J is for Jesus

Christmas is a good time to be prepared to answer the skeptics who gladly point out the celebration of the birth of Christ lacks significance if the facts about Him are not true.  The faith of many would be futile “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished” 1 Corinthians 15:17

If Christ had not concluded His earthly ministry dying on the cross and being raised from the dead, this celebration would have no foundational substance and no consequence.  Skeptics through the ages have tried to disprove the reality of Jesus Christ and many have come away with a more confident faith than most believers.

In the recent film “The Case For Christ” Lee Strobel’s journey from skeptic to believer is skillfully portrayed. His story affirms that Christians have a reasonable faith. The film is based on Strobel’s book about his investigative journey into the heart of the Christian faith. Setting out to save his wife from what he saw as a cult, Strobel found himself confronted with a reality that changed his life forever.

His training and success as an investigative journalist allowed him to pursue evidence in support of the objections raised for the resurrection of Jesus. An associate reminded him that the Christian faith rests upon the fact that Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is the glue that holds it all together.

With that in mind, Lee Strobel set out to find evidence to bolster these objections.

  • The Gospel accounts are not reliable.
  • Jesus did not die on the cross.
  • Jesus did not appear to people after His death.

What he discovered moved him to confront the truth and respond with a decision.

Are the Gospel accounts reliable?

The closer the account is to the actual event the more reliable it is.

 https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

The earliest manuscripts of the Gospel account date to within 25 to 40 years of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. In comparison, the earliest copies of Homer’s Illiad are 500 years from the original. There is no doubt among scholars as to the integrity of the Illiad as well as many other works of antiquity.

https://carm.org/when-were-gospels-written-and-whom

The apostles and countless others have died for their beliefs. It is courageous and noble to die for one’s belief, however, it would seem foolish for anyone to die for something they know to be a lie.

Sean McDowell writes “there is the highest possible probability that Peter, Paul, James (the brother of Jesus), and James (the son of Zebedee) died as martyrs.”

http://www.equip.org/article/apostles-really-die-martyrs-faith/

In 2014 Christian History Institute published an article summarizing the total number of believers who have died for the Christian faith.

“Church statistician David Barrett defined martyrs as “believers in Christ who have lost their lives prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility.” He estimated that around 70,000,000 Christians have been martyred since the church began.”

https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/father-forgive-them

Did Jesus die on the cross?

In an article by “The American Journal of Medicine”,  medical experts reviewed what Jesus had suffered during His crucifixion and have determined that the  “Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross.” According to the evidence, Jesus suffered severe blood loss and hypovolemic shock from the scourging He received from the Romans. His hands and feet were nailed to the cross and He suffered exhaustion and asphyxia. No one is likely to survive this type of execution. The spear to the side which released blood and water ensured Jesus death.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/403315

http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?article=145

Did Jesus really appear to many people after His death?

The first eyewitnesses to testify of the empty tomb were women. It would be foolish for the apostles to use the testimony of women in their fabrication of an incredible story. The testimony of women held no value in the courts at this time in history. Being the first to hear the women’s story, Peter and John raced towards the tomb to confirm the fact that Jesus was not there.

Shortly after this Jesus appeared to the Apostles and many others and by over 500 hundred believers at once.

https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/resurrection/the-sequence-of-christs-post-resurrection-appearances/

Skeptics claim these appearances were the product of hallucinations and or hypnotic suggestion.

According to phycologists, group dreams or visions are not possible.

J. Warner Wallace speaks of the numbers of individuals who have seen the risen Christ and concludes that a great number of people seeing the same vision is not likely or reasonable.

Some argue that this was a spiritual resurrection and not a physical resurrection. The Gospel accounts point clearly to the fact that Jesus appeared in a physical body.

Matthew 28:9 states the Apostles “took hold of His feet and worshipped Him”

John 20: 24-28  says that Thomas placed his finger in the nail marks of Jesus’ hand and the wound mark at His side. Thomas then declares “My Lord and my God”

Luke 24:42-43 details the breakfast they had with Jesus “and they gave Him a piece of broiled fish and He took it and ate before them.”

John 20:29 describes how Thomas rejoiced when seeing Jesus Christ in the flesh and Jesus responds “Thomas because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/jesus_resurrection.htm

A reasonable faith will strengthen your belief

The evidence is abundant, the experiences of witnesses and followers through the ages is overwhelming. The blood of confessors, saints, and martyrs cries out to this day. The resurrection of Christ proves there is a loving God who reaches out to us to redeem us to Himself to become the children of God. He is a God of justice and mercy and grace.

Our sin and rebellion have separated us from God. God came to us in the flesh as Jesus. He laid down His life for us.

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:18 

“It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

At one point Lee Strobel is advised that blind faith works both ways. Some will refuse to believe because of a prejudice or bias to one belief system regardless of the evidence presented. In order to believe in the Gospel accounts and have faith in their validity, you must choose to believe the facts presented as a reasonable account of the reality of Christ. Some refuse to believe because it means being accountable to a higher authority. Many have yet to learn that the promise of Christ is a new life of liberty from the emptiness of sin and His spirit is a source of peace, strength, grace, and joy.

Lee Strobel was overwhelmed by the evidence answering his objections to belief. He realized he had to make a decision.

The Lord calls us to examine the evidence, and to engage our reason.

Isaiah 1:18  “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

The child we celebrate at Christmas is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29

He laid down His life and is now risen alive in power to show us the way to a life eternal with Him.

I pray that you will receive the gift of Christmas, open it and believe Jesus is the way the truth and the life?

https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

https://carm.org/when-were-gospels-written-and-whom

http://www.equip.org/article/apostles-really-die-martyrs-faith/

https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/father-forgive-them

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/403315

http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?article=145

https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/resurrection/the-sequence-of-christs-post-resurrection-appearances/

http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/jesus_resurrection.htm

H is for Hope

Millions of people across the nation observed the recent American Solar Eclipse. For Christian believers, several biblical verses came to mind.  These verses have to do with the signs of the times and the coming fulfillment of the believers hope in Christ. Sharing scripture on Twitter, Franklin Graham tweeted

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:28

The tumultuous events in the US and worldwide punctuated by the eclipse draw us to reflect on prophecy as reminders of the hope we share as believers. Although there are great debates among Christian scholars as to the real meaning of many of these prophecies, this does not dilute or distort the reality of our hope built upon the word of God and established in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

The Divine Message Of The August Eclipse

The Sun Will Be Darkened: A Brief Survey of Apocalyptic Symbolism

In this post, we want to invite you to explore hope, what it is and where it is found. This is not a comprehensive journey through the concept of hope. However, the links below will guide you to sources where hope and its implications are examined in detail and perhaps you will choose to make your life a journey of hope!

In his article “Hope” J. Hampton Keathley III, Th.M. graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary defines hope as a feeling, an expectation, a desire for something to happen or to be true.

“Hope may refer to the activity of hoping, or to the object hoped for—the content of one’s hope. By its very nature, hope stresses two things: (a) futurity, and (b) invisibility. It deals with things we can’t see or haven’t received or both. It is a confident expectation of something we cannot see or that we have not received yet.”

The Christian believers hope is built on trust in God and His word. The humanist/naturalist hope is built on trust in reason and matter alone.

In the article “What About Hope?” at The Humanist.com, Lawrence Rifkin writes about his inability to provide an answer to a middle-aged woman when she asked the question “What about hope?” The answers Lawrence presented her with were bright and clear and positive but left the woman unconvinced. After another attempt at answering the question, Lawrence came to the conclusion that he could convincingly present humanism as a source of hope.

Here are a few of his answers to the question.

The humanist worldview is filled with hope. We may be made of matter, but we decide what matters.” 

“Humanism is about possibilities. Without some grand supernatural plan or destiny, the future is open. Possibility means the door for hope and change and goodness is open.”

“The fact that we can try to change ourselves, other people, and the world—and make it a better place through reason and compassion—is a fundamental wonder of being human, and can be celebrated. It is a cause for hope and wisdom.”

“So let’s admit straight out: humanism is not about hope. It’s about facing the world as it actually exists and making the best of it.”

The clue to humanists/naturalists inability to give any human hope is clear, it is all about the human. It denies the reality of God and our relationship to Him. These beliefs set us adrift in the cosmos of human confusion and delusion, by abandoning the very anchor of our souls, in fact denying that we are souls.

The confusion rest in the fact that without a comprehensive objective guide to understanding life, meaning and morality we are left to create our own. The delusion is the fact that many believe we are capable of deciding “what matters” and what is good and have no need of looking outside the box for answers.

The track record of humans living inside the box without any help is tragic. One only has to look at the Holocaust to realize that in the absence of God, morality is but a human convention, morality is subjective and non- binding. There is no hope in the foundational principles of humanism because it denies the source of hope and that is the supernatural reality of God. God is not contained within our box of reason and nature. He is the creator of reason and nature and beyond Him there is nothing else.

Hope for the humanists is not a reality because by definition hope is invisible and they will not allow themselves to hope in something unseen.

Romans 8:24

“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance” NET

It is like two captains wives watching from the cliffs over the sea. One sees her husband’s ship and declares “there he is” her hope has been fulfilled. The other waits in hope that her husband’s ship is close behind yet cannot see it but her daughter who is at higher vantage point behind her yells out “ I see him, he is coming! ”. Will this wife deny what her daughter saw and leave the cliffs without hope?

This is what the Word of God does for us – it yells out to us “I see him, he is coming”.

Rev 1:7

“Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! ”

Without a belief in the Creator and His Word, we are left with an empty hope in human wisdom. Humanist believe that humans are capable of doing good without God. Their hope is misplaced because of the fact humans who do not acknowledge God are without hope.

Can we be good without God?

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-be-good-without-god

Romans 3:10-12

“No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”

J.Hampton Keathley writes

 “There are a number of warnings in Scripture against putting our hope in anything other than the Lord because these things will leave us ashamed, frustrated, disappointed, and in ruin.”

Job 8:11-15

“Can the papyrus grow up without marsh? Can the rushes grow without water? While it is still green and not cut down, Yet it withers before any other plant. So are the paths of all who forget God, And the hope of the godless will perish, Whose confidence is fragile, And whose trust a spider’s web. He trusts in his house, but it does not stand; He holds fast to it, but it does not endure.”

The first of several points that Keathley makes is that “hope depends on knowing the Word of God”

Romans 15:4

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Colossians 1:5-6

“because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;”

Proverbs 30:5 tells us that

“Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.”

New Living Translation

2 Tim 3:14-17

“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”    New Living Translation

https://thehumanist.com/magazine/january-february-2012/first-person/what-about-hope

Key Summary Points

The humanist/naturalist has no hope because he:

  • Has no belief in the supernatural
  • Does not acknowledge God
  • Has no belief in the afterlife
  • Will not recognize the fallen nature of man
  • Will not recognize the promises of God
  • Will not recognize the life of hope attested to in Gods Word past, present and future
  • Attempts to do good without God
  • Denies the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Denies eternal life with or without Christ

https://bible.org/article/hope

The believer has hope because he

  • Believes in the supernatural
  • Acknowledges God
  • Believes in the afterlife
  • Recognizes the fallen nature of man
  • Recognizes the promises of God
  • Recognizes the life of hope attested to in Gods Word past, present and future
  • Attempts to do good with the power of the Holy Spirit of God
  • Affirms the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Affirms eternal life with or without Christ

Where is your hope?

 

Luke 21:28

The Divine Message Of The August Eclipse                                     http://www.unsealed.org/2017/06/the-divine-message-of-august-eclipse.html

The Sun Will Be Darkened: A Brief Survey of Apocalyptic Symbolism by Jeffrey T. McCormack Delivered 05/28/17 http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/topical/sun-will-be-darkened-apocalyptic-symbolism.htm

“Hope” J. Hampton Keathley III,

“What About Hope” by Lawrence Rifkin                               https://thehumanist.com/magazine/january-february-2012/first-person/what-about-hope

Romans 8:24

Rev 1:7

“Can We Be Good Without God?”  by William Lane Craig                                               http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-be-good-without-god

Romans 3:10-12

Job 8:11-15

Romans 15:4

Colossians 1:5-6

Proverbs 30:5

2 Tim 3:14-17

 

G is for God

Hubble Star-Forming Region

In 1770 Voltaire, the famed critic of Christianity said ““If God didn’t exist, we would have to invent him.”  There are several interpretations of what he meant by this statement. I believe it means that in order to reasonably make sense of this world, to give meaning to life, and to understand who we are and what we are to do, that we would need to have a God. There are many arguments for the existence of God and I have linked to them below.

Inventing God

The history of mankind is guided by the innate need to search out and/or invent god. Early man invented gods from their understanding or misunderstanding of their immediate surroundings. Their imaginations helped them invent gods for air, earth, water, trees, and plants.  For them, all the natural world, every part of life and emotion was influenced by a god. They invented gods of sensual pleasure, and love, gods of fear and hatred, war and pain, gods of plenty and of poverty. In order for early civilizations to flourish, they had to share a common understanding of who their gods were. The Egyptians had numerous gods, and goddesses, they had a god of the underworld and the afterlife, a god of agriculture and gods of art, music and wisdom.

 People Forming God

Early civilization follows two paths. One formed their own gods and built their civilization upon the collective understanding of them. The early history of these civilizations have been described in countless history books through the ages and trace the evolution of their gods and the cultures that emerged under their influence. This influence was guided along by intellectuals and storytellers, priests and prophets, shaping the people’s imagination and understanding of their gods. This common understanding drew the people together first into tribes and communities and into larger cultures.

God Forming People

The other civilization was formed by the awareness of and understanding of the true God. The people forming this civilization followed the intellectuals and priest and prophets of God as described in the accounts of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. Prior to these written accounts of Moses, the understanding of God was passed on from generation to generation in the oral tradition by their intellectuals, storytellers, priests and prophets. After the written accounts of Moses, the understanding of God flourishes and the nation of Israel is established. After many years of living under the influence of the Old Testament books, the nation of Israel would encounter the true God in the way in which their prophets had predicted.  (See the top 40 Messianic Prophecies)

The Fullness of Time

These two developing civilizations merged for a time under Roman rule. Galatians 4:4-7  Rome had become the head and center of many cultures and the crossroads of civilizations. Rome had adopted a pluralistic form of religion in which all were free to worship as many gods as they wished or none at all as long as they bowed always to Rome. Ancient Rome is one of many examples of the attempts of the state to become a god. It is in this era that Jesus, the Son of God walks among His people and explains that “I and the Father are one” John 10:30

The Way

Jesus explains that He is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to God the Father except through Him. John 14:6  God sent His Son so that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16  While in Athens, the Apostle Paul explains to the Romans at Mars Hill that Jesus is the way to understand God. In order to honor all possible deities, the Romans had built an altar to the unknown God.  Acts 17:23-31 Paul, concerned by the number of gods the Romans worshiped, addresses them as a superstitious people and points to their altar to the unknown God.    He declares to them who this un-known God is. This is the true God, the one you don’t know and you never will know until you turn from your sin, and acknowledge and believe on His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus, the one who had recently been crucified and who many claimed has risen from the dead is indeed alive and He is the way the truth and the life.

Lost and Found

I once had a vague an incomplete awareness of God. For me, He was an unknown God. I was lost with no understanding of the true God. Nothing could explain my reason for being or the reason for the existence of anything at all. That changed once I personally came to a place of total surrender of all my imaginings and misunderstandings of God and began to study the one true God in the person of Jesus Christ. There is much to learn about God and a good place to start would be reading the New Testament Book of John. If you are seeking the true God and His meaning for your life, pray to God in Jesus name and read His book. Put aside all your defensive armor and allow His word to inform you and guide you and encourage you. Seek and you shall find.

Voltaire http://americanvision.org/5425/the-war-against-god-is-war-against-reality/

List of Egyptian gods and goddesses https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Egyptian_gods_and_goddesses

Top 40 Messianic Prophecies  https://jewsforjesus.org/answers/top-40-most-helpful-messianic-prophecies/

Galatians 4:4-7  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

John 10:30   “I and the Father are one”

John 14:6-7  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Acts 17:23-31  “For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship–and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands. Nor is He served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men, to inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’ Therefore, being offspring of God, we should not think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by man’s skill and imagination. Although God overlooked the ignorance of earlier times, He now commands all men everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Matthew 7:7  “Seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shale be opened unto you”

“Is there a God?”  http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html

“Jesus is Evidence That God Exists”  http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/jesus-is-evidence-that-god-exists/

 

E is For Evil

Philosophically speaking one may find volumes on the reality of evil. Evil in the broad sense is considered either natural evil or moral evil. A natural evil would be something outside of our influence, the consequential injuries or death resulting from a natural event or disaster such as an earthquake or erupting volcano, or a personal injury or illness. Moral evils result from the intentional actions or non-actions of a moral agent.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains “Natural evils are bad states of affairs which do not result from the intentions or negligence of moral agents. Hurricanes and toothaches are examples of natural evils. By contrast, moral evils do result from the intentions or negligence of moral agents. Murder and lying are examples of moral evils.”

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/concept-evil/

Theologically there are discussions of how evil is characterized by different religions. Eastern Mysticism and Docetism explain for example that evil is an illusion. Naturalism and Postmodernism explain that evil is subjective as we humans perceive things to be evil.

http://evidenceforchristianity.org/how-do-you-explain-the-question-of-evil-from-various-world-views/

In the Apologetic sense evil is used to argue for both the existence or non-existence of God. The reality of evil is used many times as an objection to the existence of God. In the following article, Aaron Brake does an excellent job detailing reasons why the apologetic “problem of evil” is not a problem for the Christian.

http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2013/why-the-problem-of-evil-is-a-problem-3/

I write of the reality of evil from a christian perspective with an awareness that evil does exist. The fact that one may conclude something is or is not evil does not change the reality. Much like truth, one may or may not believe a truth, however it does not change the fact that the truth is. Some have an acute awareness of the existence of evil, others may have a lesser awareness of evil. One only need to review the headlines of the daily news to see evil acts and their consequences.

Many regard evil as an inherent consequence of a free will. Having the ability or freedom to choose right and wrong since our appearance here on earth, we have chosen wrong many times. The first instance of our choosing wrong is recorded for us in the Bible book of Genesis. Adam and Eve chose wrong by choosing to disobey God and eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. Notice the words “of the knowledge of good and evil”. Until that point they had no understanding what evil was. Everything they had was good. Only after deciding to ignore God and choose against God did they realize evil.

Now they had “the knowledge of good and evil”. They soon realized the initial consequences of evil in their immediate reaction of guilt and shame. They covered themselves from each other and hid from God. They remembered what God had said about eating from the tree and were awaiting the consequence.

Romans 6:23 “ the wages of sin is death”

How do we make sense of human evil verses natural evil?

In the article by Aaron Brake referenced above, a summary of Jesus clearest teaching on the problem of evil is given.

Luke 13:1-5

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

“Not only is this Jesus’ clearest teaching on the problem of evil but we see Him addressing both moral and natural evil in His response. Notice that Jesus is first questioned regarding an example of what we would call moral evil: the murder of some Galileans by Pilate. In providing an answer, Jesus Himself introduces an example of natural evil: the falling of the tower of Siloam which killed eighteen.
How did Jesus answer the problem of evil presented to Him? Was Jesus taken back, struck by the profundity of such a pregnant question? His answer is short and to the point: “They weren’t worse sinners, they were just sinners. And unless you repent, you’ll die too.”

Many argue that evil is a necessary consequence of free-will. Without the ability to choose evil we would not truly have a free-will. Perhaps that is more correct than we can understand. But we are left with the struggle of how to choose to do good.
Jesus standard of right and wrong baffled the teachers and leaders of the day. He recognized that evil is in our nature and the evil acts we carry out are first born in the un-regenerate mind following the desires of the heart of flesh. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches that whoever looks upon a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart.

Paul writes in Romans 7:24

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Who can escape the mind and body of sin? No one, but by the blood of the lamb the victory over sin and death is won!

Romans 6:6

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
Romans 8:2

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

In the New Testament we read of the change that comes about when one surrenders to the authority of Christ and His Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:17

“ if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!”

Further on we read of how one is able to walk and maintain integrity in choosing good.

Galatians 5:16

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
As Christians we are called to this distinctive life where we still have a free will and may choose evil to our detriment, but we are more able and empowered to choose good because of the new Spirit nature that lives within us.

#ChooseTruth #ChooseLiberty #ChooseLife #ChooseJesus

Related links;

Does God Exist: The Moral Argument

The Difference Between Ethics and Morality

When the Problem of Evil Gets Personal

How Can God Exist When There Is So Much Evil In Our World Today?

B is for Bible

The Bible is the most popular and influential book ever written. Guinness World Records estimates there are over 5 billion Bibles in the world today. Billions of individuals have been transformed by its message. Communities and nations have been built upon its foundational precepts. The history of the worlds cultures, social communities, nations and government have been influenced by the Bible. A study of World History would be incomplete and inaccurate without exploring and understanding the Bibles direct influence upon individuals and historical events. The Ten Commandments, the Magna Charta, the US Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, Bill of Rights are all part of the chain of Biblical influence.

Reasons the Bible was written:

The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years by 40 different authors maintaining a consistent theme. The Bible was written for the glorification of God and to deliver His redemptive plan for fallen man. Beyond the most fundamental reasons, there are many other reasons why the Bible was written and they are described here in this article.

http://www.truthmagazine.com/archives/volume36/GOT036071.html

There is no other book in existence that has inspired the writing of so many others. Works of criticism and praise, prose and poetry, literature and science all have volumes of work inspired and influenced by the Bible. It is apparent that there is something powerful about its message. What other book has been so vilified through the ages, so misused and abused by the corrupt and reprobate?

In Apologetics the Bible is central because in it you will find answers that best explain who God is, who man is, and what life and death and meaning are all about. If, as many claim, the Bible is just a book written by men, and is of little value for today, why does it have such lasting impact upon generations? Why is there so much animosity towards its teachings in comparison to other religious books? How do you explain the obvious life transformations of many individuals from depravity and despair to righteousness, joy and hope.

Questions about the Bible:

There are many questions about the Bible that have been asked through the ages. Some of these questions are explored briefly in this article.

http://www.everystudent.com/features/bible.html

Reasons to be skeptical:

Bible skeptics are passionate about discrediting the integrity, reliability and ultimate value of scripture for the individual and society. The American Humanist Association give many reasons to be skeptical of the Bible.

http://americanhumanist.org/humanism/Some_Reasons_Why_Humanists_Reject_the_Bible

Answering the Skeptic:

Bible scholars and apologist have many reasons to support and promote the truth and value of its teachings. They also do a good job of answering the skeptics such as the humanist and agnostics. The following links will bring you to sites that will encourage you and give you answers for the skeptics in your life.

https://carm.org/is-the-bible-reliable

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/four-reasons-the-new-testament-gospels-are-reliable/

Jim Warner Wallace, Cold Case Investigator has an inspiring testimony tracing his path from skeptic to believer.

 

Aids to responding with confidence:

Many of us use acronyms as a memory aid. In this valuable link to the article at the Christian Research Institute you will find such a tool.

http://www.equip.org/article/bible-reliability-m-a-p-s-to-guide-you-through-bible-reliability/

The acronym MAPS is used to aide you in describing how we can be certain of the Bible’s integrity and reliability.

  • M is for the early manuscripts. There are numerous copies of the original manuscripts, however there are no originals.

The Acronym BEE is used as an aide in remembering the test that help determine if we have an accurate and reliable rendition of the original.

  • B for Bibliographic support considers the numerous copies available, the sources and the time span between the copies.
  • E for Eyewitness support considers the testimony of eyewitness and contemporaries hostile and favorable.
  • E for External support considering evidence from other non- biblical sources both hostile and favorable.

Once the manuscript is tested the reasoning moves on to the second letter of the MAPS acronym.

  • A is for Archaeological support and
  • P for Prophecy or Predictive reliability, and finally
  • S for Statistics This helpful apologetic tool is described further at the CRI site linked above.

“The next time someone denies the reliability of Scripture, just remember the acronym MAPS, and you will be equipped to give an answer and a reason for the hope that lies within you (1 Pet. 3:15). Manuscripts, Archaeology, Prophecy, and Statistics not only chart a secure course on the turnpikes of skepticism but also demonstrate definitively that the Bible is indeed divine rather than human in origin.” Hank Hanegraaff

How to prove the Bible is true:

In an article at Answers in Genesis the author Mike Matthews explains how we can prove the bible is true.

https://answersingenesis.org/is-the-bible-true/can-we-prove-the-bible-is-true/

Many people will not be persuaded of the truth of the bible even within a reasonable discussion. You must remember that for many it is not a lack of evidence but a will towards un-belief. Matthews points out that

“It’s not a matter of evidence; they just don’t want to be convinced. So it is a mistake to proceed as though the main problem is a lack of knowledge. Your hearers have a heart problem. They have rejected the God of the Bible even before they begin to consider whether His Word could be true.”

Compelling evidence:

Another of Matthews articles “Seven Compelling Evidences Confirm the Bible Is True” presents seven clear and compelling evidences for the reliability and truth of scripture!

https://answersingenesis.org/is-the-bible-true/seven-compelling-evidences-confirm-bible-is-true/

As you explore these evidences and arguments for the reliability of the Bible I hope you will be encouraged to continue pressing on living and sharing these truths.

Life with Meaning

Meaning in life is only understandable by knowing God and immortality. Does a painting know it’s painter, a book it’s author? Does a human being know it’s creator? Do we have a way to know the creator? The Bible will tell us the way. It is the word of God, proven in history, fact and experience to be trustworthy.

Skeptical? Let us assume that it speaks truth, and perhaps you will find that it answers our questions most reasonably and better than any other source.

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, explains the history of our relationship with God, who created all things declaring them good. “let us make man in our image” Genesis 1:26  This is the first glimpse of the trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit existent in one relational and personal God. Humans were created for relationship with God. We need to be in relationship with God to know meaning and life.

St. Augustine writes of God “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” – Confessions Book 1 ¹

C.S.Lewis -The Weight of Glory ²

A sincere search for meaning through a relationship with God would lead us to Jesus Christ, who said

“No man come to the father but through me.” John 14:6 . Jesus, the author of life, knows death is the enemy of life. Any meaning we think we have is vanity if we end in death.

Adam and Eve had a relationship with God. “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31 They were created to be immortal beings. “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:17

Adam and Eve knew only good, they knew no evil until disobeying God. Genesis 3:7 Their decision to rebel, brought sin and corruption and death into the world.  Genesis 3:17. They became confused, unable to fully know God, meaning and eternal life.

“Thus by one man sin and death came into the world.” Romans 5:12.

We have since been trying in vain, with all forms of religion “to get ourselves back to the garden”.      Lyrics from “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell ³

But God, in His mercy and grace made a way to restore us to relationship, meaning and life in Jesus Christ,who said:

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved… I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. John 10:10

Jesus gives us the meaning of life in this declaration, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matt 22:37

Adam brought us sin and death but Jesus brings us righteousness meaning and life. We need to know God’s Love and His gift of life in Jesus to understand the meaning of life.

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Cor 15:21-22

¹ Confessions, Book 1, by St. Augustine – Cyber Library

² C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory – Video from Crosswalk

³ Lyrics –Artists: Joni Mitchell “Woodstock”

Dr. John Lennox  – brilliant presentation https://youtu.be/88WMQVpHZCU