Posted in Apologetics, By Weylan Deaver, Doctrine, Uncategorized

Deaver-Rodriguez Debate Now Available To View

This four-night debate is about how the Holy Spirit helps the faithful Christian. It was held at the building of the Fort Sam Houston church of Christ in San Antonio in July 2019.

Joshua Rodriguez (Fremont, California) affirmed: “According to the scriptures, the Holy Spirit only indirectly influences the heart of the faithful Christian.”

Mac Deaver (Sheffield, Texas) affirmed: “According to the scriptures, the Holy Spirit directly influences the heart of the faithful Christian.”

All eight hours are available to view for free at this link.

Posted in By Weylan Deaver, Christianity and Culture, Uncategorized

Thanksgiving

By Weylan Deaver

Celebrations of Thanksgiving in America trace back to an October 1621 banquet of the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, along with about ninety Wampanoag Indians. After God had so richly blessed the colonists’ efforts, Governor William Bradford declared a day of public thanksgiving that stretched out over three days.

Governor Bradford proclaimed a second public thanksgiving c. July 30, 1623. After a twelve week summer drought that threatened disaster, the colonists held a day of fasting and prayer, after which, the very next day, a rain came that lasted two weeks. The life giving rain revived both crops and spirits and the colonists were more than happy to give God the credit.

During the Revolution, after the victory at Saratoga, the Continental Congress issued the First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving on November 1, 1777. It read, in part,

…That it may please Him, to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people, and the labour of the husbandman, that our land may yet yield its increase; to take school and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under His nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth ‘in righteous, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost’ (William J. Federer, America’s God and Country, p. 147).

After the discovery and thwarting of Benedict Arnold’s plot to deliver General Washington’s army to the British, the Continental Congress issued a Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer on October 18, 1780.

…It is therefore recommended to the several states…a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, that all the people may assemble on that day to celebrate the praises of our Divine Benefactor; to confess our unworthiness of the least of his favours, and to offer our fervent supplications to the God of all grace…to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth (Ibid., p. 148).

To celebrate victory and the end of the Revolution, Massachusetts Governor John Hancock issued A Proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving on November 8, 1783.

…I do by and with the Advice of the Council appoint Thursday the Eleventh Day of December next (the Day recommended by the Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the People may then assemble to celebrate…that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the Blessed Gospel; …That we also offer up fervent Supplications…to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish…and to fill the World with his glory (Ibid., p. 277).

On October 3, 1789 President George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving.

…And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions…to promote the knowledge and practice of the true religion and virtue… (Ibid., p. 165).

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving for the last Thursday of November 1863.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy…It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people (Ibid., p. 385).

Though Thanksgivings continued, it was not until 1941 that Congress ratified Public Law 77-379, whereby the President officially proclaims the fourth Thursday of November A National Day of Thanksgiving.

Reading over such pious declarations of American history, one cannot help but be impressed with the humility, sincerity, and religious devotion that characterized our presidents, governors, and legislators. To their credit, they were not embarrassed to discuss, in front of the world, their indebtedness to God, their acknowledgement of national sin, the need for virtue, their desire that God take America’s schools under “His nurturing hand,” their wish that Christianity spread the world over, and their praise and thanks for all the Lord had done for America.

We concur with President Lincoln that “…God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.” Anything less is too little.

As you gather with family to dine on a Thanksgiving feast, remember to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

Posted in Apologetics, By Weylan Deaver

You can’t believe both Jesus and evolution

By Weylan Deaver

Much can be said in falsifying the theory of humans evolving from non-humans. The field of study in defense of the existence of God, the deity of Christ, and the inspiration of the Bible is called apologetics. This paragraph is not to delve into that overwhelming evidence, but, rather, to address the all-too-frequent tendency of people who say they believe the Bible, but also believe things that contradict the Bible, such as evolutionary theory. You cannot believe both Jesus and evolution. Why? Because Jesus explicitly contradicts evolution. Hear his words in Matthew 19:4-5, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (ESV). According to Jesus, from the very “beginning” there were male and female. In fact, from the beginning it was a man joined by God in marriage to his wife. If evolution is true, then Jesus is wrong. If Jesus is right, then evolution is a lie. Those who claim to accept the Bible need to be honest enough to accept what it teaches. Trying to twist biblical miracles into something that fits modern skepticism is a fool’s errand. If God created the universe, as Genesis 1 teaches, there is no reason in the world to doubt any miracle as described in the Bible. Jesus himself endorsed the Genesis creation account. Shame on us if we feel the need to compromise God’s facts to harmonize with Satan’s fiction. In the end, we will be judged neither by Charles Darwin’s theory, nor the invective of a Richard Dawkins or Bill Nye. Jesus claimed in John 12:48, “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

Posted in By Weylan Deaver, Expository, Uncategorized

They Asked Him a Question (Matt. 22:23-33)

By Weylan Deaver

One day Sadducees brought Jesus what they considered an unanswerable dilemma. They might have sprung their trap had they not been in error, and had they been dealing with someone other than Jesus. As it happened, they failed spectacularly and were, themselves, put to silence. It is recorded in Matthew 22:23-33 (also Mark 12, Luke 20).

One hallmark heresy of the Sadducees was denial of the resurrection. They asked Jesus a question stemming from their custom of a dead man’s brother marrying the widow of the deceased in order to raise children to carry on the name of the deceased. They describe a married couple without children. The husband dies and his brother marries the widow, but they have no children. That husband dies and a third brother marries the woman twice widowed. The scenario grows more far-fetched with the telling, with all seven brothers marrying the same woman, all seven dying, followed by the widow’s death. The question for Jesus is: “Whose wife is she in the resurrection?” It would seem the Sadducees have put Jesus in the position either of affirming an absurd marriage of seven husbands to one wife simultaneously on the other side of death, or that some marriage ties survive death while others do not. The other option is to deny the reality of resurrection, which is what the Sadducees did.

Interestingly, their hypothetical could have accomplished the same thing with only two dead husbands instead of seven. But, opposing the Lord, they knew neither where to start nor when to stop. Jesus stopped them in their tracks with his rebuke. He said the Sadducees were wrong. He said they did not know their Bible, and they did not know God’s power. He said marriage does not apply in the resurrection since people will be like angels (i.e. not married).

Then, Jesus took it further by falsifying the Sadducee’s denial of resurrection. When they read in Exodus 3:6 about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they should have understood God as God of the living—not the dead. And, since Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had died long before God spoke those words to Moses, the Sadducees should have inferred that the spirits of the patriarchs were still alive, and, thus, had no trouble accepting the concept of resurrection from the dead. Consider several observations from this account.

First, Jesus was never silenced by intimidation. He boldly told the Sadducees, “you are wrong” (v. 29). Are we willing to say what needs saying, even in the face of spiritual enemies?

Second, we must know God’s pen and God’s power (v. 29). Ignorance of the Scriptures always puts one in error. People who claim to believe the Bible, but who don’t even understand the Bible, are modern day Sadducees.

Third, marriage is an earth-bound institution (v. 30). Like our mortal bodies, marriage does not survive the grave. The Sadducees mistakenly assumed that, if resurrection were real, things after it must be the same as things before it. They did not anticipate Jesus’ answer: In the resurrection, things are very different. And, that answer destroyed the Sadducees attempted dilemma.

Fourth, Jesus did not compromise God’s truth to fit human error (v. 30). He compared resurrected people to angels, knowing that Sadducees denied angels. Are we ever tempted to tread lightly with certain subjects because we know they are controversial, or might bring us criticism (for example, the Genesis creation account, biblical miracles, marriage-divorce, etc.)? Never let Satan’s fiction make you avoid God’s fact.

Fifth, Jesus had the highest view of Scripture (v. 31). He understood it was the means by which God spoke to the Sadducees, even though they were not born when the Old Testament was being written.

Sixth, the Sadducees ignorance was not for lack of information (v. 31), since God had spoken to them in the Scriptures. They had not reasoned rightly about what God wrote, which allowed them to get in serious error. Their ignorance was inexcusable.

Seventh, Jesus is the master logician (v. 32). The passage he quoted to the Sadducees was Exodus 3:6, where God is described as “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Those three patriarchs had been dead for centuries when God spoke those words to Moses from the burning bush. Implied is that those three patriarchs were not dead, but living. If the Sadducees had seen the implication taught in Exodus 3:6, they should have had no trouble with the concept of resurrection.

Eighth, it is possible to be amazed at something heard, without believing it (v. 33). Astonishment at the Lord’s teaching is a good first step, but no substitute for acceptance. God help us avoid the mistakes of the Sadducees.

Posted in By Weylan Deaver, Christianity and Culture, Uncategorized

An Education Itself

By Weylan Deaver

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 By Weylan Deaver, Christianity and Culture, Uncategorized

Christians and Christmas

By Weylan Deaver

I’ve never roasted chestnuts on an open fire, but have enjoyed tree decorating, gift wrapping, sneaky shopping, holiday tunes in the background, families converging, lights twinkling, carolers caroling, and stocking stuffing. But, with all that activity also come the nativity scenes, religious hymns with added musical instrumentation, and pressure from the denominations to “Keep Christ in Christmas” since “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

So, what’s a Christian to do with Christmas? Some members of the church advocate total abstention from the holiday, whereas others think we should dive right in and observe Christmas religiously as Jesus’ birthday. We think the right answer is between the extremes, where it is often found. As with any other subject, biblical principles should inform our thinking on Christmas…

[Published at RingOutTheMessage.com – see the rest of the article here.]

Posted in By Weylan Deaver, Expository, Uncategorized

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 By Weylan Deaver, Christianity and Culture, Uncategorized

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).