Thursday, September 15, 2011

The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 4b

This is a continuation of a series studying "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips. Note: Block quotes in italics are from the book, and used with permission. Scripture quotations are NKJV unless otherwise noted.

In the previous post, we covered God's holiness. In this post, we'll look at the second central truth in chapter 4: 

God is Love

We do not know God rightly if we do not know that God is love. We see God displaying His love in His goodness and mercy from the opening pages of Scripture.

God's love isn't mere emotion or cheap sentiment. His love moves Him to act. It overwhelms barriers, smashes obstacles and topples powers. Dan proposes a definition of God's love:
As an attribute of God, love is that motivating excellence which moves Him to plan and act to accomplish what is for His greatest glory, and what is for His people's highest good.
 In other words, God's love is for Himself first. This idea is offensive to many of us. Don't we all think of people who love themselves first as selfish? Isn't selfishness sinful? Well, for anyone else, it is sinful. But God isn't like us.

 Here's what Dan has to say:
Love defines. A person is defined by his loves...God is the infinitely majestic one. Whom or what should God love above all? What worthier object of His love is there than Himself? What object of affection does God have that is worthier than God Himself? After all, God's laws flow from His being, and His prime law is to love God with our all, then to love our neighbor (Matt. 22:36-40). We are to imitate God in our love (Matt. 5:44-45; Eph. 5:1-2). If we are to love Him first, can it shock us to learn that He does the same? If we were to love any creature more than God, it would be idolatry for us. Would it not be the same for God?

God is the center of the universe. He is the sum and essence of perfection and beauty. No one else is deserving of that kind of love, because no one else is God. Period.

Dan highlights 3 truths:
  1. God can no more not love, than He can not be God; however, we must remember...
  2. God's love must be a holy love, since all of God's attributes glow with His holiness; and
  3. God's love always and necessarily and rightly has Himself as its first object.
Why This is World-Tilting

We tend to view God as though He were just like us, but  Isaiah 55:8-11 reads, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

Personal Thoughts

This section of chapter 4 is also a lot to chew on. It is pretty shocking to think that God would put Himself at the top of His "Love List", but if we take the time to consider what the Bible says about Him, it makes sense. God's self-love isn't selfish love. As a defining characteristic, it stands to reason that because God is love, His love would start with himself and flow out toward us. His command to us is to love Him first. I include myself when I ask, "Is God first on my 'Love list'?"




A new installment of the study is coming, most likely tonight.

I have been dealing with depression for a long time. It seems as though I take one step forward only to stumble five steps back. This past month has been one of stumbling back.

I'm working my way forward again. Prayers are requested & always appreciated. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 4a

This is a continuation of a series studying "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips. Note: Block quotes in italics are from the book, and used with permission. Scripture quotations are NKJV unless otherwise noted.

As with chapter 3, I will cover chapter 4 in parts. There's a lot of "meat" to "chew on". :)

Part Two of "WTG" begins with Chapter 4, "The God Who Plans". Dan opens the chapter by having us imagine a scene in an operating room, with a major surgery underway. He has us wonder why such a large-scale operation is necessary; what catastrophic condition requires such drastic measures. He segues into a vivid accounting of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying. Dan writes:
"It is nighttime. Before us, we immediately recognize the figure of Jesus Christ - but we are seeing Him as no one has ever seen Him. This man who has stared down thousands of hell's foulest demons without blinking, who has shut up storms with a curt word of command, who has reduced the human powers to babbling, loose-bowelled nonsense - is falling down in horror, and He is pleading with His Father."
 Dan goes on to recount Christ's arrest, trial, crucifixion and death. He doesn't go into excruciating detail, but he doesn't really gloss over the realities, either. His descriptions, while brief, strike the right balance of delivering the facts without going overboard into horror-movie territory. 

Why was Jesus' death on the cross absolutely necessary for the recovery and redemption of man? From what ruin were we saved, and was it really that bad? 

We've learned that by our sin nature, we're dead, doomed, helpless and completely disinterested in seeking a relationship with God as God and Lord, and our own efforts to improve our situation often makes things worse. We must have a biblical understanding of God, to Whom we must give account. 

What Kind of God is God?

The living God of the Bible is described repeatedly and emphatically in moral terms, in language bristling with that element we hate in our postmodern culture: value judgments.
 Dan singles out three of God's traits, the first of which we'll look at in this post. 

God Is Holy

Holiness is a central character trait of God. Isaiah 57:15 reads, "For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy." By saying God's "name is Holy", Isaiah is saying that holiness is a fundamental defining trait of God. It is essential to His moral existence.

Holiness is the only attribute of God that is declared in threefold repetition. In Isaiah 6:3 we find seraphim  crying out saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" 

God's holiness will also never change. Revelation 4:8 reads, in part, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come." God was holy, God is holy, and God will always be holy. His holiness must not be isolated from His other attributes, however. Rather, God's holiness describes His other attributes. His love is a holy love. His goodness is a holy goodness, and so forth and so on. 

There is no "God is holy, but"; there is only "God is holy, and."
What, then, is holiness? The basic idea of holiness is separation, apartness, transcendence. God has no rival, peer or equal. He is lofty, removed from mankind and His name is Holy.

God is self-existent, dependent on nothing for His being, unlike everything else. He is independent of creation. By contrast, all created things are dependent on the sustaining work of God the Son, even to the atomic level. Colossians 1:17 says, "And He [Jesus] is before all things, and in Him all things consist."

Dan offers several illustrations of the impact of God's holiness to help us understand. The first illustration is Moses' encounter with God at the burning bush. Moses was told to take his sandals off because the presence of God made it "holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). It was set apart from all the other ground because God's presence was there at that moment.

The second illustration is that God set apart the seventh day as a day of rest because He rested (Genesis 2:3). He later told Israel to set the seventh day apart from the others (Exodus 20:8). 

The third and probably most detailed illustration Dan gives is that of the tabernacle. The description of the tabernacle can be found in Exodus 26. 

What makes all these things holy isn't their physical attributes or any magical qualities. They are "holy" by virtue of their association with God.

God is the original; He is the definition; He is the source. God naturally possesses holiness by virtue of being God. Holiness is not conferred on God, or achieved by Him. He is holy because He is who He is. He is 'the Holy One of Israel.' When we give Him a holy place as Lord in our hearts (Isa. 8:13; 1 Peter 3:15), we add nothing to Him. We are only crediting Him with being what He is in truth.
 In the OT, when anyone is in the presence of God, they are overwhelmed by His holiness. Likewise, when Peter got a brief glimpse of Christ's nature, he was driven to his knees, unable to bear His presence. (Luke 5:8). 

Personal Notes

In our finite minds, it's difficult to grasp God's holiness. We tend to make God "one of the guys". He's not just like us, and we tread on dangerous ground when we try to make God fit our ideas of how we think He should be. That's why it's so vital that we read, learn and understand Scripture. 

This first part of chapter 4 was much easier to read through than it was to try to summarize. :) I strongly encourage you to get a copy of the book (links are at the beginning of each post, and at the right-hand side of the page). As I said at the beginning of this post, there's a lot of well-written "meat". What I've written here is the equivalent of bacon bits, but I am learning as I write. :)

Coming Up Next...

The next post will cover the second Central Truth: God is Love. 

Have a blessed day!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Brief Interlude

To be honest, I'm not sure how brief the interlude will be. Maybe we'll all be surprised. :)

I realize it has been 2 weeks since I posted an installment in the study series. I haven't given up on this project, however. It's something that I feel I need to do, and I am still enthusiastically endorsing the book. I do have a husband and two daughters who also require my attention, so the last couple of weeks have been spent taking care of them (and it's a joy to do so). :) To those who have been following my little blog, I thank you for your patience. :)

My family and I have been through many trials over the past 6 years, and I've come to realize that even when things look bleak, we are blessed. Sometimes, especially when one is in the middle of circumstances, it's difficult to see the point of the trials, and it's difficult not to worry. I've had to ask forgiveness for worrying many, many times, but God has seen us through every valley and strengthened us. He is worthy of all praise, and I am very thankful.

Just sayin'.


The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 3c

This is "Part C" covering chapter 3 of "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips, and a continuation of my study series on the book. Block quotes in italics are from the book and used with permission. Bible verse quotations are from the NKJV unless otherwise noted. Part one is here. Part two is here. Part 3a is here. Part 3b is here.

Dead Like Me

The apostle Paul vividly depicts our natural condition in the book of Ephesians; chapters 2 and 4 specifically. We learn just how bad things were for us, thereby revealing how grand God's salvation through Christ really is.

Ephesians 2:1-3 reads, "And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins in which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God's] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind." (Amplified Bible) 

Dan explains it in plain English:
Paul says that we are dead. Not "resting". Not "pining for the Fjords". Not "getting better". Not "only mostly dead". Not merely sick and weak, though we are that (Rom. 5:6; 8:3). Dead.

Death has no degrees. It is an absolute. If one is dead, that's it. That's how Paul describes our spiritual condition. The Greek word for "dead" means DEAD. All are spiritually dead, bereft of the blessings of God, unable to extricate ourselves from the grip of sin. Sin not only makes us behave badly, it makes us think badly (remember the distorted lens of the heart [mind] in part 1?), and we don't even know it. Without Christ, we are hopeless, helpless, shut off and cut off.

Dan paints a scene, asking us to imagine walking into a morgue. We have an elixir that will bring the dead back to life, but those in the morgue have to get up and drink it. No matter how persuasive we may be, freely offering this life-giving elixir, the dead won't respond. Once again, I'll let Dan speak:
My point: If there is to be a rescue operation for us as children of Adam, aimed at bringing us to anything like God meant us to be, it has to overcome not only our sin and depravity, but the fact that sin makes us utterly uninterested in the solution. In fact, we would be repelled by it.
Proverbs 4:23 reads, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life."

Jeremiah 17:9 reads, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?"

Ephesians 2:1 reads, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins" 

Romans 8:7 reads, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be."

John 6:44a reads, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him."


The way we see ourselves and the way God sees us are exact opposites. We see ourselves as basically good, or at least having good intentions, lively and living life. God sees that our hearts are desperately wicked and that we're spiritually dead. That sounds like the worst news ever! There is a solution, which will be covered in the next chapters of "The World-Tilting Gospel".

Personal Notes

Reading this section of chapter 3 was a real "light bulb moment" for me. Knowing that because of sin, man's heart is wicked, and that man is spiritually dead, how is it possible for him to want to seek God? Do the dead "choose life"? It is just as impossible for those who are spiritually dead to "choose Christ" as it is for the physically dead to choose to stand up and start breathing again. 

Quite frankly, I was on the fence as to whether we choose or are chosen. In my Bible reading, I couldn't ignore the verses that indicate that it is God who chooses us, and those that say that no one seeks God. But I also felt that maybe it was a case of "God knows who's going to choose and who won't."  Dan's explanation makes sense. Dead is dead, whether it's physical or spiritual, and it's God who brings life. We don't have the capability in and of ourselves.

Coming Up Next

We'll be moving on to Part Two of "The World-Tilting Gospel", where Dan asks, "What Has God Done for Us? The Eternal Plan Conceived, Predicted, Executed."

God willing, it won't be two weeks before the next post. :) 

Friday, July 29, 2011

The World Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 3b

This is "Part B" covering chapter 3 of "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips, and a continuation of my study series on the book. Block quotes in italics are from the book and used with permission. Bible verse quotations are from the NKJV unless otherwise noted. Part one is here. Part two is here. Part 3a is here.

Before I begin, I would like to say "Hello!" to everyone who has visited my blog (From all over the world, too! Wow!), and a hearty "Thank you!" to Dan Phillips for the link. :)

This past week has been very hectic, with my mother-in-law falling ill (she's on the mend) and my husband preparing to go to work offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, so new posts have been on hold until now. Thanks for your patience. :)


We dealt with the Old Testament's diagnosis of our human fallenness in part 3a. We learned what sin is, what it has done to us, and the penalty for it. By our own inclinations, we miss the mark of God's holy, absolute standard every time. Dan has shown that the teaching of human lostness is found throughout the OT, proving that the doctrine wasn't concocted by any apostle or later church council.

Categorical Biblical Diagnosis of Human Fallenness: New Testament

 Jesus and the apostles were true Israelites who accepted and emphatically affirmed the God-breathed origin and inerrancy of the Old Testament (John 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:21). They all affirmed the OT's teaching on the universal, pervasive nature of sin. The New Testament builds on and develops this doctrine.

WDJS? (What Did Jesus Say?)

Jesus began His public ministry with a very brief but powerful sermon. In Matthew 4:17, He said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

"...Jesus' first word, 'Repent', translates the Greek word metanoeite (meta-no-AY-teh), which indicates a change of mind so fundamental, so root-to-branch, that the life changes as a consequence..."

Why would Jesus issue such a command? If we were naturally good and accepted by God unconditionally, would He have said "Repent."? If we just needed to try a little harder or think about God more, would He have said "Repent."? If we only committed certain sins, but were sound otherwise, would He have said "Repent." categorically, with no qualifiers? No.

Jesus tells us to change our most basic assumptions because everything about how we think is fundamentally wrong. Nothing had changed about Man's sin nature when Jesus came along, and He didn't have to explain because the OT had already laid it out.

WDJS? (What Did Jesus See?)

Jesus looks into our hearts, and what He sees isn't pretty. In Mark 7:21-23, Jesus says, "For from within, [that is] out of the hearts of men, come base and wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, Coveting (a greedy desire to have more wealth), dangerous and destructive wickedness, deceit, unrestrained (indecent) conduct; an evil eye (envy), slander (evil speaking, malicious misrepresentation, abusiveness), pride (the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man), foolishness (folly, lack of sense, recklessness, thoughtlessness). All these evil [purposes and desires] come from within, and they make the man unclean and render him unhallowed." (Amplified Bible)

This picture of death and spiritual death is the same one that shows up throughout the OT. Adam sinned and died, and all his children have been spiritually stillborn.

So What Does Jesus Prescribe?

Because we're not basically good, or even just "a little bit bad", Jesus gives us two extreme prescriptions for what we need in the face of His teaching.

First, Jesus tells His followers, "...take up [your] cross and follow Me." (Luke 9:23). A cross is where death happens. Jesus is telling us that our sin-riddled nature must die.

Second, Jesus tells us that we must be born again. Nicodemus was a religious, legally righteous man, yet Jesus told him he had to be "born again". (The exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus can be found in John 3:1-21). Dan writes, 
"'Born again' means what is already there is all wrong, we need to start all over with something new."

What Did the Apostles Teach?

Peter taught what Christ taught. At Pentecost, Peter told those assembled, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38). Peter affirms that without being born again as an act of God's grace, there's no spiritual life.

Paul also confirmed Jesus' teaching and developed it. His most systematic teaching of the good news of Christ is the book of Romans. He sets forth how sin came to hold us all, and how sin was conquered by Christ in Romans 5:12-21. He sets the first and last Adam side-by-side and compares and contrasts them.

Both Peter and Paul affirm that all are involved in sin. All repress the truth of God, and all turn aside from God. It is out of God's grace and great mercy and by means of Christ's resurrection from the dead  that we are born again. We don't take the initiative.


Adam, as representative of man, brought sin into the world. As a result, everyone is born with a sinful nature. Jesus and the apostles affirm the OT teachings of man's sinfulness. They acknowledge that none are good, and that we all fall under condemnation.

Jesus, the "last Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:46, 47), tells us to repent (to radically change our way of thinking), take up our cross (to put our sinfulness to death), and that we must be born again (an act of God's grace and mercy). 

Coming up next...

Part C will cover the section of chapter 3 that really "tilted my world" and got me off the fence in my view of God and how He works. The way Dan explains it, in language that is very easily understood, makes a whole lot of sense to me. Stay tuned. :) 

Monday, July 25, 2011

The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 3a

Continuing the series studying "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips. Part 1 can be found here and part 2 can be found here.

I will be posting on Chapter 3 in two or more parts. Block quotes in italics are from the book and are used with permission. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise noted.

Chapter 2 of "WTG" covered creation and "The Fall". Dan opines that "fall" is too mild a word. He describes it, among other terms, as a disaster or cataclysm, and I tend to agree with him. Adam and Eve's rebellion was no mere "mistake" or "oopsie!". We may ask what Adam and Eve's sin has to do with us today. Wasn't their sin an isolated incident? The answer, of course, is "No."

"...(O)ur great-grandparents' very names are representative. 'Adam' is simply the Hebrew word for 'human being'. Adam is a man, and Adam is Man. As went Adam, so would go Man. And Adam's wife is first called simply 'woman' (Genesis 2:22-23). Then she is called 'Eve', which in Hebrew looks like the word for 'life' because she was the mother of all living humans (Gen. 3:20)."

Genesis 5:3 says, "And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image..." This is an echo of man's creation in God's image and likeness (Gen. 1:26, 5:1-2). Adam's image was still there, but it was disfigured by his sin. That marred image was passed down to Adam's children and on through all humans. The Bible shows the spread of sin and death through Adam's children. In "WTG", Dan says,
"The human history is a tale of the interweaving of sin and death." 
What is Sin?

We first find mention of sin in Genesis 4:7 which says, "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Amplified Bible). Here, God is speaking to Cain. He speaks of sin as crouching like a wild animal, waiting to pounce in its overwhelming desire to dominate Cain. He tells Cain that he must master, or rule over, sin.

The word "sin" means "missing a target" or "missing the mark". The "target" or "mark" is the holy will and character of God. If we fail to meet His absolute standard even once, we are sinners, and we are doomed.
"Sin is a big deal. ...Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4), being my own law and authority and god (cf. Gen 3:5). It is a heart that hates God and His will (Rom. 8:7), which issues in love for things God hates, and hatred for things God loves, which in turn gives birth to doing things which God forbids, and failing to things God commands (cf. Matt. 15:18-20; Gal. 5:19-21)."
It would seem that sin is serious business, and that we all suffer its effects. Adam and Eve missed the mark, and that lawlessness was passed on through their children (Genesis chapters 4 & 5).

Even after the Flood, when righteous Noah and his family were the only people left on earth, sin showed itself. Noah got drunk (Gen 9:21), and Ham brings a curse on himself (Gen. 9:22f). The whole Bible, as well as all of human history shows the effects of the Fall in our race.

Categorical Biblical Diagnosis of Human Fallenness: Old Testament

The notion of "original sin" was not invented by the apostle Paul or later made up by Christian theologians. Genesis, and all the narratives of the Old Testament treat sin as pandemic. In 1 Kings 8:46, we hear Solomon saying, "When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin)..." And in Proverbs 20:9 he asks, "Who can say, 'I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin'?" (Amplified Bible). It's a rhetorical question. Solomon expected the answer to be "No one". It can be said, unqualified and categorically that no natural-born son of Adam will ever be able to claim purity. We all bear Adam's fallen, guilty, corrupted likeness.

Several other examples of man's fallen nature appear in the OT. In Job 14:4, he asks, "Who can  bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" and answers, "No one!". David, the man after God's Own heart, who fell into shocking sin, said in Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me." David knew that his sin wasn't God's fault, but his own by his nature. Psalm 14:2-3 states, "The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good. No, not one."

Sin has affected our intellect and moral judgement, our life orientation and our morality. Sin has polluted every bit of us, and every part of us. There is no good in us. Isaiah 64:6 reads, "For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God's favor, hurrying us toward destruction]." (Amplified Bible). It's interesting to note, that what is translated as "a polluted garment" actually refers to a used menstrual cloth. And this is what our best good deeds look like to God when we are still slaves to sin! 


Because of Adam's sin, we're all affected. No one, by his or her own inclinations, is good. Though "sin" means "missing the mark", we must understand what mark it is that we've missed. That mark is God's holy, absolute standard. Under the dominion of our sinful nature, even what we consider good deeds are repulsive to God. 

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 2

This is a continuation of a series studying "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips. Note: Block quotes in italics are from the book, and used with permission.

In Chapter 1, we learned that our hearts are deceitful, conniving, and stricken with a spiritual cancer that distorts our view of ourselves and God. In Chapter 2 of "WTG", Dan returns us to the beginning of creation and we find out what God did, how we came about, and what led to our ultimate downfall.

Where Everything Starts

The opening paragraph for Chapter 2 is as follows: 

To assemble a worldview based on God's truth rather than the world's lies or our own hearts' self-serving deceptions, we must begin at the beginning -- as in, "In the beginning."

 The first 3 chapters of Genesis begin to establish the truth of God, His nature, His word, His creation, and His plan for all the ages. We also find ourselves: how we were created, what God intended us to be, why He created us, and how we messed it all up. If our understanding of these three chapters is correct, then it follows that our understanding of the rest of the Bible will be correct. If we get it wrong, then we get everything else wrong, too.

Man's Preparation

If we want to know what God wants from us as Christians, we must have a firm Biblical grasp of His intention in making man in the first place.  

By His word alone, God created the cosmos. He created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). At this very beginning, the earth wasn't yet ready for living things, but the Spirit of God "was hovering over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:2). Verses 3-25 cover the first 5 days of creation. Dan makes a point to note that both the third and sixth days had two parts. On the third day, God spoke and dry land separated from the waters, and then he spoke and plants and fruit trees grew from the new soil. After each stage, God called His creation "good". 

On the sixth day of creation, God commanded into existence the animals of the earth and said that it was "good". The second stage of the sixth day is when God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Genesis 1:26, NKJV). 

Man was created to be God's representative on earth, not an exact copy of God, since God is Spirit, but a finite, created mirror representing the glory of the infinite, uncreated God. Verse 27 says, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Dan notes verse 27 as the first bit of poetry in the Bible). After this, God pronounces it very good.

Man and woman were created and commanded to "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28, NKJV).

It is established here that man and woman were not equal with the rest of creation but above it. They were instructed to have dominion - to take charge - over everything else on the earth. God was in charge of them. Adam and Eve had everything they needed to follow God's commands, and they enjoyed the company of God Himself in the Garden of Eden. They truly had a personal relationship with God.

Man's Probation

If we want to know what God wants from us as Christians, we must have a firm, Biblical grasp of how we got to be in the mess we are in today.

 Dan writes that man's probation was two-fold: God gave positive commands and one negative command. Adam and Eve were to have children, take charge of everything on the earth, and they were free to eat from every tree in the Garden (Genesis 2:16) except one. They were forbidden from eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). 

When Eve encountered the Serpent, though he was speaking to her, he was really trying to bring down Adam. The Serpent spoke as though he was a friend, looking out for Adam and Eve. He begins by asking, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1b NKJV). Eve responds that they were allowed to eat from every tree except the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In verse 3b, Eve tells the Serpent, "God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'". The Serpent then tells Eve that not only will they not die, they will be like God (Dan notes that the Hebrew text could also be read as "as gods"). Eve ate the fruit and convinced Adam to eat it as well, and everything instantly changed for them. God gave them only one prohibition, and they failed the test!  

Man's Prostration

If we want to know what God wants from us as Christians, we must have a firm Biblical grasp of how extensive and how serious is the damage that sin has done to us as a race.

Although Adam and Eve didn't physically die immediately after they ate the fruit, their act of disobedience caused their spiritual death that started the process that would eventually lead to the death of their bodies.

As soon as they ate the fruit, they felt a separation from God. They were aware of their nakedness and were ashamed. They were afraid and tried to hide from God when He called out to them. God knew what they did, and Adam and Eve "knew that He knew". What was once a glorious, personal relationship with God became terrifying. Their thoughts turned to self rather than toward God and His glory, and they not only lost sight of Him but they lost hold of each other. 

God redeemed them, but they were turned out of the Garden. For the rest of their physical lives, they encountered struggle and difficulty. Adam had to work the ground for their food; Eve would bear children with pain. All these things they would endure until they died.


God created Adam in His image to rule for Him, and He created Eve to be Adam's helper, to work together in harmony to serve God. God gave them the intellect and wills to obey Him and carry out His glory. 

The Serpent convinced Eve that rebellion wouldn't lead to death, but that she and Adam would be like God, knowing good and evil. They immediately lost the enjoyment of God's presence and started down the path of deception, guilt, struggle, strife and eventual physical death when they disobeyed God. 

Personal Thoughts

It was much later in my own walk that I understood that the whole Bible was relevant to the Christian faith. The first chapters of Genesis tell us what God did, what man did, and why we need a Savior today. All through the Old Testament we see examples of God's commands and man's disobedience, and we also see examples of God's grace in dealing with that disobedience. It's all a foreshadowing of Christ.

 I thought that chapter 2 of "WTG" did a good job of explaining God's creation and how Adam and Eve's disobedience affects all of us.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 1

This is the first post in a series covering Dan Phillips' book "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight". (Available through Kindle download available now, paperback set to ship August 1.) A word of warning: This post will be rather long, so pack a lunch. :)

I'm not a professional literary critic, nor am I an academician. This series of posts is from the point of view of a person who loves Jesus and God's Word and seeks to better understand the Christian faith. I know what I believe, but often have trouble putting that into concrete terms. That being said, this is my humble attempt to give an "everyday Christian" perspective, and my hope is that God will be glorified through it.

Let's get started, shall we?

I'm somewhat envious of first-century Christians. They were taught about Jesus from people who actually knew Him; who heard His words from His own mouth! They believed and were saved because they accepted that the Apostles' teaching from God's Word was God's Word. Those first-century Christians believed because the leaders spoke to them with authority from Scripture. They understood that they needed a Savior because God's Word revealed their condition as desperately sick. Once they were saved, they went out and practiced their faith and told others the Good News. First-century Christians held a "whole-Bible" (as it was at the time) worldview.

Desperately sick? Me?

The first chapter of "The World-Tilting Gospel" (hereafter "WTG") deals with what is called our "heart". In this case, our heart is more accurately described as our mind. To quote Dan Phillips, "It's the fountainhead of the way we live (Proverbs 4:23). It is the seat not only of our emotions, but of our calculated plans (Genesis 6:5, Proverbs 16:1,9, etc.), our intellect (Proverbs 18:15), our values (Matthew 15:18), and our decisions (1 Corinthians 7:37)."
Jeremiah 17:9 in the Amplified Bible tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?"

Because our hearts are sick and corrupt, it affects our view of everything. Looking through the lens of our own minds, we see a distorted vision of God and His Word, and we see a distorted vision of our own condition.

Dan gives examples of 3 different approaches to God. The first is someone who is "a decent, moral, well-meaning guy" who views God as "the grand Rubber Stamp in the Sky", Jesus is "Facilitator, Enabler, Cheerleader" rather than Savior, and the Cross is "an expression of God's love and approval." This person decided to add Jesus to his life, like an accessory.

The second and third examples are people who understand that they need a Savior, but one gets caught up in works, with the belief that he can gain and maintain God's favor by so doing. The other believes that she must become totally inert and all but cease to exist for God to be able to do anything. This third example shows a person who is "yielding to God" and "waiting on the LORD" by doing nothing, lest God be hampered.

In all three examples, the person takes the initiative in the salvation process, and because of the distorted lens of the heart, it's possible that each is wrong about himself, wrong about God, and wrong about the relationship between himself and Jesus.

Only God can truly know what's in our hearts. Jeremiah 17:10a states, "I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind" (NKJV). He searches our hearts and minds and applies His holy standards to diagnose us. We may think we're a-ok, but God sees everything and knows different. We're anything but ok.

How can we know about ourselves and God?

We can know about ourselves and God by turning to Scripture and learning its precepts. Scripture is "God's unalloyed, inerrant disclosure of Himself and His diagnosis of the human condition. What the Bible says, God says."
Jesus treated Scripture as God's Word and made it clear that it could not be outranked or supplanted by man made doctrine (Mark 7:6-13). Jesus taught from what we call the Old Testament with authority, knowing that it was the truth. We need to start from the beginning to be able to fully grasp who we were, how we got to be that way, and how God planned and went about transforming us.

Notes of Interest

Dan gives us a lesson in Hebrew, noting that the word Jeremiah uses for "heart" is very closely related to the name "Jacob", which means "heel-catcher"; someone who trips someone up to take advantage of him. Jacob was a conniver and a trickster, looking out for Number One, and that Jeremiah used such a play on words lets us know exactly what kind of heart we have.
Elsewhere in the chapter, Dan lets us know that the Hebrew word used to describe "sick" describes an incurable condition, like an incurable cancer, rather than a temporary illness that will go away in time. It's a spiritual cancer.


"Finally!" you say. :)
Dan has established, using Scripture, that we are stricken with an incurable cancer of the spirit. Our hearts are so sick that we view ourselves and God through a deceitful, distorted lens, and only God can truly see what's inside us. We may think that we're in control of our relationship with God because He's waiting for us to do something, but we don't really have much of anything to offer. By turning to the Bible, we can know about ourselves and God, and what the cure is for our desperate condition.

Monday, July 18, 2011

This Hurts You How?

I am perplexed by the vitriol spewed at Christians who are doing nothing more than living our Christian lives and occasionally sharing our faith with others. Specifically, I find it puzzling that some people would expend so much energy trying to disprove something in which they claim not to believe.

I'm not a Biblical scholar. I don't know Hebrew or Greek, and I don't know all the names of the Early Church Fathers. I'm a wife, a mother, a homemaker, a Christian who reads her Bible and goes to church. I actually believe what the Bible says. Apparently, that earns me the title of "Moron" and head-shaking, tongue-clicking pity from the allegedly more enlightened among us.

Although I have not personally been on the receiving end of such wrath (yet), I've seen it enough to wonder what all the fuss is about. How does my faith do damage to someone who doesn't believe?

Just sayin'.

A Reason to Blog

So I just read a great new book. It's "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips. It's currently available for Kindle download at, and the paperback is set to ship by August 1 or so.

I'm not in the habit of buying "churchy" books, because there are so many, and unfortunately, a lot of what is being marketed nowadays is just bad. This book is not one of those. I've read blog posts by Dan Phillips over at Pyromaniacs for several years now. I've learned a lot, and he's a smart guy who knows what he's talking about.

Over the next several posts, I'll be posting my notes and thoughts as I do a more thorough study of "WTG". I may be the only person who reads this blog, or maybe someone will come along and get something from it. Either way, it's all good. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011


The chances are high that I'll be the only one reading this blog, and that's okay. The main purpose is to have a place where I can express my thoughts, opine on current events, share sites of interest, and vent.

Welcome! :)