Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Resurrection of course…

“In Christian apologetics, no historical argument surpasses the resurrection of Jesus for its sheer evidential force.”1 Regardless of such strong evidence there have been, and possibly always will be, objections as to whether or not Jesus physically rose from the dead.  There are books both objecting to, and supporting the arguments surrounding the resurrection of Christ.  However, the purpose of this paper is not to address the objections, but to provide evidence that Christ, in fact, rose from the dead.  The approach presented here will consist of four facts accepted by most scholars, both conservative and skeptical alike, while the fifth that “enjoys acceptance by an impressive majority of scholars, though not by nearly all.”2 They are:
1. “Jesus died by crucifixion
2. Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose and appeared to them
3. The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed
4. The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed
5. The tomb was empty”3
Jesus Died by Crucifixion
To many this may appear as a given, that Jesus died from crucifixion, but in reality it is crucial in building the foundation for our argument.  Basically stating; that if Jesus didn’t actually die, then there is no argument to be discussed.
1. Habermas, Gary, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics; Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 2008
2.  Habermas, Gary, Licona, M., The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Kregel Publications Grand Rapids MI. 2004
3. Ibid

In claiming Christ died of crucifixion, it must first be established what exactly crucifixion actually is.  The point of this brief overview, or definition, would simply be to solidify our argument since no objections are being presented against it for our purpose here.
“The Greek word for “cross,” stauros, literally refers to an upright, pointed stake or pale.  The word xylon is usually “wood” or “tree”.  In the New Testament and in some other literature of the time both frequently refer to a particularly cruel and degrading form of capital punishment known as crucifixion.”4 Typically, victims of crucifixion were beaten prior to being crucified and then affixed to the wood either by rope or nails being tied or pierced through the wrists and feet.  “Death usually came slowly; it was not unusual for persons to survive for days on the cross.  Exposure, disease, hunger, shock, and exhaustion were the usual immediate causes of death.”5 However, in the case of Jesus, “the majority opinion is that he died by asphyxiation, or from the lack of oxygen.”6 This being prior to the Roman soldier stabbing Him in the side to verify Jesus being dead, thus not breaking his legs as was common to speed up the process of death.  “In the article “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ” the Journal of the American Medical Society concluded:
4.  Elwell, Walter A., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Ed.  Baker Book House Grand Rapids MI. 2001
5.  Ibid
6. Habermas, Gary, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics; Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 2008

“Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to His side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between His right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death.  Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.”  (March 21, 1986, p. 1463)”7
All four gospels in the Bible, Matthew (27:35), Mark (15:24), Luke (23:33) and John (19:18) provide an account of Jesus being killed by crucifixion.  However, when presenting a defense, or argument, for the first of the five facts being discussed, one must go outside of the Bible in order to solidify the evidence.
“Jesus’ execution is also reported by a number of ancient non-Christian sources.  Josephus (late first century), Tacitus (early second century), Lucian (mid-second century), and Mara bar Serapion (second or third century) all reported the event.”8
Jesus’ Disciples Believed that He Rose and Appeared to Them
As with the crucifixion, all four gospels record the disciples making claims concerning Jesus. Only this time it was their belief that Jesus had risen and had appeared to them.  Yet, when presenting the facts of the resurrection, one must clarify why to accept eyewitness testimony from a source that would appear favorable of the facts, (the Bible).

7.  Geisler, Norman L., When Skeptics Ask, Baker Books Grand Rapids MI. 1990
8. Habermas, Gary, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics; Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 2008

“This conclusion can be reached from nine early and independent sources that fall into three categories:
1. The testimony of Paul about the disciples
2. The oral tradition that passed through the early church
3. The written works of the early church”9
When faced with using the New Testament, part of our argument for the resurrection, one only must explain its acceptance as ancient literature as we would consider any other ancient text.  This is not necessarily overcoming an objection but simply explaining the argument as with the crucifixion.  So without going in to the nine sources mentioned previously, the three categories is a direct and simplistic way of presenting the initial evidence concerning the disciples believing that Jesus rose and appeared to them.
“First, we have Paul who claims to have known and fellowshipped with the disciples firsthand.  He says that they said it.  Second, we know of some very early oral tradition that was circulating within the church before the New Testament was even written and points to the disciples saying it.  Third, we have written tradition that portrays or assumes the disciples saying that Jesus had appeared to them after he rose from the dead.”10 These three main points cover the nine sources in a broad overview, yet if needed the nine are there.  Typically, a basic approach with direct and to the point answers will suffice for this type of argument, but that does not mean one does not need to know the details, or to graciously back out of a conversation if they do not know, until further time that the details can be presented.
9. Habermas, Gary, Licona, M., The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Kregel Publications Grand Rapids MI. 2004
10. Ibid

However, to this writer the most compelling evidence concerning the disciples has yet to be presented.  And yet again, it would seem so simplistic, but yet many appear afraid to have these type discussions.
“People will die for something they believe to be true, but people do not die for something they believe to be a lie,” according to Dr. Frank Turek in his promotional video for I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.  What does this have to do with the disciples believing that Jesus rose and appeared to them?  Consider the night before Jesus was actually crucified and was arrested, where were His followers?  We know Peter denied Him three times, and the others seem to have scattered throughout the area out of fear.  Now consider how miraculously brave they suddenly became after He rose and appeared to them.  This is exactly what Dr. Turek is referring when he makes the statement concerning people not dying for a lie.  The disciples were so afraid the night of Jesus’ arrest for their own lives and safety that they abandon Him, denied Him, and hid as not to be arrested for being an associate of His.  “In all, at least seven early sources testify that the original disciples willingly suffered in defense of their beliefs.  If we include the sufferings and martyrdoms of Paul and James the brother of Jesus, we have eleven sources.  These facts are validated by multiple accounts, both from early sources in the New Testament as well as outside of it.”11 And besides, “liars make poor martyrs”.12 Of course, as discussed previously, the skeptic may accept or deny this type of claim based on many objections that they themselves may present.
11.  Habermas, Gary, Licona, M., The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Kregel Publications Grand Rapids MI. 2004
12. Ibid

Keep in mind this is the basic facts for the resurrection of Christ.  There are nine, at a minimum, independent sources not mentioned here to solidify this piece of the argument, and basic answers to most questions the skeptic may pose.  However, it would seem sufficient for our purposes that the three categories and the fact of the disciples going from cowards to extremely brave men would be enough for an opening presentation, or defense, of the resurrection.
The Church Persecutor Paul was Changed
We have shown that Jesus died by crucifixion and that the disciples believed He rose and appeared to them.  We will now turn our attention to the three remaining facts to confirm the disciples’ beliefs, and solidify our argument that Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead.
“Recent scholars agree, for a variety of reasons, that Paul is the most reliable witness to Jesus’ resurrection appearances.”13
“Saul of Tarsus, better known by history as the apostle Paul, changed from being a skeptic who believed that it was God’s will to persecute the church to becoming one of its most influential messengers.”  These two statements provide for the reader a foundation of our defense of the resurrection in connection with one of the most powerful pieces of evidence. It has been shown, as stated above, the disciples believed, and now we are presented with another eyewitness that had no reason to promote such a belief, and as a matter of fact was en route to
13.  Habermas, Gary, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics; Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 2008
kill Christians when he witnessed the risen Christ. (Acts 9:1-19)  Thus it is here that we will unfold possibly the strongest eyewitness to our defense.
Like the disciples, Paul’s belief was so strong that he was willing to suffer and die a martyr’s death for the sake of the gospel, while obviously convinced by his belief of his own experience with the risen Jesus.
“In recent New Testament research, few conclusions are more widely recognized by scholars than that the text in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 significantly predates Paul.”14 It is here one is presented with Paul’s personal experience, and not only that but many had witnessed the risen Jesus.  This, coming from a man that killed Christians, but is now proclaiming evidence, that he himself had verified to be true from experience and the apostles themselves.  Paul describes his trip to Jerusalem and how he had spent time with Peter and James, the brother of Jesus gathering information.  This would have to be very early, as many believe his trip took place around A.D. 35.  Comparatively speaking to other historical documents, nothing dates this closely to an actual event thus making one of our best eyewitness accounts extremely reliable.  Paul was so determined to gather the truth that he made yet another trip to Jerusalem, this time meeting with not only Peter and James, but with John also.  “This point is well documented, reported by Paul himself, as well as Luke, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysiuss of Corinth, and Origen.”15
14.  Habermas, Gary, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics; Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 2008
15. Ibid
As with all of the facts thus far presented, and the others to be presented, there will always be objections.  In fact many may or may not believe the resurrection accounts based on a variety of reasons.  However, the fact of Paul behind such a key eyewitness is not so much that he was converted and believed, it is why he believed what he did.  You see, many people believe things for different reasons, typically from something they have read or have been told by others.  In the case of Paul, he had firsthand experience.  Meaning, not only did he verify his belief with others, (secondary information), he experienced his belief first hand, (primary information).  For Paul, it was not just a blind faith, but a belief in both primary and secondary information.  “We have said enough to round off our treatment of Paul with the clear understanding that he believed he had seen the risen Jesus in person, and that his understanding of who Jesus was included the firm belief that he possessed a transformed but still physical body.”16
The Skeptic James, the Brother of Jesus, was Suddenly Changed
Though we do not have as much information on James as we do Paul, he is still crucial for the evidence presented, and yet another eyewitness.  The same arguments can be used concerning James as far as his belief that he actually saw a risen Jesus and that he was willing to die for such belief as with Paul and the others.  “James’s martyrdom is attested by Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria.  We no longer have any of the works of Hegesippus or the writings of Clement where the event is mentioned.
16.  Wright, N. T., The Resurrection of the Son of God, Fortress Press Minneapolis MN. 2003

However, sections have been preserved by Eusebius.  Therefore, his martyrdom is attested by both Christian and non Christian sources.”17 This particular fact as mentioned earlier is an indication of why we consider him a valid source of information.  “In 2002, what was thought to be a significant archaeological discovery was made.  An ancient ossuary or bone box dating to the first century was found with the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”  While controversy continues regarding the authenticity of the inscription, the fact that such a find enthralled the religious world shows the historical importance attached to James, the brother of Jesus.”18
We turn to Mark 3:21-35 for our look at James prior to his conversion.  It is here that he, along with the rest of Jesus’ family was at least skeptical, if not unbelievers, in Jesus and His ministry.  Could one possibly imagine, as with Paul, someone going from unbeliever, to believer?  Of course that is possible, but yet again we see that it was not based on secondary information concerning James, but as with Paul, firsthand experience.  In fact, “critical scholars almost always hold that James, the brother of Jesus, was a skeptical unbeliever during the time of Jesus’ ministry”19 citing the aforementioned verse of scripture.
So where does James, the brother of Jesus, and his eyewitness testimony appear; 1 Corinthians 15:7 in Paul’s writing to the church at Corinth.  Here, and only here, is where we find a resurrection appearance to James, thus leading to his conversion.
17.  Habermas, Gary, Licona, M., The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Kregel Publications Grand Rapids MI. 2004
18. Ibid
19. Habermas, Gary, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics; Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 2008

This may not seem as though it would bear much credit to James, the brother of Jesus, as a eyewitness, yet according to critical scholar Reginald Fuller “we should have to invent” such an appearance in order to account for two things; James’s conversion from skepticism and his elevation to the pastorate of the church in Jerusalem, the center of ancient Christianity.”20 In fact “most scholars think this was the reason James became a believer.”21
As with Paul, James, the brother of Jesus, provides solid evidence of someone being converted to Christianity after what they believed to be an appearance of the risen Jesus.  And, once again, we are presenting eyewitness testimony, accepted by most scholars, to the fact that Jesus indeed rise from the dead and appeared physically to believers and non believers alike.
It would seem if one were to present this case in a court of law, and stop at this point, that the evidence provided would give a jury reasonable doubt allowing for the acceptance that Christ, in fact,  rose from the dead.  However, outside of the eyewitness accounts, the most compelling evidence has yet to be presented; the evidence that could have stopped Christianity in its tracks, if only…for the empty tomb.
The Tomb was Empty
All of the evidence presented up to this point is accepted by most scholars.  It is here we must concede that not as many scholars accept the empty tomb as evidence for Christ rising from the dead.
20.  Habermas, Gary, Licona, M., The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Kregel Publications Grand Rapids MI. 2004
21. Habermas, Gary, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics; Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 2008

However, to this writer it is possibly the strongest evidence, and in fact is accepted by “an impressive majority of critical scholars.  Gary Habermas discovered that roughly 75 percent of scholars on the subject accept the empty tomb as a historical fact.”22
It would seem the empty tomb would be one of, if not the strongest pieces of evidence for the resurrection of Christ.  Simply put, or at least to the common individual, a body would have been all that was needed to discount every eyewitness, regardless of a particular tomb being empty.  However, there are many objections and theories as to the tomb.  The point in this section of our five facts will be to give solid evidence supporting the empty tomb without addressing the objections and theories.
The first point concerning the empty tomb reverts back to our initial claims concerning the crucifixion and disciples; the empty tomb is presented in all four gospel accounts.  More significant than it being in each gospel is how it is presented; by women.  “This was an embarrassing situation because in ancient culture, female testimony in crucial matters was widely dismissed.  Due to this attitude, the unanimity regarding the women’s testimonies hardly qualifies as an early Christian invention.”23 For the skeptic not understanding ancient history this may seem as a futile attempt, or grasping for solid evidence, when in reality it is certainly one of the strongest points indicating the tomb was actually empty.  The obvious question would have to be if the disciples or anyone else were trying to fabricate a story, then why include such an embarrassing story of women being the first to discover the empty tomb.
22.  Habermas, Gary, Licona, M., The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Kregel Publications Grand Rapids MI. 2004
23. Habermas, Gary, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics; Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 2008

Second, why would, of all places, did the apostles make such a claim, (Jerusalem), of the empty tomb, if in fact it was not empty.  It would be common knowledge of a tomb being empty, especially of such a well known event as the crucifixion that it could have been easily verified by most anyone.  This leads back to this writer’s previous statement concerning producing a body, thus stopping Christianity instantly.  Yet, based on the evidence it would seem there was no body to produce, and the tomb was indeed empty.
“Further, the empty tomb is confirmed by multiple accounts, a very important test for historical truth.”24 “The empty tomb is, therefore, well evidenced for historical certainty.  Former Oxford University church historian William Wand writes, “All the strictly historical evidence we have is in favor of (the empty tomb), and those scholars who reject it ought to recognize that they do so on some other ground than that of scientific history.”25
Conclusion
The purpose of this paper has been to provide evidence that Christ, in fact, rose from the dead using five facts:
1. “Jesus died by crucifixion
2.  Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose and appeared to them
3.  The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed
24.  Habermas, Gary, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics; Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 2008
25.  Habermas, Gary, Licona, M., The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Kregel Publications Grand Rapids MI. 2004

4. The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed
5. The tomb was empty”26
Each of these facts has been presented, along with evidence supporting them.  Though objections do indeed exist, the point has been well established, along with the evidence that Christ, in fact, rose from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Apostle Paul

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Imagine if…

Picture 10 students on the campus of a secular university prepared to defend their faith! Now imagine 20 students, 50 students, imagine a ministry of apologetic ambassadors touching thousands of students and adults alike with evidence and reason to follow Jesus! Consider your church, its members, new followers all coming together. Young Christians mature Christians, pastors and leaders joining together in “one accord”, with one mission; to make disciples of all nations, to have an answer for the hope we have, to love God with all of our heart soul and minds. It is happening now! In fact…it is a movement, could it be the next Great Awakening?

People everywhere are tired of being pushed around; tired of having the politically correct agenda being shoved down their throat; tired of having their Christian values being looked at as intolerant, and changing the definitions of key moral and social issues. They are turning off TBN! They are learning what they believe and why they believe it. Why? Because there is only One true God. There is only One Truth! And people are starting to join together, to learn and share that Truth. They are setting themselves apart from the world. They don’t care if some speak in tongues, what color the carpet may be, or whether one is once saved always saved, or if we choose God or He chooses us. Sound utopian? It’s not! It is happening now! It is a movement! Could it be the next Great Awakening?

How you ask? Apologetics! Please, do not be afraid. Apologetics is simply a fancy word for giving a reason or defense, in this case, Christian apologetics. We are following the command of scripture. Not just 1 Peter 3:15, ‘…to have an answer for the hope you have…” But the first and greatest command according to Jesus Himself. Matthew 22:37 “…to love God with all of your heart, soul and mind…” and what about 2 Corinthians 10:5, “…we demolish all arguments…”? We are following the examples of the Bible by providing evidence and reason, again as Jesus, Paul and many others. We are finding the Truth. We are learning that Truth is objective, meaning it does not change, and neither does God. We have stopped listening to the “popular” guy, or reading the “bestseller”. We find out what anyone sharing the Word believes, BEFORE, we listen to or follow them. We know prosperity gospel is wrong, that many do not believe in the Trinity and that is wrong. We know revelation is complete through God’s Word and though God can and does perform miracles it is not common or often. We have made a decision that if we are going to follow Christ it may not be easy. We are part of a movement! Could it be the next Great Awakening?

Picture the church being the church. A body of believers in the One true God; a group that started with twelve and changed the world forever; a group that were convinced of what they believed through signs, wonders, and miracles, (apologetics); a group that wasn’t concerned about health and wealth. That called out false teachers from among them. That didn’t mind being different, or hurting someone’s feelings. The church, that stood together, shared the Truth by reasoning daily, (apologetics), and died for what they believed; a movement, that started over 2000 years ago, that lead to the Great Awakening.

Imagine yourself being a part of this movement…It is happening now! Join us as we lead the next Great Awakening!

Q & A for the problem of evil…

The following is a paper submitted as a requirement for one of my previous classes:

Answer the Christian: Why do people suffer for a sin Adam committed long ago? Your answer should include a discussion of federal headship and natural/seminal generation.
1. Christians offer two explanations of why people suffer for the sin of Adam committed long ago.
2. The first explanation is called federal headship.  Federal headship simply stated is that God put Adam in charge of all things, to be the representative of the family, as with a typical Christian family today, the husband is the head of the home.  So, when Adam sinned, we all sinned.  Another possibly better example would be, when a president of a country declares war on another country, he may not have everyone’s approval, yet the country very well still may go to war.  Adam represented all of human kind.  Us, the human race has been condemned along with Adam.  The only way around this is in and through Jesus Christ.  The Bible speaks of Jesus being the last Adam, (1 Cor. 15:21-22, 47-49; Rom. 5:15-21), so just as with the first sin of Adam, Christ’s sacrifice of Himself as our “sin offering” provides forgiveness of our sins.
3. The second explanation of why we all suffer for Adam’s sin is called natural headship.  This particular explanation is not accepted by as many as the first, yet provides an alternative to those desiring, or not satisfied with federal headship.  Natural headship is related to the traducianist view.  This meaning we are likened to our parents.  Such as a vine’s branch must take root, we are like children from our parents.  We receive our physical nature from our parents as do we our souls as humans.  . Augustine wrote that the first humans were created good but of their “own will” they corrupted themselves and then “begot corrupted and condemned children…. And thus, from the bad use of free will, there originated a whole train of evil, which, with its concatenation of miseries, convoys the human race from its depraved origin, as from a corrupt root….” Natural headship, as theologian Millard Erickson (1932- ) put it, is that the “entirety of our human nature, physical and spiritual, material and immaterial, has been received from our parents and more distant ancestors by way of descent from the first pair of humans. On that basis, we were actually present within Adam, so that we all sinned in his act. There is no injustice, then, to our condemnation and death as a result of original sin.” This relationship is illustrated in Hebrews 7:9-10 where Levi, Abraham’s descendant, is said to have paid a tithe through Abraham, even though he wasn’t born yet, because he was in the loins of Abraham when Abraham made the tithe.
4. Although not all Christians agree that we receive our very souls from Adam (esp. many Reformed theologians and the Roman Catholic Church, who hold that each soul is specially created), all agree that Adam did pass a corrupted nature on to his children. The transmission of Adam’s corrupted nature to all of humankind imputes them as guilty and results in their individual sinfulness and therefore suffering. Since all are then, by birth, sinners, all deserve to die. This penalty for sin is illustrated in Luke 13:1-5, which is Jesus’ most pointed discussion concerning why God allows suffering. Here Jesus responds to why some were murdered on one occasion and to why some were killed by the collapse of a tower on another. Jesus points out that those who suffered weren’t “worse sinners,” but adds “unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Here Jesus links death to sin. Theologian D. A. Carson (1946- ) commented that Jesus “does not assume” that those who suffered “did not deserve their fate. Indeed, the fact that he can tell those contemporaries that unless they repent they too will perish shows that Jesus assumes that all death is in one way or another the result of sin, and therefore deserved.” Even though the concept of original sin or ancestral sin is unpopular today, it refuses to go away because it alone answers why humans do so much evil. So Carl G. Jung (1875-1961) wrote that man should be studied because “we are the origin of all coming evil.”

Answer the skeptic: Why doesn’t God prevent children from getting cancer or from dying?
Of cancer?
1. God does not prevent children from getting cancer or from dying of cancer due to the sinful nature we are born in to in this life, and for the fact of giving us free will.
2. Jesus was asked by his disciples concerning the man He healed that was born blind whether, “this man or his parents” and Jesus replied that it was neither, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3).
3. Because Christians also believe that God is good, however, they are then pressed to explain why a good God would allow suffering and evil. Although some Christians prefer to leave God’s ultimate reasons for allowing suffering to be a mystery only revealed in heaven, most Christian theologians have sought to explain it, and, in one form or another, this explanation ultimately appeals to what is called the “greater good.” Namely, Christians argue that God may allow great suffering in this world but He does so because it is a greater good to allow suffering and to accomplish other very good purposes, than to disallow all suffering.
4. Therefore to accomplish some valuable things requires that He cannot do other valuable things. “For example,” as theologian John Feinberg wrote (1994), “God can either remove evil or give us free will. If he removes evil, he isn’t guilty for failing to give us free will. If he gives us free will, he isn’t guilty for failing to remove evil. He can’t do both conjointly, so he isn’t guilty for failing to do both.”
Answer the skeptic: Why is it fair that God ordered the killing of Canaanite children?
1. It may not seem fair to the unbeliever, or the Christian for that matter, yet the simple answer is for the same reason we all are sentenced to death.  The choice is ours on where we spend eternity.  Children always are used by the skeptic simply trying to make a point, when in reality the same answer applies; we are guilty, young or old, and as Christians must realize all things happen for good, and His glory.
2. This would be referred to as natural suffering.  The following is an example of natural evil: “In sober truth, nearly all the things which men are hanged or imprisoned for doing to one another are nature’s every-day performances. Killing, the most criminal act recognized by human laws, nature does to every being that lives, and in a large proportion of cases after protracted tortures such as only the greatest monsters whom we read of ever inflicted on their fellow creatures…. Nature impales men, breaks them as if on the wheel, casts them to be devoured by wild beasts, burns them to death, crushes them with stones like the first Christian martyr, starves them with hunger, freezes them with cold, poisons them by the quick or slow venom of her exhalations, and has hundreds of other hideous deaths in reserve….”
3. Now more direct and to the point of the Canaanite children, is it wrong to kill children?  Of course.  But is it not also wrong to kill any human?  God is not fair.  It seems somewhere somehow people have decided that God is all loving and fair, when in fact He is a loving God, but is a just God, not necessarily a fair God.  Why destroy the Canaanites?  Lev. 18:2: “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD. Lev. 18:21: “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.”   Thus we see here the children were to be sacrificed as part of the culture, thus going against God again.  Adam’s reproductions are thoroughly corrupted by sin as mentioned throughout this discussion.
4.  Adam’s sin caused his reproductions suffer and die. If that upsets us, let’s hate sin! Sadly it seems instead of hating sin, we simply ignore it, feel it won’t send us to hell if it is just a little sin, and have become accepting of the world.  Meaning we are letting the world dictate to us, instead of us setting the standards.
5. It is wrong to kill children? Yes. But not killing Canaanite children, as we have mentioned earlier.  If it is for the glory of God, and we do not understand completely either way, then it would be certainly allowable.  Children die daily, it is not their fault and may seem that God doesn’t or can’t do anything about it, yet as mentioned previously also, He cannot give us free will and remove evil both.  Though some may argue to remove freewill, but that is a topic for later.  Canaanite children given over to Molech up to four years old and often molested inquire about their parent’s gods leading to further seduction, and they would be enemies of Israel as they grew.  Children would rebel against their new parent’s esp. when they found out their new parents killed their birth parents because of Adamic birth, all deserve death.  Regardless, children may very well be in heaven.

Answer the skeptic: Why do bad things happen to good people?
1. The first answer to the question would be a question; who decides what defines good or bad for that matter?  Can we distinguish good from bad or vice versa without God?
2. The biblical answer is there are no “good” people. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that all of us are tainted by and infected with sin not is clearer about the non-existence of “good” people: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Every human being on this planet deserves to be thrown into hell at this very moment. Every second we spend alive is only by the grace and mercy of God. Even the most terrible misery we could experience on this planet is merciful compared to what we deserve, eternal hell in the lake of fire.
3. Sin Deserves Death.  D. A. Carson: Jesus doesn’t even hint that those who died didn’t deserve it. Rather, that Jesus says “repent” or you too will die.  For Jesus all death is one way or another result of sin and therefore deserved.
4. Jesus does insist that those who died weren’t worse sinners. They were just sinners and all sinners deserve to die. Whether you die from murder or accident isn’t more than you deserve—only God’s mercy keeps you alive.
5. We need to be Born Again.  1 Jn. 3:8-10: “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”
Answer the skeptic: Why is eternal punishment fair?
1. As mentioned previously, God does not have to be fair, He is a just God.  Sin against an infinite God is a crime deserved of eternal punishment.  God is omnibenevolent but He is also just and even He cannot actualize contradictions.  No one will be in hell for lack of evidence.  Hell exists for the good of the redeemed.  Good in that Hell’s occupants won’t harm or pollute the redeemed.  Good in that Hell’s occupants are an eternal reminder to the redeemed of the horror of sin.  God doesn’t have to be “good” to those who rebel against Him.  God cannot actualize a good and just world where all people will freely choose to follow Him. He also cannot actualize a just world where no one goes to hell without sending the wrong message to free beings.
2. As covered in question one, we all deserve death, and or eternal punishment.  “…the wages of sin is death…”
Answer the skeptic: If conscious belief in Jesus is required for salvation, how is that fair
to those who have never heard the gospel?
1.  All are aware of God, whether it is through His revelation in His Word, or being born with the knowledge of God each individual is ultimately area of God.  Specifically, anyone can simply look around, no matter the location, and have an awareness of God.
2. John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
3. Are they truly unevangelized?  Many will argue this point yet at the same time admit the obvious of their surroundings and other attributes of God.  But then we have the cultural argument, and many other basic objections.  Everyone is aware of God in some way, getting them to admit this self denial could possibly be ongoing until His actual return.  Either way, God knows who will repent, again depending on one’s belief system concerning free will and otherwise.  Here in lies a common misconception, what about the innocent etc.?  We have covered that topic in depth, no one is innocent, children and adults alike are all guilty.  Can we reject the gospel?  Possibly, but that is not, and will not suffice as an excuse for not knowing God.  Feinberg argues, “Those who don’t get that information don’t fail to get it because it was impossible to attain it; rather they fail to get it because they reject even the truth they have, and don’t seek further truth about God.”
4. God Reaches People in unusual ways and God places people so they will hear.  Throughout the Bible and in everyday life one can see, though possibly not admit, that God indeed reaches people in unusual ways, and places people so they will hear.
Answer the skeptic: Free will isn’t so valuable for God to permit so much suffering.
1.  Some will argue there is no free will to begin with, thus how could there be a value to having free will?
2. Free Will Not Worth It?  T. H. Huxley (1825-1895): “I protest that if some great Power would agree to make me always to think what is true and do what is right, on condition of being turned into a sort of clock… I should instantly close the offer.”Understanding Free Will is part of the problem.  Good and evil appear almost 1100 times, Sin 900 times, wicked almost 500, holy over 600, right and wrong 600 times, righteous & unrighteous 550 times, love and hate 650, obey 225. (Over 5,000 times), this 5000 doesn’t include variations for evil: bad, iniquity, corrupt, immoral, depraved, and profane. Nor words for particular types of evil like covet adultery, idolatry, pride, lying, lust, etc. Nor words of particular types of goodness like honor, truthfulness, faithfulness, humility. Nor words describing the inclination to do evil like temptation or seduction.   Many feel God would not give us that much authority over our lives.  Thus this could lead to a major discussion that is outside the scope of the paper.  However, assuming free will, and understanding free will are key components.  It keeps us from exerting our own will over each other while at the same time learning to submit our wills to Him and each other.  As with the Lord’s Prayer, and other scripture, “…Your will be done…”  Many times we hear according to His will, or Lord willing, but yet do not fully grasp the entire concept and the value it has over suffering.  It is a learning process to do things if it were just up to us.  Natural laws must work in regular ways if our actions are to mean anything.
3. Tommy Tenney: “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always control… The struggle for control destroys any hope of unity among us.”  For example; who is to say how much is too much?  Would the skeptic ever be satisfied?  What if we didn’t allow children to die?  People do not consider such basic thoughts, especially concerning children.  Consider the scenario of not letting children die; at what age do we decide to stop letting them die?  It could range from one day to, well how many years.  Do we see the point?  Someone would always have a child at the cutoff age.  If we are constantly “tempted” to goodness isn’t goodness.  Compassion, courage, self-sacrifice, patience, and even goodness would be impossible.
Answer the Christian: What good is the suffering I endure?
1. The Wonder that awaits us as promised in scripture.
2. Glorification (our person)—we accept suffering here knowing that is purifies and proves us.  Along with our inheritance we are supposed to give up the pleasures of the world.  Rom. 8:30: “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
3. Reigning (our occupation)—we accept suffering to conquer Satan and his minions which prepares us to reign with Christ forever.  Our person is glorified through perfection, resurrection, renown, and resplendence.  He glorifies us to reveal His mercy and power.
4. God’s Glory—why we suffer now for later.  It is a purifying process.  We must learn to discern His will for this life in preparation for the next life.  We do this through reading and studying His Word.
5. 2 Cor. 5:12: “We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.”
Answer the Christian: How will Heaven mitigate our suffering on earth?
1.  Quantity: We Get it all, forever, with Him and each other.  Including the new earth and delights.  Not only that we get it forever.  We can’t even imagine eternity or forever.  You could spend a centillion years (10303) with each friend, a centillion years with each former family member, a centillion years with each and every new acquaintance, and not reduce by one second the time you would have left to do anything else you wanted to do.  Jesus told us “…I am going to prepare a place for you, if it was not so I would tell you…”  Our family, friends, and all of the promises He has made to us, if only we “…run the race to the end…”
2. 1 Cor. 3:21: “So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” Luke 12:32: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  1 Pet. 1:3-7: 3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
3. Do We Get It?  He’s giving us the Kingdom!

“A plane crashes: Thirty people die, and twenty people live. What kind of God would arbitrarily choose some to live and some to die? When we play God and determine whether a child within a mother’s womb should live, we argue for that as a moral right.
So when human beings are given the privilege of playing God, it’s called a moral right. When God plays God, we call it an immoral act. Can you justify this for me?”
– Ravi Zacharias

Is “loving and gentle” an oxymoron with apologists

Apologists deal with truth/Truth based on reason and evidence. Whether it be for the existence of God, morality, the resurrection, Bible and a plethora of other topics. Yet, as most of us know, apologists are some of the most disliked, maybe that is too strong, but, people in the Christian community. We are accused of only wanting to argue and cause division. We are thought of as people that simply can’t accept “faith” as an answer, and know it alls. Many feel that we believe that we are right, on all subjects, regardless of what anyone else believes. Apologetics is a unique discipline that ALL are called to do, but few, to actually learn and practice the discipline as an obedience to God, or as a career. (we promise it is not something we typically choose as a career). So why such a bad rap for both apologetics and the apologist? Could it be that “loving and gentle” actually is an oxymoron with apologists? Let me explain…

You see, apologetics is a command for each and every follower of Christ. We all go to 1 Peter 3:15 as our first defense of that statement, but let’s look at others as some feel we use 1 Peter out of context. What about the first and greatest commandment of Jesus Himself, you know the one, to love God with all of your heart, soul and MIND. Or what about 2 Corinthians 10:5 concerning destroying arguments. Maybe Jude 1:3, or Acts 19:, and 17:17. Not enough, how about Jesus Himself; in Matthew 22, Luke 5, or Acts 2? But yet, apologetics and apologists themselves are mostly ignored or deemed, along with the examples above, as negative. Here in lies why many would agree “loving and gentle” is an oxymoron with apologists.

I am not sure which God or Jesus most of those that feel this way follow. But then to write that is negative. So let’s try this; I am not sure how to tell someone they are wrong in a loving and gentle manner. This could very well be the problem. You see, people do not like to be told they are wrong. Most people like the “feel good”, “loving”, handing out “blessings” stuff regardless if it has any bearing on God or the Truth. And, to an extent, there may not be anything wrong with that. However, why such anger, and hurt feelings, toward those who have spent a large amount of time to learn the discipline of apologetics? Do they not care, or is it that we, the apologists, come across as frustrated, blunt, and angry when presenting, or sharing, what God has put on our hearts. I am confident it is the latter. Thus, is loving and gentle really an oxymoron with apologetics?

Apologetics is a strange animal. Mainly because of dealing with truth/Truth. Answering the tough questions, and dealing with “hot” topics such as abortion and gay marriage to name a couple. And, for that matter, truth/Truth, in and of itself, is a hard topic to address. Simply because many believe something does not make it true. And truth/Truth is based on fact, else it would only be an opinion. If truth/Truth does not exist, then we, everyone that professes to be a follower, are wasting our time. That Book we supposedly read and love even says so! Oops, negative, sorry. So what is the problem? I, and I am an apologist, suggest that “loving and gentle” is indeed an oxymoron with apologists.

It seems no matter how one may try, be it right or wrong, and it is wrong, along with going back to the first piece of scripture presented, (1 Peter 3:15), sharing truth/Truth is hard. Hard in a way that it appears the apologists is by far being anything but loving and gentle. Pick a topic, go ahead, pick almost any topic concerning God and attempt to tell someone what they believe, and have believed since birth, is wrong. I like using the prosperity gospel as an example. It seems to be one of the, if not the, fastest growing “Christian” denomination going. So think about it. Think of some of the most popular “preachers”, and I use that term loosely, and tell one of their followers the prosperity gospel is a false teaching. Go ahead, try it. I’ll wait….(I actually did pause for a moment). How did it work out for you? Did you tell them they are wrong in a loving and gentle manner? Did they say, “well, thank you so much, if I had only known?” I am betting, not that I bet, if you did, or do, tell one of their followers the prosperity gospel is wrong, no matter how loving and gentle you present it, their response was not pleasant. This is an easy example. Explain to another brother or sister in Christ a verse they are using is out of context. Or that they should at least know “why”, (see Biblical examples above), they so love God as much as they profess. Ask them where the Bible came from and why they believe it, and to give you a reason that they believe Jesus rose from the grave. These are basic questions Christians should know. Well, if they are following the Word of God anyway.

Do you see why the question “Is “loving and gentle” an oxymoron with apologists is a very legitimate question? It is not that we wake up each morning and consider,”who can we upset today”? It isn’t that we want to cause division, or argue. In fact we want Christians to be able to defend the Truth of Christianity. After all it is Biblical. So is it the apologist that isn’t being “loving and gentle”? Or is it the all too sensitive brother and sister in Christ that doesn’t really want to know the Truth? Apologists are only trying to help, and follow the commands of the Bible. Yes, it may come across as being negative, or whatever other term you would like to insert there, but if you are to happen to read the Book mentioned earlier, we are to hold each other accountable, 1 Corinthians 5:12, and we are to call out false teachers, and believe it or not, the Word of God also tells us the Bible is to be used to “correct and rebuke” also.

I know, I know, another negative blog, and I should stop judging everyone else…

How Much is Enough?

There was a Facebook post recently concerning the interest, or lack thereof, in apologetics. I was surprised by how many of my peers actually experience the same type frustrations and loneliness that I often feel myself. It seems many, if not most of us, involved in apologetics, face similar hurdles regardless of where we live, or the education level of those we are attempting to engage. I use education as an example because one of the many excuses against apologetics is that it is only for intellectuals, (their words not mine). Anyway, I often wonder how much is enough? Let me explain…

Did you know, or realize, that many “Christians” as well as the secular world know nothing, or very little, about the age of the earth, Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism, facts concerning the resurrection of Christ, where the Bible came from, God, or the origin of life? I know a shocking revelation huh? But seriously, the point is not how much others may know, but how much is enough? As apologists, we spend the majority of our time attempting to educate the follower, (make disciples), as we do reaching the lost. The frustration and loneliness comes from the followers we are attempting to disciple, as the lost t are amazed to know Christianity is actually true, or at least has facts, evidence and reason that seem to point to Truth. Thus the question, how much is enough?

You see, the Bible plainly tells us we are saved by faith through grace. Yes, it also states to have an answer for the hope we have, and to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. So if the follower of Christ is content with their answer being faith, well, how much is enough? Please do not misunderstand what I am attempting to express. I fully believe, anyone professing to be a follower needs to know more than the standard “faith” answer. We, apologists, call that “Blind Faith” and feel it is not Biblical. To us, it also gives the impression those satisfied, or appearing to be, with the “faith” answer, are not sharing the gospel with others. If they were it would seem somebody, somewhere, along the way would have questions. It is not common to tell someone they should accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour and them to say “well, ya know, I have never considered that, count me in!” But in reality, how much is enough?

I am told quite often not everyone needs to go to school, and I agree! Yet, it would seem, that if those who settle for the “faith” answer, and profess to love God so much, would at least have some type of a reason for this this type of love. We know why we love our spouse, does it not make sense to know why we love God? But, does every follower need to know the Cosmological argument, the minimal facts approach to the resurrection, or how many manuscript copies we have of the New Testament? Do they need to know the answers to the problem of evil, what realitivism and moral objectivism are?

As apologists, we typically focus on one area to “call” our specialty. Though we are familiar with many of the other answers/arguments, the majority of us have one or two topics that we attempt to become “experts” on, and leave the other topics for our peer “experts”. Yet, we find ourselves almost miserable because no one seems to see the importance of apologetics except us. No one seems to care, or see the importance of, knowing why we believe what we believe. So how much is enough?

Yes, Jesus, Paul, and many others used apologetics. Yes, we are instructed to have an answer for the hope we have. Yes, we are told to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. We are told to make disciples. So why doesn’t the, what would appear to be the majority, of Christians seem to care? Are we “cherry picking”, as we are often accused, the scripture to follow? Or is it the apologist, expecting everyone to have an answer for why they believe in God, or where we came from?

The Bible commands it, Jesus and Paul used it, but how much is enough?

This is serious business…

So it probably isn’t a news flash but, life is not all lollipops and ferris wheels! It is not about blessings, how blessed we are, or our best life now. This, Christianity, is serious business! If one is in it for the blessings, to go to heaven, or to stay out of hell, there is probably something wrong! The reward for a follower of Christ has nothing to do with the current life we are living. Our reward is heaven, yelp, thats it, heaven. An eternity with our Lord and Saviour and if one is looking for a good feeling, or anything else from claiming Christianity, maybe this is a news flash after all.  This is serious business!

God has promised to provide for our needs, not wants, but needs. He promises if we surrender all, and follow Him, not just be a fan and like Him, but to actually be a follower then we are assured of our reward, heaven. He doesn’t promise happiness, health, wealth, or any other materialistic and worldly things. And if we don’t get that point, the point that He is just, not fair, but just, real soon we very well may miss the reward that it appears so many feel confidently assured of getting. Christianity is serious business!

Think about it. Living in America we have more than the majority, if not all, of the rest of the world. But for some reason our hope seems to be about living our best life now and the blessings dear ol Santa god is giving us next. Boys and girls, people are dying daily. Do you really think they feel blessed? Were the apostles blessed at their death? For that matter, Jesus was killed! He wasn’t looking for a blessing, or anything else for that matter.  He was homeless, lived on support of others, spoke truth, and was not a very popular person. Yet for some strange reason, maybe it isn’t so strange, the majority, not a scientific poll but, of Christians, or professing Christians, follow the Joel Osteens, Ken Hagins, Joyce Meyers, and any other feel good speaker of today. Yes, there have always been false teachers. But my goodness people, we are talking about the God you so profess to love so much! Christianity is serious business!

Jesus really doesn’t ask much of us in this life; to follow Him, make disciples, love Him with all of your heart, soul and mind, to love your neighbor as yourself, and to have an answer for the hope you have. Easy as ABC, you know, Accept, Believe and Confess. Pretty easy huh? Then why is it that we can’t even tell someone why we so love God? Again, yes I know faith. This simply means you haven’t told anyone, or you have and are embarrassed to try it again because they laughed at your faith answer. Come on brothers and sisters, Christianity is serious business!

I can give you, and many others can also, answers, evidence for why we believe what we believe. But if all you are going to do is go to church and feel good about “serving” then why not join a civic organization instead. You can still go to meetings, socialize, have friends, and “serve”.

Our churches are dying. Our kids are leaving the faith. Many Christians are dying. When are we going to wake up and realize sitting inside your four walls and saying a prayer, of which many feel is a bargaining time with God to change His mind, that something has to change. We have to stop being politically correct, worrying about hurting some ones feelings, and share the Truth as instructed. Do we even know what that is? I had someone recently, a “good” Christian, that they believed abortion was wrong but…always the dreaded but, but who are we to tell a woman it is wrong? Really? Who are we to say murder is wrong then? Gay marriage is currently a hot topic that is changing the meaning of “marriage” and “family”. Go ahead, Google the definitions. Oh but who are we to say it is wrong? So does that mean we can simply change the definition of any moral to fit our need? Do we even understand there are objective moral values that are being changed right before our eyes? This is serious business!

Please stop getting mad over the Truth! Spend that time reading, or investigating if you believe God wants you to be healthy, wealthy and wise. Stop getting mad when Joel, Ken, and the other feel good popular guys out there are called false teachers. They are false teachers! Sorry, no I’m not, just stop. Turn off TBN and most all other televangelists and pick up that Book and read it. If we love God so much do you think it is too much to ask to at least know why? How will we ever change society if society is changing us? How will we ever answer our children’s questions if we don’t know why evolution is false? Why would they, our kids, relatives, friends, coworkers or anyone else consider following God if we can’t tell them?

I love each of you and my heart beaks watching the world dictate to us when we are the one’s with the Truth. We can make a difference…if only we treat God with the respect He deserves and realize, this is serious business!