Monday, December 7, 2015

The Debate on Human Origins Continues

A person with whom I was having a debate once asked me, “Please, tell us exactly what you think the theory of evolution says about the universe. Then, tell us why ANYBODY should care what you think science is or isn't.” 

A common tactic of evolutionists during a discussion is to ask his or her opponent what qualifies them to offer an opinion on the subject being discussed. As if a person is not allowed to voice an opinion if he or she does not possess the proper credentials.

Was no one allowed to voice an opinion until the time in history where degrees were conferred and PhDs earned? Was no one qualified to think until an institution of higher learning deemed him or her worthy? This, of course, is an absurd notion considering all the fantastic discoveries that were made, scientific and otherwise, by men who did not possess any sort of “official degree”. The ability to think is given to us by God, not man.

Many evolutionists seem to think that they have reached a place in their intellectual pursuits where their knowledge replaces, and/or satisfies, man’s need for God. They have made science their god and they think that they are the priests who must bridge the gap between the lofty truth of science and the scientifically unenlightened common person.

Christianity is in danger of allowing a group of scientists, who do not believe in the existence of God, to inform us as to whether or not we should believe the biblical record. Does that make any sense at all? Is it wise to allow those who reject God to guide us in our understanding of Him? Of course not. 

Christians are truth-seekers and have nothing to fear from, and actually much praise for, true science. True science reveals the wonders of God’s world. Truth will not lead away from God; if it does, it is not truth. Often evolutionists try to frame the Christian faith as something we do contrary to the evidence. However, John Mark Reynolds offers this helpful thought, “Biblical faith is (among other things) a reasonable belief in the truth of an uncertain proposition. Faith makes decisions based on the provisional acceptance of ideas that could be wrong but that the believer has good reasons to believe are true” (Apologetics for a New Generation, Sean McDowell ed., Harvest House, 2009. p. 73)

Evolutionist scientists attempt to convince their audience that only science has the capacity to discern truth. Therefore, only they have the authority to deem something true or false. However, if the Bible is what most Christians believe it to be, the Word of God, then it has precedence over any of man’s thoughts and ideas.

Jesus, speaking to God on behalf of His disciples, said, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17 ESV). Christians are to take God’s Word as truth. The trustworthiness of the Bible is one way the Christian knows God created the universe. Remember, both evolutionists and creationists are looking at the very same scientific evidence. Evolutionists, when speaking of origins, can only express their opinions and beliefs, they have no evidence that proves or disproves the existence of God. Yet, they continue to deny His existence. Therefore, it is not a matter of evidence keeping them from God, but a hardheartedness and unwillingness to repent:
"But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:5 ESV)

"They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” (Ephesians 4:18 ESV)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

How To Stop Mass Shootings

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

The only way to stop mass shootings, or any other crime, is for humans to have a change of heart.  As long as there are people who persist in rebellion against our Creator, crimes (and criminal behavior) will continue.  Murder, rape, assault, theft, adultery, etc. will not only continue but will increase as society worsens and begins to look upon many of these sins as ‘normal’.

Secular culture believes that criminal behavior can be stopped through incarceration and/or psychological treatment.  They believe that people are inherently ‘good’ and that they simply need encouragement to act that way. And, if that doesn’t work, those who persist in their criminal ways can be locked up.

Jesus, when warning about false prophets, said this, “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-18).

Jesus also tells us that even the words that come out of our mouths originate from our true self, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil” (Matthew 12:34-35). If our words have their source in who we really are, how much more will our actions stem from the very same place?

Therefore; if we are to truly, and permanently, alter our speech and our actions, there is simply no other way to do it than to have our innermost self changed.

Bad Fruit
The Bible (given to us by the Creator/Lord of the universe) is clear on how an unchanged heart manifests itself on the outside of a person.  It tells us that the wicked speak wickedness (I Samuel 24:13) and Isaiah 32:6 tells us that, “…a fool speaks nonsense, And his heart inclines toward wickedness: To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the Lord, To keep the hungry person unsatisfied And to withhold drink from the thirsty” (Isaiah 32:6).

The New Testament contrasts ‘living by the flesh’ with ‘living by the Spirit’.  ‘Living by the flesh’ is living a life apart from God, in rebellion against His lordship and authority.   ‘Living by the Spirit’ is a life lived as forgiven sinners under the lordship of Jesus Christ.  We read these words in the book of Galatians, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).  It is clear that actions such as the mass shootings we have witnessed of late, are the ‘fruit’ of a life lived apart from, and in rebellion against, our Creator God.

Good Fruit
Jesus promises that those who are His followers will exhibit the good ‘fruit’ of the Spirit (John 15:2-16): “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

Continuing the contrast between the deeds of the ‘flesh’ and the fruits of the ‘Spirit’, the New Testament tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24).  A person who is living under the guidance and rule of Jesus Christ will not commit the heinous acts of violence we are hearing about more and more often in our day.

Christians are instructed to live according to the renewed heart they have been given, “...for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth)...” (Ephesians 5:8-9).

Every day, by continuing in rebellion against a Holy God, our society chooses to support the cultural climate which fosters a mindset (heart condition) from which senseless, evil acts of violence emanate.  If we are truly concerned with putting a stop to these terrible tragedies, isn’t it time we considered the only course of action which will guarantee their cessation?

Isn’t it time we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ and allow Him to change the hearts of the people from evil to loving?   That truly is our only hope.

*All Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible

The Reason Mass Shootings Occur

It has happened again.  Heartless mass shootings and the terrible aftermath in their wake.  It seems like these types of things are happening with increasing frequency.  An article in the Washington Post say that, as of December 3, 2015, “There have been more mass shootings than calendar days  this year. News reports collected by a Reddit community show there have been 355 mass shootings in 2015” (1).

Another article in the Washington Post says that the reason mass shooting will continue is simple, “Americans own more guns per-capita than people in literally any other country on earth” (2).  However, is that true?  Is the reason some people choose to kill others simply because guns exist?

More often than not, someone will say that we need stricter gun laws to curb this kind of tragic behavior. However, stricter gun laws will only insure that law-abiding citizens will be unarmed and that criminals, who are law-breakers by definition, will still be armed…and dangerous. 

Only when the evil heart of humanity is changed by the love of God will these kinds of senseless and brutal acts cease.

Jesus addressed this very issue, in one of His discourses recorded in the Gospels, when He said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders” (Matthew 15:19, see also Mark 7:21).  A heart in rebellion against God is an evil heart, out of which come evil thoughts and oftentimes evil actions.  Humanity’s natural inclination is to selfishness and lust; without some sort of powerful restraint, our natural human condition will foster these types of tragic behavior.

In the New Testament book of Romans, the Apostle Paul speaks of this ‘heart condition’:
“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving, The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  (Romans 3:9-18; see Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3).  While this paints a bleak picture of the heart of humanity, we must remember that this is God declaring the truth about our condition.  We tend to think that we “aren’t so bad”, but God gives us an accurate account.

God has already judged the entire human race once; and what was the reason for this judgment? Genesis 6:5 tells us, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”.  Watching the evening news, one could get the idea that we aren’t all that far from being in the same condition today as those folks were in Genesis just before God’s judgment fell on them.

“Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes” (Psalm 36:1). The reason people act so terribly is that they are in rebellion against the Holy God who created them.  When we refuse to live as God prescribes, the only result we can hope for is a dysfunctional, self-absorbed, lustful, violent culture…much like the one in which we currently live. As long as we deny that the human heart is wicked and in need of radical change, the kind of change only Jesus Christ can provide, these mass shootings and other terrible evils, will continue.

All Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Christians Can Defend Their Faith Without Being Offensive

It is easy to get disheartened when sharing the good news of the Gospel with those who respond negatively. The Christian's prayer is that the hearer will come to a saving relationship with Christ. However, too many times the immediate result is not only to have the hearer reject the good news, but reject us along with it. I Peter 3:13-16 should be of some encouragement concerning this subject.

"Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled…" (v. 13-14). This passage begins with a word of comfort. First, it reminds us to be cognizant of whom it is who is coming against us. Those with whom we debate are usually hostile to God and, if someone is hostile to God, there is a very good chance they will, at least initially, be hostile to those who come in His name. Remember, unbelievers do not have the presence of the Holy Spirit giving them the peace and patience that these types of discussions require. It is up to the believer to maintain a loving attitude no matter what insults or ridicule may be slung at him.

This brings us to another point, the way to be prepared for these kinds of debates, "…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy…" (v. 15a). We should constantly cultivate our relationship with Jesus, so that in any situation we will respond as He would. Throughout our debates and discussions with unbelievers, as well as every moment of our lives, believers must follow Jesus as our guiding example. We are never justified in being crass, mocking, insulting, or hurtful in any way when attempting to share the truth of God with anyone. We must conduct ourselves as Jesus would if He were us.

Peter continues with a mandate for the defense of our beliefs, "…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…" (v. 15b). The Christian must be to explain why he believes what he believes. God gave us brains with which to think, He provided evidence of His existence in nature (Romans 1:18-23), and He supplies specific revelation of Himself through His prophets and apostles recorded in the Bible (II Peter 1:19-21). The believer should prepare to defend the Gospel (Jude 1:3). This is done through Bible study, prayer, meditation on the Word of God, and making use of the many helpful apologetics schools, courses, and websites available to us.

We are to be bold in our defense of our faith, "…yet do it with gentleness and respect…" (v. 15c). Too many times Christians resort to the same crude, sarcastic, ridiculing attitude that the non-believer exhibits in debates or discussions. Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen reminds us that, "Ridicule, anger, sarcasm, and name-calling are inappropriate weapons of apologetical defense. A Spirit-filled apologist will evidence the fruits of the Spirit in his approach to others." (Always Ready, American Vision, 1996. p. 251) This means that we are to be so filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit that it is really He who is communicating His message through us.

Even when we do our best to convince unbelievers of the truth of the Gospel, they may still reject it. However, if we have conducted ourselves as Christ directed, we should feel no shame or guilt over the results of our attempt. Peter encourages us once more by reminding us that we should live our lives, "…having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" (v. 16).

Therefore, we are to be faithful to share the Gospel with others, defending it when necessary. First Peter 3:13-16 tells us that we should be fearless in standing for the Truth, gentle in our methods, and confident that whatever the outcome of our debates or discussions may be, if we have conducted ourselves as Jesus leads, we need not be ashamed or defeated. In the end, the Truth will be victorious.

(All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version of the Bible)

Why Christians Debate Non-believers.

Why is it important for Christians to engage non-believers in discussions about morality, science, and a host of other topics? The Christian believes in the message of the Bible and that we are commissioned to share the good news of God’s love with others.

The motivation fueling our never-ending discussions with non-believers is not simply to win an argument. We engage in discussion and debate in order to remove barriers to faith for those honestly seeking answers; and to help strengthen the faith of believers.

Sean McDowell, in Apologetics for a New Generation, writes, “The bottom line is this: Apologetics for a new generation must be more concerned about winning people than winning arguments” (Apologetics for a New Generation. Sean McDowell. Harvest House Publishers. 2009. p. 96). Christians must keep in mind that our main purpose in any debate or discussion is to help others see the truth of God’s love and His great offer of salvation from our sinful condition.

The following is a condensed version of basic Christian beliefs we try to share with others:

1. God’s original creation was perfect.
“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31 ESV)

2. Man rebelled in Genesis 3 and the perfect world began suffering the effects of sin. The natural world was cursed as well as man himself. Many today continue to reject and rebel against God.

“...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...” (Romans 3:23 ESV)

“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23 ESV)

3. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross in order to pay for our sins.
“…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV)

“...Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures...” (I Corinthians 15:3-5 ESV)

4. This gift is not earned, but is received by faith [trust, belief, commitment] in Jesus Christ.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

We share the love of God with others because we are first loved by Him. Just like everyone else, we were once lost in sin and headed for an eternity of misery separated from God. However, God came out of heaven, dressed in the flesh of humanity, so He could take the punishment caused by the sin that stood between Him and us.

Truth be told, if losing EVERY debate would insure more people would trust Jesus with their lives and gain eternity, most Christians would gladly be labeled “losers”.

Speaking The Truth In Love.

Biblical Christian Counsel
How should the Christian respond when he or she knows that something must be said to someone that is not going to be welcomed. When the Christian feels that God is prompting them to engage, or confront, someone about a sensitive issue, how is the Christian to proceed?  What is the basic axiom that should guide the Christian as he or she attempts to counsel, witness, reprove, or otherwise engage in the biblical correction of another person?

The Truth in Love
The Bible tells us that we should, "Speak the truth in love." (Ephesians 4:15)

This is a two-sided action. First, what we say must be the truth. We must be sure that what we are about to say is what God wants us to say. We should be sure that it is God approved, as it were. Much prayer should have gone on before any words are uttered.

The other half of this action is that the encounter must be motivated by love and carried out in the spirit of love. It cannot be a heavy handed, holier-than-thou, confrontation that does more harm than good.

God's Help, Not Self Help
Turning a person's focus in on themselves instead of toward God is not helpful. It actually results in making oneself into an idol; relying more on self than on God. The power needed to change the heart is spiritual power which only comes through an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Apart from God we can do nothing to rescue ourselves.

Focusing on Symptoms
We also must not promote a cure that consists of fixing the symptoms to make a person feel better without addressing the real problem. A doctor would not be considered very good if he/she merely treated the symptoms of an illness while never addressing the actual illness itself. This would be deception of a most dangerous kind.

How much more dangerous to convince someone that they are innocent in God's eyes when in reality they are guilty (Romans 3:10) and deserving of His judgment?

A Balance
Whenever we seek to counsel, console, or reprove anyone, we need to maintain the balance between truth and love. We must not sacrifice the truth in the name of love, nor should we deliver the truth in a less than loving manner.

By "speaking the truth in love" we are able to encourage people in their walk with God and not push them away from Him by employing a mean, judgmental attitude.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What about Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?

The concern for those who have never heard the Gospel is common for believers everywhere. We should do all that the Lord leads us to do to get the Gospel message to everyone we can; however, there will be some, and have been some, who will never hear the Gospel in their lifetime. Let me lay out some foundational biblical truths that should guide us in our thinking on this subject.

First, we need to remember that God loves humanity enough to send His Son to die on a cross for our sins (I John 2:2, 4:10). Therefore, God cares about those who have not clearly had the Gospel preached to them as much as He cares about those who have heard it. The truth is that God is good to us all; He gave us life and, even after we rebelled against Him, sent His Son to provide payment for our sins, so that we can have our sins forgiven and have eternal life with God forever, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17 NASB).

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross made salvation possible. So, anyone who is saved is saved because of Jesus, He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). If God chooses to save some who only respond to what they know of God, it is still based on Jesus’ payment for our sins (Acts 4:12).

The Old Testament saints had never heard of Jesus. They trusted and obeyed God and He counted this as righteousness (Romans 4:3). They had no righteousness of their own, but their faithfulness allowed God to apply Jesus’ later sacrifice on the cross to them in order that they could be forgiven, “Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).

In his book, On Guard, William Lane Craig deals with this question in the chapter titled, Is Jesus the Only Way to God? with this idea: since God knows each person’s personality, character, and even what their response would be if confronted with the Gospel massage, He places each person in his or her life in such a way for them to have the best opportunity to respond to God’s call to salvation.  Mr. Craig bases his theory, in part, on this passage of Scripture, “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;” (Acts 17:26-27). This passage seems to be saying that God has sovereignly guided, and is still guiding, situations and circumstances to bring each person to a place where they can choose to follow God or choose to reject Him.

The concern for those who have never heard the Gospel is at the heart of missions. That is why Christians send people out into all parts of the world with the message of Jesus Christ. However, if we are unable (or unwilling) to reach some, does God deal with them differently? I really don’t know. What I do know is that the God of the Bible is love. The God of the Bible is Holy. The God of the Bible is just. Therefore, a loving, holy, just God will deal fairly with all of us.

New American Standard Bible
Craig, William Lane. On Guard. David C. Cook Publishing, 2010.

Worldviews, choices, and destinations.

There are two competing foundational worldviews; each one containing radically different end results. 

One worldview, the naturalist/humanist/secular worldview, tells us that we came into being by accident (not guided by intelligence), that the only purpose we have is the purpose we give ourselves, and that we are responsible to no higher being or cause.

The competing worldview, the Biblical worldview, claims that humans were created by God, for His purposes, and that we are accountable to Him.  This worldview tells us that we have failed to live as God required, thus incurring His judgment, but that He has also provided the way whereby we may be reconciled to Him.

The naturalistic camp believes that science has proven their viewpoint to be true; however, they still have no explanation for our existence except to believe that “it just happened”…no rhyme, no reason…just a cosmic accident that somehow (without intelligent guidance) organized itself into everything we see today.  This theory requires faith in the proposition that ‘nothing arranged itself over millions (perhaps billions) of years into the incredibly complex universe existing today’.

Those who believe a Biblical worldview see the evidence of intelligence all around us.  The intricacies of the flower and the eyeball offer clear testimony of design.  The idea of everything simply ‘evolving’ and ‘improving’ (especially when science actually tells us that our universe is headed the opposite direction; becoming increasingly disorganized and chaotic) into the universe in which we now live stretches the very bounds of cognitive activity let alone common sense.

Make no mistake; each of these worldviews requires ‘faith’.  One either places that ‘faith’ in an all-powerful and wise Creator God as being responsible for our existence, and to whom we are ultimately accountable, or our ‘faith’ is place in random accidental occurrences governed by nothing (or governed by the “laws of physics” which came about by those same random accidental occurrences), with no purpose, headed nowhere.

The Bible tells us that the end result of a life lived according to each of these worldviews is radically different.  The naturalist/humanist/secular viewpoint is described as a gate that is, “…wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it” (Matthew 7:13).  The Biblical worldview is portrayed as a gate that is, “…small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14).  So, in essence, what we are confronted with is the choice between ‘destruction’ and ‘life’.  When seen in this way, does anyone truly desire ‘destruction’?

God has given each of us the responsibility, and ability, and opportunity to choose which worldview we will adopt.  He loves each of us and wants us to have a saving, loving relationship with Him; but, He leaves the decision up to us: we can follow the wide gate that leads to destruction or we can follow the narrow gate (by trusting in Jesus Christ and living for Him) that leads to life now and for eternity.

As Moses told the Israelite people after explaining the inevitability of this choice, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him…” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NASB).

There is no more serious decision to be made.

New American Standard Bible

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What Does the Lord Require of You?

Some of us are acutely aware of the shortcomings, failures, and inadequacies in our lives. When the Holy Spirit is working on our consciences, we also become aware of our guilt in the eyes of God. The Bible says that, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NASB). To be clear, this sin that separates us from God, applies to everyone, “...through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NASB). Therefore, since we all find ourselves in this condition, how should we respond?

The prophet Micah asked the same question in the Old Testament: “With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6-7 NASB). Notice that, when one realizes his or her guilt before God, the initial response is to perform some outward duty. The offerings listed in this passage are intentionally exaggerated in order to make the point that outward actions, no matter how grand, are no substitute for our inward condition.

Therefore, Micah replies: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NASB). In another passage, we find: “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NASB) and “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6 NASB). These traits are traits that originate in a heart that loves God. One cannot truly love justice, kindness, be humble, love God, love one’s neighbor, be loyal, possess the knowledge of God, walk in His ways, and obey His commandments if one’s heart has not been changed by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Outward observances mean nothing if one’s heart, mind, and life have not been surrendered to the will of God.

In New Testament times, we fulfill this humble surrendering by bowing to the Lord Jesus Christ. We trust in Him for our salvation; believing that He died on a cross to pay for our sins, the sins that separate us from God. Only when we truly submit to Him does our worship truly mean anything at all. Then we enter into personal saving relationship and gain eternal life.

“For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2 NASB)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Arguments From Atheists, Part 3

Atheists are determined to disprove the existence of God. They attempt to promote arguments that suggest there is evidence that God does not exist. A reader, in the comment section of one of my articles, supplied me with several of these arguments.  While everyone will not accept all of my reasons, they are offered in the spirit of love with the hope that those who are truly seeking answers will realize that they do exist for these challenges and that believing in God is not unreasonable.

Atheist Argument: The omnipotence paradox suggests that the concept of an omnipotent God is logically contradictory, from considering a question like: “Can God create a rock so big that He cannot move it?” or “If God is all powerful, could God create a being more powerful than Himself?”.
Response: This argument proves that the atheist asking them does not truly want an answer.  These are simply smokescreens meant to muddy up real discussion about God, His character, and His attributes.  J. Warner Wallace writes, “When someone asks, “Can the all-powerful Christian God create a stone so heavy he cannot lift it?” they are asking a logically incoherent question. It is the equivalent of asking, “Can God create a ‘square circle’?” Circles and squares are mutually exclusive by their very definition. As a result, the question nonsensically queries the creation of something similarly nonsensical. God cannot create square circles for the same reason He cannot sin; He acts dependably in a manner consistent with His moral and logical nature, and our universe is the beneficiary of God’s dependable nature. Those who ask logically incoherent questions of this kind are requiring God to violate His nature (His logical coherency) in order to demonstrate His nature (His power)” [1].  Logic is a reflection of God’s unchanging nature; therefore, He will act in a logical manner.  Although God is omnipotent, the Bible does say that there are certain things He cannot do. He cannot sin (James 1:3); He cannot change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17); He cannot deny Himself (II Timothy 2:13).  Does this mean God is not omnipotent?  No, it simply means that He acts according to His nature. 

Atheist Argument: The Omniscience paradox. “If God is omnipotent, then he should be able to change the future to an “alternate future” that is unknown to him, conflicting with his omniscience” Similarly, an omniscient God would know the position of all atoms in the universe over its ~14 billion-year history as well as its infinite future. To know that, God’s memory needs to be bigger than the infinite set of possible states in the current Universe.
Response: Simply because we cannot comprehend the immense power and ability of God does not mean He does not/cannot exist.  It makes good sense to consider that God, Who is capable of creating the universe, is able to do far more than we are able to wrap our minds around.  The argument about an omniscient (all-knowing) God creating something He does not know is a self-defeating argument; much like “can God create something that is uncreated”, simply an exercise in word play…nothing more.  There are also many unfounded assumptions contained in this argument: the universe has not been proven to be 14 billion years old, yet this argument makes that assumption in an attempt to bolster its case.  One could also contend that humans do not know how big God’s memory needs to be to do anything.  These are meaningless shots in the dark that do not contain facts, only fantasy.

Atheist Argument: The “No Reason” Argument tries to show that an omnipotent and omniscient God would not have any reason to act in any way, specifically by creating the universe, because He would have no needs, wants, or desires since these very concepts are subjectively human. Since the Universe exists, there is a contradiction, and therefore, an omnipotent God cannot exist.
Response: The only reason God has for acting in a certain way is simply because He chooses to act in that way.  It is amazing that we sometimes think we have the right to determine how God should or should not act.  If God cannot act as He chooses, He is not God.  Humanity shows its arrogance when we say that we have decided, by using our fallible reasoning capabilities, that God should have done this or that He shouldn’t have done that.  God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding...” (Job 38:4 NASB).  God is pointing out the fact that He did not ask our opinion when He created the universe and everything in it; therefore, who do we think we are to question Him? 
As to the idea that ‘need, wants or desires’ are ‘subjectively human’; is it reasonable to believe that an all mighty God has no feelings?  The Bible clearly says that God loves us, it speaks of His anger and His wrath against sin and evil doers, He can grieve…are these not feelings?  He certainly would have no needs because He is God, but we know He has desires because the Bible clearly says so, “God, our savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3-4 NASB).  Whereas many of our wants and desires are sinful, God has no wants or desires that are contrary to His holy nature.  But it is not we who decide God’s nature; He created us, not the other way around.

There will come a time when we are all judged by God, are you ready? “...the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified...” (II Thessalonians 1:7-10 NASB).


Arguments From Atheists, Part 2

Atheistic, anti-God arguments abound.  This article presents several of these arguments, along with Christian responses. These responses are offered in the spirit of love with the hope that those who are truly seeking answers will realize that they do exist for these challenges and that believing in God is not unreasonable.

Atheist Argument: The Argument from Poor Design contests the idea that God created life on the basis that life forms, including humans, seem to exhibit poor design.
Response: And what would be a better design?  Since God is all-powerful and all-knowing would it not be reasonable to believe that He created us the best way that He himself saw fit?  Once again, this atheistic argument spotlights the arrogance of humanity.  We somehow think that we know better than God; we think that we could have done a better job than God.  This begs the question, “How would we have done it?”  We cannot create a single life, let alone all the plants, animals, and humans in the world.  We have never made a planet, nor can we, yet we feel that we have the right to criticize God’s creation.  We must keep in mind something else; the world we observe today has suffered the degenerative effects of thousands of years of sin and corruption.  What we see in the world around us is not in the same condition as when God created it.  God deemed the universe “very good” when He first made it (Genesis 1:31).  I Timothy 4:4 tells us, “For everything created by God is good” (NASB).  God created everything just as He wanted it; it is due to the effects of sin that we have so much heartache, disease, death, etc. in the world today.

Atheist Argument: The Problem of Evil contests the existence of a god who is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent by arguing that such a god should not permit the existence of evil or suffering.
Response: God created us and endowed us with freedom.  However, freedom is not real freedom if we do not have choices.  God gave us the ability to choose; we can choose good or we can choose evil.  The first humans chose to disobey God and sin entered our existence (Genesis 3; Romans 5).  Our sinfulness is the root of evil and suffering.  If we really care about it, why don’t we change?  We have no one to blame but ourselves.  The Bible tells us that God can change our very nature if we will simply repent of our sins and live for Him, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (II Corinthians 5:17 NASB).  When a person is changed by God in this manner, he or she no longer surrenders to the sinful lusts and temptations that so often cause people to act in a less-than-loving manner. 

Atheist Argument: The Problem of Hell is the idea that eternal damnation for actions committed in a finite existence contradicts God’s omnibenevolence or omnipresence.
Response: This argument does not take into consideration how God views sin.  He sees sin as a serious enough offense that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross in order that our sins could be forgiven (John 3:16-17).  Love, or benevolence, is not God’s only quality.  God is also concerned, among other things, with justice.  When one understands that God has done all that is required for us to stay out of Hell, and that the only reason anyone goes to Hell is because of their own choice to reject God’s offer of salvation, it is clear that the sentence of eternal damnation ends up being a self-chosen destiny. We should also keep in mind the difference between ‘torment’ (which is part of the biblical doctrine of Hell) and ‘torture’ (which is not part of the biblical doctrine of Hell).  J. Warner Wallace explains, “The Bible says those who are delivered into Hell will be tormented, and the degree to which they will suffer is described in dramatic, illustrative language. But, the scripture never describes Hell as a place where God or His angels are actively “torturing” the souls of the rebellious. “Torture” is the sadistic activity that is often perpetrated for the mere joy of it. “Torment” results from a choice on the part of the person who finds himself (or herself) suffering the consequences. One can be in constant torment over a decision made in the past, without being actively tortured by anyone”. [1]

Atheist Argument: The Anthropic Argument states that if God is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect, He would have created other morally perfect beings instead of imperfect humans.
Again, I am amazed that some, who deny the existence of God, are arrogant enough to believe they can claim they know what a good and holy God would, or would not, do.  What these people are really doing is setting themselves up as a higher authority than God (at least in their own minds).  The truth is that God could have created humans any way He wanted; however, He chose to create the humans He created.  It was His choice.  Now, because humans have a choice, they can choose wrongly.  We often do choose wrongly, does this mean that there is no God?  Just because your car breaks down does that mean that no one designed and built your car?  Certainly not.  Our bad choices are not evidence against God’s existence.

Atheist Argument: The Argument from Non-belief contests the existence of an omnipotent God who wants humans to believe in him by arguing that such a god would do a better job of gathering believers.
Response:  The Bible teaches that everyone receives the knowledge that God exists. God made it unavoidable that everyone knows of His existence. The Bible tells us that, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1 ESV). The handiwork that points to an incredibly intelligent source is apparent all around us. One would have to be willfully ignorant to attribute all the intricacies found in nature to random chance.  We see this reinforced in the biblical book of Romans, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20 ESV).

The Holy Spirit is even now touching the hearts of people so that they might realize their sinful condition, the inevitable coming judgment, and their need of a Savior.  Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:8-11 ESV). The Spirit works on the conscience of every individual; making it clear to each person that there is such a thing as sin, that we are responsible to a Creator, and that we will be judged someday. Contrary to the premise of this atheist argument, God has made it impossible NOT to know He exists.  However, He has given us each a choice whether to acknowledge Him or to reject Him.  Atheists may not believe in God, but, according to the Bible, they cannot say they never knew they should.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17 NASB).


Rejecting Jesus is to reject wisdom and knowledge

The news is filled with heinous acts of hate, debauchery, callousness, and downright evil. We are no longer surprised with filthy sexual acts or the horrible ways in which one person treats another. Extramarital affairs are rampant and, more times than not, are merely winked at by those not personally affected by the acts of unfaithfulness. Our moral standards have plummeted in the last few decades, they show no sign of slowing down their sick slide, and there are factions within our society that would have us accept this behavior as normal.

The Bible tells us that it is in Christ, “ whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3 ESV). It is impossible to wise, or to have true knowledge, apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ. We may gather facts, we may learn information; however, the ability to wisely utilize those facts and information for their intended purpose, the glory of God, will elude us. We will turn the best discoveries will eventually be used for less than moral purposes…think about it for a minute. How many good, wholesome inventions/discoveries/research are being considered as weapons of warfare?

The Bible is clear about the source of wisdom and knowledge, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10 ESV; Psalm 111:10) and, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7 ESV). When we reject God, we reject the foundation of wisdom and knowledge.

True morality is grounded in a Holy God. As a society rebels against this holy God, it drifts further and further away from that morality and begins to construct a moral standard of its own. They believe they have the right to make their own rules and do whatever they want with no consequences. However, God says that the consequence of rejecting Him is His judgment, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18 ESV).

As people reject God, His will, and His ways, they lose their ability to reason correctly. They lose their moral compass, and they lose any semblance of the image of God given to each of us. It is this image of God that empowers our reasoning faculty and gives us the ability to act humanely. Those who reject God become little more than animals, living to satisfy their lusts and desires, with the motivating drive of their lives only to feed their selfish passions. And they believe they are right, “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth” (Proverbs 30:12 ESV).

Those who reject the lordship of Jesus Christ are cutting themselves off from the true source of knowledge and wisdom and are wilfully courting madness.

Scientific discovery offers more confirmation of Bible's accuracy

The Bible tells us that God judged humanity with a worldwide flood in the days of Noah. Skeptics have often ridiculed the biblical account based partly on their disbelief that the earth could produce enough water to flood the entire planet and, even if it did, where did the water go?

“In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11). “The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained” Genesis 8: 2. The Bible tells us that the Flood of Noah’s day was real, and science is once again providing evidence of how it could have happened.

Skeptics have long pointed to their belief that there is not enough water on earth for a global flood. A recently published discovery may shed some light on that question. A geochemist at the University of Alberta in Canada published his findings on March 12, 2014 that indicate there is a very large amount of water trapped underground in the Earth’s crust.

This report suggests that there could be a vast store of water in the mantle transition zone, which stretches from 254 to 410 miles deep. Graham Pearson, lead study author and a geochemist at the University of Alberta in Canada, said that his research, “…translates into a very, very large mass of water, approaching the sort of mass of water that’s present in all the world’s ocean.” (1)

This is not the first time this cache of water has been noted by the scientific community. In 2007, Dr. Michael E. Wysession, professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University (St. Louis), discovered a large area of water underneath Asia, “…at least the volume of the Arctic Ocean” . (2)

All of the scientific, archaeological, and historical discoveries that have been made, by secular scientists as well as Christian scientists, have all confirmed the historical accuracy of the Bible. Even the so-called creation/evolution debate is really a disagreement of worldviews, both groups of scientists have access to the very same evidence; they simply interpret it differently.

All this being said, the Bible’s authenticity and authority are not derived from the approval of science. If it is found that the Earth’s mantle is as dry as a desert sand dune, the Bible will remain God’s Word. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Bible was ‘breathed out’ by God. Second Peter 1:21 tells us that God (the Holy Spirit) moved men to write down what God wanted them to write. Too many times we are quick to accept unbelieving scientist’s opinions over the Word of God, when we should be interpreting the findings of science according to a biblical worldview.



Is homosexuality the “unforgivable” sin?

Often, Christians are accused of treating homosexuality as the most important issue facing humanity today. We are accused, and many times rightly, of claiming that homosexuality is the worst sin imaginable and, oftentimes, the one sin for which there is no forgiveness available. While the Bible clearly labels homosexuality as a sin, two points need to be made as clear as possible.

All sin is sin.
Every human being is a sinner. Every human being sins. In man’s eyes, there are some sins that are worse than others. However, in God’s eyes (which is what matters) we are all guilty of sin…period. This sin separates us from Him and, if we do not repent and commit our lives to serving God, guarantees us an eternity of misery (Matthew 25:46). Therefore, while many choose to point fingers at those living homosexual lifestyles as being worse sinners than others, any sin is enough to ruin our relationship with God (James 2:10).

First Corinthians 6 presents a list of sins that bar our entrance into the kingdom of God. This list includes much more than just homosexuality, although homosexuality is included. This list is not all-inclusive, nor is it ranked by levels of sin. The list includes: the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers (verses 9-10 ESV). This passage tells us that this type of conduct prevents us from being forgiven of our sins and reconnecting with our Creator. In other words, when we choose to live in these sinful manners, we choose to be separated from God, both in this life and eternity (II Thessalonians 1:9).

No sin is unforgivable.
Directly after presenting the list of sins that prevent people from entering the kingdom of God, we find this passage addressed to the Corinthian Christians, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11 ESV).

This passage clearly tells us a couple of things. First, while we may look upon certain sins as worse than other sins, God sees all sin as that which separates us from Him. James 2:10 is clear when it says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (ESV). The sin of lying damns one just as surely as the sin of adultery.

Secondly, God can, and will, forgive any and all of these sins. An adulterer, a liar, a thief, or a homosexual can be forgiven if they will repent and live for the Lord. The writer of this passage says clearly that his readers were once sinners who participated in these types of sins, and were prevented from entering the kingdom of God; nevertheless, they are now forgiven, citizens of the God’s kingdom. No sin is unforgivable.

Therefore, while Christians must continue to speak out against sin in the world, we must remember that we too were sinners, guilty before God, with no excuse. We were saved and forgiven by the grace of God. We should humbly share this grace, found in the good news that Jesus has paid for our sins on a cross, with a lost and hurting world that needs very much to hear it.

Karma or Consequences?

Bad things happen to people. It is a fact. Terrible things have happened to good people. Why? There are some who believe that it is ‘karma’. Even if one does not think he or she believes in ‘karma’ the concept may lie hidden in their thinking and express itself in statements such as “He got what he deserved”, “What comes around, goes around”, and “Looks like fate caught up with him”.

The definition of ‘karma’ is “the force created by a person’s actions that is believed in Hinduism and Buddhism to determine what that person’s next life will be like” or “the force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person”. In other words, some people believe that we live multiple lives, one after the other, and what we did a previous life affects the life we are living today. There is no such thing as Karma in the Bible. The Bible says that we live one time on this earth and then we move into eternity (Hebrews 9:27), either in Heaven or in Hell, depending on our relationship with God.

Karma is a system of gaining salvation by what one does. True salvation comes from a relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ. No one can work their way to Heaven, forgiveness, salvation, etc. The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB). Karma says that you can do good in one life and reap the benefits in a later life. The Bible says that is untrue.

So, even though there is no such thing as Karma, we do suffer the consequences of our actions in this life. God created the universe, and us, to function in certain ways. He gave us laws to live by. When we reject His standards, we suffer the consequences. Adam and Eve rejected God’s rule way back in the Garden of Eden and this put all humanity outside the will of God. Now, we all suffer because we are born into a sin filled world with a tendency to sin. The Bible makes it clear that we cannot be good enough to deserve salvation, forgiveness, Heaven, eternal life, or whatever one may call it. We cannot point to someone else and say, “Well, look how bad he is, I’m much better than that”, because the Bible tells us, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10 NASB). One sin is enough to separate us from a right relationship with God.

God wants us to turn our lives over to God and trust Him for all we need. He is bigger than anything we will ever face in life. We won’t have to ‘take the pain’ of living in a fallen world; rather, we can lay our pain on Him. The Bible says that there is, “…no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2 ESV). He forgives our sins. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 ESV). A life lived within a relationship with Jesus, is a life lived fully, peacefully, and in harmony with God’s plan for our lives.

The worst consequence of sin is that we are separated from God because of it and we have to account for the sin we commit. Nevertheless, God provided a way to be made right with Him; Jesus Christ paid for your sins and mine when He died on a cross some 2000 years ago. When we unite ourselves with Him, through faith, ours sins are forgiven and we receive joy, peace, strength, and everything that comes with a life that is in tune with the Creator of the universe. This relationship will not make all our problems disappear, but God will supply the strength to endure whatever we face in our lives.

The only way to be free, truly free, is to live a life dedicated to Jesus Christ. Then, we can say with the apostle Paul, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 ESV).

When it comes to believing in God, I'm skeptical

When it comes to God, I’m a sceptic. I’m not skeptical about God though. I know He is real. What I am skeptical about is that anyone can truly understand who He is and not be changed. Most people would say they ‘believe’ in God; but that can’t be true given that this ‘belief’ has no practical effect on their lives. If one utters the phrase “Sure, I believe in God” while they continue to live a life void of worship towards Him, that phrase is a lie or the one uttering it is deceiving themselves into believing that mere verbal assent is all that is required for a relationship with the all mighty Creator of the universe ["But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves" (James 1:22 NASB)]

When one understands the nature, character, holiness, power, and love of the true God, how is it possible to refuse to live for Him? No one knows the true God if they can continue to live lifestyles that are in direct conflict with God’s will as revealed in His Word, the Bible [“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15 NASB)].

An example is in order: if you believe that drinking a certain liquid concoction will kill you, are you going to drink it? Not if you want to live, you won’t. Why? Because your belief causes you to act in a certain manner. What one believes about God will cause that person to act in a certain manner also. If you believe in the God of the Bible, you will understand that He is a loving, holy God to Whom you owe everything. Therefore, you dedicate your life to Him. If you do not believe in the God of the Bible, you simply go about doing whatever your selfish desires and lusts lead you to do, possibly even claiming that, “Oh yes, I believe in God”. But, you don’t.

What’s that you say? “But there is evidence that I can see in the example you gave, I can’t see evidence for God.” You see it all the time, every day, in everything. You simply choose to attribute it to something else. The intricacies we see in nature you attribute to an unintelligent chance/coincidence rather than rightly giving God the credit. The simple fact that we understand there is good and evil in this world points to a Source of morality that transcends our own being. If we were making the rules, we would certainly make rules that were easy to keep. Why construct moral absolutes that we must struggle to maintain? Oh, for the sake of humanity. Why is there anything within us that cares about humanity? Because God is love (I John 4:7-8) and His love motivates us to care about others, that’s why.

When it comes to the God of the Bible, there are some who say, “I don’t believe in a god like that”. Then they do not believe in God.

When speaking of some sin or another, some will offer, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with that”. Then they do not believe in God.

You may believe in a god of your own imagination, but you don’t believe in the one true God. We can fashion a god of our own liking; however, that god is not real…there is only one God.

Or you may simply be saying you believe when, in fact, you do not. Deceiving others into believing you believe is not the same as believing. Believe it.

Think about this: you would not be here except for God; He created the universe in which you live and holds it together, He created you, he sustains you millisecond by millisecond. He created colors, smells, tastes, love, justice, logic and everything else that exists that is good [“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17 NASB)].

Therefore, if you are not living a life of obedience, love, and worship towards God, you really don’t believe He exists. It is impossible for any sane person to actually believe there exists an all-powerful entity (Who created us and is currently sustaining us, to Whom we owe everything, and to Whose plan we are ultimately responsible) and not be completely changed by that belief.

There is one way that a person can truly understand who God is and still not dedicate themselves to living for Him. Outright rebellion against Him. There are those who understand their responsibility and accountability to God but choose to reject His lordship instead. These people choose the path to eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46) willingly, knowing full well they are rejecting forgiveness and salvation simply so that they may selfishly continue feeding their own pursuits.

The next time you’re tempted to say you believe in God, think about what you’ve just read. Ask yourself if you really believe and if that belief directs your life or if you are merely deceiving yourself and/or others and your only god is the desires and lusts of your own selfish heart.

Ask yourself this: If there truly is a God as described in the Bible, what could be more important than knowing Him? Should anything come between you and the kind of relationship with God that He wants with you? Each of us has sinned against Him; this sin separates us from Him and leaves us guilty of rebellion against Him. Because of His great love, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross to pay for your sins and mine. When we repent of our sins and dedicate our lives to living for Him, we are forgiven of our sins and our eternal destination changes from eternal punishment to eternal life in paradise with Him. He has provided the means, but we must make the choice to either follow Him or continue in rebellion against Him. The choice is ours.

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15 NASB).

The future of our nation is in God’s hands.

There are things that most of us agree are wrong: child abuse, lying, murder, adultery, etc. These things, and more, are impressed upon our consciences as things that are inherently immoral. Most nations, peoples, tribes, etc. see these actions as negative.

Nevertheless, we see more and more that these morals, and many others, are being reevaluated and are no longer deemed to be as binding as before. Lying is often seen as a legitimate part of business dealings and is justified as the means to an end. “Hey”, it is supposed, “what’s a little lie when so much money is at stake?” And, believe it or not, there is a national organization that exists solely to try to make it legal for adult men to have sex with young boys…and this group’s point of view is being seriously considered by a large part of our society. And adultery is simply justified as a person’s fulfilling his or her inner desire for love and sex…albeit at the expense of his or her spouse and/or family.

Christians believe that high moral standards were written on our consciences by God, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-16 NASB). The fact that we view certain things as wrong is because God has instilled each of us with that knowledge. It is not the result of some random evolutionary process.

Nevertheless, many non-believers still consider these moral standards to be merely the product of evolutionary forces that exist to preserve the human species. However, the idea that matter ‘evolved’ into anything capable of constructing a set of morals seems a bit, oh, impossible, so it seems much more “reasonable” to ascribe the origin of these morals to God. Therefore; since God created these moral standards, then His opinion concerning them would be of the utmost importance for any sane person to consider.

So, how does God see the person who knowingly and willingly violates His standards of conduct? “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20 NASB). We see this antinomian attitude rampant in our culture today; people clearly thumbing their noses at God’s rules and living by their own lusts and desires. In this verse, God is warning those people that their sin and rebellion will not go unnoticed…or unpunished. Those people who say that the things God has clearly labeled as sin are really not sin, are not merely deluded, but condemned and the only hope they have of avoiding an eternity of misery (“punishment” Matthew 25:46) is to repent of their rebellion and dedicate their lives to following Jesus.

God tells us that even the act of encouraging someone else to break His rules is a sin, “...and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such [sins] are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32 NASB). These are the people who applaud the sinful lifestyles of others as they mock and ridicule the holy God and His followers. The Bible calls these people an ‘abomination’, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 17:15 NASB).

Our nation is quickly becoming a nation of people who not only reject God’s laws, but approve of others who do the same. We are becoming a nation of people who think nothing of creating our own set of rules and regulations that ignore, and often supplant, God’s standards. We are becoming a nation that, due to this rejection of God’s laws and our rebellion against Him, will soon suffer the judgment of God. Only by returning to God in repentance and dedication to Him can we hope to avert His wrath. Take to heart these words from God through the prophet Jeremiah concerning how God deals with entire nations of people, “At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it” (Jeremiah 18:7-10 NASB).

Our nation’s future is determined by the will and workings of God; if we love, worship, and obey Him our nation will be forgiven. If we continue to rebel against Him and reject His lordship, only judgment lies in our future. The choice is ours and we have no one to blame but ourselves. Choose wisely!!!

A Believer's New Year's Resolution

Every year, at this time, people make resolutions for the upcoming year. They vow to lose weight, quit smoking, make more money, etc. Many, if not most, of these resolutions are never kept. I would like to challenge Christians to make a resolution that they will keep; a resolution that will have eternal consequences.

Many Christians have been so influenced by the culture in which they live that they have become confused as to the difference between what the Bible teaches and what society says is right and wrong. Also, too many Christians believe that their political party’s agenda is a biblical agenda. It’s time that these believers returned to God, and His Word, to regain a clear picture of our responsibilities.

First of all, the Christian must detach himself or herself from the false ideologies of the world, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15 NASB). This does not mean that we are not to love the people of the world. It means that we are not to let anything hold a more important place in our lives than our relationship with God. When we let the ‘stuff’ of this world come between us and God, we are at risk of shipwrecking (I Timothy 1:19) our faith simply to indulge the pleasures, lusts, and desires of our sinful nature. Just consider what is considered morally right, by our society, today as compared with just 20 years ago. We are on a downhill slide into immorality.

Jesus clearly warned His followers about the powerful pull of the things of the world when He said, “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22 NASB). We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13); if he does, his allegiance will be divided. Your relationship with God hinges on whether or not you, “ the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30 NASB; cf. Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27).

We were created to live in a relationship with God where we live as He has determined. Of course, God has given us the choice to follow Him or to not follow Him; however, each of those choices comes with tremendous consequences. If we choose to reject God, and His will for our lives, we face the consequence of an eternity separated from Him and His love…in other words: Hell!!! However, if we choose to love and worship God as Lord and Creator of the universe, we can look forward to an eternity of life lived with the God who loves us enough to have sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross for our sins.

In order to do God’s will, we need to know His will, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding...” (Colossians 1:9 NASB). The Bible says that those who do not know the will of God are ‘foolish’, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17 NASB). So, how to we know the will of God?

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12 1-2 NASB). The two-step process involved in knowing God’s will is this: first, realize that God is sovereign and deserves our worship. We are not the rulers of the universe (face it, we can’t even control our own thought life); we are to worship God, who is that Ruler. Second, we are to actively seek His will. This means that prayer and Bible study should be a part of our everyday life…God speaks clearest to us through these two methods.

So, in this new year (and forevermore), worship God and you will become all you were created to be. Those who choose to reject God and His will for their lives will never fulfil the awesome life God created for them. Christians, I urge you to make a resolution to know God, His Son, and His will, more fully this year…and forever.

The Bible: the most important book in the universe.

No sane person can look around at the plight of human beings and say that we aren’t in trouble. Morality is sinking to an all-time low, people treat people with callous disregard, and most solutions to these issues most often prove to be hollow and futile. Most likely, your personal life is suffering, in one way or another, from this malady.

Therefore, how important would you say a book that held all the answers to all of humanity’s problems be? Would you consider a book that addresses our fundamental problems to be worth reading? I contend that the Bible is just that Book (hence, my capitalization of the word ‘book’) and that the answers to humanity’s problems are contained within its pages. This article will be based on my belief that it is the Word of God. There are many reasons for accepting this point of view; but they will have to be taken up in a different article. Here we will focus, however briefly, on what the Bible says about itself.

The New Testament book of Romans contains a wealth of biblical teaching, presented in a straightforward manner. Here we have a statement of purpose concerning the Word of God, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4 NASB). The Bible contains the history of humanity, not every detail (nothing about planes, trains, or automobiles), but the origin, purpose, problem, and solution to what ails us.

In the book of Genesis, the Bible tells us that we were created in a paradise, created to worship our Creator, given a free will, and allowed to exercise that free will to make choices. Tragically, our first ancestors chose to disobey God (they doubted His Word, they called His integrity into question, and decided they knew better than He), bringing sin into the human equation and corrupting our relationship with God. Humans have chosen to disobey God ever since, bringing upon humanity the kind of degradation and evil we see all over the world.

The Bible tells us that it contains what we need in order to know how to be forgiven of our sin and reconciled to God. We read of the importance, and ability, of Scripture in Second Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” (II Timothy 3:16 NASB). Think about that a moment; God’s Word is able to ‘train us in righteousness’. This means that God’s Word is the standard for love, truth, justice, forgiveness, compassion, and any other good and true concept that exists. Isn’t a world full of these qualities what each of our hearts truly desire? Are we really satisfied with the lies, deception, evil, hate, bigotry, injustice, etc. that permeates our society, our world, our very hearts, today? I pray there is still some sanity left on our planet.

Again, I ask, would a book containing the solution to all of our problems be worth reading? I say “Yes” and I encourage you to investigate what the Word of God says. Ask God to reveal His Truth to you as you read it. Only do this if you realize that there is something terribly wrong with our world and the human heart…yours and mine.

God has given us His Word, He has not left us in the dark; but we must read it (having a Bible on the coffee table, or in a drawer somewhere, does not constitute a knowledge of it). If we seek Him, we will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29); but we must put forth the effort to seek Him…He has already done everything necessary for us to find Him.

“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’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” (II Peter 1:20-21 NASB).

God has written a book to humanity…it’s called the Bible. Don’t be a fool (Psalm 14:1); read it.

No God, No Purpose

There are those who say, and believe, that one can live a full and content life without God. They deny that there is a Creator, they attribute everything they see around them to some other source, and they believe that they are control of their own existence. If there is anything out there that affects our lives, it is a blind force (physics perhaps) to which we owe nothing and from whom nothing is owed.

However, if we are the products of blind chance and physical processes, what is our purpose for being here? Why should we care? Are blind forces responsible for things like love, justice, good, evil, etc.? Or are those things merely human constructs, designed to decrease friction amongst earth dwellers and increase peace and harmony (more intangible ideas)?

Let’s assume that there is no God. Where did love come from? Those who do not think God exists would say that these attributes ‘evolved’; they are ‘common sense’. If so, how did the human race last long enough to realize these ‘common sense’ ideas? In a world where these ideas would have had to ‘evolve’, our ancestors would have killed each other off before having the opportunity to realize that was a counterproductive course of action.

How about justice and our concept of right and wrong? Anyone who has lived a decade or so has witnessed the way what we consider moral or immoral, right or wrong, good or bad changes with the whim of society. It defies logic to assume that, somehow, in our illustrious past, humanity had the presence of mind to determine right from wrong. Human, by nature (i.e. without God), are self-centered, greedy, untrusting folk who are more concerned with self-preservation than any altruistic sentiments.

Consider this: if morals are a human construct (common sense, product of evolution, etc.), who says that what is moral today may be immoral tomorrow, or vice versa (that is actually what we are seeing now, things that were considered taboo or immoral to our ancestors are readily accepted, or tolerated, as moral today). There would exist no true good or bad, right or wrong. There would only be subjective evaluations of human actions and these evaluations would fluctuate with the cultural bias of the day. The Bible tells us that God has given us objective truth, objective standards, objective morals that do not change with the whims of humanity. It is to these standards we are called accountable.

The truth is that, if there were no God, there would be no morality. The Bible tells us that our condition, without God, is bleak and hopeless, “There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips” (Romans 3:11-13 NASB). Does this sound like a group of people with the ability to create moral, loving, helpful, caring standards and statutes? Not hardly.

And this condition universally affects every person, all of humanity, no one is immune: “...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NASB) and, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NASB).

The Bible tells us that “God is love” (I John 4:8, 16). Therefore, no God means no love. However, many want to deny God’s existence while continuing to experience love. They want to enjoy the benefits God gives without being accountable to Him; therefore, they attempt to deny His existence. God calls these people ‘fools’: “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:1 NASB, also Psalm 53:1) and, “The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, “There is no God” (Psalm 10:4 NASB).

Our purpose in life is to “Love God with all our hearts, soul, mind, body, and strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5, 11:1,13,22, 30:16; Joshua 22:5, 23:11; Psalm 31:23, 97:10; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; I Corinthians 16:22). We have meaning and purpose because God exists; otherwise, “...all is vanity and striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14 NASB).

Arguments against Christianity...and some responses

Atheists look determined to disprove the existence of God. They attempt to provide some arguments that suggest there is evidence that God does not exist. A reader, in the comment section of one of my articles, supplied me with several of these arguments. I thought I would address some of them as I find the time. While everyone will not accept all of my reasons, they are offered in the spirit of love with the hope that those who are truly seeking answers will realize that they do exist for these challenges and that believing in God is not unreasonable.

Atheist Argument: The “Conflicted Religions” Argument notes that many religions give differing accounts as to what God is and what God wants; since all the contradictory accounts cannot be correct, many, if not all, religions must be incorrect.
Response: There is no argument here. All of the competing religions can be wrong, but, they cannot all be right. Therefore, one must ask which one is most reasonable. Which one has the most verifiable historicity? Which one answers life’s questions best? Which one most fully explains the world we see around us? The claims of Christianity are the most reasonable and have the best explanatory power of any religion. All other religions claim that you can work your way to heaven; only Christianity tells us that God has done all that is required. We must simply stop rebelling against Him and believe what the Bible tells us. He will change our lives, forgive our sins, and guarantee us an eternity together with Him.

Atheist Argument: The Disappointment Argument claims that if, when asked for, there is no visible help from God; therefore, there is no reason to believe that there is a God.
Response: By this reasoning, when a child asks his or her parents for something, and the parents do not supply it, this means that there is no reason to believe the parents exist. However, in this analogy, the parents decide whether it would be wise or unwise to give the child what he or she has asked for. When we pray to God, asking Him for something, He decides whether or not He will give us what we ask for. The Bible says that, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (I John 5:14 NASB). This text says He will answer “according to His will” not according to our wants. What chaos would ensue if every prayer we prayed, the selfish as well as the selfless, were answered in the manner we wanted? Is it not much better to leave it up to God, trusting in His omniscient wisdom to give us what He knows we truly need?

Atheistic Argument: The “Historical Induction” Argument concludes that since most theistic religions throughout history (e.g. ancient Egyptian religion, ancient Greek religion) and their gods ultimately come to be regarded as untrue or incorrect, all theistic religions, including contemporary ones, are therefore most likely untrue/incorrect by induction.
Response: So, does this apply to everything? All but the most current scientific theories have been proven false, that is why the ‘current’ theory is the ‘current’ theory; therefore, are we to expect every scientific theory to be proven false? These false religions are exactly what we would expect to find if people groups rejected the true God. When one rejects the truth, a substitute must take its place. Godless humanity excels at creating religions that cater to our selfishness and pride. Our rejection of the truth does not mean it doesn’t exist.

Anyone honestly desiring to know the truth should truly think about the claims of Christianity. The God of the universe is calling out to all people, and He has done everything it takes for us to be reconciled to Him. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17 NASB).