Posted in Christianity and Culture

An Education Itself

Who is an educated person? A man with a doctoral degree? A master’s degree? A bachelor’s? An associate’s? A high school diploma? One who can read? One who does read? A man who knows well the field in which he earns a living? One acquainted with history and who appreciates fine art? One who mingles with the academics? Webster defines educate as “to cultivate and discipline the mind and other faculties by teaching.” Thus, an educated man is taught and disciplined in respect to some area(s) of knowledge.

Has America made the mistake of making a god of the educative process with little to no regard for what the process is actually teaching? We’ve raised generations to such heights of “education” they now believe people are nothing but glorified chimpanzees. Many “educated” educators teach the next generation of “educated” to trust the state and doubt the Bible, to indulge the flesh and refrain from religion, to deify man and detest the Messiah. We’ve “educated” a horde of lawyers and judges to teach us that the Lord has no real place on the public scene, on public property, or — in essence — in the public psyche. Ironically, God has become almost a trespasser in a nation whose coins still vow trust in him.

The apostle Paul indicated there is such a thing as “falsely called ‘knowledge’” (1 Tim. 6:20, ESV). Surely it does not profit the mind to be full of falsehoods. Deceit will not deliver; lies will not last. The human mind was designed to run on higher grade fuel than error offers. Yet, there will always be he who “loves and practices falsehood” (Rev. 22:15), thereby hindering his own ability to perform as a man educated in what truly matters. There will be those “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). What results is that the ostensibly educated are, in fact, blinded to genuine truth. This is why Festus could say, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind” (Acts 26:24). No doubt Festus fancied himself more rational than the apostle when it came to the gospel, but reality was otherwise.

Let us lay aside the question of who Americans think is educated and, instead, ask, “Whom does God deem educated?” That answer reveals a strikingly different perspective. There is no degree required. No particular school is mandated. No diploma, no class ring, no alumni association, no grade point average, no transcript. In fact, it consists in nothing else but learning and doing God’s truth (John 8:32), which puts one in very close contact with a man named Jesus. Antagonists of the gospel long ago came to see that Jesus had a most unsettling way of turning the socially unlearned into the spiritually enlightened. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). You see, being with Jesus is the education.

Listen to and do what he taught and you will far outshine the rest. The psalmist wrote about God’s word, “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99). So, who is educated? Is it a Ph.D. who rejects the gospel and goes to hell, or a high school dropout who obeys the Lord and goes to heaven? Who knew what mattered? As C. S. Lewis put it in the book, Mere Christianity (p. 78): “If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself.”

Posted in Expository, New Testament

John 3:16 – More Than Meets the Eye

By Weylan Deaver

It’s one of the most familiar Bible verses, and often appealed to as the basis of salvation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV). While so much is packed into so few words, much also remains unstated. Many fail to realize that verse is summation, not explication. It summarizes what God has (love), what God did (gave), what a person does (believes), and what a believer should have (eternal life). What was involved when God “gave his only Son”? The verse has no particulars about the incarnation, the cross, the blood atonement, Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection. You have to go to other passages to flesh out the details of God’s gift. Likewise, “eternal life” is offered “whoever believes,” but details of heaven and of faith’s response are not given. You must go elsewhere for elaboration.

The problem is, many read “whoever believes” (v. 16) and assume it simply means mentally accepting facts about Jesus, and then getting “eternal life.” But, the very context of John 3 proves that “whoever believes” cannot mean salvation by belief only.

Jesus said, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). If you cannot participate in God’s kingdom, you are not saved. And, no one sees the kingdom who has not been “born again.” This new birth is vital to participation in the kingdom, and the kingdom is vital to salvation. Therefore, whoever believes, if he would have eternal life, must become a believer who has been “born again.”

Jesus added detail to the concept of new birth when he said, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Again, none “enter the kingdom” without a new birth consisting of both “water and the Spirit.” Therefore, whoever believes, if he would have eternal life, has to become a believer who has been “born of water and the Spirit.”

Jesus also said, “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:21). Truth demands action, not just mental acceptance. And, while many religious folk act as though “works” is a dirty word unrelated to salvation, Jesus taught otherwise. My works cannot save me, but God’s works do. When I do what God commands, I am doing God’s works, and that is essential to salvation. In fact, Jesus also said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29). So, John 3:16 mentions a believer, but does not mention works. But, John 6:29 tells us a true believer is already doing “the work of God” since belief, itself, is called a “work”! Therefore, whoever believes, if he would have eternal life, must be a believer who “does what is true.”

Further we are told, “After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized” (John 3:22-23). Why the emphasis on baptism? Because, as Jesus said in v. 5, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Peter stated it, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” [Acts 2:38]). “Born of water” happens when one is “baptized” in water. Baptism means immersion, and immersion requires “plentiful” water, which is why John was where he was—there was plenty of water. If Jesus connected “water and the Spirit” in being “born again” (v. 5), nobody has the right to disconnect or discount either element. Both are required. Moreover, nobody has the right to redefine baptism (which means immersion) so that it means sprinkling or pouring water, neither of which requires much water. Bible baptism is immersion (physically in water and spiritually in the Holy Spirit). Such is the new birth. Therefore, whoever believes, if he would have eternal life, must be someone who has been immersed in order to be born again.

Finally, note the chapter’s last verse: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). Verses 16 and 36 both mention “whoever believes.” But, while obedience is implied in v. 16, obedience is explicitly mentioned in v. 36. Who gets to “see life”? The one who obeys God’s Son. The saved believer is the obedient believer. Believing is obeying, but obedience includes more than just believing.

God can put a summary in a single verse (such as John 3:16), but he never lists everything involved in obedience in any one verse. The only way to know the total requirements is to take all the pertinent passages together. In other words, take the entire New Testament. In our case, we’ve taken several connected truths from John 3, both before and after the words of v. 16. It is a monumental mistake to interpret John 3:16 as teaching salvation by belief alone. But, if belief by itself cannot save, then everything involved in salvation is not listed in John 3:16. And that means you have to go outside John 3:16 to learn what obedience entails.

Belief is a first step since “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Yes, “God so loved the world” (John 3:16), but benefitting from that love requires continual commitment to Jesus’ commands. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

Posted in Christianity and Culture

Master of Illusion

By Weylan Deaver

Satan is master of illusion. Though pure evil, he can give the appearance of an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). The devil can make the righteous feel outnumbered, outgunned, and overpowered, when such is not the case at all. He can talk Christians into surrendering on his terms by getting them to overlook the vast spiritual resources God puts at their disposal. Long ago, the prophet Elisha was surrounded by a Syrian army bent on his capture (2 Kings 6:8-17). Elisha was not bothered by this, but his servant was greatly distressed. Elisha told his servant, “Fear not; for they that are with us are more than they that are with them.” Elisha then prayed for God to open the eyes of his servant so he could see what Elisha already saw. God did so, and the servant was able to see “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” God had the matter well in hand, and was more than able to conquer the Syrians, which he did. Elisha’s servant gained a new and accurate perspective. He learned the enemy’s strength was illusory, and that, if God is for you, there is more power at work than can be defeated. And there is more to a battle than meets the eye. Wickedness is at high tide in America: abortion, homosexuality, fornication, divorce, drunkenness, hatred, lying, atheism, false religions, etc. The list is long, but sin’s heyday will not last. The master of illusion is served by the deluded. We need to believe the Bible and dig in, not give up. After all, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

Posted in Announcements, Books

Back in print: “Ascertaining Bible Authority”

IMG_3797Roy C. Deaver’s much-used little book on how the Bible authorizes is now available for purchase online here and here. It is ideal for congregational study or in the preacher training classroom, where he spent so much of his life. Thanks to Stephen Bradd for getting the book in digitized form. Info for the book will be permanently listed on our website.



Posted in Christianity and Culture

Society is out of touch with reality

By Weylan Deaver

Reality is what exists. Truth harmonizes with what is real. Truth is not a fabrication of the imagination. A fact is a true reflection of actual condition. When it comes to human behavior in a godless society, when “the sky’s the limit,” Judgment Day is still the destination, even if most don’t see it coming. People can do whatever they want, but none can do it with impunity. Denying truth does not make it false; loving the lie does not make it true. Sin is real, even if the doer does not see it. God still says certain activity is sinful, regardless what is acceptable to our president, courts, laws, customs, entertainers, academics, or neighbors. To name a few: Sex outside marriage is sin (Hebrews 13:4). Homosexuality is sin (1 Corinthians 6:9). Men dressing like women, or vice versa, is sin (Deuteronomy 22:5). Lying is sin (Revelation 21:8). Not being sober is sin (1 Thessalonians 5:6). Refusing to repent of every sin is sin (Acts 17:30). Refusing to obey the gospel of Christ is sin (2 Thessalonians 1:8). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, ESV). The Bible’s message does not evolve to accommodate political correctness, or to coddle the sensibilities of people in rebellion against the Lord. God states the facts, tells us what is right and what is coming. He warns us against the foolishness of the world (1 Corinthians 1:19-21). God educates us on reality. He does not ask us what we want; he tells us how it is. To adopt the Bible’s perspective is to see things accurately, that we might be prepared for eternity. A society that celebrates sin constructs its own coffin. In the church of Christ, we stand in God’s truth, as given in God’s book. Whether that appeals to anyone or not, reality still looms closer every day. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Posted in Announcements, Books

New Book: The Hopelessness of Humanism

unnamedThe Warren Christian Apologetics Center has released a brand new title by Mac Deaver critiquing the shortcomings of the humanist outlook. Their website describes it:

This 82 page book is a response to James A. Haught, Editor Emeritus of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, West Virginia’s largest newspaper. For several decades, Haught has published materials advocating a skeptical philosophy of life. Mac Deaver, in The Hopelessness of Humanism, has shown the logical implications and the practical results of a society based upon atheism and agnosticism.

Published in April 2016 by the Warren Christian Apologetics Center, it can be ordered from them at this link.

Posted in Christianity and Culture, Climate Change

Christians and the climate

By Weylan Deaver

Cries of alarm go out about the future of Earth, along with accusations that people are destroying it and must take immediate, drastic measures or else face ruin.

It used to be conventional wisdom that the climate was cooling, then it came to be thought the climate was warming. Now, it seems enough for proponents of doom to simply say the climate is changing, and, whichever the direction, it is our fault. “Manmade climate change” has become a sacred tenet of political and cultural progressives that is used to scare, intimidate, tax, regulate, and even obliterate certain freedoms to grow government in the name of saving us all…

[This was first published at Read the rest of the article here.]

Posted in Christianity and Culture, Church and State, Gender

Battle for the sexes: American women in combat

By Weylan Deaver

In Dec., 2015, the United States Secretary of Defense declared all military combat roles open to women. That proclamation led quickly to the question of whether women should have to register for the draft with Selective Service, as men are required to do. After all, if women can fight in uniform wherever men fight, however men fight, as well as men fight, then why should the country require one sex to register for potential combat roles, while exempting the other?

The question makes perfect sense if you have a godless worldview. Secularists are not the target of this piece, since no appeal to Scripture will convince those who already despise Scripture. But there are still many in America who claim respect for the Bible. A Christian worldview has always maintained a distinction between the sexes by appeal to biology (the way God created men and women) and the Bible (what God wrote about men and women).

[Read the rest of the article here.]

Posted in Old Testament


By Weylan Deaver

Abel was the second person ever born, and the first victim of murder (see Gen. 4). A shepherd by trade, he died young at the hand of his older, wicked brother. Interestingly, Jesus includes Abel with the prophets (Luke 11:47-51). Abel is mentioned by name in only five chapters of the Bible, but what little is said of him speaks volumes to the kind of man he was.

The world of Abel contained four people. His parents were the extent of his family tree, and they could tell him firsthand stories of the Garden of Eden. There were no atheists, no agnostics, no idol worshipers, no false religions. The Flood of Noah’s day was still in the future. Dinosaurs roamed the earth and biological conditions made possible extraordinarily long life spans. With no Scripture yet given, God carried on personal conversations with people.

The worship of Abel is commended. When he brought an offering from his flock, God accepted it while simultaneously rejecting Cain’s plant offering. The reason is not immediately apparent, since the text does not state that Cain should have brought an animal offering. Suffice it to say, something was amiss in what Cain did. The New Testament affirms that Abel’s offering was made “by faith” (Heb. 11:4). Since faith results by hearing and trusting God’s word (Rom. 10:17), the implication is that God had, indeed, given Cain and Abel instructions on their offerings. Abel followed the instructions, thus making his offering “by faith,” whereas Cain did not. This principle has towering ramifications for our own day. As he did with Abel’s, God will accept our gifts to him when they are made by faith (i.e. informed by and carried out per God’s word). As he rejected Cain’s gifts, so will God reject today offerings and worship brought to him without following his revealed will.

The wounding of Abel is tragic testimony to anger grown so out of hand that Cain actually raised his hand against his brother and killed him. Prior to the crime, God had talked to Cain and tried to help him. God warned Cain of the nearness of sin if he failed to get his attitude straightened out. Cain would either rule over sin, or else be ruled by it. Sadly, and to his brother’s demise, he chose the latter. As the first human to ever die, Abel’s was the first spirit to ever enter Hades. And, he has been there awaiting judgment longer even than Adam and Eve. Though Abel’s death did not seem to weigh too heavily on Cain’s conscience, it was a serious offense to God. Much later, the apostle John will raise and answer the question of why Cain murdered Abel: “Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12, ESV).

The worthiness of Abel is evident wherever he is discussed. Inspiration even mentions his blood in the same sentence with the Savior’s: “and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:24). Abel’s blood cried out for justice. Abel’s blood pointed back to the sin of Cain. Abel’s blood could not save. Jesus’ blood, on the other hand, heralded the message of redemption. Jesus’ blood pointed forward to salvation. Jesus’ blood could save. Whatever good could be said of Abel, better could be said of Christ. Abel died young, but he died right with God, which is all that matters. “And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks” (Heb. 11:4). And maybe — just maybe — that is why Jesus spoke of Abel in the same breath as the prophets.