Give Me One Good Reason!

Bradley Bowen, the author of “Argument Against the Resurrection of Jesus “, states that he doubts he could ever be persuaded by New Testament evidence that Christ was seen alive after his crucifixion.Theologian and Cold Case Investigator J. Warner Wallace points out that

“While many skeptics argue only non-biblical sources can be trusted for the information we have about Jesus, the ancient Christian record about Jesus is the most reliable.”

If New Testament accounts are not proof enough of the resurrection it is un-likely that extra-biblical evidence would convince Mr.Bowen. However,  testimony from non-biblical sources does help affirm the reliability of scripture. The earliest of the non-biblical accounts of Jesus would be from the writings of Josephus. The following is from his writing in 93-94 A.D. called “Antiquities” this segment is called the “Testimonium Flavianum”.

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; ……He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold”

I’m certain that Mr. Bowen is among the skeptics that would discount this evidence by claiming this segment was added to the document. It is probable but unlikely that this was a later insertion for it is found in every known copy of “Antiquities”. Notably, this is the only one of Josephus writings of biblical relevance that is in dispute.

Bowen then asserts that he has no proof that Christ was dead when He was placed in the tomb. Choosing to ignore testimony from scripture he must rely on the extra-biblical testimony. Josephus and writings from Thaylus 52 A.D.and Tacitus 56-120 A.D. and Pliny the Younger and others testify to the historical accuracy of the Gospel in their description of Jesus, His life, death and resurrection. But if Bowen is looking for a local non-biased coroners report, there are none.

Mr. Bowens conclusion that God did not raise Jesus from the dead is false, because he relies upon one of these three statements being false.

“JNR3. At least one of the following beliefs is false: (a) Moses was a prophet of God, (b) the Old Testament was inspired by God, or (c) Jehovah is God “ – Bradley Bowen

The author fails to prove any of the above false and bases his conclusive statement on these words.

“I am confident that JNR3 is true”.

If the non-biblical sources referred to above are sufficient to prove the reliability of scripture, then it would be logical to conclude that Jesus is who He claims to be. If Jesus is God as He claims and God does not lie, then the words of the Old Testament and the prophets such as Moses whom Jesus refers to and quotes from are true.

Without presenting any evidence at all Bowen merely concludes he is confident these statements are false. He ignores the testimony of Jesus, the fulfillment of prophecy, and the testimony of the Apostles, who died as martyrs for their belief in the resurrection.

Not only does he refuse to acknowledge the validity of the claims of the New Testament writers, several of which write within 30 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection, he ignores the extra-biblical testimonies of the same as well. Mr. Bowen will not be persuaded by reason for he has no reason to be persuaded.

Bradley Bowen -“Argument Against The Resurrection of Jesus”

J. W. Wallace – “What Does Christianity Say About the Nature of Jesus”

J. W. Wallace – “Why the Ancient Christian Record About Jesus Is the Most Reliable”

http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/flavius-josephus/antiquities-jews/

The Ultimate Victory

 

I have confronted death from many perspectives. As a five year old, I experienced the loss of my mother to rheumatic fever. The little I remember of this early life event remains veiled behind tears and grief. My loving father and family helped me through this tragedy. It was an experience that formed my character and planted the reality in my heart and mind that death was a final event.

In school, I learned about God, who loved the world so much that He sent His son to die on a cross to give us all victory over death. I learned of a place called Heaven. I knew this was my only hope of ever seeing my mother again and I embraced it. I had little understanding of the mechanics of God’s solution and the reasons for death in the first place, but I felt it was worth the effort to try to understand.

My Uncle Roland passed away when I was around ten years old. I remember my dad’s brother as a gentle and loving, humorous, balding man who smoked cigars. I loved him as much as any in my family and found myself grieving once more. My family’s basic response to the many questions I had concerning his death was that “Uncle Roland is in heaven with your Mother”.

Later in my teens I watched Dad grow sick from heart failure. He was taken out of our house in a stretcher one day and on his way out he looked over and gave me a wink. I was devastated, this was my Father, the man I had always wanted to be like. He never failed to provide love and comfort and laughter for all of us. I knew it was the last time I would ever see him alive. He died that day, in the hospital.

Shortly after I was married I received news that my younger brother had been diagnosed with Lymphoma. For the year after we prayed that somehow he would be cured. He was 27 when he died. More than ever I was angry at death. Even knowing that somehow my faith in God was real and that there would be a reunion in heaven, I was angry. Life for me had become a waiting line for the inevitable burial in the ground.

My wife’s mother, our children’s Nana, became ill a few years later and died in the hospital. My wife and I comforted each other and realized that we would have to explain to our five growing children the reality of death.

We were so proud of our children, studying and preparing for college, following the footsteps of our oldest son. The Friday morning after Christmas, my wife received a call from the hospital.  Ray, our 23 year old son had been in an accident during the early morning commute into town. An ambulance on route to a house call drove through a red light at 35 mph and hit the driver’s side of his car. At the hospital we both looked at our lifeless first born and fell speechless into the arms of God.

Today our hope, our faith, our life is in Christ Jesus, because there is no other way that death is defeated. Our victory is to see the enemy of all mankind destroyed and the life reunion in Heaven.

This inscription is on Ray’s memorial stone. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25

 

 

 

Are You Good Enough?

God gave us all a free will and since Adam and Eve we have chosen our way to both good and bad. This is how they were deceived by Satan.

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen 3:5

Adam and Eve knew and experienced what was good. They knew disobeying God was evil and they knew the consequences. Choosing to disobey God they realized the new experience of evil was in direct opposition to the good they had known. Suddenly, they experienced fear, guilt and shame, anger, doubt and confusion, and finally death. They were no longer good, they were corrupted. The cosmic battle of good and evil entered their whole being.

Evil is the absence and corruption of good. By nature evil cannot dwell in the presence of good. God is good, evil will not dwell where God is. God will not allow evil into His kingdom of heaven. He has prepared a place for evil, called hell. This is where there is no God, no good, and only evil, the absence and corruption of good.

Like Adam and Eve, we are corrupt, evil is within us and cannot be overcome except by the power of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Because of God’s holiness and goodness He cannot allow us in our fallen nature into heaven. So by nature we are all on our way to hell. No amount of work, obedience, prayer or sacrifice, ritual or tradition can save us. That is my belief, but many religions believe otherwise. Some believe they can please God and be allowed into heaven by killing his enemies and others believe it’s by following rules of works obedience and worship.

Jesus provides the only way for people to go to heaven for this reason, no one is good enough or could ever be good enough to get there on their own because evil still dwells within us.

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. Romans 3:23-25

So unless we choose Jesus we go to hell? William Lane Craig ask “How could an all just God send people to heaven?” If God is truly good and just He must be just in administering justice and punishing evil. Why would He allow any who carry evil within into heaven?

God’s remedy is Jesus, who is not only God, but Truth, Love, Mercy, Justice and Grace. God gives us the freedom to choose life in His Kingdom of Heaven by faith in Jesus Christ. He desires a relationship with us that is based upon our free will to love and choose Him. He grants us a “do-over” with a new nature in Christ, restored and transformed by His Spirit.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Cor 5:17

God allows us a choice to choose Him, the Lord and Savior – because no one is good enough to earn heaven and escape the justice of a good God. Andy Stanley writes that “Good people don’t go to heaven. Forgiven people go to heaven”

Gen 3:5
Romans 3:23-25
William Lane Craig Interview- “Just Thinking” You Tube Published on May 10, 2013
Q&A from the 2013 Apologetics Canada Conference.
2 Cor 5:17
Andy Stanley-“How Good Is Good Enough” 2003 Multnomah Books

Let’s Be Right!

The ISIS terror group is claiming responsibility for the explosion and subsequent crash of a Russian airliner on Oct 31 2015. Innocent men, woman and children were killed in a terror filled act of violence. Many would describe this as an act of evil. However, ISIS is one of many groups that would justify taking lives in the name of their God.

Testimony from the leaders of Planned Parenthood recently affirmed that the organization was receiving what were described as “suggested donations” for aborted baby parts to be used in medical research. Many would describe this activity as an act of evil as well. One would wonder why both these acts would not be considered evil by all people. Are acts of evil subjective or objective? Do the people who perform such acts feel any sense of guilt for these actions? Some supporters of ISIS would claim they are acting legitimately according to their beliefs. Planned Parenthood supporters would argue they are acting legitimately according to their beliefs. Who is there to argue otherwise? What qualifies a person to be able to judge right from wrong?

In the case of the senseless murderous actions of ISIS, there is something within us that yells out “this is evil and wrong!” We have a sense of ethics within us that certain things ought not be. What about the actions of Planned Parenthood? In the case of abortion and other widely debated cultural mores we have a tendency to justify certain behavior to conform to what we perceive as a normative morality.

Scripture admonishes us to integrity as we discern between good and evil.

Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!”…

Perhaps clarifying the distinctions between what is ethical and what is moral would be helpful. R.C. Sproul explains that:

“Ultimately, the science of ethics is concerned with what is right, and morality is concerned with what is accepted. In most societies, when something is accepted, it is judged to be right. But oftentimes, this provokes a crisis for the Christian. When the normal becomes the normative, when what is determines what ought to be, we may as Christians find ourselves swimming hard against the cultural current.”

Over 50 million babies have been destroyed in America since “Roe vs Wade” became law. For many, abortion is a culturally accepted part of a free society, it has become morally acceptable. However, for others it is as ethically repulsive as the terrorist actions of ISIS.

Sproul continues:

“The Christian concept of ethics is on a collision course with much of what is being expressed as morality. This is because we do not determine right or wrong based on what everybody else is doing… As Christians, the character of God supplies our ultimate ethos or ethic, the ultimate framework by which we discern what is right, good, and pleasing to Him.”

We know that evil exist, but exactly what is evil? Is it the “absence of” or “corruption of” good? Is it a neuroscientific “malfunction or dysfunction rather than malevolence”? as described in a recent “Slate” article by Ron Rosenbaum. How do we discern between good and evil? Answering these questions requires a belief in God and a basic understanding of His attributes.

Isaiah 5:20

R.C. Sproul “The Difference Between Ethics and Morality” Oct 14, 2015   Excerpt is taken from “How Can I Develop a Christian Conscience?”
Ron Rosenbaum “Slate” article “The End of Evil”