The Church is One

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By Pastor Glem Melo

2017-01-29-18-25-19Christ lived a perfect life, died to pay for our sins, and rose again for our salvation.  He went up to heaven to pray and ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit.  And on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out and the New Testament Church was created.  And the Church that the Holy Spirit created is one.

Listen to the whole sermon at:

http://firstchurchpca.org/mediaPlayer/#sermonaudio/198

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Critiquing Evolution

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Pastor Glem’s #First2PurdueNW Apologetics 101 class at First Church (PCA) in Lansing, IL

By Pastor Glem Melo

In reaching out to Atheists, I move from the friendship and prayer phase and begin the “internal critique” phase (helping them see the problems and foolishness of the Theory of Evolution) by asking the question of whether they believe that the universe is finite (has a beginning) or infinite (has no beginning)?  If they say that the universe is finite or has a beginning, I ask, “How did it all (i.e. the universe) begin?”

To those who believe that the universe is infinite (has no beginning) and hold to the Big Bang Theory, I ask, “Where did the bang that created what is called the ‘Big Bang’ come from?  Moreover, where did the law of physics (which, you believe, is responsible for the ‘Big Bang’ ending up becoming the complex but well-ordered and fine-tuned universe) come from?”

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-4-22-12-pmAtheists don’t have a true answer to those questions.  With their permission, I then show them that our Biblical Christian worldview can better account for and explain the beginning and continuing existence of the universe.

To those who hold to the “Steady State Theory” and others also as, by the Lord’s grace and help, I see fit and appropriate, I talk about the following:

  1. The Second Law of Thermodynamics  — that every form of energy, closed to itself or contained in itself without outside interference or influence, tends towards atrophy and disorder.
  2. The motion of the galaxies
  3. The echo of cosmic radiation
  4. Science’s law of causality
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Class picture (minus Aymi and Yanan)

Evolutionary theories cannot account for and explain these scientific facts.  But our Biblical, Christian worldview can.

Finally, I talk about the following and ask my evolutionist/ic friend/s for an explanation:

  1. Irreducibly complex biological systems
  2. The fine-tuning of the laws of Physics
  3. Complex, detailed and specific information in DNA

Again, evolutionary theories cannot account for and explain these scientific facts.  Even Atheist intelligent design theories does not really hold water at this point because of their total lack of valid proof for the existence of aliens, higher intelligent life forms, and/or the like.  But where they all fail, our Biblical, Christian worldview can and does provide the true and deeply satisfying answer: GOD.

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Older blogs on Apologetics:

What is Reality? – https://glemmelo.com/2016/12/17/apologetics101/

The Big WHY – https://glemmelo.com/2017/01/19/why/

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Super Bowl Party for International Students

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By Pastor Glem Melo

Last Sunday, our #First2PurdueNW team at #FirstChurchPCA enjoyed a time of fun, fellowship, and prayer for 5 international students from #PurdueUniversityNWHammond.

I thank the Lord for the Fernandezes, the DeBoers, the Kooys, and Jon Key for serving Christ through this outreach of love, friendship, and prayer.

Everyone was engaged.

Including #RoshThePresbyterian! 😉

I love my kids.

I love my wife.

I love JESUS!

I love His church.

Praise HIM!

From my Facebook page:
 
고민정 Hi~im min😄it was nice to meet you guys~

고민정
Patty De Boer It was great meeting you all!

홍소명
홍소명 thank you for inviting us!!

Patty De Boer
Patty De Boer Your welcome, blessing to you on your continuing travels.

김다솜
김다솜 thank you 😁😁😁
I’m som. I will miss you 😂

Patty De Boer
Patty De Boer It was great meeting you, enjoy the rest of your time in America!

Awara Fernandez
Awara Fernandez You are all such delightful young people! It was a great pleasure meeting you 🙂

JangHo Park
JangHo Park It was really great time! I’ll never forget you

Patty De Boer
Patty De Boer We won’t forget you either!

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All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. – Psalm 22:27

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The Big WHY

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Apologetics 101, Session 2

By Pastor Glem Melo

The Brown Room, 1st Floor
First Church PCA, Lansing, IL
Sundays, 11:15 am to 12:00 pm

Why do we believe in God?

Because God says that He exists.

How or where does God say that He exists?

He says so in the Bible.

In the beginning God… (Genesis 1:1)

Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God. (Psalms 90:2)

“I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God…” (Isaiah 45:5)

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Moses with the Tablets of Law, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Why do we believe that the Bible is God’s word?

Because God says in the Bible that the Bible is His word.

All Scripture is breathed out by God… (2 Timothy 3:16)

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

In his book, Summary of Christian Doctrine, Louis Berkhof summarizes the self-authenticating teachings of the Bible regarding itself as the word of God.

The Old Testament writers are repeatedly instructed to write what the Lord commands them, Ex, 17:14; 34:27; Num. 33:2; Isa. 8:1; 30:8; Jer. 25:13; 30:2; Ezek. 24:1; Dan. 12:4; Hab. 2:2. The prophets were conscious of bringing the word of the Lord, and therefore introduced their messages with some such formula as, “Thus saith the Lord,” or, “The word of the Lord came unto me,” Jer. 36:27, 32; Ezek., chapters 26, 27, 31, 32, 39. Paul speaks of his words as Spirit-taught words, I Cor. 2:13, claims that Christ is speaking in him, II Cor. 13:3, and describes his message to the Thessalonians as the word of God, I Thess. 2:13. The Epistle to the Hebrews often quotes passages of the Old Testament as words of God or of the Holy Spirit, Heb. 1:6; 3:7; 4:3; 5:6; 7:21. The most important passage to prove the inspiration of Scripture is II Tim. 3:16, which reads as follows… “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

Jesus and the apostles frequently appeal to the Old Testament books as ‘scripture’ or ‘the Scriptures’ to settle a point in controversy. To their minds such an appeal was equivalent to an appeal to God. It should be noted that of the books to which they appeal in this fashion, some are historical. The Epistle to the Hebrews repeatedly cites passages from the Old Testament as words of God or of the Holy Spirit (cf. p. 18). Peter places the letters of Paul on a level with the writings of the Old Testament, II Pet. 3:16, and Paul speaks of all Scripture as inspired, II Tim. 3:16.

We may safely go a step farther and say that the inspiration of the Bible extends to the very words employed. The Bible is verbally inspired… In many cases we are explicitly told that the Lord told Moses and Joshua exactly what to write, Lev. 3 and 4; 6:1, 24; 7:22, 28; Josh. 1:1; 4:1; 6:2, and so on. The prophets speak of Jehovah as putting His words into their mouths, Jer. 1:9, and as directing them to speak His words to the people, Ezek. 3:4, 10, 11. Paul designates his words as Spirit taught words, I Cor. 2:13, and both he and Jesus base an argument on a single word, Matt. 22:43-45; John 10:35; Gal. 3:16.

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For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)

And so, we believe the Bible on a two-fold ground:

Objective ground: Because God says in the Bible says that it is the word of God. It is the God-authenticated, self-authenticating word of God.

Subjective ground: Because the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts that the Bible is God’s word.

Which worldview “lens” is clear and accurate? The one that relies solely on natural human senses and science, i.e. Atheism? Or the one that relies on God’s word (the Bible) and God’s Spirit (witnessing in our hearts of believers), as confirmed by our natural senses and science, i.e. Christianity?

I’m clinging on God and His self-authenticated word, the Bible.

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Rejoice! The Curse-Breaker has Come

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By Pastor Glem Melo

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“Misery Painting” by Michael Anthony

If you are like me, there are areas in your heart and life that need deeper cleansing, healing, and renewal.  The same is true of my family and yours, and the churches that we are members of.  There is a great deal of fixing and, if you and I would get real and be honest about it all, a lot of “rotten bones coming to life” kind of change that still needs to happen in many areas, specially the heart.

But there is hope.  The gospel of Christmas says that you and I… All of us!  We can rejoice.  Despite of, in spite of.  Because the promised Curse-Breaker for all bound-up and bleeding people, like you and I, has come!

Dr. Luke tells “most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3-4), who was most probably a high-ranking government official, and us that God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (verses 26-27).

Theophilus would have been familiar with the history of the royal lineage of David, and the specified reference to Joseph as one who was “of the house of David” (“of the house and lineage of David” in 2:4) would have reminded him of God’s great covenant promise to Old Testament Israel’s greatest king — that the Lord “will raise up [his] offspring after [him], who shall come from [his] body” and that He “will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… ” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).  Indeed, God assured in Jeremiah 33:17 that “David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.”  His “house and [his] kingdom shall be made sure forever before [the Lord],” and his offspring’s “throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).

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Statue of King David by Nicolas Cordier in the Borghese Chapel of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

In Psalm 45, we read about the immediate fulfillment of God’s promise to David.  Ultimately, it speaks of Christ, who is “God,” whose “throne… is forever and ever” (verse 6).  But aside from that verse, the Psalm also describes the blessedness, glory, and military might of a king in David’s line in the Old Testament.

In Psalm 89, God’s promise to David is recalled (verses 3-4 and 19-37).  But beginning in verse 38, the writer laments, “But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed.  You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust.”  In just judgment of their sin and wickedness, God destroyed Israel’s defenses (40-41), increased her enemies’ power and strength (42), “cast [David’s] throne to the ground” (44), and “covered him with shame” (45).

In 2 Kings 23:31-25:30, we read that, because they “did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord” (23:32, 37; 24:9, 19), God sent the armies of pagan nations to destroy Judah and its kings in David’s throne and lineage (23:34; 24:2, 12; also 17:13-20).  Worst of all was His judgment on Zedekiah.  We read that the Babylonians “slaughtered [his] sons… before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon” (25:7).  In holy retribution, of which they have been adequately and abundantly warned (17:13), the Lord sent David’s royal family into exile, back to Babylon where Abraham came from.  But not as free men!  Fearsomely, the “God of gods and Lord of lords” (Deuteronomy 10:17) sent them there as captives of pagan kings.

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Historic photo of Mary’s Well

In the gospel of Luke, we read that the curse and spiritual exile of David’s royal family continued.  Instead of living in “the city of David, which is called Bethlehem” (2:4), “Joseph, of the house of David,” and Mary, whom the angel alludes to as also being in the line of David (1:32), were both from Nazareth in Galilee (1:26; 2:4), of which it was commonly and sarcastically asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”  In fact, the word of God itself, in both the Old and the New Testament, calls their region “Galilee of the gentiles,” of “the people dwelling in darkness,” and of “those dwelling in the region and shadow of death” (Matthew 4:15-16; Isaiah 9: 1-2).

Now darkness and death are symbols of God’s judgment (Job 10:21-22; Psalm 107:10-14; Jeremiah 13:16).  Therefore, the residence of Joseph, Mary, and other descendants of David in Galilee, and especially in Nazareth, speaks to us of the fact that the curse of sin and exile on the royal family has not yet been broken.

Secondly, “Joseph, of the house of David,” was not a businessman or a man of even just a considerable socio-economic status in Nazareth.  Instead, he was a carpenter who was looked down upon and deemed insignificant (Matthew 13:55).

Thirdly, their forced, arduous, 70-mile travel for the Roman census despite Mary’s delicate and precarious condition speaks of the Davidic line’s total loss of the favor and influence that we read about in Psalm 45.  The same is true of Joseph’s helplessness in securing a suitable place for the Lord Jesus to be born at (Luke 2:7).

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Photo credit: The Ballestero Blog

Finally, Christ’s birth in a muddy, filthy, and smelly animal shelter is a far cry from “the oil of gladness,” “robes [that] are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia,” and “ivory palaces” that the Davidic king of Old Testament Israel was blessed with (Psalm 45:7-15).

What does this all mean?

An infinitely glorious, deeply comforting, and most soul-enriching truth for all people!  Christ identified and united himself with the fallen line of David in order to fulfill the Father’s promise of redemption, restoration, and glory for them.  He was not just born in poverty and humility.  Indeed, our Lord and Savior was born in exile, under Yahweh’s terrible judgment and wrath.  And even as a fetus, our eternal King and complete Redeemer bore the sins of and God’s curse upon David’s wicked and evil descendants.

But not just for David’s children!  We are all evil and wicked transgressors in exile, under God’s judgment and wrath (Romans 1:18-3:20), enslaved to sin, satan, and the world (Ephesians 2:1-3).  But from the womb to the cross, Christ bore our sins and broke the curse (Isaiah 53; Hebrew 2:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; Galatians 3:13-14; Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 37).  And through faith in Him, we are set free (Romans 8:1-2) and made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

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Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

This is the heart, core, and depth of what Christmas is all about.  And if you do not know Jesus, this is the time for you to call on Him and ask for forgiveness for your sins, salvation from the curse, and renewal of life by His Spirit and word.  And he will do it.  Christ promises to you that He will do it (Matthew 7:7-11), if you call on Him by faith (Romans 10:13).

Now if you are a believer in Christ, this is a time for a deeper and greater assurance.  At the same time, this is also a season for sincere, honest self-examination.  As stated above… If you are like me, there are areas in your heart and life that need deeper cleansing, healing, and renewal.  The same is true of my family and yours, and the churches that we are members of.  We must ask the Lord for forgiveness and cry out to him for the deliverance and “rotten bones coming to life” kind of change that we all need still.  And He will answer us, because He is the Promised One whom God sent to pay for our sins and save us from the curse.

Hallelujah!  Let us rejoice.  The Curse-Breaker has come.

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Apologetics 101

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2016-11-28-13-01-04-1By Pastor Glem Melo

Classroom #11, 3rd Floor, First Church PCA, Lansing, IL
Sundays, 11:15 am to 12:00 pm

Session #1

What is reality?

This is the question of worldview — “a philosophical view of the world—and not just of our planet, but of all of reality…an all-encompassing perspective on everything that exists and matters to us” (Dr. James N. Anderson, Reformed Theological Seminary).  It is the “lense” by which we view the world.

2016-12-11-12-10-48How do we know what we know?

This is the question of epistemology — “the study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge” (Encyclopaedia Brittanica).

Four worldviews examined in “True U 01.1 Does God Exist: Building the Scientific Case”

1. Atheism — no God

2. Deism — God exists but like a divine watchmaker: absolutely transcendent (above and independent of all things) and not immanent (not directly involved in the world)

3. Theism — God exists; He is both transcendent (above and independent of all things) and immanent (directly involved in the world)

4. Pantheism — God is everything and everyone, and everyone and everything is God

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What is reality for us, Christians?

God! Before the universe became real, He already existed. He is the ultimate, eternal, unchanging reality.

Atheists view the world, scientific data, reality, the origin of life, etc. through their “no God” lens.

We, Christians, view the world, scientific data, reality, the origin of life, etc. through the lens of God’s word, the Bible.

How confident are you about the authority and reliability of the Bible?

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#PrayForThePhilippines #PrayPH

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By Pastor Glem Melo

We must all view the pictures and videos, and read the articles in the New York Times’ interactive webpage, “They are Slaughtering Us Like Animals.”

screenshot-2016-12-08-15-01-03For 35 days, NYT photojournalist Daniel Berehulak documented 57 victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) that have become extremely rampant since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office and launched his “war on drugs.”  Berehulak writes,

I HAVE WORKED IN 60 COUNTRIES, covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and spent much of 2014 living inside West Africa’s Ebola zone, a place gripped by fear and death.  What I experienced in the Philippines felt like a new level of ruthlessness: police officers’ summarily shooting anyone suspected of dealing or even using drugs, vigilantes’ taking seriously Mr. Duterte’s call to “slaughter them all.”

screenshot-2016-12-08-15-06-02I witnessed bloody scenes just about everywhere imaginable — on the sidewalk, on train tracks, in front of a girls’ school, outside 7-Eleven stores and a McDonald’s restaurant, across bedroom mattresses and living-room sofas. I watched as a woman in red peeked at one of those grisly sites through fingers held over her eyes, at once trying to protect herself and permit herself one last glance at a man killed in the middle of a busy road.

Today, the number of reported EJKs in the Philippines is at the 5,800 mark.  A friend and mission adviser wrote to me in an e-mail, “This is extremely frightening. It seems very close to a precipice of anarchy on the one hand or totalitarianism on the other.  It is a crucial time to pray.”

screenshot-2016-12-08-14-57-43Lord Jesus, please stop the extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.

To President Duterte and those working with him, this is what the word of God says:

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

This is what the LORD Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)

Christians, pray.

CREDITS: All photos are by Daniel Berehulak.

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