Teaching on John 10 – The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

This was teaching I developed over the past month and finally delivered yesterday during lunchtime at Mimi’s Cafe to a group of about 15 men.  We’ve been going through the book of John and it was my turn to teach on John 10.

1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

6 This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. 7 So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

11 I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

19 A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others were saying, “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?” 22 At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.

24 The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. 26 But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? 35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” 39 Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp. 40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there. 41 Many came to Him and were saying, “While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.” 42 Many believed in Him there. (NASB)

Disclaimer (before we get started) – This study group is “multi/non-denominational”. We are all brothers in Christ–we believe in one Lord and one Bible. However, we may have different views on various matters of doctrine and theology.  John 10 is one of those passages the “Reformed Calvinist View” relies on as a proof text.  I am not a Calvinist (for biblical reasons), nor am I Pelagian or Semipelagian, though I do consider myself to be Reformed, holding to the 5 “solas” of the reformation.  I don’t plan to go into detail about my views because we won’t have time for that, yet I want to let you know up front that it is possible you will disagree with parts of this teaching (esp. on John 10:3&26 – I will devote significant attention to 26 – 1½ pages).  That’s ok with me and I hope its ok with you.  In preparation for this, let us receive wisdom from God’s Word:

Proverbs 18:17 – The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.

The point is, maybe you haven’t spent a lot of time considering alternative points of view such things as unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace – on soteriology (or maybe you have…) I ask that you receive this teaching in the spirit in which I hope to deliver it – with humility, gentleness and respect.

Chapter 10 is chock full of great stuff!  Look at all the teaching & doctrine that flows from this chapter:

  1. 2 “I AM” statements by Jesus (v.7,9), (v.11,14), statements of His deity.
  2. Jesus is the only way of salvation for mankind – “I am the door” (v.9)
  3. False teachers/leaders — we must watch out for them (v.1,5,8,10,12-13)
  4. Jesus came to give us abundant life (v.10)
  5. The voluntary atonement of Christ for sins (v.11,15,18)
  6. Prediction of the Gentiles joining Jewish believers in one body, the church (v.16)
  7. Sheep / Shepherd metaphor permeates the chapter, reinforcing His deity (v.1-30)
  8. Jesus attended the “Feast of Dedication” a.k.a. Hanukkah (v.22)
  9. Unconditional election, irresistible grace and limited atonement (v.3,26-27,29)
  10. Jesus’ works are more than enough to prove that He is the Messiah (v.25,37-38)
  11. Eternal security of believers guaranteed by Jesus and the Father (v.28-29)
  12. The Jews attempt for the 3rd time in Gospel of John to stone Jesus (v.31-33)
  13. Jesus claims directly to be God (v.30-33)
  14. The inerrancy / accuracy of Scripture (v.35)
  15. John the Baptist was a true prophet and evangelist of Jesus (v.40-42)

We can’t cover each verse here today–MacArthur took 5 sermons (>=45 minutes each) to give an overview!

According to John MacArthur, this chapter records the final public declaration by the Lord Jesus of His Deity and the end of His public ministry. After this chapter, He goes away for 3 months of isolation across the Jordan with His disciples and others who believed in Him there.  After that He heads toward Jerusalem, after raising Lazarus in Bethany and then comes His passion week (during the Passover feast).  In fact in the next chapter, it explicitly states that His public ministry to the Jews was finished:

John 11:54 – Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.

Chapter 10 starts with Jesus’ discourse on Himself as the “good shepherd”. It flows directly from chap. 9, as Jesus continues to talk to the very same people on the very same day. The problem of chap. 9 was that Israel was led by false (blind) shepherds who drew them astray from the true knowledge and kingdom of Messiah (9:39-41). In chap. 10, Jesus declares Himself to be the “good shepherd” who was appointed by His Father as Savior and King, in contrast to the false shepherds of Israel who were self-appointed, self-righteous & blind.

John 10:1 – Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.

Sheep were kept in a pen which had a door for entry and exit. Those who wanted to steal or harm the sheep would attempt entrance by another way.  The true shepherd enters at the door, being identified by the doorkeeper.  Ezekiel 34 most likely forms the background to Jesus’ teaching:

Ezekiel 34:1-21 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?”

Ezekiel 34:23-24a – Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them.

Literally, the whole chapter deals with sheep/shepherd metaphor. v.23-24 speaks of David in future tense, but he lived long before this.  So, apparently He’s talking about the Son of David (Messiah) who will gather His people, from Israel and from the nations, and lead them into the glory of the final kingdom.  Ezekiel 34 is a prophecy fulfilled by Jesus.  The Gospels themselves contain extensive sheep/shepherd imagery. For example:

Matthew 18:11-13 – [For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.] What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.

John 10:3 – To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

The doorkeeper is John the Baptist who prepared Jesus’ way and identified Him as the Messiah:

John 1:29-34 – The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

The old covenant Jewish believers accepted John the Baptist’s testimony of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and these are the specific sheep in verse 3 that “hear His voice”.  There will be a longer discussion on v.26…

John 10:7-10 – 7 So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Here He is the door. The shepherd led the sheep out of the sheep pen, here He is the entrance to the pen leading to proper pasture. Near Eastern shepherds slept in the gateway to guard the sheep, Jesus here pictures Himself as the door. He serves as the sole means to approach the Father and partake of God’s salvation–Jesus’ explicitly states that He is the only way many times in the Gospel of John, for example:

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Only belief in the risen Christ, who paid for your sins, can save you from the just penalty for your sins and from being cast into hell. Only trust in Him as Savior and Lord can reconcile you to God. Jesus is the source for the knowledge of God and the one basis for spiritual security:

Heb. 7:25 – Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Q: When Jesus said He came to give us abundant life (v.10), why doesn’t this refer to health and wealth?

In John 10:11-18, Jesus is the “good shepherd” (4th of 7 “I am” statements of Jesus). Good (kalos) means beautiful, magnificent, winsome, attractive, lovely and excellent on all levels, vs. other word for good (agathos), which means moral goodness (pleasant, agreeable, upright and honorable).

 Q: Who are some well-known shepherds in the OT?  Is Jesus claiming Deity by this description?  Why?

John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

“lays down His life” refers to Jesus’ substitutionary death for sinners on the cross:

1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit

Romans 5:8-9 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

John 10:16 – I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

Refers to Gentiles who will respond to His voice & become a part of the church. Jesus’ death was not only for Jews, but also for non-Jews. He will make both into one new body, the church.

John 10:17-18 – For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.

Jesus’ death was not the end. His resurrection was a demonstration of His Messiahship & Deity:

Romans 1:4 – who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 10:22-23 – At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.

The “Feast of the Dedication” (Hanukkah) celebrates the Jewish victory over Antiochus Epiphanes, who conquered Jerusalem & desecrated the temple. The Jews fought the Maccabean Revolt (166-142 B.C.), liberated the temple, and rededicated it. This celebration is also known as the “Festival of Lights” on account of the lamps and candles lit to commemorate the event in Jewish homes.

Q: Is Jesus celebrating Hanukkah here?  How does it compare with Jesus’ celebration of Passover?

John 10:24-25 – The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly. “Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.”

Jesus didn’t expect people to have blind faith – to believe without reason.  We also see this elsewhere in John:

John 10:37-38 – If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.

John 5:36 – But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish – the very works that I do -testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.

John 14:11 – Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.

Jesus even stayed with His disciples following His resurrection to give them evidence:

Acts 1:3 – After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Jesus had already demonstrated His Deity by His many miracles and rising from the grave. But He stayed for more than a month longer to give His disciples many convincing proofs.”

Q: Why didn’t the risen Jesus appear to the Pharisees to prove that they were wrong about Him?

John 10:26-27 But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

The Reformed Calvinist interpretation of this passage is that God has chosen a fixed number of individuals (His sheep) before the foundation of the world. It is only they who will hear His voice, believe and follow, after they have been made alive (or quickened) by His Spirit (effectual calling).  The rest, who are not His elect, He “passes over”.  Thus, Christ died only for His particular sheep – not the whole world.  His atonement for sins is said to be “limited atonement”.

Although this doctrine seems to be supported by many Scriptures (Eph. 1:3-8,11, 2:1-9; Rom. 8:7,9:10-24, John 6:37-40,44,65, 8:47, 10:26; Acts 2:39,13:47-48,16:14; 2 Th. 2:13-14; Col. 2:13; 1 Cor. 2:14, etc.), we must also remember that the same Bible tells us the following facts:

  1. God wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
  2. He desires all people to repent (2 Peter 3:9)
  3. He’s pleased when the wicked turn from their ways and live (Ezekiel 18:23)
  4. Not all repent/turn from their ways (Jn. 3:19-20; Mt. 7:13-14, 13:18-23; Rom. 1:18-25)

So, if this doctrine of particular individual election be true, then God elects only some to be saved and to repent even though, according to Calvinism, He has elected whoever He wants.

Note: I’m not saying this is unfair (Rom 9:14-21), nor that we can come to Christ without the Father and Holy Spirit drawing (6:44) or enabling (6:65) us.  Rather, it seems contradictory and not supported by “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).   We know that not all people repent and are saved.  Therefore, since God wants all saved and not all are, there seems to be some element of human choice that God has given us in salvation – this drawing of the lost to God appears to be “resistible”, not “irresistible”.

Salvation is pictured as a gift in the Bible:

Rom. 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A gift must be received – what good is a Christmas present if it is left under the tree?

John 1:12 – But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God

We receive the gift of salvation by faith, and Paul makes it very clear that faith is not a work:

Romans 4:2-5 – 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness

v.5 of this passage clearly says the one who exercises faith in God is not performing a work.  Is the believer just smarter than others because he “figured it out”? No, not any more than a recipient of a gift is smarter or more worthy because he “figured out” that he must open the gift to benefit from what’s inside.

Additionally, John teaches us that Jesus died for the sins, not only of His sheep, but of everyone:

1 John 2:1-2 – My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense –Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

The doctrines of unconditional election and limited atonement have significant practical implications for how we approach lost people in evangelism.  We are communicating the idea that God has genuine love for those whom He has chosen not to save, and that He sincerely offers them salvation. This presents one of the greatest dilemmas for the Calvinist view.  However, God’s love for sinners and His desire for the salvation of all people is communicated by Jesus in one of the most famous verses in Scripture:

John 3:16 – 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

God’s love for sinners motivated Him to send His Son. Whoever believes in Him will be saved.  He offers salvation to all—acceptance or rejection of that offer resides with each individual.

So, if “My sheepdoes not refer to a predetermined set of elect persons, then what does Jesus mean by it? One possible meaning is that “My sheep” refers primarily to the faithful sons of Abraham under the old covenant as it was revealed in OT, who were already prepared by their faith and repentance to embrace the promised Messiah at the time of His appearance. These included those under the ministry of John the Baptist, who was appointed to “prepare the way for the Lord”. In a secondary sense, it includes God-fearing Gentiles (e.g., Cornelius, Acts 10) who were led by God’s grace to repentance and whom He drew to faith in His Son.

Q: Dare I ask for any comments here 🙂 ?  Please tell me where I’m wrong…

John 10:28-29 – and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Jesus’ sheep are secure because He is the Good Shepherd–He has them safe. Neither thieves nor robbers (v. 1, 8) nor the wolf (v. 12) can harm them.  No stronger passage in the OT or NT exists for the absolute, eternal security of every true Christian. Verse 29 makes clear that the Father ultimately stands behind the sheep’s security, for no one is able to steal them from God:

Rom. 8:38–39 – For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Q: What about people who walk away from the faith?  Do you know anyone who’s walked away?

John 10:30-33 – “I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

The Jews are trying to stone Jesus, because His claim He was One with the Father affirmed His claim to deity and caused the Jews to seek His execution. There was no doubt in the minds of those Jews that Jesus was claiming to be God.

The Mosaic Law did permit stoning for blasphemy:

Leviticus 24:16 – Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

However, in 1st century Palestine, the Romans reserved for themselves the right of capital punishment:

John 18:31 – So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death”

Nonetheless, out-of-control Jews at other times engaged in mob actions in lieu of legal proceedings:

Acts 7:57–60 – But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.

John 10:34-36 – Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”

Jesus quotes from Ps 82:6 where God calls some unjust judges “gods” and pronounces calamity against them. Jesus’ argument is an argument “from the lesser to the greater”. If mere men could, in some sense, be referred to as “gods,” why would anyone object to the Son of God Himself being called by that title?  Then He adds this parenthetical statement: “Scripture cannot be broken”.  This is Jesus Christ the Lord Himself affirming the accuracy & authority of the OT.

If you found yourself disagreeing with some parts of this teaching today, I would encourage you to read the excellent book “Deconstructing Calvinism” (currently $3.99 Kindle, $18.99 paperback).

You may also want to read 2 articles to get a balanced view on the topic of God’s desire that all be saved:

Are There Two Wills in God? Divine Election and God’s Desire for All to Be Saved (John Piper):

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/are-there-two-wills-in-god

Are There Two Wills in God? A Response to John Piper:

http://evangelicalarminians.org/john-piper-are-there-two-wills-in-god-a-response/

Robert Hamilton, “The Order of Faith and Election in John’s Gospel: You Do Not Believe Because You Are Not My Sheep”:

http://evangelicalarminians.org/files/Hamilton.%20The%20Order%20of%20Faith%20and%20Election%20in%20John’s%20Gospel..pdf

I also made significant use of the MacArthur Study Bible comments and his 5 sermons on John 10:

  1. I Am the Door (John 10:1–10)
  2. I Am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11–21)
  3. I and the Father Are One, Part 1 (John 10:22–24)
  4. I and the Father Are One, Part 2 (John 10:25–42)
  5. I and the Father Are One, Part 3 (John 10:22–42)

I also listened to Dr. R.C. Sproul’s series on Reformed Theology.

I also read Hermeneutics of 2 Peter 3:9—”Us all” or “you all”? http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=12652

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Lunch conversation with Hindu Colleague

I recently met with a colleague who visiting our office on a business trip from another country in Europe.  It was lunch time and he was sitting at his desk.  I was on my way out to lunch, when I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit that I ought to see if he had plans and ask him to lunch.  So, I turned around and went back to our area and asked him if he had plans.  He had no plans for lunch that day, so I invited him to go to lunch with me.

I have had a history of working with him and it was very nice to get together for a meal.  We went to a Mexican restaurant, which he enjoyed, as he was able to get a vegetarian meal.  He is originally from India and we were talking about all the places he’s lived in India.  Then I asked about Punjab, commenting that I’d heard they have their own religion there.  So, we started talking about religion in general.  My colleague said that many different religions are practiced in India (Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, etc.) and that India is very open about religion.  I asked him what he meant by “open”. He said that members of each religion will visit and talk with and be friends with people of other religions and even visit their respective places of worship and spend time together during festivals.  He even said he’s visited Christian churches in India before.  However he said that is not the case for Islam – as Hindus, they don’t go into mosques.

He went on to tell me more about Hinduism, his beliefs and some of the stories in their scriptures.  During our conversation, he described how the best schools in India were Christian schools – he specifically mentioned Catholic and Protestant.  I commented on his mentioning Catholic and Protestant and asked about his understanding of the difference between the 2?  He said that he understood that Catholic was the one true church until the protestant church split away.  I asked him if he’d heard of the Protestant Reformation.  He said no.  I asked if he’d heard of Martin Luther.  He said, “Yes, Martin Luther King, right?”  I said no, that Martin Luther King was the civil rights leader in America in the 1960’s.  I’m talking about Martin Luther.  He said, “Wasn’t he a philosopher?”  So, I went on to explain what happened during the Protestant Reformation.  He asked when all this happened, and I told him about the day (October 30th 1517) when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses (or complaints) against the Catholic Church on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  I explained that Martin Luther was actually a Catholic Monk and he didn’t want to create a new church, rather he wanted to reform the church because he saw that they were straying away from the Bible – I also explained the situation that was occurring with selling indulgences.  I explained that the Protestant Reformation spread throughout Europe and the UK during that time period.  This was the time when the recent invention of printing press allowed the “common man” to have his own copy of the Bible for a cheaper cost, which helped the spread of this reformation.  We even talked about how the countries of Europe to this day are considered either Catholic (e.g. France, Poland, Italy and Spain) or Protestant (Germany, Netherlands, England, etc.).

During this part of the conversation, he even mentioned the level of Atheism in the UK, where he said that atheists represent about 20% of the population. I told him in the US it is somewhere between 5 and 10%.  We talked about how it is hard to believe that someone could believe that the Universe and everything in it came into existence from nothing with no cause, and that life in all of its complexity, including the DNA molecule, could come into existence without an intelligent designer. He agreed then he started to tell me about how in Hinduism there are three different gods Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer. I think they were Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva. Then he started to tell me in general about Hinduism and some of the scriptures. After I was asking him many questions he told me about avatars and how Krishna was an avatar. As we went on talking, I asked him about the concepts of Karma and Reincarnation.  He said that everyone must be reborn so that whatever body you’re living in now you will die and eventually be reborn into a different body. I was asking him a lot of questions during this whole time we were talking about Hinduism and learning quite a bit. For example he said the final state of a person according to Hinduism is Moksha. But the new thing that I learned was that Moksha according to him is a state of non-existence that’s the final state of a person (I had previously thought that Moksha was kind of like Nirvana).  He also revealed that there is a heaven and hell in Hinduism. There is one god that keeps track of all the things you do in this life. And there’s another god which, by his description of it, almost sounded like the grim reaper who will take a person to either heaven or hell.  According to him, after you have served your sentence then you’ll get reborn into another body.

Then I asked him if he knew what the concept of “grace” means in Christianity. He said he had definitely heard of that phrase – the grace of God, but what he described sounded more like the blessings of God. So I talked to him about the meaning of grace. I told him that grace is defined as “unmerited favor from God”, meaning, you didn’t do anything to earn it.  With grace, you are getting good things that you don’t deserve. Kind of a parallel concept, I told him about is mercy. Mercy is where you don’t get the bad things (i.e. punishment) that you do deserve. Those two concepts, I explained, are related like two sides of the coin.  He seemed to understand.  I explained that all people have sinned and are accountable to God for those sins and the punishment due for them.  I asked him if he had any idea how to obtain or access the grace and mercy of God?  He thought for a while – I let there be an awkward silence.  Finally, he said no.  I explained to him, this is where Jesus comes in.  God came to earth in the person of Jesus and lived a perfect (sinless) life.  He followed the 10 commandments to a tee.  I asked if he knew what the 10 commandments were.  He had heard of them, but couldn’t name any.  I explained that these are laws and rules for living that God gave to the Israelites long ago, and gave him a few examples.  So, Jesus lived a perfect life and did not deserve to die, but you know that he was killed by crucifixion on a cross, right?  He said yes.  I explained that Jesus was paying for punishment we deserved for our sins.  So, if we believe that we have sinned and deserved the punishment that Jesus experienced and that He died in our place, then we can go to heaven forever to be with God.  This is the Good News – this is the Gospel.  But if we don’t believe in Him and His sacrificial death for us, then we have to go to hell to pay for our sins ourselves.  In Christianity, this life is the time we have to choose Jesus.  After we die, there are no second chances – this is it!  The purpose of life is to know Christ and once you know Him, to make Him known to others.  He indicated he understood.

We covered a lot of ground in this conversation and I pray that God would take my imperfect witness and help my Indian colleague understand it and consider his relationship with God and his destination in eternity!

AWANA Theme for the night “Deal or No Deal?”

Tonight at AWANA, I will be giving the opening teaching with all 3 clubs (Cubbies, Sparks and Truth & Training) in the main room.  Here is the content of what I’ve prepared for this 10 minute teaching opportunity I have:

The theme of the night tonight is “Deal or No Deal?”  “Deal or No Deal?” is an actual game show that was on TV from 2005-2009 and will be coming back in December of this year.  Here is how the game works:

On the hit game show “Deal or No Deal,” each night, the game of odds and chance unfolds when a contestant is confronted with 26 sealed briefcases full of varying amounts of cash – ranging from a measly penny to $1 million. Without knowing the amount in each briefcase, the contestant picks one – his to keep, if he chooses – until it’s unsealing at game’s end.

The risk element kicks in when the player must then instinctively eliminate the remaining 25 cases – which are opened and the amount of cash inside revealed. The pressure mounts as in each round, after a pre-determined number of cases are opened, the participant is tempted by a mysterious entity known only as “the Banker” to accept an offer of cash in exchange for what might be contained in the contestant’s chosen briefcase – prompting (Howie) Mandel to ask the all-important question – Deal or No Deal?  The contestant has to respond with “DEAL!” to accept the deal offered by Mandel.

A DEAL is defined as “an agreement entered into by two or more parties”.

God is offering all of us humans a “deal”.  And we need a “deal”, because the Bible tells us some troubling things about our situation.

In Romans 3:23, God has told us that all human beings (except Jesus) have sinned.

So, with that being true, none of us can be in Heaven with Him.  The Bible says “nothing impure will ever enter it (Heaven)” – Revelation 21:27a.

If that were the only information we had, that would be very bad news, wouldn’t it?

But that isn’t the only information we have, is it?  Can someone tell me how God promises to fix our problem?

Romans 3:25 (NLT) explains it:

For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us.

The 1st part of that verse tells us what God did to solve our problem (God sent Jesus to take the punishment we deserved), and the 2nd part tells us how we can “accept God’s deal”: We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.

That’s good news!  If we believe in Jesus, as the verse says, we can go to Heaven and be with Jesus forever!

Apologetics Class 5/27/2018

Tactics Book – Chapters 5-6

Today in my Apologetics Class, we covered chapters 5 and 6 from the excellent book Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions.  Again this week, we both listened to the Tactics audio book (from Audible) and I displayed the Kindle book on the screen using read.amazon.com.  Below is the note-taking form I handed out to the class so they could follow along and fill in the blanks:

Tactics Book Part 2: Chapters 5-6 (5/27/2018)

Chapter 5 (1:59:55 – 2:32) Using Columbo to Lead the Way

  1. We ask leading questions, which take the other person in the direction we want to go
  2. With each leading question, you accomplish 2 things. Every time you ask a question and get a favorable response, the person is telling you:
    1. He u________________ the point you’re making
    2. He a___________ with the point you’re making, at least provisionally
  3. We want to win someone to our point of view – not force our opinions, but rather p__________
  4. Your leading questions will be used to:
    1. I___________ – to indirectly explain your own ideas
    2. P___________ – to indirectly advance your own ideas
    3. S_____ up the t___________ – Set up the “terms of the conversation” to put you in a more beneficial position for your next move.
    4. R____________ – Defeat what you think is a bad argument or a flawed point of view
  5. “The Q_____________” – you will eventually be asked this question (in some form): “You’re saying that people who don’t believe just like you are going to Hell?
  6. You have to know w______ Jesus is the only way before it is helpful to tell people that he is the only way.
  7. The Jewish attorney who didn’t understand why he needed Jesus. Greg asked 2 questions:
    1. Do you think people who commit m________ c__________ ought to be punished?
    2. Have you ever committed any moral crimes?
    3. That puts us in a tight spot, doesn’t it? Do you know what I call that? Bad news!
    4. This is where Jesus come in. We both know we’re guilty, that’s the problem.  So God offers a solution: a p___________, free of charge.  But c______________ is on His terms, not ours.  Jesus is God’s means of pardon.  He personally paid the penalty in our place.  He took the rap for our crimes.  No one else did that.  Only Jesus.  Now we have a choice to make.  Either we take the pardon and go f__________, or we turn it down and p__________ for our crimes ourselves.
  8. “Tell them something they know” – these are the most powerful and persuasive questions.
  9. Shannon, an American college student living in Europe, although she’d been raised in a Christian home and had a strong relationship with the Lord, was perplexed by the idea that others were l___________ apart from trust in C_____________. Greg used questions to remind her of what she already knew and to “connect the dots” for her.
  10. If religion, or sincerity, or ‘doing our best’ cannot save you and me, then how can any of those things save someone else? Either Jesus rescues us by taking the p______________ for our sin on Himself, or we are not saved and we have to pay for our own crimes.  It’s no more complicated than that.
  11. The “P__________-A______________ T_____________ Trick” – when someone asks for your personal views about a controversial issue, preface your remarks with a question that sets the stage – in your favor – for your response. Say, “You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking.  I don’t mind answering, but before I do, I want to know if it’s safe to offer my views.  So let me ask you a question: Do you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person on issues like this?  Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view?  Do you respect diverse points of view, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from your own?”  Now when you give your point of view, it’s going to be very difficult for anyone to call you intolerant or judgmental without looking guilty too.
  12. Everyone thinks his own beliefs are c_____________. If people didn’t think their beliefs were true, they wouldn’t believe them.  They’d believe something else and think that was true.
  13. If you’re labeled intolerant…”Why is it when I think I’m right, I’m intolerant, but when you think you’re right, you’re just right? What am I missing?”
  14. Example of a student / professor conversation in “Icons of Evolution”:
    1. Teacher: Okay, let’s start today’s lesson with a quick review. Yesterday I talked about homology [how different organisms show remarkable similarity in the structure of some of their body parts]. H__________________ features, such as the vertebrate limbs shown in your textbook, provide us with some of our best evidence that living things have evolved from common ancestors.
    2. Student (raising hand): I know you went over this yesterday, but I’m still confused. How do we know whether features are homologous?
    3. Teacher: Well, if you look at vertebrate limbs, you can see that even though they’re adapted to perform different functions, their bone patterns are structurally similar.
    4. Student: But you told us yesterday that even though an o_______________ eye is structurally similar to a human eye, the two are not homologous.
    5. Teacher: That’s correct. Octopus and human eyes are not homologous because their common ancestor did not have such an eye.
    6. Student: So regardless of similarity, features are not homologous unless they are inherited from a common a_________________?
    7. Teacher: Yes, now you’re catching on.
    8. Student (looking puzzled): Well, actually, I’m still confused. You say homologous features provide some of our best evidence for common ancestry. But before we can tell whether features are homologous, we have to know whether they came from a common ancestor.
    9. Teacher: That’s right.
    10. Student (scratching head): I must be missing something. It sounds as though you’re saying that we know features are derived from a common ancestor because they’re derived from a common ancestor. Isn’t that c______________ r_______________?
  15. When professor says “science has proven that miracles don’t happen”, you could ask “Professor, would you please explain to me exactly how the methods of science have disproved the possibility of s_______________ e_______________?”
  16. Pay close attention to the answer to the question, “How did you come to that conclusion?” then, ask yourself if the person’s conclusion is j_______________ by the evidence he gives.
  17. You can use the leading questions to:
    1. C_____________ a point
    2. C_____________ new information
    3. Expose a w________________
  18. Remember, as an ambassador for Christ, you don’t have to hit a h________ r_______ in every conversation. You don’t even have to get on base…sometimes just getting up to bat will do.
  19. Point out weaknesses in a view, but don’t be pushy, condescending, or smug (offensive).
  20. Soften or cushion your approach by using “H_________ you c_________________” to preface your question.

Chapter 6: Perfecting Columbo (2:32:01-3:02:02)

  1. In any encounter, there are 2 different times when the pressure is off (and these are perfect times to focus on improving your technique):
    1. Before the conversation begins
    2. After it’s over
  2. There are 3 specific things you can do to ready yourself to respond:
    1. You can a_____________ beforehand what might come up
    2. You can r_____________ afterward what took place
    3. You can p____________ the r_______________ you think of during these reflective moments so you will be prepared for the next opportunity.
  3. After each encounter you have, immediately reflect on how you could’ve done better.
  4. 3 Skills of an Ambassador:
    1. K__________________ – an accurately informed mind
    2. W_________________ – an artful method
    3. C__________________ – an attractive manner
  5. When you’re alone in the car, you can listen to talk radio (or a debate) and then pause it or turn down the volume and try to respond to the challenger yourself. This places you in an actual dialogue in a way that is completely safe.
  6. Even people who don’t usually like taking tests don’t mind them at all when they know the answers to the questions.
  7. There are 2 things that will help generate the c_________________ you’ll need to face a challenging situation:
    1. P_______________ – being prepared will give you confidence
    2. A______________ – eventually, you must actually engage. Interacting with others face-to-face is the most effective way to improve your abilities as an ambassador.
  8. Objection: “I just don’t believe any unwanted children should be allowed to come into the world”. Answer: Not wanting to bring unwanted children into the world may be a legitimate reason for birth control, but it has nothing to do with abortion. When a woman is pregnant, the child is a__________ “in the w___________”, so to speak.  The human being already exists; he or she is just hidden from view inside the mother’s womb. This woman’s response assumed that before making the journey down the birth canal, the baby simply does not exist.
  9. Objection: “People t________ the B__________ all the time to make it say whatever they want”. Answer: People do twist Bible verses all the time.  It is one of my own chief complaints.  The student’s point wasn’t really that some people twist the Bible.  His complaint was that I was twisting the Bible.  Yet he hadn’t demonstrated this.
  10. Once you see how unprepared people are to answer for their own views, you’ll be tempted to use your tactics like a c___________. Don’t give in to that urge.  As a general rule, go out of your way to establish common ground.  Whenever possible, affirm points of agreement.
  11. When someone uses the Columbo Tactic against you:
    1. You have no obligation to cooperate with anyone trying to set you up with leading questions. Simply refuse to answer them, but do so in a cordial way.
    2. “My sense is that you want to explain your point by using questions … I’d rather you just state your view directly”
  12. When a question is not a question: What gives you the right to say someone else’s religion is wrong? This is not really a question – there’s no curiosity at all.  It is a statement disguised as a question.  Response: your question is confusing… Do you really want to talk about rights?  Do you really want to know what my credentials are or what authority I have to speak on these things?
  13. The most important thing to remember about these questions is that behind them lurk strong opinions that are open to challenge if they can be flushed into the open.
  14. 2 Approaches of Columbo:
    1. B__________________ approach (like Lieutenant Columbo) – meant to p_____________, win the person.
    2. C__________________, aggressive (like a lawyer) – meant to r__________________, target is the audience.
  15. Sheepish in Seattle:
    1. Statement: Some religion beliefs seem foolish. Objection: That’s oppressive, not letting people believe what they want to believe!
    2. Response: Do you think I’m wrong then? … If you don’t think I’m wrong, then why are you correcting me?  And if you do think I’m wrong, then why were you oppressing me?
    3. Objection: All religions are basically the same. Response: Really?  In what way? Then, consider this: Either Jesus is Messiah or He isn’t, right? If He isn’t Messiah, then the Christians are wrong and the Jews are right.  If He is Messiah, then the Jews are wrong and the Christians are right. …  Under no circumstances can they both be basically the same, can they?
    4. Objection: No one can ever know the truth about religion. Response: Why would you believe a thing like that?
    5. Objection: The Bible has been changed and translated so many times over the centuries you can’t trust it. Response: Even if the Bible vanished from the face of the Earth, knowledge of God could still be possible, at least in principle…How do you know the Bible’s been changed?  Have you actually studied the transmission of the ancient docs?

Discussion Questions

  1. There are 2 “modes” of Columbo, (1) to persuade and (2) to refute. What is the benefit of each approach?  What situations might you use each one?
  2. What is the “Passive-Aggressive Tolerance Trick”? How does this help us in this modern, tolerant and politically correct environment?
  3. What are 3 uses of asking leading questions?
  4. How can you defend yourself when Columbo is used against you?

 

Apologetics Class 5/13/2018

What’s Down with Hell – James MacDonald

On Sunday in our Apologetics class, I plan to depart a bit from the Apologetics theme and show a sermon on the topic of Hell.  I believe that this is an important topic and that we don’t talk enough about this in the church.  This is one of my favorite preachers of the Word of God, James MacDonald

 

Here is the note-taking form (with discussion questions) that goes with the video:

What’s Down with Hell (James MacDonald) – 5/13/2018

  1. The story of the R________ M_______ and L_____________ – Luke 16:19-31
  2. What is Hell? That question cannot be answered as normal questions can be answered – there’s no reference point (except the word of God).
  3. Charles Hodge – Princeton Theological Seminary – said regarding hell, “It is a doctrine which revolts the heart. It is a doctrine which the heart struggles against and to which the heart submits only under the stress of authority.  The church believes the doctrine of hell because it must believe it or renounce faith in the Bible and give up all the hopes founded upon its promises”.
  4. Definition: Hell is a place of e________ t___________ for the impenitent (unrepentant people).
  5. This is not a church full of righteous people, this is a church full of forgiven people, who have the righteousness of Christ, and by His grace are being changed.
  6. Have you repented?
  7. It is not a word we should use flippantly – hell is not a laughing matter…
  8. Hell is so awful, that if you conceived even a fraction of it, you would not wish it on your worst enemy.
  9. Purpose: Hell is a place for G______ w____________ to be poured out on the impenitent.
  10. Wrath is God’s righteous response to sin.
  11. God has made Himself known in the universe in 3 ways (Titus 2:11):
    1. In C___________ (Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 1:18-20)
    2. In C___________ (Rom. 2:14-15)
    3. In the G____________ of Jesus Christ
  12. Not “want to know and don’t hear”, but “don’t w__________ to know”.
  13. Terms describing the place:
    1. Sheol – describing the state of d______________
    2. Gehena – used 12 times in the New Testament. It is like a dump – put their garbage there and burned it (diseased animals, etc).
    3. Hades – Luke 16:23 – used 10 times in the New Testament. It is the t_______________ abode of the u______________ (impenitent) d__________, until the final judgement.  No one is technically in “hell” yet.
    4. Hell – Matthew 5:22, 29-30. Used 14 times in the New Testament. Summary term describing the final place of eternal torment for the impenitent.
    5. Second Death – a spiritual death (Rev. 20:14; 21:8). If you’re born o__________, you die t______, if you’re born t_____, you die o________.  What dies at the second death?
      1. O____________ dies (Hebrews 9:27)
      2. G____________ dies – God’s not reaching out to people in hell and trying to reform them.
      3. V____________ dies (Matt. 11:28-30; John 7:17)
    6. The Lake of Fire – Revelation 20:10,14-15. Hell will be fire from “shore to shore”.  “The safest road to hell is the gradual one…” – C.S. Lewis.  There is life after death, and if I don’t know where I’m going it is not s________ to d______.
  14. Jesus talked more about h________, by far, than He talked about h_____________.
  15. Terms describing the punishment:
    1. F___________ – 27 times in the scripture. Is the fire in hell a literal fire?  “I see no reason to regard the fire as more literal than the worm” – Charles Hodge.  So many times flames are referenced – it’s the most common picture of hell.
    2. W__________ and g____________ of teeth (Matthew 8:11 and following) – describes the wicked and their vitriolic, violent hatred toward the righteous. If we picture people in hell as being repentant or regretful, that’s what the Scripture teaches.  The people in hell are not wishing they were in heaven, they’re shaking their fists at it.
    3. O_________ D___________ – intended to convey horror beyond imagination. Hell was originally prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matt 25:41).  No one is together in hell – everyone is completely isolated and alone in hell.  Daniel 12:2 describes it as “the shame of everlasting contempt”.
    4. D____________ – 18 times. (e.g. Matt. 7:13-14, 2 Thess. 1:9)  Every person born into this world has the Imago Dei (the image of God) – Genesis 1:26-27.  This separates us from the animals (mind, emotion and will).  In hell, the soul is abandoned by God to its own destruction.  Some wrongly teach “Anni______________sm” (the belief that hell is a place where you’re punished for a period of time, then you cease to exist).  Destruction does not mean “cease to exist” – a better word is “ruined”.  Example of fruit thrown off building.
  16. Modern objections to hell. Man has an amazing capacity to distort Scripture in the things that he wishes were not true:
    1. E_____________ – too long, therefore God is not just. How can a finite life of sin deserve infinite punishment?  Answer: The misnomer there is that people stop sinning in hell, which is not true.  Sin actually accelerates in hell.  People are not just punished in hell for the sins they’ve committed.  They’re also punished for the sinful nature that was not eradicated by the Gospel.  Example of a rabid dog – Pitbull.  This dog needs to be “put down”, hasn’t done anything wrong, but it will – its nature is corrupted.
    2. T_____________ – it’s too severe, therefore God is not merciful. Answer: God’s statement about the severity of sin is that 2,000 years ago, He sent His own Son and poured out His wrath upon Christ.  On Him, almighty judgment fell that would’ve sunk the world to Hell.
  17. Implications of hell:
    1. I must be s_________ of my salvation. If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  Admit that you’re a sinner, deserving of hell and expressing faith in the payment of Christ for your sin and for your forgiveness.
    2. I must be t____________ for my salvation.
    3. I must be at peace with i__________________.
    4. I must be b_________ in my w______________. This is not a day for subtlety, or silence.  We need to be loving, we need to be sensitive, but we need to be clear.  I need to have “the conversation”.  On this subject, I cannot be silent, but not obnoxious.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you struggled with hell?
  2. Do you have any unanswered questions about hell?
  3. I would recommend a small book that has been very helpful to me: “23 Questions About Hell

Apologetics Class 5/6/2018

Mining for God

Lord willing, tomorrow, in our Apologetics class, we will be watching and discussing the excellent film, “Mining for God”.  This can be purchased here:

http://www.miningforgod.com/

It is an hour long film and features many of the prominent names in apologetics today.  Here is the note-taking form (with discussion questions) that I will hand out to the students:

Mining for God – May 6th 2018

William Lane Craig, Nabeel Qureshi, Craig Hazen, Gary Habermas, Michael Licona, Lee Strobel, Alan Shlemon, Paul Copan, J. Warner Wallace, Mary Jo Sharp, John Stonestreet, Tim Keller, Donald Williams and others.

  1. Christianity as it’s presented in the m___________ is ridiculous.
  2. Sometimes we use the same v________________ but not the same d___________________
  3. The world’s view of Christ, Christianity and Christians all come from people that aren’t s_______
  4. What is Christianity?  Some answers given:
    1. G______________ people will go to heaven.
    2. Just a system to have p_____________ over people
    3. All religions are basically the s___________, we ought to just pick one that works for us.
  5. Western culture used to be Christian, and is therefore i_______________________
  6. Many people in America are cultural Christians or n__________ Christians, who are unchurched.  Not knowledgeable about the basics of the faith. You might call them “Christians in name only”.
  7. N__________________, a theory denying that an event or an object has a spiritual significance specifically, the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena.
  8. Naturalism deeply permeates Western culture.
  9. We are not animals, & we’re not God, we’re made in the i_____ of G___ and we act like animals.
  10. Is man, made in the image of God, qualitatively different from the other animals in creation?
  11. Either life is m_____________ or its not – if it’s not, the only way to say it’s not (that has real credibility) is the b____________ story.
  12. I refer to my body as a possession – what’s possessing it?  Me (my soul).
  13. This idea (that you can’t know anything except through science), can’t be known through science.  I have to arrive there philosophically.
  14. Modern science is permeated by assumptions which cannot themselves be scientifically p_____
  15. The C______________ A_________________:
    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore the universe has a cause.
  16. The universe cannot cause itself, so, its cause must be beyond the space-time universe.  Its cause must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, uncaused and p__________________
  17. We are in a universe that displays certain d______ f________, both in the galaxy and in biology.
  18. Nature can create patterns (e.g. ripples in sand), but if you’re walking down the beach and you see “John loves Mary” with a heart around it and an arrow through it, you would never say “the waves did that!”  Whenever we see information we know there’s i_________ behind it.  If that’s true, what about the vast storehouse of information in every one of the cells of your body?
  19. 2014 Gallup poll on human origins, 73% of Americans still believe in God (in some sense).
  20. R_________________: the doctrine that knowledge, truth and morality exist in relation to culture, society or historical context and are not absolute.
  21. Many people in modern culture take a sort of c______________ approach to religion (a little bit of this, a little bit of that).  The presupposition of this approach is that there is no objective truth in religion, but that it is just a “matter of taste”.
  22. Our culture doesn’t make distinction between o______ truth claims and s________ truth claims.
  23. Can be wrong about God’s existence, but my o_____ can’t change it. He either exists or doesn’t.
  24. They (religions) can’t all be right – either God is p__________ or i____________, either God has a Son or does not.  These are contradictory ideas and cannot both be true at the same time.
  25. Christianity is u_______________ and stands apart from the great world religious traditions.
  26. How do the different world religions handle the problem of pain, sin and a messed up world?
  27. Islam: if I’m more of a g__________ person than a b_______ person, I’ll end up in heaven.
  28. God could deal with this by eliminating all evil at midnight tonight, but if He did so, which one of us would be left at 1AM?
  29. The message of Christianity is “we all fall short” (Rom. 3:23), we could never lift ourselves up by our b_____________, we could never earn our way.  That’s the bad news, but the good news is that Jesus came to lay down His life as a ransom for us and our sins.  Jesus did for us what no other religious leader did (or claimed to do) – He made the p______________ in full.
  30. In order to accept the good news, you first have to accept the bad news.
  31. Christ offers us something that we wish we didn’t need, which is f__________ of sin.  Without the ministry of the Holy Spirit bringing conviction of sin, we’re not going to accept the d_______
  32. The Bible is the story of: C_____________, F________, R______________, R_______________
  33. What distinguishes Christianity: a test, by which we can know it is true – the r_______________
  34. Many historical events rest on 2 independent sources.  Bart Ehrman lists _____ ancient sources for the crucifixion of Jesus. This is the historical principal of “multiple a________________”.
  35. The M______________ F___________ Approach looks only at the facts that are:
    1. Supported by multiple ancient sources
    2. Agreed upon by the vast majority of scholars today
  36. Majority of scholars today think the tomb was empty, but h_____________ theory is a full tomb theory, not empty tomb theory. If disciples saw hallucination, should’ve been body in the tomb.
  37. If you look at the evidence, without precluding s____________________, the best explanation, by far, is the resurrection.
  38. This isn’t some “random dude”, in some miscellaneous place, that we’re saying rose from the dead. It’s someone who’s coming had been prepared for by providence and predicted by p___________________ for 2,000 years.
  39. If Jesus really did rise from the dead, that changes everything. There’s more to life than believing that we are just an a_______________________
  40. The only place where anything makes sense in this world is that place where the shadow of the c___________ falls on an e______ t______.  Stand there, and all questions become answerable.

 

Discussion Questions

  1. Which came first (biblically)?  The chicken or the egg?
  2. Explain a feature of the Universe or of biology that demonstrates intentional design.
  3. What is the Cosmological Argument for God’s existence?  Are the first 2 premises sound?
  4. In what ways are humans different from the animals?
  5. What is the cafeteria approach to religion?  Why is this problematic? What presuppositions are evident in that approach to religion?
  6. In what ways does Christianity stand apart from other world religions?
  7. What is the bad news?  What is the good news?  Does the good news make sense w/o the bad?
  8. Why does the resurrection prove that God exists and that Christianity is true?

Apologetics Class 2/4/2018

Tomorrow in the Apologetics class, I plan to show the following videos:

 

Then this Living Waters video of the Way of the Master TV episode on Atheism (please note – you can purchase this video online here):

 

 

 

Here is the note-taking form with discussion questions that I plan to hand out:

Apologetics @ Ohio State & Atheism (WotM) 2/4/2017

Give Me an Answer – Cliffe Knechtle at Ohio State (~17 minutes)

  1. God’s forgiveness and penalty for sin
    1. God only forgives us when we a________ for forgiveness.
    2. According to Christ, it’s God who we’ve sinned against. According to God, when I sin, what I owe him is my life-the wages of sin is death.
  2. God is selfish/jealous. Doesn’t God owe me something?
    1. God doesn’t owe us anything. God gave us g_______ of l_______, we messed it up.  God gave His only Son, Christ to bleed and die on a cross, so God has given Himself for us.  Question is, how are we going to r_______ to God’s g_______, love and generosity?
    2. If children are drugs, & I’m not jealous, something wrong with my love! If wife is committing adultery, and I experience no jealousy, then I don’t understand what love is.
  3. He’s so committed to us that he gives c_____________ to good people.
    1. God doesn’t give cancer to good people. You and I live in a cursed, messed up world, in Genesis 3, we read about a big fall (not stubbing toe).  Adam and Eve commit cosmic t_____________ against God. Book of Job…  Did Job sin?  Is that why he suffered?  No!  Job suffered because he was born into a cursed, unfair world.
  4. Job s______________ because God had a bet with Satan!
    1. Satan challenged integrity of Job’s faith. Satan’s point was, The only reason Job has faith in God is because he gets good things from Him and once He take those away, he’ll curse God to His face. Is Job’s faith based on based on having the good things in life?  Or is Job’s faith based on the character of God being good, in spite of the circumstances of life?  When the circumstances of life turn unfair and cruel, Job’s faith is so magnificent, because his faith not based on circumstances of life, it’s based on the character of God.
  5. When you say that every other religion is wrong, who are you to say that?
    1. Jesus Christ contradicts Buddha, Muhammad and the Avatars of Hinduism. The law of non-contradiction applies.  ‘A’ and ‘non-A’ cannot be both equally right in the same way at the same time.  Now, the question is, does the evidence support Jesus Christ as being reliable?  Or Siddhartha Gautama Buddha? Or Muhammad?  Or Shirley MacLaine? Or whoever you’re seriously considering?  Jesus lived a sinless life, He taught amazing ethical teachings (Robert Cole, Psychology Professor at Harvard University, points out ‘All the writings on ethics over the past 2,000 years are simply footnotes to the Sermon on the Mount). The evidence is, you can t________ C_________, because He’s credible.
  6. Your evidence is eyewitness accounts from a couple thousand years ago. Christians have a series of anecdotes, not hard evidence (e.g. videos) …how can you disclaim other evidence?
    1. New Testament documents more than anecdotal. NT has so much more m_________ e____________ than any other documents from antiquity. Over 5,000 vs. 20 for others.
    2. Belief with no evidence is blind gullibility. Faith had better be based on evidence.
    3. Used example of not giving wallet to street person, but give to friend. That’s faith/trust.
  7. A robot or machine can’t love. Love, in order to be real, has to be f___________.
  8. Why does God allow terrible things to happen?
    1. Genesis 3 – when we human beings r_______________ against God, He took a step back from planet earth and chaos filled the gap. We’re born into cursed world, not because God created it that way, but because we told God to “get lost”.
  9. The only way there can be a moral a_____________ is if there’s a God that created it.
  10. Do you think that the Nazi’s did wrong in gassing J_____? Student: “By my view of justice, of course”. Is there justice above cultural law?  Cliffe cites the Nuremberg Trials (1945-1949).

Way of the Master – Atheism Episode (~28 minutes)

  1. Atheism: the belief that there’s no God. Takes more f____ to be an atheist than believe in God.
  2. The Atheist’s nightmare – the b____________. Designed for our consumption:
    1. 3 ridges on the far side, 2 ridges on the close side, matches hand
    2. No slip surface with outward indicators of inward contents (green, yellow, brown)
    3. Tab at top like soda can, when you pull tab contents don’t squirt in your face
    4. Wrapper (skin) bio degradable and has perforations
    5. Banana is curved toward the face to make eating it easier.
  3. A building is absolute proof that there was a builder. Creation proof of C___________.
  4. Like a car, that was obviously d____________, our bodies were designed by a Creator.
  5. “There is no God” an absolute statement. I would have to have absolute k___________.
  6. “There is no gold in China” – I would have to know everything about China.
  7. “There is gold in China” – don’t need all knowledge about China, just a little.
  8. A_______ (absolutely sure there is no God) vs. A_________ (based on limited knowledge only)
  9. During discussion with atheist: 1) Changes m____, 2) Deliberate s______, 3) J_________ himself
  10. Ray asks atheist, “Do you know what God has done for you so you don’t have to go to Hell?”
  11. Atheist asks, “How good do you have to be…?” Ray answers, “You have to be p__________”.
  12. Principal: Swing (the conversation) from the i__________ to the c______________.
  13. An atheist may not want to believe in God, demanding absolute proof of His existence.
  14. The atheist is not your enemy, so don’t argue with him. Help him see he’s really agnostic
  15. Apologetics is like b____, God’s law is like the h_____. If no hook, fish swim away fat and happy.

Discussion Questions

  1. 1st video answered & didn’t avoid intellectual questions. 2nd video taught you shouldn’t dwell in the intellectual, but swing to the conscience.  Which is the better approach, more biblical? Why?
  2. Were any of the students in the 1st video humbly seeking the truth or really open to it?
  3. Do you think there were unbeliever’s questions avoided during the 3 conversations presented?
  4. How would you answer the woman near the end who said, “I believe everything on this earth was either accidental or created by man”?
  5. How would you answer the young man who asked, why you should believe in a book written by people thousands of years ago, who were superstitious?

Upcoming

  1. https://camelbackclassic2018.homeschooldebate.net/ (March 22-24) Apologetics Judges needed

Apologetics Class 11/5/2017

Today in the Apologetics Class, we continued our mini-series on the reformation by watching Martin Luther the Man (part 4-5):

 

Here is the note-taking form I passed out at the beginning of the class:

Martin Luther (Part 2)

Excommunicated and on trial (19 minutes 44 seconds)

  1. Luther was a university professor and he was posting basically a proposal for a d__________.
  2. For several years after the posting of the 95 Theses, Luther was, publicly, very r___________________ toward the P________.
  3. When Luther started challenging Tetzel, Tetzel didn’t take it lying down. He accused Luther of heresy.
  4. Tetzel accused Luther of being a “Hus-ite” it was Jan Hus who challenged the Pope and was b_____________ at the s_____________ at the Council of Constance in 1450.
  5. The 95 theses reached the Pope in Rome he said, Luther is just a drunken German. He’ll think differently when he gets sober.
  6. In Heidelberg, in 1518 Luther was put on the biggest stage for the order of the Augustinian monks by his superior (Staupitz).
  7. In the Heidelberg disputation, Luther is espousing a theology of the c_________ that rejects w_______________ righteousness.
  8. The Heidelberg disputation of 1518 was in many ways even more significant than the 95 Theses of 1517.
  9. Pope Leo X appointed Prieres a Dominican monk to respond to Luther. The Dominicans in the Augustinians had a bit of a rivalry
  10. Pope Leo X demanded that Frederick the Wise, responsible for the University of Wittenberg, to deliver up Luther, that “child of the devil”.
  11. Luther wrote that he’d be happy to recant if they just tell me where I’m w______________.
  12. Luther had a debate, which in those days were very long, in this example, 18 days!
  13. Luther was coaxed into admitting that some of the doctrines of Hus, a heretic who had been burned at the stake by the Catholic Church 100 years earlier, should not have been condemned. Then the crowd started to shout, “Death to Luther, the S__________ H________!”
  14. After the debate, Johann Eck traveled to Rome to get a P___________ B________ declaring Luther a heretic. He was the first to start calling Lutherans Lutherans as a term of d____________-that they were following Luther, and not following the authority of the Pope.
  15. The Leipzig debate opened up the issue of authority.
  16. Luther sees the need for reform in the church, but he sees that this is not going to come from the hierarchy of the church.  Luther calls on the Christian nobility, asking the princes to intervene for the sake of the church-“if the Pope won’t do it, you princes do it.”
  17. In the year 1520, Luther wrote several treatises.
  18. A Papal Bull was called a bull because the Pope’s seal was attached to the document. In Latin, the seal was called Bulla.
  19. Luther was given a 60-day notice that he would be e____________________ from the church if he did not return to papal o_______________________.
  20. Luther publicly b_____________ the papal bull, along with the canon law of the Catholic Church.
  21. Luther believed that he too was going to be burned at the stake just like Jan Hus.
  22. The Diet, or assembly, of Worms was convened in 1521.
  23. Prior to the Diet of Worms, the Pope had Luther excommunicated for burning the papal bull.
  24. When Luther was summoned to appear before the Diet of Worms, Frederick the Wise, his elector was concerned about Luther’s safety traveling to and from the Diet of Worms, so he secured s__________ t____________ for Luther to and from the Diet of Worms.
  25. Luther was greeted as a h___________ by the Germans when he arrived at the Diet of Worms.
  26. Johann Eck, the prosecutor, pointed to a table of books and asked Luther are these yours? When Luther answered yes, the prosecutor asked him, “Will you know r__________ all that you have written?”  Luther asked to be able to think about it overnight.  The next day Luther said, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of S____________, or by clear reason, for I do not trust in the Pope or councils alone for it is known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my c____________ is captive to the w________ of G_______. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither s_______ nor r_________ to go against conscience. Here I s____________, I can do no other. May God help me!”

 

In hiding, and the emergence of the Lutheran Church (20 minutes 28 seconds)

  1. The Edict of Worms by Emperor Charles V says “for this reason we forbid anyone from this time forward to dare, either by words or by deeds, to receive, defend, sustain, or favor the said Martin Luther. On the contrary, we want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic.”
  2. The edict meant that Luther could be killed by a___________, anytime, anywhere, without any fear of r________________. But Luther had been kidnapped by people working for his prince, in order to protect him. They took Luther to the castle of Frederick the Wise – the Wartburg. Even Frederick the Wise didn’t know where he was.
  3. In 11 or 12 weeks, while in the castle, Luther translated the entire N_______ T_______________ from Greek into German.  In Luther’s day the only official Bible was the Latin Vulgate. To possess a Bible in any other language than Latin, Greek or Hebrew was punishable by d_____________.
  4. In 1517, 7 parents were burned at the stake for teaching their children The L__________’s P_____________ in English.
  5. Luther had found a way to escape his own fear and terror of God, in the word of God, and he wanted people to know that p______________ that he had found.
  6. Luther introduced the concept that people should be able to understand God’s word in their own l_____________ and not depend on hearing it i___________________ by the church.
  7. This work of translation was one of Luther’s greatest accomplishments. We would have heard of him even if he had done nothing in terms of the Reformation.
  8. Luther’s Reformation was always a conservative Reformation, k__________ as much as possible from the medieval Church. Only that which contradicts scripture should be surrendered.
  9. Luther didn’t I want a religious reform movement turned into a political or social revolution. Luther was trying to steer a middle course between all the contrasting extremes that were upsetting the whole program.
  10. In 1526 Luther was rebuilding the church.
  11. In late medieval worship service the congregation were regarded as s__________. They listened to the Liturgy of the mass, probably sung by a choir. But Luther wanted them to be a_________.
  12. In Luther’s liturgy, lay people would be receiving both of the elements in communion (b____________ and w____________) which was not the custom in the medieval Church.
  13. Luther was the author of the hymn, the great battle hymn of the Reformation, “A Mighty F________________ Is Our God”.
  14. Luther wrote the large and the small catechism. The large catechism was for pastors. The small catechism was written so that the head of the household could t___________ the truths of the scriptures to his c___________________.
  15. In 1529, the Roman Emperor Charles V, sent a letter to all the Lutheran princes Asking them to come back to the mother church “or else”.
  16. The Lutheran princes responded from Speyer in 1529, “we protest…” This is where the word P________________ comes from.
  17. There was a meeting of key Protestant leaders, Luther, Zwingli, and others at Marburg in 1529. In that meeting they agreed on everything except the L____ S_____. Zwingli trying to spiritualize it, Luther was immovable on point that the Lord’s Body and blood were present in communion.
  18. Charles V called for a diet at Augsburg in 1530 for the Lutheran prince’s to gather and defend their religious convictions.
  19. Luther was still under the Bull of the Pope and the ban of Charles V, and he had to stay 150 miles away from Augsburg. Luther did not attend but Melanchthon did on his behalf. Out of this came the Augsburg C_________________.
  20. To this day, the Augsburg Confession is the confession of the Lutheran church.
  21. Cornerstones of Lutheran Churches to this day, often have the letters U.A.C. engraved on them. This indicates that they adhere to the U_________________ Augsburg Confession.
  22. The Smalcaldic Confession became one of the key documents of the Lutheran theology.
  23. The Book of Concord is the final document which includes the Smalcaldic confession and forms the basis of Lutheranism.
  24. There was a Roman Catholic pharmacist present at Luther’s death who testified what happened there.  Luther had a massive heart attack in Eisleben (the town where he had been born) & his friend Justus Jonas asks him, while in the throes of agony, “Are you willing to stand on the confession of Christ which you have made?” He replied yes & kept quoting John 3:16 to himself.
  25. Martin Luther is important because he rediscovered the g_____________, the good news that God in Christ his reconciling the world to Himself. That rediscovery had tremendous consequences for both church and culture.

Discussion Questions

  1. What were some of the negative aspects of Luther’s views (not discussed in the video)?
  2. What was Luther’s purpose in posting the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church?
  3. Who was Jan Hus what happened to him?
  4. Why did Leo X excommunicate Luther from the Roman Catholic Church?
  5. What great hymn did Martin Luther write?
  6. When and where did Martin Luther translate the New Testament from Greek to German?
  7. Did Martin Luther want to start a new church?
  8. Who first called Lutherans Lutherans?
  9. Where did the word “Protestant” come from?
  10. How did Luther respond at the Diet of Worms when Johann Eck asked him to recant?
  11. What was the punishment during Luther’s day for possessing a Bible in any other language than Latin?
  12. Were there other reformers besides Luther?  Who are some?

 

Apologetics Class 10/29/2017

Today, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we started a 2 week mini series on Martin Luther.  We watched parts 1-3 of Martin Luther the Man:

 

 

Here is the note-taking form I handed out before the video:

Martin Luther

Part 1 His Early Life (13 minutes 17 seconds)

  1. The late medieval church was very powerful
  2. No social security in those days, your social security policy was your s________
  3. Luther’s dad wanted him to be a l___________
  4. Luther’s concept of God was influenced by the fact that his father was so strict and he wasn’t sure he l____________ his father at that point (after getting disciplined)
  5. Church’s slogan at that time – do what is i___ y________ and God will not refuse you grace.
  6. If you fail, confession – priest will give you something to do to satisfy the penalty (penance)
  7. If you don’t do enough penance to cover all the sin, the answer was time in p___________
  8. You’re the one earning the f____________, you’re the one paying the price
  9. When studying at university, he found a copy of the B_______________ in the library
  10. It was understood that laymen needed Church’s help to understand/interpret the Bible
  11. Several incidents in Luther’s life caused him to develop a fear of d_______________.
  12. July 2nd 1505, Luther caught in thunderstorm – he cries out “Saint Anne, help me and I will become a m________!”
  13. Shortly after that, Luther entered a very strict m______________ of the Observant Augustinians
  14. Decision to enter monastery motivated in part by what was going to happen after death
  15. Obsessed by g_________ and the f_________ of damnation, Luther was trying in vain to find assurance of his s_______________.

Part 2 – His Monk Life (15 minutes 56 seconds)

  1. He led a very strict, d_________________ life including self-flagellation
  2. He was very concerned about his salvation and didn’t find the s_________ he thought he would
  3. The more he tried to do things right and by the book, the more he realized he was falling s_____
  4. You had to name all sins – both sins you committed and righteous acts you failed to do – under the medieval system of confession and p____________
  5. Not every monk was a priest – he was a man has taken a vow of p_____________ and ch_______________, a priest was one who was trained to handle the sacraments
  6. Luther was ordained in 1507
  7. His greatest fear as a priest was: how could he possibly tr______________ the bread and the wine into the body and blood of Christ?
  8. He was a good monk – especially at m___________________, self-torture – trying to prove to God that you really, truly are sorry for your sins. He whipped himself, walked over stone floors on his knees, laid out in the snow without covering himself.
  9. Study of the scriptures made things worse, because he’s finding the r________________ of God
  10. He felt that God was a t_______________, demanding what could not be given
  11. In 1509, he earned his Bachelor of the Bible degree
  12. In the fall of 1510, he made a trip to R____________ to defend a dispute that arose within the Augustinian Hermits of Germany
  13. He was disappointed when he really saw what Rome was like.
  14. Luther came to his reformation breakthrough as a p________________, not as a single event.
  15. The L___________ V____________ was the official Bible of the Church – it was translated by St. Jerome in 380 AD
  16. Erasmus organized a newer new testament from the older Greek documents and Luther found that St. Jerome had m___________ the word ‘metanoia’ as ‘do penance’ instead of ‘repentance’
  17. Everything changed for Luther when he found out that it’s not about me c____________ up to God, but about God c_______________ to me.

Part 3 – Purgatory & Indulgences (12 minutes 42 seconds)

  1. Purgatory not defined until the Council of Lyon in 1274, but talked about since Augustine (around 4th century AD)
  2. When you went to confession, the priest absolved you, but that absolution only covered the g_____________ of your sins, it did not cover the p__________________ for your sins. You still had to work off the punishment – either in this life, or in Purgatory.
  3. The Pope at Luther’s time was Leo the 10th – needed money to build St. Peter’s Basilica
  4. Pope Leo the 10th instituted the sale of “i___________________”
  5. There was a special kind of indulgence called a Plenary Indulgence – time in Purgatory altogether taken care of.
  6. The “Treasury of Merit” was under the power of the Pope
  7. The indulgences would allow you to escape additional months, years in purgatory if you paid for the indulgence.
  8. To the common people they probably thought this was paying for the f________________ of s__________, but it was not.
  9. John Tetzel, a Dominican monk, was the chief salesman of indulgences in the territory next to Luther’s
  10. How do you get indulgences sold? You make promises, for example if your grandma Schmidt is suffering in purgatory she’ll be freed from her suffering
  11. The infamous phrase in the sales pitch was, “As soon as the c_____________ in the coffer rings, the s_____________ from Purgatory springs.
  12. Frederick the wise would not let Tetzel sell his indulgences in his territory. Frederick the wise had a collection of relics, which it was said that if you viewed all of the relics (and offer certain prayers) you could earn forgiveness, and you could get 2 million years off of your time in Purgatory!
  13. Some were even showing their indulgences to Luther asking for a s_______________ o________________. People were coming to him and saying I don’t need to go to confession and absolution because I have a “Plenary Indulgence”.
  14. Luther knew that people were being told that they had to pay for God’s m_________________.
  15. Luther drew up a set of theses on the p_______________ and efficacy of indulgences, ninety-five theses. He posted this list on the door of the church in Wittenberg on October 31st, 1517
  16. People got a hold of those theses and translated them from Latin to German and they were being published widely on Gutenberg’s new printing press.
  17. Here are some of the theses:
    1. Luther’s theses started with these words: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said repent, he willed the entire life of believers to be one of r_______________________. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction as administered by the clergy.”
    2. Thesis 27: “They preach only h_______________ d_________________ who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.”
    3. Thesis 82: If the Pope could redeem souls from purgatory for the sake of money with which to build a church, why did he not free all the needy souls, for the sake of C_________________ l____________?
  18. When Luther posted the theses in 1517, he was still a good C__________________.
  19. Luther was aware there was something really r______________ in the church, and the pope had to do something about it. But Luther found that the pope was actually complicit in all of this.

Discussion Questions

 

  1. What incident in Luther’s life caused him to want to join a monastery?
  2. Why did Luther enter a monastery and become a monk?
  3. Did Martin Luther have assurance of salvation when he was a monk?
  4. What miracle is every priest expected to perform during the Lord’s Supper?
  5. What is the Latin Vulgate? Who was it translated by?
  6. What mistake was made in the translation of the New Testament in Mark 1:15 by St. Jerome?
  7. What is the doctrine of purgatory?
  8. When was the doctrine of purgatory defined?
  9. When you went to confession, in the Catholic Church, what occurred and what were the results?
  10. What is a Plenary Indulgence? What benefit did this Indulgence have for the believer?
  11. Who is John Tetzel? What was he famous for?
  12. When did Luther make his 95 Theses? Where did he post it?
  13. Did Luther want to leave the Catholic Church at the time when he posted his 95 Theses?

 

Apologetics Class 10/1/2017

Today I wrapped up our Mormonism class by reviewing the information we covered in the last 6 weeks.  We watched a short video by Bill McKeever on the golden plates:

Here are the slides I used for our recap:

  1. Slide 1 – Mormonism Recap, What did we learn during the last 7 weeks?
    1. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this class series on Mormonism… Here’s where we’ve been for the last 7 weeks

  1. Slide 2 – Where We’ve Been the Last 7 Weeks:
    1. We started off with the overview video “Good News for LDS”
    2. 2009 podcast from J. Warner Wallace, the cold case homicide detective, gave unique, evidential perspective on Joseph Smith and the book of Mormon.
    3. Then watched the hour long film on the Lost book of Abraham
    4. We also watched the Way of the Master episode on Mormonism
    5. We continued with a Mormon role-play with Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason
    6. And finally, today, we looked at Bill McKeever’s argument concerning the weight of the golden plates

  1. Slide 3 – Topics and Areas We Covered during these weeks:
    1. History of the LDS beginnings
    2. “Translation” process of the Book of Mormon from Golden Plates
    3. The Character traits and motives of Joseph Smith, the founder
    4. The story of the Book of Abraham
    5. Overview of Mormon doctrines, theology and practices
    6. Strategies and approaches in reaching Mormon people
    7. Responding to Mormon claims with grace and truth

  1. Slide 4 – Good News for LDS:
    1. We started this whole series with a 12 chapter video overview of Mormonism
    2. If you want to find out more about the video and the participants, visit http://www.goodnewsforlds.com
    3. It appears to have been made around 2006/2007…

  1. Slide 5 – Good News for LDS Topics:
    1. Who is Jesus?
      1. Mormons say Jesus was the first spirit born to our heavenly Father
      2. According to Mormonism, Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer (Satan)
  • Christian view of Jesus – He was God in the flesh, eternal, the uncreated Creator of all things (including angels). (Man à God vs. God à Man)
  1. Who is God?
    1. According to Joseph Smith, the Father has a body of flesh and bones. (D&C 130:22) – read this
    2. According to the Bible, God (the Father) is Spirit. (John 4:24)
  • God is everlasting (Psalms 90:2)
  1. According to the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, God was once a man.
  2. According to LDS teaching, there are many gods.
  3. According to 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, there is no God but one.
  • Book of Abraham 2:24 has God telling Abraham to lie, which contradicts Ex. 20:16
  1. How Do We Obtain Eternal Life?
    1. Christian view – belief in Christ as Savior and Lord guarantees eternal life (free gift).
    2. Mormon view – 2 Nephi 25:23b read this
  • Mormon view – (D&C 76) 3 Kingdoms: Telestial, Terrestrial, Celestial. You have to keep all the commandments, be baptized, etc…
  1. Christian view – all authority is in Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18)
  2. Mormon view – Joseph Smith holds the keys to heaven.
  3. Christian view – we can know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13)
  • Mormon view – they can’t be sure if they will make it into the celestial kingdom
  1. Archaeological Evidence:
    1. No book of Mormon location is known with reference to modern topography (Professor Dee Green – BYU)
    2. Biblical archaeology can be studied – we know where biblical places are (e.g. Jerusalem)
  2. Joseph Smith – Prophecies and Revelations
    1. Inhabitants of the Moon – look like Quakers
    2. City of New Jerusalem – to be built in Independence, Missouri
  • David Patten Mission, but he died at the battle of cricket river in the fall of that year (this was a false prophecy)
  1. See Deut. 13:1-3, a warning against false prophets
  2. Biblical requirement for a prophet – 100% accuracy (Deut. 18:21-22)
  3. Joseph prophesied the coming of the Lord, but Jesus said that’s impossible (Matt. 24:36)
  1. The Character of Joseph Smith
    1. He is portrayed by the LDS church as a virtuous family man who is persecuted for his beliefs, but prevails, due to his tremendous faith and his miraculous works.
    2. At the age of 14, Joseph claimed to have a vision of God the Father and Jesus.
  • At age 21, Joseph was arrested in Bainbridge, NY for deception of Josiah Stole (a misdemeanor for his “glass looking”)
  1. Joseph Smith committed multiple adulteries. 27 women were “sealed” to him. He revealed the doctrine of “plural marriage” in 1843 after being caught in an adulterous affair with Fanny Alger.  He married underage girls & women who were already married.
  2. Warren Jeffs is in prison for the same behavior that Joseph practiced.
  3. The Bible condemns multiple wives. (Deut. 17:17, Mark 10:7-9, 1 Tim. 3:2,12; Titus 1:6)
  1. The First Vision
    1. Joseph Smith recorded several different accounts of his first vision. Some of these accounts have Jesus only, some have an angel, some have multiple angels, but the official version of the LDS church has God the Father and Jesus appearing to him.
    2. Since the official vision was before Smith’s official ordination to the priesthood, this would conflict with D&C84:21-22, which says without the authority of the priesthood, no man can see the Father and live.
  • There are 9 varying accounts of the first vision. The first vision is considered the foundation and the cornerstone of the Mormon religion.
  1. Joseph was a 14 year old boy when he supposedly first had this visitation.
  2. He was known around the country as a fabricator of stories. Even his father-in-law thought so.
  3. In 1855 Brigham Young preached a sermon in which he denied that the Lord came to Joseph in the first vision, but was rather visited by an angel.
  1. The Occult
    1. Joseph, his father and brother were actively involved in the occult while living in NY
    2. Joseph found his seer stone while money digging. This seer stone was claimed to have been used by Joseph to translate the Book of Mormon from the golden plates.
  • On March 15th 1842, Joseph Smith joined the Freemasons (believe Jesus is not divine)
  1. Joseph’s Mason membership affected the development of the temple ceremonies
  2. Nauvoo, Illinois temple architecture utilized masonic symbols
  3. The Jupiter Talisman – one of Joseph’s intimate possessions. Guaranteed the possessor the gain of riches, favor, power, love and peace and ability to influence female love.  This talisman was found is Joseph’s pocket the day he died in Carthage.
  1. The Translator
    1. The golden plates were not used during the translation of The Book of Mormon. Rather, it was translated by Joseph looking into a “peep stone” (seer stone) inside a hat.
    2. Oliver Cowdery was primary scribe for Joseph & 1 of “the 3 witnesses” listed in BoM
  • Joseph Smith boasted that the BoM was the most accurate book in existence.
  1. If this book was translated by the power of God, why thousands of corrections?
  2. The witnesses said that they never physically saw or handled the golden plates.
  3. Paul warns of another gospel in Galatians 1:8 (even from an angel [e.g. Moroni]…)
  • Kinderhook Plates – a trap set for Joseph, a hoax to expose him as a false prophet.
  1. Lamanites and DNA
    1. Lamanites are described by Joseph Smith as ancestors of the ancient Israelites
    2. DNA testing of > 5000 Native Americans from 150 different tribes has been completed
  • Not 1 person contained DNA that was of Hebrew descent, but rather of Asian descent.
  1. In order to be a Mormon, one must trust in the “stories” of Joseph Smith
  2. The Book of Abraham has been proven to be completely false. No Egyptologists agree with Joseph’s interpretation of the ancient scroll. Rather, it is a common funeral text.
  1. Conclusion – Jesus Christ vs. Joseph Smith
    1. Joseph claimed that there were many ancient cities in the Americas (38) – not one has ever been found.
    2. DNA evidence disproves his story about Native American origins
  • He was a liar, a false prophet, a womanizer/adulterer, a fraud.
  1. Examine objectively the life of Joseph Smith and the teachings of the Book of Mormon over against the Jesus of the New Testament and the reliability of the Bible
  2. The Mormons are good people and they’re worth the fight. We love them.
  3. There are no excuses at the final judgement
  • All you have to do is believe in Christ.
  • You must choose to follow Joseph or to follow Jesus – you can’t do both. CHOOSE!

  1. Slide 6 – J. Warner Wallace, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon:
    1. He is a cold case homicide detective and has a very unique perspective in looking at the Mormon issue

  1. Slide 7 – J. Warner Wallace Topics
    1. Evidence Related to Motive:
      1. Sexual Lust
      2. Financial Greed
  • The Pursuit of Power
  1. Evidence Related to the Timing of the Writing
    1. The Second Great Awakening Swept Through New York
    2. The Great Preachers of the Awakening Left Little Guidance
  • The Culture Was Fascinated With the Origin of Native Americans
  1. Ethan Smith – “View of the Hebrews”, published 5 years before BoM
  2. The People of Palmyra Were Interested in Treasure-Digging
  1. Evidence Related to the Author of the Book
    1. Joseph was a Local Treasure-Digger
    2. Joseph Used a “Seer Stone”
  • Joseph Was Charged with Fraud
  1. Evidence Related to the Translation Process
    1. Joseph Translated Just As He Searched for Treasure
    2. Joseph Was Unable to Duplicate the Lost 116 Pages
  • No One Ever Observed the Plates with Their Natural Eyes (3 witnesses)

  1. Slide 8 – the importance of the 3 & 8 Witnesses

While the Mormon Church often portrays these critical three witnesses as trustworthy and reliable, history seems to indicate something different. Oliver Cowdery was eventually excommunicated from the Church after exposing Smith’s first polygamous relationship to Fanny Alger. Smith described Cowdery as a thief, liar, perjurer, counterfeiter, adulterer and leader of “scoundrels of the deepest degree”. Cowdery later became a Methodist and denied the Book of Mormon altogether and publicly confessed his “sorrow and Shame” for having any connection with Mormonism.

Martin Harris was a member of 5 different religious groups before becoming a Mormon, and he was part of eight different groups after leaving Mormonism. He was also excommunicated from the Mormon Church and later reported that he did not see the plates as Smith described, but only saw the plates three days after Cowdery and Whitmer and then only in a spiritual sense:

“I never saw the gold plates, only in a visionary or entranced state. …In about three days I went into the woods to pray that I might see the plates. While praying I passed into a state of entrancement, and in that state I saw the angel and the plates.” (Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70-71).

David Whitmer was also excommunicated from the Church and later declared he was himself a prophet of the New Church of Christ. Joseph called him a “dumb beast to ride” and an “ass to bray out coursings instead of blessings”. Whitmer later admitted he saw the plates “by the eye of faith” rather than with his physical eyes and he waffled between three varying accounts of how he saw the plates.

Eventually, Smith decided this group of three “witnesses” was insufficient; he involved eight additional men and recruited them as potential eyewitnesses, forming a group of eleven total witnesses to the golden plates. Smith limited his choices to men who were close friends and relatives. He first involved four brothers of David Whitmer. Smith next recruited his own father, two of his brothers and Hiram Page (who was married to David Whitmer’s sister, Catherine). Even though Smith limited his choices to close friends and relatives, these men also had trouble staying true to the faith founded on the golden plates they claimed to see. Two of these eight men apostatized and left the Church altogether. Another was excommunicated. Of the eleven men who claimed to see the golden plates, only five remained faithful to Mormonism. Three of these five men were blood relatives of Joseph Smith. Martin Harris later reported these additional eight witnesses also observed the plates in a vision and never saw the plates with their “natural eyes”.

  1. Slide 10 – Book of Abraham Points
    1. How he came to possess the scrolls
      1. The book of Abraham is considered inspired Scripture (word of God) by the LDS church.
      2. Joseph Smith translated this from an ancient Egyptian scroll of hieroglyphics (bought in Kirtland, OH 1835) but at that time in America, no one could read Egyptian hieroglyphics.
  • Joseph Smith purchased the scrolls (and mummies) for $2,400, which he raised from investors.
  1. How he “translated” the scrolls
    1. Joseph started by creating an alphabet and grammar of the Egyptian language. We have his notes for this process.
    2. Joseph created a bank in Kirtland, OH, which failed, after which he fled from there at night.
  • Joseph and the Mormons moved to Commerce, IL and renamed it to Nauvoo, where he became mayor of the city, had a large militia & even announced his candidacy for president of the US
  1. In Nauvoo, IL in 1842, Joseph published his translation of the book of Abraham.
  2. The book of Abraham includes a creation story “they, that is the Gods, organized and formed…”. See the book of Abraham chapters 4 & 5 – Mormonism is polytheistic.
  3. In June 27th, 1844, Joseph was assassinated while in jail in Carthage, IL
  1. Scrolls were lost:
    1. 1846 – 1856: the papyri are lost to the church
    2. In 1846, under the leadership of Brigham Young, the Mormons moved to Salt Lake City, UT
  • It was assumed that the papyri was destroyed in the great Chicago fire of 1871
  1. 3 drawings in book of Abraham misidentified by Joseph, according to Egyptologists.
  2. These drawings are actually, from the “book of the dead” (Egyptian funeral text)
  1. Scrolls found and actually translated
    1. 1966 – A dramatic discovery – the papyri was found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
    2. 1967 – the lost papyri presented to the LDS church along with attesting letter from Emma Smith
  • Abraham not mentioned once in the papyri. Joseph’s translation was found to be incorrect.
  1. The LDS church claims that a large portion of the scroll is missing, but this is not correct.
  2. Some argue that Joseph may’ve received the translation by direct revelation from God…
  3. According to Joseph Smith’s diary, this is not correct – he was translating it directly.
  • According to Egyptologists, there is no historical validity to the translations in that book.
  • Are the Mormon truth claims credible? Are they the kinds of things that we ought to bet our lives on?
  1. Since Joseph’s translation of the book of Abraham, which can be tested, has been found to lack credibility, then how can we accept his translation of the book of Mormon, which cannot be tested?

  1. Slide 12 – Way of the Master Topics
    1. The Mormon Holy Books and Sources of Authority
      1. The Book of Mormon (“the most correct of any book on earth” according to Joseph Smith)
      2. Doctrine and Covenants – a book mostly about theology
  • The Pearl of Great Price
  1. The King James Bible (in so far as it is translated correctly)
  2. The ultimate authority in the Mormon Church comes from living Mormon apostles and prophets, especially the president, who is considered to be “the voice of God on earth”.
  1. Mormon Teachings about God:
    1. God has not been God from all eternity
    2. Jesus is a god
  • Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament
  1. They limit Jesus to being the Creator only of this planet
  2. There are an infinite number of gods who created an infinite number of other worlds
  3. God has a body of flesh and bones like us
  • We can become like God if we adhere to his commandments
  • God is married and has many wives and they had many spirit babies, resulting in you and I getting here.
  1. It is possible to become a god, reigning over your own planet.
  1. The Mormon Jesus
    1. Law of progression – men and God are of the same species. We are at different point in our progression
    2. God, the Father of this planet is called Elohim
  • The Mormon God cannot create anything Ex-Nihilo (out of nothing) – he “organized” this earth
  1. The first “begotten” of his spirit children was Jehovah (or Jesus) – we all are the spirt brothers of Jesus.
  2. Another one of the offspring of Elohim was Lucifer – according to Mormonism, Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer.
  3. Jesus was not the eternal Creator of all things, who became a man (as the Bible says) – they have it reversed, they believe that man became a god instead
  1. The Mormon Afterlife
    1. Almost a universal salvation – only those who’ve actually had revelation of the truthfulness of Mormonism and reject it have sinned bad enough to merit eternal hell.
    2. There is a temporary hell in Mormonism (the spirit prison) that non-Mormons would go to.
  • They would not believe Hitler went to hell
  1. 4 levels of afterlife:
    1. Eternal (outer) darkness – devil, demons, a few apostate Mormons
    2. Terrestrial (for non-Mormons, Hitler, murderers, rapists, child molesters, liars, thieves)
    3. Telestial
    4. Celestial (highest – this is where God is)
  2. The Mormon Salvation
    1. 2 Nephi 25:23b – “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do
    2. Moroni 10:32 – if you “love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you” (vs. 2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • Spencer Kimball (former president of the LDS Church) – one of the most fallacious doctrines (of the devil) is that man is saved alone by the grace of God.
  1. Witnessing Tips
    1. You must define your terms, because Mormons use all the same terms as Christians, but they have different meanings for those terms
    2. Ask the Mormon first to explain who their God is, who their Jesus is and how salvation is gained
  • Pose this to a Mormon – “If the Mormon religion is right and I’m wrong, then I go to the 3rd level of heaven. But if the Bible is right and the LDS church is wrong, then you are following a false Jesus and you’ll end up in hell forever.”
  1. Baptism for the Dead
    1. Mormons get baptized for dead people. They use 1 Corinthians 15:29 to justify that.
    2. If anyone dies without believing in Mormonism, they can still make it to heaven if someone is baptized on their behalf. They can accept Mormonism in the spirit world.
  2. The main point in reaching the Mormon is using the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).

  1. Slide 14 – Mormon Role Play Points
    1. How would you define a Christian?
      1. Elder Kunkle: You probably believe something like this – Mormons are not Christians
      2. Elder Kunkle: How would you define a Christian, what is a Christian?
  • Someone answered “Someone who has been saved by Jesus and professes Him as their Lord and Savior”
  1. Mormon definition of Jesus:
    1. “Mormons have a different definition of Jesus” – but Elder Kunkle affirmed that Jesus was:
      1. Born of the Virgin Mary
      2. Is the Son of God
      3. Lived a sinless, perfect life
      4. Died on the cross to atone for our sins
      5. Rose from the dead – bodily
    2. Deity of Christ & the Trinity:
      1. “Jesus claimed to be God” – Elder Kunkle challenged, “Where did Jesus claim to be God?”
      2. Elder Kunkle: the oneness that Jesus is talking about is oneness in unity.
  • Elder Kunkle: I affirm, “One Lord and One Savior”
  1. Audience member says that his Bible does not say that God was once a man, like Mormonism believes. Elder Kunkle replies, “You don’t believe Jesus was a man?”  Person replies, “I’m not saying Jesus, I’m saying God”
  2. Elder Kunkle: we believe in the Father, we believe in the Son, we believe in the Holy Spirit…I believe in the God of the Bible…. But one of the differences we have is the Trinity… the claim of the Trinity is that you have 3 beings in 1 being, but that is a patent contradiction.
  3. One audience member brought up Jesus is considered to be Lucifer’s brother in Mormonism
  • Elder Kunkle: Colossians 1 – Jesus is the first born of all creation. So, He is the first born Son of God.
  • Elder Kunkle: If Jesus is God, in Matthew 26 Jesus is praying to God, but if Jesus is God, then He is just praying to Himself.
  1. Elder Kunkle: There’s nowhere you can point to in Scripture to show the Trinity – where is the Trinity in the Bible?
  2. One audience member brought up John 10:30 – I and the Father are one. Elder Kunkle replied that in this church, you probably all consider yourself to be “one”, but not the same being.
  3. Elder Kunkle: where in the Bible does it say that to be a Christian, you have to affirm that Jesus is Yahweh?
  • Elder Kunkle quotes John 14, where Jesus says, “The Father is greater than I”
  1. Book of Mormon / additional revelation:
    1. One audience member says he has been “taught his doctrine” – he was indoctrinated differently
    2. One audience member said you put your faith in a man who brought an additional book
  • Elder Kunkle: that’s all the Book of Mormon is – it’s God speaking through a man
  1. Elder Kunkle: Just like God built on the Old Testament and gave us the New Testament, God builds on the New Testament and gives us another testament to Jesus Christ (BoM)
  2. One audience member quotes Revelation 22:19 “If any man shall take away from the words…”
  3. Elder Kunkle replies with Deut. 4:2, which has the same warning.
  • One audience member quotes John 8:58 – says Jesus claimed to be Elohim.
  • Elder Kunkle made a case for works salvation (James 2, Philippians 2, Acts 2, Eph. 2 etc.)
  1. Christians inarticulate / apologetics not optional, but required – asked everyone to do a self-assessment
    1. What we wanted to do tonight was provide you a little test.
    2. Most evangelical Christians do not know what they believe or why they believe it
  • Most Christians are completely inarticulate about what they believe and why they believe it.
  1. We wanted you to take this test here, now, with me before you go out the door and have this test with “the real thing”.
  2. We need to be effective ambassadors for Jesus Christ and being an effective ambassador means that you have to know some things – you have to have knowledge of the truth.
  3. How many of you would be able to make the case that Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God and that the Father is God and that those 3 persons are together the one God, who offers salvation solely through faith in Christ by grace alone? Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10.
  • How well would you be able to reason from the Scripture? How prepared would you be?
  • 2 Timothy 2:15 – how many can say that we are workmen who do not need to be ashamed because we can accurately handle the God’s Word?
  1. Many of you had courage to defend, but many of you did not accurately handle God’s Word
  2. I would much rather have you fail in here, than with your Mormon neighbor.
  3. We Christians spend most of our time talking with other Christians
  • Many of us are fearful to open our mouths about Jesus b/c we don’t have answers to objections
  • Apologetics is not some optional thing we do as believers, apologetics is not a club for nerds. Apologetics should be an essential part of our discipleship under Jesus Christ.
  • It’s not enough to simply be right. Not only need knowledge, but wisdom and character too…
  1. How were you as representatives of Jesus Christ? He came in grace & truth (Jn 1:14) – need both
  • Sometimes you’ve got to be made uncomfortable before you realize that you need to grow.
  • John 10:30 – you have to go further in reading that passage in order to make the case from that

Here is the note-taking form I handed out:

Notes for the LDS Recap Session

  1. Bill McKeever – Problems with the Golden Plates
  2. Good News for LDS
  3. Warner Wallace on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon
  4. The Book of Abraham
  5. The Way of the Master Mormonism Episode
  6. Mormon Role-Play, Brett Kunkle (Elder Kunkle)

Discussion Questions

  1. How has your view of Mormonism changed during this study?
  2. How has your view of the Mormon people changed during this study?
  3. What new information did you learn about Mormonism that will be useful to you?
  4. In your view, what is the most compelling evidence demonstrating that Mormonism is false?
  5. Do you now feel more or less likely to reach out to Mormons in your circle of influence?
  6. When talking to Mormons, do you think it is more effective to:
    1. Address their non-orthodox theology & doctrines
      OR
    2. Talk about Joseph Smith’s character, the translation process of the Book of Mormon and the lack of archeological support
      OR
    3. Just share the Gospel
  7. How would you explain to a Mormon why you don’t think Joseph Smith is a prophet of God?
  8. What reason(s) do you have for not accepting the Book of Mormon as Scripture?
  9. Why do we believe Mormon people are not evil enemies to be opposed?
  10. What were the 3 ungodly motivations that drove Joseph to perpetrate his lies?
  11. How do the biblical and Mormon views of the following differ?
    1. Jesus
    2. God the Father differ?
    3. Eternal life (as well as how one obtains it) differ?
  12. Is there any archeological evidence that the Book of Mormon is true? Is there any archeological evidence that the Bible is true?
  13. Has Joseph Smith met the biblical test for a prophet of God? Where is that biblical test found?
  14. How is the Joseph Smith portrayed by the LDS church different than the Joseph Smith of history?
  15. How would you answer the following charges?
    1. Men of God in the Old Testament had multiple wives, so this must be a practice approved by God
    2. Several biblical authors were also sinners (e.g. David, Solomon, Abraham, Moses, Peter, Paul etc.) like Joseph, so we can still believe Joseph’s writings
  16. How old was Joseph when he supposedly received his first vision?
  17. Were the accounts of Joseph’s vision always consistently told by him?
  18. What is a “peep stone” or “seer stone”? What did Joseph use it for?
  19. Was Joseph ever in trouble with the law? Was he ever arrested?  How is this different from the apostles Peter, John and Paul being imprisoned in the book of Acts?
  20. How did Joseph supposedly translate the “Book of Mormon” into English?
  21. What are the “Kinderhook Plates” and what do they tell us about the nature of Joseph Smith?
  22. How does DNA evidence contradict Joseph Smith’s story of Native American origins?
  23. What is the Book of Abraham? What is the story of that book’s origin? What does it tell us about the reliability of Joseph Smith as a translator of ancient languages?
  24. What evidence could you provide to show Joseph Smith is a womanizer and an adulterer?
  25. What circumstances led Joseph Smith to claim that polygamy was a “God-ordained” practice?

Apologetics Class 9/17/2017

Today we continued the Mormonism series by watching Way of the Master – Mormonism Episode:

Here is the note-taking form:

Way of the Master – Mormonism

The Mormon Holy Books and Sources of Authority

  1. The Book of M________ (“the most correct of any book on earth” according to Joseph Smith)
  2. Doctrine and Covenants – a book mostly about th____________
  3. The Pearl of G_________ P_____________
  4. The K_________ J___________ B__________ (in so far as it is translated correctly)
  5. The ultimate authority in the Mormon Church comes from living Mormon apostles and prophets, especially the p_____________, who is considered to be “the voice of God on earth”.
  6. Mormon Teachings about God:
    1. God has not been God from all e__________
    2. Jesus is a god
    3. Jesus is the J______________ of the Old Testament
    4. They limit Jesus to being the C_____________ only of this planet
    5. There are an infinite number of gods who created an infinite number of other worlds
    6. God has a body of f___________ and b___________ like us
    7. We can become like G_________ if we adhere to his commandments
    8. God is married and has many wives and they had many s_______ b___________, resulting in you and I getting here.
    9. It is possible to become a god, reigning over your own p_____________.

The Mormon Jesus

  1. Law of p______________ – men and God are of the same species. We are at different point in our progression
  2. God, the Father of this planet is called E_____________
  3. The Mormon God cannot create anything Ex-Nihilo (out of n______) – he “organized” this earth
  4. The first “begotten” of his spirit children was Jehovah (or Jesus) – we all are the spirt b___________ of Jesus.
  5. Another one of the offspring of Elohim was Lucifer – according to Mormonism, J____________ is the spirit brother of Lucifer.
  6. Jesus was not the eternal Creator of all things, who became a man (as the Bible says)

The Mormon Afterlife

  1. Almost a universal s_______________ – only those who’ve actually had revelation of the truthfulness of Mormonism and reject it have sinned bad enough to merit eternal hell.
  2. There is a temporary h_____ in Mormonism (the spirit prison) that non-Mormons would go to.
  3. They would not believe Hitler went to hell
  4. 4 levels of afterlife:
    1. Eternal (outer) darkness – devil, demons, a few apostate Mormons
    2. Terrestrial (for non-Mormons, Hitler, murderers, rapists, child molesters, liars, thieves)
    3. Telestial
    4. Celestial (highest – this is where God is)

The Mormon Salvation

  1. 2 Nephi 25:23b – “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, a_________ all we can do
  2. Moroni 10:32 – if you “love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you” (vs. 2 Corinthians 12:9)
  3. Spencer Kimball (former president of the LDS Church) – one of the most fallacious doctrines (of the devil) is that man is saved alone by the g___________ of God.

Witnessing Tips

  1. You must d__________ your t__________, because Mormons use all the same terms as Christians, but they have different meanings for those terms
  2. Ask Mormon first to explain who their G___ is, who their J_____ is and how s________ is gained
  3. Pose this to a Mormon – “If the Mormon religion is right and I’m wrong, then I go to the 3rd level of h_________. But if the Bible is right and the L____ church is wrong, then you are following a f________ Jesus and you’ll end up in h_______ forever.”

Baptism for the Dead

  1. Mormons get baptized for dead people. They use 1 Corinthians __:___ to justify that.
  2. If anyone dies without believing in Mormonism, they can still make it to heaven if someone is baptized on their b________. They can accept Mormonism in the s__________ w_________.

 

The main point in reaching the Mormon is using the power of the G________ (Romans 1:16).  Trust in God and p_______ for the Mormon.

Apologetics Class 8/13/2017

Today in the Apologetics Class, we watched Hell’s Best Kept Secret – Ray Comfort / Kirk Cameron:

Here is the note-taking form:

Hell’s Best Kept Secret (Ray Comfort & Kirk Cameron)

  1. The “fall-away rate” – 80-90% of “decisions” fall away from their faith. In other words, there are 80-90 “backsliders” for every 100 decisions for Christ.
  2. The Church has strayed away from the b_______________ way of presenting the Gospel.
  3. Mark 10:17-22 – Jesus’ approach with the rich young ruler. He was using a principle that prepares the heart for g______________.  It shows people why they need the Savior.
  4. Psalm 19:7 – “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…”
  5. Civil law example – someone paid $25,000 fine on your behalf… (doesn’t make sense)
  6. Telling a person precisely what they’ve done w_______ first, makes the good news make sense.
  7. Romans 3:19 – One function of God’s law: “…that every mouth may be st____________…”
  8. More about the law – Romans 3:20, 1 John 3:4, Romans 7:7, Galatians 3:24
  9. The law doesn’t help us, it just leaves us h_______________. The law doesn’t justify us, it just leaves us g______________ before a just and holy God.
  10. We are not saved by the law, we are saved by God’s grace, through faith.
  11. Modern evangelism tries to attract people to Jesus with the promise of “life e______________”.
  12. Modern Parable about 2 passengers on an airplane that are told to put on a parachute for different reasons – one to improve his flight, the other to prepare for a 25,000 foot jump.
  13. Modern Gospel says, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and He will give you “Love, Joy, Peace, Fulfillment and Lasting Happiness” (i.e. Jesus will “improve your flight”)
  14. The sinner responds and puts on the Savior in an ex___________ fashion and gets just what Jesus promised – trials, tribulation, persecution (other passengers mock him). He’s offended, disillusioned and bitter – he was promised Love, Joy, Peace, Fulfillment and Lasting Happiness
  15. Instead of telling sinners that Jesus “improves the flight”, we should be warning them that they’re going to have to j_____________ out of the plane. (Hebrews 9:27)
  16. When a sinner understands the horrific consequences of breaking God’s law, he will flee to the Savior solely to escape the w______________ to come.
  17. It’s not an issue of happiness, but of righteousness. It doesn’t matter how happy a person is or isn’t in their current lifestyle, without the righteousness of Christ, they’ll p____________ on the Day of Judgment. (Proverbs 11:4)
  18. If a person comes to God looking for peace and joy in their life, but they’re not broken in their heart, repentant over the fact that they’ve s______ against Almighty God, they won’t find peace with God! They won’t know the joy of the Lord – they’ll remain e________ of God in their mind.
  19. If we continue to give people a wrong reason to come to Christ, they’ll respond with the wrong motive – lacking r_________________.
  20. If you and I have put on the Lord Jesus Christ for the biblical motive to flee from the wrath that’s to come, when tribulation strikes (“flight” gets bumpy) we won’t get a_____________ with God or lose our joy or peace – why should we? We didn’t come to Jesus for a happy life-style, we came because we’d sinned against God and needed a Savior to save us from the wrath to come.
  21. If anything, tribulation drives a true Christian c______________ to the Savior.
  22. One of the functions of God’s law: it c_______________.
  23. Wooden table analogy, looks dust-free until the sunlight shines on it. Did the light create the dust?  No, the light merely ex_______________ the dust.  In the same way, when the light of God’s law shines upon a sinner’s heart, all that happens is that he sees himself in t___________.
  24. People can hardly name any of 10 c______________, but can name a lot of b________ brands.
  25. If someone does not know God’s law, they will not see their sin as being exceedingly sinful.
  26. Modern evangelism takes the good seed of the Gospel and casts it on the hard, unregenerate h_____________ of humanity.
  27. Biblical evangelism, without exception, is always “Law to the p______, Grace to the h________”
  28. With the law, He (Jesus) breaks the hard heart and with the Gospel, He heals the broken heart.
  29. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6b).
  30. What doctor would give a c_____ to a patient when the patient is not 1st convinced of his disease
  31. The disease is s__________, and the cure is the G________________.
  32. John 4 – the women at the well (they call it “the W____ of the M___________”). Jesus does this:
    1. Starts out with the n________________ conversation
    2. Then swings the conversation to the s_______________ realm
    3. Then, brings c_____________ of sin using the commandments
    4. Finally, reveals Himself as M_________________.
  33. Show a person they’re not a “g__________ p____________” by looking at the commandments (lying, stealing, adultery, etc.) and showing them they’ve not kept them perfectly.
  34. God is forgiving – try that in a court of law. Someone charged of murder says to judge, “because you’re a good man, and therefore, you’ll let me go…”  That wouldn’t be a good j_____________.
  35. If God is good, then by nature, He will make sure that j______________ is served and that people are punished for what they’ve done. If God gave you justice, you wouldn’t be headed for heaven but for h_________.
  36. We broke the law and Jesus paid our f____________ – it’s as simple as that.

Discussion Questions

  1. According to this video, what is a “biblical motive” for salvation?
  2. Modern evangelism attracts people by promising what unbiblical motive?
  3. What does the phrase “Law to the Proud, Grace to the Humble” mean? How would this work in an evangelistic encounter?
  4. Explain the parable told in this video about the 2 passengers on the plane and the parachute. What does it mean?
  5. Explain the analogy about a dusty table and the morning light. What truth is that trying to communicate?
  6. According to this video, what is the “Way of the Master” and what Scripture is it based on?
  7. What opportunities do you have for evangelism at your work, school, neighborhood, family or circle of friends and acquaintances?
  8. According to this video, what is “Hell’s Best Kept Secret”?

mid-week apologetics booster (5-25-2017)

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

  1. Teaching Series on Why the Resurrection of Jesus Matters | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM – This page has 6 embedded youtube videos: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/teaching-series-on-why-the-resurrection-of-jesus-matters/
  2. Apologetic Engagement-Fish or Cut Bait – Southern by His Grace: http://southernbyhisgrace.com/apologetic-engagement/
  3. Are Objective Moral Truths Merely a Matter of Cultural Agreement? | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/are-objective-moral-truths-merely-a-matter-of-cultural-agreement/
  4. Defending the Age of Accountability | SOTERIOLOGY 101: https://soteriology101.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/defending-the-age-of-accountability/
  5. What Happens to Our Pets When They Die?: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-happens-to-pets-when-they-die
  6. ACLU and Planned Parenthood Fighting for Teens to Get Secret Abortions Without Their Parents Knowing | LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2017/05/18/aclu-and-planned-parenthood-fighting-for-teens-to-get-secret-abortions-without-their-parents-knowing/
  7. Atheist Astrophysicist Explains Her Journey To Jesus | Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/atheist-astrophysicist-explains-her-journey-to-jesus/
  8. Modalism | carm: https://carm.org/modalism
  9. Creation Clips – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/creation-videos?fileID=YddmGJofbL0
  10. Leading Millennials? Core Issues You Need to Know | ChurchLeaders.com: http://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/303966-leading-millennials-core-issues-need-know.html
  11. Six Enemies of Apologetic Engagement – bethinking.org: https://www.bethinking.org/apologetics/six-enemies-of-apologetic-engagement
  12. Are Christians Intolerant Haters? The Charges are Not New – Michael J. Kruger: http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/michael-j-kruger/are-christians-intolerant-haters-the-charges-are-not-new.html
  13. Four Iowa Planned Parenthood Locations Closing After State Cuts Funding to Abortion Facilities | Christian News Network: http://christiannews.net/2017/05/22/four-iowa-planned-parenthood-locations-closing-after-state-cuts-funding-to-abortion-facilities/
  14. Case-Making 101: How does the Bible compare to other ancient documents? Truth, Faith and Reason: http://truthfaithandreason.com/case-making-101-how-does-the-bible-compare-to-other-ancient-documents/
  15. Who Has the Burden of Proof When Discussing God? | Strange Notions: http://strangenotions.com/who-has-the-burden-of-proof-when-discussing-god/
  16. Truthbomb Apologetics: Video: True for You, but Not For Me? by Brett Kunkle: http://truthbomb.blogspot.com/2017/05/video-true-for-you-but-not-for-me-by.html
  17. Pro-Abortion Students at Catholic Notre Dame Walk Out of Pro-Life VP Mike Pences Commence Speech | LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2017/05/22/pro-abortion-students-at-catholic-notre-dame-walk-out-of-pro-life-vp-mike-pences-commence-speech/
  18. Is Right and Wrong Simply a Matter of Human Flourishing? | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/is-right-and-wrong-simply-a-matter-of-human-flourishing/
  19. Four Things We Wont Need in Heaven (But Ought to Pursue Here on Earth) | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/four-things-we-wont-need-in-heaven-but-ought-to-pursue-here-on-earth/
  20. How to Become a True Student and a Better Apologist: http://crossexamined.org/how-to-become-a-true-student-and-a-better-apologist/
  21. Nature & Scripture: Argument for the Early Dating of Christian Theology and Christian Writings: http://natureandscripture.blogspot.com/2017/05/argument-for-early-dating-of-christian.html
  22. The Trinity is Not A Problem, Its A Solution | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/the-trinity-is-not-a-problem-its-a-solution/
  23. Why I Wish Christians Would Argue MORE (No, Seriously) ChurchLeaders.com: http://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/301281-wish-christians-argue-no-seriously-trevin-wax.html
  24. The Empty Tomb | The John 10:10 Project: http://thejohn1010project.com/the-empty-tomb.html
  25. Matthew 7:1-6 Why the Confusion About Judging? | Dr. Mike Spaulding: http://www.drmikespaulding.com/?p=1993
  26. Apologetics Mission Trips – Brett Kunkle | Stand To Reason – Opening monologue is pretty powerful: http://subsplash.com/standtoreason/v/5nfgovh
  27. Pastor James MacDonald – Are You Saved? – Very convicting sermon, which I like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVRUTknpA7Q
  28. What is the Best Evidence for Intelligent Design? Interview with Brian Johnson. – Sean McDowell: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/what-is-the-best-evidence-for-intelligent-design-interview-with-brian-johnson

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest– I would flee far away and stay in the desert; “Selah” Psalms 55:4-7

Blessings to you all

AWANA Teaching on Romans 1:16 (4/5/2017)

Today, Lord willing, I will be teaching the AWANA 5th and 6th grade clubbers on one of their memory verses, Romans 1:16.  Below are the slides and the speaking notes (above each slide), as well as a self examination survey (Are You Ashamed of the Gospel):


Can anyone quote this verse from memory?

Someone please read it.  This is a rich verse!  There’s so much in it. Just look at all these important words in this verse!  We’re going to go through this phrase by phrase to make sure you understand it.

What does it mean to be ashamed? (wait for answers)  Ashamed means that you’re embarrassed about something or someone and you don’t want to be associated with them.

Our verse tells us that Paul is not ashamed of “The Gospel” this word appears 91 times in the New Testament, so it’s a pretty important word.  What does the word Gospel mean? (wait for answers)

The word Gospel literally means “Good News”.  Let’s read this definition together: “the Gospel is the Good News that Jesus died and rose again and offers us forgiveness of sins and eternal life if we will repent and trust Him as Savior and Lord.”  That is what Paul is not ashamed of.

The Gospel is only made possible because of what happened on Good Friday and Easter.  It is only made possible by the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

If there was only Christmas (Jesus coming into the world), there would be no Gospel – no good news.  If He only came into the world, but didn’t die for our sins and rise again, we would not even know about Jesus today – and our salvation would be impossible!

This verse says the Gospel is “the power of God”. The word translated “power,” is the Greek word dunamis. That is the word from which we get “dynamite.”

What is the Gospel powerful for?  The next phrase talks about “salvation”.  For the salvation of everyone who believes.

Salvation, means to rescue, to de­liver, to set free.  Talk about picture of guy drowning…

Like the guy drowning in the water, we also need to be saved from something:

1.From the Penalty of Sin – Hell / the Wrath of God – Romans 5:9 says we are “saved from God’s wrath” through Jesus’ blood shed for us.

2.From the Power of Sin – We are no longer slaves to sin – Romans 6:14 says “for sin shall not be your master”

3.From the Presence of Sin (one day) – when we get to Heaven – Revelation 21:27 says “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful

(may want to ask if they know what sin is – talk about sins of commission [doing or thinking wrong things] and sins of omission [not doing what you know you ought to do – James 4:17])

Then it says “first for the Jew, then for the Gentile”. Most of the first believers in Christ were Jews.  But the Gospel was intended for everyone. Jesus said that He was sent to the Jews (Matthew 15:24). Paul initially tried to share the Gospel with the Jews, but they opposed him, so he went on to the Gentiles (Acts 18:6). You and I are (most likely) Gentiles.

Now that we’ve gone through the verse one phrase at a time, do you have any questions? (wait for questions)

Now, before we continue, I want to make sure you know that none of what we’re talking about here applies to you if you’re not saved.  So, I have to stop here and ask you point blank – are you saved?  Only you know the answer to that question.  I would suspect that for many of you the answer is a definite yes.  The Bible says “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Now back to our verse Romans 1:16 – I’d like to focus in on the part of the verse where it says “I am not ashamed of the gospel”.  This is very important for us as Christians.  God specifically says in His word that He does not want us to be ashamed.

In fact Jesus specifically warned us not to be ashamed of Him and His words. In Luke 9:26, He says “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.  Matthew 10:32-33

The Apostle Paul also tells us in other places not to be ashamed, for example in 2 Timothy 1:8, Paul says “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God

The Apostle Peter tells us, “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name

Then of course, there’s the AWANA verse: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

So, the Bible is really clear – God does not want us to be ashamed of the Gospel – He wants us to be proud of it and to share it whenever the opportunity comes.

Now we’re going to take a little self-assessment survey.  You don’t have to turn this in and I won’t ask you your answers. It’s to get you to think about whether you’re ashamed of the Gospel.

(here is the survey that I handed out to the clubbers to have them work on it – if they have enough time, in class)

Self-examination Test: Are You Ashamed of the Gospel?

Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Question Your Answer
Do your friends and those at school know you’re a Christian?
Have you ever talked with someone about your faith?
Have you ever invited someone to church or AWANA?
In a group, if others were making fun of Christianity, would you speak up?
Are you worried about offending people?
Are you worried about pleasing people or pleasing God?
Do you care more about what people think of you than what God thinks of you?
Are you afraid that you won’t be able to answer people’s objections or questions about your faith?
Have you ever had to go against the crowd when they were all doing something wrong?  If so, when they asked you why did you mention your faith?

Finally, this is my last night of the AWANA year for teaching the 5th and 6th graders.  It has been such a pleasure teaching all of you, that I want to give you some small gifts as a token of my appreciation.

(end of presentation)


I pray that this teaching would draw any non-Christians in the group to repent and place their faith in Christ, and that it would embolden any Christians in the group to not be ashamed and to share their faith with those in their circle of influence.  Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and one of the things He has commanded us (that we have to teach to the disciples we’re making), is the command to go and make disciples.  So, I’m trying to teach the believers to go and make more believers – it’s a self-replicating process – that’s how God designed it!

AWANA Teaching on Titus 3:5

I’ve prepared my monthly teaching for the 5th and 6th grade AWANA clubbers.  This month the verse is Titus 3:5.  Below are the slides and notes I will be using to present this material this coming Wednesday evening.  My timing of this took 17 minutes.  First is the notes for talking about the slide, then the slide image:

Today, we’re going to be talking about one of your memory verses – Titus 3:5.  This is from the Ultimate T&T Challenge Book 1 (Challenge 3:6 – pg. 65)

slide1

Here is that verse – who would like to read it?  “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit

slide2

Now, I’m going to read the verse in context.  “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” This passage was written by the Apostle Paul to Titus, who he calls “my true son in our common faith” (1:4).

slide3

Titus was someone that Paul left in charge of the church he’d established on the island of Crete.  You can see this on the map here.  As you can see, this is in the Mediterranean Sea, just southeast of Greece and southwest of Turkey.

slide4

I want you to notice several things about this passage.  (click) The first part of the passage describes how Paul and Titus used to be before their conversion to Christianity.  Consider verse 3 …

slide5

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” They weren’t acting very nice – they were disobedient and enslaved by passions and pleasures.   They “lived in malice and envy”.  (click) Do you know what malice is?

slide6

The New Testament dictionary describes Malice like this: ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws, depravity, evil, trouble.

slide7

But then, God intervened in the situation.  It says, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us”.  So, while we were still sinning and rebelling against God, He stepped into history in the person of Jesus Christ and saved us.  The Bible (click) says “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  Notice that Titus 3:5 says that God saved us “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy”.  This is very important – we did not and cannot do anything to merit salvation.

slide8

Instead, we are receiving God’s mercy.  That’s the word used in Titus 3:5, and it means that we are not getting something bad that we deserve (punishment).  Mercy is kind of the opposite of grace, which is where we are getting something we don’t deserve (God’s favor).

slide9

The meaning of the word “grace” is unmerited favor from God.  Later in this passage (v.7) it says that we are “justified by His grace”.  There are many places in the Bible that talk about this concept of Grace – the word appears 156 places in the New Testament to be exact.  You need to understand that (click) this is a uniquely Christian concept.  Some people wonder what sets Christianity apart from other world religions.  Outside of Jesus, this is probably the main thing.  No other world religion has a concept of Grace or unmerited favor from God – you always have to do something to please the god of other religions.  Let’s talk about a few of them.

slide10

First, Judaism.  This is the Jewish people – they believe in what we would call the “Old Testament”.  They call it the Tanakh.  Remember, we believe much of what the Jewish people believe, because we also believe what is written in the Old Testament.  However, the Jewish people largely rejected Jesus as their Messiah.  The New Testament talks a lot about the Jews and their beliefs.  They believe that being a Jewish person (a descendant of Abraham) and adherence to the Law is what will get them into heaven.  However, the Bible says “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20)
slide11

Next, Islam.  These are Muslims.  They believe that God will weigh up your good deeds and bad deeds and if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, you will go to heaven, otherwise hell.
slide12

What about Mormonism?  That’s also referred to as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” or sometimes abbreviated LDS.  They believe that good works factor into their salvation.  The book of Mormon is what they call their scriptures (which they say is “the most correct of any book on earth”). It says “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”  By the way, who can say that they have done everything they can do?  No one!  Contrast this with the Bible which says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

slide13

Then there’s Hinduism. Hinduism is a very diverse religion that began in India.   They have the concept of Karma and Re-incarnation, which are connected. Karma, is a system they believe in where your behavior, whether good or bad, will affect what happens to you in the future – both in this life and the life to come.  They believe that Karma affects what you are re-incarnated as.  If you’ve led a good life, you will be re-incarnated as a higher life form (click) (maybe a King), but if you’ve lived a bad life, you will be re-incarnated as a lower life form (click) (maybe a bug).  But the Bible says “Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27)

slide14

For example, Fakirs are holy men in India.  Here is a fakir sitting on a bed of nails to demonstrate his religious devotion to the gods. They believe that eventually, if you keep living a better and better life each time, you work your way up through the “caste system” to be able to escape the cycle of birth and re-birth and achieve Nirvana. Nirvana, they say, is a place of perfect peace and happiness – it is the highest state that someone can attain, a state of enlightenment, meaning a person’s individual desires and suffering go away.

slide15

Here is a Hindu devotee lying on a bed of nails, being carried by fellow devotees during a religious festival in India. Hundreds of faithful devotees offer sacrifices and perform acts of devotion during the festival in the hopes of winning the favor of Hindu god Shiva and ensuring the fulfillment of their wishes.

slide16

Finally, Buddhism – Buddhism is based primarily on the teachings of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama – a spiritual teacher from India who lived from approximately 563BC to 483BC). Buddhism incorporates a variety of religious traditions, beliefs and practices. They believe in what is called (click) the “Eightfold Path”.  These are the “works” they have to do to achieve nirvana or the state of enlightenment.  Like Hinduism, they believe in the cycle of re-incarnation leading to nirvana, but they reject the “caste system”.

slide17

So, in summary, all of the other religions we’ve talked about, require man to work (often hard) for their salvation – to please God, but in Christianity salvation is a free gift.

slide18

Think about a gift – like a Christmas gift or a birthday gift.  Do you work for that? No.

slide19

When someone hands you a gift, do you take out your wallet and pay them for it?  Of course not.  That would be an insult!

slide20

So, religion doesn’t save you – Jesus saves you.  Religion is man reaching up to God

slide21

Christianity is God reaching down to men.

slide22

Now, I want to make sure you know that although we’re not saved by good works, that does not mean we’re not to do good works.  Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” and the book of James tells us that faith without works (good deeds) is dead. (James 2:26)

slide23

Now, back to our verse. The passage goes on to talk about the results of our salvation.  It says “so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”.  What does justified mean? Simply put, to justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God.

slide24

Justification is God’s declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous. As this graphic shows, justification is where Jesus Christ’s righteousness is credited to us, and our guilt is credited to Jesus as he was on the cross.

slide25

The verse talks about “heirs”…  What does “heirs” mean? The literal meaning of heir is “someone who has been appointed to receive an inheritance.”

slide26

An heir is a person who receives something of value from a father. The Bible sometimes uses the word heir to describe us as recipients of a gift from God

slide27

Let’s wrap this up – our verse Titus 3:5 teaches us:

  1. (click) We can do nothing to merit eternal life (salvation) from God.
  2. (click) We are saved by God’s mercy, which is not getting the punishment we deserve for our sins.
  3. (click) We are justified (made right with God) by His grace (unmerited favor), which is a uniquely Christian teaching – all the other religions we talked about require the person to do good works to be accepted by God
  4. (click) All we can do is choose to receive His salvation by faith.
  5. (click) Since we’ve received this free gift, we can and should choose to thank Him by devoting the rest of our lives to loving Him and others.

slide28

Who has questions either about our passage, what grace or mercy means or about the other religions we talked about?

slide29

Questions (with answers) for AWANA

Next Wednesday, we’re going to have a question and answer session in our 3rd – 6th grade AWANA club.   If the clubbers are not asking any questions, we can use some of the following questions as starters…  In preparation for that I’ve attempted to give some answers to these questions:

  1. What about those who have never heard of Jesus Christ?
    1. First of all, everyone has a knowledge of God. Since there is a creation, there must be a Creator (Romans 1:18-25, Romans 2:14-15, Psalm 19:1-3). So since everyone has knowledge of God they can’t make the excuse that they don’t know that He exists. But God also promises us in His word that if we seek Him, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 7:7, Hebrews 11:6, Acts 17:26-27). And that starts with the realization that God exists because of the creation that we all can see. See the case of Cornelius in Acts 10.  He knew God existed, but He didn’t know anything about Jesus, and God heard his prayer and sent Peter to him to share the Gospel about Jesus. Jesus said “anyone who comes to Me I will never drive away” (John 6:37b). So the offer is open to everyone. There are also many cases of people who receive dreams about Jesus in countries where it’s illegal to preach about Jesus (e.g. Middle East), and therefore no one would have ever known about him.  Anyone who responds to the light that they have (who seeks), will be given more…
  2. Is Christ the only way to God?
    1. What do you think Jesus said on this topic? (John 10:7-9; 27-33; 12:44-48; 14:6, Matthew 7:13-14; 24-27; 28:18-20, Mark 14:61-63). Now it’s clear that Jesus thought that He was the only way to God. So we have to ask ourselves the question: was Jesus lying? Or was he just a lunatic? If neither of those two things are true then Jesus really is who He said He was. Jesus was the most honest man and He definitely was not crazy. So the only option left to us is that Jesus was in fact the Lord of the universe that He claimed to be and the only way to God. We also need to ask ourselves, did any other religious figure claim to pay for our sins? Jesus was the only one who even claimed to be the Savior of the world paying for the sins of all who believe in Him. Buddha, Muhammed or Krishna didn’t do that, only Jesus did.
  3. Why do the innocent Suffer?
    1. First of all, biblically, there are no innocent people. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Ecclesiastes 7:20 says that there is not a righteous man on Earth who does what is right and never sins. Nevertheless we have the problem of human suffering and pain. If there’s a good God, who is all-powerful, then why doesn’t He stop it? Well, just because He hasn’t stopped at yet doesn’t mean that He’s not going to stop and in the future. In fact God promises in His word that one day there will be no more death, suffering, crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4). So for those who want to be part of God’s family, their suffering will end. And we must also remember that everyone dies. Whether they die at the age of 2 or 82, everyone dies. No one gets out of this life alive. The person making the charge that there can’t be a good God who’s all-powerful because evil exists – they are basically saying that they know better how to run the universe than God. But we are all limited human beings. God has all the knowledge in the universe. We only have a very small fraction of the knowledge in the universe. So how do we know that God doesn’t have good reasons for allowing evil and suffering to exist? For example, we look at Job who went through incredible suffering. Satan had asked God’s permission to harass Job, and God allowed it. He wanted to show the Job was his faithful follower and that he would remain faithful to God. There was also a time in the gospels where the disciples asked why this man was born blind. Was it because of his sin or because of his parents sinned? Jesus answered them that it was neither for his sin nor his parents sinned but that the glory of God may be manifest in this situation (John 9:1-3). Jesus also allowed Lazarus to suffer and die, so that later he could raise him from the dead displaying the glory of God. We have bad things happen in our world like the 9/11 tragedy. But many people returned to church and came to Christ during that period of time. God often does use tragedy to get us to turn to Him. C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” So while we don’t have all the answers we can trust in One who is infinitely more wise than we are and be sure that He has good reasons for allowing evil and suffering to continue.
  4. How are miracles possible?
    1. If you believe in the first verse of the Bible which says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth”, then why is it unreasonable to believe that God, who created the heavens and the Earth, could perform miraculous actions inside the heavens and the Earth that He created? He set up the rules. The laws of physics and chemistry are descriptions of how nature normally works (as far as we know). God, being the creator of those natural laws can intervene to suspend or alter those laws since He Himself create created and sustains them. I’m a computer programmer. I create web pages and other programs for people to use. I can control how those web pages and programs behave. I can make a program (that I created) behave differently. No user of the program can do that – only me, the creator of the program can do that. This would seem miraculous to the average user of my program, but since I am the creator of that program I can make it do whatever I want. In the same way God is the all-powerful creator of this universe and He can make it behave however He wants. There’s no logical contradiction here.
  5. Isn’t the Bible full of errors?
    1. The person who asks this question should be required to give an example of such an error. I have a book called “The Big Book of Bible Difficulties”, where answers to many challenges and questions about the Bible are found. If there’s a specific contradiction or error that a person’s concerned about we can address that particular issue. Remember the Bible has been analyzed, questioned and attempted to be destroyed for over 2000 years and no one has been successful yet, so it’s highly unlikely that someone in 2017 is going to come up with the one error or contradiction in the Bible that makes it impossible to believe it’s true. If it is God’s word, it will continue to stand the test of time (as it has for 2000 years).
  6. Isn’t Christianity just a crutch because it makes weak people feel better?
    1. We could ask the same question about atheism, which is non-belief in God. Isn’t an atheist just believing something that makes him feel comfortable? Because if there is a God, that person would be accountable to Him and would have to answer for their behavior in this life. That’s uncomfortable for many people, so we could say that a person who doesn’t believe in God, holds that belief because it makes them feel comfortable. They don’t want to go to hell, they don’t want to think about hell, so they give the excuse that there is no God. Then they tell the Christian “You only believe in God because it makes you feel comfortable”. But actually we have many reasons for believing in the existence of God (existence of the universe, argument from design, evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, etc.) The atheist would have to be explain those things somehow without the existence of God, which would be very difficult. So I reject the charge that Christianity can’t be true because it makes us feel comfortable.  Yes, it does make us feel good and comforted, but that’s no reason to think it is not true.
  7. Won’t a good and moral life get me to heaven?
    1. My question to the person asking this question is: how moral you have to be? How many good things do you have to do to get to heaven? The biblical answer is that you would have to be 100% perfect. And there was only One who was ever perfect, and that was Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The Bible describes the human condition accurately – it’s depiction of humanity makes sense with what we actually see in the world. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Everyone here is told a lie. Everyone here has dishonored their parents at some time. Everyone has failed to do everything that they should to help those in need. So we’ve all sinned. Even if you’ve only sinned once that’s enough to condemn you. The Bible says “For whoever keeps the whole law in yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10), so if you’ve ever lied (even once) you’re guilty of breaking all of the law of God. The Bible also says or if you know the good you ought to do and don’t do it that’s sin (James 2:14). It also says that anything that doesn’t come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23b). So all of us are condemned, it is impossible for any of us to be good enough to merit eternal life in heaven. Our only hope is God’s mercy.  Like the tax collector in Jesus’ parable, we must say “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13), then Jesus will say as He said of the tax collector “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.” (Luke 18:9-14)
  8. Who made God?
    1. This question misunderstands the nature of God. One of the attributes of God that makes him God is the fact that He’s eternal. So the questioner has a wrong concept of God to start with. Part of how we define God is that He is eternal – that He had no beginning and will have no end (1 Chron. 29:10, Nehemiah 9:5, Psalm 90:2; 93:2, Isaiah 44:6-8; Habakkuk 1:12, John 1:1, Hebrews 13:8, Revelation 1:8). We and every other created thing had a beginning. So it’s very hard for us to conceive of someone who had no beginning. But that is in fact what Christians call God. So, the questioner has the wrong view of the Christian God. However we also have to look at the scientific evidence which tells us that the universe that we live in began to exist. Therefore, based on the law of cause and effect, something or someone had to create it. That someone Who created it is God. Now, if we ask who created God, then we would also have to ask who created whatever created God. And then who created that, and then who created that, and you would never end. There has to be an Ultimate Cause of everything – Aristotle called it “the unmoved Mover”.  That ultimate cause is what we call God.

I pray that this session goes well, and that clubbers would get answers that satisfy their curiosity.

JC Ryle – The Great Separation!

What a powerful piece this is…

The Great Separation!

J.C. Ryle, 1878

“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly cleanse His threshing floor. He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire!” Matthew 3:12

Wheat or chaff? You see my question — for whom do you think it is meant? Is it for corn merchants and farmers only, and for none else? If you think so, then you are much mistaken. It is meant for every man, woman, and child in the world. And among others, it is meant for you.

The question is drawn from the verse of Scripture which is now before your eyes. The words of that verse were spoken by John the Baptist. They are a prophecy about our Lord Jesus Christ, and a prophecy which has not yet been fulfilled. They are a prophecy which we shall all see fulfilled one day, and God alone knows how soon.

Reader, I invite you this day to consider the great truths which this verse contains. I invite you to listen to me, while I unfold them and set them before you in order. Who knows but this text may prove a word in season to your soul! Who knows but my question may help to make this day the happiest day in your life! Listen, before you begin once more your appointed path of duty. Listen, before you start once more on some round of business. Listen, before you plunge once more into some course of useless idleness and folly. Listen to one who loves your soul, and would sincerely help to save it, or draw it nearer to Christ. Who knows what a day may bring forth! Who can tell whether you will live to see tomorrow! Be still, and listen to me a few minutes, while I show you something out of the Word of God.

I. Let me show you in the first place, the two great classes into which the world may be divided.

There are only two classes of people in the world, in the sight of God — and both are mentioned in the text which begins this tract. There are those who are called the wheat — and there are those who are called the chaff.

Viewed with the eye of man, the earth contains many different sorts of inhabitants. Viewed with the eye of God, it only contains two. Man’s eye looks at the outward appearance — this is all he thinks of. The eye of God looks at the heart — this is the only part of which He takes any account. And tried by the state of their hearts, there are but two classes into which people can be divided — either they are wheat, or they are chaff.

Reader, who are the WHEAT in the world? Listen to me, and I will tell you.

The wheat means all men and women who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ — all who are led by the Holy Spirit — all who have felt themselves sinners, and fled for refuge to the salvation offered in the Gospel — all who love the Lord Jesus, and live to the Lord Jesus, and serve the Lord Jesus — all who have taken Christ for their only confidence, and the Bible for their only guide, and regard sin as their deadliest enemy, and look to Heaven as their only home. All such, of every church, name, nation, people, and tongue — of every rank, station, condition, and degree — all such are God’s wheat!

Show me men of this kind of people anywhere, and I know what they are. I know that they and I may not agree in all particulars — but I see in them the handiwork of the King of kings, and I ask no more. I know not whence they came, and where they found their religion — but I know where they are going, and that is enough for me. They are the children of my Father in Heaven. They are part of His wheat.

All such, though sinful, and vile, and unworthy in their own eyes — are the precious part of mankind. They are the sons and daughters of God the Father. They are the delight of God the Son. They are the habitation of God the Spirit. The Father beholds no iniquity in them — they are the members of His dear Son’s body — in Him He sees them — and is well pleased. The Lord Jesus discerns in them, the fruit of His own travail and work upon the cross — and is well satisfied. The Holy Spirit regards them as spiritual temples which He Himself has raised — and rejoices over them. In a word, they are the wheat of the earth — God’s wheat.

Reader, who are the CHAFF in the world? Listen to me once more, and I will tell you this also.

The chaff means all men and women who have no saving faith in Christ, and no sanctification of the Spirit — whoever they may be. Some of them perhaps are infidels — and some are formal Christians. Some are sneering Sadducees — and some self-righteous Pharisees. Some of them make a point of keeping up a kind of ‘Sunday religion’ — and others are utterly careless of everything except their own pleasure and the world. But all alike, who have the two great marks already mentioned — no faith and no sanctification — all such are chaff. From the atheists Paine and Voltaire — to the formal churchman who can think of nothing but outward ceremonies — to the unconverted admirer of sermons in the present day — all, all are standing in one rank before God all, all are chaff!

They bring no glory to God the Father. They honor not the Son, and so do not honor the Father who sent Him. They neglect that mighty salvation, which countless millions of angels admire. They disobey that Word which was graciously written for their learning. They listen not to the voice of Him who condescended to leave Heaven and die for their sins. They pay no tribute of service and affection to Him who gave them life, and breath, and all things. And therefore God takes no pleasure in them. He pities them — but He reckons them no better than chaff!

Yes — you may have rare intellectual gifts, and high mental attainments — you may sway kingdoms by your counsel, move millions by your pen, or keep crowds in breathless attention by your tongue — but if you have never submitted yourself to the yoke of Christ, and never honored His Gospel by heartfelt reception of it — then you are nothing but chaff in His sight. Natural gifts without saving grace, are like a row of ciphers without an unit before them; they look big — but they are of no value. The vilest insect that crawls in the filth — is a nobler being than you are! It fills its place in creation, and glorifies its Maker with all its power — and you do not. You do not honor God with heart, and will, and intellect, and members, which are all His. You invert His order and arrangement, and live as if time was of more importance than eternity, and body better than soul. You dare to neglect God’s greatest gift — His own incarnate Son. You are cold about that subject which fills all Heaven with hallelujahs. And so long as this is the case, you belong to the worthless part of mankind. You are the chaff of the earth.

Reader, let this thought be deeply engraved in your mind, whatever else you forget in this volume. Remember there are only two kinds of people in the world. There are wheat — and there are chaff.

There are many nations in Europe. Each differs from the rest. Each has its own language, its own laws, its own peculiar customs. But God’s eye divides Europe into two great parties — the wheat and the chaff.

There are many classes in England. There are nobles and commoners — farmers and shopkeepers — masters and servants — rich and poor. But God’s eye only takes account of two orders — the wheat and the chaff.

There are many and various minds in every congregation that meets for religious worship. There are some who attend for a mere form — and some who really desire to meet Christ; some who come there to please others — and some who come to please God; some who bring their hearts with them, and are not soon tired — and some who leave their hearts behind them, and reckon the whole service as weary work. But the eye of Jesus only sees two divisions in the congregation — the wheat and the chaff.

There were millions of visitors to the Great Exhibition of 1851. From Europe, Asia, Africa, and America — from North, and South, and East, and West — crowds came together to see what human skill and industry could do. Children of our first father Adam’s family, who had never seen each other before, for once met face to face under one roof. But the eye of the Lord only saw two companies thronging that large palace of glass — the wheat and the chaff.

Reader, I know well the world dislikes this way of dividing professing Christians. The world tries hard to fancy there are three sorts of people, and not two. To be very godly and very strict does not suit the world — they cannot, will not be holy. To have no religion at all does not suit the world — as that would not be respectable. “Thank God,” they will say, “we are not so bad as that!” But to have religion enough to be respectable — and yet not go into extremes, to be sufficiently good — and yet not be peculiar — to have a quiet, easy-going, moderate kind of Christianity, and go comfortably to Heaven after all — this is the world’s favorite idea! There is a third class, a safe middle class — the world imagines; and in this middle class — the majority of men persuade themselves they will be found.

Reader, I denounce this notion of a middle class as an immense and soul-ruining delusion! I warn you strongly not to be carried away by it. It is as vain an invention as the Pope’s purgatory. It is a refuge of lies, a castle in the air, a Russian ice-palace, a vast unreality, an empty dream! This middle class is a class of Christians no where spoken of in the Bible!

There were two classes in the day of Noah’s flood; those who were inside the ark — and those who were outside. There were two classes in the parable of the Gospel net; those who are called the good fish — and those who are called the bad. There were two classes in the parable of the ten virgins; those who are described as wise — and those who are described as foolish. There were two classes in the account of the judgment day; the sheep — and the goats. There were two sides of the throne; the right hand — and the left. There were two abodes when the last sentence has been passed; Heaven — and Hell.

And just so, there are only two classes in the world:
those who are in the state of nature — and those who are in the state of grace;
those who are in the narrow way — and those who are in the broad;
those who have faith — and those who have no faith;
those who have been converted — and those who have not been converted;
those who are with Christ — and those who are against Him;
those who gather with Him — and those who scatter abroad;
those who are wheat — and those who are chaff.
Into these two classes, the whole world may be divided. Beside these two classes, there is none.

Reader, dear reader, see now what cause there is for self-inquiry! Are you among the wheat — or among the chaff? Neutrality is impossible. Either you are in one class — or in the other. Which is it, of the two?

You attend church perhaps. You go to the Lord’s table. You like good people. You can distinguish between good preaching and bad. You think Popery false, and oppose it firmly. You think Protestantism true, and support it cordially. You subscribe to religious societies. You attend religious meetings. You sometimes read religious books. It is well — it is all very well. It is good — it is all very good. It is more than can be said of many. But still, this is not a straightforward answer to my question: Are you wheat — or are you chaff?

Have you been born again? Are you a new creature? Have you put off the old man, and put on the new? Have you ever felt your sins, and repented of them? Are you looking only to Christ for pardon and eternal life? Do you love Christ? Do you serve Christ? Do you loathe heart-sins, and fight against them? Do you long for perfect holiness, and follow hard after it? Have you come out from the world? Do you delight in the Bible? Do you wrestle in prayer? Do you love Christ’s people? Do you try to do good to the world? Are you vile in your own eyes, and willing to take the lowest place? Are you a Christian in business, and on week days, and by your own fireside? Oh, think, think, think on these things — and then perhaps you will be better able to tell the state of your soul!

Reader, I beseech you not to turn away from my question, however unpleasant it may be. Answer it, though it may prick your conscience, and cut you to the heart. Answer it, though it may prove you in the wrong, and expose your fearful danger. Rest not, rest not, until you know how it is between you and God! Better a thousand times find out that you are in an evil case, and repent in time — than live on in uncertainty, and be lost eternally!

Reader, remember my question. Begin to meditate on it this very day. Are you wheat — or chaff?

To read the rest, go to http://gracegems.org/Ryle/great_separation.htm

The Reasons Why I’m not a Five Point Calvinist

First of all I think that many of the arguments for Five Point Calvinism commit the “fallacy of sweeping generalization”, which is applying a general principle as if it were a universal rule, or the “fallacy of hasty generalization”, which is drawing a generalization from too few specific examples.

For example just because Paul was called against his will with a light from heaven and immediately turned 180 degrees from his original direction (see Acts 9:1-20), does not mean that everyone is converted in that way.  God has the power to do whatever He wants, but it appears that He does not always work in that way. Also in 2 Timothy 2:25 when it says to pray “that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth”, it doesn’t mean that the only way a man can repent is by God granting it to him.  In Acts 17:30, Paul tells us that “God commands all men everywhere to repent”. Yet, although God wants all men to repent (2 Peter 3:9), and all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth and God (1 Timothy 2:3-4), it is an irrefutable truth that not all men do repent, nor do they come to a knowledge of the truth, and as a result are not saved.  Jesus clearly taught this in Matthew 7:13-14:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

As well as his talk in Matthew 13:18-23 about the parable of the sower and the four soils:

Hear then the parable of the sower.  “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 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. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

Only one of the four soils represents that of a saved person. At least two of the other four soils look to be saved, but in fact are not saved.

Here are the specific problems I have with the following Five Points of Calvinism as represented by the acronym T.U.L.I.P.

  1. T (total depravity) – I agree with this point, so long as it is defined properly. This does not mean that man is as bad as he could possibly be but, rather, as RC Sproul says that fallenness, original sin, depravity has affected every aspect of man.
  2. U (Unconditional Election) – well it is actually conditional, not unconditional. The condition stated in God’s word is faith. John 1:12 clearly says this:Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  Notice the order – Receive, Believe, Become. Also, Ephesians 2:8:      For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.  By the way, when it says “it is a gift of God” in that verse, “it” refers to the grace, not the faith. Additionally, why is salvation pictured as a ‘gift’ (Romans 6:23)?  Gifts must be received (accepted) and opened in order to benefit the recipient.  If you left your Christmas gifts under the tree and never opened them, would they be of any benefit to you?    Are you doing any kind of works to earn your gift by receiving it and opening it?  No.  On the other hand, if the person handed you the gift, and you handed them back a $100 bill to pay them back for the cost of the gift, that would be an offense to the giver.  Same thing with salvation – it is not a “works salvation” to decide or choose to receive a gift and open it.  It is still by grace alone, through faith alone.  I liked this quote given by Dr. D. James Kennedy in a sermon on faith “Faith leads to justification + good works”.
  3. L (Limited Atonement) – this is clearly refuted by 1 John 2:1b-2:Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
  4. I (Irresistible Grace) – This is refuted again by Jesus’ Parables teaching that not everyone is saved although God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9): This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:3-4), He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9), Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? (Ezek. 18:23) I do not find the argument convincing that God has “2 wills” and yes, I have read John Piper’s article on the 2 wills of God. I’ve also read a comprehensive, point by point rebuttal to the Piper article which I find more convincing. Paul even tells us in at least 2 places that people are active in refusing to believe: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:18-19), They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved (2 Thess. 2:10b)
  5. P (Perseverance of the Saints) – I agree with that one. All truly saved people will persevere to the end.  Jesus said “those who endure to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).  He also said “By standing firm you will gain life” (Luke 21:19).  Paul further clarified how we stand firm “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:21)

So, then, how can I reconcile this view with all the many Scriptures that say that only the elect will be saved and that God predestines only some to be saved?

I think there are at least 2 possible ways to make sense of this:

  1. Election could be talking about “corporate election”. God could be electing those who believe in Christ (also known as “the Church”) to be saved.  For example, when Paul is talking to the Colossians, he says “Therefore, as God’s chosen people…” (Col. 3:12a), he could be talking just about the church.  Or when he says “For he chose us in Him before the creation of the world…” (Eph. 1:4), the ‘us’ could refer to the church (the believers in Christ).  Notice that in the first chapter of Ephesians, there are about 10 significant places (such as Eph. 1:4) where the phrase “in Him” (or other similar phrases) is used.  This seems to indicate that God is not choosing individuals for salvation, but rather is choosing, as a group, those who believe in Christ.
  2. He could be choosing individuals based on His foreknowledge that those individuals will believe. Romans 8:29 seems to indicate this: “For those God foreknew he also predestined…”.  Acts 17 seems to indicate that God places us where we are in this world, so that we can find him: “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27)

I would highly recommend reading the excellent book Deconstructing Calvinism for an excellent treatment of this topic.

It seems like most of the Christians I know are Calvinist leaning.  It is tough because it causes contention in Bible studies and fellowship, but I know that I will be shoulder to shoulder with my Calvinist brothers and sisters praising our amazing God for all the ages to come in His glorious heaven and we’ll probably be laughing at our earthly selves thinking about all those hours we spent writing, discussing (and sometimes arguing) about how someone comes to believe the truth and be saved!

Many ways seem right…

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12;16:25

This verse, repeated twice in Proverbs, is so “on target”.  I see and hear so many people expressing non-biblical ideas that seem right to them, not knowing that those ways of thinking ultimately lead to death as the Scripture says.  Here just a few of these “worldly wisdom” expressions that are commonplace in today’s American society:

  1. The most important thing is to follow your heart. There several verses in the Bible that contradict this. For example, Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”  So, if this is true, why would I want to follow my heart?  Romans 3:10-12 says “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.
  2. There are many paths to God, not just one way. What really matters is that you’re sincere.  This is certainly not the view of Jesus and His disciples.  He said:
    1. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. Matthew 12:30
    2. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14
    3. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  John 3:17-18
    4. [John the Baptist speaking] He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36
    5. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. John 5:23b
    6. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. John 5:39-40
    7. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal. John 6:27
    8. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life. John 6:40a
    9. Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. John 8:24b
    10. Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved. John 10:7-9a
    11. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. John 12:26b
    12. He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. John 12:48
    13. I am the way, and the truth, and the life ; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6
    14. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3
    15. [Peter speaking] And there is salvation in no one else ; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
    16. [Paul speaking] Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
    17. [Paul speaking] For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11
  3. If you’re a “good person” you go to heaven. Oh how this is anti-biblical!  I could give numerous Scriptures to back this up – here are a few:
    1. For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. Isaiah 64:6a
    2. Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:19-20
    3. No one is good–except God alone. Mark 10:18b
    4. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
    5. At the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:5-6
    6. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
    7. Clearly no one is justified before God by the law. Galatians 3:11a
  4. God greatest desire is for me to be happy. If this is true, I guess He didn’t see His greatest desire fulfilled for the Apostles or even for His very own Son.  Again, the Bible says different:
    1. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12
    2. You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Mark 13:13
    3. And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” Luke 9:23-25.  Does this sound like God greatest desire is for me to be happy?
    4. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Luke 14:33
    5. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. Philippians 1:29
    6. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 1 Peter 4:12-16

All of these statements have the ring of truth – they sound so logical.  Many more could be given.  My only recommendation is – read the Bible and develop a biblical worldview.  As Colossians says “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ

Let me finish with the commentary of J.C. Ryle on the parable told by Jesus in Luke 18:9-14:

The sin which our Lord denounces is “self-righteousness.”

We are all naturally self-righteous. It is the family-disease of all the children of Adam. From the highest to the lowest we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to do. We secretly flatter ourselves that we are not so bad as some, and that we have something to recommend us to the favor of God. “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness.” (Prov. 20:6.) We forget the plain testimony of Scripture, “In many things we offend all.” “There is not a just man upon earth, that does good and sins not”–“What is man that he should be clean, or he that is born of a woman that he should be righteous?” (James 3:2. Eccles. 7:20. Job 15:14.)

The true cure for self-righteousness is self-knowledge. Once let the eyes of our understanding be opened by the Spirit, and we shall talk no more of our own goodness. Once let us see what there is in our own hearts, and what the holy law of God requires, and self-conceit will die. We shall lay our hand on our mouths, and cry with the leper, “Unclean, unclean.” (Levit. 13:45.)

One great defect stands out on the face of this prayer–a defect so glaring that even a child might mark it. It exhibits no sense of sin and need. It contains no confession and no petition–no acknowledgment of guilt and emptiness–no supplication for mercy and grace. It is a mere boasting recital of fancied merits, accompanied by an uncharitable reflection on a brother sinner. It is a proud, high-minded profession, destitute alike of penitence, humility, and charity. In short, it hardly deserves to be called a prayer at all.

No state of soul can be conceived so dangerous as that of the Pharisee. Never are men’s bodies in such desperate plight, as when disease and insensibility set in. Never are men’s hearts in such a hopeless condition, as when they are not sensible of their own sins. He that would not make shipwreck on this rock, must beware of measuring himself by his neighbors. What does it signify that we are more moral than “other men?” We are all vile and imperfect in the sight of God. “If we contend with Him, we cannot answer him one in a thousand.” (Job 9:3.) Let us remember this. In all our self-examination let us not try ourselves by comparison with the standard of men. Let us look at nothing but the requirements of God. He that acts on this principle will never be a Pharisee.

J.C. Ryle commentary on Luke 18:9-14

mid-week apologetics booster (9-8-2016)

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

  1. The New Face of Atheism (And It’s Not Dawkins!) – Sean McDowell: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/the-new-face-of-atheism-and-its-not-dawkins
  2. God’s Foreknowledge Does Not Force – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/07/24/gods-knowledge-does-not-force/
  3. Elementary School with Co-ed Restrooms: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Elementary-School-with-Co-ed-Restrooms.html?soid=1100422530046&aid=yGl2YXsMESA
  4. Atheists Who Convert: A Case Study: http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Atheists-Who-Convert-A-Case-Study
  5. LDS Church and Same-Sex Marriage: The DOCTRINE Behind the Policy — dear Ephesus: http://www.dearephesus.org/blog/2015/11/6/lds-church-and-same-sex-marriage-the-theology-behind-the-policy
  6. Pornography and Purity: Pursuing a Biblical Vision of Manhood and Womanhood to the Glory of God – Servants of Grace: http://servantsofgrace.org/pornography-purity-pursuing-biblical-vision-manhood-womanhood-glory-god/
  7. Why isn’t God’s Existence more Obvious? | Saints and Sceptics: http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/why-isnt-gods-existence-more-obvious/
  8. You Don’t Always Have to Make a Defense – Apologetics 105: https://apologetics105.com/2016/08/31/you-dont-always-have-to-make-a-defense/
  9. How To Answer, “Can You Be Good Without God?” – DyerThoughts: http://www.dyerthoughts.com/home/how-to-answer-can-you-be-good-without-god
  10. Mark Spence videos:
    1. Watch “I Deserve Hell – Mark Spence’s Story” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xci422OZGWE
    2. Watch “Can We Trust the Bible?” by Living Waters on YouTube: https://youtu.be/XyNseXdd260
    3. Watch “Is It Wrong to Judge?” by Living Waters on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ef3P97nz0lU
    4. Watch “Mark Spence ‘The Good News is Great News’” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/LdU3y7EIa8Y
  11. Harvard PhD tosses questions at fossil claim: http://mobile.wnd.com/2016/09/harvard-phd-tosses-questions-at-fossil-claim/
  12. Bad Arguments Against Christianity: Bible Contradictions – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/08/11/answering-the-bible-contradictions-objection/
  13. Video Shows Mother Teresa Saying “Every Abortion is a Rejection of Jesus” | LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2013/12/27/video-shows-mother-teresa-saying-every-abortion-is-a-rejection-of-jesus/
  14. The Problem of Evil Is Often A Problem of Understanding – Cross Examined: http://crossexamined.org/the-problem-of-evil-is-often-a-problem-of-understanding/
  15. ISIS Is Killing Us Because We Are Not Muslim – by Nabeel Qureshi: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nabeel-qureshi/isis-is-killing-us-because-we-are-not-muslim_b_11793770.html
  16. Lessons for America from the fall of Rome: http://mobile.wnd.com/2016/09/lessons-for-america-from-the-fall-of-rome/#67C09EVzvgw1FYx4.99
  17. The Case for Christianity According to a 7th Grader | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/10965/
  18. Our shrinking brains – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/our-shrinking-brains
  19. 4 Ways to become a better listener and a better Apologist: http://crossexamined.org/4-ways-become-better-listener-better-apologist/
  20. Why Would an Engineer-Turned-Mom Care So Deeply about Apologetics? http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/why-would-an-engineer-turned-mom-care-so-deeply-about-apologetics
  21. The Church of Chronic Denial and Dementia | Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past…… https://robertbridgstock.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/the-church-of-chronic-denial-and-dementia/
  22. Four Self-Refuting Statements Heard on College Campuses Across America: http://crossexamined.org/four-self-refuting-statements-heard-on-college-campuses-across-america/
  23. What Christian Parents Need to Know About New Age and Occult Beliefs: http://crossexamined.org/christian-parents-need-know-new-age-occult-beliefs/
  24. Greg Bahnsen: The Bible is the Word of God: http://evidence4god.blogspot.com/2016/08/greg-bahnsen-standing-on-scripture.html
  25. William Lane Craig Q&A: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/knowledge-of-god-and-his-will
  26. ‘Increasingly Aggressive’ Atheists Target Children in New Evolution-Promoting Book: http://christiannews.net/2016/09/05/increasingly-aggressive-atheists-target-children-in-new-evolution-promoting-book/

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  Psalms 100:1-5

mid-week apologetics booster (8-25-2016)

Good morning followers of Christ!

I ran into an extraordinarily large amount of articles and videos I’m providing you this week.  Hopefully you’ll find something in here to equip you to gently instruct those who oppose you (2 Timothy 2:23-26):

  1. How to Respond When Someone Says, “No One Comes to Faith Through Arguments.”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cS2xGUj5KQ
  2. When it Comes to Abortion, No One Talks about the One Question that Matters. It’s the One Question the President Never Asks: http://www.str.org/Media/Default/Publications/December%201997%20-1.pdf
  3. 4 Myths About Teaching Apologetics in Youth Ministry: http://www.churchleaders.com/youth/youth-leaders-articles/160290-benjer_mcveigh_4_myths_about_teaching_apologetics_in_youth_ministry.html
  4. A ‘no brainer’ test for measuring the faith of our young ones – Are your children (and grandchildren) asking the right questions? http://creation.com/no-brainer-test
  5. Three Surprising Facts about Atheists | Paul Gould: http://www.paul-gould.com/2016/08/17/three-surprising-facts-about-atheists/
  6. We are saved by faith alone, not by faith and works | Salvation and works: https://carm.org/are-we-saved-faith-alone-or-do-we-need-works-too
  7. How Come the Bible Doesn’t Condemn Slavery? Reasons To Believe: http://www.reasons.org/articles/how-come-the-bible-doesnt-condemn-slavery
  8. Atheist Vs. Christian Summer Camps: Which More Effectively Taught Their Worldview This Summer? http://christianmomthoughts.com/atheist-vs-christian-summer-camps-which-more-effectively-taught-their-worldview-this-summer/
  9. Why 99 out of 10 Millennials Leave The Church? http://crossexamined.org/why-99-out-of-10-millennials-leave-the-church/
  10. State School? Christian College? Navigating the Many Choices: http://www.equip.org/article/state-school-christian-college-navigating-many-choices/
  11. Is it arrogant to claim you have ‘the truth’? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adxa8Iw8T48
  12. What are the differences between Catholics and Protestants? http://www.gotquestions.org/difference-Catholic-Protestant.html
  13. 6 Ways You May Be Raising Your Kids with an Oversimplified Faith: http://christianmomthoughts.com/6-ways-you-may-be-raising-your-kids-with-an-oversimplified-faith/
  14. THEO101: The Destiny of the Unsaved: https://clearlens.org/2016/08/18/theo101-the-destiny-of-the-unsaved/
  15. What Can’t Science Account For? http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2016/08/what-cant-science-account-for.html
  16. Witnessing To Jehovah’s Witnesses [Part1] – Most Christians are ill-equipped to handle themselves in discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The simple reason is they know their stuff and most Christians don’t. Most Christians know what they believe, but don’t know why they believe it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQ6Pf5ZDSCk
  17. Asking Questions and Calling Bluffs: https://apolotheo.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/asking-questions-and-calling-bluffs/
  18. Why Russell’s Teapot Fails: https://clearlens.org/2015/06/03/why-russells-teapot-fails/
  19. Why Every Christian Needs to Be A Sheepdog: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/why-every-christian-needs-to-be-a-sheepdog/
  20. Funsized Fallacies: Tu Quoque: https://clearlens.org/2015/05/01/funsized-fallacies-tu-quoque/
  21. “Ray Comfort on the Banana, in context [HQ]” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BXLqDGL1FSg
  22. “The Greatest Gamble” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/4uIZkYqkKqM
  23. azvoterguide.com: http://www.azvoterguide.com/
  24. Do all good people go to heaven? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clJdwHyhJzY
  25. Is atheism a religion? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tzxQSFq1iE
  26. There’s Probably No God – a response to Richard Dawkins: http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/theres-probably-no-god-a-response-to-richard-dawkins/
  27. Two More Ways Learning to Defend Your Faith Benefits You: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/09/two-more-ways-learning-to-defend-your.html
  28. More Ways Learning to Defend Your Faith Benefits You! http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/09/four-ways-learning-to-defend-your-faith.html
  29. Why Would God Have Permitted Any Form of Servitude or Slavery? http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/why-would-god-have-permitted-any-form-of-servitude-or-slavery/
  30. Why Natural Selection Cannot Explain the Origin of Animal Development: http://www.equip.org/article/natural-selection-cannot-explain-origin-animal-development/
  31. A Wallet, A Dollar, the Existence of God 1-Theism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vi-FsaEb3Q
  32. Jesus vs. Horus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FR08QtvapM
  33. Questioning Modeled by Jesus | Confident Christianity: http://confidentchristianity.com/?p=1432
  34. Your eyeball has 137,000,000 connections in one square inch.. Evolutionism teaches that it happened by chance… That’s ridiculous: https://www.facebook.com/HowToWinASoul/videos/1808089622744119/
  35. When did the boat sink? https://www.facebook.com/HowToWinASoul/videos/1720959891457093/
  36. Evolutionists say “How can you believe that all the dogs in the world came from two dogs on Noah’s ark?” yet they believe that all the dogs in the world came from a rock: https://www.facebook.com/HowToWinASoul/videos/1808090186077396/
  37. Talk It Up! Major New Study on Homosexuality: https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2016/08/talk-major-new-study-homosexuality/

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts ; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  Psalm 51:1-17

Blessings

mid-week apologetics booster (4-28-2016)

Good morning all,

Hope you’re having a great week.  Last night we wound up with the last “regular” night of AWANA.  There was an ice cream party and a lot of gifts, cards and celebration happening.  I felt extremely blessed to have a very deep conversation with a 4th grade girl during book time on the topic of (again) “Who made God?”  She came up with that question as she was reciting John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God”.  I asked her if she knew what “the Word” means.  She didn’t.  So, I explained that “the Word” refers to Jesus, who is God and has always existed.  She had a hard time understanding how Jesus could be both with God and also be God.  I explained the concept of the Trinity (one God, three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit) to her (she said Trinity was her middle name 🙂 ).  Once she understood the idea that Jesus existed before He was born in Bethlehem, then she started to ponder the question, “Who made God?”  It is amazing how prevalent that question is at that age.  If you work with kids that age, you should definitely be prepared to answer that.  I believe this is the 4th time I’ve heard that question from a 4th grader 🙂  She just couldn’t understand how God could’ve always existed.  She kept saying “I’m so confused!”.  I don’t think she was distressed, but rather amazed – blown away by the concept. I reinforced the concept that only that which begins to exist needs a cause.  God never began to exist.  He is outside time, which is very hard for us to imagine, since we are stuck in time.  But something must’ve always existed (either the universe or whatever caused the universe).  The Bible tells us that God knows the end from the beginning – He is able to see everything at once, but we can only see what is happening now and think back to the past.  I asked her to imagine a line going infinitely far to the left and to the right, with no end on either side.  She just said it was hard to understand.  We ended up agreeing that the God who made the universe and everything in it would be hard for us humans to fully understand, but He’s given us everything we need to understand about Him in His word.  She agreed.  Several times throughout the night as I saw her, I kept asking her “Who made God?” and she gave the right answer – no one did – He just always existed.  I told her how I was so glad that she was thinking about these things.  Also, during that book time, as we were talking about another verse, the topic of sin came up and we talked about how, in heaven, there will be no need for policemen or locks on doors.  She asked me, “What if you have a bad (sinful) thought in heaven?”.  I assured her that when we’re in heaven, we will not have such desires – our sinful nature will be gone and there will be nothing evil there to tempt us.  She was a little concerned to hear that there will be no policemen in heaven, because I later found out that her Dad is a policeman!  I assured her that policemen can go to heaven if they believe in Jesus, it’s just that there will be no need for them to do their job of arresting people, because no one will be doing anything wrong there!  Overall, it was a great conversation – one of those mountain top experiences in my opinion.

Now, on to the links:

  1. What does it mean for salvation to be a gift from God? http://www.gotquestions.org/salvation-gift.html
  2. Don’t Expect Your Kids to Care What the Bible Says Unless You’ve Given Them Reason to Believe It’s True: http://crossexamined.org/dont-expect-your-kids-to-care-what-the-bible-says-unless-youve-given-them-reason-to-believe-its-true/
  3. Bill Nye Epitomizes The Left’s Authority Complex: http://thefederalist.com/2016/04/19/bill-nye-epitomizes-the-lefts-authority-complex/
  4. If Christianity Were True, Would You Become A Christian? http://thereforegodexists.com/christianity-true-become-christian/
  5. A Rape Survivor Speaks Out About Transgender Bathrooms – There’s no way to make everyone happy about transgender bathrooms and locker rooms. So the priority ought to be finding a way to keep everyone safe: http://thefederalist.com/2015/11/23/a-rape-survivor-speaks-out-about-transgender-bathrooms/
  6. “I Came to Faith Through Apologetics” | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/i-came-to-faith-through-apologetics/
  7. Students Don’t Have to Be Intimidated by Evolution: http://www.str.org/articles/students-don%E2%80%99t-have-to-be-intimidated-by-evolution
  8. The Divinely Unifying Message of the Bible (Cold Case Christianity podcast): http://pleaseconvinceme.libsyn.com/the-divinely-unifying-message-of-the-bible
  9. The Cicada Challenge to Darwinian Evolution: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/04/the_cicada_chal102800.html
  10. Why some people lose faith: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2016/04/why-some-people-lose-faith.html
  11. Christian Mom Thoughts – Most Popular Posts: http://christianmomthoughts.com/most-popular-posts/

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.” – Proverbs 9:10-12

mid-week apologetics booster (4-21-2016)

Good morning all,

Good to be back with my family and my local church family – it was great to see the clubbers and leaders again at AWANA last night.  Many of my precious 4th grade kids are learning about the rapture in their AWANA sections, so it was great to talk through that and explain what things like the rapture, the great tribulation and the 1000 year reign of Christ are all about.  The AWANA books had them learning about those, so it was very natural.  Most my six 4th graders had to memorize this passage:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Then the AWANA book goes on to have them do a “brain check”, which involved writing down facts about the rapture, and other related end-times topics.  However these topics were scary for at least one my clubbers, a 4th grade girl, who is afraid that her Jewish friend will have to go through the great tribulation because she doesn’t believe in Jesus.  The clubber says she’s shared her faith with the Jewish girl and the Jewish girl responded that it is too hard to believe.  She said that her main problem was with the resurrection of Jesus – I think that came up during Easter.  This tells me that apologetics is starting to even be important at this age as well – even as early as 4th grade.  Of course I shared with her that the resurrection of Jesus makes the best sense out of the facts we have about Jesus – that He died on the cross and that later He was seen by more than 500 people.  That many people don’t have hallucinations at the same time!  She readily agreed…  Of course I will be praying for her and her Jewish friend.  It’s not our job to convert people, that’s God’s job, but it’s our job to be faithful witnesses and that’s what she did, so I praise God for that!

Now, on to the links – not many this week as I’ve been busy, just coming back from Australia:

  1. Bad news, atheists. Federal Court rules ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ not a real religion: http://canadafreepress.com/article/bad-news-atheists.-federal-court-rules-flying-spaghetti-monster-not-a-real
  2. How I’m Teaching My 6-Year-Olds To Be Critical Thinkers: http://christianmomthoughts.com/how-im-teaching-my-6-year-olds-to-be-critical-thinkers/
  3. Are we saved by grace or works? | Saved by grace: https://carm.org/grace-or-works
  4. Christian Faith Under (Im)Moral Attack: “You’re Homophobic!” | Thinking Christian: https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2016/04/christian-faith-immoral-attack-youre-homophobic/
  5. Who is the Dalai Lama? http://www.gotquestions.org/Dalai-Lama.html
  6. Has our universe been designed? https://coffeehousequestions.com/2016/04/18/has-our-universe-been-designed/
  7. Was Ancient Man’s Belief in Miracles Simply Naivety? http://www.dyerthoughts.com/home/was-ancient-mans-belief-in-miracles-simply-naivety
  8. Christian Apologetics – Practical Reasons to Study: https://jkw00d.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/christian-apologetics-practical-reasons-to-study/
  9. Three Reasons Why Jesus is Qualified to be called the “Messiah”: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/three-reasons-why-jesus-is-qualified-to-be-called-the-messiah-2/
  10. Why Were Some Books Left Out of the Bible? http://www.thegoodbookblog.com/2016/apr/19/why-were-some-books-left-out-of-the-bible/

Now, as a bonus, put your thinking caps on and think how you would respond to the following.  Someone who I’d previously shared Christ with, recently raised the following objection.  He would call himself an agnostic, but he seems to be seeking within the last year or so…  I will be responding with my own response today, but I would like you to give some thought on how you would respond.  Here is his objection:

So I have a question: God is considered all knowing, yet he leaves us with choices to follow him or not.  If he’s all knowing, what’s the point of choices?  He already knows the outcome which makes that entire base of logic useless.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for God to just be a supremely intelligent deity locked in a war rather than an all knowing one?  To clarify the locked in a war part, he means “Locked in a war vs. Satan.”  He would have seen Satan turn on him if he were all knowing, instead he either made a choice to allow it because he knew the outcome and sacrificed future souls due to that choice or he didn’t see it coming and he now maintains an alleged upper hand at the end if we are to believe the Bible.

I ask these questions because I think this whole thing is less about if God is real and more about who he really is and what we have about who he really is and what we have ab out him is fact and fiction.

It may be a little unclear, but I think the main point is clear enough to answer and maybe ask some clarifying questions.  How would you respond?

Have a great week!

My Trip to Australia

I was required to travel from Phoenix, Arizona to Sydney, Australia for work this April.  I was working on a large project and they needed support on site for the go live.  Although, in some ways, I looked forward to the trip, there was a steep personal cost.  Not only was I to be away from my lovely wife for 2 weeks (I couldn’t convince her to come with me), but I was going to be away from my local church for 2 weeks.  This meant would I miss 2 weeks of:

  1. Sunday Worship with my brothers and sisters at my local church
  2. Teaching the Sunday morning apologetics class
  3. Tuesday men’s Bible study at Mimi’s Café with about 20 other guys
  4. Wednesday night AWANA, where I’m one of the leaders. I have six 4th grade clubbers who I dearly miss:
    1. Cole
    2. Grady
    3. John
    4. Elianna
    5. Kourtney
    6. Chariot
  5. Thursday night men’s Bible study with 6 brothers from my local church. When I’m not there, no music is played, so I know they’ll be missing that, but I certainly have missed them and their fellowship.  We really go deep with each other and hold each other accountable.
  6. Daily walks at work with the one Christian Brother I have at work. On those walks, we normally talk apologetics and do role playing with large lists of objections to the Christian faith – I really miss him and those daily walks on work days.
  7. Feeding the homeless at St. Vincent de Paul (2nd Saturday of the month) – I will miss Rosanne (the volunteer leader) as well as all the other volunteers. I will also miss the opportunity to serve those less fortunate in the name of Christ, while being confronted with the fact of homelessness and hunger.

But, I really had no option to say no to this work trip.  Many would think I was crazy for even wanting to say no – its Australia!  While this was not going to be a pleasure trip, I hoped that at least I would have some time off during the trip for sight-seeing.  The flight to Australia was 15 hours and 20 minutes long (from Los Angeles to Sydney).  I was dreading that long flight.  I’d requested an aisle seat and when I boarded the plane and got to my seat, I saw that there was a couple sitting in the same row – 3 seats and they occupied 2 and me in the other one.  They were a very pleasant couple.  I did find out they were Christian.  After small talk was over, I started reading the book “Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith” by Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler.  The husband of the couple noticed the book and made mention of it, so I asked him if he was a Christian and he said yes, so we talked about our mutually shared faith, which was great.  As the flight went on, I realized that this was going to be very uncomfortable for 15 hours, because the seating was very cramped.  This flight attendant I think noticed my situation and mentioned to me, “Hey, there’s an open seat in row 30 where you’d be the only person in the row – you’re free to take it if you’d like”.  Well, I’ve got to tell you, that was God taking care of me through her!  I quickly took her up on the offer.  The husband of the couple had already fallen asleep and I said a quiet good bye to the wife as I moved my belongings back to row 30.  Wow, it was great – I could stretch out my feet, I had room to store my stuff.  This row only had 2 seats in it, but the row ahead had 3 seats, so I had plenty of leg room.  Plus, since the row was kind of “indented”, I wouldn’t get my elbow bumped by people or carts going by.  It really made this long flight tolerable.  This was also the type of airplane that had plugs in the back of the seat in front of you which meant that I could plug in my phone and play audio or video on it without fear of running out of battery.  So, I did a lot of reading and listening to various sermons and podcasts.  It was a great time of feeding as I made use of the time rather than wasting it away.  I did have sleep too – I think I got about 5 hours – in and out. As we got close to Sydney, I started to look out the window to see if I could see land.  I was finally able to see the first glimpses of Australia from the plane:

Australia From Plan

I knew it wouldn’t be long and we’d be landing.  I was full of hope, joy and thankfulness that I’d survived through that long flight.  I told that flight attendant several times during the flight how grateful I was to her for giving me the opportunity to sit here, how it really made my flight experience a pleasure.

Once landing in Sydney, I was able to quickly get my luggage (praise God) and it was very painless getting through customs.  Getting out to the curb it was a little difficult to find where the taxis were, but I finally found them and there was a big line, which I waited in and finally after the guy assigning people to taxis had an argument with a taxi driver who I was to go with :), I was able to get into the taxi and make the 45 minute trip to North Ryde where my hotel was.  I was staying at the Courtyard Marriott in North Ryde, which was in walking distance to my work as well as a church that I’d found online – North Ryde Christian Church.  I arrived at my hotel at about 9AM Saturday morning (I’d left Phoenix 7PM Thursday evening).  Whew!  What I really needed was a room and a nice hot shower.  My plan was to go down to the Sydney Harbor area and stay moving all day long, just sightseeing.  Was I in for a rude awakening…  As I was waiting for my room to be prepared in the hotel lobby, I checked my work email ( first mistake 🙂 ) and saw that they actually wanted me to attend a 9:30AM meeting at the office.  Well, I emailed back and told them I just landed and needed to get to my room, take a shower and then I would be able to come.  So, after showering and unpacking, I used my pre-printed walking directions to the office and walked over there.  It turned out that I worked a full day – I think I left the office at 7PM that day!  Well, so much for sightseeing.  But it was the go live weekend and there were rather urgent tasks we as a project team had to do.  However, it was a surprise to me that there were still that many things left to do that close to go live.  In any case, I made it clear that I would be going to church tomorrow, so no one even asked me to go into work on Sunday, although several of them would be working on Sunday.  On Saturday, I went out to lunch at a Malaysian restaurant with several of the guys from China who’d traveled to Sydney for the go live as well.  During the lunch, I mentioned that I’d be going to church tomorrow.  One commented that China is communist and “we don’t believe in God” – he kind of chuckled.  Another guy said “I’ve never been to church”, so I invited him to come with me, but he declined the offer – I made it clear to everyone that they could come with me tomorrow, but no one took me up on the offer.

So, Sunday morning I got up and ate breakfast at the hotel.  I knew from the web search that church started at 9:30 am and it was a 23 minute walk, so I targeted that I wanted to leave the hotel at 9:00.  But, interestingly enough, I’d forgot to pack white socks for the trip, so I figured I would take the time I had to go to a local Target store and buy some socks – that as quite an adventure in and of itself, but bottom line, I ended up buying 6 pairs of white socks – enough to get me through the trip.  I also needed to stop at an ATM and withdraw some cash so that I would have money to give at church.  I figured out what I normally give at home and translated that via the exchange rate and took out the necessary amount of money at the ATM – it worked out well.  I arrived at the church at 9:25 – perfect timing!  I took several pictures along the way.  The first one here is actually a cool looking tree that was out in front of the church.  You can see the church sign on the right side of the photo:

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Here are a couple of cool trees I saw on the way to church walking there:

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The worship service was great.  Everyone was real friendly.  Since it was a very small church, I stood out like a sore thumb 🙂  I think I just about talked to everyone in attendance either before or after the service.  This is definitely a Spirit filled, Jesus loving church.  The speaker spoke on the topic of “What’s Jesus Like?”.  It was a great topic.  He’s documented to contents of this talk here: https://georgesjournal.net/2016/04/04/whats-jesus-like/.  The church does not employ any pastors, so each week, there is a different speaker – I believe normally an elder or possibly a missionary report.  There is a lot I could report about the church and its differences to ours in Phoenix and I really found it to be a great experience, I would definitely return there.  One couple in particular I met there invited me back to their house for lunch and gave me lots of wonderful advice on what was a best plan for sightseeing the rest of the day.  With their help, I decided to take a ferry to Manly, which would allow me to see a bit of the downtown area (Circular Quay) and the harbor, the bridge, the opera house as well as the great little town of manly including the beach!  I could not believe that this couple actually provided me with an OPAL card (with money on it), which is needed to take the trains and ferry.  But, more than that, they even dropped me off down at Circular Quay and told me exactly where to go to catch the ferry!  Unbelievable!  Well, it was a wonderful day.  Here is a picture I took while waiting for the ferry arrive from the wharf:

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As you can see, the opera house is on the right and the harbor bridge is on the left.  The ferry is the smaller ship coming into the harbor in the middle of the picture.  It was an absolutely beautiful day – about 70° – 75° F, which is perfect!  As we left the harbor, I was able to get great pictures of the opera house as we cruised by it:

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So, the ferry made its way over to Manly, which is out at the edge of the harbor.  I don’t think it is technically an island, but it certainly has the feel of an island.  The ferry landed at a wharf and after getting my bearings straight according to the map my new friends printed for me, I decided to head for the beach.  It is a very small town and you can very quickly walk from the place where the ferry lands, through the little town and over to the beach.  The little town is somewhat reminiscent of Coronado Island in San Diego (minus the infamous Hotel del Coronado of course) in that it is small enough to walk across, and one side, there is a harbor and the other side a beach, with a lot of quaint little shops in between and a very safe feeling place.  So, I spent several hours there – out by the beach, took off my shoes and walked in the sand and the water, up and down the beach for quite a while.

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After getting hungry, I got off the sand and put my shoes and socks back on to go across the street to eat.  I found a little open air Mexican place called Mex & Co, where I had some fajitas:

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Around that time, one of the poor guys that was still at work that day contacted me on WeChat (I’d installed that while back in America, being advised that it was a good way to text with the Chinese guys). And luckily Manly has city Wi-Fi, so, I didn’t have to use any of my data to answer.  I was able to answer a question that got him out of a jam – he was happy for that.  After eating and answering his question, I took the walking path to the right of the beach to walk along the rocky part of the coast line:

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After quite a long while walking along there, the sun was starting to get lower, so I thought it was a good idea to start getting back.  I didn’t want to get back too late…  So, I made my way back to the center of town, stopping to have a banana split on the way 🙂  After that, I made my way over to the ferry waiting place and boarded the ferry to get back to Sydney.  This time I went to the open air in the front of the ship.  As we were heading back to Sydney harbor, there were stunning pictures of the sunset behind the harbor bridge:

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Excellent day – now it was dark and I was in an unfamiliar city knowing that I was at Circular Quay and needed to get back to MacQuarie Park, thanks to a note from my friends.  In hindsight, I should’ve downloaded an app for trains.  A few people and workers were able to help guide me to the correct trains / platforms.  After 3 train / platform changes, I finally made it back to my stop and took the 2 block walk back to my hotel – I think I as back in the room by 8PM.  Great day.  I would need it because the rest of the week was to be very rough indeed.

Monday morning I walked to the office.  One thing I noticed is that there are a lot of cool birds in Sydney and surprisingly, 2 of the most common birds are Cockatoos and Lorikeets.  The Lorikeets were much too small and fast to get a picture of unfortunately, but I was able to get several pictures of the cockatoos:

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There were also a few other assorted birds that seemed quite different than Arizona birds to me, for example, Ibis:

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And these other birds that I saw almost every day on the way to work:

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The first 2 days of the week were rough.  On both of those days, I worked until at least 10PM.  Subsequent evenings, I was able to get out by 8PM and 7PM, which seemed like I got off easy 🙂  Fortunately, the US team was able to pick up the slack during our daytime, so we would just hand off to them.  Then, as the week wound down to a close, I started to feel myself getting sick.  Because of that, unfortunately, tourism was not a viable option on the weekend.  I had to just hang around the hotel and try to get better.  Since I had my friend’s OPAL card (and you shouldn’t throw those out, because they’re refillable) I felt that I needed to get the card back to them.  So, I did go to church again although I was sick.  Again, the people were happy to see me back and I was happy to see them.  If there was anyone I hadn’t spoken to in the whole church, I probably spoke to them this time when I went.  There was a family, who last weekend had invited me out to lunch, and since I wasn’t able to go, I took them up on their offer this time (even though I wasn’t really hungry).  We went to a shopping mall where I was able to purchase medicine at a pharmacy, which would hopefully help manage my symptoms.  After a meal at a Chinese restaurant (for which they insisted on paying), they dropped me back off at the hotel.  Both weekends my interaction with the church was a great opportunity for fellowship and getting to know brothers and sisters in Christ half way around the world 🙂  After that, I pretty much just rested the rest of the day and tried to prepare myself for Monday of work.  Unfortunately, my health just kept going downhill.  It got to a point Monday afternoon, that I left early and worked the rest of the day from the hotel room. Tuesday, I worked all day from the hotel room.  Tuesday evening, the coughing was so bad in the middle of the night that I determined in the morning I was going to find a doctor and make sure I didn’t have pneumonia.  So, when I got up, I started to research doctors.  I found one a few blocks away, within walking distance and went – cost was $50 AUD, but the doctor confirmed that I didn’t have pneumonia, which was good – rather, I was diagnosed with Acute Bronchitis and given a “script” for antibiotics and told that I was “unfit for work” for 2 days.  So, I just stayed in the hotel for Wednesday and Thursday, eating room service food (not too great by the way).  Finally, I emerged “alive” from the tomb of my room 🙂 Friday morning with plans to go to work.  I went into work and everyone was really concerned about me – apparently the word spread far and wide because even friends from back in the states were contacting me and asking if I was ok.  I still had a cough, but it’d definitely gotten better.

It was great getting to know the people in the office who are using the software I helped to write.  I’ve had roll-outs of this tool suite in North America, Europe and now Australia and this was the place where I got to interact closest with the end users of my software.  There was one user in particular, who happened to also be staying at my same hotel.  She was from out of the country as well (not the US).  I saw her while eating breakfast one day and she was wearing a cross.  I asked her about the cross, whether she was Christian – she said she was catholic (and she lives in a majority Muslim country).  We talked a little about church stuff when I first saw that cross and asked her about it.  But on the Friday morning (my last business day in Australia), I saw her again at breakfast and again, as we ate breakfast, we started to talk about faith.  I asked her where she thought she was going to go when she died.  She said she didn’t know.  I asked her why…  She said, well, I think I’m a good person, and I’m really trying hard.  I asked her why she said she was unsure, because I reminded her of Jesus’ words – “Whoever hears My words and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned – he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24).  She said the reason she was unsure if she’d go to heaven is because she may have to go to purgatory.  I reminded her, that one of the last things Jesus said while He was on the cross was “It is finished!”  That meant that all the sins of those who would believe in Him are paid for – no further payment is needed.  She said, well that is what the catholic church teaches.  I gently said, yes, but that teaching is not found in the Bible.  I think you ought to base your thoughts about what will happen when you die based on God’s word, not on man’s word.  I then showed her a passage on my phone and had her read it – it was Ephesians 2:4-9, which says:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions –it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.”.

She acted like that was all new information to her.  I asked her if she knew what the biblical word grace meant.  She didn’t.  So I went on to explain that it is unmerited favor from God.  You can’t earn your salvation by doing good or being a good person – you could never be good enough anyway.  She then asked me doesn’t God want us to be good – doesn’t He want us to obey.  I said yes, but this does not contribute to your salvation – salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone – look at Ephesians 2:9 – it says “not of works, so that no one can boast”.  She seemed like a light bulb went off and she actually started crying.  I then prayed for her that she would understand the message of grace that salvation is a free gift from God that cannot be earned, but must be received by faith.  Again, she cried, she felt like I was an angel, a messenger that God sent to tell her what I told her.  I encouraged her that if she trusts in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, that He paid for her sins on the cross and rose from the dead, God would indeed save her and bring her to heaven one day.  She thanked me for that.  Later in the day, I also sent a followup email to her and included this passage, Luke 18:9-14:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’  “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’  “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

That conversation just made my day and my whole trip worth it!  So, Friday, I left the office at 4PM because I had to go back and pack and make arrangements for a trip to the airport as well.

I hoped to visit this national park that was in close walking distance to the hotel, so I did go and visit that before my driver arrived at 8:00 AM on Saturday morning.  Here are some pictures:

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And finally, the last trip to the 7-11 for the breakfast of champions!

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Then, finally, another grueling long flight back to home.  I’m so glad to be back.  Even though I got sick and I only got in one day of sightseeing and missed my wife and family and church, I still think the trip was worth it – if nothing else, for:

  • Meeting the group at North Ryde Christian Church and getting to know them
  • Meeting all the users of the software I created
  • Talking about the free gift of salvation with someone who didn’t really understand it
  • I also was able to memorize several verses while in Australia:
    • Psalms 116:15
    • Proverbs 14:2
    • Proverbs 15:28a
    • Deuteronomy 8:17-18a
    • 1 Peter 4:1-5
  • And all the cool birds I saw…

Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to go back to Australia on a pleasure trip – it seems like a real nice place with great people.  I felt really safe the whole time I was there.  In fact, I cannot remember seeing even one policeman the whole time I was there.  So, overall, I’m happy I went – it was an experience that I will not forget – I and I’m quite sure I’ll see several of the people I met in Australia in heaven one day.  Meanwhile I’m encouraged by the words of the apostle Paul to Titus:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldy passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Titus 2:11-13