Thursday, November 23, 2017

Practicing Biblical Hospitality

       The idea of welcoming people from neighboring households to sojourn in our own has been avoided by practically every member of society, as well as by professing Christians. In other words, we have allowed our consciences to become so calloused by our regular activities that we have unhealthily suppressed our inherent inclination to build relationships with other people. This isolationist mindset has sprung forth from the selfish belief that our home is merely our safe haven from worldly derision, place for pursuit of personal entertainment, and a resting fortress from daily toil. In fact, social dissociation has been further enhanced by the multiple social media distractions promulgated through the television, radio, and computer sets. But this essay intends on revealing what the Bible says concerning hospitality and how it can be used as a weapon for preaching the gospel.

       What needs to be understood is that the prevalent views of home that have been molded by the modern standards of civilization are utterly false. The philosophical structure of society has been crafted in such a way that it would be extremely difficult to show hospitality. Consider, for example, how commercials deceptively portray the acquisition of household furnishings as being owned upon purchase. It seems as though much of what we see, hear, or read pertains to the concept of ownership. And homes are far from being the exception to this principle! However, we as an entire populace need to come to the realization that life is not all about us. We need to care not only about ourselves, but also for the needs of the whole world. We need to care for the environment in which we thrive. Additionally, we need to recognize that we do not belong to ourselves. We are under the authority of God because He was the One who has brought us into existence. It is He who has created all the materials in which companies manufacture goods. He is the Divine Author of Life. Therefore, all things should be used in accordance to His divine will. We need to view things from the perspective of God, which in this particular case means that our homes were given to us for the purposes of combating spiritual darkness and being a shining light for the lost. Our homes can be a means by which the Lord Jesus Christ heals suffering. He satisfies all who hunger and thirst for righteousness. We worship God when we open our doors to outside people (James 1:27). We should be inviting other people into our lives, as God has allowed us to become His children.

        Why searching the Scriptures for truth ought to be considered a paramount task of discernment on our behalf is that the Bible is the God breathed textbook of the Christian religion. It is the standard by which we test all things. In the Old Testament, God commanded that His nation Israel share a portion of crops with the needy (Leviticus 23:22), and that His chosen people treat foreign residents with respect (Leviticus 19:33-34). In the same manner, we cannot allow ourselves to be confirmed to the image of this world (Romans 12:1-2). We must love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Romans 12:9-10). Christians have been called to exercise hospitality (Romans 12:13). We must show brotherly love (Hebrews 13:1-3). We must be hospitable to one another without grieving (1 Peter 4:9). This characteristic of holy conduct is even a requirement in order to be rightly ordained a bishop (1 Timothy 3:1-3). Furthermore, the Bible is the narrative of God offering us eternal hospitality in heaven out of His love for us (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:11-13). The truth of the matter is that our society is opposed to the spirit of the Great Commission. Rejecting opportunities to present the gospel by being hospitable is the equivalent of closing the door of salvation to possible converts, and can thereby depict the gospel as being for the self-righteous, narrow minded, and hypocritical. On the contrary, we must maintain the purity of the gospel by allowing people to be convinced through the examination of our godly character as they spend time with us.

        Using our homes as a means to reach other people with the gospel message should not be based on image management. We should not be afraid, hesitant, or embarrassed to share our personal lives with other people. We should not be concerned about factors such as having less than eye appealing furniture, the size of our houses, children, or even cooking quality. People have ordinary lives like we do, and can even take part in set up or cleaning sessions before or after group meetings. People do want to establish communication with us, but are unwilling to for the simple reason that they are discouraged by the current social trends of society. The goal behind inviting people over to stay in our dwelling places is bonding. This process of learning hospitality requires that we keep in remembrance the sovereignty of God, begin with people whom we know best (especially church brethren), and then focus on more distant acquaintances. But we must be the ones who are willing to initiate all this, for other people will not magically appear before our eyes. Weekly gatherings can comprise of a variety of activities such as game nights, watching sports, and movie nights. Even monthly or annual rhythms can be employed. Avoid bait-and-switch formulaic approaches to preaching the gospel to non-Christians. Know that the gospel is hope, not mere advice for living a lucrative life. We need to trust in the divine providence of God. We should listen carefully to our speakers. We should display interest. We should ask thought provoking questions, and speak when it is our turn to speak. Hospitality gives us the opportunity to make converts by sharing our testimonies. We can simply talk about trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, some people will reject the gospel message. Nevertheless, we must entrust to God our futile efforts to move the hardened hearts of other people to spiritual conversion.

        This essay has discussed how hospitality is a brilliant way of supporting the Cause of Christ, and is in fact a biblically sanctioned mandate. We must courageously take a public stand against the unhealthy, selfish trends promoted by society. We must step out of our comfort zones to fulfill our obligation of serving Jesus Christ. We cannot compromise the truths of the gospel. We must offer ourselves as spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to God, just as Christ offered Himself up as an atonement sacrifice on a cross to save us from eternal condemnation in the literal flames of hell. We must welcome people into our homes, in the same manner that God has lovingly welcomed us into His heavenly kingdom. The notion of hospitality should not be perceived as a monotonous task. We should treat these times of gathering as opportunities to kindly share the good news of God's mercy. Converts can be made through observing Christian example (when shown love, kindness, mercy, etc.). Converts can be made through planting seeds of faith in the minds of those who doubt, but it is God who causes all the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). All honor belongs to Him. And practicing biblical hospitality is certainly not undoable, as society has made it out to be.

The Power And Simplicity Of Gospel Preaching

“If we were left to ourselves with the task of taking the gospel to the world, we would immediately begin planning innovative strategies and plotting elaborate schemes. We would organize conventions, develop programs, and create foundations…But Jesus is so different from us. With the task of taking the gospel to the world, he wandered through the streets and byways…All he wanted was a few men who would think as he did, love as he did, see as he did, teach as he did, and serve as he did. All he needed was to revolutionize the hearts of a few, and they would impact the world.” [David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2010), 87-88]

Monday, November 20, 2017

Speaking The Truth In Love

       God's call for Christians to engage in apologetics is not by any means limited to a small group of self-proclaimed intellectual scholars, but is for all who profess the name of His Son Jesus Christ. It is the responsibility of the Christian church to maintain the purity of the gospel because the Lord has entrusted to us this salvific task. We have been appointed by the Holy Spirit to function as His representatives on earth through the ministry of reconciliation. However, the great majority of Christians worldwide, including pastors, have consciously given apologetics a poor reputation because too many have advanced contemporary methods arrogantly. Furthermore, this significant abandonment of studying logical Christian defense has made our youth highly susceptible to the secularism being promoted in our educational institutions. If we do not take measures immediately to readjust how we conduct apologetics and reinstruct the ignorant members of our congregations concerning the importance of knowing the contents of our faith, then we will in essence be undermining the roots of Judeo-Christian tradition.

       To preface, it needs to be understood that we must take part in apologetics from a strictly biblical perspective. The most simplistic definition of the word "apologetics" means to give an answer, and we must provide biblically sound answers to questions concerning Christianity because we are serving as ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ. Apologetics is not merely about persuading the critic or winning a debate. It is not constrained to soul winning. Though these factors most certainly should be motivating intentions of being an apologist, the ultimate aim of apologetics is to glorify God in heaven by representing His kingdom on earth. It is not a means in itself (i.e. winning an argument for the sake of winning), but rather is a means to an end (i.e. Glorifying God by advancing His kingdom). Otherwise, there would be no point in being an apologist because refusing to listen to the other side of the story can only result in presenting an empty strawman rejoinder. The repercussions of being closed-minded can only give other people the impression that the gospel calls them to be cruel, pompous, and hypocritical. Of course, such a portrayal of the biblical gospel message could not be further from the truth. But we must treat our detractors with love and compassionately answer objections to the faith without compromising the teachings of God's Word.

       Furthermore, we need to preach the unchangeable gospel of salvation to the world in a humble manner because there exists a corresponding relationship between truth and love. Knowledge without love results in a puffed-up heart, whereas love unguided by truth produces empty sentimentality. Thus, partaking in Christian defense without adherence to this biblical principle would be futile. We must love our neighbor as ourselves (Romans 12:9-21). We must not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by disgraceful conduct (Ephesians 4:30-32). Our speech must be seasoned with salt (Colossians 3:8). We need to live out the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), as well as speak the truth in love (1 Peter 3:15). We must always keep a clear conscience, earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In short, this is what it means to by a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. The notion of glorifying God in thought, word, and deed is not just reserved for apologetics. It is our way of life. Otherwise, society will believe that we who profess to be Christian are actually not serious about practicing our religion. People will neither be attracted nor take us seriously if we do not live in accordance to the morals, customs, and values that we claim to stand for. People will develop the terrible misconception that the biblical worldview is unlivable, and that it cannot provide a sense of hope, peace, and joy. If we are going to view walking the Christian walk as the top priority, then we must also make apologetics a top priority, since the Lord Jesus Christ clearly commissioned us to partake in both (Matthew 28:18-20).

       Perhaps the greatest way to refurbish the academic foundation of Christianity in our postmodern culture is to introduce to children being catechized the ancient trivium educational system that was originally employed by Greek and Roman societies. It works in three overlapping stages: 1.) what, 2.) why, and 3.) rhetoric. In other words, our youth need to be instructed concerning the essential articles of the faith, the underlying reasons for embracing Christian doctrine, and then transition to formulating logical responses in dialogue format. Methods for this avenue of religious inculcation may include but are by no means limited to reading Bible stories, gradually incorporating difficult excerpts from Christian literature into teaching, memorization of early church creeds, and even interview sessions with speakers from different ideological backgrounds. Questions should be encouraged, and people should learn how to reason out coherent answers to opposing arguments. Additionally, all of the aforementioned details on teaching apologetics to children can be applied equally to adults who do not have the training or experience of providing competent answers to arguments touted by critics or questions raised by honest inquirers in our congregations. Indeed, this proposed threefold approach to studying apologetics sounds as if it may very well be a solution to the lack of religious zeal in our degenerate churches. If we do not know the contents of our faith, then we are making ourselves vulnerable to spiritual deception. And if we are not capable of providing reasons for upholding our belief systems, then why should we continue to believe in them?

       We live in an age where contending for the gospel should be of utmost importance, but many who profess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ have recoiled from the task that He has ordained us for. The world today is more atheistic and intellectually devoid than it has ever been in history of mankind. Few people know how to think for themselves. Few know how to conduct independent research. Moral perversions such as homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, and euthanasia are consuming the minds of the younger generations like wildfire. The liberals have propagated damnable heresies in our educational and governmental systems. The majority of people view the concept of truth as being relativistic in nature. The leftists are knowingly working for the destruction of society. All of this is an unspeakable series of misfortunes, and we Christians need to take the necessary steps to address these major predicaments, for ourselves and for the people of this world. We must give an answer to all who ask for the reason of the hope that is in us. We must do so in a peaceful, compassionate manner. We must not relinquish fighting the good fight. We are not fighting a physical war, but a spiritual one. Apologetics, if applied appropriately, can strengthen our spiritual fortress of faith in Christ Jesus, as well as plant seeds of faith in the hearts of people who doubt.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Untenable Nature Of Atheism

"If there is no God there's no meaning to life, no ultimate right or wrong and no hope just despair. God's existence should be greeted with joy, excitement, wonder and thanks...Perhaps test-tube experiments won't prove or disprove God's existence. 

If you want to know God test-tubes won't help. So do I have blind faith? No! It's easier to argue He exists than prove He doesn't. The evidence is obvious. All I need is eyes that can see and a brain that worksMy faith is based on what I KNOW, not on what I don't know. Insisting there's 'no God' is an absolute non-provable statement by one who must know everything. But no one has all knowledge and it's an unscientific assumption that everything's just some form of matter or energy....But here's a problem. If an atheist claims 'nothing is certain' then HOW can we be certain of that? Or if 'there is no truth', then HOW do we know that's true? No one can demonstrate anything to one unreasonable. If they argue definitions or act ignorant, none can help. Hence the problem between theists and atheists. Atheists should heed Hume's dictum "The wise man proportions his belief to the evidence". When common sense is abandoned no evidence is good enough. In fact any concept held by natural and materialistic atheism will struggle with rules of evidence. Yet in contradiction the main evidence for evolution is story telling. Stories explain everything so that all evidence fits evolution and none conflict. Even so without God, atheism has no reason to exist. The Bible declares, God is Spirit (Jn.4:24), transcending human thought (Isa.55:8-9), outside the created order (Ac.17:29 Heb.1:10-12). And without the Bible God can’t be comprehended, without His revelation how can we know One we can’t see or touch?...

(A) The existence of an effect indicates the existence of a cause.

The atheist or agnostic at best, can only say a first cause for the universe is uncertain or unknown. And before the Cosmic Egg is more uncertainty. This is a non-answer because we know from nothing, comes nothing. One who does not know what caused the universe is not an atheist but an agnostic. So atheists must believe nothing created everything " and time both started at the Big Bang and therefore there was nothing before it." (Scientists Cornel Univ.) (Many reject the big bang theory)

We know of nothing in this world without a cause behind its existence, so there must be a cause behind the world and universe. Even an atheist must admit there was a first cause, because there obviously was. Things everywhere are explained by a cause lying outside them. We are forever inquiring into causes. We can’t make sense of anything without a cause behind its existence. There is no reason to deny what we experience as true every day. There is no single case of a physical state or event observed or known to originate from nothing. If there was, our leading scientific societies would love to know about it. All science, history, and law enforcement would collapse if 'cause and effect' are denied. The fact the universe exists at all, is significant. Why is there 'nothing' instead?" 


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Old Testament Evidences For The Trinity

  • Introduction:
          -The Trinity is the Christian teaching that God exists in three separate, yet fully divine, persons, who are known scripturally to be the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each member does not constitute the entire Godhead. They are related to each other but distinct at the same time. Of course, we should never anticipate that our finite minds completely grasp this characteristic of God. Also, the unconverted Jewish people of today fail to recognize these particular divine attributes of the Creator because their hearts have been hardened against Him (2 Corinthians 3:15-16). While it is true that the doctrine of the Trinity was not explicitly defined in the Old Covenant due to prophecy needing to be fulfilled, it still contains many references that support the deity of Christ, personhood of the Holy Spirit, and the triune nature of God. Consider, for instance, that the Old Testament repeatedly alludes to the three persons of the Trinity. It literally mirrors the three persons of the triune God.
  • Ponder This Priestly Blessing From The Book Of Numbers:
          -"The LORD said to Moses, Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you, and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them." (Numbers 6:22-27)
  • The Great Sh'ma Prayer Of Judaism:
          -"Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!" (Deuteronomy 6:4)
  • God's Call For Samuel To Be A Prophet:
          -"The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, Here I am. He ran to Eli and said, Here I am. You called me. I did not call you, Eli said. Go back to sleep. So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. Here I am, he said. You called me. But he answered, I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep. At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, Here I am. You called me. Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening." (1 Samuel 3:4-9)
  • An Excerpt From A Temple Sermon By The Prophet Jeremiah:
          -"Put not your trust in the deceitful words: This is the temple of the LORD! The temple of the LORD! The temple of the LORD!" (Jeremiah 7:4)
  • The Call Of Isaiah:
          -"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! they cried one to the other. All the earth is filled with his glory!" (Isaiah 6:3-4)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Old Testament Evidence For The Trinity

  • Strong Biblical Evidence For The Pre-Existence Of Jesus Christ
         -“All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was the Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:3-4)
  • How The Text Of 1 Corinthians 10:3-4 Supports The Deity of Christ:
         -In context, the Apostle Paul briefly brought into recollection events from the Exodus time frame. He alluded to the Jews who were freed from the authoritarian grasp of the Egyptian pharaoh and made to temporarily wander in the wilderness under the divine providence of God. The manna (“spiritual food”) and water which sprang forth from a rock smote by the rod of Moses (“spiritual drink”) were all supplied through the supernatural intervention of the Lord. The inspired author resorted to a rabbinic legend that portrayed the literary imagery of a flowing rock that lingered in the presence of the Israelites with the intention of enforcing the point that God continually guides our experiences. The rock reference is a typology of our Lord Jesus Christ, namely of His bold character and propitiatory sacrifice for the salvation of the world. All things consist because of Him. He is the same Spiritual Rock and Lord who governed the nation of Israel (i.e. Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:32), and overthrew the people who put Him to the test (i.e. Deuteronomy 6:16; 1 Corinthians 10:9). The text of 1 Corinthians 10:3-4 is supportive of the Trinity because it validates that the Lord Jesus Christ is co-eternal with the Father. Christ has always existed because He is God in the flesh. He possesses the fullness of His glory. Other passages of Scripture that compliment this exegetical commentary of 1 Corinthians 10:3-4 would include but are by no means limited to John 1:1-3, Hebrews 7:3, 1 Peter 1:17-21, and Revelation 3:14-15. Furthermore, there is no reason to not believe that the expressions “spiritual food” and “spiritual drink” are meant to mirror the elements (bread and wine) employed during the Lord’s Supper.

A Powerful Proof-Text For The Trinity

  • Acts 20:28 Provides A Great Case Against Unitarianism:
          -"Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood." (Acts 20:28)
          -The text of Acts 20:28 not only provides important overtones concerning biblical soteriology, but it also reveals to us the divine character of Jesus Christ. It offers a case for the Trinity in the sense that it lends support to the notion that Jesus is God, and thereby proves Him to be co-eternal with the Father. It demonstrates the inseparable unity among the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity. This passage of Scripture substantiates the doctrine that Jesus Christ is God is the flesh, which also means that He has both a fully human and divine will. Quite simply, the trinitarian argument that can be derived from Acts 20:28 is that because the Son shed His blood by crucifixion for the remission of our sins, and that the text identifies His blood as belonging to the Father, it therefore follows that God offered Himself as an atonement sacrifice for our sins. According to the logic of this statement which was originally uttered by the Apostle Paul during his farewell speech at Miletus, Jesus Christ must be God because His blood is referred to as being one in the same with that of the Father who is a spirit. Only trinitarianism can correctly interpret texts such as Acts 20:28 because only God has the power to pay an infinite debt, which is in this case our problem of sin. This means that the power of our Lord Jesus Christ is unlimited. He could not even have resurrected from the grave in bodily form, if He was just a good moral teacher or ordinary man. From that perspective, we can readily see that unitarian theology is at best incompatible with the teachings of the gospel.

Monday, November 13, 2017

God Has Redeemed Us With A Price

       "Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood." (Acts 20:28)

       Prior to the Apostle Paul's departure from Miletus to Jerusalem, he summoned a farewell conference of bishops from the city of Ephesus. This meeting consisted of the apostle discussing how he had opened the door of salvation for his audience by proclaiming the entirety of God's salvation plan, the upcoming persecution that he must face as a result of his steadfast commitment to the gospel, gave an exhortation to the overseers to guard the faith against destructive heresies which could even arise from within the Christian congregations, and concluded with an inspired saying of the Lord Jesus Christ in condemnation of selfishness. Paul was for the last time reinforcing the necessity of self-dedication by attesting himself as an example of supporting the cause of Christ. He was consigning the task of preaching the gospel to the members of that community. We also learn from the text of Acts 20:28 the means by which God has enabled us to become His people.

       The theological insight that this text of Scripture gives us is that only God has the power to save us from sin and spiritual death. In other words, we would always remain in an absolutely helpless state of eternal peril without His divine assistance. Nothing is possible without the Lord. Full dependency on God is thereby the pillar upon which the gospel rests. What needs to be understood in order to properly make sense of Acts 20:28 is that Jesus Christ is God is the flesh. In view of that, we should immediately recognize that it cost God His own blood to redeem us from permanent spiritual condemnation in the literal flames of hell. The Lord was crucified, buried, and resurrected for our transgressions. He gave Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins because our imperfect righteousness could never atone for sin. We do not belong to ourselves because He bought us with an infinite price. We are now able to rightly be deemed His children. The gospel is, "that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated" (Acts 20:32).