Apologetics Class 5/21/2017

We had a good message in the Apologetics class today. This was not the traditional Apologetics material per se, but none the less, I still think it was relevant to Apologetics. Here is the video on YouTube (47 min):

Are you saved? (click on image below to open youtube video in a new tab)

Below, I’ve pasted in the notes (with fill-in blanks) and attached the notes with answers.

We have one more week before we break for the summer

Blessings to you all!


Are You Saved? James MacDonald – John 8:30-36

  1. 100 years from today, this will be the only thing that matters to you – your s______________.
  2. The Bible teaches that you are lost in sin – you have a t____________ condition known as sin.
  3. You’re not saved because you say so any more than you’re in Cincinnati because you know how to get t____________.
  4. To the question, “Are you saved?” rather than telling you how they k_______ they’re saved, they tell you how to g_______ saved.

6 Points in the message from John 8:30-36:

  1. Many people b____________ in Jesus (John 8:30)
    1. Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) – 4 types of soils / people / heart condition.
    2. All true Christians bear f_________.
    3. Parable of the wheat and weeds (Matthew 13) – early on, it’s not obvious which is “the weeds” and which is “the wheat”.  T________ will tell.
    4. Matthew 7:21 and following – it’s what you do that proves the g_________ of your faith
    5. If your faith hasn’t c_____________ you, it hasn’t s___________ you.
  2. Genuine disciples a________ in Jesus’ words (John 8:31)
    1. Salvation happens at a p__________ in time, but it is p___________ over
    2. You can say it, but over time we’re gonna know whether it’s really t_________ by what we see in your life.
    3. How do you know you’re saved? “I have a growing l________ for God’s word”
    4. How am I different because of following Christ? (spiritual self-inventory)
    5. I’m not what I c________ be, I’m not what I s_______ be, but I’m not what I w_____…
  3. Abiding leads to f__________ (John 8:32)
    1. Freedom from the p____________ of sin (penalty of sin is already taken care of)
  4. False disciples don’t recognize their b__________ (John 8:33-34)
    1. You refer to your spiritual heritage as p____________ that you’re okay.
    2. False disciples are not especially c_____________ by their sin

Bondage Checkup

  1. Do you have a s__________ sin? (that’s increasing its intensity in your life)
  2. Do you have a capacity to “hold on” to an o_______________?
  3. Do you have a “reflex reaction” to r_____________ about sin? True Christians know how awful sin is and they want it out of their lives.
  4. Do you find overt discussions about s______________ intensities disquieting or even aggravating?  It’s because you’re not like that and you think that people like that must be making it up because for you to be like that you’d have to make it up.
  5. Do you battle a c____________ spirit toward people who appear devoted to Christ?

Points (cont’d)

  1. False disciples don’t r____________ in Christ (John 8:35) – a message like this could be subtitled “Operation Crowd Reduction”.  It’s not about a quantity of disciples, it’s about a quality of discipleship.
    1. Your assurance of salvation is not based on your conversion story, it’s based on your l__________, looking at it (how you’re living).
    2. Maybe people who’ve walked away from God have just b___________ and He’ll bring them back if they’re really His children.
  2. “Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).  So, here’s the question: Are you s____________ or u_________________?

Discussion Questions

  1. In what way was James MacDonald’s message relevant to apologetics?
  2. Is a James MacDonald telling us that a Christian must work for their salvation?
  3. Did you find this message personally convicting?
  4. Do you have anyone in your circle of friends or acquaintances that claims to be a Christian, but is not living that way? (do not reveal names)  How could you approach them?
  5. James MacDonald said hear the end of the message, “I deserve hell and I’m headed for it”. How can anyone believe that he or she deserves hell?  How would you communicate that message to a non-Christian in conversation?
  6. What does it mean to “examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith”? (1 Cor. 13:5a)
  7. What did James MacDonald mean in this message when he referred to having “fire insurance”?
  8. How can believers in Christ have assurance of their salvation?
  9. Is James MacDonald saying that a Christian can lose his or her faith?
  10. If someone grew up in the church and in a Christian family, at what point are they truly saved?
  11. How can we strike a balance between grace and truth in communicating with ‘weeds’ that may be among us in the church?

Here is a link to the answers.

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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)

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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

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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).

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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.

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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 …

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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?

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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)
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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.
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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).

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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

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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!

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

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Christianity is God reaching down to men.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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

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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.

mid-week apologetics booster (2-9-2017)

Good morning,

Hey everybody, I wanted to pass on a wonderful and encouraging opportunity for you.  A homeschool speech and debate club is looking for community judges for an upcoming competition.  The name of it is the Mars Hill Speech and Debate club.  The event is March 16-18 and they have a lot of different time slots to be filled.  It is on the west side of town, so it is quite a drive for many of us, but it is worth it…  In the past, I’ve done the Christian Apologetics events where the students are given a topic and have to prepare an impromptu speech to defend the Christian position.  It was so encouraging to see these young people defending their faith and so knowledgeable about such critical matters.  If you want to be encouraged and amazed, I would encourage you to attend.  You can find out more at: https://camelbackclassic2017.homeschooldebate.net/ .  You can look for a Judges link at the top of the page.  I blogged about an event I participated in November 2015, you can read about that to get more details on my experience.

Here are your weekly links:

  1. There’s No Good Reason to Deny the Early Dating of the Gospels: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/theres-no-good-reason-to-deny-the-early-dating-of-the-gospels/
  2. Who Is Jesus, According to Other Religions? http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/who-is-jesus-according-to-other-religions/
  3. Is salvation by works true? https://carm.org/is-salvation-by-works-true
  4. Why believe in Christianity over all other religions? https://carm.org/why-believe-christianity-over-all-other-religions
  5. World Religions: https://carm.org/world-religions
  6. How to Prevent Losing Another Generation: https://answersingenesis.org/christianity/church/how-prevent-losing-another-generation/
  7. Report: Christians Were Persecuted In Every Corner of Globe in 2016 – Leah Barkoukis: http://m.townhall.com/tipsheet/leahbarkoukis/2017/02/05/open-doors-persecution-of-christians-report-n2280204
  8. William Murray, Son of the Founder of American Atheists, Converts to Christianity | Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/william-murray-son-of-the-founder-of-american-atheists-converts-to-christianity/
  9. Jesus isn’t the means to something wonderful: http://adam4d.com/jesus-isnt-the-means-to-something-wonderful/
  10. Evidence for the Historical Jesus – free eBook from Dr. Gary Habermas: http://www.garyhabermas.com/Evidence/

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”  Mark 1:38

Blessings to you all!

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, and all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth and God, 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 GodNotice 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 is talking about “corporate election”. God has elected those who will 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).
  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)

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 (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 (5-26-2016)

Good morning family of God,

Hope you’re doing well.  Here are a bunch of links I’ve collected this week.  Hope you can find something useful here:

  1. Are Apologetics and Faith Opposed to One Another? https://clearlens.org/2016/05/18/are-apologetics-and-faith-opposed-to-one-another/
  2. reTHINK Student Apologetics Conference 2016 Costa Mesa, CA – September 23-24, Dallas, TX – October 21-22: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03VcKxiOQpg
  3. 5 Misconceptions about the Bible: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/5-misconceptions-about-the-bible
  4. Cain’s Wife-Who Was She? https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/cain/cains-wife-who-was-she/
  5. 23 REASONS WHY SCHOLARS KNOW JESUS IS NOT A COPY OF PAGAN RELIGIONS: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/23-reasons-why-scholars-know-jesus-is-not-a-copy-of-pagan-religions/
  6. 55% OF DOCTORS HAVE SEEN MEDICAL MIRACLES & 74% BELIEVE IN MIRACLES: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/55-of-doctors-have-seen-medical-miracles-74-believe-in-miracles/
  7. Is Jesus unique? Ravi Zacharias on how to answer the ‘are all religions the same’ question: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/ravi.zacharias.is.jesus.unique.answering.the.question.in.a.multi.faith.world/39189.htm
  8. AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL B. WALLACE ON THE NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/
  9. IS THE TEXT OF THE BIBLE WE HAVE TODAY DIFFERENT FROM THE ORIGINALS? https://winteryknight.com/2016/05/20/is-the-text-of-the-bible-we-have-today-different-from-the-originals-3/
  10. United Methodist Church Quits Pro-Abortion Coalition After Years of Promoting Abortion: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/05/20/united-methodist-church-quits-pro-abortion-coalition-after-years-of-promoting-abortion/
  11. A Call for Plodding Bloggers: http://www.challies.com/articles/a-call-for-plodding-bloggers
  12. POPE FRANCIS’ JIHAD ON CHRISTIANITY – Disturbing pronouncements on the faith from the Vicar of Christ: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/262921/pope-francis-jihad-christianity-raymond-ibrahim
  13. Do Morally Good People Go To Heaven? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b22oVUHg558
  14. Where did God come from? https://www.facebook.com/pastor.sunday.adelaja/videos/vb.40913763844/10153754784698845/?type=3
  15. 34% of “Pro-Choice” Women Who See This Viral Video Turn Against Abortion: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/05/24/34-of-pro-choice-women-who-see-this-viral-video-turn-against-abortion/
  16. Made in His Image: Life-Giving Blood: http://www.icr.org/article/4823
  17. The lost squadron – Deeply buried missing planes challenge ‘slow and gradual’ preconceptions: http://creation.com/the-lost-squadron
  18. Gender Ideology Harms Children-The American College of Pediatricians is urging educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality: http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/gender-ideology-harms-children
  19. Another Climate Alarmist Admits Real Motive Behind Warming Scare: http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/another-climate-alarmist-admits-real-motive-behind-warming-scare/
  20. The 180 Movie: http://www.180movie.com/
  21. Three Good Reasons to Celebrate Your Christian Worldview: http://crossexamined.org/three-good-reasons-celebrate-christian-worldview/

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

2 Timothy 2: 1-13

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

Role Playing Top 100 Questions and Objections to Christianity

The other day, me and this Christian brother of mine decided to start role playing through this list I found on-line.  We walk around the lake on a break at work (about 15 min) and I pull up these questions and objections on my phone.  We take turns handing the phone back and forth to each other, role-playing a skeptic in challenging the other person with one of the questions or objections below.  It is great practice for when we get that chance to really talk to someone!

Here are the top 100 Questions and Objections to Christianity.

1. “I’m as good as any Christian!”

2.“Mother Nature sure blew it…”

3. “I’m doing fine. I don’t need God.”

4. “I am doing the best I can and I’m sincere.”

5. “The First Commandment says, ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’ That proves He isn’t the only God!”

6. “Jesus taught hatred by saying that a Christian should ‘hate’ his father and mother.”

7. “Isn’t it blasphemous to call the Bible ‘God’s Word’ when it makes Him look so bad?”

8. “I believe I will go to heaven because I live by the Golden Rule.”

9. “God is unfair in that Hitler and a dear old lady (who never accepted Jesus) will both go to hell.”

10. “If abortion wasn’t legal, we’d have all those poor girls slipping off to see back-alley butchers. At least this way they’ll get counseling.”

11. “God made me to be a homosexual, so He doesn’t want me to change.”

12. “Aren’t there some circumstances when violating God’s Law is justified?”

13. “What if someone says they’ve never lied, stolen, lusted, blasphemed-if they deny having any sin at all?”

14. “I have broken the Ten Commandments, but I do good things for people.”

15. “You are trying to make me feel guilty by quoting the Ten Commandments.”

16. “What should I say to someone who acknowledges his sins, but says, ‘I just hope God is forgiving’?”

17. “I’ve made my peace with ‘the Man upstairs.'”

18. “What if someone says, ‘I’ve broken every one of the Ten Commandments’?”

19. “I was once a born-again Christian. Now I believe it’s all rubbish!”

20. “You shouldn’t talk about sin because Jesus didn’t condemn anyone. He was always loving and kind.”

21. “Why does the Old Testament show a God of wrath and the New Testament a God of mercy?”

22. “Jesus didn’t condemn the woman caught in the act of adultery, but condemned those who judged her. Therefore you shouldn’t judge others.”

23. “Could you be wrong in your claims about Judgment Day and hell?”

24. “Adam didn’t die the day God said he would!”

25. “Do you think that Christians are better than non-Christians?”

26. “Christianity is boring.”

27. “God made me like this. Sin is His fault!”

28. “I’ll take my chances.”

29. “I hope I’m going to heaven when I die.”

30. “Will people who have never heard the gospel go to hell because they haven’t heard about Jesus Christ?”

31. “How do I witness to someone I know?”

32. “How do I reach my neighbors with the gospel?”

33. “What should I say to someone who has lost a loved one through cancer?”

34. “Do you sin, as a Christian?”

35. “What should I say if someone asks, ‘Have you ever lusted?'”

36. “It’s intolerant to say that Jesus is the only way to God!”

37 “If God gives me some ‘sign,’ then I will believe.”

38. “I made a commitment, but nothing happened.”

39. “I will wait until I am old, then I will get right with God.”

40. “Was it Herod or his wife, Herodias, who wanted to kill John the Baptist?”

41. “Didn’t Jesus pray to the Father to prevent the crucifixion?”

42. “The Bible says ‘an eye for an eye,’ encouraging us to take the law into our own hands by avenging wrongdoing.”

43. “Did Simon Peter find out that Jesus was the Christ by a revelation from heaven (Matthew 16:17), or by his brother Andrew (John 1:41)?”

44. “God couldn’t forgive my sin.”

45. “The Bible says ‘God repented.’ Doesn’t that show He is capable of sin?”

46. “Because Jesus died on the cross, we are all forgiven of every sin.”

47. “I need to get my life cleaned up first.”

48. “Why does God allow evil?”

49. “Jesus wasn’t sinless-He became ‘angry’ when He cleared the temple.”

50. “I have been born again many times.”

51. “Is it possible that Jesus simply fainted on the cross, and revived while He was in the tomb?”

52. “The fact that there are so many versions proves that the Bible has mistakes. Which one is right?”

53. “Didn’t men write the Bible?”

54. “Christians can’t use ‘circular reasoning’ by trying to prove the Bible by quoting from the Bible!”

55. “I’ve tried to read the Bible, but I can’t understand it.”

56. “There are contradictions in the resurrection accounts. Did Christ appear first to the women or to His disciples?”

57. “The Bible calls God ‘the God of peace’ who tells men to ‘beat their swords into plowshares’ (Romans 15:33; Isaiah 2:4). It also calls Him ‘a man of war’ who says to ‘beat your plowshares into swords’ (Exodus 15:3; Joel 3:9, 10). Which is correct?”

58. “On the cross, Jesus cried, ‘My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ This proves He was a fake. God forsook Him.”

59. “When Jesus died on the cross, did the centurion say that Jesus was innocent, or that He was the Son of God?”

60. “God said He would blot out all remembrance of Amalek. The Bible itself disproves this statement by mentioning Amalek to this day.”

61. “If God is perfect, why did He make an imperfect creation?”

62. “What if I don’t feel that I have enough faith?”

63. “Did Jesus bear His own cross or not?”

64. “Doesn’t the Big Bang theory disprove the Genesis account of creation?”

65. “Where did Cain get his wife?”

66. “Adam was a mythical figure who never really lived.”

67. “How does the young-earth theory explain that we can see stars millions of light-years away? How would the light have reached us?”

68. “Where do all the races come from?”

69. “I don’t believe that God is knowable.”

70. “Who made God?”

71. “I will believe if God will appear to me.”

72. “Man is the master of his own destiny!”

73. “When you’re dead, you’re dead.”

74. “There is no absolute truth. You can’t be sure of anything!”

75. “I am too big a sinner.”

76. “Hell isn’t a place. This life is hell.”

77. “Religion has caused more wars than anything else in history.”

78. “Why is there suffering? That proves there is no ‘loving’ God.”

79. “I prefer to remain open-minded.”

80. “Why do I need a Savior?”

81. “Why are there so many different religions?”

82. “What gives you the right to judge me?”

83. “Religion is whatever you feel is right.”

84. “I tried Christianity once.”

85. “It must be possible for us to reach perfection, because the Bible tells us to be perfect.”

86. “How can you know that you are saved?”

87. “The Bible was written so that it would only look like Jesus fulfilled prophecy.”

88. “How should I witness to someone who belongs to a denomination, who I suspect isn’t trusting the Savior?”

89. “Why are there so many denominations?”

90. “How should I witness to my coworkers?”

91. “All religions are different paths to the same place.”

92. “Did John the Baptist recognize Jesus before His baptism, or not?”

93. “How can people be happy in heaven, knowing that their unsaved loved ones are suffering in hell?”

94. “I have things I need to do before I become a Christian.”

95. “Should we ever swear an oath?”

96. “I knew some Christians once and they wronged me.”

97. “How should I witness to a Jew?”

98. “The Bible says, ‘Judge not lest you be judged.’ You therefore have no right to judge me when it comes to my sins!”

99. “How can I witness to family members?”

100. “I don’t want to give up what I like doing.”

This site where I found these does post answers to the questions.

mid-week apologetics booster (12-3-2015)

Good morning everyone!

Pick an article or video below to become informed on a topic that interests you!

  1. Reasons To Believe : Quantum Mechanics and the Nature of Reality: http://www.reasons.org/articles/quantum-mechanics-and-the-nature-of-reality
  2. Didn’t the Old Testament punish blasphemy with death? How is that different from radical Islam? http://www.gotquestions.org/Old-Testament-blasphemy.html
  3. Apologetics in the Real World | Hope’s Reason: http://www.stephenjbedard.com/apologetics-in-the-real-world/
  4. True for you, not true for me? https://youtu.be/Zsp-OyC9nAc
  5. John Lennox DNA and the origin of the self-replicating cell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWN0V7yoirI
  6. Professor explains how his study of the historical Jesus made him leave atheism | WINTERY KNIGHT: http://winteryknight.com/2015/11/28/professor-explains-how-his-study-of-the-historical-jesus-made-him-leave-atheism-3/
  7. Refuting Evolution—Chapter 4 – Bird Evolution: http://creation.mobi/refuting-evolution-chapter-4-bird-evolution
  8. Case-Making 101: Is There Evidence In the Universe For The Existence of God? Part 3 Evidence from Biochemistry: http://truthfaithandreason.com/case-making-101-is-there-evidence-in-the-universe-for-the-existence-of-god-part-3-evidence-from-biochemistry/
  9. Microevolution versus Macroevolution: Two Mistakes – Evolution News & Views: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/07/microevolution097801.html
  10. ARE ORGANS IRREDUCIBLY COMPLEX, THEREBY DEFYING DARWINIAN GRADUALISM? http://mannsword.blogspot.com/2015/11/are-organs-irreducibly-complex-thereby.html
  11. Smoking high-strength cannabis may damage nerve fibres in brain | Science | The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/nov/27/smoking-high-strength-cannabis-skunk-may-damage-nerves-brain
  12. Book Review: Talking to Catholics about the Gospel, by Chris Castaldo: http://9marks.org/review/book-review-talking-to-catholics-about-the-gospel-by-christ-cataldo/
  13. Is Roman Catholicism and Christianity the Same Thing? Roman Catholicism Denies Justification by Faith Alone in Christ Alone: https://carm.org/is-catholicism-christian
  14. Molinism:
    1. Watch “Greg Koukl – Molinism” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/KGU3t31xTY0
    2. Watch “Dr William Lane Craig Explains God’s Middle Knowledge (Molinism)” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ZuuLdzZSlmw
  15. Watch “How Should We Think about Faith and What Is the Role of Evidence?” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/cv1q9z2a0Ms
  16. Watch “Is There An Intellect Directing Nature Towards An End?” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/eTlXCWTQBzo
  17. Greed drives the advocacy of organizations on climate change | WINTERY KNIGHT: http://winteryknight.com/2015/11/27/greed-drives-the-advocacy-of-organizations-on-climate-change/
  18. Southern Greenland—warm and ice free! http://creation.mobi/a/6955
  19. Pleading the First with Adam Metropolis Series:
    1. Watch “DARWIN IS DEAD, Part 1: “Your Children” [Pleading the First with Adam Metropolis]” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/1Obu8i0EWaM
    2. Watch “DARWIN IS DEAD, Part 2: “Suppressing the Truth” [Pleading the First with Adam Metropolis]” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/LG2LHSsU-VU
    3. Watch “DARWIN IS DEAD, Part 3: “Manuscript Evidence” [Pleading the First with Adam Metropolis]” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/N73GoOB765w
    4. Watch “DARWIN IS DEAD, Part 4: “Fall of the Mind” [Pleading the first w/Adam Metropolis]” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/fEhwHtyf9pQ
  20. Statistics on violence, rape, terror, sharia, and Isis: https://carm.org/islamic-muslim-statistics-on-violence-rape-terror-sharia-isis-welfare
  21. Statistics regarding increase of sexually transmitted diseases in 2014: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/cdc-83-syphilis-cases-2014-among-gay-men-where-sex-sex-partner-was

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62.

Blessings to you all!

Apologetics Class 11-22-2015

Currently, we are reading the book Unsilenced: How to Voice the Gospel by James Boccardo.  It is a great book about evangelism that also includes some information about Apologetics.

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Hi All,

Thanks for attending the class today.  We had a full(er) house today 🙂  I was glad to see and talk to y’all!  We continued reading chapter 8 today. We also watched and discussed the following witnessing clip from Living Waters:

How you were raised determines your faith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpgnYX2Xp-4

In our chapter 8 reading we covered pages 152-157.  Here are the questions we covered after the reading:

  1. (pg. 152) Why worry about people who say, “Don’t worry about me, I’m good with the Lord”?  Well, they might ___   ___________.
  2. (pg. 152) How does Matthew 7:21-23 speak about the issue?  Jesus is talking about people who ________  ________  ________  Him.
  3. (pg. 153) What is a question that you can ask a self-proclaimed “Christian” that will tell you a lot in less than 10 seconds?
  4. (pg. 154) If the person says yes to the above question, but sounds shaky, what follow-up question can you ask them?
  5. (pg. 152-154) Should we just assume that every person attending church is saved? One of my favorite lines is “Tell me about ________  ____________  _________.”
  6. (pg. 156) Do you have to be knowledgeable about other religions before you can talk with someone of another religion?

Since we were talking about other religions, I was going to show you this following video, but didn’t have time:

Living Waters University: a Catholic, a Muslim, & a Hindu girl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBZtTwOk1iQ

Also during our discussions a point came up related to Roman Catholic theology – the idea of inclusivism.  Here are a few articles that speak about the issue:

When Catholicism Hinders the Gospel: http://www.str.org/articles/when-catholicism-hinders-the-gospel#.VlJOhr9HSMI The following is a quote from the article:

“I first started doing public advocacy of Christianity on a secular program called “Religion on the Line” on the ABC affiliate here in Los Angeles (two hours on religious topics with a rabbi, a priest, a minister, and a host).  I was stunned when the first time a Protestant called in to share Christ with the rabbi he was opposed not by the rabbi, but rather by the Roman Catholic priest (“Rabbi, I’ll handle this one.”) 

The Jews have their own covenant, the priest argued.  They have their own way to God which does not require belief in Jesus.  That is also true for every other faith.  God can be found through virtually any religions.  The blood of Christ—which is necessary to forgive sins (this is the only sense in which Christ is the only way)—is not just for Christians, but is applied to anyone who sincerely and obediently pursues his own religion.  He is forgiven through Jesus, though he never believes in Jesus.  Put simply, the good Buddhist is saved by the blood of Christ.  This is called inclusivism.

I almost fell off my chair the first time I heard this.  Yet, every single Roman Catholic priest on that program since then—a show I’d done more than twenty times—held the same thing, even a bishop. ”

And Salvation: Truth, Not Just Sincerity: http://www.str.org/articles/salvation-truth-not-just-sincerity#.VlJPB79HSMI Here is quote from the article:

This difference of opinion is a historically new development in Roman Catholicism that stunned me when I first encountered it in the early days of being on Religion on the Line in the late eighties, a radio panel Dennis Prager hosted for many years. The priests on the panel uniformly held the conviction, informed by Vatican II, that Jews don’t have to believe in Jesus in order to receive the benefits of Jesus’ salvation. This is a view called “inclusivism.” It’s not the same as pluralism, but in my view, it seems to have the same impact: “Yes, Jesus is necessary for salvation, but you don’t have to believe in Jesus to benefit from Jesus.”

Finally, here is an article from catholic.org entitled “Pope Francis says atheists can do good and go to heaven too!”.  It is very hard to figure out what he’s really saying, but it certainly doesn’t sound like an orthodox, biblical view on soteriology (study of the doctrine of salvation):  http://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=51077

Next week, we should finish chapter 8, which covers evolution.

Have a great week and a great Thanksgiving celebration!

Success In Life

A thought occurred to me before I went to bed last night… It occurred as I was thinking about my quest to lose weight. I realized that in order to have the long-term success that I was seeking, I needed to forego momentary pleasures of eating whatever delicious food I desired. This is the concept of “delayed gratification”. Then I began to think of just how many things in life require the same discipline. Here is s short list I thought of:

  1. Weight loss (Prov. 23:1-3; 20-21)
  2. Getting a college degree (Prov. 1:5, Prov. 9:9, Prov. 18:2, Prov. 4:7, Daniel 1:1-21)
  3. Staying out of debt (Prov. 22:7)
  4. Staying sexually pure (1 Corinthians 6:18-21)
  5. Learning a skill such as a programming language, golf or a musical instrument (Prov. 22:29)
  6. Scripture knowledge and memorization (Ps. 119:11)
  7. Being well-read (having read many good books) and the knowledge and benefits that come from that. (Daniel 1:17)
  8. After staying with a company a long time, achieving a high level of vacation benefits
  9. Saving for retirement (Prov. 13:11)
  10. Persevering under trials rather than just quitting (James 1:12)

I’m sure there are many more examples that could be given. “Delayed gratification” is a message young people need to hear and understand today. It is a great skill to be learned in life, and it is a proficiency you should master in order to be successful in life.

“Delayed gratification” is even pivotal in the greatest and most important pursuit in life, the pursuit of the Christ. Jesus said:

If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Luke 9:23

The Christian life is a life of self-denial – not as “a work” that will make you acceptable to God, but has a recognition that He is your Lord and Master. As Paul said:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

If you’re not born-again, this is impossible. If you are born-again, this becomes possible and should be a natural inclination for you. Delay your gratification for something better later in this life, and ultimately in the life to come!

Response to a question from a Muslim – Omer

The following letter is something I found here:

http://www.comereason.org/religious-exclusivism.asp

I’ve given my response below Omer’s letter

************************************************************

Hi,

I’m a Muslim and lately I have been reading many of the questions and answers on your site and thought to myself that I needed to express my thoughts and feelings too and hear what you have to say about it.

The two biggest religions in the world, Islam and Christianity both have a rule that is extremely disturbing when the two religions have so many followers and both make a lot of sense.

According to Islam, if you believe Jesus as the Son of God you go to hell, and according to Christianity if you believe that Jesus is not the Son of God you go to hell. Now living in the 21st century in Australia, how are we supposed to know what exactly happened in the Middle East 2000 years ago? Of course we cannot know, we can only believe. Lately this has been really stuck on my mind. I still believe in God but I feel very lost and insecure.

People and religions say you should love God, but I do not understand how I could love someone who would put me into hell for eternity based on what I believe about Jesus, even though God knows my situation and knows that I could never be sure about which belief is true. I do not want to lose my faith and I do not want to not have a chance of going to heaven either and so we must do what we can to try to find answers.

In one of your responses you said that no matter how much you have sinned, if you repent and believe Jesus is your savior you will still go to heaven. So on judgment day if I was to see very bad people who have repented and been saved, and if I was a very good person who always believed in God and never did bad things, only small mistakes that we all do and I go to hell being a much better person, then where is the just, merciful, understanding and loving God that I used to know and believe in? It looks as if Christianity shows an easy way out for Christians and makes it impossible for everybody else. I don’t like the thought of this as it does not sound fair and at the same time it sounds scary since I am a Muslim.

If God was to toss a coin and ask you “heads or tails? If you are correct you go to heaven, but if you are wrong then you go to hell”, then would you see this as a fair way of deciding who goes to heaven and hell? Of course you wouldn’t but when you think about it, you have a much better chance this way since it is fifty-fifty. In real life it isn’t fifty-fifty between Muslims and Christians, there are more religions too. Knowing that God has the power to do anything, both religions would be possible in terms of who Jesus really was.

I feel insecure but it is not something that can be ignored. My eternal life and all of ours is at stake. Now before you reply, instead of listing more contradictions in the Qur’an and trying to persuade me that your religion is correct, if you could just think what if YOU were born into a Muslim family and it was ME who was born into a Christian family, then who would be correct? Who would go to heaven and hell then? I was born into this game without a choice where if I win I have nothing to gain (Heaven is unneeded if one does not exist) but if I lose than I have everything to lose.

When there are so many murderers, rapists, people who do not believe in God at all, so many people who do not deserve to go to heaven, why is it that somebody who believes in God should burn for eternity just because they didn’t correctly guess the right religion? People are going to be eternally punished for being unlucky.

Why should I be one of those who end ups burning forever for a reason so unreasonable and for something not in my hands (as you notice nearly all people raised in a family of a particular religion would stick to it and if I was to think about changing religions I am tossing up between a chance of guaranteed hell and a chance of guaranteed hell).

Nothing feels as bad as living blindly, knowing you might go to hell no matter how good you are as a person all because of something that is not in your hands as you can never know for sure what is right. I cannot accept something like this but cannot do anything about it. God is supposed to be fair but I do not see any fairness in this. If God understands our situation then why doesn’t God forgive us for the incorrect belief of Jesus a lot of us have? (I am not saying which is right and wrong)

Thank you for reading, I really hope to get a reply from you and I really do not know what sort of reply to expect for something like what I wrote. There are so many little questions in my writing and you probably will not have the time to answer it all in detail and I do not know how helpful any reply would be keeping in mind that even the good go to hell but I would really like a reply not only for me but for all the people who visit http://www.comereason.org that have similar thoughts to what I have since I believe that what I wrote about is the most important and the most scariest thing of all.

If I had a choice right now to die and never come back, I would choose that than to go on with this and have a high chance of ending up in hell. Nothing is worth the risk of eternal pain. It is not our fault that there are so many religions to choose from that sound right.

Thank you for having the website to give people the opportunity to express themselves and ask questions.

Sincerely,

Omer

Hi Omer,

I don’t know that much about the Qur’an, so, you won’t have to worry – I won’t be pointing out contradictions in the Qur’an. But I can try to explain to you why believing in Jesus is so important in Christianity.

First of all, I want to commend you on a few things you said in your letter:

  1. we must do what we can to find answers
  2. it is not something that can be ignored. My eternal life and all of ours is at stake

These are excellent points! In my response to you, I would like to build on those themes…

My first question is: what have you done to find the answers you’re seeking? You say that you don’t want me to try “to persuade [you] that [my] religion is correct”. But how will you find out answers to your questions if an advocate does not educate you about his position and why he believes it to be correct? And if my position is correct, why shouldn’t I try to persuade you? As you say “it is not something that can be ignored. My eternal life and all of ours is at stake”, and I would strongly agree! Since our eternal life is at stake, I’d better try to make you aware of what kind of trouble you’d be in if you were to meet a Holy God on judgment day outside of a saving relationship with His Son. So, my concern is for your eternal life – I want to see you be “saved” from the punishment due your sins (more on that later).

You say in your letter “Of course we cannot know, we can only believe [what happened in the Middle East 2000 years ago]”. It seems like you’re setting up a false dichotomy. Either “know” or “believe”. It sounds like the choices you present are “absolute certainty” or on the other hand, “blind faith”. But I would argue that there is a 3rd alternative – “true beyond a reasonable doubt”. Objective truths do exist and can be known – not always with 100% certainty, but “beyond a reasonable doubt”. In fact, there’s not much in this life that you can know with 100% certainty. Here are some examples:

  1. Every time you eat at a restaurant, you can’t know with 100% certainty that the people preparing your food didn’t poison it.
  2. When you are driving down a 2 lane road you can’t have 100% certainty that the person on the other side won’t veer over into your lane and hit you head on!
  3. You can’t know with 100% certainty that when you press the brake pedal in your car that it will stop!
  4. You can’t know with 100% certainty that George Washington or Abraham Lincoln existed and did the things history tells us they did.

But there is an objective truth about all these things. Likewise, there is a historical, objective truth about who Jesus really is and what He said and did. Similar to a cold case detective, we (those who seek to know the truth about Jesus) no longer have direct access to the eyewitnesses to personally interview them. Some of the evidence is lost. Yet we do still have a lot of evidence. We have writings from the eyewitnesses that are included in the Bible. The New Testament specifically is composed of 27 letters written by 9 different authors, who either personally knew Jesus or interviewed eyewitnesses who did know Jesus. These writings were in circulation within 25-60 years of the events they record. Some of those writings can be traced back to within 3 years of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). History tells us that Jesus’ disciples were persecuted and died as a result of proclaiming His resurrection and Lordship. His disciples would’ve been in a position to know the truth, having been with Him for 3 years during His public ministry. As Chuck Colson said “The fact is that people will give their lives for what they believe is true, but they will never give their lives for what they know is a lie.”

We also have early, extra-biblical writings from the time period of Jesus by neutral or hostile sources (enemy attestation), such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Thallus, Phlegon, Pliny the Younger, and the Jewish Talmud. So, like a cold case detective, we can construct a cumulative, circumstantial case using the available evidence. People are convicted for murder on circumstantial cases with no physical evidence all the time in the United States. Circumstantial evidence is powerful enough to condemn a man to death in our human courts and, likewise, there is enough circumstantial evidence to believe that what the Bible says about Jesus is true (beyond a “reasonable doubt”). God has not left Himself without evidence in the world. There is the evidence of natural revelation (the universe, the earth and the apparent design in life), the evidence of special revelation (God inspired writings from His witnesses), as well as the evidence from other writings of the time. I would recommend that you read “Cold Case Christianity” for more information on this approach to examining the evidence concerning Jesus.

Now to the question about why you need to believe in Jesus. You say “According to Islam, if you believe Jesus as the Son of God you go to hell, and according to Christianity if you believe that Jesus is not the Son of God you go to hell.” I don’t think you stated the Christian point of view quite accurately. Your statement is only partially correct. Yes, John 8:24 says “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins”. So, in that sense, what you’re saying is true, but it is only partially correct. The Christian view is that all human beings are sinners, destined to hell to pay for their own sins, unless they recognize and accept the free gift of Jesus’ payment for their sins and trust in Him to save them and reconcile them to God, so that they can spend eternity in heaven with Him. I will explain more…

I think that you and I would both believe that God is the supreme judge of the universe and that He has established laws that He commands people to adhere to. However, we can see that these laws are not adhered to. People break the laws – a lot. In Christianity that is called sin. Now as a righteous and holy Judge, God cannot ignore sin – He must punish law breakers. Yet, in addition to being holy and righteous, God is loving. He wants to save law breakers, but He cannot deny justice in the process. Someone has to pay the penalty for the laws broken. Since the laws that are broken are ultimately against God, He has the right to decide the penalty and how it can be paid. So, since everyone has broken these laws at one time or another, there is no one on earth who is free from guilt and able to be a substitute for others. So, God put a plan in place, where He Himself would come to earth as a man (in the person of Jesus Christ), live a sinless life under the law, and die a horrific death as payment for the penalties of all those law breakers. But if a person rejects Him and His payment for the person’s transgressions of the law, then God will not force this free gift on that person. The free gift must be received and the recipient must acknowledge the giver.

You say in your letter “I do not understand how I could love someone who would put me into hell for eternity based on what I believe about Jesus, even though God knows my situation and knows that I could never be sure about which belief is true”. As I said, we are not “put in hell” due to what we believe about Jesus, but rather because of our sins. But I want you to also consider what hell is and what heaven is. Heaven is being in the presence of Christ for all eternity. Does it sound reasonable to you that someone who wanted nothing to do with Jesus here on earth would be ushered into His presence for all eternity to be with Him? It does not sound reasonable to me. Here on this earth, it is our chance to make our decision where we’re going to spend eternity. Jesus said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Notice that Jesus said, “I never knew you”. Jesus doesn’t want you to spend eternity with Him if you don’t want to be there with Him. As an illustration, imagine if one day you and your family showed up at the mansion of a well-known person in your city. You had all your belongings and luggage with you and told this well-known person that you wanted to move into his house. What do you think he’d say? “I never knew you! You’re not going to move in here! What kind of nerve do you have to expect that you could just move into my house without ever having known me?” Well, there is a similar thing going on with Jesus. We can’t “knock on heaven’s door” and ask to move in having never wanted to know Him here on earth.

Regarding Hell… The Bible has a lot of ways to describe hell. One of those ways is “separation from God”. For example:

They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

Being shut out from the presence of the Lord may not sound too bad. But the Bible says that every good thing comes from Him (James 1:17). That means, if hell is separation from God, then it is separation from everything good, which only leaves everything bad.

In your letter, you say “on judgment day if I was to see very bad people who have repented and been saved, and if I was a very good person who always believed in God and never did bad things, only small mistakes that we all do and I go to hell being a much better person”. I want to tell you 2 teachings from Jesus that tell you His thoughts on this matter:

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.” Luke 18:9-14

Omer, if you were to place yourself into this story, which one of these 2 people do you think you would be more like, the Pharisee or the tax collector? Based on your own statements, I see you identifying yourself with the Pharisee more than the tax collector. Surprisingly to His hearers Jesus says that it is the tax collector (the sinner) who acknowledges his sin and asks for mercy who goes home justified before God. That is Jesus’ heart in the matter.

Here is the other story, which is not a parable, but the historical account of Jesus being crucified between 2 criminals (Luke 23:39-43):

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.

Again, Omer, regarding your statement “if I was to see very bad people who have repented and been saved, and if I was a very good person who always believed in God and never did bad things, only small mistakes that we all do and I go to hell being a much better person”. This account clearly tells us that the second criminal who asked Jesus to “remember me when you come into your kingdom” did not go to hell, but rather was to be in paradise with Jesus that very same day that he was to die. It was a deathbed conversion! And I’m sure he was one of these “very bad people” you talked about who have repented. Several things are evident in reading what this condemned criminal said:

  1. He fears God – this is evident because of the way he asks the same question to the other criminal. This is ALWAYS a good place to be – fearing God. Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…”.
  2. He repents by saying “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve”. That shows a true change of mind about his crimes. The other criminal only wants to get off scott-free! But this criminal knows that they are just getting what they deserve – nothing more, nothing less.
  3. He uses a logical argument to try to convince the other criminal! “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
  4. He defends Jesus, by saying “this man has done nothing wrong”. So, he’s giving the other criminal a reason for the trust that he has in Jesus – His sinlessness. In John 8:46, Jesus had said “Which one of you convicts Me of sin?”, and the writer of Hebrews says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.”
  5. He acknowledges the Lordship and Deity of Jesus by acknowledging that He will be coming into His Kingdom.
  6. Finally he asks Jesus to save him. Romans 10:13 says “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So, he’s acknowledging a few things:
    1. There is life after death
    2. Jesus has ultimate power and controls exactly who enters His kingdom.
    3. The same Jesus who is hanging on the cross next to him is the same Jesus who will come into His kingdom (i.e. He will be able to “remember” the criminal he was with in this historical account).

So, Omer, you have enough evidence to make a decision about Jesus. You can be sure, beyond a reasonable doubt that the Bible accurately reports “what Jesus said and did” (Acts 1:1-2). Now the ball is in your court. Jesus says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matt 7:7). The prophet Jeremiah says the words of the LORD to the exiled Israelites: “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). The prophet Isaiah says “Seek the LORD while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6a). The writer of Hebrews says “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”. The apostle Paul says “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20b).

I will pray for you to come to terms with Jesus’ claims and your predicament. Please, call on the Lord and be saved! (Rom. 10:13).

Apologetics Class 10-25-2015

Currently, we are reading the book Unsilenced: How to Voice the Gospel by James Boccardo.  It is a great book about evangelism that also includes some information about Apologetics.

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Hi All,

Class yesterday was good as usual.  Very good discussion.  Here is what we covered:

  1. Shared conversations we’ve had with some people and objections they raised.
  2. Watched a 2 min 38 sec video called “Is There Absolute Truth?” by Living Waters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lvSGCaicEg
  3. Practiced our memory verse Philemon 1:6 “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ”.  Then we talked about the meaning of that – specifically why sharing our faith will help us to “have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ”.  We also looked at the difference in the HCSB translation.  Here is a list of how this verse looks in many different translations: http://www.biblestudytools.com/philemon/1-6-compare.html
  4. We read from page 112 to 119, covering problems 17 – 19.

Here are the questions we talked about during those sections:

  1. (pg. 112) Problem #17: I Don’t Like When People Push Their Religion on Me
    1. (pg. 112) It is hard to share the Gospel with someone who says this. What question can you ask them that may open a door (or “call their bluff”)?
    2. (pg. 112) Besides someone pushing their religion on them, is there an alternative reason why someone may not want you to share your faith with them?
    3. (pg. 113) Don’t “push your religion” on them, but do what instead?
  2. (pg. 114) Problem #18: What About the Guy on Death Row?
    1. (pg. 114-116) We’re all “on death row”… 150,000 people die each day. Does anyone really know when that final breath will come?
    2. Can you provide a biblical example of a “deathbed conversion”?
    3. What do the guy on death row and the average person have in common in God’s eyes?
  3. (pg. 117) Problem #19: What about the “Sinning Christians”? Those Hypocrites!
    1. (pg. 117) What would happen if people saw how serious their sin was in God’s eyes?
    2. (pg. 117) Is everyone who calls themselves a Christian actually a Christian? What did Jesus say about this?
    3. (pg. 118 – top) Since Christians still sin after they become Christians, why aren’t they necessarily hypocrites?
    4. (pg. 118) What question could you ask someone to get them to consider the fairness of judging all Christians by the “hypocrites”?

When we were discussing the last section about hypocrites, we also discussed how the person complaining about hypocrisy is actually agreeing with Jesus and we looked a bit at Matthew chapter 23:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.  Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

We also talked about 2 other teachings about or from Jesus:

Luke 23:39-43 (regarding deathbed conversion)  One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.

And Luke 18:9-14 (regarding the contrast between the self-righteous Pharisee and the humble tax collector, who acknowledged his true predicament): 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.

 

Next week, we’ll finish up chapter 6, watch a few witnessing clips and may get started on chapter 7 if we have time…

Apologetics Class 10-18-2015

Currently, we are reading the book Unsilenced: How to Voice the Gospel by James Boccardo.  It is a great book about evangelism that also includes some information about Apologetics.

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Hi All,

Great class today!  Great interaction/discussion.  We read pages 105-111, which covered ‘problems’ 14-16.  Here were the questions associated with those sections:

  1. (pg. 105) Problem #14: A Lot of People Have Had Followers Like Jesus.
    1. (pg. 105-106) How are Jesus’ followers different than those of the likes of David Koresh (Waco, TX)?
  2. (pg. 107) Problem #15: I’ve Done a Lot of Good Things.
    1. (pg. 107) What example could you give to cast doubt on the idea that people who do more good things than bad things go to heaven?
    2. (pg. 107) Why is it important to make a person see that doing good things has nothing to do with being forgiven of a crime?
    3. (pg. 108) Why does the “fine have to be paid” in order for the sin to be removed from your record?
  3. (pg. 110) Problem #16: There Are “So Many” Contradictions in the Bible
    1. (pg. 110) What question could you ask someone who claims there are a lot of Bible contradictions?
    2. (pg. 110-111) Several common examples of contradictions brought up by skeptics could be understood as ______________ rather than _______________.  What is an example?

Just prior to reading and discussing problem #15, we watched this short witnessing clip with Ray Comfort of Living Waters:

Good Works Don’t Save (5 ½ min video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7G2-FW-1C0

Here are the few additional items we talked about today and that I said that I’d send to you:

  1. On Guard Conference: Gary Habermas – The Resurrection of Jesus. This was the video that was mentioned when we were talking about 1 Corinthians and Galatians and how secular (skeptical) historians treat these letters as valid historical sources (1 hour 40 min video lecture, but a good one): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNdmSQKyzgc
  2. Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Volume 1 – Introduction (Dr. Jason Lisle):   https://answersingenesis.org/answers/books/demolishing-supposed-bible-contradictions-1/introduction/

Next week we will probably finish up the ‘Problems’ chapter with 17-19.

Have a great week and I pray that we may have opportunities to use this information as we witness to those God brings into our paths!

Blessings to you all

Apologetics Class 10-11-2015

Currently, we are reading the book Unsilenced: How to Voice the Gospel by James Boccardo.  It is a great book about evangelism that also includes some information about Apologetics.

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Hello All,

Well, we didn’t do any reading yesterday.  Instead, we just caught up on the questions that we didn’t cover from last time.  Here are the questions we covered yesterday:

  1. (pg. 95) Problem #10: No One Can Be Sure He’s Going to Heaven.
    1. (pg. 95) How can you answer this objection in a way that points people to Jesus (and not to yourself)?
    2. (pg. 95) What’s the difference between “acting religious” and “pointing people to Jesus”?
  2. (pg. 97) Problem #11: God Could Never Forgive Me of All the Wrong I’ve Done.
    1. (pg. 97) How could you use the story of Moses, Paul or even David to minister to someone who says the above statement?
  3. (pg. 99) Problem #12: Well That’s Good for You, but It’s Not True for Everyone Else.
    1. (pg. 99) How could you give an example that if something is true, it is true whether someone knows it or not?
    2. (pg. 99-100) What would Jesus have said about the above statement? Did He make any exclusive claims in the Bible (like in the book of John)?
  4. (pg. 101) Problem #13: Well, All of the World Religions “Teach the Same Things.”
    1. (pg. 102-103) Provide an example showing that all world religions do not teach the same thing.

We had very good discussion on these – thanks for your participation!

Also, at the beginning of the class, we watched this short video from the One Minute Apologist:

Are Evangelism And Apologetics Complimentary? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rln559rzYM

We will continue reading with “Problem #14” next week!

William Lane Craig’s question of the week (and my response)

William Lane Craig publishes a “question of the week” submitted to him, which he answers.  This week, the question was from a Muslim in Pakistan.  I have pasted the question below.  I thought it was a good exercise for me to write out how I would respond to the writer Muhammad.  I wrote out my response (before reading WLC’s response) and have put it below the question:

Dear Dr. Craig,

This is with reference to Q # 303 (Brazilian fire and Salvation through work) and evangelical doctrine of Salvation through faith alone. I quite agree with your analysis that Salvation through works alone does not make much sense. If a person has spent first 70 years of his life in sin and then it would be very hard for him to do enough good deeds later on in order to outweigh the bad deeds he had committed till the age of 70.

Hence Salvation through Work alone seems to be an extremist idea to me. However, I feel that Salvation through faith alone is equally an extremist idea and does not make sense either. If our salvation hinges on faith in the risen Christ, why do we have to do good deeds? What is their benefit to us ?

You might say that there are objective moral values and they need to be followed regardless of the fact that they do affect our salvation or not. Bible and Jesus also teach us to do good deeds. I agree with these assertions but the question still lingers for a person like me and many others (people who are primarily concerned with the bottom line result) that why do we have to take moral commandments/values so seriously when ultimately they are not going to count in our ‘scoring sheet’ in the hereafter. Of course there are objective moral values and Bible & Jesus Christ teach us to be good human beings. But Bible/Jesus Christ teach us lot of good things and no Christian can claim to fully adhere to these teachings. This is what evangelical Christianity teaches us that whatever good we do, we cannot merit God’s salvation which is an unmerited gift and comes with faith alone.

Suppose I am an evangelical Christian (by the way I am Muslim). How would you convince me not to commit adultery? There is a statement attributed to Jesus Christ in the Bible that “Whosoever sees a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart” and the way Christians have interpreted this statement is that here Jesus is setting the bar/standard which shows that no man can come up to the standard set by God. If this is true and it is the destiny of every man to commit adultery (I am assuming that no man is immune to lusting which I think is a fair assumption) then why not commit adultery which is sexual rather than adultery based on simple lusting? What’s so wrong with this approach?

If I am an evangelical Christian, my salvation would not depend on act of adultery but on my belief in risen Christ. I will still get salvation no matter how many acts of adultery I have committed. Yes, I would feel sorry after committing such an act and I would ask forgiveness from God and seek strength of Holy Spirit but I am a sinner after all comprising of weak flesh. I will again commit such an act and will ask forgiveness. This process may go on till my death !

Of course I do not endorse adultery and I know most Christians (including evangelical Christians) live a moral & upright life but there seems to be no logical reason why they should continue leading such a life given their evangelical beliefs. The common sense (which I know is not always right!) seems to indicate that Salvation should be dependent on combination of faith and good deeds and good deeds can’t be removed altogether from the criteria of salvation.

Appreciate your feedback on the above issue. Thanks

Muhammad
Pakistan

Now, here is my response:

Dear Muhammad,

I appreciate that you, as a Muslim, would thoughtfully engage a Christian on the topic of salvation.  And what an important topic it is!  As an opening comment, I think it would help you to understand the message of Christianity if you would read the New Testament from start to finish and take note as you’re going through, what it says about salvation (being saved).  The Christian Church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets with the Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).  Therefore, it is important to listen not only to what Jesus said, but to what the apostles have to say as well on this subject.  As Biblical Christians, we believe that all of the Bible is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), so, no matter who the human author is, it is God speaking to us through him.

I would first like to point out that the Bible says that faith without works is “dead” and that a “dead faith” is not a saving faith (see James 2:14-26).  Likewise, the Bible tells us salvation is a free gift from God but then explains why works are important:  “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. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10).  Jesus also stated on many occasions that an evidence that people truly love Him is that they obey His commandments.  When asked what the greatest commandment in the law was He said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37), and He said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) and “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). So I would say that based on these passages the answer is clear.  Works do not save us, but they are:

  1. Evidence that we are saved
  2. Evidence that we love God (God the Father, God the Son [Jesus Christ] and God the Holy Spirit)
  3. Work that God has prepared for us to do for Him in the world.

We are Christ’s hands and feet in the world and one of the means by which He accomplishes His will in the world.  Peter tells us “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). So, when we do good works, we are “administering God’s grace”!  What a privilege we have in doing that!

Now, specifically to answer your questions:

  1. If our salvation hinges on faith in the risen Christ, why do we have to do good deeds?  I would say, because if we truly love God, we will obey His commandments.
  2. Why do we have to take moral commandments/values so seriously when ultimately they are not going to count in our ‘scoring sheet’ in the hereafter?  Because God takes sin seriously – He hates sin.  If we truly love God, we will love what He loves and hate what He hates.
  3. Suppose I am an evangelical Christian (by the way I am Muslim). How would you convince me not to commit adultery? … then why not commit adultery which is sexual rather than adultery based on simple lusting? What’s so wrong with this approach?  See answer to #1 and #2!  Additionally, I want to point out that God has put these commandments in place not to “limit our fun”, because He knows the pain that we’ll experience if we sin, so he wants to spare us the pain.  To quote Pastor James MacDonald, “when God says don’t, He means don’t hurt yourself!” and “choose to sin, choose to suffer”.  So, these commandments, when followed, result in the best results for the human.  Just think of how much better our world would be if everyone truly lived by the 10 commandments!

A truly converted, regenerated Christ follower is a new creation.  He has been born again, the old things have passed away (2 Cor 5:17, John 3:3-7).  Now his attitude toward sin is different.  He no longer revels in it, but rather is grieved by any lingering fleshly desires he has.  The apostle John tells us that no one who is born of God will continue to sin (1 John 3:9).  This does not teach that we’ll be perfect in this life – it teaches that when are born again, we are given a new heart and a ‘sanctification process’ is begun by which we are daily being transformed into the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:18, Rom 8:29).  It teaches that we will not continue in a pattern of unrepentant sin if we are truly born again.

I hope this answers your question and I pray that you’ll find rest from the treadmill of good works, always wondering if it’ll be enough!

Blessings to you in the name of Jesus Christ,

Steve

Finally, here is the link where you can read William Lane Craig’s response:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/faith-and-works

Needless to say, I think it is a good exercise for all Christians to try to answer Muhammad’s questions (1 Peter 3:15)!

Roman Catholic Church still giving out indulgences???

I’m currently on a business trip in Europe which is lasting 2 weeks, so during this past weekend I took a side trip to Rome.  I’d always wanted to go there and it truly was an amazing place to see.  So much history…  Particularly related to the Church of Jesus Christ.  The history of the Christian faith includes the history of the catholic church because for much of the history of the church, that was all there was.

Of course, while I was in Rome, I visited the Vatican and St. Peter’s basilica.  But I also visited the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.  It was an amazing place, though not all original ancient construction.  As I was touring around inside, I noticed this sheet posted:

IMG_20140202_135358_081

I was absolutely stunned!  I had no idea that the Roman Catholic church was actually still offering indulgences.  To be fair, they are not selling them, which was one of Martin Luther’s complaints against the Church which helped to launch the reformation.

As I was continuing to tour, up near one of the altars was this more lengthy explanation:

indulgences_cropped

In this explanation, it says that “The indulgence may be applied to oneself, or to someone that has died”!

So, after about 500 years since the split that occurred during the reformation, one of the practices that was so troubling to Luther is still being practiced.

I don’t see any basis in Scripture for this practice and it seems to contradict the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).