ENCOURAGEMENT TODAY, CONQUERING DOUBT PART 38












05/18/21

Question: "What does the Bible say about having a calm spirit (Proverbs 17:27)?"

Answer: Proverbs 17:27 says, “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit” (NKJV). This proverb emphasizes the wisdom of avoiding reckless speech by exercising self-control so as not to provoke hostility. Having a calm spirit describes someone with an even-tempered disposition. A contemporary paraphrase might be “a wise person keeps his cool.”

Bible translators render the phrase for “calm spirit” in various ways: “cool spirit” (ESV, NASB), “cool head” (CSB), “even-tempered” (NLT, NIV), and “excellent spirit” (KJV). The word spirit here refers to a person’s disposition or temperament.

The proverbs of Solomon often stress the importance of self-control, especially in the things we say. According to Proverbs 17:27, a prudent person uses few words and maintains a calm attitude by staying composed under pressure. By exercising self-control when speaking and not allowing oneself to be dominated by heightened emotions, a calm spirit diffuses anger and ill feelings: “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1, NLT).

In contrast to a hot-tempered person, someone with a calm spirit or an even-tempered nature is slow to anger: “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (Proverbs 15:18, ESV; see also Proverbs 14:29).

Abigail is an excellent example of a wise person whose calm spirit deflected a volatile situation. First Samuel 25:3 tells us that Abigail was “discerning and beautiful,” but her husband, Nabal, was “harsh and badly behaved.” Nabal treated David and his men with surliness and disrespect, and David was bent on bloodshed. Without her husband’s knowledge, Abigail arranged a meeting with David. Humbly and calmly, she persuaded him not to harm Nabal. Afterward, David blessed Abigail for her excellent discernment and for keeping him from carrying out vengeance with his own hand (1 Samuel 25:32–34).

Ecclesiastes 10:4 gives a nugget of wisdom for maintaining a calm spirit at work: “If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great offenses to rest.” The New Living Translation renders the verse like so: “If your boss is angry at you, don’t quit! A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes.”

Wise people are cautious with their words and think before they speak. They “bring calm in the end”; on the other hand, “Fools give full vent to their rage” (Proverbs 29:11). According to Matthew Henry, “A cool head with a warm heart is an admirable composition” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson, 1994, p. 994).

If a cool, calm, and gentle demeanor dissolves anger and neutralizes a heated situation, then the opposite—acting like a hot head—charges it up. James teaches us that “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). “Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere,” says James 3:17. In other words, God’s wisdom endorses humility, gentleness, and self-restraint (2 Peter 1:5–8).

We discover in many proverbs that our words are like fruits that reveal the quality or disposition of our hearts. In Proverbs 17:27, a person’s restraint with words shows the heart of a peacemaker, as well as a wise and understanding nature. Having a calm spirit is also a sign that the Holy Spirit lives in us: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22–23, NLT).


05/17/21

Question: "What does it mean to receive Jesus Christ?"

Answer: Many terms used in Christianity can be confusing to new believers or those seeking to know more about Jesus. One such phrase recurs often: “Receive Jesus Christ as your Savior.” What exactly does it mean to “receive” Jesus? Since Jesus lived, died, and rose again over two thousand years ago, how can we “receive” Him now?

John 1:11–12 speaks of receiving Jesus and defines the term: “He [Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John equates “receiving” Jesus with “believing” in Him, which results in one’s becoming a child of God. So, receiving Jesus has to do with faith. We trust who Jesus is and what He has done on our behalf.

When we “receive” a package, we take it to ourselves. When a running back “receives” the football, he pulls it to himself and clings to it. When we “receive” Jesus, we take Him to ourselves and cling to the truth about Him.

To receive Jesus as our Savior means we look to Him and Him alone as the One who forgives our sin, mends our relationship with God, and provides us entrance to heaven. To reject Him as Savior means we either don’t believe we need salvation or are looking to anotherdeliverer. Scripture is plain, however, that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

To receive Jesus as our Lord means we let go of the lesser gods we have built our lives around. We may know the facts about Jesus as detailed in the Bible—we can even acknowledge the truth of those facts—without being a part of God’s family. We cannot receive Jesus as Lord without displacing the idols in our lives—idols such as power, popularity, wealth, or comfort that we trust to provide us with purpose and strength. Jesus described the need to follow Him wholeheartedly in Luke 9:23: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

When Jesus visited His hometown of Nazareth, the people there did not believe He was anything other than the son of Mary and Joseph (Matthew 13:54–58; see also John 6:41–42). They accepted Him as a local carpenter but rejected Him as the promised Messiah. Many people today do a similar thing. They accept Jesus as a good moral teacher, a role model, or even a prophet who can teach us about God. But they stop short of receiving Him as their personal Lord and Savior. They do not commit their faith to Him.

Receiving Jesus is a matter of one’s eternal destiny: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16–18).

To receive Jesus means we acknowledge that He is who He said He is (1 John 5:10; Matthew 27:43; John 20:31). He is the Son of God who took on human form (Philippians 2:6–8), was born of a virgin (Luke 1:26–38), lived a perfect life (Hebrews 4:15), and accomplished in full God’s plan to rescue mankind from sin (Matthew 1:18; 1 Peter 1:20; John 19:30; 2 Corinthians 5:18–21). To receive Jesus is to trust that His sacrifice on the cross completely paid for our sin and to believe that God raised Him from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3–5, 20; 2 Timothy 2:8).

To receive Jesus is to recognize that we are sinners separated from a holy God (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Ephesians 2:1–3). To receive Jesus is to call out to Him in faith, trusting that only His blood can cleanse us from sin and restore us to a right relationship with God (Ephesians 2:4–10; 1 John 1:7; Hebrews 10:19–22). Those who receive Jesus by faith are given “the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12–13).

When we receive Jesus as our Savior, God sends us the gift of His Holy Spirit who enters our spirits and begins to transform us to be more like Christ (Romans 8:29; John 14:26; Luke 24:49; Ephesians 1:13–14; Philippians 2:12–13). Jesus called this transaction being “born again” (John 3:3–8). When a baby is born, a new creature emerges that did not previously exist. Over time, that baby begins to look and act like the parents. So it is when we are born of the Spirit by receiving Jesus. We become children of God and begin to look and act more like our heavenly Father (Matthew 5:48; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 7:1; Ephesians 5:1).

Receiving Jesus Christ into our lives is more than adding Him to an already cluttered priority list. He does not offer the option of being only a part of our lives. When we receive Him, we pledge to Him our allegiance and look to Him as the undisputed Lord of our lives (Luke 6:46; John 15:14). We will still disobey His commands at times (1 John 1:8–10). But the Holy Spirit within us draws us to repentance so that our close fellowship with God is restored (Psalm 51:7). Receiving Jesus is the beginning of a lifetime of discovery and an eternity of bliss in heaven with Him (John 3:36; Revelation 21—22).


05/16/21

Question: "How can we "forget not His benefits" (Psalm 103:2)?"

Answer: In Psalm 103, David praises the Lord for His abundant mercies. He tells his soul to “bless the Lord” six times (verses 1, 2, 20, 21, 22) and to “forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2). Then David lists several good things that God does for His people.

For more than half of the psalm, David stirs up his heart, soul, “and all that is within” him (Psalm 103:1) to “forget not His benefits.” The original Hebrew verb translated “forget” means “to lose memory or remembrance of,” but it can also mean “ignore” or “cease to care about.” The Lord’s “benefits” represent all the good things the Lord provides to aid or promote the well-being of His children.

We bless or praise the Lord by spending time in grateful remembrance of the mercies we have received from Him. Praise is similar to one aspect of the exercise of bodybuilding. If we regularly stretch, flex, and use our muscles, we won’t lose muscle tone. Instead, we gain definition and strength. And if we get in the regular habit of giving thanks to the Lord for His blessings, we won’t forget them. If we do not give thanks, if we fail to praise the Lord, if we ignore His benefits or, worse, cease to care about them, we are sure to forget them.

What are some of the Lord’s benefits we ought to remember? David enumerates: “He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! The LORD gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly” (Psalm 103:3–6, NLT). David goes on to praise the Lord’s compassion, mercy, and patience (Psalm 103:8). He recalls how God revealed His character to Moses and His mighty deeds to the children of Israel (Psalm 103:7).

In His mercy, the Lord holds back the punishment we deserve and pours out His unfailing love (Psalm 103:10–11). “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” (Psalm 103:13–14, NLT).

We have so much to be thankful for as God’s children. May we never forget His forgiveness: “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins” (Colossians 1:13–14, NLT). May we always remember that He heals us from the sin that infects us: “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NLT).

May we forget not His benefits, including redemption from death: “Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying” (Hebrews 2:14–15, NLT).

May we never ignore or cease to care about His lovingkindness and tender mercy: “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live” (Psalm 63:3–4, ESV).

A genuinely grateful heart remembers always to praise the Lord for His goodness. But forgetting His benefits—ignoring them, or ceasing to care about them—waters down our praise. In Deuteronomy, Moses warned the people that forgetting is the first step toward spiritual catastrophe: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. . . . Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you” (Deuteronomy 4:9, 23).

When we fail to praise the Lord and forget all the good things that He provides for our well-being, we reveal a deeper heart problem. Our neglect reflects apathy and indifference, which end in spiritual death (Hebrews 2:1–3). But when we forget not His benefits—when we remember His mercy, compassion, loyal love, forgiveness, and salvation—we can’t help but have our hearts renewed and our lives lifted as we praise and bless the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:8–13 24–29, 34–36)!


05/15/21

Question: "How can the Lord be the strength of my life (Psalm 118:14)?"

Answer: The psalmist declares, “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” (Psalm 118:14, ESV). This verse is an exact quote from Exodus 15:2, part of Moses’ victory song after crossing the Red Sea. In Psalm 18:1, David repeats the sentiment, “I love you, LORD, my strength.”

Psalm 118 is a thanksgiving psalm. The worshiper begins by offering praise to the Lord for His steadfast, enduring love. In verse 5, the psalmist calls to the Lord in his distress, and God answers and rescues him. The songwriter then contrasts human power to God’s might and acknowledges that the real source of his help and survival is the Lord, who is the strength of his life.

Maybe in your distress, you’ve never called on the Lord for help. In your weakened state of need, you’ve never imagined God could answer—that He would reach down from heaven to rescue you from deep waters (Psalm 144:7). Perhaps you’re here reading this page because your heart is longing to know, “How can the Lord be the strength of my life?”

The strength that comes from God, that delivers people from death and equips them to follow Him and be safe from danger for all eternity, is not physical but spiritual (Psalm 84:7). First and foremost, we need the strength of God’s salvation. Humans do not have the power to save themselves. Only God can save us: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9; see also James 4:12). All we need to be saved is to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31).

Once we receive God’s strength at salvation, we can begin to “understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19–21). The Lord enables us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). God’s strength delivers us totally and empowers us to do good (Psalm 84:7; 28:8).

If we desire the Lord to be the strength of our life, we can pray this incredible prayer for spiritual strength: “For this reason I kneel before the Father. . . . I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:14–21).

We do not need any other source of power or deliverance because Jesus Christ is the strength of our lives. Even when we feel weary and ineffective, His power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Christ’s limitless life is the source of strength for those who belong to Him.

If we seek the Lord daily to be our spiritual source, He renews and fills us with the Bread of Life and Living Water (John 4:10–14; 6:35; 7:38). He gives us His strength so that we can walk in His ways and endure through every circumstance we face. Like the apostle Paul, we can say, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NLT). Like the psalmist, we can declare, “The Lord is the strength of my life.”


05/14/21

Question: "What is a lexicon?"

Answer: A lexicon is a linguistic resource much like a dictionary in that it contains an alphabetical listing of words in a language, usually with a definition. A Bible lexicon will provide the meanings of original-language words used in Scripture. A Hebrew-Aramaic lexicon covers the words of the Old Testament. A Greek lexicon contains the words of the New Testament. A lexicon is helpful in studying the Bible and carrying out a word study from a passage.

Bible lexicons help the student of Scripture to understand the etymology and original meaning of a Hebrew or Greek word. They can also assist one in exploring the context and culture behind the word. Nuances and connotations of the original words are not always easy to convey in English. For example, the Greek word Logos, translated as “the Word” in John 1:1, has a much deeper meaning than what we normally think of as a “word.” A lexicon can help us unravel the complexity.

Several different Bible lexicons are available in print, and there are also Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic lexicons to be found online. Websites such as Bible Study Tools and Study Light offer free access to searchable Bible lexicons. Some examples of Greek and Hebrew lexicons are A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literatureby Walter Bauer, William Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, & Frederick Danker, Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon by H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon by Francis Brown, C. Briggs, and S.R. Driver, and The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by Ludwig Kohler, Walter Baumgartner, and Johann Stamm.

A lexicon can be beneficial and insightful to Christians as they study God’s Word. A good way to utilize a Greek or Hebrew lexicon is to use it alongside other resources such as a concordance, dictionary, or commentary. Notably, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance includes a Greek and Hebrew lexicon in one volume with the concordance.

As a basic example of how a Greek lexicon can be helpful, we can turn to Revelation 1:8: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Using a lexicon, we find that alpha (A) is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and omega (Ω) is the last letter. So we have a description of God’s nature: He is the beginning and ending of all things. He is from eternity with no one before Him, and He lasts into eternity with none after Him (cf. Revelation 22:13).

Lexicons can help the student of the Bible understand the origin and meaning of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic words in their original contexts. Of course, we can understand the Bible in our own language, and we have several good translations that do justice to the original text. But when we want to delve more deeply, a Bible lexicon is a useful tool.


05/13/21


How can the Lord be the strength of my life (Psalm 118:14)?

Question

Answer


The psalmist declares, “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” (Psalm 118:14, ESV). This verse is an exact quote from Exodus 15:2, part of Moses’ victory song after crossing the Red Sea. In Psalm 18:1, David repeats the sentiment, “I love you, LORD, my strength.”

Psalm 118 is a thanksgiving psalm. The worshiper begins by offering praise to the Lord for His steadfast, enduring love. In verse 5, the psalmist calls to the Lord in his distress, and God answers and rescues him. The songwriter then contrasts human power to God’s might and acknowledges that the real source of his help and survival is the Lord, who is the strength of his life.

Maybe in your distress, you’ve never called on the Lord for help. In your weakened state of need, you’ve never imagined God could answer—that He would reach down from heaven to rescue you from deep waters (Psalm 144:7). Perhaps you’re here reading this page because your heart is longing to know, “How can the Lord be the strength of my life?”

The strength that comes from God, that delivers people from death and equips them to follow Him and be safe from danger for all eternity, is not physical but spiritual (Psalm 84:7). First and foremost, we need the strength of God’s salvation. Humans do not have the power to save themselves. Only God can save us: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9; see also James 4:12). All we need to be saved is to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31).

Once we receive God’s strength at salvation, we can begin to “understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19–21). The Lord enables us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). God’s strength delivers us totally and empowers us to do good (Psalm 84:728:8).

If we desire the Lord to be the strength of our life, we can pray this incredible prayer for spiritual strength: “For this reason I kneel before the Father. . . . I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:14–21).

We do not need any other source of power or deliverance because Jesus Christ is the strength of our lives. Even when we feel weary and ineffective, His power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Christ’s limitless life is the source of strength for those who belong to Him.

If we seek the Lord daily to be our spiritual source, He renews and fills us with the Bread of Life and Living Water (John 4:10–146:357:38). He gives us His strength so that we can walk in His ways and endure through every circumstance we face. Like the apostle Paul, we can say, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NLT). Like the psalmist, we can declare, “The Lord is the strength of my life.”


05/12/21

Question: "What is the meaning of life?"

Answer: What is the meaning of life? How can purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction in life be found? How can something of lasting significance be achieved? Many people have never stopped to consider these important questions. They look back years later and wonder why their relationships have fallen apart and why they feel so empty, even though they may have achieved what they set out to accomplish. An athlete who had reached the pinnacle of his sport was once asked what he wished someone would have told him when he first started playing his sport. He replied, “I wish that someone would have told me that when you reach the top, there’s nothing there.” Many goals reveal their emptiness only after years have been wasted in their pursuit.

In our humanistic culture, people lose sight of the meaning of life. They pursue many things, thinking that in them they will find meaning and purpose. Some of these pursuits include business success, wealth, good relationships, sex, entertainment, and doing good to others. People have testified that, while they achieved their goals of wealth, relationships, and pleasure, there was still a deep void inside, a feeling of emptiness that nothing seemed to fill.

The author of the book of Ecclesiastes looked for the meaning of life in many vain pursuits. He describes the feeling of emptiness he felt: “Meaningless! Meaningless! . . . Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). King Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, had wealth beyond measure, wisdom beyond any man of his time or ours, hundreds of women, palaces and gardens that were the envy of kingdoms, the best food and wine, and every form of entertainment available. He said at one point that anything his heart wanted, he pursued (Ecclesiastes 2:10). And yet he summed up life “under the sun”—life lived as though all there is to life is what we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses—is meaningless. What explains this void? God created us for something beyond what we can experience in the here-and-now. Solomon said of God, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In our hearts we are aware that the “here-and-now” is not all that there is.

In the book of Genesis, we find a clue to the meaning of life in the fact that God created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:26). This means that we are more like God than we are like anything else. We also find that, before mankind fell and the curse of sin came upon the earth, the following things were true: 1) God made man a social creature (Genesis 2:18–25); 2) God gave man work (Genesis 2:15); 3) God had fellowship with man (Genesis 3:8); and 4) God gave man dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26). These facts have significance related to the meaning of life. God intended mankind to have fulfillment in life, but our condition (especially touching our fellowship with God) was adversely affected by the fall into sin and the resulting curse upon the earth (Genesis 3).

The book of Revelation shows that God is concerned with restoring the meaning of life to us. God reveals that He will destroy this present creation and create a new heaven and a new earth. At that time, He will restore full fellowship with redeemed mankind, while the unredeemed will have been judged unworthy and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15). The curse of sin will be done away with; there will be no more sin, sorrow, sickness, death, or pain (Revelation 21:4). God will dwell with mankind, and they shall be His children (Revelation 21:7). Thus, we come full circle: God created us to have fellowship with Him; man sinned, breaking that fellowship; God restores that fellowship fully in the eternal state. To go through life achieving everything we set out to achieve only to die separated from God for eternity would be worse than futile! But God has made a way to not only make eternal bliss possible (Luke 23:43) but also life on earth satisfying and meaningful. How is this eternal bliss and “heaven on earth” obtained?

The meaning of life restored through Jesus Christ

The real meaning of life, both now and in eternity, is found in the restoration of our relationship with God. This restoration is only possible through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who reconciles us to God (Romans 5:10; Acts 4:12; John 1:12; 14:6). Salvation and eternal life are gained when we trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. Once that salvation is received by grace through faith, Christ makes us new creations, and we begin the progressive journey of growing closer to Him and learning to rely on Him.

God wants us to know the meaning of life. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). A “full” life is logically one that is meaningful and devoid of aimless wandering.

The meaning of life is wrapped up in the glory of God. In calling His elect, God says, “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them” (Isaiah 43:7, NLT). The reason we were made is for God’s glory. Any time we substitute our own glory for God’s, we miss the meaning of life. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24–25). “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).


05/11/21

Question: "Is the Bible truly God's Word?"

Answer: Our answer to this question will not only determine how we view the Bible and its importance to our lives, but also it will ultimately have an eternal impact on us. If the Bible is truly God's Word, then we should cherish it, study it, obey it, and fully trust it. If the Bible is the Word of God, then to dismiss it is to dismiss God Himself.

The fact that God gave us the Bible is an evidence and illustration of His love for us. The term "revelation" simply means that God communicated to mankind what He is like and how we can have a right relationship with Him. These are things that we could not have known had God not divinely revealed them to us in the Bible. Although God's revelation of Himself in the Bible was given progressively over approximately 1500 years, it has always contained everything man needs to know about God in order to have a right relationship with Him. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, then it is the final authority for all matters of faith, religious practice, and morals.

The question we must ask ourselves is how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God and not just a good book? What is unique about the Bible that sets it apart from all other religious books ever written? Is there any evidence that the Bible is truly God's Word? These types of questions must be seriously examined if we are to determine the validity of the Bible's claim to be the very Word of God, divinely inspired, and totally sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. There can be no doubt that the Bible does claim to be the very Word of God. This is clearly seen in Paul's commendation to Timothy: "" from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:15-17). 

There are both internal and external evidences that the Bible is truly God's Word. The internal evidences are those things within the Bible that testify of its divine origin. One of the first internal evidences that the Bible is truly God's Word is seen in its unity. Even though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. This unity is unique from all other books and is evidence of the divine origin of the words which God moved men to record.

Another of the internal evidences that indicates the Bible is truly God's Word is the prophecies contained within its pages. The Bible contains hundreds of detailed prophecies relating to the future of individual nations including Israel, certain cities, and mankind. Other prophecies concern the coming of One who would be the Messiah, the Savior of all who would believe in Him. Unlike the prophecies found in other religious books or those by men such as Nostradamus, biblical prophecies are extremely detailed. There are over three hundred prophecies concerning Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Not only was it foretold where He would be born and His lineage, but also how He would die and that He would rise again. There simply is no logical way to explain the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible other than by divine origin. There is no other religious book with the extent or type of predictive prophecy that the Bible contains.

A third internal evidence of the divine origin of the Bible is its unique authority and power. While this evidence is more subjective than the first two, it is no less a powerful testimony of the divine origin of the Bible. The Bible's authority is unlike any other book ever written. This authority and power are best seen in the way countless lives have been transformed by the supernatural power of God's Word. Drug addicts have been cured by it, homosexuals set free by it, derelicts and deadbeats transformed by it, hardened criminals reformed by it, sinners rebuked by it, and hate turned to love by it. The Bible does possess a dynamic and transforming power that is only possible because it is truly God's Word.

There are also external evidences that indicate the Bible is truly the Word of God. One is the historicity of the Bible. Because the Bible details historical events, its truthfulness and accuracy are subject to verification like any other historical document. Through both archaeological evidences and other writings, the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven time and time again to be accurate and true. In fact, all the archaeological and manuscript evidence supporting the Bible makes it the best-documented book from the ancient world. The fact that the Bible accurately and truthfully records historically verifiable events is a great indication of its truthfulness when dealing with religious subjects and doctrines and helps substantiate its claim to be the very Word of God.

Another external evidence that the Bible is truly God's Word is the integrity of its human authors. As mentioned earlier, God used men from many walks of life to record His words. In studying the lives of these men, we find them to be honest and sincere. The fact that they were willing to die often excruciating deaths for what they believed testifies that these ordinary yet honest men truly believed God had spoken to them. The men who wrote the New Testament and many hundreds of other believers (1 Corinthians 15:6) knew the truth of their message because they had seen and spent time with Jesus Christ after He had risen from the dead. Seeing the risen Christ had a tremendous impact on them. They went from hiding in fear to being willing to die for the message God had revealed to them. Their lives and deaths testify to the fact that the Bible truly is God's Word.

A final external evidence that the Bible is truly God's Word is the indestructibility of the Bible. Because of its importance and its claim to be the very Word of God, the Bible has suffered more vicious attacks and attempts to destroy it than any other book in history. From early Roman Emperors like Diocletian, through communist dictators and on to modern-day atheists and agnostics, the Bible has withstood and outlasted all of its attackers and is still today the most widely published book in the world.

Throughout time, skeptics have regarded the Bible as mythological, but archaeology has confirmed it as historical. Opponents have attacked its teaching as primitive and outdated, but its moral and legal concepts and teachings have had a positive influence on societies and cultures throughout the world. It continues to be attacked by pseudo-science, psychology, and political movements, yet it remains just as true and relevant today as it was when it was first written. It is a book that has transformed countless lives and cultures throughout the last 2000 years. No matter how its opponents try to attack, destroy, or discredit it, the Bible remains; its veracity and impact on lives is unmistakable. The accuracy which has been preserved despite every attempt to corrupt, attack, or destroy it is clear testimony to the fact that the Bible is truly God's Word and is supernaturally protected by Him. It should not surprise us that, no matter how the Bible is attacked, it always comes out unchanged and unscathed. After all, Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Mark 13:31). After looking at the evidence, one can say without a doubt that, yes, the Bible is truly God's Word.



05/10/21

Question: "What is a Christian?"

Answer: A dictionary definition of a Christian would be something similar to "a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ or in the religion based on the teachings of Jesus." While this is a good starting point, like many dictionary definitions, it falls somewhat short of really communicating the biblical truth of what it means to be a Christian. The word "Christian" is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called "Christians" in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. The word "Christian" literally means, "belonging to the party of Christ" or a "follower of Christ."

Unfortunately over time, the word "Christian" has lost a great deal of its significance and is often used of someone who is religious or has high moral values but who may or may not be a true follower of Jesus Christ. Many people who do not believe and trust in Jesus Christ consider themselves Christians simply because they go to church or they live in a "Christian" nation. But going to church, serving those less fortunate than you, or being a good person does not make you a Christian. Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile. Being a member of a church, attending services regularly, and giving to the work of the church does not make you a Christian.

The Bible teaches that the good works we do cannot make us acceptable to God. Titus 3:5 says, "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." So, a Christian is someone who has been born again by God (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23) and has put faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is ""by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." 

A true Christian is a person who has put faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, including His death on the cross as payment for sins and His resurrection on the third day. John 1:12 tells us, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." The mark of a true Christian is love for others and obedience to God's Word (1 John 2:4, 10). A true Christian is indeed a child of God, a part of God's true family, and one who has been given new life in Jesus Christ.

What is Christianity and what do Christians believe?

Answer


The core beliefs of Christianity are summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected, and thereby offers salvation to all who will receive Him in faith. Unique among all other faiths, Christianity is more about a relationship than religious practices. Instead of adhering to a list of “do’s and don’ts,” the goal of a Christian is to cultivate a close walk with God. That relationship is made possible because of the work of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.


Beyond these core beliefs, there are many other items that are, or at least should be, indicative of what Christianity is and what Christians believe. Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired, “God-breathed” Word of God and that its teaching is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:162 Peter 1:20-21). Christians believe in one God that exists in three persons—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

Christians believe that mankind was created specifically to have a relationship with God, but sin separates all men from God (Romans 3:235:12). Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man (Philippians 2:6-11), and died on the cross. Christians believe that after His death, Christ was buried, He rose again, and now lives at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for the believers forever (Hebrews 7:25). Christianity proclaims that Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to completely pay the sin debt owed by all men and this is what restores the broken relationship between God and man (Hebrews 9:11-1410:10Romans 5:86:23).

Christianity teaches that in order to be saved and be granted entrance into heaven after death, one must place one’s faith entirely in the finished work of Christ on the cross. If we believe that Christ died in our place and paid the price of our own sins, and rose again, then we are saved. There is nothing that anyone can do to earn salvation. We cannot be “good enough” to please God on our own, because we are all sinners (Isaiah 53:664:6-7). There is nothing more to be done, because Christ has done all the work! When He was on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning that the work of redemption was completed.

According to Christianity, salvation is freedom from the old sin nature and freedom to pursue a right relationship with God. Where we were once slaves to sin, we are now slaves to Christ (Romans 6:15-22). As long as believers live on this earth in their sinful bodies, they will engage in a constant struggle with sin. However, Christians can have victory in the struggle with sin by studying and applying God’s Word in their lives and being controlled by the Holy Spirit—that is, submitting to the Spirit’s leading in everyday circumstances.

So, while many religious systems require that a person do or not do certain things, Christianity is about believing that Christ died on the cross as payment for our own sins and rose again. Our sin debt is paid and we can have fellowship with God. We can have victory over our sin nature and walk in fellowship and obedience with God. That is true biblical Christianity.

05/09/21

Question: "Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?"

Answer: Yes, Jesus is the only way to heaven. Such an exclusive statement may confuse, surprise, or even offend, but it is true nonetheless. The Bible teaches that there is no other way to salvation than through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He is not a way, as in one of many; He is the way, as in the one and only. No one, regardless of reputation, achievement, special knowledge, or personal holiness, can come to God the Father except through Jesus.

Jesus is the only way to heaven for several reasons. Jesus was “chosen by God” to be the Savior (1 Peter 2:4). Jesus is the only One to have come down from heaven and returned there (John 3:13). He is the only person to have lived a perfect human life (Hebrews 4:15). He is the only sacrifice for sin (1 John 2:2; Hebrews 10:26). He alone fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). He is the only man to have conquered death forever (Hebrews 2:14–15). He is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the only man whom God has “exalted . . . to the highest place” (Philippians 2:9).

Jesus spoke of Himself as the only way to heaven in several places besides John 14:6. He presented Himself as the object of faith in Matthew 7:21–27. He said His words are life (John 6:63). He promised that those who believe in Him will have eternal life (John 3:14–15). He is the gate of the sheep (John 10:7); the bread of life (John 6:35); and the resurrection (John 11:25). No one else can rightly claim those titles.

The apostles’ preaching focused on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Peter, speaking to the Sanhedrin, clearly proclaimed Jesus as the only way to heaven: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Paul, speaking to the synagogue in Antioch, singled out Jesus as the Savior: “I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin” (Acts 13:38–39). John, writing to the church at large, specifies the name of Christ as the basis of our forgiveness: “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name” (1 John 2:12). No one but Jesus can forgive sin.

Eternal life in heaven is made possible only through Christ. Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). To receive God’s free gift of salvation, we must look to Jesus and Jesus alone. We must trust in Jesus’ death on the cross as our payment for sin and in His resurrection. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22).

At one point in Jesus’ ministry, many of the crowd were turning their backs on Him and leaving in hopes of finding another savior. Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:67, ESV). Peter’s reply is exactly right: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68–69, ESV). May we all share Peter’s faith that eternal life resides only in Jesus Christ.


05/08/21

Question: "Is there life after death?"

Answer: The existence of life after death is a universal question. Job speaks for all of us by stating, "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure....If a man dies, will he live again?" (Job 14:1-2, 14). Like Job, all of us have been challenged by this question. Exactly what happens to us after we die? Do we simply cease to exist? Is life a revolving door of departing and returning to earth in order to eventually achieve personal greatness? Does everyone go to the same place, or do we go to different places? Is there really a heaven and hell?

The Bible tells us that there is not only life after death, but eternal life so glorious that "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to the earth to give us this gift of eternal life. "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus took on the punishment that all of us deserve and sacrificed His life to pay the penalty for our sin. Three days later, He proved Himself victorious over death by rising from the grave. He remained on the earth for forty days and was witnessed by hundreds before ascending to heaven. Romans 4:25 says, "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."

The resurrection of the Christ is a well-documented event. The apostle Paul challenged people to question eyewitnesses for its validity, and no one was able to contest its truth. The resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Because Christ was raised from the dead, we can have faith that we, too, will be resurrected. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate proof of life after death. Christ was only the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. Physical death came through one man, Adam, to whom we are all related. But all who have been adopted into God's family through faith in Jesus Christ will be given new life (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). Just as God raised up Jesus' body, so will our bodies be resurrected upon Jesus' return (1 Corinthians 6:14).

Although we will all be eventually resurrected, not everyone will go to heaven. A choice must be made by each person in this life, and this choice will determine one's eternal destination. The Bible says that it is appointed for us to die only once, and after that will come judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Those who have been made righteous by faith in Christ will go into eternal life in heaven, but those who reject Christ as Savior will be sent to eternal punishment in hell (Matthew 25:46). Hell, like heaven, is not simply a state of existence, but a literal place. It is a place where the unrighteous will experience never-ending, eternal wrath from God. Hell is described as a bottomless pit (Luke 8:31; Revelation 9:1) and a lake of fire, burning with sulfur, where the inhabitants will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10). In hell, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, indicating intense grief and anger (Matthew 13:42).

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires them to turn from their wicked ways so that they can live (Ezekiel 33:11). But He will not force us into submission; if we choose to reject Him, He accepts our decision to live eternally apart from Him. Life on earth is a test, a preparation for what is to come. For believers, life after death is eternal life in heaven with God. For unbelievers, life after death is eternity in the lake of fire. How can we receive eternal life after death and avoid an eternity in the lake of fire? There is only one way"through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die..." (John 11:25-26).

The free gift of eternal life is available to all. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him" (John 3:36). We will not be given the opportunity to accept God's gift of salvation after death. Our eternal destination is determined in our earthly lifetimes by our reception or rejection of Jesus Christ. "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). If we trust the death of Jesus Christ as the full payment for our sin against God, we are guaranteed not only a meaningful life on earth, but also eternal life after death, in the glorious presence of Christ.


05/07/21
Question: "Is Jesus God? Did Jesus ever claim to be God?"

Answer: Some who deny that Jesus is God make the claim that Jesus never said that He is God. It is correct that the Bible never records Jesus saying the precise words, “I am God.” This does not mean, however, that Jesus never claimed to be God.

Is Jesus God? — Jesus claimed to be God.

Take for example the words of Jesus in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” We need only to look at the Jews’ reaction to His statement to know He was claiming to be God. They tried to stone Him for this very reason: “You, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33, emphasis added). The Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming—deity. When Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one,” He was saying that He and the Father are of one nature and essence. John 8:58 is another example. Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth … before Abraham was born, I am!” This is a reference back to Exodus 3:14 when God revealed Himself as the “I AM.” The Jews who heard this statement responded by taking up stones to kill Him for blasphemy, as the Mosaic Law commanded (Leviticus 24:16).

Is Jesus God? — His followers declared Him to be God.

John reiterates the concept of Jesus’ deity: “The Word [Jesus] was God” and “the Word became flesh” (John 1:1, 14). These verses clearly indicate that Jesus is God in the flesh. Acts 20:28 tells us, “Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.” Who bought the church with His own blood? Jesus Christ. And this same verse declares that God purchased His church with His own blood. Therefore, Jesus is God.

Thomas the disciple declared concerning Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus does not correct him. Titus 2:13 encourages us to wait for the coming of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ (see also 2 Peter 1:1). In Hebrews 1:8, the Father declares of Jesus, “But about the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” The Father refers to Jesus as God, indicating that Jesus is indeed God.

In Revelation, an angel instructed the apostle John to only worship God (Revelation 19:10). Several times in Scripture Jesus receives worship (Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38). He never rebukes people for worshiping Him. If Jesus were not God, He would have told people to not worship Him, just as the angel in Revelation did. Beyond these, there are many other passages of Scripture that argue for Jesus being God.

Is Jesus God? — The reason Jesus must be God.

The most important reason that Jesus must be God is that, if He is not God, His death would not have been sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). A created being, which Jesus would be if He were not God, could not pay the infinite penalty required for sin against an infinite God. Only God could pay such an infinite penalty. Only God could take on the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21), die, and be resurrected, proving His victory over sin and death.

Is Jesus God? Yes. Jesus declared Himself to be God. His followers believed Him to be God. The provision of salvation only works if Jesus is God. Jesus is God incarnate, the eternal Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8; 22:13), and God our Savior (2 Peter 1:1).


05/06/21


Is there a conclusive argument for the existence of God?


The question of whether there is a conclusive argument for the existence of God has been debated throughout history, with exceedingly intelligent people taking both sides of the dispute. In recent times, arguments against the possibility of God’s existence have taken on a militant spirit that accuses anyone daring to believe in God as being delusional and irrational. Karl Marx asserted that anyone believing in God must have a mental disorder that causes invalid thinking. The psychiatrist Sigmund Freud wrote that a person who believed in a Creator God was delusional and only held those beliefs due to a “wish-fulfillment” factor that produced what Freud considered to be an unjustifiable position. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche bluntly said that faith equates to not wanting to know what is true. The voices of these three figures from history (along with others) are simply now parroted by a new generation of atheists who claim that a belief in God is intellectually unwarranted.


Is this truly the case? Is belief in God a rationally unacceptable position to hold? Is there a logical and reasonable argument for the existence of God? Outside of referencing the Bible, can a case for the existence of God be made that refutes the positions of both the old and new atheists and gives sufficient warrant for believing in a Creator? The answer is, yes, it can. Moreover, in demonstrating the validity of an argument for the existence of God, the case for atheism is shown to be intellectually weak. 


An argument for the existence of God — something rather than nothing


To make an argument for the existence of God, we must start by asking the right questions. We begin with the most basic metaphysical question: “Why do we have something rather than nothing at all?” This is the basic question of existence—why are we here; why is the earth here; why is the universe here rather than nothing? Commenting on this point, one theologian has said, “In one sense man does not ask the question about God, his very existence raises the question about God.” 


In considering this question, there are four possible answers to why we have something rather than nothing at all: 


1. Reality is an illusion.

2. Reality is/was self-created.

3. Reality is self-existent (eternal).

4. Reality was created by something that is self-existent.


So, which is the most plausible solution? Let’s begin with reality being simply an illusion, which is what a number of Eastern religions believe. This option was ruled out centuries ago by the philosopher Rene Descartes who is famous for the statement, “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes, a mathematician, argued that if he is thinking, then he must “be.” In other words, “I think, therefore I am not an illusion.” Illusions require something experiencing the illusion, and moreover, you cannot doubt the existence of yourself without proving your existence; it is a self-defeating argument. So the possibility of reality being an illusion is eliminated.


Next is the option of reality being self-created. When we study philosophy, we learn of “analytically false” statements, which means they are false by definition. The possibility of reality being self-created is one of those types of statements for the simple reason that something cannot be prior to itself. If you created yourself, then you must have existed prior to you creating yourself, but that simply cannot be. In evolution this is sometimes referred to as “spontaneous generation” —something coming from nothing—a position that few, if any, reasonable people hold to anymore simply because you cannot get something from nothing. Even the atheist David Hume said, “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.” Since something cannot come from nothing, the alternative of reality being self-created is ruled out. 


Now we are left with only two choices—an eternal reality or reality being created by something that is eternal: an eternal universe or an eternal Creator. The 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards summed up this crossroads:


• Something exists.

• Nothing cannot create something.

• Therefore, a necessary and eternal “something” exists.


Notice that we must go back to an eternal “something.” The atheist who derides the believer in God for believing in an eternal Creator must turn around and embrace an eternal universe; it is the only other door he can choose. But the question now is, where does the evidence lead? Does the evidence point to matter before mind or mind before matter?


To date, all key scientific and philosophical evidence points away from an eternal universe and toward an eternal Creator. From a scientific standpoint, honest scientists admit the universe had a beginning, and whatever has a beginning is not eternal. In other words, whatever has a beginning has a cause, and if the universe had a beginning, it had a cause. The fact that the universe had a beginning is underscored by evidence such as the second law of thermodynamics, the radiation echo of the big bang discovered in the early 1900s, the fact that the universe is expanding and can be traced back to a singular beginning, and Einstein’s theory of relativity. All prove the universe is not eternal.


Further, the laws that surround causation speak against the universe being the ultimate cause of all we know for this simple fact: an effect must resemble its cause. This being true, no atheist can explain how an impersonal, purposeless, meaningless, and amoral universe accidentally created beings (us) who are full of personality and obsessed with purpose, meaning, and morals. Such a thing, from a causation standpoint, completely refutes the idea of a natural universe birthing everything that exists. So in the end, the concept of an eternal universe is eliminated. 


Philosopher J. S. Mill (not a Christian) summed up where we have now come to: “It is self-evident that only Mind can create mind.” The only rational and reasonable conclusion is that an eternal Creator is the one who is responsible for reality as we know it. Or to put it in a logical set of statements: 


• Something exists.

• You do not get something from nothing.

• Therefore a necessary and eternal “something” exists.

• The only two options are an eternal universe and an eternal Creator.

• Science and philosophy have disproven the concept of an eternal universe.

• Therefore, an eternal Creator exists.


Former atheist Lee Strobel, who arrived at this end result many years ago, has commented, “Essentially, I realized that to stay an atheist, I would have to believe that nothing produces everything; non-life produces life; randomness produces fine-tuning; chaos produces information; unconsciousness produces consciousness; and non-reason produces reason. Those leaps of faith were simply too big for me to take, especially in light of the affirmative case for God’s existence … In other words, in my assessment the Christian worldview accounted for the totality of the evidence much better than the atheistic worldview.”


An argument for the existence of God — knowing the Creator


But the next question we must tackle is this: if an eternal Creator exists (and we have shown that He does), what kind of Creator is He? Can we infer things about Him from what He created? In other words, can we understand the cause by its effects? The answer to this is yes, we can, with the following characteristics being surmised: 


• He must be supernatural in nature (as He created time and space).

• He must be powerful (exceedingly). 

• He must be eternal (self-existent).

• He must be omnipresent (He created space and is not limited by it).

• He must be timeless and changeless (He created time). 

• He must be immaterial because He transcends space/physical.

• He must be personal (the impersonal cannot create personality). 

• He must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinites. 

• He must be diverse yet have unity as unity and diversity exist in nature.

• He must be intelligent (supremely). Only cognitive being can produce cognitive being. 

• He must be purposeful as He deliberately created everything.

• He must be moral (no moral law can be had without a giver). 

• He must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given).


These things being true, we now ask if any religion in the world describes such a Creator. The answer to this is yes: the God of the Bible fits this profile perfectly. He is supernatural (Genesis 1:1), powerful (Jeremiah 32:17), eternal (Psalm 90:2), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7), timeless/changeless (Malachi 3:6), immaterial (John 4:24), personal (Genesis 3:9), necessary (Colossians 1:17), infinite/singular (Jeremiah 23:24Deuteronomy 6:4), diverse yet with unity (Matthew 28:19), intelligent (Psalm 147:4-5), purposeful (Jeremiah 29:11), moral (Daniel 9:14), and caring (1 Peter 5:6-7). 


An argument for the existence of God — the flaws of atheism


One last subject to address on the matter of God’s existence is the matter of how justifiable the atheist’s position actually is. Since the atheist asserts the believer’s position is unsound, it is only reasonable to turn the question around and aim it squarely back at him. The first thing to understand is that the claim the atheist makes—“no god,” which is what “atheist” means—is an untenable position to hold from a philosophical standpoint. As legal scholar and philosopher Mortimer Adler says, “An affirmative existential proposition can be proved, but a negative existential proposition—one that denies the existence of something—cannot be proved.” For example, someone may claim that a red eagle exists and someone else may assert that red eagles do not exist. The former only needs to find a single red eagle to prove his assertion. But the latter must comb the entire universe and literally be in every place at once to ensure he has not missed a red eagle somewhere and at some time, which is impossible to do. This is why intellectually honest atheists will admit they cannot prove God does not exist. 


Next, it is important to understand the issue that surrounds the seriousness of truth claims that are made and the amount of evidence required to warrant certain conclusions. For example, if someone puts two containers of lemonade in front of you and says that one may be more tart than the other, since the consequences of getting the more tart drink would not be serious, you would not require a large amount of evidence in order to make your choice. However, if to one cup the host added sweetener but to the other he introduced rat poison, then you would want to have quite a bit of evidence before you made your choice. 


This is where a person sits when deciding between atheism and belief in God. Since belief in atheism could possibly result in irreparable and eternal consequences, it would seem that the atheist should be mandated to produce weighty and overriding evidence to support his position, but he cannot. Atheism simply cannot meet the test for evidence for the seriousness of the charge it makes. Instead, the atheist and those whom he convinces of his position slide into eternity with their fingers crossed and hope they do not find the unpleasant truth that eternity does indeed exist. As Mortimer Adler says, “More consequences for life and action follow from the affirmation or denial of God than from any other basic question.”


An argument for the existence of God — the conclusion


So does belief in God have intellectual warrant? Is there a rational, logical, and reasonable argument for the existence of God? Absolutely. While atheists such as Freud claim that those believing in God have a wish-fulfillment desire, perhaps it is Freud and his followers who actually suffer from wish-fulfillment: the hope and wish that there is no God, no accountability, and therefore no judgment. But refuting Freud is the God of the Bible who affirms His existence and the fact that a judgment is indeed coming for those who know within themselves the truth that He exists but suppress that truth (Romans 1:20). But for those who respond to the evidence that a Creator does indeed exist, He offers the way of salvation that has been accomplished through His Son, Jesus Christ: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13).



05/05/21

Question: "Got Forgiveness? How do I receive forgiveness from God?"

Answer: 

Acts 13:38 declares, "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you."

What is forgiveness and why do I need it?

The word "forgive" means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt. When we wrong someone, we seek their forgiveness in order for the relationship to be restored. Forgiveness is not granted because a person deserves to be forgiven. No one deserves to be forgiven. Forgiveness is an act of love, mercy, and grace. Forgiveness is a decision to not hold something against another person, despite what they have done to you.

The Bible tells us that we are all in need of forgiveness from God. We have all committed sin. Ecclesiastes 7:20 proclaims, "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins." 1 John 1:8 says, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." All sin is ultimately an act of rebellion against God (Psalm 51:4). As a result, we desperately need God's forgiveness. If our sins are not forgiven, we will spend eternity suffering the consequences of our sins (Matthew 25:46; John 3:36).

Forgiveness - How do I get it?

Thankfully, God is loving and merciful " eager to forgive us of our sins! 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, ""He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." God desires to forgive us, so He provided for our forgiveness.

The only just penalty for our sins is death. The first half of Romans 6:23 declares, "For the wages of sin is death"" Eternal death is what we have earned for our sins. God, in His perfect plan, became a human being " Jesus Christ (John 1:1,14). Jesus died on the cross, taking the penalty that we deserve " death. 2 Corinthians 5:21 teaches us, "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." Jesus died on the cross, taking the punishment that we deserve! As God, Jesus' death provided forgiveness for the sins of the entire world. 1 John 2:2 proclaims, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." Jesus rose from the dead, proclaiming His victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:1-28). Praise God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the second half of Romans 6:23 is true, ""but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Do you want to have your sins forgiven? Do you have a nagging feeling of guilt that you can't seem to get to go away? Forgiveness of your sins is available if you will place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Ephesians 1:7 says, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." Jesus paid our debt for us, so we could be forgiven. All you have to do is ask God to forgive you through Jesus, believing that Jesus died to pay for your forgiveness " and He will forgive you! John 3:16-17 contains this wonderful message, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."

Forgiveness - is it really that easy?

Yes it is that easy! You can’t earn forgiveness from God. You can’t pay for your forgiveness from God. You can only receive it, by faith, through the grace and mercy of God. If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and receive forgiveness from God, here is a prayer you can pray. Saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Jesus Christ that can provide forgiveness of sins. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and to thank Him for providing for your forgiveness. "God, I know that I have sinned against You and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness! Amen!"



05/04/21

Question: "Do you have eternal life?"

Answer: The Bible presents a clear path to eternal life. First, we must recognize that we have sinned against God: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We have all done things that are displeasing to God, which makes us deserving of punishment. Since all our sins are ultimately against an eternal God, only an eternal punishment is sufficient. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

However, Jesus Christ, the sinless (1 Peter 2:22), eternal Son of God became a man (John 1:1,14) and died to pay our penalty. "God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Jesus Christ died on the cross (John 19:31-42), taking the punishment that we deserve (2 Corinthians 5:21). Three days later He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), proving His victory over sin and death. "In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).

By faith, we must change our mindset regarding Christ - who He is, what He did, and why - for salvation (Acts 3:19)."If we place our faith in Him, trusting His death on the cross to pay for our sins, we will be forgiven and receive the promise of eternal life in heaven. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). Faith alone in the finished work of Christ on the cross is the only true path to eternal life! "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, here is a sample prayer. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Christ that can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. "God, I know that I have sinned against you and deserve punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness - the gift of eternal life! Amen!"



05/03/21

Question: "What is justification? What does it mean to be justified?"

Answer: Simply put, to justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God. Justification is God's declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous, based on Christ's righteousness being imputed to the accounts of those who receive Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Though justification as a principle is found throughout Scripture, the main passage describing justification in relation to believers is Romans 3:21-26: "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

We are justified, declared righteous, at the moment of our salvation. Justification does not make us righteous, but rather pronounces us righteous. Our righteousness comes from placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice covers our sin, allowing God to see us as perfect and unblemished. Because as believers we are in Christ, God sees Christ's own righteousness when He looks at us. This meets God's demands for perfection; thus, He declares us righteous—He justifies us.

Romans 5:18-19 sums it up well: "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." It is because of justification that the peace of God can rule in our lives. It is because of justification that believers can have assurance of salvation. It is the fact of justification that enables God to begin the process of sanctification—the process by which God makes us in reality what we already are positionally. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).




05/02/21


Question: "Why is justification by faith such an important doctrine?"

Answer: The teaching of justification by faith is what separates biblical Christianity from all other belief systems. In every religion, and in some branches of what is called “Christianity,” man is working his way to God. Only in true, biblical Christianity is man saved as a result of grace through faith. Only when we get back to the Bible do we see that justification is by faith, apart from works.

The word justified means “pronounced or treated as righteous.” For a Christian, justification is the act of God not only forgiving the believer’s sins but imputing to him the righteousness of Christ. The Bible states in several places that justification only comes through faith (e.g., Romans 5:1; Galatians 3:24). Justification is not earned through our own works; rather, we are covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:5). The Christian, being declared righteous, is thus freed from the guilt of sin.

Justification is a completed work of God, and it is instantaneous, as opposed to sanctification, which is an ongoing process of growth by which we become more Christlike (the act of “being saved,” cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Sanctification occurs after justification.

Understanding the doctrine of justification is important for a Christian. First, it is the very knowledge of justification and of grace that motivates good works and spiritual growth; thus, justification leads to sanctification. Also, the fact that justification is a finished work of God means that Christians have assurance of their salvation. In God’s eyes, believers have the righteousness necessary to gain eternal life.

Once a person is justified, there is nothing else he needs in order to gain entrance into heaven. Since justification comes by faith in Christ, based on His work on our behalf, our own works are disqualified as a means of salvation (Romans 3:28). There exist vast religious systems with complex theologies that teach the false doctrine of justification by works. But they are teaching “a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6–7).

Without an understanding of justification by faith alone, we cannot truly perceive the glorious gift of grace—God’s “unmerited favor” becomes “merited” in our minds, and we begin to think we deserve salvation. The doctrine of justification by faith helps us maintain “pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Holding to justification by faith keeps us from falling for the lie that we can earn heaven. There is no ritual, no sacrament, no deed that can make us worthy of the righteousness of Christ. It is only by His grace, in response to our faith, that God has credited to us the holiness of His Son. Both Old and New Testaments say, “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).




05/01/21


Question: "How can salvation be not of works when faith is required? Isn't believing a work?"

Answer: Our salvation depends solely upon Jesus Christ. He is our substitute, taking sin’s penalty (2 Corinthians 5:21); He is our Savior from sin (John 1:29); He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). The work necessary to provide salvation was fully accomplished by Jesus Himself, who lived a perfect life, took God’s judgment for sin, and rose again from the dead (Hebrews 10:12).

The Bible is quite clear that our own works do not help merit salvation. We are saved “not because of righteous things we had done” (Titus 3:5). “Not by works” (Ephesians 2:9). “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). This means that offering sacrifices, keeping the commandments, going to church, being baptized, and other good deeds are incapable of saving anyone. No matter how “good” we are, we can never measure up to God’s standard of holiness (Romans 3:23; Matthew 19:17; Isaiah 64:6).

The Bible is just as clear that salvation is conditional; God does not save everyone. The one condition for salvation is faith in Jesus Christ. Nearly 200 times in the New Testament, faith (or belief) is declared to be the sole condition for salvation (John 1:12; Acts 16:31). 

One day, some people asked Jesus what they could do to please God: “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus immediately points them to faith: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29). So, the question is about God’s requirements (plural), and Jesus’ answer is that God’s requirement (singular) is that you believe in Him.

Grace is God’s giving us something we cannot earn or deserve. According to Romans 11:6, “works” of any kind destroys grace—the idea is that a worker earns payment, while the recipient of grace simply receives it, unearned. Since salvation is all of grace, it cannot be earned. Faith, therefore, is a non-work. Faith cannot truly be considered a “work,” or else it would destroy grace. (See also Romans 4—Abraham’s salvation was dependent on faith in God, as opposed to any work he performed.)

Suppose someone anonymously sent you a check for $1,000,000. The money is yours if you want it, but you still must endorse the check. In no way can signing your name be considered earning the million dollars—the endorsement is a non-work. You can never boast about becoming a millionaire through sheer effort or your own business savvy. No, the million dollars was simply a gift, and signing your name was the only way to receive it. Similarly, exercising faith is the only way to receive the generous gift of God, and faith cannot be considered a work worthy of the gift.

True faith cannot be considered a work because true faith involves a cessation of our works in the flesh. True faith has as its object Jesus and His work on our behalf (Matthew 11:28-29; Hebrews 4:10).

To take this a step further, true faith cannot be considered a work because even faith is a gift from God, not something we produce on our own. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Praise the Lord for His power to save and for His grace to make salvation a reality!




04/30/21


Question: "What is the relationship of faith, works, and security in salvation?"

Answer: We believe in eternal security, that is, once a person is born again by the power of God, he is saved forever. Jesus gives “eternal life” (John 10:28), not temporary life. But we often get questions having to do with losing faith. How is salvation maintained? What if someone had saving faith at one time in his life, but later loses faith? Are good works necessary to sustain faith? Are we really secure in Christ?

There are four basic approaches to the issues surrounding faith, works, and security. The first approach is to say that you must have faith and continued obedience to be saved. You will not know for sure that you’re saved until you die and your life is finally evaluated by God. Then you will be saved or lost based on your performance in life. This is the basic teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as well as the thought of many Protestants. However, this approach does not adequately explain the teaching of Scripture that we are saved by grace through faith and that salvation is something that takes place here and now—not just in the afterlife.

The second approach to the relationship of faith, works, and security says that you are saved by faith to the exclusion of works. In this line of thinking, if you profess faith in Christ and subsequently repudiate your faith or embrace gross sin, you are still saved, because you are saved no matter what you do. This approach, sometimes called “easy believism,” does not take seriously the warnings in Scripture that emphasize personal holiness and enduring faith.

The third approach to faith, works, and security states that you are saved by faith, but you must somehow maintain your salvation through a combination of faith and works—or at least you must avoid flagrant, unrepentant sin. In other words, you may be saved, justified, born again, adopted into God’s family, and indwelt with the Holy Spirit yet still fall away and ultimately be lost. While this approach does take seriously Scripture’s warnings against sin, it still does not properly account for the many passages that speak of assurance of salvation, not to mention that we are saved apart from our works.

The final approach to faith, works, and security affirms that you are saved by faith based on the merit of Jesus Christ who died for you. In a great exchange, your sin was placed on Christ, and His righteousness was placed on you. The result of being born again and indwelt with God’s Spirit is that He begins to change you from the inside out. Your inner change becomes outwardly visible by continued faith and increasing obedience. If you profess faith in Christ but offer no evidence of a changed life, we have good reason to suspect that your initial profession may not have been genuine (Matthew 7:21).

The first approach fails because it adds works to faith as the means of salvation and denies security. The second approach fails because it ignores the need for a changed life (see Ephesians 1:4). The third approach fails because it places on us the duty of maintaining salvation instead of on Christ where it belongs (see Galatians 1:1–3). The fourth and final approach is biblical. We are saved by faith, not by our own good works (Ephesians 2:8–9), yet we are saved to do good works(Ephesians 2:10).

Many people talk about eternal security. The old Reformed term is perseverance of the saints. We persevere because the God who saves the believer is also the God who keeps the believer safe and enables him or her to continue in faith and good works (Philippians 1:6).



04/29/21


Question: "Do we contribute anything to our own salvation?"

Answer: There are two ways to look at this question—from a practical point of view and a biblical point of view. First, from a practical point of view, let’s assume that a person does contribute something to his salvation. If that were possible, who would get the credit in heaven? If we somehow contribute to our own salvation, it would follow that we get the credit. And if we get the credit, this certainly will detract from God’s getting the credit. If it were possible to contribute something to attain heaven, then people upon their arrival would be patting themselves on the back because of what they did in order to obtain heavenly citizenship. These same people would be singing, "Praise myself, I contributed to my own salvation." It is unthinkable that people in heaven will be worshiping self rather than God. God said, “I will not give my glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8; 42:11).

From a biblical point of view, mankind contributes nothing at all to his salvation. The problem with humanity is their sinfulness. Theologians normally refer to this as "total depravity." Total depravity is the belief that mankind is sinful throughout and can do nothing of himself to earn God’s favor. Because of this sinful state, mankind wants nothing to do with God (see especially Romans 1:18-32). It is safe to say that because mankind is totally depraved, mankind chooses to sin, loves to sin, defends sin, and glories in sin.

Because of man’s sinful predicament, he is in need of God’s direct intervention. This intervention has been provided by Jesus Christ, the mediator between sinful humanity and righteous God (1 Timothy 2:5). As already stated, humanity wants nothing to do with God, but God wants everything to do with us. This is why He sent his son Jesus Christ to die for the sins of humanity—God’s perfect substitution (1 Timothy 2:6). Because Jesus died, through faith mankind can be declared justified, declared righteous (Romans 5:1). By faith, the person is redeemed, bought out of the slave market of sin, and set free from it (1 Peter 1:18-19).

These acts just mentioned—substitution, justification, redemption—are just a few that are provided for completely by God, and devoid completely of anything human. The Bible is clear that mankind cannot contribute anything to his salvation. Any time someone thinks he can contribute, he is in essence working for his salvation, which is clearly against the Bible’s statements (see Ephesians 2:8-9). Even faith itself is a gift from God. Salvation is a free gift from God (Romans 6:23), and since it is a gift, there is nothing you can do to earn it. All you have to do is take the gift. "But to all who have received him (i.e., Jesus)—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children" (John 1:12).



04/28/21


Question: "What does the Bible say about homosexuality?"

Answer: In some people’s minds, being homosexual is as much outside one’s control as the color of your skin and your height. On the other hand, the Bible clearly and consistently declares that homosexual activity is a sin (Genesis 19:1–13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10). This disconnect leads to much controversy, debate, and even hostility.

When examining what the Bible says about homosexuality, it is important to distinguish between homosexual behavior and homosexual inclinations or attractions. It is the difference between active sin and the passive condition of being tempted. Homosexual behavior is sinful, but the Bible never says it is a sin to be tempted. Simply stated, a struggle with temptation may lead to sin, but the struggle itself is not a sin.

Romans 1:26–27 teaches that homosexuality is a result of denying and disobeying God. When people continue in sin and unbelief, God “gives them over” to even more wicked and depraved sin to show them the futility and hopelessness of life apart from God. One of the fruits of rebellion against God is homosexuality. First Corinthians 6:9 proclaims that those who practice homosexuality, and therefore transgress God’s created order, are not saved.

A person may be born with a greater susceptibility to homosexuality, just as some people are born with a tendency to violence and other sins. That does not excuse the person’s choosing to sin by giving in to sinful desires. Just because a person is born with a greater susceptibility to fits of rage, that doesn’t make it right for him to give in to those desires and explode at every provocation. The same is true with a susceptibility to homosexuality.

No matter our proclivities or attractions, we cannot continue to define ourselves by the very sins that crucified Jesus—and at the same time assume we are right with God. Paul lists many of the sins that the Corinthians once practiced (homosexuality is on the list). But in 1 Corinthians 6:11, he reminds them, “That is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (emphasis added). In other words, some of the Corinthians, before they were saved, lived homosexual lifestyles; but no sin is too great for the cleansing power of Jesus. Once cleansed, we are no longer defined by sin.

The problem with homosexual attraction is that it is an attraction to something God has forbidden, and any desire for something sinful ultimately has its roots in sin. The pervasive nature of sin causes us to see the world and our own actions through a warped perspective. Our thoughts, desires, and dispositions are all affected. So, homosexual attraction does not always result in active, willful sin—there may not be a conscious choice to sin—but it springs from the sinful nature. Same-sex attraction is always, on some basic level, an expression of the fallen nature.

As sinful human beings living in a sinful world (Romans 3:23), we are beset with weaknesses, temptations, and inducements to sin. Our world is filled with lures and entrapments, including the enticement to practice homosexuality.

The temptation to engage in homosexual behavior is very real to many. Those who struggle with homosexual attraction often report suffering through years of wishing things were different. People may not always be able to control how or what they feel, but they can control what they do with those feelings (1 Peter 1:5–8). We all have the responsibility to resist temptation (Ephesians 6:13). We must all be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We must all “walk by the Spirit” so as not to “gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Finally, the Bible does not describe homosexuality as a “greater” sin than any other. All sin is offensive to God. Without Christ, we are lost, whatever type of sin has entangled us. According to the Bible, God’s forgiveness is available to the homosexual just as it is to the adulterer, idol worshiper, murderer, and thief. God promises the strength for victory over sin, including homosexuality, to all those who will believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13).



04/26/21


Question: "What is the crown of glory and diadem of beauty (Isaiah 28:5)?"


Answer: The first half of Isaiah 28 is both a woe (a judgment) pronounced against Ephraim/Israel and an announcement of the Messianic hope for the remnant of faithful people who lived in Israel. Even in the midst of judgment, there would be “a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty” (Isaiah 28:5, ESV). Ephraim was the tribe located immediately to the north of the southern kingdom of Judah. Ephraim was a border tribe and one of the more prominent tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel, which included ten tribes to the north of Judah and Benjamin. Because of Ephraim’s prominence and location, it was sometimes representative of the entire northern kingdom (e.g., Ezekiel 37:16).

In Isaiah 28:1–13 judgment is pronounced against the “proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim” (Isaiah 28:1, ESV). Israel was enjoying the prosperity of living in the land God gave to the nation, but it was not worshipping God. Instead, the people were worshipping the gods of the people of Canaan and committing idolatry against God. As a result, the glorious beauty of Ephraim was fading (Isaiah 28:2), and God’s patience with their immorality was coming to an end. Like hail in a storm, the glory of Ephraim would be cast to the ground (Isaiah 28:2), and the “proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim” would be brought so low that it would be stepped on (Isaiah 28:3, ESV). Their beauty would fade very quickly (Isaiah 28:4). But with God’s judgment He shows grace. Even when Ephraim would be judged, the Lord of Hosts would be “a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty” to them (Isaiah 28:5).

The kingdom of Israel was reveling in its own glory, but it was short-lived. When that glory faded, the remnant of the people—that smaller group who had trusted in God and was seeking to worship Him—would see that Hewas their crown of glory and diadem of beauty. Those who had stood for God even while much of the nation had opposed Him would be rewarded when God’s judgment arrived. God’s rule and the arrival of His justice would be beautiful to those who had long awaited it (Isaiah 28:6).

While there was judgment coming in the near term for Israel, justice wasn’t simply a short-term happening, as God said, “Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a tested stone, A precious cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. The one who believes in it will not be disturbed” (Isaiah 28:16, NASB). God would one day, through the Messiah (the cornerstone, Acts 4:11), bring about lasting justice (Isaiah 28:17). Just as He was then, God will be a “crown of glory and diadem of beauty” to all who trust in Him.

Isaiah 28 records a particular judgment for Ephraim, and it reminds us that we should glory in Him, not in our own strength or circumstances. Like Ephraim, sometimes we enjoy the prosperity God provides so much that we don’t trust in Him as we should. When we keep in view that He is also our “crown of glory and diadem of beauty,” we can avoid putting our hope and trust in someone or something else.



04/25/21


Question: "What is the meaning of "redeeming the time" in Ephesians 5:16?"

Answer: Ephesians 5:15–16 in the King James Version says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The phrase redeeming the time is also found in Colossians 4:5: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (KJV). In both passages, redeeming the time is related to wisdom in how we “walk,” that is, in how we live.

To redeem something means to buy it back, to regain possession of it. Time is a gift from God, and none of us know how much of it we are allotted. Only God knows how much time each of us has on this earth to make decisions that will impact eternity (Psalm 139:16). When God says we should be “redeeming the time,” He wants us to live in constant awareness of that ticking clock and make the most of the time we have. In fact, the NIV’s translation of Ephesians 5:16 uses the phrase making the most of every opportunity instead of redeeming the time. Rather than waste our days on frivolous pursuits that leave no lasting imprint, Scripture instructs us to be diligent about doing good (Titus 3:8).

The context of the command to redeem the time helps us understand what redeeming the time looks like and why it’s important: “Be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life” (Ephesians 5:15–18, NLT). Redeeming the time means that we are careful in how we live. We seek out and employ wisdom (see Proverbs 2:1–15). We seize every opportunity and use it for God’s glory. We think through our plans and make sure they align with God’s will. And we avoid empty, harmful activities such as getting drunk. Why are we to live this way? “Because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). We must overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Jesus taught His disciples the necessity of redeeming the time: “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). Jesus was diligent about keeping to His mission. Distractions were as prevalent then as they are now, but He let none of them deter Him from preaching and teaching God’s Word. That was why He had come (Luke 4:43). Though He spent only 33 years on this earth, Jesus changed the world forever because He redeemed the time.

We can learn to redeem the time by becoming conscious of the fact that we may not have another day. The song “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw is about redeeming the time. While its focus is on pursuing earthly passions in the time we have left, the lyrics make an important point. They conclude with this thought: “Someday I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dying.” As Christians, we should live like we were dying and pursue all God has given us to do while we have time. Everything done for Christ on earth earns eternal rewards (Mark 9:41). That which was done for selfish, carnal reasons will burn up and blow away (1 Corinthians 3:12–15).

Another way we can learn to redeem the time is by asking God to help us. We should start every morning by committing our day to the Lord and asking Him to help us do something that day that has eternal significance. By beginning our day with eternity in mind, we become more aware of spiritual nudges in our hearts. We look for ways we can honor the Lord, help someone else, or utilize our time in productive ways. Sitting at a red light, we can pray for our neighbor. Mopping the floor, we can worship in song. At a restaurant, we can leave an extra big tip along with a gospel tract or a card inviting the waiter to church. We can evaluate our gifts and interests and find ways to invest them for God’s kingdom. Volunteering, serving at church, leading a ministry, taking Bible studies to the jails and prisons, and studying to show ourselves “approved unto God” are all ways we can redeem the time (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV).

James 4:14 reminds us that our earthly lives are no more than a fog that appears and then quickly evaporates. Our money and possessions will be given to someone else. Our jobs will be filled by others. Our families may remember us with fondness but will move on with lives that don’t include us. All that remains of our lives on earth is that which was invested in eternity. In the end, all that matters is what we did or did not do to redeem the time (Psalm 102:3; 144:4).


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