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Part 8 How does archeology support the New Testament

We have greater archeological support for the New Testament than the Old because of the more recent historical events.  Over the years there have been important finds that give credence to the Biblical Jesus.

The New Testament contains 27 books.  The four Gospels that tell the life of Jesus are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Each of the four writers included incredible detail to provide the historian with a clear picture of whom Jesus was and the surrounding culture.  The historical book after the Gospels is the Book of Acts.  Here we have the record of the early church with disciples spreading the word about the resurrected Jesus.  Over the years key journals have recorded archeological digs supporting the accuracy of these five books (4 Gospels & Acts) of the New Testament.

Concerning the Book of Acts, author Luke was extremely careful in his recounting the growth of the early Christian Church. The description of cities the Apostles visited is no longer in question as to their historical accuracy.  One notable historian Sir William Ramsay, a skeptic, was determined to develop an independent historical/geographical study of first-century Asia Minor. He assumed the Book of Acts was unreliable and tried to ignore its historical references in his studies. However, the amount of usable historical information concerning first-century Asia Minor was too little for him to proceed. In desperation he was forced to consult the Book of Acts for any possible help. Ramsay discovered that it was remarkably accurate and true to first-century history. The following is Ramsay testifying to what changed his mind: 

“I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without prejudice in favour of the conclusions which I shall now seek to justify to the reader. On the contrary, I began with a mind unfavourable to it, for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tübingen theory had at one time quite convinced me. It did not then lie in my line of life to investigate the subject minutely, but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth. In fact, beginning with a fixed idea that the work was essentially a second century composition, and never relying on its evidence as trustworthy for first century conditions, I gradually came to find it a useful ally in some obscure and difficult investigations.”[1]  

Ramsay’s concluded that “Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect to its trustworthiness.”[2]   He went on to state, “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements trustworthy . . . this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”[3]  As a skeptic Ramsay was forced to change his mind about the Book of Acts based on the evidence.  We learn a great deal about the early church and the life of the early disciples from this book.

In the Book of John we find historical support from archeological evidence. In chapter 5 we come across a story of Jesus healing a man at the pool of Bethesda.  In his account John writes that five colonnades (columns) surrounded this pool.  Now this seems to be an insignificant detail.  Why write about such a trivial matter as to how many columns surround the pool?

Some scholars say John wrote his gospel 40-50 years after the death of Jesus.  If they are right, and I am not saying they are, that’s an extended amount of time since the healing took place.  Personally, I would have had a hard time 50 years later just remembering the healing occurred by a pool not to mention remembering 5 columns.

So guess what happened? A few years ago an archeological dig uncovered a pool like the one mentioned in John 5.  And what do you think they found?  It had 5 columns surrounding it.  Now this doesn’t prove the Bible is historically accurate but don’t you think it is significant that John included this seemingly insignificant detail.  Why would John be so precise in his description of the place where Jesus healed a man?  I believe it is because he wanted to honor Jesus Christ by recording the events accurately.  The Bible, as opposed to the vast majority of spiritual writings, opens itself up to historical investigation.  If Christianity is a make believe story, this is a terrible mistake; historians would have a field day destroying the Bible.  In actuality scholarly books have been written detailing the many archeological finds that support the New Testament.

Other religious books have been shown to be fiction based on the lack of historical evidence.  The Book of Mormon serves as a prime example.  Archeologists have shown the historical evidence for the writings of Joseph Smith cannot be supported.  There is zero evidence for the ancient people Joseph Smith writes about.  Organizations like the Smithsonian Institute have concluded the Book of Mormon is simply a made up story; it is a fable, a myth created by the fertile imagination of Joseph Smith.

Go to part 9 here

[1] Sir William Ramsay, St. Paul The Traveler and Roman Citizen. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1962, p. 36

[2] ibid. p. 81

[3] Sir William Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discoveries on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1953, p. 222

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The evidence supports God as the author.

I am continuing to present 6 lines of evidence that God is the ultimate author of the Bible.

2.  Evidence from unity (ring finger).

The marriage ring represents an unbroken unity between a man and a woman; a complete circle that has no end.  For our study unity stands for how well the Bible fits together.  There are many variables in the Bible: sixty-six books, written over 1,500 years, 40+ authors, a variety of circumstances (some in dungeons, jail, palaces, in the midst of battle), different people (lawyers, generals, rabbi, kings, doctor) and three different languages.  Each of the 66 books deal with a great number of controversial topics and doctrines:  Only 1 God, Jesus is fully God and fully man, man is a sinner and to be judged, God is loving, just, and holy, we are saved by grace and not by works, Jesus rose from the dead, detailed descriptions of heaven and hell and much more.

In spite of all the variables and the great number of controversial topics, when we look at the Bible we find a unified whole as if it was written by one author.  It is similar to a finished puzzle with all the pieces fitting perfectly together.  If ten different people in your neighborhood wrote on how to raise children, what would you get?  You’d probably get 10 different opinions, especially in today’s society.  However, start asking people the parenting question over 1,500 years, on 3 different continents, and different walks of life and you would get an incredible diversity of answers.  And parenting doesn’t compare to explaining who God is or how you get to heaven?  Many times the authors didn’t have a clue what each other was writing and yet the theological harmony of the scriptures defies explanation.

A good question to ask someone is, “How is this unity possible?”  It isn’t!  This is truly a miracle of the highest order.  Over 40 authors agreeing on anything seems impossible yet the Bible looks like one book written by one author.  The incredible unity of the Bible in my opinion can only be explained by the direct actions of a supernatural author working through human writers.  The ring finger stands for the unity of the Bible.

3.  Evidence from the writers testimonies (thumb & middle finger).

Connect the middle finger and thumb and make a writing motion.  The Biblical writers wrote about supernatural occurrences such as divine healings, miracles, raising people from the dead, and the resurrection of Jesus.  From all the historical evidence we have, the writers of scripture were honest and sincere men of integrity.  Honesty and integrity are always assumed in evaluating historical literature unless you have evidence otherwise.  The Biblical writers wrote what they believed was the truth; much of the time these were eyewitness accounts.

So why would they write about miracles?  If they were making it up what would be their motivation?  An atheist friend named John said the New Testament writers made up the miracle stories so they could bask in the glory of starting a new religion.  I asked him what the writers received for writing about the miraculous.  They were whipped, lived in poverty, spent years in jail and almost all of them eventually paid for their writings with death as martyrs.  Who dies for a lie they know is a lie?  The only motivation to write about the miracles in the Bible was they actually happened.  Liars make lousy martyrs.  They died for the truth!

The writers wrote about supernatural miracles and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  They gave their lives in defense of what they knew was true.  The middle finger and the thumb together move in a writing motion to represent the writers’ testimonies.


Part 7 Does archeology support the Biblical Jesus

Abraham Goes to the Land of Canaan (Gen. 12:1-6)

Image via Wikipedia

The first test looked at ancient historical sources to see if they supported the Biblical Jesus.  Historians Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger provided ample support.  I now move to a second test for discovering the historical Jesus.

Test #2:  Does archeology support the Biblical Jesus

Do we see evidence confirming or contradicting the ancient biographies of Jesus?I need to begin by looking at the archeological support of the Bible, which contains the strongest ancient evidence for the life of Jesus.  The Bible must not be looked at as a single book; it is a collection of writings, many of them are historical accounts of God’s unfolding plan.  The books of the New Testament are the best multiple independent attestations of the life of Jesus.  The Gospels and Acts are a series of writings that are open to historical investigation.  Much of today’s confirmation of the historical accuracy of the Bible comes from the field of archaeology.

I will begin by showing historical support for the Old Testament.  Jesus quoted the Old Testament and treated it as historically reliable.  Jesus spoke about individuals like Jonah (swallowed by a large fish), not as legendary characters but as real people.  This is why I believe it is important to first establish the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. Renowned archaeologist William Albright said,  

“There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition.”

It is important to understand we still have gaps in confirming the accuracy of the historical record of the Old Testament.  Critics use this as an opportunity to attack the characters of the Old Testament.  They say we don’t have evidence Abraham ever lived and lack archaeological support for the migration from Mesopotamia to “The Promised Land.”  They say the stories about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are legendary accounts passed down through generations.

What does the evidence tell us?  Critics beginning in the 1800s denied the existence of Abraham’s so called hometown of Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31) until excavations in the 1920s-30s uncovered an immense temple tower at Ur near the mouth of the Euphrates in Mesopotamia.  Over time archeologists have found the name Abraham in Mesopotamian records.  Other Biblical accounts of treaties Abraham made with neighboring rulers, even the price of slaves, mesh well with what is known elsewhere in the history of the ancient Near East[1].

Much of the evidence from this time period has been lost.  Yet, nothing in Genesis contradicts the nomadic way of life, with flocks and herds that was characteristic of the life in the nineteenth or eighteenth century B.C.  Simply because we cannot find the names of the early patriarchs does not mean they didn’t exist.  One fair minded historian once said, “Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.”

Many names of ancient cities in the Bible have been discovered. In addition to Jericho, places such as Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many other urban sites have been excavated, quite apart from such larger and obvious locations as Jerusalem or Babylon. Such geographical markers are extremely significant in demonstrating that fact, not fantasy, is intended in the Old Testament historical narratives; otherwise, the specificity regarding these urban sites would have been replaced by “Once upon a time” narratives with only hazy geographical parameters, if any.

I point to the Old Testament briefly to provide a glimpse of the historical nature of the entire Bible.  In the New Testament, Jesus supported the accuracy of the historical accounts and the individuals depicted in the Old Testament.  I will next examine the archeological evidence supporting the New Testament accounts of the life of Jesus.

Go to part 8 here

[1] Maier, Paul, “Archeology: Biblical Ally or Adversary?” CRI Journal Vol.27, #2 2004 p.12-21

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Part 6 How did Pliny the Younger support the Biblical Jesus

My final extra-Biblical witness to the historical Jesus will be Pliny the Younger.  He was the nephew of Pliny the Elder, a famous encyclopedist, who died in a volcanic eruption A.D. 79.  Pliny the Younger became governor of Bithynia in northwestern Turkey.  His writings to Emperor Trajan have been preserved from the second century to the present time.  He was also a friend of Tacitus.  The following is an extended explanation to his supervisor.

“I have asked them if they are Christians, and if they admit it, I repeat the question a second and third time, with a warning of the punishment awaiting them.  If they persist, I order them to be led away for execution; for, whatever the nature of the admission, I am convinced that their stubbornness and unshakable obstinacy ought not to go unpunished…They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up.”

Pliny later described how Christians received their punishments.  So what do we learn about Jesus and/or Christianity from these ancient writings?

  1. Jesus was worshipped by His followers.
  2. He explained several aspects of worship that corresponded with the New Testament. The followers of Christ worshipped on a fixed day, believed Jesus was God, and maintained high ethical standards[1].  Pliny writes, “…bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up.”
  3. They were not easily swayed from their beliefs.  Pliny would ask the believers three times to deny their faith and they declined.
  4. Christians were executed for refusing to deny their beliefs.

In summary we find Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger give us incredible information about Jesus with very little words.  They give a fairly clear picture of the historical Jesus.  Remember historians didn’t spend much time recording the life of Jesus because he wasn’t a political activist or powerful enough to draw their attention.  We cannot judge the lack of ancient historian writings about Jesus by our standards today.  It’s not fair to be armchair quarterbacks and second guess those writers.

Do you see how much we can know about the historical Jesus without even opening the Bible?  All we have to do is go back and look over the main points of each quote and we find an incredible amount of information about Jesus.  Even the Jewish Talmud, written about A.D. 500 talks about Jesus being a “false Messiah.”  There are additional writers that reference Jesus but these three are probably the best non-Biblical sources.  They give us solid rational support for believing in the historical accuracy of the Biblical Jesus.

Go to part 7 here

[1] Holdings, J.P. “Pliny to Trajan, Help,” http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/pliny.html

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Greek alphabet alpha-omega

Greek alphabet alpha-omega (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this challenge you will see that both God the Father and Jesus are called the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.  I am going to establish in the Old Testament we see Jehovah is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and in the New Testament Jesus makes the same claim.  There can only be one first and last; only one Alpha and Omega.

You may wonder what it meant if Jesus called Himself the Alpha and Omega.  Here is what Ken Samples says in his book “Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses:”[1]

But for the ancient Jew, Christ was describing Himself in a way he would have readily understood.  Though the letters alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, John recorded the Book of Revelation for Jewish readers who were also familiar with the Hebrew language and alphabet.

When used of God (or Christ), the first and last letters express eternality and omnipotence.  Christ’s claim to be the Alpha and the Omega is an affirmation that He is the all-powerful One of eternity past and eternity future (Jehovah-God).  “In describing Himself as ‘the first and the last’ Christ is relating Himself to time and eternity.  He is the eternal God who has always existed in the past and who will always exist in the future.”[2]  For any created being, however exalted, to claim to be the Alpha and the Omega as these terms are used of Jesus Christ would be utter blasphemy.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have to argue that Jesus is not the Alpha and Omega.  They believe he is a created being, a lessor god and not Jehovah God.  When I’ve used this argument with Jehovah’s Witnesses, they have yet to give any credible explanation.

2.   Alpha and Omega argument

I will quote from the Watchtower Bible, The New World Translation (NWT):  Revelations 1: 7 & 8, Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him. Yes, Amen.  8“I am the Al′pha and the Ome′ga,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.” 

The following is the argument used by David Reed in his book, “Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse.”[3]

Revelation 1:7-8, quoted above, says that someone “is coming.” Who? Verse 7 says it is someone who was “pierced.” Who was it that was pierced when he was nailed up to die? Jesus! But verse 8 says that it is Jehovah God who “is coming.” Could it be that there are two who are coming? No! Verse 8 refers to “the One who … is coming.”

Revelation 1:8 states clearly that Jehovah God is the Alpha and the Omega. Now note what he says at Revelation   22:12-13: “Look! I am coming quickly … I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. …” So, Jehovah God is coming quickly. But notice the response when he says it again: “Yes; I am coming quickly.  ‘Amen! Come, Lord Jesus'” (22:20, NWT).

At this point you might mention that Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, while Omega is the last letter. Therefore, “the Alpha and the Omega” means the same thing as “the First and the Last.” Then, again referring to the New World Translation, continue like this: Who is speaking in Revelation 2:8? “These are the things that he says, `the First and the Last,’ who became dead and came to life again. . . .” Obviously, it is Jesus.  Who was Jesus identifying himself as being, when he called himself “the First and the Last”? This is how Almighty God described himself in the Old Testament.

Jesus knew that the apostle John, who wrote the Revelation, and later Bible readers would all remember these verses: “… I am the same One. I am the first. Moreover, I am the last. Moreover, my own hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my own right hand extended out the heavens…” (Isa. 48:12-13). And: “. . . I am the same One.  Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I-I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior” (Isa. 43:10-11).

This argument clearly establishes both Jehovah God and Jesus are the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.  However, there is a problem; there can only be one Alpha/Omega and first/last.  Ask the Jehovah’s Witness, what is the true identity of Jesus?  The alpha and omega argument establishes Jesus is fully God. Only the doctrine of the Trinity can solve the issue of the Father and Son being the Alpha and Omega.   Remember the Trinity teaches one God subsists (ongoing existence) in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-equal and co-eternal.  With only one God there is only one Alpha and Omega.

My encouragement to you is the write the key points of the argument in the margins of your Bible.  This way you don’t have to memorize all the verses that establish Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.

Many years ago Walter Martin entered the Watchtower Organization and shared this argument with the man at the front desk.  This individual wrote in the margins of his Bible, Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, Almighty God.  Ten years later he reread the statement and after pondering who Jesus is the light went on and he trusted Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins.  Today he is leads an outreach organization to Jehovah Witnesses.  When you share the truth with others you may never know the impact God will have upon their hearts and minds.  Use this argument graciously and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

Go to part 4 here

[1] Ken Samples, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, (Harvest House Publ., 1993) p. 251.

[2] John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), p. 60.

[3] David A. Reed, Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse, (Baker Book House, 1986) Kindle location 966-988

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Part 5 How did Cornelius Tacitus support the Biblical Jesus

Another notable ancient historian was Cornelius Tacitus.  Many consider Tacitus the most important Roman historian of the 1st century.  His writings actually lend support to the accuracy of Josephus which is important from a historical standpoint.

Quoting from Annals 15.44, Tacitus writes that Emperor Nero blamed Christians for Rome’s fire in 64 AD in order to draw attention away from him.  In this account Jesus is mentioned.

“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormitiesChristus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.” [1]

Tacitus turns out to be an extremely rich source of data that confirms important aspects of the history of Christianity.  He was an unsympathetic witness to the success and spread of Christianity.  What do we learn from him?

  1. He regards “Christus” (Jesus Christ) as the founder of the movement. This weighs heavily against the idea that some scholars hold, that Paul or some other person was the creator of Christianity.  Jesus founded Christianity according to Tacitus.
  2. He confirms the execution of Jesus under Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberius.
  3. He indicates that Jesus’ death suppressed Christianity for a time. This would hint at the probability that Christianity was recognized to have had some status as a movement (not under the name “Christianity”) prior to the death of Jesus.
  4. He indicates that Christians in Rome in the mid-60s A.D. were hated and punished for their faith[2].

Tacitus unwittingly becomes another valuable non-Biblical source for information about Jesus.  Again the information supports and doesn’t contradict the Biblical accounts.

Go to part 6 here

[1] Holdings, J.P. “Jesus: Nero’s Scapegoat,” http://www.tektonics.org/tekton_01_01_01_TC.html

[2] Holdings, J.P. “Jesus: Nero’s Scapegoat,” http://www.tektonics.org/tekton_01_01_01_TC.html

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Josephus wrote a longer section about Jesus in his book Antiquities.  Some controversy surrounds this passage.  We read from Antiquities:

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, is not extinct at this day[1].”

This is an incredible passage.  There is consensus from both Jewish and Christian scholars that the passage as a whole is authentic, although most believe there are some copyists’ additions [my underlines].

What do I mean when I say additions?  The individuals that copied the work of Josephus seem to have added some phrases that Josephus, a Jewish writer, would never have said.  We begin our analysis with the first line:  “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man.”  This was not a phrase normally used by Christians so it is probably authentic.  However, the next phrase, “if it be lawful to call him a man,” sounds like an addition.  It seems to point to the Christian belief Jesus was also God.  We move onto the next section; “for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles.”  This fits well with vocabulary found in the other writings of Josephus.  It seems to be authentic. Yet, the next phrase appears to be an outside addition; “He was [the] Christ.”  It is highly unlikely Josephus would have called Jesus the Messiah, especially since we know earlier he wrote that his followers considered him to be the Christ.  Remember Josephus was a Jew and as such would have denied Jesus was the Messiah.  The next section: “And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him.”  Here we find information Josephus would report.  Now it looks fairly obvious this last phrase was an addition because it was unlikely Josephus, the Jew, believed in the resurrection.  “For he appeared to them alive again the third day. ” The final segment appears to be authentic; “as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, is not extinct at this day.”

Now if we eliminate those 3 instances I pointed out (underlined) as probably additions this is still a powerful source of information.  What do we learn about Jesus from Josephus?

  1. He was an historical figure and not a myth
  2. He was a wise teacher who had a large and lasting following; they continued to follow him after his death.
  3. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate at the instigation of some Jewish leaders.

That’s an incredible amount of information we know about the Jesus of history from Josephus, a Jewish Roman historian.  Now some may say if Jesus was so important why wasn’t more written about him?  What do you think was important to ancient historians?  They characteristically loved to write about war, rebels, politics, kings and rulers, and the struggles of Rome.  This is why more was written about John the Baptist than Jesus because Josephus saw him as a threat to Rome; whereas Jesus was not.  Jesus didn’t even object to taxes being paid to Rome.  Now in hindsight it is easy for us to see Josephus missed a great opportunity.  We can second guess Josephus 2,000 years later.

As I played high school baseball I competed against a rival shortstop that I knew was a good player but in my mind was nothing out of the ordinary.  In fact I thought I was better ballplayer.  After playing college baseball I became a middle school PE teacher and never played a day of minor league baseball.  This shortstop went on to become a third baseman for the Kansas City Royals.  His name was George Brett.  I would never have dreamed he’d become one of the greatest players in baseball history. It never entered my mind.  Josephus the historian had no idea this historical figure named Jesus would be the most influential man in the history of the world.  He had no way of anticipating his impact, which accounts for the small amount of words written about him.

Nevertheless these references to Jesus by Josephus are significant.  Archeology has verified the accuracy of Josephus’ writings when he wrote on other historical subjects.  He is considered to be a reliable historian and his mentioning Jesus and giving us some details is extremely important to establishing the historical Jesus[2].

Go to part 5 here

[1] Josephus, “Complete Works of Josephus” Book 18 chapter 3 section 3 “The Antiquities of the Jews.”

[2] Strobel, Lee, “The Case for Christ,” Zondervan Publ. 1998, p. 81

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Part 1 Understanding the Christian Worldview

Definition of a Worldview: A worldview is a set of beliefs about the most important issues in life. It enables us to interpret reality. Our worldview is our map by which we navigate through what we learn in order to make sense of the world around us. Everybody has a worldview and believes theirs is correct. A religious belief, such as Christianity, is an example of a worldview. How important is the truth of your worldview? Here are 3 reasons why it is important to follow a true worldview.

1.  If your worldview is false, what is observed in the real world will run counter to your view. For example some people believe that everyone is born morally good or neutral. These individuals have a hard time explaining why it seems every person born is either rotten to the core or has some ugliness in his or her life. Or why our children go through the terrible twos. On the other hand, the Christian worldview believes a person is born with a propensity to sin and will continue to do moral wrongs throughout his or her life. This belief seems to match what we observe in our world today. All we have to do is pick up a newspaper and read the front page news to see what recent evils were committed. Daily moral wrongs are done all over the world. An honest look at our own heart will reveal we are far from moral perfection or neutrality. In the area of morality Christianity maintains a view that seems to match the world as we experience it; while other worldviews struggle to explain why there is so much evil in the world.

2.  A faulty view of the world will lead to faulty conclusions. If you believe in the basic goodness of all mankind you will conclude if a child turns out to be rotten, the child is simply a victim of bad parenting, horrible living conditions, or racial prejudice. Since you believe children are born “good” your explanation has to blame someone. Personal responsibility is no longer viable. Whereas Christianity, without ignoring the child’s environment, still holds the individual responsible for his or her actions. Christianity teaches people make morally free will choices. We cannot blame our actions on our upbringing.

3.  A false worldview will force a person to rationalize information. If according to his worldview mankind is born “good” then he will look for information that will confirm this view. If he finds information counter to his view he will either reinterpret it or reject it altogether. If the evidence is strongly against his worldview then the individual is forced to rationalize an explanation. Christians also filter information through their worldview and either accept or reject it. And this is what we should do; if our worldview is true then we reject the false and accept only true information. A true worldview doesn’t have to rationalize why the information doesn’t fit.

It is extremely important to make sure the worldview you follow is true. Over the next few weeks I am going to make a case for the truth of the Christian worldview and at the same time look at a few competing belief systems and show why I believe they are false.

Go to part 2 here

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Part 3 What is truth?

To understand moral relativism we first need to discuss the issue of truth.   Truth is sometimes hard to define.  When someone asks, what is truth?  I ask them, do you know what a lie is?  When they reply yes, I tell them truth is the opposite. Truth is the way things really are.Let give you a few more descriptors.

    • Truth is true – Even if no one knows it.
    • Truth is true – Even if no one admits it.
    • Truth is true – Even if no one agrees what it is.
    • Truth is true – Even if no one follows it.
    • Truth is true – Even if no one but God grasps it fully.

Let me give you an example.  Let’s say I believe the earth is flat and you believe its square.  Does our belief change the truth?  Does the earth go from being round to being square because of our beliefs?  Let’s test these beliefs with the list.  Truth is true even if both of us don’t know its round.  It’s true even if neither of us will admit we are wrong.  If the entire world believes the earth is flat or square that doesn’t alter the fact that the earth is still round and it’s still true even if only God knows it.  Bottom line, truth matches reality.  Truth cannot be changed.

Now I would like to look at two different categories of truth; subjective and objective truth.  To help you grasp these concepts I will illustrate them by contrasting ice cream and insulin.

I will begin with subjective truth.  When it comes to choosing a flavor of ice cream, you choose what you like or what is true for you.  There is no “right” flavor you must choose and no one is going to take issue if you like chocolate more than vanilla.  This is called a “subjective truth.” It seems very odd for me to say, you are wrong because you think chocolate ice cream is the best.  There are no right and wrongs with subjective truths; there are just preferences.  Remember subjective truth is true for the subject, the person.

The other type is objective truth.  When it comes to choosing medicine you do not choose what you like or what is true for you; rather, you choose the medicine that will actually heal you, like insulin if you have diabetes.  This qualifies as an objective truth. Objective truths are things we discover and cannot be changed by our internal feelings.  Objective truths focus on the object at hand, whereas subjective truths focus on the subject; the person making the judgment.

These are important distinctions in understanding morality.  A moral relativist believes all morality is subjective and a moral objectivist believes all morality is objective.  I will go into further detail on both of these systems of morality as this series progresses.

Go to part 4 here

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Does God Approve of Genocide?

I am continuing to answer the objections of atheists I talked to in San Diego.  The flyer on their table said 1 Samuel 15:1-3 shows God approves of genocide.  1 Samuel 15:1-3: Then Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD. 2 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. 3 ~’Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'”

I have to admit these are the type verses that on the surface can strike fear in the heart of believers in Jesus Christ.  They seem so brutal.  Why did God have to completely wipe out a people group, including men, women, children, infants and animals?  Is this the God of love the Christians worship?  Or is this a vindictive God the atheists contend?

First we must understand who these people were.  Were they innocent victims of an angry God?  Or were they a horrible pagan nation that practiced incredibly evil acts?  The Bible is clear, the inhabitants of Canaan (Canaanites) were as evil as could be imagined.  They were deserving of the worst punishment a holy God could inflict. And yet God was patient with their gross immorality giving plenty of time for them to turn back to Him.  In Genesis 15:6 God tells Abraham his people will leave the Promised Land but later will return.  We read Genesis 15:16 “Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”  God’s desire was for this evil nation to give up their immoral practices and turn back to Him.  They never did and God was going to judge them.  Multiple verses outline how wicked these people were.

Deuteronomy 9:5 “It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Leviticus 18:24-25 ‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25 ~’For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.

Deuteronomy 18:9, 12 9“When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 12 “For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.

One of the horrible practices was sacrificing infants to Molech.  Leviticus 18:21 ‘You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.  Molech was a Canaanite underworld deity that had outstretched arms that were heated up.  Babies were set on the fiery hot arms and from the heat would shrivel up and slip into the cauldron.  Archeology has revealed children sacrificed to Molech numbered in the thousands.

The immorality of these pagan nations made God furious.  And he had good reason.  Even by ancient standards the Canaanites were a nasty group of people.  They were a sexually erotic group that had sexual practices tied to the planting and harvesting cycles.  They practiced prostitution, divination, bestiality, homosexuality, and sex with little boys.

Today what would we say of a God who stayed silent and let all this wickedness continue?  People would scream, where is God?  Why isn’t he doing something?  And yet when we look back and see God punishing these evil nations, atheists scream God practiced genocide.  You cannot have it both ways; either God ignores evil and lets the criminals go free or He punishes the evil doers.  God did what was right and good.

God also had a plan for the nation of Israel.  It was all part of the Abrahamic Covenant.  This unconditional eternal covenant was a promise to Abraham that a vast nation would come out of his loins.  God’s covenant promised a nation, protection, and blessing.  The blessing would be both for the nation of Israel and through Israel to others.  This blessing was a restored relationship with the living God.  Isaiah mentions this blessing of salvation in Isaiah 49:6 He [God] says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’”  

God was going to protect the nation of Israel from the aggressive and violent pagan nations just as he had promised.  He protected them so they could be a light to others and bring salvation to everyone.  Through the Jewish line of David a king would come, one who would rule forever.  The fulfillment would occur when God came to earth as the man Jesus.  Under the New Covenant salvation was only through Jesus Christ.  Luke writes, Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”  The nation of Israel was valuable to God as an instrument to bring reconciliation between God and man.

As part of God’s promise to Abraham, He protected the spiritual purity of the nation at all costs.  This meant at times judging these pagan nations killing men, women, children, and infants.  Can God kill the innocent?  I answered that question in my previous post “Is it Moral for God to Kill an Innocent Human Being?”  The answer is yes.  God is not under the same obligations as we are.  And we know this to be true.  When people argue against capital punishment they ask, are you trying to play God?  We know God has the prerogative to create life or to take life.

From a more practical standpoint, each time Israel failed to kill everyone, these pagan individuals negatively influenced the nation of Israel to worship their idols.  We see examples of this all through the book of Judges.  The culture of evil of the survivors was cancerous to the Israelites.

Let me finish with one last point.  I believe the Bible implies through various passages that infants and children before the age of accountability, at death will be ushered into the presence of God.  These pagan children are in heaven today.

So does God support genocide?  No!  God judged evil pagan nations and they received the punishment they deserved.  God is a just God and those who practice evil will receive the punishment they deserve.  That applies to us today.  No one escapes God’s perfect justice.  Only through the death of Jesus on the cross and His taking the penalty we deserve can anyone enter heaven.  This is the solution all atheists reject.  Similar to the Amorites (Canaanites) in 1 Samuel 15, God is patiently waiting for all who would repent of their evil deeds and turn to Jesus.  Justice and punishment is awaiting all who don’t.


After Identifying who the critics are, I will now make a positive case for why I think the Jesus of history is the Jesus of the Bible.   In the process I will test the historical accuracy of the Bible.  Can the Bible be trusted?

Answering the critics

I will look at the writings outside the Bible that point to Jesus, examine relevant archeological findings, and then add any additional evidence in support of the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Test #1:  Do sources outside the Bible support the Biblical Jesus?

We begin our search for the historical Jesus by looking to writers who were ancient historians and gave us some unique insight into this special individual.  These extra-Biblical sources make it very difficult to deny Jesus ever existed.  People who do have to explain why the Bible is not trustworthy as a historical record and why ancient historians wrote about him.

Our first ancient historian is Josephus.  He was an important Jewish historian of the first century.  He was born A.D. 37, and wrote most of his four works towards the end of the first century.  In his autobiography, Josephus defended why he surrendered to the Romans instead of committing suicide like many of his colleagues.  Josephus decided it wasn’t God’s will that he commit suicide.  Due to his association with the Romans he was very unpopular with his fellow Jews but extremely popular with the Christians.  The main reason was he wrote about James, the brother of Jesus and about Jesus himself.  From his book Antiquities Josephus writes:

“… so he [Ananus – high priest] assembled the Sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned[1].”

Here we have a Roman historian referring to a person named Jesus.  According to Dr. Edwin Yamauchi, of Miami University a noted archeologist, “I know of no scholar who has successfully disputed this passage[2].”  So what do we learn from the words of Josephus?

  1. Jesus was a real historical figure and not a myth.
  2. He had a brother named James, which support the Biblical accounts.
  3. He was called the Christ or in the Hebrew the “Messiah.”
  4. James died by stoning.

All of these points align with the Biblical accounts.  Without a scholar successfully disputing these passages, we have solid historical information about Jesus from a non-Biblical source.

Go to part 4 here

[1] Josephus, “Complete Works of Josephus,” Book 20 Ch. 9 Sec. 1

[2] Strobel, Lee, “The Case for Christ,” Zondervan Publ. 1998, p. 78

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Part 2 Assessing the critics of the historical Jesus

During this series I will not attempt to make the case the Bible is God’s inspired word.  Even if I believe this is true it isn’t necessary.   I am simply defending the Bible is historically reliable.  I will first identify the critics and then spend the majority of my time answering their contentions.

Assessing the critics

Whereas author Lee Strobel looked at the evidence for the historical accuracy of the Bible and was convinced it was true, others have a different approach to evaluating the historical Jesus.  These individuals say they are taking an objective look at the evidence and in the process attack the Bible and redefine traditional Christianity.  If you are unaware of these attacks upon the Bible you haven’t kept up with the different media outlets.  These assaults come from popular magazines (Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report), the internet, television programs such as the History Channel or the Discovery Channel, and many books. They are continually teaching the Bible cannot be trusted as a historical source or taken literally.

Who are these critics?  One of them is the Jesus Seminar, a group of 80 “scholars” who say the vast majority of the words of Jesus in the Bible were not said by him.  They voted for the authentic words of Jesus using a colored marble system to reach their conclusions.   Another critic, John Shelby Spong an Episcopalian Bishop, has authored many books attacking the Bible and traditional Christianity.  We also have the writings of the New Atheists headed by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris.  They try to destroy all religious beliefs especially focusing their attention on Christianity.  All of them think you have to be a fool to follow the Jesus of Christianity.

The major area of assault is the miracles found in the Bible.  The vast majority of these critics believe the supernatural is impossible.  Any place the Bible speaks of God acting in a miraculous way, the Bible is wrong and has to be explained in natural terms.  Robert Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar says this:  “Jesus did not ask us to believe he would be raised from the dead.”  In addition he said “Jesus did not call upon people to repent, or fast, or observe the Sabbath.  He did not threaten with hell or promise heaven[1].”  In actuality all of these teachings can be found in the Bible. What we find in the writings of Robert Funk and other critics is an anti-supernatural bias that comes into play even before the evidence is looked at.  They believe every Biblical miracle has to have a natural explanation.

As I go through different evidences in favor of the Bible, I will show examples of how this anti-supernatural bias plays out.  Just remember according to all these critics, if it looks like a miracle, smells like a miracle, it can’t be a miracle because miracles are impossible.

I have only identified a few of the critics who are trying to convince the world Christianity needs to change and the Bible cannot be trusted.  The mantra they continually push is the Jesus of the Bible is not the Jesus of history.  I will spend the rest of my posts to make my case the historical Jesus is the Biblical Jesus.

Go to part 3 here

[1] Funk, Robert, Keynote address to the Jesus Seminar in spring of 1994 [Probe Ministries by Jimmy Williams “The Jesus Seminar”]

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Part 1 Discovering the Historical Jesus

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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Who is Jesus?   Some say he was a great man; many say he was the most influential man that ever lived; others say he was God in human flesh, and a few say he was a myth created by believers to begin the Christian religion.  This question of who is Jesus has been asked for centuries.

I would like to begin a new series examining the historical Jesus.  In the limited time I have I will not be able to go into great depth.  Entire volumes of books have been written on this topic.  However, I think I can make a strong case to support the Jesus of history is none other than the Jesus of the Bible.

Why is it important to make a case for a specific Jesus?  Let me share an illustration.  If I was to ask you to describe my dad, what might you say?  You may say he is 6’5, weighs about 250, 75 years old and was an electrician.  Another might say he is 6’0, weighs 170, 82 yrs. old and retired as a newspaper editor.  Finally, another might say he is 5’9, has back trouble, is 94 years old, and retired from the gas company.  Now one conclusion we can reach, all 3 of these descriptions cannot be true for my dad today.  Only one description is correct.  Currently, my dad is 94 and has been retired from the gas company for over 30 years.

Similar to describing my dad, there are hundreds of descriptions of Jesus.  If they all contradict each other either they are all wrong or only one is right.  In the book of John, Jesus says it important to be right about who he is.  John 8:24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Jesus said if you get this wrong, you will die in your sins, which will lead to eternal consequences.  It is crucial to believe in the one true Jesus.  I am going to make a case the Bible accurately records the life of the historical Jesus.

So who is Jesus according to the Bible?  Here are 6 characteristics to describe him. Many of these are beliefs that are central to Christianity.

  1. He was a miracle worker (healer, turned water to wine, calmed the sea, rose from the dead, etc.)
  2. He was sinless (John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15)
  3. He was the predicted Messiah of the Old Testament (Ps. 22; Is. 53; Matt. 16:15-16; 26:63-64)
  4. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for sins (Rom. 3:25; Isa. 53:6, 12; John 1:29; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 5:8)
  5. Jesus is fully man and fully God (John 1:1, 14; 10:31-33; 20:28; Titus 2:13)
  6. He was raised from the dead (All 4 Gospels; 1 Cor. 15)

All these facts about the historical Jesus are established in the Bible.  This is why I will spend the majority of my time defending the Bible.  This is a book that has been under attack for over 2,000 years.  I will not be defending the Bible as the word of God; instead I will make a more modest claim.  I will be defending the historical accuracy or reliability of the Biblical accounts.

How am I going to do that?  First I will present non-Biblical sources that give us important information about Jesus and support the Biblical record.  Second I will show how archeology provides historical evidence the Bible is accurate.  Third I will look at additional historical evidence to show how and why the Bible can be trusted as a truthful account of the life of Jesus.

Author and speaker Lee Strobel was a newspaper journalist in Chicago who didn’t believe in God.  His wife became a follower of Jesus Christ and he noticed changes in her life.  He decided to investigate the claims of the Bible and see if this book had any merit.  He thought he’d confirm his feelings that Christianity was for fools.  However, while researching the historical materials he reached a different conclusion.  Using his journalistic skills he found the Bible could be trusted as a true source for the life and ministry of Jesus.  His reaction to his findings was to commit his life to following him.  Today he is a prolific writer defending the Bible and other issues of Christianity[1].

Will I convince you?  Some of you are already convinced of the historical truth and will read this series to give you additional support.  Others are on the fence and are interested in my evidence for the historical Jesus.  And some are skeptics reading to see if I have anything of substance to say.  My target for this series is all three groups.

Go to part 2 here

[1] Lee Strobel has written The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for the Creator, The Case for the Real Jesus, and other books.

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Can We Be Good without God?

In my comment section on this web site I have been having discussions with atheists concerning morality.  I have been asking for their source of morality; where does it originate?   One answer is all morality is relative to what society says.  This causes problems because they cannot say things like “torturing babies for fun” is universally wrong.  It is evil only if society says it is.  If society says it is right then it is. Rape is not wrong in and of itself.  It is up to society to decide.  All wrongs of this world (murder, torture, child abuse, theft, lying, etc.) are not evil unless society says they are.  From my viewpoint this is a major problem.

One tactic I’ve noticed some atheists take is to say all morality is objective and wrong universally.  My question is where does this objective morality come from?  They have to provide a source for this universal morality.  When I ask this question they change the subject and accuse me of doubting whether they can be good without God.  Of course they can be good without God but that isn’t what I am asking.  What is the source of your morality if God doesn’t exist?

Biola professor Craig Hazen explains what is going on when the atheist’s change the subject and avoid answering where morality originates.  To read the full article, go to Biola Magazine.

“The primary technique the new atheists have adopted for dealing with the issue of the origin or grounding of the moral law is obfuscation. The new atheists are very fond of saying, ‘We don’t need God to be good.’ Indeed, they often say that atheists, agnostics and skeptics often lead more wholesome lives than lifelong professing Christians. Now, theists should not be fooled by this. Our response should be, ‘Of course you don’t need God to be good — we’ve never claimed that you do.’ You see, it is not knowledge (epistemology) of the moral law that is a problem — after all, the Bible teaches that this law is written on every human heart. Rather, the daunting problem for the new atheist is the nature and source (ontology) of the moral law. Here are some questions you can ask Richard Dawkins the next time you sit next to him on a bus:

• If everything ultimately must be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry, help me understand what a moral value is (does it have mass, occupy space, hold a charge, have wavelength)?

• How did matter, energy, time and chance result in a set of objective moral values? Did the big bang really spew forth ‘love your enemy?’ If so, you have to help me understand that.

• What makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it? Won’t our end be the same (death and the grave) either way?

The old atheists did not want to have to face questions like these, so they simply denied the reality of objective moral values. The new atheists have thrown the door open. Let’s not make it easy for them. Let’s ask the hard questions in a winsome and engaging way.”

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If God was all-powerful and all-loving He would not allow evil

Here the atheist is using attributes of the Christian God to nullify His existence.  If evil exists, the Biblical God, who is all-powerful and all-loving cannot.  I will show you how this is false by retelling a discussion I had with a university professor.

During dinner, at a family member’s birthday party, I was discussing Biblical issues with my nephew and two nieces.  The oldest is an on-fire Christian who was attending Chico State at the time.  During dinner as we sat together at a separate table, I was giving them tips on how to share their faith and how to grow in knowledge.  They were listening attentively as I shared my expertise and experiences.

As we ate my nephew asked about an apparent contradiction in Matt. 27:5 where Judas hangs himself and throws the money away.  In Acts 1:18 it says Judas died tumbling down a cliff and he bought the field with the money.  After dinner I asked my brother in law for a Bible and we talked through the contradiction.  A party guest to my right, a college professor of sociology, overheard our conversation and said to another relative the Bible is full of contradictions.  It was loud enough so I could hear it, so I turned to him and asked show me a contradiction.  Instead of looking through the Bible he said, “If the Biblical God is all-good and all-powerful then the existence of evil contradicts the existence of God.”  This set off a conversation on spiritual topics for over an hour.  I was not only able to answer him but I was able to remain calm, as he ranted and raved against the Biblical God.  I did my best to be an ambassador for Christ in his eyes and model for my nephew and nieces how to share your faith.  This was a unique opportunity to share with an atheist and to equip three young Christians.

If the Biblical God is all-good and all-powerful does the existence of evil contradict the existence of the Biblical God?  Here are some highlights of the conversation.

  • Steve “Where is the contradiction of a good and all-powerful God allowing evil?”
  • Professor, “Because this God would not allow evil.”
  • Steve “How do you know that?”
  • Professor, “It is common sense.”
  • Steve “Are saying God couldn’t have a good reason for evil?”
  • Professor “Absolutely!”
  • Steve “How do you know that?  Do you know the mind of God?”
  • Professor “I don’t know God’s mind; no one can know the mind of God.”
  • Steve “Then why are you saying God doesn’t have a good reason for evil.  If you don’t know the mind of God then you cannot know He doesn’t have a good reason.”

In order to say there is no good reason for God to allow evil is to say you know the mind of God.  You are also judging the motives of God.  Let me share how God can accomplish good in the face of what appears to be evil with an illustration.  A bear is caught in a trap and a hunter wants to free him.  The bear doesn’t trust the hunter and growls at him.  The hunter then aims a rifle with a tranquilizer at the bear, further convincing the bear the hunter is out to kill him.  With the bear semi-conscious, the hunter pushes the bear’s foot deeper into the trap to release it but the bear again interprets it as harm.  Finally, through the efforts of the hunter the bear is free and runs off.  The bear was not capable of interpreting the hunter’s motives.  He ran off thinking the hunter was evil.  The same goes for our relationship with God.  We are not in position to see all the variables and the impact they have upon the future.  To judge an all-knowing and all-powerful God from such a limited position is ludicrous.

He asked me, why does God remain silent?  I told him I am in agreement with him that a God who has not revealed Himself is useless.  However, God has revealed himself through creation, the Bible, and His Son Jesus Christ.  He then asked me why I believe the truth of the Bible.  I went through 6 proofs I memorized using my fingers (Is God the Author of the Bible parts 4-8).  My oldest niece was writing them down as she took notes.  He seemed impressed with my evidence for trusting the Bible and was satisfied with my answer.

He then asked me what the source of evil is.  I said we are!   God gave us a free will.  Adam and Eve were in the garden and because of their disobedience to God, sin was passed down to everyone.  He felt God testing Adam and Eve was a silly story (I should have told him it doesn’t matter what you feel; only matters is it true).  I then told him how Jesus went to the cross and paid for our sins.

He said he used to argue with his Jewish brother and it had divided them; so he decided to no longer argue religion.  I said we are all betting on our beliefs and that when we die we will see if we made the right decision.  Everybody plays because everybody dies; that’s why it is important to discuss spiritual issues.  Everything I’ve told you I believe but some of these topics are difficult issues and it is possible I could be wrong.  He was stunned by that statement.  He said it was refreshing to hear me say I could be wrong because the truth is I could be right.

I finished by saying man is the source of evil and not God.  God can and does accomplish good out of the evil of this world.  Even though some so-called Christians have done horrible things it doesn’t mean Christianity is false.

As we finished our conversation he had calmed down and gained control of his emotions.  He found himself enjoying our talk and we parted amiably.  I believe he left rethinking some of his positions.  The existence of God and evil are not contradictory.

To conclude this series I want to return to my opening story about Sophie in part 2.  What could a Christian say to someone whose child was murdered by the ruthless Nazis?  The first thing that comes to my mind is what could an atheist say?  An atheist would say to Sophie, “I am sorry for your loss but it’s just tough luck; better luck next time.”  For the atheist there is no hope, no possibility of good news.  In the end all life ends in nothingness and the atheist can offer no true comfort.

However, it is different for the Christian.  We have our hope centered on Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross.  I would tell Sophie that her little girl is in heaven waiting for her.  The only hope she has in this life is in Jesus Christ and Him alone.  Even if we don’t always know why bad things happen, we do know God loves us and wants us to come to a saving relationship with Him.  Sophie, turn to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.

God has a plan to use the ugliness of evil and suffering to accomplish good.  He does this through His Son Jesus Christ.  Turn to Him and turn away from your sin; He will forgive you and give you eternal life.  This is the good news of the Gospel.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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Part 9 Does the existence of evil prove God doesn’t exist?

I will now answer a couple of popular objections.  Remember how I started this series, quoting two of the New Atheists as they attacked religious beliefs.  Christopher Hitchens titled one the chapters in his book “Religion Kills” and Richard Dawkins chose to name a chapter “Childhood, Abuse, and the Escaped from Religion.”   These men and others truly believe religion is dangerous and have beliefs that have influenced people to commit violent acts throughout the centuries.  They believe religious bloodshed proves God doesn’t exist.  I will examine that contention.

The existence of evil proves God does not exist

There are two major problems with citing religious evil as evidence against the existence of God.  The first is logical, and the second is factual.

Let’s say for sake of argument they are right; religions are responsible for the greatest amount of evil in the world (I do not agree and will soon deal with this issue).  So what?  How does that prove God does not exist?  The point is you cannot infer God does not exist based on the actions of religious people.  Here are some conclusions new atheists want us to believe:

  • Some religious people are violent.  Therefore, religion itself is evil.
  • Some religions teach evil.  Therefore, all religions are evil.
  • Some religious people do evil, and some religions teach evil; therefore, God does not exist[1].

Just by reflection you can easily see the conclusions do not follow from the statements.  Even if the statements are true the conclusions don’t follow.  What these statements teach concerns people and not necessarily religious belief or the existence of God.  Are religions responsible for the greatest evil to mankind?  Here is where we will examine the facts.

The truth is the atheist is in no position to judge the carnage that comes as a result of religious beliefs.  When we look at statistics we find atheistic ideologies in the 20th century have been responsible for the greatest killing in all history—to the tune of over 100 million bodies for communism alone.

The main difference is when someone acts against the clear teachings of the belief system, should the belief system be held accountable?  The Bible teaches to “Love God and love others,” and when violence is done in the name of Christianity, is it the fault of the religion when a person acts against this teaching?  Yes there have been some horrible things done by so-called Christians but they were not following the teachings of Christ.  A religion should not be held hostage by its heretics.

However, it is different for Atheism.  Every worldview has behaviors and lifestyles that seem to logically flow from them.  Atheism doesn’t require mass murder, but it has no resources to set up a barrier against it.  Joel Engels writes:

Let’s imagine six billion people who believe that flesh and blood is all there is…that Hitler and Mother Teresa, for example, both met the same ultimate fate.  Commonsense would suggest that such a world would produce a lot more Hitlers and a lot fewer Mother Teresas, for the same reason that you get a lot more speeders/murderers/rapists/embezzlers when you eliminate laws, police, and punishment….Nothing clears the conscience quite like a belief in eternal nothingness.[2]

Why would anyone expect that a world without God, heaven, or hell would lead to a world of unity and peace?  The facts cannot be denied; the greatest evil has always come from a denial of God, not in pursuit of Him.

Go to part 10 here

[1] Koukl, Greg Answering the New Atheists, Solid Ground magazine, Sept./Oct. 2008

[2] Engel, Joel, “Imagining ‘Imagine’,” The Weekly Standard, December 8, 2003

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How can Jesus be God and the Son of God?

Question:  The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is the Son of God.  The Bible also teaches Jesus is fully God and fully man.  How can He be both?

Answer:  Historically, Jesus being called the “Son of God,” a Jew would have equated this title to calling Jesus the one true God. The Jews were monotheistic  and would never have believed God the Father had an offspring called the Son. Jehovah’s Witnesses contend, Son of God points to Jesus being a “lesser” god; a created being. Isaiah 43-48 clearly teaches there is only one God and refutes the idea of “a lesser god.” The Jews during the time of Jesus would never have believed in a lesser god, a belief that was not monotheistic. Therefore, when Jesus was called the Son of God or called himself the Son of God He was claiming to be fully God. This of course was blasphemy, worthy of death.

I will use Scriptures to support this argument. We read in John 5:15-18; 25 “The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” Jesus not only called himself the Son of God in verse 25 but in verse 17 he called God His Father; to the Jews this was blasphemy, making himself equal with God.

Additional support can be found in John 10:29-33 [Jesus speaking] “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Again Jesus calls God His Father, indicating He is the “Son of God” (John 5:18) and making an obvious claim to being one true God. The penalty for claiming to be God was death (blasphemy); hence the Jews wanted to stone Jesus.

Lastly, we read in John 20:28-31 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said* to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” 30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”  Here we see Thomas a monotheistic Jew calling Jesus God. In fact the actual translation Greek to English in verse 28 Thomas said “The God of me and the Lord of me.” Notice Jesus does not rebuke Thomas for calling him God; instead he commends him for his belief. This is one of the clearest statements in the Bible where Jesus is called God. The Apostle John states that much more could have been written about Jesus, but these particular writings were to help people come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

In summary the title Son of God is given to Jesus to establish He is fully God and fully man.

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Part 8 God gives us peace and courage to endure

God gives us peace and courage to endure


We have all seen people in the midst of pain shake their fist at God in anger.  While others who are suffering have been softened by God and become a more loving person who helps others.  One woman loses a child to a drunk driver and becomes bitter for the rest of her life, whereas another turns to God for her pain.  This second woman eventually works through her pain, becomes proactive and starts the organization MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  This organization has helped many hurting parents.

What is the benefit of running from God?  Where does it lead?  We can turn from God or we can choose to look at our suffering as an opportunity for God.  When we turn to Him He is there to help us.  In John 16:33 Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Jesus tells us we are going to struggle and suffer pain.  Yet, in the midst of tribulations He will give us peace in our suffering and courage for the future.  Where is God when we hurt?  He is with us in the person of Jesus Christ; fully God and fully man.

The vast majority of suffering is from people as a result of sin.  Yet in the midst of evil, God uses tragedy to bring people to Christ, to develop our character, and to demonstrate His love and grace to a hurting world.  God promises to work all things together for good, and he will!

Whatever difficult circumstances you find yourself in today or in the future, the Bible gives us answers and hope.  God wants to give us comfort and peace.  We read in Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Are you brokenhearted?  Are you crushed in Spirit?  Jesus knows your pain; ask Him for His peace.

Truth is I could never love a distant God, a God who sits back and watches us struggle and hurt.  But I can’t help but love a God who came to earth as a man to suffer and die on the cross for my sins and your sins.  Jesus is the answer to the question of suffering.  He participates in our pain.

Jesus has told us He is there sitting beside us in the lowest places of our lives.

  • Are you broken?  He was broken, like bread for us.
  • Are you despised?  He was despised and rejected of men.
  • Do you cry out that you can’t take any more?  He was a man of sorrows and acquainted to grief.
  • Do people betray you?  He was sold out himself.
  • Do people turn from you?  They hid their faces from Him as from a leper.

Does God ever enter our own private hell?  Yes He does!  Jesus Christ lives in us and our pain is His pain; our tears are His tears.  He is here to give us peace and courage to endure.  We just need to turn to Jesus and place our trust in Him.


Part 6 God can use suffering to accomplish good

God can use suffering to accomplish good

This is not to say suffering is good but God can use it to accomplish good.  We read in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Paul writes to the church in Rome that God can take all the hurt and ugliness of the tragedies around us and accomplish good.  This promise is only for those who have trusted His Son Jesus Christ.

We see an example from the book of Genesis in the life of Joseph.   After becoming extremely jealous, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery.  It was a terrible evil, and God held them accountable.  But many years later and many hardships, Joseph rose to power in Egypt, and under his guidance the people stored up huge amounts of grain to survive a great famine.  Citizens of Israel and other nations came to Egypt to get grain.  Eventually, Joseph’s own family had to travel to Egypt to buy food to survive.  The brothers come and don’t recognize him and in a dramatic scene Joseph reveals he was the son that was lost, the one they sold into slavery.  In the face of this terrible deed, Joseph he says to his brothers, “You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good – to save many lives.” It was because of Joseph’s relationship with God he was given wisdom and power to order the Egyptians to store the grain that saved many lives.  God accomplished a great good out of a great evil done by his brothers.

Some may say, “Well God hasn’t accomplished good in my situation.”  The Romans 8 passage clearly says that God works all things for the good for those that love him.  He is asking us to trust him, even when we ourselves may never see the good.  If God says He will work all things for good, then He will.  Let me share with you two ways God can use suffering to achieve good.

  1. God accomplishes good through pain by drawing people to Christ

Many people come to Christ during times of suffering.  The largest and many times the most dynamic Christian churches in the world are in countries where pain and suffering is a daily ordeal.  The good news of Jesus Christ thrives in areas of great poverty and strife.  While at the same time Christianity struggles in areas of comfort and prosperity.  This seems to indicate people trust their riches rather than God.  There are more Christians in either China or Africa then there are in the United States.  Pain and suffering is widespread in these countries yet the churches are exploding with growth.  The great author CS Lewis observed, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.  It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  God uses pain to wake up those who need Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthian Church chastising them for their immoral behavior.  Upon hearing the letter they felt great sorrow.  We read in 2 Cor. 7:10 “For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow.” Paul wrote a strong letter to the church and in remorse over their sin, people were turning to Christ.  The principle of sorrow leading to salvation is true for all types of suffering.  Pain and misery can draw people to Christ.

Chuck Colson, during the time he served as part of the Nixon administration, was arrested for his involvement with the Watergate break-in.  While serving time in prison Colson was confronted by a chapter on pride from the book by CS Lewis called “Mere Christianity.”  He was completely humbled by his sins and in sorrow he turned his life to Christ.  From that experience God has used Chuck Colson powerfully in his extremely effective prison ministry.  It took prison for God to bring Chuck Colson to his knees and ready to receive the forgiveness available to all.

Joni Erickson Tada was seriously hurt in a diving accident at age 17.  After 30 years in a wheelchair she wrote these words, “I would rather be in this wheelchair knowing God then on my feet without Him.”  Another woman who had lived a wild life had contacted terminal cancer.  In desperation she reached out to God and lived the rest of her life in a beautiful relationship with Jesus Christ.  She made a very radical statement before she died.  “If it took cancer for me to meet Jesus Christ, I say thank God for cancer!”

Many of you reading this have a story of pain and suffering that led you to the cross.  Through suffering and evil, God draws people to Himself.

2.  God accomplishes good through pain by developing our character

We read in Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Paul do you mean when we suffer we are supposed to be happy?  The Apostle Paul is telling us we can rejoice at knowing God is transforming our lives.  Character is developed best in difficult situations.  We can rejoice as we see God is working in our lives so we can grow more like Christ.  Rejoicing not in the pain but in how God is working.  In athletics it is called, “No pain, no gain.”

In this area Jesus is our model.  We read in Phil. 2:8, “…He humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on the cross.” Jesus had the power to avoid the cross but didn’t.  Just think of the strength of character Jesus needed to humbly and obediently submit to death of the cross, especially when you can stop the procedure.  He died so we could be forgiven (Romans 5:8).  Jesus was tested all throughout his ministry and He persevered and endured.  God wants us to do the same.

Trials are God’s way of developing our character.  And the truth is we all know this.  As we all reflect on our lives, we can see that during tough times we grow the most.  It is usually not the way we want to grow but it seems to be the best way to help us grow.

Go to part 7 here

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Part 5 God did not create evil and suffering

I examined Atheism and Pantheism (part 3 & part 4) concerning the problem of evil, so it is appropriate for Christianity to take the stand.  I will show the Bible contains the answers hurting people are looking for.  Where Atheism and Pantheism fail, Christianity gives us real answers to a real problem.  My first point has to do with the source of evil.

God did not create evil and suffering

Evil can be defined as the absence of good.  If there is no good there is no evil.  According to Christianity evil exists, it is real, but it is does not exist apart from good.  It is not some thing you find on the ground and have to step over it.  Since it has no existence on its own, when God created the universe and everything in it, He did not create evil.  So if God didn’t create evil, where did evil come from?  Why didn’t God create a world without evil or suffering?

The answer is He did.  We read in Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Evil and suffering were never part of God’s original design.  Evil is the result of people abusing their free will.  God decided to give men and women free will because this is the only way we can enjoy the highest value in the universe, which is love.  Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and the second is like the first, love your neighbor as yourself.”  Without free will we could never choose to love, because in order to love we must have the choice not to love.

God forcing us to love, instead of our free choice, would be like those dolls with the string in the back of the neck.  Each time you pull the string the doll says, “I love you.”  This is programmed love.  True love can only occur when a true choice not to love is involved.

Right from the beginning people chose to abuse free will and reject God.  What God created was good and our bad choices are what we would call evil.

There are two kinds of evil, moral evil and natural evil.  Moral evil is rooted in the actions of humans.  We act in evil ways when we are selfish, abusive, when we hurt others, and so on.  Moral evil can be demonstrated in the actions of the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center murdering thousands.

Reflecting on the all the world’s moral evil, the Rock Group the Moody Blues wrote a song called “The Question.”  They asked why is there so much evil?  The words go like this:

“Why do we never get an answer, when we’re knocking at the door.  With a thousand million questions, about hate and death an war.  ‘Cos when we stop and look around us, there is nothing that we need.  In a world of persecution, that is burning in its greed.”

The writer says we don’t need an answer because we are the source of hate and death and war.  Evil is rooted in our persecution and greed.

As a public school teacher I have seen the devastating results of moral evil.  Kids coming to class after dad beat up mom or girls with years of sexual abuse from a trusted relative. At least 4 of my ex-students are currently in prison for murder.

A human hand with a sharp metal instrument can stab someone on the street and kill that person or a similar sharp metal instrument can be used in a hospital cut out a tumor that saves a life.  Good or evil is a matter of choice.  God is not to blame for moral evil.

Natural evils are earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, diseases, and so on.  The Bible indicates that natural evils are also a result of the sin of mankind.  The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:22 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” God gave man dominion over the entire earth, including all living things, and the result of human sin has been brought disaster upon the entire creation.  Paul says since the fall of man, the creation has been under a process of decay and it is longing for God to return to create a new heaven and a new earth.  One current writer said this about natural evil, “When we humans told God to shove off, he partially honored our request.”  Nature was adversely affected.  Genetic breakdown, disease, pain and death can be traced back to the sins of humanity.  He concluded by saying, “We are born into a world made chaotic and unfair by humanity in revolt against its creator.”

God is not the author of evil, we are.  God simply created a universe with the potential for evil.  You may ask, “Couldn’t God have foreseen all the evil and taken care of it?”  Yes but he had a different plan.  If you are a parent didn’t you take a chance and have kids knowing that your children might go bad or could completely reject you and cause you great hurt when they grow up. And you still wanted to be a parent?  In the same way God knowing we would reject Him thought it was worth the risk of rejection because many would turn back and desire to spend eternity with Him.  God decided we were so valuable He came to earth as the man Jesus to suffer and die on the cross so we could join Him in heaven.  The greater good outweighed the risk of evil.  God is the author of good and we are the authors of evil.  Where is God when we hurt?  He has been actively working for our benefit through His Son Jesus Christ.

Go to part 6 here

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On the Eve of Destruction

Harold Camping in 2008

Image via Wikipedia

Family Radio Worldwide, under the direction of Harold Camping, is predicting Judgment Day will arrive tomorrow May 21st.  This ridiculous claim has been broadcast all over the world and has served as great material for the late night comedians.  One of my physical education students asked me today if I believed the world was going to end tomorrow.  I told him to ask me on Monday.  He walked away with a confused look on his face.

Harold Camping claims the Bible has clearly communicated May 20, 2011 as the Day of Judgment and those who doubt refuse to accept the clear teachings of the scriptures.  I have an in-depth theological word for Mr. Camping, “Baloney!”  Nowhere in the Bible do we see any verses indicating the exact date for the Day of Judgment.  In fact the Bible expressly teaches this date is only known to God (Matt. 24:36).  Unless Camping is God, he is out of luck or shall we say, out to lunch.

People who follow and believe this sort of garbage need to learn to read the Bible for themselves.  All scripture is from God but people need the knowledge and the tools to interpret it wisely.  And they need the understanding to reject an individual like Harold Camping.  The Jehovah Witnesses and other groups have been making predications for the return of Jesus for years with no success.  It got so bad they had to say he returned invisibly in 1914.  Nice try Mr. and Mrs. Jehovah Witness.

My nephew Jason Reeves got into the spirit of the moment and today wrote his humorous take on the prediction.  I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d share it with you on the eve of destruction.


Since Harold Camping has proclaimed to the world that this Saturday, May 21st, 2011, is the end of days, i.e. Rapture; I have decided I need to put some of my affairs in order just in case he gets it right….

So, first of all, let’s talk about credit: I think it’s high time to take out a ludicrous mortgage with a balloon payment the size of New Hampshire’s GDP.  I may only get to spend one night in some nouveaueuroclassicalmaximansion, but hey, I’m not paying the bill, either, right?  Make sure the walk-in closet is no less than 2,000 square feet.  Send in a case of Miller; I’m going to live the High Life!

And speaking of credit, I still get notices from a ton of banks that think that my teacher’s salary is ripe for picking, (the disposable income is so overflowing the children are drowning in it, HAH!); well, the joke’s on them, because I’m going to apply immediately for max credit and then it’s Ro-Day-Oh Drive for the afternoon!  I’ll try everything on, cut off the tags (to make sure that some atheist/sinner doesn’t take my stuff back after I’m gone), and enjoy that fact that my last day with my family will be spent in a $10,000.00, professionally-stained, artistically-torn, track suit that is waaaay too tight.

As a concession for the truth, I’m going to tell everyone what I really think of them.  I’m going to Heaven with a clear conscious, ready for God.  That’s right!  If you’ve been a contestant on Judge Judy, you’re getting a letter from me recommending your immediate sterilization.  The end times will be bad enough without you reproducing yourself on Earth.  Then again…watching them for the 1,000 year tribulation from my cloud in Heaven might be entertaining.  Ok, never mind, I’m on the fence about that one.

Oh yeah, it’s about time to try that KFC heartacular special which is the two deep-fried chicken breasts sandwiching ham, bacon, and cheese.  I’m not going to live long enough to have a heart attack, acid reflux, or intestinal cancer; so, bring it on!  Maybe I can get some uber-bacon cheeseburgers!  Ah heck, let’s just get a spoon and some lard; it’s gonna be a party!

Unfortunately, I will never get the chance to finish Ulysses by James Joyce.  I don’t think I’m going to get through 700 pages by Saturday afternoon.  I’m depressed about that, but I’m sure that Amazon.com delivers to Heaven.  Ok, maybe a manic-depressive Irishman’s social commentary/ranting isn’t your idea of Heaven, but you’re probably not going anyway, sinner!

I have one day to take up a new sport, so <drumroll>: Golf!  Nothing against those people who play golf now, mind, I’ve never started because I know how difficult it is to play and how time-consuming it is to get good and make that time worthwhile.  That’s exactly why this is the perfect time to learn to play.  After watching commercial after commercial during tournaments I have decided to do the American thing by buying an incredibly expensive set of clubs that I will never use.  Then, when before the Judgment Seat, God asks me that all-important question, “What’s your handicap?” I can blame my lack of skill on the clubs and that I never got a chance to play well because of the equipment.  Gold star, baby!

I am regretting that I never streaked naked across a sporting event.  Well, if you’re watching ESPN tomorrow, you may see my less-than-spectacular 40-year old broken body.  Or rather, more of it than you would have liked.  I don’t think this will keep me out of Heaven, because the sight if me is probably going to cause most people to drop to their knees in prayer.  Not in a good way, but hey I’m not proud (that’s a major sin) and prayer is prayer.  God will thank me later!

I’m trying to think of what else might get me in good but alas, as I end this list, I am actually a bit depressed.  I forgot that I am Catholic and according to the literature, that disqualifies me from God’s team in many rulebooks.

Shucks.  Guess I’ll just have to live every day as if He was coming back tomorrow and pray that I’m worthy of an “Atta Boy,” at the end of it all, whenever that happens.

“But concerning that day and that hour, no man knows, not even the angels of Heaven, but the Father alone.”-Matt. 24:36

“Be alert, therefore, for you do not know the day or the hour.”-Matt. 25:13

Peace be with you,


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The problem of evil, as an assault against the Christian faith, can be dramatically portrayed with a dialogue from the movie “Sophie’s Choice.”  It is an account of a Polish woman in a concentration camp whose decision changed her life forever.  Near the end of the film, Sophie (played by Meryl Streep) recounts the tragic incident to a friend: “I was arrested.  My children were sent with me to Auschwitz.  When the train arrived at Auschwitz, the Germans made their selection, who would live and who would die.”

Sophie spoke slowly, watching the details in her mind, the train, the children, the darkness of night, the German officer.

You may keep one your children; the other must go.

Do you mean I have to choose?  I can’t choose.

You are a Pole not a Jew.  That gives you a privilege, a choice.

I can’t choose, I can’t

Choose or I’ll send them both away.


“Jon, my little boy, was sent to the children’s camp,” Sophie said quietly.  “And my little girl Eva was sent to Crematorium II.” She sighed and wiped her eyes.  “She was exterminated.”

She then said, “I knew that Christ had turned His face away from me, and that only a Jesus who no longer cared for me could kill those people I loved.” The tears spilled silently down Sophie’s face[1].

In the face this tragedy, what could we say to Sophie?  For Sophie, it would be better to approach her from the emotional problem of evil; to counsel with her, to cry with her, to show mercy and try to help her through the deep seated issues she was dealing with.  Intellectual answers won’t do.

Yet, there are skeptics who say this sort of out-of-control evil makes it impossible for people to believe in God. They say, how can your Christian God allow such evil?  Others who believe in God look to heaven and ask why does God allow this sort of thing?

The intellectual problem of evil is a problem for all belief systems.  No worldview can escape having to answer the problem of evil.  Each belief system must respond to questions such as these: What is evil?  Why does evil exist?  What accounts for the existence of evil?  And then, how can we live in the presence of evil?

I will equip you to answer questions such as these.  I firmly believe the best answers come from the Christian perspective and I will use Christianity as my basis for giving answers to the problem of evil.  These will come in two forms, offensive and defensive.  On offense I will enable you to find the weaknesses in two other popular belief systems.  Defensively, I will show you how to make sense of evil from the Christian perspective.  I will also answer a common objection that comes up in conversations around the water cooler or at family gatherings.

The two others belief systems will be atheism and pantheism.  I will show the major weaknesses each of these worldviews have in answering the problem of evil.  A worldview is a system of belief; it is how we view the world.  Everyone has a worldview.  Everyone believes something about the world and uses that belief system to try to make sense of the world around him or her.

As a Christian I believe we are to give honest answers to the problem of evil but we must demand others to defend their beliefs.  This is where we can go on the offensive.  If they struggle to answer this difficult problem it makes our job of defending a little easier.  Atheism and pantheism use the problem of evil to take dead aim at Christianity and yet they think they’re off the hook and it’s our problem; this is where we can turn the tables.

Go to Part 3 here

[1] “Evil, Suffering, & the Goodness of God” ©1999 Gregory Koukl Stand to Reason, www.str.org

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Part 1 God’s Plan for Evil and Suffering

Pain and sorrow has devastated our world as earthquakes, tornadoes, and the endless war on terrorism has taken the lives of thousands.  Misery and suffering are widespread.  We see no end to all this misfortune and see signs it may get worse.  People are crying out to God and asking why?  How much more do we have to endure?  If you exist why aren’t you doing something about my pain?

The problem of evil and suffering many say is the greatest challenge to the Christian worldview.  How can a good God allow such gratuitous evil?  Atheists use this issue to argue against the existence of God.  They feel this is their strongest case against Christianity.

My challenge is to show that existence of evil is not incompatible with an all-loving and all-knowing God.  I will do this over a series of posts.  There are basically two approaches to dealing with the problem of evil.

  1. Intellectual problem of evil: This involves giving a rational answer to the problem of evil. This can involve answering a skeptic or someone trying to demonstrate Christianity is false. However, to give an intellectual answer to someone suffering from the loss of a loved one or a crippling accident, you will be viewed as cold and uncaring.  These individuals need counseling and care, not an academic answer to evil.
  2. Emotional problem of evil: This deals with how to meet the needs of those who are suffering. More appropriate for the pastor, counselor, or an individual willing to listen to their pain.  This is a message of comfort much more than answers.  However, if you were to answer the intellectual or the skeptic with words about a loving and comforting God you are likely to be viewed as superficial and lacking real answers.  They are looking for a rational answer for why evil exists.

I will not directly deal with the emotional problem of evil.  I will be writing to answer challenges to the Christian faith.  If you have deep seated emotional issues, this post may not meet your needs.  I want to apologize before I get started.  However, my hope is I may help you find comfort in the answers I give.  Many times if our mind gets real answers healing take place in the heart.

My focus will be the intellectual problem of evil.  As just stated my goal is not to separate mind and heart but to demonstrate they work together and real answers do give real comfort.  Evil is real and strikes us at our core; to not feel emotions, even when dealing with the problem from an intellectual perspective I believe is truly cold and uncaring.  Suffering is never easy and all of us have gone through some tragedy in our lives that bring up painful memories.  Perhaps this is why you are reading.  My hope is I will meet your spiritual, intellectual, and emotional needs in this series.

Part 2

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Part 5 How do You Know if a Worldview is True?

In prior writings, I established the fact worldviews cannot all be true at the same time and in the same way.  If a worldview can be wrong, how do you test it to see if it is true?  I am going to utilize four tests that will reveal the truth of any worldview.  These tests come from the book, “Worldviews in Conflict,” by Ronald H. Nash.  I believe it is important to hold a belief system that can pass these tests.

  1. Reason – Are there contradictions in the worldview?  Do their teachings violate logic and rationality?  Some worldviews fall apart because they self-destruct.  An example is skepticism.  This system of belief says nothing can be known; truth is impossible.  The skeptic is quite certain he knows that no one can know anything.  If it is true, no one can know anything, then how can he know anything?  It is like saying “I cannot speak a word of English.”  Skepticism is self-defeating and cannot be true.  Worldviews must pass the test of reason and not violate the laws of logic.
  1. Authority – What is the authority of his or her information?  Why should anyone trust that authority?  What evidence do you have to support your authority?  Evidence from authority can be in the form of historical writings and archeology.
  1. Experience – Does what we see and experience in the world match the beliefs of the worldview?  The view must fit with the world as we know it.  Here are some examples to consider:
  • Some worldviews teach pain and death are an illusion.  This belief goes against what we experience and see in the world daily.
  • A worldview must explain our immaterial thought life.  A belief system has to show how moral consciousness or immaterial thoughts are possible.  An atheist will have a difficult time trying to explain moral consciousness or immaterial thoughts.  The reason is they don’t believe in the existence of the immaterial; they believe only in the material.  Our first person experience of our thought life betrays the atheist worldview.
  1. Living –Can a person live by his or her beliefs?  Some believe all babies are born neutral and usually turn out bad because of poor parenting.  If you have ever been a parent or a grandparent you know this is not true.  No one has to teach a child to be selfish.  It seems to part of his or her nature.  Christianity predicts kids are going to be monsters and the Bible gives us guidelines on how to lovingly discipline them.  Good parents realize kids need structure and consistent discipline.

Each worldview needs to pass the tests of authority, reason, experience, and living.  If you can keep these four tests in the back of your mind, you can examine any belief system.  So what exactly do we need to test?  What are some of the key issues that all belief systems have to deal with?  I will address these questions in part 6.

Go to part 6 here

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Web Site Materials

I want to encourage you to access some new materials I have posted over the last few months and to look over older posts.

  1. Under the audio teachings I have a four part series on Unmasking the Deception of Islam.  The written materials I posted were delivered to classes at Emmanuel Faith Church in Escondido.
  2. Also new under the audio teachings is a four part series on Unmasking the Deception of Mormonism.  Again the written materials were taught at classes at Emmanuel Faith in Escondido.
  3. Site Map:  This is a handy tool to see all that I have written.  Under “Steve” you’ll see listed all my posts.  This summer I will work on providing links to make it easier to move through a series.
  4. Calendar:  Currently, it is blank because I took a break from teaching as I move towards retiring from my middle school teaching position this June.  I also wanted to write and plan new teachings.  I will be posting when and where I will be teaching at various churches.  This will be valuable for those individuals who live in San Diego County.
  5. Video:  Currently, I only have one video but plan to post more.  Retirement will give me additional time to shoot and edit videos on a variety of topics.
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Part 11 Mormonism’s false beliefs about salvation

  • What do Mormons believe about salvation?

When I asked two Mormon missionaries, “Do you believe you are saved by grace through faith?” they answered, absolutely.  I thought to myself, how can this be?  I was told they didn’t believe in salvation by grace through faith.  I thought they believed they are saved by good works.

What I didn’t realize was that even though they could say they believed in salvation by grace, what they believed was far from what I believed.  The difference was in the definitions.

When a Mormon hears the words salvation or saved, they think of resurrection.  In their belief system there is no sin passed down from Adam.  Everyone is born neutral, no original sin.  Therefore Jesus didn’t die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  They believe through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross every person, believer or non-believer, will be resurrected after death.  Salvation = resurrection and not payment for sin!  Everybody, other than those that are headed for “outer darkness” (Mormon Hell), will be resurrected.  The resurrection or salvation of everyone is possible through grace; a gift of God.  They call this general salvation or saved by grace. This is why they could agree with me when I said, “Are you saved by grace through faith?”  What they hear is, “Are you resurrected when you die by grace through faith?”  And they’ll respond yes.

So one purpose for Christ’s dying on the cross is resurrection for all or general salvation.  A second purpose is to set the person on the road towards exaltation or individual salvation.  Through individual salvation, a Mormon can move up to a higher heaven based on good works (We will talk about these heavens later).  Some of the good works include: Faith in Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, temple work (ex. missionaries), tithing 10% and baptism.  In order to move up levels in heaven a Mormon must do good works.  If he fails to do good works he will be stuck in the lowest level.  The goal of every Mormon is to attain exaltation through good works in this life.  Exaltation is the highest level where Mormons become a god, if he or she is good enough.

The Book of Mormon says this about grace: “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do,” (2 Nephi 25:23).  Here Joseph Smith is addressing individual salvation.  Salvation by faith alone is not enough; Mormons must add doing all they can do to grace.  However, adding good works to faith goes against the clear teachings of the Bible.

One of the major themes in the Book of Galatians is to condemn the heresy of adding anything to the free gift of grace.  Works plus grace is a different gospel.  Paul wrote to the Galatian Church to warn against adding anything to grace.  In Galatians 1:6-9, the Apostle Paul was cautioning the new converts to Christianity; he could have also been speaking to the Mormons.  “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” The gospel is not the resurrection, but that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin.  Grace is a free gift of God and cannot be earned. God will condemn every Mormon that brings this different gospel of grace plus works.  This is one reason why Mormonism is so dangerous.

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Part 2 Christianity’s answer to the justice of God

Sustaining the Justice of God

In part one I showed there is no ultimate justice in four common belief systems.  In part two I will demonstrate Christianity is the only belief system that maintains God’s holiness and thus provides ultimate justice for all who commit moral wrongs.  Without hell God’s holiness is sacrificed and He is an unjust God.

Hell is not a subject I like to talk about.  I realize it is an emotional issue and many people hate the doctrine of hell.  My reason for defending the doctrine was initiated by Rob Bell and his book questioning its existence by redefining it.  People all over the internet are debating this topic and I felt some clarity was needed.  My final reason for writing is because Jesus taught more about hell than anyone in the Bible.  He was the most compassionate and loving man in the history of the world and yet he didn’t shy away from warning people about the horrors of hell.  Out of that same love I defend the doctrine of hell.

I begin my case by defining a few terms.  Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in action, attitude, and nature[1].  Actions such as stealing, lying and murder are obvious examples of sins.  Attitude has to do with our thoughts and motives.  Lust, greed, and evil thoughts about others are also sins.  Lastly, we are sinners by nature.  The Bible teaches we are all born into sin and thus by nature we are sinners.  God’s holiness means that he is separated from sin and devoted to seeking his own honor[2].   God’s justice or righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right.  Speaking of God, Moses says, “All his ways are justice.  A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. 32:4) [3].

I will present 3 premises to make my case for the holiness and justice of God.

Premise 1:  Everyone commits moral wrongs (sins):  The Bible clearly teaches everyone sins and breaks God’s laws.  Romans 3:23 the Apostle Paul writes, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Paul here is summarizing what he said earlier in Romans 3:9-12 (NIV) “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Everyone rejects God and breaks his laws.  I have yet to find a person who doesn’t agree with the statement that everyone commits moral wrongs.  Even a virtuous individual like Gandhi did not live a morally perfect life.  Gandhi himself would have admitted he was a sinner either by wrong deeds or thoughts.

Premise 2:  Moral wrongs must be punished: The Bible is clear on this premise.  Paul writes in Romans 6:23 (NASB) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Death here is contrasted with eternal life.  Eternal life is spending eternity with God and “death” in this passage is eternal spiritual separation from God.  What we earn (wages) from sin is separation from God for all eternity.  God’s holiness demands this.  Sinners will not be in heaven.  God must punish all who sin and break His moral standards.  Hell is that place of separation from God.  Luke 16:19-31, the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, gives a clear picture of how Jesus described hell.  What this means is everyone is in trouble!  Everyone deserves spiritual separation from God when we die; we all deserve hell.

Premise 3: God provides a solution: A holy God is just in condemning all law breakers to hell.  If God never provided a solution his perfect justice would still be upheld because he would have punished every sin anyone ever committed.  However, God did provide a solution to the sin problem.  Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, came to earth and lived a sinless life perfectly fulfilling the requirements of God’s laws.  The Bible says he went to the cross and took on our sins.  Peter writes 1 Peter 2:22-24 (NASB) “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” Jesus solves the sin problem by bearing our sins and dying on the cross to pay the penalty we deserve.  God’s free gift of grace, being declared not guilty, is received by faith.  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The sin solution is applied only to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.  Those who don’t avail themselves of the solution will receive perfect judgment for their sins and spend eternity separated from God.

This is where holiness and love wins.  God’s holiness is maintained through the punishment of all sin; either by the sinner or by Jesus Christ.  All we have to do is accept God’s free gift of forgiveness.  Paul writes Romans 5:8-10 (NASB) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Death on the cross is greatest example of love possible.  By the blood of Jesus we are pronounced innocent of our sins.  We read in John 3:16 (NASB)[Jesus speaking] “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Perish here in the Greek means to be separated from God.  Through belief in God’s Son Jesus Christ, individuals who believe will not experience separation but will have eternal life (heaven).  Love wins as God provides a solution to all who believe.

Rob Bell’s focus on the love of God, compromises the holiness of God.  If there is no hell, then God cannot justly punish sin and by allowing sinners into heaven (Universalism) he is no longer a holy God.  As I have shown the Bible not only preserves the holiness of God but demonstrates His great love for His creation.  In the end God’s holiness and love wins!

[1] Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1994  p. 490

[2] Ibid p. 201

[3] Ibid p. 203

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Part 6 Important Worldview Topics

In part 5 I wrote about how all worldviews need to pass the test of authority, reason, experience, and living.The next logical question, what do we test?I have come up with a list of topics that all worldviews must answer.There are other important topics that could be included but at least these will give you a starting place.In addition each topic listed could be expanded to ask many more questions.

1.God – Who and what is God?Does God exist?

2.Ultimate Reality – How does your worldview explain the existence of reality?How did the universe come about?Is it eternal or did it come into existence at some point in time?Does reality exist or is it an illusion?

3.Origin of life – How did life begin?How did we get here?

4.Ethics – What is the basis for morality?Where do moral truths come from?

5.Death – What happens when we die?

6.Problem of evil – Does evil exist?What is the source of evil?

7.Meaning to Life – Do we have a purpose and what is it?

8.Knowledge – Where does knowledge come from?

Every belief system has to answer these questions.Once a follower responds, the answers are tested using reason, authority, experience, and living.

1.Does the answer violate reason or logic?

2.By what authority are you basing your answers?

3.Does your answer match the way we perceive or experience the world?

4.Can you consistently live by your viewpoint?

Each person reading this blog should be willing to answer the questions and test his or her worldview.By this method religious or non-religious beliefs can be shown to be either true or false.Remember a worldview should not be followed because you like it; you should follow a belief system that is true.Are you willing to test what you believe?

Go to part 7 here

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Part 1 Rob Bell doesn’t understand the justice of God

Sustaining the Justice of God

Over the past few weeks Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” has caused a stir within the walls of the evangelical church.  He has called into question the existence of hell and brought forth the ire of many pastors and scholars who accept the literal teachings of eternal punishment in the Bible.  Bell and others in the emergent church movement love to call historical doctrines into question.  It seems these individuals are trying to make the message of Christianity more appealing to a wider audience.  Hell arguably is the most hated doctrine of the Christian faith and by eliminating its existence, Bell and others can focus on the love of God, rather than his judgment.

I am not going to critique Bell’s book but I am going to use the doctrine of hell as a way to discuss the holiness of God; the justice of God.  I was confronted this week by my atheist friend Tom on the topic of hell and his hatred of this teaching.  It was an intense 15 minutes discussion at the local gym as I defended hell.  My major reason for the existence of hell was the justice of God.  Are there punishments after death for moral wrongs?  Or do people who commit unspeakable crimes get away with them when they die?

I will look at a few systems of belief to examine whether or not there is ultimate justice.  My hypothesis is that Christianity is the only belief system that maintains God’s holiness and thus provides justice for all who commit moral wrongs.  Without hell God’s holiness is sacrificed and He is an unjust God.

I will briefly look at four beliefs concerning what happens when we die and I will then conclude with how God is both loving and holy.

  • Atheism: Atheist’s believe there is no God, which eliminates the possibility of life after death.  We are simply “bags of chemicals” that upon death, our bodies decay and go back to the ground from whence we came.  In my discussion with Tom I mentioned that according to his beliefs there is no ultimate justice in the world.  Atheistic mass murders like Stalin, Lenin, Moa Zedong, and Khrushchev, when they died, they simply went out of existence.  These men murdered over a 100 million people and yet upon death they suffered the same fate as Mother Teresa, a person who did incredible good.  I asked Tom, where is the justice in that.  He admitted there is no ultimate justice in atheism and mass murders and people who do incredible good all face the same fate.
  • Universalism: Rob Bell is accused of being a Universalist.  Whether or not he is not important.  There are people who hold this view.  Universalism teaches everyone will get to heaven, including those who reject his existence.  God’s love covers their rejection.  Is there justice in Universalism?  Absolutely not!  Similar to atheism, everyone receives the same fate; this time instead of going out of existence, all go to heaven.  What this means is those who hate God or dismiss His existence are dragged kicking and screaming into heaven.  There will be God haters in heaven.  God made us in His image and as such He gave us the freedom of choice.  By forcing his love upon people and dragging them into heaven He violates our freedom of choice and by doing so contradicts his nature.  A contradictory God cannot exist.  I contend the God of Universalism is unjust and unholy for forcing his love upon those that reject Him.
  • Reincarnation: This is the belief that upon death, depending on how you lived your life, you come back and get to do it again as a different person.  The most common belief systems that teach forms of reincarnation are Hinduism and Buddhism.  Under the law of Karma you reap what you sow in this life and how you lived has an effect on the next.  Where is the justice in this system?  Stalin who caused untold misery when he murdered millions gets another chance to either do it all over again or live a better life.  Yet, all the destruction of his past life lives on beyond his death.  None of the crimes against God or against society gets paid for by him.  Individuals like Stalin are given multiple chances to do it again and again.  And when you get a second chance, you come into the world as a baby.  Karma says if you were destructive during your lifetime you will come back at a low status.  But how is that fair to a baby who has no clue about a violent past.  This person lives in poverty and suffers because of the evil deeds of someone else.  Stalin caused unspeakable misery during his lifetime and now some unknown person has to live a life of suffering because of what he did.  The pain of his life continues endlessly.  Justice is never served in reincarnation.  This has to be one of the cruelest religious beliefs.
  • Good works saves you: Many belief systems teach if your good works outweigh your bad, God allows you into heaven.  Islam believes Allah grants heaven based on good works and following certain precepts.  There are multiple problems with good works salvation.  First where do you draw the line of who goes to heaven and who doesn’t.  How many sins are allowable before you are banned from heaven?  What sins are bad enough to prevent someone from heaven?  How much good is needed to overcome evil?  In our justice system following the law and doing good is expected; you don’t get rewarded for following the law.  However, if you break a law there is a penalty if you are caught.  We would all agree law breakers should be punished.  Why do we think it is different in the spiritual realm?  Where do you think we got this idea of justice?  God expects us to follow His laws and doesn’t give credit for doing good or doing what we a supposed to do.  For God to be just He must punish us each and every time we break His laws.  We break them daily.  Good works are simply following God’s laws and when we break them we deserve judgment.  There is no justice in a system that allows people to earn heaven by doing what they are supposed to do and not incurring punishment each time they break God’s laws.

I have shown four systems of belief concerning ultimate justice and how each of them fails. Part 2 I will examine the Christian worldview and how through the doctrine of hell God’s justice and holiness is sustained.

Part 2

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Part 20 How to share with a Muslim

Series summary

In my final post for the series on Islam, I would like to revisit a few of the key issues I covered during the series.  I will then finish with some additional insights into sharing Jesus Christ with a Muslim.

Is Islam a violent religion?  If the standard for answering this question is the Qur’an, the life of Mohammad and the Muslim rulers that followed his death, then the answer is yes.  The Qur’an has multiple passages that promote the killing of pagans and people of the book (Jews and Christians) for various reasons.  The Prophet Mohammad was a military leader who ordered the deaths of hundreds of individuals and the rulers who took over after his death, aggressively advanced into other countries to spread Islam by the sword.  Violent Muslims have utilized all three sources throughout history to support their actions.

Theologically, Allah is far different from the God of the Bible.  Islam rejects the doctrine of the Trinity and as a result, believes Jesus was simply a man that was one among many prophets who spoke for God.  Mohammad was the last and greatest prophet.  Muslims deny Jesus was fully God and fully man and that he died on the cross; someone (likely Judas) was substituted for Jesus and was nailed to the cross.  They deny the truth of the resurrection.

Muslims believe to enter heaven they have to perform the five pillars of faith and daily be a good person.  To them the Christian doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is simply false.  Allah controls all who enter heaven and the Muslim lives under the burden of never having the assurance of heaven.  I once asked a Muslim if he had an assurance of heaven and he said no.  This led to a one hour spiritual discussion that challenged him.  Grace and heaven are a good place to get into a spiritual discussion with a Muslim.  It has been my experience Muslims love to talk about issues of religion.

Whenever you share your faith the Apostle Paul wrote about being thoughtful to all who need Jesus.  Paul’s goal was to be sensitive to the non-Christian in order to earn the right to share the Gospel.  Paul writes in, 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” To summarize what he said, “The Gospel is offensive enough; don’t you add to it.”  When sharing with a Muslim we need to be sensitive and not erect walls.  The violence issue is a wall that likely will end all discussion.

When you share ask questions.  This will provide the direction you need to move forward.   You could ask the person do you have the assurance of heaven.  When they say no share with them how through the cross they can have assurance.  I have an audio teaching on my web site called, “Sharing with a ‘good’ person.”  It is a true story of a one hour taxi cab ride with a Muslim driver and how I showed him good is not good enough.  Learn these illustrations and you can share with just about anybody who believes heaven is earned.


Some Recommended Books:

Unveiling Islam by Ergun and Emir Caner

Answering Islam by Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb

The Ambassador’s Guide to Islam by Alan Shlemon

Terrorism, Jihad, and the Bible by John MacArthur

Fast Facts on Islam by John Ankerberg and John Weldon

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