Sunday, April 30, 2017

Biblical Standards To Use In Testing Ministers

  • Examining Ourselves To See Whether We Are In The Realm Of Faith:
          -If we who desire to preach and defend Christianity stand in error on fundamental articles of the faith, then we are really in no place to speak because we are only deceiving ourselves and other people. That would make us hypocrites and blind guides. We must know whether we ourselves are upholding the biblical gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). We must examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
  • A Different Source Of Revelation:
          -False teachers generally rely on sources of revelation outside the Bible. For example, Mormons carry around the Book of Mormon and Jehovah's Witnesses appeal to the Watchtower. They base their doctrines off their own puffed up fleshy minds. Deceivers formulate their own inspired revelation and act as though it originated from God. Christians appeal to Scripture as their authoritative source of doctrine (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
  • Examining The Substance Of The Message:
          -Almost every person who claims to be a Christian insists that the central message of his or her teaching is Jesus Christ. It is rare to find groups that openly deny that Christ is Lord and Savior. Hence, heretics introduce their heretical ideas in a "secret" or deceptive manner (2 Peter 2:1). We must listen carefully to how each preacher phrases and articulates his or her teachings. For example, people could preach for the sake of earning money. They could only be concentrated on exalting themselves. False teachers can occupy Christian terminology to describe completely different concepts that actually blaspheme God. We must examine the central message of each professing Christian teacher. If Jesus Christ is not quint-essential to the message of a preacher, then he is to automatically be deemed an untrustworthy steward.
  • The Influence That A Message Has:
          -While false teachers promise true spiritual freedom, they are in reality slaves to sin (2 Peter 2:19). They have been enslaved to any form of sin that they have chosen to continually partake of (for example, greed). A true Christian is able to escape selfish lusts because he or she has been indwelt by the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:3-4). Jesus Christ is truth and life to us (John 14:6). False teachers point to themselves in their teaching. They do not glorify God. The validity of a person's ministry is not so much based on whether he or she can perform miracles but proclaims Jesus Christ as God come in the flesh (1 John 4:1-4).
  • The Impact A Message Has On Its Hearers:
          -Another way to evaluate the truthfulness of a message to see how it alters people's lives. The true, biblical gospel will always influence converts to serve the Lord faithfully. On the contrary, a false gospel will lead people in the opposite direction of godliness. Those who are influenced by a false gospel will also be inclined to participate in sin. False converts are prideful, disrespectful toward other people, greedy, lustful, and rebellious in nature (2 Peter 2:10-20). They will be legalistic, having developed an outward appearance of righteousness due to obeying extra-biblical rules. They will be ensnared in deception. The true gospel involves a person placing his or her trust in Christ's work and His work alone for salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-6).

    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 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 allows the hearts of those who exchange natural relations for unnatural to become darkened against the truth of the gospel (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).
              -"...Homosexuality is outlawed by Leviticus 18:22, and two examples of it are part of the stories in Judges 19:22 and Genesis 19:4-5. In both of these cases, the people of a town make homosexual demands on a visiting stranger. Despite the attempts of some authors in recent years to put the Bible’s condemnation solely against the abuse of hospitality to a guest, it seems clear that the passages also denounce the homosexual behavior as wrong. It is even more reprehensible when it involves abusing a guest under the protection of one’s house. Indeed, both texts suggest that it is better to hand over your daughter to be raped than to allow a crime of such proportion to be done at all." (Lawrence Boadt, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction, p. 257)
    • Our Bodily Design Refutes Homosexuality:
              -Homosexuality is contrary to human nature. In other words, all people are born heterosexual by 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 the increasing number of 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. "Gay babies" are simply a preposterous and fictitious idea.
              -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 allegedly based on personal feelings and so-called revelations. Many atheists reject the validity of anything that cannot be proven or tested in a laboratory. The 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 quite 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 is not reasonable to suggest that faith is inherently superstitious, since there are many things that we know to be real but cannot prove 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. It 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. This is what constitutes true, biblical faith in the fundamental tenants of the Christian religion. Faith and reason do not contradict, but rather compliment each other.
    • 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, which includes atheists because they claim to have reasons for rejecting the God of the Bible. 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 we are arguing 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. Without it, we would not have any structure of organization to our daily lifestyles. The Bible is the infallible compass to all divine truths pertaining to salvation. It feeds 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. Why would any reasonable person refuse an opportunity to gain an understanding of what life is truly about? Life is like a book; for God is the author and we are all the main characters. The Scriptures cover several vital aspects of life such as gratitude, fear of the Lord, honesty, self-control, generosity, and how to speak wisely. 

         People learn many great lessons about wisdom when the Scriptures are closely examined. One of the most important teachings of the Bible 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, the atoning sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, 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 will become unable to function properly because of a lack of compromise and the world would become an absolutely joyless place. We must give the Lord praise for everything that He has provided us.  

         The Lord has instructed us to always be cautious of what we say to others. We must always remain truthful. We must always choose to act respectfully. In other words, we must choose to watch our tongues because our words may be false, disrespectful, or irrelevant to a given situation. “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 simply because of another individual's gossip or misinformation? Can this standard not be applied to everybody? Those who never think before they speak are the ones who lack understanding. Conversely, a person who has genuine 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 heed to the words of the Lord.

         Another moral lesson that we can learn by studying the inspired words of God is the necessity of remaining honest. We could never trust a person who constantly spreads falsehood. Furthermore, 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. They want to harm an individual's sense of dignity. 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. Hence, we see the dire need for honesty in the lives of everybody. 

         The Scriptures teach the necessity for the spiritual virtue known as fear of the Lord. A wise person would have fear of the Lord our God because He is infinitely smarter and stronger than we are. We are all His creations. Having fear of the Lord keeps our hearts humble. It keeps our moral thinking on the right track, for it helps us recognize the limits of our abilities. God will cast all of the unfaithful and unbelieving into the everlasting fires of hell. He is the One who set all forms of life and non-life into motion. "In the beginning, God created heaven and earth" [Genesis 1:1]. "God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them"[Genesis 1:27]. If we fear the Lord, then we will also learn to obey His commandments. This is the perfect message for us blind sinners to heed to.

          The Holy Bible repeatedly reinforces our obligation to love and respect others. "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. It is the foundational virtue for the development of all other virtues. We must choose to help those who are less fortunate than we are. We must feed the homeless. We must care for the sick. We must offer education to the illiterate. We must shelter the homeless. We absolutely need to be holy. "Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor" [1 Peter 2:17]. "Love your neighbor as yourself..." [Leviticus 9:18]. We have been called by God to love our neighbors as ourselves [Matthew 5:43-48]. This is true wisdom. The Bible instructs us to be gentle to everybody else, regardless of how they treat us. Hatred is like a raging fire; let it burn and the house of companionship will collapse entirely.

          People can learn the virtue of self-control by observing the words of God. We need an infallible guide in our lives because our minds are finite and are thus liable to error. Our conscience alone is not an infallible guide, which means that we need to appeal to an infinite, outside entity who can give us the necessary knowledge pertaining to life and godliness. 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. We must learn how to resist the evil temptations of this world. The wise person would do well to follow the teachings of God. The path of destruction exists for those who do not obey His words of heavenly wisdom. We must place our trust in God, rather than the vain desires of the mind. "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 will thus never satisfy the longing human heart. We must reject our foolish lusts. We learn self-control by learning the ways of God.
           The Holy Scriptures are the cornerstone to all wisdom because they record the direct words of God. In fact, they themselves are the inspired words of God which were recorded on to scrolls by the faithful prophets and apostles. Those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness will immediately find satisfaction when they place themselves into His presence. They gain wisdom when they meditate on His statutes. Without an ultimate standard of wisdom, human life would be in a constant state of anarchy. The words of the Lord are pure. They are flawless. They impart understanding to the simple. There is therefore no valid reason to object to imitating His ways. The Scripture leads the faithful on the path to all righteousness. God is our Rock and Salvation. 

    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?

    Saturday, April 22, 2017

    How Was John 3:5 Interpreted Prior To The Reformation?

                                                     By Jason Engwer

    - Appealing to later sources you agree with doesn’t explain earlier sources for whom evidence has been offered of their disagreement with you. You can't justify your view of a passage like John 3:5, Acts 2:38, or Galatians 3:27 solely by appealing to what people like Irenaeus, Cyprian, and Augustine believed.

    - The Bible covers a far larger period of time than the patristic era does, and baptismal justification is highly inconsistent with the Biblical view. If I think I’ve misunderstood what a Biblical author says about justification, I can look for clarification elsewhere in his writings. If I think I’ve misunderstood that author, I can look to another Biblical author. Etc. Before we even get to the church fathers, we have multiple documents from multiple Biblical authors giving us information and clarification. For example, Galatians is widely thought to be the earliest New Testament document or one of the earliest. And Paul’s letters circulated widely early on and were highly regarded even before the apostolic generation came to a close (Colossians 4:16, 2 Peter 3:15-16, etc.). If somebody like Luke or John wrote fifteen, thirty, or more years after Galatians was written, then we can take what he wrote as an indication of how he interpreted Galatians or would have interpreted it if he’d read it (assuming apostolic unity, which conservative Catholics and Evangelicals do). It’s not as though we have to wait until the patristic era to get some idea of how a book like Galatians was being interpreted early on. A portion of the New Testament can be a line of evidence as to how another portion of the New Testament was being interpreted. What does Acts or the gospel of John, for example, suggest about how Galatians was interpreted early on? Or how do Paul's later letters suggest that an earlier letter, like Galatians, should be read?

    - Advocates of baptismal justification often try to focus the discussion on post-apostolic sources by making the Biblical sources seem less relevant than they actually are. It's often asserted, for example, that justification apart from baptism in the Old Testament era is irrelevant, since baptism didn't become a requirement until later and, thus, there's some discontinuity between the Old and New Testament eras accordingly. But that conclusion needs to be argued, not just asserted. The New Testament authors suggest a high degree of continuity between the means of justification in the Old and New Testament eras. They cite Abraham and other Old Testament figures to illustrate how people are justified today. Bringing in baptism as a new means of receiving justification diminishes that continuity. Such a diminishing of continuity needs to be argued, not just asserted, since Biblical authors like Paul and James don't suggest such a qualified continuity when they discuss the subject.

    - Similarly, John’s gospel emphasizes Jesus’ statements about salvation during His earthly ministry (John 3:16, 5:24, 11:25-26, etc.), and John tells us that he wrote his gospel to lead people to salvation (John 20:31), using language similar to Jesus’ language earlier in the gospel. Yet, advocates of baptismal justification often argue that baptism wasn’t added as a means of justification until after Jesus’ earthly ministry. Again, adding baptism diminishes the continuity suggested by the Biblical authors. A reason why many advocates of baptismal justification want to place the adding of baptism after Jesus’ earthly ministry is because that ministry was characterized by Jesus’ forgiving, pronouncing peace, and healing people upon their coming to faith, without baptism....The discontinuity that advocates of baptismal justification want us to accept needs to be argued, not just asserted.

    - Josephus tells us that John the Baptist’s baptism wasn't justificatory (Antiquities Of The Jews, 18:5:2). Given the close relationship between John's baptism and Christian baptism, the non-justificatory nature of John's baptism is a significant line of evidence for the non-justificatory nature of Christian baptism. And here we also see an example of the relevance of extra-Biblical sources other than the church fathers (Josephus in this case).

    - Even if we limited ourselves to data postdating Jesus' earthly ministry and limited ourselves to Christian baptism, we're still told that justification occurs through believing response to the gospel, prior to baptism (Acts 10:44-46, 19:2, Galatians 3:2, etc.). And there's no reason to conclude that such passages represent exceptions to a rule.

    - If the advocate of baptismal justification has to exempt the entire Old Testament era, exempt Jesus' earthly ministry, distance the non-justificatory nature of John's baptism from Christian baptism, and dismiss passages like Acts 10:44-46 as some sort of exception to the rule, then we're not in a situation in which we're looking to the church fathers and other later sources to clarify something that's unclear. Rather, the Biblical evidence heavily favors justification through faith alone. The reason why the advocate of baptismal justification wants to make a series of dubious exemptions (exempting the Old Testament era, etc.) and shift the focus to post-apostolic sources is because the earlier sources are so unfavorable to his position.

    - We find a few views of baptism and justification, not just one view, in the patristic sources. The view that justification is normatively attained at the time of baptism was popular, and I consider that popularity the best argument for the doctrine. But we also find the view that justification occurs prior to baptism and views involving at least a beginning of justification prior to baptism.

    - When a source like Clement of Rome or Polycarp discusses justification without even mentioning baptism, any assumption that baptism was meant to be included must be argued, not merely asserted. Including baptism in such passages isn't the most natural way of reading the text. And it can't be assumed that such men must have agreed with other sources who advocated baptismal justification. Why not assume, instead, that they must have agreed with the rejection of baptismal justification that we see in other sources, including earlier ones? Clement of Rome could be read in light of Justin Martyr or Irenaeus, but he also could be read in light of Paul or Luke.

    - We can know what people believed about baptismal justification by a variety of means, not just how they interpreted a passage like John 3:5 or Galatians 3:27. For example, if a Jehovah’s Witness were to interpret a passage in Isaiah in a manner that contradicts the deity of Christ, we wouldn’t need to have an extant document in which Athanasius comments on that passage in order to conclude that Athanasius probably didn’t view the passage as the Jehovah’s Witness does. Since Athanasius affirmed the deity of Christ, we would assume that he didn’t interpret the passage in Isaiah as the Jehovah’s Witness interprets it. Similarly, we wouldn’t judge whether a patristic source saw baptismal justification in Galatians 3:27 solely on the basis of what he said when commenting on that passage in particular. Since some Christian sources of the patristic era did reject baptismal justification, we can conclude that they probably didn’t see baptismal justification in Galatians 3 without having any documents from them in which they comment on that passage in particular.

    The Remarkable Intolerance Of The Political Left

    • Defining The Issues:
             -When people are challenged about something that they believe, their usual stock rejoinder against Christians is to lay the charge of being "intolerant" or a "bigot." These groups of people include, but are not limited to liberals, atheists, feminists, and members of the LGBT community. In short, critics of Christianity constantly accuse us of being "bigots." Charges of "homophobia," "Islamophobia," and a host of other phobias have been laid. These responses have been generated to shut down opponents. In our modern-day society, people are too afraid to speak out against wrong ideas because they do not want to "get singled out." 
    • Not Only Are We All Intolerant To Different Perspectives Of Life, But Intolerance In Some Cases Is Absolutely Necessary: 
             -First of all, the definition of a bigot is a person who forms an opinion that is utterly biased, unjust, and hateful. This sort of mentality has no moral or logical grounds for substantiation. Therefore, it is wrong to characterize faithful Christians in such a manner because they have been commanded by Jesus Christ Himself to pragmatically present their views in love and humility (Matthew 5:43-48; 22:39). Moreover, the burden of proof lies on the person who makes the accusation. It must be demonstrated how we are being intolerant bigots. Simply disagreeing with other people is not tantamount to bigotry. It is not morally impermissible to tell somebody that his or her views are wrong. It is not hate to tell somebody the truth. One must also examine the context and manner in which disagreement is handled..
             -While it is true that some professing Christians are guilty of bigotry, it is logically fallacious to dismiss every claim of the entire group as being cruel or hateful. We must all be intolerant to something. For instance, secular governments agree with Christians that murder and theft is wrong. Notice that in both examples, there is intolerance to certain actions. Not only is intolerance to something morally acceptable, it is sometimes even necessary for the peace and safety of others. 
    • A Hypocritical Double Standard: 
             -Why is it that more conservative types are forbidden from expressing their views, while liberal critics get to freely express their views?
             -Ultimately, everybody appeals to a moral standard in evaluating other points of view.
    • The Truth Of The Matter: 
             -The source of contention amongst Christians and different worldviews is not really a matter of permanently resolving issues of hatred, prejudice, or insensitivity, as critics may very well claim to be the problem. Inquisitive folks can only develop this conclusion, if they only decide to examine the surface of the debate. The real problem that the world has with the Christianity is the usage of the Bible. Most people have a problem with this sacred religious text because it diametrically opposes the beliefs of this world. Scripture exposes the reality of our sinfulness. It points us to the God who created us. That is why people in our modern world automatically mock and ridicule those who turn to Scripture as the ultimate spiritual standard to determine truth or reprove error.

    Friday, April 21, 2017

    Men Of Faith Who Were Also Men Of Science

    "We, the undersigned students of the Natural Sciences, desire to express our sincere regret that researchers into scientific truth are prevented by some in our own times into occasions for casting doubt into occasions for casting doubt upon the truth and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures.

    We conceive that it is impossible for the Word of God, as written in the book of nature, and God’s Word written in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, however much they may appear to differ.

    We are not forgetful that physical science is not complete, but is only in a condition of progress, and that at present our finite reason enables us only to see as through a glass darkly, and we confidently believe, that a time will come when the two records will be seen to agree in every particular.

    We cannot but deplore that Natural Science should be looked upon with suspicion by many who do not make a study of it, merely on account of the unadvised manner in which some are placing it in opposition to Holy Writ.

    We believe that it is the duty of every scientific student to investigate nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and that if he finds that some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the Written Word, or rather to his own interpretations of it, which may be erroneous, he should not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and the statements of Scripture wrong.

    Rather, leave the two side by side till it shall please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled; and, instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between Science and the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which they agree."

    A manifesto signed by 617 men of science at the British Association of Scientists in 1865; cited by Alfred M. Rehwinkel in The Flood, p. XVIII-XIX

      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. 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). In summary, 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 will. They will be 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. 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 are called to set 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 give the first century Christians all of the necessary revelation for learning about God's divine character and His 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. 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. Jesus and the Father 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. The High Priests of the Jewish community needed to repeatedly offer the blood from sacrificed animals to temporarily satisfy the wrath of God. However, the customs of the Law were only a shadow of the greater things to come. They prefigured the coming of the newer and better Covenant, which is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant. In other words, the entire Old Testament sacrificial system pointed directly to the perfect, single atonement sacrifice performed by the Lord 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 will always have access to the grace of God because of what He has done on our behalf. He is our direct channel to God. As Hebrews 7:25 says, Christ forever lives to make intercession on behalf of repentant sinners

          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).

          Why Do We Hope?

          The purpose of this reflection paper is to provide a concrete answer to the question of why human beings possess hope. In other words, this article is being written to demonstrate how hope is a quint-essential facet to our daily lives. Without it, we would have no inner source of strength to persevere through every dark corner of our physical, psychological, and spiritual struggles. We would have no ultimate sense of fulfillment. So it is vital to raise and ponder the following questions. Why does society need hope in order to continue functioning? What would life be like, if the concept of hope did not exist? Is such a longing of the human heart of major significance? What is hope, anyway?  How can we obtain an ultimate sense of fulfillment in our lives?

          In short, to hope means to have a strong desire for a specific cause, effect, or condition in life. This emotion is the yearning or aspiration for the best results or an ultimate purpose in life. It is not simply a form of wishful thinking, but rather, a component of our faith. Hope is a part of faith. Both realities are interrelated, which means that hope is faith that looks beyond the view of the present. Hope looks into the future. In Christian theology, to hope means to have trust in God because of His divine promises. For example, we trust in God for salvation because that is what He has promised to those who have believed from the heart that His Son Jesus Christ is the risen Messiah.But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:25).

          Without hope, all things, whether they are perceptible or imperceptible, would appear remarkably meaningless, pointless, and dull. In other words, our portrait of life would have no color without hope. Everything would appear as either black or white to our minds. If the idea of hope was only a practical illusion created by the mentally deranged, then there would be no sense in accepting cultural diversity or striving to accomplish goals because we would have no internal sense of ongoing inspiration. Neither would we be able to describe any degrees of perfection. It would be impossible to formulate distinctions among the categories of good, better, or best. It would be highly illogical to make comparisons or even create analogies to simplify sophisticated concepts because the explicit boundaries of concrete and abstract would be blurred. 

          If no standard of perfection exists to govern every lifetime aspect, which can range from the recognition of objective truth to the formation of fallible, subjective opinions of the human mind, then how could we possibly describe things as being imperfect or incomplete? How would spiritual discernment even be possible? If the concept of hope is not an independent reality of our lives, then life itself would not make any sense. In fact, everything would be self-defeating. In order for rational creatures to continue thriving in a peaceful order, they need an ultimate source of fulfillment, which can only be found in the gospel.

          Our purpose in this life is to know, love, and serve God in this world so that we may be with Him eternally in the afterlife. Because of our longing to be in complete unity with God the Father in the heavenly sanctuary, we are able to strive through every sort of dilemma that the world throws at us. By the power of God's sufficient grace, we are able to overthrow the sinful distractions prompted by the devil. We may even defeat the snares of spiritual desolation by learning how to identify its causes, reflecting on past experiences for the sake of learning, and by steadily acting contrary to sources of struggle. 

          But hope is the spiritual soil in which the fruits of Christian self-sacrificing love grow. If we trust in God to care for us daily, then we will not be focused so much on ourselves. Instead of us focusing on our own needs daily, we need to give all of our troubles to God. In that case, we will be enabled to act selflessly because we know that God is ultimately in control of things. Only through our hope in God can we discover our ultimate purpose in life. Only then can we begin to possess hope, and make any sense out of life.

          Wednesday, April 12, 2017

          The Deception Of Universalism

          • Defining The Issues:
                    -Universalism is an apostate doctrinal philosophy which teaches that all people will ultimately be saved. It therefore denies the existence of an eternal hellfire.
                    -Other deceiving titles used to make reference to this doctrine of demons would include ultimate reconciliation, universal salvation, universal restitution, universal restoration, and the doctrine of inclusion.
          • Biblical Refutation Of Universalism:
                   1.) Scripture passages discussing the concepts of free will, the nature of hell, and fear of final judgment deliver a sound refutation to this heresy. Consider the example of the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46). Consider also the example of the dividing the wheat from the tares (Matthew 13:36-43).
                   2.) The theme throughout the Bible is that sin will ultimately lead up to spiritual death, if not repented of and forgiven by God (Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:1-5; 9; 20-24; Matthew 10:28; 13:49-50; 25:31-46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 8:10-18; John 3:15-21; 36; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:5-7; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10; Revelation 20:4-21:5; 22:14-15).
                    3.) Few people are doing God's will, and those who are not remain unsaved (Matthew 7:15-23). The wages of sin is death; eternal life is a gift from God (Romans 6:23).
                    4.) Any different gospel message, which includes that of universalism, is to automatically be condemned (Galatians 1:8-9).
                    5.) While it is true that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, the Kingdom of God was only prepared for the people who love, know, and serve Him (1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 20:12-15).
                    6.) If universalism is true, then what would be the purpose of the Final Judgement? How could the Lord Jesus Christ be the only way to salvation, as the New Testament Scriptures abundantly affirm (John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; 1 Timothy 2:4-6)? If Jesus is not the only way to heaven, then He must be a liar and Christianity is false. Whatever happened to following the "narrow gate" (Matthew 7:13-14)?

          Tuesday, April 11, 2017

          Jesus' Disciples Did Not Hallucinate

          • Defining The Issues:
                    -Opponents of the Christian religion 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, atheists and members of different religions object to Jesus' resurrection by stating that the apostles simply had seen hallucinations, rather than actually seeing 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 extremely improbable 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)?

          Refuting The Swoon Theory

          • Defining The Issues:
                    -The "Swoon Theory" was originally proposed by opponents of the resurrection during the nineteenth century. It is built off the unproven assumption that the Lord 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 Fatal 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 for our sins. Jesus' side was pierced with a spear (John 19:34-35).
                    -The body of Jesus Christ was tightly encased in 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 (if any of the two at all).
                    -The Roman guards who were appointed to surround the tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ were very meticulous in their work because if He had successfully escaped the secured tomb, then the Roman government would have executed them for their failure to keep the tomb sealed tightly.

          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).
          • Other Points Of Consideration:
                    -A supreme deity (God) can make anything happen.
                    -The virgin birth is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion.
          • Four Reasons Why We As Christians Must Embrace The Virgin Birth:
                    -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. In other words, He would have our same inherent sinful nature. He would be infected with original sin, just like we are. However, the Scriptures enforce the sinlessness of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). If Jesus was the son of Joseph (meaning of his 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 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 miracle in itself.
          • 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)

          Sunday, April 9, 2017

          Book of Mormon vs Archaeology

          Following is an excerpt from a tract titled Testing the Book of Mormon, produced by the Utah Lighthouse Ministry:

          Dr. Ray T. Matheny, professor of Anthropology at the church’s Brigham Young University, admitted that he has a difficult time reconciling New World archaeology with the Book of Mormon:

          "I really have difficulty in finding issue or quarrel with those opening chapters of the Book of Mormon [i. e., the first 7 chapters which only relate to Lehi and his family around the area of Jerusalem]. But thereafter it doesn't seem like a translation to me.... And the terminologies and the language used and the methods of explaining and putting things down are 19th century literary concepts and cultural experiences one would expect Joseph Smith and his colleagues would experience. And for that reason I call it transliteration, and I’d rather not call it a translation after the 7th chapter. And I have real difficulty in trying to relate these cultural concepts as I've briefly discussed here with archeological findings that I'm aware of….

          "If I were doing this cold like John Carlson is here, I would say in evaluating the Book of Mormon that it had no place in the New World whatsoever. I would have to look for the place of the Book of Mormon events to have taken place in the Old World. It just doesn't seem to fit anything that he has been taught in his discipline, nor I in my discipline in anthropology, history; there seems to be no place for it. It seems misplaced. It seems like there are anachronisms. It seems like the items are out of time and place, and trying to put them into the New World. And I think there’s a great difficulty here for we Mormons in understanding what this book is all about." ("Book of Mormon Archeology," Response by Professor Ray T. Matheny, Sunstone Symposium, August 25, 1984, typed copy transcribed from a tape-recording, pp. 30-31)

          Three years after speaking at this symposium, Dr. Matheny wrote a letter in which he made it clear that there was still no Book of Mormon archaeology:

          "While some people choose to make claims for the Book of Mormon through archaeological evidences, to me they are made prematurely, and without sufficient knowledge.

          "I do not support the books written on this subject including The Messiah in Ancient America, or any other. I believe that the authors are making cases out of too little evidence and do not adequately address the problems that archaeology and the Book of Mormon present. I would feel terribly embarrassed if anyone sent a copy of any book written on the subject to the National Museum of Natural History - Smithsonian Institution, or other authority, making claims that cannot as yet be substantiated.… there are very severe problems in this field in trying to make correlations with the scriptures. Speculation, such as practiced so far by Mormon authors has not given church members credibility." (Letter by Ray T. Matheny, dated Dec. 17, 1987)

          Catholic Nick's Contorted Reading Of Galatians 3:13

          • Discussion:
                    -Catholic Nick wrote an article where he attempts to show that Galatians 3:13 does not support penal substitutionary atonement, calling that view a Protestant "heresy." Following are a few quotations from the author alongside with a critique:

                    "...the Church Fathers maintained that the 'curse' here was the curse of a humiliating death, and that's where the Biblical data points to also. This is plainly what Deuteronomy 21:22-23 is talking about, a capital punishment for grave sinners. And this makes perfect sense in light of the fact this style of execution took place a few times in the OT (Josh 8:28-29; 10:26-27), and the lesson is that crucifixion is a humiliating way to die. The implication is that anyone who suffers that way must be under God's displeasure. Thus, in short, Jesus 'became a curse' in that He endured a humiliating death by crucifixion. But there's more."

                    The meaning of the "curse" was made plain in Genesis 3. It is the wrath of God manifested against those who reject Him. In addition, there is no reason to view humiliation and penal substitution as mutually exclusive concepts. The two can exist simultaneously. So, Nick is guilty of a false dichotomy.

                    "Now we can turn back to Galatians 3:13-14 and draw out a few key details. First note that Paul says Jesus "redeemed" us from the curse of the Law, meaning His work functioned as a redemption, a pay-off price, and not a transfer of punishment. This is crucial and not an irrelevant detail. So, reading the grammar properly, Jesus endured the curse of crucifixion, and this functioned as a redemption price that offset/paid the price of another curse, the curse of the Law."

                    This is another false dilemma. Paying off a price and transferring a payment are not to be pitted against each other.

                     "Next notice why Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the Law: so that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles. This indicates that the real problem at hand was that the Law was preventing salvation from reaching the Gentiles, and thus the Law had to be addressed. And thus Christ's death functioned as a way of breaking down the Mosaic Law, and not about some generic taking of the Father's Wrath for mankind's sins."

                     In Galatians 3:10, the Apostle Paul is clearly referring to those who break God's Law. Deuteronomy 27, the context from which Paul quotes in that verse, prescribes the death penalty.

                     In Galatians 3:13, we are told that Jesus Christ saved us from the punishment we deserve as a result of violating the Law by suffering in our place. He is our innocent substitute. He paid off our debt of sin. The text mentions the curse of the Law.

                     "Notice the three-fold theme in each text: redemption, the Mosaic Law being removed, so that adoption can result. Basically, the Mosaic Law (Covenant) was violated by Israel's unfaithfulness, and as a result this was stalling God's plan to fulfill His promise to Abraham, namely that he would be spiritual father of the Jews and Gentiles. Since the Law was violated, it had to be atoned for, and that's what Christ's death accomplished as far as being "under the Law" was concerned."

                     It should be noted that the Law served as a means to make us conscious of our own sin and so lead us to Christ through conviction.

                     "Not to mention, the statute is not saying that a person hung on a tree has the Father pouring out His wrath on their soul, suffering hellfire at that moment. And surely this law was not originally written and understood to mean some day the Messiah would be murdered by Crucifixion by a foreign army. Thus, there is good reason to see Jesus being 'cursed' as sort of unjust curse or anti-curse, since the whole point of this penalty was for the State to condemn truly guilty people, and Jesus should never have had to endure this. And this anti-type lens is further proven by the fact that every time the Apostles publicly preached on the subject of the Crucifixion in Acts, they always made a sharp distinction between Jesus being unjustly killed and hung on a tree by the Jews, versus God's vindication in rescuing and resurrecting Jesus for the injustice (Acts 2:23-24; 3:15; 3:10; 5:30-31; 10:39-40; 13:28-30)."

                     First of all, it should be noted that the idea of Jesus Christ being punished in hell is outright heretical. That is by no means a requirement for believing in Sola Fide. Everything Christ did was righteous. Moreover, God using human beings as instruments to bring about our redemption does not rule out penal substitution. The crucifixion of Christ was indeed a part of God's plan for us (Romans 11:25-32).

          Lending A Helping Hand

          I am only one,
          But still I am one.
          I cannot do everything,
          But still I can do something;
          And because I cannot do everything
          I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

          Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909)

          Fish On Fridays

          Question: Why is fish the only meat that we can eat on Friday?

          Answer: When I was a boy, my mother always cooked minestrone and fish on Friday. Abstinence from meat on Fridays is still commanded by the Catholic Church.
          The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent. Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday" (Code of Canon Law 1250, 1251).
          The application of this precept varies from country to country. For example, American bishops allow individual Catholics to substitute another penance if they could not abstain from meat. 
          The origin of these "prescribed days of fasting and abstinence" is uncertain. We know for sure however that it was not an apostolic practice. The apostle Paul condemned obligatory dietary rules for Christians (see Colossians 2:16-23).

          Of more importance than the historical origin, is the reason why Catholics don't eat meat on Fridays, and why they fast and practice other forms of abstinence.

          A Catholic website answers: “Friday is a day of abstinence from meat for Catholics in order that this little sacrifice will be a work of satisfaction for the sins they have committed...The Church is a mother and knows that unless we are constantly reminded we will not make satisfaction for our sins.” ( Similarly the Baltimore Catechism states that “the Church commands us to fast and abstain, in order that we may mortify our passions and satisfy for our sins.”

          So Catholics refrain from meat on Fridays (or perform some other sacrifice) in order to make reparation for their sins.

          The concept of satisfaction is biblical. God is offended when we break His commandments; His justice demands punishment. Yet in His goodness, God provided deliverance for His people. God told  His people, the Jews: “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). The word translated “atonement” literally means “to cover.” The shed blood of animal sacrifices “covered” their sins, and therefore God’s anger was appeased and they were reconciled to Him.

          Of course animal sacrifices were symbolical of the one true sacrifice of Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” By His death on the cross, Jesus fulfilled all the promises of God and obtained every spiritual blessings for those who believe in Him:
          • Cleansing - spiritual purity instead of sinful defilement: “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
          • Forgiveness - freedom from guilt and punishment: “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).
          • Reconciliation - enmity is replaced by friendship and intimate communion: “Having made peace through the blood of His cross…now He has reconciled [you] in the body of His flesh through death” (Colossians 1:20-22).
          • Propitiation - God’s righteous anger against sin is appeased: “God set forth (Christ) to be propitiation by His blood, through faith” (Romans 3:25).
          • Justification – the Judge declares the believer ‘righteous’ and ‘not guilty’: “Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9).
          Jesus Christ made satisfaction for sin by shedding His precious blood. Why then does the Catholic magisterium prescribe fasting, and other human efforts, as additional means to make satisfaction?

          We do not doubt that fasting is a beneficial spiritual discipline to humble oneself before God and as an expression of repentance. But we are never taught in the Sacred Scriptures that fasting and other personal sacrifices atone for sin. Though good in itself, fasting becomes a bad practice when used for the wrong purpose.

          How can anyone say, “I trust in Jesus and His blood for my salvation,” while practicing abstinence and other forms of penance to make satisfaction for sin? What appeases God’s wrath? What reconciles sinners to God? How can we be justified, forgiven and cleansed? Is it by our puny little sacrifices such as eating salmon instead of beef? What an insult to God! What an affront to the blood of Jesus!

          May God open our eyes to see the gravity of our sin and the glory of Jesus' cross. How I pray that our dear Catholic friends would turn away from human traditions and every attempt to make satisfaction by personal efforts. Listen to God’s Word and wholly trust in Christ whose blood cleanses from all sin.

          Copyright Dr Joseph Mizzi

          Used by permission

          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 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.