Category: Apologetics

Faithlessness is Foolishness

Faithlessness is Foolishness

We live in a world so modern that denying the existence of God is the new norm. In fact, things have become so extreme that people who believe in the uncreated Creator called God are being mocked and labeled as fools.

Wait a minute; doesn’t the Bible say that faithlessness is foolishness? It certainly does in Psalm 14:1. King David paints the portrait of the prince of fools in one sentence: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Psalm 14:1-7 presents a vivid picture of the man who rejects God and his corrupt deeds. David called those who denied the existence of God “fools.” But David did not call them such because they were not smart enough to figure God out. Rather, he had in mind those who simply reject God.

The Meaning of Fool

Our English word “fool” comes from a Latin word that means “bellows,” suggesting that the fool is a person “full of hot air.” In the Hebrew language, there are three basic words for fool: kesyl (the dull and stupid fool), eviyl (the unreasonable and perverted fool), and nabal (morally perverse). Nabal is the word used in Psalm 14:1, which implies aggressive perversity.

The original text does not say that “man is stupid.” We have gone to the moon, transplanted hearts, harnessed atomic power and more. We are not stupid! David knew that too and picked the perfect word to talk about those who are “morally perverse” just like the Nabal of 1 Samuel 25:1:44.

Only the Fool says in his Heart there is no God

Results of Denying God

When men deny God, it will lead them into corruption and abominable works (Psalm 14:2). All that they are, say and do comes from their arrogant (and ignorant) belief that “there is no God.”

This is not to say that all atheists are living immoral lives and all who believe in God are living good lives. It’s just that there is a marked difference in moral behavior between those who take God seriously and those who do not.

When the fools leave God out of their lives, they cause their inner person – the heart, the mind, and the will – to become more and more corrupt. The Hebrew word for corrupt means “rotten, putrid, and decayed,” and evokes an image of milk that has become rancid. It is used to describe Jeremiah’s useless sash (Jeremiah 13:7).

When God looks down to investigate He sees people who are filthy. They have turned their backs on God (Psalm 14:2-3) and refuse to fulfill the purpose for which they were created – to glorify God. We read the same thing in Genesis 6:5, 11-12; 11:5; 18:21 and 1 Kings 14:9-10.

When David says, “There is none who does good; no not one” (Psalm 14:3), he did not mean that there is no human good in this world. But because man is fallen living in a fallen world that he does not do good by instinct. In fact, even the good he may do is tinged with evil.

The indictment is universal; all people, individually or collectively, cannot do anything at all that is good enough to merit heaven – no one, not a single one. The apostle Paul quotes from this passage in Romans 3:10-12 as part of his proof that the whole world is guilty before God and can be saved only by the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

We all need to be Born Again to Enter Heaven

The LORD, He is God Almighty

The word “God” as used in Psalm 14:1-7 is not the normal word Jehovah but El Jehovah, which refers to the God of the covenant, the God who does something for us. El refers to the Almighty God, the God of authority, the Ruler, the Judge, the Lawgiver.

David’s choice of words shows that humans do not want to know a God who demands anything; they want to be free to participate unimpeded in their sinful behavior. This is so true! It’s not the lack of evidence in the existence of God that atheists deny God. They reject God because belief in a divine Being comes with a sense of accountability to that Being.

The atheist’s rejection of the existence of God is due to a desire to live free of the moral constraints God requires and to escape the guilt that accompanies the violation of those constraints. Author Aldous Leonard Huxley has openly admitted that a desire to avoid moral restraints was a motivation for his unbelief.

Indeed, our concept of God will determine how we live. If we see God as a cosmic bellhop in the heavens responding to our paltry tips, we will live a loose, lukewarm, and loveless Christian life. But God is not a bellhop, and He is not a doting grandfather, smiling benignly in the heavens at godless conduct.

God is a God of patience and power, a God of compassion and correction. Hollywood labels God as someone up there who loves us. That’s true. However, He does demand that “we present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1).

We are not our own for we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Those who preach the love of God without the discipline of God are preaching a humanistic heresy. Paul taught that if you do not endure chastening, you are illegitimate – not a child of God (Hebrews 12:5-8).

Faithlessness is Foolishness

The fool has deviated faith. The infidel shouts, “I have no belief!” Liar! A man who claims to believe in nothing still believes in something. It requires faith to be an infidel.

The atheist must believe that God is not, that prayer is a waste of time, that heaven is a myth, death is eternal unconscious existence, and that hope for a better tomorrow is weakness. The agnostic has been duped by Satan to believe the wrong things.

The fool defies the creation. The Bible begins with the declaration “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1). Without God, there is no creation, no redemption, no deliverance, no healing, no hope. Paul says we can know God by the things He has created (Romans 1:20).

Look at our massive universe with its organization and structure that work together. The fool believes that this magnificent earth is the by-product of an ecological accident. Only a fool would believe that billions of years ago the sun shone on a pond and that life began wiggling in the water and that this life form developed lungs and legs and walked out on land. Finally, it climbed a tree and hung by its tail. Only a fool would believe that!

Here’s a quick video of Rick Warren explaining why it takes more faith to not believe in God than to believe in God.

History Attests God

The fool denies history. Daniel asked God to show him the parade of nations that would come upon the face of the earth. God gave him a vision of the nations in the exact order in which they would appear, the personality of their leaders, and the military methods of conquest (Daniel 7).

How was that known hundreds of years before it happened? An accident? Hardly. There is a God who sits on His throne, who puts kings up and takes kings down (Daniel 2:21).

Want another proof that there is a God? Israel’s history proves God reigns. God’s chosen people were scattered over four continents and sick civilizations. They survived persecution in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and Hitler’s Holocaust. Today the nation of Israel shows that God continues to protect His people.

The Promise of Christ’s Coming

God has promised that the Redeemer will one day come to Zion and deliver His people in mighty power (Psalm 14:7; Isaiah 59:16-21; Jeremiah 31:33-34) and Paul affirmed this at the close of his great discussion of the future redemption of the Jewish nation (Romans 11:25-32).

But what about the wicked? They have no future with the Lord because they preferred not to know the Lord or live for Him. They lived according to the desires of their own heart, not to please the Lord and glorify Him. Those who reject Jesus Christ will spend eternity apart from the Lord and will honestly be able to say in hell, “There is no God – here!”

Closing Words

There is a God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, holy, everlasting, sovereign, unchanging. He is my Father and your Father. He created heaven and earth. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is coming again in power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).

Are you a fool or are you ready to meet Him?

Receive Jesus Christ now as Lord and Savior and confess Him with your mouth for “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).


*Recommended Resource: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
By Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek

Norman Geisler and Frank Turek show, first of all, that truth is absolute, exclusive, and knowable. From there, they proceed to demonstrate that the cardinal Christian doctrines are true beyond reasonable doubt, all convincing for you as Christians to believe, but requiring a leap of negative “faith” if an atheist is to disbelieve them.

Geisler and Turek argue that Christianity requires the least faith of all worldviews because it is the most reasonable. A valuable aid to those interested in examining the reasonableness of the Christian faith.

God’s Unconditional Promise to Israel

God’s Unconditional Promise to Israel

Whether the Jews have a right to their land has been the subject of dispute among many nations up until today. Some say that the Jews have occupied a land that wasn’t theirs and that the occupation must be stopped.

However, the Jews claim that the land originally belonged to them and they have every right to it. They base their claim to the land of Israel on at least four premises and one of them is that God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.

The Nation of Israel was founded by God

The Bible clearly tells us that Israel is the only nation founded by a sovereign act of God. It all started when God told Abraham to “get out of his country, from his family and from his father’s house, to a land that He will show him” (Genesis 12:1). And then God promised to give him that land (Genesis 12:7).

However, there are two controversies concerning the nation of Israel. The first is whether the promise to Abraham was a promise of literal land or promise of heaven. The second controversy asks whether the promise to Abraham and his seed for a literal land is conditional based upon Israel’s obedience to God or an unconditional promise.

We will then examine Scripture to verify beyond any doubt that God intended for Abraham and the Jewish people to have a literal land upon which they would live.

God's Unconditional Promise to Israel

God Promised a Land

In Genesis 13:14-15, God told Abraham, “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are … for all the land which you see I will give to you and your descendants forever.”

And Genesis 15:18 states, “On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.’” This is a very literal land. Heaven is not described, even allegorically, as the area between the river of Egypt and the Euphrates.

God told Abraham, “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Genesis 15:13-14).

Israel’s departure from the Promised Land was literal because they went into a literal Egypt. After four hundred years they became a nation of two to three million people and they physically left a literal Egypt for a literal Promised Land – not heaven.

God's Unconditional Promise to the Jewish People
Photo Credits: Piano Bible Chapel

The title deed to the Promised Land was passed from Abraham to Isaac. God said to Isaac, “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father” (Genesis 26:3).

The title deed to the Promised Land was then passed to Jacob from Isaac. In Genesis 28:13, God said, “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.”

You have to be in a very literal land to lie on it.

God’s Promise was Unconditional

Was God’s promise to Abraham of a Promised Land conditional or unconditional? Those who believe God’s promise was conditional simply do not understand the blood covenant.

In the Old Testament, there were three ways by which covenants could be made; a shoe covenant, a salt covenant, and a blood covenant.

In the blood covenant, the contracting parties would agree on the terms of the covenant. Then they would take an animal, kill it, split the carcass in half down the backbone, and place the divided parts opposite each other on the ground forming a pathway between the pieces.

The two would join hands, recite the contents of the covenant, and walk between the divided halves of the slain animal. The blood covenant meant they were bound until death, and if either broke the terms of the covenant, his blood should be spilled as the blood of the slain animal. A blood covenant was a permanent and unconditional covenant.

God's Unconditional Covenant with Abaraham and the Jewish People

In Genesis 15, God commanded Abraham to take a heifer, a she-goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon; and all were split in half except the birds. God placed Abraham in a deep sleep, for no man can look upon God and live, as He prepared to enter a blood covenant with Abraham.

In his sleep, Abraham saw “a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces” (Genesis 15:17). In the Old Testament, the burning lamp signified the presence of the Shekinah Glory of God. God was binding Himself, unconditionally, by a blood covenant to Abraham and his descendants forever, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land” (Genesis 15:18).

Confirmation that the promise to Abraham and to his seed was unconditional is presented in Psalm 89:30-37. God says, “If his sons [Israel] forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments, if they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.”

“Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail.” God is saying here that He will not break His covenant.

God’s Promise Fulfilled

What about the future of Israel? Israel was reborn as a nation in one day on May 14, 1948, when the United Nations recognized the state of Israel. This was a fulfillment of Isaiah 66:8.

God Promised to bring the Jews back to their own land

Amos writes concerning the restoration of Israel, “I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them, says the LORD your God” (Amos 9:14-15).

The prophets of Israel declared the nation of Israel would be reborn, would be rebuilt, and the Jewish people would never again be removed. When the Messiah comes, He will set up His throne in the city of Jerusalem and of His kingdom, there shall be no end.

*Read more of the promises of God to the nation of Israel in this article: The “I Will” Promises of God

Conclusion

God’s covenant with Abraham and the nation of Israel was unconditional, depending solely upon God who obligated Himself in grace. The unconditional character of this covenant is indicated by God’s declarations “I will” that repeat throughout without corresponding “you must” demands of Abraham.

This covenant contained all that God then began to do, has since done throughout history, and will continue to do.


*Reference Material: 

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible {Top 20 Questions About Bible Prophecy & God’s Great Promises}
General Editor: John Hagee 

What Can We Learn From Suffering?

What Can We Learn From Suffering?

The subject of human suffering is not easy to understand, for there are mysteries to the working of God that we will never grasp until we get to heaven. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? What can we learn from suffering?

Some people argue that the suffering of the righteous is the major obstacle to faith in God. They reason that God cannot be loving and all-powerful if disasters strike good people. Either he doesn’t love His followers enough to take care of them or He isn’t powerful enough to protect them.

What Can We Learn From Suffering

If God’s love or power is defective, He isn’t worthy of human worship and allegiance.

In the Word of God, there are four great examples of believers suffering for the sake of righteousness: Joseph, Job, Jeremiah and Paul. In this article, we will look at the accounts of Job and Paul and see what we can learn from them.

The Suffering of Job

Whenever Christians speak of suffering, it is impossible to not consider the account of Job. The Bible describes Job as a blameless and upright man; one who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1).

Job was prosperous in his family life (Job 1:2-3). The events in this book took place during the Patriarchal Age (Job may have been a contemporary of Abraham or Isaac), when a large family was seen as a blessing from God (Genesis 12:2; 13:16; 30:1). His children must have enjoyed each other’s company since they met frequently to celebrate their birthdays.

And after each every feast, Job would offer special sacrifices to God not because their celebration was wicked and that they needed to repent. It only shows that Job was a pious man and wanted to be sure his family was right with God.

Until it happened that Job suffered the loss of his wealth and the death of his children, all in one day. Then, sometime later, his health failed, and apparently he would never get well.

Finally, his best friends came and accused him of being a secret sinner who needed to get right with God. Add to this Job’s wife who was of the opinion that he should curse God for letting all this misery befall him (Job 2:9). In her eyes God had obviously failed Job.

Interestingly, Job never found out why disaster struck him. Job knew what had happened, but he did not know why it had happened; and that is the crux of the matter. Because the author allows us to visit the throne room of heaven and hear God and Satan speak, we know who caused the destruction and why he was allowed to cause it.

The Suffering of Paul

Paul who used to be Saul, the number one persecutor of Christianity, but later on became Paul, the number one propagator of Christianity, had suffered quite a lot for the sake of the gospel.

In his second letter to the Corinthian believers, Paul opened his heart to them (and to us) and revealed the trials he had experienced. To begin with, he had been severely criticized by some of the people in Corinth because he had changed his plans and apparently not kept his promise to visit them again (2 Corinthians 1:12-18).

When Christians misunderstand each other, the wounds can go very deep. Then there was the problem of opposition to his apostolic authority in the church. One of the members – possibly a leader had to be disciplined, and this gave Paul great sorrow.

Finally, there were the difficult circumstances Paul had to endure. He was plotted against several times (Acts 9:23, 29; 20:3; 21:30; 23:10, 12; 25:3), was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19), was subjected to satanic pressure (1 Thessalonians 2:18), was beaten and jailed at Philippi (Acts 16:19-24), was ridiculed (Acts 17:16-18; 26:24), was falsely accused (Acts 21:21, 28; 24:5-9; endured a number of violent storms at sea (2 Corinthians 11:25; Acts 27:14-20), was beaten by a serpent (Acts 28:3-4) and was forsaken by all (2 Timothy 4:10, 16).

Learning from Suffering

Perhaps the most painful question confronting the believer is the problem of suffering. Why does a loving and wise God permit His children to suffer?

1. Suffering helps bring out the best in us.

While Satan attempts to use temptation and suffering to bring out the worst in us, God uses them to bring out the best in us.

The hosts of heaven and of hell watched to see how Job would respond to his first test: the loss of his wealth and  children. He expressed his grief in a manner normal for that day, for God expects us to be human (1 Thessalonians 4:13). After all, even Jesus wept (John 11:35).

But then Job looked up, worshiped God and uttered a profound statement of faith: (Job 1:21). Instead of cursing God, as Satan said Job would do, Job praised the Lord. Anybody can say, “God gave me what I had” or “God has taken it away,” but real faith says, in the midst of sorrow and suffering, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21 NKJV

But Satan does not give up easily, and he returned to God’s throne to ask for His permission to torment Job physically, which the Lord willingly gave (Job 2:1-7). We get the impression that God was confident that his servant would not fail the test.

Satan was absolutely sure that his strategy of suffering (Job 1:11; 2:4-5) would destroy the faith of Job, which the devil consistently misunderstood (Job 1:9-10). After losing all his wealth and children, and afflicted with painful boils all over his body, Job’s faith in God remained firm. His wife told Job to “curse God and die” which was exactly what Satan wanted him to do, but he didn’t (Job 2:9-10).

The two things Job would not give up were his faith in God and his integrity. Even if God permitted evil to come into his life, Job would not rebel against God by taking matters into his own hands. God used Job’s sufferings to bring out the best in him.

2. God uses suffering to silence the devil.

Satan accused Job of merely serving God for the material blessings involved (Job 1:9-11). We might paraphrase it like this: “The only reason Job fears you is because you pay him to do it. You two have made a contract: You protect him and prosper him as long as he obeys you and worships you.”

We can see that Satan’s accusation against Job was really an attack on God. Satan was telling God, “You are not a God worthy of worship! You have to pay people to honor you.” So the Lord allowed the devil to torment Job to demonstrate that His servant loved God because of who He was, and not for what he could get from Him (Job 1:12).

God found no fault with Job, but Satan did. God’s statement in Job 1:8 echoes the description of Job in verse 1, but Satan questioned it. The word “Satan” means adversary – one who opposes the Law. Imagine a courtroom scene where God and Satan each deliver different verdicts. Satan said Job was guilty, but keep in mind that God said, “Not guilty!”

Romans 8:1 NIV

The readers get the sense that Job’s life was a battlefield over which the forces of light and darkness waged war. Satan suffered a tremendous defeat, but Job never knew it. Eventually, Job’s insight into God grew, but that in no way diminished the horror of his suffering.

Some of the so-called tragedies in our lives have really been weapons of God when He is “silencing our enemies and all who oppose us (Psalm 8:2).” We may not know until we get to heaven why God allowed certain things to happen.

Meanwhile, we are to “walk by faith” and say with Job, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

3. Suffering teaches us to depend on God.

In his second letter to the believers at Corinth, Paul began with a doxology (2 Corinthians 1:3). He certainly could not sing about his circumstances, but he could sing about the God who is in control of circumstances. Paul had learned that praise is an important factor in achieving victory over discouragement and depression.

Despite his suffering, Paul was confident that whatever the Father did for Jesus when He was ministering on earth, He is able to do for him and for us today. We are dear to the Father because His Son is dear to Him and we are citizens of the “Kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).

We are precious to the Father, and He will see to it that the pressures of life will not destroy us. God enables us to bear trials. But the first thing God must do is to show us how weak we are in ourselves.

Paul was a gifted and experienced servant of God, who had been through many different kinds of trials. Surely all of his experience would be sufficient for him to face new difficulties and overcome them. But God wants us to trust Him, not our gifts or abilities, our experience or our “spiritual reserves” (2 Corinthians 1:9).

In 2 Corinthians 1:10, Paul says, “God delivered us, will deliver us and will still deliver us” from all trials. Paul saw God’s hand of deliverance whether he looked back, around or ahead. However, God does not always deliver or rescue us immediately, nor does He always rescue us in the same way. Sometimes God rescues us from our trials, and at other times He rescues us in our trials.

We must never think that trouble is an accident. For the believer, everything is a divine appointment. There are only three possible outlooks a person can take when it comes to the trials and suffering of life.

If our trials are the products of “fate” or “chance,” then our only recourse is to give up. Nobody can control fate or chance. If we have to control everything ourselves, then the situation is just as hopeless. But if God is in control, and we trust Him, then we can overcome circumstances with His help.

4. God is glorified through our trials and suffering.

When Paul reported what God has done for him, a great chorus of praise and thanksgiving went up from the saints to the throne of God (2 Corinthians 1:11). The highest service you and I can render on earth is to bring glory to God, and sometimes the service involves suffering.

Every one of us will face various trials and difficulties in our lives. Some may suffer more but as Christians we must take each situation as an opportunity to show the world how God is still with us and loves us.

Romans 8:18

Through suffering, we have the opportunity to demonstrate to the unbelieving world how Christ is more glorious and precious to us than any pain and difficulty we might endure. While others are anxious and wallowing in depression, we have every reason to thank God and rejoice.

When we place our ultimate hope in Christ rather than in the temporary things of this world, such as trials and suffering, God is glorified.

5. Sufferings will produce fruit.

If we allow suffering to accomplish its purpose, it can bring forth patience (James 1:3; Hebrews 10:36), joy (Psalm 30:5; 126:6), knowledge (Psalm 94:12), and maturity (1 Peter 5:10).

For more of this please refer to this article: The Christian’s Response to Trials

6. Suffering can perfect our character and help us minister to others.

In every church, there are mature saints of God who have suffered and experienced God’s grace, and they are great “encouragers” in the congregation. Paul experienced trouble, not as punishment for something he had done, but as preparation for something he was yet going to do – minister to others in need.

Just think of the trials that King David had to endure in order to give us the great encouragement that we find in the Psalms.

2 Corinthians 1:7 makes it clear that there is always the possibility that the situation might be reversed: The Corinthians believers might go through trials and receive God’s grace so that they might encourage others. God sometimes calls a church family to experience special trials in order that He might bestow on them special abundant grace.

What Can We Learn From Suffering

God’s gracious encouragement helps us if we learn to endure. “Patient endurance” is an evidence of faith. If we become bitter or critical of God, if we rebel instead of submit, then our trials will work against us instead of for us. The ability to endure difficulties patiently, without giving up, is a mark of spiritual maturity (Hebrews 12:1-7).

God has to work in us before He can work through us. It is much easier for us to grow in knowledge than to grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18). Learning God’s truth and getting it into our heads is one thing, but living God’s truth and getting it into our character is quite something else.

God put young Joseph through thirteen years of tribulation before He made him second ruler of Egypt, and what a great man Joseph turned out to be! God always prepares us for what He is preparing for us, and a part of that preparation is suffering.

Suffering: A Barrier to Faith?

In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis admits that when his wife Joy died of bone cancer he felt as though the heavens had become a barrier of bronze between him and God. Rabbi Harold Kushner in his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People reports that the issue of the suffering of people who love God is the ultimate theological question for sensitive religious people.

Oswald chambers wrote in Christian Disciplines, “Perhaps to be able to explain suffering is the clearest indication of never having suffered.” He concluded that suffering is one of life’s “mysteries that awaken all the other mysteries until the heart rests in God.”

That’s the dilemma: Some conclude that the suffering of the righteous makes faith in a loving, powerful God impossible; others conclude the suffering of the righteous makes faith in a loving, powerful God imperative.

A Father Suffers

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father let the younger son leave home and suffer sorts of consequences of his folly. He also let his older son at home struggle with his bitterness and pride. The father endured the anguish of watching both sons deal with pain.

God the Father made humans free moral agents, and with that liberty set the course for our suffering and His: ours because tragedies occur in a world marred by human sin, and His because He doesn’t prevent the pain of those He loves.

What the Father offers us is refuge. We can run to Him and cling with all our might and He will comfort us and share our pain, or we can blame Him and stubbornly suffer.

Closing Thoughts

Why does God allow His people to suffer?

Suffering helps bring out the best in us, produces fruit in us, teaches us to depend on God, can perfect our character and help us to become more like Jesus so we can minister to others.

Suffering is also used by God to silence the enemy (Satan) and for Him to be glorified in the lives of His people. God works out His purposes in the trials of life, if we yield to Him, trust Him, and obey what He tells us to do. 

Whatever suffering we are experiencing right now, let us find comfort in the words of God in Revelation 21:4.

Revelation 21:4 NKJV 

Should you have anything else to add or if you want to share your story: the trials and difficulties you went through, please use the comment section below.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

Next to the Master Teacher Himself (Jesus Christ), the apostle Paul is probably the most eloquent and persuasive teacher in the Bible. Paul is so significant a figure in the New Testament and in the church’s history that he has been called the second founder of Christianity.

This, of course, is not true, for it ignores the continuity between Jesus and Paul and diminishes unfairly the contributions of men such as Peter, John, and Luke. But there is no question that Paul played a vital role in the growth and establishment of the church and in the interpretation and application of God’s grace in Christ.

His epistles make up almost one-fourth of the New Testament, putting Paul just behind Luke in the percentage of the New Testament written by a single individual. And if one adds the sixteen chapters of Acts (Acts 13-28) that are almost entirely devoted to Paul, Paul figures in almost one-third of the New Testament.

Major Teachings of Paul

Misinterpreting Paul and His Letters

One post on a Facebook Group I was invited in questioned how the apostle Paul differed in his teachings about God from every single one of the Old Testament patriarchs and even with Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

While the rest of them taught monotheism, that is, there is only one God; Paul taught polytheism – there is more than one God. Upon reading that, I couldn’t help but conclude that the conversation starter in the group hasn’t really read the Bible. And there’s no doubt that he misunderstood Paul’s teachings, especially about the Triune God.

Exploring Paul’s background will help us understand him better and to interpret his words more accurately. So who was this man Paul?

Paul’s Background

Paul himself provides a rough outline of his own background, but in his epistles, this material is scattered. The basic historical details are conveniently grouped in the speeches Paul gave (as reported by Luke) to a hostile crowd of Jews on the steps of the temple (Acts 22:1-21) and to King Agrippa II and the Roman procurator Festus (Acts 26:2-23).

Saul (Paul’s name before his conversion) was a Jew born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 22:3), a region in the extreme southeastern part of Asia Minor. In Paul’s day, the city was the capital of the Roman province Syria-Cilicia (Galatians 1:21). It was prosperous, privileged (it was exempt from Roman taxation), and cultured, being famous for its schools. Not only was Paul born in Tarsus, but he was also a citizen of this “no ordinary city” (Acts 21:39).

More important, however, was the fact that Paul was a citizen of Rome. The Romans did not confer citizenship on just anyone; only a small percentage of people who lived within the Roman Empire possessed this privilege.

Paul’s Roman citizenship was inherited from his family (Paul claims, “I was born a citizen” (Acts 22:28), perhaps because of some deed of service performed by his father or grandfather for the Romans.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

However achieved, Paul’s Roman citizenship was an important and providential qualification for his role as a missionary to the Roman Empire. It enabled him to escape detainment when his preaching brought disfavor (Acts 16:37-39), to avoid punishment (Acts 22:23-29), and to plead his case before the emperor’s court in Rome (Acts 25:10-12).

His statement, “I was brought up in this city, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God” (Acts 22:3), tells us that prior to his conversion on the road to Damascus, not only was Paul by birth a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” he was by conviction a serious and zealous follower of Judaism, a member of its strictest sect (Acts 26:5), the Pharisees.

But Paul’s encounter of the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-11; 26:12-15) has turned him from being the number one persecutor of Christians into not only a follower but a preacher of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s Authority as an Apostle

Fundamental to Paul’s ministry was his consciousness of being an apostle. Like the other apostles, he had seen the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:1), and the Lord Himself, not any human being, had called Paul to his apostleship (see Galatians 1:1).

Because Paul was an apostle by God’s call, he could claim an authority equal to that of Peter, James, John, and the rest of the twelve—those whom some of Paul’s opponents had labeled “super-apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5). Paul writes from the consciousness of this apostolic authority in every one of his letters.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

True, Paul can sometimes distinguish between his teaching and the teaching of the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:6, 10, 12; 2 Corinthians 11:17), and nowhere does Paul make it clear that he thought his letters to be inspired Scripture. Nevertheless, in differentiating his teaching from the Lord’s, Paul does not suggest that his carries any less authority.

And, while not perhaps conscious of writing inspired Scripture, Paul’s apostolic stance enables him to interpret with sovereign freedom the Old Testament Scriptures and to make demands on his people that he considered to be as binding as anything in Scripture.

5 Major Teachings of Paul

We read from his background and the testimony of the Word of God that Paul became a faithful follower of Christ, a dedicated missionary, and a respected leader in the early church.

Here are five of the major doctrines he taught and expounded.

1. Justification by Faith

According to Paul, God ushered in a new era through the death of His Son. Under the old covenant, people such as Abraham were justified by believing God, looking forward to the promise of the coming Messiah (see Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:22).

Now believers are justified, or declared righteous before God, through faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His atoning death on our behalf. Our justification is based on the work of Christ, accomplished through His blood (Romans 5:9), and brought to His people through His resurrection (Romans 4:25).

Justified: The Bible’s Meaning

What does it mean to be justified? To be justified means to be declared right with God by virtue of the remission of sins accomplished by Jesus: Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer, and the believer’s sins are imputed to Christ, who bears them in His body on the tree.

God Who Justifies, The – eBook

By James R. White

The author of The King James Only Controversy calls believers to a fresh appreciation and understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith. White, a Reformed Baptist, offers an in-depth study that focuses on the pivotal place of this often-ignored principle in church history; and an exegetical defense of key biblical passages in Romans and James.


However, let us not forget that justification is by faith. You are justified only when God the Father, based upon the meritorious work of Jesus Christ in your place, declares you to be so upon the exercise of the gift of faith – faith that is directed solely to the God who justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5).

Again, justification is the judicial act of God whereby He forgives the sinner of all his sins – past, present, and future – and declares him righteous in His eyes and free from guilt and punishment. It is an immediate and instantaneous act of God upon the sinner’s confession and his acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9).

2. Jesus Christ is the Risen and Living Son of God

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul - Jesus is the Son of God
Saul Encounters the Risen Christ

From the moment Jesus appeared to Paul at his dramatic conversion, Paul immediately started to proclaim without hesitation that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:20).

Let us not forget who Paul was – a Pharisee utterly devoted to stamping out the new Christian movement. But Jesus sovereignly intervened in his life while he was on Damascus road.

Amazingly, the last words we hear coming out of Saul’s mouth before his conversion are, “Who are You, Lord?” (Acts 9:5); and the first words we hear out of his mouth after his conversion are, “Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).

Paul’s world has just been turned upside down. The Jesus that he thought was dead was not dead. Not only that; He was the living Lord of the universe! Instantly, Paul’s whole worldview collapsed and was rebuilt with great, unshakable and solid pillars of truth about Jesus.

Luke, the author of the book of Acts, surely wants us to see how the doctrine that Jesus is the Son of God is foundational to being a Christian and foundational to the rest of Paul’s life as the greatest missionary who ever lived.

Paul’s Made-Up Gospel

The accusation that Paul made up his own doctrine about Jesus being the Son of God and God could not be further from the truth. He encountered the risen Christ and the gospel he had taught the early churches during his ministry came by revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12, 16). In short, Paul’s was a supernatural gospel.

However, without taking anything away from this point, we must recognize that Paul on other occasions indicates his indebtedness to Christians before him for his teaching. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-3, for instance, Paul asserts of the Gospel that he preached to the Corinthians, “what I received I passed on to you.”

What Paul seems to be asserting is that elements of his gospel teaching, such as the truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-5), were handed down to him by other people.

To Paul, Jesus was the Messiah, God’s Son, the center of the gospel, and the One whom “all things were created” (Colossians 1:16).

*Related Article: Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

3. The Church is the Body of Christ

The only New Testament writer who speaks of the church as a body, Paul emphasized this fact in such passages as Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:7-16 and 1 Corinthians 12:1 2-27.

Meaning of the Word Church

First of all, the word “church” is derived from and understood in the light of the original Greek word ekklesia or the “called out ones.” So the church is a group of “called out” believers who have been placed into one Body by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13) at the moment of their salvation.

All believers have experienced this once-for-all baptism and nowhere in the Scriptures are we commanded to seek this baptism because we have already experienced it and it need not be repeated.

Jews and Gentiles are joined together to form a new entity through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:6) and the only qualification for membership is faith in the risen Savior. It is clear that every believer since Pentecost, living and dead, is a member of the body of Christ, the universal church.

Major Teachings of Paul
Photo Credits: fohonline.com

Christ is the Head of the Church

Ephesians 1:22 says, “God has put all things under His (Christ) feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body.” As believers and members of the church (the body of Christ), Christ is our Head. This means that there is a living connection between us and Christ.

Through the Spirit, we are united to Him as the members of His body. This means that we also share in His death, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation (Ephesians 6:3-5). We too are seated in “the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6) and all things are under our feet.

At the same time, Paul reminds Christians that their various gifts were to be used in building up the body of Christ and that they should work together for the common good of the Christian cause (Romans 12:4-5).

4. The Power and Influence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s Life

Paul taught that the Holy Spirit was a more effective power for holy living in the Christian’s life than the old Jewish Law had ever been. The Law told people what to do, but it could not provide the will of the power to do it.

But God’s Spirit could provide the necessary power and motivation (Romans 8:9-17; Galatians 5:16-25). As a loving and wise mother tenderly watches over her child, so the Holy Spirit cares for the children of God.

The Works of the Holy Spirit in Christian Living

a) The Holy Spirit indwells Christians.

The Bible teaches that all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). The purpose of this indwelling ministry is to control the newly created nature given at conversion (2 Corinthians 5:17).

b) The Holy Spirit fills believers.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle PaulWe are admonished to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The word “filled” means to be controlled. So to be “filled” with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit and is therefore crucial to successfully living the Christian life.

Unlike the indwelling of the Spirit, “filling” is a repeated experience. This is understood by the use of the present tense (“be filled”) as well as by biblical examples of Christians who were filled more than once (Acts 2:4; 4:31). Just as important, we must observe that filling is a command to be obeyed, not an option.

c) The Holy Spirit sanctifies the believer.

Romans 15:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13

The basic meaning of sanctification is “separation” or “to be set apart.” In John 17:19, Jesus spoke of Himself as being sanctified; in other words, He is holy and set apart from sin and so His followers are to be similarly set apart from sin and for God’s use (1 Peter 1:16).

*Read here: Understanding the Personality of the Holy Spirit

In the spiritual sense of a believer’s life, sanctification means to be set apart by God, for God, from sin, unto a holy life and to be made more holy through conforming to the image of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29).

d) The Holy Spirit produces fruit in the life of the believer.

This fruit is described by Paul: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

The contrast between results and fruit is important. A machine in a factory works and turns out a product, but it could never manufacture fruit. Fruit must grow out of life, and in the case of the believer, it is the life of the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

Believers are to live by the Spirit, which means keeping in step with the Spirit if they are to bear fruit in abundance. This involves the Word, prayer, worship, praise, and fellowship with God’s people.

e) The Holy Spirit imparts gifts to Christians.

Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Ephesians 4:7-12

A spiritual gift is an ability imparted to every Christian (1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Peter 4:10). The purpose of these gifts is twofold, namely, to glorify God (Revelation 4:11) and to edify the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13).

f) The Holy Spirit teaches believers.

The Holy Spirit will instruct us in all spiritual things as we read the Word of God (John 14:26) and abide in the Son of God (1 John 2:24-27).

5. The Second Coming of Christ

Paul taught that Christ will return to earth at the end of this age and that all Christians will share in His glory in the age to come.

The return of Jesus Christ will happen in two phases:

a) The Rapture which is when Christ will return in the air and take with Him to heaven every person – both living and dead – who has trusted Christ as Savior (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul
Photo Credits: GotQuestions.Org

b) The Second Coming or Second Advent which is the return of Jesus with an army of angels and raptured believers to destroy the forces which are arrayed against God and to deliver the Jewish people (Zechariah 14:4 Revelation 19:11-21).

Bottom Line

Many of the doctrines taught and expounded by the apostle Paul are considered the hallmarks of the Christian faith. He may not be here anymore but he continues to minister to us today through the thirteen epistles he wrote that have become part of the canon of the New Testament.


References:

1) The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Edited by John Hagee

2) An Introduction to the New Testament by D.A Carson, Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris

3) The God Who Justifies by James R. White

Why Mary Is Not The Mother Of God

Why Mary Is Not The Mother Of God

Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians frequently refer to Mary as the “Mother of God,” which Protestants object to. Considering the claim of the Catholic Church may even find the name to be a stumbling block. Why? Because to them “Mother of God” implies that God somehow has His origin in Mary. But how could the Creator of all things possibly have a mother?

In our Facebook group, we once had a discussion with a Catholic Catechist about the proper use of the term “Mother of God.” According to him, the term is not meant to exalt Mary but to give her the honor and respect that is rightfully hers for having been chosen to conceive and give birth to Jesus.

Since it is one of the group’s objectives to refute unbiblical doctrines, we tried explaining to him that although Mary is the mother of Jesus, she cannot be the mother of God. This is because God being the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth had no mother and did not need to have one.

Mother of God

Should we call Mary “Mother of God?”

In his book “Mary: Another Redeemer,” Dr. James R. White says that this is the single most misused theological term around. The logic seems inescapable: Jesus is God, come in human flesh. Mary is Jesus’ mother. Hence, Mary is the mother of God. What could be simpler?

Below is a chapter of the book where Dr. White explains more extensively why Mary is not the mother of God. He said that if everyone would just use the term “mother of God” to communicate just that – that Jesus Christ was truly and completely God – there would be no reason for him to include this brief chapter.

But most of the time when the phrase is used, the person using it is not in any way commenting on the fact that Jesus Christ was God and Man on the earth. They are not speaking about Christ at all, but about Mary, and they are using the title to give her a position of honor and power.

If you want to know more about the controversial movement to name Mary as Co-Redeemer with Christ, get the eBook here.

The Origin of the Term

What did the term mean in the ancient church? How is it being misused today? Anyone who reads the writing of the ancient church knows that the word translated “Mother of God” is the Greek term theotokos. Literally, the word means “God-bearer.” It became a title for Mary so that you often find her simply being called theotokos in devotional and theological writings. But where did the term come from?

Around the beginning of the fourth century, Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, first used this term when speaking of Mary. It is no coincidence that it was the teaching of Alexander that prompted the most famous “heretic” of all time – Arius, the great denier of the deity of Christ – to begin propagating his heresy.

Evidently, at that time, even in its earliest uses, the term was meant to say something about Jesus, not Mary. That is, the term was Christological in force. It was focused on Christ and was meant to safeguard the truth about His absolute deity.

The term really entered into the “orthodox” vocabulary through its usage at the Councils of Ephesus in AD 431) and more importantly, Chalcedon in AD 325. We can learn the most about how this term was originally understood by taking a moment to understand why it appears in the creed produced at Chalcedon.

The debate over the complete deity of Christ had lasted for many decades, continuing on well after the Council of Nicea had finished its work in AD 325, not coming to completion until the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. But once this great truth was properly safeguarded, other questions began to arise.

One of the questions went like this: Granted that Jesus Christ was truly God and inhuman flesh, how then are we to understand the relationship between the divine and the human in Christ? Was He really a man at all? Did His deity swallow up His humanity? Was there some mixture of the two? Or was Jesus two people: one divine and one human, merely sharing one body?

Sadly, the debate was undertaken in anything but a calm and respectful climate. More time was spent on political maneuvering than upon meaningful exegesis. But despite the rancor of the debate, the resulting understanding was very important, especially for our understanding of the term theotokos.

Debate Over the Nature of Christ

One of the principal participants in the debate over the nature of Christ was a man named Nestorius. But since he was eventually condemned as a heretic, we have some doubts as to whether we a completely accurate (or fair) view of his beliefs, as they have come down to us primarily through the writings of his enemies.

Basically, Nestorius objected to the use of the word theotokos. He quite rightly expressed concern that the word could be easily misunderstood. But most importantly, his denial of the propriety of theotokos led him to insist that Mary was the mother of the human “element” of Christ, which resulted in a functional separation of the divine from the human in Christ. The basic danger of Nestorius’ position, then, was that it led to a Jesus who was two “persons,” with no real connection between the divine and the human.

Those who defended the use of theotokos did so by insisting that the Messiah was fully human and fully divine from the moment of conception, hence, the Child who was born was not only a human Child with deity dwelling in him but was the God-Man, the Incarnate One.

Chalcedon insisted that Jesus was one Person with two distinct natures, the divine and the human. The divine did not “swallow up” the human, nor was it “mixed” with the human to create something that was neither fully God nor fully man. Nor was Jesus schizophrenic – a human person, Jesus, and a divine Person, separate from Him. He was one person with two natures.

What is vitally important today is that the term “God-bearer” as it was used in the creed and as it was applied to Mary in these controversies said something about the nature of Christ, not the nature of Mary. “Mother of God” is a phrase that has proper theological meaning only in reference to Christ.

Hence, any use of the term that is not simply saying, “Jesus is fully God, one divine Person with two natures,” is using the term anachronistically, and cannot claim the authority of the early church for such a usage.

*Get Dr. James White’s book “Mary, Another Redeemer” here.

The Misuse of the Term Today

Outside of the seminary classes and theological debates about the Trinity, you will not hear the term “Mother of God” used in a historically proper and theologically accurate way. That is, every time you hear the title used outside those contexts it was being used to say something about Mary rather than something about Christ.

Obviously, Nestorius was right about one thing: the term is liable to serious misuse and misunderstanding.

Conclusion

Mary is not the mother of God in the sense that she gave rise to the being of God. We normally use the word “mother” to refer to the one who gave rise to us as individuals, and from whom we derived our human nature. Yet the divine Person who became Jesus, the eternal Son of God (Colossians 1:13-17), the Logos (John 1:1-14), has existed eternally and is the Creator of Mary.

Mary was used to bring the Incarnate One into the world, but she did not add to or give rise to the Eternal son who came into the world through her. Her Child was fully divine (hence she is theotokos) but she herself did not give rise to the divinity of her Son. For this reason, there can be nothing about the term theotokos that in any way exalts Mary, but only Christ.

Of course, if this is true, then the vast majority of the use of the phrase “Mother of God” in our world today is simply in error. Prayers addressed to “Mother of God” that seek her intercession and ascribe to her power and glory and honor are using the title in a way completely foreign to the biblical truths that gave rise to it in the first place.

And the fact that, in general, the term is avoided as improper outside the narrow spectrum in which it speaks to the important truth of the uni-personality of Christ, as well as His full deity, is a testimony to the spiritual sensitivity of believing Christians.

We cannot help but conclude that the use of “Mother of God” as a title for Mary that leads to her being seen in quasi-divine categories is nothing but a gross misunderstanding of the true relationship between the Blessed Virgin of Nazareth and the eternal God who sent the eternal Son to be born of her.


*Reference: Mary-Another Redeemer? – eBook  By James R. White 

Mary, Another Redeemer? explores Roman Catholic teachings about Mary from a biblical and historical perspective. Skilled and knowledgeable author James White traces how the Mary of the Bible – esteemed mother of the Lord, obedient servant and chosen vessel of God–has become the Immaculately Conceived, Bodily Assumed Queen of Heaven, viewed as Co-Mediator with Christ, and now widely recognized as Co-Redeemer by many in the Catholic Church.

A calm, even-handed look at the woman the Bible calls “blessed among women” – and an invitation to single-minded devotion to God’s truth.

About the author: 

James R. White is the author of several acclaimed books, including The God Who Justifies, Scripture Alone, The King James Only Controversy and The Forgotten Trinity. The director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, he is an accomplished debater of Muslim apologists and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. He and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

Belief in the deity of Jesus Christ is essential to salvation (Romans 10:9; John 8:24). Yet, this precious doctrine is attacked mercilessly not only in the west but even within the “Christian world.” In this article, I will be presenting the arguments and Scriptures used by these opponents against the deity of Christ.

Jesus Christ is not God …


1.
Because He had flesh and bones, and God being a spirit, has neither flesh nor bones – John 4:24; Luke 24:39

Answer: Jesus Christ as man had both flesh and bones but as God, He was spirit.

This objection arises from the problem of the dual nature of the Savior. In order for the invisible God to become visible, He must become flesh and bones. Jesus assumed flesh and bones merely for the incarnation. As God He is eternal but to be our Redeemer it was necessary that He become a partaker of humanity.

Jesus is fully God and fully man

a) Jesus is a dual personality.

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5

b) God was manifest in the flesh.

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in
the flesh, 
justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16


2.
Because Christ had a beginning and God had no beginning – John 8:42; Psalm 90:2

Answer: Jesus as a man had a beginning when He was conceived of the Holy Spirit but Jesus as God is without beginning and without end.

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” – John 8:58

The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from beginning, before there was even an earth.” – Proverbs 8:22-23


3.
Because He has been created, and God isn’t; God is the creator – Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14

Answer: The correct translation of Revelation 3:14 is something like this, “He was the witness of the beginning of the creation of God.” Jesus is not a creation but a witness of the creation.

We find no evidence in the Bible that the Father created Jesus or that Jesus is a “lesser God” than the Father. The Bible reveals that from eternity Jesus has the same substance, glory, power, and authority as the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” – Colossians 1:17

When Jesus is called the “first born of all creation,” it does not mean that Jesus was created. Rather, it speaks of the preexistence of Christ. He is not a creature but the eternal Creator.

And every creature which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I hear saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever.” – Revelation 5:13

A created being cannot and will not receive worship due only to God.


4.
Because God is not a man (Hosea 11:9) and man is not God (Ezekiel 28:2), but Jesus was called man – John 8:40; 1 Timothy 2:5

Answer: Hosea does not say God could not assume human form of the body and flesh. Nothing is too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17-18). Since God is all powerful He can be manifest in the flesh.

Here’s a video of Nabeel Qureshi answering a Muslim’s question on the Trinity.

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is translated, “God with us.” – Matthew 1:23

Jesus was both true God and true man in one person without an intermingling of the two natures. Emmanuel means “God with us.”


5.
Because He called God His Father – Matthew 27:46; John 20:17

Answer: The relationship between Jesus and God the Father has always been that of a “father and son.” So it’s not surprising that even as the human person, Jesus called God His Father. In Hebrews 1:8, God calls Jesus “God” but that does not lessen the Father’s position of deity.

But to the son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” – Hebrews 1:8

The relationship between God and Jesus Christ


6.
Because the Father sent Jesus to earth – John 8:42

Answer:  Jesus volunteered to come. But even so, the Father sending the Son to earth does not lessen His position as the Almighty God.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

The co-equal, co-eternal persons of the Trinity are one in divine nature. However, each divine person has a distinct role in salvation and a voluntary submission of roles in the work of redemption. The Son took on human flesh and submitted to the Father by giving His life on the cross.


7.
Because God is His head – 1 Corinthians 11:3

Answer: God the Father and Jesus have the same exact nature; they’re both divine but their relationship is different. God the Father is the head of Christ because Christ was eternally begotten of the Father. But this does not mean that the Father is greater or higher than the Son.

“And now, O Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” – John 17:5

In a triumvirate, it is necessary that one be the chairman but that does not mean that he is greater than the other two. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal but for administrative purposes, the Father acts as the executive administrator.


8.
Christ is not God, but He is the Son of God, just as we may become sons of God – John 3:16

Answer:  When we call Jesus the Son of God we mean that He is of the same nature as God. Fathers create things unlike themselves, but they beget sons like them.

C.S. Lewis explained it this way:

When you make (or create), you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, and man makes a computer. But when you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a bird begets eggs which will turn into little birds, and a beaver begets little beavers.

So when we say, “Jesus is the Son of God,” we simply mean that Jesus is God.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

By conversion, we become a “son of God” (John 1:12), but Jesus Christ is the “only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16), a unique and special position. God’s Son is equal to the Father (Philippians 2:6), and the saints become an heir with Christ.


9.
Because the Father gave Him power – Matthew 28:18

Answer:  Jesus was, always has been, and always will be God. As God, Jesus has the same power as the Father and the Spirit. When Jesus said that all power and authority has been given to Him, that would include the power that brought the universe into existence.

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” – Colossians 1:16

In Philippians 2:5-8, the Son surrenders this power and God restores or returns it to Him after the resurrection. It was always His but He voluntarily yielded it.


10.
Because He was made Lord by God – Acts 2:36

Answer:  How could Jesus be made Lord if He was already the Lord? Jesus was not made Lord by God in the sense that He was made into something He was not already. He was not made Lord in the sense of a promotion.

“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” – Colossians 2:9

Acts 2:36 is dealing with Jesus’ status as a man-made under the law and in a lower position. It is in that sense that He was made Lord and Christ by God the Father.


11.
Because He is subject to God and He says that the Father is greater than Him – 1 Corinthians 15:28; John 14:28

Answer:  John 14:28 has often been thought to mean that Jesus is something less than the Father. However, this statement is not referring to Christ’s nature but rather His position. When Jesus came to earth, He came in the form of a servant. He voluntarily chose subjection; it was not imposed on Him against His will.

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:8


12.
Because Christ died and God being immortal cannot die – 1 Timothy 1:17

Answer:  People say that Jesus can’t be God because He died and God cannot die. We have to understand that Jesus has two natures: God and man. It was the human nature that died on the cross, not the divine nature.

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” – Hebrews 2:9

Jesus as man died but Jesus as God could not and did not die (Hebrews 2:9, 14). In the person of Jesus Christ, who is a man with the divine nature, we see a biological death, not the death of the divine being who is God.


13.
Because He prayed to the Father and addressed Him as the only true God – John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6

Answer:  This objection ignores the fact that the Son co-exists with the Father; they are one. We need to understand that the Father and the Son had an eternal relationship before Jesus took upon Himself the form of a man.

Jesus prays to the Father - John 17:3

Being fully equal with the Father in nature, Jesus’ manner must be seen more as a supplication and conversation rather than a lesser being who is praying to a greater being.

*Related Article: Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life in Christ 

Conclusion

Nothing has changed after 2,000 years. The attack against the deity of Jesus Christ persisted up until today. While the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is God, there are still many groups that deny His deity. From Muslims who teach that Jesus was just a prophet, to the Jehovah Witnesses who reduce Him into a messenger sent by the Father.

The doctrine of Christ’s deity is important to the Christian faith as it not only authenticates the authority and inspiration of Scripture; it also the basis for a believer’s eternal salvation. In other words, if Jesus is not fully God, we have no salvation and ultimately no Christianity.


*Recommended Resource: Forgotten Trinity, The – eBook By James R. White

The Trinity is a basic teaching of the Christian faith. It defines God’s essence and describes how He relates to us. The Forgotten Trinity is a concise, understandable explanation of what the Trinity is and why it matters. It refutes cultic distortions of God. It shows how a grasp of this significant teaching leads to renewed worship and deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

And amid today’s emphasis on the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, The Forgotten Trinity is a balanced look at all three persons of the Trinity.


Reference Materials:

100 Bible Lessons by Alban Douglas
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

 

 

 

What if Jesus did not Rise from the Dead?

What if Jesus did not Rise from the Dead?

The resurrection of Jesus ChristThe resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christianity. Everything in the Christian faith rests on the historical truth that Jesus was raised from the dead. But what if this was all a lie? What if Jesus did not rise from the dead?

When the apostle Paul came to Corinth, an integral part of the gospel message that he preached was the fact of Christ’s resurrection. After all, a dead Savior cannot save anybody. The believers at Corinth received the Word, trusted Christ, been saved, and their faith had transformed their lives.

But then again, what if Jesus did not really rise from the dead? What if this was just a myth that the apostle Paul made up to gain a number of followers? It is interesting to note that Islam, one of the three major world religions, has held on to this theory up until today.

Evidences for the Resurrection

Before laying out the evidences of the resurrection, it must first be established that Jesus really died. After all, a resurrection can only be authentic if the person really died. In other words, only a dead person can actually come back to life.

The gospel authors record that Jesus was beaten and scourged terribly by the Roman soldiers before finally nailing him to the cross. Killing was an expertise of the Roman soldiers, their job was to kill and to make sure that the victim was really dead or they themselves will lose their lives.

It’s also inconceivable to believe that Jesus survived the crucifixion, considering that the physicians who studied closely the historical events of the crucifixion unanimously concluded that Christ died from this process. Furthermore, the Roman historian Tacitus and Jewish historian Josephus confirmed in their writings that Jesus indeed, died from the crucifixion.

A. The empty tomb

1) The Bible tells us that Jesus’ tomb was found to be empty by the women who first visited it very early on the first day of the week (John 20:1-2; Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1-4 & Luke 24:1-3).

Did you know that the testimony of women in the first century Jewish culture was regarded as so worthless that they were not even permitted to serve as legal witnesses in a court of law? Yet, the gospel authors unanimously recorded that women, whose testimony was worthless, rather than men, are the chief witnesses to the empty tomb.

2) The historical reliability of the burial story because of the inclusion of Joseph of Arimathea as the one who buried Christ in his own tomb (Mark 15:43; John 19:38), strongly supports the empty tomb.

Joseph was a prominent member of the Jewish Council, which means that the burial site was well-known to both the Jews and Gentiles. This means that no one would have believed that Jesus had risen, neither the disciples, nor the thousands of others who did believe, unless that tomb was really empty.

Jesus’ resurrection was preached by His disciples in the same city where Jesus had died and been buried. They could not have done this if Jesus was still in His tomb because no one would be foolish enough to believe that a man had raised from the dead when his body lay dead in the tomb for all to see.

3) In Matthew 28:11-15, the Jews made an attempt to refute the fact of Jesus’ resurrection by saying that the disciples stole the body. Why is this significant? Because this shows that the Jews did not deny the empty tomb. By making up a story about the stolen body of Jesus, they were admitting that the tomb was in fact empty.

“He is not here; for He is risen!”

B. The post-mortem appearances of Jesus

There is enough evidence that the disciples and followers of Jesus had real encounters with the one whom they believed was the risen Christ. In the table below is a chronology of the appearances of the resurrected Christ.

1) Mary Magdalene          John 20:11-18
2) The women returning from the tomb Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1 & Luke 24:10
3) Simon Peter Luke 24:34 & 1 Corinthians 15:5
4) The two disciples on the road to Emmaus Luke 24:13-16
5) To the eleven disciples with Thomas absent Luke 24:36-43
6) To the eleven disciples with Thomas present John 20:26-29
7) To the seven disciples at Lake Tiberius John 21: 1-23
8) To the disciples and a large gathering on a mountain in Galilee Matthew 28:16-17
9) James 1 Corinthians 15:7
10) To the disciples at the ascension Luke 24:49-53 & Acts 1:3-11

 

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is a record of an ancient creed concerning Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection appearances that is much earlier than the letter in which the apostle Paul is recording it. Critical scholars generally agree that Paul received this creed from Peter (Cephas) and James (the Lord’s brother) between 3-5 years after the crucifixion.

Peter and James are listed in this creed as having seen the risen Christ. Paul also appealed to his audience’s knowledge of the fact that more than five hundred people had seen the resurrected Christ at one time; the majority of which were still alive and could be questioned.

C. The transformation of Jesus’ disciples, skeptics and enemies

1) Jesus’ disciples and followers

When Jesus was crucified, His disciples were devastated and defeated. Most of them even ran away because they thought that was the end of their glorious years with Jesus. But after seeing the resurrected Christ, they were transformed from being discouraged, despondent and frightened to being bold, courageous and outspoken.

Peter, who denied Jesus three times, stood up a few weeks later in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost to deliver probably the most powerful Gospel sermon that resulted in the 3,000 souls that were saved and added to the church (Acts 2:14-39).

Peter’s Sermon on Pentecost Day

Thomas who was a doubter and a skeptic did not believe that Jesus has risen from the dead until he saw for himself the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and had put his fingers in them (John 20:24-29).

2) James and Jesus’ other brothers

Jesus’ brothers did not believe Jesus was the Lord during His lifetime (John 7:5). But they later believed. And James not only believed, but became the leader of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13). According to tradition, James was martyred for his faith in Christ by being thrown off the pinnacle of the temple and was beaten to death by a club.

3) Saul of Tarsus

Before he became the apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus was the chief persecutor of the early Christians. But after encountering the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he was totally transformed from Saul, the number one persecutor of Christianity, to Paul, the number one propagator of Christianity.

Paul gave up the prestige and comforts of being a respected rabbi and took on the life of a traveling missionary who has gone through incredible hardships and persecutions, all for the sake of the gospel.

Saul encounters the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus

*** The transformation of Jesus’ disciples, brothers and Saul of Tarsus are inexplicable apart from a real resurrection. The only sufficient explanation for the dramatic change in these people’s lives is the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead.

D. The origin of the Christian faith

The fact that the Christian Church remained strong and continued to flourish despite suffering intense persecution at the hands of both Jews and Romans during its early years is strong proof of the resurrection.

Many of the first missionaries of the Christian faith died as martyrs. They were willing to die for their belief in Jesus Christ because they were convinced of the historical facts of the resurrection. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, Christianity could have never come into existence.

Conclusion

What if Jesus did not rise from the dead? Then we are still in our sins and our faith is futile. It means we are not forgiven of our sins and are bound to suffer eternally in hell. And not only us but also those who have fallen asleep (died) in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:17-18). There is no salvation without the resurrection!

But Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20). The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact, not just a theological myth or some philosophical idea which began circulating 30 years later among the followers of Jesus Christ.

Josh McDowell in his book “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” wrote:

“The resurrection of Christ is therefore emphatically a test question upon which depends the truth or falsehood of the Christian religion. It is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records.”


Recommended Resource:

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

By Gary R. Habermas & Michael R. Licona

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, along with an interactive CD, will prepare you to make a compelling argument for the historicity of Christ’s resurrection, even to those who do not accept the Bible as divinely inspired. The authors first develop principles by which a historical event can be accepted as true, then apply them to belief in Christ’s rising from the dead, and finally offer sample scenarios illustrating the use of these principles.

The Problem of Evil in the World

The Problem of Evil in the World

The problem of evil in the world has always been the reason why many people doubt the existence of God. Whenever tragedy strikes, people through the ages have asked why something like this or that have to happen.

Just think about the pain the friends and relatives of the almost three thousand people who were killed in the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, have wrestled with.

The problem of evil in the world

If God exists, why did He allow this tragedy to happen? Why do good people suffer? And what does it say about God that such things occur?

The Problem of Evil

Before answering the question, it’s important that we first lay out a few preliminary thoughts about evil. Please note that evil is not something that has existed all on its own; rather, it is a corruption of that which already exists.“Evil is the absence of something good.”

For example, tooth decay can exist only as long as the tooth exists. Rot can exist only as long as the tree exists. Evil exists as a corruption of something good; it does not have essence by itself. Norman Geisler says, “Evil is like a wound in an arm or moth-holes in a garment. It exists only in another but not in itself.”

This is not to say that evil is unreal. Evil may not be an actual substance or entity but it is a real corruption in an actual entity. Tooth decay, rotting trees, brain cancer, the death of a loved one, are all examples of how evil is a corruption of something good. Yes, evil is real; it’s not just an illusion.

The problem of evil in the world

The infinite reference point for distinguishing good from evil can be found only in the person of God, for God alone can exhaust the definition of absolutely good. God is good, God is all powerful, yet evil exists. How can evil exist in a world created by God?

Today we face the reality of both moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil is evil committed by free moral agents, involving such things as war, cruelty, crime, slavery, discrimination, suicide bombings and various injustices. Natural evil involve such things as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and the like.

The Origin of Evil

The original creation was “very good (Genesis 1:31).” There was no evil, no sin, no pain and no death. Yet today the world is permeated with evil, sin, pain and death. What brought these things about? The Bible tells us that it all started the moment Adam and Eve used their God-given free will to choose to disobey God (Genesis 3).

The problem of evil in the world

Couldn’t have God created humans in such a way that we would never sin, thus avoiding evil together? The fact is, such a scenario would mean that we were not truly human because we would not have the capacity to make choices and to freely love.

Love is voluntary. God could have made us like robots who would act only in programmed ways – like a chatty doll whose string you pull and it says, “I love you.” God apparently thought it worth the risk of creating us as we are.

The problem of evil in the world
Matthew 22:37

God wanted Adam and all humanity to show love by freely choosing obedience which is why God gave Adam and all other humans a free will. A free choice, however, leaves the possibility of a wrong choice. J.B. Phillips said, “Evil is inherent in the risky gift of free will.”

God’s plan had the potential for evil when He bestowed on humans the freedom of choice, but the actual origin of evil came as a result of a man who directed his will away from God and toward his own selfish desires.

Norman Geisler and Jeff Amanu note, “Whereas God created the fact of freedom, humans perform the acts of freedom. God made evil possible; creatures make it actual.”

And ever since Adam and Eve made evil actual on that first occasion in the Garden of Eden, a sin nature has been passed on to every man and human (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22), and it is out of the sin nature that we continue today to use our free will to make evil actual (Mark 7:20-23).

What is God’s Purpose in Allowing Evil?

If God is so good and all-powerful why does He allow evil to happen? Made in God’s image, man was given the freedom to decide how he will act and the ability to make moral choices. Every one of us is capable of making selfish, self-centered and even evil choices.

God could have eliminated all evil from our world by simply removing our ability to choose. But if God is to both preserve freedom and defeat evil, the best way to do it is to allow each person to make his own free choice to determine his destiny. And evil is overcome in that, once those who reject God are separated from others, the decisions of all are made permanent.

It did not take God by surprise when man used his God-given free choice to disobey God. C.S. Lewis suggests that God in His omniscience “saw that from a world of free creatures, even though they fell, He could work out . . . a deeper happiness and fuller splendor than any world of automata would admit.”

Man sinned against God but God has not left us alone in this fallen world. God allowed evil and suffering in the world to bring His Son to the cross so that we might have the opportunity to obtain eternal life. God is working within the fallen world today to effect change and He uses fallen people to accomplish His will.

The problem of evil in the world

It’s also possible that God is letting evil occur so that on the day of judgment, the condemned will have no right to say that their sentence is unjust. God is not stopping people from exercising their free will.

God may have other reasons for allowing evil to exist that we simply cannot understand. But as Christians, we must have confidence in God knowing that His ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Conclusion

Too often people fall into the trap of thinking that because God hasn’t dealt with evil yet, He is not dealing with it at all. The late Dr. Walter Martin used to say, “I’ve read the last chapter in the book and we win!”

The problem of evil in the world

Yes, evil will one day be done away with. Just because evil is not destroyed right now does not mean it will never be. One day in the future, Christ will return, strip away power from the wicked and hold all men and women accountable for the things they did during their time on earth (Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:11-15).

Justice will ultimately prevail and those who enter eternity without having trusted in Christ for salvation will understand just how effectively God has dealt with the problem of evil in the world.


Reference Material: Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith Edited by Ravi Zacharias & Normal Geisler

Recommended Resource:

If God, Why Evil?: A New Way to Think about the Question
By Norman L. Geisler

Why does God allow evil to exist? Good question, says Geisler. Addressing metaphysical, moral, and physical complexities, he surveys evil’s nature, origin, persistence, and purpose; offers a biblical discussion of why a loving God allows some people to experience hell; and shares personal stories of believers who found real-life solutions to the conundrum of pain and suffering. 176 pages, softcover from Bethany.