Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Discussion On The Morality Of Homosexuality

  • There Is No Such Thing As Gay Christianity: 
          -The Levitical Law, which functioned as the governing law code for Israel, expressly forbade homosexual acts, and prescribed the sentence of death to those who dared to partake in same-sex actions (Leviticus 18:22-25; 20:13). In fact, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of sexual immorality, which included homosexuality (Genesis 19:4-13). Interestingly, the New Testament writer Jude describes this destructive situation happening as a result of being rebellious against God's divine authority through the partaking of "strange flesh" (Jude 5-8). The Apostle Peter described these same men as "lawless" (2 Peter 2:7-10). The New Testament warns that any person who practices in homosexuality is committing sin against God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-11). He leaves those who exchange natural relations for unnatural to their own devices and destruction (Romans 1:25-27). The pattern of marriage found in Scripture is always described as a physical union between man and woman (Genesis 1:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6).
  • Our Bodily Design Refutes Homosexuality:
          -Homosexuality is contrary to human nature. In other words, all people are born heterosexual by bodily design. 
          -Homosexuality is contrary to human nature in that it does not produce life.
  • What About Equal Rights?:
          -If the legalization of same-sex marriage means equal rights for members of the LGBT community, then why cannot there be equal rights for the people who want more than one partner in marriage? If we have to redefine the concept of marriage to include two homosexual people, then why would it be wrong for us to also redefine marriage to include more than one person, or even children?
  • Refuting The "Born Gay" Argument: 
          -The testimonials presented by former homosexuals, who now happily have marital partners of the opposite sex, are solid evidence that homosexuality is a choice. In fact, a small, but recognizable, percentage of homosexuals openly admit that they chose to adopt the homosexual lifestyle.
          -Homosexuality is a behavior, or an action, in the same sense that heterosexual behavior is. Actions are things that we choose to do. Homosexuality is not in any way analogous to our skin color, height, or gender, which are genetic conditions. Science has confirmed that the primary causes of homosexuality are environment, culture, and freewill (genetic identity disorder, women getting abused by men, children getting abused by homosexuals, etc.).
          -Twins are proof against the "born gay" argument because they always have identical genes or DNA. If genetics can cause homosexuality, then both babies must have the same condition. But this is hardly ever the case with twins. Only one in the pair of children tends to have a same-sex attraction. 
          -Even assuming that the born gay argument is valid, being born with the potential to act in a certain manner in no way provides justification for behavioral patterns. There is no genetic excuse for homosexuality, anymore than there is a genetic excuse for theft or lying. Note that the Apostle Paul himself placed all these acts in the category of sin. These tendencies, whether they are genetic or not, cannot be justified on the grounds of "being born that way." Behaviors are learned and chosen.
  • Addressing The Claim That Homosexuality Occurs In Nature: 
          -Just because animals do irrational things to each other does not mean that humans should be engaging in them same activities. The following behaviors can also be found among animal species:
           *Raping other animals
           *Eating their young when threatened
           *Eating their sex partner
           *Injuring sexual partners
           *Have intercourse with their own children

Friday, April 28, 2017

Demonstrating His Love For Sinners

                                   Christ died on the cross because of His love,

                                   He ascended into heaven above.

                                   We spread His love by the words we preach,

                                   So others know it is not out of reach.

                                   We demonstrate God’s love through our good action,

                                    So more join Love’s magnetic attraction.

                                    We show love though generous deed,

                                     So that putrid sin will therefore impede.

Is Faith Irrational? (Refutation Of Scientism)

  • Introduction:
          -Atheists commonly portray Christians as establishing their beliefs on an empty shell of faith. It is claimed that Christians uphold their beliefs on completely biased and irrational grounds, which means that they are based on personal feelings and so-called revelations. Many atheists reject the validity of anything that cannot be proven or tested in a laboratory. People who subscribe to this view, known as scientism, automatically deem the supernatural realm to be nonexistent because it transcends the scope of the natural world. A great deal of atheists are quick to rule out the possibility of truth in anything miraculous because they subscribe to naturalism.
  • Inconsistent Thinking: 
          -It is unreasonable to dismiss any given idea (the concept of religion or the miraculous) as being false when there is no "scientific evidence" for establishing such a denial. The people who subscribe to scientism (including famous proponents such as Richard Dawkins) are being utterly inconsistent with their own ideological framework (that everything must be proven or disproved in a laboratory) because they are not making a verdict in accordance with known facts. What atheists term as "no evidence" (for the existence of God) cannot simply be regarded as "evidence against" the existence of God. It cannot be suggested that faith is inherently superstitious, since there are many things that we know to be real but cannot be demonstrated in a laboratory.
  • Misrepresenting Biblical Faith:
          -Biblical faith in itself is not merely a mental conviction that is founded without evidence. It is not equivalent to blind submission. Faith is not simply an irrational whim or a form of wishful thinking. There is a relationship between the notions of faith and certainty. We must have certainty beyond a shadow of a doubt in order to truly believe in anything. Our faith must be tested or proven (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It must be based on reason. Our faith is based on evidence. It is based on what we know to be true and reasonable. This is what constitutes true, biblical faith in the fundamental tenants of the Christian religion. 
  • Boundaries Of Scientific Investigation:
          -It is impossible to examine the truth of everything that we have seen or heard every day. Our lives are simply too short to test the validity of everything that we may have learned, whether we obtained knowledge from experience or education. To doubt the truth behind everything would inevitably result in infinite regression. Such would undermine the concept of certainty, as well as trust. It would corrode the objectivity of education and court rulings. Human beings inevitably have faith in something. Faith is necessary for the establishment of relationships. We can know things beyond a reasonable doubt. Hence, it is wrong for atheists to charge that any degree of faith is irrational. They inevitably have a degree of faith because the existence of God cannot be disproven. Do atheists have faith in their own existence? The real problem is that skeptics are refusing to accept the evidence that Christians present in favor of a theistic worldview and the Bible.
  • Understanding That Scientific Inquiry Has Limitations (And Thereby Refutes Scientism):
          -Let us consider for a moment some of the essential features of human life. We have free will. We have conscience. We have rationality. We have intellect. We acknowledge the existence of moral truths. We know that human life has intrinsic value. We yearn for an ultimate purpose in life. Mathematics consists of several infallible formulas, proofs, and theorems. Universals, propositions, and possible worlds are examples of abstract realities. There are principles of beauty and artistic innovation, which are known as aesthetics. The universe came into being for a reason. Physical constants have a fine-tuning. Scientific laws themselves are based on major (empirically unverifiable) assumptions. If scientism is true, then all of the aforementioned ideas must be rejected as false because they cannot be verified by the scientific method. In fact, science itself would be self-refuting. None of the previously mentioned notions would be true, let alone applicable to our lives. Truths do exist beyond the scope of the scientific laboratory. It does not contain all the answers to the questions of life. What Christians argue against is a "science only" worldview, not science itself.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Wisdom of The Words of God

     The Word of God is the key and foundation for all wisdom in life. The Bible is the infallible compass to all divine truths pertaining to salvation and godliness. It is nourishment for the minds of those who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God. The words of the Creator impart wisdom to the simple. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" [Psalm 19:7-8]. If the precepts of the Lord are perfect, then continually studying His words will enrich the mind with valuable lessons about life and morality. Life is like a book; God is the author and we are all the main characters. The Word of God covers several aspects of life such as gratitude, honesty, self-control, and generosity.

      People learn many great lessons about wisdom when Scripture is closely examined. One of its most important teachings is to have gratitude for everything we receive on a daily basis. People should be grateful and remember the magnificent works of the Lord such as the creation of life and the materials that we occupy each day. "Give thanks to the God of heaven, For His loving kindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever" [Psalm 136:26]. We should reveal much gratitude because of what He has done for us. "You are the God who does wonders; among the peoples you have revealed your might" [Psalm 77:15]. We have emphatically been taught to view the glass of life as being at least half full, rather than as being half empty. Otherwise, human life becomes joyless. We must give the Lord praise for everything that He has provided us.

      We have instruction from the Word of God to continually be cautious of our own words. We must always remain truthful. We must exercise caution as to what we say and how we say things. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” [Proverbs 16:28]. How would a person feel if his or her reputation was ruined as a result of slander and libel? People who never think before they speak are foolish. A person who has wisdom has control over their words. Unwise speech is like a virus, pass it around and the minds of other people will be infected with the stain of meaningless thoughts. Those who wish to be wise with their mouths will also to the Proverbs.

      Another moral lesson that we can learn by studying the inspired words of God is the necessity of remaining honest. We can never trust a person who spreads falsehood. Lying can severely damage a person's reputation for a very lengthy period of time, if not permanently. "An honest witness does not deceive; but a false witness pours out lies" [Proverbs 14:5]. The only reason that a person spreads lies about others is for selfish motives. People talk behind other's backs because they want to inflict physical or mental harm. Gossip is like a double-edge sword; when it cuts, it harms the confidence of others and slashes the armor of the perpetrator's conscience. A lie leaves an everlasting slash on the person who tells it. Dishonesty is only the springboard for more dishonesty, whether it is about oneself or other people.

      The Word of God repeatedly reinforces our obligation to love and honor other people. "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one above yourselves" [Romans 12:10]. Care is what keeps the world turning. It is the underlying basis for all relationships. It is necessary for human communication. Love is the foundational virtue for the development of all other virtues. We must choose to help those who are less fortunate than we are. "Love your neighbor as yourself..." [Leviticus 9:18]. All other moral imperatives issued in the Old Testament follow from this single commandment. It is reiterated in the New Testament [Matthew 5:43-48]. This is true wisdom. Hatred is like a raging fire; let it burn and the house of companionship will be incinerated entirely.

      People can learn the virtue of self-control by observing the words of God. We need an infallible guide in our lives because conscience alone is not an infallible guide. All learning must originate from an outside source, which eventually points to an ultimate standard that governs every aspect of our lives. That final court of authority is God Himself. We must place our trust in God, rather than the vain imaginations of our hearts. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" [Jeremiah 17:9]. Only through Him can we find complete satisfaction in life. The way of sin is finite and therefore will never satisfy the human heart that desires lasting meaning and fulfillment. We must reject our foolish lusts. We learn self-control by observing the commandments of God.

      The Holy Scriptures are the cornerstone to all wisdom because they are an inspired record of the words of God. They were recorded on scrolls by faithful prophets and apostles. Those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness will immediately find satisfaction when they enter into His presence. People gain wisdom when they meditate on His statutes. The words of the Lord are pure. The words of the Lord are flawless. The words of the Lord impart understanding to the simple. There is therefore no valid reason for us to object in imitating His ways. God is our Rock and Salvation. Deuteronomy 8:3 says, "...man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord."

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Refutation Of Moral Relativism

  • Introduction:
          -Moral Relativism is the philosophical stance that no existing moral standard or belief system is better than ones found in different societies. In other words, relativism is the belief that all points of view are equally correct or valid. According to this philosophical perspective, the acceptance of all aspects pertinent to knowledge, truth, and morality are governed by individual, separate societies, civilizations, and different periods of time. Moral relativism teaches that truth is changeable and is determined by each person. This viewpoint denies the existence of a universal standard of morality that dictates all of our moral thoughts and behaviors. It teaches that truth is relative to the individual.
  • Moral Relativism Is Self-Refuting:
          -If all moral perspectives are of equal validity, then that means that the rejection of moral relativism is also valid. Moral relativists must accept the belief that moral relativism is false.
          -To say that all truths are relative is to either make a relative or absolute proposition. If relative, then one cannot simply deny the existence of absolutes. If the statement is meant to be an absolute, then absolute statements must exist. This would testify to the existence of objective truths! In this case, not all truths would be relative to the individual.
          -Those who claim that no absolute truths exist have subscribed to a completely untenable position, for it is self-contradictory. While denying the existence of absolute truths, moral relativists make an absolute statement: "There are no absolute truths." Can moral relativists be absolutely sure that no absolute standards exist? How do they know that they are not simply deceiving themselves?
          -If two (or more) perceptions of truth contradict each other, then how can we know which view is correct? Which perception of truth is more trustworthy? Can truth be self-contradictory? No, such a proposition would be self-refuting. This would mean that either one or both perceptions of reality are in error.
          -If moral relativists want to claim that moral relativism cannot be critiqued by any form of logic to search for fallacies within the boundaries of such a mindset, then by what standard or final court of authority can they exclude moral relativism from being critiqued by logic? What criteria was used to exclude moral relativism from being evaluated by logic?
          -If moral relativism is true, then how can we judge the actions of people living in different societies? How could we condemn murder, theft, or rape? Is there anything that is morally wrong? If so, then why? How can we know? Should we silence math instructors who could possibly offend students when they teach that 1+1=2 in an objective manner?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Scriptural Refutation Of Antinomianism

        Antinomianism is the belief that Christians are not obligated to obey any moral laws that were established by God. In other words, this theology teaches that God has no moral standards for His followers to heed to. It teaches that our faith "frees" us from the obligation of choosing to act in accordance to the moral principles of God by His grace. The word "antinomianism" is derived from two Greek words, which are "anti" (against) and "nomos" (law). Antinomianism argues that since Christians are not saved by the keeping of the Law (which is true), God has no moral laws that He expects us to obey (which is not true). This doctrine distorts a biblically grounded teaching by formulating an unbiblical conclusion.

        We know that God has moral commandments for us to obey because He inspired the Apostle Paul to write that the unrighteous will not inherit His kingdom which is in heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5-7). We must get our sins forgiven and removed by God. True Christians will choose to glorify God for the free gift of salvation that He has given through good works. The New Testament operates on the Law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 6:2), which is a law of unmerited grace. This "law" instructs us to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). Thus, the law of Christ is simply the moral law of God that the Mosaic Law confirms. It reflects His character and His nature.

        The "Law of Christ" is not a comprehensive list of legal codes, as was the case with the Levitical Law. The Law of the New Covenant stands on love of God and love of neighbor, just as did the Mosaic Law. True Christians desire to keep their thoughts and actions in harmony with His moral precepts. They are filled with the Holy Spirit. True Christians will obey God (John 14:15-24; 1 Corinthians 7:19; 1 John 2:3-4). We do not obey the "Law of Christ" to earn eternal salvation in heaven (nor was that the purpose of the Mosaic Law). Rather, we obey out of gratitude for the sacrificial work of His Son. We obey because our hearts have been changed by His grace. That is our new nature, just as the inherent properties of water ensure it is wet. The Apostle Paul describes the direction of sanctification as growing in holiness (Romans 6:1-2).

        We shall know people by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-23). We will be judged according to our conduct in this life (Romans 2:6-13; 2 Corinthians 5:10). We demonstrate the reality of our faith by our deeds (James 2:14-26). God is the Author of Eternal Salvation to those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). Grace and faith do not nullify but fulfill the Law (Romans 3:31). The two are not to be treated as a smokescreen against holiness in the Christian life. Believers ought to be good moral examples. Every nation needs to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior through conversion of heart (Romans 1:5; Jude 4). Also, Scripture repeatedly attributes both titles to Him. Salvation, broadly speaking, is a moral transformation.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Intercession Of The Holy Spirit

           "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:26-28)

           The Lord Jesus Christ told the twelve apostles that He needed to depart from the world so that the Advocate could come, who is the Holy Spirit (John 16:6-8). If Jesus never left this earth physically, then the Spirit could not come to fulfill His designated purposes on earth.

           What did the Holy Spirit do for the apostles? He guided the twelve disciples to all Truth (John 16:13). The Spirit of God gave the first century Christians all the necessary revelation for learning about God's moral character and His general will for us (John 14:16; 26). He is a source spiritual nourishment and comfort.

           Today, He continues to fulfill the same tasks that He was originally appointed for. The Holy Spirit works by helping true members of the church persevere daily through all sorts of sinful temptations and persecutions. He leads searching people to truth. The Spirit combats evil through the spread of the Gospel Message, which is His fighting gear (Ephesians 6:10-18; Hebrews 4:12).

           The Lord Jesus Christ is eternally present in His divinity along with the Holy Spirit. Both members of the Holy Trinity intercede on our behalf in prayer. They know us and what we need even better than we ourselves. They express our needs that we cannot even begin to express. The Father and Son come to and dwell with believers in the Holy Spirit. Christ ascended into heaven to pour out the Spirit on the body of the redeemed.

    Monday, April 17, 2017

    The Intercession Of Jesus Christ

            "But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever." (Hebrews 7:24-28)

            Appointed members of the Old Testament Levitical priesthood were finite creations of God who continually needed to be replaced because of physical death. They were limited by the confines of age. The High Priests of the Jewish community needed to repeatedly offer the blood of sacrificed lambs and goats to temporarily stay off the wrath of God. The offerings presented by these men were not perfect. The customs of the Law were only a shadow of the greater things to come. They prefigured the arrival of a newer and better Covenant, which is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant. In other words, the entire Old Testament sacrificial system pointed to the single perfect atonement sacrifice performed by Jesus Christ at Calvary.

            While the Old Testament priests were sinners who were in need of a Savior, Jesus is the pure, unblemished High Priest who has made the once-for-all perfect sacrifice on the cross. He is the Source of everlasting life (Hebrews 5:9). Because of what He has done for us, we are able to approach God with confidence in His promises (Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus Christ will always be there for us.We have constant access to the grace of God because of what He has done on our behalf. Christ is our direct channel to God. He forever lives to make intercession on behalf of repentant sinners. We can rest secure in Christ since He is perfectly reliable. He does not have any of the weaknesses that Jewish priests had. His priestly ministry is vastly superior to that of the Old Testament priesthood.

            Jesus Christ is both the High Priest who offers a sacrifice before God and the Lamb to be slain for our sins. That paradox undoubtedly perplexes the human mind. It is to be received only by the person of faith. The concept of a sacrifice goes hand in hand with one who offers a sacrifice. Only God could do both things at the same time. The justice of God necessitates the punishment of sin (Genesis 18:25; Exodus 20:5). He despises evil (Deuteronomy 13:17; Romans 1:18). He is as a consuming fire to sinners (Deuteronomy 4:24). Christ offered Himself in our place to satisfy the wrath of God. It was foreordained from the foundation of the world that He would make this atonement sacrifice. 

      Friday, April 14, 2017

      The Biblical Basis For The Trinity

      • Defining The Trinity: 
                1.) God is three persons (The Father, The Son, And the Holy Spirit).
                2.) Each person is divine.
                3.) There is only one God (Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6-8).
      • Further Explanation Of The Trinity: 
                -Each of these Persons are completely divine in nature, but one figure does not equal the entire Godhead.
                -Each person is distinct at the same time.
                -The three persons are related to each other but are distinct at the same time.
                -The Doctrine of the Trinity is known as one of the "mysteries" of the Christian religion.
      • Biblical Texts Demonstrate The Unity Among The Three Divine Persons Of The Trinity (John 10:30; Matthew 28:18-21; 1 Corinthians 8:6-8; 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 48:16; Ephesians 4:4-6).
      • Jesus Christ Is Co-Eternal With The Father (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-17; 2:9; Isaiah 9:6; John 8:56-59; 17:5; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 1:1-3; 7:3).
      • Jesus Is Called Emmanuel, Which Is Translated To Mean "God Is With Us" (Matthew 1:23).
      • Jesus Christ Has Two Wills---Human And Divine; He Is Both Fully God And Fully Human (Philippians 2:5-11).
      • Jesus Is Called The Son Of God (John 5:18; 19:7).
      • Only God Can Forgive Sins, But Jesus Christ Also Has The Power To Forgive Our Sins (Mark 2:5-7). 
      • The Only Way That You Can Honor The Father Is If You Honor The Son (John 5:23).
      • Thomas Called Jesus Christ "God" (John 20:28): 
                -The Greek of John 20:28 literally reads, "The Lord of me and the God of me."
                -If Thomas was speaking blasphemy, then why did Jesus Christ not rebuke him for making such a statement? Instead, Thomas' profession of Jesus' identity as God was accepted (John 20:29).
      • A Case For The Deity Of The Holy Spirit:
                -The Holy Spirit is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-9), is all-knowing (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), is all-powerful (Romans 15:19), eternal (Hebrews 9:14), a source of life (John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6), and inspires revelation (2 Peter 1:19-21).
                -Lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God Himself (Acts 5:3-5).
                -Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit make intercession before God the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:26-28; Hebrews 7:25).
      • Titles Shared By The Father And The Son Jesus Christ: 
                -King of Kings (Deuteronomy 10:17; Daniel 2:47; Revelation 17:14), Lord of Lords (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; Revelation 19:16), the only Savior (Isaiah 43:10-11; Acts 4:12; Titus 2:13; 3:4-7), The First and The Last (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 22:13), I Am (Exodus 3:13-14; John 8:58), The Alpha and The Omega (Revelation 1:8; 22:13-16), Rock (Isaiah 8:14; 1 Peter 2:7-8), Shepherd (Psalm 23; Hebrews 13:20-21), and Lord (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 4).
      • Identical Functions Of God The Father And God The Son: 
                -Both are worshiped by angels (Nehemiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:6); both are unchanging (Psalm 102:27; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8); both created everything (Nehemiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:10); both can answer prayers (Matthew 6:6-14; John 14:13-14; Acts 7:59); both give eternal life (John 10:28; 1 John 5:11); both judge the world (Psalm 96:13; John 5:22). The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit sanctify Christians (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:12; 1 Peter 1:2).

      Tuesday, April 11, 2017

      A Case For The Resurrection Of Christ (Part 2, Answering Common Objections)

      • On The Swoon Theory:
                -This idea was originally proposed by opponents of the resurrection during the nineteenth century. It is built off the unproven assumption that the Jesus Christ never really died on a cross, but rather, came near to facing death due to being crucified. This theory is further elaborated on by the postulate that Jesus was simply removed from the cross and that He reappeared after three days to His disciples by escaping from His tomb. The Swoon Theory claims that such an occurrence was made possible as a result of alleged recuperation in the coolness of a tomb for a period of three days. In summary, this theory states that Jesus Christ only appeared to have died on a cross and thus deceived His disciples into believing in His resurrection.
      • The Swoon Theory Has Many Dilemmas:
                -Jesus Christ was beaten on the face and mocked during six trials among Jewish and Roman authorities (Matthew 26-27; Luke 23; John 18). He even suffered from thirty-mine lashes on His back.
                -His scalp was severely torn by the crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29).
                -Jesus' heart stopped pumping due to nails being driven through His wrists onto a wooden crossbeam, which was raised directly into the air. Not only did Jesus asphyxiate from His chest cavity being filled with liquid, but He also became extremely dehydrated while He was suffering on the cross. Jesus' side was pierced with a spear (John 19:34-35).
                -The body of Jesus Christ was tightly encased in thick layers of linen (John 19:38-42).
                -Jesus' body would have gone without any sort of medical attention or be given a source of bodily nourishment during the three days of being buried in the tomb.
                   *If He was alive during that period of three days, then He would have had insufficient strength to remove the bulky stone from the cave, to put up a fight with the Roman soldiers, or to even have accomplished both tasks.
      • On Claims Of The Disciples Experiencing Hallucinations:
                -Critics of the Christianity oftentimes attempt to dismiss the biblical resurrection narratives of Jesus Christ by laying the charge that the apostles merely had visions of Him rising from the grave. In other words, His earliest followers did not actually see the body of the risen Christ.
      • Refuting The "Hallucination Theory:"
                -If "hallucinations" could provide a plausible argument for denying the biblical resurrection accounts, then they could only provide a possible justification for rejecting post-resurrection appearances. If one decides to go with this theory, then how does he or she offer an explanation for the empty tomb, the removal of the huge bolder, and the mysterious disappearance of the dead body?
                -It would be next to impossible for several hundred people to experience the same hallucination for a period of forty days, especially at the same time and location (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Acts 1:3). In fact, most hallucinations are not repetitive in nature or able to converse with people. Neither can one simply accuse the disciples of Jesus Christ of experiencing illusions because these resurrection appearances originated from outside sources, not from within.
                -How can hallucinations eat or be physically touched (Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:42-43; John 20:27-28)?

      Monday, April 10, 2017

      Why The Virgin Birth Matters

      • Introduction:
                -Many of us are familiar with the biblical narrative of the miraculous conception of the Lord Jesus Christ in Mary's womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is prophesied in the Old Testament (Isaiah 7:14) and attested to in the New Testament (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:27-36).
                -Scripture records events which took place within that same time period such as the Angel Gabriel's appearance to Mary, the baby needing to be taken out of Israel due to King Herod wanting to exterminate Him, the visit from shepherds, and the gifts of the Magi (which were gold, frankincense, and myrrh).
      • Acceptance Of The Virgin Birth Is Ultimately A Matter Of Underlying Philosophical Presuppositions:
                -The doctrine of the virgin birth can be deemed absurd if, and only if, an individual rejects the existence of the supernatural realm. A deity who knows how to create the universe can most certainly bring about a pregnancy in a woman without sexual intercourse. He understands how every part of creation works. Just as God created Adam without a father or mother, so He caused Mary to conceive in her womb without a man. The virgin birth should sound more plausible in light of scientific breakthroughs such as embryonic transfer and artificial insemination.
      • Did The Apostle Paul Affirm The Virgin Birth?:
                -It can be argued Paul implicitly believed in the virgin birth on the grounds that he cited Luke 10:7 as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18. If he believed the gospel of Luke to be divinely inspired revelation, then that would mean he upheld the virgin birth because that event is recorded in the narrative from which he quoted.
      • Was The Virgin Birth A Later Invention?:
                -"Some have argued that the Virgin Birth is a later mythical addition since it is mentioned only in two Gospels and is not spoken of by any other New Testament authors. Over a century ago one biblical scholar answered this objection with a very practical observation: If the Virgin Birth was common knowledge among the apostolic community, the New Testament authors "would have abstained from mentioning it for prudential reasons, lest they should expose the mother of our Lord to scandal during her lifetime—such scandals did in fact arise as soon as the virgin birth was declared." Hence the apostles may have kept silent concerning the doctrine until after the death of Mary." (J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: What the Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell You, p. 245)
                -"...it would have been very risky to document and claim that He was born of a virgin. In the Middle East there were "honor killings" for women who conceived out of wedlock, so to speak of a virgin birth was extremely dishonorable. In fact, the Bible alludes to some disparaging remarks made by the opponents of Jesus. In addition, if you look at the anti-Christian literature at the time, much of it focused on this aspect of Christianity. This makes one wonder why, if Christians were just making up a religion, they say something that would offend virtually everybody in the Middle East. It makes no sense to make up something offensive, unless it were true." (http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/virginbirth.html)
      • The Heavenly "Origin" Of Jesus Christ:
                -Jesus Christ is eternal (John 1:1-3). He has no beginning or end. If Joseph, Mary's husband, was Jesus Christ's biological father, then He could not possess any divine attributes that Scripture ascribes to Him. He most certainly could not be God, as He oftentimes asserted. If Christ is not God, then He could not save us from the eternal consequences of sin. If He could not atone four our sins, then we could never receive forgiveness from God. And if we cannot be forgiven for sin, then we are destined for eternal condemnation in hell.
      • The Sinless Nature Of Jesus Christ:
                -If Jesus had a biological father, then He would in reality be just like everybody else. He would not in any way be different than we are. He would have our same inherent sinful nature that we inherited from Adam (Romans 5). However, the Scriptures enforce the sinlessness of the Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). If Jesus was the son of Joseph in the sense of being of his earthly seed, then His sinlessness would simply be a myth.
      • The Perfect Sacrifice Of Jesus Christ:
                -If Jesus Christ is not sinless, then it would have been impossible for Him to make the necessary atonement sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. Jesus needed to be sinless for our justification because only a perfect sacrifice for sin will satisfy the wrath of God (Exodus 12:5; Hebrews 10:1-18). Atonement for sin requires a perfect substitute. If He was a sinner like everybody else, then He could not save us from our sins. The purpose of Jesus Christ coming down from heaven to earth was for the redemption of sinners (Galatians 4:4-5). The doctrine of the virgin birth is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity because it directly relates to the salvation of our souls.
      • The Uniqueness Of Jesus Christ:
                -Just as nobody is able to resurrect from the dead and depart from this world in the manner that Christ did, nobody other than Him can be born in the same manner, without the need of sexual intercourse. He was conceived into Mary's body through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, the earthly life of Jesus Christ is a in itself a miraculous act of God

      Saturday, April 8, 2017

      Does The Bible Permit Women To Be Pastors?

      • Defining The Issues: 
                 -For decades, churches have been divided over the issue of the functions of women in ministry. In other words, there are varying points of view as to whether Scripture permits woman to serve in ordained, authoritative positions of the church or not. For example, some congregations have all male deacons while others allow for deaconesses. Therefore, the specific purpose of this article is to provide a biblical answer to this important question. Although Christians will not be disqualified by God from going to heaven because of attending a church with female pastors, they should either be on guard for heretical ideas or completely separate themselves from that congregation to find a different one because an entrance for liberal theology has been created. Having female pastors in a church is a sign of poor spiritual health because adhering to such a pattern of ministers violates the pattern of ministers presented within the pages of the New Testament. The truth of the matter is that ordained pastors are supposed to be men.
      • Husband Of One Wife: 
                -The New Testament Scriptures plainly tell us that appointed ministers of the church are to be the husband of a wife (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:1; Titus 1:5-9). These passages discuss other characteristics of appointed men such as not being alcoholics, greedy, selfish, foul-mouthed, and being responsible. In summary, Scripture gives us a comprehensive list of stipulations for men who desire to take on the obligations of a bishop or deacon. We are told what morals these individuals must uphold and how they must conduct themselves in order to obtain and maintain being a spiritual leader of the local congregation. These men are to set the primary example of holiness for other members to see. However, we have no Scripture passages offering any sort of descriptions of or necessary qualifications for any female ministers. We know that these passages address men because they read, "the husband of one wife." Scripture affirms heterosexual marriage. These passages are silent about female bishops, elders, or pastors (these terms have a synonymous meaning in biblical usage).
      • The Apostle Paul Forbade Women From Possessing Authority Over Adult Men In The Church (1 Corinthians 14:33-35; 1 Timothy 2:10-15):
                -The church authority structure pointedly rules out women from exercising spiritual authority over men. This scriptural principle does not in any way pertain to the political, social, or economic categories of the secular sphere, but to the context of church leadership. Male leadership in the church is grounded on the order in the creation of human beings and how sin entered the world, as recorded within the Book of Genesis. The reasons for woman not being allowed to be ordained ministers in church are that 1.) Adam was created first and 2.) Eve was deceived by Satan. Adam is the federal representative of mankind. Therefore, all humanity falls in Adam (Romans 5). The grounding in creation gives Paul's reasoning a universal application. He affirms that what he is writing is the "Lord's commandment" (1 Corinthians 14:37). When the apostle says that women should remain silent in churches, he means they should not be interruptive but peaceful and orderly. If he advocated for silence of women at all times, then he would be contradicting himself as he mentioned them praying and prophesying in the church (1 Corinthians 11:5).
      • Woman Do Have Dignity And Purpose:
                -Generally speaking, women excel in areas pertaining to hospitality, instruction, and support. They are not restricted from occupying gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). Women are neither forbidden from educating children nor from exhorting other women to remain in the truth (Titus 2:3-4). They, just like men, have been called to demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), contend for the faith (1 Peter 3:15), and to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation to the lost world (Matthew 28:18-20). Women are not inferior to men. Men and women are equal in essence, being created in the image and likeness of God. It is just that men and women have different purposes at home and in the church. Some women were direct witnesses to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, even when most of the other disciples went into hiding (Matthew 27:55; John 19:25). Moreover, the Apostle Paul acknowledged individual women for their work in ministry and even addressed some as "co-workers" (Romans 16:1; 6-7; Colossians 4:15; Philippians 4:2-3). Scripture is not in any way sexist, biased in favor of one specific gender over the other. The accomplishments of women ought to be acknowledged accordingly.

      Friday, April 7, 2017

      Do We Need The Catholic Church In Order To Recognize The Canon Of Scripture?

      • Defining The Issues:
                -Roman Catholic apologists commonly argue that we must embrace the allegedly infallible Traditions of their Church in order to know with certainty which religious texts comprise the Bible. In other words, they argue against Sola Scriptura by claiming that without the Roman Catholic Church's "infallible" declarations regarding the canon of Scripture, Protestants would have no certainty of which books belong in the Bible. In the end, however, the Roman Catholic Church's claims to authority are self-defeating because its "infallible" dogmas and doctrines must be fallibly interpreted by the individual.
      • Objection: "The Bible does not contain an inspired table of contents. So how do you know which person wrote which books(s) of the Bible? How do you know that Matthew wrote Matthew?":
                -This argument misrepresents the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. It does not teach that everything is written in the Bible. In other words, Sola Scriptura does not mean that the Bible provides us with an exhaustive list on anything. Rather, it gives us everything that we need to know regarding salvation and godliness. Every necessary thing that we need to know about the faith recorded in the Scriptures.
                -How do Roman Catholics know which oral traditions are inspired? Do they have an inspired table of contents identifying which specific oral traditions that we are supposed to heed to?
                -Canonical writings such as Job and Hebrews have unknown authors, yet the Church of Rome has never identified who wrote those books. If "not knowing the author" automatically means a denial of the divine inspiration of a text, then would Roman Catholics be willing to throw away those books of the Bible, since their authors are unknown?
                -We can and must be dependent on outside sources of information in order to gather information regarding the canon of Scripture. No figure from the early church can directly tell us which books of the New Testament are canonical because they are now deceased. So we must resort to the extant extra-biblical writings of the early church. We must draw some of our conclusions from the early church fathers.
      • Objection: "Who determined the canon of Scripture?":
                -How did the Jewish people, who lived prior to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, know how to identify inspired Old Testament books such as 2 Chronicles and Isaiah? How did the Jews know that such books were inspired, without the assistance of a divinely appointed, infallible hierarchy? How come God did not simply give His chosen nation an inspired table of contents specifically identifying which Old Testament books were inspired?
                 *The Roman Catholic Magisterium could not have identified the inspired books of the Old Testament for the Jews because it did not exist before the birth of Christ.
                 *There is no historical evidence pointing to any sort of belief in the infallibility of the Jewish religious leaders. In fact, Jesus Christ rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees for doctrinal errors (Matthew 15; Mark 7).
      • Is There Any Need For Infallible Certainty On The Books Of The Bible, As Roman Catholic Apologists Claim?:
               -If infallible certainty of the canon is as important as Roman Catholic apologists make it sound, then why did it take their Church over 1,500 years to finally settle the issue at the Council of Trent? Why would a supposedly infallible organization need to wait so long to give its members infallible certainty on the canon of Scripture?
                 *“According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the Biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church (at the Council of Trent). Before that time there was some doubt about the canonicity of certain Biblical books, i.e., about their belonging to the canon.” (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 29, Copyright 1967; Under “Canon, Biblical”)
                 *“The Tridentine decrees from which the above list is extracted was the first infallible and effectually promulgated pronouncement on the Canon, addressed to the Church Universal.” (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, under the category titled "Canon of The Old Testament)

      Thursday, April 6, 2017

      A Case For The Resurrection Of Christ (Part 1)

              It is a known historical fact that Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross. The Jewish authorities and the Roman executioners would have known with certainty if He was plotting to escape or was playing head games to deceive them. This fact alone provides us with the foundational grounds to embrace the biblical story of the resurrection.

              We have testimony of the resurrection from female disciples recorded in the four gospels. This is significant because the Greco-Roman world viewed woman as having a lower social status and thus considered less credible in presenting testimonials. This would have made the male disciples of Jesus Christ appear foolish to others.

              The New Testament tells us that there were several hundred direct eye-witnesses to the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Surely, at least a handful of the people would have been conscious enough to expose the story as being a complete fraud, if it was one in reality. Note how much impact that witnesses have in trials which are held in court systems.

              Another support for the resurrection is the incredible life transformation of the disciples of Jesus Christ. The New Testament records the disciples as being cowards who did not want to suffer any persecution to later becoming bold speakers who were even willing to die for the gospel. How does one explain this phenomena? Why would somebody die for something that he or she knows to be a lie? Why mention embarrassing details about the disciples of Jesus if the story was made up?

              The empty tomb of Jesus Christ is a powerful proof of His resurrection because the Roman and Jewish authorities failed to produce a corpse, which would have permanently terminated this Christian movement. All that the authorities had to do was to produce a corpse. However, they were incapable of producing the dead body of Jesus because they did not have it. Moreover, the tomb was tightly secured with a huge rock blocking the entrance and was constantly guarded by Roman soldiers, which would have made it virtually impossible for Jesus Christ to escape. New Testament Scholar Gary Habermas published this study in a peer-reviewed Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus:

              "Of these scholars, approximately 75 per cent favor one or more of these arguments for the empty tomb, while approximately 25 per cent think that one or more arguments oppose it. Thus, while far from being unanimously held by critical scholars, it may surprise some that those who embrace the empty tomb as a historical fact still comprise a fairly strong majority."

      Wednesday, April 5, 2017

      A Biblical Presentation On The Sacrament Of Baptism

      • Defining The Purpose Of Water Baptism:
                -The purpose of baptism is to make a public profession of faith and discipleship. In other words, water baptism is the sign of dedication to serving Christ. It is symbolic for the Lord's burial, death, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5). In this ritual, we are identifying ourselves with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, which also means that we already had faith in Him. People who got baptized were putting their very livelihood, every cherished thing, at stake in serving Jesus Christ. In getting baptized, one places Him above all else in this life. This is the reason for baptism being so closely associated with salvation in the New Testament. It is evidence of a heart having been regenerated by the Spirit of God. Baptism is not a mere formality. It serves as a reminder of our new identity in Jesus Christ. It is a picture of our salvation. We ought to reflect on our baptism with the intent of building up our faith.
      • Infant Baptism:
                -The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and various Protestant churches advocate the practice of baptizing babies. Many professing Christians baptize infants because they believe that the ritual itself removes the stain of original sin.
                 *There is no command or example of infant baptism found in the Bible.
                 *Babies cannot be baptized because they are unable to believe in the gospel for salvation and repent (Mark 1:15; 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-41; 8:12; 36-37; 16:14-15; 30-33; 18:8).
      • Baptismal Regeneration:
                -Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and various sects within Protestantism maintain that people must be baptized in order to get saved. They believe this because they uphold the false belief that baptism removes original sin.
                 *Jesus Christ did not baptize anybody (John 4:2). If baptism was essential for salvation, then baptizing people would have been His top priority.
                 *The concept of baptism is not mentioned in several Scripture passages regarding how one is justified before God (John 1:12; 5:24; 20:30-31; Romans 1:16-17; 3:20-28; 4:2-8; 5:1; 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 2:16; 21; 3:1-3; 5:4-5; Ephesians 2:4-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; 3:15; Titus 3:5). Scripture is abundantly clear that justification is by faith apart from the merit of all works. They have no bearing on our justification before God. To add baptism (or any other ritual) as an additional stipulation to believing on Jesus Christ for salvation is equivalent to saying that we must be circumcised to get saved. Thus, the "baptismal regeneration" teaching falls into the same category as the Judaizing heresy (Acts 15:1; 23-24).
                 *Baptism is the New Testament parallel (though not its equivalent) to circumcision in the Old Testament (Colossians 2:11-12). But circumcision did not save anyone (Romans 4:9-12), even though it was commanded by God (Genesis 17:10-14). This also indicates that we are not saved by water baptism. We are not saved by these rituals because they are works.
                 *We even have biblical examples of people who were justified before they were baptized in water: 1.) the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:35-38); 2.) the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:17-18); 3.) Cornelius (Acts 10:42-48); 4.) The Philippian jailer and his family (Acts 16:25-33). Having heard the message of the gospel, these people had received the Spirit of God prior to getting baptized. They placed their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
      • Baptism By Sprinkling Water:
                -The Roman Catholic Church, along with Protestant churches, baptize by sprinkling a little water on people, rather than fully immersing converts into water.
                 *The Greek word for baptism ("baptismo") literally means immersion. There are separate words in the Greek language for sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. But only the Greek word for immersion is used for baptism in the New Testament (although there may be rare situations in which baptism by sprinkling water may be permissible).
                 *The New Testament describes the ceremony of baptism as being a "burial" into water (Mark 1:5; 9-10; John 3:23; Romans 6:3-5).

        Tuesday, April 4, 2017

        The Philosophical Incoherence Of The Islamic God

        “In Islam, there is no fatherhood of God and no purpose of redemption to soften the doctrine of the decrees.” Samuel Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, page 100. (see link to Zwemer’s book)

        * by “decrees”, Zwemer is meaning Allah’s decrees of Sovereignty and Predestination ( قدر – Qadr = power, sovereignty; جبر – Jabr = force, destiny ) in that Allah causes some to be guided to the true path and paradise and the rest to be guided to hell.

        * there is “no purpose of redemption” in Islam – This is why Muslims see no need for the atonement and so in Islam, there is no purpose in God redeeming some from all nations (Rev. 5:9) by His own grace in the incarnation and work on the cross for His own glory. So Muslims don’t see the need for atonement or redemption or the incarnation, because they don’t see that people are sinners by nature and cannot earn their salvation by doing good deeds. They think they can earn paradise by believing in the doctrines of Islam and by doing good deeds.

        ” The attribute of love is absent from Allah.” Zwemer, ibid, p. 100

        Here he means that there is nothing in Islam or the Qur’an like there is in the Bible that God’s nature is love – as in 1 John 4:8-19 – “God is love.”

        The Qur’an says “Allah is loving or friendly” or “congenial”. = wadood ودود (other native Arabic speakers have told me that is the difference between wadood – ودود and Mohabbat محبت / محبه . Wadood is more like “friendly” whereas Mohabbat conveys the Greek word “agape”. One of the 99 names of Allah is “wodood” ودود , but not “Mohabat” محبت / محبه or “hobb” حب in essence. The Qur’an says “Allah does not love sinners”, but only loves those who love Allah first. They don’t have anything like Romans 5:8 – “God demonstrates His love toward us even while we were still sinners, that Christ died for us.” Allah is compassionate ( رحمان = Rahmon) (the one who does actions of compassion) and merciful (رحیم = Rahim ) (the one who does actions of mercy); but the Islamic theologicans have debated for centuries over if one can say “Allah is . . . ” It seems that many Muslims theologians have even said, “We cannot say “Allah is ….. (something)”; ” we cannot say what Allah’s nature/substance ( ذات = dhat / zat ) or essence ( جوهر = johar) is.

        “The mystic love of the Sufis (widespread and weighty though it be in its influence) is not a characteristic of orthodox Islam, but arose in rebellion to it.

        The Fatherhood of God and the repeated declarations of Scripture that God loves the world, loves the sinner, loves mankind – that God is love – all this has had its influence on Christian speculation regarding the problem of God’s decrees. In like manner the character of Allah has been the key to the same problem among Moslems. Islam, as we have seen, reduces God to the category of the will. He is at heart a despot, an Oriental despot. He stands at abysmal heights above humanity. He cares nothing for character, but only for submission. The only affair of men is to obey His decrees.

        2. The Moslem doctrine of hell is in accordance with their coarse beliefs regarding Predestination and Mohammed’s utter want of conception of the spiritual. According to the Koran and Tradition, Hell must be filled, and so God creates infidels.2 Of all religions in the world, Islam is the most severe in its conception of the capacity and the torments of hell. “On that day We will say to hell, Art thou full? and it will say, Are there any more?” (Surah 50:30.) The conception of hell is brutal, cruel and to the last degree barbarous. The whole picture, as given in the Koran and commented on by Tradition, is horribly revolting. “Hell shall be a place of snares, the home of transgressors, to abide therein for ages. No coolness shall they taste nor any drink, save boiling water and liquid pus. Meet recompense!” (Surahs 88:1-7; 2:38; 3:197; 14:20, 43:71-78, etc., etc.) The word Jehannum [ جهنم ] occurs thirty times; fire (nar= نار ) – is still more frequently used; there are six other words used for the place of torment. One cannot read the traditions which give what Mohammed said on this subject without feeling how heartless and loveless is the creed of Islam. Yet it is in connection with such ideas of God that the Moslems believe in Predestination.

        It is not difficult to surmise whence Mohammed got his ideas of a Predestination after the pattern of fatalism.” (Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, p. 102-103; with my comments in brackets)

        —————

        1Theol. Studien, 14 Jahrgang, p. 240.

        2 Surahs 32:13; 97:5; 4:11; 9:69. Cf. Commentaries.

        Muslims as people have great capacities for loving each other and others, and their culture of hospitality is really great, but this is because they are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28) and they retain those good qualities because of that. But the doctrines and the religion itself, with its principles of controlling external society in Sharia, the Khaliphate (historically up until 1924; and the desire for the restoration of the Khalifate), Jihad with Qatal (fighting, killing, slaying) and Harb (war) (struggle against the unbelievers and commands to fight and kill the Christians and Jews (Surah 9:5; 9:29; 8:39), Dhimmitude (subjugation of Christians and Jews and not allowing freedom for evangelism and debate and disagreement); no assurance of salvation, and fatalism, and laws of apostasy (death for Muslims who turn from Islam), result in a harsh life and seem to be the reasons for the lack of freedom and harshness and war and violence in Islamic history, and we are seeing the results of this today in many places all over the world.

        https://apologeticsandagape.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/the-result-of-a-man-made-religion-with-no-love-no-atonement-no-concept-of-the-fatherhood-of-god/

        Monday, April 3, 2017

        Justification By Faith Alone And The Old Testament

        • Introduction:
                  -Contrary to what some might believe or might expect, the Jews were never saved by keeping the Law and performing animal sacrifices. In other words, the basis of justification before God has always been by the grace of God through trust in Him, even prior to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1). "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). Justification has always been completely dependent on God; not man himself.
                  -It would be very inconsistent to uphold the view that justification during the Old Covenant was on the basis of keeping the Law and that the basis of salvation in the New Testament is by the grace of God apart from the merit of all works, since both Testaments proclaim the message of mankind's universal depravity (1 Kings 8:46; Psalm 14; Romans 3:9-23). If we had to earn a right standing before God by performing good deeds, then nobody on earth would be going to heaven because God requires perfect obedience to the Law (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10; James 2:10). There is no transition of justification by works to grace through faith recorded in the Scriptures.
        • The Example Of Abraham:
                  -In Genesis chapters 12 and 15, Abraham believed God according to the promises and new revelation pertaining to the message of the gospel (descendants as numerous as the stars). This man's FAITH was the instrument of his justification before God (Genesis 15:6). But how could Abraham be justified by keeping the Law when he lived approximately 500 years before it was given to the Jews?
        • Abraham And King David In Romans Chapter Four:
                  -In his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul uses Abraham and David as examples of people who were saved by faith in God apart from the merit of works (Romans 4:2-8). We are all justified in the same manner: by the grace of God through faith in His work. It is not by works of righteousness that we have done.
        • Abraham And Galatians Chapter Three:
                  -Galatians chapter three also occupies Abraham as an example of justification apart from the merit of works.
        • The Purpose Of The Mosaic Law Was Never To Save Anyone:
                  -Although the Law functioned as the blueprint for the overall function of Israel, its designated purpose was never to save anyone (Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:20). It was to make us conscious of our sinful nature (Galatians 3:22-26; Romans 10:4). The Law points us to Christ. The Law is a direct reflection of God's divine character. If the Law was meant to serve as the means of our salvation from sin, then the entire Nation of Israel would have suffered eternal condemnation because it repeatedly fell into a state of rebellion against God! The Law was "weak" because of man's sinful nature (Romans 8:3).
        • What About The Animal Sacrifices Performed In The Old Testament?:
                  -The Old Testament sacrificial system never really took away sin, for the priests who performed the sacrifices were in themselves finite beings who could only perform finite sacrifices for something (sin) that required an infinite payment (Hebrews 10:10-18). In other words, the animal sacrifices were only temporary "coverings" for sin. These multiple sacrifices prefigured the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1). He is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant (Matthew 5:17-18).
        • The Gospel And The Old Testament:
                  -Right after the fall of Adam and Eve, we see the promise of a coming Savior (Genesis 3:15). In fact, the Old Testament describes this Person in many different ways. Examples would include "Ruler" (Micah 5:2), "Counselor" (Isaiah 9:6), "Suffering Servant" (Isaiah 53), and "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:6).
                  -The Old Testament contains the basic message of the gospel: "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed" (Galatians 3:8-9).
                  -Old Testament saints knew about the coming of a promised Redeemer (Job 19:25). They were saved in the same way as we are today: by grace through faith in God.
        • Progressive Revelation:
                  -This is the teaching that God did not reveal His entire salvation plan to mankind at one specific point in time. In other words, the clarity concerning God's plan of salvation increased as more scriptural revelation was being produced (Psalm 78:1-4; Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-8; Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:10-12; Ephesians 3:1-6).
                  -Examples of progressive revelation would include the Trinity and the acceptance of the Gentiles into the gospel.
                  -Both Testaments are equally inspired and important (Psalm 119:89; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:23-25). The clarity of God's will increased over time as more Scripture was written.
                  -The requirement for salvation has always been trusting in God. Jesus Christ has always been the object of salvation.
                  -Groups such as the Mormons (Book of Mormon, etc.), Jehovah's Witnesses (Watchtower Society Magazine Publications), Seventh-Day Adventists (Prophet Ellen G. White), and various Oneness Pentecostal churches (occasions of speaking in tongues) hold to a perverted concept of progressive revelation. These groups continually add their own "revelations" to the Bible.

        Sunday, April 2, 2017

        A Study On Salvation And The Atonement

        • Introduction: 
                   -Different theories on the atonement of Jesus Christ have been developed throughout the history of Christianity. Examples of theories on the atoning work of Jesus Christ are the "Ransom Theory," "Moral Influence View," "Governmental Theory," and the "Example Theory." These developments were all attempts to understand how the atonement works.
        • Defining Vicarious Atonement: 
                   -Vicarious Atonement, which is also known as penal substitutionary atonement, means that Jesus Christ died in our place to pay our sin debt. He paid the penalty of our sin on the Cross. He bore the punishment that we deserve. In exchange, He gives to us His perfect righteousness. That idea is known as imputed righteousness. The one sacrifice of Christ was a perfect, eternal sacrifice which satisfied God's wrath and righteousness. Justification is a free gift offered by God for those who trust in Him alone (Romans 3:27-28).
        • The Origin Of The Vicarious Atonement Theory: 
                  -The Penal-Substitutionary Theory was a further development of Anselm of Canterbury's Satisfaction Theory (also known as the "Commercial Theory of The Atonement") by the Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century. It best fits with the language of Scripture and was articulated most explicitly by the Reformers.
        • Background Information On The Commercial Theory Of Atonement:
                  -The Atonement Theory of Satisfaction teaches that because sin robs God of His honor, it was necessary for Him restore His honor by either punishing sinners or through atonement work. Since He chose to make atonement for sin by offering His Son Jesus Christ on a cross, He was able to fully recover His lost honor. Any surplus honor remaining from Jesus' sacrifice was given to God in our place, only if we do good works.
        • Similarities And Differences Between Vicarious Atonement And Commercial Atonement:
                  -"Scholars such as F.W. Dillistone have observed that Anselm's view of the atonement is set within the context of criminal law, where concepts such as honor, debt, and satisfaction feature prominently. The Reformers, by contrast, set the atonement within the context of criminal law, emphasizing guilt, punishment, and substitution. Yet both systems involve forensic interpretations of the atonement." (Nathan Busenitz, Long Before Luther, p. 141)
        • The Epistle To Diognetus Is Evidence Of Early Belief In Penal Substitution:
                  -"And so, when our unrighteousness had come to its full term, and it had become perfectly plain that its recompense of punishment and death had to be expected, then the season arrived in which God had determined to show at last his goodness and power. O the overflowing kindness and love of God toward man! God did not hate us, or drive us away, or bear us ill will. Rather, he was long-suffering and forbearing. In his mercy, he took up the burden of our sins. He himself gave up his own Son as a ransom for us—the holy one for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, the righteous one for the unrighteous, the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal. For what else could cover our sins except his righteousness? In whom could we, lawless and impious as we were, be made righteous except in the Son of God alone? O sweetest exchange! O unfathomable work of God! O blessings beyond all expectation! The sinfulness of many is hidden in the Righteous One, while the righteousness of the One justifies the many that are sinners. In the former time he had proved to us our nature's inability to gain life; now he showed the Saviour's power to save even the powerless, with the intention that on both counts we should have faith in his goodness, and look on him as Nurse, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, Mind, Light, Honor, Glory, Might, Life—and that we should not be anxious about clothing and food." (Mathetes to Diognetus, 9)
        • The Biblical Basis For The Theory Of Vicarious Atonement: 
                   -Both Testaments emphatically reveal that Jesus Christ was offered on the cross and bore our iniquity for us (Isaiah 53; Romans 3:24-28; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Peter 2:24).
                  -Consider, for example, how Abraham ended up offering a ram as a sacrifice to God instead of his son Isaac (Genesis 22:13). In other words, an animal was offered in the place of Abraham's son. This typology clearly reveals the relationship between the application of the work of Christ and the sinner.
                  -Jesus Christ made the propitiatory sacrifice to satisfy God's wrath which occurred as a result of us breaking His Law. He is the propitiation for our sins. His sacrifice is a legal act. It reconciles those who believe to God, who is holy. Christ is our advocate before the Father.
        • On Atonement For Sin: 
                  -To atone means to make up for the consequences of a wrong doing. In a religious context, atonement would mean reparation for sin. But in the somewhat more narrow definition of atonement as defined by Christian theology, it would mean us being reconciled to God through the sacrificial work of His Son Jesus Christ. The central theme of Scripture is the story of how God covered the chasm of sin, which separated mankind from His presence, by sealing it with the bridge of the redemptive work of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.
                  -In the Old Testament, bloody animal sacrifices were needed to atone for willful sins such as idolatry or errors made out of mere ignorance (Numbers 15:22-29; 16:47). The high priest offered sacrifices on behalf of himself and God's chosen nation, Israel. Consider, for example, the Day of Atonement, which is known in the Hebrew language as "Yom Hakippurim" (Leviticus 16). All of these bloody animal sacrifices pointed to the once-for-all perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1-4). Everybody, including the high priest, needed a true and perfect sacrifice that only a High Priest with those same characteristics could provide (Hebrews 8:3-6; 9:6-15).
                  -In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is presented as being God's ultimate provisional sacrifice for our redemption. He is described as being our reconciliation to God (2 Corinthians 5:18). His work is described as being propitiatory in nature (1 John 2:1-2), which means that it atones for the sins of mankind. His life was given as a ransom of the people (Matthew 20:28). His blood was "poured out" for the remission of our sins (Matthew 26:28).
                  -Quite simply, we all are in need of a Savior because our hearts and minds have been corrupted by the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Romans 5:12). The Law condemns us because it requires moral perfection. We have fallen short of that standard by violating it. The Law is not the problem, but our sinful nature. The payment for an infinite debt requires a perfect substitute (Hebrews 7:24-28; 10:14).
        • What Is Justification?: 
                  -God declares a sinner righteous by his or her faith (Romans 4:1-11; 5:1). It is apart from meritorious works. Justification is an undeserved, free gift of God (Galatians 2:16-21).
        • When Is One Justified?: 
                  -A person is justified when he or she first believes. In other words, Christians are saved from eternal condemnation the moment that they place their trust in God and His work. Thus, justification is not a process, but a one time event (Luke 18:14; 23:39-43; John 5:24; Romans 5:1; Acts 13:38-39; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 3:14). Justification is not something that increases or like an earned wage that can be depleted.
        • What Is Sanctification?: 
                  -This is the process of being set apart for God's work and being confirmed to the image of Christ; we contribute to sanctification through human efforts (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 9:13-14).
                  -This process occurs after justification (only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life) and ends at the moment of physical death.
                  -To sanctify means to be set apart for holy use (1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:9-11). We are called for the purpose of sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:7) and are therefore expected to act in a holy manner (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26).
                  -Even if we do not live a perfect life, we are still justified. There may be times in life where believers may stumble into sin, but they turn themselves to God in repentance and keep moving forward in their spiritual walk.
                  -So, while we are more holy at the end of our life than the beginning, we will never be perfectly holy until we are in heaven. As long as we are on this earth, we still exist in fallen human nature. In Jesus Christ, God sees us as without blemish because we are covered in His blood.
        • What Is Glorification?: 
                  -This is the end of the sanctification process and takes place when we get to heaven (1 John 3:2; Ephesians 3:15; Philippians 3:20-21). We are then in an eternal state and have been fully perfected in our nature.
        • Confusing Justification With Sanctification: 
                  -Certain professing Christian groups such as the Mormons and International Churches of Christ teach that a person is not justified until the final Day of Judgment when he or she is rewarded after his or her works are evaluated. Only then has he or she been found worthy of his or her place with God in heaven. In short, the cults blur the meanings of justification and sanctification by equating them to mean the same thing. This kind of theology results in a works-based salvation.
        • Labeling Justification As Being A Process Is Highly Illogical: 
                  -How could justification be a process? How would it work? It would make no sense to claim that a person could be a little justified now, or a little more, or less, justified tomorrow. If we are found guilty in God's eyes, then we have incurred His divine wrath and thus eternal condemnation in hell. We cannot be both justified (and thus going to heaven) and unjustified (and thus going to hell) at the same time. In other words, we are either justified or not justified at all. The false notion that justification is a "process" amounts to a works-based system of righteousness because at the moment of physical death, God would be adding up our works to determine whether we performed enough good deeds to earn our entrance into the pearly gates of heaven. But this does not even constitute a valid theological definition of justification. Such a description only provides us with a process (with an unknown name) leading up to justification.

        Saturday, April 1, 2017

        What Does The Bible Say About Consuming Wine?

        • Defining The Issues:
                  -Whether drinking wine is morally permissible or not is controversial subject matter amongst Christians. Some maintain that drinking wine is absolutely forbidden by God. Others would beg to differ. Some choose to be non-dogmatic and refrain from debate.
        • All Food And Drink Has Been Declared Clean By God:
                  -Issues pertaining to food and drink are of secondary importance according to the New Testament Scriptures (Romans 14:1-14). These were all given by God so as to nourish our bodies and are to be received with thanksgiving (Acts 10:10-16; 1 Timothy 4:1-4).
                  -If we are going to view professing Christians who dogmatically condemn the consumption of certain meats as being legalistic, then the same must also be true of those who dogmatically oppose the consumption of wine. Anything can be misused and abused.
                  -We should take measures to prevent becoming a stumbling block to fellow brethren in the church (Romans 14:15-21). Moreover, there is nothing wrong with refusing to drink wine for the sake of conscience.
        • The Wedding At Cana:
                  -Jesus Christ Himself turned water into wine during the wedding feast at Cana (John 2). He did indeed partake of fermented wine (Luke 7:33-44). This argument is proof that drinking wine is morally acceptable within the reasonable boundaries of consumption, since the inspired Scriptures record Jesus as being sinless (1 Peter 2:22). If the act of drinking wine in itself is sinful, then Jesus would be sinful just like we are and thus disqualified from redeeming us from sin.
        • Medicinal Use Of Wine And Other Points Of Consideration:
                  -The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to drink some wine to help with his frequent stomach illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23). The biblical view of wine is that it has been given to us by God as a gift to enjoy (Psalm 104:14-15).
                  -The only group of people whom God forbade (in the Old Testament) from consuming alcoholic wine were those who took the Nazirite vow (Numbers 6:1-21).
        • Is The Greek "Oinos" To Be Translated As Wine Or Grape Juice?:
                  -"The Greek word translated "wine" is oinos, which was the common Greek word for normal wine, wine that was fermented/alcoholic...Everything, from the context of a wedding feast, to the usage of oinos in 1st century Greek literature (in the New Testament and outside the New Testament), argues for the wine that Jesus created to be normal, ordinary wine, containing alcohol. There is simply no solid historical, cultural, exegetical, contextual, or lexical reason to understand it to have been grape juice." (https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-water-wine.html)
        • An Excurses On Alcoholism And Gluttony:
                  -Just as orally consuming too much of any food is morally wrong, the same is equally true with wine or any other drink (Proverbs 20:1; Romans 13:13; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:13). Addictions are a sin, which includes alcoholism (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21). It is a lifestyle of selfish self-pleasure. We also know that gluttony is unnatural because it leads up to potentially fatal health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and high-cholesterol. Becoming an alcoholic can be fatal, for it can raise blood pressure and thus cause a heart attack, cause liver disease, and lead up to the formation of cancer. Becoming an alcoholic ruins good morals. Consuming too much wine is morally wrong and can damage our bodies. Material substances such as bread and wine are not evil in themselves.

        A Discussion On Sola Ecclesia And Proof-Texts Cited To Support An Infallible Teaching Authority

        • Defining The Issues:
                  -Sola Ecclesia is the Latin term that describes the Roman Catholic belief that the Church is the final authority in all religious matters (as opposed to the Protestant position of Sola Scriptura). In other words, the Church of Rome is believed to be the infallible, true church established by Jesus Christ who appointed the Apostle Peter as its first pope. Thus, Rome demands from its members complete and unquestioned submission to its authority.
                  -As a result, Catholic apologists have developed various scriptural arguments against the principle of Sola Scriptura. In other words, they have made efforts to establish their theory from the Bible itself that the Bible alone is too difficult for us to understand apart from the Magisterium. The purpose of this article is to address a few of these claims.
        • Phillip And The Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:28-38):
                  -There are people with authority to teach in the church. In fact, no one claims that all portions of Scripture are equally easy to understand. We may very well need things explained to us at times. But this text says nothing about infallibility or that only an infallible interpretation of Scripture would suffice for the confused Eunuch.
                  -The Eunuch was from far away (Ethiopia), and he had apparently not been given a chance to hear about the teachings of the gospel message. Philip, who was at the right place at the right time by the power of the Holy Spirit, was given the opportunity to explain the passage from Isaiah 53. He was confused simply because he did not know who the prophet Isaiah was referring to (v. 34). The gospel was not spread out back in the day, as it is today. That is all this text is about. In short, this Acts 8:28-36 has nothing to do with infallible interpretations of Scripture.
        • No Prophecy Of Scripture Is Of Any Private Interpretation (2 Peter 1:20)?:
                  -How can a person develop a biblical argument against the principle of Sola Scriptura by making a personal interpretation of a verse that allegedly condemns private interpretation of Scripture?
                  -How can a person rely on prophecy or compare Scripture to a "light" (v. 19), if they have been forbidden to use it (v. 20)?
                  -The context of 2 Peter 1:20-21 is not speaking of one's reading of Scripture, but rather, is about the origin of Scripture. No true prophecy was given to the prophet by his own interpretation. Prophecy originated directly from God. It is not a product of our imaginations.
        • Twisting The Scriptures To Their Own Destruction (2 Peter 3:15-16)?:
                  -First of all, this text only states that SOME things in Paul's epistles are hard to understand. This does not mean that Scripture is impossible for the average person to understand or that we need an infallible interpreter of Scripture. It simply means that we need to pray and study more diligently.
                  -This text says that people "twist the Scriptures to THEIR OWN destruction" (v. 16), which indicates that we are responsible for how we handle the Word of God.
                  -2 Peter 3:15-16 is only speaking of the unfaithful and the unbelieving; not the humble and prayerful Christian.
                  -Although the context of 2 Peter 3 would be a great place to introduce the concept of an "infallible interpreter" of the Bible, such is not mentioned at all.
        • The Roman Catholic Church Openly Opposes The Idea Of Private Interpretation:
                  -"...no one, relying on his own skill, shall,--in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine,--wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,--whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,--hath held and doth hold," (Trent, Session 4, "Decree Concerning the Edition, and the Use, of the Sacred Books")
                  -“...the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the Holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” (CCC # 82)
                  -How can we know for sure whether an "infallible interpreter's" interpretation of Scripture is infallible? People's belief in the infallibility of an earthly organization is a fallible opinion. They are liable to misunderstand or misinterpret the official teachings of their religious leaders. "Bible-only" Christians have to endure the same challenges on a regular basis. In principle, neither side of the debate (Roman Catholic or Protestant) has an advantage over the other because both have to use fallible reason to make a fallible interpretations of every given message.

          Does Ezekiel 37:19 Prophecy The Coming Of The Book Of Mormon?

                    "Ezekiel saw in vision [Ezekiel 37:19] the coming together of the stick of Judah, and the stick of Joseph, signifying the Bible and the Book of Mormon...The Nephites were then of the tribes of Joseph, and their record or 'stick' is as truly represented by the Book of Mormon as is the 'stick' of Judah by the Bible." (The Articles Of Faith, p. 276, by Talmage)

                    The argument is ineffectual to serve the purposes of the Mormons, as the passage is too vague. Jehovah's Witnesses and other cults could appeal to this text to make the same argument in regards to being given divine revelation.

                    While Mormons see the Book of Mormon being recorded on the stick, the only thing that Ezekiel recorded onto the stick was the phrase, "For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions" (Ezekiel 37:16). That was all that God told Ezekiel to write on the stick. Therefore, Mormons are wrong when they assert that the Book of Mormon was what was written on the stick by the prophet.

                    In context, the people asked Ezekiel, ‘Wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by these?’ (Ezekiel 37:18). The joining of the two sticks represents the divided state of Israel (the northern kingdoms of Israel and the southern kingdoms which constitute the nation of Judah), which will eventually be united again (Ezekiel 37:21-22). In other words, the context is about the future restoration of Israel being under the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns again. The two sticks do not in any way represent the union of two different books.