- Being a good person is all that really matters.Some argue that even if a person’s religion is false, what really matters is that she’s sincere about being a good person. This notion is based on the mistaken belief that God is pleased by “religion.”Sincerity doesn’t determine truth, however. One can be sincerely convinced of the truth—and be sincerely wrong. For example, many evil men such as Hitler were very sincere in their beliefs. God judges people based on truth, not opinions—and that truth is Jesus Christ.
- What about those who’ve never heard about Jesus?Such a question implies that God lacks compassion because he’s imposed his plan of salvation on us. Often such inquirers seem to imply that they’re more compassionate than God!An important biblical principle to understand is that no one has ever remained lost who wanted to be found. Just as God sent the apostle Philip to the seeking Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-39), Jesus promises all who seek will find (Matthew 7:7-8).
- The Bible is filled with errors.Because the Bible is God’s Word and God cannot lie (Isaiah 55:10-11; John 17:17; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 4:12), it’s totally trustworthy, free from any error. God’s Word is described as “the word of truth” (2 Corinthians 6:7; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). Inerrancy isn’t a theory about the Bible; it’s the teaching of the Bible itself.What most people claim as errors in the Bible aren’t errors but difficulties. People think they’ve stumbled upon apparent inconsistencies when they haven’t taken the time to find out all the facts, or made an in-depth study of the passage. Many Bible questions have been answered as new discoveries have been made in fields such as language, history, archeology, and other sciences.
Regardless of the kind of difficulty found, not a single irreconcilable error can be found in the Bible’s pages.
- If God is so good, why is there evil?The thrust of this charge is that evil’s presence disproves God’s power. But is the presence of evil consistent with the God of the Bible? Consider:
- God didn’t create evil. Sin entered the world through Adam’s disobedience (Genesis 3).
- Evil is necessary for a free world. Freedom, or free will, gives humans the opportunity to make wrong choices.
- God hesitates to stop evil for an important reason. Just as parents often allow their children to make mistakes and suffer the consequences, God acts in a parental fashion with his creation.
- God has the solution for evil. Jesus accomplished the ultimate defeat of evil on the cross. But just as we don’t yet have eternal bodies, evil has yet to be removed from the world.
- Why is there suffering?Many hold that pain is evidence against God’s concern for humankind. However, pain can be used for good and bad purposes. Not all pain is bad. Pain is an essential mechanism for survival. Without pain, the body is stripped of vital protection. Pain is an important signal to warn of even greater danger.Suffering is a signal. It also can be a spiritual signal that reminds us of the fragile balance of life and our mortality. In The Problem of Pain, Christian apologist C.S. Lewis writes, “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pain; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Some suffering actually helps to bring greater good. This is best seen in Jesus’ own suffering. Jesus traveled down the road of pain, loneliness, and death—a road that led to the cross. Jesus isn’t just a Savior, he’s our suffering Savior. The cross is the ultimate example of innocent suffering.
At the heart of this issue is the underlying challenge that God isn’t fair. The problem is, society holds pleasure as its chief goal in life. This philosophy is known as hedonism, and those who live by this philosophy find any form of suffering offensive. To say God isn’t fair is an extremely dangerous charge.
If God gave us what we deserve, we’d be in trouble. It would be foolish to ask God for justice; what we need is mercy. God’s mercy and grace are so taken for granted that suffering and pain shock us.
6. If there’s a hell, why would a loving God send people there?
God hates evil, and one day, evil will cease. While evil and suffering and pain are very real, they are also very temporary.
The day God deals with evil, he will deal with all evil. In the meantime, God strives for as many people as possible to accept Jesus’ death and resurrection as payment for their sins, so they can live eternally with him. The sad fact is, many will make the decision not to be a part of God’s heaven. God won’t send them to hell; they’ll send themselves.
For God to force people to go to heaven against their wishes wouldn’t be heaven—it would be hell. Atheist author Jean-Paul Sarte noted that the gates of hell are locked from the inside by the free choice of men and women.
Full Article can be found here
Are you prepared to answer the spiritual seekers in your world? Are you wondering if Christianity’s really true? Here’s a look at ten objections skeptics pose toward Christianity—and how to respond.
- Christians are hypocrites.A hypocrite is an actor, a person who pretends to be something she isn’t. Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for hypocrites.
The reality is, there always have been and always will be some hypocrites in the Church. But Jesus doesn’t ask us to follow others; he asks us to follow him.
Although Christians can represent Jesus either poorly or well, the real question isn’t whether there are hypocrites in the Church, but whether Jesus is a hypocrite. If someone can prove that Jesus was a hypocrite, then the whole structure of Christianity falls into ruin. The Bible, God’s Word, presents Jesus as nothing less than perfect. Jesus’ disciples testified that Jesus was without sin (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Even Jesus himself challenged others to prove that he’d ever sinned (John 8:46).
- What about the atrocities Christians have committed?Some blame Christianity for religious wars, the Crusades, burning witches, the Inquisition, slavery, even the Holocaust.
The issue of atrocities is simply an extension of the question of hypocrites. So-called believers who didn’t practice true Christianity have perpetrated evil. In reality, these people were Christian in name only.
Focusing on their atrocities is a smoke screen to avoid the real issue. Christianity has far more positive achievements than negative influences. It’s been instrumental in the formation of countless hospitals, schools, colleges, orphanages, relief agencies, and charity agencies. No other religion in history can compare.
- Christianity is a crutch.Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, said, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” Critics such as Marx have charged that religion is an invention designed for people incapable of coping with life’s pressures. Some critics respond that they don’t need this type of emotional comfort, as though that fact falsifies Christianity. Such individuals often claim to be “stronger” because they’re brave enough to face life without a “crutch.” To imply non-religious people don’t need a crutch is misleading. Dependence on drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, money, power, other people, and material possessions demonstrates some people’s need for a crutch. Atheism—the belief that there is no God—can become a crutch for those addicted to a lifestyle contrary to God’s standards of morality.
Rather than being weak, Christians are strong—not because they depend on themselves, but because they depend on Jesus.
Everyone needs assistance. The question is, what will you lean on? Christianity provides what atheism or other religions never can: spiritual fulfillment, peace, and forgiveness.
- It’s narrow-minded to think Jesus is the only way to God.Jesus claimed he was the only way to God (John 14:6). Such a claim is either totally true or totally false. Some people claim to be Christians, yet ignore Jesus’ claim to be the only Savior. Critics argue this view is exclusory.
But if Christianity is true, then we must accept Jesus’ own teachings. If one believes Jesus’ assertions to be true, then the issue is settled
Full Article can be found here:
“Search, You Need Spiritual Food for Spiritual Strength for the LORD and his strength. Always seek his presence” (1 Chronicles 16:11 GW).
Just like you need physical food for physical strength, you need spiritual food for spiritual strength. The Bible describes itself as spiritual food — the water, milk, bread, and meat of our spiritual lives. It’s everything you need for sustenance.
If you were a construction contractor, you wouldn’t consider sending out a guy who hadn’t eaten anything in two weeks. If you were a commander in the Army, you wouldn’t send a person into battle who hadn’t eaten in a month. Right? We need to feed ourselves to have the strength to accomplish the tasks ahead of us.
You’re not going to have much success in winning the spiritual battles you face if you’re starving yourself to death. That’s why we need to feed on the Word of God.
Unlike eating physical food, whenever I feed on God’s Word, I get even hungrier. The more I taste and see how good God is, the more I want.
The Bible says in Colossians 3:16a, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly” (NIV). Paul is telling us to let the Bible take up residence in our lives in a rich, profound, and life-giving way.
So how do we feed ourselves on the Word of God and allow that to happen?
- Receive the Word with your ears. Commit yourself to go to church and listen to God’s Word being preached.
- Read the Word with your eyes. Having a Bible in your house is not going to bless your life. You have to have the Bible in your heart.
- Research the Word with your hands and mouth. When studying the Word of God, keep a pencil in your hand. Write down what God teaches. Talk about what you’re discovering with other believers in a small-group environment.
- Reflect on the Word with your mind. Think about and chew on God’s Word.
- Remember the Word with your heart. You’ll rarely have a Bible with you when you need it. Commit God’s Word to memory.
Talk It Over
- What changes do you need to make in your life so that you are spiritually nourished?
- Do you write down what God teaches you? What you are memorizing from Scripture?
- What spiritual battle are you fighting today? Have you turned to God’s Word for sustenance?
Full Article can be found Here
(1) Prophecy encourages Godly living – when we do not intentionally think about our eternal future it becomes easy to believe that this earth is all there is, which leads to sloppy spirituality and unrighteous living. 1 John 2:28-3:
(2) Prophecy gives hope and comfort – we remember that our current troubles are only temporary and a day is coming when all troubles will cease; the best is yet to come. Revelation 20-21
(3) Prophecy warns to flee from the wrath to come – knowing that an eternity in Heaven or Hell is real should motivate us to live Godly lives, and share the way to Christ with others. Romans 1:8
(4) Prophecy gives us confidence in Gods character and sovereignty – when life seems out of control and haphazard we can know that God is in complete control and not taken by surprise at the turns of our life. Psalm 103:19
Furthermore, we can see the emphasis that Christ places on prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5.
Paul tells us to first, pursue love, then above all else, pursue the gift of prophesy for edification, encouragement, and consolation of the body of Christ, the Church.
Full Article can be found Here
I’ve written about how we, as Christians, ought to respond to the claim that Jesus is simply a fictional re-creation of prior “dying-and-rising” god mythologies. The first step in assessing the evidence requires us to closely examine attributes of the mythological character offered in comparison to Jesus. It turns out that pre-Christian mythologies are far less similar to the story of Jesus than critics claim. When I first began to examine all the alleged similarities, I found that one pre-Christian deity seemed to be most similar to Jesus. When “Jesus Mythers” begin to make their case, they inevitably offer Mithras as their case in point. For this reason, I think it’s fair to examine Mithras in an effort to understand how skeptics construct their arguments related to Jesus and ancient mythologies.
There are two distinct (and non-continuous) traditions related to Mithras, one coming out of the areas of India and Iran, centuries prior to the birth of Jesus, and another developed in Roman times concurrent with the Christian era. Many experts have struggled to try to connect these as one continuous tradition, and in so doing, have distorted or misinterpreted the basic elements of the tradition and mythology. There is no surviving Mithraic scripture; most of what is known about Mithras comes from statues and murals that have no captions, or from the writings of ancient Christians who described Mithraic rituals many years after the arrival of Jesus. The vast majority of scholarly work on this mythological character is pure speculation. Given that foundation, let’s take a look at some of the alleged similarities between Mithras and Jesus:
Claim: Mithras was born of a virgin on December 25th, in a cave, attended by shepherds
Truth: Mithras was actually born out of solid rock, leaving a cave. He was not born of a virgin (unless you consider the rock mountain to have been a virgin). His birth was celebrated on December 25th, but both Mithras worshippers and the earliest Christians borrowed this celebration from earlier winter solstice celebrations. The earliest version of the Mithras narrative that includes shepherds appears one hundred years after the appearance of the New Testament; it is far more likely Mithraism borrowed the shepherds from Christianity than the other way around.
Claim: Mithras was considered a great traveling teacher and master
Truth: There is nothing in the Mithras tradition that indicates he was a teacher of any kind, but he could have been considered a master of sorts. But why would we expect any deity to be anything less than a great teacher and master?
Claim: Mithras had 12 companions or disciples
Truth: There is no evidence for any of this in the traditions of Iran or Rome. It is possible that the idea that Mithras had 12 disciples came from a mural in which Mithras is surrounded by twelve signs and personages of the Zodiac (two of whom are the moon and the sun), but even this imagery is post-Christian.
Claim: Mithras promised his followers immortality
Truth: While there is little evidence for this, it is certainly reasonable to think that Mithras did offer immortality, although this is not uncommon for any god of mythology.
Claim: Mithras performed miracles
Truth: This claim is true, but what mythological god didn’t perform miracles?
Claim: Mithras sacrificed himself for world peace
Truth: There is little or no evidence that any of this is true. The closest Mithraic narrative is a story in which Mithras killed a threatening bull in a heroic deed.
Claim: Mithras was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again, and Mithras was celebrated each year at the time of His resurrection (later to become Easter)
Truth: There is nothing in the Mithras tradition that indicates he ever even died, let alone was buried or resurrected. Tertullian, the ancient Christian Case Maker, did write about Mithraic believers re-enacting resurrection scenes, but he wrote about this occurring well after New Testament times. This again appears to be another example of Mithras followers borrowing from Christianity (in the Roman version of the Mithraic religion).
Claim: Mithras was called “the Good Shepherd”, and was identified with both the Lamb and the Lion
Truth: There is no evidence that Mithras was ever called “the Good Shepherd” or identified with a lamb, but Since Mithras was a sun-god, there was an association with Leo (the House of the Sun in Babylonian astrology), so one might say that he was associated with a Lion. But once again, all of this evidence is post New Testament, and cannot, therefore, have been borrowed by Christianity.
Claim: Mithras was considered to be the “Way, the Truth and the Light,” and the “Logos,” “Redeemer,” “Savior” and “Messiah.”
Truth: Based on the researched, historic record of the Mithraic tradition, none of these terms have ever been applied to Mithras deity with the exception of “mediator”. But this term was used in a way that was very different from the way that it is used in the Christian tradition. Mithras was not the mediator between God and man but the mediator between the good and evil gods of Zoroaster.
Claim: Mithras celebrated Sunday as His sacred day (also known as the “Lord’s Day,”)
Truth: This tradition of celebrating Sunday is only true of the later Roman Mithras followers; it is a tradition that dates to post-Christian times. Once again, it is more likely to have been borrowed from Christianity than the other way around.
It is reasonable that ancient people groups, thinking about the world around them and the existence of God, would assign certain characteristics to God, and it’s also reasonable that many of these groups might begin to imagine God with some measure of accuracy. But when you take the time to investigate the initial claims of those who say Jesus is similar to some ancient mythological god, you’ll quickly discover that those pre-Christian deities aren’t much like Jesus after all.
For more information related to Mithras:
The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries (Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World) by David Ulansey (Oxford University Press, 1989), Mithras, the Secret God by M. J. Vermaseren (Barnes and Noble Publishers, 1963), and Mithraic Studies (Proceedings of the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies – 2 Volumes) edited by John R Hinnells (Manchester University Press, 1975).
Trust and obey
The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible. His grandson who wanted to be just like him tried to imitate him in any way he could.
One day the grandson asked, “Grandpa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bible do?”
The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said, “Take this coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water.” The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, “You will have to move a little faster next time,” and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket,” and he went to get a bucket instead. The old man said, “I don’t want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You can do this. You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.
At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got very far. The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty. Out of breath, he said, “See Grandpa, it’s useless!” “So you think it is useless?”
The old man said, “Look at the basket.” The boy looked at the basket and for the first time he realized that the basket looked different. Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it was clean. “Son, that’s what happens when you read the Bible. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out. That is the work of God in our lives; to change us from the inside out and to slowly transform us into the image of His son.”
Have I committed unpardonable sin or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
Always take the scriptures in context and keep in mind history. This is called the historical-grammatical method of interpretation.
Matthew 12:31-32 (NKJV)
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
Some people can read this and come away with the understanding that they can be damned for any sin against the Spirit of God. Some would say if you call a miracle by the Holy Spirit as a work of Satan then you have committed the unpardonable sin.
These are not entirely true. We need a complete view or history and Scripture to come to a right understanding of the Matt. 12 passages.
Remember that the work of the Holy Spirit is to testify that Jesus is the savior (John 15:26) and convict the world of sin (John 16:8). Blaspheming the Spirit means rejecting His testimony and conviction that Jesus is the savior. If someone rejects Jesus they are rejecting the only way to be saved and for that reason cannot be forgiven (Acts 4:12).
These are Scribes from Jerusalem whose job is to tell Israel if this is the messiah or not (Mark 3:22). As the people looked to them they pronounced that Jesus was not the savior but did the miracle by the work of Satan not the Holy Spirit. Therefore rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit they rejected Jesus as savior. If someone remains in the sin of rejecting Jesus then there is no hope of salvation for them.
Notice in the Matt 12 passages that Jesus did not say that a person could not repent of this sin just that anyone remaining in the sin could not be forgiven. Even after denying Jesus someone could repent and be forgiven. Look at Peter, he confessed Christ (Matt. 16:16) then denied Him three times (Luke 22:56-62). Jesus allowed Peter to repent and return to Him (Luke 22:32; 62).
You never have to worry if you have committed this sin if you believe that Jesus is Lord and died for your sins.
Pastor Scott Thom
Sometimes I am asked to provide a biblical case for my belief that everyday believers can regularly hear God speak to them in various ways. Here, in précis form, is an overview of my answer (for more on this discussion see my book, Kingdom Triangle, along with my co-authored book with Klaus Issler, In Search of a Confident Faith):
1) Ancient Near Eastern historical narrative/biography functioned not merely to chronicle events, but to teach theology/ethics. Much of the Bible is this genre and a central theme of Holy Scripture is how we are/are not to relate to God and each other as members of His covenant people. Thus, the examples of God speaking to people (including ordinary people—Gen 25:23, Acts 6:5, and 8:6, Acts 19:1-7, esp. v. 6) throughout both Testaments are meant to teach us how we can expect God to speak (without, of course, expecting God to continue to give authoritative scripture to the whole church).
2) God deeply desires intimacy and relationship with his people (cf. Isaiah 58:9-11; Hosea 11:8), and these characteristics obtain among people—human or divine—by regularly speaking to each other. The Bible is an authoritative revelation to the whole church, but intimacy and relationship require personal communication in addition to this.
3) God speaks to people to correct wrong thinking (Phil 3:15; cf. Eph 1:17, I Cor 14:24, 26, 30-31).
4) The Holy Spirit speaks to us in applying the Bible’s teaching to our specific situation (I Cor 2:14).
5) God speaks to us to give us guidance (Isaiah 30:21, John 10:3,4,16,27, Acts 13:2, 16:6, James 1:5). In the John texts, Jesus says his sheep hear his voice. Some have understood the context to imply that this means that the unsaved hear God’s effectual call to come to salvation. But this has the odd result that we can hear God’s speech/drawing/prompting before we are saved but not afterwards. In fact, the alleged context in John 10 (of unbelievers being called to salvation) can be taken in one of two ways: it defines the meaning of the sheep hearing Jesus’ voice (thus, limiting the text’s meaning to unbelievers) or it determines a range of application in this context (to unbelievers) of a broader principle that applies to all God’s sheep whether before or after salvation. The text does not make clear which is intended, and the latter fits other passages I am citing, the virtually universal experience of Christians, and it avoids the odd result mentioned above.
6) Jesus is our model in communicating with God (John 5:19). Jesus is not speaking about His unique prerogative as God or Messiah, because the context is Jesus doing the works of the Father due to Jesus’ intimate communication with Him (and subsequent empowerment by the Holy Spirit), and Jesus explicitly says that we will do greater works than he did (John 14:12). If Jesus needed to be lead by the Father in this, how much more do we? Moreover, it is now widely acknowledged by NT scholars that Jesus did what he did as a human being we are to model ourselves after in dependence on the filling of the Holy Spirit and in communication with the Father (cf. I Cor 11:1, I Thes 1:6). Finally, Jesus delegated his authority to us and we need the same tools he needed to carry out that delegation.
7) God sometimes speaks by placing impressions in our minds (Nehemiah 2:12) and through a still small voice (I Kings 19:12).
8) Regarding the claim that when God speaks, it is clear and we don’t have to learn to hear his voice, (A) it seems that Samuel needed to learn to distinguish/hear God’s voice (I Sam 3:1-21); (B) there was a school of prophets in the Old Testament and, among other things, it would seem natural to think that they were learning to discern/hear God’s voice; (C) In the NT, prophesy is a gift that, as will other gifts like teaching or evangelism, grows and develops with time and experience as one learn to enter more fully into the practice of that gift. That is why there were tests of prophesy (I Cor 14:29, I Thes 5:19-22), viz., that as people learned to hear God, they sometimes made mistakes and gave words sincerely though they were mistaken. (D) We have to learn God’s most authoritative speech, the Bible, through hermeneutics, exegetical practice and so forth, and many believers are mistaken about what exactly is God’s biblical speech (in debates in textual criticism and differences between Catholics and Protestants about which books belong in the canon). If God has allowed there to be differences about what belongs in Holy Scripture and we have to work hard to learn to rightly divide it, why can’t there be differences about whether a personal communication was/was not from God and effort needed to learn how to understand such communication?
Posted by: J.P. Moreland
See Original Post HERE