attacks.

Let us be known for our kind spirit, loving heart, and a willingness to always encourage others. Let us be seen as the light of the world. Let us be seen as children of the Living God.