"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Don't Always Believe What You See on the Internet

Due to growing technologies in computer science, including artificial intelligence, facial recognition software, and "deep fake" programming, the Internet is a veritable field of lies, make-believe, and alternate reality.

A "deep fake" video programmer recently uploaded to YouTube a video of a David Letterman interview with comedian Bill Hader.

Hader, a well-known impersonator of television stars, does impressions of Tom Cruise and Seth Rogen for Letterman during taping for a 2008 David Letterman Show. 

The professional "Deep Fake" computer programmer took the original video from the Letterman Show, then altered it using computer technology, He subtly and expertly placed Tom Cruise's face onto Bill Hader's face as Hader impersonates Cruise. He does the same thing when Hader impersonates Rogen, placing Rogen's face expertly onto Hader's face.

The "Deep Fake" programmer then uploaded the video to YouTube where it's been viewed over 5 million times.

Using the Deep Fake technology, a view of the video on YouTube, not knowing better, might think that Tom Cruise and Seth Rogen were being actually being interviewed by Letterman, not Bill Hader.

This new technology is borderline dangerous.

The significance what you see in the video,  featured in The Guardian's recent newspaper article on "the new face" of Simon Cowell, should be a clear warning to anyone who reads, watches and listens to anything on the Internet.

It is now possible through "Deep Fake" technology to place people in places they weren't, to have people say things they didn't, and to all together create an alternative reality that isn't true.

It's a new day.

Watch the video for yourself and use it as a warning to not always believe what you see on the Internet.

String Theory, the Resurrection, and 11 Dimensions

Many modern Christians have little understanding that the emphasis in the New Testament is not on the cross of Jesus Christ, but the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ.

Millions of people have died on crosses.

But there's One who has been raised bodily from the dead, becoming the firstfruits of every human being's ultimate physical resurrection from the grave. 

It is this physical resurrection from the dead that distinguishes biblical Christianity from all other religions.

The Creator formed your physical being using an intricately designed biological program called DNA. At death, you lose your life, but He who formed you in your mother's womb will put you back together. He's got the code, and this time, all corruption of it will be wiped clean. In your resurrected body, God reprograms your DNA to take away "the sting" of corruption, aging, and death, three things that result from human sin (Romans 6:23).

Jesus Christ conquered death, man's final enemy, at His resurrection.
"The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you" (Romans 6:10-11).
The person who doesn't wish to live forever is a person who isn't really living now.
"I came," Jesus said, "that you might have real and eternal life, more and better life than you ever dreamed of" (John 10:10, The Message).  
 Death is an intruder to life. In fact, death is the absence of life.

So how do we have eternal life if we die?  Jesus tells us:
 "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear My voice and come out" (John 5:28).
Other religions or philosophies teach in the existence of disembodied souls, or one's re-incarnation into the universe, but the Bible teaches that a person will be physically raised from the dead by the power of God.

Is Resurrection Spiritual or Physical?

Some of my evangelical Christian friends have begun to believe in a spiritual resurrection, not a physical one. They say that at the moment a person dies physically, he or she receives a new spiritual body. The physical body remains and turns to dust, but the new spiritual body lives forever. This position, called full preterism, is growing in popularity among Bible students.

But I don't accept the premise that God spiritually raises the physically dead. I believe the Bible teaches that God physically raises the physically dead, just as He raised Christ physically from the dead.

Jesus' physical body left the tomb.
"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! (Luke 24:5-6)
If Christ had been only raised spiritually and not physically, then Christ's physical body would have remained in the tomb.

Christ is the firstfruits or picture of how our physical bodies will one day rise from death and the grave.

If it is true that Jesus physically rose from the dead, then where is He?

Also, if Enoch, Elijah, and possibly others were translated physically into "heaven" without tasting death, then where are their physical bodies? Also, if Jesus either translated or in a few cases "raised to life the bodies of many saints" (see Matthew 27:52) after His resurrection, where are those physical bodies now?

String Theory

Physicists in the last century believed the smallest particle in the universe to be the atom, composed of electrons, neutrons, and protons.

A modern physicist, through scientific research at CERN in Lucerne, Switzerland,  now believes that the smallest elements in the universe are strings.

String theory posits through mathematical formulations that small loops of strings are the building blocks of the universe, vibrating like strings on a violin or other musical instrument to compose the different elements of the world.

In other words, whatever you look at with your eyes - a candle, a desk, a car, an animal, a light beam, an electromagnetic energy field, your spouse, your kids, etc. -- are all fundamentally at the inseparable essence of being -- strings that vibrate, forming the physical object you see.

The universe seems to be a cosmic symphony.

And there is a Conductor behind the composition.

Without going into the math for simplicity's sake, what you need to know about string theory is that the math only works with more dimensions than four.

We were taught when we were young that the universe consisted of four dimensions,  commonly known as length (x), width (y), height (z) and space. Four-dimensional space was first proposed by scientist Jean le Rond d'Alembert in the year 1754. A century and a half later, Albert Einstein would use the concepts of 4-dimensional space and come up with his General Theory of Relativity.

But Einstein lived before the discovery of strings. He died trying to come up with a mathematical formula called The Theory of Everything. He failed.

Modern physicists are much closer because of the discovery of strings and the unusual fact that the universe is expanding faster as time goes by, not slowing down.

That would be like tossing a baseball in the air, and rather than it falling back to the ground, it kept moving higher and faster and continued that higher and faster trajectory as time progressed.

That's the universe.

Science in the last couple of years has discovered a mathematical number to describe the matter which composes 85% of space in this universe. The substance is called Dark Matter. The number for DM to the right of the decimal point (meaning it's very, very small) and includes 118 zeros followed by the numbers 1 3 8.

One - Three - Eight (see the picture to the left).

That's the mathematical number which describes the dark matter that is driving the universe to expand increasingly faster. One and Three are Divine numbers, representing the nature of God. The number Eight is the number for resurrection, representing God's way of making right what man's done wrong.

138.

Physicists will not be attracted to the biblical meaning of those three numbers. Yet modern physicists have shown through their String Theory calculations that our universe is actually composed of 10 dimensions of space and one dimension of time, for a total of 11 dimensions.

The simplest explanation for String Theory can be found on this video. The math that works in String Theory requires 11 dimensions, and modern physicists have now concluded that there is not just one universe, but actually multiverses.

Meaning, the physical can be present in dimensions unseen by mankind on earth, because in other dimensions the DNA God produces can also exist. It's like blowing bubbles into the air. Each bubble separates from one another, floating independently. That's the multiverse. Listen to Brian Greene explain it.

I differ with Brian in that I see intentional music, not random music by chance. The Composer is the Creator and the Symphony which He conducts using strings is one of Divine Providence and Goodness, not a symphony of chance.

String Theory gives a scientific rationale for the Christian teaching that there is coming a physical resurrection.

Where are those whom God has already physically raised from the dead? The same place those who will one day be raised shall venture.  In another universe that you cannot see in our bubble of a universe where our earth exists, but a universe very possibly connected to ours through wormholes of time (think the Mount of Transfiguration).

The Composer of the great Song of Life rules over all eleven dimensions. You are I, unfortunately, are limited to understand three dimensions - at this time.

In Luke 15:11-32, when the Prodigal Son returned home to his father, a beautiful parable of a sinner coming home to his or her heavenly Father, the Bible records something delightful:
"They began to celebrate...and there was music." (Luke 15:24-25)
The word translated “music,” is the Greek word symph┼Źnia, from which we get our English word symphony.

God is the Conductor of the Symphony of Life.

When someone returns home to Him, a symphony is played by the strings of the universe that culminates in a physical resurrection to an eternal inheritance "not made with human hands." You are now unaware of this heaven, but one day you'll see it.  

It is in this New Heaven and the New Earth we'll celebrate God's goodness and be shown His grace and kindness forever - physically (see Ephesians 2:4-7). 

Amen. 

Charles H. Spurgeon and Southern Baptist Racism

Charles H. Spurgeon
In 2019, the Southern Baptist Convention continues to struggle with issues of racism. 

Some question its existence in the SBC, others wrangle over proper ways to confront it, and a few are offering meaningful steps for racial reconciliation within the SBC.

I remain amazed that there are some prominent conservative pastors and convention leaders who deny a spirit of racism in the Southern Baptist Convention. 

The dogmatic are never diplomatic because narrow perspectives are the children of ill-informed studies in history and culture

Christian George, the former curator of the C. H. Spurgeon Library and former assistant professor of historical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, authored a 2017 published book entitled The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon Volume I: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854.

It's an excellent resource for contemporary Southern Baptist opinions of the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Mr. Spurgeon was a strong abolitionist and considered slavery based on race a scourge on humanity, not to mention Christianity.

Dr. George describes what happened to Mr. Spurgeon 140 years ago this month:
In 1859, an American minister named “Rev. H.” traveled to London to meet the famous pastor of the New Park Street Chapel. 
When Spurgeon discovered his guest was from Alabama, his “cordiality sensibly diminished.”
A six-month American preaching tour would expedite the construction of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, but could Southerners tolerate Spurgeon’s stance against slavery?
When Spurgeon asked his guest this question, the Alabamian said he “had better not undertake it.”
This advice might have saved Spurgeon’s life.
The same year, S. A. Corey, pastor of Eighteenth Street Baptist Church in New York City, invited the 24-year-old to preach at the Academy of Music opera house for $10,000. News of Spurgeon’s visit was met with anticipation in the North and hostility in the South.
According to an Alabama newspaper, Spurgeon would receive a beating “so bad as to make him ashamed.” On February 17, 1860, citizens of Montgomery, Alabama, publicly protested the “notorious English abolitionist” by gathering in the jail yard to burn his “dangerous books”:
Last Saturday, we devoted to the ames a large number of copies of Spurgeon’s sermons. . . . We trust that the works of the greasy cockney vociferator may receive the same treatment throughout the South. And if the pharisaical author should ever show himself in these parts, we trust that a stout cord may speedily find its way around his eloquent throat.
On March 22, a “Vigilance Committee” in Montgomery followed suit and burned Spurgeon’s sermons in the public square. A week later Mr. B. B. Davis, a bookstore owner, prepared “a good ore of pine sticks” before reducing about 60 volumes of Spurgeon’s sermons “to smoke and ashes.”
British newspapers quipped that America had given Spurgeon a warm welcome, “a literally brilliant reception.”
Prince of Bonfires
 Anti-Spurgeon bonfires illuminated jail yards, plantations, bookstores, and courthouses throughout the Southern states.
In Virginia, Mr. Humphrey H. Kuber, a Baptist preacher and “highly respectable citizen” of Matthews County, burned seven calf-skinned volumes of Spurgeon’s sermons “on the head of a flour barrel.” The arson was assisted by “many citizens of the highest standing.”
In North Carolina, Spurgeon’s famous sermon “Turn or Burn” found a similar fate when a Mr. Punch “turned the second page and burned the whole.” By 1860, slave-owning pastors were “foaming with rage because they [could not] lay hands on the youthful Spurgeon.”
His life was threatened, his books burned, his sermons censured, and below the Mason-Dixon Line, the media catalyzed character assassinations.
In Florida, Spurgeon was a “beef-eating, puffed-up, vain, over-righteous pharisaical, English blab-mouth.”
In Virginia, he was a “fat, overgrown boy”; in Louisiana, a “hell-deserving Englishman”; and in South Carolina, a “vulgar young man” with “(soiled) sleek hair, prominent teeth, and a self-satisfied air.”
Georgians were encouraged to “pay no attention to him.”
North Carolinians “would like a good opportunity at this hypocritical preacher” and resented his “endish sentiments, against our Constitution and citizens.”
The Weekly Raleigh Register reported that anyone selling Spurgeon’s sermons should be arrested and charged with “circulating incendiary publications.”
Southern Baptists ranked among Spurgeon’s chief antagonists. 
The Mississippi Baptist hoped “no Southern Baptist will now purchase any of that incendiary’s books.”
The Baptist colporteurs of Virginia were forced to return all copies of his sermons to the publisher.
The Alabama Baptist and Mississippi Baptist “gave the Londoner 4,000 miles of an awful raking” and “took the hide off him.” 
The Southwestern Baptist and other denominational newspapers took the “spoiled child to task and administered due castigation.”
More Distant Future
In 1860, an article entitled Mr. Spurgeon and the American Slaveholders offered the following words:
“Southern Baptists will not, hereafter, when they visit London, desire to commune with this prodigy of the 19th century. We venture the prophecy that his books in [the] future will not crowd the shelves of our Southern book merchants. They will not; they should not.”
In 1889, Spurgeon uttered a prophecy of his own:
“For my part, I am quite willing to be eaten of dogs for the next 50 years; but the more distant future shall vindicate me.”
The more distant future did vindicate Spurgeon. His sermons do crowd the shelves of Southern bookstores.
As Carl F. H. Henry rightly noted, Spurgeon has become “one of evangelical Christianity’s immortals.”
Throughout Alabama, Virginia, and the United States of America, the books of “the notorious English abolitionist” still burn—casting light and life in a dark and dying world.
The above narrative has been adapted from Christian George's preface to The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon Volume I: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854 (B&H Academic, 2017).

In light of the past history and culture of the Southern Baptist Convention, I would suggest three things need to occur within the Southern Baptist Convention to move forward in racial reconciliation and eradicate racism:
1. Officially and permanently change the name of the Convention, eradicating Southern.
2. Intentionally and emphatically elect many racial minorities into positions of leadership.
3. Repeatedly and collectively make racial reconciliation a major theme of annual Conventions.
It's time for talk to turn into action. 

Natural Immortality or God's Gift of Immortality?

"Truth is like a young lion who fearlessly welcomes all challengers. Error is like an old lion who must loudly roar to scare away encroachers. The louder someone rants about 'your theological errors,' the less sure that old lion is of his truth." - Wade Burleson

Most people believe what they're taught and do what they're told without thinking for themselves.

I find that a tad disturbing.

The reason professing Christians will sometimes "renounce" their Christian faith is because they've only accepted what they've been taught and never agonized over what they've learned.

Let me give you an example.
"God alone is immortal" (I Timothy 6:16). 
What does that mean? God alone ("nobody else") is immortal

Mortal means "subject to death." God alone is not "subject to death."

Suppose you were in a room with several people, and someone said, "Of all the people in this room, there is one person alone who is a multi-millionaire."

What would that mean?

Obviously, only one person possesses multi-millions of dollars.

So, if God alone is immortal, how can anyone else become immortal?

The same way other people in the room of only one multi-millionaire become millionaires without leaving the room.

The one who has it must gift it to those who don't.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is immortal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). 
For reasons I cannot fathom, many Christians believe that the lives of the wicked are like the trick birthday candles your mom put on your 12th-year-birthday celebration cake.

You can't extinguish them no matter how hard you try.

Christians in these latter days believe that the wicked are naturally immortal. The notion among many evangelicals is that the wicked can't "die" because their souls naturally live forever.

But Jesus said:
"Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul (eg "men"); but rather fear Him (eg "God") who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)
God alone is immortal.

The eternal torment of the wicked presupposes that God gifts the wicked with immortal life.

But the Scriptures seem to teach only those in Christ are gifted with immortal life.

The wicked will die a second time as their just sentence for the sins they've committed in this life (Revelation 20:14). The righteous alone - that is, those in Christ - are given God's gift of immortal life.
"It has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (II Timothy 1:10)
I know of nothing better than the Hope that the God of all grace will gift His people with immortal life and totally destroy everything wicked.

It's Good News.

Just Exactly What Is the Good News in Your Mind?

Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide last week.

Jeffrey Epstein, the owner of a $44 million Upper Eastside mansion, a private island, an ocean yacht, a party jet, and access to the worlds' rich and elite is dead.

It seems Jeffrey Epstein's previous convictions for his federal crimes of sexual abuse against young girls and his impending trials for newly revealed sexual abuse activities caused Jeffrey Epstein to take his life.

Jeffrey tried to kill himself two weeks ago and didn't succeed.

Under strange circumstances that seem to indicate powerful people at the federal level wished him success in a second attempt, Jeffrey committed suicide last week.

Jeffrey Epstein is dead.

His thought process at the end seems clear. "If my life isn't worth living, then my life is worth taking."

At one time,  Jeffrey Epstein most likely thought his life was good. Others might have even considered Epstein's life very good.

In the end, Jeffrey knew his life wasn't worth living and that he would be a tragic stub on Wikipedia.

That's why Jeffery Epstein took his life.

Good News

All of us need some good news to have a life worth living.

Without something good in our lives, we lose hope. All of us.

The problem becomes defining "good."

The word Gospel comes from an Old English compound word - "God" (the Old English word for "good") and "Spell" (the Old English word for "news").

The Gospel is the only real and lasting Good News.

In Celebrate Recovery, Alcoholics Annonymous, and other recovery groups where people gather to turn their lives around, one of the main principles is to surrender to a Higher Power.

Or, to put it simply:
"To believe that God exists, that I matter to God, and that God has the power to help me recover." 
God is the basis for our Good News.

When you surrender to your Creator:
1. God will give you a higher purpose, a reason to live outside of your own pleasures.
2. God will give you a healthy passion, taking the desire for destructive behaviors out.
3. God will give you a holy promise, that He will give you a life worth living now and for all time, showing you mercy, grace, forgiveness, love, and acceptance which you pass on to others.
The way to prevent future Jeffrey Epsteins from preying on victims is to give them the Gospel.

The only problem is that people who own $44 million Upper Eastside mansions, private islands, ocean yachts, party jets, and access to the worlds' rich and elite never think their lives are not good.

Until they aren't.

We should never take pleasure in the death of the wicked.

It's just another human being who dies without receiving the Good News.

'Good Boys' Glorifies Child Sexuality and We Laugh

I'm not a moral prude. Far from it.

In fact, most religious people think I'm "too gracious," "too loving," "too accepting," and "too merciful."

I plead guilty to the charges.

The Good News of Jesus Christ does not require moralizing people, it requires memorizing facts.

Like a television broadcaster, preaching is recounting historical events that have occurred; some wonderful, amazing events that constitute Good News ("God loves sinners so much He sent us His Son.")

The English word "preacher" comes from the ancient Greek word kerusso, a Greek word which means "I proclaim." In Greek etymology, the word originates from farmers who used it to describe the sound a rooster makes when "proclaiming the risen sun."

So one who "preaches" (kerusso) is one who proclaims "the Risen Son."

My job as a preacher is to broadcast what Jesus has done for sinners, not what sinners should do for Jesus.

When morally blind people are awakened by the Spirit to the light of the Son, they take steps to change their lives. The blind now see, and they naturally avoid moral pitfalls where they previously saw none.

That's why the worse people are morally in our culture, the more compassion Christians ought to feel for them.

"The blind are leading the blind into a deadly pit," said Jesus.

Enter the new movie Good Boys.

My wife and I are celebrating our 36th Wedding Anniversary this week. We went to see a movie last night. I don't like being late to movies, because one of my favorite parts is the previews of upcoming movies.

I wish we'd been late last night.

The trailer for the new movie Good Boys startled me (Warning, do not allow your children to watch the preview, though the stars of the movie are 6th graders).

Even though one should expect spiritually blind people to fall into deadly moral traps, it's surprising when one sees the blind rejoicing in their falls.

Good Boys celebrates:
1. Child sex.
2. Pornographic sex.
3. Multiple sexual partners.
4. Crude, vulgar language.
5. Child sexuality.
I'm astounded how American society rightly condemns grown men for child or female sexual abuse while at the same time remaining silent about movies like Good Boys.

I was shocked at two things during the preview:
1. The over-the-top crude, pornographic, and sexual remarks of 12-year-olds (words that if acted upon are a crime), and
2. The audience laughter.
America has fallen morally, but American society doesn't yet know it.

During the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, American's had 12-year-old boys saving our country from tyranny.

Today, America has 12-year-old boys leading our country into perversity.

Americans sit by silently while other adults show our 12-year-olds the glories of moral perversion. There is a way which seems right to a person, but the end thereof is the way of death. 

I typically say nothing about the moral depravity in our culture because my expectations of morally blind people are very low.

I just don't expect morally blind adults to laugh as they lead children into their perversions.

Good Boys, which opens this August, illustrates how far America has fallen.

The next time tyranny threatens our country, I'm not hopeful we have the moral fiber to resist.

The 2019 Rethinking Hell Conference (Aug. 16-17), Friday Night and Saturday, Emmanuel Enid (OK)



Sign-up for the Friday night (August 16) and all-day Saturday (August 17) 2019 Rethinking Hell Conference online today or go by Emmanuel Enid's offices during the week or to the foyer before or after any of the three Sunday morning worship services to see Tom and Jan Richards at the Conference Table. The Richards will get you registered.

___________

Evangelicals tend to be Bible quoters, not Bible readers. Worse, many assume they know what the Bible teaches about certain subjects because someone's else interpretation supersedes their own careful personal study.

Creeds or formal confessions are like medicine. They can be helpful, but if the professionals misdiagnose, medicine can also be harmful. One of the things I absolutely love about Emmanuel Enid over the 28 years that I've been pastor is that Christ-followers have been taught to question everything, including those self-professed "religious authorities" who demand you to conform, and to take up the Scriptural mandate to be "a workman who rightly divides the Word of truth" giving freedom to other workmen on their unique journey to craft and create.

Truth is like a young lion who by nature is free and fearlessly welcomes all challengers. Error is like an old lion whose teeth are gone and thus must loudly roar to scare away any encroachers. The louder someone rants about your alleged "theological errors," the less sure that old lion of a saint is about his "truth."

On Friday night, August 16 and all-day Saturday, August 17, four leading biblical scholars - Dr. Johnathan Pritchett, Trinity Evangelical; Dr. Marvin Jones, Louisiana Bible College; Dr. Lindsay Brooks, Apologetics.Com; and Dr. Chris Date; RethinkingHell.com - will be at Emmanuel Enid for the Sixth Annual Rethinking Hell Conference.

That's right, "Hell."

If you think you know everything that the Bible says about hell, you may be shocked by what you hear from the Scriptures at this conference. Our view of hell affects everything we think and believe about God and the Gospel. Have you actually studied the subject for yourself? If not, then these four scholars may help you begin your careful study of the Scriptures for yourself, and you may actually conclude that immortal life is a gift for only those "in Christ," and that God's judgment (hell) is temporal and end in those resurrected sinners who are not "in Christ" dying a second time (eg. "the second death"), ceasing to exist.

If you are associated with Emmanuel Enid, you can sign up to attend the August 16-17 Conference this Sunday (August 4) and the next (August 11) or any day during the week (Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm) at the church offices. Emmanuel members pay a discount registration fee of $28 (reg. $40). Emmanuel is underwriting some of the cost, thus the discount for members. Tom and Jan Richards will be in the foyer before and after all three services to register you, and office staff will be in our front office.

Others who are reading this outside of Enid may register online (Google - Rethinking Hell Conference 2019) for $40. I promise you, it will be the best $40 you've ever spent. The food (both physical and spiritual), the fellowship, and the full table of resources will be priceless! I will be introducing each of the speakers before their talk, and will also be enjoying the conference myself.

Agreement and conformity are not required to attend. A love for Scripture, a greater love for Christ-followers, and the greatest love of all for Christ are required (along with the $28 or $40)!

There are a number of hotels available in Enid, and if you wish to stay SATURDAY night too, you'll hear Dr. Jonathan Sarfarti (Australia), my favorite creationist scholar in the entire world, speak at Emmanuel Enid Sunday morning and Sunday night (6:00 pm)

I hope to see you on August 16-17, and possibly on August 18.