Knowing Is Everything

by Andy Im   Knowing is everything. Everyone wants to know stuff. It’s why we read the news. It’s why we subscribe to magazines & publications. It’s one of the reasons we surf the internet. Facebook is popular because we get to discover— to know—what our families, and friends are doing. We “Yelp” and probe its reviews to unearth the best and tastiest restaurants in town. We even tweet. Simply put, knowing satiates our inner drive to discover, to find things out. And, we, as human beings are curious creatures. And, knowing. . . “stuff” is important. For example, it was crucial that the health officials (CDC) understood how the two nurses from Texas and the physician traveling from Ghana contracted ebola—to prevent the further spreading of this toxic disease. It’s important to citizens in this country that the intelligence community understand where religious extremists who mean Americans harm are located, and when their next move may occur. And I can guarantee if you needed intricate brain or heart surgery, you wouldn’t want some rookie intern operating on you! You’d want an experienced specialist who’s done it a hundred times! We’re individuals that desire to know; and knowing is essential. BUT, knowing everything & anything isn’t what’s crucial. Knowing may be everything; but, knowing everything, ISN’T everything. For you and I, it’s about knowing One thing—and that’s God. And our eternal life depends on it! John 17:3 states, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. Knowing who God is, experientially, intimately, is crucial to our experience as Christians. In the words of Ellen G. White: “The whole spiritual life is molded by our conception of Him, and if we cherish erroneous views of His character, our souls will sustain injury” (Review & Herald, Jan 14, 1890). In other words, your Christian experience: how you live it, perceive it, feel about it, do it, and ultimately, your soul—is affected by what you & I know of God. This is because what you know of God determines—first of all, for the individual prior to conversion—how they’ll react to the notion of God; and secondarily—as Christians—how you’ll experience God on a day-to-day basis. Speaking to the first point, it’s no wonder there are so many atheists in our society. I’m not excusing any decision made by an individual who rejects God, but, Christians (in the broadest sense) are at fault for misrepresenting God, for example, in its theology—think, eternal burning hellfire—and in our atrocious acts of violence— think, the Dark Ages—when those who bore the name “Christian” executed countless peoples, both Christian, and otherwise. And this has been Satan’s purpose all along! Ellen G. White states: “[Satan] has sought to misrepresent the character of God, to lead men to cherish a false conception of Him. The Creator has been presented to their minds as clothed with the attributes of the prince of evil himself,—as arbitrary, severe, and unforgiving,—that He might be feared, shunned, and even hated by men. Satan [has] hoped to so confuse the minds of those whom he [has] deceived that they would put God out of their knowledge. [He] would obliterate the divine image in man and impress his own likeness upon the soul; he would imbue men with his own spirit and make them captives according to his will” (Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, p. 334). Certainly, we see this phenomenon taking place today. But, I want to turn our attention to the second point. What you know of God determines the outcome of your spiritual experience, and in this way. Think of a dog that’s been physically and “psychologically” abused by a previous owner. Once that dog’s rescued, and no matter how nurturing the new owners may be the conception of that innocent animal, of humans, will be skewed. A hand gesture of love, no matter how pure and tender the intentions may...

GLOWING on Facebook Mar27

GLOWING on Facebook

More like “Exploding on Facebook.” There’s a good chance you’ve seen the “Why I Go to Church on Saturday” GLOW link on Facebook. In fact, tens of thousands have, and this isn’t hyperbole. This is impact. God can use Facebook, a social medium designed for social interaction as an evangelistic apparatus. And you know what? More creative, evangelistic-minded Adventists need to get on board. You don’t have to resist your urges for Facebook. Use it! For good. And the amazing thing is. . . it’s free. A number of weeks ago, the GLOW Sabbath issue was shared on Facebook. On day 1, exactly 66 individuals visited the site. Here’s what followed on the days after. The numbers don’t lie. Day 1: 66 visitors Day 2: 239 visitors Day 3: 3154 visitors Day 4: 6353 visitors Day 5: 15,481 visitors (notice the spike here) Day 6: 18,487 visitors Day 7: 14,680 visitors Total:  58,460 visitors (1 week)   This is quite amazing. Roughly 60,000 unique visitors read or heard about the seventh-day Sabbath. And it cost nothing. Weeks later, a group of students and ministry leaders (CAMPUS) ‘bought in’ at one of their retreats after a moving appeal by Kamil Metz. They began sharing the now popular link “Why I Go to Church on Saturday.” This was on a Saturday.  By the end of the next day (Sunday), the site had close to 8,621 visitors spanning the two days. Add to the mix, 20 individuals signed up for Bible studies. All this with just a “click” of the mouse. Here’s what followed on the days after. Saturday: 3,234 visitors Sunday: 5387 visitors Monday: 1158 visitors Tuesday: 2550 visitors Wednesday: 3509 visitors Thursday: 1356 visitors Friday: 1065 visitors Total: 18,259 visitors (1 week)   This is the kind of phenomena that’s only shared at...

Informed Adventists: News & Perspectives Mar24

Informed Adventists: News & Perspectives...

President Obama is slated to meet with Pope Francis this Thursday. Interesting to note, young Barack Obama’s drive for pro-social initiatives found its roots with Roman Catholicism (nothing conspiratorial). President Obama is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis later this week in Europe. The political left and right within the US are finding common ground with the current pope. The Supreme Court will hear the cases of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties on Tuesday (3/25). The two companies believe it’s within their right to refuse compliance with the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act.  Two editorials–one, more informative; and the other, a blog decidedly against the position of the two companies–bring up some interesting points. The United States has implemented economic sanctions (or penalties) on a number of Russia’s financial elite, government officials, and others widely considered to be a part of President Putin’s inner circle. The intent of the sanctions is to get Putin and the Russian government to backtrack from their annexation of Crimea. President Obama is also seeking to persuade Europe to follow his lead with additional punitive sanctions. Economic sanctions typically have to do with powerful nations imposing financial penalties on weaker nations. They’re often implemented to curb the undesired behavior or actions of certain states (Iran, Russia, etc.). This type of strategy–the execution of economic disincentives–has implications for Seventh-day Adventists (think Rev 13). It’s not far-fetched to think a day will arrive when a similar strategy could be imposed on persons or the general citizenry, as opposed to nation-states. No, this isn’t some grand conspiracy (I’m decidedly against conspiracy theories). Nor do the actions of the US and Russia relate directly to Adventists. Just something to think...

Arizona Anti-Gay Bill: Yay or Nay? Feb26

Arizona Anti-Gay Bill: Yay or Nay?...

A recent Arizona bill, vetoed on Wednesday (2/26/14), would have allowed businesses to refuse service to homosexuals and others on religious grounds. The measure also gained national attention. Even Apple (the makers of your iPhone) got involved. There were Superbowl ramifications.  How were Christians to position themselves on this one? On the one hand, to support the bill would be discriminatory towards homosexuals. I can understand refusing to, say, be a photographer at a gay wedding, but what about selling them a bar of soap? On the other, to not support the bill could imply a tacit support of homosexuality. Failure of the measure might also render Christians unable to act upon their consciences. Several things to consider: SDA’s have traditionally NOT supported laws that would deny certain individuals/groups purchasing power on “religious grounds.” (Revelation 13) If you owned a floral shop, would you refuse business to homosexuals who are planning their wedding? Should you get prosecuted for it? We must stand firm against legislation that deny individuals their  freedom of conscience, even if that means protecting the freedoms of non-Christians. Generally speaking. Bear in mind there aren’t always easy answers to these complex issues. By God’s grace, let’s avoid getting caught up in the rhetoric of the extreme right or left. God’s ways are ultimately not man’s ways. Or government’s ways. In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see how measures like this will pan out in other states considering similar laws.   ...

Atrocious Hermeneutics in the Pulpit Nov08

Atrocious Hermeneutics in the Pulpit

YES, it’s been pretty bad of late. Recently, there’s been growing concern by many over the inaccurate interpretation of Scripture by various Adventist ministries and popular speakers.  This isn’t to say these blunders are done with the intent to mislead or that they will lead listeners towards damnation. Nevertheless, something needs to be said because many sincere Adventists are modeling their interpretive techniques after such speakers, and this isn’t a good thing.  Let’s keep in mind that incorrect interpretation, in part, led the Jews to reject Jesus, and at the end of time many sincere Christians may be led astray because of their failure to interpret prophecy accurately. Moreover, these hermeneutical blunders aren’t just taking place with “liberals,” but I would argue it’s just as rampant with conservatives. As you’ll see, objectionable interpretations are often made by the best of us. I’ll point out a few of them now.   Hermeneutical Blunders   1. “Feeling it” doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  Just because you’re in the “zone” when studying Scripture doesn’t necessarily mean what’s being revealed is absolute truth.  I had one of my best, most intense Bible studies when I inadvertently drank a caffeinated beverage.  The Bible study lasted until 3am, which was around the time I became suspicious of the “inspiration” I was feeling.  I recognized that the source of my vibrancy wasn’t from God!  Likewise, just because you’re having strong (dare I say, holy) feelings associated with your Bible study doesn’t necessarily mean your interpretation is originating from God.  It could be the figment of your imagination.  Ellen White makes the point in this way.  “Impressions alone are not a safe guide. . . The enemy often persuades men to believe that it is God who is guiding them, when in reality they are following only human impulse” (AA 287).   2. Common mistakes using Strong’s Concordance.  Many Bible students look up various words (i.e., sanctification, love, etc.) using their concordance and subconsciously place an equal sign between every instance that word is used in the Bible.  Then they assume some obscure usage of the color “red” in the book of Genesis is somehow connected to the color “red” in the book of Revelation.  This is a fatal error.  Furthermore, just because it’s the same English word in the Strong’s Concordance doesn’t mean it’s the same Greek or Hebrew word used in the original.  So, to make an interpretive connection when it’s not even the same original word is a mistake!  Finally, the KJV is not more original, or more accurate than the original manuscripts.  It’s a translation.  So don’t arbitrarily connect words in the KJV that aren’t the same words in the original languages.   3. Just because it’s truth, doesn’t mean it’s true.  The health message, or one’s more “Adventist” view on the nature of Christ, the nature of sin, etc. is not, I repeat, NOT found in every verse of Scripture.  I’ve seen people weave the health message into verses that have nothing to do with the health message.  Let the Scriptures speak for themselves (exegesis).  Don’t impose a meaning on Scripture that isn’t there (eisegesis).  Let the passages that deal explicitly with the health message speak to the issue of health.  Let’s not get mystical and allegorical in how we interpret Scripture.  Don’t go looking for truths you’ve discovered in the Spirit of Prophecy and make out that every verse of the Bible is stating that truth!  That’s just irresponsible.   4. How you feel about a biblical event or symbol isn’t how the ancients would’ve felt it, necessarily.  Don’t read into Scripture how you as an American living in the 21st century would understand any given situation or symbol of the Bible.  The very first step in interpreting Scripture accurately is to establish what a given book would have meant to its original audience.  Keep in mind that Scripture is first and foremost composed of historical books that took...