Top Five Audio Messages

There is no greater privilege and responsibility than to teach God’s word. Scripture reveals God and His will for His people. It’s a treasure and without it the world would be a far darker place. I’ve been teaching God’s word for more than thirty years. That adds up to more than 2000 sermons. It’s hard to know why certain sermons connect more widely than others but the five below are my most accessed messages. The first two are VERY, VERY important for those who are married or considering marriage. I only hope that God will use these messages to encourage His people to follow His will to the glory of His name.

  1. What Should We Expect?
  2. When Two Become One
  3. Attitudes That Build Unity
  4. A Closer Look at First Family
  5. Watch Out For the Ways of Esau

Steve Cornell

Faith in science?

Young people attending universities should be aware of the faith-based tendency to accept science as a discipline capable of explaining almost everything.

I say “faith-based” because these young people will be tempted to believe that their professors are right when they stretch science into philosophy and suggest that it offers an evidenced-based path to a strictly material understanding of the universe.

Naive young people are vulnerable to the impression that science has conclusively proven that nothing beyond nature could have any conceivable relevance to what happens in nature.

This viewpoint wrongly suggests that the physical, material universe is all there is, was, or ever will be and that the only real world is the world of the five senses. The misleading part is that students are being taught that this view has the full backing of science.

The line goes on to suggest (often with condescending arrogance) that if you choose to believe in God or the soul or immaterial beings; if you desire to believe in transcendent values; intrinsic meaning, mystery, and a teleological spiritual vision; if you profess belief in the supernatural, the spiritual, the eternal and the unseen, you’re certainly free to believe in these things, but you’re on your own. 

You won’t have science to back you up because science has freed us of these notions much like adults no longer believe in Santa Clause.

Evidence please

The really big problem with this way of seeing things is that there is not a shred of verifiable scientific evidence to support it. Why? Because it’s simply outside the function of science to resolve such matters.

Only faith could allow you to believe the theory that nothing beyond nature could have any conceivable relevance to what happens in nature. I don’t say this to imply that faith is always without evidence. Faith works off a different kind of evidence than offered in the discipline of science.

We must be aware of the difference between science and philosophy or faith so that we don’t give people the misleading impression that the science of evolution offers more than it is capable.

We have to help people understand that as beneficial as scientific research has been, there are many things that are just outside of the reach of science.

The science of evolution (for example) simply cannot explain the ultimate origins of the universe. It can postulate on the matter based on assumptions or patterns just as the science of intelligent design can postulates based on patterns of intelligence and design.

Beyond science

Universal human longings for love and meaning are two more examples of realities beyond the reach of purely scientific conclusion. These realities are also where we observe significant discontinuity between humans and animals. The science of biological evolution cannot explain this discontinuity without shifting from science to philosophy.

Furthermore, our awareness of how things “ought to be” and longing for “something better” also testify to our nature as unique beings of dignity and design. But we also have a dark side to our story that sometimes degrades us below the behavior of beasts in our history of cruelty and evil.

Some suggest that evil is a metaphysical necessity for finite creatures. Yet why do we so strongly oppose it and long for a world without it? Why do we cry “foul” or “unfair”? Why do we have longings for restoration of Paradise Lost? Why do we even think in terms of good and evil?

Suggesting that all of this flows logically from biological evolution as scientifically verifiable is either intentional manipulation or a weak faith-based recommendation that confuses science and philosophy.

Confusing faith and science is a failure to respect what each one contributes. On the science end of the discussion, perhaps a better question is whether the idea that the material universe is all there is, was, or ever will be is more rational than believing an intelligent being created the world.

Truth about how it all began cannot be resolved in scientific labs, but faith offers a different kind of evidence. A helpful line from Scripture states that, “every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything” (Hebrews 3:4). Whether one visits a construction site or a nature site, the logic of this truth consistently demands the same conclusion — an intelligent builder.

Steve Cornell

See also: Theophobia: Fear of religion in the Academy

 

A realistic understanding of the world

When asked why I believe in Christianity and follow the Bible, among other reasons, I admit that I can’t find an alternative worldview that corresponds with reality as comprehensively as what I find in the true account of Christianity.

This doesn’t mean that I find everything easy to understand or explain because of Christianity. Life is painfully complicated and even parts of the Bible (on which Christianity is based) are difficult to explain. Some biblical passages are written in cryptic prose; others are hard to absorb on an emotional level.

While there are painful and complicated issues that are beyond my full comprehension, I come back to one compelling question: “What way of seeing things corresponds most with reality and does not contradict what I clearly know to be true?” Asked differently, “What seems to be the most plausible way of seeing things in light of what we know about humanity, the observable world and its history?

I believe a Christian worldview offers the most logically consistent and plausibly realistic understanding of life and the world. It simply does the best job explaining the world we encounter each day. And it offers the best explanatory frame for the most extensive range of evidence in the world and in the human spirit.

There is no other way of understanding the world that corresponds with reality as comprehensively as Christianity.

For an overview of a Christian worldview, see here and here.

Steve Cornell

 

A closer look at parenting

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

The goal of parenting is to raise our children to release them into responsible adulthood. 

Parents are not the owners of their children. They should not act as dictators of their children. They are stewards of them.

“Children are a gift from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).

Becoming a parent is the beginning of a divine assignment to bring our children up “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Our sons and daughters belong to God. He owns them as their Creator and our desire is to see them experience His love and ownership as their Redeemer.

Parenting ought to start with larger amounts of control designed to progressively prepare children to take responsibility for themselves. Parenting should move from control to influence as children grow up.

Many parents wrongly try to emphasize influence with little children when they should be taking charge and directing them. When a little…

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A closer look at discouragement

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

We all know what it feels like to battle discouragement. Life is not a cake-walk. You can be sure that you’re not alone when you’re feeling down. 

But what is discouragement and what are some ways to conquer it?

Defining discouragement

Discouragement is a frame of mind and an emotional state characterized by loss of courage, hope, or confidence. Discouragement is a “DIS” on courage, just as dis-heartened is a “DIS” on heart, a loss of heart. We say, “His heart isn’t in it anymore.” He has become disheartened or discouraged. 

Obviously there are degrees of discouragement ranging from mild to extreme. But because life is difficult,  (did you get the memo about that? — Life is difficult!), we all experience discouragement. And this means that we all need to be encouraged and to be encouragers!

A community of encouragement

God calls upon every member of the…

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Seven guidelines for understanding the Old Testament

  1. The laws revealed in the Old Testament (O.T.) were not originally given for us to follow today as God’s will for our lives. They were required of God’s people during Old Testament history to distinguish them as they lived in ancient near eastern cultures (see: Misreading the Bible).
  2. We don’t understand all of the reasons for some of the laws in the O. T., but we know that the times during which they were written were exceptionally evil. Although some laws appear to us as unusual, it likely reveals our lack of understanding regarding the circumstances of the time. The laws were at least meant to distinguish God’s people from the nations around them. 
  3. The O. T. was never intended to be a complete or perfect expression of God’s will. It was provisional for a specific time and pointed to a new covenant that would be a fulfillment and replacement of the old covenant (see: A truth we must accept).
  4. Those who follow the Bible should not quote laws directed to Israel as if they are God’s will for people today unless reaffirmed in the New Testament. We should not, for example,  look to detailed legislation in Leviticus to specifically guide us as followers of Christ.
  5. We only apply Old Testament Scriptures to our lives if they are taught by Jesus and the apostles. Jesus is the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament (see – Matthew 5:18-20). Although He was “born under the law” (Gal.4:4) and “fulfilled all righteousness” (Matt.3:15), Jesus wrapped up the era of biblical history where the law regulated the covenant relationship of the people of God. Jesus is the new locus of authority for God’s people. He established for us what is pleasing to God.
    (see: Christ is the end of the Law)
  6. The primary way O.T. law speaks to us is in the revelation it gives of the holy nature of God in contrast with our sinfulness. This prepares us to see our need to be forgiven and reconciled with God through the grace offered in Jesus Christ.
  7. Those who mock people for following Scripture should reflect on their hypocrisy because they also hold to standards (even the one they’re using to discredit those who follow Scripture). Why do they expect others to accept their ethical code as reasonable?

Steve Cornell

Inexplicable mercy

Wisdomforlife:

I needed this reminder of the gospel.

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

The word “gratuitous” means uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted. It can also something given or done free of charge.

Gratuitous is often used of evil that seems to lack any greater purpose for accomplishing a greater good. Gratuitous evils are of a kind that people say, “What possible reasons could there be for this?” They’re evils that make no sense to us. The painfully perplexing question that lingers over such evils is “Why?”

When directed toward God, the question is how God could have any adequate justifying reason for permitting seemingly inexplicable evil. My aim here is not to resolve this perplexing matter. I’ve addressed this in an earlier post here.

My present interest is “gratuitous mercy.” John Calvin wrote that man can only be “regarded as righteous before God on the footing of gratuitous mercy; because God, without any respect to works, freely adopts him in Christ…

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